SMAPxSMAP is the sometimes mundane, sometimes brilliantly eccentric variety show hosted by the group SMAP. In this episode we get a bit of both sides, but it was actually the guests in the mundane side that drew me to this episode in the first place. The mundane side is, of course, the Bistro SMAP segment wherein the idols cook for guests who are typically on to promote something. It’s a novel idea for stars to be cooking for stars, but because I’ve seen the show so often and the segment is a staple of it, I’ve grown to think of it as the normal part of the show. The guests this time were Kondo Masahiko-san, Tamamori Yuta-kun, Senga Kento-kun, and Miyata Toshiya-kun. So, it’s basically a Johnny’s-fest. There’s even a bit with Yamashita Tomohisa-kun at the end.

But first, there’s the eccentric part of the show. This time, it’s Inagaki Goro-san in kabuki make-up . . .

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. . . in a spoof of Yamashita Tomohisa-kun’s drama “Summer Nude”.

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Now, that was interesting enough, but we quickly encountered the reason I don’t review this show often – I had no way of getting most of the humor because the Japanese was beyond me. I tried waiting for subs, but no one has done this episode yet to the best of my knowledge.

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Still, Goro-san’s mannerisms made the scene quite memorable. These sorts of skits are a great way to start a show (compare, for instance, to the dreaded “Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise” segment Arashi ni Shiyagare).

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Okay, on to Bistro SMAP. Most of this is going to be talk, which was why I was hoping for subs without any luck. Still, though, it’s nice to see everyone together, and I especially liked the way Nakai-san brushed the Kis-My-Ft2 guys aside to greet Matchy-san.

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The request for the chefs (all members of SMAP except Nakai-san) from Matchy-san was Karaage. As usual, they’re competing, and this time it’s each member for himself.

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Matchy-san and the three KMF2 guys are on to promote their stage show Dream Boys Jet, which opens today and will continue to the 29th of September. Matchy-san explains the story.

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But really, what we really want to know is the reason Matchy-san is doing a butai – a stage show – after thirty years.

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When it comes to Matchy-san, there has to be a call from Johnny-san involved, right?

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By the way, while the butai is going on through September, Matchy-san also has car racing – his day-job, if you will – to deal with.

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I don’t think I’ve seen Matchy-san sitting around chatting in such a charming way before – he’s usually quite intimidating – and his humor makes everyone’s mood light. The best part is when he has to remember the names of the Kis-My-Ft2 members – it was Matchy-san being Matchy-san, to be sure.

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The first course arrives from Inagaki-san:

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Nakai-san asks Matchy-san about his senpai in Johnny’s.

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This seems like and ideal situation to bring out a graphic with old pictures of Matchy-san and SMAP, and to have them all reminisce about the old days.

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The conversation was lively, but for those watching for Kis-My-Ft2, the three members were largely left out of it . . .

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. . . though at least they got fed (and by their senpai at that):

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Kimura-san offered the second course.

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During some talk about the start of Matchy-san’s racing career and what career they would be ready for if they quit being an idol, Tamamori-kun got to speak very, very briefly.

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I really can’t detail the topics they talked about – they moved from one to the next every minute or so.

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Matchy-san did talk extensively about other Johnny’s including Shounentai. The Kis-My-Ft2 guys contributed how long they’ve been together, their début, and their contemporaries.

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You’ll have to watch (hopefully with subs) to find out why Matchy-san made this face:

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It wasn’t the food, I can tell you. Consider the delightful dishes they had next:

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I think you get the gist of the segment, so I’ll leave Bistro SMAP with some screencaps of the KMF2 guys managing to talk in the second half of the episode . . .

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. . . some more Matchy-san mannerisms . . .

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. . . and finally Katori Shingo-san dressed as Matchy-san (I’m sure you get the joke)

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If you don’t watch SMAPxSMAP regularly, Katori-san dressing up in a way related to one of the guests is one of the staples.

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So, which SMAP member made the best karaage?

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Back to the eccentric stuff, Inagaki-san is not done with his kabuki make-up, nor with the Summer Nude send-up:

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This was classic:

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But otherwise it was just weird (in a funny way).

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Don’t worry, the SMAP guys made it up to Yamapi by performing “Summer Nude ’13” with him in the live stage at the end of the show.

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It wasn’t a bad rendition, and the voices sure came through. The song is easy listening.

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After the live stage, they had a quick conversation with Yamapi to round out a truly Johnny’s episode of SMAPxSMAP.

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If it’s not clear already, I wish this episode was subbed. It wasn’t the most exciting episode of SMAPxSMAP I’ve ever seen, but Matchy-san turned out much more engaging in conversation than I would have expected from previous appearances, and I felt the show both started well and ended excellently. Of course, the main attraction of this particular episode was for Johnny’s fans, and hopefully between the fandoms we can get a subtitled version of it.

Even without subtitles, I think the skits from Inagaki-san were amusing viewing, and of course the live stage at the end was enjoyable for everyone.