On the official Sexy Zone Channel website they give hints as the title for the next episode, and the hint for this one was “Eh! (blank) for one hour!”. Intriguing, but also a little worrying. After spending one hour fishing in an episode, and eating in multiple episode, what could be even less likely to fill an hour of program time? Is the staff trying to find the limit of what Sexy Zone can make entertaining?

The show begins with the usual banter between the guys and the staff, which still feels like a unique way to begin a program. Does any other show have this sort of opening?

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The staff guy asks if the boys have watched Stand & Run – the concert backstage documentary about them. They have, of course, and Marius-kun noted that he watched it with his mother (and I would love to have her commentary on a secondary audio track to the documentary).

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The staff guy brought up the fact that Kento-kun drank a lot of water during the documentary, and he really seemed to be trying to drag this segment out. I think Fuma-kun pointed that out, but the staff just continued with the odd topics – eventually asking them the temperature that they set when going to sleep. They’re a lot more tolerant to heat than I am, from what they said, but it’s all in the name of conserving electricity in the post-Fukushima power situation in Japan. In spite of the heat, Fuma-kun turns off all cooling when he goes to sleep, and dubs himself an (or the) Eco-idol.

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Even the staff guy thinks that their professed setting – 29 Celsius (84 Fahrenheit) is quite hot. Shori-kun explains his logic and Fuma-kun dubs him the “Medium Eco-idol).

Okay, enough of this! Time to reveal the theme for this episode . . .

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. . . which is foot massage! Yes, you read right – they’re going to spend an hour on foot massages. They don’t seem entirely shocked, so it probably wasn’t a surprise to them (otherwise I would have expected an extended stunned silence or “eh!”).

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Fuma-kun clapped, joking that he’s been waiting for this day, but the others mostly objected that it was impossible to spend an hour on foot massages. Kento-kun says that it’s more suited to a five minute corner.

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So . . . are they really going to find a way to make this entertaining? Maybe just watching them squirm in pain will be enough?

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I don’t know if they will eventually have to perform the massages – seems like that would be the logical thing – but they certainly start out as the subjects, all lined up and ready to go:

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The guy in charge, who I’ll refer to as Mr. Foot (either he or the establishment is called Dr. Foot), is armed with a chart:

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I’m not sure if that chart is verified by medical research (it seems to indicate that much of the body is connected to certain points on the foot), but that’s all right – I’m just watching to see the SZ members squirm. I’ll leave rants about pseudoscience for another day.

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Kento-kun is the first target and he’s immediately apprehensive:

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Not only did he give the usual Japanese outbursts in response to pain, but at one point he said “ow!”, which made me happy for some reason.

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As a reward, he got to hold a chart with his problem areas circled. I think Mr. Foot is going to be very insistent about that chart, since it’s basically the product he’s selling.

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Sou-kun was next:

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It may seem somewhat sadistic, but this really doesn’t get old . . .

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. . . especially when Fuma-kun is present to assist in the hilarity by holding Sou-kun down (this was a crazy funny scene that is totally not conveyed by the screencap) . . .

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. . . and then get a dose of the pain himself:

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The two members I really wanted to see were Marius-kun and Shori-kun. Marius-kun has his own unique mix of exclamations (he actually said “ouch”, “oh my god”, and “that hurts” – I’m pretty sure he had to have planned the last one ahead of time, and possibly all three), but Kento-kun notes that he reverts to Japanese when he’s really in pain. He complains that his part seems to be longer than the others.

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Then there’s Shori-kun, who is the least reactive of the members with very careful control over the expression on his face. Is it possible that Shori-kun can actually bear through this without squirming? Even the other members note that he has that sort of image.

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Kento-kun mentioned that he runs the 2km and his feet should be used to pain. A funny moment is when, in the middle of the pain, Shori-kun corrects him by noting that he runs the 3 km, not the 2 km.

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I hope the guys aren’t taking this ‘analysis’ from Mr. Foot seriously.

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Anyway, now that they’ve all had their turn, what are they going to do with two-thirds of the show left?

