Otaku USA Magazine
After 25 Years, J-Pop Group SMAP Set To Disband?

Legions of J-pop fans around Japan and the world were shocked Tuesday with the news of the possible break-up of SMAP, a boy band that’s been around for over 25 years.

What’s the deal with SMAP and why are they calling it quits?

SMAP is perhaps the most successful pop group assembled by Johnny & Associates, a male idol talent agency responsible established in 1962 that has recently produced groups like Hey! Say! JUMP and Sexy Zone.

SMAP, which stands for “sport, music, assemble, people,” officially debuted in 1991 with the single “Can’t Stop!! Loving.”

But SMAP really took off when they started making frequent media appearances, both with their own shows like I Love SMAP and SMAPxSMAP and on TV dramas.

In the world of anime, SMAP did the opening and ending themes for the 1992 show Hime-chan’s Ribbon and the opening for Akazukin Cha Cha.

In addition, many of the members provided voices for anime characters, most notably member Takuya Kimura, who appeared in Howl’s Moving Castle and Redline as well as the live-action adaptations Space Battleship Yamato and the upcoming Blade of the Immortal.

After over 20 years of media domination, why are SMAP calling it quits?

Internal strife at Johnny & Associates, according to several sources. SMAP manager Michi Iijima has reportedly fallen out with the company, which is undergoing a succession dispute now that founder Johnny Kitagawa is, well, no longer a spring chicken.

Like ‘em or hate ‘em, the Japanese pop scene will definitely be a very different place without SMAP.

Source: BBC, Neojaponisme

Matt Schley

Matt Schley (rhymes with "guy") lives in Tokyo, and has been OUSA's "man in Japan" since 2012. He's also written about anime and Japanese film for the Japan Times, Screen Daily and more.