This Sexy Zone Channel episode is the second half of the physical aptitude test challenge, in which the guys had to pick six tests of fitness and try to beat the average for seventeen year-olds (the average age of the group).

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They’ve already done three tests – grip strength, the cobra (I have no idea what to call it otherwise), and the standing long jump . . .

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. . . and after the (very long) recap in which we saw everything from the first episode, we continued with test number four – shuffling, as Matsushima-kun demonstrates here:

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The average for seventeen year-olds is 58 times in 20 seconds. One thing we found out from the last episode is that while Sou-kun is flexible, there are definitely some areas in which he could improve. Will he be able to beat the average here?

Marius-kun, despite being the youngest, has performed quite well. In this particular challenge, it will be a matter of whether his height and the length of his legs will give him enough of an advantage to overcome the natural awkwardness of the post-growth-spurt early teen years.

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How about Kento-kun? Seems like he would be quick on his feet, but he adopts a very particular style that barely gets him touching the target line each time. How strict is thee counting on these tests?

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Shori-kun seemed to be short of the line quite a lot, and they even focused the camera on his face – omitting his feet – for a bit to avoid the worst of it. They still gave him credit for it, though – I guess this sort of thing isn’t fair to those with short legs otherwise. It would be more of a test of height than agility.

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Fuma-kun did very well last time, so can he potentially confirm his status as SZ’s athletic leader in this episode?

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So, did the SZ members manage to beat the average? I thought it was a pretty borderline performance.

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Next, they took a good look at the board with the task choices and decided to go with flexibility – touching their toes for task number five. Actually, I should say stretching past their toes, since the average they were trying to beat was 16 cm below the toes.

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They weren’t totally confident about this, so they had Matsushima-kun give it a try before taking on the challenge – they’re not taking any chances now that they’ve cleared four out of six. He scored 21 cm, below the toes, so more of them try it out, but they’re not ready to commit.

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Shori-kun has always struck me as the least flexible member, though in this case Fuma-kun warned us ahead of time that he had bad results at this before, and his back is paining after one of the earlier tasks. Fuma-kun got credit for a number he only managed on a burst – unable to hold it.

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So, with Fuma-kun having trouble on this one, will Marius-kun be able to help out? He doesn’t sound confident, and to be fair, his relatively recent growth probably makes it difficult. They decide to abort that test before Marius-kun and Kento-kun get a shot at it, and instead opt for the high jump (which, while more physically demanding, is also more in line with the way they get exercise).

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That’s the fifth test, then, and they have to get above an average of 1.25 meters. Now, I have never had to do a high jump – apparently California P.E. classes don’t require it (probably for safety concerns) – so I’m pretty much always impressed when people attempt it. It’s a general principle of mine to only be critical if I have genuine reason to believe I could do better, and I’m usually impressed when people do things that I’ve never tried (even stuff like knitting). Marius-kun asked to go first, and they aim for 1.25 meters right away. He stops short on his first run because his rhythm was off – very good choice.

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Matsushima-kun would have probably gotten the best result in the forward bend had they decided to go with that. He’s not as confident with this one, and opts to try 1.15 meters first.

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It’s not easy getting screencaps of them mid-flight:

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Shori-kun aims for 1.25 meters directly, and those strong legs work out for him again. They need to beat 1.25 meters, though, so he’s definitely going to have to try for a greater height.

Fuma-kun leads off with the opposite leg, so he takes a different approach to the bar and also uses the ‘belly roll’ to get over the bar, but 1.25 meters shouldn’t be any problem for him.

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Kento-kun psychs himself up, attempting 1.36 meters to clear the challenge. I didn’t like that the burden of clearing was completely on him when the others aimed just for the average and it seemed like he was just making up for Sou-kun. And this probably does nothing to help out Sou-kun’s evident lack of self-confidence, which hinders him more than any actual lack of physical prowess. On the other hand, I certainly wanted to see Kento-kun’s moment of glory.

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Thankfully, regardless of whether Kento-kun made it or not, they planned to continue to see who could get the best height anyway.

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They are trying to go for SZ’s Max, as the staff guys said.

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To my great disappointment, they decided to do the fifty meters dash as their final event. I already pointed out in the last review that such a short run shouldn’t even be a thing, and while it’s something I’ve never timed myself on, I’m certainly not going to be impressed with the results. Since Shori-kun is a marathoner, having a long run might have lacked suspense, but a single lap run – 400 meters – would have been much more interesting than 50 meters.

