I would not normally review JUMParty because it’s not a TV Show as such, but with Hey! Say! Jump graduating from Shounen Club, I admit to feeling a sense of angst about the fact that I’m covering no show where HSJ members appear. I could start covering School Kakumei, but that only features three members and it’s generally a VTR fest. Anyway, in the middle of contemplating this dismal situation, I starting seeing certain screenshots in my weibo stream that made it look like HSJ had a new show. Alas, it was only JUMParty 4 – a nice surprise, but not really what I was looking for. Well, now that it’s here, I guess we’ll run with it.

In each JUMParty, there’s some sort of competition, and this time it’s a slick kart competition around an oval track. Upfront, I’m dubious about how interesting this can be without a more sophisticated track (I’m not a NASCAR fan and prefer rally racing), but let’s see how it goes. As usual, Arioka Daiki-kun acts as MC.

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The teams are as follows: the red Hey! team had Takaki, Inoo, and Yamada; the white Say! team had Chinen, Hikaru, and Keito; the blue JUMP team had Daiki, Yuto, and Yabu. At the start of activities, they note that Chinen-kun looks like he’ll be fast, but who among the HSJ members really has what it takes to drive in circles?

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Will the greater experience of the older members mean that they will be the better drivers, or will the energy of the younger members win the day? Chinen-kun says that he’s actually fearful and anxious about this, but he strikes a confident pose when saying so – sort of mixed messages there.

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There will be two rounds (heats, if you will), each composed of three races. In each race, three members will go head-to-head, doing ten laps. For the first round, the driver in first place gets three points, the second place finisher will get two points, and last place is worth one point. The team with the most points after both rounds wins.

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The first race was between Yuto-kun, Inoo-kun, and Keito-kun (each of whom got to give a personal message before starting) . . .

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. . . with the remaining members all providing very colorful commentary (especially as the drivers got into the vehicles). The racers each drew sticks to find out who would drive which car.

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It was interesting to hear the guys speculate about who had the upper hand in this race.

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Who do you think will win between these three? As usual, I’ll leave out the results.

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Yuto-kun obviously has a big smile on his face throughout, but so do the other two.

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As I expected, I really wish this wasn’t just an oval. It’s easier for the camera work, but it’s harder for drivers who are behind to catch up once one person has a lead. With a more complicated track, there’s always the possibility that the person in the lead will take a turn badly and lose time.

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After the race, the three competitors got plenty of time to reflect on their experience – first giving individual thoughts, then talking to the other six as a group.

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Race two was between Yabu-kun, Hikaru-kun, and Takaki-kun – a Hey! Say! Best race.

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It’s a tough race to figure out. Yabu-kun and Takaki-kun are both very laid-back, while Hikaru-kun seems to be the one with the most energy. In an intricate track, I’d think the level-headed drivers would have an advantage, but on this track, maybe it’s the person who is most willing to keep his foot down.

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I think each of the teams tried to pump up their own member, but it was hard for me to follow the conversation.

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I think it’s really between these two:

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No offense to Yabu-kun, but I think he’s too mild-mannered for this sort of racing.

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The third race featured Daiki-kun, Yamada-kun, and Chinen-kun – the short members. Ah, I think I’ve pissed off Daiki-kun:

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Just kidding. So, is Chinen-kun really as scared and nervous about this as he claimed, or is he going to be as competitive here as he usually is at athletics.

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Honestly, I take Chinen-kun at his word, and my bet is on Daiki-kun because of experience.

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They all look good doing it . . .

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. . . though Yamada-kun looks deadly serious.

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In sharp contrast to the first race, none of these three smiles all the way through the race.

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They get a good laugh afterward, though.

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With that, they turn to round two (or, if you like, the second heat), in which the winner of each race gets five points, second place gets three points, and the loser nabs two. I think it’s reasonable to up the stakes, since they all now have a bit more practice – the first round was more of a practice.

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The teams each get together to talk strategy:

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While we were watching the Say team talk, the JUMP team was going crazy in the background. I wish we could have seen what they were doing there. They decided to stay more composed when they knew they were the center of attention.

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Well, when I say more composed, that doesn’t mean they weren’t still a bit goofy.

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In round two, the first race was between Yamada-kun, Keito-kun, and Yuto-kun. I’m not even going to speculate on this one.

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Perhaps it’s a battle between the always-smiling Yuto-kun and the somewhat-more-serious Yamada-kun . . .

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. . . who look like the best of pals afterward because . . . well, I can’t tell you that.

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The pre-race talk between Yabu-kun, Chinen-kun, and Inoo-kun for the second race was quite long. Will they put all that energy into their driving?

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I hope someone subs this, because I’m totally lost in these commentary talks before the race.

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Inoo-kun looks confident . . .

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. . . Yabu-kun won’t let anything faze him . . .

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. . . and the audience is on its feet trying to get a better look at the insanity.

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You know, for a guy who does a high-wire act, it’s amazing how Chinen-kun can act like a scaredy cat.

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They’re down to the final race, and as often happens in these things, they decide to change the point distribution. For this race, the winner will get fifteen points, the person in second will get ten points, and the last place will get five. I . . . hate when they do this. I really do. Think about it: the person in last place in this race will score more points than the winner in any other race! That’s insane! It won’t have a practical effect on the result, but still . . . .

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So, between Takaki-kun, Daiki-kun, and Hikaru-kun, who do you think will win? Really, the whole championship comes down to this race.

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That was it. This JUMParty lasted fifty-six minutes (longer than JUMParty 2, but more than half an hour shorter than JUMParty 3), and ended with the winning team getting trophies while the losing team faced a punishment.

It was a great show, of course – I doubt any HSJ fan would be disappointed, and fans were the exclusive target audience. Heck, at this point I think fans are just thrilled to see anything with the entire group in it.

I have to say that it’s a shame we can’t just have JUMParty as a regular series. All four of them have been things that could easily be done as part of a regular TV show. This was probably the most expensive one, considering all the cameras they needed and the location, but a recent episode of Sexy Zone Channel was basically the same thing, also for a full hour. JUMParty 1 was just a jenga competition – very low budget. JUMParty 2 was a New Year game that was fairly simple. JUMParty 3 was a bowling competition – certainly nothing unusual for a variety show. They could keep the group in three teams of three, but switch them up every season, and the teams would go head-to-head in a variety of competitions from the simple to the extreme.

Well, here’s hoping something happens for the group.