What does it all mean??
25 Sep 2017 - 2:00 PM  UPDATED 25 Sep 2017 - 2:01 PM

Last year, long-running Japanese boy band SMAP - more national institution than simple song-and-dance outfit by that point - split up. The breakup featured a television apology along with months of gossiping. But at the end of the year, the group parted ways, and although fans continue to grieve for the outfit, it seemed like all the drama had come to a close.

Welp, strap in for the next chapter of the SMAP-pening, because three of the four members who left talent agency Johnny & Associates; Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Shingo Katori, appear to be prepping something new in the coming month. At least based on cryptic new web sites and videos, the latter of which you can check out below:

The title attached to the above clip in Japanese is “atarashii chizu,” translating literally as “new map.” Depending on how you approach this puzzle, that alone is enough, or you can use the four directions on a compass rose, as the logo attached with this does, to spell out “New SMAP.” Japanese TV has been on it.

The gasp the one news commentator makes when it all clicks together really makes it.

The site attached to this lays things out a bit more clearly, listing the former SMAP members names right below the puzzle. More info will become available on October 16, according to text on the site. Since launching, the next step in whatever the trio is cooking up has become slightly more clear.

Online TV network AbemaTV announced plans to have them do...something, for 72 hours straight on November 2, broadcast live via the internet. The trio also launched various social networks, including Twitter and Instagram, which might sound like small details except that under Johnny’s management, photos of them couldn’t even be shared online. They even embraced filters!

Again, it is not clear what the three will actually do in the near future. New music group? Simply adopting new management? Are they becoming influences (Kusanagi seems to be preparing to be a YouTuber? Slow down 2017). 

It’s worth checking out the video announcing all of this again. In particular, that opening set of text, which roughly translates to, “run away from what ties you up.” That may hint at something more open and interesting from the newly free trio.

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