VS Arashi (VS 嵐) is a game show hosted by the idol group Arashi, with them opposing a different team of actors or comedians every week. Most of the action is easy to understand, even for someone with no knowledge of the Japanese language at all. It is often the way I find out about new dramas (since the actors in the dramas come on as the opposing team to promote their show), and it’s not unusual for me to decide whether to watch a drama based on whether the actors try their best on this show. Arashi also has a “plus one” guest supporter who is also on to promote something, and though I don’t know the actress on for this week very well, there’s a good chance that I’ll be watching her drama “Kazoku no Uta” – at least for the first episode.

Arashi Team 2012.04.12

This time,  the opposing team was promoting a new variety show called 知りたがり! (shiritagari – meaning something like “we want to know!”) and was led by none other than the usual announcer for VS Arashi – 伊藤さん (Itou-san), with another announcer filling in for him from now on. That alone was enough to make for a great episode, because for years, Itou-san spent the show making sarcastic commentary about the competitors’ performance. This week, for the first time, he actually has to play the games! It’s also good because he’s seen the games played countless times and understands what tactics work best (not that the games are particularly complicated).

Shirigatari Team 2012.04.12

As always, I try to keep spoilers out of my reviews, so don’t worry if you haven’t watched the show, but want to. I’m not going to give away the results to any of the games. That said, here we go.

First up was Itou-san as the runner in Pinball Runner. Here’s the setup of the game, from which you might get an idea of what the runner’s expected to do (I’m not going to try to explain it):

Pinball Runner

Itou-san got some unflattering jabs from Arashi about recent weight gain (don’t know what they were talking about since he looked trim enough to me, but I’m American), which was probably payback from some of his remarks about them over the years.

Itou-san's put on weight

After Itou-san was Matsumoto Jun (松本 潤) as the runner, using the handicapped bucket. He expressed a certain lack of faith in Aiba (相葉), who was assigned as one of his helpers (telling him which numbers to run to). Normal Arashi banter, in other words.

Matsumoto and the handicap bucket

The next game was コロコロバイキング (korokoro baikingu – Rolling/Fickle Viking), which is also based on pinball or, more to the point, pachinko. Adding fun to the proceedings was Itou-san, who developed a strategy of focusing on the golden balls (which are worth double):

No Matter What - the Golden Balls

And Itou-san’s fellow MC on Shiritagari!, whom he prodded to show off her yoga skills (yes, totally irrelevant to the game, but that’s what the “variety” in “variety shows” means):

Suddenly, we get Yoga

And then Matsumoto managed to get Aiba on the hook to try the yoga pose as well:

Matsumoto goads AibaAiba's On the HookThis demands a special titleAiba doing Yoga

This all led to a disclaimer about needing proper guidance to do yoga and people injuring themselves (and Aiba has, over the years, been Arashi’s disclaimer-worthy specialist).

Yoga Disclaimer

The next game was Kicking Sniper, which is one of my favorites, since the results tend are wildly unpredictable, and I like surprises. Ohno-san (大野) wore pants specifically designed to be inappropriate for this game: (he’s in the center)

Kicking Sniper 2012.04.12

After Kicking Sniper was a new game, Shotgun Disk, which I’m not sold on yet, since there’s a pretty low chance of a high score, and many guests who come on might find it difficult.

Shotgun Disk

Finally, the episode concluded with another of my favorite games – Dual Curling. It’s almost exactly what it sounds like – the teams both launch curling stones at a target at the same time, with points given by proximity to the target. The team battles were nothing special, but then there was an individual match between Itou and Ohno. Itou had his choice of opponent and specifically called out Arashi’s leader.

Itou calls out OhnoThe BattlefieldThe Required Witty Exchange Part 1The Required Witty Exchange Part 2

How did the match end? Well, you’ll have to watch to find out. Fortunately, VS Arashi is one of the easiest Japanese variety shows to find.

If Arashi loses an episode, there’s a Most Dame (Useless) Arashi (MDA) segment at the end. As sort of an adaptation of this, in lieu of giving Arashi shows ratings, I’ll award a MOA – Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi, regardless of the outcome of the show. For this episode of VS Arashi, the MOA is . . . (drum roll) . . . Ohno Satoshi.

That’s all! (以上です! – ijou desu!)