Japanese JYP Entertainment and Sony Music girl group NiziU rose to prominence so quickly that it proved once and for all that you don’t need to be Korean to thrive in the K-pop training system. Their ascent began with the series that created the group, season 1 of the reality competition Nizi Project. It filmed between 2019 and 2020 and aired in two “Parts,” the first of which comprised auditions and a Japanese boot camp, while the second part sent the remaining contestants to South Korea for six more months of training before the group lineup was finalized. Nizi Project began airing Part 1 on January 31, 2020 and concluded Part 2 on June 26, 2020, and the predebut of NiziU immediately followed. So let’s look back at when exactly Mako, Rio, Maya, Riku, Ayaka, Mayuka, Rima, Miihi, and Nina made both their debut and even their predebut as NiziU, plus their separate debut in South Korea.
NiziU Originally Debuted on December 2, 2020 with Step and a step
First, NiziU predebuted on June 30, 2020 with the single album Make you happy, containing three songs in total that had all been featured on Nizi Project: “Make you happy,” “Baby I’m a star,” “Boom Boom Boom,” and “虹の向こうへ (Beyond the Rainbow).” The “Make you happy” music video was also released at that time, featuring a humorous appearance from JYP founder J.Y. Park himself, and the lyrics reference Twice and Itzy, making clear that NiziU was a true JYP girl group. A “Baby I’m a star” performance video was released in August 2020, and “虹の向こうへ (Beyond the Rainbow)” would eventually receive a 1st Anniversary Special performance video in November 2021 as well.
The name NiziU is pronounced like the English “Need you,” and “nizi” is the Japanese word for “rainbow.” Thus, to explain the meaning of the group name, the “Nizi” in “NiziU” refers to girls who shine through their individual colors, and NiziU need “u” (you), their fans. The name is supposed to be a reminder that “people can’t succeed alone.”
Prior to even the conclusion of Nizi Project, Mako, Rio, Maya, Ayaka, Rima, and Miihi appeared in a few shots of the Stray Kids video “God’s Menu,” released June 17, 2020. After predebut, everyone in NiziU except Miihi then appeared in glimpses in the Stray Kids “Back Door” video, released September 14, 2020.
NiziU finally made their official debut on December 2, 2020 with the maxi-single Step and a step, which featured four songs in total: “Step and a step,” “Joyful,” “Sweet Bomb !,” and “Make you happy.” The “Step and a step” music video was released in tandem. NiziU would go on to perform at popular Japanese New Year’s Eve show Kohaku Uta Gassen on December 31, 2020, a considerable feat for a new group and another demonstration of the sway that JYP Entertainment and Sony Music had. Years of success followed for the group from there, initially focused primarily on Japan. (We maintain an archive of all of the NiziU music videos, if you’d like to see and hear more.)
Finally, NiziU would officially debut in South Korea on October 30, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. KST with the single album Press Play and the lead single “Heartris.” (Felix from Stray Kids featured in the “Heartris” music video, bringing things full circle between Stray Kids and NiziU!)
In summary, NiziU made their original debut on December 2, 2020 with Step and a step, and prior to that, they predebuted on June 30, 2020 with Make you happy. NiziU then made an official debut in South Korea on October 30, 2023 with Press Play.
For more about the group, check out how old the NiziU members currently are, who their amazingly talented leader is, and what languages the group speaks in total. Or for a JYP girl group created under extremely similar circumstances, check out the story behind the debut of VCHA following A2K.