Every now and again, the team opposing Arashi in VS Arashi (VS 嵐) is led by one of the idol group’s own members – usually to promote a drama or a movie that they’re in – and such episodes are always an extra bit of fun. Well, this is one of those episodes because Sakurai-san is part of the guest team to promote Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de movie. That left Aiba-kun as the MC at the start of the show and Matsumoto-kun uneasy.

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Nino-kun mentioned that his elder sister’s birthday was in three days and asked Aiba-kun to give her a little message. The result was an awkward pause, and then Aiba-kun asked her how old she was.

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The Nazotoki team were Sakurai-san, Kitagawa Keiko-san, Shiina Kippei-san, Nakamura Masatoshi-san, Sakuraba Nanami-san, and Miyazawa Rie-san:

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This is not the first time on VS Arashi for the Nazotoki team, though the line-up is a bit different. The team was on to promote the drama before it got turned into a movie, and the pregame talk mostly revolves around the results that time. They also mention that it’s Miyazawa Rie-san first time on a game variety show.

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The plus one guests added to the Arashi team were Imada Kouji-san and Kendo Kobayashi-san – both solid pros who will contribute when appropriate but not try to dominate the show will silly gags. They’ve both been on this show plenty of times.

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The first game was Dual Curling, which is one of the lesser-played games these days, but also one that always seems to come up when an Arashi member is on the guest team. Miyazawa, Nakamura, and Shinna represented the Nazotoki team in the first round while Aiba, Imada, and Ohno were up for Arashi.

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Now, I thought only the prefecture teams got mascots, but apparently the Nazotoki team had one along as well:

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It’s such and interesting and cool (if sinister) looking character, I think one of the prefectures should pick him (or her?) up for a merchandising boost.

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Imada-san took the opportunity to crack a few jokes – first about the mascot, and then asking “by the way, who’s the culprit?” (asking about the movie, which is a mystery)

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So, who do you think one this first round?

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I was really hoping for a one-on-one match between Sakurai-san and one of the Arashi members for the second round of Dual Curling, like they used to do in the old days. Instead, they had another round of 3-on-3 so that everyone could get a chance.

Matsumoto-kun said that Nino-kun and Kenkoba-san were chatting away about a game, but not a VS Arashi game. I think it might have been a video game, but I couldn’t tell. Kenkoba-san got a bit of fun out of it, but all I got was something about a soul shard (or, translating differently, a spirit flake).

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There was a lot of talk here that I couldn’t understand, actually.

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But at least the physical humor made up for the more sophisticated stuff that I couldn’t follow.

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At the end of that game there was a rare verbal slip from announcer Itou-san, but it was because he was trying to tackle a tongue twister, so they didn’t make as big a deal of it as they could have.

The next game was Pinball Runner, and Ohno-san had to run for Arashi for the first time in half a year (they said half a year, but it was actually five months). MatsuJun and the two plus one guests called the numbers for him.

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Kenkoba-san proposed that he and MatsuJun would split the numbers for the yellow balls. I pointed out in a previous review that this is not a workable way to call the numbers since it’s possible for balls to come down in different places simultaneously, so the two yellow ball callers will end up shouting different numbers over each other, confusing the runner. But, they still persist on trying to do it this way.

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Poor Ohno-san – is he going to be able to deal with this arrangement on his first run in five months? Well, there was definitely one precarious moment, and whatever the score, Ohno-san was left dazed afterward.

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Sakurai-san was naturally the runner for the Nazotoki team, and he also got the narrower basket that the Arashi members have to use, even though he was on the guest team.

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Will Sho-san really be able to do better than Ohno-san? Or will the question really be a matter of the quality of support each of them got?

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Bank Bowling was next. If there was any pair I wanted to see up together, it was Aiba-kun and Kenkoba-san:

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Then again, Nino-kun and Imada-san make for an intriguing pair, too – sort of the goofy, clueless father and the smart-mouthed son. They introduced themselves as the bowling brothers . . .

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. . . but eventually the dynamic I expected came into play. Ultimately, Imada-san proposed marriage to Nino-kun and Nino shouted it was impossible and slapped some sense into him.

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Those were two great comedic pairs – I could watch Aiba-Kenkoba and Nino-Imada all day. After all that, the Nazotoki team was comparatively tame.

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Nakamura-san and Sakuraba-san definitely made for a convincing parent-child pair, though:

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The fourth game was Kicking Sniper. The plus one guests, Matsumoto-kun, and Ohno-san were up for Arashi.

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Ohno-san noticed MatsuJun’s sneakers and their appropriateness for executing the Matsumoto turn:

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Sakurai-san led Shinna-san and Miyazawa-san . . .

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. . . and while there were some questions about Miyazawa-san’s confidence in this game . . .

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. . . what I was really wondering about at this point was how we managed to get this far into the episode without any of Shinna-san’s antics.

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The final game was Korokoro Viking – obviously, since it and Kicking Sniper seem to be the only allowed endgames.

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The Arashi team faced the -30 point slot which is meant to even things out between them and the less experienced team. It use to be a -50 point slot, and even now it might be an unnecessary handicap . . .

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. . . so will Sakurai-san be willing to let the Arashi team do away with it in exchange for a chance to plus his movie for ten seconds? How about fifteen?

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With the Arashi team’s attempt over, all that was left was the Nazotoki team’s round of Korokoro Viking.

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I think it’s fair to say that this was a good episode of VS Arashi, but it wasn’t excellent. It’s weird, but the most interesting part of the show was Bank Bowling, which is usually a bore – everything seemed to mesh together well. Watching Imada-san and Aiba-kun handle the orange zone in Korokoro Viking was good, too.

The main problem was that, except for Sakurai-san, the Nazotoki team seemed way too quiet, and not fired up at all. Kitagawa-san had some minor moments, but not much, and there was very little Sakurai-Kitagawa chemistry. Ultimately, the plus one guests and Arashi members provided almost all the entertainment.

Imada-san and Kenkoba-san both brought their A-game to this one, thankfully, and that really helped to keep the episode moving. Nino-kun and Aiba-kun share the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi, mainly because of their interactions with Imada and Kenkoba.