This is the last episode of practice for the four teams in Gamushara (ガムシャラ), and then we’ll see the product of their work in the following two episodes. With the special tasks over with and having spent five weeks on these challenges already, is there really enough new material to fill this episode or will it feel like more of the same?

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Flipping the original order, we see what’s going on with the double-dutch team first. When we last left them, they were improving on the speed steep and Tanaka Juri-kun was having trouble. The focus is still on Tanaka-kun as we pick up their story in this episode.

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Not much to say about this. What kind of commentary can I deliver in response to Shintaro-kun saying that his team wants to win? It’s a stock phrase that everyone always uses in variety shows when they have nothing better to say.

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Morohoshi-kun informs us that everyone is trying their best. Another stock statement. I don’t blame them – everyone does it – it just doesn’t give me much to write about.

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There are some dramatics . . .

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. . . examination of the rope . . .

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. . . and sore spots. 2014.08.03 Gamushara 011 2014.08.03 Gamushara 012

But eventually there’s also success from Juri-kun in the speed step.

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But getting it right once isn’t good enough to go on stage with – they have to be able to do it with high probability to avoid disappointing fans and losing to one of the other teams.

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It’s still tough to figure out anything about the ultimate performance from these clips. There’s no indication at all about how they’re going to string it all together. I’m sure that’s intentional, but it’s also frustrating to have this much suspense after watching them at it for so many weeks. It’s hard to get a sense of how much they’ve improved in that time.

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That is not a problem with the percussion team – Jinguji Yuta, Matsukura Kaito, Nakamura Reia, Inoue Mizuki, and Tajima Shogo. They’ve shown steady progress each time by demonstrating new skills. For instance, this time we started off by watching Jinguji-kun and Tajima-kun trying to catch a drum stick (mallet?) in a garbage can, which is definitely not something we’ve seen before.

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We then see them trying it again on another day, and here I got a kick out of Matsukura Kaito-kun’s antics.

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As well as Jinguji-kun’s continual failure. He doesn’t just give up, of course – not his style – but after a collapse of despair he gathers himself together and makes it happen.

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Kaito-kun, who was so energetic in that scene, is not so well the next day. He has a fever.

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This is the last week before they have to perform, so he naturally doesn’t want to miss any practice, but he’s not in a fit state here. Jinguji-kun points out that while this rehearsal is important, it’s not the real performance. The others and the staff chip in with similar sentiments, advising him to just rest up.

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Nevertheless, he keeps at it, the little trooper.

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I was interested to see how he recovered after making a mistake in this – one of the most important points in performances is how to carry on after an inevitable miss.

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Jinguji-kun now insists that Kaito-kun should lie down on the couch and get some rest. Again, they don’t constantly throw out the word ‘leader’ as much with Jinguji-kun as with the other group leaders, but he sure shows a lot more leadership than any of the others.

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The other members are also all concerned about Kaito-kun, and that was nice to see.

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So, I trust we all hope Kaito-kun feels better by the time he and his group are under the spotlight.

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After that, we turned to the basketball trick team. This session began with the reveal of the hoop they were going to use for their performance, and that seemed to get them pumped up.

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But a new hoop won’t help them to get the trampoline dunking trick right – not unless they’ve widened the hoop. It’s all up to Jesse-kun to get it done.

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Just like the double-dutch team, it’s tough to assess where they’re at in the rest of their skills, especially since the next sequence was a series of fails. Shouldn’t the director let us see some of their successes by now? I mean, we’ve spent more than a month watching their fails already, and I know they must be much better than this segment is showing them to be.

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Instead, after a little group conference . . .

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. . . we get a huddle . . . 2014.08.03 Gamushara 063

. . . and then a montage of successes. So the impression given is that they were failing, had a talk, and then got their act together. The director likes this sort of editing, but I’d rather get an honest impression of what was going on.

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The break dance team was the last one up this time. Last time, we saw Iwahashi Genki-kun trying to master the back flip, which was properly fun to watch (unlike all the previous episodes, which were focused on a forced story about him not being adequately motivated).

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We began with that, which was fair enough. I was especially happy to see him succeed at it for the first time. While I question the way this team’s story has been focused on Genki-kun, at least this back flip challenge provides some justification.

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We do get some time with the other members in this episode, too – especially Takahashi Kaito-kun and Hayashi Ren-kun.

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Last time, they showed us Hayashi-kun tearing up right at the end of the show, and I’m still wondering what that was about. Apparently, it was about his struggles with the windmill move.

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The other members try to console him, but these guys are all quiet types, so they have a different group dynamic than the percussion team talking things over with Matsukura-kun.

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There was an omake segment this time, and it was Iwahashi-kun’s difficult kanji practice segment. These kanji are way beyond my level.

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And that was that. The interesting segments were the percussion team and the break dance team, while it was hard to gauge the progress of the other two teams. The director took pains to make sure there was one highlighted achievement for each of the teams, but that felt forced like so many of the semi-scripted storylines during the course of this four-team challenge. It was still satisfying to see Jinguji-kun trying to catch the percussion mallets in that bin and Genki-kun trying to master the backflip. I’m not sure Jesse-kun’s trampoline dunk and Tanaka-kun’s speed step came off quite as well, even though they certainly required skill.

I’m definitely ready to see how all of this actually turns out – I’ve had enough of all these preliminaries. I hope they put the break dancing team and the percussion team in separate episodes, because those are the two I’m most interested in. I’m not much for the whole basketball thing, and I’ve already seen juniors do double-dutch on Johnny’s Jr Land as well as SZ taking it on in SZ Channel, and this version can’t quite match those two (for entertainment value – it will no doubt surpass them in skill).

I’m also wondering what this show is going to do after spending so much time on this pattern. Are we just going to go back to the old pattern, or is there going to be something new?