Okay, so thanks to a very helpful explanation from daiyamondo223, I now understand what’s going on with these new TV Asahi shows. There are two shows with the word “Gamushara” in their title. This one, Gamushara J’s Party!! (ガムシャラ J’s Party!!), airs on a premium channel in the late afternoon on the first two Saturdays of every month and it is basically like getting a junior concert DVD (or Blu-ray, if you’re watching the HD version) every month with backstage footage built-in. At least, that’s how I see it. In articles, I’m just going to refer to this one as “J’s Party”. The other show airs in late late night – technically on Sunday even though its listed for Saturday – and is simply called “Gamushara”. That’s the one with the challenges, and I’ll give its date as Sunday (so for the first episode I’ll date it April 13th) to try to distinguish between the two shows as much as possible. So, to recap, J’s Party is sort of like Shounen Club, and Gamushara is sort of like Johnny’s Jr. Land. Except they’re not.

Gamushara looks like this:

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And J’s Party – this show – looks like this:

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After the intro (the same two-minute sequence that started episode 1), Jesse-kun took the stage to lead the juniors in “Mirai no Saiten” – the same song from Johnny’s 2020 World that I skewered when they did it on SC. Fortunately, they didn’t have English lyrics at the bottom of the screen as they did on SC, so at least I could try to pretend it was a language I didn’t know (Dutch works – it has a lot of similar-sounding words to English, but isn’t mutually intelligible).

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But you remember how  I raved about the song choices in the first episode review? Yeah, well that’s already out the window. The singing itself was iffy, and the dancing on this number was pretty weak, too.

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They went into a piece called “Olympic”, which sounds like just a tag-along to the first song, then they thankfully cleared the stage for the three elder members of SZ – Nakajima Kento-kun, Kikuchi Fuma-kun and Sato Shori-kun – who sang one of my favorite SZ songs – “Congratulations”. My recommendation? Start watching here – about 4:45 in.

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Interesting how SZ was labeled as “official supporter” (オフィシャルサポーター), which presumably is their title with regard to Gamushara (official supporter can also mean regular guest). The proximity of the show’s recording date to the Sochi Olympics and the fact that the previous song was “Olympic” makes me wonder if there’s also an Olympic connotation. After all, the whole Johnny’s 2020 thing was built with regard to the successful Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid . . . then again, when has Johnny’s ever been subtle about messaging?

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All three did a fine job with the vocals, but the dancing could do with a bit of work – Fuma-kun seemed to be roaming around and not clear about the dance moves while the other two were doing them. It’s possible, since this was in early February, that he didn’t have enough chance to prepare the dance – they hadn’t done it much at that point. Or, it could just be Fuma-kun being loose – tough to say.

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The next segment took us back in time to December 20, 2013, when the Gamushara J’s Party event was being announced to the press. We get to see clips from the press conference. Luminaries such as Jesse, Iwahashi Genki, Yasui Kentaro, Matsukura Hokuto, and Jinguji Yuta got to share their thoughts at the start. Jesse-kun was quite nervous – he might want to get lessons from Yasui-kun on how to do this part. Jinguji-kun was over-the-top, as usual.

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Then the official supporters – the three members of SZ – gave their own thoughts.

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Apparently, Jesse-kun is the leader of the juniors for this show, so he got the final word.

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That only took two minutes, then we got what I’m sure most fans really want to see from this show – the backstage footage. After all, there are plenty of other opportunities to see them on stage, whether it’s SC or in concerts. Seeing them in rehearsal and backstage, though, is a special treat. I didn’t really pay attention to what Hokuto-kun was saying here – I was more interested in watching the practice behind him.

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In the Nakamura Reia-Takahashi Kaito-Kakuta Yuusei trio, Reia-kun still does most of the talking. I think the time spent on JJL really gave him a boost at times like this. Kaito-kun did manage to get a sentence out, but Yuusei-kun didn’t.

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Didn’t we see this same entry footage last time? I guess maybe that was a preview of what we’re going to see this time?

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Lots of Hanzawa-kun in this. For the past two years, most of the juniors who experienced booms got part of that through dramas, but Hanzawa-kun has managed to get some limelight without anything like that.

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And then, after some video of on-stage rehearsals, there’s this fellow:

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Jinguji-kun goes overboard as usual and Kento-kun, hearing him at it, gives him a slap on the head for it.

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I don’t always rate his on-stage performances highly, but I like Jinguji-kun’s spark and character – he’s an amusing fellow with quick humor. He jokes around a bit with Kento-kun here.

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Ah, the costume rack. Hanzawa-kun explains that usually each rack has the costumes for two people, but this time there are so many people that four people are crowded onto one.

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This guy is having some trouble fitting his costume on:

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The juniors get a look at the set list to see when they have to make their changes. Vasayegh Hikaru-kun is a bit nervous about the costume situation this time.

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Genki-kun and Jinguji-kun have having a business-like chat that we can’t quite hear.

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Hayashi Ippei-kun always seems ready with his thoughts. Good voice, too.

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The junior largely get themselves organized as far the costumes and such are concerned, but there’s still plenty of staff involved to make sure things go right. This tech staff member is handing out the microphones:

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This is where the backstage look gets really interesting – you can see all the technology that goes into this sort of thing and the tech people who handle it. We see a number of people including Genki-kun, SZ, and Yasui-kun watching the full dress rehearsal from the wings – probably the best part of the backstage experience.

