Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部 –  the Boys/Youth Club) showcases the song-and-dance skills of Johnny’s juniors – the next generation of Japanese male idols – alongside the more recently debuted groups in the Johnny’s Entertainment agency. The theme of the show this week is “Yell” (エール) and the show opens with NEWS’ “Kibou Yell”, with Kyomoto Taiga-kun, Kouchi Yugo-kun, and Tanaka Juri-kun kicking things off . . .

. . . then noon boyz (back in those sea blue outfits) and the Double Yuta team (see Nov. 7th post for member list). I suddenly noticed that Kuramoto Kaoru-kun has been getting taller – caught me totally by surprise.

Next up was Travis Japan and the Elder Juniors.

And then the other three members of Bakaleya Six – Morimoto Shintaro-kun, Lewis Jesse-kun, and Matsumura Hokuto-kun.

I have to say, there’s a lot more organization to the juniors than I saw a year ago, but some of the apparent teams remain unofficial and unnamed.

With the end of “Kibou Yell”, our three Hey! Say! Jump hosts for the evening – Arioka Daiki-kun, Chinen Yuri-kun, and Yaotome Hikaru-kun – take center stage and introduce the theme with help from fan mail.

For the first main performance, it was Sexy Zone with “Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu.” In previous renditions, I seem to recall Nakajima Kento-kun or Kikuchi Fuma-kun handling the opening lines with their praiseworthy voices. This time, Sato Shori-kun was the one who started the song and . . . I remain unconvinced by his vocal abilities. Plenty of time to improve, of course.

As for the rest of the song after those first few bars, I’m not going to repeat myself about this song. It’s enough to say that nothing about it has changed, and repeated hearings has not improved my impression of it. Worse, the refrain’s catchy, and I actually find myself humming it from time to time.

The hosts talked with Sexy Zone after the performance, with Fuma-kun, Matsushima Sou-kun, and Kento-kun doing the talking.

Next was the junior medley, starting with the chibi juniors, the Double Yuta team, and other juniors performing V6’s “Honey Beat.”

The Double Yuta team and unaffiliated juniors continued with Kis-My-Ft2’s “Wanna Beeee!!!”:

Then, out of all things, they performed Sexy Zone’s “Kimi no Tame, Boku ga Iru.” Didn’t do a bad job of it, either.

Altogether, watching these juniors improve episode by episode is the best part of this show, and things are definitely looking up for this bunch. Still looking for a better name for the Double Yuta team, by the way.

Special guest Nakayama Yuma-kun was up next. After a little talk with the hosts (including Hikaru-kun messing with his forehead again – can anyone explain why he does that?) . . .

. . . Yuma-kun does his new single “Missing Piece.”

As in last week’s episode, the highlight of this performance was the choreography. While the song itself is a tad repetitive, Yuma-kun does a good job of squeezing a lot of emotion into it – something that doesn’t quite come through as well if you just listen to the single audio.

For a little change of pace, they had a Nekketsu Battle next – an “O-e kaki Fight!” (お絵かき – picture drawing).

The contestants were SZ’s Shori-kun, A.B.C-Z’s Goseki-kun, and Taiga-kun and Hokuto-kun from Bakaleya Six. Nice to see some juniors in there, though why they can’t throw in a broader sample in a drawing contest, I don’t know. It used to be a great way to figure out who they were.

Hikaru-kun did the judging, and they had to draw an elephant (ゾウ – zou).

I’ll leave how their pictures turned out and who won as a surprise.

I love how, after they finished drawing, an image of an elephant was displayed behind them as reference, and everyone looked at it, as if no one was entirely sure what an elephant was supposed to look like.

They did get another junior to display Hikaru-kun’s own rendition of an elephant (but they didn’t introduce him, and I’ve forgotten his name!). Turns out Hikaru-kun’s much weaker on elephants than he is on other animals.

Anyway, watch to find out who wins! I couldn’t decide which one I liked best.

After a talk about the theme of the show between the three hosts . . .

. . . it was time for the A.B.C-Z medley of “Za ABC ~5stars~” and “Zutto Love”.

These are the two A.B.C-Z songs I have the most trouble liking, especially “~5stars~”, so I was thankful that the dancing was at least effervescent as usual. Actually, it might have been even more energetic and acrobatic than what we normally see from them on Shounen Club.

Their costumes, though . . . I guess somebody wanted to go with Christmasy colors, but the combination looked sloppy. It’s like they had real costumes on top and suddenly became juniors in the lower half.

The Jr ni Q segment was next, with Chinen-kun and Hikaru-kun hosting. The juniors questioned about happy moments were Iwahashi Genki, Kishi Yuta, Nakamura Reia, and Matsumura Hokuto.

Iwahashi-kun said that he wanted to work for NASA before he joined Johnny’s, which not only explains a lot about him, but also means he’s officially joined my shortlist of favorite juniors. That’s all it takes.

After that segment, we got a Hey! Say! Jump medley from the hosts. Chinen-kun performed “Ganbaretsugo!” (ガンバレッツゴー!) with some of the Elder Juniors. I still think he’s trying to hit notes that his voice would be better off not attempting. Doing so certainly makes his singing stand out, but it also sounds like his vocal cords are in pain.

Hikaru-kun and Daiki-kun then took the stage for a bit of “Score.”

And finally the three hosts performed “Dreams Come True.”

The finale to this week’s show was “Days” – one of my favorite SC finale songs. I think the most attractive aspect about it is that it works best when sung in unison, making it an obvious choice for an ensemble show like this. Elder Juniors and Bakaleya Six kicked things off.

A.B.C-Z, Sexy Zone, and noon boyz joined in:

And that was how this week’s Shounen Club ended.

Well, it was a step down from last week. Consider – even though Sexy Zone has an album out this week, they didn’t perform any new song from the album this time (unlike last week). We did get Yuma-kun with “Missing Piece”, which is still fresh, but otherwise the performances were all old material.

The best parts of the show (opening and ending aside) were probably Yuma-kun’s solo and the junior medley. The Nekketsu Battle was underwhelming – at least, I’ve seen much better battles. Both SZ and A.B.C-Z did their usual things, so nothing above average there. Same with HSJ performing some of their own classics.

Still, there wasn’t anything huge to gripe about, nor anything jarring, so I’ll rate this one an 8 out of 10. Now, I wonder what we’re going to get in the hectic days of December, when television schedules all go awry and there are special events left and right. Cross your fingers.