This is the first episode of the new variety show Ima, Kono Kao ga Sugoi! (今、この顔がスゴい! – Now that face is amazing!) hosted by Sakurai Sho-san and Ariyoshi Hiroiki-san, replacing Himitsu no Arashi-chan in the TBS lineup. It’s a 90-minute special (1 hour 12 minutes program time).

What is it about? Will it show promise and featuring interesting stuff or fall flat? Should I continue to review it?

At the start, Sakurai-san says the theme of the show is kao (face). I assume he meant the theme of the show rather than just the first episode, but can they really talk about faces for a whole season?

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In front of a studio audience, they began with some banter (including the fact that Ariyoshi-san has 2 million Twitter followers), giving us a sense of the chemistry between the two of them. Reading from the program notes/script, Sakurai-san almost looked like he was interviewing Ariyoshi-san. It quickly becomes clear that Sakurai-san is the real host, and Ariyoshi-san is there to be Ariyoshi-san (there might be a law requiring that a certain percentage of shows every season have him in it).

 

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This episode’s special guest was Aragaki Yui-san, who certainly has a much remarked-upon face (the audience shouted “kawaii!”). They really kept the topic on faces as they talked to her.

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The panel guests were Ijuin Hikaru-san, YOU-san, Chihara Junior-san, and Sumire-san. And as with panels everywhere, their job is to have their faces shown at the corner of the screen while the VTRs roll.

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The VTRs featured exactly what was advertised – people with extraordinary faces. The first one had Miss Universe Japan (Matsuo Yukimi-san) and Mr. Japan (Suzuki Takayuki-san), and after we got a sense of who they were from the VTR, they appeared in-studio. So, ‘extraordinary’ does not mean freak show stuff – it’ll all be cute and/or beautiful.

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Ultimately, this was a totally talk-centered episode with minimal action. It was all VTR and in-studio stuff (which, to be fair, doesn’t make it too different from share house except there were more guests and fewer Arashis). The point is, it’s extremely language-heavy, and lacks the special segments which break the monotony of talk.

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It did have some highlights. For instance, Matsuo-san (who works as a manga artist as her day-job) did a manga portrait of Chihara Junior-san. More striking were the antics Suzuki-san got up to. He first wowed the audience by doing poses (very model-ish ones while dancing) and Sakurai-san had to do it with him after the first run, which was fun to watch.

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But apparently that wasn’t enough, and Suzuki-san had to strip down to his swimming spandex . . . and still do a little model-dance.

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Around this point, I realized that this show was not for me. Actually, it was around the time Chihara Junior-san stripped to his undies and followed suit.

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There was an animal segment – so non-human faces were covered for the animal lovers out there – but the segment actually focused on high-quality plushies

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There was a bit on a particularly angry performance from Sugisaki Hana-chan, who thankfully had the plushies separating her segment from the Suzuki-san and Chihara-san thing.

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Finally, they covered international faces through discussing beauty without make-up (すっぴん美 – suppin bi).

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They note that the wave exists overseas, and the special guest introduced by the VTR was somehow ranked the top makeup-less beauty in the world (or, to put it another way, the most natural beauty queen) – nineteen-year old Florence Colgete.

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Out of all things, they decided to see what she looked like without and then with make-up. Having her change into a red dress as well was cheating, though.

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And there you have it. One positive thing about the show was that they gave the romanization of the Japanese names so I didn’t have to figure out how to write their names the long way.

On the other hand . . . it looks like they really are going to talk about faces for an entire season. Now, that clearly involves bringing on interesting guests – since everyone has a face, anyone could conceivably appear as guests. So there’s that. What it doesn’t involve, though, is much action or interesting antics beyond what I described. It’s mostly talk and VTRs.

I’ll probably peek at it every now and again, but unless they do something different, I doubt I’ll be reviewing this show going forward. I put it in the same category as something like Real Scope Z. The preview of the next episode showed them eating food (ostensibly to get some funny eating-serious-chili faces) so . . . yeah. If they had showed a preview where they put Sakurai-san and/or Ariyoshi-san in one of the accelerators they put astronauts in to simulate g-forces and gotten shots of their faces during that, I’d have been marginally more interested.

Nevertheless, Sakurai-san did a fine job as host – as you’d expect given his experience. It’s just the content that doesn’t interest me.