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Quite apart from all the other reasons I could cite for not choosing a 50 meter dash, there’s the simple fact that it’s too short. They were trying to beat a time of 7.26 seconds, for heaven’s sake. That left a lot of time to fill, which the director managed with this SZ Channel retrospective of best scenes from the series so far:

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So yeah, we got a mini best-of episode within this episode because they had nothing to fill the time. On the bright side, they showed a classic scene for each of the members, and that was an excellent format.

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After that, we find out whether they will succeed in the overall challenge (and possibly win a semi-promised trip to Hawaii). It’s all down to 7.26 seconds or less.

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The early favorites in this one are soccer player Kento-kun and runner Shori-kun. Will any of the others manage to beat them? Fuma-kun says he can manage some pretty spectacular times – 5.9 seconds. I . . . somehow doubt that, but we’ll see. He’s still in some pain after the earlier events.

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I would think that Kento-kun would have benefited most from soccer, but he cites onigokko (hide-and-seek) as a major source of his dash ability.

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Marius-kun goes first, and he’s pretty much been in-form the whole time – getting right around the 17 year-old average even though he’s fourteen. I said at the start of the previous episode that he was a wildcard, but that has proven far from true – he’s the most average within the group.

Matsushima-kun went next. You’ll have to forgive the lack of screenshots – it’s hard to get good caps of a seven second run. I got a laugh out of Kento-kun suggesting that the length they were running was closer to 80 meters – the staff member pointed out that it would be amazing if they were getting the times that they did if it was that long (like, world record-style).

Shori-kun seemed confident even though this is a short run contrary to his specialty. Can’t ever fault him for a lack of confidence when it comes to athletics, and his running form was quite something to watch.

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Fuma-kun often seems to foul-out on his first starts. He did so in the standing long jump, and again here, as he started more than half a second too early. He will have to retry after Kento-kun goes.

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Will Kento-kun be the champ? His form wasn’t as tight as Shori-kun’s, but he’s got stride on his side.

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After Kento-kun’s run, the time Fuma-kun has to get to ensure that they’ll clear is actually not hard at all, but they decide not to tell him that. Shori-kun tells him that he has to beat Kento-kun’s time or they won’t be able to go to Hawaii.

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Now, Fuma-kun is a college guy, right? So he has to know that Shori-kun is lying, but he doesn’t let on. I would love to see how Shori-kun and Fuma-kun do at poker (or baba-nuki) – they both seem like they’d be good at bluffing, though in totally different ways.

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Fuma-kun still started a touch early, by the way (drawing a little chuckle from one of the other members), and he ran right at the timekeeper so that she had to step out of the way.

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Which brings up another point – a big part of the timing is dependent on the reaction time of the person holding the stop watch, and that reaction time is probably no better than 8-12 hundredths of a second. Yet another reason why this was a bogus event.

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So, will SZ actually be headed to Hawaii? It’s probably not too much of a stretch, and both the show and the agency will probably get a lot of material out of it, but we’ll have to see.

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For now, disregarding the 50-meter dash, this was the challenge that I was hoping to see this summer, and if they move on to some softer stuff in the next couple of episodes, I won’t mind.

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They had a concluding talk as usual, with about three minute of time left. I think the biggest take-away for me was how close to the average these guys were. I would have thought that all the dancing they do would have made more of a difference, but that wasn’t the case. And that was a definite claim from the staff going into this episode of course – after seeing how SZ did in that squash challenge.

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So, this show is still the most consistently entertaining show I watch. Obviously, I’m more interested in these five characters than the average viewer would be, but I also get bored easily watching some of the other shows SZ members are on – Real Scope Z being a prime example of one I gave up on a long time ago and haven’t gone back to. I wouldn’t call myself neutral, but there are concrete reasons to recommend this show: the variety of activities from episode to episode, the focus is on the talents rather than the production team (the staff doesn’t get in the way, the announcer doesn’t take up most of the audio time, and there aren’t a lot of CG/VTR interruptions), and the group members themselves constantly find ways to make things more interesting – stuff that is obviously not scripted.

There is one pervasive problem with this show, though: it’s only on every other week.