After the middle-schooler invasion of VS Arashi on August 23rd, the show took a break last week, and now it’s back with the episode I’ve been waiting for ever since the end of the Olympics – the one where a bunch of newly-minted medalists take on the Arashi team. At the beginning of this episode, Sakurai-san reveals the surprising way he found out about this week’s guests – members of the Japanese swim team:

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Basically, he found out the same way we found out – by watching the feed of the last VS Arashi, with the preview of this show at the end. Amazing isn’t it? Anyway, here they are:

The Guests

From right to left, it’s Matsuda Takeshi-san (松田 丈志), Terakawa Aya-san (寺川綾), Irie Ryosuke-san (入江 陵介), Suzuki Satomi-san (鈴木聡美), Tateishi Ryo-san (立石諒), Ueda Haruka-san (上田 春佳), Kato Yuka-san (加藤ゆか), and Hoshi Natsumi-san (星奈津美). One of the wonderful things about Olympic medalists is that it’s very easy to find the proper reading of their names.

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Between these eight, they have fourteen medals, and even as they stand there, you can hear the medals clinking against each other. It’s both amusing and intimidating.

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The plus one guests joining Arashi were the comedy duo Football Hour (フットボールアワー) – Iwao Nozomu-san (岩尾望) and Goto Terumoto-san (後藤輝基).

Plus One guests Football Hour

They’re a pretty low-key pair, so while they’ll only contribute a bit of humor, they also won’t be obnoxious.

Football Hour

The first game was Dual Curling, which made me wonder if, after the Winter Olympics, they might get members from the Japanese Curling team on. Round one featured Tateishi, Irie, and Suzuki against Aiba, Ohno, and Goto.

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Irie-san seems to be the lead talker for the Swim Medalist Team, dominating the discussion before the start of the game.

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After the first round, Sakurai-san mentions Suzuki-san’s cool form:

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In round two of Dual Curling, it was Matsuda, Terakawa, and Hoshi against Sakurai, Ninomiya, and Iwao.

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Hoshi-san is a huge Arashi fan, and stepping up to this game has her heart racing. Sakurai-san asked what Arashi songs she listens to, and she said her favorite song is “Still . . .”, an obscure B-side to their 2007 single “Happiness.” Since that was before Arashi’s era of double platinum domination, and the song hasn’t appeared on any album since, Sakurai-san rightly declares her an expert.

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Then she said her next favorite is “Fight Song,” which is also not in the top 10 most-played Arashi songs. The crowd was totally with her, with a unanimous “oh!”

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With a final word from Sakurai-san, the game begins.

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Next was Pinball Runner, with Matsumoto-kun running for Arashi and Aiba-kun joining Football Hour to call out the numbers (continuing Aiba’s streak of joining comedy duos in this part):

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Matsumoto-kun insists that he’s no good at this game. Is he just being modest, lowering expectations, or is he really lacking confidence here?

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Suzuki-san is the runner for the Swim Medalist Team, with three of the other women from the team in the supporting role.

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While they’re athletes, they’re all swimmers and don’t really run as part of their training. How will Suzuki-san do?

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After that was Cliff Climb, my favorite game in the show, and what can I say? They spoiled it. How? Well, see for yourself:

Cliff Climb 1

Yes, Irie, Tateishi, and Matsuda make three climbers instead of two. And no, the climb isn’t more difficult (except there’s an extra 50 points available if the third person makes it to the top). Worse, there’s thirty seconds extra. The net result of this is that it’s easier to get all the points on the wall. The only real question is whether all three people will make it to the top in time.

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It’s apparently a special arrangement for this show, but I don’t know why they decided to go this way. Are swimmers really lacking in arm strength? I would have expected that any one of them would have been able to handle the entire climb. Oh, well.

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Speaking of arm strength, how about arm flexibility – Irie-san has a special skill:

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Neat, but I don’t think it’ll help in this game. How will Irie-san and his teammates do on this watered-down version of Cliff Climb?

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Arashi got to put up three people, too. They seemed confident that three was more than enough to get a perfect score, which is why, aside from Ohno-san, they picked weakest climber Sakurai-san, and unknown quantity Iwao-san.

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Ohno-san states the obvious – that this is their first time with three people – and Sakurai-san gives a loud and sarcastic “sou desu ne!”

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Can Arashi make it even more difficult to get a perfect score? Of course. They decide to give Sakurai-san the toughest part:

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So, will Sakurai-san throw off the stigma of past performances in Cliff Climb, or will he be true to form?

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Next was Bank Bowling, with Irie-san and Ueda-san taking the first frame:

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Irie-san says that he can score 230 to 240 in regular bowling, and Ueda-san has a 217. However, we know all too well that regular bowling has nothing to do with bank bowling, so how will they do?

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That was a very interesting frame, and it was followed by Kato-san and Matsuda-san as the clean-up batters for the Medalist team.

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For the Arashi team, it was Nino-kun and Goto-san up first . . .

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. . . with Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun dealing with the remainder.

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Aiba-kun is full of plans, aiming for the first spare in Bank Bowling history.

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The final game was Kicking Sniper, and again they messed with the format. Why did they only fiddle around with the games that I like most? Anyway, they decided it would be a good idea to have the entire Medalist team up to kick:

Kicking Sniper 1

I think they were just hoping for a hilarious mistake as people got in each others’ way.

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The challengers rallied before starting the game:

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The Arashi team also had everyone up:

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Were they able to surpass the efforts of a team that won fourteen medals at the London Olympics?

As expected, the athletes were strong adversaries for Arashi. The Arashi team still had the advantage of experience, though. As far as entertainment value, it was all in the way the games were played. There was very little extracurricular humor, and in the medalist team, Irie-san was the only one who felt entirely comfortable speaking up without being prompted. So, call it an episode for purists.

Fortunately, we’re going to get a funny VS Arashi next week, with a team of top-notch comedians led by Morisanchuu’s Ooshima-san as the guests. So, if you watch VS Arashi for the crazy hijinks, next week is for you.

The Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi was Sakurai-san, who not only had the Cliff Climb to tackle and the Bank Bowling with Aiba-kun, but also had the lead in engaging with the guests.