And so, we finally reach the last episode of “Johnny’s Journey – Hey! Say! JUMP Takaki Yuya & Chinen Yuri Futarikki France Juudan Kakuekiteisha no Tabi” – the trek of HSJ’s Takaki-kun and Chinen-kun from Paris to Nice.

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The two travelers depart from Entrevaux in the morning of the last day, with Takaki-kun already wearing sandals in anticipation of the beaches of the French Riviera.

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At the penultimate station, they’re captivated by the dawn over the mountains while waiting for the train:

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The last train on their journey arrives, and after they set their luggage down, we very quickly see them in the conductor’s cab. I guess they really enjoyed it on the way in to Entrevaux. It certainly offers the best views.

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While standing there, they reflect on their journey – what Chinen-kun considers his longest week so far (and I’m sure he’s had some pretty taxing weeks).

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While they look through the travel diary, we get the obligatory highlight reel of the series, starting with the Arc de Triomphe:

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From there, their single-minded goal was Mont St. Michel:

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And then they got lost:

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And got lost again, ending up in Riom . . .

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. . . where they had to rely on the kindness of strangers:

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They soared using paragliders:

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And then . . . well, that’s really it, isn’t it? And given the pace of this episode, I don’t think they’ll be doing anything tremendously interesting this time.

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All thoughts turn to Nice and the Mediterranean Sea.

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The temperature is a beach-appropriate 26 degrees Celsius as they step out onto the platform and marvel at the perfect summer weather.

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They head straight for their goal – the beach.

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As they neared, they started running . . .

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. . . but for the steps across a crosswalk, they decided to go with a dramatic reveal, using Takaki-kun’s stole to obscure their view:

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At that was it – goal reached:
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They head into the water fully-clothed (to the possible consternation of some of their fans). I guess they didn’t bring their swimsuits and wanted a moment similar to Kitayama-kun’s Ganges dunking, but it actually seemed a bit weird, after going on about the sea and the perfect weather that they didn’t at least dump their shirts the second time into the water.

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They get a victory pose in . . .

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. . . and then settle down so Chinen-kun can record their final feelings about the trip into the diary:

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Before we see what he writes, it’s back to the debriefing room with Yabu-kun and Hikaru-kun. There, the talk is once again focused on the trip, with Chinen-kun doing the talking.
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Hikaru-kun points out that its the first time he’s seen Chinen-kun talk like this, in what I took to be a weak attempt to show that the young traveler showed some growth as a result of his travels.

Yabu-kun has to push Takaki-kun into saying something. Seems like as long as Chinen-kun isn’t too shy to talk, Takaki-kun is content to sit back and just listen to the conversation. Yabu-kun thankfully doesn’t allow that.

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Jounetsu 8 on livejournal is subbing this series, so I’ll wait on their better translation instead of venturing to guess at what was said.

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The series concludes with Chinen-kun writing down his final thoughts:

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The entry isn’t very probing at all . . .

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. . . mostly, he said that they had succeeded, that it was hard but fun, that they didn’t run from the difficulty, and so forth.

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After they shake hands in another celebration of their accomplishment . . .

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We get a photo reel along with the credits (with many more photos than I’ve captured here):

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To conclude my own thoughts about the series, Takaki-kun and Chinen-kun certainly deserve congratulations for tackling a project that was outside of their comfort zone and doing well enough to keep a HSJ fan tuned in.

The problem with the series was that there wasn’t as much of a sense of accomplishment as in the previous two iterations with Yamapi and Kitayama-kun. Insofar as there was a challenge, it felt contrived – like them losing their way because they mispronounced “Lyon” as “Riom” and failed to check the ticket, leading to the most interesting part of the entire series when they worked on the farm in Riom. Without a conflict, there was no climax, and without a climax, there was to real feeling of resolution when they reached Nice. Considering how comfortable their journey seemed to be, the only reason why they would be excited to reach Nice was to get the journey over with because they felt it tiresome rather than invigorating.

A whole host of improvements could have made this series better. Good cases can be made that these were not the two best members of HSJ to make this sort of show interesting, but they might have been the two members who most needed the experience. So, keeping them at the center of this show, perhaps the first thing that had to happen was a tighter budget that would have forced them to rough it. Second, we never got a reason why they wouldn’t head straight for Nice if that was their goal (a likelihood that would have increased with a tighter budget), and a must-do checklist would have solved that.

A better way of solving it, though, would have been to dump the trains altogether, and have them use bicycles. The time on the trains was basically wasted since they weren’t doing anything or interacting with anyone, and putting them on bicycles would lead them to interact more with their environment and the people of France. They’d have to make intelligent navigation decisions and do some better planning. By the time they reached Nice, no one watching would argue that it wasn’t much of an accomplishment.

So, there have been plenty of recommendations for how the series could have been better, but I’ve settled on budget and bicycles. I think they should have let Takaki-kun and Chinen-kun do a real Tour de France. From the director’s perspective, this would have been too unpredictable to allow, and it would place a heavy burden on contingency planning. Of course, that would have made the series a lot more interesting because, as it was, it seemed like they had to script every struggle Chinen-kun and Takaki-kun faced.

Perhaps the biggest problem was that the people in charge were too intent on keeping Chinen-kun and Takaki-kun from potential failure, when the possibility of failure is precisely what makes a challenge interesting, and what allows a person to grow from the experience.

In short, this series was a noble effort on the part of the two travelers, but an utter failure on the part of those in charge. They had too much faith in Takaki-kun and Chinen-kun’s ability to make the show interesting through sheer charisma and idol-power despite the lack of a plan and purpose, and too little faith in their ability to tackle a genuine challenge.

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