This week’s VS Arashi (VS 嵐)began with a bit of talk about Arashi’s Popcorn Tour and something involving Ohno-san, choreography, and rollerskates. It might actually be more fun to use your imagination on this one than to know what they actually said.

The guests were Team Chiba – representing Chiba prefecture (Aiba-kun’s home region). There was Morita Kensaku-san (森田 健作), Penalty’s Wakki-san and Hide-san, Kuroki Tomohiro-san (黒木 知宏), Ooshima Mai-san (大島 麻衣), Tsugunaga Momoko-san (嗣永 桃子), and Kojima Yoshio-san (小島よしお).

Those last two . . . might be a problem. Momoko-san has an unbearable voice (as we found out in a previous episode of VS Arashi) and Kojima-san has his set gags that he will probably insist on doing.

The mascot Team Chiba brought along has a profile with the shape of the prefecture. Morita-san insists that, even though Arashi (except Aiba-kun) doesn’t know the mascot, that red fellow is better known in Chiba-ken than Arashi.

Ishihara Satomi-san was this week’s “plus one” guest added to the Arashi team. Because they were dressed in black, Arashi thought that the guest would be someone who would fit the color, like Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi-san or Gackt-san. Turns out they were totally wrong.

While they were talking it over with Ishihara-san, Momoko-san suddenly piped in with her utterly distracting voice to get attention. Ishihara-san totally didn’t know how to react.

The first game was Korokoro Viking, with Team Chiba starting off.

Apparently, Kuroki-san was a pitcher, so they ask him about ball control (as if his kind of ball control has anything to do with playing this game).

Team Chiba tries to get Aiba-kun to defect, but he resists.

Then the announcer prompts Momoko-san (why?) and we get another taste of her voice. Well, the Arashi team found it funny. I guess Momoko-san’s comedy might work translated.

After the Chiba team got their fill, Arashi was up, feeling confident. They still had the -50 point slot to face, though, and that’s given them trouble recently.

Well, when I say “them”, maybe it was mostly Ninomiya-kun:

Ishihara-san is in the scoring position instead of him, but she doesn’t feel very confident, either, recalling a bad experience with the game in the July 5th episode playing opposite Oguri Shun-san:

This time, though, she’s opposite Aiba-kun. That’s . . . a big difference. The comparison leads Ninomiya-kun to call Aiba Arashi’s Oguri Shun – a title Aiba gladly accepts.

How will Arashi’s Oguri Shun and Ishihara-san do?

They had more fun with it after the game:

Next was Shotgun Disk, with the Chiba team up. For the second time, Momoko-san was a supporter instead of playing any role in the game. She did the same thing in Korokoro Viking, where I didn’t think to mention it, but is she actually going to participate in this episode or not?

MatsuJun and Ishihara-san were the bazookas for the Arashi team.

Wakki-san looks absolutely ready for battle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more serious-looking comedian. Then he starts dancing with his partner Hide-san, and it all makes sense again.

On the Arashi team’s turn, Aiba was the passer, Sakurai and Nino the shooters, and Ohno the receiver. Will Aiba-kun really be all right as passer? He tends to have an overabundance of energy.

What about Ohno-san at the top?

Well, both Aiba-kun and Ohno-san did Kojima Yoshio-san’s gag, so I guess they’re all right.

At the end of the game, Nino-kun is critical of Aiba-kun’s pace, and wonders again about Aiba’s ties to Chiba  . . .

The third game was Bound Hockey. Once again, Momoko is just a supporter. And again, despite the fact that she’s not actually taking part in any games, they give her the chance to do a gag and get screen time – loads of screen time, in fact. I’m really getting to despise her even beyond her annoying voice – if she wants screen time, she should put in the effort with the rest of her team. I’ve never seen a team member so ostentatiously abstain from the games on VS Arashi. This is a game show, dammit!

With Arashi up, Ohno-san expresses confidence in his pairing with Aiba-kun.

MatsuJun thinks there’s something different about Aiba-kun today, though (again, the Chiba thing).

Sakurai-san recalls a certain “I Love Chiba” jacket that Aiba-kun wore in a concert, and starts calling him “Chiba-kun.”

With this sort of attitude within the Arashi team, will they really be able to work together?

Finally, in Bank Bowling, Momoko decides to participate. She and Ooshima Mai-san take the first frame for Chiba.

I suddenly had great respect for Ooshima-san when she said she didn’t have confidence with “this type of person” – referring to Momoko . . .

. . . and even more so when Momoko said they were the same, being idols, and Ooshima-san retorted “I’m all right. We’re not the same” (私大丈夫です 同じじゃないです).

The two Chiba elders – Morita-san and Kuroki-san – were the clean-up crew for their team, and their experience showed.

For Arashi, Sakurai-san and Ishihara-san had the first crack at it. Ishihara-san actually manages a lower average in regular bowling than I do, and the audience makes ominous sounds at the news.

But, of course, this has nothing to do with regular bowling.

Ohno-san and Aiba-kun finished it off for Arashi, but after Bound Hockey there is suspicion cast on them both, with Ohno-san suspected of being bribed by Chiba-kun . . . I mean, Aiba-kun.

After the game, Momoko got Aiba-kun to do her gag:

The final game was Kicking Sniper. Team Chiba offered up the comedians – Kojima-san, Hide-san, and Wakki-san.

Unexpectedly, even though Kojima-san’s prompted to do his own gag finally (after pretty much everyone else does it), he decides not to. I have to hand it to him – he showed great restraint throughout this episode and all my worries about him were unfounded. Contrary to Momoko, of course.

Both Wakki-san and Hide-san have soccer experience. Wakki-san is a real physical competitor, having participated at a high level in Sasuke.

In the end, could Arashi score a victory with Ishihara-san, Matsumoto-kun, and Ninomiya-kun kicking?

Well, aside from a certain member of the Chiba team, this was a decent episode.

The games themselves were compelling all the way through, Ishihara Satomi-san did surprisingly well, and the Chiba team seemed focused on besting Arashi.

The Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi is a no-brainer – clearly it has to go to Aiba-kun, who bore the brunt of most of the interesting dialogue within Arashi. I was surprised he didn’t decide to defect to the Chiba team in the middle of the episode.