So here we go: the first episode of KisuHama Learning (キス濱ラーニング) – the sequel, if you will, to the variety show HamaKisu. Again, the show is hosted by Hamaguchi Masaru-san and the members of Kis-My-Ft2. How much will change between the two shows? Will it find a way to improve on what was already an entertaining half-hour?

This show is billed as an attempt to learn using the body, rather than learning sitting at a desk (with a dubious graph provided to show how the former is better than the latter):

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The subject for today is music (音楽 – ongaku). And how are they going to use their bodies? By blowing, of course. Unfortunately, that means that the screencaps are going to be a bit dull for this one, unless you get excited by seeing people blow into recorders.

Yes, recorders. And everyone, audience and Kis-My-Ft2 members alike, has to say “懐かしい!” (natsukashii – how nostalgic!) because I guess we all had to play the recorder in elementary school. I did, here in California, and clearly they did, over in Japan. I really hope every school system around the world teaches kids to play the recorder, if for no other reason that we’ll all have that one, completely innocuous, cultural feature in common.

The goal this time around is for them to go through a number of graded tunes, starting with the one for third graders and moving all the way up to the last year of middle school. I was lucky enough to play the trumpet in middle school so . . . really, if you’re still on the recorder in middle school, you should definitely complain – unless they teach you to play as well as this guy:

He’s a flautist. He’s our guest instructor for the day because, unlike in HamaKisu, Hamaguchi-san is in on the challenge, as well.

The first tune is “Yuuyake Koyake” (夕やけこやけ), which is painfully easy. Each of the eight challengers are given a part – one-eighth of the song (just two bars). That shouldn’t be too hard with a pro to help them out and fingering charts on the wall, right?

Well, Hamaguchi-san strikes out twice in a row to start things off. I can’t blame him. Heck, I can’t remember the fingerings anymore, so who am I to cast stones? But this is not a good sign for things to come.

They were thrilled when they cleared the lowest (third grader) level. How will they do on the next level up, which actually has sharps!? The tune is “Do-re-mi no Uta” (ドレミの歌) – yes, the “Do-Re-Mi” from the movie “The Sound of Music” – hopefully another common cultural touchstone.

A cacophony fills the room as they practice. Can you guess who messes up on the first try?

The instructor for this episode is a real prince of a teacher – he has an extremely patient manner about him.

The third song, for the fifth grade level, is the theme song from the anime “Lupin the Third” – a truly difficult one to play because of the tempo.

At this point, I think it’s clear how this is different from HamaKisu. There, Hamaguchi-san had the upper hand, because they were doing challenges that he had already done in Ikinari Ougon Densetsu. Here, he might be the weakest link. An old-dog-new-tricks thing, I guess – if you count this as a new trick rather than a really old one.

The fourth song – the last at the elementary school level – was “涙そうそう” (Namida Sou Sou – Tears So Often). It’s a familiar tune, but I can’t pin down where I’ve heard it before.

They did not get through the challenge in this episode, and will continue next time.

Aside from the change in Hamaguchi-san’s position, I don’t think there was a real difference between this and HamaKisu – they’re still taking on tasks that they’re not necessarily good at. They still risk embarrassment at every turn. Imagine the elementary school students watching in scorn (of course, it’s past their bedtime, but still). The best thing is how seriously they take the challenge, and how disappointed they are when they fail. Another positive aspect of this episode was the equal share of attention each of the members received.

So, no worries about the new show. Let’s see how they do on the really difficult songs next week.