tormentajaponesa: (arashi)
[personal profile] tormentajaponesa
Originally posted by [ profile] yanie02 at Iijima Michi ~SMAP's Mother~
Since Mary vs Iijima has become the talk of the town lately. I'm guessing some non-Smappies or new Smappies are wondering who she really is. How can an outsider have such a power inside the Jimusho, that even "the Empress" and "the Princess" scared of? I'll try to make a brief introduction.

Iijima Michi is the lady on the right.

For SMAP fans, Micchi (that's how Nakai, Takuya and SMAP fans calls her) is like a myth. We wonder if this lady really exist, cause her stories are too good to be true and her pictures almost never show up in media. It's very hard to get her picture. This picture is the one and only clear picture circulated on the net, and it wasn't taken until recently, either. This was taken in Beijing in 2011 when SMAP had concert there. None of her stories comes from herself or written data. She always hide behind SMAP in the shadows, seems like she is reluctant to come out and more comfortable to stay behind the scenes. SMAP fans gets to hear her stories once in awhile from Nakai or Takuya talking about her on the radio.

There are very little facts about Micchi that the fans can gather. But most fans speculate that Micchi is about 10 years older than SMAP members.

How Micchi started out in Jimusho, were also gathered from fans talks so we don't know whether this is fact or not. Please take it with a grain of salt.

It is said that Micchi became SMAP's manager in 1992. We don't know when Micchi started working as a Jimusho's employee, but before she was a manager, some says that Micchi was Mary's secretary, some says Micchi was an employee in the General Affairs section of the Jimusho's office, basically she was just a regular OL that you can find any day. She might be in her mid-20s when she started working in Johnny's office.

SMAP was formed in 1988 and then debuted in 1991. However, SMAP didn't immediately had a manager. Nakai said in their first few years, they didn't have a manager.
Every Johnny's groups before SMAP always had a successful debut. Normally for Johnny's groups, the moment they debut, their debut song will become an instant hit, and their popularity would immediately peak on the first year. However SMAP's debut song was only #2 on Oricon chart, and their 2nd single was #10. Very small number of fans came to their concerts. Johnny told them "The number of fans that the 6 of you have put altogether, cannot even beat the number of fans of ONE Hikaru Genji member," It was the first failure ever for Johnny's and apparently the Jimusho given up on them quite early. This is just my own assumption, but I think one of the reasons why the Jimusho gave up on them fast is also the fact because SMAP was a bunch of naughty/mischievous kids and they frequently created troubles. Not to mention, they used violence quite a lot too back then, either they fought each other, or they fought with common boys. I wrote before in details about SMAP's past mischievous doings: SMAP Rascal Incidents. I guess the Jimusho had no hope anymore for them when their debut failed.

Micchi, who was just an office worker, was suddenly offered the job to be SMAP's manager. She didn't even had any manager experience before SMAP. So we can assume that the Jimusho had totally given up SMAP by letting someone who is totally inexperienced to be their manager. I guess the Jimusho was going to let SMAP slowly disappear on their own and didn't care about them anymore. Micchi was the first FEMALE manager in the Jimusho. Managers in Johnny's Jimusho are usually male, even now.

According to the "myths" amongst fans, Micchi worked so hard for SMAP ever since she took the job to be their manager. She was thinking hard of how to make SMAP members can make more appearances on TV. This might be an exaggeration, but she knocked the doors of every TV station and begged them to let SMAP appear on their TV shows and dramas. Another rumor says that when the Jimusho refused to make new costumes for SMAP, Micchi made and sew the costumes herself for SMAP.

In 1993, Kimura Takuya got himself a big part (though not the leading role) in FujiTV getsuku drama, Asunaro Hakusho (Ordinary People). According to the rumor among fans, this was also thanks to Micchi's big effort. She got the job for Takuya. The drama became a monster hit and a social phenomenon. Kimura Takuya shot stardom. SMAP made their big break in 1994-1995. And the rest is history.

Micchi & SMAP's success, was beyond the Jimusho's expectation.

Concerning the history of faction.

Up to 1995, SMAP was still allowed to appear together on screen with other Johnny's groups: TOKIO, Kinki Kids, V6, etc.

In 1996, after Mori quit from the group, this is also another "myth", but Micchi-Nakai-Takuya made an objection toward the Jimusho about their unfair pay share. They thought they are paid a pittance for their hard works. After a long battle, they reached an agreement, but on the consequences that SMAP & Micchi were placed in a "different box" than the rest. Long-time fans used to say "SMAP belong to Johnnys, but actually they don't"
Since then, the Jimusho almost never took part in (didn't give a single cent for) SMAP's new songs promotion, so SMAP had to promote their own stuff harder. But luckily in 1996 onwards, SMAP's popularity exploded already, so even without a fair amount of promotion, their songs sold very well.
And also, since 1996, we can also see how SMAP never appear with the other Johnny's groups (probably, except Utaban). According to long-time fans, the juniors weren't even allowed to talk to SMAP cos the Jimusho didn't want any more mini-SMAP running around the place, the Jimusho can't bear any more rebellious talents like them. In a radio back in 1997, Shingo said to Takuya "I met Kinki Kids in backstage the other day. I said hello to them, but they just looked at me and didn't say anything. They must be so busy lately, ne" and Takuya replied "Shingo... you're such a lovely person,"

SMAP achieved big power in the entertainment industry, but seems like the Jimusho never wanted to acknowledge that, they are always belittled inside the agency. What Mary said to Micchi in the interview, proven that the Jimusho still doesn't acknowledge SMAP.

There was no faction back then, though. It was just SMAP and Micchi inside a "different box."

However things gets complicated when Johnny finally acknowledged Micchi's power, ability and competency in the industry and decided to let her handle the younger groups around 2009-2010. Johnny finally took SMAP and Micchi out of the "box" and they receive the same treatment as the rest now. However seems like "the step mother" still won't accept "Cinderella" 's existence. Thus, the "invisible wall" was formed.

Besides being partly responsible for SMAP's success, Micchi is also known as SMAP's "foster mother" because not only she manage the group, she also raised them and gave them education like they are her own children. The one left me deep impression was Nakai's story in radio, back in 2002 during the Drink concert tour. When all five guys were drunk inside a car, one of them hit Nakai's ear that his ear kept ringing and everything was just a blur for Nakai cos he was so drunk, they reached the hotel and Nakai totally didn't remember how but he remember seeing the hotel manager getting wet. The next morning, Micchi summoned him and lectured him for 30 minutes "You poured a bucket of water to the hotel manager!!!" "What? No its not me!" "I asked Takuya, Goro, Tsuyoshi and Shingo! They said it was you who did it!! You're turning 30 year old this year, you have to act like a grown up!!!" and so on, haha. I love this story.

In Furuhata vs SMAP, the manager role played by Toda Keiko, Mitani Koki wrote the character based on Iijima Michi. I love her character there, and it helps me to picture Micchi's personality, very stern but loving each SMAP member like her own son.

I really hope there will be a biography book on Micchi's life someday. I want her life to be made into NHK asadora in the future, LOL.

Any comments, corrections, and additions are welcomed!

  • THIS POST WAS MADE FOR SCIENCE PURPOSES... reflect the history of JE and the future of Arashi as JE group.

  • ESTE POSTE SE HIZO PARA LOS PROPÓSITOS DE LA CIENCIA ... reflejan la historia de JE y el futuro de Arashi como grupo JE.

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