In this week’s VS Arashi (VS 嵐), Arashi was opposed by a group of team of six women dubbed the “Fushigi” team (不思議). The standard definitions for “fushigi” are rather wide-ranging, including positive aspects like “wonder” and “miracle,” but also more negative connotations like “strange” or “curiosity.” The double-meaning is entirely intentional, but I think the best definition to suit this team would be “quirky.” Actually, about four of them were genuinely quirky, while the other two just stood and smiled at the craziness that went on around them. Try and guess who the two inconspicuous ones were from this line-up:

The Fushigi Team

While I enjoy watching outrageous characters (otherwise I wouldn’t be covering variety shows in the first place), this was a second-string selection. Chiaki-san (千秋) is probably the best of the lot, having both a sharp wit and a feisty attitude. The other three quirky ones come off as inauthentic, at least to me. They’re all on a continuum of craziness on which Lola-san is the exemplar – in fact, one of them is a monomane specialist who has gained a lot of popularity by imitating Lola. I also found “Momochi-san”‘s voice to be especially irritating.

Momochi

So, I was definitively supporting the Arashi team this time, and actually hoping the opposition would embarrass themselves severely. At the top of the broadcast, Arashi noted that Ninomiya-kun’s 29th birthday was coming up on Sunday, so we go in hoping that he does something good. The “plus one” guest added to the Arashi team was Imada Kouji-san (今田耕司), who’s properly funny, so I go in with high hopes for his contribution.

Imada Kouji

Arashi took a hard hit to confidence at the start of the first game, though, as leader Ohno-san failed on saying “Jungle Bingo,” instead starting to say “Jumping Shooter,” mumbling his way out of it, and then doing a second take:

Ohno Fail 1Ohno Fail 2Ohno Fail 3Ohno Fail 4

I’d say he must be tired, but what else is new? While the Fushigi team was trying to discuss their strategy, Imada-san shouted that they should speak in louder voices (presumably for the benefit of the audience). In response, Chiaki-san told her team that she disliked “that guy” : 私あの人ヤダ.

Speak LouderI Hate That Guy

She then went on a tirade against him. Their actual Jungle Bingo attempt was pretty uneventful except that the Lola impersonator wasted time in the maze to – what else? – impersonate Lola:

Doing Lola 1

And she did it again afterward:

Doing Lola 2

When you’re popular for a particular gag, I guess this is what you do. The fact that Lola’s mannerisms are so extreme that even little kids can do an impression of her means that I will resolutely refuse to learn this impersonator’s name until she does someone more difficult.

Moving right along, Arashi had their turn, with Imada-san announcing that Jungle Bingo is the game he hates the most because, after all, he’s 46:

Ichiban Kirai na Game Desu'Cause I'm 46.

The Arashi team is really taking a lot of blows to morale, aren’t they? Anyway, Imada-san seems like he’s in a good mood for humor, and he really dominates the pre-game, though he has exactly the trouble he predicted when he finally got into the maze. He did, however, take the time to do his own Lola impression while inside:

Trouble in the MazeImada Imitates Lola

See, anyone can do a Lola impression, and I appreciate Imada-san making my point for me, though he might have spent too much time at it.No problem, though. Imada-san concludes afterward, “I told you, didn’t I, that this is my favorite game.”

He Said It Was His Favorite Game

Next was Pinball Runner, and the runner for the Fushigi team was Ueno Mana-san (one of the two quiet members).

Ueno Mana

As for the two supporters . . . how do I put this?

The Supporters

Not exactly the most confidence-inspiring pair on the planet. Fortunately, Ueno-san says she’s fine with running, so maybe it won’t be a total loss. She got “kawaii”s from the audience after the run for this move:

Ueno being kawaii

Momochi-san had her best moment of the show when she did her uber-cutesy version of the same move and got no audience response at all.

Momochi . . . trying her best

Ninomiya-kun ran for the Arashi team with Aiba-kun and Imada-san supporting. They tried their best to look even more incompetent than the girls:

Imada and Aiba

Well, whatever the result, the birthday boy certainly tried his best.

Nino Tired

The next game was Rolling Coin Tower, and there were prayers for divine aid (or, if you like, for a miracle/fushigi):

Buddha Give Me Strength

Actually, Imada-san invoked Buddha as both Hotoke-sama (仏様) and O-shaka-sama (お釈迦様). After that, the Lola impersonator again did an easy monomane – Bobby-san:

Imitating Bobby

But all right, she did a few more, and I’ll give her credit. Sakurai-san and Ohno-san seemed satisfied, so that’s good enough for me. It was especially good when she did Takeuchi-san, who Nino-kun’s been a long time fan of.

Sakurai and OhnoNino and the Takeuchi Impersonation

You’re going to have to watch to find out what earned Imada-san the special effects:

Imada-samaImada-sama 2

Next up was Kicking Sniper, and the entire Fushigi team got the “ladies zone” handicap:

Ladies Zone

But even so, Chiaki-san made an appeal to a heavenly angel (天使様) for strength, changing from an appeal made to sprites (妖精 – yousei) made before Rolling Coin Tower and noting that the sprites were useless.

Heavenly Angel Give Me StrengthWhat about Sprites?Sprites Suck

Our monomane specialist seems to be taking on better challenges as the episode wears on, this time doing Takigawa Crystal-san (滝川クリステル). Okay, I’m sold, she’s all right (her name’s Fukuda-san – 福田, by the way). That said, Nakajima Yuto-kun does a better chicken.

Imitating Crystal-sanYuto Does a Better Chicken

And Chiaki-san still wins on laughs, especially with this line about being cute despite being 40:

Still Cute at 40

Matsumoto-kun, Imada-san, and Sakurai-kun were up for Arashi, and we’re all wondering whether they can be funnier pre-game than the Fushigi team were. Well, Sakurai-kun starts things off by forgetting which hand a wedding ring goes on when imitating the celebration of a married soccer player after a goal kissing his ring in honor of his wife:

Sakurai's PoseAh, it's the Left

Then Imada-san proposed a whole bunch of stuff, including a pose:

Imada's Pose

And the sequence of exclamations “shooting,” “roger,” and “don!”

Just Being Silly

With the pose at the end.

They All Do It

So, yes, they managed to surpass the Fushigi team in laughs, but how about the actual game?

The final game was Korokoro Viking. This time, the entire Fushigi team once again appealed to a higher power, but this time to the producer:

Oh, Heavenly Producer-sama, grant us strength!

That’s getting desperate, isn’t it? How will it turn out?

This episode was mostly focused on the antics of the Fushigi team and Imada-san, with the Arashi members generally just playing the games except during Kicking Sniper. I was totally right to trust that Imada-san would make things interesting. Chiaki-san was also hilarious.

So, even though Arashi had less of a part than they normally do, it was a wonderful episode and thoroughly entertaining. The Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi has to go to Sakurai-kun, for soccer celebrations and “shooting!”