Idoling!!! vs. Sakura Gakuin: Badminton of Shame Episode Review

(This review covers Idoling!!! TV episodes 997 & 998)

Last month, two wonderful idol groups came together for a battle of epic proportions, and to play badminton with each other! Or, “Hajiminton,” to be exact, roughly translated as “Badminton of Shame.” This isn’t your usual high school badminton game, and they’re not just playing for fun. If you lose at this game, you’re subjected to a host of embarrassing punishment games and to make a fool of yourself in front of your opponents and the whole world, via television cameras.

The Hajiminton game is a staple of the Idoling!!! TV show and has been played against AKB48, (episode 495) as well as other idol groups Super☆Girls, AeLL, Vanilla Beans, THE Possible, and YGA (episodes 900-903.)  Idoling!!! also plays the game against each other within the group on various occasions, as well, but for the fresh faces of upcoming loli idol group Sakura Gakuin, this is their first time entering the competition. These episodes are a ton of fun, featuring all the current Idoling!!! members and also showing off the new costumes for the new season of the show for the first time.

The introduction starts with Bakarhythm and Saito Maiko giving the introduction of the girls and also the introduction of the Hajiminton court, displaying all the different punishments they’ll have to endure when they cost their team a point!



The Idoling!!! girls not taking part in the badminton tournament are in the audience with their brand new costumes on, for the first time on camera!


In the corner for Sakura Gakuin, we have (in order of the picture) Sugisaki Nene, Notsu Yunano, Horiuchi Marina, Iida Raura, Taguchi Hana, Ooga Saki, and Satou Hinata.


And from Idoling!!! we have all the younger members of the group, consisting of Hashimoto Kaede (#21) Kurata Ruka (#22) Itou Yuna (#24) Goto Kaoru (#25) Takahashi Kurumi (#27) Ishida Karen (#28) Tamagawa Ramu (#29) and Kiyoku Reia (#30)


After the initial introductions, Bakarhythm makes a few jokes about how the Sakura Gakuin girls graduate really young so the group will always be really short, and the first teams are picked. First up from Idoling!!! is Itou Yuna and Kiyoku Reia, and from Sakura Gakuin is Sugisaki Nene and Iida Raura. After picking the teams, the girls are asked to show some of their skills. First up is Nene, showing that she is very flexible, while the whole crowd and all the other girls almost can’t believe what they see, as she contorts herself into a very uncomfortable-looking position:


Next, Yuna from Idoling!!! attempts to do the same pose, and this is the result:


After a little chatter, Raura talks about how she’s really good at jumping rope and gives a little demonstration (without a jump rope,) and then claims she’s also the strongest member in the group, aside from just being the leader. She says she’s really good at arm wrestling and beat everyone else in Sakura Gakuin in a contest. Idoling!!! sees this as a challenge and, after a bit of debate, summons up their resident beast of strength, Asahi Nao, and the challenge begins!


And the victor, two times in a row, is Asahi!


Now begins the actual badminton match, and the first loser is BOTH Sakura Gakuin contenders, since they argued about who should do the punishment, so Bakarhythm tells them that now they both have to do it! Their punishment is to bite these balloons hard enough to make them explode:


After another loss by the Sakura Gakuin team, which results in the temporary loss of Iida Raura (subjected to the “No More Eyebrows” punishment,) they introduce Ooga Saki to the team, who they call “Baby-chan” because she’s 13 years old and looks even younger than she is. This little devil quickly becomes the star of the show as all the other girls gawk at her child-like cuteness (this is a recurring theme throughout both episodes, trust me.)


Creepy, yet adorable. After another round, Idoling!!! loses Itou Yuna to one of the best punishments in the game (which we’ll get to later.) Itou is replaced with Kurata Ruka, which quickly also loses a round. Her punishment is to blow bubbles with only her nose:


After one more play, Nene is eliminated and loses the whole match for Sakura Gakuin. Just after she leaves the stage to get her punishment, we see the return of Itou Yuna, with her new outfit, the wonderful flamingo outfit which some of you may be familiar with, and we’re graced with a beautiful ballet performance while wearing said outfit:


Starting with the next match, the new teams are picked. Hinata & Yunano for Sakura Gakuin and Kaoru & Karen for Idoling!!! They show off some more skills, like Hinata doing a very quick gymnastics-style leg split and Yunano being able to turn her wrist 360 degrees for a very creepy effect.

