Posted by: sarah | February 5, 2009

Yuukan Club – yu-yu-yu-yu-kan club

Yuukan Club, the drama unique for throwing the concept of ANY non-Johnnys Entertainment signed tarento as starring actors out of the window, did quite well last season. Akanishi Jin starred as a lollipop addicted son of a bumbling police chief, fellow band member Taguchi Junnosuke dyed his hair bright blonde because he was HALF SWEDISH do you SEE (son of the Swedish ambassador? Why Johnny, with these Rocher you are really spoiling us), and Kanjani8’s pratfall gutter-humour and boob-fixated Yokoyama Yu got himself a preppy hairdid and played a serious straight acting son of a hospital director. As far as I am aware, no-one played the son of a preacher man. (Their female opposite numbers were respectively daughters of a jewellery empire, a tea-ceremony family* and er… eccentric head of a huuuge corporation).

These characters were RICH. Loaded. Rich characters, attending rich people’s public school. (Scrap Teacher, which I am afraid I couldn’t bear for more than 1.5 eps had rich people crashing a poor foax school – when Dewy Eyed Love Moppet Yamada Ryosuke parachuted out of a helicopter you will understand why I had to stop watching it? I’m sorry Yuto Nakajima I do ♥ you but I HAVE MY BLOOD PRESSURE TO THINK OF). Yuukan Club on the other hand gets around the tedious wealth gap by eliminating poor people from the school entirely! This leaves the Yuukan Club in the position where the poor people are – literally! – the playthings of the rich, the Yuukan Club sits in the palatial high school at court and involves themselves in the grebt unwashed’s dilemmas “to pass time”.

I said the other day when considering possible reasons behind the bombing of Kami no Shizuku that “a Yuukan Club, say”, would probably do fine now. I put forward that the yuppie-esque world of KnS is alienating in a climate that wants everyday heroism. Would that mean that if a Yuukan Club aired now, it might also tank? (Putting aside the issue that I highly doubt that a drama with three Johnnys boys in the leading roles would be allowed to tank). I didn’t think so and here’s why:

The Yuukan Club dynamic is less “rich kids/poor kids/bullying thereof” but “idols/fans/relationships thereof”. The Yuukan Club sit aside from the rest of the school, like cloistered emperors – the great unwashed of the school occasionally come in to pay their favoured homages – Kenbishi Yuuri recieves piles of cakes, Karen recieves jewellery, flowers, ermm… Junno (forgotten his drama name OOPS) recieves various things that soppy GURLS like to give BOYS as token of their esteem. The rest wave languid hands to recieve their tribute in the corner of the room for it to lie in state. It’s fandom!

Once you realise that the Yuukan Club are just S Club 7, it becomes a lot easier to swallow the eyebrow-quirking Miroku. “A conformist without a cause”, he hangs out with yakuza but his dad is bumbling Chief of Police Shochukubai – straight out of Benny Hill! The comedy police are just another excuse for much-loved drama standard trope of dress-up vigilantism as playtime. It doesn’t matter that Yuukan Club’s violence is as farcical as always when your main reference points are Miami 7 and Scooby-Doo!

But here’s what made it not so great: every single protagonist is super rich. They’re a bit bored. That’s it! The people they encounter are one dimensional, with the huge exception of an episode that dabbles in beyond the grave appearances, spooky dolls and Our Swedish Hero Learns A Lesson About How To Treat Others – all quickly abandoned in other episodes. There’s an archetype for all – tomboy girl kicks a boy and traditionalist girl tsks in disapproval. Materialist feminine girl chases boys because that’s her aim in life (“her attractive body” is referenced in each episode’s opening credits because THE OTHERS AREN’T EVEN PROPER GIRLS!!). Taguchi Junnosuke’s character is described as a playboy but really he’s just a fop, Seishiro as played by Yoko – is a male counter to Tea Ceremony Girl and Shochikubai Miroku is yet another counter-balance in playing the “cool” kid who makes gadgets out of scalextrix and in his spare times loves nothing more than having a massive throbbing engine between his legs. I say – calm down.

I don’t know about you but given the knockabout shonky gadgetry of bored rich kids vs avenging counter-swindlers I’d rather have Yamashita Tomohisa’s Kurosagi on my side. His dress-up wardrobe is grounded in mistrust and brooding – Yuukan Club dresses up for kicks, to entertain and indulge the huge crowd of “others”, their interference met with breathy applause and their payoff is to be a little less bored for the day, which after two or three episode leaves you with an exasperated and kinda hateful taste in the mouth.

I’ll leave this with my own special little highlight, which was Miroku being ambushed by unexpected filial piety ringing up his dad and blubberingly howling out a song of FAMILY KIZUNA~~. People say Akanishi Jin can’t give convincing tears but it was better than every punch he threw.

Omg, I was just looking up the song to see if I could find the name and have come across an Okinawan song (てぃんさぐぬ花 or “the Balsam Flowers”). The page mentioning Tinsagu nu Hana also mentions another Okinawan song called “Jin Jin”! It then goes on to say: The title means “firefly”; the lyrics implore the firefly to “come down and drink”. Shoukichi Kina and Champloose’s version of this song, with slide guitar by Ry Cooder, was a minor hit in British discos. Takashi Hirayasu and Bob Brozman released a 2000 collaboration album by the same title that is a collection of various Ryukyuan songs or nursery rhymes. Their song Jin Jin is track 6 on this album.

A track in British discos?! I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard it. COME TO ME, SPOTIFY…

*how many tea ceremony families ARE there? There’s one in Hana Yori Dango, one appeared in Yasuko to Kenji, I wouldn’t be surprised if *I* were from a famous tea ceremony family – given the amount of tea I drink I am surprised my blood isn’t pure tannin).

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Responses

  1. IMPORTANT UPDATE: cannot find this on Spotify. Has wikipedia lied? The closest I have is Jin Jin Xiang Xi by City Girls which is a bit meh (but La Shou is pretty awesome)! Checking last.fm gives me a German reggae act called “Jin Jin”, Jin himself from Y’all gonna learn Chinese fame, Akanishi himself but nothing about this MINOR DISCO HIT. Why can’t I find it anywhere? This is driving me insane.

    This is my favourite version so far although I admit I can’t quite picture it with the Tina Marie “boo boo” noises…

    Man this is great

    THIS IS GOING TO RUIN MY LIFE. I AM STEPPING AWAY NOW…

  2. cursory j-google says it’s on the album ‘blood line’ from 1980, mercury records, japan’s very own roots music. More commonly known as “Jing Jing” than “Jin Jin”, sorry.

  3. http://www.luakabop.com/asia_classics/cmp/lyrics2.html

  4. I’ve got it now anyway! Livejournal far more helpful than the rest of the internet yet again (and it’s still a different version to all of the other j-ones). No matter. Next to listen to Scarborough Fair bosh remixes.


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