Took me a while to get to this Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ), but that’s not for want of anticipation. How often do we get to see the five Arashis out on location together? Not often enough, certainly – especially since they can only go when a location is closed to the public. But here they were in Yokohama for what Sakurai-san introduced as “Saturday Night’s First Personal Experience Variety.” That is, a show where they’re going to be experiencing something for the first time, and it happens to be airing on Saturday Night. Let’s hope that this is just the start of many new experiences for the group.

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The guys seemed to be complaining about the guest not being there, but then she made an entrance riding a motorcycle set to “Born to be Wild”.

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Actually, even though the Arashis and the director tried to make Arakawa Shizuka-san’s entrance dramatic, she didn’t show any sign of realizing that it would be taken that way herself, making the effect somewhat awkward. Arakawa-san was the gold medalist in figure skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and the only Japanese figure skating gold medalist ever. They call her “Mrs. Ina Bauer”, which is sort of confusing since Ina Bauer was a person that the particular skating move was named after, so using the prefix . . . I think you understand what I mean.

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She got married on her birthday (December 29th) last year, so she’s a newly-wed. Interesting that she got married on her birthday – she must really love her husband, to save him the trouble of remembering two dates. If he messes up on December 29th, though . . . .

Anyway, after the introduction VTR, which also included the tidbit that she’s a sportscaster – presumably working on the Sochi Olympics this year – they took to the ice. Our Arashis have to learn how to ice skate for the first time!

And to have a gold medalist as an instructor is something special, right? Now, not everyone who’s brilliant at doing something can necessarily teach it, so can Arakawa-san give instruction in the very basics – stuff she must have learned when she was 5 (she started training with an Olympian by 7 and was landing difficult moves by 8)?

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More importantly, do the Arashi guys make for good students? Interesting to note that Matsumoto-kun wasn’t wearing a helmet while all the others were, and that they didn’t make a note of the fact at the start but Ninomiya-kun eventually did once they started training. I kept waiting for them to mention it and was relieved when Nino-kun finally brought it up.

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As usual, they stated the obvious – it was cold in there. It was amusing to see Aiba-kun wrapping his arms around himself – I still remember seeing these guys walk into a huge freezer set to fifty degrees below zero (Celsius, but at that temperature it hardly matters) in order to do experiments.

Arakawa-san made a much more impressive entrance this time than she did on her motorcycle – at least she seemed to realize she was being cool this time. She did the Ina Bauer move that she made famous in Japan and the boys dutifully shouted the fact when they saw it. I know precisely no skating moves on sight, so it was helpful of them to shout it out.

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So the plot is pretty simple – the guys will learn what they can and then Arakawa-san will decide who did the best. Who do you think will win? At first glance, I’d go with the guy who had enough confidence not to wear a helmet – MatsuJun. Taking the choice more seriously, I’d ask who among the five seems like they’d be the best at ballet, which shares a lot with figure skating, and in that case it’d be either Ohno-san or Matsumoto-kun.

Oh, did I mention that the winner will get to learn the Ina Bauer (or try to)?

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Now, I’m not going to tell you how they all did – you’ll have to watch the episode to find that out for yourself. I could say a few things about what they attempted, though. First, they just had to learn how to stand:

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The real first chapter in their training, though, was learning how to skate forward gracefully.

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Their arms were spread for balance while trying this out and Arakawa-san was wonderfully detailed about discussing the proper technique – almost made me feel like I could give it a try (in my dreams).

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I think the guys are going to learn a lot about inertia and momentum like this. It’s a good thing they’re sure-footed thanks to their dancing.

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As you’d expect, they’re all hilarious to watch. They couldn’t quite escape the characteristics what we already know them for, but I still think they were legitimately trying their best.

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After trying to skate for a long distance . . .

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. . . and seeming a bit like juniors again . . .

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. . . they tried out their first spins. Expect some stumbles.

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Have I said it’s really, really nice to see the guys genuinely learning something new? Because it is. It’s a lot like the fresh feeling generated as they faced those fifty people in the previous episode – a bit awkward and filled with potential missteps, but great viewing.

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And they all had points were they did surprisingly well, and also surprisingly failed.

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It’s pretty amazing how far they came within the space of a single episode. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re dancers, and maybe it was Arakawa-san’s extremely detailed and well-prepared teaching. Arakawa-san was also excellent with the positive reinforcement.

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It was over way too quickly, though. The skating portion only occupied the first half of the episode.

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After it, they sat down to chat while eating world cuisine suited to winter.

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That’s some serious swiss cheese . . . that is, cheese for a dish from Switzerland – not the cheese that has a lot of holes in it.

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Frankly, since the best part of the show was already past, it was hard for me to pay much attention to this talk segment. Arakawa-san’s Wikipedia page has pretty much all I need to know about her, so . . . yeah. I appreciated the talk about why she quit the sport when she did (pretty much right after she won the gold medal), but why didn’t they put this first and the challenge segment afterward, like they normally do?

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Best part was when they had the second dish, which was from Russia, and the Japanese woman serving the dish – Ueno Akane-san – said she could speak Russian . . .

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. . . so Sakurai-san pulled out his Russian language skillz and exchanged a line or two with her. Now, I have no idea about Russian, so I can’t opine on how their pronunciation was, but I was sufficiently impressed.

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Naturally, there was also talk about Arakawa-san’s recent marriage.

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Then, continuing with the trend of having everything backward, making the show less and less interesting as it goes on, they decided to throw in a Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment featuring Ninomiya-kun and Sakurai-san.

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It wasn’t quite a normal Mise segmen – the host was Hakata Daikichi-san rather than Watabe-san because they were going West (apparently, Watabe-san only takes care of stuff on the East side of Tokyo?).

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Otherwise, though, it was the same old stuff, and took about the same length – nine minutes. They just shifted it to the tail end of the show for some reason.

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I was so hoping that this segment would be gone after the introduction of the new segment in the last episode, but no such luck.

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And to think, they decided to put the Mise segment in the middle of a segment already dedicated to food. So weird.

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So this was a pretty simple episode to evaluate – the first half is must-see Arashi, and the second half is only worthwhile if you want to hear a little more from Arakawa-san or just want to catch Sakurai-san tossing out a bit of Russian.

The skating segment was stellar, though, so I came away from the episode happy despite the weak ending. Arakawa-san was a brilliant instructor and based on that I think she must be a great caster for the sport. I really hope to see the Arashi guys doing more stuff like this. Unfortunately, the preview for the next episode advertised a Ii Mise Kudoi Mise special. That’s right – they’re not only continuing the segment, but they’re going to devote a whole episode to it. On the bright side, all five Arashis will be on location. The downside? They’ll spend the hour eating. What a waste.

How about the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi? Well, I think Sakurai-san made a good case for himself by speaking Russian, but the key to the episode was the skating segment, so the real winner should be the one who did the best there. So, I’ll give it to whoever Arakawa-san picked as the best and leave it at that (naturally leaving out who that is, since I don’t want to spoil it).