I didn’t even notice it, but the Arashi team has lost in the past four episodes of VS Arashi (VS 嵐). They make a point about it in the beginning of the show, but since we haven’t had a Most Dame Arashi in ages, it’s tough to figure out which members have been slacking off.

On the bright side, the Arashis aren’t wearing track suits or anything like that, so their opponents in this episode aren’t athletes.

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Oh, they look like they might be baseball players dressed like that, and they’re called the Former Baseball Club team, but they’re actually a pack of comedians who might have played ball when they were kids. Well, except for the guys at the ends – the one on the far right, Miki Ryosuke-san, is an actor/singer known for his physique, and the guy on the far right is Komada Norihiro-san, a legit former pro baseball player.

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The guys in the middle were Shoji Tomoharu-san, whose ‘Mikitty’ yell the Arashi guys imitated in a recent Arashi ni Shiyagare, Sugi-chan, Ayabe Yuuji-san, and Saitou Shinji-san.

Actually, when you take a good look at them, they seem like a pretty formidable team. I mean, any one of them could go up on Cliff Climb. They also demonstrate their team spirit with a yell – confirming their intention to extend the Arashi losing streak. I wish we saw the Arashi guys occasionally looking worried about losing or intent on winning.

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I don’t think they’re going to get much help from the plus one guests – musical duo Every Little Thing. Mochida Kaori-san and Itou Ichiro-san are good people, but don’t project a particularly sporty image. Both of them have great senses of humor, though.

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So here are the two teams . . .

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. . . and sure enough, they started with Cliff Climb. That’s a pretty good sign in my book, but I don’t think we’re going to get the game that I have a sudden craving for – Jungle Bingo. We’ll see.

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Anyway, since the guest team could send literally anyone up, I mused that they could probably play the game twice. They’ve previously done that with games like Dual Curling and Kicking Sniper, but never with Cliff Climb.

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The baseball team sent up Shoji-san and Miki-san – probably their strongest pair even though Miki-san is 56. Certainly it’s the pair most likely to show off their abs. Of course, with Miki-san next to him, Shoji-san couldn’t resist doing a Mikitty joke. You see, Shoji-san’s wife is former Morning Musume member Fujimoto Miki-san, and that’s where the whole Mikitty thing comes from. Different Miki in this case, hence the joke. The booking agent definitely made sure to arrange this.

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Miki-san also got to do his “Fuu” . . . pose. I hesitate to call it a gag since it’s really supposed to be an exercise – and one he introduced to the Arashi members on an episode of Himitsu no Arashi-chan back in the day.

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Climbing for Arashi were Matsumoto-kun and Ohno-san, so Arashi is taking this game seriously. At least, they seem to be the most straightforwardly capable pair, with Aiba-kun being more of a wildcard and the other two . . . not so capable.

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Ohno-san led the team in a “fuu” just like Miki-san did, but will it be any help? MatsuJun was the first one up, and Ohno-san had to take on the dreaded overhang.

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On the way down from his climb, MatsuJun yelled “Satoshiiii!” (Ohno-san’s first name) in imitation of Shoji-san’s “Mikitty!” Feels like a long time since I’ve heard an Arashi member refer to Ohno-san by his first name.

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Continuing with the athletic games, they went to Kicking Sniper next, with Sugi-chan, Komada-san, and Ayabe-san representing the baseball team. Now, we know Komada-san’s sport specialty has nothing to do with kicking anything . . .

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. . . and presumably the others are in a similar experiential bind. So, how will they do?

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For Arashi, the kickers were Sakurai-san, Ninomiya-kun, and the Every Little Thing pair. However, because they wanted to give Mochida-san the ‘ladies zone’ handicap, Itou-san had to share the second spot with Nino-kun, and they . . . played janken to decide who would kick each time.

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If this sounds like a bad idea to you, you’re not alone.

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Considering how silly this is, it would have been better to just have Mochida-san kicking from a normal slot instead of the ‘ladies zone’ and let her and Itou-san alternate.

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Poor Sakurai-san, having to follow the janken pair must have been quite distracting.

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So yeah, they had to take some time to reflect after that performance.

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Then Every Little Thing got to plug their new release . . .

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. . . and we turned to the third game, which was Shotgun Disk – a semi-athletic game. The receiver for the baseball team was Komada-san, and since he stands 190 cm and has a reach to match, you’ve got to figure he’s got quite an advantage in this game. But can he still stretch the way he used to in his playing days now that he’s 51?

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It was Ohno-san passing and Ninomiya-kun receiving for the Arashi team, with Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun handling the relay. Interesting to see Every Little Thing had no part in this one.

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Ohno-san got a little cheer thanks to Saitou-san and Ayabe-san, and he also threw in an extra “fuu”.

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Somehow, Shoji-san armed with a bazooka seems dangerous, but will he be able to bring down any frisbees?

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Saitou-san seemed a bit maniacal at the start of Bank Bowling. He and Komada-san tried their best to set up a spare, and ended up with a decent shape for Ayabe-san and Shoji-san to tackle.

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But surely if any team is going to get the first spare in this game, it’s going to be the Arashi team that plays every time . . . right?

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Well, with Every Little Thing up for the first throw and unwilling to even say that they’re aiming for a spare, it doesn’t look like Arashi will have much of a chance this time, even if MatsuJun and Ohno-san (the Cliff Climb team again) have a minor miracle prepared.

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The final game was, of course, Korokoro Viking. The show just doesn’t want to break away from certain patterns.

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There’s been way too much “fuu” in this episode already, and I was disappointed that none of the comedians had anything new to end on.

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With Mochida-san and Aiba-kun controlling the orange zone, can Arashi avoid their fifth loss in a row? A cheer from the opposing team pumps Aiba-kun up, but you’ve got to figure there’s already enough weird energy between the Aiba-Mochida pair.

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I think this was a good, fun episode. Sure, the “fuu” gag got repetitive, but the atmosphere was nice and relaxed, and the guest team made a good effort on the games. I can’t say any member of the guest team deserved special note, but they all contributed . . . except I didn’t see much from Sugi-chan, did I?

Every Little Thing were as good as I could have expected. They’re not athletes by a long way, but they were critical in establishing the laid-back atmosphere. If I recall, the Arashis are close to Mochida-san – she’s appeared on VS Arashi numerous times and also made appearances on their other shows. Itou-san was also on the Bet de Arashi special for VS Arashi. Arashi do much better when they’ve worked with the guests before.

And among the Arashis, the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi had to be Ohno-san. Not only did he lead the “fuu” thing on the Arashi side, but he also took the tough part of the Cliff Climb and got the first special cheer from Saitou-san. Nino-kun was also up for consideration for his performance during janken . . . I mean, during Kicking Sniper. MatsuJun’s best moments were when he was participating in games alongside Ohno-san. Sakurai-san contributed by spurring things on as usual but didn’t have any outstanding moments. Aiba-kun had a shining moment during Korokoro Viking right at the end.

The next episode should be a great one – the Takarazuka Revue is going to appear as the guest team, and that’s always good. Johnny’s member Kazama Shunsuke-kun is going to be the plus one guest, which is even better.