Roses to our editor Matt Treyvaud for this nugget of info, but he demanded that I type it up due to my past obsession with similar topics:
Many people are starting to notice that Johnny’s Jimusho maintains a bewilderingly-unfriendly attitude towards media companies’ usage of its star talents’ images online. (An example here.) Basically, Johnny’s Jimusho makes a lot of money selling official pictures of its boy stars as 3″x5″ photos (“bromides”) and is super paranoid that kids may print out pics on the web for their walls and collections, thus instantly destroying the entire monopoly boy band market. So we have this bizarre situation where Johnny’s tarento are represented photographically in television shows, but cannot be represented photographically on the show’s website. As we know, the internet in Japan is dangerous and must be approached with utmost caution. (I recommend that newspapers do not start their own websites: band together with two others and give it a shot. But avoid RSS!)
Enter an unlikely compromise: Johnny’s has decided it’s okay to allow “photograph-like pictures” for website promotion. (Johnny Kitagawa is most likely a big fan of Chuck Close.) But oddly, these “photograph-like pictures” tend to look exactly like a first-grader’s experiment with Adobe Photoshop filters. Check out the guy at the bottom right in this show promo shot. Maybe the storyline concerns a fresh-face youth discriminated against after a sudden bout of Low-Rez Syndrome (aka Sudden Pixilation Affliction).
Another silly example: the TBS drama Sasaki Fusai. Koyuki is looking okay, but Inagaki Goro’s got the low-rez blues.
My advice for Johnny’s: buy a printer, try to print out any normal web-ready 72 dpi image, and then bask in the terrible quality of the printing. The entire Japanese entertainment industry thinks computers can do what they do in this scene from Pretty in Pink. Sometimes we think tactical brilliance is behind iron fist tactics, but in this case, seems like it’s just paranoia born from gross ignorance.