Surely this episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) is going to be a great show. With one of my favorite Japanese TV personalities, Sekine Tsutomu-san (関根勤), as the guest, how could it not be?

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Before Sekine-san took the stage, though, we got to gauge the mood of the Arashi members. There’s a bit of energy, with Nino-kun throwing some mock punches, but otherwise Arashi seemed pretty sedate.

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They know the guest is a big-time entertainer who’s somewhat of a maniac (マニアック) and that there’s monomane involved. Perhaps they decided to conserve energy in the opening because they knew they were going to need it later.

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MatsuJun actually guessed that it’s Sekine-san, the audience goes “ah~”, and Sakurai-san decided that the description fit Sekine-san perfectly.

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Sure enough, it’s Sekine-san . . .

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. . . and they have to go to what he brought quickly, since there’s a lot of stuff to do in this show. He decided on roll cakes:

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He bought them himself, noting where he got them and which rail line he took to get there. Turns out he still always takes the train, and he lists the rail lines he uses regularly. When asked whether people speak to him, he says they don’t, and that everyone is reading something and doesn’t pay attention. Ohno-san adds that he had the same experience while riding on the train, and Sakurai-san notes that everyone stares at their cell phones and the like, and no one meets his eye.

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They move on to the rumor section. The first one was partly about his daughter, Sekine Mari-san (関根麻里) – another favorite personality who occasionally appears on School Kakumei among other shows. She’s actually proficient in English and Spanish, having studied at an international school.

Anyway, the rumor said that in the morning, Tsutomu-san becomes her brother. If you’re puzzled by that, you’re not alone:

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Sekine-san explained that it’s too hard to get his daughter awake in the mornings if he acts like a father, and has to go to extreme measures – playing pranks like a brother would.

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His relationship with his daughter is really great. They still go out to eat and to the movies together. He continued to talk about that father-daughter relationship for a bit, going all the way back to when she was four . . .

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. . . and not hesitating to physically demonstrate what he meant:

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It’s a good thing that he’s on good terms with his daughter and she’s got a great sense of humor, because this story was definitely a tad embarrassing (though anytime a father talks about when his grown-up daughter was four years old on national television is bound to be embarrassing).

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The next one seemed hardly worth mentioning unless marital strife in Japan is at an all-time high. It said that he embraces his wife every morning when they wake up. I have no idea why the audience said “eh~” (except that they always do), and from their uncertain tone, I think they weren’t sure why, either.

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Somehow, it ended up sounding like a more complicated maneuver than it should be, though. Sekine-san seems capable of talking endlessly about anything.

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He proceeds to describe his lifestyle with his wife.

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The next one was about becoming a firefighter (消防士 – shouboushi). In elementary school, he wanted to be a manga artist, but after that he wanted to be a firefighter. He talked about what led him to become a comedian.

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And what’s reminiscing without a VTR of the good old days?

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Sekine-san demonstrated a famous maniac move (similar to the one he did in the hospital scene in the VTR), and the Arashi guys attempted to imitate. Needless to say, you’ll have to watch to appreciate this.

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The last rumor had to do with a golfing mishap.

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Again, he gets up to demonstrate what he means, complete with humorous moves and sound effects.

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After what seemed like a much longer time than it actually was (because Sekine-san talked so fast), it was time for the challenge segment. The completely superfluous assistants this time were the comedy duo COWCOW:

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It’s their first time on Arashi ni Shiyagare (though they’ve appeared on VS Arashi and Himitsu no Arashi). From their opening banter, I gathered that Sekine-san’s wife likes them.

Anyway, the first challenge was to do maniac monomane.

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Ninomiya-kun has to do the set change . . .

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. . . and the stage turns into a very traditional comedy setup:

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There’s the usual board of monomane, except with some very unusual characters. We don’t usually see people imitating John Ambrose Fleming (I thought it was supposed to be Alexander Fleming until Sekine-san did the imitation) or Isaac Newton, for instance. There’s a noticeable absence of the really easy ones like Rola-san and Bobby-san.

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Since everybody is really amazed that Fleming is up there, they ask Sekine-san to do him first. That’s when he did the right-hand rule which made me realize it was John Ambrose and not Alexander. If you’ve ever taken a physics course, you’ll definitely laugh.

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He also did Isaac Newton. I think you know what’s coming here (sort of).

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Then they started having COWCOW do impressions:

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That was alright, but I was sort of disappointed when they started to bring out other comedians. Not that they weren’t good, mind you – it’s just that I was hoping Sekine-san would make the Arashi guys do more than they did.

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The Arashi guys sure looked eager to get out of their seats, standing up in objection to Sekine-san’s Tiger Woods imitation:

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That led him to get them to pretend to be the golfing crowd:

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We continued to get other entertainers. I don’t think there’s ever been more people appearing on an Arashi ni Shiyagare before. I could be wrong about that, but no episode comes to mind to rival this.

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I think Hanaka Yoshiaki-san’s impression of Oguri Shun-san deserves special note.

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We all know who he has to impress with it, right?

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Looks like it was a great success.

How about Sekine-san doing a panda (I think it was either a panda giving birth or being born – or both).

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Well, the best part was that he finally got one of the Arashi members into the act – Ninomiya-kun had to do it.

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Tanaka Kunie impressions are probably the most common out of the ones done in this episode, and I’ve never been impressed by them.

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But then they had Ohno-san do it, and it was suddenly worth watching. I think he was better than they COWCOW guy he followed.

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I was not as interested in the Nagira-san or karate impressions.

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Sekine-san insisted that MatsuJun should do the karate one, but there wasn’t much for MatsuJun to go on.

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The pros wrapped up the monomane portion with some collaboration skits:

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After that, Sekine-san called out MatsuJun for some hand-to-hand combat (possibly better to call it scuffling). I wonder why Sekine-san picked on MatsuJun in particular?

They changed into clothes more suited to the challenge . . .

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. . . and you’ll have to watch to find out what happened.

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Sekine-san does eventually have to deal with other Arashi members, but not as seriously as he did Matsumoto-kun.

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In the end, there was more food – maniac curry. Gotta keep these guys fed, I guess.

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So there it is. This episode continued Arashi ni Shiyagare’s streak of entertaining episodes since the start of this year. Because Sekine-san was so active, it felt like they packed a lot more into the episode than they usually manage.

The only downside was that I felt the Arashi guys should have had a more active role in the monomane section instead of spending most of their time as passive observers. At the very least, a member should have tried to do each of the imitations presented. The fight with Sekine-san taking on MatsuJun and the other Arashi members should have been given more time. We’ve had episodes with monomane experts on before (Korokke-san, for instance), and I think those went a lot better than this one seemed to.