The members of Kis-My-Ft2 faced a truly daunting task in the previous episode of Kis-My-BUSAIKU (キスマイ ブサイク), and the one this time seems just as challenging – they have to purchase underwear for their girlfriend. As usual, they’re going to be judged by 100 women in their twenties and thirties and, considering how daunting this task seems to me, I should probably be taking notes on their reactions.

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I would guess, at first blush, that the whole process would be somewhat dependent on the personality of the girlfriend. Will that be taken into account, with the guys signaling what they think their girlfriend’s personality is based on their choice of underwear? Or will they simply be trying to satisfy as many of the 100 judges as possible?

The guest for this episode was Koyabu Kazutoyo-san (小籔千豊), one of the few Japanese entertainers who are solidly taller than I am. They had him start the episode sitting down, though, so we didn’t get to see his full height.

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After they get through the pleasantries, it’s time for business with the introduction of the topic.

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Senga-kun seems inordinately enthusiastic about it. Is he really confident, or just feigning it?

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This is the first episode I’ve seen where they’ve put the topic in the bottom left for much of the episode, with that little bra icon. I’ll leave it to you to decide what their motive was for doing it this time when they hadn’t done it before.

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As usual, I’ll discuss the members in alphabetical order to avoid giving away their results as much as possible.

Fujigaya-kun showed some hesitancy as he approached the store manager rather than his usual confident cool. Instead of stating immediately what he wanted, he let the manager ask whether the present was for a birthday, and he answered that there wasn’t anything special about the day (which got a positive response from a judge).

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He specifies a color – pink (sort of obvious, isn’t it? But here we see that he’s playing to the majority opinion rather than the personality of a specific girl).

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He also gets points from a judge for seeming to know what his girlfriend would like. Since he’s completely fabricating her, this doesn’t seem too difficult, but it’s important that he didn’t act like she was a total stranger.

I’m not going to show all of their choices, but decided to pick two randomly. This was Fujigaya-kun’s choice:

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Tamamori-kun looks somewhat daunted by Fujigaya-kun’s performance. Or is it skepticism that Fujigaya-kun deserved the spot that he got?

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Kitayama-kun is completely straightforward in his approach, stating that he’s aiming to get a present, and thinks that a light blue or pink would fit the intended recipient.

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He doesn’t give any impression of being embarrassed or nervous.

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Perhaps more importantly, the way he engages with the store manager is perfectly smooth, showing the mark of experience.

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Miyata-kun starts out by browsing on his own, in what is clearly an awkward move. The way he asks for help almost makes it seem like he doesn’t want to.

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His body language is odd – he is constantly stepping back away from the manager, and his smile is strained to its limits. Eventually, he starts doing something with his hands that his impossible for me to describe, except to say that it was a bad move. He even seems to wipe away sweat at one point.

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His ultimate choice appears fundamentally unmatched.

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Nikaido-kun continues to be the one with the most to prove, and he didn’t do himself any favors by saying “sugoi” as he walked into the store, as if he had never seen women’s undergarments in such volume before.

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It quickly got a lot worse, though, as he started asking a customer instead of the shop attendant for advice, giving the impression that he had never been to any store before. The stilted way he asked the question was also odd – asking about what a guy would give a girl instead of what he should get his girlfriend.

He started browsing on his own like Miyata-kun did, but he spent more time than Miyata trying to avoid the person who could actually help him. He also said “sugoi” again, which is just weird and completely not self-aware.

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When he finally does approach the shop attendant, his word choices definitely lose him points. In previous episodes, too, we’ve seen the judges criticize his grasp of the Japanese language, and they do so here, too. I’m not in a position to cast stones on that score.

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Besides, there are enough stones coming Nikaido-kun’s way:

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When we found out Senga-kun’s position, it was pretty clear that he really was confident that he did well, but did the judges agree?

Walking into the shop, he bows twice, and starting the whole thing off on a slightly awkward trajectory.

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Instead of asking for help, he starts browsing on his own like Miyata-kun, and this quickly gets bad responses from the judges who immediately declare him a suspicious person (不審者 – fushinsha) and scary (怖い – kowai). I wonder if they would have had the same responses if Fujigaya-kun was the one who started out by browsing? Even the reaction to Miyata-kun doing this was not nearly so harsh. Still, it was undoubtedly a bad move.

He asks for help after a few seconds in which he finally realizes that he’s out of his depth (better to be self-aware enough to know that walking in). Instead on specifying what the girl likes, as Fujigaya-kun did, Senga-kun asks for the color he likes – white. The tremble in his voice gets the thumbs-down, as does his tendency to bow way too frequently.

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Tamamori-kun wanted something that wasn’t too revealing, but stylish and cute. The store manager tells him that the term he wanted for ‘not too revealing’ was ‘hibiki nikui’, but my little dictionary app totally didn’t have that, so it’s no surprise he didn’t know it. The comment from one of the judges at this point was that his reaction (反応 – hannou) was cute, and indeed there was something about his delicate mix of calmness and nervousness.

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Rather than getting points from the judges for being cool about it, he seemed to get points for being amusingly unsettled.

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Like Senga-kun, Yokoo-kun got points off right away for entering the store in an uncool way. There’s no defending the stiff way he made this maneuver – I could imagine myself doing the same while off-camera, but not when knowing I’m being recorded.

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The rest of the story doesn’t go very well for Yokoo-kun, either. He actually says he’s embarrassed, which is quite obviously uncool. He also doesn’t give any reason for his choices – it seems like he knows what he wants, but that it has nothing to do with his girlfriend. So, Fujigaya-kun’s words about what his girlfriend would want turned out to be critical, after all.

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Yokoo-kun’s style of exit also didn’t win him any support.

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In between the member’s clips, Koyabu-san talked about how he’d handle some of the choices involved.

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After most of them had shown their stuff, he started to make more direct notes about their performances. I’m not good enough at translating to offer details, but Senga-kun seemed pleased on at least two occasions.

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And that was the episode.

First of all, I could really have done without the two inserts where they basically advertised underwear – including the 2013 summer recommendations. Those were just crass – completely indelicate commercialism.

Other than that, I think this was a great episode – among my favorite of the series so far. As I guy, I find it really interesting to reflect on these moments from a third-person perspective, since we don’t really get any guidance on how we’re supposed to behave, and might not realize where we’re going wrong. Certainly, some of the Kis-My-Ft2 members could have used similar guidance and will no doubt learn a lot from this experience. Let’s hope they don’t learn too much or too quickly, though, or this show won’t be nearly as interesting (which leads to a question of how intentional their fails are, which I will pass on).

The reason this half-hour was especially good was the clarity of the differences between the members and the responses from the judges, especially for those who only understand a little Japanese. As always when the differences are stark, we get a clear view of the characters involved, and we certainly got that this time.