I’m just going to come out and say it: the best episodes of VS Arashi (VS 嵐) are when the Arashi guys either compete against someone they know really well (especially each other) or face charismatic athletes. This time, we’ve got the athletes, and this is technically a 2020 Tokyo Olympics special (yes, we’re already doing those – it’s going to be a fun seven years!). So, I’m hoping to see all of the difficult/sporty games. Can they skip Korokoro Viking, just once?

Before we got to the athletes, there was a bit of pregame talk between the Arashis. I didn’t understand what it was about, but Kazama Shunsuke-kun was part of the topic, and Aiba-kun was doing most of the talking.

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The guest team was the Japan Men’s Gymnastics (体操 – taisou, which can also mean exercises/calisthenics) team. Their leader was, of course, the famous gold medalist Uchimura Kohei-kun. Beside him were Tanaka Kazuhito, Yamamuro Koji, Kameyama Kohei, Kato Ryohei, Shirai Kenzo, and gymnast Tanaka Rie-san (not to be confused with singer Tanaka Rie-san). Rie-san is Kazuhito-kun’s sister, and I was rooting for her along with the rest of the women’s team in the last olympics. They all look ready for action, and I’m already excited.

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The plus one guests added to the Arashi team (because they need all the help they can get) was the comedy duo Tutorial (well, at least they both look reasonably fit).

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The first game was Bound Hockey. Not quite the intense game I was hoping for (I wanted Cliff Climb, Jumping Shooter, Popcorn Hitter, Kicking Sniper, and Dual Curling), but at least it’s sports related. If this is an Olympic special, though, they should have focused on games modeled after events Japan is strong in (which means that in my list they should replace Cliff Climb with something to do with wrestling, unless you count Cliff Climb as vaguely gymnastics-related).

Anyway, the talk before the Gymnast team’s turn seemed to revolve around age, with one member having grown up a bit . . .

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. . . while the youngest member of the team was a bit nervous. The Tutorial pair made some comments, which led the Arashis to point out that they’re 38 years old – twice the young gymnast’s age.

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At one point, Yamamuro-kun shows off his remarkable biceps (which you’ll have to watch the episode to see), and Tutorial’s Tokui-san seemed to have to physically test his own biceps to gauge the enormity of Yamamuro’s.

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The Arashi turn started with Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun chatting with each other (Sakurai-san was the goal-getter and Aiba-kun was not participating in this game), and then they both imitated something Uchimura-kun does. It was also at this point that I noticed that Sakurai-san’s top was a tad . . . unfortunate. It looked a lot like a nurse’s (or doctor’s) smock, and was otherwise unflattering on him.

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Since Aiba-kun wasn’t participating in the game, he dubbed himself the special navigator – the role Rie-san has.

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The next game was Dual Curling, so I’m one for five so far. First up were Yamamuro, Kato, and Tanaka Kazuhito against Aiba, Tokui, and Matsumoto.

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Tokui-san has been doing a lot of the talking in this episode, but none of his comments have struck me as hilarious.

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Not sure what was going on here:

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On the second round, Shirai-kun, Rie-san, and Uchimura-kun gave me a laugh by doing the Usain Bolt stance. As a retort, Ohno-san, Fukuda-san, and Ninomiya-kun mimicked old men with walking staffs. Clearly trying to lull the other side into overconfidence.

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Shotgun Disk was the third game. The receiver for the Gymnast team was Kameyama-kun and Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun were the ones trying to shoot the frisbees down.

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And actually, Aiba-kun and Sakurai-san were the story in this phase of the game, as they tried some sneaky tactics with their bazookas.

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For the Arashi team, Fukuda-san was the receiver. In spite of that, Ninomiya-kun confidently predicted a huge score:

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He and Tokui-san even had a . . . special . . . technique ready:

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After that was Kicking Sniper. Yamamuro-kun, Kameyama-kun, and Kato-kun were the shooters for the gymnasts.

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Kato-san definitely has the making of a great variety show guest going forward. His father is the coach of the gymnastics team, by the way, and announcer Itou-san introduced him and had him say a few words here.

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Somehow, the conversation eventually turned to who could do backflips among Arashi (obviously, I’d expect all the gymnasts to be able to).

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The kickers for Arashi were the Tutorial pair, Ninomiya-kun, and Aiba-kun. Tokui-san again dominated the conversation, but I couldn’t understand enough of it to present much of an opinion of what he said.

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The last game was . . . Korokoro Viking.

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Really? With gymnasts on they don’t do Cliff Climb? Very disappointing. I understand why Jumping Shooter might not be their thing . . . then again, don’t they use the same springboard for the vault?

In short, I was not at all satisfied with the selection of games, and felt that we deliberately got a slightly less sporty set of five games in order to keep the score closer.

My disappointment with the games was somewhat mitigated by how great it was to see the Olympians on the show. I still remember Uchimura-kun’s poise during the London Olympics, and it’s always nice to see him outside of that super-serious context. Others on the team also had their moments.

I had trouble with the plus one guests, but that might have just been because I wasn’t up to decoding all the jokes. They did make positive contributions in the games.

The Arashi guys seemed energetic, but it’s a bit hard for me to decide who should get the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi. I feel like the biggest contributors were Ohno-san, Sakurai-san, and Aiba-kun. For Ohno-san, it was all about little moments here are there, so I’d lean toward Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun. Those two had the Uchimura pose during Bound Hockey and the dastardly tactics during Shotgun Disk, and each of them also got other laughs besides. So, I’ll say that the M.O.A. goes to Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun.