This promises to be a great Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) because the guest is 17 year-old Shirai Kenzo-kun (白井 健三), who won the gold medal in the World Artistic Gynmastics Championship. As always, I love it when athletes are on the Arashi shows, and I’ve only rarely been disappointed.
But first, we have to get through the Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment, where Ohno-san and Matsumoto-kun were joined by Tomochika-san for a night of fine dining.
Well, it all depends on your definition of fine dining. If you measure a chef by his ability to deliver horrible puns unflinchingly, this is your restaurant.
You know, I’ve seen these guys say “umai” so often . . .
. . . I really wonder what their umai threshold is. It really takes a lot before I am ready to declare a dish delicious, but I think they are . . . how do I put this politely? . . . much more tolerant than I am.
Okay, enough of that! The mise segment was even longer than usual – 11.5 minutes (about a quarter of the show).
Here’s the main guest, Shirai Kenzo-kun, as promised:
And by his own admission, he doesn’t get nervous in front of a crowd or cameras – he says he’s the type that gets motivated in front of an audience, and considering his on-stage talk is already a lot smoother than people twice his age, I think it’s safe to believe him. Is it alright to say that I already look forward to his future TV career?
I mean, this was simply one of the smoothest opening talks we’ve seen.
Shirai-kun was born in 1996 – when the Arashis were already in Johnny’s or close to it. And I guess they wouldn’t mind being that young again – especially with Shirai-kun’s physique – but at least they have a height advantage.
Now, when it comes to athletes with a great physique, one thing regular viewers of Japanese TV will be familiar with is the propensity of hosts to ask to touch the muscles. With Arashi, there’s always a bit more humor in this, especially if Ohno-san is the one doing it.
Even though you’d think he’s be nervous or flinch, Shirai-kun is totally composed as Ohno-san went for the laugh. Not only that, he requested permission to take off his jacket to show his biceps:
Nino-kun did not need to take off anything for us to see how his compared:
What was the turning point in Shirai-kun’s young life? When he did his first backflip at the age of five. He can’t remember when he started trying to do one, by the way.
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that his parents were teachers/coaches at a gym club.
They actually had a video clip of Shirai-kun doing a long sequence of backflips when he was six. We all know it’s true – you gotta start them early.
They had to guess what food Shirai-kun doesn’t like, and it’s no mystery – all vegetables in general. I’m totally with him on this one, though I make an exception for potatoes.
They also had to guess which song he listened to in the back room before coming on. Naturally, they assumed it was an Arashi song. This is a tougher one to figure out, so I’ll leave out the answer so you can play along.
I’m not going to go through each of the remaining points. Clearly, because he’s young, they had an opportunity to discuss non-biographical points during this segment.
Oh, and of course we got to see his performance that clinched the gold medal.
Following that, Shirai-kun gave an in-studio demonstration. It sounded like he asked to do so even before they asked him to do it (which they surely would have).
Then Ninomiya-kun tried it out . . . with a little help from his friends.
Now, after seeing him for fifteen minutes, they finally asked what we’ve probably all been wondering – how does he keep from getting nervous?
His answer sounded quite detailed and thought-out. It seemed that there was something about the experience of losing, but I’m not going to try to distill what he said with my meager skills.
Well, they decided to check out whether he really didn’t get nervous by having him do something that everyone gets nervous with – applying a screen protector to a smart phone. Amusingly, Shirai-kun first asked the staff member whose phone it was to do it himself, then objected that it was something he had never done before – he always asked the person at the shop to do it. So, it seems that even though he’s confident in himself, he might not be confident in a particular task (a subtle distinction that is often ignored).
He gives it a try anyway. How will it turn out?
We also found out that Shirai-kun loves the Detective Conan and owns all the manga (again, I approve), Nino-kun surprises him by introducing Conan:
In probably the best moment in a great show, Conan does the great reveal where he declares who the criminal is . . .
. . . and when he points out Shirai-kun, the gymnast says “iya da” (イヤだ – no way!) in a quavering voice that gets everyone laughing.
Shirai-kun tries to ask him a question about cell phones, but Conan just gives a stock response. MatsuJun asks a different question, gets the same stock response, but glowers over Conan menacingly afterward.
Conan then asked Shirai-kun a question from a Conan movie with the promise of a present if he got it right.
I won’t tell you the answer, but I will say that Shirai-kun got it right, because after he got his prize he said that he was happier than he was winning the World Championship! Well, nice to see that Arashi has made the young man’s day!
As a final item, they took on Shirai-kun’s biggest concern – his lack of fashion sense.
Ninomiya-kun hands this off to Matsumoto-kun. But while they declare him to be the Arashi fashion leader . . . I seem to recall him making some dodgy fashion decisions during certain Mannequin Five episodes.
He seemed to have some good sense here, though.
Well, except I don’t approve of the red socks and overboard loafers – not for a seventeen year old (or myself).
Someone seems happy, though. I’m not sure he should be – MatsuJun clearly gave him a fish, but didn’t really teach him to fish.
This, though, is a disaster.
Oh . . . dear. What have they done to that nice lad from a few frames back?
He walked so awkwardly in all this getup, it was a bit sad. And yeah, he admitted to being totally embarrassed.
So yeah, once you get past the really long mise segment, it was a lot of fun, and really engaging viewing all the way through. Granted, I’m a Shirai Kenzo fan, but I defy anyone to watch this and not end up one. We got a demonstration of his physical skills, another of his steadiness, a glimpse into his ability to think things through with the Detective Conan bit, and then ended on his attempt to resolve his biggest weakness. That’s more than we usually get out of guests.
And it’s pretty clear who the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi was. Not only was Ninomiya-kun the host for the entire main episode with no Aiba-kun corner this time, but he also had to deal with attempting that move Shirai-kun did. Oh, and there was that bit where he showed his lack of biceps. And where he talked with Detective Conan. Ninomiya-kun totally dominated this episode except for two parts – where Ohno-san ‘investigated’ Shirai-kun’s biceps and where MatsuJun helped the kid with his fashion.
Anyway, skip the mise segment, but don’t miss the rest. Chances are that we’ll be seeing a lot of Shirai-kun, right through the Tokyo Olympics.