It was recently announced that Hello! Project (H!P) idol group Juice=Juice (J=J) will be starring in an 8-episode 2016 Fuji TV drama series, Budokan, produced by Hello! Project producer Mitsuo Terada, better known by his stage name Tsunku♂.
The reveal was made through the twitter accounts of leader Miyazaki (image) and sub-leader Kanazawa in the morning 8th October 2015 (JST) with more official announcements and details in and various Japanese publications such as Sanspo and Oricon News.
The drama, which will begin shooting in November 2015, involves J=J members acting as members of the fictional idol group NEXT YOU who build up fame and rapport for their eventual dream performance at the titular Nippon Budokan, the esteemed theater that many Japanese artistes consider as a the pinnacle of any performing career in Japan.
Like many other anime and drama series of the idol career genre, this drama will touch on topics like scandals, online criticism, intra-group personality conflicts and, romance – publicly forbidden by idol management groups.
The story is an adaptation of a novel of the same title written by Ryo Asai, while Tsunku♂ will be composing the songs as well as producing the images of the costumes and choreography of NEXT YOU.
There will be a number of tie-ins with the drama during the filming and actual broadcast periods, which will see J=J holding live performances, handshake events, and guest appearances on other TV programmes under their fictional persona NEXT YOU. The drama itself will be aired on Saturday nights on Fuji TV at a currently-unspecified start date and timeslot. There will be a rerun of each episode on BS SKYPerfecTV one week after each Fuji TV airing.
The characters of the series, whose corresponding J=J actresses have yet to be announced, are:
Hana Sakamoto – the leader
Aiko Hidaka – the amateur
Aoi Dogakinai – an immovable center
Mayu Adachi – the “pocchari” and cheerful mood-maker
Rurika Tsurui – a girl who proudly gives amazing handshakes but is a spoiled crybaby
The group’s producer is Natsume Jun, whom, like common impressions of Tsunku♂, is regarded as an influential figure in the idol sphere and guitarist in his former band.
This drama also marks a heavy change and milestone in Tsunku♂’s artistry career. Earlier this year, Tsunku♂ declared the end of his role as a producer in H!P, and this will be his first new project under a new role in the H!P franchise.
Tsunku♂ is regarded by many as an influential music producer juggling the discography of multiple acts in a vein similar to what Johnny Kitagawa is to the Johnny’s Entertainment male idol groups and Yasuhi Akimoto to the 48 Groups idol groups. Budokan is thus a should-follow for those interested in the behind-the-scenes big names in the Japanese idol sphere. In fact, Ryo has also once revealed that his novel was inspired by H!P’s Morning Musume, another popular group Tsunku♂ produced earlier on in his career.
While it is indeed is quite common for the entire or majority of the cast of the idol group to act in a themed drama series, with the horror and school life genres being common themes, it is rarer to see series in which the idol group plays the role as another fictional, professional idol group. That being said, the series might nonetheless appeal to fans of fictional idol units like μ’s from the Love Live! anime franchise and NO NAME from AKB0048 anime series.
In fact, the kayfabe of J=J may soon transfer from reel-to-real, J=J is currently aiming to perform at the Budokan theater themselves as the end of their current Live Mission 220 220-show concert tour.
Source: Tokyo Girls’ Update, Chocororu, Sports Nikkei, Oricon News, DomScatterbrain