The participants in this episode of Gamushara (ガムシャラ) are Miyachika Kaito, Abe Aran, Jesse, Yasui Kentaro, Nakamura Reia, Matsukura Kaito, and Vasayegha Hikaru . . .

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. . . and they’re going to be learning the basics of sports sword fighting.

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They’re not going to be using real swords, of course, but rather foam cylinders that will allow them to practice with full force without any concern about injury. Actually, when Miyachika-kun slaps Jesse-kun’s arm with one, Jesse still says it hurts.

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They approach the location and meet their instructor – Hosokawa-sensei. It’s nice to have Yasui-kun leading things, because he give a very spirited introduction to both the activity and their sensei.

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The boys are quite nervous as they walk into a school and then enter the sports chanbara club’s room . . .

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. . . where they see this top middle school club practicing. Yasui-kun handles the interaction between the juniors and the eighteen club members. It’s noteworthy that the club has a balance between male and female members.

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The juniors get suited up (though judging from the club members who remain in regular sportswear, this is might be more of an indication that the Johnny’s are novices).

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The sensei introduces the different sword lengths, each analogous to real weapons.

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Even though they’re foam, protective gear is necessary because it’s still possibly to poke a person’s eye or potentially damage the ear (sufficiently quick knock on the side of the head will compress air in a way that might damage the ear drum). Also, the helmets certainly remove the possibility of repeated stress injuries against the head (only an incredibly overenthusiastic competitor would be able to give his or her opponent a concussion).

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Miyachika-kun is the first one to get a chance to see what it’s like, and he faces the sensei (who happens to be a former world champion).

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I don’t think there’s any mystery about the outcome here.

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Next, Reia-kun gives it a shot, and moves around a lot more than Miyachika-kun did, but the end result was still the same.

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So, on behalf of the juniors, Yasui-kun concedes their defeat and asks humbly to be taught the basic skills of this art.

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And so it begins.

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The sensei chooses to use Jesse-kun for the first demonstration – basic swipes and avoidance moves.

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The subsequent practice, though, looks a bit disorganized. Are they really learning the skills or just messing around?

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Yasui-kun sees this and tells them to shape up.

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Following that, the sensei showed some strike moves.

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There was a serious sparring sequence between Aran-kun and Jesse-kun, but practice got much more serious once two middle schoolers joined the practice session to demonstrate a step sequence (similar to karate kata).

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And while they practiced this first kata, a bunch of the club members were watching on the sidelines, mostly laughing. Frankly, the moves were sloppy and had none of the precision that they would practice their dance steps with.

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Much, much more practice is necessary.

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Actually, maybe the juniors need to face some serious competition instead of just messing around with each other. Hikaru-kun is the first member to face one of the middle schoolers in combat:

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Then Aran-kun:

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He tries to hold out, but is disappointed. Actually, he’s seemed rather more serious about the whole thing than some of the others.

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How long with Matsukura-kun last?

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And Yasui-kun?

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Jesse-kun has been a favorite of the sensei’s. Does that mean he’s shown more skill so far?

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Reia-kun actually wields a pole-arm while his opponent has a sword and short sword. This . . . seems somewhat unfair unless there’s something I’m missing.

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Miyachika-kun went last, but then Yasui-kun asked for another round.

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Unfortunately, the editor chose to speed through this second round instead of showing us all the battles.

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Before the end of their time with this challenge, though, there was one more task – facing off against the All-Japan Champion team.

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This team was all serious, unlike the other middle schoolers the Johnny’s members faced earlier. The battles will be one-on-one again and as a handicap, the champions will have to get three taps on the juniors to win the fight, but the juniors will only have to get one.

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And . . . we’ll have to wait until the next episode to find out what happens. That’s good, because there was definitely not enough time in this episode to do it justice.

I very much appreciated that they focused the entire episode on this challenge. After some months of bouncing between four teams with four different challenges, and the somewhat choppy episodes before that, this was smoother viewing. I still felt that the editing was very intrusive and the narration too verbose, but at least we got to skip some transitions.

The mix of juniors featured was quite interesting. Obviously, Yasui-kun’s involvement is always welcome because he helps to make things flow better, and he really makes the announcer redundant. Besides him, I was mostly interested in newcomers Miyachika-kun and Hikaru-kun, both of whom got a decent share of the time. Actually, I thought the time was fairly well-balanced between the seven juniors present. Reia-kun managed to get some serious mileage out of that pole-arm.

The final task will only require part of the next episode, so there will be some other challenge involving a different group of juniors in the second half. Gamushara continues to be the best show featuring the Johnny’s juniors, and as long as they continue with challenges like this, the future looks good.