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Finally, it’s time for the fans to file in . . .

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. . . and the banners (I guess) to be unfurled.

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Watching Matsuda Genta-kun and Matsukura Kaito-kun discuss the timing of a part of their dance was fascinating. Then we got a few words from Masuda Ryo-kun and Iwahashi Genki-kun.

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Somehow, more than the parts where they’re speaking directly into the camera, I preferred the parts where they were just milling about and getting ready. Something more natural about it.

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Poor Hokuto-kun’s hair doesn’t seem to like to cooperate. From the back, his outfit sort of makes him look like a skeleton.

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Four minutes before showtime, they do the huddle:

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And voila! That’s how they got prepped for the performance.

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During the opening, we still get a lot of shots from the wing, so it’s much more interesting than just the pure concert footage.

That took us about halfway into the episode, and then the focus turned back fully to the stage – no more backstage stuff for a bit. Jinguji-kun started off singing “DISTINY”, and I have never ever heard his voice this clearly. He’s still got a very young voice, so I hesitate to even judge it until it he works on it and it settles down. It could be workable.

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After a line of “DISTINY”, Genki-kun joins him for “GOLD”. Interesting microphone balance on this one.

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Miyachika-kun joined them for “Harukana Yakusoku”, but there are also a lot of other juniors singing. I was a bit disappointed, since with all the singers it’s difficult to assess the voices. Man, is Miyachika-kun energetic, though – I think during the dress rehearsal, Kento-kun noted that as well. The other two were basically standing still the whole time by comparison.

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The next song was “Maybe Your Love” as performed by . . . Vasayegh Hikaru-kun! Well, this is a surprise! I didn’t know he was up to doing solo stages. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn up his microphone at all, but he still had good stage presence.

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Following him, the skater trio – Reia-Kaito-Yuusei – did “Ai no Beat”. This was around the time that we saw Reia-kun aiming for a cool persona on SC, and we see that here, too.

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Yasui Kentaro-kun got a fully solo stage next – not even backdancers. He sang “Take Over”.

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I don’t think there’s a junior right now who’s more ready to debut than Yasui-kun – I just hope they put a good group around him soon.

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Speaking of which, Masuda Ryo-kun was up next with “You & I ~ Sono Hi no Tame ni ~”. How stunning were the vocals here? We only got a verse before he introduced Akatsuki-kun, but any record company exec would have heard that and killed for the chance to sign him.

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He and Akatsuki-kun did a bit of “Mou Tomaranai”, then turned it over to Hokuto-kun for “Gomen-ne Juliet”. Thankfully, he wasn’t in that skeleton outfit. Considering how much dancing he was doing he didn’t sound too bad, but he had trouble conveying tension in the critical lines of the song.

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Jesse-kun with fedora and pinstripe suit took over to sing “Sayonara no Etoranze” (Sayonara no Stranger).

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Interesting that Masuda Ryo-kun and Hanzawa-kun did backdancing – or really, side-dancing – for him. In recent SC episodes, it doesn’t look like the agency intends to keep them as a trio.

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Anyway, Jesse-kun did a fine job with this one – a nice jazzy number with casual vocals.

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After Jesse-kun tossed his fedora off to the side, juniors flooded the stage and the cast got individual intros while dancing.

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And then the whole cast danced together and began the finale sequence. The first song was “Boogie Woogie Cat”.

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The net result was a mess of juniors and SZ members doing random things on stage. It’s at times like this when you can see who the real stars are – the ones who know how to get attention.

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It was really tough for the cameras to give us a good view with so much going on and no clear pattern. I’m not too sure who thought the low angle shots were a good idea, though.

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Some of the juniors cleared the stage as the song switched to SZ’s “We Gotta Go”, but there were still a lot of them including Jesse, Jinguji, Iwahashi, Miyachika, the skater trio, and a bunch of others alongside the three SZ members.

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The PV for the song played on the big screen in the background.

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Just in case you didn’t get their names during the dance intros, most of the juniors lined up and got their closing credit from Kento-kun.

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You know what happens after they wave goodbye to everyone, right?

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Well, actually, in this case the show ended – no encores. We did get to see how the backstage scene looks after a concert.

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And we also got a glimpse of next month’s J’s Party, which is a whole new concert with a whole new selection of juniors, including Nozawa-kun, Sanada-kun, Tanaka Juri-kun, Shintaro-kun, and more juniors who were not present in this month’s shows. Nice to know.

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My assessment of this episode is pretty simple – after the first five minutes, it went very smoothly, and was wonderful viewing all the way through. Now that I understand what this show is going to be all about, the schedule for it, and the fact that we’ll eventually get a broader range of junior involved than we saw here, I’m quite satisfied. Since it’s a premium channel, it’s not competing directly with SC, which is broadcast.

Except the opening, it was pretty much highlights all the way. That’s not to say that the performances were perfectly polished, but rather that I wouldn’t think of skipping anything, and I would gladly watch all of it repeatedly despite the flaws.

It wasn’t as good an episode as last week’s though – I have to admit that.

I wonder if we’re going to get one surprising junior solo each time. Last week it was Tajima Shogo-kun who I had never seen do a solo before, and this time it was Vasayegh Hikaru-kun. I would be happy to see that trend continue.

I hope you get a chance to watch it for yourself. I guess we’ll have to wait till May for the next installment of J’s Party. For now, we still have the Gamushara challenge show to look forward to, so expect a review of that soon.