31 August 2013

The Shounen Club 9 November 2008 review

I cannot believe I am almost through all the 2008 episodes. I feel like I am actually catching up to the newer episodes now.

This episode actually starts with the theme, Arigato (thank you), announced by Fujigaya Taisuke and Hashimoto Ryosuke before they join their respective groups in the singing of the opening number, SMAP's Arigato.

The program's hosts, Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi, then do the usual opening talk, again announcing the theme of the episode. They have Fujigaya talk and he brings up that in December Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C-Z will be having their first concerts so they are thankful for that. Hasshi gets asked to say what he is grateful for and he says the other four members of A.B.C-Z.

The episode then moves on to do the theme medley. I am starting to recognize some of the little Juniors back dancing as those that will be in the Snow Prince Gasshodan group, but I never did learn all their names and I cannot remember which ones are still with Johnny's or not. Other than that the medley gives a good mix of the Juniors in it and there are some good moments for seeing Juniors together that normally would not be mixed as they are.

For the first MC segment it is Kyomoto Taiga and Uekusa Yuta, who will be paired up with Taiga quite a bit before he leaves the agency. They are asked what they are thankful for and Taiga says going to karaoke with Uekusa.

The two sing Tegomass' Kiss ~Kaeri michi no Love Song~. As I already mentioned these two will be paired up quite a bit and mostly to sing Tegomass songs. They actually work well as a duo as they seem to be two of the stronger singers for the younger Juniors. Though Taiga's voice has yet to really crack so it is still a good ways away from what it currently sounds like.

Part way through the performance Tegomass come on stage to join the two. Knowing what a Tegoshi Yuya fan Taiga is I can imagine that this is one of his favorite performances.

Tegomass then of course are the focus of the next MC segment. They talk about what they are thankful for and then Nakamaru gets prodded to talk about the theme as well.

Tegomass go on stage again to perform Ai Ai Gasa then have Koyama join them on stage to perform Happy Birthday. The former is the typical early Tegomass song, a ballad like song that lets the two show off their vocals. Happy Birthday is a fun NEWS song that helps bring some energy to the stage.

There is the game segment next and it for physical challenges this time around starting with chin ups. I rather love how they all get to sit and watch this one. This is followed by a limbo challenge where the guys have to go under the pole in pairs of two.

The final challenge is to have the entire team to skip rope together. Had to feel sorry for Dream Bombers as they had to do this a couple of times as the rope hit the side of the stage and messed them up.

A.B.C-Z is then up to perform a new unit song, Vanilla, which looking back really does not seem to be quite appropriate for a sixteen year old Hasshi to be singing. But being age appropriate has never been Johnny's strongest suits.

There is then a Kansai Junior ni Q segment. The topic for them is their lucky color. Fugal Shawn Goku is up first with his answer being yellow and blue.

Then it is Nakayama Yuma who answered with orange, and even has a T-shirt with the color on. He says its his favorite color because he is a Giants (a baseball team) fan.

Following him is future Veteran member Kikuoka Masahiro who answered with rainbow. He gets a hard time with the fact that he is not wearing anything with rainbow colors on it.

Then it wraps up with Hamanaka Bunichi who put down pink. He is obviously embarrassed about it as he does what he usually does when he is completely embarrassed, tries to hide as much as his face as he can with his hands.

Question? then performs a song completely written by their lead vocalist, Yonemura Daijiro, My Way. It seems rather bitter sweet watching this now as Yonemura is the first of the group/agency to leave and will be doing so sometime in 2009.

For the Heisei Post segment Nakamaru has Kisumai with him to read and answer letters. The first requests Senga Kento to do his impression of a turtle laying eggs. Then the second is a question about who spends the most time fixing their hair and the answer is given is Tamamori Yuta.

Kisumai then have a special stage that they kick off with a dance with light rods. The actual song that they perform is Fire Beat. I venture to say that it is really with this upcoming concert that the colors assigned to each member gets cemented. Especially with the outfits they have been wearing throughout most of the episode. I do not think the colors were really used as much beforehand.

With that it is time to wrap up the episode and the older Juniors all sing Arigato no Uta. They have a section where they all in twos or threes say "arigato" to the camera and at the end it is revealed that Tegomass has joined them on stage. With them and the Juniors on stage they finish off the song and end the episode.

Now with the KisuEbi concert around the corner the two groups are on their way to debut. The next couple of years or so of Shounen Club episodes will have the two groups rise in prominence, especially Kisumai as they have a few tours before they debut.

29 August 2013

The Shounen Club 2 November 2008 review

And with this episode we sorta have B.I.Shadow now.

From the introduction at the start of the program the three original members of B.I.Shadow have definitely been grouped together as a trio but they are introduced with their individual names instead of a group name like Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C-Z were before them.

In the introduction we get to see the guests of the episodes, Kansai Juniors Nakata Daichi (ex-Johnny's) and Hamada Takahiro, who form the now duo of BOYS.

Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru Yuichi then properly introduce the two as the guests of the episode and talk about who they get a lot of fan letters letters asking for more Kanjuu on the program. The theme is then announced, DANCE.

We get the usual medley to follow that and it is a mix of the Juniors in groups and grouped Juniors performing the songs. And of course when they do a KAT-TUN song they have Tanaka Juri do the rap for it as he gets consistently pushed as a mini-version of his older brother, Tanaka Koki.

And even though they are still not being called B.I.Shadow I will be calling the Nakajima Kento, Kikuchi Fuma and Takahata Misaki trio that, as that is what they should become shortly. But BIS perform Mayonaka no Shadow Boy in this medley, beating Hey! Say! JUMP to perform the song themselves on the program first. Though they do have Yabu Kota show up as he seems to have nothing to do but be a guest on the show at this point.

The following MC segment has the four, Yabu and BIS, talking to the program's hosts. Yabu gets to talk first and is asked about dancing and then we get some basic introduction information from BIS, which is what sempai they admire. Nakaken of course says Yamada Ryosuke and Fuma gets to spare Yabu's feelings by telling him that he is his admired sempai.

The four of them then perform School Kakumei, which is a song Yabu wrote the lyrics to. It seems like BIS is being used as a replacement HSJ for this episode, but at least there is a new group of Juniors to focus on post-HSJ debut.

Up next is an MC segment with BOYS. They talk about dancing for their sempai as well as songs they like the dance of.

They then perform first for a divided performance. They perform the song Battle, which I hope is still being used by the Kanjuu as I like it. Perhaps not so much as a CD track but more for a performance song.

The second part has three of the five members of Butokan perform Grateful world before joining BOYS in performing Battle.

It is then the game segment of the episode and it is a dance quiz. These are fun as it is easy to follow along even if you do not know much Japanese and it is interesting to see who knows which songs. Though the best is when they have them do something really challenging with it, like do the dance with dumbbells.

And the final round where they have to sum up a dance with a single dance move is pretty fun to watch, especially since Kawai Fumito is up for his team.

Following this is a special stage with a Kis-My-Ft2 vs A.B.C-Z performance. This is basically each group performing one of their group songs in a mash-up, Kisumai with Kaizoku and Ebi with CRUSH. At the end they are performing both at the same time and while it actually works when they are switching off it does not seem to be so seamless with both songs being sung at the same time.

There is then Junior ni Q with the topic being something you want to boast about. First up is Nakaken who does not look as nervous as the last time he was on the segment, and he shows off being able to sound like a window being wiped.

Then it is Morimoto Shintaro, unfortunately I could not really follow what he was talking about outside that it had something to do with his father.

Kyomoto Taiga gets called over and he shows off some of his impersonation skills, starting with Totsuka Shota.

They then go to end the segment but Miyata Toshiya rushes over to stop them so he can get a turn. He tells a story about the door at a convenience store near his house, I could not get exactly what he was saying about it though.

Hamada and Nakata get to do a letter exchange segment, and as expected from Kanjuu they get the audience laughing. I was able to catch Hamada talking about the fact that they have known each other since they went to the same audition and Nakata brought up that it has been six years since they have known each other.

The duo then perform a song, Give Me. It sounds familiar enough that I want to say that it still gets performed by the Kanjuu. Either that or I just remember it well from this performance, as I do like the song even though it does sound a bit dated by today's standards.

It is then time to wrap up the episode with an ending theme. This time the song performed is REAL DX, which starts with just Kisumai and Ebi but eventually BOYS come back on stage to perform the song with them.

If I had to pinpoint the turning point for when the Kansai Juniors began to have their rise I would pick 2008 to be the year. Back then I was not really into them back as a current fan I am finding it interesting to see how they really start to build a presence on Shounen Club with this year with not only being guests on the show for the Tokyo episodes but also having the Kansai Junior ni Q segment. It is hard to believe a couple of years ago the Kansai side of things was mainly just Kanjani8 with little focus on the Kanjuu. They have come a long way and I really hope it all builds up for a debut for the older ones soon.

26 August 2013

Johnny's Under 100: Ueda Tatsuya

Ueda Tatsuya
Group: KAT-TUN
Birthdate: October 4, 1983

There is a brightness to Ueda that does not get to shine a lot with the image he portrays as a member of KAT-TUN. Being the “cool” group being full of smiles is not the way to go with the group, which is a pity as Ueda has a great one.

I have always admired his hobby of boxing. It comes off as such an unusual one to have for an idol, which is probably why I like him for it. But his songwriting seems to be a better fit. Wish we could get a Mousepeace album from him.

24 August 2013

The Shounen Club 12 October 2008 review

And we have an episode that Yabu Kota is not one of the guests in.

Did not mention it with the last episode but Sanada Yuma and Nozawa Yuki still are treated as prominent Juniors and get individual introductions. Eventually they will be put in a group, which is made of a few of the Juniors from the Jr. Boys group that gets introduced in this episode, but until then they just float as a duo.

