The first Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) of this month scored a 10 out of 10. Will this episode put my rating system to shame by warranting a 10 for the second time in a row, or will we see a more average show?

It began on a promising note – Hey! Say! Jump performing “Mayonaka no Shadow Boy” (真夜中のシャドーボーイ).

For reasons I can’t properly explain, I’ve always liked the song, and it was appropriate since the theme this week was “Night.”

I have to say, though, that the dancing looked a bit sloppy – they seemed a bit tired. Don’t worry, though – they’ll make up for it. There’s plenty of HSJ in this edition of Shounen Club.

After performing the opening, they talked about the theme . . .

. . . then introduced Sexy Zone with “Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu.”

I’ve said more than enough about his song already, so let me just say that they performed it with their normal energy.

The three elder members joined Nakajima Yuto-kun, Takaki Yuya-kun and Arioka Daiki-kun for a chat afterwards:

The talking time was evenly distributed. Then it was time for a Bakaleya 6 medley. The first song was Kinki Kids‘ “Rocks”:

They didn’t really dance to that one, but there was a bit more movement to the next song – “Jam.”

Why does it always look like Kouchi-kun is goofing off while dancing? Maybe it’s just that mischievous smile of his. Anyway, the last song was KAT-TUN‘s “Hell, No.”

It was a notable performance in that this group continues to expand its repertoire, and remains the most exciting junior group on the Shounen Club stage. Otherwise, there was nothing particularly amazing about the singing or the dancing. In fact, I think I’ve both heard better singing and seen better dancing from them before.

Kawai-kun and Totsuka-kun of A.B.C-Z did their regular stint hosting the “Ki ni Naru J” segment. The guests this time were the Kansai Juniors – the same bunch who performed in the September 26th episode. They each got to introduce themselves and they plugged the Osaka Shounen Club episodes that will air on October 31st and November 28th in the usual Wednesday time slot.

After that, Hey! Say! Jump did “Boku wa Vampire,” starting with Yamada-kun on stage solo in an excessive amount of smoke:

He was steadily joined by the other members, and we got a good performance of the song.

Ever since I first heard the song on the album, I’ve had trouble liking it. The electronic stuff is just a bit too heavy, and the vocals too iffy. The performance itself seem to make up for the weaknesses in the song.

Kento-kun and Fuma-kun hosted the “Shokura You Bin” segment. They read a letter from “Kento love-eru” (健人loveえる).

The upshot was that they got Kawai-kun on stage for what Kawai-kun is uniquely qualified to do on the shokura stage – monomane. In this case, the task was the imitate SMAP‘s Kimura Takuya-san when he wakes up.

To their dismay, Kawai-kun forced the other two to try first. Fuma-kun’s attempt went something like this:

Kento-kun managed something a bit less embarrassing:

But Kawai-kun’s voice was spot-on, and got the crowd rocking with laughter.

As an encore, he did MatsuJun dancing to “Ultra Music Power.”

Then Hey! Say! Best performed “Su-ri-ru” (ス・リ・ル).

This was sort of a surprise. I have to say, it was nice to see a HSB performance. It feels like it’s been a long time.

Yamada-kun and Hikaru-kun did the Jr ni Q segment after that. The junior guests were Tanaka Juri-kun, Nozawa Yuki-kun, Kouchi Yugo-kun, and Kurita Kei-kun, and they talked about what they associated with autumn.

The last main performance of the evening was Hey! Say! 7 with “Wonderland Train.”

I said in the September 26th review that I thought they should use props more often in Shounen Club performances. Well, here we are – clearly someone else had the same idea.

This song is a natural complement to “Su-ri-ru” and the performance, while not very challenging for these guys, was still solid.

After that we got a chat between the three hosts and . . . I have no idea what they were talking about. My language skills failed me completely on this one.

The finale was A.B.C-Z’s “Za ABC ~5stars~”, which is another song I’ve had issues with even though the performance of it has always been good and energetic.

The rest of the cast divided into five groups, one around each of the A.B.C-Z members.

To sum up, by the end I felt like this was definitely a Hey! Say! Jump episode. They did four out of a total of seven performances (the others were SZ, Bakaleya 6, and A.B.C-Z in the finale). There was no problem with that, of course, but “Su-ri-ru” and “Wonderland Train” are, forgive me, not the most exciting of songs. I don’t like “Boku wa Vampire,” but I’ll give it one thing – it makes for an engaging performance.

Somehow, by the end of the episode, I came away thinking there had been too little music and too much talking. I’m sure if I timed it all and compared it to previous episodes, it’d come out about the same, but that was the impression I was left with. I think part of the reason was that I was looking for a performance to stand out, but none of them did. At the same time, none of the performances were bad, either. The net result was that there was nothing to take away from them, and they just seemed to fly by.

Nothing really went wrong, but nothing went spectacularly, either. I’m sure HSJ fans will like this episode, though, and with good reason. For my part, I’m eager to see HSJ do something new – Yamada-kun playing the sax in the previous episode, for instance. There was some of that with the use of props in “Wonderland Train”, so between that and the Bakaleya 6 performance, I’ll give this episode an 8 out of 10 instead of a strictly-average 7.