In the first Gamushara J’s Party!! (ガムシャラ J’s Party!!) of June, I was surprised by how Yasui Kentaro-kun didn’t get to do a performance despite the fact that he was in the spray art challenge. Well, they made up for that by starting off with him this time (when I say start with, I mean after the two minute opening that they force us to sit through before the show really starts).

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Yasui-kun starts the show singing “Kizuna”, and unlike the second episodes in previous months, this didn’t feel as much like it was starting in the middle of nowhere. That said, they could have just been lucky to have performance ot open with – I’m still not convinced that when they record the live J’s Party events, they have the need to edit them into episodes in mind.

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Anyway, Yasui-kun was great, of course. The twenty-two year old (going on twenty-three in a month) followed “Kizuna” with “Take Over”, and while he’s engaging on his own, I still hope that they find an appropriate and stable group to put around him soon. His voice is on the thin side, and could do with support.

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Speaking of voices, Masuda Ryo, Jesse, and Hanzawa Akatsuki joined Yasui-kun on stage to perform “Suna no Glass”. No problems with this combination, of course – even in off-stage activities it’s pretty easy to see how they could work together in variety shows and such, since their personalities are different.

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The next team to take the stage was Takahashi Kaito-kun leading Haniuda Amu-kun and Masuda Genta-kun, singing “Ai wa Mikata sa”. Haniuda-kun was saddled with a particularly unfortunate costume – especially in contrast to the snappier outfits the other two had.

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I was down on Takahashi-kun in the previous episode, particularly because of the awkward performance with Nakamura Reia-kun skateboarding around him, but here we got to see some more of the skills, and I was impressed. He clearly doesn’t have trouble singing while dancing, so I don’t know why he was so stiff in the previous episode. His voice here was also pleasantly smooth and we finally got to hear it properly. Much better moves from him here overall, and I can see now what Johnny’s is aiming at when it comes to putting him up front.

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And that brings me to an obvious thought – he should be combined with Matsuda Genta-kun and Matsukura Kaito-kun. He’s much better off when he’s in full dance mode, and they’d definitely help him keep up the pace.

The next performance was “Oretachi ni Ashita wa Aru” and “Kitto Daijoubu” with Masuda, Kishi Yuta, Nakamura Reia, Miyachika Kaito, and Suzuki Shunei joining the three already on stage.

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Interestingly, Haniuda-kun was the one who handled the Sakurai rap in “Kitto Daijoubu”. I don’t think I’ve heard him do that before, and he wasn’t bad. Could use work, but as long as he sticks to Sakurai raps, I think he could probably develop in that vein.

That medley wrapped up with “99% Liberty”.

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Immediately, the stage cleared for Jesse-kun, who sang “Someiyoshino”. With the show starting with Yasui-kun standing alone singing “Kizuna”, this had a good feel to it – good symmetry.

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Jesse-kun had what was probably the best stage he’s had in J’s Party so far.

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Next, Hanzawa Akatsuki-kun and Masuda Ryo-kun sang “Paraiso” and the echo was really intense on this – someone turned the reverb up all the way or something. I would have preferred a clearer rendition of the song, but it still sounded great.

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I’m finding the changes in stage personnel a bit tedious at this point, so let me just say that the next song was “Winter Lovers” and I think all of the aforementioned juniors were present . . . except Yasui-kun for some reason.

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By the way, occasionally they tried to show the name of the junior on screen, but they were very sloppy about it so it wasn’t always clear who they were naming. They should work on that – Shounen Club doesn’t seem to have a problem with it.

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Yasui-kun rejoined the cast for “weeeek”. Immediately after hearing them do it, I had to put on the NEWS Pacific Concert to watch NEWS do it – it’s just a thing.

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The medley continued (it’s really just been one big medley so far in this episode, hasn’t it?) with “Haruka na Yakusoku” and “Can Do Can Go”. Lots of strange camera angles and really distant views made this very difficult to watch and somewhat blurry.

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I’m definitely pleased with the better selection of Arashi songs included in J’s Party than we typically see in Shounen Club.

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Finally, after “Can Do Can Go”, there was a break in what had basically been a twenty-three minute medley. The juniors thanked the audience . . .

