As part of my Christmas-themed Morning Musume celebration I have been watching this hour and a half xmas special that was made shortly after the 5th gen’s joined. If you want to watch it too look here under English subtitled files. It’s quite a mixed bag but it does have it’s moments. Including the now infamous (thanks to an American news show that was bordering on racism or xenophobia quite frankly) lizard test.
Anyway the programme starts with a mock discussion by the Musume members on what to do on their upcoming Christmas special on Tokyo tv. Only one person doesn’t look too happy.
And so the theme of the show is set out. Konno thinks she’s a spare. This show will be showing how much better things are when everyone works together. Or something. Well anyway considering how poor her singing was at the audition I kind of wonder if that’s why they decided to make Konno the centrepiece of this show. I guess it kind of works as a device to create a lesson on friendship and unity which isn’t a bad message to be putting out at Christmas. Either way back to the show and oh look it’s love…ly.
There is some good humour in the opening scene. I particularly like Konno talking about how 13 isn’t a good number and how the group would be better with just 12. 13 can’t be divided easily whereas 12 can be. At first it seemed a bit odd but a minute later when talking about her leg injury (she’d had to have stitches due to an accident shortly after joining the group and had missed training) she says…
I think the pay-off was worth the wait. The next few minutes of bizarre singing I’m not so sure about although it was funny in a weird way. And so the title and theme of the show is announced. ”
All 13 together for Christmas” it will be.
And so the show moves to a typical studio set with a presenter to move things along. Up first a food battle. After a brief ‘sketch’ around how some members won’t take part and how Konno is unhappy at that we move onto the actual battle with of course all members involved.
It’s all of MM against some food battle champion who has a truly scary ability to eat large amounts of food very quickly. To be honest a lot of the ‘set up’ stuff doesn’t work that well. The whole talk bit at the start of the battle with the champion pretending to be full already is a bit flat. It is fun to see 13 12 Japanese singers cramming cakes down like John Prescott at an all you can eat buffet.
Plus it’s funny to see Konno eating so slowly. That would become something of a theme over the years. So many members have mentioned how slow she is at eating.
Anyway after the cake eating comes the infamous endurance test. But first another Konno protest to ensure everyone takes part.
So anyway Endurance. Meet Izam. Soon to become a star of crap American tv…
Yep. Pretty much what I’d do quite frankly. Mind you for this they only have to put their heads through a hole while having meat attached to their foreheads. If it was I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here it’d probably be dead and they’d be eating it’s cock. 😮
So first of all we have to sit through three Japanese comedians giving a demonstration of how to put your head through a hole while having meat attached to you as a huge lizard approaches. To be fair that’s pretty much a niche market. Where else but Japan would you need to see that kind of thing demonstrated? Then it’s onto the members themselves. As they are getting ready the presenter is quite funny. “Morning Musume all have raw meat strapped to their foreheads. It really feels like Christmas now.”
And so with the members in position the lizard is released and…
Well at first it’s quite slow going. The lizard wanders around all over the place but not necessarily near the members. Despite that Kaori, perhaps mindful of lazy American journalism, quits after..oooh…0.5 seconds or so. Konno follows and then eventually Nacchi too. To be fair it got quite close to Nacchi though. The mayhem really starts when one of the staff members grabs the lizard to try and push it back towards the girls and this pisses it off right royally. As members scatter the lizard ends up falling through one of the vacated holes and the game is over. Six members stayed in position. Off these Yossie is the most amusing as while other members duck out in terror she’s just got the blankest, meanest look on her face.
Come near me and I”ll have you made into shoes.
So actually it is funny to watch. Sometimes Japanese tv shows can go too far and become slightly uncomfortable to view. Take the Ring clip where a woman climbs out from underneath the tv. It’s funny at first but when you see some members crying in terror it’s a bit…well it makes you question it. Having said that other members laugh so it’s a grey area. With this show though it’s actually quite muted. Funny but with no hysterics. Can’t see what all the fuss was about myself.
