V6, with Okada as central character.Rating:
Based on the conversation
that V6 had during the last stop of their Oh! My! Goodness! con tour in Hokkaido.
He lays in his bed, watching the clouds float by as the sounds of children laughing outside echo through his room. The skies are a boldly coloured blue and the sunlight is creeping onto the walls, brightening up the white walls that surrounded him. He can see dust particles in the corner of the room, twinkling like stars, and he wants to get closer to them, but knowing that he can’t, he simply admires it from a distance. Sometimes he wishes he still had his camera with him, or at least, he wishes that he had the ability to draw whatever he wanted with the utmost detail. He still remembers all the drawing challenges he has had to do with them, chuckling as he remembered the kangaroo and penguin that Go drew. He asks himself if anyone still has those drawings and sighs before looking back at the window. As the laughter get softer, he closes his eyes, and his wrinkled fingers slowly go up to his lips; before he knows it, he’s pulling at them weakly. Upon realising that his (very) old habit was starting up again, he moves his hand away and smiles slightly. Everyone noticed that habit of his, and even he was aware, but at the end of day, it seems that this is an old habit that would never die. He slowly sits up and shuffles towards the right, leaning down to pull out a book from his bedside table. It’s his favourite book, a photo album, and he finds himself constantly pulling it out whenever he’s alone. The leather cover has darkened slightly from age and the pages are more yellow now compared to the pure cream state it used to be decades ago. There are photos, letters, and even sketches in it, each neatly organised and carefully sealed. He remembers each event almost clearly; the sights, the smells, the voices, the laughs, he remembers them.
He picks up a small photo and brings it up close to his face. It was a group shot after their final concert, the six of them in a tight embrace as the glow of penlights surrounded them. He remembers bursting into tears, despite being the quiet one, as everyone else started to cry when the fans screamed out their names, chanting “I love you” almost in unison. He remember getting a pat on the back from Inocchi, his eyes getting smaller and smaller as he aged, and the both of them yelling back to the fans while tears rolled down their faces.
He misses those days.
Even though it was stressful juggling an acting career with his singing career, seeing people happy because of him was what got him through the day. He loved his job, and having to let it go gradually was the toughest moment in his life, but he was never alone. Leader was the first to suggest it was time to end; he was getting too old to keep up with all the glitz and glamour of being an idol, deciding to focus all his attention on his musicals and stage plays. He himself decided to continue being an actor, receiving much recognition both domestically and internationally. Gradually, each of them agreed and went their separate ways career-wise, but once in a while they still got together and performed old songs on TV. Outside of work, they always got together, having dinner at each others’ houses and going out for karaoke and drinks. Thinking about it now, he laughed at the idea of six old men singing songs from the 90s and early 2000s at a karaoke bar amongst a bunch of young people, including their own children. He was the second to get married, but one of the last to have children. He remembers the six of them bringing their children together for a play date, Nagano joking that they should form a group and “the next generation,” Ken making a comment about how that would be too close to how girl groups worked. “We should make our own idol agency then!” Inocchi would add, the six of them laughing before coming up with company names. When their grandchildren started appearing, the same conversation came up and the same laughs were shared.
The moment it occurred that some of them just couldn’t physically make it to shows anymore was the moment that he realised that the end was near. He picks up another photo, a bit more recent, and smiles weakly. Since their 30s, they liked to joke about how old they were, teasing each other whenever anyone experienced an elderly moment. But now they were
old for real, and slowly each of them started complaining about whether to keep their hair grey or to dye it black. Ken was the exception naturally, asking around if he should continue dying his hair either blond or red; fortunately for the five of them, his wife managed to nag him to the point that he decided to stick with black hair. As a result, no one really stands out in the photo, but maybe that’s for the best. The six of them posed outside of Yoyogi National Gymnasium, the place of their first concert; he remembers Inocchi and Leader spontaneously singing their debut song as they were taking the photo, still singing in perfect harmony after all these years. He will never forget how he felt when people joined in as they passed by.
Leader was the first to go. It was always joked about in their youth, but when reality hit, no one was laughing. Slowly the number increased until he was the only one left, sitting in a room all by himself with a photo album of memories. He knows it’s time to go soon, and he has mentally prepared himself for this ever since he saw Inocchi’s smiling face for the last time. “I’ll be waiting for you three,” he remember Inocchi saying as he pulled one of his trademark smiles that glowed under the sunlight.“And don’t forget, we promised we would sing that song together…”
There are no tears shed, there is simply an unified sense of acceptance. The three of them look at each other and nod, entrusting on each other to fulfill his promise. When the other two reach theit limit, they bring up the promise once again, and he nods with the utmost confidence. As he grips onto Ken’s hand tightly, he jokes that they should start the party without him, receiving only a smile that is both weak but still full of life.
That was all he needed.
He eyes flutter slowly as that song starts playing in his head. He can feel his body getting tired, eyes fighting to stay open. He suddenly recalls something he said decades ago, back in his 20s, back when they had only known each other for ten years.“When you die, if five people remember your name, then your life had value.”
Or something like that. He smiles shyly as he realises that it is not them that remember him, but he who remembers them. They all had value in his life, they all had a presence so large that them leaving left a large hole in his heart. He always mentions how much he misses them, but he says it with a smile. They are his friends, his workmates; his wingmen, his groomsmen.
They are his family.
He swears that in that moment, he can hear them calling out to him, the same laughs that kept him through all these years echoing from the clouds. He can’t pick out the words but he assures to himself that they are saying something along the lines of “we’re waiting for you” and “hurry up, the party can’t start without you!”
All he can do is weakly raise his arm towards the window as his eyes continue to droop, the sky losing its bright blue colour as the clouds start bunching up together. The voices are getting louder and louder, and as he finally closes his eyes, he smiles and whispers softly.