This is the first episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) in its new format – turning it into a live broadcast rather than a pre-recorded show. It’s been on for three years, serving up some great episodes and some duds in its original form, so will this renovation be a net improvement or not? I don’t really know how to describe the show yet, so let’s see what they end up doing in this episode.

An obvious positive up front – there’s no Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment. There was no chance that they’d have that segment when they’re rebooting this series and trying to get viewer support for it, but I trust it will be firmly left behind as an old format idea since it would be pre-recorded.

Instead, the show started with Arashi meeting in the waiting room for a minute and a half and greeting their guests there. There was a little rotating camera at the center, but while it was cute, the shots it got were next to useless compared to the ones from the main camera.

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The guests were the comedy duo Cream Stew – Ueda Shinya-san and Arita Teppei-san. They’re part of Shabekuri 007 and worked with Arashi during the 24-hr TV telethon.

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Honestly, as far as guests go, this was a tad underwhelming. They were the guests for the pilot episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare, so I guess it’s reasonable in terms of symmetry. But the episode after that pilot featured the legendary Shimura Ken-san, and I was hoping for someone of his stature this time. Perhaps, since there are now going to be female guests, someone like Wada Akiko-san would have been a pleasant surprise.

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Well, let’s see what they can make of this new format.

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I’m not in favor of the new very-bright set – I get that they wanted a sharp break from the old model, but the set we’ve been accustomed to felt classy and slightly mischievous. This one is more . . . tacky and game show.

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The plot this time is that there are two plans for what Arashi can do – one from Ueda-san and another from Arita-san. Since it’s a live show, they solicited votes from the audience, and let the audience decide which one they would do.

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Ueda-san wanted Arashi to do a location shoot to Kumamoto. But . . . could they really do that? I mean, it’s a live broadcast and Kumamoto is sort of a long way off. I’d be great to see them do location shoots, but it seems like this new format will make that even harder than before. From the fact that it was proposed, though, I guess this means that the plan is not one that they’re going to do within this episode – it must be something they have to do in a future episode.

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Arita-san’s proposal was a bit vague. It said “now is the time – let’s choose!! Arashi General Election!!” He elaborated on it, but I didn’t really understand the explanation.

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Viewers were able to vote throughout this broadcast on the show’s home page. Meanwhile, the show continued in a purely talk format. I didn’t understand this topic at all:

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Things became clearer as Aiba-kun pulled out a huge Ueda-san timeline. As they sat down, this seemed to be a rough parallel to the rumor segment in the old format. Everyone finally settled in (the guests and other Arashis sat down, for instance) a whopping 13 minutes into the show. I have to call that a slow start.

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The history of Ueda-san (and you’ll have to forgive me for not paying any attention to it at all) lasted for seven minutes, and somehow they used it to segue . . .

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. . . into a VTR about legendary jeans – a particular brand Ueda-san apparently used to wear and the show staff did research on.

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They consulted a denim designer . . .

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. . . tried to match the brand name Ueda-san had said (Macmillan) and eventually hitting . . . where the name comes from – Britain. But the macmillan they seem to have found on the web and then traveled to London to investigate says “macmillan Science and Education” – it’s a famous English language publisher, yet they all act like it looks like a jeans company. Even on the web, it was clearly a publishing firm (I’m sure they could have fed the like into Google Translate to have figured it out), so I guess some staff member wanted a paid vacation to London or something. They could have typed “Macmillain jeans” into Google, too. This was the silliest excuse for a VTR ever, and even Ueda-san was saying “why the heck did you go to London?”

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So, that VTR was a colossal waste of time, and it took five minutes.

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I don’t know how they ultimately found the right jeans, but I’d rather have not seen MatsuJun wearing these:

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My eyes! The horror!

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And after that . . . they went back to the life and times of Ueda Shinya-san.

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Ninomiya-kun presented legends about Ueda-san from other entertainers that even his partner, Arita-san, didn’t know.

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MatsuJun was still wearing those . . . pants.

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After thirty-six minutes of stuff I didn’t care too much for, we finally got something interesting. The members of Arashi met to decide what songs to sing in a special live.

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I . . . don’t remember ever seeing them do a formal performance on one of their own shows. Is this going to be a thing, or is it just this time? It was sure interesting watching them deliberating.

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Ultimately, they decided to do two songs – “Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi” and “Endless Game”. During the first song, we saw some clips from Arashi ni Shiyagares past . . .

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. . . but the performance of “Endless Game” was a serious one with its own set – not unlike a Music Station performance.

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There’s no question that the live stage was the best part of the show – there was just no competition. Even with a subbed version of this episode, I doubt I’ll re-watch anything except the performance.

But there’s one little matter left – the choice between Ueda-san’s proposal and Arita-san’s. Now, the producers of the show would surely prefer Arita-san’s because it’d be cheaper, but fans should prefer the location shoot idea because it’s such a rarity for all five members of Arashi to do one.

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And it looks like the voting was legit – I don’t know how or when, but they’re going to have to do a location shoot in Kumamoto prefecture.

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So, there was thirty-six minutes of boredom, but the show ended well and promised some good entertainment in the future. I’m not sure how the Kumamoto trip will shape up, but the way they do it will tell us a lot about what this show is about. I don’t think we got a real feel for the new format from just this episode, but how long will it be before the fan voting bears fruit?

The live performance was the best part of the show, but all five members were involved, so how can I pick the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi? Well, I can only default to the fact that Sakurai-san dominated for much of the show as the primary host, and the fact that he spend all that time explaining the Ueda timeline. I could have considered MatsuJun for daring to wear those pants (I refuse to call them jeans because they seem to insult proper jeans), but I don’t think it’s right to call something interesting when it makes you want to turn away from the screen, wincing.

That was probably the biggest downside to this episode – it didn’t have broad-based participation from the Arashi members. Will the fact that it’s a live broadcast now stifle the quieter members of the group?