Gamushara J’s Party!! (ガムシャラ J’s Party!!) is a music variety show that features on-stage performances from Johnny’s juniors, the idol trainees of the Johnny’s Entertainment agency, as well as some backstage footage to show all sides of the experience. It is associated with another TV Asahi show called Gamushara, in which the same juniors featured in J’s Party also take on a variety of challenges.

My main hope going into the June episodes was that we see a wider selection of juniors than we saw in May. The opening credits highlighted Jesse, Hanzawa Akatsuki, Masuda Ryo, Miyachika Kaito, Nakamura Reia, Takahashi Kaito, Matsuda Genta, Suzuki Shunei, Haniuda Amu, and Kishi Yuta. So . . . that’s exactly the same number of juniors as we saw in May – ten. Is this going to be a pattern with this show, that we only see ten juniors each month? If so, I guess it could work out as long as they keep rotating most of them. And here, between May and June, I think Jesse-kun is the only person in J’s Party for both months.

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The show begins with an overture and the dramatic entrance of the three headliners – Jesse, Hanzawa, and Masuda – singing Kis-My-Ft2’s “Everybody Go”.

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The rest of the cast of ten soon join them, but except for Kishi-kun, the rest act as backdancers. It’s interesting to see Jesse-Hanzawa-Masuda since they’re a vocally adept trio, but even more interesting to hear Kishi-kun in the mix and getting solo lines in their company. Kishi-kun’s voice provides a contrast to those of the other three.

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I also like the choice of “Everybody Go” as an opening song – very appropriate. They followed it with “Real Face” . . .

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. . . then, out of nowhere, “Lady Diamond”. That was a big change in music from the first two songs to this one. I understand they needed a song to suit the younger juniors – Takahashi-kun, Nakamura-kun, Matsuda-kun, etc – but I’ve heard these guys perform edgier songs (and I’m sure we’ll see some of that later in the episode).

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Worse, because there were so many people singing, it was impossible to tell the extent to which we were hearing their voices versus the backing track (as opposed to the first two songs, where it was very clear).

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After “Lady Diamond” we got an interesting scene, as Jesse-Masuda-Hanzawa sang “Chankapana” while the other seven held the microphones for them, almost like a press gang.

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The reverse happened for “Honey Beat”, except here the reason was clearer – it allowed the seven members of team two (as I’m starting to think of them) to do the dance for the song with hands-free.

So . . . why didn’t they just use headset mikes? Well, I guess there’s some positive to doing something different, and this was definitely that.

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It’s strange to see Matsuda Genta-kun here without his usual partner-in-crime Matsukura Kaito-kun, by the way. I wonder why they decided not to have the dynamic duo together.

Anyway, the opening medley wasn’t done yet, as they went right into “Suki Sugite”, and did a nice job of it. This feels like the last song of the medley . . . please tell me it’s the last song of the medley – six songs is already past my limit.

Yes it is!

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They greet the audience and Jesse-kun prompts a word from Kishi-kun, who is participating for the first time. Hanzawa-kun ends up noting that Jesse-kun has been in every single one of the J’s Party episode, and I’m not sure why this should be a point of note, since from the first episode it looked like he was supposed to be the leader for this, much as Yasui Kentaro-kun is leading up Gamushara.

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After that brief bit of MC talk, Kishi-kun took over to perform SMAP’s “Lion Heart”. Well, this is certainly new – I don’t remember seeing him do a solo in Shounen Club, has he?

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Jesse-kun, Hanzawa-kun, and Masuda-kun all backdanced.

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Unfortunately, even though we hear Kishi-kun’s voice, it’s not very distinct – possibly due to the audio system. In any case, I wasn’t expecting vocal fireworks from him the way I do from the other three, and I’m just happy to see him broaden his horizons – he’s already a very engaging dancer.

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Continuing with the SMAP songs and also showing more of his dancing, Kishi-kun went on to sing “$10” – a song he only recently performed on Shounen Club with Jinguji, Iwahashi, Abe Aran, and Miyachika. Here, he just has Miyachika along with him.

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They make a very good pair – I enjoyed this version better than the one with all five members, since these two are sharper dancers than the other three. These two also seem to have more fun with a performance, while Iwahashi and Jinguji in particular tend to be excessively self-conscious and measured about their movements.

