I think it’s safe to assume that this episode of Gamushara (ガムシャラ) will follow the pattern of the previous two, which means the interesting part will be the first half where one team gets a special challenge. The other three teams will get squished into the second half, and there’s a limit to the entertainment value of that.

The lucky team this time was the double dutch team – Matsumura Hokuto, Morohoshi Shoki, Morimoto Shintaro, Tanaka Juri, and Kyomoto Taiga. The concern their coach raises is about their teamwork . . .

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. . . so the staff concocts a special mountain hiking challenge . . .

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. . . which they’ll have to complete while tied together.

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Now, as long as the announcer can stop talking and we can hear the reactions from the juniors, this should be a lot of fun. We get a brief taste of them trying to go “left-right-left-right”, but then to my annoyance they turned to a preview of what was going to happen next. I hate when they spend precious time to preview something we’re about to see in a few minutes.

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And when we resumed, can you believe the guys had been trudging up the path for half an hour!? That’s a lot of effort spent just to be edited out. Did nothing interesting happen in all that time?

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The members were clearly trying to be entertaining . . .

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. . . but before we knew it, two hours had passed. How much did it cost to send them and the staff out to this place for so many hours just to get a minute of footage?

Anyway, once they had made that slow progress to their destination, they faced a new challenge, this time without being tied together.

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If they succeeded in this new obstacle, they would win a katsudon lunch. Otherwise, they would have to settle for a banana. Considering the physical exertion they had just been through (thought it was mild compared to their double dutch practice), they were probably quite hungry at this point.

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To win the better lunch, they had to do 100 consecutive double-dutch triple hops:

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I’ll omit the results of that as a spoiler. After that break, they had to tied their ankles again, and this time they faced one of those great staircases that lead to a temple. Come to think of it, this is sort of unfair to the elderly or those in wheelchairs – is there special provision for them (like a secret elevator), or are they just out of luck?

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Anyway, these young’uns shouldn’t have any problem, especially as they realize that the best strategy is to go sideways.

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Still tied together as they make their supplication:

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So, now what?

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The staff tells them that there’s a tengu iwa (天狗岩 – long-nosed goblin rock), and reaching it will be their next challenge.

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At least they don’t have to do it roped together, but it would have been impossible anyway considering the rough terrain. Will they be able to keep their footing after such a long day on their feet already? Leader Hokuto-kun wasn’t short on complaints.

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Oh, wait, just in case the situation wasn’t hard enough on them already, the staff made them hop up the next staircase instead of just walking up. They got to hold the side rails, but their feet had to be together.

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Eventually, they reach the tengu iwa and the goblin statue perched atop it. So . . . this is the end, right?

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No, no it isn’t. Of course it isn’t. They have to climb up the rock using a chain. Tanaka Juri-kun goes first, and is quickly followed by the rest. At least in this scene the announcer stops talking and we can hear their exclamations.

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By the time they reached their final target, it was raining.

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In terms of sheer exertion, this was the most spectacular special challenge yet – certainly much more taxing than the haunted house or the community cleaning service. But it wasn’t more entertaining than the haunted house because it wasn’t as focused and felt rushed given the enormity of the project. They were filming for six hours on location – they must have said and done more stuff than we saw, just to keep themselves from being bored. Shiritori, anyone?

Oh, well, I guess that’ll remain a mystery as we turn to the basketball stunt team next, with three weeks left before they have to perform.

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Now that they’ve learned sufficient skills, ZINEZ-sensei wants to start getting them to string together routines.

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And to perform a routine, they will of course need to be in sync.

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It seems like the director likes to highlight a member who playing ball (sorry, had to), and this time the target was Jesse-kun, who was seemingly somewhere else instead of operating in concert with the group.

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They barely had any time to follow this storyline, though.

