At the beginning of this episode, the announcer tells us that this will be the last episode in which Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) has the format it has maintained since its first episode. They call it a ‘power-up’, but it strikes me as a bit worrying. News is that they’re going to start having female guests, which is fair enough since Himitsu no Arashi ended. But is this show going to end up being less active and more interview-focused?

Can they at least get rid of the Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment? (or will they irritate me and make that a major part of the show?).

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I’m not going to even discuss this opening segment (I literally just fast-forwarded through it), because the main guest, Takashima Masahiro-san, is waiting, and the teasers make what he’s planning look interesting (in contrast to what this is bound to be like).

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Jumping to the real show, Aiba-kun mentions that he knows who the guest will be because the guest tipped him off. Takashima-san worked with him in the drama Last Hope, and I guess they’ve kept in touch (drinking buddies, from the sound of it).

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Takashima-san is certainly a friendly sort, trotting out with plenty of energy and giving Aiba-kun a hug.

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Well, he’d better be good, since he’s the last aniki guest, and for other reasons Sakurai-san dubs him “aniki of aniki”.

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Savanna’s Takahashi-san was the facilitator . . .

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. . . and right away we get an overly dramatic VTR about how Takashima-san is obsessed with washing/laundry, to the point where he gets angry with his wife if she messes with it.

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Fortunately, it leads right into an activity after only a token bit of talk, as some laundry is brought out . . .

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. . . and though MatsuJun does his best . . .

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. . . Takashima-san has to demonstrate how to do it properly.

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That’s good planning on Takashima-san, to pick a topic that would immediately get them out of their seats again. The talk segment would be boring otherwise.

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Takashima-san’s brother reports that (if I’m translating this correctly), he measures peoples pulses and gets excited by abnormalities.

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Of course, this calls for a demonstration (with the theme from Phantom of the Opera playing in the background for some reason).

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The Arashi guys were not satisfied by the result, I think.

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I chuckled when he started singing Pomp and Circumstance while holding Sakurai-san’s hand, though.

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As if this wasn’t already a very interesting rumor segment, the next one was a total killer – it was about him balancing stuff on his chin!

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Well, like I said for the other rumors – this calls for a demonstration:

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And naturally the Arashi guys have to give it a try, too.

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We’re talking about balancing stuff like a baseball bat and a pole no less than 12 feet tall.

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It was just the best rumor segment I’ve seen in ages – possibly ever, considering how sedate this part of the show usually is. But Takashima-san was not done yet.

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For the real fun, Takashima-san came out dressed like . . . well, he described it as a cross between Hard Gay and KISS.

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Truly disturbing.

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And he had the Arashi guys in 80s rock-related costumes, too. Sakurai-san was Axel Rose, Ninomiya-kun was the lucky one of the lot since he didn’t look too weird in a Steven Tyler outfit, poor MatsuJun got Prince, Ohno-san was Boy George . . .

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. . . and Aiba-kun got Freddie Mercury. They really could have skipped the fake chest hair – it’s sort of cliche.

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Takashima-san went around explaining the key points of the costumes in detail. I think he probably did it for each one, but we only got to see him discuss Steven Tyler and Freddie Mercury.

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So . . . what is he going to make this motley crew do? This is inches away from the Village People as it is.

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As it turns out, they do an 80s music intro quiz. It’s western music, so if you know your 80s music, you can try to play along, but I don’t think you’ll be able to guess anything before Takashima-san does.

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And if you thought Takashima-san looked weird in that costume, get a load of how he looks as he starts winning a ton of leis.

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Takashima-san is just . . . I can’t find the word for it, but this screenshot sums it up:

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Something between irrepressible and shameless.

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We couldn’t get away from food, though. Takashima-san decided to present a ranking of the top ten bentos. Honestly, this is a food segment I don’t mind, because there’s something truly aesthetically pleasing and special about bento. The visual appeal means that it transcends mere food. Sort of the opposite of the banality of Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans.

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Takashima-san’s choice for the top three was interesting though – they were comparatively simple bentos on the surface, but looked quite delicious beyond that first impression.

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For the last nine minutes of the show, the Arashi guys reminded the audience that the format of the show was going to change and that this was the last episode with aniki guests . . .

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. . . and so they had some final aniki guests who barely made it for this version of this show.

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Here was suberikomi guest number one:

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I don’t think he could have kept us interested for five minutes, much less a whole episode.

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Good thing there was a suberikomi guest number two – Karateka’s Irie-san:

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He started out weak, but then did us the favor of talking about Arashi’s Johnny’s senpai and mnemonics to remember their birthdates.

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Guest number three was the guy with the big wine glass and the fine singing voice, Yuutarou-san:

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They all got a chance to learn Yuutarou-san’s act

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We started with another guest . . .

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. . . but there wasn’t enough time left in the show.

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And with that, it’s something totally different starting on September 14th.

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This was an easy episode to assess. The Mise segment can be skipped without remorse – just move the slider on your video player right past the first eight minutes and don’t look back. Everything with Takashima-san was great and it’s a shame they didn’t give him more time and obviously cut a lot out. It’s especially a shame because the last nine minutes were a total mess, though perhaps still containing an entertaining moment or two.

The Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi members for the episode were Ohno-san and Matsumoto-kun. First, MatsuJun got to do some laundry, then they both tried to balance poles on their chins, and finally Ohno-san tried to draw a quick portrait of MatsuJun.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the new format of the show, and I have no idea what to expect. I guess we’ll find out in the next Arashi ni Shiyagare review.