In the first episode of Gamushara (ガムシャラ), while delighted that a fair number of juniors were getting time in the spotlight, I was a bit distressed by how choppy the show was and how often the director chose to cut to VTRs. Will we see the same problem in this second episode, or will things go smoother this time? I’m going to have a stopwatch going to time how many minutes we’re listening to the announcer instead of the people involved in the challenges.

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As before, Yasui Kentaro-kun was the MC . . .

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. . . but the juniors were more restrained this time, with only Mohohoshi Shoki-kun jumping out to the front to mess around.

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We started with a VTR about Gamushara J’s Party . . .

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. . . and then turned to the spray art challenge that Yasui Kentaro-kun, Suzuki Shunei-kun, and Haniuda Amu-kun started in the first episode.

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We found out that after the recording for the first episode, a staff member asked Yasui-kun to stay behind and practice spray art on his own.

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They seem to have all sorts of locations where they can practice spray art. Here Yasui-kun is doing it while Iwahashi Genki-kun is running in the background, presumably filming the opening.

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After some practice, they find out that they have to make the images double the size so that fans can see it.

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With that realization, they have much more practice to do . . .

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. . . but we’re not going to get to watch them perform their skills on stage at J’s Party until next week. Well, that’s a shorter wait than I was expecting, but it’s still a bit silly for them to spend three or four minutes on it in this episode. Incidentally, we’re five minutes in and the announcer has been talking for two and a half minutes of it (including the opening), so it already doesn’t look like the choppiness problem is going to be solved. I’d also have to say that this was a very weak way to start the episode – they should have saved this update for last, where it could properly tease people into watching next week’s episode. Don’t ask people to tune in next week when this episode has barely started.

Yasui-kun introduces the next challenge, which featured Mohohoshi Shoki-kun and Morita Myuto-kun. Again, it’s nice to see the full range of juniors getting time, and neither Myuto-kun nor Shoki-kun get much of it anywhere else. Shoki-kun seems to have watched a lot of comedy acts – the way he introduced the VTR was reminiscent of Downtown’s Matsumoto Hitoshi-san, among others.

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For the challenge, we saw the guys entering TV Asahi at 6:00 a.m., and it was actually not only Shoki-kun and Myuto-kun, but also Teranishi Takuto-kun and Shimekake Ryuya-kun. Fair enough.

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They have no idea what the plan is when bowls of rice are placed in front of them. Now, if you’ve read my other reviews, you know how much I hate food segments – the sure sign of a staff with no good ideas – so my warning bells were going off here.

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The point was to see what kind of comments they could make about the rice – hopefully something more than “umai” or “oishii”. Most of them did an okay job, but I had to laugh when Myuto-kun responded with just “amai” (sweet).

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The staff responded that all the responses were horrible (dame).

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The plan was to deprive the boys a bit – put them on a brief fast – so that they’d have a better appreciation of the taste of the rice.

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Teranishi-kun was paired with Morohoshi-kun, while Morita-kun went with Shimekake-kun.

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Teranishi-Morohoshi arrived at a temple . . .

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The man in charge checked that they didn’t have cell phones, medicine, or mineral water.

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They got dressed in appropriate clothes and got water for themselves from the temple’s own facilities (that’s why they couldn’t bring mineral water).

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And that tap water is all they can drink, and they are not impressed with its taste. It sounds like Teranishi-kun is already feeling hungry, which isn’t a good sign for this team.

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The other pair is somewhere completely different:

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In fact, Morita-Shimekake seem to be having fun fasting, and Shoki-kun is completely outraged.

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They’re fasting at a health resort, and the one downside, if you see it that way, is that they have to drink a fortifying fruit and vegetable juice.

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Shimekake-kun seems to approve of it, though, so maybe it’s better than the temple tap water.

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Speaking of the temple, the other two boys are busy reciting chants. The reactions from Shoki-kun and Myuto-kun at seeing this contrast are great.

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While these two are suffering, dreaming of their next meal . . .

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. . . Myuto-kun and Shimekake-kun are playing in a pool.

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We’re jumping back and forth a bit too quickly here. Back at the temple, their stomachs are growling.

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After a long day at work . . .

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. . . they get a chance to go topless as well, but it’s only to towel off.

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Jumping over to the resort again, we see the other two in a luxurious bath house. Okay, we get it. Life and the director are both unfair. Very funny. Can we stop going back and forth every few seconds? I like a fast pace and my attention span isn’t great, but this is ridiculous.

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Life at the temple begins very early indeed . . .

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. . . as they have to attend pay homage at the shrine in the early morning. On the bright side, Gamushara got a shout-out from the person chanting there.

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Myuto-kun and Shimekake-kun were still sleeping in, of course.

