This is the last VS Arashi (VS 嵐) of the season – the next time we see the guys at it again will be on April 3rd with the MMDA (Most Most Dame Arashi) special. Will they conclude the season on a high note?

Well, clothing-wise they’re somewhat ambivalent. The camera at the start of the show stayed on Ninomiya-kun – I think it was amazed that Nino-kun was wearing something vaguely normal for once.

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The talk at the start of the show revolved around White Day – the counterpart to Valentine’s Day (yet another facet in the Great Candy Company Conspiracy, of course). They were apparently trying to figure out whether the ‘white’ had to do with white chocolate or marshmallows, then MatsuJun brought the discussion to an Aiba-kun middle school anecdote.

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The guest team this week was a motley bunch – Team Aichi, representing the Aichi Prefecture. Its members were Amano Hiroyuki-san, baseball player Makihara Hiromi-san, Ookubo Kayoko-san, Kato Haruhiko-san, Sato Kayo-san, and Monomane Grand Prix winner Fukuda Ayano-san.

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I can’t see how there can be much team cohesion here. I know we’re going to get plenty of monomane from Fukuda-san, and Ookubo-san has a talent for sharp comments, but it’s just not a very exciting team. That said, the prefecture teams can sometimes produce unexpected results.

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They talk about famous figures from Aichi. The first person they mentioned triggered a generation gap issue, so they followed with baseball player Ichiro Suzuki-san and then went historical with the great figures of the Warring States period – Tokugawa Ieyasu, Oda Nobunaga, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. I didn’t realize all of the big three unifiers of Japan came from the same prefecture, but it’s true.

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The appearance of the plus one guest gave Sakurai-san a bit of a surprise . . .

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. . . because it was Miyazaki Aoi-san, who co-stars in his new movie Kamisama no Karute 2. Sakurai-san was clearly unaware that she would be on to promote his movie, so that was a bit of fun. Sho-san is best when he’s stunned and speechless. And let me get the obvious comment out of the way: wow, does she look young for a 28 year-old! It might just be the way she has her hair tied back and the tee-shirt she’s wearing, but still.

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Speaking of the tee-shirt, she had some for the rest of the Arashis, but I have to say that pink writing on light blue is not a good color combination to promote something – it was difficult to read what was on the shirts at a distance.  Matsumoto-kun noted that tee-shirts were distributed in the exact same way for the first Kamisama no Karute movie.

Oh, I skipped over the introduction of the Aichi mascot, which you can see on the Aichi team’s side here:

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I don’t think the mascot will come into play much, but we’ll see.

The first game was Rolling Coin Tower. Fukuda-san wasted no time getting started on the monomane, and just as she has done before, started with Ninomiya-kun’s favorite actress Takeuchi Yuko-san.

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Sakurai-san prompted her to switch to Bobby-san, which remains the easiest and most frequent monomane in the Japanese entertainment world.

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Announcer Itou-san prompted a funny exchange between the movie co-stars, in which Miyazaki-san noted the beauty of Sakurai-san’s shoulders. For those who don’t know, comments about Sakurai-san’s shoulders are somewhat of a multi-year running gag.

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Miyazaki-san was asked before the show what type of person Sakurai-san was, and she answered in terms of tsukkomi and boke – the two roles in manzai comedy (the straight man and the fool, respectively).

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Speaking of the game, Sakurai-san asked if Miyazaki-san was confident, and when she said she was he actually expressed surprise. I found that a bit strange, but she seemed to understand why and explained that she was fine with this game because it didn’t require much moving around – she admitted at the beginning of the show that she wasn’t an athletic type.

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I didn’t understand the meaning, but Ohno-san got a laugh with one of those classic Ohno comments.

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Altogether, this was a pretty good pregame talk for Rolling Coin Tower – always the best part of this game because what comes after is so dependent on chance.

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The next game was Korokoro Viking, so the last game will be Kicking Sniper. Team Aichi was up first with Amano-san and Ookubo-san handling the critical orange zone. Looks like this team has spirit, and they did a solid cheer, though Kato-san seemed a bit lost. Apparently he was the only one who had not watched the iconic show the cheer came from.

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So, will that Aichi pride translate into their performance in the game?

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For the Arashi team, it was Sakurai-san and Miyazaki-san controlling the orange zone (of course). At this rate, Sakurai-san will be a shoe-in for the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi.

