IZ*ONE is an absolutely massive Korean/Japanese girl group (12 members!) formed with the finalists from the latest season of Mnet’s Produce series of survival audition television shows.
The premise of Produce is simple: dozens of idol hopefuls compete against each other to survive as long as they can, on the backs of public voting after each episode. The lucky finalists get a time commitment to be promoted as a project idol group (two years and six months, in IZ*ONE’s case), upon which completion the members return to being jobless—but with infinitely better prospects ahead of them.
As you might imagine, competition is intense, especially given the success of Produce’s other idol groups so far: season 1's I.O.I and season 2's Wanna One. IZ*ONE (somewhat confusingly pronounced eyes one) is the latest, formed after the third season of Produce, this time called Produce 48.
In a first for Produce, IZ*ONE contains several Japanese members, as this latest season was a collaboration with the Japanese producer behind AKB48 (hence the name of the show) and featured trainees from several Japanese agencies. Three of the final twelve members are Japanese: Miyawaki Sakura, Yabuki Nako, and Honda Hitomi. It goes without saying that this inclusion exponentially increases the potential profit that could be gleaned from this mega-group, given Japan’s much bigger—and more profitable—music industry. Taking off the cynical glasses for a moment, though, I hope this is only the first step toward a more unified entertainment industry and indicative of a broader acceptance of crossovers across the ocean.