It has become a pattern at the beginning of VS Arashi (VS 嵐) that Sakurai-san starts things off and Aiba-kun ends up doing most of the talking. This time, there were points where they faced each other and the other two looked totally left out:

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That’s right, I said other two, because Matsumoto-kun wasn’t present for the opening. You know what that means – he’s part of the guest team in order to promote his new movie “Hidamari no Kanojo”  (you know, the one Ueno Juri-san came on to Arashi ni Shiyagare to promote). The Arashis taks some time coming up with ways to shortened the movie’s title – give it a nickname of sorts. I preferred Ohno-san’s to-the-point “Dama Jo”:

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Anyway, the cast of the movie emerged, and while it’s always great to have an Arashi on the opposing team, the Arashi ni Shiyagare episode has given me a rather bad impression of Ueno-san. When they ask her about how she’ll be with the games, she doesn’t help her cause by saying she absolutely can’t do Cliff Climb instead focusing on what she can do. I would have preferred it if she had just said she didn’t have confidence, but that she’d try her best.

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Anyway, the opposing team had MatsuJun, Ueno-san, Natsuki Mari-san (who is looking absolutely great at 61, by the way), Tanimura Mitsuki-san, Okura Koji-san, and Suda Masaki-san. After MatsuJun dealt with the mangling of his movie’s name, he introduced the movie while the ad for it ran . . .

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. . . and then the Arashi members turned to find . . .

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. . . that the plus one guests added to their team, in this case to make up for the loss of Matsumoto-kun, looked strangely familiar.

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Indeed, it was the comedy duo Haraichi, and if you’ve been watching Aiba-kun show Aiba Manabu, you’ve probably seen too much of Sawabe-san already.

Here are the two teams, and apparently there was some sort of audience-interactive quiz asking which team the audience thought would win the first game Korokoro Viking. I’ll withhold comment on this, since I don’t know what it’s like playing along.

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The Hidamari no Kanojo team was the first one up for Korokoro Viking. MatsuJun and Ueno-san handled the scoring orange zone – will their chemistry be better here than it was on Arashi ni Shiyagare?

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The pregame talk got funny when Ohno-san asked whether the pair had a kiss scene, and did so sounding like a middle-schooler. I also love the way the entire Arashi team shouted “yatta!” when MatsuJun answered in the affirmative.

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So, there’s no question that the Arashi team is pumped up. Sawabe-san in particular was in good form, messing around at a high level while drawing fake looks of disdain from the others.

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Naturally, Sawabe-san also had some Aiba stories to share:

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This pregame talk was mostly Sawabe . . .

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. . . but Iwai-san decided to do a brief “Platina Data” parody, mainly because he was paired with Ninomiya-kun in the orange zone.

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After that game, they went on to Pinball Runner. Tanimura-san did the hard part for the Hidamari no Kanojo team while MatsuJun, Ueno-san, and Natsuki-san called out the numbers.

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Announcer Itou-san noted that they sent up a female runner, and Matsumoto-kun responded that she suits the game – she loves running.

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Natsuki-san had a special voice prepared to shout the pink ball numbers distinctly.

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While Tanimura-san suited the game, Arashi sent up Sawabe-san, who . . . doesn’t.

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On the other hand, he seems full of energy, so maybe it’s all right. He also brought up Usain Bolt, but . . . yeah.

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Both teams were clearly keeping their top guns fresh for Cliff Climb. Sure enough, the Hidamari no Kanojo team had MatsuJun and Suda-san make the climb.

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I hate to be critical when it comes to the way someone looks (to be sure, I’m no sight to behold myself), but I really don’t konw what sort of look Suda-san was going with the reddish hair and red suspenders. The combination constantly put in my mind the image of a clown, and I find clowns a tad creepy.

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MatsuJun was the one taking on the overhang for his team, and for Arashi, it wasn’t Aiba-kun.

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Nope, Iwai-san had to do the tough part. Will the comedian prove himself the match of Arashi, or just fail in a funny way? Either way, the fact that his team was shouting “Yuuki” (his name) throughout his climb was great.

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As is traditional whenever an Arashi is on the guest team, they played Dual Curling. I’m not sure why it’s traditional, but it happens without fail. It used to be that the Arashi on the guest team would face an Arashi on the Arashi team in a one-on-one match, but they’ve ditched that (unfortunately).

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Since there were six members on each team, two rounds of Dual Curling gave everyone a chance to play.

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Interestingly, Iwai-san noted that he’s been in the same place as MatsuJun in every single game so far. I totally didn’t notice that until he pointed it out (and I’m sure Matsumoto-kun hadn’t, either). Not only that, but he made a point of striking the same pose as MatsuJun did! What a pro!

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After the game, Sakurai-san claims to be MatsuJun. You’ll have to watch to find out why.

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For round two, I think Aiba-kun compared Sawabe-san to the pig character in Journey to the West. Good thing they’re friends.

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The last game was Kicking Sniper. Ohno-san, Sakurai-san, and Iwai-san took the shots for Arashi. For some reason, they started comparing shoe sizes:

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Iwai-san claimed some experience as a soccer forward, but he didn’t have very good results in this game the last time he was on.

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Now, what happened to get this sort of reaction from the guys?

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Ueno-san, Matsumoto-kun, and Suda-kun took the kicks for the guest team.

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All that really matters now is whether Matsumoto-kun can score the victory against the rest of Arashi, and it all comes down to this game.

This ended up feeling like a good, but not great, episode of VS Arashi. There weren’t many humorous exchanges involving MatsuJun, so despite the novelty of having him on the guest side, it didn’t produce as many interesting situations. It would have been better if they had a game where he faced an Arashi member directly. Or, if his team had shared more details about what he was like on-set (like with Sakurai-san and his candles during Nazotoki).

On the guest team, Ueno-san was far better here than she was on Arashi ni Shiyagare. Suda-kun is a good climber, but . . . suspenders. Natsuki-san might have been more vibrant than Ueno-san and Suda-san combined, so that was really something. The other two didn’t leave much of an impression.

The episode was really all about Sawabe-san and Iwai-san. The two of them pretty much drove the entertainment at every point, and the humor was either instigated by them, or involved one of the Arashi members having fun with them. Haraichi dominated in this episode.

As far as the Arashi members . . . I think it’s either Ohno-san or Aiba-kun. Ohno-san had the lead early on, especially where he asked MatsuJun about the kiss scene – the best MatsuJun moment in the entire show. Aiba-kun benefited from having Sawabe-san around to interact with, though he also led the way in the opening when it came to truncating “Hidamari no Kanojo”. I think I’ll just be decisive this time and give it to Aiba-kun.