Shows come and go, but VS Arashi (VS 嵐) continues on, and by April it will be entering its seventh year on air. Will this three-hour special show that it still has the right stuff, or will it feel past its prime?

Directly preceding this episode, there was also a Kotatsu de Arashi 2014 special, which basically showed highlights from the complete run of VS Arashi, checking to see if the Arashi members remembered what happened. There were other activities as well, but the most important thing to check out in that special was in the last fifteen minutes, when the five Arashi members played baba-nuki (the Japanese version of the card game Old Maid). In this VS Arashi special, they play baba-nuki as well, but against guests in a series of rounds rather than against each other. I’m not going to review the Kotatsu de Arashi special, though, since it was mostly a retrospective.

The Arashi fun continued after this episode with Ohno-san’s Kagi no Kaketta Heya special. I will review that once I get my hands on some subtitles or I figure out enough of the Japanese subs in the YYeTs copy.

Okay, on with the show! As Sakurai-san explains at the start, the special has two parts – a regular VS Arashi battle between three teams and then the baba-nuki battle in the second half. I’m sort of disappointed that we didn’t get the whole Bet de Arashi thing with the baba-nuki included (especially since they’ve made a point of trying out games at the end of episodes for more than a season now), but baba-nuki is still entirely entertaining. It’s also interesting that they didn’t have a segment where they faced TOKIO or another special guest (which is somewhat traditional), but those were often brief interludes that felt out-of-place anyway. If they’re going to face TOKIO, I’d rather they do a full episode between the two groups instead of just Rolling Coin Tower or something like that.

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The guest teams were the Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball team, which won the Japan series last year, and the Rola team, which was decked out in soccer uniforms. I’m not going to list the baseball team members because while they’ll undoubtedly do well in the games, they aren’t going to provide the entertainment value here. I’ll mention them as they make contributions. The Rola team was, of course, led by Rola-san, who was accompanied by Tsuchida Teruyuki-san, the comedy duo Ogiyahagi, Bananaman’s Himura Yuki-san, Unjash’s Kojima Kazuya-san, and Kojima Yoshio-san. Altogether, this might be the most experienced VS Arashi guest team we’ve ever seen, since it mostly consists of people who are not only frequent guests on this show, but also frequent Arashi guests in general.

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The first game was Korokoro Viking, which at best is a test of teamwork. Surely the Rakuten Golden Eagles will be able to handle this without trouble, right? The orange zone was manned by pitcher Tanaka Masahiro-san and catcher Shima Motohiro-san, and since pitcher-catcher combinations have to be great at working together . . . . but I don’t mean to set the expectations too high. A couple of hundred points will be fine.

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