Tag Archive: Fujii Ryusei


Shounen Club 2014.09.10 Review

Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) is a music variety show hosted by Kawai Fumito of A.B.C-Z and Kiriyama Akito of Johnny’s West that showcases the song-and-dance skills of the Johnny’s Entertainment agency’s most recently debuted groups – A.B.C-Z, Sexy Zone, and Johnny’s West – as well as the agency’s trainees (known as juniors).

The second episode for September begins with A.B.C-Z introducing the theme of the show – 15th anniversary year again, even though I still have no idea how they figure that – and then performing “Legend Story”. Hashimoto-kun’s opening wasn’t quite as striking as before – more muted this time.

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Maybe it’s because it’s at the start of the show, but it seemed lacking in energy and not as sharp as the previous time I saw this performed.

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So, I’d call that an iffy opening. The song itself could probably work if it was done with some over-the-top exuberance, but they were restrained on it this time.

Moving along, Kawai-kun and Kiriyama-kun introduced the first performers – Hirano Sho, Nagase Ren, and Takahashi Kaito. This is a bit unusual since we’ve normally had one of the other debuted groups out to do the talk at this point even when a junior group was preparing to perform.

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Shounen Club (ザ少年倶楽部) is a music variety show hosted by Kawai Fumito of A.B.C-Z and Kiriyama Akito of Johnny’s West that showcases the song-and-dance skills of the Johnny’s Entertainment agency’s most recently debuted groups – A.B.C-Z, Sexy Zone, and Johnny’s West – as well as the agency’s trainees (known as juniors).

The main fascination with the show, at least for me, is to try to figure out which of the juniors will emerge as the next generation of stars. This episode opens with some prime candidates handling the intro, as Jinguji Yuta, Iwahashi Genki, Abe Aran, and Kishi Yuta led a cadre of other juniors in SMAP’s “Bang! Bang! Vacance”.

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They made way for the elder juniors, who continued the song. While the four listed above seem to be in a stable grouping (except that they’re missing Miyachika Kaito), the elder juniors have no such luck, and every time I turn around, they’re in a totally different arrangement.

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For the final phase of the song, Sato Shori, Nakajima Kento, and Kikuchi Fuma of Sexy Zone as well as the entirety of Johnny’s WEST and A.B.C-Z (except Totsuka Shota) joined the rest on a very crowded stage. Fair enough, though, since I typically like this type of all-in one-song opening for Shounen Club. It feels right to have the whole cast out front to kick things off.

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SHARK Ep 12 Review

This is the final episode of SHARK – or at least, the first season of it, which was focused on the story of Kurata Mizuki (Hirano Sho). In a very concrete way, it’s the finest finale episode of any drama I’ve reviewed – and possibly that I’ve ever seen. Since doing a synopsis of the episode is a futile way to approach it, let me explain why I think it was such a successful conclusion.

For most Japanese dramas, the last episode is a culmination of expected events in a smooth resolution. Occasionally, there’s a surprise or a twist. More often there’s a lengthy recap of key scenes from the entire drama in the form of a flashback as the conflict reaches its climax. It is unusual for the finale to also be the best episode of the series.

The tension in this episode is largely dictated by Ichika (Yamashita Rio)’s mood. She starts out elated that the concert that will determine whether SHARK will début or not has been sold out, but her mood changes as she figures out about Mizuki’s voice. In general, viewers probably followed the same trajectory as Ichika – starting out excited to hear the band play, and then having more complicated feelings with every song.

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And, of course, the reason why we’re excited to hear them play is because the writers and director have been careful to minimize how long we’ve gotten to hear the group up to this point. They’ve also minimized the group’s wardrobe, but that’s another point entirely.

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The concert takes up almost the entire half-hour, and features the songs “Reflexion”, “Smile”, “Kagayaki”, “Answer”, and “Keep Walking”. At the start, the only people who know about Mizuki’s vocal cord problems are Mizuki himself and Kaede (Kawaei Rina), but that won’t be true by the end.

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SHARK Ep 11 Review

At the end of the previous episode of SHARK, the record company director the band is having trouble with – the same one who used to be Mizuki (Hirano Sho)’s manager, agreed to listen to the group’s new song on one condition – if Mizuki was fired as vocalist.

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Ichika (Yamashita Rio) informs Mizuki of the ultimatum, and while she assures him that she rejected the notion, it’s pretty clear that the problem here is between Mizuki and the director. It’s personal.

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Because it seems to be just between the director and Mizuki, Ichika decides not to tell the other band members and urges Mizuki to try to resolve the situation. She wonders if there’s something he’s not telling her, but he’s tight-lipped.

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SHARK Ep 10 Review

We’re getting subtitles for the remaining episodes of SHARK’s first season just as the new season begins (thank you, Hakuchan!) so, let me try and get through these ASAP so that I can start on the new season. Not that I think that the next three episodes aren’t going to be fun, mind you, but my curiosity is fully mobilized in wondering what sort of storyline they’ll build around the new cast and how they’ll transition from this story.

At the start of this episode, Mizuki (Hirano Sho) tries to listen to the song from his rival in the Castaways. I guess it was an attempt at bravery in the face of the cataclysmic realization of his lack of comparative vocal skill, and . . . he fails this particular test of bravery. It doesn’t take more than a few lines of the song before he ditches the headphones.

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Back at headquarters, Mizuki takes revenge on Shinobu of Castaways by drawing all over his image on the cover of Indies Press. Hmm . . . I’m not sure this is an adequate way to get revenge, but the rest of the band got a laugh out of it.

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Ichika (Yamashita Rio) is not so sanguine about the situation, though. Walking in utter depressed, she breaks the news that their début is in jeopardy because a director at the record company has nixed it.

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