The Arashi members started off talking about the guests right away in this episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐). The guest team this time is a prefecture team from Miyagi, but the key is a deep rivalry between Aiba-kun and one of the guest team’s members. By the way, Hanyu Yuzuru-kun got another mention from Arashi in this episode (he’s from Miyagi) – I’m still waiting for him to show up on an Arashi show at some point.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0002014.04.17 VS Arashi 001

No Hanyu on the Miyagi team this time, but it was still an illustrious pack.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 002

The leader of the Miyagi team was rocker Ohtomo Kouhei-san (大友康平), and alongside him were the comedy duo Sandwich Man (Date Mikio-san and Tomizawa Takeshi-san), Miss Universe Japan Hara Ayako-san (原綾子), lovable loser Kanou Eiko-san, and Yaotome Hikaru-kun of Hey! Say! Jump.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0032014.04.17 VS Arashi 004

It is of course Kanou Eiko-san who has become Aiba-kun’s rival, particularly after the baba-nuki round in the January 3rd special where the two of them were trying to avoid being named the weakest at the game, and Aiba-kun lost.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0052014.04.17 VS Arashi 0062014.04.17 VS Arashi 007

I was just musing that Hanyu-kun should make an appearance, and we ended up getting another figure skater as the plus one guest – Ando Miki-san. Ando-san also recently appeared on Arashi ni Shiyagare, so she’s quickly becoming a frequent flyer in the Arashi skies.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 009

Sandwich Man tried to bribe Ando-san with a treat, but Matsumoto-kun blocked them. I think they decided that it would have to be shared with everyone.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 010

So here are the two teams:

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 011

The first game was Rolling Coin Tower. *yawn*

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 012

The pregame talk seemed to be about recommended things from Miyagi prefecture. Hikaru-kun got his first chance to talk here, but mainly we were reminded of the unique connection between Kanou-san and Aiba-kun.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0132014.04.17 VS Arashi 0152014.04.17 VS Arashi 0162014.04.17 VS Arashi 019

The second game was Bank Bowling, so this was officially a slow start to the episode. The first pair up were Ohtomo-san and Hara-san from the Miyagi team.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0202014.04.17 VS Arashi 021

Announcer Itou-san talked to Hara-san about the 2012 Miss Universe pageant.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0222014.04.17 VS Arashi 0232014.04.17 VS Arashi 025

For the second throw, Miyagi sent up Date-san and Kanou-san. Somehow, Date-san spent most of the pregame talking to Ando-san. I guess he’s really a fan.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0262014.04.17 VS Arashi 027

Kanou-san says that he’ll absolutely strike down the red pin. Will he be able to show Aiba-kun up the way he did in the New Year’s special, or will Aiba-kun manage a comeback against his rival?

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0282014.04.17 VS Arashi 0292014.04.17 VS Arashi 0302014.04.17 VS Arashi 031

Well, Ohno-san and Ando-san made the first attempt for the Arashi team . . .

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0322014.04.17 VS Arashi 0332014.04.17 VS Arashi 0342014.04.17 VS Arashi 035

. . . and Aiba-kun had to wait until the clean-up throw alongside Sakurai-san to show whether he could surpass Kanou-san. I’d rather see a head-to-head match (like in Falling Pipe), but none of the usual games they play allow for that except if they did a one-on-one Dual Curling. It’s strange to say, but the games on VS Arashi are largely non-confrontational – most of the time the teams take turns rather than contesting the issue directly. I think that partly has to do with the advantage the Arashi members have, playing these games regularly, and the need to introduce handicaps.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 038

So, they might say that this is Aiba-kun’s chance at revenge, but it doesn’t feel like it. This isn’t as direct a match-up as baba-nuki was. And Aiba-kun goofed around with Sakurai-san before the throw, so even in terms of atmosphere, in didn’t have the sense of a rematch (much less revenge) in the slightest.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0392014.04.17 VS Arashi 0402014.04.17 VS Arashi 041

Of course, between Aiba-kun and Kanou-san, Aiba is the more lovable loser so . . . yeah. Maybe this is just the way it has to be.

Between the second and third games, the Arashi team munched on the treat Date-san had offered to Ando-san.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 042

Darn it – shouldn’t they at least be pretending to be in the middle of a competition?! There hasn’t even been the slightest hint of tension in this episode, the games have been rather dull as a result, and I can’t say that either team has really tried their best. Not even close. The way things are going, maybe they should all just get around a table and eat all sorts of Miyagi prefecture specialties!

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 043

Well, maybe they’ll turn things around. The next game was Kicking Sniper and Ando-san, Ninomiya-kun, and Aiba-kun went up to take the shots for the Arashi team.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 044

Ninomiya-kun asks announcer Itou-san what the best they can get in this game is (that’s the spirit!) and gets 550 points as the answer. Now, Ando-san is a figure skater, so you’d expect that her legs are quite strong. How’s her aim, though?

