At the beginning of this episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐), the members talked about their new single “GUTS”, which was released on April 30th, just in time for Golden Week – the big holiday week in Japan.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 000

They also noticed Ninomiya-kun’s very unusual cap, which Aiba-kun compared to that worn by Onishi Lion-san. Now, with Nino-kun wearing a cap, I’d think the guests were lightweights, but most of the Arashis seem dressed for for some action. Except Matsumoto-kun.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0012014.04.24 VS Arashi 0022014.04.24 VS Arashi 003

The guest team was named the Atsushi Gundan (the Atsushi Unit/Army), after its leader Tamura Atsushi-san of London Boots. The other members were Wakki-san, the two members of Shinagawa-Shoji (Shinagawa Hiroshi-san and Shoji Tomoharu-san), Impulse’s Itakura Toshiyuki-san, and finally Ogawa Tomohide-san from the trio Nibunnogo!. They’re all quite familiar except for Ogawa-san, who I don’t remember ever seeing before.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0042014.04.24 VS Arashi 005

It’s sort of surprising – this is Atsushi-san’s first time on VS Arashi. He brought along at least two top-notch guys to help him – both Wakki-san and Shoji-san are intensely athletic and competitive.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0062014.04.24 VS Arashi 007

I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know who Ogawa-san was – he had to make a special introduction for himself. We also found out that, of all Atsushi-san’s kouhai, Ogawa-san is the biggest Arashi fan. I couldn’t really tell whether he was making a joke when he got how to say the Arashi best-of album’s name “5×10” wrong.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0082014.04.24 VS Arashi 009

The plus-one guest was Nanao-san, who I last saw in Miss Pilot, and who is doubtless here to promote her new drama First Class.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 010

While she says she’s not confident in her athletic skills, she did play volleyball for three years in middle school, and she looks sporty in those sneakers.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 011

While she was talking, Wakki-san was having a side conversation and got in trouble for it. It seems he couldn’t help remarking about Nanao-san’s top, and something about male hormones was mentioned, but this was really all just a setup for a gag. They sure go to great lengths to get these gags out, don’t they?

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 012

Well, looks like MatsuJun knew what was up when he picked his outfit, because the first game was Rolling Coin Tower. The guest team has people who could play the more taxing games, including Cliff Climb and Jumping Shooter, but it never bodes well when we get Rolling Coin Tower first.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 013

In the pregame talk, announcer Itou-san congratulated Atsushi-san on his recent marriage – the ceremony was on Feb. 22nd in Hawaii, which probably made the honeymoon rather convenient. Sounded like Wakki-san teared up just thinking about it.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 014

Since Nanao-san, being the secret plus-one guest, didn’t benefit from the pre-show practice session, Sakurai-san gave her a basic tip on how to play the game.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0152014.04.24 VS Arashi 016

The next game was Kicking Sniper with Itakura-san, Wakki-san, and Tamura-san taking the kicks for the Atsushi Team. As usual, they talked about their sports histories. Itakura-san played soccer in middle school but had to quit in high school because of his part-time job . . .

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0182014.04.24 VS Arashi 019

. . . but that’s nothing compared to Wakki-san, who was part of an All-Japan championship team in high school. He proceeded to show that he still had the skills – with that huge ball, at that.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 021

Now, Tamura-san . . . not only is he constrained by his oversized shorts, but he also famously lacks athletic skill even though he played basketball throughout his school years. Can he change that impression here, or will Itakura-san and Wakki-san knock down all the targets before he gets a chance?

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0222014.04.24 VS Arashi 0232014.04.24 VS Arashi 024

Well, I’ll say this – the Atsushi Team kickers certainly showed that I was right to estimate their skills highly.

Will the Arashi team be able to compete? They sent up Nanao-san, Ohno-san, and Sakurai-san.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0252014.04.24 VS Arashi 0262014.04.24 VS Arashi 027

Here, we found out that Nanao-san’s hobby is fishing, and that sure got Ohno-san’s attention. They talked about fishing for a bit. Do you suppose with his tension level raised by this, Ohno-san will put on a superb performance?

