Johnnys’ Jr. Land is a variety show featuring teen trainees from the Johnny & Associates agency. They take on all sorts of challenges and performances to demonstrate their ability to become the next generation of Japanese male idol or entertainment talent.

The first segment introduced a new challenge for the juniors. It was followed by a debate island segment, the weekly performance, and the consultation segment where three juniors address a concern from one of their own.

For the challenge, this episode featured changes to the two teams from last week as three juniors rotated in. The pink team was Yamashita Kazunari-kun, Kajiyama Asahi-kun, and Akiba Ryusei-kun. The blue team was Tanimura Ryuichi-kun, Kobayashi Mizuki-kun, and Wakiyama Rei-kun.

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Kajiyama-kun got to do a triple-twirl to introduce himself:

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The challenge is Ajata (アジャタ) – a game in which teams try to toss . . . I’m going to call them bags, but I’m sure there’s a particular term for them . . . into a basket on top of a pole. The juniors give it a try:

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Then, after they’re convinced it’s not as simple as it looks, the specialists are called in to demonstrate their technique:

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They managed to get 100 of the bags into the basket in 16 seconds – no wonder they’re champions.

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They go over the rules. The basket is a bit over 4 meters high . . .

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. . . and the Japanese record for getting 100 bags in is 10.91 seconds.

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So, can these juniors get a respectable time? First, they have to be taught the basic techniques of how to stack the bags (testing how quickly they can do so) . . .

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. . . and to toss them efficiently (will the young juniors really have the strength to toss the bundles of bags up 4 meters?).

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This episode was really about practice and refinement – the real competition will come in the next episode. Still, it was interesting to see them try to get the hang of this unusual sport.

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Unlike the challenge, the Junior debate island segment is a tough one to enjoy unless you understand Japanese. In it, the juniors take different sides on an issue and debate it out.

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The topic this time was the best way to relax. I think they meant to relax someone else rather than oneself – to help someone who is tense – but it could be both. The particular context the fan wrote in about was badminton. The participants in the debate were Yamashita Kazunari, Kawasaki Shota, Takahashi Saneyasu, Akiba Ryusei, Chida Kyohei, and Matsukura Kaito.

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Akiba-kun kicks it off by bringing up the context that they could all relate to – backstage at a concert. They continued in that vein.

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Otherwise, I can’t really translate what they said. They certainly seemed to come up with substantial ideas, though. You would expect them to be well-versed on this topic, of course.

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Yamashita-kun’s recommendation seemed a combination of breathing and pensiveness.

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Next up was the Dream Live – the performance – and here we finally got a pure junior performance (in the past two episodes it had been led by Sexy Zone and Hashimoto Ryosuke-kun respectively). Even better, we got a classic junior song – “Ha-ru-na-tsu-a-ki-fu-yu” – as well as “Summer x Summer x Summer”.

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The performers included Kishi Yuta, Takahashi Fuu, Kuramoto Kaoru, Nakamura Reia, Haniuda Amu, Jinguji Yuta, and others already seen in this show.

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The final segment was Answer Station, where Yamashita Kazunari-kun, Matsukura Kaito-kun, and Chida Kyohei-kun.

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In the course of introducing himself, Kaito-kun said he liked Arashi’s “5×10”, which is one of my favorite songs from them as well.

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The issue they dealt with this time Chida-kun wondering how to crack open eggs because he’s not good at it.

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With a basket full of eggs in front of them, they proceeded to consider the suggestions of fans who wrote in.

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Where does the mug come in?

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This episode was sort of slow. The juniors didn’t really get to spring into action in the challenge yet, since they still had to get the basics down, and there were two talk-intensive segments. The talk segments were mildly amusing – especially the egg-breaking – but also plodded along compared to the fast-paced Pressure Press Club segment. Really, the best part was probably the Dream Live.

A positive aspect of the show was that we got to see a lot of juniors that don’t get any screen time on Shounen Club, including all three in the last segment – Chida-kun, Yamashita-kun, and Kawasaki-kun. In fact, Yamashita-kun was prominent in every part except the Dream Live, making him the MVP of the show.

Altogether, I think this was a step down from the previous episode, so I’ll reluctantly give it a 6 out of 10, with every expectation that the culmination of the challenge in the next episode will bring better entertainment.