12 April 2013

The Shounen Club 23 December 2006 review

This is the first Christmas special episode for the program, which is basically a clip show but with it running about an hour and a half there is enough in the new footage to make it rather satisfying.

We open up to studio shots of the Juniors enjoying a Christmas party. We get the groups and all members seem to be present.

This means Fujigaya Taisuke is back and he gets to be one of the first few Juniors that get a solo shot.

After a clip we get to see the studio set that most of the new footage will take place at. the seats on the stage portion have both fans and the Juniors sitting on them. And I rather love the fact that the cameramen are wearing Santa suits for this filming.

They do not take long to bring out the first guests of the program, Ueda Tatsuya and Taguchi Junnosuke. It is announced that KAT-TUN was the number one request for the fans that wrote in for the special. No surprise there as the group is still on their peak even though Akanishi Jin is on leave right now.

We get a few clips of past KAT-TUN performances before a VTR with the current five members of the group. After a quick talk they each pick a card that has a phrase they need to say to the camera. They are the usual cheesy love phrases, but Christmas themed, and more fun to watch the guys' reactions to doing them then the phrases themselves.

When we go back to the studio there is talk about the letter segments and the Juniors get some chances to speak, as they are the ones that usually do the letter exchanges. Kis-My-Ft2 is up on the stage area so Senga Kento gets asked to read the next request letter, which of course is about the letter exchanges which the next set of clips are.

There is a VTR segment after the clips with Yamashita Tomohisa, where he just talks to the camera. Then there are clips of past Yamapi solo performances. And they are just clips, no full performances for any of it shown.

Back at the studio Ya-Ya-Yah get to sit on the stage for the next MC about the next request. This time they look at the comedy of the program, from the skits KAT-TUN used to do, Junno's puns and of course the various manzai. Inoo Kei steals the spotlight with this talk when he gets brought in to talk about Junno and his puns.

And we get to see how small and cute Yabu Kota used to be with the clips, since we have older Yabu in a small screen watching the clip. I think that is probably one of the reasons I ended up liking this episode is that they do show the ones on screen react to themselves for these clips.

When we switch back the topic sticks to manzai and then the request is about Kanjani8, who are of course known for doing manzai well. So the present box gets opened, and Yax3 get to pretend to be amazed at the graphics that get added in later to start the VTR of K8.

K8 are their usual talkative selves and near the end Yokoyama Yu brings up Koyama Keiichiro's last name, placing a 'yo' in front of it so is sounds just like his. Then we get K8 clips to follow.

And while this is a special episode we still get a Junior ni Q. Most of the Juniors highlighted are still with the agency this time around. The first of them being Takaki Yuya.

Then there is Kyomoto Taiga who talks about one Christmas that his family went to a onsen and he still got presents from Santa.

And while he is not with Johnny's anymore I am still going to cover Igo Akun a bit as he brought in the laughs from crawling under the board to get to and from his seat. That and him just being his usual self, who is always a lot of fun to watch. He is one of the Juniors I really miss.

Then Yaotome Hikaru gets to tell a story from when he was young. It sounded like he went outside to play but came back with his hands all red from the cold.

Lastly Yamada Ryosuke gets called up and he tells a story. I know it is about his family staying at a hotel for Christmas and something to do with chicken pox, but that is about all I feel confident on. This section is followed by Christmas song perform clips.

Next request is the game segments which get divided up into two parts so they can cover all the various ones they have done over the years since moving to NHK Hall, as they are popular segments of the show.

Then we get Kitayama Hiromitsu reading the next request letter from a Kisumai fan. This then leads to a clip segment of all the various Junior groups getting highlighted performing.

I will say that it is nice to have clip shows still this far into the series as I can finally clearly see some of these early performances. Like this first J.J.Express one from 2005 where I can finally make out the back dancers and notice that there is a tiny Senga here. So this episode gets points for being of much better quality than those earlier ones.

At the studio we have the next guest of the episode brought out, Takizawa Hideaki. It is brought up that Tackey is the most frequent guest for the program, clocking in 40 times that he has been on the program as a guest. A fact that is shown on the screen for his part of the guest clip segment.

In the following MC with Tackey, Koyama and Nakamaru Yuichi give him a gift to open which ends up being a paper with the words, "VTR Start" on them. And thus we get to the next clip segment.

This clip segment I find very interesting as it has clips from the Junior programs that came before SC, Idol on Stage and Music Jump. This includes Tackey's first ever appearance, which is as a back dancer for Imai Tsubasa on Idol on Stage.

There are some fun clips with a young Tackey for the program that followed that one, Music Jump. And even clips of him performing with members of Arashi. I wish I could find more of those because they seem pretty rare to find and they are a part of the same generation of Juniors.

And of course there are old SC clips as well. Which are nice to have for the few of episodes I do not have. And when has anyone seen Yamapi looking so energetic last?

They continue to talk with Tackey afterwards and he brings up that he wants to produce something but will not say what yet.

After that A.B.C. get their turn on the stage to do a quick MC before moving on to the second Junior game clip segment.

After that they read more requests from fans that pretty cover all the Juniors, so we get another segment of Junior performances.

They then have a few of the little Juniors be on the stage for one of the final segments, the top 3 performance requests. The third is Kamenashi Kazuya's Seishun Amigo performance followed by Yamapi performing LOVE xxxx.

And the number one requested performance is Jin's solo song care. Even though I do think there is more to KAT-TUN's popularity decline than Jin leaving I also think it would be foolish not to think that did not play a sizable role. Whatever one may have thought of him he was very popular, which I believe this helps show.

We get one final MC segment for the episode before the final clip shown, one of the Christmas songs that KAT-TUN sang back in 2004.

Then we have more of that studio shot from the start of the episode, this time highlighting the groups as well as some of the individual Juniors. And with that the special is over.

I loved being able to see the really old footage of Tackey in this episode. I would love to be able to watch some of those shows, but honestly I know I am lucky to have gotten the little of the Shounen Club early episodes that I have.

But even without that I would have considered this to be one of the better clip shows, as it managed to balance the clip to new material ratio well.

Of course with this 2006 is officially done and the next episode begins the 2007 episodes that will eventually lead to Hey! Say! JUMP's debut.

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