There wasn’t any opening talk in this VS Arashi (VS 嵐). Instead, they got straight to the guest team – the cast of the drama Umi no Ue no Shinryojo. I’ll call it the Shinryojo team, and it was led by Matsuda Shota-kun.

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The other guest team members were Takei Emi-san, Fujiwara Norika-san, Fukushi Souta-kun (who was just on this show recently, wasn’t he?), Arakawa Yoshiyoshi-san, and Ueno Yukio-san. Unfortunately, no Toda Erika-san, even though she’s part of the cast. This was Matsuda-kun’s first time on, as well as Noriko-san’s.

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There was only one ‘plus one’ guest this time, and it was London Boots’ Tamura Ryo-san. Well, there’s no way I can complain about him – not only is he a funny guy, but he’s also physically competent (as evidenced by his appearances on TORE!). Even better, he watches VS Arashi with his kids and has assured them that he can handle the games easily – especially Pinball Runner, it seems, so we know who’ll be doing the running there.

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So, this is what the teams looked like:

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The first game was Dual Curling. Ueno-san, Takei-san, and Matsuda-san took the first round against Matsumoto-kun, Tamura-san, and Aiba-kun.

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It was at this point that Ueno-san began to dominate the humor of the show, getting a good “eh!” out of the crowd for a reason I didn’t catch.

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Ueno-san also did the most to mess around with the Arashi team during the game, pushing them to launch their stones first (and they shouted at him to do the same).

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The remaining team members on both sides got their chance in the second round.

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Norika-san did a lot of the talking here, and they showed a clip of her and Arakawa-san dancing the salsa. This will come up again, I’m sure.

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Fukushi Souta-kun no doubt wants to put in a good effort for his team, having been on so recently.

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Dual Curling was fun to watch as usual (and Norika-san said she really enjoyed it – always good to hear genuine enthusiasm from the guests). After it, they turned to Pinball Runner with the Shinryojo team up first.

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Fukushi-san was the runner, and these three were the number-callers:

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Norika-san is extremely talkative and sometimes loud, while the other two are very quiet. Takei-san, while being expressive throughout the show, is practically silent.

Well, the real question in Pinball Runner is really how Ryo-san will do, right? After all, he said he liked this game at the start of this show, and his kid’s watching, so he had better not embarrass himself. Can he surpass the score set by the younger and even more apparently athletic Fukushi-kun?

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Well, he’s got three Arashis calling number for him, which could be a good thing, or could be a bad thing. Ryo-san wants them to call half-points (like 3.5) when the ball is in between two numbers – will that work? Will the Arashis even be able to do it after being so used to calling numbers the usual way for years?

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I have to say, the Arashis didn’t do a particularly good job with the numbers – frequently sending Ryo-san to the wrong number. I wish they still had Most Dame Arashi to punish stuff like this, but they’ve dumped that shred of accountability for some reason.

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Next was Rolling Coin Tower, and Ueno-san is proving to be the funniest guy on set, just judging from the audience laughter to his comments (and he pretty much doesn’t open his mouth unless he can get a laugh). He speaks really fast, though, so it was too much for me to understand/translate.

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As for the game itself . . . well, it was Rolling Coin Tower. They might as well have tossed a coin to see who won the game.

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After the coins toppled, Matsuda-san and Fukushi-kun bowled for the Shinryojo team in Bank Bowling.

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In what may or may not have been something planned between them, Arakawa-san suddenly said that he felt crowded by Ueno-san, and Ninomiya-kun suggested that Ueno-san could stand off to the side.

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Ueno-san said at first that he was being made to look like a foreigner hired as a bodyguard, and then one of the crowd control people at concerts:

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The funny thing is that he stayed standing there as if crowd-control for an extraordinary amount of time.

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He was still standing as Arakawa-san and Norika-san went to bowl for their team. Remember how I said that the salsa thing was bound to come up again? Well, they did the dance here. I knew they couldn’t go the entire episode without showing their dance skills live.

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During their turn, though, Arakawa-san allowed Ueno-san to sit down (finally).

For the Arashi team, MatsuJun and Ryo-san were up first. They both have a somewhat stoic image, and they do discuss what approach to take beforehand, so will they be able to set up a spare situation for their team?

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The pair with what might be considered the opposite image – Ohno-san and Aiba-kun – attempted to take care of the remaining pins. Well, this is surely the pair you want up for a miracle, so will they be able to manage it?

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Actually, they have a major conference about the situation:

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They seem really serious about trying for a spare. As you might expect, it was comedy leader Ueno-san who shouted at them to hurry up. Ohno-san was also in good form, getting some good laughs in this scene.

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Unfortunately, it’s very, very hard to get a spare in this game, even with the best possible setup.

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The final game was . . . Kicking Sniper! Wait a minute – we didn’t get Korokoro Viking at all this time, did we?! Okay, replacing Korokoro Viking with Rolling Coin Tower isn’t the best move (still waiting for the next appearance of Popcorn Hitter, Falling Pipe, or any new game), but I’ve really had enough of it.

Anyway, on to Kicking Sniper, the Shinryojo team had Matsuda-kun, Fukushi-kun, and Takei-san taking the shots. The normal soccer experience question comes up, but that never has any relevance.

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These three came perilously close to doing the Dachou Club “douzo” routine (where one person is reluctant to do something, everyone volunteers to do it so he’s compelled to volunteer as well, and then everyone else simultaneously says “douzo” to him, so that he ends up doing it anyway), but the order of steps was messed up. Itou-san tries to prompt them again so that they can do the gag properly, but they totally mess it up again. It was probably funnier than if they had gotten it right.

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By the way, Fukushi-kun managed a spectacular effort in this game, so can the Arashi team match it?

Altogether, I think this was an excellent episode. The selection of games wasn’t great, but the players seemed to go the extra mile to try to win.

The guest team was very well-rounded. Matsuda-kun was charming, had some wry comments, and didn’t mind poking fun at himself. Takei-san was mostly silent as I said, but was attentive and reacted to everything. Fukushi-san had comments to add here and there (always nice to hear that voice of his), but mainly supported his team through his game-play. Arakawa-san contributed by dancing with Norika-san and having that exchange with Ueno-san. The real stars on the Shinryojo team were Norika-san and Ueno-san, who were both very animated and talkative.

Tamura Ryo-san was a solid guest, though he didn’t really have to do too much, since the guest team was already such an engaging bunch.

Normally when the guest team is engaged as the Shinryojo team was, the Arashi team doesn’t have as many special moments. This time, though, we got some fun out of them, too. I think I have to give the Most Omoshiroi Arashi to both Ohno-san and Aiba-kun jointly – especially for the Bank Bowling scene, but also for scattered moments throughout.