There’s no way to soften the blow: this episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) is a food episode:

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So, if you enjoy watching Arashi eating, this episode is for you. The question is – will there still be something in it for the rest of us? The lineup of guests doesn’t give me much hope:

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That’s a panel of “gourmet godfathers” who know something about fine cuisine. From left to right, they are Nakao Akira-san (中尾彬), Kikuchi Takeo-san (菊池武夫), Ishikawa Jiro-san (石川次郎), and Suzuki Masafumi-san (鈴木正文). The main requirement for them seemed to be age – they’re all 60+ – since none of them actually specializes in food (as far as I could tell). Considering all the gourmet shows on Japanese TV, I’d be shocked if any given talent didn’t have substantial background knowledge about cuisine – it’s the sort of thing that will definitely come in handy.

Anyway, the Arashi guys walk in looking spiffy:

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And considering what I just said about Japanese TV talents, I was surprised when they claimed that Arashi’s food sense was childish and immature (お子ちゃま – okochama). If they haven’t figured foodstuff by now, after more than a decade tasting every dish under the Sun, there’s no hope. I think they just said that to give an excuse for the show – if they admitted that Arashi already knew more about food than anyone short of a chef (and they’ve had to do the cooking themselves often enough) there’d be no need to teach them about it, right?

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So, after each of the godfathers got their official introduction . . .

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. . . and Suzuki-san explained about dandies (which is apparently what the Arashi members are trying to be – don’t ask me why) . . .

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. . . we got MatsuJun’s VTR. Each member had their own Encounter the Unknown segment with another guest. The godfathers are basically there to judge their performance after watching the VTR, deciding who the true dandy is.

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Matsumoto-kun’s instructor was singer Koganezawa Shoji-san (小金沢昇司), who showed off a model of the New Shinbashi Building. I guess he performs there, and eats there.

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The model comes in parts, and Koganezawa-san pulls out a diorama of MatsuJun’s destination that would make Ohno’s character in Kagi no Kakatta Heya proud.

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Koganezawa-san says something about having one’s fill in 20 minutes, so as Matsumoto-kun goes on-location to New Shinbashi, there’ll be a clock.

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There’s the food:

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And . . . it looks like no one has taught these guys something better to say than “umai”:

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Just kidding, of course – they do occasionally manage to make substantive comments about the food.

Time ticks away . . .

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. . . and MatsuJun gets a massage after eating:

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Well, at least it wasn’t just eating. Will all the members have these little side activities?

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Ohno-san gets a kick out of it as the massage continues.

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And there you have it – a fine advertisement for the New Shinbashi building.

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Next up was Aiba-kun.

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And his instructor was Miyamoto Amon-san (宮本亜門), a theater director.

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Miyamoto-san’s food of interest is the Napolitan – a pasta dish popular in Japan.

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He tells Aiba-kun that the Napolitan is not Italian in origin, but actually invented in Yokohama, and has Japan’s resident Italian talent verify: (it was named after the city of Napoli by its creator, Irie Shigetada.)

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And Aiba-kun gets munching, visiting the third best cafe (喫茶店 – kissaten) first . . .

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. . . then the second best . . .

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. . . and finally the best cafe for Napolitans according to Miyamoto-san:

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But can Aiba-kun really stomach all of this?

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Back in the studio, Aiba-kun posed a question regarding suits to the panel of godfathers.

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Ohno-san got Yoshida Rui-san (吉田類), who really wants Ohno-san to try dojou nabe.

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This being a traditional meal, Ohno-san arrives in style:

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And the meal arrives in style, too:

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Ohno-san always has the best expressions. This is how I always look at green stuff:

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After another studio interlude (I tended to find these pointless, but maybe translation would reveal otherwise) . . .

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. . . it was Sakurai-san’s turn.

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He got a jazz saxophonist – Kikuchi Naruyoshi-san (菊地成孔), who likes Paris Bistros. Since there are no Paris Bistros within easy reach, Kikuchi-san sends Sakurai-san to a Paris-style Bistro in Shinjuku.

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Sakurai-san is sort of surprised that it’s Shinjuku instead of Ginza.

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It’s Shinjuku San-chome at 9:00 P.M.:

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The menu is bilingual:

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And the food is . . . gourmet:

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How will Sakurai-san do? Is it even possible to do badly? Something to do with the tip, perhaps?

If you don’t think they’re eating enough in this episode, don’t worry – they get another meal in-studio. Presumably this is so the godfathers can assess food sense maturity in-person.

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Ninomiya-kun is the lucky one in this episode – his “Encounter the Unknown” instructor is someone he’s always wanted to meet – his god, even.

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It’s Mr. Maric (Mr. マリック), the famed TV magician. We know from the last episode that Nino-kun likes magic, so this is an interesting continuation of that rare show of Nino-kun’s magical talent.

Of course, this episode being what it is, they can’t just do magic. It has to be food-related magic. In this case, the food is rice with tea poured on (お茶漬け – ochazuke).

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First, Mr. Maric does a demonstration involving fish – cooking raw fish with his “hand power”.

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But he reveals the trick. You can see clearly that he flips the foil containing the fish at one point, and that there’s clearly two wrapped fish – one raw and one already cooked.

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He does another trick, and again we see something weird at work.

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Alright, but the real question is whether Nino-kun can pull off a similar trick in the studio.

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Unfortunately, there’s an audible click from the apparatus. Did Nino-kun manage to salvage the situation when the audience pointed out the sound?

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More importantly, how did the result of his magic taste?

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Having watched all five Arashis at work, the godfathers had to choose which one successfully proved themselves. Without translation, I have no idea about what logic led them to their choice – I sure wouldn’t have been able to guess it.

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And there you have it: lots of food with massages and magic mixed in. I’m happy that they at least tried to make each member’s segment a bit different and that there was more than just eating. Saving the magic bit for the end was an excellent choice – it was really the strongest possible finale.

That said, this was still a food episode, and I really saw nothing except for the magic to get me interested. I guess . . . I’m just not much of a gourmet – I know what I like, stick with it, and hesitate to try new stuff. Go figure.

Considering there was one stand-out segment, it’s pretty clear that the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi should go to Ninomiya-kun for providing us with a memorable finale.

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