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MatsuJun asked who would be taking the lead in the orange zone (and therefore presumably taking the responsibility for the failure) and when both players gestured to the other, the audience booed Sakurai-san (though Sakurai-san had to reassure Miyazaki-san that the booing was just for him).

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The third game was Pinball Runner, with Ohno-san doing the hard part for the Arashi team and Aiba-kun, Miyazaki-san, and Matsumoto-kun supporting him by calling out the number.

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Ohno-san seems to be engaged in this episode and pumped up, and it’s always nice to see him taking a featured role in a game since he usually a passive participant otherwise. He’s aiming for 180 points this time.

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Hearing the talk on the platform, where Miyazaki-san didn’t know about the pink and yellow balls, it occurred to me that the plus one guest is the only person who doesn’t get to do the practice runs before the show – everyone else gets to practice in all the games, but the plus one guest has to be kept a secret until showtime, so can’t join in. I’ll have to keep that in mind in the future.

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It was noted that all three people on the platform were being very shy, so Ninomiya-kun tried to prod them into being a bit more friendly with each other.

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That left Ohno-san waiting as they figured things out, and his expressions of frustration were funny.

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The way they arranged the shouting of numbers was a bit choppy, and Miyazaki-san had trouble shouting – at one point she actually gave up, saying that shouting anymore was impossible.

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The runner for the Aichi team was Sato Kayo-san, who does one of those high-pitched cutesy voice acts which annoy me. Nothing against her personally, though – full marks for being the runner in this game.

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Speaking of voices, as soon as you put a microphone in front of Fukuda-san, you’re sure to get a flurry of them. Thankfully, she went with her normal voice when it came time to really shout the numbers for Sato-san.

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Between games, MatsuJun pretended to be in pain and call for a doctor so Sakurai-san could take on the role he plays in his new movie (which is what Miyazaki-san is here to promote, after all). It was funny to watch Miyazaki-san dance out of the way as they played out a great plug.

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The second-to-last game was Bank Bowling and the first bowlers for the Arashi team were Ninomiya-kun and Miyazaki-san. Miyazaki-san used to enjoy bowling when she was a kid, so there’s hope here. Sure, she never cracked 100, but high bowling scores don’t translate into success in this game, anyway. At least she’s had experience handling a bowling ball.

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Nino-kun says he’s aiming for a spare, which confuses everyone because you can’t get a spare in the first throw – that would be a strike. After that was pointed out, he asked for a chance to amend his statement, and changed it to ‘strike’.

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They were sure distracted by how cold the balls were – will they still be able to come up with a miracle?

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No matter what, Ohno-san and Matsumoto-kun get their throw, and here again we get some Ohno-instigated humor.

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Ohno-san is clearly making a run for the M.O.A.

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Team Aichi sent Makihara-san and Fukuda-san to take the first shot for their team.

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Kato-san and Ookubo-san handled the clean-up, aiming for what would be a legendary spare.

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As expected, the final game was Kicking Sniper, and it was Amano-san, Makihara-san, and Kato-san taking the kicks for Aichi.

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I don’t know what went on between Ookubo-san and Amano-san, but I sure know that Kato-san was nervous. Everyone knew that Kato-san was nervous.

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In the end, victory or defeat was in the hands (or feet, in this case) of Miyazaki-san, Aiba-kun, and Sakurai-san, who were the kickers for the Arashi team.

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One thing’s for certain: the Aichi team provided some serious competition in this episode. Fukuda-san was the most outstanding member, but all of them added a bit of spice at one point or another and there certainly wasn’t any shortage of personality. In terms of game performance, Sato-san was outstanding in Pinball Runner and Kato-san had remarkable aim in Kicking Sniper.

Plus one guest Miyazaki-san was able to provide some extra entertainment when prompted, but was otherwise did her best work by laughing at jokes. She also had a solid contributions in Bank Bowling and Kicking Sniper. Actually, she was stellar in Kicking Sniper.

So this was a very good episode of VS Arashi, and that means the Arashis did some nice work, as well. In particular, Sakurai-san had key moments scattered throughout the show thanks to Miyazaki-san and Ohno-san got plenty of laughs thanks to his unique sense of humor. So, I’m going to give the Most Omoshiroi Arashi to them jointly. As for Aiba-kun, Ninomiya-kun, and Matsumoto-kun, they all had some bright spots, but it would have been tough for them to match the two elder members in this episode – there just wasn’t enough time for everyone to be cracking jokes that frequently.

Well then, on to April!

 

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