Produce 48

Episode two of Produce 48 started with Lee Seung Gi watching the evaluations and giving his ratings of the trainees. He looked pretty hyped while watching the performances of the Korean entrants and his grades for them were spot on with all the trainers.

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The AKB48 trainees were then presented to him. He was also looking forward to seeing them as well but noticed an immediate difference while watching. The Koreans have a high level of skill but lack the charms they can show as a celebrity. Whereas the Japanese competitors have an abundance of charm and look like they are having fun on stage. (That seems to be a nice way of saying, “They ain’t got no skills.”)

He feels that if the two groups mingle the end result will be a girl group that has not been seen before. The viewing party with Lee Seung Gi continued until he got to Matsui Jurina. The producers of the show stopped the tape and asked him what rank he would give her. Of course there was no answer as the show credits rolled and the evaluations continued.

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First up were the youngins. The Japanese contingent of Chiba Eri, Sato Minami and Asai Nanami had an Orange Caramel vibe to them. Except they were not as polished given how their performance was adorable but ultimately scored them low ranks as it showed nothing else of value.

The CNC members had an “I’ll fuck you up motherfucker!” look on their faces as they prepared to perform. Much like their older competitors they were technically proficient which earned them 3 B’s and a C for a final ranking.

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MNH’s Lee Ha Eun stumbled on to the stage next. The trainers compared her dance skills to her senior Chung Ha but they were unable to hear her sing since she was concentrating more on her moves and dropped her vocals midway through her performance. However she redeemed herself with a strong acapella that earned her a rank of A.

The first of the highly touted 48 members was featured after. Matsui Jurina drew a lot of attention from her fellow trainees with her strong stage presence and an air of confidence. She performed a cover of Itano Tomomi’s Dear J. Her charismatic rendition seemed to warrant the hype that preceded her.

The trainers were also impressed by her confidence and energy. Despite all that they had to consider if Matsui would fit within what they were looking for in this global group they were forming. In the end she got a B for her efforts making her the highest ranked Japanese trainee in the program so far.

A short break in the evaluation process lead to a dance sequence where the Korean trainees “spontaneously” broke out in dance. They got down to a song from the second season of Produce 101 and AKB48’s Heavy Rotation. It was sad that none of the 48’s ran down to perform the dance to their own damn song. Oh well.

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After the break the members of NMB48 performed their single Warota People and were praised for their choreography and liveliness. It earned Shiroma Miru the second B for the Japanese trainees. The entire group received a warning from Choi Young Jun that even though they brought the fun for today what they are about to encounter in the future is going to be much more difficult for them.

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Much like the last episode another trainee who had already made her professional debut was featured. Stone Music’s Jang Gyu Ri is a current member of Fromis 9. She entered the Produce 48 competition because she felt she had not spent enough time as a trainee before her debut. In order to make up for those deficiencies she decided to join another survival show to learn and grow through the experience. She impressed the trainers enough to get a ranking of B.

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Two Korean trainees performed the same song and went back to back in front of the trainers. A Team Entertainment’s Kim Cho Yeon (hereby known as Crazy Eyes) and Block Berry’s Go Yoo Jin. They took on Hyuna’s Lip and Hip. Crazy Eyes won out with a consistent performance and earned herself a rank of A.

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Miyawaki Sakura was the last of the 48’s to be evaluated. Much like Matsui Jurina there were high expectations from both the trainers and the other trainees. In her self-evaluation video she questioned her talent as an artist. Her shaky performance of HKT48’s Black Angel seemed to solidify her doubts. It left many of the hopeful trainees who wanted to see her rather deflated.

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The trainers were also on the fence about her saying she had star quality but was a B at best. By some miracle she squeaked away with a rank of A surprising many of the trainees. The trainers seemed to give her a mercy pass hoping that she will become the Japanese idol Moses leading her fellow trainees from the slavery of suckitude to the freedom of the land of competency.

