03 September 2014

The Shounen Club 8 April 2011 review

As mentioned with the previous review on March 11, 2011 the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and it had a wide affect for the nation in general. With the need to conserve utilities the programs that did run during this time were cut back to the bare basics, and Shounen Club was no exception. So for the episodes for April 2011 there is a great departure from the norm for the program because of this.

The hosts for the program are now Hey! Say! JUMP and the full group is present for these episodes.  For most of the talk sections of this episodes they are in this room and you quickly get the feeling that they filmed it all there before moving on to the next room where they do the performances for this episode.

After a long beginning talk we get the first performance of the episode, HSJ performing Arigato ~Sekai no Doko ni Itemo~. This performance pretty much shows what to expect for the rest of the performances for these episodes, simple sets that do not use a lot of lighting.

Nakayama Yuma then joins HSJ in the talk part to give his words of encouragement. I guess he works as the guest of the episode, though that is not really mentioned.

With Yuma there it means that we get a NYC performance and it is Yuuki 100%. While the performance starts out with just the three partway through a bunch of younger Juniors show up to back dance. I think the addition of the Juniors made the performance feel more uplifting as they filled all that empty space on the stage that just made things feel barren.

Next up the talk focuses on Yabu Kota as he gets to be the next to give some encouraging words to the fans.

Then on to the next performance, which is a medley of A to Z and Dream ~Itsutsu no Negai~ by A.B.C-Z. It is odd to see the group this low key but their flashier performances would seem out of place and not in the best of taste for an episode like this.

If you felt the 10th anniversary special was too light with the past footage of HSJ members then these episodes should be what you are looking for as this episode gives us a compilation of clips of the members of Hey! Say! BEST during their Junior days.

For the first time in the episode we see someone acting lively as HSJ talk about the clips and joke about their younger selves. This feels like a welcome break from the previous talk segments that were so solemn they were gloomy.

Next Morimoto Shintaro leads the little Juniors in a performance of Sekai ga Hitotsu ni Naru Made. This song seems like a perfect fit for what the episode is going for with trying to be inspirational as well as sensitive to current events.

Working to get all the HSJ members to say something Nakajima Yuto, Inoo Kei and Morimoto Ryutaro each get a turn this time around in giving a message.

Kis-My-Ft2 then get to perform and they perform their group song Inori. Out of their song library it is the song that is probably the most fitting. And the low lighting fits with the song rather well, so a good choice for the group overall.

Hey! Say! 7 get their turn of getting a clip compilation of their time as Juniors, and at the end briefly as newly debuted Johnny's. Like with HSB it is nice to see these performances and segments with clear picture and audio even though they are all cut short.

The following talk has them teasing Okamoto Keito about how stiff he was in one of the few clips he could be seen in. Joining the agency when he did left very little to choose from for him to be shown in this after all. And of course the rest of the talk was about the other members and just how much they have changed.

A new segment, Junior You Bin, is then introduced. It is really just a renaming of the You no Otegami Yomitai Desu! segment, but I welcome it if just because the new title for the segment is easier to remember. They just go over the information on how to submit the letters for the segment in this episode though.

This is then followed by the mainstay segment, Junior ni Q. Yabu and Hikaru host the segment which was filmed in the room that they have been filming the performances. The focus this time is on the fresh Juniors. In fact I do believe that this is Matsushima So's first appearance on the program as he is the first to talk about the topic for the segment, encouraging words.

Next is Miura Wataru who shares a quote from Nakajima Yuto, which seems to be more something Yuto said to him that encouraged him.

Kanazuru Hideki is next and it is surprising to see him so pushed at this time as he really seemed to disappear about as quickly as he popped up. It always makes me wonder about what happened when those changes occur. That said I noticed that Kishi Yuta seemed to have found a good spot to be sitting in as he can be seen in the background quite a bit in this segment.

Sato Shori of course gets called up as it was clear even then that he was getting a fair amount of pushing from the agency. It is interesting to see how nervous and unsure of himself he is here compared to the confidence he now has on stage.

Then Tanimura Ryuichi gets to talk. I believe he is one of those Juniors that pop up here and there from time to time as there is something familiar about him to me, but I do not think he has ever gotten a real push from the agency.

A face I do not recognize is up next, Taniguchi Yuya. I really feel like I do not know much about the current generation Juniors when I run into Juniors like him, even though I know at this point there are just way too many Juniors to keep track of, especially as Johnny's cannot decide which ones to promote themselves these days.

Then they talk to Okubo Louis, who like Kanazuru got a fair amount of attention at first but faded into the background rather quickly.

The final Junior they speak with is Takahashi Fu who they end up showing off his head spin, which is still something he is asked to show off whenever he can currently as well.

Hikaru gives the last message of the episode, which seems rather fitting as he is from one of the areas that was affected by the disaster.

The episode ends with HSJ doing a medley of their early singles. This is basically just the single medley that was on their debut album. I rather liked how they did that so I enjoyed this performance, especially as it did seem to have a bit more energy than their previous ones this episode.

I find it hard to try to rate these April 2011 episodes as they were done in far less than ideal circumstances. And it is hard to say if the HSJ-heaviness of them is because that is just where the program is going content-wise or they needed to make sure they could fill the time for the episode and a recap like that was just the easiest way to do it.

It is hard to say this was an enjoyable episode, as there is an air of somberness about it. But it should at least be notable for the fact that this is Matsushima So's first appearance on the program.

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