“But… it’s Arashi! How could you not know Arashi!”
This is the likely response in Japan if you make the grave mistake of not knowing who Arashi (tr: storm) are. They are by far and away the boy band with the most momentum in Japan, and there are plenty vying for that mantle. In Japan, they’re bigger than the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync and Take That put together at their respective peaks. Incidentally, feel free to replace my examples with bands that are actually popular now. What I’d like you to take away is that they’re really quite big.
To only call them a boy band really wouldn’t be doing them justice, though. “Pop culture factory” would perhaps be more fitting. As well as putting out music, each of the band members are also capable actors, doing various solo projects. Most likely to be familiar to Westerners is Nino (in the purple below), who appeared in Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima as one of the main Japanese soldiers. So, you can think of Arashi as ‘N Sync where every member is Justin Timberlake.
As well as singing and acting, the group pimps out just about every product under the sun, from beer to ecologically-friendly appliances to tissues to women’s beauty products. Their latest pitch has been for Wii Party (recommended, by the way).
With all their acquired loot, their prodigious output suggests they’ve bought an extra day in the week. Along with all of the above, they also have a weekly TV show called Arashi Shiagare (which I’m going to take a stab at translating as “Let’s do it, Arashi!”). Every week the group tries their hand at a new skill as instructed by a visiting expert. A few weeks ago was attempting to beat the world record for table cloths whipped out from under a place setting, and before that, sumo wrestling.
Their universal appeal is that they’re squeaky-clean-cut. Everyone from the kids to grandma can enjoy the non-offensive, clean fun of it all.
So imagine the shock of the admittedly few foreigners watching the nationally-broadcast Arashi Shiagare a few weeks ago:
Vulgarity aside, we have to at least entertain the high likelihood that it’s an accurate t-shirt.