On the morning of April 11, a press conference to mark the start of “Produce 101 Japan” was held at Ebisu Act Square to announce the recruitment of applicants for the program. The audition for “Produce 101 Japan” will be open for 101 trainees who make it through the first and second round of screening. An 11-member group will be formed with goals for debut in 2020. Mnet stated, “‘Produce 101 Japan’ will be co-produced [by CJ ENM and Yoshimoto Kogyo] with a producing director (PD) from the ‘Produce 101’ series participating in it. We are currently discussing the details. 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.” When asked if PD Ahn Joon Young will be participating in the Japanese version of the program, Mnet replied, “Currently, Ahn Joon Young has no spare time due to ‘Produce X 101.’ Another PD will participate [instead].” Popular Japanese entertainers Ninety-nine (Nainai) were chosen to be the hosts.
The involvement of Yoshimoto Kogyo explains Ninety Nine hosting the show and probably also answers how they plan on debuting a boy group without being blacklisted by Johnny & Associates, which is what usually happens.
After all, Yoshimoto Kogyo are a powerful agency in their own right — heard about NMB48’s slave contracts recently? no? right — and they have the right kind of connections to probably avoid that type of stuff (type ‘yoshimoto kogyo’ into Google and the first auto-fill option is ‘yakuza’).
Japan’s male idol market is dominated by Johnny’s Entertainment, which produced national boy groups SMAP and Arashi. It will be interesting to see if the upcoming joint Korean-Japanese production of “Produce 101 Japan” changes the Japanese male idol market. “Produce 101 Japan” is scheduled to air locally in the second half of this year.
Who knows if it’ll work, but this is pretty fucking funny in a way. AKS came up with the Senbatsu Election, CJ E&M paid ‘homage’ to that for Produce, and now they’re essentially selling that idea/branding back to Japan. 10D chess.