VS Arashi (VS 嵐) is a game show hosted by the idol group Arashi, who compete against a different team of actors or comedians every week. After three weeks straight of comedians, we finally get some actors – the “Mirai Nikki” team, promoting the finale to their drama.

Mirai Nikki Team

While Okada Masaki-kun (岡田将生) and Gouriki Ayame-san (剛力彩芽) are the two leads, and Okada-kun is the leader of the team, my interest was fixed on Hongo Kanata-kun (本郷奏多). No disrespect to Okada and Gouriki, but they’re both rather . . . normal (which is the polite way of saying boring). Hongo-kun, though, is an endlessly fascinating character, and entirely idiosyncratic. In dramas and movies, he often plays intense and rather rude characters, but on the rare occasions when he appears on shows like this, he’s soft-spoken. But if he was just soft-spoken, he’d just be boring. Rather, he has all sorts of amusing mannerisms and, when he does speak, the words that come out are rarely what you expect. Take his first words when he’s introduced by Okada-kun:

Hongo to Moshimasu

This is the polite way of introducing yourself (Hongo to moshimasu) as opposed to the plain (Hongo desu), and you normally don’t hear it on variety shows, where a more casual atmosphere pervades. He says it is a very strained way, and the audience gets a kick out of it. Matsumoto-kun notes that it’s totally opposite from his character in the movie Gantz, which he did with Nino-kun, and only then does Sakurai-kun recognize the quiet Hongo as the actor from that movie.

Ah! Gantz no hito!?

Moving along, though, the “plus one” guests added to the Arashi team are the comedy duo “Sandwich Man” (サンドウィッチマン), who are top-level entertainers. However, they’re the type that will throw in some humor without totally dominating or being obtrusive – always welcome, in other words.

Sandwich Man

The first game is Pinball Runner with team leader Okada-kun running for the Mirai Nikki team. I think it’s fair to say that he’s athletic, so this should be a good competition.

Okada in Pinball Runner

Arashi puts up their best runner, Aiba Masaki-kun, who declares a battle of Masakis between the Aiba family Masaki and the Okada family Masaki.

Aiba Pumped Up

Masaki Battle

His support, though, is . . .

The Support Team

We discover that one of the members of Sandwich Man has too low a voice to all out “pink,”

The Baritone

But Aiba-kun approves of the other’s high-pitched voice:

The AltoThumbs Up

There’s some more goofing around on the platform, allowing Ninomiya-kun to get the punchline in:

Nino Pipes In

How will this turn out? Well, it’ll be funny, at least. Stick Ohno-san in the middle of two comedians, and he never fails to fit right in.

Next up, we have Dual Curling – a one-on-one Gantz battle between Ninomiya-kun and Hongo-kun – and apparently the two of them have some gripes with each other. Ninomiya-kun mentioned Hongo-kun’s propensity to disappear at key points (apparently to sleep), while Hongo-kun remembered all-too-vividly Ninoymiya-kun’s parting words when they finished their work on Gantz.

Gantz Battle 1Gantz Battle 2I Slept

How will this grudge match turn out?

The Grudge Match

The 3-on-3 Dual Curling was next, with Sandwich Man and Matsumoto Jun-kun playing for Arashi.

Dual Curling 1Dual Curling 2

After that was Rolling Coin Tower, and there was a lot of humor from Sakurai-kun this time, regarding use of the 3-point coins to avoid toppling the tower:

Sakurai Messes Up3 Pt Coin Rant 13 Pt Coin Rant 2

Eventually his rant about the 3 point coins gets out-of-hand, leading Matsumoto-kun to ask “What’s up with you today?” (loosely translated)

Kyou dou shitansuka?

What’s Sakurai-kun’s explanation that brings “oh!”s from the audience?

Sakurai Explains

Sakurai-kun’s rant made Dual Curling unusually interesting, and you really need to pay attention to see not only what he does, but also what Hongo-kun does.

The next game was Cliff Climb, with Okada-kun and Hongo-kun going first. Now this, I was really eager to see. First of all, Okada-kun has expressed minimal-to-no confidence throughout the episode, so this is the ultimate test as to whether he’s just being humble or whether he’s being honest. More importantly, though, I expected surprises from Hongo-kun. Now, he doesn’t look like he has the strength for this sort of thing, and he says as much at the start:

Although Hongo Lacks Strength

But somehow, when it actually comes to performance, he always defies expectations. How will he do here?

Victory or Defeat?

The climbers for Arashi were Matsumoto-kun and Sakurai-kun.

Sakurai and Matsumoto

But when they announce that Sakurai-kun would be taking the more difficult part of the climb – the part Okada-kun had to tackle – you could totally hear the “eh!?” rising from the crowd. If you’ve seen enough VS Arashi, you know the odd of this turning out well are low. Can Sakurai-kun actually pull it off?

Division of Labor

The final game was Korokoro Viking, and at this point, the issue was which team would win.

Korokoro VikingKorokoro Viking 2

This was a great episode. I think all the Arashi members had their moments.

An Ohno Moment

Sandwich Man gave them plenty of room, and Okada-kun’s affable lack of self-confidence and Hongo-kun’s quirkiness ensured that the other side of each competition was interesting.

Since all the Arashi members contributed, they were all up for consideration for Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi this time, but I think there’s no doubt that Sakurai-kun dominated. From the beginning, when he took a while to recognize Hongo-kun, to the very end, and practically every game in between, he did the most to keep things fun to watch.