Archive for June, 2013
So here we are – the conclusion of A.B.C-Z’s Johnny’s Journey through Australia. It’s fair to say that this has been a great season of the Johnny’s Journey sequence, and it deserves this victory lap.
The trip remaining for the group is still a full one between Tamworth and Sydney – 387 km – but this episode is mainly about recapping what has happened as they make their way south.
On this last day in Australia, they have $112 remaining, and most of it is coinage so Goseki-kun complains that the wallet is getting really heavy.
Tsukada-kun pumps himself up for his last drive in this long trip. He’s really put a lot of energy into these nine days.
In this Aiba Manabu (相葉マナブ), Aiba Masaki-kun explores the basics of Japanese currency with sidekicks Bibiru Oki-san and Suzuki Taku-san.
The initial investigation starts at a coin shop where we’re introduced to some unusually colorful coins, including beautiful 1000 yen collector pieces with designs for each prefecture.
Aiba-kun wanted to look at the Chiba coin, but it sounds like Chiba hasn’t gotten its design together yet (any chance they’ll put Aiba-kun’s face on it?). The plan is for these coins to be available from every prefecture by 2016, I think.
This should be a great episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) because the guest is Bananaman’s Himura Yuki-san (日村勇紀), who will definitely want to get the Arashi members to do some outrageous stuff.
Since there’s the promise lots of crazy fun ahead, I was disappointed that they once again started with the catatonic Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment. This confirms that the segment is not just a time-filler and is really going to be a consistent thing despite the fact that it only detracts from the entertainment value of the show. In fact, it’s already even more consistent than the superior Encounter the Unknown segment.
I also wish they’d get a different guide for it – Watabe Ken-san plays it too straight and doesn’t really contribute anything.
This time, they visited a sushi place, and a fairly big one at that. Surely such a large place can’t be tedious (kudoi), right?
The chef keeps talking, though, preventing them from eating
We get the two “umai”s, for those playing the drinking game. I think the director gets the joke as well, because he put an echo on the umai and had the text at the bottom in gold.
Actually, I didn’t really buy into the kudoi side of this restaurant. I understood the kudoi part when the chefs were singing or endlessly talking about baseball, but this guy was talking about the food, which should be fair game.
In the end, we got a few more umais, but nothing really interesting happened. It might have been the most boring – dare I say kudoi – segment of this type so far.
I considered skipping the segment altogether, since it doesn’t feel connected to the rest of the show and I after a few iterations of it, I saw nothing to interest me. I’ll probably just give it a brief mention in future reviews just to indicate that it’s there and if anything interesting happens. It’s annoying to have to start every episode griping.
Okay, on to the main event!
For once, they decided to give the guest a properly dramatic entrance. I’m sure Himura-san himself thought of this:
Himura-san came out singing and . . . I guess it can be considered dancing . . . to a song called “Get Wild”.
This was, of course, Himura-san playing pop idol – parodying Arashi. The Arashi members made an effort not to be amused, but they could only keep the serious faces on for a moment – they couldn’t avoid laughing.
To everyone’s surprise, Himura-san actually moved on to a second verse, so the Arashi members ended his performance in the only way they could:
As expected, it was an energetic start from Himura-san, and it gave them plenty to talk about between his huge portrait and his song choice.
I’m not sure we really needed Heisei Nobushi Kobushi’s Yoshimura-san, but I guess his talk gave Himura-san a chance to catch his breath. Also, he handled the listing of Himura-san’s credits/accomplishments (like making 428 TV appearances in 2012), which Himura-san couldn’t do himself without seeming immodest (though I guess the huge portrait of himself in the background already busted any attempt at modesty).
Onto the rumor segment, the first one said something about his private life and showy/gaudy (派手 – hade). The first example was him purchasing a 16 million yen (around $160,000) sports car. I was sort of disappointed that they didn’t mention what make it was.
He also had a tooth implant operation which cost him 5 million yen ($50,000), but for someone in entertainment that can’t be considered gaudy – it’s more of an investment, right? Especially if he had serious tooth issues (which he did).
