Trying to come up with a shorthand for the title of this show is tough. The full title is “Johnny’s Journey – Hey! Say! JUMP Takaki Yuya & Chinen Yuri Futarikki France Juudan Kakuekiteisha no Tabi (縦断各駅停車の旅 – flying through/cutting across local trains trip). You’ll probably find it easiest with J’J and either Takaki or Chinen’s name in Japanese (高木 and 知念 respectively).

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On the bright side, the title just about says it all. This is the third Johnny’s travelogue series this year, each with half-hour episodes and the same general format. The first series was with Yamashita Tomohisa-kun traveling through the United States on Route 66, and the second was with Kitayama Hiromitsu-kun making his way through India. Compared to those two series (and especially Kitayama’s), this one should be a breeze.

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We begin with Takaki-kun meeting Chinen-kun at the airport, with one of them markedly more energetic than the other:

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We get some preliminaries where the announcer defines who the two travelers are for the benefit casual viewers:

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Specifically, they note the gap in age between Takaki and Chinen, and dub them the two spoiled children of HSJ. Then the announcer tells us what France is:

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And apparently France is good with the fine art, music, and literature. Who knew? With that over with, we can get onto the real fun – finding out how much the two of them packed for the trip:

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Obviously, someone should subtitle this. I think we found out which one of them thinks ahead, even if it leads to a heavy bag. They then receive a guidebook and rail passes.

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Takaki-kun has to ask what “rail” means, giving me a bit of a shock. Thankfully, Chinen-kun answered “densha” in a heartbeat.

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By the way, their passes say “France Rail Pass Youth,” leaving me to wonder how old you can be while still qualifying for a youth ticket? Or did they just trust that Takaki and Chinen looked the part?

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Anyway, it looks like they’ve got eight days to travel throughout France (and I think they’re supposed to cover 2000km of this rail system). Eventually, they have to make their way down to Nice.

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And off they go!

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In studio, Takaki and Chinen talk it over with Yabu and Hikaru, leaving me to reflect on how straightforward and comparatively uninteresting the trip would have been if the more mature members of Hey! Say! Jump had gone.

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Appropriately, they spend brief scene talking about the personalities of the two travelers, with Chinen-kun doing the talking and Takaki-kun doing the laughing.

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Their arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris:

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They have to change their budget of yen (100,000) into euros, and Takaki-kun decides that he’ll make the initial approach while Chinen-kun will handle the money.

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How will this work out?

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Well, badly, to be frank. With their combined effort – actually, Chinen-kun tossing out “yen,” “change,” and “okay” – they managed to get the job done, but it was a bit embarrassing to watch. We find out later on that Chinen-kun has a translator app on an iPhone, but surely they could have found a phrase book app or a functional equivalent. Anyway, they got 865.78 Euro from the exchange – almost a 100 Euro loss when compared to the forex rate. I hate having to change money at airports.

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They exit and discover that the weather in Paris is perfectly pleasant, and this gives them a boost as they start out.

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Takaki-kun wants to take some time to see the sights, but he only manages to mention the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower before Chinen-kun snaps back that they don’t have time. I’m a pretty task-oriented guy who isn’t into sightseeing, but even I would insist on seeing the Eiffel Tower if I happened to visit Paris for the first time. The arch . . . I could probably skip that.

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They try to come up with a plan of action to satisfy both of them:

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With that resolved, they immediately encounter another problem.

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Trying to stare down that menacing map, Takaki asks Chinen to bring out the secret weapon – a translator app. It features audible pronunciations of the words, which is lucky, because the way Chinen-kun pronounced “Arc de Triomphe” was . . . well, better than Takaki-kun would do, at least.

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We get introduced to the app:

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On the platform, they look lost, and Takaki-kun whines for a station attendant (駅員). When he did that, I was finally struck by how perfect a pair they are. I wonder to what extent Takaki-kun is playing up his helplessness for the sake of the story (which is a brilliant move), and how much of it is his real personality.

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Takaki-kun tries to get a local to help them out, finally pulling out the phrase book, with Chinen-kun piping  in with “Arc de Triomphe.” Takaki-kun couldn’t pronounce the phrase, but resorted to the old standby – pointing at the phrase in the book.

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On the train, Chinen-kun wisely decides to try some important phrases out on the translator app, starting with “gomenasai.”

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What’s great about these two is that they’re amusing even in the most mundane scenes. For instance, consider their reactions on the escalator emerging from the station at the Arc de Triomphe.

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Once at the monument, they tried for the “lifting the arch” illusion, but Takaki-kun didn’t seen to understand the point of Chinen’s pose. After Chinen-kun explained it, they got Takaki’s picture right.

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Takaki-kun insists on doing a bit of shopping over Chinen-kun’s objections.

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At the Eiffel Tower:

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There’s a Starbucks everywhere:

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Takaki-kun finds out that everything is “でけ~!” (huge) in France when he sees the station.

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Trying to get to Pontorson, they discover (after they got the extremely patient fellow at the information desk to say “demain” to the app) that the next train is tomorrow.

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They then ask a really silly question about how far they could go today, to which he just repeats that they will have to wait until tomorrow. Did they spend too much time sightseeing after all?

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What will they do? It’s expensive to stay overnight in Paris, but it seems like their only choice.

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Takaki-kun does a much better job communicating with the guy at the hotel reception desk, as they find a place with reasonable rates.

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With wrap-up time approaching, they need to do their diary for the day, addressing the entries as letters to each other. Takaki-kun handles today.

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And that was that.

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This was a superb half-hour, moving through everything at a fast pace. I think I had a grin plastered on my face the whole way through, right from Takaki-kun’s goofy pose at the start. I had a feeling it would be good, since Kitayama’s travels through India were also fun to watch, but these two are such a good comedy team that it might even be better than Kitayama’s series (though certainly an easier trip than his). Clearly, they also needed the trip more than Kitayama-kun did, for the sake of broadening their horizons. That’ll also make it more interesting. Will they be able to get something out of this trip in just eight days, or will their experience be purely superficial?

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