Himitsu no Arashi-chan (ひみつの嵐ちゃん) is the hour-long variety show hosted by Arashi that tends to have the greatest variation from week to week, depending on which segments are featured.  This week, the usual “share house” segment where the Arashi members talk with female guests is less than half the show. That’s great, because it’s usually the slowest part of the show, especially for those of us who are not fluent in Japanese, and because the other segment – “The Last Mission” – is the most entertaining segment HNA has to offer.

Our hosts for today are Aiba-kun and Sakurai-kun, and we see them walking through the hallways to the set. Sakurai-kun seems to vividly recall the last time he hosted this show with Aiba-kun, because he repeats the English words he learned in that episode as they walk along.

Making an Entrance

While Sakurai-kun and Aiba-kun get comfortable, they talk about recent travels, including Sakurai-kun’s trip to London for the Olympics. He didn’t really talk much about London, because his most vivid recent experience was in an ultra-luxurious Singapore passenger liner and how embarrassing it was. I think the screencaps tell the story best:

Singapore Passenger Liner 1Singapore Passenger Liner 2Singapore Passenger Liner 3Singapore Passenger Liner 4Singapore Passenger Liner 5Singapore Passenger Liner 6

Of course, Sakurai-kun is still interested in the New York trip perpetrated by Aiba-kun, Matsumoto-kun, and Ohno-san. But before they got too deep into that conversation, the guests arrived. Mochida Kaori-san (持田 香織) is the lead singer of pop group Every Little Thing, which had substantial success in the late nineties, but has experienced declining sales for a variety of reasons, including the departure of one of the three members in 2000. Kashii Yuu-san (香椎 由宇) is an actress who does deadpan humor extremely well, and I think does her best work as the serious counterpart to crazy characters.

The GuestsSakurai Opens the Door

The chit-chat that followed was pretty uninteresting, even by HNA standards, but it was also kept short. Aiba-kun introduces the meal for the day, which happens to be Singapore Chicken Rice. The camera pans to Kashii-san, who looks totally spaced out (almost reminds me of Ohno-san at this point – they should do a drama together). I think she’s actually reading the cue cards instead of listening to Aiba-kun, but I’m not sure.

Small TalkSingapore Chicken RiceSpaced Out

Suddenly, she realizes it’s her cue and springs to life:

Ah, that's me!

She offers to make the dish herself, and though Aiba-kun tries to help out a bit, the other three are mostly left to their own devices.

Kashii Yuu Cooks 1Kashii Yuu Cooks 2

First, they break open the coconuts:

Coconut Time 1Coconut Time 2

But Mochida-san isn’t really impressed by the juice inside (it’s always underwhelming to those of us who are used to sweetened coconut juice from the store).

Bimyou 2

Then Sakurai-san and Mochida-san play a little game where the penalty is making a weird face (変顔 – hengao).

Sakurai V Mochida 1Sakurai V Mochida 2Sakurai V Mochida 3

Mochida-san is eventually brought to the floor with laughter (she’s got an interesting laugh – it almost reminds me of Hillary Clinton’s):

Mochida in Stitches

Then it’s time to eat:

Meal Time 1Meal Time 2

While Aiba-kun makes a mess with the coconuts, the usual surprise package arrives. This time, they got a curious assortment of overpriced massage implements:

What the Heck are These?What the Heck are These? 2What the Heck are These? 3Really?

This was Kashii-san’s idea. And after they tried those out, the share house segment ended in record time, leaving a hefty portion of the hour to what we were looking forward to:

The Last MissionSakurai EntersAiba EntersArashi on Stage

Sakurai-kun has a lot of complaints at the start of this, including the fact that he’s always the one picked to do this segment, and he really doesn’t want to face the penalties for losing (batsu game – 罰ガム) again.

Sakurai Complains 1Sakurai Complains 2Sakurai Complains 3

Will Sakurai-kun be able to avoid the fate he so dreads? The first penalty is to make a real kissy-face  (I don’t know how to put this any better – 本気のキス顔), and you can see Sakurai-san getting weak-kneed at the thought:

The First MissionAw, hell

The challenge is who can run-in-place the fastest (the last to 500 steps loses).

First Challenge 1First Challenge 2First Challenge 3

The guest challenger is the intimidating Nakayama Kinnikun (なかやま きんに君), who certainly looks like legitimate competition for Arashi.

Nakayama Kinnikun 2Nakayama Kinnikun 3

In previous episodes, we got comedians who were rather less fit, and when the Arashi members lost, it was just flat-out embarrassing. This time, maybe the serious opposition will push Aiba-kun and Sakurai-kun to show their best.

Getting Ready to Start

Of course, I’m not going to give away the results, but I have to say that their expressions immediately after the challenge were much more interesting than the kissy-face penalty. The manner of the loss was also interesting.

The next punishment was to speak effeminately . . .

Next Punishment

. . . with both members getting a sinking feeling:

Reluctance

The challenge to avoid this fate is a push-up race, with the last person to do twenty losing.

Push-Up Race

The guest opponent for this one was again someone with the odds in his favor: Shoji Tomoharu-san.

Shoji Tomoharu 1Shoji Tomoharu 2Shoji Tomoharu 3

I really wouldn’t call what the Arashi guys were doing proper push-ups. Shoji-san was doing them properly, but Aiba-kun and Sakurai-kun were not rising fully. Oh, well, call it a handicap. There was no way for them to compete with Shoji-san otherwise.

I'd Like to See Arashi Do Them Properly

The final punishment was to join a famous comedy duo in their act . . .

The Final Mission

. . . which Sakurai-kun was subjected to last time:

Sakurai Remembers This One

And the last challenge is the most traditional of all – striking/covering rock-paper-scissors (叩いてかぶってジャンケンポン – tataite kabute jankenpon). In this game, the loser of jankenpon has to quickly put on a helmet to avoid getting hit by a mallet wielded by the winner. You only lose the game if the mallet strikes your head.

Tataite Kabute Jankenpon

Of course, they brought out a truly experienced guest to contend with Arashi on this one – Hannya’s Kanada Satoshi-san.

Kanada Satoshi 1Kanada Satoshi 2

All the competitors have good reaction times, so how will it go?

Match 1Match 2Match 3

The comedy duo that the loser will join in with is Tetsu and Tomo:

Tetsu and Tomo

That’s good, because their act actually has the form of a comic dance, so if either of the Arashi members lose, it’ll be fun to watch them join in.

Altogether, it was an excellent episode. While share house was slow, the guests seemed so comfortable around Arashi, it was almost like they were really hanging out. The “Last Mission” challenges were a true delight, though, as expected. The guests brought on were probably the best opponents possible in the Japanese entertainment world, and the results were fascinating. The grand finale was probably the best ending to a Himitsu no Arashi-chan ever, assuming you have a tolerant sense of humor.

The Most Omoshiroi Arashi for this episode was Aiba-kun, who seemed to get more energetic with every minute.