I always look forward to athlete appearances on VS Arashi (VS 嵐), and athlete teams rarely get more fun than Japan’s national women’s volleyball team – the guests on this episode. Unless the Arashi guys do a lot better than they have been the past few five months or so, they’re not going to pull out a victory this time. Will they rise to the occasion?

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 000

The representatives of the Volleyball team were Kimura Saori-san (木村 沙織), Ebata Yukiko-san (江畑 幸子), Shinnabe Risa-san (新鍋 理沙), Iwasaka Nana-san (岩坂名奈), Miyashita Haruka-san, coach Masayoshi Manabe-san (真鍋 政義), and veteran Obayashi Motoko-san (大林 素子). Unfortunately, that means we’re missing the member who really injected humor in the previous appearances from the team – Araki Erika-san. Except for Obayashi-san, the team looks like a quieter bunch, so while they’ll put on a good show in the games, they’re not going to provide any side entertainment.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0012013.08.22 VS Arashi 0022013.08.22 VS Arashi 003

So, we turn to the plus one guests for the humor and, while at first glance I thought most of the hilarity would be provided by Bibiru Oki-san, since he’s worked with Arashi with before, it would turn out that the other plus one guest – Kikuchi Ami-san – would steal the show. By the way, both Bibiru-san and Kikuchi-san were in the volleyball club in grade school.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0042013.08.22 VS Arashi 005

The first game was Korokoro Viking, and the volleyball team took the first crack at it. As expected, except for Obayashi-san, the team members were all soft-spoken in the pre-game talk.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0062013.08.22 VS Arashi 0072013.08.22 VS Arashi 0082013.08.22 VS Arashi 009

The Arashi team had probably the most interesting pair possible in control of the orange zone – Aiba-kun and Nino-kun. This could be a brilliant combination if Aiba-kun is in miracle mode, or a disaster if he’s in fail mode.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 012

Kikuchi-san started what would be a whole episode of humor here, pointing out that she was confident because of image training (at least, that’s what I got out of it). She tried to explain a plan, but I didn’t understand what she was on about, and I’m not too sure the others understood, either.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0132013.08.22 VS Arashi 015

But really, Korokoro Viking isn’t the game I wanted to watch them play. No, I wanted Jumping Shooter, and they didn’t make we wait – we got it next. The volleyball team’s Miyashita-san and Obayashi-san were in net first, with Ohno-san and MatsuJun shooting for Arashi. Both of the volleyball team goalies are superbly tall and have professional experience knocking balls away – will Arashi get much past them?

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0182013.08.22 VS Arashi 0192013.08.22 VS Arashi 0202013.08.22 VS Arashi 021

And the shooters for the volleyball team in their turn were Shinnabe-san and Ebata-san, who have experience spiking balls at a height over 3 meters and speeds around 100 km/h. Sakurai-san took the bottom net and Kikuchi-san had the top net. Normally, the bottom net gets most of the balls, but the volleyball team can easily target the top net if they want to.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0242013.08.22 VS Arashi 0252013.08.22 VS Arashi 026

Kikuchi-san once again talked up her volleyball skills from elementary school and middle school, much to everyone’s amusement since she was doing so in front of the national team. Kudos to her for being willing to participate in this round, though – it’s one of the harder games in the VS Arashi lineup, even for the goalies.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0272013.08.22 VS Arashi 0282013.08.22 VS Arashi 0292013.08.22 VS Arashi 030

After that, they played Pinball Runner. Ohno-san, Kikuchi-san, and Bibiru-san were the supporters, and Ninomiya-kun was running.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0312013.08.22 VS Arashi 032

On the platform, Kikuchi-san and Bibiru-san played janken to decide who would call out the pinks, and Kikuchi-san was hilariously excited when she won. The scene actually brought Nino-kun to the ground with laughter – with the basket still attached to his back.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0332013.08.22 VS Arashi 034

Kikuchi-san also did something here – apologizing with “gomen nasai” and then immediately saying “arigatou gozaimasu” as if the person she was apologizing to said they had forgiven her (which they hadn’t) – which would become a running gag for the rest of the show.

