This is the second Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) Osaka special for 2013, and like the episode last week, it started with antics backstage from Kiriyama Akito-kun and Shigeoka Daiki-kun. I continue to hope that this will be a recurring pattern on Shounen Club, but I haven’t seen evidence that Tokyo ever tries to get pointers from Osaka.

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Kin Kan kick things off with KinKi Kids’ “2nd Movement”, which is a very strong upbeat song to start the show with.

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Naniwa Oji followed up with “Don’t Stop Sexy Boyz!” which . . . well, at least it kept the energy up. I have to admit that my initial dismay at the song has softened a bit over time, and I tend to prefer when Naniwa Oji perform it, anyway.

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7WEST did their part to keep the tone up, singing “Dial Up”, though this song does slow things down a bit.

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Then Hamada Takahiro-kun took over with “Stay Gold”, which is a lower amplitude song. This was sort of a letdown in an otherwise good performance so far.

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B.A.D. tried a recovery with “V.I.P.”, but I still don’t like that song – very much my type of song. The order of songs was clearly driven more by seniority of the performers than musical logic. I’d have preferred an opening with just the first three songs, myself.

B.A.D. and Shigeoka-kun handled the hosting duties, but they did introduce A.B.C-Z and note that there would be a collaboration performance with the Kanto group and the Kansai juniors later on in the show.

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Somewhere along the way, Nagase Ren-kun became part of A.B.C-Z:

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And in other shocking news, Goseki-kun talked! It was such an unusual occurrence that Kawai-kun exclaimed the fact in surprise.

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With that, the Kansai juniors took their positions for “HI! HO!”.

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This song is of the type that I would describe as a Kansai Special. That is, it’s an unrestrained celebration song. I really appreciated the spirited role played by the Naniwa Oji members except . . . where was Onishi-kun? He was present in the opening, and there are plenty of chibis here . . . what happened?

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Actually, what happened was that they decided to have him pop out with Hamada-kun and Hamanaka-kun. I guess they’re all in a show together? (at least, that’s how it looked in the last episode, where Onishi-kun was in their performance).

It was interesting, the way they highlighted Onishi-kun and gave him a chance to do his thing. He’s really got something going at this point, and I hope he can continue to parlay it to his advantage as he grows older.

I also liked the solo lines from B.A.D. close to the end of the song. Silly as the song is, the Naniwa Oji and B.A.D. contributions sold it for me.

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The talk segment helping us to cool down from that excitement was led by Kawai-kun and Kiriyama-kun, and they had Kin Kan and Naniwa Oji as guests. The topic was . . . Kiriyama-kun. I think there was an early Maido Jani like this.

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The members of Kin Kan and Naniwa Oji had to say surprising things about the way Kiriyama-kun is like, and boy did they have a lot to offer:

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Best part? When Kawai-kun called Hirano Sho-kun “Shori”, and Sho-kun didn’t even correct him – Kiriyama-kun had to interrupt to make the point. Sato Shori-kun and Hirano-kun do have some broad similarities.

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I’ll rule that an excellent talk segment.

Next, we got the inevitable – the Kansai anthem “Let’s Go West ~K A N S A I !!~”. Nothing new here.

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Kawai-kun and Tsukada-kun did a second iteration of their Kansai junior backstage segment. We’ve seen this only once before . . .

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. . . but I don’t think that was with the 7WEST guys – I think they did B.A.D. last time.

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It still involved grabbing a topic from Tsukada-kun’s box:

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And that says “grip competition”. They have a device that measures grip strength, and it’s Shigeoka-kun versus Tsukada-kun.

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Each of the other 7WEST members picked topics as well. Kotaki-kun got a lung capacity challenge. Kamiyama-kun got to consult Tsukada-kun on a worry of his, and Fujii-kun’s . . . I’m not sure what that was about.

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Hamada-kun, Shigeoka-kun, and Fujii-kun introduce the B.A.D. performance . . .

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. . . which was Shounentai’s  “Kanashimi no Princess e”. It also featured some good backdancers who I don’t know the names of – they provided a high-level opening to the song.

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Finally, a top-notch stage from B.A.D. We didn’t get much of them in the last episode, and “V.I.P.” at the start of this one was . . . insufficient. This performance was good, though – high marks for the dancing, though not challenging in terms of vocals. I do wish they’ve give Kiriyama-kun a ballad to belt out sometime – I think he could do a spectacular job of it.

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Totsuka-kun and Kotaki-kun handled the Shokura You Bin segment . . .

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. . . and they called on Kiriyama-kun and Mukai-kun to demonstrate the (humorous) response to the viewer question.

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Their skit was surprisingly long and involved – these things are usually very brief, but this was a proper scene, and all the more hilarious because it was more than a quick gag.

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Another viewer letter . . .

