The first two episodes of ABChanZoo didn’t really inspire me with much excitement. The best part of both of them was definitely the performance at the beginning of the show, and in both cases A.B.C-Z wasn’t doing their own songs. The teaser at the beginning of this episode makes it look promising, though.

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The start of the live stage (this time they sang Shounentai’s “Kamen Budoukai”) filled me with doubts because they were starting in a small room in front of a mirror instead of on stage,

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But the vocals were still superbly crisp and once they got moving it was clear that they would end up back in front of the studio audience soon enough.

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Instead of screaming at the sight of the idols entering, the audience was ready with a dance move, and that was a nice unexpected touch. While I don’t much like surprises in life, I take great delight in them in TV shows.

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It’s still sad that they’re not doing their own songs, but no one can argue that they didn’t rock “Kamen Budoukai”.

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Will that once again be the best part of the show? We rejoin the northern pair, Tsukada-kun and Totsuka-kun, in their quest to discover Aoyama’s garlic. They’ve already done the necessary farm work and eaten a garlic-infused dinner, so what could be left?

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Actually, all we see is them getting their accommodations for the evening and going to sleep. At first I thought we could have done without this scene . . .

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. . . but it turns out they included it so they could set this image of the Yakushima team (Hashimoto-kun, Kawai-kun, and Goseki-kun) up properly:

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Yup, it’s safe to say that’s not the image you want to go straight into after a commercial break. We get no explanation for them all crammed into the bath at once. Hashimoto-kun keeps asking “what the heck is this?” as if he had no part to play in setting the scene up. Did he just wake up and suddenly find himself in a bath like this?

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After that, they bed down for the night, too, and their host switches off their light for them. Really, they seem like young boys being put to bed.

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But they’ve got a rough start the next day, as they have to wake up before 4 a.m. if they want to catch the fish they’re after.

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With it being almost a new moon, it’s a dark night without any sign of morning that they emerge into as they hit the road.

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But even at this time, the bento shop is open and they grab some food to go.

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They’re at the harbor by 4:30 and preparations are done by 5, just in time for the sun to shed some light on the situation.

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The ship faces some serious waves – and they’re in the rough seas for an hour before they get to a spot where it’s worth casting some nets into the water.

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Once the nets are cast, the A.B.C-Z guys start asking questions to get an idea of the action to come . . .

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. . . but I don’t know how prepared they were when they saw a guy dive off of the boat ahead of them. It turns out that you need to be proactive if you want to catch the flying fish that they’re after – the diver keeps the fish from getting away. They’re not called flying fish without reason, after all.

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It must have been an incredibly tedious time on the ship for the boys, because it’s already eight o’clock – they’ve been at it for hours, but only got a couple of minutes of video out of it.

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The real fun begins when the fishermen haul in a ton of fish and both Hashimoto-kun and Goseki-kun are trying to shield themselves as the fish flap about and struggle.

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Their host shows off the different kinds of wings the fish use to fly. Really quite remarkable.

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Kawai-kun spots that the ship Goseki and Hashimoto are on has just caught something big in its net and shouts to them about it. He identifies it as a mahimahi (shiira).

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The more interesting catch this time was a swordfish (at least, I think it was a swordfish – it certainly poses the sort of threat that the name implies).

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Hashimoto-kun and Goseki-kun help with sorting out the flying fish – the least they could do to help out. I’m sort of disappointed that they didn’t go diving.

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Then they do something I could never do – have a slice of the raw fish, fresh out of the ocean water (which, if you recall, is not the cleanest stuff in the world, and on certain parts of the Japanese coast is worryingly irradiated). Kawai-kun is disappointed that he’s left out of the snacking – he’s on the wrong boat.

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There was a lot of cutting of fish – and in at least one case a fish that was still twitching – and for once an eating segment on a variety show made me lose my appetite instead of giving me a craving.

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Altogether, they got about 900 fish sorted.

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And that’s how their busy morning ended at around 10:15.

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Going back in time a bit, we see the Aoyama pair rising at 6 a.m. and eating breakfast at 6:30. It would have been funnier if they had slept in and were only getting up at 10:15 – after their fellow members to the south had already finished their work.

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With that, another day with garlics began.

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I think I’m justified in being disappointed that the A.B.C-Z Yakushima team didn’t do some diving, and were more or less spectators to the whole fishing process. Certainly, they played much less of a part than the garlic team did. By my estimation, there weren’t any memorable moments.

Worse as far as I’m concerned, they’re not switching to new activities for the next episode – they’re sticking with the Aoyama garlic and the Yakushima flying fish. This is a painfully slow way to begin a new series – there’s a limit to how well garlic and flying fish can retain audience interest, and in my particular case two episodes was my limit. I’ll probably wait until they get a new mission before I think about reviewing this show again. It’s worth catching the performances regardless of the rest of the episode, though.