Then he shows us his teeth and . . . maybe it’s a bit showy.
He talked extensively about the operation. Thanks to it, he was able to have a pistachio for the first time at the age of 40 (I think he was lacking molars in key areas).
The next rumor was that the notification sound on his car navigation system for when he arrives back at his house is extremely grandiose. I think we’re noticing a trend with Himura-san here. Of course, he has to explain exactly what it sounds like and why.
After sweating like he’s in a sauna . . .
. . . he pretends to be driving with MatsuJun in the passenger seat when we hear the car nav sound in question play. It wasn’t too bad – tamer than I expected.
The third rumor was that he had a Shitara sleeping face photo collection (Shitara-san is his comedic partner in Bananaman) and . . . they were funny photos, but far from cute.
Okay, enough of all the talk. Unlike some of the other guests, Himura-san does more than talk, and the Arashi guys will have to participate alongside the “Himura Monster”.
The other member of Heisei Nobushi Kobushi brings out the challenge board . . .
. . . and the funny faces begin. As Himura-san explains,while Arashi is good at being cool, he’s here to teach them how to be unpleasant/awkward (無様 – buzama).
There are different levels to the busaiku faces – five buzama levels that the Arashi members will try to take on. All the members will have to attempt to imitate the faces Himura-san does, and the best member at each level will be exempt from performing the higher levels.
I don’t know how to translate the names for each level, but level one is a famous one from Himura-san, and I’m sure Arashi was surprised to learn that this was the most basic act they’d have to do.
The Arashi guys take issue with the format . . .
. . . and then the level 1 craziness began:
Aiba-kun’s attempt wasn’t particular good for screenshots. I thought Nino-kun’s was the best, but Ohno-san’s had a particular Ohno touch to it. Himura-san indicated who he thought was best, and that person didn’t have to do levels two through five.
That was just the basic level of insanity. They went on to level two, which left Sakurai-san shocked and Yoshimura-san rolling on the floor laughing (literally):
How will the Arashi guys do? Here’s Sakurai-san, but I’ll let you watch to find out how the others did:
Turns out Arashi isn’t as bad at being busaiku as Himura-san thought.
It’s impossible to give an accurate impression of the further levels in still screenshots. Ultimately, we got to level five, which sort of reminded me of a Beavis & Butthead image (I never watched the show).
All those funny faces were the first challenge – there were two more where that came from. The second challenge involved imitating Himura-san in full-fledged scenes. For instance, one where he bumps into a thug:
Nino-kun had to do that one:
But with so much content from Himura-san left, and so little time, they have to continue it in the June 29th episode. That should be another great episode.
In the last minute of this episode, Ohno-san revealed the designs for the 24-hour telethon tee-shirts.
As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed the episode. Throwing out the Mise segment (and going forward, I’ll judge episodes without taking it into consideration), the pacing was great with an excellent intro, a quick rumor segment, and lots of action at the end. The promise of more to come was also good, since I knew that Himura-san would have plenty to do and was afraid that they’d have to cut him short.
The funny faces bit was only the start – they’re clearly saving the really interesting stuff for the June 29th episode, so don’t miss it!
The Most Omoshiroi Arashi is a tough call this time. I wasn’t impressed by Aiba-kun’s faces, nor Sakurai-san’s really. Of the other three, Ohno-san probably did the best, but he put his own spin on things. For the first challenge, he and MatsuJun were the primary contenders, but then Nino-kun did the first scene for the second challenge near the end, and that was epic. So . . . I think I have to give it to Ninomiya-kun because of that scene at the end, which was the most difficult thing any of the Arashis attempted in this episode.
In Bad Boys J, Kiriki Tsukasa (Nakajima Kento) ate okonomiyaki while Hiroshima – or Hiroshima’s gangs, at least – got burned. Doesn’t have the same ring to it as Nero fiddling while Rome burned, but you get the idea.
Youji (Iwamoto Hikaru) and the other members of Gokurakuchou are understandably troubled because they don’t even know who STP is and already they’re going to have to prepare for an attack from this new aggressor. There’s no question that with Nights and BEAST already down, they’re next.
