It took me an unusual amount of time to get to this episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐) – sorry about that. I’m currently adjusting my workflow around some new activities that I’ve added the past couple of months, and others that used to dominate my time that are winding down (I finished the first complete draft of my new sci-fi novel!). I think I’ll have a new flow going soon.

Anyway, the episode started with the members of Arashi talking about what they associate with summer. Aiba-kun answered with soumen, while Ohno-san offered watermelon.

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The purple tag in the corner says that August 8th is Fuji TV day (a fortunate date, of course, and they’re in the middle of their Odaiba Expo as well), so the opposing team this time is made up of Fuji TV announcers. The tag also hints that there might be some fun involving Ito-san – the regular announcer for VS Arashi.

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Luckily, Fuji TV keeps great profile pages for their announcers, including their names rendered in English, so I was able to get their names without any trouble. The announcer team had Miyake Masaharu-san, Honda Tomoko-san, Kato Ayako-san, Mita Yurika-san, Uchida Reina-san, and Mikami Mana-san. Now, from the profile pages I see that Fuji TV has an equal number of male and female announcers, so what’s with the gender split here? I ask because I’ve seen way too many things involving a single male leading a team of women lately (the first half-hour of the FNS marathon in particular) and there’s something about it that seems . . . primitive.

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The plus one guests were Jinnai Tomonori-san and Tomochika-san. I don’t think they’ll add too much excitement to the proceedings, so it’s mostly up to the announcers to give this episode any boost beyond what Arashi themselves can manage. Jinnai-san claimed that it was his first time on VS Arashi, but in reality he was on four and a half years ago – can’t blame him for forgetting something that long ago, right?

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The first game was Dual Curling, and I’m happy to see that they’re playing this game more often. For the first round, Aiba-kun, Jinnai-san, and Ninomiya-kun faced Miyake-san, Honda-san, and Mikami-san.

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Miyake-san gave a brief assessment of his team’s athletic ability, then Jinnai-san did some shouting, but I didn’t get what he was on about. The announcers seemed energetic and vocal, so that was a good sign early on.

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In the second round, MatsuJun, Tomochika-san, and Ohno-san represented the Arashi team against announcers Kato-san, Mita-san, and Uchida-san. Tomochika-san said that being to-the-point is her specialty (using a double-meaning – both to the target in the game and being pointed in speech). She then distinguishes between two ways of saying “to be to the point” – 的を得る (mato wo eru) and 的を射る (mato wo iru) – saying that she checked the dictionary. Ito-san thanks her for the lesson.

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On the announcer team there’s some question about their athleticism, and Kato-san mentioned that one of her kouhai – Mita-san – does a dubious rendition of Shoujo Jidai’s dance for “Gee”. Of course, once she mentioned that, Mita-san was forced to demonstrate, and even the person doing the graphics agreed that Kato-san was a bad senpai.

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Judging from that dance, these announcers are going to do a better job being funny than actually playing the games. But as we’ll soon see, Mita-san is quite athletic in everything but dancing.

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The second game was Pinball Runner. Mita-san was up to run, and the entire rest of her team was on the platform to call out numbers to her.

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On the bright side, Mita-san was the manager for her college baseball team and is totally up for running. When she demonstrates her form, though, they wonder whether she’s really all right.

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Itou-san prompted Tomochika-san for an announcer impression she does.

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Sakurai-san ran for Arashi, and for some reason I got a lot of screencaps of him with his eyes closed, even though it seems like he’s keeping his eyes open the whole time. I’ll skip the rest, but I thought this one was very typically Sakurai.

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He did that while they were prompting Tomochika-san for even more impressions – trying out which one she should call out the pink balls with. Aiba-kun and Jinnai-san called the yellow balls.

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Aiba-kun, Ohno-san, and Ninomiya-kun looked formidable at the start of Jungle Bingo – another game I’m glad we’re seeing a resurgence of. As you can see, Ohno-san is wearing the camera that will give us an inside look.

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After saying they want to win in a funny dialect (I guess it’s Kansai-ben, but I’m still not well-versed in Japanese dialects) led by Tomochika-san, who’s been contributing more than I expected, they decided to aim for the upside-down T to get two bingos.

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On the announcer team’s turn, Miyake-san revealed his close observation of the Arashi team when picking the extra free spot the guest team gets.

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But he didn’t stop there – he also called on fellow announcer Itou Toshihiro-san to come down and help. If only the graphic people hadn’t ruined the surprise early in the episode, this would have been a fun surprise.

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Itou-san was totally whining all the way down and definitely looked like this was the last thing he wanted to do.

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So, with him insisting that he’ll be useless in this game, how will he actually do? He actually keeps announcing while in the maze, which is the best thing in this entire episode, without competition.

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The next game was Kicking Sniper, which means the last game will be Korokoro Viking. I’ll continue to point out this stubborn pattern of ending on one of these two games until they finally break it.

All of the members of the announcer team went up to represent them – two to each spot, taking alternate shots. I think this means that Miyake-san is the first unambiguous male to get the ‘ladies zone’ handicap, though they didn’t make a big deal about this. He definitely needed to be closer, anyway.

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We finally got some background on some of the other announcers, including Honda-san who has some experience in volleyball from her school days.

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The pair in the middle zone were close friends, going to eat pancakes and even going to Disneyland together.

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The shooters for the Arashi team were Jinnai-san, Ninomiya-kun, and Matsumoto-kun. Jinnai-san is a baseballer and has no soccer experience.

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He and Ninomiya-kun had a mildly funny exchange before the game started.

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The final game was, of course, Korokoro Viking. I have to limit the screenshots because they started to pepper the screen with the results so far, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Here are the clean shots:

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This was obviously not the most exciting set of guests – none of the names (mostly actors and actresses) that will draw people to watch this particular episode of VS Arashi. The announcer team tried their best, but that’s the best I can say for them – I don’t think they produced any memorable moments. Well, except when Itou-san joined them, of course – that was the highlight of the show. Unquestionably, the guest who contributed the most to the entertainment value of the show was Tomochika-san.

The mix of games was all right. At least we avoided Rolling Coin Tower, and Jungle Bingo proved to be a good pick.

Altogether, I’d call this an average episode – one strong highlight, and just enough energy to keep me from yawning otherwise.

It was a close one, but I think Ohno-san had the lead for the Most Omoshiroi Arashi throughout the episode. He started out with the watermelon talk, had a good moment when they were doing that dialect before Jungle Bingo, also having the head cam during that game, and finally rounded out the day with an interesting exchange at the start of Korokoro Viking. Ohno-san was also opposite the plus one guests controlling the critical orange zone in Korokoro Viking with the game on the line.  Otherwise, Aiba-kun had a couple of good moments, Nino-kun had that exchange with Jinnai-san, and Matsumoto-kun probably had the best game moment. Sakurai-san mostly worked on setting people up in this one.

I’ll try to do the next VS Arashi as soon as possible – it was a Bet de Arashi special!