In just under two years, TWICE has taken Korea by storm with smash hits such as “Cheer Up” and “TT.” Their success in Korea couldn't have been predicted, but JYP Entertainment always wanted TWICE to be a global artist. TWICE is a multinational group, consisting of five Korean members, one Taiwanese member, and three Japanese members. Seeing the potential to branch out into the rest of Asia, the first stop on their path to global domination was Japan.
Earlier on in the year (February 23, to be exact), TWICE announced they would make their Japanese debut on June 28. The announcement seemed a bit early, as people had to wait nearly four months for their actual debut, but JYP Entertainment began promotions straight away. TWICE opened an official Japanese Twitter account, where the group gave exclusive details about their debut. This was a smart move on behalf of JYP, as Twitter is great way to engage with an international audience. In March, it was revealed that TWICE would host a debut showcase in Japan in July. This event alone sold out due to the group’s popularity already showcased in Korea. Though many idols debut in Japan at some point, TWICE already had an advantage. Momo, Mina, and Sana are Japanese and have gained attention for their individual skills since appearing on SIXTEEN.
As it grew closer to the group’s Japanese debut, there were still questions to be answered. It wasn't clear if TWICE would release a totally new song in Japanese, or whether Korean songs would simply be translated to the other language. Their Twitter account was the only source of information, which was in ways limited. Once Korean promotions finished for “KNOCK KNOCK,” TWICE began promoting in Japan, though only participating in interviews rather than actual performances. This worked to further heighten anticipation. After what seemed to be the longest wait, TWICE revealed the cover art for their Japanese debut album, #TWICE. A short video was released via Twitter, revealing that the album would consist of 10 tracks, with all of their title tracks added onto the album, and the songs split evenly between Japanese and Korean.
When the month of June approached, TWICE opened their Official Japanese YouTube channel. A variety of short clips and spoilers of the Japanese tracks were released, which was the first time people heard TWICE sing in Japanese. All members were praised for their pronunciation, with many assuming this was due to the help of the Japanese members. What should be noted is that, at the time, TWICE was promoting “Signal” in Korea and simultaneously preparing for their Japanese debut (which is impressive). A sneak peek of the “SIGNAL” music video was released on their Japanese channel once Korean promotions ended. When TWICE traveled to Japan for their showcase, JYP Entertainment pulled out all the stops when it came to promotions. Merchandise, billboard posters, and even a projection of “TT” displayed on Tokyo Tower were arranged to make sure everyone knew that TWICE was making their debut.
On June 20, TWICE surprised ONCEs and released the Japanese version of their song “TT” along with an accompanying music video. I personally love it when groups change up their original music videos when branching out into different markets. For the Japanese version, TWICE is at a drive-in cinema, ironically watching themselves on screen. This version is much more upbeat, which creates a unique summer vibe (rather than the Halloween theme showcased in the Korean music video). Though simplistic, it’s fun and will remind you of how catchy “TT” truly is. As stated before, TWICE was promoting “KNOCK KNOCK” at the time, so it’s hard to believe they had time to film the Japanese music video. Though it seemed TWICE would be releasing other music videos, “TT” is still the only full version available.
Finally, on June 28, #TWICE was released on Oricon. Some international ONCEs uploaded the tracks on YouTube, with the content quickly gaining attention. Due to the language difference, some of the songs may sound odd in Japanese and, in some cases, the translations deviate from the original. Many were curious as to how the non-Japanese members would sound, but their pronunciation lived up to expectations. It was obvious that TWICE had been working for months on pronunciation, making sure to get every detail just right. Personally, I was impressed with Chaeyoung and Dahyun, as they had to learn how to rap in Japanese (which is impressive for how fast-paced they rap in “CHEER UP”). The album not only received love worldwide, but Japanese ONCEs also showed their support. On the first day alone, 46,871 copies were sold on Oricon, which is incredible for any debut. On the second day, 14,608 copies were sold, placing them first on the charts. All their hard work paid off, with TWICE celebrating their accomplishment with over 15,000 ONCEs at their showcase.
Once again, no one could have predicted the amount of success TWICE would have in Japan, though JYP Entertainment went all out with promotions. TWICE is easily capable of announcing a Japanese tour tomorrow morning, with a high probability of tickets selling out in minutes. After watching a few interviews of TWICE in Japan, it seems that the non-Japanese members can understand and communicate well in Japanese. I like how the members aren't fully relying on Mina, Momo, or Sana during interviews and instead try to reach out to the Japanese audience themselves. Now that TWICE sees how popular they are in Japan, we may end up seeing them release original music in Japanese with an even bigger response.