From playing their own instruments to scaring the crap out of each other, these six 7 MEN are changing the face of Japanese idols.

The past few years have been quite tumultuous for the powerhouse boy band management firm Johnny & Associates. In 2016, the iconic idols of SMAP decided to go their separate ways and in 2019, the company’s founder and heavily involved president Johnny Kitagawa passed away at the age of 87.

If that weren’t enough, the top-selling group ARASHI also called it quits as a unit at the end of last year and fellow long-running act V6 are set to follow suit this November. However, with all this change comes the opportunity to do something different, and that’s what the newest generation of Johnny’s groups have been working on.

▼ If this ain’t different, I don’t know what is.

One of the groups at the forefront of this movement are the six members of 7 MEN Samurai. I’ll explain why that math doesn’t add up in a moment, but for a few years now this group has been steadily building a fanbase online not just with music but with their many videos on YouTube and Johnny’s own Island TV website, such as the Taiko’s Challenges series.

Born out of the self-isolation of 2020, member Taiko Sasaki came up with the idea to attempt a range of self-imposed stunts at home and at work that defy common sense. He fails at pretty much all them, but it ultimately makes for more entertaining content that way.

▼ A fan-made video compilation of Taiko’s Challenges with Korean subtitles, my favorite is his ill-fated attempt to wear a frozen T-shirt without making a sound from the harmonica …continue reading