For some reason I thought that this Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) was going to be a Kansai edition, but that’s clearly wrong – we’re still in the Kanto region for this month. The show begins with an English introduction from Jesse-kun. I don’t remember hearing him speak so much English at once, and it was good (except the ‘yeah’ at the end came out a bit awkward). Hopefully he’ll get more chance to practice.

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The opening performance featured Sexy Zone’s Sato Shori-kun, Kikuchi Fuma-kun and Matsushima Sou-kun performing “Kimi no Tame, Boku ga Iru”. Interesting to see Sou-kun stepping in for Kento-kun – I guess Kento-kun was busy with something else. Sou-kun seems to be growing well (I make it sound like he’s a plant . . . ).

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Also on stage were a whole host of other juniors including Bakaleya4, Noon Boyz, Jinguji-kun, Iwahashi-kun, and what seemed to be Twenty Twenty – at least, a lot of the members from that informal (and I guess soon to be formalized now that Tokyo has won the 2020 Olympics!) group.

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I’ve heard the song a hundred times and I know all the juniors can do it – there was a Maido Jani where we saw they had to do the dance and sing it in their audition for the agency. Fuma-kun’s solo line was a good bit, but otherwise the opening was a shrug.

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Our Hey! Say! Jump hosts this time were Yabu Kota-kun and Nakajima Yuto-kun. To my surprise, Yuto-kun started talking to Jesse-kun, and Jesse continued speaking in English! What’s going on?

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Ah, well, the theme of the episode is “global” (though the way everyone pronounces it, I keep hearing “clover”), so that explains it. And you know what, I sort of felt included thanks to the way Jesse-kun was speaking English (you know, the way Sou-kun felt included because Yabu-kun’s arm was draped over his shoulder while the other SZ members were standing behind).

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A junior medley followed. Kishi Yuta-kun started it off by singing a line of KAT-TUN‘s “Destiny”. I don’t recall hearing so much of his singing voice before, so I’m going to assume that it is his voice, and say that it was quite pleasant if understandably tentative.

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After that line from Kishi-kun, they went on to KAT-TUN’s “GOLD” with Jinguji-kun and Iwahashi-kun singing. Not bad, but not much of a vocal test, either. Thanks to a comment from last month’s SC, I’m left wondering whether I’m really hearing Jinguji-kun’s voice, but I’m going to proceed on the basis that it is. The dancing was sharp, though – including good work from the backdancers.

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They rounded out the KAT-TUN medley with “Harukana Yakusoku” and here Kishi-kun, Miyachika-kun, Nakamura Reia-kun and many others also joined in on the singing.

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I think I’d have to rate that performance as average for this particular collection of juniors – about in-line with what I’ve seen from them for the past year.

Despite the face that the medley had little to do with the theme of the show, we returned to “global” with the next set of interviewees:

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First of all, it’s really, really nice to see Anderson Casey-kun up front and getting some attention – he’s been in this for a remarkable amount of time. Too bad it’s only for this sort of topic.

Yabu-kun and Yuto-kun asked about the theme and Vasayegha Hikaru-kun got the first shot at it. For someone his age, he struck me (probably not for the first time) as wonderfully unintimidated when it came to talking on stage.

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Each of the three got their chance to talk, but I didn’t understand enough of it to relay anything. Hearing so much English at the start of the show might have messed up my language calibration.

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Next, Sexy Boyz performed “Don’t Stop Sexy Boyz”, but Marius-kun was absent, so Sou-kun effectively held center stage on his own. And wow did he do a good job of it, even when the junior members of SB got in front of him.

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For the first time, I really enjoyed the performance of this song. I’m still not thrilled with the music, but the dancing was a good complement to it and made up for its failings. I certainly thought this was better than the KAT-TUN medley before it.

A.B.C-Z’s Kawai-kun and Totsuka-kun handled the Ki ni Naru J segment. After recent episodes of SC, it’s noteworthy that it took us thirteen minutes to get to the first appearance of A.B.C-Z.

Anyway, the junior in the spotlight was Kishi Yuta-kun. After his solo line in the earlier performance, this sure makes it seem like he’s getting a boost – perhaps coinciding with his role in “Kamen Teacher”?

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Apparently, they’re all second sons.

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Otherwise, the most interesting thing we found out about him might be that he doesn’t like green peas. Kishi-kun is a quiet sort and it wasn’t a particularly revealing Ki ni Naru J.

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After that, we got to see a performance from the special guest – Akanishi Jin-kun. Naturally, he did his most recent offering –  “Hey What’s Up”.

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I’ll hand it to them – Akanishi-kun certainly fits the theme “global”. And while I hate heavily electronic vocals, the song shows very good compositional sense and is musically solid.

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I really wished he had some backdancers on this one, though. The performance was lacking since we weren’t getting real vocals, and there were no moving parts even though it was a great dance track.

