I need to catch up on Aiba Manabu (相葉マナブ), so I will cover three episodes in this review – the first three November episodes. I think this might be a good way to cover more shows, and Aiba Manabu in particular could do with this treatment, since it seems to have lapsed into a funk. You know, the fact that we keep seeing the same specialist:

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And every time we see her, we know we’re going to get the household tips format. Yes, it’s still charming and informative, but I like variety shows that keep me guessing about what they’ll do in the next episode, and this show had been like that for a while.

The November 3rd episode began with a VTR of the same trick with the water bottle separating the egg yolk from the egg white that we saw months ago and has been featured in other opening VTRs since.

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And the recapped the way to carry boxes, too.

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So my first question is – why don’t they just preview the questions that will be addressed in the episode instead of looking back at stuff from past episodes?

The first new topic seems to be removing the plastic thing that attaches tags to clothing when you don’t have scissors. I . . . don’t remember ever having to remove a tag like that without being a few steps away from scissors, and can’t imagine why I would be, so . . . not a very useful tip.

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And it was pretty simple solution anyway – just twist it off.

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Okay, here’s one that might be more relevant – accidentally getting marker ink on your hand.

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They used coffee creamer. That seems like a waste of good creamer, but I guess if you really need your hands clean and water doesn’t work . . . .

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Finally, three minutes into the show, Aiba-kun and his helpers – Cunning Takeyama-san, Bibiru Oki-san, and the ever-present Sawabe Yuu-san – got to take the stage . . .

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. . . just in time for the opening and a skit about how to dry wet umbrellas.

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The guys had to test various methods . . .

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. . . and I would have thought that the name ‘dryer’ would be a dead giveaway between these choices.

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Still, we get a full explanation.

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You know what else a dryer is good for? Removing stickers from furniture. Now that is something I didn’t know.

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Next, they had to figure out what would lessen the impact of wasabi. The usual solution is apparently soda, but what if soda is unavailable?

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Since they actually had to test their theories out, this was reasonably amusing.

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They move on t tips about beer . . .

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. . . and something about scissors.

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And finally . . . what are they doing to Sawabe-san?!

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So yeah, nothing too surprising in that episode, though they at least saved some fun for the end.

Aside from the household tips, there’s a second format that it alternates with – the ‘how food is made’ type. Sometimes this just involves visiting shops and getting really high-grade (expensive) ingredients. The better episodes, though, involve going into fields and digging for roots, as they’ve done with bamboo shoots. In the November 10th episode, we got that better form of food episode, except it wasn’t bamboo shoots this time – it was Japanese yam (jinenjo – 自然薯).

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After only a brief VTR explaining the mission, we joined Aiba-kun meeting up with Watabe Ken-san and Sawabe Yuu-san. Now, I’ve never seen Watabe-san sweat or get his hands dirty – will this be the first time?

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They are in Aiba-kun’s native prefecture – Chiba – so he’s extra pumped-up.

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Nice to have a new face as the episode’s specialist/trainer:

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At 74 years old, there’s no doubting he has the experience. First he shows them which ones are ready to eat, and which ones shouldn’t be harvested. Sounds like it takes a few years for the plants to mature.

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They finally find one that has roots ready for harvesting, and though Aiba-kun does the initial shoveling and Sawabe-san clears some of the dirt away, we do get a rare glimpse of Watabe-san digging with the shovel – just a brief second.

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After an hour in the first spot, they didn’t have much success, and decided to relocated to another likely plant.

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And there it is:

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It took them hours to find it – you can be sure these things sell at a premium if this is how they’re harvested.

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Of course, after all that effort, a meal is justified. We suddenly have a lot more people involved, though – did they just show up for the food?

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But how should they prepare it? Aiba-kun has an idea, and sends his two helpers out to get the other ingredients.

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While they’re away, he has great fun with the yam, which he prepared a couple of ways, taste testing while he was at it.

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After that, it was chow time.

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And then . . . an impromptu sumo match between three people!? They seem to like sneaking stuff like this in at the end.

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So that was much better than the November 3rd episode, clearly, even though it wasn’t something totally new (paralleling the bamboo shoot episode very closely).

The November 17th episode started out with Aiba-kun, Cunning Takeyama-san, and Sawabe-san taking a look at the grilling of fish. Once again, it’s a household tip episode, and except for the absence of Bibiru-san, it might have been recorded right after the November 3rd episode.

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The family acting out the skits is the same as always.

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The first issue the family deals with is removing the shell from a boiled egg – something I haven’t done in ages (I eat a lot of fried egg, but haven’t boiled one in years).

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Since it’s a household tips episode, we know who’s going to be giving them the answers.

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At least it’s always a hands-on process. There were specialists in past episodes who would just spend the time talking to them. I’ll have to boil an egg just to try out the techniques to removing the shell that they show.

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The next problem seemed far more contrived – the family had trouble keeping pants on hangars. I have never had such an issue with trousers, though sometimes have with shorts. I don’t think their solution would work for shorts – especially if the friction of the material is low.

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I guess we haven’t fully covered box-lifting, because we get another technique for it – what to do when you don’t have an empty box to help you shift the center of mass. Here’s a hint: Takeyama-san is not doing it right.

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The solution to this one was something I do all the time when lifting boxes without ever thinking of it as a special technique. Just hold the box by the smaller flaps held against the box:

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But what about going up the stairs with a heavy box?

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Looks like you might need to get some help from a friend – a good and trustworthy friend considering they have to support you on your rear:

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As usual, the last items were the weirdest tips. Try to figure out what’s going on from the screencaps – it’ll be self-explanatory if you watch the episode. Here’s the first one:

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And here’s the second:

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Honestly, I don’t totally believe the hangar one.

Ranking these three episodes, I’d set the Nov.10th one on top, the 17th second, and the November 3rd third. None of the episodes had an actual problem with it and all of them had interesting information, but there was a difference in content and energy. I also think on location episodes are inherently more interesting.

I suppose Aiba-kun’s charm and energy can keep things going like this for quite a while, but I sure hope they figure out a few more formats that work since they’re eventually going to run out of things to do in the two styles they’ve latched on to. Already, the household tips format is feeling a bit stale and repetitive – it probably shouldn’t be done more than once a month.