Mechaike’s Sports Festival

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With the huge success of AKB’s Mechaike collaborations, my expectations were pretty high for the sports festival since I remember it working with Morning Musume, too. Mechaike’s sports festivals are considerably different to the test episodes in style, but the end result wasn’t that brilliant. It seems that they edited the first 50 minutes swiftly together without leaving room for memorable highlights because they wanted the sudden sketch in the middle and intense ending to work better, but the first 50 minutes felt a bit empty. There needs to be at least more tension to create interest in the athletic competition or something funnier to cover for the lack of intensity. It would have been better for both Mechaike and AKB if the beginning had left a stronger impact.

I’m not sure if it’s just the impression the bare bones editing gives, but the members didn’t get to do much and based on what can be seen it’s hard to say whether they tried to do something about it. It’s hard to tell how much was cut. It is possible some of their comments and improvisation was cut and I’m sure the bad timing of the shoot (a cold day) may have restrained the members a little, but more could have come out of the first 50 minutes. While the members can be partly blamed for the awkward first half, I would say everyone involved could have done much better. The clumsy point system makes the ranking more random and less interesting than it should be. On top of that, the first half had quite a lot of Mechaike’s shameless promotion for the show’s DVD releases and fan goods, which was quite distracting. Despite bringing all the regular comedians of the show to the shoot, they remained in the shadows.

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As much as I might criticize the episode for its uninspiring start, it did take a turn for the better thanks to the explosive Mayuyu sketch. It didn’t only succeed at redeeming Kato for the controversial kick since it won’t be so problematic for him to appear alongside AKB from now on. The sketch also put Mayuyu in the spotlight in great ways: not only did it showcase her potential as a comedienne, the staff also did a good job of showing her dedicating to her work by showing her notes on the script. Her interaction with Kato was so good that I would love to see more of them as a duo. She succeeded at creating a character that is memorable and entertaining as Kawaei’s baka character. Mayuyu’s good effort wasn’t just limited to the sketch – it was surprising to see her turn into a complete variety star and rival even Miichan.

As for the other members, the double Matsui got a surprising amount of attention, especially Rena. It looks like the show left the result of the competition itself up to the girls themselves so the end result turned out like this. Jurina was also nicely energetic although Okamura only reserved the clever-but-not-so-funny Paako joke for her. Annin’s slight arrogant character was a good idea, but since it was left in such an incomplete state, I think it just made her look bad instead of being funny. Paruru on the other hand was exceptionally cheerful and the others even mentioned that she is rarely that loud and energetic. Kawaei did her part properly although she was surprisingly a no-show for the most part, but she did pull off a couple of good idiot jokes along with Kojiharu. Sayanee is always weirdly silent when she appears on programs other than NMB’s shows and Milky was even less memorable. Along with Mayuyu, Miichan was certainly the MVP of the episode, thanks to her Lunchbag Dance that she even used at a handshake event after the broadcast of the episode.

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Besides the Mayuyu sketch, the sumo wrestling was quite entertaining even though it is common to see the girls wrestle in Kyowakoku. It was the part for more Mechaike-like humor with the girls lashing out at each other. I was puzzled by the Mikitty corner that was only briefly shown. The idea was intriguing, but why cut it out? Or rather, why did they show a part of it when it was mostly cut? Are they going to broadcast a longer version of it later and wanted to give a hint of it? In any case, I’d love to see the full version. The episode ended on a good note – they had even prepared a song for Kuso Center: Unching Get! It was drowned out by noise in the end, but the song had its own hilarious lyrics written just for this occasion.

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