It has been reported by media outlets in Japan that super-group SMAP will break up after more than 28 years together. The reason for the breakup is that three of the group members will be leaving their agency, Johnny and Associates. Kimura Takuya (木村拓哉) and Nakai Masahiro (中居正広) will remain with the agency, while Katori Shingo (香取慎吾), Kusanagi Tsuyoshi (草彅 剛), and Inagaki Goro (稲垣吾郎) will be making their departure.
The group has been extremely successful for a number of years, as they have been officially active as a group since their debut in 1988. SMAP’s rising popularity in the 1990s aided in making Johnny and Associates the most successful agency in Japan. While originally debuting with 6 members, Mori Katsuyuki departed the group in 1996 to pursue a career outside of the entertainment industry. This did not stop SMAP from their continued success over the next 20 years.
Not only have they released quite a string of singles and albums (the most recent being SMAP 25 YEARS in 2016), but each member has been active with solo activities such as television dramas, variety shows, commercials, voice acting, and film. Some notable works of theirs include the Studio Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle (Kimura), One Piece Karakurijō no Mecha Kyohei (Inagaki), long-running music show Utaban (Nakai), Kusanagi’s Korean-language film produced in Japan, Hotel Venus and Katori’s dramas like Monsters and Saiyuki. Needless to say, their success has reached fans of film, dramas and animation in several countries. SMAP as a group have several endorsement contracts and their successful show SMAPxSMAP on Fuji TV has seen some of the biggest celebrity guests.
While the official date of the breakup has not been confirmed due to contracts with commercials, the future of the entertainment world in Japan may look quite different! Advertising agencies, television producers and fans alike are surely mourning the loss of Japan’s most beloved boyband.