WordPress was good enough to remind me that today marks the second anniversary of this site and, to celebrate two years in service, I’m happy to bring word of a brand new and exciting show – Gamushara J’s Party!! (ガムシャラ J’s Party!!).

The first news about Gamushara came out in January, but that was about a series of live events featuring Johnny’s juniors – aspiring male Japanese idols (singer-dancer-actors) in the Johnny’s Entertainment agency. More recently, we got word that it was going to be turned into a TV series – a likely thing anyway, since the live events were put on by TV Asahi. Despite all that, I still had the impression that we were going to get something like Johnny’s Jr Land (JJL), the previous show featuring juniors, because the official description of the show said that the juniors would be taking on challenges, just like they did in JJL. A quick scan of this episode, though, revealed something more like two specials that aired over the past year or so – the Reality of Johnny’s Jr and Top of the Pops – than JJL. In fact, this episode looked more like the documentary/extras disc of a concert DVD.

TV Asahi starts the show off by mentioning its long history with the Johnny’s organization . . . .

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 000

. . . then we get a glimpse at the set where I thought we’d see most of Gamushara’s action. Yasui Kentaro-kun did the intro and there were quick clips of the juniors doing silly things.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0012014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 002

Then we turned to some quick backstage scenes with the announcer’s voice over. None of it made clear what we could expect from the show, though at the very least they promised rehearsal and backroom footage.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 003

The main body of the show begins at the Ex Theater Roppongi on February 1st, with the cast of juniors walking in, dressed in civvies.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 004

The staff asked individual juniors for their thoughts about the upcoming performance, starting with Jesse-kun, Hanzawa Akatsuki-kun, and Matsumura Hokuto-kun. Thankfully, they decided to put Japanese subtitles on everything the juniors said here – should make subbing the show that much easier.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0052014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 006

The announcer talks over some very brief and indistinct rehearsal clips . . .

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 007

. . . then we got thoughts from more juniors – Jinguji Yuta-kun and . . . Jesse-kun. Why do I already get the feeling I’m going to see a lot of Jesse-kun? Anyway, this is all presented as sort of a diary.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0082014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 009

Masuda Ryo-kun has been experiencing a bit of a boom on Shounen Club recently, and he gets some attention early on here, as well.

Kakuta Yuusei-kun, Takahashi Kaito-kun, and Nakamura Reia-kun seemed a bit too nervous to express cogent thoughts.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 011

There was a pre-game huddle . . .

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0122014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 013

. . . and finally the performance began at 6:00 p.m.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0142014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 015

At this point, I’m tempted to approach this review as if it was Shounen Club rather than something like JJL. The opening stage had Yasui, Masuda, Jesse, Hanzawa, Jinguji, Hokuto as well as Iwahashi Genki, Miyachika Kaito, and Okamoto Kauan, all singing “Midnight Shuffle”. In contrast to Shounen Club or a concert DVD, where the audio is thoroughly mixed with cleaner versions of the vocals and processed, the audio here gave more of the feel of what an audience would actually hear.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0162014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0172014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 018

There were also a lot of long camera shots, which are comparatively rare on Shounen Club. The lighting was very distracting on the close-up shots. On the plus side, the cameras clearly knew where to be ahead of time in this song, so that the performer in focus was often perfectly centered. It wasn’t a particularly big stage though.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0192014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0202014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0212014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0222014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 023

Yasui-kun and Hokuto-kun handled the transition to the next bit, pumping the crowd up. It’s a shame Yasui-kun doesn’t get to do this more often on Shounen Club – he’s quite good at it.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0242014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 025

Next, Jesse-kun did some . . . I don’t really know what to call it . . .

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0262014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 027

. . . and then Nakajima Kento-kun, Kikuchi Fuma-kun, and Sato Shori-kun performed a medley of their group’s singles. Much as I like SZ, I hope their role in this show is limited, because they’ve got enough venues to show off their stuff. I think they were just here to help fill the hall and boost ticket prices.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0282014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0292014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 030

It was very interesting to hear the live audio of these songs while they were dancing, though. I knew what the raw audio should sound like, but I don’t think I’ve heard these songs this raw before.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0312014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0322014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0332014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0342014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 035

After they sealed their part with a reprise of their debut song . . .

