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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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This episode continues the case introduced in episode three of Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Neo (金田一少年の事件簿N). We last left the main characters on an island with a bunch of medical interns, and it didn’t take long for murders to start happening. First, an intern named Morimura was hung in a room that was reputedly haunted. Then, another aspiring medical student – Shiina Makio – was found hanging from a high crossbeam at a chapel.

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Some of the interns feel guilty about the fate of Ebisawa Kuniaki, who attempted suicide and remains in a coma at their hospital. Meanwhile, one of them – Shiraishi – hints to Kindaichi (Yamada Ryosuke) that she knows who moved the ladder (and thus would have been able to reach the locations to commit the murders), but she’s unwilling to say who.

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Kato was so distraught about the thought of Ebisawa’s revenge that he tried to swim away from the island, but Kindaichi managed to save him from a likely death. That’s some serious guilt Kato’s got, though.

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Gamushara 2014.09.14 Review

Ah, this Gamushara (ガムシャラ) already looks like it’s going to be fun:

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Having a kouhaku-style red team versus white team battle is a favorite scheme, and they’re promising a genuine test of physical aptitude, but are the two teams really balanced?

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The “power types” are quickly identified – Morohoshi-kun on the red team and Shintaro-kun on the white team, but what about the rest of the members?

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Well, Morohoshi-kun had Matsumura Hokuto, Kyomoto Taiga, Takahashi Kaito, and Matsuda Genta with him. That seems on the face of it like a much more athletic team than Shintaro-kun’s cohort – Iwahashi Genki, Tanaka Juri, Hayashi Ren, and Takahashi Fuu. The red team is also older overall. Of course, Shintaro-kun himself is probably the strongest person present, but who’s the fastest or the most agile? I’m not sure.

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HERO 2014 Ep 04 Review

After a somewhat weak episode of HERO 2014, I’m mainly looking for Kuryu (Kimura Takuya) to get a decent case this time – no more contrived PSA lectures allowed. This episode doesn’t begin with Kuryu’s case, though, but with Uno (Hamada Gaku) getting a case about a scam artist which will require him to work with a prosecutor from Kyoto.

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The rest of the office is distraught because the temperature was set too low, but they settle down once they get something hot to drink . . .

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. . . so they’re in a relatively good mood when the Kyoto prosecutor appears and it turns out to be Nakamura Misuzu (Otsuka Nene), who was in this office in the first series but subsequently transferred.

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Nakamura greets all the holdovers from the first series, but also knows the prosecutor who basically plays the same role she did – Baba Reiko (Yoshida Yo).

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Of course, she still remembers Kuryu – who could forget him?

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Speaking of Kuryu, his case involves a guy who tried to steal a manhole cover. There had better be a good story behind this one, because if Kuryu is going to talk to the guy’s friends and family, find out that he’s an otherwise good guys who went astray, and then lecture him about the ills of stealing manhole covers . . . .

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There seems to be an interesting twist already, as Asagi (Kitagawa Keiko) and the thief recognize each other . . .

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. . . and we find out that Asagi used to be a hoodlum in her younger days. This should be interesting.

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What raises Kuryu’s suspicions, though, is the fact that sixty-two people wrote letters on the guy’s behalf, pleading for clemency. With that many people going to such lengths to help him, you’d think that he wouldn’t need to sell stolen steel to make ends meet.

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Nakamura introduces Uno to the case of the scam artist, but they’re sort of distracted because Suetsugu (Kohinata Fumiyo) is still infatuated with Nakamura after all this time and he doesn’t hide the fact.

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Asagi resists talking about her wilder days, but Kuryu is absolutely delighted by the revelation of her past, seeing it as explaining the more interesting aspects of her personality now.

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Ultimately, she only admits to being a very mild hoodlum.

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Uno’s attempt to question the scam artist doesn’t go so well because the suspect is a smooth talker. Suetsugu is still in daydream land.

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Outside of his office, Uno sees Kuryu taunting Asagi, and is stunned to find out about the less savory aspect of her past.

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Nakamura takes a totally different tact than Uno, and manages to corner the scam artist.

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Kuryu and Asagi visit the manhole at issue . . .