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0282014.04.24 VS Arashi 0292014.04.24 VS Arashi 0302014.04.24 VS Arashi 031

After the round, Wakki-san got Sakurai-san to do that gag we saw Wakki do at the beginning of the show.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0332014.04.24 VS Arashi 0342014.04.24 VS Arashi 035

After a brief interlude where Tamura-san got to plug Quiz 30.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0362014.04.24 VS Arashi 037

The third game of the evening was Dual Curling, which got an additional feature – a bonus pocket underneath the center 50-point zone that’s only open for 45 second. That’s very much the sort of change I was looking for – one that would stop them from doing that blitz/crap shoot at the end which eliminates the need for skill. To further entice the players to aim for the center, they actually get the stones that enter the pocket back, so they can shoot them again!

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0382014.04.24 VS Arashi 039

I was very much pleased with this change, but Sakurai-san correctly pointed out that this was liable to lead to some serious point inflation – this game can be so high scoring that it would render some of the other games (especially Rolling Coin Tower, Bank Bowling, and Korokoro Viking, which all have very low maximum scores) pointless.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0402014.04.24 VS Arashi 041

They played two round of this new version of Dual Curling. The players in the first round for the Atsushi team were Ogawa-san, Tamura-san, and Itakura-san, while the Arashi team sent up Ninomiya-kun, Aiba-kun, and Nanao-san.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0422014.04.24 VS Arashi 0432014.04.24 VS Arashi 0452014.04.24 VS Arashi 0462014.04.24 VS Arashi 049

The remaining members of both teams got a chance to try it out in the second round. Basically, the change to the game succeeded in making sure people tried to shoot throughout the minute of game time, but the score got very high.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0502014.04.24 VS Arashi 0512014.04.24 VS Arashi 0522014.04.24 VS Arashi 055

Speaking of games that seem useless with all the points scored in Dual Curling, the next game was Bank Bowling. Not only is the highest regular score in this game (barring spares) 250 points, but generally the two teams score within 100 points of each other. Compare that to the gaps in Dual Curling, which could easily be more than 500 points.

Anyway, Shinagawa-san and Atsushi-san were the first bowlers for the guest team. Shinagawa-san had a story to tell here, but I wasn’t particularly interested.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0582014.04.24 VS Arashi 059

Atsushi-san liked it, though.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0602014.04.24 VS Arashi 061

Wakki-san and Shoji-san went up next, mixing and matching their famous gags. I generally don’t approve of gag comedy, but I generally forgive Shoji-san’s “Mikitty!” for some reason.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0632014.04.24 VS Arashi 064

Nanao-san downplayed her bowling skills, then confessed to having a 160 point high score in bowling – not bad compared to some of the other numbers we’ve heard over the years.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0662014.04.24 VS Arashi 068

She was up alongside Matsumoto-kun for the Arashi team. MatsuJun had just been bowling the previous day and managed a top score of . . . 120. Well, good thing talent in real bowling has nothing to do with success in Bank Bowling.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0692014.04.24 VS Arashi 0702014.04.24 VS Arashi 072

Ninomiya-kun and Ohno-san got to try for the spare, but Ohno-san insisted that it was impossible.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0742014.04.24 VS Arashi 075

The last game was, of course, Korokoro Viking. Tamura-san and Wakki-san were in control of the orange zone, but perhaps the more interesting combination was Shinagawa-san and Shoji-san in the green zone, since they’ve been a team for 18 years now.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0772014.04.24 VS Arashi 0782014.04.24 VS Arashi 0792014.04.24 VS Arashi 080

Aiba-kun and Nanao-san controlled the critical zone for the Arashi team, and Aiba-kun suddenly seemed to get a tension boost after being largely out of the picture for the episode.

2014.04.24 VS Arashi 0852014.04.24 VS Arashi 0862014.04.24 VS Arashi 087

This was a fairly average episode of VS Arashi, The guest team was all right – just your standard comedian team with the usual gags and everything. The games didn’t really give this particular team much chance to shine. Wakki-san’s facial expressions were probably the most entertaining aspect of the show, though.

Really, the games were the problem. The only interesting one was, of course, Dual Curling thanks to the revamp, but that wasn’t enough to save us from how slow the other games were. I mean, what can you say about an episode that not only doesn’t have Cliff Climb, but doesn’t even feature Pinball Runner.

Nanao-san certainly did a great job participating in the games, and she clearly came prepared to talk some fishing with Ohno-san.

Speaking of which, the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi was Ohno-san – both for the fishing conversation with Nanao-san and his performance during Dual Curling. The rest of the guys were present, but they were just doing their normal thing.