This is the last episode of the winter 2014 season for Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ), and the season was very good to the show. We saw attempts to address critical flaws (like starting the show with the Mise segment, which they seem to avoid now) as well as introduce new segments instead of just sticking to the same three segments that recurred episode after episode during the fall season. This episode began with the most intriguing of those new segments – the public opinion poll segment where the Arashis interview thirty or so people who have one thing in common.

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As always, the Arashi members began by trying to figure out what the thirty-eight people around them could possibly have in common. Just looking at them offers few clues, but Aiba-kun notes that they all seem to be physically fit.

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Well, I don’t know how healthy they really are, even though they certainly aren’t fat. You see, these 38 people are into fasting (断食 – danjiki). I guess it works for some people, but I don’t really consider it a healthy practice, preferring consistent moderation.

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Person #23 fasts for three days at a time (just drinking water), but that’s nothing – person #1 is spending her eighth day without food. If I’m reading the graphic right, this is their tenth and seventh times fasting respectively.

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Less than half of them say that they fast in order to diet, but that’s a tough polling question to take at face value. One person said she lost 15 kilograms after fasting for 18 days, and let me just say right away: that’s definitely not healthy. Honestly, I hope neither the Arashis nor their viewers get any crazy ideas from this conversation. I don’t want to hear about hundreds of Arashi fans suddenly starting drastic fasts in order to lose weight.

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Some of the info blurbs raised my eyebrows more than others – like person #4, who at 39 years old has fasted more than a hundred times. In terms of answers given to the questions, I suppose the whole idea of fasting dojos where people pay to eat no food was sort of amusing to me (and to Aiba-kun). It’s probably easier to fast when you’re part of a group that is also doing it, but if you need that support from a program, what’s going to happen when you return to daily life?

Oh, and there was that lady near the end who admitted to being a masochist.

Ultimately, the most interesting responses from the assembled respondents was always the answer to one simple question – why?

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If I write anything more about this segment, I’m going to start ranting about how fasting is not a healthy way to lose weight and . . . oh, dear, I almost started. It was an interesting topic, and I’m glad that they eventually got to the topic of the rebound, but I’m still worried about the impact this particular subject might have on viewers, considering they only had people who were enthusiastic about fasting in studio, and didn’t feature the advice of any medical professionals. That led to a very skewed presentation of the topic. The only disclaimer, which they put at the end of the segment, said that the opinions expressed were based on the individual opinions and experiences of those involved.

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After that segment, we went to the main feature – snowboarding!

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It seems like the only way the Arashis can get out of the studio sometimes is if they agree to eat or play winter sports, and thankfully this time they went with the more active option.

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Their guest (or host, depending on how you’re looking at it) was Sochi Olympics silver medalist Takeuchi Tomoka-san (竹内智香). She’s 30 years old, roughly a contemporary of the Arashi members, and managed an amusing entrance.

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Takeuchi-san knows about Arashi, and in particular knows Aiba-kun from “the cat drama” (Mikeneko Holmes). She gets Matsumoto-kun’s name right, but after they show her calling Aiba-kun “Ninomiya”, they quickly transitioned away from that scene. It was pretty clear the editor just cut the rest of it out, which is a shame.

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So here’s the question: will Takeuchi-san be able to teach the Arashis some snowboarding? For the most part, this sort of episode isn’t really conducive to a summary – anyone even vaguely interested in this show will probably want to watch it themselves. That said, I’ll offer a few observations.

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Their first lesson is basic propulsion – pushing themselves forward.

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It’s harder than it sounds, but Takeuchi-san gives them consistent encouragement.

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Ohno-san couldn’t resist doing something funny once it was his turn. So far, he’s the only Arashi who has really done anything interesting, and I hope that changes as they go into lesson 2, which looks like the way to execute a basic turn at slow speed.

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The members start to have problems here, and there’s going to be a lot of Arashi rear ends meeting the snow in the remainder of the snowboarding lesson.

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While some of them managed to look graceful during the ice skating lesson earlier this year, there’s very little of that here. Aiba-kun did fairly well, though.

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Despite needing help, Ohno-san tried to end his run with flair.

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The next lesson was how to make a real full-speed turn, and they picked out songs to be played in the background. Sakurai-san had a nice run here with “Road to Glory” as his background music..

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Aiba-kun picked “Konayuki” and had a bit more trouble. Actually, a lot more trouble.

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Takeuchi-san had to give Ninomiya-kun and Ohno-san special attention. I liked Ohno-san’s song choice, though.

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After that, we got a quick edited montage of some of their subsequent attempts, a victory run from the person Takeuchi-san chose as the best of the five, and then they decided to call it a day . . .

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. . . and bring Takeuchi-san to warmer environs for a chat. At Aiba-kun’s bidding, they made the transition with a hop, and he was in charge of the segment that followed – his Yarisugi-ya! corner that features the stranger aspects of the guest’s lifestyle.

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Takeuchi-san only has three yarisugi points:

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The first one was that she speaks German thanks to her time in Switzerland.

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So, Aiba-kun tries to have a conversation with her in German. He tries to read lines in German for his part of the conversation. Based on her answer, you can tell how far off his pronunciation was.

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Aiba-kun really tried hard in this one, having many prepared lines and attempting to understand what she said. It was, of course, very funny.

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The final question for Takeuchi-san was which Arashi was her type, and she chose Sakurai-san (based only on how he acted that day – she didn’t come in with any preconceptions). However, because the question was asked and answered in German, Sakurai-san didn’t know whether the mention of his name was a good thing or a bad thing. Aiba-kun took advantage of this and initially said the question was which Arashi member wasn’t Takeuchi-san’s type.

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The third point about Takeuchi-san was that she loves cheese, so we finally got the obligatory food for the episode. You’ll notice that I said third point – they totally edited out the second one in order to make sure the food part made it into the final cut. At least we didn’t have a Mise segment.

 

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The best thing about this cheese-fest was the conspiracy between Aiba-kun and the staff to make us laugh. The way Aiba-kun stares at his notes during these corners always kills me.

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And that was how it ended. I think it was an excellent way to wrap up the season, highlighting some of the best new features of the show while leaving out . . . well, leaving out the Mise segment to be brutally frank about it.

Just the fact that Takeuchi-san took on the monumental task of teaching the Arashis to snowboard already made her a superb guest, but she was also quite amiable in-studio. Her German conversation with Aiba-kun was certainly a highlight of the show aside from the snowboarding.

Three Arashis – Aiba-kun, Ohno-san, and Sakurai-san – all had substantial parts in this episode. Aiba-kun clearly dominated the latter part of the show. Ohno-san put his own unique spin on snowboarding, while Sakurai-san was clearly Takeuchi-san’s favorite (since she said so explicitly when Aiba-kun asked). I think it’s fair to give the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi to Aiba-kun and Sakurai-san this time for exactly the same reasons that I gave it to Nino-kun and Ohno-san last time – because the former had the main hosting role in the show and contributed a lot there, while the latter was clearly the guest’s favorite.

I’m really looking forward to the upcoming spring special, so see you there!