The first Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) of this month felt stacked with debuted acts, with the juniors marginalized to the end of the show. Will the juniors get more time in this episode, or will the performers who have already proven themselves still get the lion’s share?

The theme of the episode is sakura (桜), so they kick things off with Hey! Say! Jump’s new sakura song – “Hyakkaryouran” (百花繚乱 – flowers blooming in profusion).

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When they did it in the finale of the January 16th episode, all dressed up and with the full group, I thought there was a chance it might make it onto a single – if not the A-side, perhaps a B-side. This time, the song struck me as way too repetitious to go that far. Oh, well.

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After hosts Arioka Daiki-kun, Yamada Ryosuke-kun, and Yaotome Hikaru-kun introduced the theme . . .

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. . . it was time for the juniors to do the Sakura medley. But . . . we didn’t get the juniors doing it – at least, not just the juniors. Instead, it was the group that shall not be named fronted by Sexy Zone members Matsushima Sou-kun and Marius Yo-kun. And even though Sou-kun and Marius-kun are still sort of juniors in my mind, there’s the simple fact that there’s no reason for them to be there except to promote SZ. After all, the juniors could have easily done this medley without the pair. They started the medley off with a Sexy Zone song – “Suki Sugite” – and also ended with it.

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Aside from “Suki Sugite”, they also did Arashi’s “Sakura Sake”, NEWS’ “Sakura Girl”, and SMAP’s “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana”. And it was an okay performance – a fine performance from the juniors and Matsushima Sou-kun, and a stiff performance from Marius-kun. This has definitely not been Marius-kun’s month.

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Oh, well. Moving right along, we continue up SZ by age with the hosts talking to Sato Shori-kun about sakura.

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Shori-kun prepared a haiku, but when trying to deliver it he accidentally introduced it with the words from his spoken part in the song “Lady Diamond”. I’d need translation support to be able to figure out why he did that – how that particular cross-wiring happened.

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Anyway, he ultimately got the haiku out and all was well.

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He went on to do a solo – “to the Freedom”.

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Well, I say solo, but actually it was a duet with Iwahashi Genki-kun, who has actually been doing a lot of work in this episode without as much credit as he deserves. He was also prominent during the Sakura medley even though he was overshadowed by Marius-kun and Sou-kun.

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I enjoyed the performance, but I wonder which performer would have done a better job with the song solo – Genki-kun or Shori-kun. It’s tough to say.

Kawai-kun and Totsuka-kun of A.B.C-Z handled the Ki ni Naru J segment next . . .

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. . . and if you’re not picking up on the pattern where debuted artists are preventing juniors from getting screen time and attention, how about this: Yamashita Tomohisa-kun was the subject of the Ki ni Naru J segment:

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For those who don’t know, Ki ni Naru J is the segment where we learn a bit more about possibly obscure Johnny’s juniors. Since there’s hundreds of the little fellows around, there’s always somebody who could do with an introduction. Yamapi, on the other hand, really needs no introduction. He had a hand in two of the most successful Johnny’s songs in the past decade – “Seishun Amigo” and “Daite Senorita” – so if someone doesn’t know who he is by now . . . .

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That led into another performance of Yamapi’s new single “Ke Sera Sera”, and I didn’t detect any noteworthy differences from last week’s version. At least, those clowns are still there. I think I preferred last week’s more for some reason – possibly the dancing was sharper.

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I’m getting to like the song, but the demented clowns ruin the performance for me. I might be the only one, though – I get hung up on certain visuals (some of the SZ costumes, for instance).

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