It looks like the “Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise” (Good but Tedious Restaurant in Tokyo) segment is going to become a fixture at the start of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) episodes. This is . . . not what I want, but the Japanese viewing public likes its food shows, so it might be a good move. From my point of view, it’s messing up what was once the group’s most unpredictable show.

Unlike some of the other restaurants they’ve visited, there are only hints of what makes this one tedious – it doesn’t have obnoxiously verbose signs or anything. That thing at the top about a Showa Song Show (昭和歌謡ショー) is a bit worrying, though.

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It all starts out pretty normal as Watabe-san does some explaining and the shop owner stands quietly. They note the fairly simple layout of the shop.

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We get some good faces from Nino-kun, though – especially when they notice the menu has as an item “one song – 0 yen”.

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When they bring that menu item up, the shop master brings out his guitar and . . . well, you know what comes next, right?

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Sure enough, he starts singing Showa songs at no extra cost. Didn’t we see something similar in another Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment already?

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Unfortunately, the guy’s voice, while clear, is also weak and has serious trouble hitting pitches at the high end. It’s when he tries the high notes that the Arashi members laugh.

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At least they have food to make up for the singing.

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Too bad their response to the food is entirely predictable. Actually, maybe I should start counting how many times they say “umai” if they’re going to keep doing this. Maybe the reason why viewers like the food shows is that they bet with their friends how many times the talents will say “umai” or “oishii” – I could see how that might be fun. Or maybe it’s a drinking game.

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For 100 yen, the shop master sings a song of his own creation.

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Okay, enough of that. The Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment took slightly longer this time – pushing past 9 minutes.

The guest for the main show was Sugimura Taizou-san (杉村 太蔵) – a politician who became the youngest member of the Japanese parliament when he won an election in 2005. So this is a somewhat unique episode, since they usually have entertainers on, but it’s also one that’s likely to involve a lot of talking, because that’s what politicians do.

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When Sugimura-san stepped out, there was one extremely excited fan screaming well before everyone else – I’m sure you’ll notice and I couldn’t avoid mentioning it. The rest of the crowd seemed more uncertain about who he was.

One thing that’s immediately obvious about Sugimura-san is that he’s got a formidable voice.

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Sugimura-san complains about the demographic make-up of the audience – they’re teens or in their twenties while his own fanbase tends to be eighty-ish to ninety-ish. He’ll still try his best, though.

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Sugimura-san is only 33, making him just a bit older than Ohno-san, and more or less contemporary with the Arashi guys. Sakurai-san wonders, then, why he appeals to 80-90 year olds. You may have guessed already – it’s because his voice is loud. As Sugimura-san explains, the elderly can’t hear MatsuJun talk, but they hear him just fine.

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This was simply the most hilarious self-introduction by a guest on Arashi ni Shiyagare ever. It was a nearly perfect comedic setup with Sugimura-san speaking so loud right from the start, getting people wondering why he was shouting, and then the punchline where he reveals the reason – because his core constituents are elderly. Brilliant.

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The assistant for this episode was a pleasant surprise – it was Audrey’s Wakabayashi-san, one of my favorite people on Japanese TV. The audience sounded happy, too.

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Right away, Wakabayashi-san had to reassure everybody that his partner, Kasuga-san, would not be making a surprise appearance as he had on previous episodes. But do we believe him?

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Wakabayashi-san gives details on Sugimura-san’s amazing TV exposure. Between January and March of this year, he appeared on 66 TV programs. That’s . . . well, no wonder he’s got his comedy act down. Even Sugimura-san is shocked by the number, though.

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The rumor segment followed that, and things settled down a bit. The first rumor was that Sugimura-san got his start cleaning toilets. If I read the graphics at the bottom right, it was at a 44-floor building which housed a foreign securities firm.

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For the rest of the details, I’ll have to hope for a translation. Should be interesting, considering all of the “eh!”s from the crowd. He’s quite a storyteller.

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There are children, apparently:

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The second rumor was that pride cannot resist even one yen (again, assuming I’m getting it right). He talked about embarrassment on variety shows. He doesn’t really have an agency, so he handles all his bookings himself. Sounds like an insanely busy fellow.

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The third rumor was that when he and Suzuki Nana-san appear together, the sound people are in trouble. Not only is it the volume issue, but he and Suzuki-san tend to speak at the same time (over each other).

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On this, they decided to pit Sugimura-san against Aiba-kun in a battle of the voices.

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So . . . which one do you think will be louder?

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Sugimura-san picked a great phrase to shout (and a great way to shout it):

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The next rumor was that he has 70 million yen in savings (roughly $750,000). That can’t be too surprising if he’s a saver, despite his young age.

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The rumor segment continued with one about persuading/seducing/coaxing . . . something. I was getting uninterested at this point.

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The issue revolved around a certain letter.

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Amazingly, there was another rumor – this one about Terry Ito-san getting fed up with him.

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They had a VTR of Terry Ito-san’s thoughts about Sugimura-san.

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Then we got an Encounter the Unknown segment – the first in a while, I think. MatsuJun was the Arashi deployed for this adventure.

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His instructor was Sasai Eisuke-san (篠井英介), a famous oyama (女形 – male actor in female kabuki roles). He’s had more than a twenty year career in TV dramas, so his face may look familiar.

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So . . . is MatsuJun going to . . . no, no he isn’t. Sasai-san is sending him to a hotel. Apparently, this is just an ad for the hotel, though Sasai-san gives pointers about the hotel life – how to take the best advantage of top-line accommodations.

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It’s a nice place, though, with a stunning interior and view:

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MatsuJun communicates with the staff as Sasai-san instructed, and the quality of his stay improves as a result.

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The show ended with some ratings talk, and then Ohno-san offering a final word for Sugimura-san.

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Sugimura-san was an excellent guest, but the show suffered because they didn’t have anything except for the talk segment planned. There was no activity portion to this show. Sure, it was expected that they’d do a lot of talking, but a bit of creativity would have done wonders. The shouting match between Sugimura-san and Aiba-kun was a good touch, but how about getting the Arashi guys to do (humorous) campaign speeches or something?

It really seemed like there was a lack of content, and that’s why we had both the Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment as well as the Encounter the Unknown segment. Surely, if there had been the usual three activities – even some food thing plus the usual gift-giving bit – one of the auxiliary segments would have been saved for a different episode.

So again, good guest but a relatively uninteresting show. Aside from Sugimura-san’s own intro, the best part was definitely the shouting match between him and Aiba-kun, so Aiba-kun gets the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi from me for this episode.

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