This is the second episode of Aiba Manabu (相葉マナブ), a variety show which features Arashi’s Aiba Masaki-kun investigating what makes Japan tick.

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As in the first episode, Aiba-kun is studying when the Mysterious Chief pipes in from the bronze portrait on the wall.

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This time, Aiba-kun is going to learn about what literally keeps the Japanese people going – calories. Actually, the topic was technically health (健康 – kenkou). For those who might not have taken chemistry, the kcal we’ll see a lot of is a kilocalorie, which is equal to an American Calorie (with a big “c”). For some reason we in the U.S. had an irrational fear of metric prefixes, and in this case just decided to capitalize the first letter instead.

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Aiba-kun heads out to a special center where they have health programs, related projects, and most importantly the human caloric meters.

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His two comedy assistants are Watabe Ken-san and Sawabe Yuu-san. Sawabe-san was also in the first episode.

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The research center has a number of devices, and even before anyone shows up to explain things to them, they poke around.

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Eventually, their guide for the episode Tanaka-sensei (who looks a lot like a Japanese Paul Dirac) shows up and they hastily pull back.

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Cue the VTR explaining calories:

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Basically, what it says is that a calorie is the energy that is necessary to heat up a gram of water 1 degree Celsius . Therefore, a kcal or Calorie is the energy needed to heat up a kilogram/liter of water by that degree.

These numbers look a bit high to me (but I’ve got a very low metabolism):

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In theory, they’re saying that an active male uses 2600 Calories a day, and an active female 2000, but that’s highly dependent on how you describe active and, of course, personal physique.

So, here’s the question: which has more calories, udon or soba?

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I would expect the two to be pretty close (at least, judging from the udon and soba packets I get). The opinions were split, with Aiba-kun and Watabe-san picking soba, and Sawabe-san picking udon.

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After learning about how many calories those staple dishes have . . .

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. . . the question turned to how much they burn through base metabolism (基礎代謝 – kisotaisha) – just keeping their bodies functional.

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Everyone is different, as Tanaka-sensei shows with a chart. Teens have it easy, burning more than any other age group on average. But age and gender aren’t the only differentiators . . .

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. . . so the three guys have their base metabolism measured. First, they had to relax.

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Then, their metabolism was measured through their respiration.

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So, how did each of them compare to the average? Watch and find out!

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Next question – in which of the following activities would you burn the most calories if you did it for 30 minutes: serious exercise, studying, or watching a movie?

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Honestly, if you think that studying or watching a movie burns more calories than exercise . . .

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. . . you might be a sumo wrestler. Actually, they’re fighting over which of the activities they’re going to try.

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There’s no point hiding it – Aiba-kun gets the movie and Sawabe-san has to do the exercise.

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They each did their activities in separate chambers that somehow monitored them (except for Sawabe-san, who went to the gym with a gas mask measuring his calorie usage).

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We get a sort of mini-game in the middle of the episode, with the audience asked one of the study questions – a simple one about recognizing the different prefectures from their shapes.

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I say simple because I could definitely do this with all the American states in only the time it takes to write the names in.,

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Around this point, I was thinking that I’d rather have Aiba-kun studying or doing the exercise than watching a movie . . .

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. . . but then we found out that the movie was “The Exorcist”.

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And watching Aiba-kun’s expression while he watched the horror flick was priceless.

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After Sawabe-san got through his exercise, he and Watabe-san decided to give Aiba-kun a bit of a surprise, opening the door to his room suddenly.

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I think Aiba-kun might have burned more extra calories in that moment than he did watching the movie for half an hour.

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But, of course, you’ll have to watch to find out whether watching a movie or studying burns more energy. As for exercise, you’ll get to see how much more it burns.

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Okay, so I think it’s safe to say that all concerns brought about by the food episode to kick the series off can be laid to rest. This was a quick half-hour packed with the guys doing all sorts of stuff. It was both well-focused on the topic and varied in activities, including some short to-the-point VTRs sprinkled in (this is how VTRs ought to be!). The chemistry between Aiba-kun and the comedians is still great – everything flowed quite naturally and they looked to be having fun. Aiba-kun looks remarkably relaxed – more so than I usually see him.

Another strong point of this series when compared to the new shows with Sakurai-san and Nino-kun is the fact that it spends most of its time outside the studio. Aiba-kun is actually going on-location – something we’re not seeing from the other Arashi shows (though perhaps it will be one of the things they’ll eventually try on Nino-san, since that show is going to have different trial formats every week).

The preview for the next episode looks promising, too:

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