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They broke into teams after a round of janken. Shori-kun ended up paired with the sensei (though he seemed stunned by this – unclear of the rules), Kikuchi-kun with Marius-kun, and then Nakajima-kun matched up with Matsushima-kun. In these pairs, they massaged each other’s foot, so Shori-kun got another dose from the professional:

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So, can Sou-kun and Marius-kun get the two elder members to twist around just like the sensei did?

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And what’s going to happen when the elder members their turn to inflict some torture? Shori-kun didn’t get a real attempt to try it out, by the way – the sensei allowed him to do it briefly, but certainly didn’t want to have his own squirming caught on camera.

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Okay, so now what? It’s been fun (especially the parts where the sensei randomly grabbed Sou-kun’s foot and made him squeak for mercy), but they’ve still got more than half the show left.

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And they’re openly wondering what to do as the staff member tells them that there’s thirty minutes left to fill.

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So, they play some games. First, while getting foot massages, they attempt to read from Taketori Monogatari (the Tale of the Bamboo-cutter), passing the book after completing a line.

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This ended up being extra-funny (it really never gets old) . . .

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. . . and once again I wondered how Shori-kun would do (he actually twisted so well that for much of the line he prevented Mr. Foot from getting a hold.

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That took all of about four minutes, so they had to come up with something else.

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And so they went on to a quiz – three members would have to watch two members reacting and decide which one is really getting the massage (the one not getting it will have to act to try and fool them). I’ve seen this exact thing on other variety shows before, though certainly not in the context of an entire show about foot massages.

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First up were Marius-kun and Shori-kun, with the others playing the game trying to decide which one was acting and which wasn’t.

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And that’s what this really is, when you get to it – a test of reaction comedy/acting skills. Then again, it was also a test of the observational skills of the other three. I was not at all fooled in the first round, but Kento, Fuma, and Sou apparently were.

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Speaking of which, we (the audience) got to play along on this, which was fun. I was totally fooled on the second round.

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Round three was between Shori-kun and Kento-kun. Why is Kento-kun saying “Aishiteru”? That’s sort of a giveaway, isn’t it?

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And so it continued.

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There was another mini-quiz in which they had to decide which of five people were fake massage therapists.

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The boys got to ask the five of them questions in order to make their determination, as well as examine their hands.

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During the quiz rounds, they kept points, and the loser based on those points faced a penalty. I hope it’s obvious what that penalty would be.

Even with all that effort, they couldn’t quite manage to fill the entire hour with foot massage material. They spent about ten minutes on their collaboration with Lotte on SZ gum, as Kento-kun and Shori-kun met with the Lotte representatives to present their proposals. Kento-kun and Shori-kun made a point of explaining that the other three members were all busy with other work.

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The first proposal point was the flavors. They named seven flavors, and Kento-kun wanted them combined (in the same pack?) as a Sexy Rainbow Gum.

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So now, the Lotte people have to talk some sense into them. I would be very surprised if we really get a gum pack with flavors like chocolate banana and whatever sexy rose tastes like (though if they do, I’ll be needing a pack of that, just out of curiosity).

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Next up, they talked about the packaging, which will again likely face heavy editing by the Lotte people.

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So, how much of this gum will really be the product of SZ ideas? The next day, the five members of SZ are presented with a mock-up of the product. There was peach soda, and the Lotte people picked out the safer flavors out of the seven.

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The guys seemed happy with the result, and even though only three flavors were in the product, Lotte created all seven options for the SZ members – even the Sexy Rose taste. That was a very nice touch.

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This was an okay episode. I’d say the first half was properly entertaining and up to SZ Channel standards, but the latter half floundered a bit. On the bright side, they ensured the viewers could play along with the games. Still, what we saw during the quiz phase was a bit too repetitive. Fuma-kun tried his best to inject some silliness – a valiant effort – but it wasn’t enough. Maybe there really is a limit to how often we can be entertained by watching people writhe around in harmless agony.

I’m going to say that even SZ can’t make foot massages interesting for a full hour, and the staff has finally found this group’s limit. The next episode will doubtless be something completely different and in this case, that will be a good thing.