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0372014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0382014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 039

. . . Jesse, Masuda, and Okamoto took the stage to perform “Overture”. The three SZ members remained on stage.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 040

This was less a performance and more another audience pump-up effort.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0412014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0432014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0442014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 045

The younger juniors involved, including Jinguji, Miyachika, Iwahashi, and a whole host of other, performed “Don’t Stop Sexy Boyz”. Tough to tell how much of this was their live vocals and how much was the backing track.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0472014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0482014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0492014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 050

Miyachika-kun did “Music for the People” solo (with the usual backdancers).

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 051

Genki-kun did “Ai Nanda”. This is basically the same medley that we saw on Shounen Club, except with less post-processing, better camera work and lighting, and more . . . I guess you could say closeness. There was definitely more of a gap between audience and performer on SC than there was here.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0522014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0532014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0542014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 055

Jinguji-kun continued the medley with “Star Rider” . . .

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0562014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 057

. . . and handed it off to Yuusei, Reia, and Takahashi Kaito for “Diamond Hurricane”.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0582014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0592014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0602014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 061

There was a rough cut from that long performance section (more than fifteen minutes straight) to another backstage scene. There wasn’t any transition at all – not even a second of cross-fading. It was weird.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 062

Miyachika-kun, Haniuda Amu-kun, Muraki Ryota-kun, and a junior I don’t have the name of got speaking roles here.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 063

After a station identification logo, we saw Takahashi Fuu-kun, Kuramoto Kaoru-kun, and another junior I don’t know. Kuramoto-kun did a great job speaking his mind quickly – we don’t get to hear much from him, but he seems quite skilled in this area.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0652014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 066

The kid I don’t know had a solo stage next, singing “Love You Only”. This is embarrassing – how can a junior I don’t know at all get to do a solo performance!? I feel like Shounen Club has totally let me down.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 067

He was pretty good, too.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 068

Matsukura Kaito-kun and Matsuda Genta-kun did “Swan Song” after that with some help from Hayashi Ippei-kun. This was a full version rather than the shortened stuff we get on SC, and therefore a much fuller look at how Kaito and Genta are developing.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0692014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0702014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0712014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 072

Following that, Jesse-kun sang “me~Chikyuu no Iro”. I’ll take this opportunity to note that so far the song selection has been very good. I don’t like the high, thin tone of this particular song, but it’s still not something I would skip over out of distaste.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0742014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0752014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0762014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 077

He got to continue with “Kimi to Boku no Uta”, but Masuda-kun and Hanzawa-kun joined in.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0782014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0792014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0802014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 081

They all sounded great in this rendition – probably the best I’ve heard from this trio so far.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0822014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0832014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0842014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 085

Hokuto-kun was next on stage with his solo – “Zenbu Dakishimete”. I’m telling you, this is like the best of Shounen Club.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0872014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0882014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0892014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 090

All four then concluded the sequence with another KinKi Kids song – “Garasu no Shounen”.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0912014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0922014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0932014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 094

I was really happy to see Tanimura Ryuichi-kun – one of the favorites from JJL. I didn’t know the junior standing next to him, but thankfully I at least had him in my database – that’s Sugeta Rinne-kun.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 095

With Hayashi Ippei-kun up to speak next, I reflected on the fact that the junior have mostly been saying very basic things so far. While all of it is pretty easy to translate, little of it is really worthwhile because it’s all the usual sentiments. At least Hayashi-kun punctuated his comment with some dance moves (always nice to see a junior showing off when given the chance).