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0452014.04.17 VS Arashi 047

Date-san asks Ando-san to demonstrate some figure skating moves (I didn’t catch how the conversation got to this point), and Ando-san also explains how Hanyu-kun does it. They even showed video of Hanyu-kun doing the move, so there was more than a little hint that this was all prepared. It’s like they really want Hanyu-kun on the show, but couldn’t get him.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 046

Instead, they got this guy:

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0482014.04.17 VS Arashi 049

Ando-san abruptly said “all right! Let’s do it!!” to break off Date-san’s questions, leading the graphic person to put a bold “Question Time Over!” block in the bottom-right corner.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 050

For the Miyagi team, the kickers were Kanou-san, Tomizawa-san, and Hikaru-kun. Hikaru-kun spoke a bit about fellow HSJ member Chinen Yuri-kun’s recent appearance on VS Arashi and lack of success in this game in particular.

I didn’t manage to get a good shot of Hikaru-kun, because Kanou-san subsequently dominated the talk:

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0512014.04.17 VS Arashi 0532014.04.17 VS Arashi 054

I guess that’s all right, since Ando-san at least got a kick out of his antics.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0552014.04.17 VS Arashi 0562014.04.17 VS Arashi 0572014.04.17 VS Arashi 059

Fortunately for Hikaru-kun, he got a featured role in the best game of the show – Cliff Climb. He was paired up with Hara-san, which was somewhat of a surprise (you mean they’re not going to have Kanou-san struggle up the cliff?), and he had to deal with that overhang:

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0642014.04.17 VS Arashi 065

There was some mention of how Chinen-kun fared when he tackled the cliff, but Hikaru-kun brought the topic around to listening to Ohno-san every morning while he was working on a drama. He wants Ohno-san to help him out by saying the phrase “応援してろよ!” (ouen shiteru yo – we’re rooting for you!) in a particular way that served to increase Hikaru-kun’s tension.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0662014.04.17 VS Arashi 067

Good job by Hikaru-kun to bring Ohno-san into it – Ohno was clearly in off-mode and was totally surprised and bemused by the request.

Now, will these supporters be able to help their climbers out?

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0682014.04.17 VS Arashi 069

Matsumoto-kun and Sakurai-san took on the cliff for Arashi, and MatsuJun had the tough part. Well, I say that, but that’s only because MatsuJun had the overhang – Sakurai-san took two-thirds of the actual cliff, so he might have actually had the greater challenge.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0712014.04.17 VS Arashi 0722014.04.17 VS Arashi 073

After the climb, announcer Itou-san asked Hikaru-kun for his reaction, and he noted that the Arashi guys were, as expected, very entertaining.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0742014.04.17 VS Arashi 075

The final game, of course, was Korokoro Viking. Considering this episode has been mostly slow, I was certainly not looking for any last-minute innovations. The Miyagi team went first with Kanou-san and Ohtomo-san in control of the orange zone.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0762014.04.17 VS Arashi 077

For Arashi, Ninomiya-kun and Ando-san were in change of the scoring.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0782014.04.17 VS Arashi 0792014.04.17 VS Arashi 080

In the end, there were two competitions in this episode – the one between the teams and the one between Aiba-kun and Kanou-san. Unfortunately, neither of them was very compelling.

2014.04.17 VS Arashi 0812014.04.17 VS Arashi 082

The main humor in this episode was provided by Kanou-san, and it was in his usual style so . . . yeah. The excitement came exclusively during Kicking Sniper and Cliff Climb, and those were the only two parts of the hour worth watching.

Among the guest team members, I’d say Kanou-san had the most extensive role in the episode, Hikaru-kun managed to secure a decent amount of time for himself despite being in a team with a lot of variety show veterans. Hara-san did a great job in Cliff Climb, but the other three guests didn’t really distinguish themselves entertainment-wise.

Ando Miki-san’s best moment was when discussing figure skating moves, but was otherwise a somewhat neutral presence.

And what about the Arashis? Well, at first blush, the whole issue of the rivalry meant that Aiba-kun was in the early lead for the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi. Ohno-san had his chance to shine when Hikaru-kun addressed him during Cliff Climb, but he seemed a bit out-of-it. Sakurai-san had both the curious scene alongside Aiba-kun in Bank Bowling and also his part in Cliff Climb. MatsuJun, of course, also had a part in Cliff Climb. Ninomiya-kun’s contributions were mainly in terms of the games – Kicking Sniper and Korokoro Viking.

So who should get the M.O.A.? Well, Aiba-kun, I think. Sure, his revenge against Kanou-san wasn’t played up the way I thought it should be, but there was his silliness in Bank Bowling that put a smile on my face and also his rather unique contribution in Kicking Sniper. It’s a tough call, though.