Crossdressing in entertainment is somewhat of a time-honored tradition and not really a big deal, but the opening of this episode of ABChanZoo sure tries to make it seem like a big deal and a new phenomenon on the rise. Three guesses what the A.B.C-Z guys are doing in this episode . . . .

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 000

But before we get to that, how about a live performance of the group’s new single “Never My Love”?

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 001 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 002

They started the song next to a mirror this time, so here’s the double-Hashimoto:

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 003

The vocals were way too soft in this rendition – a bit lacking in passion.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 004 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 005

I do like that, unlike on Shounen Club, they put the Japanese translation for the English lyrics for the benefit of the Japanese viewers. Too often on Shounen Club there’s the sense that the meaning of English lyrics isn’t important as long as the words sound good, but here at least they’re taking the song seriously.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 006 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0072013.11.24 ABChanZoo 008

Okay, onto the main event. The victims are Kawai-kun, Goseki-kun, and Totsuka-kun, and they naturally decided to go to Akihabara for their transformation (where else?).

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 009 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 010

They enter a café and bar which has crossdressing waiters. And of course, since it’s Akihabara, they’re dressing as AKB members or the type.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0122013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0142013.11.24 ABChanZoo 015

Frankly, there seem to be more servers than customers, but I’ll assume that the A.B.C-Z guys just picked a time when it wouldn’t be busy.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0162013.11.24 ABChanZoo 017

Without further ado, the A.B.C-Z guys  got right down to picking their outfits. I was sort of surprised how quickly they got into it, but one second they looked like this:

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 018

And in a blink they were all decked out:

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0192013.11.24 ABChanZoo 021

The next step was make-up, and they had expert help for that:

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 020  2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 022

Turns out that the make-up process involves much more than they might have initially expected.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0232013.11.24 ABChanZoo 024

Normally I’d withhold how they looked after their make-over as a spoiler, but in this case they were revealed so early in the episode that I wouldn’t be able to discuss the episode any further without showing you how they looked (or else I’d have to omit all screenshots from here on). So, here was Kawai-kun:

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 025 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 026

Those glasses are a bit much, aren’t they? He looks too much like a comic character.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 027

Totsuka-kun looks like a character from the 1950s, except they call this the office lady style. I’m not too sure about that.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 028 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 029 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 030

And Goseki-kun? I’d place his character in the late 1960s.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0312013.11.24 ABChanZoo 032

Well, how are they going to do in public? (!)

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 033 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 034

There’s going to be a lot of “Where’s Waldo” in this episode, where you have to spot them in a crowd.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 035

This reminds me a lot of what Ohno-san did in the 2013 New Year’s special for Arashi ni Shiyagare. He pretty much did the same thing, including the obligatory visit to the photo booth:

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 036 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 037 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 038

Somehow, Kawai-kun is always very Kawai . . .

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 039

. . . but the other two are completely different and rather well-disguised.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 040

Naturally, this called for a street poll on the question of which of the three was the cutest.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 041 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 042

Rather than having the respondents point at someone and tallying the result up, this poll actually involved asking everyone different questions and getting more detailed reactions.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0432013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0442013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0452013.11.24 ABChanZoo 046

Poor Goseki-kun. Then again, I think all three of them faced some harsh reactions.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0472013.11.24 ABChanZoo 048

And of course, when told that the three of them were Johnny’s members, one person tried very hard to figure out who they were, and ultimately pointed at Goseki-kun and asked if he was in Kis-My-Ft2. She ultimately came up with a name: Senga-kun. Saw that coming from a mile away.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 049 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 050

Okay, so what do they have to do next? Thanks to the fact that they got dressed up so quickly, there’s plenty of time left in the episode.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 051

After a pre-performance talk . . .

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 052 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 053

. . . the two not involved sit and watch . . .

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 054

. . . as audience members enter the studio . . .

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 055

. . . and try to spot Kawai-kun, Totsuka-kun, and Goseki-kun trying to blend in with the fans while in their crossdressing costumes.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 056

Told you there would be some Where’s Waldo stuff.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 057 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 058 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 059

Unlike Totsuka-kun, Kawai-kun doesn’t try to hide his face at all, so he’s pretty easy to spot.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 062 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 063

But where’s Goseki-kun?

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 064 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 065 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 066

They join in as the audience practices the choreography to make sure they can participate during the live stage.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0672013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0682013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0692013.11.24 ABChanZoo 070

Eventually, one girl spots Totsuka-kun and realizes who he is. We still have no idea where Goseki-kun is, though.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0712013.11.24 ABChanZoo 0722013.11.24 ABChanZoo 073

Kawai-kun is still unnoticed.

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 074 2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 075

There’s more to it, but I’ll leave the last two minutes for your enjoyment.

Incidentally, it looks like the program will turn to more ‘manly’ pursuits next time:

2013.11.24 ABChanZoo 080

Anyway, this was certainly a great episode. Not only did Kawai-kun, Totsuka-kun, and Goseki-kun face a formidable challenge, they actually faced three separate challenges – going out to take a photo in their costumes, getting judged by women in the street, and finally having to mingle with their own fans.

If there’s any critique of the episode, it’s that it was too short – the part where they were preparing their costumes was very much glossed-over and there was a lot that was cut out of the street poll portion. At least having so many activities meant that it was fast-paced.

It really feels like this show has become what I’ve always thought a variety show hosted by a Johnny’s group ought to be. I’m obviously still catching up on episodes, but I’m going to review one episode at a time now.