Going into this episode of Gamushara (ガムシャラ), I was wondering whether they would try to cover all four teams in this one episode, and the answer is yes. So, let’s see how well they manage to cram it all in. Will all the participants get some time to shine, or will it end up being a complete muddle?

2014.06.29 Gamushara 000

We go through the teams in the same order as they were introduced, which is convenient though not always advisable (depending on how entertaining each part is). So, we rejoin the basketball trick team first, with Jesse, Hanzawa Akatsuki, Masuda Ryo, Fukusawa Tatsuya, and Iwamoto Hikaru.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 001

They were the least interesting team last time, and I wonder if I’ll even be able to sit through five minutes of watching them practicing.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 002

Thankfully, I won’t have to. I think the director realize that this was going to make for some horribly tedious programming, and came up with a very different plan indeed.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 003 2014.06.29 Gamushara 004

They’re going into a haunted house! And they’re going to go in one at a time! (So, this group will definitely get tons of quality camera time.)

2014.06.29 Gamushara 005 2014.06.29 Gamushara 006

This, of course, has nothing to do with their challenge and everything to do with entertainment value. To try and tie things together, though, the staff tells them that they have to do basketball handling/tricks while inside – they can’t just carry the ball through the place.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 007 2014.06.29 Gamushara 008 2014.06.29 Gamushara 009

The staff didn’t skimp on this one – they’ve got the helmet cam and everything . . .

2014.06.29 Gamushara 010 2014.06.29 Gamushara 011

. . . so we get incredibly unflattering images of their faces. Fukusawa-kun didn’t do too badly on this score.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 012 2014.06.29 Gamushara 013

His attempt to do solo shiritori as a way of keeping calm didn’t work, though.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 014 2014.06.29 Gamushara 015

Masuda-kun didn’t have much fun on this one.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 016 2014.06.29 Gamushara 017

Iwamoto-kun was up next. How is it that Japan produces the creepiest horror movies and yet these guys can’t avoid screaming in panic even when nothing has happened yet? I hope they’re just playing it up for the camera.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 018

Hikaru-kun doesn’t do too badly, even though his shouting could have woken the dead . . . and did.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 019 2014.06.29 Gamushara 020 2014.06.29 Gamushara 021

Hanzawa-kun was actually initially quite calm until a sneeze from a staff member brought him to the ground.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 022 2014.06.29 Gamushara 023 2014.06.29 Gamushara 024 2014.06.29 Gamushara 025 2014.06.29 Gamushara 026

His ended up being easily the funniest of all of them, for reasons I won’t specify.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 027 2014.06.29 Gamushara 028 2014.06.29 Gamushara 029 2014.06.29 Gamushara 030

Jesse-kun, who was billed as “Mr. Perfect”, was last. Let’s see how perfect he manages to be in the face of this.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 031 2014.06.29 Gamushara 032

He added his own little variation on the usual reactions by saying “otsukaresama” (thank you for your hard work) to the monsters and then screaming in a higher pitch than any of the others. They stuck to the face cam, so I wasn’t sure whether he was moving the ball.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 033 2014.06.29 Gamushara 034

How is it that I’ve seen all five of them react pretty much the same way to the same stuff, and I’m still not tired of watching this?

2014.06.29 Gamushara 035 2014.06.29 Gamushara 036 2014.06.29 Gamushara 037 2014.06.29 Gamushara 038

And there you go – that’s how they decided to make this challenge watchable, and it was brilliant.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 039 2014.06.29 Gamushara 040 2014.06.29 Gamushara 041

There’s a pretty big downside, though – it took half the episode. At this point, scanning through it the first time, I thought they would only cover two teams as a result, and that’s what I would have suggested. Instead, they scrunched the other three teams into the remaining half of the program. Actually, less than half, as we’ll soon see.

