Nino-san (ニノさん) is a new half-hour variety show featuring Arashi’s Ninomiya Kazunari-kun (and I’ll keep using the –kun honorific to distinguish the person from the show) and . . . that’s all I know about it so far. Let’s find out what it’s going to be like.

Nino-kun starts it off talking over some delightfully mischievous music – hopefully a sign of the tone of things to come. He says that each time, there will be a guest MC and a new project to challenge (I’m not entirely sure about the grammar of all of this – particularly the guest’s relationship to the challenge). It seems like it’ll definitely be a new format for a show, so instead of trying to translate everything Nino-kun says, perhaps it’ll be better to just watch it in action.

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The guest MC for this week is Yahagi Ken-san from Ogiyahagi – a frequent guest on Arashi shows and someone Nino-kun should be reasonably comfortable around (not that Nino-kun ever seems reluctant to speak up).

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The keyword as they talk is “ダメ出し” (dame dashi – judging someone, urging them to improve). Yahagi-san has a serious criticism prepared, and literally sticks it onto Nino-kun:

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I think it’s related to an idiom “地に足の着いた” (chi ni ashi no tsuita – realistic, practical, having one’s feet on the ground/being well-grounded), and Yahagi-san is saying that Nino-kun is too practical and too grounded.

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After that, there’s further explanation about the show, but once again I’m just going to try to watch to figure it all out. Sure seems like the producers wanted to make sure they didn’t lose people along the way.

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The next scene shows Nino-kun emerging in a well-furnished and lit, if a bit cob-webby, attic. Yahagi-san is behind him, a bit worse for wear from the climb.

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They watch a VTR where NTV went to the home of 29 year-old Ogasawara Hiroki-san who has experienced a major failure/setback (挫折 – zasetsu) in his plans. Whatever he was attempting (looks like political office), it required him to get votes, and he lost getting just 3,617 (so I’m guessing this wasn’t to become mayor of a small town).

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I’m not going to try to figure out exactly what happened to him  – we’re only three minutes in, and I’m just trying to get a feel for the show’s format rather than the particulars. But it looks like the campaign loss meant that he was left owning money and despite his achievements, he doesn’t have money.

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Other examples like that of Ogasawara-san also feature odd situations regarding money, including a fast-talking thirteen year-old who made a card game and now leads a company with roughly $750,000 in earnings.

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There was also a 78 year-old woman who’s learning to be a DJ.

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The examples seem to be getting at the particular way Nino-kun is too practical – his handling of money – but it seems to lose its focus after the 78 year-old DJ, just highlighting exceptional people and . . . other things. I got tired of the VTR after the DJ, but thankfully it didn’t go too long after that.

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Okay . . . so what’s this all about? Well, they brought the thirteen year-old company president up into the attic. They didn’t really interview him much – Yahagi-san asked a few questions, but Nino-kun seemed distant. That was a bit of a break . . .

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. . . before the next VTR. Again, the only theme running through it was that the subjects were exceptional people, including an eleven year-old celebrity who drinks green smoothies. That was actually pretty scary – especially her attempt to play the violin. You might want to mute that part.

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The best VTR was of a 41 year-old salaryman named Ohno Satoshi. That one seemed to get Nino-kun’s attention, too – especially when the guy started singing a Kondo Masahiko song.

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After that, the VTR went to blue curry and a school song done in full J-Pop ballad style (which was good, and got Nino-kun singing his own school song).

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So is this show just going to be about Nino-kun watching VTRs with a guest? What was all the explaining about?

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The show’s end didn’t bring any clarity, either, but it did bring the obligatory food segment – Nino-kun spent the last minute trying out the blue curry. Surely you knew that was coming.

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As much as I hate to say it, this seems to be another VTR-fest like Real Scope Z/Ultra. In fact, since they  have guests from the VTR on the show, it’s a lot like Sakurai-san’s new show, but shorter, without a panel, not focused on faces, and with rotating MCs in place of Ariyoshi-san. All the explanation and atmospherics (the attic and the music) was an attempt to make this show seem like something different when, in fact, it isn’t.

I’ll take a peek at the next episode to see if it’s another VTR-fest. If the VTRs take up the bulk of an already short show, I’m not going to review it. I wanted to see Nino-kun hosting a show, not Nino-kun watching a VTR.

(Edit: Elani explained the details of the format in a comment below, and it looks like we’re in an experimental phase where they’re offering up ten different possible formats for the show, so it’ll definitely be worth checking in again next week to see if they come up with something better.)

Which means that in terms of the three new Arashi shows, I have to hope that Aiba-kun’s show gets away from food. At least in that show Aiba-kun is active for the entire episode, so currently it’s the most likely one for future reviews.