After a bit of Arafes talk at the beginning of this VS Arashi (VS 嵐) . . .

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. . . the reminiscences started right away as the opposing team – the actors from the play “Natakirimaru” (鉈切り丸) were introduced. That’s because they were led by Morita Go-san from V6 – a senior to the members of Arashi. So, we got the obligatory video of Arashi members of their infancy backdancing for V6. There’s fourteen year old Ninomiya-kun, for instance.

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Aside from Morita-san, the Natakirimaru team had Narumi Riko-san (成海璃子), Yamauchi Takaya-san (山内圭哉), Kimura Ryo-san (木村了), Suga Kenta-kun (須賀健太), and Namase Katsuhisa-san (生瀬勝久). It’s a total mystery to me how they’ll do.

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The plus one guests were frequent flyers on the Arashi circuit – the comedy duo Heisei Nobushi Kobushi. They’re far from my favorite Japanese comedians, but at least they aren’t gag comedians. I still wish they had athletes and musicians on as the plus one guests more often.

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Morita-san was in action right away, representing his team in Pinball Runner.

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While announcer Itou-san tried to hype this up as a Johnny v. Johnny thing, saying that it must make Morita-san especially eager to win, Morita-san said it was nothing like that. That was delightfully refreshing, since people usually automatically agree with Itou-san on comments like that.

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But Itou-san had more prepared – there was a memo from V6 leader Sakamoto-san, who said that he had never talked with Morita-san about Arashi and knew of no story about him interacting with them. In fact, there;s no indication that Morita-san interacted with his kouhai – his juniors in the agency – at all.

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Sakurai-san asks Ohno-san for recollections, since Ohno-san spent more time in the agency alongside V6. He seemed to recall being around the three younger members of V6 – including Morita-san. Morita-san didn’t seem to remember that at first, but then his synapses got in line. When asked which kouhai he got along with most, he answered Ohno-san, which was hilarious given the initial failure to remember anything about Ohno.

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How will the apparently laid back Morita-san do in Pinball Runner?

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Aiba-kun went up for the Arashi team, exhibiting the polar opposite tension level from Morita-san.

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MatsuJun prompted Aiba-kun for a story about Morita-san. The one Aiba-kun came up also involved TOKIO’s Matsuoka-san. There was drinking and karaoke involved, and once again Morita-san suddenly remembered in the middle of the story.

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The next game was Rolling Coin Tower. Namase-san is confident, saying that the game is his specialty. It’s his third time playing it.

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Itou-san had another Sakamoto memo, but nothing much came of it except Morita-san got to talk a bit about his group’s leader.

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Now what was this about? You’ll have to watch to find out!

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Thankfully, they made up for the slow Rolling Coin Tower by following it with Cliff Climb. Ohno-san and Yoshimura-san tackled the climb for the Arashi team.

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Yoshimura-san was deliberately overconfident to set up a scene between him and Namase-san – not really a gag, but set piece from something they did together before.

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The last time Ohno-san tried to deal with the overhang part of the cliff, he had a ‘bikiniman’ maneuver based on his tee-shirt that didn’t work. What sort of inspiration will he get from his tee-shirt this time?

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Kimura Ryo-san and Suga Kenta-kun were the climbers for the Natakirimaru team. Suga-kun’s reactions are hilarious, and he instigates the same scene with Yoshimura-san as Yoshimura did with Namase-san, but with a very different result.

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I think the last time I saw Kimura Ryo-san in anything, it was in Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, but his climb here sure made a better impression than anything he did in that series did. Suga-kun was impressive, too.

The next game was Korokoro Viking and, after Cliff Climb, is there anything they could do to keep it from being a yawn? Mastumoto-kun handled the critical orange zone opposite Heisei Nobushi Kobushi.

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For the Natakirimaru team, Narumi-san and Morita-san were the point-getters . . .

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. . . but the all-important pregame fun came with another encounter between Suga-kun and Yoshimura-san.

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Well, the pattern of ending on either Korokoro Viking or Kicking Sniper still holds, so the last game was the latter. The kickers for the Natakirimaru team were Narumi-san, Kimura-san, and Morita-san. That leaves Yamauchi-san as a total mystery to me – I don’t think me made any major contribution in the episode.

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Shame they didn’t have Suga-kun up instead of Narumi-san. Then again, this was certainly funnier.

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After that, there was only the Arashi turn left, with Heisei Nobushi Kobushi, Sakurai-san, and Ninomiya-kun attempting to ensure a victory. Nino-kun was wearing the wrong pants for the job, though – they should have sent . . . pretty much any other member. Can he overcome the fact that his pants were designed for penguin cosplay?

It was a good episode. On the guest team, Morita-san had some amusing moments even though his general demeanor was passive. Namase-san, Suga-kun, and Kimura-san sure tried hard and were fun to watch, though, and contributed plenty to the entertainment value of the show.

For the plus one guests, Yoshimura-san basically had one bit – that scene which he did first with Namase-san and later with Suga-kun. Otherwise, there wasn’t much from either comedian.

Among the Arashis, the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi was an easy choice this time – Aiba-kun for Pinball Runner and Ohno-san for Cliff Climb and a minor point in Rolling Coin Tower. Between the two of them, Ohno-san had the better moments, but Aiba-kun got things started on the right foot first so I didn’t want to dismiss his contribution.

By the way, at the end of the episode they tried out a new game that looked really good – bumper ball sumo. You’ll have to watch to see how it works, but it’s the only potential game on this show that would give any benefit to someone strong. Better yet, it’s one-on-one, but since each bout is over within seconds, all the members of each team could easily get a turn within the time a normal VS Arashi game takes. I don’t know whether they’re serious about introducing new games, but I’m rooting for this one.