This is the end of an era. Since I washed up on the shores of Western Japan, Mecha Ike has been a constant source of entertainment for me. It was one of my first introductions to Japanese comedy, and was one of the few shows that didn’t seem to base its shows entirely on mean-spiritedness.
Recently, Mecha Ike did a big search for a “new member”. In the end, however, five new members or member units were added.
Among them was Satomi Shigemori whom I featured on this blog back in April of 2009! She bounces between idol and comedian, and will add her “innocently-saying-dirty-words” character to Mecha-Ike’s arsenal.
The strongest addition to the show by far is the incredibly popular Jar-Jar. Jar-Jar has a very warped sense of funny and uses a lot of surprises, twists, and physical comedy. They are among the best of the current generation of manzai groups. Here is a short video of their work:
The set-up here is a guy teaching a very literal guy from the country whose never seen baseball how to play. There is a series of these with the same characters, but Jar Jar (or Jaru Jaru) has a whole lot of different types of “conto”.
Some of the members that people are a little less excited about are the manzai group Tampopo.
And, formerly unemployed comedian (although they are selling him as a complete amateur) Motokatsu Sannaka who is said to be a big fan of Okamura from 99 is another. I believe he’s set to bring some “amateur” type humor to the show, making mistakes and acting funny around big stars. He’ll be easy to notice in his big blue junior high school style sweat suit.
Lastly, the 34 year old actor and model who goes by the name Atsushi has been added.
Some people think that they are looking to create a similar mix to the original members. Tampopo are a female manzai pair similar to Oasis, Satomi Shigemori can replace cover the innocent+Yankee (bad girl)+cute idol type all at the same time. Atsushi brings the male “ikemen” to the cast, and Jar-Jar are obviously a funny, young, and unique Yoshimoto (large comedy agency and school) answer to Ninety-Nine.
I’m going to reserve judgement on how funny the show will be or how long it will last after these big changes. We have seen several ensemble comedy shows end over the past year or so (Red Theater, Enta no Kamisama, etc), and some think Mecha Ike is in its death throes with Okamura getting sick, and these new members.