I originally planned to put both the Nov. 23rd and Nov. 30th Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) in the same article in order to catch up, but after watching them I decided they each deserved a separate review, so here’s the first one. The review for the Nov. 30th episode will follow shortly.

This episode featured Tamaki Hiroshi-san as the guest. Tamaki-san may be best known for his part in Nodame Cantabile – both the drama and the movies. But what about his life outside of Nodame Cantabile?

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Before we find out, Sakurai-san and Ninomiya-kun of Arashi joined Suzuki Nana-san for the Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment, which went pretty much like these segments always go.

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I guess while we’re here, I might as well give a bit of color. The restaurant owner is 80 years old and has owned the place for 37. I can’t say I was impressed with his menu – he had burger rice, burger curry, and pizza. I’m pretty sure I can make everything he made (pizza and burgers are among my favorite foods).

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After that, there was sort of a surprise in that we got this backroom segment again:

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The new version of Arashi ni Shiyagare initially featured this segment for a few episodes, but they skipped it for many weeks – opting to just introduce the guest on stage in front of the live audience. It feels like a waste of time, and in the end it’s pretty obvious that they probably record it every time in case they need some time-filler, and that’s why we got it with this episode.

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The topics seemed to be going out to eat and the fact that Tamaki-san is 33 – the same age as Ohno-san . . .

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. . . which Sakurai-san repeated soon after they got on stage in front of the live audience.

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As usual, it was Ninomiya-kun’s job to give us all the juicy (or otherwise) details about Tamaki-san.

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We discovered Tamaki-san’s embarrassing elementary school nickname – Tamakin – which is literally “ball gold” and I’ll let you connect the dots. There was a joking question whether that was appropriate for this time slot and Nino-kun hid his face briefly, but they continued to use the nickname throughout the show.

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In his early school days, Tamaki-san joined pretty much every club – soccer, tennis, swimming, volleyball, baseball, and others. No basketball, though. Ultimately, he preferred swimming . . .

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. . . and met his first love in elementary school thanks to swimming.

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That led Aiba-kun to tell his own story of first love, which was apparently a bit dodgy, judging purely from the reactions.

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That dovetailed very naturally to the receiving of Valentine candy and the heavy weight these guys seem to put on such things in middle school. Maybe it’s just me, but they sure seem to take it more seriously than I would expect. You don’t see American pop stars talking about how much candy they received on Valentine’s Day in middle school . . . do you?

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Somehow, they started talking about recently purchased CDs, favorite Shounen Jump manga (Tamaki-san never bought any), and preferred anime (or was it manga-turned-anime?). Ohno-san, Tamaki-san, and Nino-kun all voted for Dragon Ball Z, Matsumoto-kun went for Yu Yu Hakusho, while Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun answered with one I had never heard of – Obocchama-kun.

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Well, if they were worried about Tamakin being inappropriate, Tomoda-chinko is definitely right out.

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Apparently Tamaki-san had one of those old cell phones with the really long antennas, so he and Ohno-san compared antenna lengths. This episode is getting rather suggestive, isn’t it?

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After that, the biography turned to safer topics – when Tamaki-san got scouted at 16, his early struggles taking part-time work and living on 500 yen a day, and finally his big break with Nodame Cantabile.

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As usual, Nino-kun had a mini-game prepared, and as often seems to be the case with his game, it involved a computer program designed to analyze something and a university person designed to analyze the program.

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In this case, an Arashi member (Matsumoto-kun) and Tamaki-san would compete to see who had the best voice based on five criteria. Considering the way they had to talk in order to score high, though, I don’t think these criteria are really the best ones to judge a voice by.

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Nino-kun picked out what they had to say, and it can be (very) roughly translated “that’s a nice scent. Did you change your shampoo?”

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MatsuJun went first, but because he didn’t really know how the scoring would work, he was given a second chance after his initial try. The scoring was somewhat counter-intuitive.

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Tamaki-san then gave his famous voice his best shot.

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I was disappointed that it wasn’t all the Arashi guys giving this vocal challenge a try, and perhaps they did but it was simply cut out.

The last segment of the show was Aiba-kun’s corner.

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Tamaki-san hates wearing socks and wears sandals even in winter, so the goal was to get him interested in socks.

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I wear two types of socks – black socks and white socks. That’s it. Yes, I’m boring, but I’m a simple person living a simple life. This array . . .

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. . . would probably turn me into a sandal wearer. At least, I don’t think they had nice plain black socks in the middle of all of that, and all of them seemed way too expensive. Tamaki-san could have lived for three days or more on what some of those pairs of socks cost!

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Matsumoto-kun helped to coordinate Tamaki-san’s sock choice and . . . well, I wouldn’t be caught dead looking like this.

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Finally, Aiba-kun insisted on an Aiba Sock Quiz. For the first question, he brought out a pair of special socks and asked the other members what was special about it.

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Since the label on the socks said ‘waterproof’ (in English), it wasn’t too hard for some of them to figure it out. They got MatsuJun to test it:

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According to him, it was a total success, but at 4900 yen (around $50), that was ten days worth of necessities for Tamaki-san back when he was twenty years old.

For Aiba-kun’s second question, he brought out another special pair of socks and asked where they were meant to be worn. I won’t give this one away.

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The third question involved four people behind a curtain, and Aiba-kun asked which one of them was wearing socks instead of shoes.

2013.11.23 and 11.30 Arashi ni Shiyagare 053 That’s where the show ended. It was an okay episode with a great guest, but flawed in one definite way – instead of having the backroom scene, they should have extended the voice challenge and let all of the Arashi members have a go.

It was also a highly imbalanced episode in terms of Arashi participation. Beyond the fact that Aiba-kun and Nino-kun hosted their segments as usual, the member who was almost always involved the most was Matsumoto-kun. There are too many factors to name – including trying out the waterproof socks and being the only one to challenge Tamaki-san to the voice contest – that all add up to him definitely being this episode’s Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi. I wonder why they didn’t spread the tasks around a bit more though – have Ohno-san test the socks, for instance.

Anyway, I think this was better than the average Himitsu no Arashi share house segment (though not the whole episode, since some of the other segments were pretty good), and perhaps better than a third of the old format Arashi ni Shiyagare episodes. We’ve still got a way to go, but the more time they spend on the challenges – the games Nino-kun and Aiba-kun are in charge of – the better.