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. . . brought out Hashimoto-kun and Goseki-kun, who introduced themselves as if they were a manzai act. Can they top what Mukai-kun and Kamiyama-kun did?

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Finally, it was time for the promised collaboration between the Kansai juniors and A.B.C-Z:

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They did “Yami wo Tsukinukete” (闇を突きぬけて), which is clearly something they’ve done for a play, since the staging is way beyond what’s required for Shounen Club – this was proper Broadway stuff akin to “West Side Story”.

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Shounen Club performances don’t get better than that, even though there were some people a tad off here and there (it would be strangely robotic if there weren’t).

The Kansai Jr ni Q segment introduced us to more of the younger Kansai juniors. Shigeoka-kun and Kiriyama-kun were the hosts.

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The first junior guest was 16 year old Ohashi Kazuya-kun, who did a solid hand-stand for them and says he’ll try his best to become a super-idol. I like that spirit.

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Next was Fujiwara Joichiro-kun (藤原丈一郎), who is 17 years old and has been a junior for nine years (at which revelation, Shigeoka-kun bowed to him as a senpai).

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The next guy didn’t get to introduce himself properly because Kiriyama-kun wanted to mess with him. It was Kusumoto Yukito-kun (楠本幸登), who’s 19.

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Fukui Koushiro-kun (福井宏志朗) got a chance to speak after those three . . .

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. . . and he was joined by Fukumoto Taisei-kun (福本大晴). They both had a bit of trouble getting their ages out smoothly – they were 14 and 13 respectively. You’d think that, at that age, every year counts for a lot! Taisei-kun seems to be an energetic sort, and already seems to have a deeper voice.

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There was even time for a chat with Hamanaka-kun . . .

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. . . and Hamada-kun, too.

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So yeah, they covered a lot of ground in that Junior ni Q.

Naniwa Oji showed some hosting chops as they introduced Kin Kan’s performance. I don’t think I’ve seen the three younger members of Sexy Zone do something like this on Shounen Club so . . . maybe they should? Nishihata-kun’s got the hosting cadence down.

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Kin Kan did “Blue Rose”. Is this song theirs, or is it a senpai song? It’s sort of hard to Google “Blue Rose” to figure that one out. I think it’s theirs, in which case it’s a great one and definitely worth a single.

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I especially liked the spoken portions in the middle of the song  – surprisingly powerful (unlike the usual catchphrases we often get in the middle of Johhny’s songs). Kaneuchi-kun won some points here.

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So count that one as a highlight for this episode.

There was quite an eclectic mix of personalities in the next talk segment – Nakama-kun, Hashimoto-kun, Onishi-kun, Kaneuchi-kun, and Hamada-kun.

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It was a tongue-twister challenge, similar to what we saw in a Tokyo episode recently. How will the Kansai juniors do? You’ll have to watch to find out!

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7WEST then sang “Sing for you”, which looks like it was originally something Tamamori/Miyata/Senga from Kis-My-Ft2 did. Finally we find out why 7WEST was briefly in these lime-green feather costumes in the previous episode.

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It was a pretty straightforward song and performance – nothing problematic, but also nothing unexpected. I think 7WEST could have done this performance two years ago without trouble.

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Still, the trouble I once had with Shigeoka-kun’s vocals weren’t an issue here. Seems like there’s genuine improvement there.

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To close things out, everyone was out on stage to perform “Bang Bang!!” – the opening song for Maido Jani (at least, up to the point I’ve watched).

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As expected from the Kansai guys, it was very high-energy way to end the episode, and easily the peak of the show’s momentum. Going out with a “Bang!”, if you will.

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I think most people watching the Osaka episodes and contrasting them with the Tokyo ones will note one thing – the Kansai guys are much better about sharing screen time. Even in the last episode where Shigeoka-kun was getting a huge chunk, it wasn’t really that bad. In this episode it was practically ideal. This is very obviously fostered by Kiriyama-kun in particular, and the elder Kansai juniors more broadly. Rather than everything being segmented, there’s more of a sense that they’re all one family, and they’re all having fun together. That is absent on the Tokyo side, possibly because there’s no equivalent to Kiriyama and the elder Kansais. Even if B.A.D. and 7WEST début, I imagine that the members of Kin Kan and Naniwa Oji will have learned from them how to foster this kind of atmosphere, and the Kansai side will continue to benefit from it.

This episode was far more energetic than last week’s, and after the opening I didn’t detect any missteps. Most of the performances could conceivably count as highlights, so I’ll just single out my favorite two – the Kin Kan stage and the Broadway-style collaboration “Yami wo Tsukinukete”. That said, anything with Naniwa Oji in it will probably put a smile on the face on any viewer who isn’t horribly jaded.

At the end of the last episode, I said that all it needed was some more energy and B.A.D., and we certainly got both here. Those elements, plus “Yami wo Tsukinukete”, are certainly enough to push this episode up to a 10 out of 10.