I was worried that they might not try the new poll research (Arashi vs. Today’s Japan) segment of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) again because it was daunting for the Arashi guys the first time, but it looks like they still have the spirit to take on the challenge, because they once again attempted to do what amounts to a mass interview – this time of thirty-four people:

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Those thirty-four people have one thing in common: they all regularly go to karaoke on their own. Usually karaoke is more of a social/group thing, though solo karaoke is not uncommon. The Arashis endeavor to find out more.

Actually, first they have to guess what the 34 people have in common, since they all seem completely different. Failing that, they then have to figure out what the contraction “wan kara” could mean (a contraction of one-person karaoke). These four-kana contractions that aren’t in any dictionaries always give me a headache.

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However, as one person noted, there’s a distinction between one-person karaoke and wan-kara in that one-person karaoke would be in the normal karaoke box, while wan-kara is in specialized booths specifically for this purpose that are much smaller and, presumably, much cheaper. The wan-kara booths have the feel of being a recording studio, and can actually serve that purpose – you can make a CD in one. This is a relatively new development.

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This sure sounds like an area Arashi have some experience with, but as usual it was Sakurai-san taking the lead in asking questions, while Aiba-kun, MatsuJun, and Ninomiya-kun also had some good ones and Ohno-san looked bemused in the way he so often does. I think Ohno-san is a lot like me in that he takes some time to formulate questions or comments – that’s why I’m a writer.

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I like how they had labels when each person talked that specified their occupation and the singer/group they liked most. This university student who likes BUMP OF CHICKEN sure had a good deep voice.

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Sakurai-san had the most poll-like questions, like how often they went to wan-kara per week (most of them said three times).

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The Arashis were real impressed with this guy’s voice:

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It came as no surprise to them that he liked Southern All Stars.

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There were a lot of surprising singer preferences around the room, and no one opted for Arashi (this isn’t supposed to be about Arashi meeting their fans, after all!).

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Among the surprising ones was the old guy in the hat who liked EXILE:

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The guy from Indonesia seemed to stay that it helped him to study Japanese.

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I’m not sure how these guys managed to go wan-kara together. They explained that they went for wan-kara first, then went to regular karaoke together. I guess . . . they wanted to practice and warm-up before subjecting each other to their voices?

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There was a lot more to this segment – just like last time, they found out a lot about this particular group of people in just ten minutes.

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I wasn’t particularly impressed by their final conclusion, though – that the wan-kara people wanted to express themselves but were sensitive (繊細 – sensai). I mean, I could have told you that without interviewing them.

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Still, it was a much better use of ten minutes of airtime than the Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment. Speaking of which . . .

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. . . yes, they decided to devote the entire rest of the show to the Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment, even going so far as to invite Watabe Ken-san into the studio. And here I was hoping we would never see him on this show again.

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So, for those of you who like seeing the Arashis go on the road and don’t particularly care what they do, you might be able to stomach this.

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But there’s a flaw even if you’re very forgiving about the Mise segment. No, it’s not their host, sixty-six year old Ishida-san, that was the problem. She was charming.

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The problem was that there were constant VTR interruptions – something we don’t normally see in the Mise segment. I mean, for some stretches they would show the Arashi guys for fifteen to thirty seconds, then go to a  fifteen second to minute-long VTR, then switch back and forth like that. It was tremendously annoying.

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And there was utter spam of food shots that some poor assistant director must have had to prepare.

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They went into the kitchen and even though there was clearly a cameraman inside taking these shots, Sakurai-san was holding a redundant camera.

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I loved the point where he looked up at the camera held by the professional cameraman, who was either using a boom, standing in some food, or otherwise knows how to levitate.

Anyway, the point was that it was crowded in there.

As for the rest . . .

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You know how the Arashi guys eat, right?

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But seriously, I didn’t even mind the huge chow-down this time, because the constant VTRs just killed me. I ended up hating the voice-over woman who kept interrupting what was going on, and who probably got to say more during this Mise segment than the five Arashis combined.

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So, unless you enjoy watching stuff like this . . .

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. . . this was a pretty dismal episode.

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If you can understand enough of the poll segment at the start of the episode to enjoy that, then those ten minutes were worth watching. But no matter how much you might love watching the Arashis eat, there’s no way to get around the interruptions. I wish they had just allowed the host to talk about the dishes or, even better, have each Arashi research one of the dishes and introduce the dish. These were all traditional seasonal dishes, so there’s plenty of material available. Having the Arashis present the details would have saved the flow of the show and kept me from the cognitive whiplash I got as they kept changing back and forth between the restaurant scene and the VTRs.

No Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi on this one.