This Gamushara J’s Party!! (ガムシャラ J’s Party!!) featured Jesse, Masuda Ryo, Hanzawa Akatsuki, Kyomoto Taiga, Takahashi Fuu, Tajima Shogo, Morohoshi Shoki, Anderson Casey, Morimoto Shintaro, Tanaka Juri, and Matsumura Hokuto. Because the cast changes from month to month, yet is a manageable number of names, I think it might be a good idea to start reviews of J’s Party by just citing the members who are involved. On the other hand, this list looks a lot like last month’s (except the notable absence of Kouchi Yugo-kun – a shame because all the other Bakaleya members are involved), though perhaps that’s because the younger juniors were busy with other activities. Not sure if this is becoming a show focused on just the elder juniors.

The first song was “Samurai” with all of the cast except for Takahashi-kun and Tajima-kun,

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This was an excellent song to start out with, and there was a good amount of energy involved. The red outfits helped.

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They followed “Samurai” with “LIPS”, which is a good musical match in terms of keeping up the tone of the medley. Here, though, the fact that there were too many voices started making the vocals sound messy.

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There wasn’t much choreography to speak of, so that seemed a bit too disorganized for the start of the show as well. There were clearly many points were the performers weren’t sure of where on stage they needed to be, parts where they had their backs to the audience with no reason, and other such basic flaws. I expect better from these guys.

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After that, they introduced Takahashi Fuu-kun and Tajima Shogo-kun, who joined in to perform Hey! Say! Jump’s “Dash!!” (a song I rarely hear the juniors cover). Because “Dash!!” is already designed for a lot of voices, the multitude of vocals worked out better here. I should also say that the two newcomers were noticeably much looser than their elder counterparts.

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“Ambitious Japan!” is also a song that works well when you’ve got a lot of people singing together, so no issue with the way that sounded, either. Matsuda Genta-kun and Nakamura Reia-kun appeared on the balcony during the song, though only very, very briefly, so I didn’t grab a screenshot of them.

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They rounded out the medley by singing “Kanzen My Way” from SZ, which was a nice high energy song to conclude the medley. Musically, I thought this was a good medley, but I wish the performers had appeared on stage with more of an idea about how they were going to move. Credit to Tajima-kun, who for a young participant looked 100% confident in every motion.

After the medley, the cast welcomed the audience to J’s Party Part 5, and then the newcomers – Anderson Casey-kun, Takahashi Fuu-kun, and Tajima Shogo-kun – got to have a word.

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After only a little bit more talk, Jesse-kun, Matsuda Ryo-kun, and Anderson Casey-kun performed “Shinku no Hana” from KinKi Kids. I haven’t heard this one as often as some of Jesse-kun’s other stages, so in that respect it was already a plus. It was a solo for him, by the way – the other two were just dancing (actually, I shouldn’t say just dancing, since this is the first real dancing we’ve gotten in the episode).

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I’d say that was a decent performance, though the vocals didn’t really test Jesse-kun’s skills.

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Kyomoto Taiga-kun joined Jesse-kun for “Namida, Hitohira”, which I believe is another KinKi Kids song. This one seemed a lot tougher for them, and it could use a bit more work. They sounded all right when they were both singing, but not as solid on their solo lines.

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Still, I very much liked the song choice and the fact that this was material I hadn’t seen from them before. I would gladly watch this one again.

Next up was Tanaka Juri-kun with “SHORTY”, which was naturally one of his elder brother’s solo songs and therefore contains Koki-rap (as opposed to Sakurai-rap, which I can mostly tolerate because it doesn’t sound as hostile to my ears).

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While not liking the style, I once again appreciated seeing something I hadn’t seen before. I also don’t recall ever seeing a full Juri-kun solo like this. I admit to having reservations, though, about the fact that he can’t get out from under his brother’s shadow. I would feel better about him rapping if he wrote the words.

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Takahashi-kun and Tajima-kun backdanced for him, by the way.

Morohoshi-kun exploded onto stage along with Shintaro-kun for “DANCE”. I must say that the lack of choreography in the beginning has been more than made up for already, but this was really something. Johnny’s doesn’t get too much more energetic than what these two did here.

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By sole virtue of this performance, I have decided that Shoki-kun should be in whatever group Shintaro-kun is in. Bakaleya Seven it is.

Moving right along, “Darkness” brought Kyomoto-kun and Tanaka-kun back onto the stage to join the other two.

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I’d say that “DANCE” in combination with this song was the best highlight so far. They all looked very sharp, and I thought Taiga-kun was especially cool in this one (though maybe it was just his contrasting costume).

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That ended the new stuff department, and we turned to more familiar ground with “Suna no Gurasu” featuring Masuda Ryo, Jesse, Hanzawa Akatsuki, and Anderson Casey.

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It’s a nice song and they do it well, but I’ve seen and heard it too often to be particularly impressed. At this point, it would be shocking if they flubbed it.