With the evaluations over the final initial placements ended up being:

F Class – 19 members
D class – 15 members
C Class – 22 members
B Class – 25 members
A Class – 15 members

The trainees first assignment was announced as a performance of Produce 48’s title song called Pick Me on M Countdown. They are to learn the choreography and memorize the lyrics in both Korean and Japanese. That one fact freaked out the Korean trainees more than the Japanese ones.

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The catch with this assignment was that not everyone will get the opportunity to perform. Ranks A – D are on stage while Rank F will be on standby as backups. The competition for center is restricted to Rank A members only. The benefit of the position is that the camera will shoot only that person only during certain parts of the song.

Once the details of their assignment were divulged the members went to the Produce 48 compound and their dormitories. The various members of each class got their colors with A class having a sparkly “A” on their pink shirts, B class in orange, C class in yellow, D class in green and F class getting plain grey shirts with a big bold “F” on it. That shirt looked totally motivating by the way.

The first day of training saw all 96 members learning the first steps to the choreography for Pick Me. Most of the Korean trainees seemed to pick up the movements quickly. The Japanese ones were a little more than lost at the fast pace at which the lessons were moving.

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The trainees were then split up into their various classes where each of the trainers took turns with them. Bae Yoon Jung pretty much scared everyone who had the pleasure of being under her iron fist. The show made her look like one of those hard ass instructors who push their students to the edge knowing they are capable of a lot if they only work hard. Or she’s just a scary dragon lady who will open up a can of whoop ass on you at any moment.

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C class showed some early promise with Honda Hitomi and Sohn Eun Chae leading the pack in early dance testing for the group.

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The Japanese members of B class encountered issues memorizing the dance routine and felt a bit cock blocked by the Korean trainees when accessing the study video. Combine that with the language barrier and there were bad vibes all around. However once the Korean trainees got the moves down they started to teach everyone else and it became happy fun time, rainbows and sunshine in B class.

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In D class Kim Min Ju was having extreme difficulty letting go of her self-consciousness and was encouraged to become more confident. In her interview she said was aware of her lack skill compared to the other trainees and she is doing the best she can. Given the history of these types of reality shows the odds are high this girl is going to end up catching on quick and becoming bad ass if she survives the initial cuts. She is the perfect candidate to follow as an underdog.

The final part of this episode was the video review where the trainers re-evaluated the trainees after three days of work. For some trainees the thought of performing in front of a camera spooked them and they froze up, forgot things, fell down or just gave up. Others seemed to thrive under the pressure and made very few mistakes or were close to perfect.

F class had an uphill climb past mediocrity and most failed miserably into a river of tears as expected.

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There were some select videos that were reviewed by the trainers on air. The first few from A class (Lee Ka Eun, Miyawaki Sakura and Lee Chae Yeon) were heavily praised. Park Hae Yoon did not get a lot of love for her numerous mistakes and forgetting the lyrics to the song. Crazy Eyes also failed to impress.

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From B class Jang Gyu Ri got positive comments for her looks and that was about it. The cavalcade of disappointment continued through each video and the trainers looked like they were about to lose their minds because the supposed “aces” were not living up to expectations except for a few.

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The trainers were impressed that the Japanese trainees did not give up even when it was obvious they were struggling. The expectations for them were lower since they have never gone through the Korean training system before. They actually wanted a lot more out of the Korean trainees because they have been through the system and should have known how to prepare.

In the end a few hidden gems were found during the video review including Lee Ha Eun, Kim Na Young, Honda Hitomi and Yabuki Nako and it was a given that they would move up from their current class. The final results had several members changing grades. 9 from F, 12 from D, 17 from B 18 from C and an unknown number from A. That will not be revealed until the next episode.

This episode started out rather slow but picked up in the latter half once all the initial evaluations were completed. Many of the trainer’s early assessments ended up being completely wrong after the trainees got down to working on completing their first assignment. Even with that in mind, it still feels like certain members are destined to make it to the end no matter what happens.