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. . . and then, of course, snuck back on for an encore. And what’s the best encore song for juniors to do? “Yuuki 100%”, naturally. They followed it with “Hitomi wo Tojite”.

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While there were some flaws on the production side, the performances on stage and the song selection this time were stellar – absolutely enjoyable without exception. Definitely worth repeat viewing.

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By the way, Kikuchi Fuma-kun snuck on stage somehow, though he didn’t seem prepared to sing this song.

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Jesse-kun did introductions after the song – just in case the audience had no clue who they were watching all this time.

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And as they wrapped things up . . .

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. . . that concluded the performance part of the show. It looks like instead of integrating things – editing parts into a coherent whole – the director prefers to have two different parts to the show. So, the first part – the performance part – took about thirty-two minutes once you subtract the long opening, and it was brilliant. How will the second part be?

It starts with Kikuchi Fuma-kun, and I’m not sure why. Now, if he’s going to be our host and do some junior interviews, that would be one thing, but he just sort of appears and disappears.

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After his little talk, we got some brief rehearsal clips, then a meeting scene:

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No announcer during this part, so it would be an ideal section to get a translation for. Is anyone doing translations for J’s Party or Gamushara clips?

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That said, when given nothing in particular to do, the juniors tend to lapse into doing one-shot gags, and that doesn’t really translate well.

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As usual, there’s the pre-game huddle:

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Since Yasui-kun didn’t spend much time on stage this month, we saw a lot of him backstage.

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Though not just him. We got a little bit of Matsuda Genta-kun and even Suzuki Shunei-kun.

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Hanzawa-kun is an interesting character.

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Somehow, Matsukura Kaito-kun was looking much older in this next scene:

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What’s with the cardigan and blue shirt? The way Matsuda-kun started messing with him was cute.

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Jesse-kun had his own talk corner, which is reasonable since he’s sort of the main personality of J’s Party. He discussed becoming a model.

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I think it was pretty much the sort of talk junior do for the idol magazines, so he was clearly well-practiced.

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It was pretty short, and was followed by an ad for Gamushara and the next J’s Party, which looks like it’ll include roughly the same team that did the May episodes. That’s sort of unfortunate because there wasn’t enough style diversity in that group as opposed to these June episodes. On the bright side, Kyomoto Taiga-kun will finally take part.

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Then out of nowhere, we got a segment that seems to belong in that later episode, since most of the people at this table weren’t in this month’s performance:

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In fact, except for Morohoshi Shoki-kun, who was recording, this was a Bakaleya Six reunion – Kouchi, Taiga, Shintaro, Juri, Jesse, and Hokuto. Supposedly, Morohoshi-kun didn’t have a plan for this, but it sure seems interesting that it’s this particular group of six at the table.

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But while I’m always in favor of seeing more juniors involved in an episode (and I’m especially happy that it looks like Kouchi-kun was involved in the next episodes as well) . . . why is this here? Does this mean they didn’t have enough material for this episode, so they decided to use stuff that was actually recorded for next month? Or is there something else going on?

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Anyway, Kouchi-kun had a rough time in this clip, because he got tricked by Morohoshi-kun into eating a piece of (candy, I guess?) that contained shichimi togarashi (seven types of chili). It was so intense that he couldn’t manage to just do reaction comedy with it – he was sort of choking on it. He tried his best, though – some of the others were clearly worried that he was going to explode.

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So, while this was an odd thing to have in this episode, since we didn’t see any of these guys except for Jesse-kun in the episode before this, I’ll let it pass because it was fun to watch and got more juniors into the show.

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It wasn’t a short corner either – it was a full seven minutes, and they did a lot more than just make Kouchi-kun choke. Definitely another segment that could use subtitling.

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So let’s review. The problems with the episode were simple: shoddy camera work in certain parts, a lack of backstage footage of the main performers practicing (which we’ve been getting less and less of, it seems), and the usual audio issues. These were far outweighed by the good points: excellent choice of songs, solid performances, nice mix of styles, and a really neat and totally unexpected Bakaleya Six corner at the end.

In terms of editing, this could easily be improved by cutting out the two minute opening and the ads for Gamushara and next month’s J’s Party in the middle. In fact, I might have to do that myself, because with those adjustments, this feels close to the fundamental episode of J’s Party – a template they should build on, and by which future episodes should be judged. It felt wholly satisfying to watch.