Welcome to 2014 everyone! Johnny’s decided to start the year off right by giving us this special, and I’m happy to make it the first show of the new year I review.

How do I put this? I think YOU Konto Shichaina Yo (YOU コントしちゃいなよ – roughly “You! Do that skit!” – for some reason romanized ‘conte’ instead of ‘konto’ in the show itself) is the best thing some of the Johnny’s members who appeared in it have ever done (especially Nikaido-kun). Yeah, I’ve seen them dance and sing, but as ringleader Katori Shingo-san put it at the beginning of the show (in passable English, by the way), that’s not good enough for idols these days.

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A konto is a comic skit, and that’s what this show is all about – getting some members of Kis-My-Ft2, A.B.C-Z, Sexy Zone, and juniors (with Katori-san and Inagaki-san in supporting roles) to do possibly their first high-grade comic sketches (think Saturday Night Live, though not quite Monty Python).

Right away, you can see a lot of work was put into this, as even the opening credits, which featured one participant at a time, was very stylish. It only got better from there, though.

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Katori-san is, of course, the MC and resident comedy genius. He explains where the title comes from and also notes that Nakajima Kento-kun is the only member of Sexy Zone present in-studio, though Marius Yo-kun will also appear in a skit. I think it was the timing of the recording that prevented Marius-kun from being there, because he’s still only 13.

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The first skit was titled “Barter Meeting” (バーター会議), though I’m not sure what that means in context. It was a meeting between a producer (Kitayama Hiromitsu), scriptwriter (Sanada Yuma), director (Takada Sho), and chief producer (Katori Shingo).

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The first three played the parts straight, while Katori-san, of course, did his crazy thing. They were apparently talking about casting, and Katori-san announced that he had gotten SMAP’s Inagaki-san. They proceeded to discuss casting other Johnny’s members like Miyata-kun.

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They explain what ‘barter’ means in this context, because it’s not something obvious. I think it’s something to do with casting of other people from the same agency when the casting director wants someone from that agency for the main role. Obviously, it’s entirely appropriate that Johnny’s members should be explaining this 🙂

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While watching the skit itself was fun, there was a point where watching Kento-kun’s reaction in the corner was especially good – he was shaking with laughter. Throughout the show, he was probably the best viewer of the skits – having the most interesting expressions in response to what was going on.

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I really hope this whole thing gets translated, because I didn’t understand half of what was going on. Certain skits have been done, but we really need the whole show.

The second skit (or sub-skit to the first one) showed the drama that the barter meeting in the first skit was all about – a hospital drama that, thanks to the casting, now features Inagaki Goro-san as the nurse (?) with Senga Kento-kun as the main doctor and Miyata-kun in there as well. Nikaido-kun and Yokoo-kun were the patients.

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Oh, and there were a flock of juniors in the background. Senga-kun pulled off what is now one of the most popular gags on Japanese TV (which is hard to describe in words, so you’ll just have to watch).

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The guys appreciate their own handiwork, but also face a potentially uncomfortable conversation about the whole barter thing.

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The next skit was a three-parter, with the parts scattered throughout the show. It was a parody of the popular drama Hanzawa Naoki (which I recently reviewed – I’m so glad I watched it all before seeing this otherwise I’d get way less enjoyment out of this!). Miyata-kun played Hanzawa (or whatever slight adjustment of the name they used), and can I say he did a great job of it? I watched some end-of-year monomane specials, and I thought he did a better impression than most of the pros.

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In the drama, Hanzawa’s main enemy is Owada. Here, there are three Owadas: Kowada (little Owada – Tsukada Ryoichi), Chuwada (middle Owada – Nakajima Kento), and Oowada (big Owada – Katori Shingo). The make-up was phenomenal – consider that this is Kento-kun:

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The first part featured volleyball player Obayashi-san making a claim concerning SZ’s volleyball support role.

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We’ll get one part for each of the three Owadas, and at the end of each part, they’ll parody the really long resolution scene of the drama where Owada apologizes to Hanzawa. Again, it helps to have watched Hanzawa Naoki if you want to get the best laugh out of this.

The next skit wasn’t a silly laugh-riot like the Hanzawa parody, but rather a very interesting showcase for Nikaido-kun. They started off showing him in his youth and prime (that is, right now) . . .

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. . . and then what he becomes after quitting the idol business!

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Holy mackerel did this catch me by surprise! Again, the backroom staff were phenomenal here.

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The plot is that Nikaido-kun wants to make a comeback as an idol, and has to face the scouts in a try-out again. He now weighs 91 kg and has a cute family. I tell you, this skit is a thing of beauty even if Nikaido-kun himself was transformed into a lump.

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The culmination is when he joins other prospective idols on a baseball field to show what they can do to scouts.

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You’re going to have to watch to find out what happens next. Does Nikaido-kun earn the right to a triumphant return? Well, there are some memorable moments either way.

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I think this is the best thing I’ve ever seen Nikaido-kun do, flat-out.

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And really, I think Miyata-kun’s imitation of Hanzawa Naoki might be the best thing I’ve seen from him, so let’s get to the second part of that, where it’s Kowada (Tsukada)’s turn to be targeted. Who will Miyata-kun bring out to make the claim? Watch to find out! (Actually, it’s pretty easy to guess.)

