We spent a really fun afternoon watching this musical this weekend. I’ve simply applied for the tickets months ago just because it’s 4U.
They are a group of 4 members all born in the year of 1986 and simply named 4U. by Johnny-san because they all have names with the character “Yu”. In Japanese, their group name is pretty “unique”, typed as “ふぉ～ゆ～”.
The Last “Secret Weapon” of Johnny’s Jimusho?!
Many will know Johnny’s groups like SMAP, TOKIO, V6, KinKi Kids, Arashi to the latest King & Prince who have a lot of media exposure. However 4U. with no CD debut, hardly have any TV appearance until recently other “seniors” from the same company like Toma Ikuta, Domoto Koichi start to recommend them and try ways to get them to do TV cameo appearances.
So imagine my big surprise when they could appear on TV shows like “Shabekuri 007” in April 2019, just before the era changed from Heisei to Reiwa. Hosted by a group of popular comedians, even though it’s a mere 15 to 20-minute appearance for these 4 boys, I think they made quite an impression given their witty comments, talented dance performance to the extent that the hosts wanted them to come again as guests for the full-length variety show.
Back-dancers for KinKi Kids and Domoto Koichi
I came to know about them simply because they were back-dancing for KinKi Kids for the past 7-8 years, and also appearing in Endless SHOCK with Domoto Koichi for the same period. It’s not difficult to spot them when they are the main support for this long-run musical and the much-trusted companions for Koichi.
With their career in back-dancing for many other Johnny’s groups since they were Johnny’s Juniors, their level of performance is so polished that you can really enjoy their show with ease.
First Johnny’s group with an official LINE account
I would say Johnny’s Jimusho is actually pretty slow in adapting to digital marketing methods, but they started an official Youtube channel for the Johnny’s Juniors in January 2018, so that fans can access to official contents created for their favourite boys without having to join their fanclub.
It’s great to see another effort to ride on the digital times when 4U. started their own LINE account recently. On 15 July, 4U. conducted their first LINE LIVE session. It was really hilarious and fun at the same time to be able to “chat” with them real-time.
Storyline and Cast of “SHOW BOY”
Back to “Show Boy”, 4U. was featured as the main cast for this musical. It’s basically 4 different stories cleverly weaved together for the 4 characters on a casino cruise ship.
☆Yuta Fukuda – Backstage staff of the Cabaret, brother of the ship manager played by Sayaka Kanda. ☆Yudai Tatsumi – Magician’s apprentice. ☆Yusuke Matsuzaki – Chinese mafia. ☆Yuki Koshioka – Gambler. *Note : Sayaka Kanda has also played as the heroine in Endless SHOCK 2012.
WARNING: Show Review Below!
The show started with Yuta and another character played by Taiga Akiyama (Johnny’s Junior from MADE) talking about their dreams of performing on stage, etc. For a moment, it reminded me of Koichi and Yara in Endless SHOCK as there were some serious drama scenes and duet dance including tap dance.
Sayaka who was the ship manager informed that the “diva” was missing and Yuta x Taiga had to help find a replacement within an hour for the next performance. They went on a frantic search for a cabaret dancer played by Hina Higuchi (a member of Nogizaka46) to be the replacement and bumped into different characters along the way.
Yuta x Taiga first witnessed the magician firing the apprentice, then went into a bar where Yuki told them “no one you are trying to find is here!” and finally they went to the warehouse where they saw the Chinese mafia and undercover cops.
Initially, there was a lot of ??? in our heads to understand the story but soon after, we notice how the scenes are linked to one another.
Next part was the story of the gambler played by Yuki who lost all his money, covered in debts, but trying to recoup his losses in the casino and get money for his sister’s wedding. There he met the magician’s daughter who stole a bag of money from some undercover cops. The magician’s daughter decided to give Yuki the bag of money in return of asking him to make sure the magician’s apprentice can appear on stage later.
The third part was basically the highlight of this musical featuring Yusuke as the Chinese mafia. It definitely helps when we can understand Mandarin because he was really saying the lines as a Chinese mafia with Japanese subtitles showing on the stage screen. The part where this Chinese mafia did a video phone call with his son is so real, that we couldn’t stop laughing. It is exactly what I experienced in my train ride to Guangzhou early this month.
It was too hilarious when he ended up as the “diva”, and you can really feel the audience enjoying his crazy acting. The “diva” got his costume from the magician’s room, and his interpreter hid in one of the boxes used as the magician’s prop. All the little details start to connect the story as the show goes on.
Last part was for Yudai who played the magician’s apprentice. Dressed in a checked vest that looks like Isetan’s paper bag, all the other characters were calling him “the guy in the Isetan bag”. After 10 years, he could hardly do a decent magic act. As a result, he was fired but in the end, the magician decided to give him another chance to appear on stage, because the gambler was begging him. Yudai, the apprentice, also managed to convince Hina the cabaret dancer to perform on stage, even though now the “diva” is already replaced by the Chinese mafia.
There were a few scenes we suspect were ad-lib scenes, but the most obvious one is when the “diva” had to do some Japanese MC during the stage performance. Basically, Yusuke was holding the microphone dressed like Freddie Mercury in his early years with long hair, while the voiceover was done by Sayaka, so he has to match his mouth and movements along with Sayaka’s impromptu lines.
Everything ended in a happy ending except for the part where Yudai didn’t get to confess his love for Yuta. This was also a funny moment in the story when Sayaka pointed it out.
All in all, a show definitely worth watching with a lot of songs and dance performance and an interesting way to connect the stories into one combined with clever use of props, lighting and digital scenes. I’m hoping 4U. will get to appear in more TV shows so that more people will get to enjoy their charming performances!