New children’s show carries DNA of Fuji TV classic

© Fuji Television

The characters Gachapin, left, and Mukku, right, pose for pictures with the child stars of “JA JA JA JAAAAN!” — Riku Ono, second from left, who plays Ja Ja Ja, and Saki Takenoya, who plays Jaaaan — at a press conference.

By Masafumi Taga / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterFuji TV Network, Inc. launched a new children’s variety show this October last year, “JA JA JA JAAAAN!,” broadcast from 4:52 a.m. on Saturdays. The program is modeled after the 1992-94 show “UGO UGO LHUGA,” which was groundbreaking at the time for its use of computer graphics and other elements.

With the Gachapin and Mukku characters from the “HIRAKE! PONKIKKI” series scheduled to appear on an irregular basis, “JA JA JA JAAAAN!” is carrying on the DNA of Fuji’s programs for children.

The show stars two children who have turned into mysterious creatures resembling pandas; their names are Ja Ja Ja and Jaaaan. The story follows them on their journey to return to their original forms, accompanied by AI-san, artificial intelligence that has been turned into a robot.

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  • © Fuji Television

    Ja Ja Ja and Jaaaan take a trip with AI-san, left, on “JA JA JA JAAAAN!”

A number of unconventional CG characters appear along the way, such as Manager Tengu who likes to hear people brag, and Teacher Bubble, who tells them about Japan’s bubble economy period.

There are a variety of other features in addition to the story of the two children, which forms the backbone of the show, including an experiment in which wheels are attached to an eggplant and a cucumber and they’re raced to see which is faster. Other features include the “4:52 social studies field trip,” which introduces such things as an aquarium in the early morning, and dancing to music.

The program is broadcast in the early morning, but it is also available through the free TVer video distribution service, in a bid to reach a wide range of generations.

Fuji TV has broadcast many hit children’s shows, including “Let’s play with mom! PING PONG PANG,” which ran from 1966 to 1982 and spurred the “Ping pong pang exercise” boom. It’s also home to the PONKIKKI series, which began in 1973 and remains a beloved fixture more than 45 years later.

“JA JA JA JAAAAN!,” which uses the latest computer graphics, is particularly reminiscent of “UGO UGO LHUGA,” which coined the popular term “Okiraku Gokuraku” (Laid-back entertainment). That’s made it popular with now-grownups who enjoyed “UGO UGO LHUGA” back in the day.

“Both veteran staff who worked on ‘UGO UGO’ and young ones who grew up watching it work on [‘JA JA JA JAAAAN!’],” said chief producer Takeshi Shimokawa. “We want to draw on what made past programs good, while also adding new sensations.”

Tie-up with Aeon

“JA JA JA JAAAAN!” is not just important to Fuji TV as part of its on-air lineup — the company is also developing a business beyond the limits of broadcasting. It has tied up with major distributor Aeon Co. to sell goods featuring the show’s characters in Aeon stores and hold related events, among other activities.

At a press conference for the program’s launch, Aeon Executive Officer Soichi Okazaki said, “There’s great affinity between the media and retail facilities,” stressing the significance of their cooperation.

Fuji TV President Masaki Miyauchi said, “I want to go beyond the relationship between a broadcaster and a sponsor [Aeon] and develop a business that draws on both our strengths.”

This business is drawing attention with its new framework that has such activities as merchandizing, sales and events in its sights, working through Aeon’s domestic and overseas network of stores.Speech

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