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Speaking of Takahashi-kun and Nakamura-kun performing edgier songs, here they were doing Kis-My-Ft2’s “Ai no Beat”. Again, they were short a member of their team – Kakuta Yuusei-kun.

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It was hard to distinguish Takahashi-kun’s voice from the background music, but that was secondary – Nakamura-kun had all the flair, charisma, and mobility in this performance.

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The key, once again, is seeming to have fun with the performance, and this is one of Reia-kun better efforts on this song.

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Takahashi, Nakamura, Haniuda, and Matsuda continued with “Kis-u-mai”, and were soon joined by the other members of team two. The seven of them went on to sing “Ashita ni Mukatte”.

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I think the medley starting with Kishi-kun’s solo and ending here was one of the finest sequences from the juniors involved, and was definitely better than the opening medley in terms of energy. One strange aspect to it was how often the focus was on Takahashi Kaito-kun when he was easily the stiffest junior on stage – even Haniuda-kun, who doesn’t get even a fraction of the attention, was a better dancer. I’m still confused about how Takahashi-kun merits the attention he gets, since he’s not even particularly charismatic, though I’m sure there’s a reason.

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We’re definitely due for a Jesse-kun solo at this point, and here it is: “Inochi no Saigo no Hito Shizuku” – a jazzy tune featuring vocal subtleties that were somewhat difficult to appreciate, with the audio quality being what it was.

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“Mada Namida ni Naranai Kanashimi ga” turned out better, and he was joined on it by Hanzawa-kun and Masuda-kun.

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So far, the music in this episode has been excellent even if the audio is a tad fuzzy.

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Next was “Garasu no Shounen” from KinKi Kids, with just Jesse-kun and Masuda-kun doing the singing while the other eight danced. Exquisite.

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The string of music concluded with “Midnight Shuffle”.

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With that, we got something we may or may not have been waiting for – the spray art challenge!

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So, it looks like we’ll get to see Yasui-kun, Haniuda-kun, and Suzuki-kun take on the challenge in context. But here’s a question: if Yasui-kun was present for the challenge, why wasn’t he part of the show?

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It’s a good thing that there’s a two month stagger between Gamushara and J’s Party – it would have been too much to have seen this at the same time was we saw the shorter version on Gamushara. A two month gap is just enough time for me to not mind seeing it again.

Hanzawa-kun was nominally the MC from the look of it, but the chatter was all over the place.

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The three challengers got to speak for a bit by way of introduction . . .

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. . . and the rest was as we remembered it, except without the annoying announcer talking over the whole thing.

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They also spent a lot more time showing the reaction of the other members to the feat. Obviously, this was a lot better than the sloppy way time has been filled up in previous episodes, and maybe we’ll be able to look forward to the challenges getting a good chunk of the time in future episodes, too.

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There was a lot of additional messing around during the talk after the challenge, then we turned to a VTR of Matsumura Hokuto-kun and Iwahashi Genki-kun promoting Gamushara (as if we need to be reminded).

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Still, it was fun to see them in those outfits again, and they even decided to treat us to a dance.

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And Iwahashi-kun and Abe Aran-kun even showed up at J’s Party on the balcony, just to get the fans excited.

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That was what I consider to be the end of the main show, and we got about 48 minutes of it – not bad. What followed was a preview of the next episode for about two minutes  . . .

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. . . and then finally an omake segment with Masuda Ryo-kun having fun with Kishi-kun and Miyachika-kun.

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And there you have it. I think this might have been the best J’s Party so far, in spite of the limited selection of juniors. The music was all standard stuff and the songs made for easy listening. There were some new revelations – especially with regard to Kishi-kun’s abilities. Mostly, I just enjoyed the energy and how smooth it was.

Part of the smoothness had to do with the inclusion of the spray art challenge, which saved us from what would otherwise have been a slow MC talk in that part of the show (judging from what happened in May). There were also fewer awkward entries and exits from the stage – May was plagued with those, and while we had a few here, it wasn’t too bad.

Sounds quality was an issue, almost crippling a few of the performances.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what these guys do in the next episode. I feel like we’ve seen all the usual stuff from them, and the preview hinted that we’d see some new stages.