Iwasaka Nana-san, who is taller than I am (a rarity among the Japanese I’ve seen on their TV shows), ran for the volleyball team.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 039

Coach Masayoshi suggests she does something involving jumping that she immediately decides is impossible.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 040

While that was mildly amusing, Kikuchi-san was back with her own interesting comments. I think she asked Masayoshi-san about his eyesight, and since he said it was good, she decided not to give him advice. When she was up there, she had trouble picking out the pink balls she was supposed to call numbers on, and I think this had something to do with that.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0412013.08.22 VS Arashi 042

But because she kept going on, Nino-kun pointed up at MatsuJun, who was giving her an angry look (actually, it was the least convincing angry look I’ve ever seen from him, and he immediately broke into laughter after she reacted).

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 043

While I would really love to see Cliff Climb with the volleyball team, I guess Jingle Bingo wasn’t a bad option for the penultimate game. Arashi was up first, and the pregame talk had another exchange between Kikuchi-san and Matsumoto-kun. I didn’t understand what it wad about, but I can tell from the reactions that it was interesting.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0462013.08.22 VS Arashi 0472013.08.22 VS Arashi 048

By the way, I have to mention that Kikuchi-san managed to break one of the doors at the top of the Jungle Bingo set by overextending it (she used too much force when opening it). She didn’t even notice – she just seems to approach everything with an overabundance of energy.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0492013.08.22 VS Arashi 050

This was MatsuJun’s reaction after Kikuchi-san did the “gomen nasai, arigatou gozaimasu” thing for the second time.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 051

The volleyball team did their thing in Jungle Bingo, but at this point, I’d like to make a point of logic. The guest team is allowed to pick an extra free spot, but they always seem to miss the fact that they should always pick a spot on the diagonals, because those are the only spots that can help with three possible bingos – the off-diagonals can only be part of two possible bingos. Why the guest teams don’t always pick a spot on the diagonals is beyond me.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0522013.08.22 VS Arashi 0532013.08.22 VS Arashi 0542013.08.22 VS Arashi 055

Well, I guess if it’s a lucky number or in honor of something, it’s all right. And to be sure, sometimes a team is so strong, it doesn’t really matter which spot they pick.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0562013.08.22 VS Arashi 057

Since we already did Korokoro Viking, the pattern is that we must end with Kicking Sniper, and sure enough . . . .

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 058

Kikuchi-san and Bibiru-san were in the first spot, Sakurai-san in the second, and Aiba-kun was third.

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 059

But there’s a twist – on the second and fifth “kicks”, they’ll be serving up volleyballs instead. Can volleyballs really bring down the targets?

Kikuchi-san continued to have some fun with Matsumoto-kun in this part – something to do with his smiling face. Perhaps she wanted to perform well in the game so that he wouldn’t be angry at her again?

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 0602013.08.22 VS Arashi 0612013.08.22 VS Arashi 0632013.08.22 VS Arashi 064

Coach Masayoshi told Ebata-san, Shinnabe-san, and Kimura-san that he’d like to see a perfect knock-out with the volleyballs more than with the kicking. Will the women be able to make their coach proud?

2013.08.22 VS Arashi 065

The volleyball team was, of course, excellent at the games as expected. They gave everything a solid effort, and that’s always much more fun to watch than when actors or comedians come on to promote a show rather than to compete.

For me, though, the real story of the episode entertainment-wise was Kikuchi-san. I swear she had more energy than all the members of Arashi combined, and made sure to dominate the talk in every game. I didn’t understand enough of what she said to assess her comedy, though it was certainly more than trite gags, but I could tell by the laughter from the audience and the reactions from the Arashi members that she was hitting everyone’s funny bone.

I don’t think she would have been as effective if not for MatsuJun acting as a foil, though. Matsumoto-kun seemed to be providing the tsukkomi to her boke, and as a result he had the largest part in the show of any Arashi member and naturally gets the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi for the episode.

It was a good episode, but to really be properly enjoyable, it would benefit greatly from subtitles so we can understand what Kikuchi-san was on about. It’s rare that VS Arashi really requires subs and it’s possible to watch this one just to be impressed by the volleyball team, but I think this is one that would be substantially better translated.