Archive for April, 2012
Real Scope Z (リアル スコープ Z) is an hour-long variety show hosted by a number of comic personalities, including the duo Football Hour (フットボールアワー） and Yanagihara-san (柳原), and by the young male idol group Sexy Zone. The show recently got a fresh start by adding SZ, and I’m still wondering whether they’ll be able to make it work.
The first two episodes of the new show disappointed me because they were all about food and the hosts spent most of the time sitting around watching VTRs. The only plus-side to those two episodes were segments where SZ members were sent to do things outside the studio. Those excursions still involved food, but hey, you can’t have everything.
I return to this show in the hope that they’ve improved on it, capitalizing on the parts that work and dumping what doesn’t. The result? Two very, very different episodes.
Shiristu Bakarea Koukou (私立バカレア高校) is a half-hour drama series featuring actors from Johnny’s Jr. and AKB48 Team 4 battling for domination of a recently merged high school. So far, for me, it’s been the biggest surprise of the spring drama season, with remarkably strong acting and an unusually thought-out script given the relatively common premise. This episode centers on electing the new class president, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’ll avoid describing the story and instead give my opinion of the show’s quality.
As usual, thanks to sophia_london at livejournal for getting the subtitles out so quickly. They get their raws from the kyomototaiga community, which in turn gets them from Hello!Online, which is one of the best sources for AKB48 stuff, so this has truly been an inter-community endeavor here.
Going into the season, I thought that either Mikeneko Holmes or Kagi no Kakatta Heya would be the most engaging show, but in both of those cases, the main character is fairly flat so far, with very narrow modes of expression. By comparison, Morimoto Shintaro’s character in this drama consistently displays a broad range of realistic emotion. It makes the character more likeable than Ohno’s or Aiba’s in their respective dramas.
It also helps that Morimoto’s character is more of a hero, while Ohno and Aiba both play rather wimpy characters. Since the conflict in this episode definitely does not play to the character’s strengths, it’s interesting to see how he deals with it. By the way, this election for class president is bound to have the biggest gender gap in history.
Himitsu no Arashi-chan (ひみつの嵐ちゃん) is the hour-long variety show hosted by Arashi that tends to have the greatest variation from week to week. While VS Arashi depends on the guests, HNA depends on the segments included in the week’s episode. Each week, there are generally two segments, but there are more than half a dozen regular types of segment to choose from. Among these have been V.I.P. Room/Limo, Mannequin Five, The Last Mission, and Otona wa Dekite Touzen Show.
Of these segments, the one I least want to see is the V.I.P. Room/Limo, where two members of interview a female actress, who is then accompanied by them in some activity. I don’t understand Japanese well enough to appreciate the interview, and even if I did, I don’t really care about minutia in the personal lives of actresses. The activity is the best part of V.I.P. Room and, with a rare exception like last week, it’s still pretty boring.
So, imagine my horror when, instead of dumping the segment altogether, they gave it an upgraded set:
VS Arashi (VS 嵐） is a game show hosted by the idol group Arashi featuring a different team of actors or comedians competing against them every week. Whether the show turns out good often depends on the opposing team and the “plus one” guests that are added to the Arashi team.
This time, the opposing team was there to promote a movie (兄弟 uchuu kyoudai – space/cosmos brothers), so we had serious star power on set. The two most recognizable names were Oguri Shun-san (小栗旬) and Okada Masaki-san (岡田将生), who were both in the popular drama Hanazakari no Kimitachi e. Oguri-san was also in the even-more-famous Hana Yori Dango with Arashi’s Matsumoto Jun, and he’s a longtime friend of Arashi. He’s also one of the quietest personalities in Japanese entertainment, so don’t look to him for much excitement in this episode.
The “plus one” guests were a step up from last week. This time it was the hilariously unfunny Kanou Eikou-san and the genuinely amusing Yanagihara-san (柳原). For some reason, Yanagihara-san tended not to do any of the challenges on her own – doubling up with different Arashi members in each game. Maybe it was because there were seven on their side altogether while there were only six in the opposition.
For an introduction to this drama, please refer to my review of episode 1 here. If you’re looking for episode 2 subtitles, they are available at D-Addicts.
Altogether, this episode proceeded well. It’s looking like the mystery is not so much who did the crime (we are really only given one possible suspect), but how he or she did it. With that recalibration to my expectations, the mystery this time was definitely an improvement over episode 1. Again, the criteria for a good mystery is that the reader/viewer could have come up with the solution themselves before the detective announced the result, but was just a bit short on genius.
Actually, this review of the half-hour variety show HamaKisu (濱キス) hosted by Hamaguchi Masaru (濱口優）and Kis-My-Ft2 includes the second half of the April 18th episode, and the activities in it will continue into next week’s episode.
The challenge being faced by Kis-My-Ft2 this time is particularly daunting: they need to eat a thousand rice crackers (センベイ – senbei) in 42 hours. Hamaguchi-san and his variety show partner managed to finish a thousand in a week a few years back (though not without a lot of tears), and the time limit has been scaled to account for the fact that Kis-My-Ft2 has seven members rather than two.
At face value, with so many members, it should be a lot easier for Kis-My-Ft2. And rice crackers seem . . . benign, right? I mean, I can easily imagine munching on hundreds of regular wheat crackers in a day.
Ah, but those are not senbei. In fact, until this episode, I didn’t realize how many types of senbei there are, and how menacing some of them can be.
The preview is a radio rip and available on chiirina’s livejournal here. The quality is good enough to get a sense of the song.
While it’s still cutesy in the NYC mold we’ve come to expect so far, I like it. I like it a lot more than the rest of their singles since Yuuki 100%. It’s a simple song and draws on familiar themes. I like old Broadway songs, and I’ve always gotten a sense that Chinen-kun also liked Broadway – or at least the image of a Broadway musical – and there’s a bit of Broadway in this one. I’m still not sold on NYC enough to buy it, though.
For those who’re interested, the single will be released on May 25th and there are three versions: a Regular with just the CD but two extra songs, and two Limited Editions with a CD+DVD , but only “Haina” on the CD.