After the Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise special last week, this episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) started with another Mise segment. This really annoyed me, because there’s a really good guest this time, and I know that he could have used any extra time they’d give him.

But look! They’re doing it in the daytime! What a startling innovation . . . .

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So Ohno-san and MatsuJun were led by Watabe-san (I was crossing my fingers that they’d at least try someone else in his role, but no) to a place that boasts Indian curry.

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Now, I can make curry, but I’m not going to presume to say that the curry I make is Indian curry – I’ve had some great Indian curry, and somehow what I manage never gets there. And, since there were no Indians in sight in this restaurant (not only that, but the owner of the place admitted that he had never been to India!) . . .

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. . . and the curry had the color and consistency more characteristic of Japanese curry than Indian curry (plus they had curry udon with sesame seeds in, for heaven’s sake) . . .

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. . . I’m going to have to call this one out on the “Indian” thing. The word ‘fraud’ comes to mind. They should have brought in someone visiting from India – or from England – to give a real assessment.

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Incidentally, they decided to go to this restaurant based on write-in recommendations. Am I too cynical in thinking those recommendations probably came from the restaurant staff under assumed pen names? (If I owned a restaurant in Tokyo, I’d definitely give it a try, and put up the obnoxious menu items on the wall to make the place look properly kudoi).

Well, at least that segment got me properly angry because of the false claim of “Indian curry” – normally I’m just bored.

Moving on to what they should really open the show with, the guest for this episode was Itao Itsuji-san – Sakurai-san’s co-star in the drama Kazoku Game. Oh, the stories he could probably tell . . . .

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The guests on Arashi ni Shiyagare are supposed to be a secret to the Arashi members, and Sakurai-san looked properly wide-eyed this time as Itao-san emerged. Can’t guarantee that he really didn’t know – he is an actor, after all – but it was a good reaction.

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Itao-san sure looked snappy in that white suit – a guest doesn’t wear something like that without having a plan in mind for what he wants to do with the hour. Nino-kun prompted him for details about how Sakurai-san was on-set, but Itao-san decided not to spill any beans.

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After we got through the one-minute rundown of who Itao-san is (and this maybe the best highlight reel we’ve seen on this show) . . .

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. . . we got a remarkable gift-giving segment. Itao-san got something different for each member, and everything was serious (by which I mean expensive – not the little treats most other aniki bring). I’m going to keep the details secret, since they were proper surprises. It’s safe to say that the none of the members already had what he gave them. He even had brief VTRs ready to help explain the gifts – very well-prepared.

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Right away, this was a hilarious segment, because of how unexpected the gifts were. I mean, they were really, really brilliant – I was totally impressed by the comic genius of it, culminating in the gift to Ohno-san.

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Normally, we’d go from that great segment into the relatively boring rumor segment, but Itao-san refused to allow that! No, he had a plan – he got all dressed up and everything. And at this point, the Arashi members had to get dressed in snappy suits, too:

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Heisei Nobushi Kobushi were the assistants for this, and Itao-san seems to have thought out proper roles for them, too. You see, the setting is a host club where Itao-san is the No.1 host/owner trying to entertain a regular customer. The Arashi members are new hosts in the club. Itao-san is going to call on the Arashi members to each put on a boke (fool) show – basically, they’ll be the court jesters for the amusement of Itao-san and his customer. In the scene, the Heisei Nobushi Kobushi guys are appropriately dressed as the waiters.

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Itao-san did the whole thing properly, performing his role as host before calling out any Arashis and between their appearances.

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As you might have guessed, he picked on Sakurai-san first, and Sakurai did a good job with the nervous newbie act – or was he really nervous because he didn’t know what Itao-san would ask him to do?

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Well, he had every right to be nervous either way, because Itao-san ordered that he do an “inu no omawarisan” dance. I guess “inu no omawarisan” is a kid’s song or something like that – anyway, Sakurai-san had to sing it himself while coming up with a dance on the fly.

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After another interim scene . . .

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. . . the other guys watched as Ninomiya-kun was called up.

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Itao-san asked Nino-kun to come up with on-the-spot tsukkomi retorts. Itao-san gave him some valuable comedy advice afterward.

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In a yet another genius move, Itao-san asked Aiba-kun to play shiritori (a word game where each person has to come up with a word starting with the last syllable of the word the previous person said) on his own. Can Aiba-kun manage not to stump himself?

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The other Arashi guys looked like they would die of laughter as he got stuck on the syllable “ri” over and over.

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And just when it was really getting funny, they interrupted the main segment with an Encounter the Unknown segment. Really? I’d rather have had Itao-san do a rumor segment than this. Oh, and look, the guest is dressed as a cook.

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He’s a chef at something called “Rainbow Pancake”, While I’m sure he would put IHOP to shame, this is not supposed to be a food show.

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At least he makes Nino-kun do the cooking instead of just giving him tips on the proper way to eat pancakes.

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And yes, the end result definitely looks better – and loads healthier – than any pancake I’ve ever had. Totally made me hungry (dammit, I’m already out of shape!).

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I suppose seeing chef Nino-kun at work makes up for the unwanted interruption at this point in the episode.

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If a member makes a meal, the best thing to do is to have the others eat it, and that’s what happens here:

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Okay, let’s get back to the funny stuff.

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Ohno-san is next, and you know he’s going to have a unique approach to whatever Itao-san asks.

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Realizing this already, Itao-san saw no reason develop a unique request on top of it – instead, he found the most humor in asking Ohno-san to do a fishing pantomime. How will Ohno-san make his favorite hobby funny? Watch and find out!

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And that left Matsumoto-kun . . .

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. . . and Itao-san wanted him to do his bit right on being called out. That was done too quickly, so he also requested that MatsuJun do his Bobby-san impression. I hate all Bobby impressions, so . . . is Itao-san really going to end things with this?

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No – as a matter of fact he calls Ohno-san out again to do some singing as a proper finale – without musical accompaniment.

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The show ended with a 24-hour TV telethon teaser.

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Disregarding the Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment, this was an excellent episode – one of the best of the year. Start around eight minutes in and you won’t be disappointed, and we definitely have Itao-san to thank for that. The premise to the episode was key to making it special.

With each member getting a gift at the beginning and then doing a performance in the main body of the show, we have some clear highlights with which to judge who was the Most Omoshiroi Arashi in this episode. In the gift segment, I’d say Matsumoto-kun and Ohno-san had the most amusing/interesting parts in that. When it came to their host club performances, Sakurai-san, Aiba-kun, and Ohno-san got the most laughs out of me (and I think Aiba-kun was the one who got the most out of those – from everyone including the other Arashis). While I didn’t think Nino-kun had especially good results with Itao-san, he made up for it by having one of the better Encounter the Unknown segments (any time they cook instead of just eat is a big plus). Anyway, as one of the winners in both of the Itao segments, then, I have to give the M.O.A. to Ohno-san.