The previous Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) ended with Sexy Zone, and this episode begins with them singing “4 Seasons”. On the bright side, the song is new to Shounen Club, so the freshness factor is there.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 000 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 001

But why aren’t Marius Yo-kun and Matsushima Sou-kun performing with the elder three?

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 003

The choreography was trivial, this is a fairly simple song to sing, and it’s not a particularly upbeat opening song – it would have done better in the middle of the show rather than the start.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 004

The reason they didn’t save it for later was apparently because the song’s title is the episode’s theme. It’s certainly not the most upbeat Johnny’s song to mention the four seasons, though. Hosts Kiriyama Akito-kun and Kawai Fumito-kun talked to the three SZ members about it . . .

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 005 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 006 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 007 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 008

. . . then stalled . . .

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 009

. . . so that the first junior performance got together. I say junior performance, but I think I see why Marius-kun and Sou-kun weren’t in the opening – they’re performing here with Iwahashi Genki, Jinguji Yuta, Matsukura Kaito, and Matsuda Genta. I was happy to hear that the hosts didn’t give the names of these two trios, and nor will I.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 010

They performed “Kono Te wo Tsunagou”, which sure sounded like a junior song, and should probably have just been performed by the four juniors involved, leaving the two SZ members free to join in the opening.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 011

Oh, and they should all have gotten the blue jackets and white pants – those yellow costumes are terrible by comparison.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 012 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 013

The song was fairly typical Johnny’s stuff, and was energetically performed. I felt that the melody was a tad too repetitive, but not excessively so.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 014 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 015

It was certainly a new performance, but I didn’t feel like it tested the abilities of the performers to the point where I’d consider it a highlight.

The Shokura NEWS segment was next, and I was 100% surprised to see Goto Hiromi-kun hosting it. The subject of the video was A.B.C-Z’s “Legend Story” music video recording, wherein Goto-kun’s violin playing features prominently.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 016 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 017 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 018

Unfortunately, the editing on this video was horrible with just haphazard clips thrown together and the sound quality was often iffy.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 019 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 020

Eventually, though, Goto-kun got to interview A.B.C-Z, and as nervous as he was, he did all right . . .

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 021 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 022

. . . thanks to the brilliant idea of giving the group one minute to advertise.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 023 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 024

Following that, we got more video with bad sound balance.

After a video like that, naturally A.B.C-Z had to perform “Legend Story” on the Shokura stage.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 025 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 026

The song is a ballad, so it mostly had the guys standing still for the first half of it . . .

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 027

. . . but they eventually worked in some of their signature acrobatics. Other than those, the dance was very straightforward, but the song didn’t exactly give them much to work with in terms of a sharp beat.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 028

It was a sweet performance, but not a particularly exciting one.

Next up, Nakajima Kento-kun joined the hosts in order to show a photograph.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 029 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 030

Well, in Hawaii, photographs like this are probably a dime a dozen, right? The place is full of palm trees next to beaches, and there’s a sunset every day.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 031 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 032

Credit to the hosts, they tried really hard to produce some humor here to keep things interesting.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 033 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 034

The 4 seasons medley was next, and Jesse-kun kicked things off by singing “Someiyoshino” (Yoshino Cherry). So, presumably this is the Spring representatives, though the tone of the song is distinctly autumn.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 035 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 036

He was followed by Sato Shori-kun with Kishi Yuta, Matsukura Kaito, Haniuda Amu, and Jinguji Yuta performing Yamashita Tomohisa’s “Summer Nude ’13”. I don’t believe I’ve heard these guys do this song before, so this one’s new.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 037 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 038

The vocals were muddy, but it was a solid performance otherwise.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 039 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 040

Now, here’s a vocal collaboration for you: Kikuchi Fuma-kun and Hashimoto Ryosuke-kun singing “Tsukinomichi”. They sounded great, but I felt that the backing track was a bit too much – they should have cooked up a more appropriate mix of the instrumentals to suit this style.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 041 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 042

To round out the seasons, Hirano Sho-kun and Kiriyama Akito-kun sang “Winter Lovers”, which ironically has more of a late spring/early summer feel to it.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 044 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 045

This was also a vocal piece with minimal dancing. Kiriyama-kun’s voice was fine, as always, and Hirano-kun’s works rather well in duet.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 046

For some reason, they decided to add Kento-kun to the mix with the other two even though they were doing excellently. Before the medley, they said something about the promise of a collaboration between Kento-kun and Kiriyama-kun, but it seems more like the producers want to squeeze SZ members in wherever possible, since this was hardly a substantial collaboration.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 047

Shokura Blog was next, wherein Matsuda Genta-kun got to explain why he likes Spring. He had a photo of himself at the age of one dressed as a samurai, which you’ll have to watch the show to see.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 048

As usual, that was followed by a junior performance in that strange alternate set where the cameras get all over the place. The song was “ABC” – a Japanese adaptation of the original Jackson Five song. Matsuda Genta-kun was especially charismatic in this performance, but he also did well in “Kono Te wo Tsunagou”.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 049

We sure got to see a lot of juniors we don’t normally see, and this time they were brought out front. So yes, Johnny’s is hiding quite a lot of these guys nowadays.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 050

So while little Kawasaki Koki-kun’s singing was painful to my ears (I hate high-pitched voices), it was nice to see the eleven year-old getting some practice in. In a few years, he and Inoue Mizuki-kun could sing duets – who knows?