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Well, at least until 7 o’clock or so, when they had to attend morning yoga.

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The temple team passes by some food in a stall and they can’t resist pining for it.

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I’m getting a little tired of the contrast at this point. You get the picture, right?

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At least Teranishi-kun and Morohoshi-kun can take comfort that their brush calligraphy will have improved – they spent two hours practicing it, after all.

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Horseback riding.

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Which team do you think is going have a better appreciation for the taste of food after this experience?

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Ironically, the goal seems to have been to turn their coherent assessments of food into “umai”. They all just said “umai”. By my standards, they’ve actually de-evolved.

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Actually, Myuto-kun, to his credit, had the exact same choice of words, he just said it more enthusiastically.

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So apparently, the way to become a master gourmet reporter is to say “umai” convincingly. Never have I felt more vindicated in my dislike for the shallowness of gourmet reports.

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That said, this could have been a very enjoyable challenge to watch if they hadn’t jumped around as much as they did, and had allowed the juniors to do more of the talking. It was maddening – there were times we could see them talking, but couldn’t hear them because they were muted and the announcer was talking over them. We are now eighteen and a half minutes into the episode, and the announcer has spoken for at least nine minutes and twenty seconds of that – more than half the time.

The debriefing part where they all got to talk about the challenge was great, though. Not coincidentally, it was the longest uncut part where they juniors got to talk.

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Shoki-kun mentioned something about the staff suggesting that they do shiritori (a word game) with food they want to eat (which would, of course, have only made them more miserable).

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Sato Shori-kun (oh, have I mentioned that the elder three members of Sexy Zone were present?) pointed out that that was also cut out of the VTR. I think everyone was aware that quite a lot got cut out.

There was a little omake-ish segment at the end with Jesse-kun doing English. Now, Jesse-kun has not exactly impressed me with his English skills before and he was here attempting to deliver a mune-kyun phrase (a phrase that would make a girl’s heart race) in English.

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Well . . .

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. . . these phrases might work for someone who looks like Jesse-kun, but they sure wouldn’t work for me. “When are you gonna realize?” in particular seems a tad . . . off. Also, the translations of the phrases into Japanese do not quite convey the same meaning – especially in terms of nuance.

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I really hope we don’t get any more of that – it was sort of embarrassing to watch. Jesse-kun’s pronunciation was passable, but for such short phrases I’d hope most of the juniors would be able to say them almost as well with a tiny bit of practice.

There was another regular corner after that – a “frankness” corner (sekirara) where one junior has a frank message to deliver to another. This time, it was Jinguji Yuta-kun to Matsumura Hokuto-kun.

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The message was so silly and shrug-worthy that Jinguji-kun hid his face on hearing it, and it got a derisive laugh from the juniors themselves. Yasui-kun decided to give Jinguji-kun a chance to explain the comment, as a good host should, and it ended up leading to a good discussion. Too bad the director kept that banner at the bottom and squished the video into the area above it, thus creating a distorted aspect ratio. Even I could have done a better job than that with my video editing software at home, even if they wanted to keep that useless block at the bottom, so this was really inexcusable.

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The good and the bad are once again very straightforward. I’ll start with the bad so that we can end this on a positive note. By the end, the announcer had been speaking for almost half the show, and more than half of the main segment. I wish they’d at least tell us his name, since this is clearly as much his show as anyone else’s.

The way the fasting challenge was cut was horrible and continued the sense that this is a very choppy show. While the boys clearly did their best, the whole storyline was predetermined (the contrast between the temple guys and the health spa guys), and the way the challenge ended was disappointing. I was expecting them to come out with some subtle appreciation for the taste – not the words everyone already uses reflexively. The whole thing came off as entirely scripted.

To cap it off, the aspect ratio issue at the end confirmed what I’ve been suspecting – the director just isn’t very good. Nobody with any video production sense would have squished the main image like that for more than a few seconds.

The positives are the same as with the first episode. We saw ten juniors get some focus in this episode, which is a lot considering there was around twenty-two minutes of program time. Their main challenge was interesting, and the heart of the criticism above is really that we didn’t get enough of it. Also, it looks like the staff does have a lot of ideas for segments, as we can see from the new ones – Jesse-kun’s English corner and the frankness thing at the end. I especially like the idea of the frankness one, and even though Jinguji-kun’s comment wasn’t the most stellar of examples, they managed to make it into a good part of the show.

It’s only fair to give credit where it’s due – Morohoshi Shoki-kun was definitely the MVP of this episode.

Gamushara still has a lot of promise thanks to the raw material – the personalities, the challenges, and the segments. Now, if the person responsible for putting it all together can figure out a more artful way of doing it, this could be much more fun to watch.