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Because they had to go to the other group leader who had been letting his team down – Iwahashi Genki-kun of the breakdancing team. In the previous episode, they engineered a little scene in which the other members – Takahashi Fuu, Takahashi Kaito, Matsuda Genta, and Hayashi Ren – seemed to gain more confidence in their leader. Perhaps in an additional symbol of his transformation from sloppy Genki to stoic Genki, he cut his hair:

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And he makes the connection between his hair cut and intended change in attitude pretty clear. It’s a very standard form of symbolism . . .

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. . . as was the image of Genki-kun writing up their practice schedule. You can’t get more scripted than this.

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Two days later, with SHUVAN-sensei present, the team practiced . . . tossing its youngest member. I don’t know how this fits in with breakdancing . . .

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. . . but the simple toss was just warming up for even more challenging moves. Be careful with Hayashi-kun, guys!

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Genki-kun is totally looking like the breakdance leader here.

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I hated the way he was portrayed in the earlier episodes, and am happy to see that, now that the story is over with, we can go back to the competent Genki I expected to see.

But the director always wants to find someone encountering difficulty, and this time it was Matsuda Genta-kun’s trouble with the windmill.

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That’s all right, since Genta-kun could do with more attention of any kind. He doesn’t speak up much, and even here he’s barely over a whisper.

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There were also various views at how banged up and bruised the members were all getting, which is sort of why I’m not a big fan of having young people breakdance.

Percussion is good, though – a bit of bruising on the hands, but no permanent damage. I wonder what special challenge Jinguji Yuta, Nakamura Reia, Matsukura Kaito, Tajima Shogo, and Inoue Mizuki will face next week, as they’re the only team that hasn’t gone through that yet.

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Hmm . . . something is wrong with this picture.

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Poor Matsukura Kaito-kun – it’s his fail they decided to focus on this time.

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I’m a bit tired of this pattern of focusing on a single member’s fail as a way of keeping these segments short, if you haven’t figured that out already.

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Kaito-kun was properly distraught, though, so I felt that focusing on this moment was probably appropriate. His reactions were genuine and poignant – much more so than for the other members highlighted in this episode.

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Of course, part of the reason Kaito-kun teared up was because the sensei was a bit harsh – not out-of-bounds, but still very drill sergeant.

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Finally, a junior got some focus for something positive, as the camera snuck in on Inoue Mizuki-kun practicing alone.

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Jinguji-kun called him out so that they could practice together, and quickly the rest of the group joined in.

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With that segment complete, all that was left was an omake segment . . . oh, no . . .

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. . . I thought they had figured out this was a bad idea. Or has Jesse-kun’s English improved?

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Well, his pronunciation was fine, but the situation and translation were both way off. Under no circumstances should you say “Wow, you’re so hot I don’t know what to do” to an office senpai that you admire in an elevator. There are usually workplace rules about this sort of thing, but common sense should dictate that this could make the senpai in question uncomfortable.

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Oh, and contrary to the Japanese translation offered, the phrase does not mean “Crap, you’re way too cute”, which is what they told the Japanese speaking audience it meant. It’s subtle, but there’s a gap between kawaii and hot. Oh, and there’s also an even more subtle difference between exclaiming “I don’t know what to do!” and the Japanese translation offered: “What should I do?” That said, the way Jesse-kun said the phrase would be just as inappropriate in both languages. Pounding on the wall is a threatening gesture that doesn’t fit well with the words if they’re really meant affectionately. It’s too confrontational and, in this situation, could land him in some employment trouble depending on his senpai’s position.

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J’s Party clip during the credits:

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Once again, I thought the special challenge that occupied the first half was a good idea, but wasn’t properly capitalized on. I continue to think the director and staff doesn’t do enough to prompt the boys for entertaining footage, instead preferring to go with storylines determined in advance (like the deliberate contrasts we’ve noted in previous episodes) and otherwise using the announcer to heighten the tension.

The most memorable part of the episode was obviously the Percussion team’s bit. As has been true all the way so far, that team has seemed the most natural and least scripted. I’ll look forward to seeing if that remains true in the next episode, since they’ll have the whole first half of the episode to work with.

Speaking of the next episode, there was no July 20th episode to the best of my knowledge, so the next one was the July 27th edition.