Do you notice something about the audience at the beginning of this episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐)?

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They’re very red. And since the Arashi guys are in blue, looking sporty like they were for the Yomiuri Giants in the last episode . . .

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. . . that can only mean that the guest team is a top Japanese pro sports team that wears red – namely, the Urawa Reds soccer team. Like the Giants, the Reds were on last year, but unlike the Giants they are mostly returning for their second stint. The Reds representatives were Abe Yuki-san, Makino Tomoaki-san, Kashiwagi Yosuke-san, Suzuki Keita-san, Nasu Daisuke-san, and Moriwaki Ryota-san.

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This is a rare case in which the Arashis are dressed more uniformly than a visiting sports team, but there’s one member of the Reds who is particularly lacking in uniformity – MatsuJun notices that Makino-san has shoes of different colors on – one red and the other light blue. I have no idea what his explanation was, but it didn’t sound convincing anyway. Besides, it’s more interesting to leave it a mystery.

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Once again facing formidable foes, the Arashi members hoped for serious help from the plus one guest or guests . . .

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. . . and as usual got a pair of funny men instead. To be fair, though, at least these two are legit A-class comedians – the manzai comedy duo Nakagawa-ke. They’re actually brothers, by the way – Nakagawa Tsuyoshi-san and Nakagawa Reiji-san.

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It’s also been a long time since they’ve worked with Arashi – ten years!

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They started getting laughs right away (and by that, I mean from me as well as the crowd) and I had a good feeling they would continue to provide humor all the way through.

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The first game was Bound Hockey (an auspicious start!) and the Reds were up first.

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It’s here that announcer Itou-san mentioned that Nasu-san and Moriwaki-san were on VS Arashi for the first time.

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And to my surprise, Moriwaki-san seemed prepared to get some laughs – looks like he might be a mood-maker on the team. I won’t give away what he does, but eventually Makino-san prompted him for a one-shot gag (you know, the type no one laughs at).

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Will the soccer team manage to score some goals?

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Well, I think I’ll actually have to answer that question despite not wanting to spoil the show – yes, yes they do. Lots. Despite the fact that they were using their hands – the one part of their body they’re not usually supposed to score goals with – they somehow managed to put Arashi in a difficult position.

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On the bright side, Ninomiya-kun is in the goal-getter position, and he’s usually pretty good at this sort of thing.

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So, what’s the meaning of this?

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Are the Arashis despairing of their chance to catch up this early in the evening!? What did they ask for?

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This is really unprecedented, and I’m shocked by the fact the Arashis thought they had to go to such lengths after only one game. Aren’t they the home team, or does that red sea in the audience have them rattled?

I enjoyed their follow-up ploy and the reaction of the Reds, though.

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The second game was . . .

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. . . Jumping Shooter! Finally! Looks like the soccer team is the real deal, taking on this difficult game, and now it’s up to Ninomiya-kun and Ohno-san to score some goals against Moriwaki-san and Kashiwagi-san.

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Unfortunately, the two Arashi shooters didn’t do a particularly good job of coordinating with each other – they should have tried to shoot at the same time if they wanted to get a lot of balls past the goalies.

The Nakagawa guys get a kick out of Moriwaki-san’s antics (he’s killing it in this episode and totally saving them from needing to do anything funny) . . .

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. . . but look who’s in the top goal for Arashi:

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Yes, Matsumoto-kun is in the bottom goal which usually receives the most shots, but will Suzuki-san and Makino-san really let Reiji off easy?

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The streak of good games continues with Cliff Climb. The Arashi team sends up Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun, with the latter taking both the center and the difficult jaw-like protrusion. Can Aiba-kun pull off a miracle?

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Just as importantly, can Sakurai-san complete his part in good time?

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There was a funny exchange between Aiba-kun and Sakurai-san after the climb.

For the Reds, the climbers were Abe-san and Nasu-san.

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But, of course, Moriwaki-san continued to do funny things from the supporter platform.

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Well, there’s no reason why the soccer players should be particularly good at this game. Will they manage to get a perfect score or fall short?

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Alas, though I hoped and hoped that we could avoid it, they played Korokoro Viking next.

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They’d better take this seriously. After all, you know what the last game of the day is going to be, don’t you?

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On the bright side, the Reds only got 90 points in this game last year. The downside? That probably means they spent extra time on it in practice to make sure they do better this time. They tasked the bearded pair (Abe-san and Suzuki-san) to handle the orange zone, but with the profoundly crazy Moriwaki-san controlling the first zone, will the balls ever get anywhere?

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With a soccer team guesting, you know that the last game has to be Kicking Sniper. Have the Arashis closed the gap in the score from that situation in the first game? Can they hold their own in this game, where their opponents are bound to excel?

Sakurai-san, MatsuJun, and Nakagawa-ke took the kicks for the Arashi team.

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How will the pros respond?

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This was an excellent episode of VS Arashi, The guest team looked like it was having fun, and while most of them stayed fairly quiet throughout the episode, Moriwaki-san more than made up for that. Heck, he was apparently auditioning for a future career in comedy and not holding back at all. Aside from him, Abe-san and Makino-san did well on the entertainment front as well. Obviously, all the Reds made solid contributions in the games.

Nakagawa-ke had less to do than I expected, but Reiji-san tried his best to get some laughs. He couldn’t beat Moriwaki-san, though.

Really, all the Arashis could do was focus on the game, behind as they were right from the start. The only members that really stood out were Ohno-san for leading the plea during the first game – hardly a stellar moment – and then Aiba-kun for doing the hard part in Cliff Climb. All of the members clearly tried their best in the games, but none of the performances approached personal bests. So, I think the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi for this episode should go to Aiba-kun. It might end up being that the Arashi who handles the tough part of Cliff Climb is the default M.O.A. unless someone else manages to do something more interesting.