After a long time anticipating it, the middle schoolers finally take over VS Arashi (VS 嵐) in the finals of the all-Japan Rolling Coin Tower competition. The members of Arashi begin the show whispering as they prepare to meet their fans:

Preparing the Meet the Contestants 1

The Fans

I’ve called Rolling Coin Tower the most boring game on VS Arashi, but I think that this episode will be a lot of fun because the kids will be really excited and intense. Let’s see if I’m right, as the screaming begins.

Preparing to Meet the Contestants 2Let the Screams Begin 1Let the Screams Begin 2Let the Screams Begin 3

Sakurai-san points and laughs at a girl who started crying:

Sakurai Points and LaughsIn Tears 1In Tears 2

Isn’t that a bit . . . oh, heck, I’m sure Sakurai-san knows exactly how to act when fans cry in his presence. Anyway, the Arashi members quickly start to rally the eight teams.

Call to Rally 1Call to Rally 2

What’s that about wanting to go to New York, though?

New York e ikitai ka!

I think Sakurai-san still hasn’t forgotten about Ohno-san, Aiba-kun, and Matsumoto-kun going off to New York without him. Anyway, time for the opening sequence.

It Begins

It looks like there were a total of 10865 teams (43460 middle schoolers) who tried out, and with them all whittled down to the best eight, only one team will leave the show victorious.

Out of Tens of Thousands, Only Four

There’s a lot more moving parts to this episode than the normal VS Arashi. The eight teams were the Namara (genuine?) Tension Aiba-na Hokkaido-born team (from Hokkaido, of course), the Yagiyama Shop (八木山商店) team from Tohoku, the Mixed Juice team from Kanto, the Girls Who Returned to Their Own Country (帰国女子) team from Chubu, the J+water team from Kansai, the Powerful Girls 4 team from ChugokuShikoku, the Fukuoka Arashic team from Kyushu, and finally the So Yeah!! team from Okinawa.

The Teams 1The Teams 2

Aiba-kun tries to encourage members of the J+water team, but Ninomiya-kun accuses him of laying too much pressure on:

Aiba ChatsWhat's with the Pressure?

The teams draw their match-ups:

The Draws

We get full details about each team’s members before their quarterfinal games. The first quarterfinal was the Tohoku team (which made the best replica of the Rolling Coin Tower game to practice) . . .

Tohoku Team 1Tohoku Team 2Tohoku Team 3Tohoku Team 4

. . . versus Okinawa (which had a mini-replica to work with, but also developed a code to communicate with each other).

Okinawa TeamOkinawa Team 2Okinawa Team 3

These teams are serious about this, folks. Do not underestimate the middle-schoolers.

By the way, the girl who teared up earlier is the captain of the Tohoku team, and after being asked by Sakurai-san who she likes best in Arashi . . .

Team CaptainShe Likes Nino 1She Likes Nino 2She Cries Again 1She Cries Again 2What She Likes About Him 1What She Likes About Him 2

Meanwhile, Aiba-kun shows off the Okinawa team’s practice notes, and gets them to huddle up for a little cheer:

Practice NotesEveryone Gather!Cheer

With that, the Tohoku-Okinawa match up begins. They didn’t show the whole thing from the start, but instead edited out the slower start and just showed the last couple of rounds.

The second quarterfinal was between the Chugoku-Shikoku team (with two members tall for their age, and the smaller two spending time jumping, stretching, and drinking milk to catch up to the taller pair) . . .

Tall MemberTrying to Get Taller

. . . and the Kyushu team (which actually has a couple of boys in the mix, and perhaps some friendly deities on their side):

Kyushu Team 1Kyushu Team 2Kyushu Team 3Kyushu Team 4

So far, Aiba-kun has been (predictably) the Arashi member most responsible for actually talking to the kids. He’s like the official Arashi liaison to the younger generation. He talks to the Kyushu team about how they got together.