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. . . and then one of the people who wrote a letter on the thief’s behalf. This first guy seems very shady – he recognizes Asagi and treats her as if she was still part of his gang instead of as a prosecutor’s assistant. It doesn’t seem like he’s moved on and gone legit.

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Asagi is not happy with meeting her old acquaintances in this way.

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Nakamura reports her success to the boss . . .

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. . . and Suetsugu is torn between two stirrer sticks – one representing Nakamura and the other one Reiko. He also faces competition from Nakamura’s assistant.

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Kuryu and Asagi visit another person who wrote a letter – another old acquaintance of Asagi’s. This time, though, the woman noted that she was told to write the letter by the first guy they talked to – she didn’t write it out of any concern for the accused. In fact, she doesn’t even know the manhole cover thief well. The plot thickens.

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Kuryu ends up questioning everyone who wrote a letter and finds that most of them had simply done it because they were told to (good thing they didn’t bother to lie about it). That’s mighty suspicious, and Kuryu now wonders why the culprit’s real friends – the few who wrote the letter voluntarily – went to all this trouble on his behalf.

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Nakamura’s success leaves Uno doubting himself . . .

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. . . and he turns to Kuryu, complaining that graduating from Todai and having a pristine record hasn’t helped him at all.

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Kuryu’s response when Uno finally storms out is hilarious.

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New funny face from Kawajiri (Matsushige Yutaka):

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Kuryu finally gets Asagi to open up about her past – it’s about time we learned more about her.

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What happens after that gets more exciting and leads directly to the way the episode ends, so I’ll cut off the synopsis here.

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I will note that Uno gets the wrong idea about the changes he needs to make:

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Thankfully, Kawajiri puts his foot down and insists that Uno change back to his suit. We get another laugh after that, as Kuryu asks Kawajiri if it’s all right for him to show up to work in jeans and tee-shirt.

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This was a good episode – not exciting, but still well-paced. It helped that this one had a program time of 46 minutes – the regular hour block – instead of the longer duration of previous episodes.

The case eventually built into something substantial, and there weren’t any sermons. It was pretty easy to guess the true nature of the case once we found out the type of friend that supported the thief.

Kimura-san was especially good in this episode, getting a number of laughs from me. The main comedy was provided by Hamada-san as Uno and Kohinata-san as Suetsugu, and on both of those the acting was good, though there were only two really interesting scenes – one where the guard walks in on Suetsugu sitting in the dark, stunned, and the other with Uno dressed in imitation of Kuryu.

With any luck, the plots will continue to trend in this direction, and I’m hoping to see an even more compelling case next time.

The top single for the past week was “Hikaeme I Love You!” (控えめ I love you!) from HKT48, which saw 277,534 copies sold. That’s the best first week result for the group, narrowly continuing their streak of growth.

Fudanjuku was at #2 with “BE HERO” selling 32,248.

Taking #3 in its second week, “Midaretemina” from 2PM had a very good second week – selling 14,374 to pass the gold mark, reaching 109,471.

“Tokyo Victory” by Southern All Stars got #9 with 8,273 sold in its third week, and now boasts a total of 119,386 copies sold.

Right behind was Nogizaka46’s “Natsu no Free & Easy” which now has a twelve-week total of 516,931.

Hikawa Kiyoshi-san’s “Choito Kimagure Watari Dori” took #14, selling 6,206 in week two to bring its total to 59,338.

In its second week, “Omoide Breaker” from Lead sold a solid 5,556 for a running total of 48,783 sold.

At #26, Hey! Say! JUMP’s “Weekender/Ashita e no YELL” added 3,351 to its total, getting it to 207,448 in its fourth week.

AKB48’s “Kokoro no Placard” is still hanging out – taking #28, now with 1,042,729 copies sold in total after five weeks.

“Geragerapo no Uta” from King Cream Soda found itself at #29, which sold 2,894 to boost its twenty-two week total to 116,285.

The album side was thinner than it has been in a while. SHINee got #1 with “I’m Your Boy”, which sold 45,053 copies.

“TRAD” from Takeuchi Mariya-san was at #2 in its third week, still going strong by selling 25,055. Its fresh total is 192,449.

Ariana Grande’s “My Everything” bounced up to #5 by selling 13,165, and its five-week total is 76,253.