The October of four Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) episodes – a truly remarkable month. So, will this last episode of the four be the icing on the cake or leftovers?

Sexy Zone started the show off with “Young and Beautiful!”, which I blasted when they performed it as a finale a few episodes ago.

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Somehow, it sounds better this time . . . doesn’t it? It really sounded like a decent song here, and I checked the September 4th episode to figure out what changed. They turned the music down – it was way too loud in the Sept. 4th episode. Here, the song is driven more by their voices with the music less obtrusive. I don’t mind the song as much this way. I might even grow to like it. It’s an okay opening song, but a horrible closing song.

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That song was the entire opening, and after it, Hey! Say! Jump hosts Nakajima Yuto-kun and Yabu Kota-kun read a fan letter and introduced the theme – Yell (more in the context of ouen – cheering – rather than yelling in pain or anger).

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The first junior performance was from Matsumura Hokuto-kun and Jesse-kun, who started it with “Anniversary” from KinKi Kids. That was excellent.

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So . . . is the black and white costuming a definite thing now?

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They continued with . . . with “Everybody Go” from Kis-My-Ft2. Well, that’s an odd song to transition to after “Anniversary” – and it was definitely jarring. Plus, I didn’t realize it was a duet, but that’s what they made it here.

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Once we settled into “Everybody Go”, I enjoyed it. It was totally different from what we usually get from this pair, for one thing, and I hope to see them doing more upbeat songs like this, since they seem capable of it.

Next up was out monthly introduction to the members of Twenty Twenty – the group that will presumably serve as boosters for the Tokyo Olympics.

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The one of the new members was nine years old. No offense to him, but I’ll wait a couple of years before learning his name.

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Next up was Kawasaki Koki-kun, who’s eleven. I’d probably hold off on learning his name, too, but it happens to be in my database.

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The third member was a more familiar face – Inoue Mizuki-kun. He was twelve years old when the episode was recorded, but only one day short of thirteen when it aired (Happy Birthday, Mizuki-kun!). Anyway, he’s been in Johnny’s for four years now, and when he got his turn to speak, it showed.

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For instance, he very smoothly asked for permission to show off his talent – acrobatics. Of course, the A.B.C-Z guys hosting the segment – Kawai-kun and Totsuka-kun – couldn’t resist:

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There you have it – three Twenty Twenty members. I’m getting a bit impatient to see Twenty Twenty actually introduced as such when they perform, though. So far, we keep getting new members, but nothing explicitly called a Twenty Twenty performance.

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After that, we got something I don’t think I’ve seen before – the performers standing on stage explaining a song before they perform it. Sexy Zone was due to perform “Bye Bye Dubai”, but they started with Kento-kun explaining the point of the song and then the simpler part of the choreography.

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You know what, I think they should definitely do this more often, but I think it’s probably a one-off.

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It was funny and cute watching the audience trying to get into it, having been encouraged to do so.

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This wasn’t a normal performance of the song, either – otherwise I’d be complaining about it being a repeat of what they did in the previous episode. Instead, it was a very specifically meant to foster audience participation.

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The Kansai segment was next with Kawai-kun and Goseki-kun hosting, and it was a game segment. On the tail of the great musical chairs battle we had last week, this was another of my favorite games to watch – a choreography/dance battle.

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The competitors were Nakama Junta-kun, Kamiyama Tomohiro-kun, Kaneuchi Toma-kun, and Onishi Ryusei-kun – representatives from each of the four major Kansai junior groups.

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If you’ve seen a lot of SC episodes or are otherwise lucky, you’ve seen this game before. The players improvise a dance two beats at a time, each doing what the players before them did then adding steps of their own until one player messes up on what came before.

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Of course, I don’t dare give away the result, but I was a bit disappointed at how few steps it took to knock the players out. I wish they did this game more often. I still remember an old Ya-Ya-Yah episode where it kept going on and on, with a chibi Yabu-kun ultimately winning.

The Kansai performance was B.A.D. singing “Amefuri->Rainbow”. Interestingly, it was a ballad – not something I’ve seen much of from B.A.D.

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As usual, I love Kiriyama-kun’s voice. Junta-kun’s . . . could use some work.

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Still, it was a fine performance and a fresh surprise.

Yabu-kun and Noon Boyz introduced special guest Nakayama Yuma-kun next.

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Is this another indication that Noon Boyz might be up for consideration as hosts? Well, Nozawa-kun looked more like a waiter standing there with little gift boxes on a tray while Sanada-kun was doing all the talking to introduce the new segment.

