Subaru Shibutani

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Subaru Shibutani
渋谷 すばる
Born (1981-09-22) September 22, 1981 (age 32)
Origin Osaka, Japan
Genres Enka, pop, rock, blues
Occupations Singer, actor, lyricist
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1996–present
Labels Teichiku Records, Imperial Records
Associated acts Kanjani Eight

Subaru Shibutani (渋谷 すばる Shibutani Subaru?, born September 22, 1981) is a Japanese idol, singer, actor and lyricist. He is also the main vocalist of Japanese male idol group Kanjani Eight,[1] which debuted with modern enka. Shibutani was already a singer in his own right before the group's debut, immensely popular among Johnny's Jr. fans as the top Kansai Jr. of his time. His image color in the group is red.

Career[edit]

Shibutani entered Johnny & Associates in 1996 on his birthday, September 22 (along with future fellow Kanjani Eight member Ryūhei Maruyama) after passing an audition. He did not hear from the agency until December 1996, when he was called to a second audition for a KinKi Kids concert. It was there where he first met two other future fellow members You Yokoyama and Shingo Murakami.

Shibutani's singing talent first became apparent during the recording of an original Kansai Jr. song "Boys in the West Side", theme song for Kanjani Knights, a Kansai Jr. show that ran in 1998. He was a regular on the show together with Yokoyama and Murakami. The trio went on to appear on many Jr shows together, becoming close co-workers and dubbing themselves "3baka" ("the 3 idiots"). Together with Ryo Nishikido, they were the four top Kansai Jrs. This meant increased exposure, with opportunities to appear in many Jr shows in Tokyo as well. Shibutani's big break was an outstanding solo performance on Music Station which would see him move to live in Tokyo, followed shortly by Yokoyama and Murakami. At Tokyo, he received many singing jobs and the 3baka became a fixture in the Tokyo Jr TV programs; They went on to star in their own TV series, IkeIkeIkemen, and were regulars on Koichi Domoto's show Pikaichi.

Around 2000 to 2001, work offers from the agency diminished greatly for the Kansai Jrs; Shibutani was the first among the top 4 to be affected. Out of work in Tokyo, they moved back to Osaka, and found part-time jobs to supplement their meager Jr. salaries. During this quiet period, Shibutani came close to quitting Johnny's for good, but persevered for the love of the stage and singing.

In 2002, Johnny Kitagawa had the Kansai Jrs put on an old play previously performed by their seniors, SMAP and KinKi Kids, called Another. This marked a revival of Kansai Jr activities but Kitagawa's strategy this time was to localize the Kansai Jrs' activities and keep them based in Kansai. Shibutani could finally return to the stage. He also appeared on TV regularly, on J3Kansai.

In 2003, Johnny Kitagawa formed Kanjani Eight using the top Kansai Jrs. He decided to have Shibutani sing enka and debut Kanjani Eight with him as lead singer. In August 2004, the group released its first single, Naniwa Iroha Bushi, an enka song infused with rap. Sales were so good that the single made it to #8 on the Oricon singles chart despite its Kansai-limited release. This prompted a nationwide release the following month that shot Naniwa to the top of the chart. Shibutani and his fellow members famously learned about their official debut through the newspapers. Shibutani did not react negatively to the enka-style debut - on the contrary, he was happy for the new challenge as a singer, and saw the unconventional debut as a greater chance for the group to make an impact, as opposed to debuting in the typical boyband pop-dance-and-song fashion. He proved his talent and versatility as a singer by easily taking on the enka-style of singing, becoming, in his own words, "Johnny's first Enka singer".

Kanjani Eight's songs encompass a wide range of styles besides enka and pop; rap, jazz, funk, rock-and-roll, blues, dance, ballad, and disco are among the other styles featured. In addition, Shibutani is also the main vocalist for Kanjani Eight subgroups, SanKyoudai, an acoustic music group, and SubaruBand, a rock band. Switching effortlessly from one style to the next, Shibutani always retains his distinct identity, bringing his own flavour to each style. He also plays several instruments, the guitar, harmonica and shamisen. He played the piano from kindergarten to 5th grade.

Shibutani possesses a natural flair for writing lyrics. As a Jr., he wrote several original songs in collaboration with the guitarist of Jr. band FIVE, Nakaegawa Rikiya, who composed the melodies. These songs were performed by Shibutani with FIVE. Subaru also collaborates with Kanjani8 band member, Shota Yasuda. The two write the songs for their band, SubaruBand (ONE, High Position, DownUp). He regularly writes the lyrics for his concert solos as well.

Discography[edit]

For releases as a member of Kanjani Eight, see Kanjani Eight discography.

Solo concerts[edit]

  • Shibutani Subaru with Ohkura-Band (August 29, 2006 – September 17, 2006)
  • Five Flat Flowers (September 4–7, 2008 in Osaka, September 23, 2008 – October 6, 2008 in Tokyo)

Filmography[edit]

Drama[edit]

  • 1999: Shichinin no Samurai J ke no Hanran
  • 1999: Kowai Nichiyōbi
  • 1999: Abunai Hōkago
  • 2001: Worst Dates in History
  • 2001: Platonic Sex
  • 2006: Double
  • 2008: Arigatō, Okan

Stage[edit]

  • 1997: Kyo To Kyo
  • 1998: Mask
  • 1998: Kyo To Kyo
  • 2000: Millennium Shock
  • 2002: Another
  • 2003: Dōton Boys
  • 2004: Summer Storm
  • 2005: Never Gonna Dance
  • 2005: Hey! Say! Dream Boy
  • 2005: Magical Summer
  • 2005: Dream Boys
  • 2006: Another's Another
  • 2006: Dream Boys
  • 2009: Dream Boys

References[edit]