But even though nobody else seems to have good information on STP, one of the BEAST ladies seems to know all about them, saying that their number one and number two fighters are really strong (well, no kidding – they just beat up on the top two groups in Hiroshima). This sad attempt at exposition just makes the incongruous STP situation worse.
In the previous episode of Bad Boys J, they wrapped up the plot where they dealt with the scary demon character who was capable of defeating everybody except Danno (Nikaido Takashi) and possibly Tsukasa (Nakajima Kento). So . . . what are they going to do this time? A more novel plot I hope?
No, they’re going to give us yet another demon, except this time the guy will really mean it (instead of being talked into submission by Tsukasa). This new demon – Sasaki – is so bad that the set his school on fire and trying to kill all the students. So . . . why are the cops letting him go to roam the streets?
Apparently, it’s because he’s reflected on what he’s done. Why do I get the feeling that Sasaki’s reflection wasn’t quite as deep as the people releasing him might have hoped.
That’s all irrelevant, of course – either Tsukasa will fight Sasaki and win or he’ll talk the monster into surrender. Let’s get to the real plot of this series – whether Tsukasa can win the love of Kumi (Hashimoto Nanami). That is, after all, the only thing main character Tsukasa has been after since the start of the show.
He always delays his words just long enough for someone or something to interrupt, so he hasn’t managed to confess properly.
Kumi sure gives him plenty of opportunities to say how he feels, though, and finally he manages to get it. Not only that, but he also tacks on a ninety degree bow and helps an old lady to boot. What a guy! How could she resist?
The number one single of the past week was “Bokura no Eureka” (僕らのユリイカ) from NMB48, which took the top spot by selling 481,843 copies – just shy of the double platinum mark.
At #2 was EXILE’s “Flower Song”, selling a normal 107,486 for the group.
We continue to get good Korean representation on the charts with “I Wanna Dance” from SUPER JUNIOR Donghae & Eunhyuk at #3 with 54,220 copies sold and Shoujo Jidai’s “Love & Girls” at #4 with 42,796.
Lead’s “Upturn” sold 41,224 to get #5.
“Golden Chinatown/Sayonara Usotsuki no Watashi” (ゴールデン チャイナタウン/サヨナラ ウソつきの私) from Berry Koubou took #6, selling 31,558.
In its second week, Kanjani8’s “Namida no Kotae” was at #8, selling an additional 17,955 for a total of 266,709. That’s fairly weak.
Tohoshinki was at #13 with “OCEAN” tacking on 10,203 more copies sold for a two-week total of 151,075.
Right behind at #14, SMAP’s “Joy!!” now enjoys a three-week total of 368,119.
Wow, there are a lot of interesting releases for July – there’s good stuff every week. We haven’t had a month like this in ages.
As always, this list has selected single and album releases for the month, not all of them (i.e. releases from groups that I’m interested in tracking). My apologies if I missed a significant release – please mention the artist and title in a comment and I’ll update the list as long as I can confirm it’s for sale.
More complete listings are available on merchant websites (I use CD Japan’s list).
Nogizaka46 – Girls Rule
BUMP OF CHICKEN – BUMP OF CHICKEN I 1999-2004 (album)
BUMP OF CHICKEN – BUMP OF CHICKEN II 2005-2010 (album)
Shounentai – Wangan Skiyer
Shounentai – Ai to Chinmoku
Shounentai – Jounestu no ichiya
(Original Soundtrack) – PLAYZONE ’13 SONG & DANC ‘N. PART III (album)
VAMPS – (A)head / Replay
GACKT – Best Of The Best vol.1 -Mild- (album)
GACKT – Best Of The Best vol.1 -Wild- (album)
flumpool – Taisetsuna Mono wa Kimi Igai ni Miataranakute / Binetsu Refrain
Angela Aki – Yume no Owari Ai no Hajimari
S/mileage – Atarashii Watashi ni Nare! / Yattaruchan