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 096

SZ’s Shori-kun sang “Onaji Sora no Shita” next. Nice to hear his voice in this less processed version. It was quite clear here. Nice moves, too.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0972014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 0982014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1002014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 102

Speaking of nice moves, if Shori-kun is going to get a solo, surely Kento-kun will get one as well – he did “CANDY~can U be my Baby~”. I was really thankful they didn’t have those huge novelty lollipops here – made the whole performance much, much better.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1042014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1052014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1062014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 107

Kento-kun dancing was a sharp as ever, his vocals were good, and he had some fun with Genki-kun and Jinguji-kun to the delight of the audience.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1082014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1092014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1102014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 111

Well, Fuma-kun has to have his solo, right? He did “rouge”, which is the more pleasant of his solo songs. Here again, we continue to get a top-notch choice of songs.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1122014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1132014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 114

I found it interesting that he had the vocal quartet – Jesse, Hokuto, Masuda, and Hanzawa – as his backdancers.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1152014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1162014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 117

Anyway, all three of the SZ solos were good stuff, and I can’t bring myself to object to them getting the time for them.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 118

But did they really have to do “Bad Boyz” along with everything else?

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1192014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1202014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 122

Don’t worry – it looks like the director anticipated my objection and decided to have the rest of the cast join SZ on stage for the song, making it an energetic way to lead into the final phase of the show.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1232014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 124

The editor also trimmed out a certain song with ludicrous English lyrics that Jesse-kun is prone to sing – allowing a line or two in, but omitting the rest. The little bit that they left in was safe, but they came awfully close to ruining a perfect record when it comes to the music in this show.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 126

Unfortunately, SZ’s “Congratulation” was truncated as well. That’s fair considering how much time the three of them have gotten already, but it’s my favorite song from their new album.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 127

That was basically it for the show except for some backstage clips . . .

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1282014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1292014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 130

. . . a hint that there will actually be challenges for the juniors starting next week (bonus points for putting “Dies Irae” in the background – very dramatic and over-the-top) . . .

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 131

. . . and then Masuda Ryo-kun decided that he wanted to interview some juniors (I like the Kis-My-Ft2 hoodie, by the way).

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 132

His targets were Jesse-kun and Hokuto-kun.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1332014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1342014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 135

They were mostly just messing around for a few minutes, and it seemed like an odd way to end the episode, but it had a similar charm as the Shori Omake segment from SC.

2014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1362014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1372014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 1382014.04.05 Gamushara Js Party 139

Okay, so what do we make of this? There’s no way the rest of the series is going to be like this first episode, but let me analyze this series in its own right first, then expand to my expectations for what might be coming up next week.

This episode was . . . well, it’s everything Shounen Club should be, right? It was like I was watching the real Shounen Club. On the scale I would normally rate SC episodes, it’d get an 11 at least – there was no flaw, the music was great, the staging was well-done, and the energy was phenomenal. I prefer the informal backstage footage and interviews they did rather than Junior ni Q in SC. If Johnny’s doesn’t turn this into a DVD somehow, they’re missing an opportunity.

That said, we’re missing a lot of the usual characters that we see on SC – like the other elder juniors including Noon Boyz, Kouchi Yugo-kun, Kyomoto Taiga-kun, and I could go on and on with the names, but you get the point. With the limited cast featured, it can’t really be considered a super-shokura.

So what is it? I think this concert episode was more of an intro thing, and we’ll get the real format in episode two. Like they said at the start, it will be rehearsals, backstage stuff, and challenges. The rehearsals and backstage material will be fun to watch, but the show will pivot on the quality of the challenges, since those will either keep the energy up or make the show drag.

Unlike Sexy Zone Channel or JJL, it doesn’t look like this show is aiming for general appeal – it’s really something crafted for Johnny’s fans. At least, that’s the way it introduced itself in this episode. Nothing wrong with that, especially since it airs very late (1:45 a.m.) and doesn’t have as much to worry about in terms of ratings. Why are they putting so much effort into a late-late night show? I bet there will be DVDs.

So, it was a brilliant hour – a really solid and enjoyable show – but I still wonder what the show will really be like. I guess we’ll have to tune in next week to find out!