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Basically, the gift boxes contained questions for the guest to answer. I guess that’s one way to conduct an interview.

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After answering two questions, Yuma-kun took the stage for “Darkness”.

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The song is very much what we’ve come to expect from Yuma-kun – a dark and intense piece that suits his image perfectly (you know, unlike all those NYC songs). It also fits the season, with Halloween only a day after this episode aired.

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He got singing and dancing support from a combined group of Bakaleya and Bad Boys members, and it was very demanding performance for everyone involved. I was totally impressed by the sharpness of it.

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While Yuma-kun’s voice lacks some expressiveness, it’s still very strong and flexible with a decent range. Certainly one of the better voices to grace the Shounen Club stage.

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And ultimately, it was a cool stage and worth a solid 10.

The Ki ni Naru J segment was next, wherein a junior gets a chance to introduce himself. This time, it was fourteen year-old Tamamoto Fumito-kun:

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To summarize the key points – he likes apples, dislikes lemons, and enjoys soccer and surfing.

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Moving right along, Yabu-kun and Yuto-kun introduced A.B.C-Z and kicked off their talk about the theme of the episode.

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Kawai-kun did most of the talking . . .

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. . . and his story was apparently so good that he allowed for no interruptions from the others.

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The group’s performance was of their new single – “Never My Love”. This is a cover of a classic song from the 1960s, most famously done by a group called The Association, and it’s entirely in English.

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In terms of the sound, they did a fabulous job with the song. On the pronunciation . . . it was about as good as I have any right to expect.

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I found the dancing a bit too vigorous for the song – they need to reinforce the music and strengthen the beat if they’re going to dance like this.

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It was certainly another refreshing performance – something new and not what you’d normally expect from SC.

Kento-kun and Shori-kun from SZ handled the Shokura You Bin fanmail segment next. No more Kento-Fuma?

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The letter-writer was very focused on Iwahashi Genki-kun . . .

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. . . so they called out Genki-kun and his performance partner Jinguji Yuta-kun.

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This is the most silliness I’ve seen from Genki-kun in a while.

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I didn’t understand what Jinguji-kun was saying except for “Jinguji World”. I can only imagine what “Jinguji World” might contain.

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Ah, so the reason why Fuma-kun wasn’t hosting the Shokura You Bin segment was because he had his solo next.

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The song was “Fake” and . . . it’s still not my kind of song. Love Fuma-kun’s singing, but I don’t like the heavily electronic music, the temperament of the song, or the rapping.

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That was probably the first weak point of the episode for me.

Jr ni Q continued with Foods for Fall. The respondents featured were Hashimoto Ryo-kun . . .

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. . . Jinguji Yuta-kun . . .

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. . . Morita Myuto-kun . . .

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. . . and Iwamoto Hikaru-kun.

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So, still plenty of Bad Boys J representation, but not as much Bakaleya.

I’m not sure I should make a distinction, though, since they’re all mixed together with a bunch of other juniors in the next performance – “Mysterious Dance”.

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There were definitely four Bakaleyas and at least four Bad Boys, but why did we need all the rest, too? It was a very crowded stage, and any four of them could have done an easy song like this one.

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So score that the second underwhelming stage of the show.

Yabu-kun and Yuto-kun wrapped up the show and introduced the final song . . .

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. . . which was A.B.C-Z’s “Walking On Clouds”.

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No noticeable problems here, of course, and the song is reasonably suited to close the show on.

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And there you have it. The top highlights were the “Bye Bye Dubai” audience participation version and Yuma-kun’s solo, and both of those will end up among my 2013 favorite SC stages. After that, I’d put “Never My Love” as excellent. The Jesse-Hokuto duet was good, the opening with “Young and Beautiful” was okay, and the choreography game was also worth watching.

“Walking on Clouds” was neutral – we’ve seen the song performed plenty of times before. The B.A.D. performance was also neutral – unexpected, but not the most interesting part of the show.

The downsides for me were “FaKe” and “Mysterious Dance”.

This episode and the October 23rd one turned out to be short on junior performances. The juniors had backdancing opportunities and talk segment opportunities, but even the Bakaleyas and the Bad Boys couldn’t get the stage to themselves, much less the younger crews.

So, while I would rate certain parts of this episode very highly, and I think there were a lot pleasant surprises packed in, I’m going to give this one an 8 out of 10. As a unit, the October 23rd episode was definitely better than this one, having fewer soft spots. In terms of outstanding moments, October 23rd had the musical chairs, while this had the “Bye Bye Dubai” thing, “Never My Love”, and the choreography game.