After “ABC”, they went on to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”, this time in the original English. Kaneda Yousei-kun did his best with that, but his voice wasn’t really up to this one – I thought his voice was different from this, but maybe it’s the English that’s tripping him up. A lot of other juniors had microphones, but their voices were barely coming through at all.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 051

Still, good energy and I wish we could see more performances like this – stuff where it isn’t perfect, and we can see how the kids are developing. Last time we heard Kaneda-kun sing, he was very impressive, so this sample might not give a good indication. Let’s hope he gets a shot at singing something in Japanese sooner rather than later.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 052

Johnny’s WEST got a little corner next, where they apparently focus on old Japanese tales. This time, it was Momotaro, and Nakama-kun read the story while the others acted things out comically.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 053 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 0542014.07.02 Shounen Club 056

I don’t really know how this fits in with SC, but it was sure fun to watch. Indeed, this is a rare case where something other than a performance might become the top highlight of the show.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 057 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 058 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 059 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 060

As has been the flow of things recently, since they had the talk segment, Johnny’s WEST went on to perform. Thankfully, they did a new song – “P&P”.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 066 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 067

Shigeoka-kun was absent on other business again, so it was just six members. Still, it was an excellent stage, and the sort of thing I would have liked to see as the opening.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 068 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 069

I really like the song – very Johnny’s, yet still catchy enough and with some strong touches.  I’m sure as they continue to perform it, they’ll add in more silliness to spice up the stage presentation of it.

Junior ni Q followed that, and the question was about favorite seasons. I was sort of surprised to see how few juniors picked Spring – just Genta-kun, Kouchi-kun, and the first guest – Nakamura Reia-kun. He likes Spring because it’s colorful.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 070 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 071

Matsukura Kaito-kun was the representative for Summer, and it’s because he likes the sea. He doesn’t go into it, mind you – he just likes to play on the beach. The sound of the sea is important.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 072 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 073

Jinguji Yuta-kun picked autumn. I wouldn’t have pegged him as an autumn sort, but his reason was 消去法 – shoukyohou – by process of elimination. In other words, he doesn’t like any of the other season for various reasons, so he has no choice but to favor autumn. His birthday also happens to fall in the season.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 074 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 075

I felt it was cheating a bit to have both Jinguji-kun and Iwahashi Genki-kun, but nevertheless they picked Genki-kun  as the Winter representative. He said he likes Christmas, but then segued to traveling abroad and, if I understood this correctly, said that he went to Los Angeles (ロス) alone the day before yesterday!

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 076

I didn’t really believe my translation at first, but then looking at the reaction of the A.B.C-Z guys, I figure it has to be something at least that amazing. So, glad to potentially hear that Genki-kun made it to my home state, and I hoped he enjoyed it.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 077

Oh, they also had a special Genki-by-the-fireside-for-Christmas graphic. I’ve never seen them go to such lengths before.

Somehow, even though they went through all the seasons, they managed to sneak Fukusawa Tatsuya-kun in as well. That’s good, because otherwise we would have only gotten the usual suspects – the people Johnny’s is pushing forward most vigorously. And besides, we needed someone to really speak up for autumn, since Jinguji-kun was only resorting to it by default.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 078 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 079

It was time for some of the elder juniors to show their stuff, and their chosen song was NEWS’ “Izanaizuki”. The performers were Jesse, Anderson Casey, Masuda Ryo, Okamoto Kauan, Morita Myuto, Hanzawa Akatsuki, and Yamakura Shalf.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 080 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 081

This is undoubtedly one of the best songs available for a group like this, and I appreciate that they decided to go with seven members instead of the larger crowds of elder juniors – I can deal with seven. I think the vocals also sounded better as a result.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 082 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 083

Yup – this was a clean stage, except maybe for the way Jesse-kun hit one of his solo lines. It was a new offering, and I think it’s highlight reel material.

After a bit of wrap-up from the hosts . . .

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 084 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 085

. . . Sexy Zone performed “Sexy Summer ni Yuki ga Furu”. Really? They’re going to start and end the show with a SZ song. And as far as season songs go, there are a lot of other ones we should have heard in this episode that were somehow left out.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 086

They went with the slow version, which is at least a lot better than the regular version of the song. Still, it is a winter song musically and they were dropping pseudo-snowflakes in the background. I really don’t need this in July – we’ve been hitting hundred-degree highs for weeks now.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 087 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 088 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 089

Alas, even A.B.C-Z had to sing it.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 090 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 091

Shori-kun’s omake segment was much better this week. Hamada-kun was his guest, and they had that challenge where you have to stick your hand in a box and guess what’s inside. Hamada-kun was whining immediately

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 092 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 093

Both of them were perfect in this. I could have watched this for ten minutes – huge chunks were definitely edited out for time.

2014.07.02 Shounen Club 094 2014.07.02 Shounen Club 095

Anyway, Johnny’s WEST definitely ruled in this episode. Their rendition of Momotaro and Hamada-kun in the omake segment were two no-miss highlights, and their new song “P&P” was excellent.

While I wouldn’t say there were any shockingly good performances in this episode, there were a lot of new ones that deserve note. “Izanaizuki” is at the top of that list, followed by “Kono Te wo Tsunagou”, “ABC”/”Dancing Queen”, and the 4 seasons medley. Mostly the novelty factor came into play rather than actual song-and-dance brilliance.

There were some significant issues with this episode, though. Once again, it started off very slow, and with an insufficiently energetic song. “Kono Te wo Tsunagou” helped, and we got another tempo boost at “Summer Nude ’13”, but I wasn’t satisfied by the inconsistent flow. The Shokura NEWS segment was part of the problem – I like the interview bits, but the VTR stuff should be tightened up. It moves way too slowly.

This felt very much like the previous episode, so I’m going to give it another 8 out of 10. Oddly, the talk segments like the Momotaro bit and the omake segment struck me as the most memorable parts of the show.