This is the very first episode of Maido Jani, a half hour talk show hosted by the Kansai junior groups Kin Kan and Naniwa Oji. I thought it’d be good to review this show alongside Johnny’s Jr Land, especially since it started so recently that I can cover it from the first episode on. At first, I didn’t know whether I could get copies of it at all, but it looks like the kansai-juniors livejournal community is doing an excellent job keeping up with the episodes.

In this episode, Kin Kan was Mukai Koji-kun (向井 康二) and Kaneuchi Toma-kun (金内 斗馬). Naniwa Oji had its full membership – Nishihata Daigo-kun (西畑 大吾), Nagase Ren-kun (永瀬 廉), and Onishi Ryusei-kun (大西 流星). Mukai Koji-kun was the MC.

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The topic for this episode was Sexy Zone, the youngest debuted Johnny’s agency group. In general, the topics for Maido Jani will not be so internal to the agency, but I guess Johnny’s wanted to try to get SZ fans tuning in, too, since the hosts for this show were in the same age group as SZ.

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Aside from Kin Kan and Naniwa Oji, there was an adult observer/helper – entertainment reporter Komai Chikako-san (駒井千佳子). Komai-san apparently covers SZ, so she’s a specialist in the topic.

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Naniwa Oji was responsible for the footwork – visiting SZ backstage at their concert.

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Before they show their interview of SZ, though, they talk about some photos – a behind-the-scenes look at the concert.

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What was really remarkable was how all of them were willing to speak up and shared screen time smoothly. I’m sure plenty of planning and rehearsal was involved, but it all came off very naturally.

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There was a cute VTR of Naniwa Oji onstage at the concert during the SZ MC talk.

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The younger group also posed with the infamous SZ roses (used during performances of SZ’s debut single). Komai-san compared Nagase-kun to Shori-kun.

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They also showed a bit of Fuma-kun singing sans-mic.

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Next, they talked about the cuteness of Marius-kun’s smile:

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Onishi-kun seems to be quite the Shori-kun fan.

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At Komai-san’s request, Naniwa Oji come up with some photogenic expressions.

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They close things out with the special event – the interview with Sexy Zone.

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The interview was only two minutes long, but that was actually in-keeping with the quick pace of this show so far,

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After the interview, Kin Kan and Naniwa Oji had their “Show Time” – their performance segment. In this case, they performed a spirited rendition of “Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu” and “Zutto LOVE” flanked by other Kansai juniors. Kin Kan then followed up by doing “Super Delicate” and Naniwa Oji returned for “She! Her! Her”. There was no way to evaluate their singing from this – it was pretty clear we weren’t hearing much of their voices – but otherwise the performance was an okay start. I think we’ll definitely see them improve over the next few months.

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Altogether, even though they spent most of the time talking, this felt like a very tight episode because they spoke quickly and moved from point to point without any awkwardness or unnecessary pause. There was a good overall flow to things which is often missing from Japanese talk shows, which are often full of cumbersome transitions and roundabout conversation.

I enjoyed the way they built up the topic of SZ before showing the interview, demonstrating their own interest and enthusiasm for their senpai. The structure of the show was helped by the fact that none of the boys were in the least bit hesitant to speak. I’d say Nagase Ren-kun was the quietest member, but he still managed to capture a memorable moment for himself when Komai-san had them do those expressions. They seem almost as talkative and comfortable around each other (while on a stage with an audience watching their every move) as Arashi or A.B.C-Z, which is really saying something.

This is a very different show from Johnny’s Jr Land in two major respects – it’s focused on a consistent group of juniors instead of rotating through a larger selection, and it is a talk show instead of a challenge show. As a result, I don’t really see covering both shows as redundant at all – watching one is a very different experience from watching the other.

Thanks to the kansai-juniors livejournal community for providing what would otherwise be a difficult-to-find show.