Aiba Does the Talking Kyushu Team Captain Explains 1Kyushu Team Captain Explains 2

Matsumoto-kun is in charge of the Chugoku-Shikoku team, and he notes that three members of their team were born in 1999, when Arashi debuted.

Party Like It's 1999

The second quarterfinal was also tightly edited for time.

The best part was when both Sakurai-san and Ohno-san did the same expression as the Kyushu kid (who kept doing that even though the tower didn’t collapse).

Kyushu KidSakurai and Ohno Imitate

And, as there was after the first quarterfinal, there were tears after this one. If you can’t stand to see little kids cry, this episode of VS Arashi might be tough for you. They’re not just in it to meet Arashi – they all have the definite intention of being the best Rolling Coin Tower players in Japan.

The third quarterfinal featured the Chubu team, which got its team name – Girls Who Returned to Their Own Country – because all four of them lived outside Japan, with three of them coming back from Belgium.

They're Back

The Chubu team also has a member who prefers Kanjani8 over Arashi (heresy!):

Kanjani8 Fan in Arashi World 1Kanjani8 Fan in Arashi World 3

Apparently, she really likes Subaru-san. The Chubu team’s opponent will be the Kanto (Tokyo region) team, which naturally had to beat the largest number of competitors (3,715) to get here.

Lots of Competition

Here was the Kanto team’s method of practice:

Kanto Team 1Kanto Team 2

Hmm . . . pretty low-tech compared to some of the other groups. Well, after coming out the best from 3,715 groups, we can be sure they’ve got plenty of experience. They do have their own mascot, though, and actually got into the newspaper:

Mascot and Press 1Mascot and Press 2Mascot and Press 3

Aiba-kun is the supporter for the Chubu team, and Ninomiya-kun supported the Kanto team.

The third match proceeded:

Third Match Begins

Then they had the last quarterfinal – this one between Hokkaido and Kansai. The Hokkaido team specializes in music and massaging their forearms:

MusicianArm Massaging 1Arm Massaging 2Arm Massaging 3

I wonder if that actually helps? The Kansai team is also musically inclined . . .

More Musicians

. . . and one of their mothers is an ardent fan of Aiba-kun.

Mom's an Aiba Fan 1Mom's an Aiba Fan 2

Aiba-kun, though, can’t avoid wondering about the Hokkaido team’s name (the Namara (genuine?) Tension Aiba-na Hokkaido-born team):

About the Hokkaido Team's Name 1About the Hokkaido Team's Name 2About the Hokkaido Team's Name 3

Sakurai-san also wonders about the Kansai team’s name – J+water, and here’s the answer:

Why J+waterWhy J+water 2Why J+water 3

If you haven’t seen Matsumoto-kun’s “+water” ad, you probably don’t watch Japanese shows with the ads in. Unlike American TV, the ads on Japanese shows are so full of stars that you almost want to watch them, just out of curiosity about who might pop up.

We then get the fourth quarterfinal, and since any description of the further matches would contain spoilers, I’ll end the summary here. Obviously, this match-up was followed by two semi-finals and then the final.

In a blatant case of gender favoritism, I was rooting for the Kyushu team, which was the only one with guys in. That fact just made them stand out . . . that, the pink t-shirts, and the fellow who kept putting his hands over his ears when they weren’t holding the coins.

As expected, this was the most fun Rolling Coin Tower has ever been. The kids were all great and super-intense. It would have been nice to have a longer special – maybe an hour and a half – so that we could see more of each round instead of having so much of the competition edited out. I’m pretty sure the excitement from the competitors would have kept it riveting television.

They laughed and they cried. What more can you ask for? I don’t think an episode of VS Arashi has ever been taken so seriously by the competitors involved.

The Arashi members were sufficiently involved in the episode, and played a round with the winners at the end (though we didn’t get to see most of this). I think the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi was Aiba-kun, because of how he got along with the kids, and how he comforted some of those who made the tower collapse – they were the ones crying afterwards.

Next time, Arashi will face some Olympic medalists, so that should be another exciting episode.