The Japanese band Arashi celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019 and then announced that the band would take a break in 2020—a shocking announcement. In November of 2019, their talent agency Johnny & Associates (Johnnys) allowed the group to use SNS official accounts for the first time, singles were released online. In this series of events, Johnnys began experimenting with social media for publicity and fan interactions as well as digital platforms. In cooperation with Arashi, Netflix debuted its original series ARASHI’s Diary -Voyage- on December 31st, 2019. The monthly-updated documentary series is aimed to show audiences different aspects of Arashi, including the members' struggles when making the decision of taking an upcoming break in 2020, as well as the production and backstage stories of Arashi’s 20th-anniversary tours. Members expressed their love for the group, and the strong emotional connection they attached to Arashi was emphasized through testimony and facial expressions, with almost every member dedicating their past twenty years to the growth of the group. All agreed that only these five people can make Arashi and not a single member can be dropped. Although their decision to take a break must be difficult to accept for Arashi fans, the depicted struggle behind the decision-making process as highlighted in the documentary addressed and seemed to dilute the fans' sadness. As a result, the fans blessed the group’s decision.
The production process of the tour focused on Arashi’s gratitude to fans who have supported them. The documentary emphasized Arashi’s labor: the audience learned that Arashi had been hard at work producing concerts while continuously showing up actively in various variety shows and dramas. The documentary repeatedly mentions that the tour director Matsumoto often works until early hours in the morning, and this seriousness and commitment to the work has moved the audience. As a viewer wrote in the comments: “You may not like their music, dance or performance, but you must respect their professionalism and their efforts.”1
The documentary as a paratext shaped public understanding and public opinion regarding Arashi's decision to take a break. After being inculcated with the messages that Arashi went through many struggles but still firmly agreed to stay together as a group of five, and the great love and thankfulness the members have always been holding to their fans, the fans began to understand Arashi's decision. The documentary also served as a text through which audiences were taught to not only understand the decision but to accept it. It continuously reminds the audience of the situation that the group is not going to be active anymore after 2020, thus leading its audiences gradually to be accustomed to the upcoming situation.
1 droche-49966, “User Reviews,” Arashi’s Diary: Voyage (TV Mini-Series 2019) – IMDb. IMDb, Feburary 15th, 2020, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11434874/. (accessed March 8th, 2020).