At the end of the introductions the guest of the episode comes on stage, Taguchi Junnosuke. He performs a snippet of his solo song, Samurai Love Attack, to end the starting segment.

After that Nakamaru Yuichi reads a fan postcard asking for the theme of Himitsu (secret) and is a Yamashita Shoon fan. They have Shoon come over to say a few words before the theme medley is kicked off.

The medley takes a bit of a break from the usual pattern it has had in the past few months and has the more prominent Junior groups', Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C-Z, members lead the songs in the medley with the other Juniors backing them up or singing with them.

After that the first MC segment has Koyama Keiichiro and Nakamaru talking to some of the little Juniors. Out of the three that had turns talking Kyomoto Taiga and Morimoto Shintaro are of course still with Johnny's. They had to tell a secret and Kyomoto talked about something related to sleeping while Shintaro claimed to be a genius a coin games, which is a kind of arcade game.

Of course whenever there are little Juniors in black suits it usually means that there will be a performance of Secret Agent Man, and for this episode it holds true.

The little ones are not the only ones performing the song as about half way through they are joined by four other Juniors, Takada Sho, Nakajima Kento, Kikuchi Fuma and Takahata Misaki, the last one being the only one not with Johnny's anymore. But all four are involved in dramas in 2008, which is why I am assuming they were placed to perform in this song.

Next is an MC segment with Junno. When asked about a secret he just says something goofy, which is nothing new for him. He then talks about playing an internet game and teases about the name he uses to play it.

He performs his solo song Natsu no Basho, which is a nice summer pop song. Listening to it I am amazed at how much he has improved his vocals over the years as he sounds so much better in his latest solo, FLASH. But what Junno lacks in vocal skills he always tried to make up with energy and he has a dance break in the middle of the song where he shows off his dance moves as well as acrobatics.

The game segment portion of the show comes after that and this time there is quite a change up to it. Though it is more going back to some of their old games. This one has each team captain, Fujigaya Taisuke for Dream Bombers and Kawai Fumito for Jonetsu Rainbows, call out a Junior to showcase a talent. Junno then as judge has to pick which one did better. What is great with this is that they make sure to use some of the Fresh Juniors, which includes Nakaken, who does an impersonation. 

Another Fresh Junior showcased is Tanaka Juri, who with Nakamaru revive the TaNaka comedy duo that Nakamaru used to do with Juri's older brother, Tanaka Koki. They even make it a point to point out Juri and Koki are brothers in one of their routines.

Next performance is Kis-My-Ft2 performing Smile again. There is not much different from their previous performance of the song but it is still miles better than what comes after it...

This episode has what to my knowledge is the first and only foreign guest act on the program. It is a boy band from Europe called US 5 and I was not impressed watching them perform back in 2008 and less so watching them in 2013. I have no clue why they were on the program but I am not sad that we never see or hear from them again.

Thankfully there is Kansai Junior ni Q next to bring us back to what the show is really about. The theme seems to be exposing others' secrets. While the first Kanjuu up, Muro Tatsuki, is no longer with Johnny's his brothers, which include Muro Ryuta, are and as Tatsuki's secret includes his brother Ryuta gets called over.

A familiar face camera bombs them though and focus shifts to the culprit, Mukai Koji, for a bit before moving back to the brothers.

Nakayama Yuma is called up next, as there was indeed a time he was with the other Kansai Juniors, and his secret is about Fujii Ryusei. So when they have Fujii up there they talk about his answer which involves Yuma and another Kanjuu.

Then it is Shigeoka Daiki up next and he talks about Fugal Shawn Goku and how he listed something wrong in his profile. And the final Kanjuu they bring up is about those not with the agency anymore.

There is then an MC with A.B.C-Z and they talk about a secret and Kawai brings up Hashimoto Ryosuke as the topic bringing up that even though Hasshi looks like the cool type his personality does not match up at all. They also help correct Koyama's pronunciation of their group name at the end as 'z' tends to be pronounced as 'zed' in Japan instead of the American variation of 'zee'. 

They perform their first group song as this unit, Ashita no Tame ni Boku ga Iru. The song is a ballad, which at this point for the group is probably the best thing as Hasshi really has no acrobatic experience that I can recall at this point so he would stick out quite a bit if the group do their usual song types.

And we get a rare performance of the season's ending song, OH! MY DREAM. I think by now it is safe to say having assigned ending songs for the show is on its way out. Which is a bit of a pity as they have been ensuring that Juniors are a part of the final performance and tend to give us cute moments like this.

A Shounen Club episode with Junno as a guest will always be a joy for me. The biggest downside to the episode is the US 5 appearance, as there seems to be little point to having them there as they are not Johnny's and do not really interact with the Juniors, just do their performance and leave. If I take that oddness out though I easily rate this episode rather highly as it has a good mix of everything I like from the program.