Kawai-kun and Totsuka-kun interviewed Akanishi-kun. I don’t really understand why he seemed so winded and tired after a single song where he wasn’t dancing, though I guess fatherhood can leave a fellow a bit out of shape.

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Shame they didn’t get him to answer something in English (I’ve been spoiled by that opening, I tell you!), but otherwise the conversation was wide-ranging and pleasant. My impression of Akanishi-kun was definitely improved by this appearance.

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Quite strangely, Kawai-kun and Totsuka-kun introduced the A.B.C-Z performance. That was weird because they’d normally have pretty much anyone else do it so they could take their places on stage. It would have been great to have Akanishi-kun do the intro, but even without that they could have just had one of the HSJ guys along for the Akanishi interview, and let him do it. I really don’t understand why they did it this way.

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Anyway, A.B.C-Z stared with the opening of “Zutto Love”, then went right into the refrains of “Walking On Clouds” and “Twinkle Twinkle A.B.C-Z” before turning to “Za ABC~5stars~”. It felt rather disjointed, despite the fact that their songs have a similar feel, because we were switching from one to the other too quickly.

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There were a ton of juniors involved in this one, including Iwahashi, Jinguji, Miyachika, Nakamura Reia, Matsukura Kaito and others in the front in red jackets and more than a dozen elder juniors in black jackets in the back. Altogether, the energy was good and well-choreographed.

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Taking A.B.C-Z in isolation it wasn’t a noteworthy performance, but looking at it stage-show style with all the junior backdancers it was an enjoyable stage.

Time for the Kansai side of things. Kawai-kun and Goseki-kun handled Ki ni Naru KJ, taking a look at Hirano Sho-kun’s profile.

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Nice to see them turning to the younger Kansai juniors, since I feel like the B.A.D. members and 7WEST members have been around for a long time and I know them pretty well. Hirano-kun, on the other hand, is still mostly an unknown quantity to me except for a handful of performances.

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I find it interesting that they have the juniors list their families, but always have to dodge the elephant on that line – the case where one or another parent isn’t there. In Kishi-kun’s case his father was there, but not his mother. In Sho-kun’s case, his mother is there, but no father.

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Otherwise, the thing that struck me most about Hirano-kun was his style – I just love that look. Snappy dresser.

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His hobby seems to be sleeping, and from the sound of it he spends a lot of time doing it. Kawai-kun deplored this as a waste.

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Somehow, Hirano-kun reminds me a lot of Shori-kun, despite obvious differences between them.

The Kansai junior performance followed, and it featured pretty much everyone we already know – B.A.D., 7WEST, Kin Kan, and Naniwa Oji. They did KinKi Kids’ “Garasu no Shounen”, “Jet Coaster Romance”, “Flower”, “Natsu no Ousama”, and “Kanashimi Blue”.

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While the dancing was vigorous, Kinki Kids songs are all slower than what the Kansai juniors usually do, so I was sort of surprised. While they did a good job of the first three songs, it was almost like they were in slow motion compared to their normal pace . . .

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. . . until they got to “Natsu no Ousama” and “Kanashimi Blue” which were more like what I’d look for from them.

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It was a good medley, but I’d say it involved too many songs. That certainly made it challenging since they had to do thorough choreography for each of the songs, but just as I was enjoying one song, they’d change the tune on me.

With Kento-kun out, Shori-kun handled the Shokura You Bin corner with Fuma-kun.

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As usual, this involves a demonstration, so Kawai-kun, Iwamoto Hikaru-kun, and Fukusawa-kun emerged to do the tough part. This is our first real Bad Boys representation of the episode . . .

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. . . and the two of them immediately started making the most of it:

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The situation was how to handle it when you think someone is waving to you and you wave back, but it turns out they were actually waving to someone behind you. Iwamoto-kun had a strong first solution to it, but for some reason Fukusawa-kun seemed unprepared and his attempt was . . . bumpy.

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Sexy Zone fans got a chance to watch the group do their upcoming single – “Byebye Dubai ~See You Again~” – though albeit with only three members (and not the usual three). Again, there was the weird thing where Shori-kun was the one to introduce the song even though there were three non-SZ guys available to handle that.

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Originally, I thought this would be “Byebye Du Bye”, but both musically and lyrically, it’s actually referring to Dubai. Desert, bellydancing, supercars, and a fierce sun all feature in the lyrics, though my Japanese isn’t good enough to make further sense unless I spend some quality time with the song. Don’t ask me why, but it’s actually “Byebye Dubai”. That’s . . . global.

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It’s not the most musically coherent song, though it at least has the consistent attempt at a Middle Eastern motif running throughout. It also benefits from being out-of-the-ordinary. Also, the core melody is very catchy.