Next was the breakdancing team – Iwahashi Genki, Takahashi Fuu, Takahashi Kaito, Matsuda Genta, and Hayashi Ren.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 042

The focus last time was the contrast between Genki-kun and the other team members – exacerbated by the fact that he’s supposed to be the team leader.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 043 2014.06.29 Gamushara 044

This time, the focus was primarily on Genki-kun. At this rate, no one is going to want to be in Genki-kun’s team because they’ll know that they won’t get much screen time.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 045 2014.06.29 Gamushara 046

The others got to at least show some of their practice.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 047

The way the announcer dubbed Takahashi Kaito-kun a “tensai shounen” (genius boy) was a bit over-the-top.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 048

 

And they were forcing the contrast a bit too much here, once again leaving Genki-kun looking like the antithesis of the can-do Johnny.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 049 2014.06.29 Gamushara 050 2014.06.29 Gamushara 051

Now for the most interesting team – the drummers. Last time, Jinguji Yuta, Nakamura Reia, Matsukura Kaito, Tajima Shogo, and Inoue Mizuki had a difficult time keeping up with their instructors. Will we see some improvement this week?

2014.06.29 Gamushara 052 2014.06.29 Gamushara 053

Tajima Shogo-kun was not present this time due to other work, but the other four showed remarkable progress, though it was nowhere near where they needed to be.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 054 2014.06.29 Gamushara 055

The sensei continues to be a tough customer.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 056 2014.06.29 Gamushara 057 2014.06.29 Gamushara 058

They’re all developing callouses, and other abrasions, of course.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 059

We see them watching a video of their sensei and practicing on their own, so their results eventually get closer to his expectations.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 060 2014.06.29 Gamushara 061 2014.06.29 Gamushara 062

While they didn’t get individual time as such, they sure looked great as a team here. They’ve got a long way to go, though.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 063 2014.06.29 Gamushara 0642014.06.29 Gamushara 0662014.06.29 Gamushara 067

Last was the double dutch team – Matsumura Hokuto, Morohoshi Shoki, Morimoto Shintaro, Tanaka Juri, and Kyomoto Taiga. They were the ones who seemed the most prepared for their challenge, though they had trouble with the rope-turning aspect of it.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 068 2014.06.29 Gamushara 069

And that’s what they were focused on this time, with some positive signs.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 070 2014.06.29 Gamushara 071

I honestly didn’t get as much of a sense of struggle out of this team as I saw in the other teams. They make it look like a breeze.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 072 2014.06.29 Gamushara 073 2014.06.29 Gamushara 074

Now, as if the three latter teams weren’t already crunched down to a tiny amount of time, the director also decided to squeeze in one of Hokuto-kun’s eating segments.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 075 2014.06.29 Gamushara 076

And this was what he was eating:

2014.06.29 Gamushara 077

Really? And don’t get me started on his reaction to this fried piece of . . .  ahem. I think a bit more time could have been spent on the non-Genki members of the breakdancing team in place of this final segment.

2014.06.29 Gamushara 078 2014.06.29 Gamushara 079 2014.06.29 Gamushara 080 2014.06.29 Gamushara 081

Altogether, it was a very enjoyable and smooth episode even though I somewhat question the time given to certain things. I totally approve of the haunted house ploy as a way of saving the audience from just watching juniors practicing this and that – a definitely brilliant choice by the director, and unpredictable in the best traditions of variety shows.

I wouldn’t be so down about the focus on Genki-kun during the breakdancing segment if it wasn’t obvious that they were pushing a certain contrast that doesn’t entirely mesh with the stoic character Genki-kun has sometimes exhibited elsewhere. They’re pushing a very two-dimensional image of his personality.

The drumming bit was great, and I wish we could have seen more of how they got from their problems in the previous episode to their situation here.

The double dutch segment is sort of a shrug.

Another point for the director – the parts that were most interesting got the most time. Well, except for Hokuto-kun eating, which shouldn’t have gotten any time at all.

Looking good so far. I don’t think I would want this four team format to continue indefinitely, but if its just one month out of every season or so, that would be fine.