During a press conference on April 11, it was announced that Produce 101 Japan started recruiting applicants for the program. Like the title suggests, 101 trainees will be selected and by the end of the show, an 11 member group will be formed to debut in 2020.
Produce 101 Japan will be co-produced by CJ ENM, a big Korean entertainment and mass media company, and Yoshimoto Kogyo, a major Japanese entertainment conglomerate, with a producing director from the Produce 101 series participating in it. Mnet stated in the press conference that “since the program will be held in Japan, the plan is to create a boy idol group targeting the Japanese pop market rather than the Korean one.”
The Japanese comedy and entertainers duo Ninety-nine (Nainai) will be hosting the show but no information regarding the judges has been released yet.
Mnet attempted to include Japanese trainees in their recent Produce series, that aired in summer 2018. But only three out of the 39 AKB48 members made it to the final 12 and are now promoting with Iz*One. The main problem with Produce 48 was that the Japanese trainees were judged on skills they weren’t trained in. Which begs the question, what will the trainees in Produce 101 Japan be judged on? Will the show adapt to Japan’s idol standards or will it try to change to meet Korea’s standards?
The news wasn’t well received by many Japanese idol fans. Japan did, after all, create the idol culture about 40 years ago and now a program from a foreign country is going to “teach” them how the industry they created works which didn’t sit well with most J-pop fans. Many are also worried that Japan’s idol market will be changed and become more “artificial” since Produce 101 is “not just another program to fill up the back end of 2019, but will be a test case to see if the traditional power structures of male idol music in Japan can be shaken,”as written in the Japan times article.
Produce 101 gained a lot of popularity in China after it aired its Chinese version and a second Chinese season is coming soon. In fact, it got so popular that so many other audition programs started airing after it (Idol producer, a similar show was aired before Produce 101 but it had pretty much the same formula and also got a second season). It’s safe to say that the Chinese public was fascinated by these so-called “survival reality shows.” The Japanese public, however, is not unfamiliar with shows like the Produce series, one of the biggest idol groups in Japan, Morning Musume, was formed through the program Asayan back in 1995.
So far every first Produce 101 project has begun with female participants but Produce 101 Japan will be going with male trainees instead. Was it to avoid competing with the girl group that was formed with Produce 48, Iz*One? Or is it to avoid the tight competition in Japan’s girl idol group market? Either way it’s very interesting that they started with a male group season.
JET Press Team