And so onto a cooking section where Morning Musume have to make a sushi roll for a guest. First there’s the Konno protests bit where her face is…well I haven’t screencapped it. I have my limits. 😀 Then it’s onto the challenge. With all 13 members naturally.
It’s all reasonably funny but very staged. The lizard bit had that air of unpredictability about it that made it exciting but the other sections at times don’t really hit the mark as much as I’d have liked. This sushi section does have it’s humour but I can’t help thinking how much better the show could have been if it was more unscripted. The same can be said for the following section too. It’s a penalty kick contest with two comedians and is the weakest section of all I think. In it two comedians take on the 13 members. First of all the 13 members together must stop a penalty.
It’s quite funny to see Morning Musume scatter so fast but that feeling is muted somewhat by not knowing just how much is scripted.
Then it’s MM’s time to take on one goalkeeper.
After this is where things start to drag. The two comedians have a mock argument and then Morning Musume start pretending to argue. It carries on with penalties and arguments for what seems an eternity. Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing members of Morning Musume fighting each other if they were wearing bikinis and wrestling in mud. 😮 But here it’s just too staged. Yes the moral is how people should work together but I can’t help thinking some of the games played in this show would have been more entertaining if they were played for real.
They are still arguing in that last pic by the way. Even if it looks like they are doing something else. 😀
This section went on too long and despite some humour (at Yasuda’s expense particularly) it feels slightly flat. And so it’s onto the final section. Tile breaking.
Uhuh. Even so it’s tile breaking. Again there’s some attempts at humour here as the challenger is a champion from Brazil. Again it all feels a bit flat though. Anyway up first (and last as nobody else takes part) is Rika.
Rika breaks 12 tiles and beats the champion. I’m presuming Rika knew they were fake tiles but it’s actually hard to tell with her! It’s funny how the number 12 comes up again although I think that’s quite random in this instance.
So it’s onto the final minutes of the show.
Morning Musume are told that the present-shaped chairs they are sitting on actually contain presents for them. Everyone gets a stuffed toy except Konno. Her chair won’t open.
Then there’s a male voice from inside the box.
I don’t know who he is but he has some words for Konno.
Although they don’t show it in the main part of the show in the credits you can see Konno crying. This section does feel like it was something Morning Musume didn’t know about. Certainly the tears (not ones of sadness I should add) would suggest this. Konno is told how much she deserves her place there and the show ends. In retrospect it doesn’t so much seem like a Christmas Special as a Konno special. Then again I’d be happy to celebrate Konnomas every year anyway.
I think this show was very hit and miss. There were some good bits certainly. The lizard Endurance bit certainly stands out as a highlight and the cake eating was quite amusing (for Kago & Tsuji’s cream smeared faces if for nothing else). The sushi section was okay I guess but the penalty kick section was a miss (boom boom). It kind of had the accuracy of an England penalty taker at a World Cup. The tile breaking seemed mostly pointless although Rika’s personality does come across well. Still the message got through strongly enough. People should work together and things will turn out better. I guess that’s as good a message at Christmas as any other. Overall it’s an oddity then. I can’t quite shake the feeling that a Morning Musume Christmas special could have been so much better. But then again if it was made now it could be so much worse judging by recent H!P-related tv shows. So despite the penalty shoot-out it’s a draw then. There’s enough here to make it worth watching but don’t expect the highs that were available through idiot girl or crap girl tests. They came later on. Don’t expect the lows of food weighing or memory tests either. They came much later on. By then this Morning Musume were all but gone. Thinking of that throws up another weakness in this show though. This Morning Musume were great. Okay Yuko had left and I really like her but even so this is a strong line-up. However for the most part there’s only really Konno who gets to shine. For the majority of the show it’s left to guests to try and inject some humour or else it’s MM play-acting in slightly embarrassing ways. So a missed opportunity in some ways but still with enough to recommend it. I mean you have to see the lizard bit. Now that’s tv entertainment.