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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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So here are the two teams:

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The first game was Rolling Coin Tower. *yawn*

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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?

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

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. . . 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Instead, they got this guy:

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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.

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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:

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

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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:

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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