Without any of the usual initial banter, this episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐) started with an oddly grim and tired look from both Ohno-san and Ninomiya-kun . . .

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. . . and the emergence of the guests. The Ikkyu-san 2 team had Suzuki Fuku-kun, Narimiya Hiroki-san (成宮寛貴), Kobayashi Seira-chan, Isono Kiriko-san (磯野貴理子), Yamada Hanako-san, Nakao Akiyoshi-san(中尾明慶), and last but certainly not least, Higashiyama Noriyuki-san.

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Sakurai-san naturally addressed his senpai Higashiyama-san first . . .

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. . . but the focus quickly turned to Suzuki-kun, with whom it will stay for most of the episode. Fuku-kun was so good at introducing Ikkyu-san 2 that MatsuJun not only expressed wonder at it, but noted that Aiba-kun had much more trouble talking about his drama.

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The plus-one guests added to the Arashi team were the comedy duo Sandwich Man. I would be surprised if they make much of a contribution.

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The first game was Dual Curling, and they played two rounds so that almost everybody had a shot (only one from each team got left out). Narimiya, Higashiyama, and Suzuki went against Aiba, Sakurai, and Ohno first.

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Suzuki-kun’s role as Ikkyu has given him some new gags to do . . .

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. . . but I liked Aiba-kun’s version better (he basically said he couldn’t look to his right because of the pressure from seeing his senpai Higashiyama-san).

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Ohno-san worked with Narimiya-san on a drama special in 2012 . . .

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. . . but that possible discussion was scuttled in favor of the much more important news that Ohno-san’s tension level was at around 40%.

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Since he hasn’t been in the spotlight for half a minute, they had to let Suzuki-kun do another gag before starting the game. I hate these sorts of gags, and wanted to shout “don’t encourage him!” to the audience when they all said “kawaii!” Honestly, I hope Suzuki-kun manages to develop some comedic wit, but if he keeps getting reinforced on these gags . . . .

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Even more dismaying was Higashiyama-san doing the same gag after Fuku-kun. Here are the reactions from this embarrassing turn of events.

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Finally, they got to the game.

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Seiran-chan joined Nakao and Isono to battle against the Sandwich Man duo and Ninomiya-kun in the second round.

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Of course, they couldn’t resist giving Seiran-chan the limelight, but at least she didn’t do any gags.

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The next game was Pinball Runner, and Narimiya-san went up for the Ikkyu-san team. Sakurai-san chatted with him a bit while the four supporters for the Ikkyu-san team lined up in height order.

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Oh, dear – what are these two cooking up?

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Matsumoto-kun ran for Arashi, giving up 20% of the basket, as usual.

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But Sakurai-san couldn’t resist proposing a new pattern for the supporters in which they would call out the numbers in a continuously rotating circle. MatsuJun was not happy with this idea.

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They went with the system anyway, but because of the rotation they spent most of the time not calling numbers.

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Rolling Coin Tower followed that. Seiran-chan got first chance at the focus this time.

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But Fuku-kun came prepared with a prop to talk about – a Kamen Rider figurine from Ninomiya-kun.

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The game was indistinguishable from any other round of Rolling Coin Tower, but what was with the reaction afterward?

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Following my least favorite game, we got my second-least favorite – Bank Bowling. Not only are the structures of the games uninteresting, but the narrow range of potential scoring make them barely relevant to which team wins the day.

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Sakurai-san and Sandwich Man’s Tomizawa-san went first for Arashi.

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They were followed by Ohno-san and Matsumoto-kun, with Ohno still at 40% tension.

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Fuku-kun and Seiran-chan count as one person when combined, as is standard for kids on VS Arashi in particular games. Suzuki-kun regaled us with another gag. After their throw, Seiran-chan had an interesting reaction to the score, but Fuku-kun just got prompted to do another version of his gag in response.

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Next to Narimiya-san, Hanako-san looked like a kid, too.

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The last game of the day was Korokoro Viking (which seems to be a favorite to end the game on).

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I didn’t understand what Seiran-chan said here, but whatever it was got some real laughter.

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How will Suzuki-san handle being in the scoring orange zone, paired up with Higashiyama-san?

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When the Arashi team had their turn, the crowd had went “woo~ (or fuu~)” when we saw Ohno-san and Nino-kun in the same spot. Capitalizing on this, Sakurai-san mentioned the “Ohmiya combi” with got a unique reaction from the crowd. The editors played a VTR that tried to explain the Ohmiya pairing in a way that was . . . probably different than the way the crowd took it.

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Finally, they decided to involve Higashiyama-san in something. I had been waiting the whole episode for some senpai-kouhai thing between him and Arashi, and we got it right at the end.

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Ohno-san and Nino-kun had to do a Higashiyama dance:

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Well, it was good they included that, because I was getting ready to bemoan the fact that they didn’t make use of Higashiyama-san’s presence at all.

The short story of this episode is that it was mostly about Suzuki-kun and Seiran-chan. They are, of course, cute kids, and if like the average Japanese viewer you can’t get enough of cute kids, then this episode is for you. For my part, I thought Seiran-chan did a charming job, but by the end I couldn’t help but think how much I want to see Fuku-kun grow up. He’s sure more confident than he used to be when it comes to stepping forward and speaking up, so there’s been definite growth there. He handled plugging the Ikkyu-san special as well as any adult I’ve seen – MatsuJun’s comment at the start wasn’t off the mark.

Otherwise, Arashi did manage to throw some nuggets in for fans. Ohno-san had that 40% comment and the Ohmiya dancing later in the episode. Sakurai-san cooked up an interesting Pinball Runner with his rotation ploy. I’d say they were to two top contenders for the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi for the episode, and since I gave it to Ohno-san last time, I’ll give it to Sakurai-san this time, but it was really pretty close. The title has been going back and forth between the two of them, so I’ll be looking for more from the other three going forward.