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The next bit has already been subbed and is available on the Sexy Zone livejournal community. It features Nakajima Kento-kun in the middle of an all-boy class feeling as if everyone is teasing him and making romantic advances. He can’t tell whether they’re really flirting with him or if he’s just dreaming.

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These sequences are going to be legendary, let’s face it. after twelve years or so, when SZ is around the age of Arashi, it’s going to be crazy fun to look back on this stuff.

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The guys who seem to have eyes for Kento-kun are Jesse-kun, Uchi Hiroki-kun, Takada Sho-kun, and Marius-kun. One of these people doesn’t belong in a high school classroom . . . who the heck thought it would be a good idea to have Uchi-kun in this!? Sorry, but he has ten years over most of the people in the room, and I think the role could have gone to another junior – Yasui-kun, for instance.

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Marius-kun was great here. He’s a remarkably confident actor even at this age, which bodes well for his ability to secure and pull off future roles. I think he’s better at serious roles than Kento-kun, while Kento-kun’s expressiveness means that he does better with humorous parts like this one.

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That said, some of Kento-kun’s expressions in this scene didn’t quite make it – watching him react in the corner helped, though. The director wisely decided to keep the corner cams focused on Katori-san and Kento-kun throughout the skit.

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The way the skit ended was also quite good – Kento-kun managed that extremely well.

Afterward, Kento-kun confessed that everyone’s serious looks at him made him feel somewhat attracted to them, but then he quickly had to backtrack to avoid giving the wrong (?) impression. Katori-san’s responses here were perfect.

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We got the last of the three Hanzawa parody parts, and since this time they had to find someone who could make a claim against Katori-san, they pulled out one of the big guns – Shonentai’s Nishikori Kazukiyo-san.

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There you have it folks – the three Owadas. Tsukada-kun seemed 100% focused on stealing this opportunity to do some acrobatics.

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And now for something completely different. Kitayama-kun plays a director trying to instruct idols who are weak at doing skits – Kawai-kun, Yokoo-kun, and Tsukada-kun. They are going to to their skit with the master – Katori-san. The young idols are eager, but master Katori-san is less than enthused about being matched with them. (Nozawa-kun played a non-speaking but very visible role as the AD.)

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When things get underway, Katori-san throws his body into it while the idols are . . . much less extreme. Katori-san proceeds to set them straight and get them to go the extra mile.

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Well, just with the people involved, I think you know this is going to get wild.

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This was also another one of those times when Kawai-kun looked really young.

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Oddly, the last skit was the weakest of the lot, and was more of a variety show segment. Senga-kun was tasked to go UFO hunting. Now, as a guy who knows a lot about space stuff, I . . . I really hate the UFO sighting people. There’s an anti-science streak about them and they undermine public perception of space endeavors – especially the legitimate search for extraterrestrial life, which I support. I don’t like giving them extra time in the public sphere, especially when legit science gets so little TV time (more so in America than in Japan, which does a mildly better job of the science side).

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The UFO guy ultimately made the excuse that the UFO didn’t come because they had eaten meat (even though he himself had eaten it). Do you know how much energy it would take to change the flightpath of a spacecraft around Earth? I don’t think any self-respecting alien is going to burn that kind of fuel just because some numbskull ate meat. And, as Senga-kun asked, why didn’t the guy say something ahead of time? As I said, I hate UFO people.

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And would Senga-kun know a UFO from anything else – say the ISS or a satellite?

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Anyway, I don’t get how that was included as a skit, and even if we took it as one, it was the least engaging of the lot.

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Fortunately, the show didn’t just end with that. Instead, there was special performance of a song especially written for the show. I think all the performers in the skits from debuted groups got solo lines, which was a rarity for some of them. Nice to see Marius-kun starting it off.

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Now that was a great way to end a spectacular show. Like I said at the top, this was a marvelous hour-and-a-half, and I really wish they could turn it into a regular half-hour series with two skits an episode (they could probably record a whole month’s worth or more at one session), but I guess that’d be too much to ask. Even if that’s not possible, I hope they do it again – at least every New Year’s Day.

Katori-san was, of course, essential, but beside him I think Kento-kun deserves the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Johnny’s on this one. It wasn’t just his parts in the skits, where his acting got plenty of laughs but was also occasionally choppy, but also his reactions to the skits. Everyone did a wonderful job, though, and Senga-kun, Nikaido-kun, and Miyata-kun all deserve special note for their parts in the first few skits. The Busaiku crew continues to get a boost into 2014, and I can easily imagine a variety/comedy show featuring just the four of them – a show that could probably do better than the current Kis-My-Ft2 variety shows.

Anyway, don’t miss this one. It’s still floating all over the place, and if you can’t find it with the English title, don’t forget to try the Japanese title.  It’s still fun without subtitles, but I hope we’ll get to see the whole thing subbed soon. This is the kind of collaborative effort the I would like to see Johnny’s do more of, and certainly satisfies the need I had after watching the Shounen Club Christmas special to see A.B.C-Z and Kis-My-Ft2 working together on something.

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