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But . . . why would anyone want to buy a single about Dubai? And with the second A-side on the single still unnamed, I’m not 100% sure we’re free from “sexy” being thrown into the title somehow.

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At the risk of seeming to be gushing, can I say how much fun it was to watch Sou-kun during this? I swear he’s the MVP of this episode. The choreography was also intriguing, so the song has that going for it – just that made this stage worth watching. I wonder how this will look with all five members?

Okay, on to Junior ni Q, the question was very simple – which country in the world would you like to go to (to visit).

Fukusawa-kun picked Russia. You now, he has a vaguely Russian feel to him, at that. It seems like he was just struck by how huge it was on the maps when he was young – I totally understand where he’s coming from with that.

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Hayashi Ren-kun picked Hawaii . . . and here I’m not sure if the Japanese “kuni” (国) translates exactly to “country” – I think it can have broader interpretations such that it’s fair to pick a part of a country like Hawaii. Either that, or the Japanese would prefer to think of Hawaii as a separate country.

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Masuda Ryo-kun was predictable in his choice of Pakistan – he’s half Pakistani and hasn’t been there.

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Nakamura Reia-kun went with Switzerland, apparently for snowboarding-related reasons. There was something about taking a helicopter up to the peaks and snowboarding down. As long as it’s not down the Matterhorn . . . .

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Iwahashi-kun has always wanted to visit America (yay!). He mentions Broadway, but remembering he wanted to be an astronaut, I’d recommend he stop by Kennedy Space Center or the Smithsonian. I know Broadway is the good Johnny’s answer, but he strikes me as someone with broader curiosity.

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The next performance was a bit unusual. First, Noon Boyz joined a pack of chibis (Twenty Twenty?) to perform “Sekai ga Hitotsu ni Naru Made”. It was cute. I don’t think there’s anything else I can say about it.

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Then they all did Tegomasu’s “Marui Chikara”. Here, the vocals from Noon Boyz were actually decent. I haven’t been positive about their singing before, but this time they sounded reasonably good.

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Aha! I was wondering where these two were:

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For the record, they did the opening talk, one interview segment with Vasayegha-kun, Jesse-kun, and Casey-kun, and now this. I sure hope people aren’t just tuning in to see HSJ members.

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If people are watching for Sexy Zone, though, I guess they’d have to rate this episode highly as long as they didn’t mind the absence of Kento-kun and Marius-kun. After all, the group was back yet again for the finale. That means that members of the group led nearly half of the performances in this episode (four of nine). This time, they did “Young and Beautiful!”

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The vocals to the song are good, but the music is an absolute mess. The beat is literally a pain to listen to because it’s so badly conflicting with the music. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more lamentable use of synthesized strings (and mind you, I actually like using synth strings myself). I hope I never have to hear this song again.

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The show doesn’t end there, though. Shori-kun got a minute to speak with Akanishi-kun in the omake.

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Which is to say, Akanishi-kun had a minute to be a bad influence on Shori-kun (just kidding!)

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The upshot of it was that Shori-kun got Akanishi-kun to sign a copy of “Hey What’s Up?” – an extra little promotion for Akanishi-kun’s single.

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So there you have it. I found Akanishi-kun to be an unexpected good guest, though I still wish he had backdancers for that performance – perhaps Yara Tomoyuki-kun and the Musical Academy types, even. Other positives included Jesse-kun’s English and the theme as a whole, which was definitely meant to be viewed in relation to Tokyo becoming the host for the 2020 Olympics. I’m sure everyone watching knew what the whole point of “global” as a theme was about, even though they didn’t mention the Olympics. And they sure stuck close to the theme this time.

I think Johnny-san is serious about 2020 and Twenty Twenty, by the way. He might even have visions of a grand spectacle that he wants to put on before he retires (I’m going to blatantly assume that he has no intention of ever dying).

The performance highlights were all quite surprising. I never liked “Don’t Stop Sexy Boyz” before, but I found the rendition of it this time worth a repeat viewing. I’ve never been favorable to Noon Boyz, but the stage with them and the chibis was adorable. I’m fascinated by “Bye-bye Dubai” because it’s so unusual and unexpected, and had some really interesting touches. The Kansai junior performance had a slow start, but the music eventually revved up to match the energy of the performers.

With all the SZ stuff, maybe they should have done something else for the opening. I mean, having songs from the same group in the opening and closing seems . . . excessive. Especially when they had performances in between.

The other parts of the show were either average or lackluster, except that I really hated “Young and Beautiful!” Possibly there was something wrong with the backing track? Anyway, that song left a bad taste.

In the end, I think I’ll give this one an 8 out of 10. The highlights were quite difficult to rate, and I would hesitate to give even the best of them a 10 because they all had downsides (like the Kansai junior stage having too many songs).