After Sakura Gakuin loses the next round, Hinata is required to do a silly monomane gag. When Baby-chan watches her do this, she tells Bakarhythm that she has a monomane of her own she likes to do, and he dismisses her, saying they need to move on, and the whole crowd, wanting to see her adorable impression, goes wild. Baby-chan also doesn’t take this too lightly, as she runs up and hits him in the back and starts grinning from ear to ear, then puts on a death glare and shows the devil that she really is:


After 2 more point losses for Sakura Gakuin, Hinata is subjected to one of the oldest Idoling!!! punishments in the book: the aojiru powder. This finely ground green powder made of a half dozen bitter green vegetables is generally regarded as one of the most disgusting substances you can eat among Japanese variety TV contestants, but always makes for some of the best punishments, and you’re about to see why. Hinata eats the powder and runs around for a few minutes freaking out and even ends up crying, but also can’t stop laughing about it, ending up with this nasty facial expression:


Hinata soon comments that the Idoling!!! girls are amazing since they’re able to take this aojiru powder punishment all the time! Shortly after this, Bakarhythm makes a joke at one of the SG girls and Baby-chan goes wild, attacking him again:


After this encounter, Nene finally comes back to show off her new dental work she got as a punishment:


(This concludes episode 997, and 998 starts right where this one left off.)

Episode 998 kicks right off by getting back to the badminton without any long introduction, with the new Idoling!!! team being Ruka & Ramu, and Sakura Gakuin’s being Marina & Hana. Marina shows off some baton-running skills with Bakarhythm while Hana displays her professional wrestling ring entrance. Bakarhythm then asks Baby-chan to do her own wrestling ring entrance, and she bluntly answers that she doesn’t have one.

The first loser of this set is Ruka from Idoling!!! who has to do another aojiru powder punishment. She’s a pro at this and manages to projectile-spew an entire mouthful all over the studio and create a huge cloud that makes everyone back away as fast as possible:


Ruka then starts making scary dinosaur faces to scare the other girls with her newly greened mouth:


The next loss goes to Ruka again, who does another monomane gag. Just after that, another loss goes to Sakura Gakuin’s Marina, who gets to do another aojiru powder punishment. Here’s her reaction:


Shortly afterwards, she shocks everyone and says she actually likes the taste of the powder, to which Ruka quickly replies “it’s disgusting!”


The next loss and punishment goes to Ramu from Idoling!!! who also has to blow bubbles with her nose. She does a much better job than Ruka did earlier:


Sakura Gakuin ends up winning the match, and teams are switched again. This time, it is Kaede & Kurumi for Idoling!!! and Baby-chan & Hana for Sakura Gakuin. To celebrate getting picked for badminton, Baby-chan attacks Bakarhythm again, this time with the racket:


This girl really is a demon, isn’t she? Shortly after, Idoling!!!’s Kikuchi Ami tries to have a little one-on-one conversation with Baby-chan, but Ami can’t handle it and freaks out from her cuteness:


The next loss goes to Kurumi from Idoling!!! who heads backstage for her next punishment. She is replaced with Yuna, who scores a point against Sakura Gakuin. Hana gets to embarrass herself by doing comedy using her racket as a prop. Hana loses again right after this and has to bite a balloon, which takes her about 10 minutes (not even kidding.) Shortly after, Kurumi returns with her new outfit, and proceeds to grab her long-necked partner for a dance:


Shortly after, Kurumi loses again, going backstage for yet another ridiculous makeover. In the meantime, Kurumi is replaced by Reia, who has a moment of camaraderie with Baby-chan (they’re both about the same age,) saying hello and telling each other “good luck” about six times:


Next, Hana from Sakura Gakuin loses for the final time. She goes backstage for her makeover and shortly returns with an anime-style nose drip painted on her face. Kurumi returns shortly after with slicked-back hair and big, fake teeth. This concludes episode #998, but not before a little more of Baby-chan attacking Bakarhythm:


If you liked what you read and want to check out the episodes, you can view both below, and if you want to talk about them, head on over to one of the forums below or post in the comments here! Thanks for reading.






Related Links:

Non-stop Idoling!!! Forum

Idoling!!! Fan Facebook Group

Sakura Gakuin Random YouTube Playlist

Sakura Gakuin Wiki Article (Generasia)

Sakura Gakuin Official Website (Japanese)

About Steve 88 Articles
Steve is a contributor and resident music nerd for Selective Hearing, specializing in Japanese idol industry commentary and coverage. A lifetime musician, film lover, journalist, video game fanatic, philosophy enthusiast, and idol aficionado. A dweller of the idol scene since the late 1990s, he loves to discuss industry trends and ideas, past or present.