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“Brother” is also very familiar, but I think it was Nagase Ren-kun and Hirano Sho-kun performing it in the most recent Shounen Club. This was naturally a much smoother rendition, though that doesn’t necessarily make it better. Some songs like “Brother” can benefit if the performance comes off as more natural rather than slick, and also this song in particular seems better suited to be a duet because of the lyrics.

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The next song was “Secret Code” with everyone except for Fuu-kun and Tajima-kun on stage. We didn’t go back to the random feel of the opening, thankfully, as they had nice choreography to work with this time.

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There was a bit of Bakaleya-like casualness here.

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Most of the members cleared the stage so that Jesse-kun, Masuda-kun, and Hokuto-kun could continue the medley with “Ki-su-u-ma-i”. I found this a strange trio to be doing this song – not that they did it badly, but it doesn’t really play to their strengths.

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Speaking of playing to strengths, Takahashi Fuu-kun did some head spinning during the song. Couldn’t get a clean screencap – they were all too blurry.

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Eight members of the cast closed it out with “weeeek” – a great opening or ending song – but I wondered where the other three members of the cast were . . .

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. . . and then I realized, thanks to the Gamushara VTR. Jesse-kun, Fuu-kun, and Morohoshi-kun were prepping to do their jump rope challenge.

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This should be interesting, since the treatment on Gamushara was somewhat lacking, and I’d like another look at it. I’m surprised that they’re doing it in the first episode of the month – so far, they’ve covered the challenge in the second episodes each month, right?

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Anyway, here they go:

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I don’t know – for some reason I like this version better than the one in Gamushara, even though it’s practically the same thing. Is it because there’s no announcer annoying my ears? I don’t think the cameras were different.

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One definite positive to this version: we get to see the full talk afterwards.

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And this talk included Hanzawa-kun taking on a challenge from Morohoshi-kun to try out the seated rope-jumping and other antics.

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Seeing this challenge, I wonder if the basketball tricks Jesse-kun and his team in Gamushara are trying to learn can match what we saw here.

The MC talk continued to give Jesse-kun, Fuu-kun, and Morohoshi-kun a chance to change and cool down.

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During this, they started talking about chili food (I think), possibly recalling a certain Gamushara challenge, and both Kouchi-kun and Matsukura Kaito-kun (two of my favorites) showed up on the balcony. Kouchi-kun talked about the after-effects of that challenge that he experienced the next day.

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At this point, we hit a problem of pacing. You see, the show started with moderate to high energy, had high energy through the middle and the challenge, and now with all this talk I’m totally losing interest – especially since we’re in the last quarter of the episode. I really wish they’d give some more thought to how they put together these J’s Party episodes.

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Of course, I’m hampered by the fact that I don’t understand the language enough to appreciate the talk fully, but it’s still the slowest part of the episode regardless . . .

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. . . even when Morohoshi-kun, Hanzawa-kun, and Tanaka-kun start doing comic skits.

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What could slow things down even more? A Jesse talk.

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I was totally uninterested at this point, so it’s a good think that the topic was the way he spends his days off.

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As usual, the show ended with a candid interview recorded by one of the juniors – in this case Masuda Ryo-kun.

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His targets this time were Juri-kun and Shintaro-kun, though Taiga-kun managed to sneak into the picture.

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There was a lot of background noise in this one and clearly stuff going on behind the camera. It was also shorter than similar segments have been. Altogether, it had a haphazard feel.

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I thought this was a good episode – especially with the performances that I hadn’t seen before. I’m still having trouble with the format and logic of the show, especially since its cast is mostly different from that in the Gamushara episodes (except for the people doing that month’s challenge). Are some of these guys now regulars, or are we going to get a totally different group in September? The answer is critical to how I judge the show, since if we now have a regular cast, then J’s Party is about the growth of those members. If instead we can expect totally different cast, then the show must be about presenting a diversity of performances and talents.

Initially, I thought that J’s Party would be the latter, but it’s not doing a good job of that – not even as good as Shounen Club. In terms of just focusing on the recurring members of the cast, though, it’s doing a better job, though I feel like many names that should be in the mix – Yasui Kentaro-kun, Hagiya Keigo-kun, and Kouchi Yugo-kun for starters – have been neglected.

At least we’re getting performances I don’t remember seeing before – a sign of the additional effort the juniors are putting into this. While Jesse-kun had the lion’s share of the screen time, other members including Morohoshi-kun, Shintaro-kun, and Juri-kun got a fair shake. My main interest was on Kyomoto Taiga-kun and Tajima Shogo-kun, though, and I don’t entirely know why. Tajima-kun is still new to me, so I guess I’m still trying to figure him out.

All right, so this series isn’t turning out to be quite what I thought it would be, but the performance sections of each episode continue to be pretty good so I can forgive it. I might need to just skip the latter part of the episodes, though. It just gets too slow by comparison to the first half.