To kick off this episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐), the Arashi members imported something from their other show, Arashi ni Shiyagare – the MatsuJun fashion check. Except here, the other members checked Matsumoto-kun’s fashion sense, which Sakurai-san noted didn’t fit the atmosphere of the show. That was funny, because Sakurai-san’s own outfit wasn’t exactly the sportiest thing I’ve ever seen him wear.

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And actually, even though MatsuJun looks like he’s bundled up in a turtleneck, things are very much not what they seem. I’ve never seen anything like it, so I’m not going to include a screenshot of the reveal, since it was genuinely surprising.

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On balance, I think MatsuJun’s outfit was more sporty than Sakurai-san’s.

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The guest team competing against Arashi this time was the cast of the drama Team Batista 4, which apparently doesn’t have a DramaWiki page yet, though previous seasons of it do. The cast is led by Ito Atsushi-san and Nakamura Toru-san and includes Kuriyama Chiaki-san, Mizuno Miki-san, Watabe Gota-san, and Yamazaki Kento-san.

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It’s pretty rare for me to have no impression at all of the plus one guests on VS Arashi, but it happened this time. I have never seen the comedy pair Viking before and . . . that’s not a good sign in my book. They formed in 1996 and won the King of Conto (comic skits) in 2012, so I guess after that recognition they’re getting more gigs. Tough to see how they’re going to add humor here, though – there’s no room for skits, and that sort of humor requires setup and preparation, do I wonder how they’ll be at improvising.

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I’m sure the Arashi members were wondering, too – this is the first time Viking has worked with Arashi. Sakurai-san seems familiar with their work (as is Aiba-kun, no doubt), and he notes that the duo doesn’t really have a sports image. So if you were hoping they could at least contribute in the games . . . .

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Actually, Kotoge-san does a reasonable job with the humor here as he talks about his experience playing baseball for three years in middle school. From the sound of it, ‘playing’ might be a strong word, because he was just an alternate the whole time (of course, players come off the bench more often in baseball than in many sports, but not so much in middle school).

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The first game was Bound Hockey with Team Batista up. They all express the utmost confidence, and they sure look primed for the fight.

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For Arashi, both Kotoge-san and Aiba-kun were standing in the goal-scoring position and, after some hilarity from Kotouge-san (looks like he’s better than I thought he’d be), they decided to alternate – switching between pucks since there’s never more than one in play.

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Part of Kotoge-san’s comic ability lies in his Buster Keaton-like stoneface. He can deliver whatever lines he likes while looking like this:

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The next game was Bank Bowling and Ninomiya-kun got the crowd chanting “Viking!” to cheer on the pair as they went up to bowl. I think Kotoge-san basically told them to curb their enthusiasm.

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Sakurai-san prompted Kotoge-san for more baseball stuff, but Kotoge-san wisely decided to pass, keeping it from turning into a running gag.

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Sakurai-san and Ninomiya-kun went up to clear the pins Viking left, and declared themselves Dreams Come True. I like how the graphic department put a clarification at the bottom of the screen saying that they were not, in fact, Dreams Come True, and had an artist rendition of the famous pair to prove it – just in case you needed to compare their faces to Sakurai and Ninomiya.

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Hmm, I think these two did pretty well. Did they manage a spare?

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Nakamura-san and Kuriyama-san took the first throws for Team Batista, and Nakamura-san showed that he has the whole deadpan humor thing down, too, with a little help from a pistachio comment Kotoge-san made during Bound Hockey.

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Ito-san and Mizuno-san handled the clean-up. At the risk of revealing a little more about how the game is progressing than I usually do, I’ll mention that Ito-san tried to place the responsibility for knocking down the red pin on Mizuno-san, much to her surprise.

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How will the pair do?

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After that, they turned to Kicking Sniper. Team Batista was up first, sending Ito-san and the two younger guys – Watabe-san and Yamazaki-san. Watabe-san went with the pistachio running gag.

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Yamazaki-san played soccer for much of his youth, as did Ito-san, so . . . does that really have anything to do with success in this game? I guess we’re going to find out.

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The kickers for the Arashi team were Aiba-kun, Matsumoto-kun, and the Viking duo. Aiba-kun and MatsuJun are both baseballers, and we already know Kotoge-san’s baseball history, so . . . can these three really do better than the Team Batista guys?

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The penultimate game was Cliff Climb and to my surprise, Team Batista sent up Mizuno-san and Nakamura-san. I thought for sure they’d go with the younger guys, but this will definitely be more interesting. Something about Nakamura-san is always engaging, and he still had some tricks up his sleeve here as announcer Itou-san asked him about his role, and he delivered a tongue-twisting string of straight kanji in response.

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Mizuno-san’s specialty is action scenes and as the camera takes note of how she seems ready to kick somebody . . .

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. . . the Arashis offer up Kotoge-san to take the blows.

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Don’t worry – he’s got padding:

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The high kicks form Mizuno-san were quite impressive, but it’s Nakamura-san who has to handle the overhang, and I have no idea how fit he might or might not be. Will he put the Arashis to shame?

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Sakurai-san and Ohno-san were the climbers for the Arashi team, with Sakurai-san taking the hard part. Sakurai-san once again prompted Kotoge-san for some baseball talk, and the comedian decided to oblige this time.

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There’s an attempt between Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun to devise a more efficient way to put the grips in using a dance practice eight-count, but I think Sakurai-san will quickly abandon it during the game.

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After that game, all that was left was Korokoro Viking. I continue to be annoyed that this is so often the final game.

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With the Arashi team up, you know that with a comedy duo named ‘Viking’ in the mix, they have to get the pair to do a special Korokoro Viking gag – in this case, introducing themselves as “Korokoro Viking” instead of just “Viking”.

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To sum up, it was an okay episode, but not one I’d be interested in watching twice. The guest team wasn’t bad, though Nakamura-san and Mizuno-san were the clear stand-outs in terms of entertainment value. Ito-san was surprisingly placid, and we hardly got anything from Kuriyama-san, Watabe-san or Yamazaki-san. So it was not a very well-rounded team.

It was much the same situation with the plus one guests, with Kotoge-san getting all the laughs and his partner not even meriting a mention during the course of the episode because he was so quiet.

For the Arashi team, MatsuJun had the moment in the beginning with his outfit, and then a decent part during Kicking Sniper. Aiba-kun had a few exchanges with Viking, but was mainly noteworthy for his Kicking Sniper performance. Sakurai-san had a lot of Viking-related moments, and he was the one who got them to do the Korokoro Viking gag at the end. On balance, I think I have to give the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi to Sakurai-san because he was involved throughout the show, and also had to deal with the tough part in Cliff Climb.