So, how can this telethon possibly top the dance competition in part 8? Well, things have built up steadily. With all the different threads in play being introduced in Part 1, a special drama in Part 2, and a very entertaining Arashi ni Shiyagare in Part 3, things were a bit choppy in the overnight and early morning parts – Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

I’m just hoping that, as we wind things up, there won’t be too many more of the heart-rending human-interest stories. At the start of this part though, there’s still around five-and-a-half hours of program time to go, though, so they’ll probably sneak a few more people with debilitating illnesses in before the end.

Sure enough, after the introduction of Shimura Ken-san and Izumi Pinko-san on stage, another one of the VTRs cue up, and here we go again:

It’s a bit different this time, though, as Aiba-kun arrives with his traveling zoo.

So that wasn’t too bad – between Aiba-kun, Rinka-chan, and the animals, how could they go wrong? Shimura-san, host of what has to be the most popular animal show on Japanese TV (among his other illustrious credits), clearly approves of his kouhai’s work:

Right after that, we get another of the more spirited human-interest stories that seem to be preferred in this time slot. This one involves a karate girl who lost her mother, but perseveres to fulfill a promise she made to her.

Ohno-san handles this visit, but Saki-chan (the karate girl) is definitely the star of this segment. We actually get to see her in the middle of a karate competition.

After finding out that the long string of kites got snagged on trees, thus stalling or perhaps preventing the attempt at the record, we get the brief story of a big fan of Sakamoto Fuyumi-san (坂本 冬美) who received a private performance of “Mata Kimi ni Koishiteru.” Naturally, Sakamoto-san then performs the song on the Budokan stage.

The song sounds classic – and is a classic – even though it was released only three years ago. They check in with Hokuto-san, who’s still chugging toward the Budokan:

Then it’s time for Ninomiya-kun and another human interest story. This one didn’t really contain the interesting elements of Aiba’s and Ohno’s earlier in this part.

There’s a pro-wrestling bit in honor of marathon runner Kensuke-san. It was followed by an Arashi “super hit medley.” But first, some kids:

Each of five kids read what the Arashi members wrote about their futures when they were in grade school (you know – Ohno-san wanting to own a bakery – that sort of thing). Then Arashi performed “Believe”, “Love So Sweet”, “A-ra-shi”, “Monster”, and “One Love”.

While it would have been more interesting to hear songs I hadn’t heard a hundred times before, that’s not what this show it about. We’ve consistently heard Japan’s most iconic songs all the way through, so it makes sense that Arashi would perform their most iconic songs, too.

I didn’t get a screencap of it (and it’d probably have to be a gif, anyway), but Izumi Pinko-san was totally into it. Everyone around her was just waving weakly to “One Love,” but she was putting all her energy into it, putting a smile on my face. Afterward, she was shouting “Arashi!”, so I guess she’s a fan.

The music didn’t end with Arashi. After checking up on Miho-chan on Yakushima and Hokuto-san in the middle of her marathon, Okamoto Mayo-san (岡本 真夜) led a group of women singing her famous song “Tomorrow” a capella.

I don’t know why they didn’t just have Okamoto-san sing it on her own, or with a couple of others, since it sounded very messy like this.

Then, in a very surprising duet, Sakamoto Fuyumi-san and Rola-san performed “赤いスイートピー” (Akai suiitopii – Red Sweet Pea).

Rola-san’s voice was really not up to this song, and wasn’t a very good match for Sakamoto-san’s voice. Fortunately, I don’t think very highly of this song, and so didn’t mind a sloppy performance of it (too much).

Continuing with the music, The Alfee arrived to perform their hit “星空のディスタンス” (Hoshizora no Distance). But they had a surprise in store, asking Ninomiya-kun if he knew the song, and then handing him a guitar. I don’t know if he knew he was going to do it ahead of time, but he looked surprised.

He also had the music on a stand in front of him, and his eyes glanced at it often enough to make me believe he hadn’t prepared for this.

By the way, Nino-kun got to keep the guitar they gave him.

Looking in on Miho-chan, it doesn’t look like she can proceed any further, with the last part of the journey the most dangerous part and the weather so bad. She read a letter to her mother.

To wrap things up in this part, Funky Monkey Babys performed “あとひとつ” (Ato Hitotsu) to a montage of clips of Miho-chan’s journey.

In short, about halfway into this part, it turned into a mini-concert. There were periodic interruptions to the concert, but the performances dominated the time, beginning with Arashi’s medley.