Without any preliminary banter, Sakurai-san introduced the guest team for this episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐) – Team Fukuoka. I always take that as a good sign, since they probably did the opening talk, but had to cut it out because there was so much good material in the episode.

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Team Fukuoka wore “Softbank Hawks” jerseys for some reason, and were led by the indefatigable Jinnai Takanori-san. Alongside him were a very mixed collection of entertainers, including choreographer KABA.chan, AKB48 member Oya Shizuka-san (大家 志津香), badminton player Ikeda Shintaro-san (池田 信太郎), and comedy duo Punk BooBoo (パンクブーブー). I’m hoping that with Ikeda-san in, we’ll finally get to see Popcorn Hitter again, since that’s a very badminton game. I’ve never seen Punk BooBoo before even though the Japanese Wikipedia has a ton on them and says they won the 2009 M-1 Grand Prix and The Manzai 2011, so I don’t think they’re gag comedians.

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Even if Punk BooBoo wanted to do some gags, though, they’d be hard pressed to find the time between the antics of Jinnai-san and KABA.chan – those two will probably dominate the show . . .

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. . . which is what I thought until they introduced the plus one guest added to the Arashi team – Rola-san.

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Oh, dear. This is going to be epic craziness, isn’t it? I sure hope so.

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I had mixed feelings about the first game – Rolling Coin Tower. On the one hand, it’s a terribly boring game that depends more on luck than skill. At the same time, it allows for an active pre-game talk because both teams are competing directly (the only other regular games that happens in are Dual Curling and Jumping Shooter, and in those only parts of each team are up – otherwise the teams take turns).

As expected, Jinnai-san and KABA.chan went to work right away. Announcer Itou-san asked what epitomized Fukuoka and Jinnai-san answered that the women are lovely, and KABA.chan immediately accepted the compliment. It was an obvious setup for KABA.chan. Jinnai-san then said that as cute as Oya-san was, she’s just the best of the bottom tier, and it was good to hear Oya-san object loudly to that.

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The last time Rola-san was on this show was in the April special, and she teared up when her team lost thanks to Rolling Coin Tower. There was a substantial cash prize involved in that special, and Rola-san was the one who toppled the tower. She’s in her usual whimsical mood here, though.

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But Team Fukuoka is not short on their own brand of craziness:

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I was sort of surprised  – pleasantly so – to see Cliff Climb next. It was even better to see Oya-san joining Ikeda-san for the climb because it’s relatively rare to have AKB48 members on, and it’s nice to get a proper sense of their competitive prowess. Of course, watching KABA.chan do it would have been a different kind of entertainment.

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Before we get to the climb, though, Ohno-san can never resist challenging badminton players to their own game . . .

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. . . and thus we get an impromptu Ohno-vs-Ikeda badminton match. I hope this doesn’t mean we won’t see Popcorn Hitter.

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Oya-san went up first, and sure showed the kind of spirit I like to see.

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Meanwhile, the supporters injected some laugh-worthy antics.

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Ninomiya-kun and Sakurai-san were the climbers for Arashi. Ninomiya-kun has not yet experienced what they call the Odaiba Chin (the outcropping on the wall – FujiTV HQ is located in Odaiba), so will he be able to do a better job than Ikeda-san? Will he win laughing rights against the members who didn’t manage to do it? You know he wants to, but I’ve always gotten the sense that Nino-kun had more of my sort of physique, and . . . I can’t do that.

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But while he’s taking the tough part, it’s worth pointing out that Sakurai-san has to deal with both the center and the right, so if he takes too long with that, it will hamper Nino-kun’s chances. They do a “never give up” cheer beforehand – reflecting the high energy environment thanks largely to the guests.

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The third game was Pinball Runner and Team Fukuoka sent up one of the members of Punk BooBoo – Kurose Jun-san.

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I didn’t get any screenshots of it, but while Kurose-san was talking, KABA.chan was stealing the show by messing around with Nino-kun. Oya-san seemed to take the lead calling out numbers for Fukuoka, but she started off making a rookie mistake – saying ‘yon-ban!’ (number four!) instead of just ‘yon’. She corrected that halfway through the game, though.

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Rola-san was the runner for the Arashi team. They did usual check to see whether Rola-san knew the names of the Arashi members, and I’ll leave the results to your enjoyment. She does give it her best attempt, by the way.

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They also ask her to name Jinnai-san, but she says Tomonori-san instead of Takanori-san because there is a famous comedian Jinnai Tomonori. I really can’t blame her for that – I had to look it up myself when starting this review to make sure I got the right one. Jinnai-san initially made a show of being disappointed, but ultimately forgave her because she did her best.

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Ikeda-san, KABA.chan, and Jinnai-san were up for Fukuoka in Kicking Sniper. KABA-chan is a choreographer, so even with a background in basketball instead of soccer, there’s every expectation of a strong kick (through perhaps not an accurate one) there.

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But what about Ikeda-san? A badminton player does have to be quick on his feet and have a strong stance, but it sounds like he has some confidence in soccer, too.

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I think Ikeda-san might be in the wrong sport, actually.

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Arashi sent up Rola-san, Matsumoto-kun, and Aiba-kun. Rola-san says she has confidence and that she likes soccer, but it sounds like she hasn’t played it in ten years, though there’s an ambiguity because of the way the question was asked (I think it was literally ‘how many decades has it been since you played’, in which case her answer could mean anything from yesterday to 19 years ago).

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So, will we get frantic off-target Rola or miraculously on-target Rola?

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The last game was, of course, Korokoro Viking. What’s really remarkable going into this is that there’s thirteen minutes of program time left in the show. This is technically an untimed game, but is it really going to take that long?

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Or is it just that the pregame talks took so long because everyone had comments? Jinnai-san and Oya-san had control of the critical orange zone for Fukuoka.

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In the end, it was all up to Arashi to show whether they could pull off a victory or if the representatives of Fukuoka were too strong for them. Ohno-san and Rola-san were in control of the orange zone and we got a rare glimpse of the two of them during the pre-show practice.

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There is a game simulation at the end of this episode that takes a minute, and it’s a word game using card in a way similar to baba nuki. I wonder what use they’re going to put these simulations to – is it just for Bet de Arashi?

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This was an excellent episode thanks to a full slate of really top-notch energetic guests. Jinnai-san, KABA.chan, and Rola-san were, of course, the mood leaders. Ikeda-san and Oya-san had the some of the spotlight during the games themselves, and Jinnai-san bounced some humor off of Oya-san. I never got a sense of Punk BooBoo – they felt largely redundant in this episode.

The game selection was disappointing. As I said at the top, I was hoping to see Popcorn Hitter because of Ikeda-san, but no such luck. They tried to make it up to me by having Ohno-san do that mini-match with Ikeda-san, but that was minimal. At least there was Cliff Climb, and Kicking Sniper turned out to be every interesting, too.

Arashi continued to be pumped up and in good form. Ohno-san, Nino-kun, and MatsuJun all had very interesting moments of different sorts. Ohno-san seemed much more engaged than usual, and ultimately had Korokoro Viking at the end with Rola-san. Nino-kun had to tackle the tough part of the Cliff Climb. MatsuJun had a good performance in Kicking Sniper. If we were talking about in-game results, then Matsumoto-kun was clearly the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi. But ‘interesting’ is a bit broader than that, and I think I’ll give the M.O.A. jointly to Ohno-san and Ninomiya-kun.