This is a Bet de Arashi special , which means it is about a hundred times more fun than a regular episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐). Why? First of all, the Arashi members are the sole competitors, and while they don’t always seem to put their full effort in when competing against guests, there’s generally none of that sloppy stuff when they’re going each other. VS Arashi rarely features head-to-head competition except with Dual Curling, Rolling Coin Tower, and some of the more infrequently played games, so there’s that as well. Most importantly, though, we don’t have to deal with the same old slew of games we see week after week. In fact, they’re not even going to play anything they did in previous Bet de Arashis!

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So, this is the pinnacle of Arashi competition these days, and the loser will be reminded of that disgrace. Frequently. Aiba-kun is happy that they at least don’t have to play baba-nuki again, though I think the fans would have enjoyed it.

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There are guests, and they’re here to bet who will win. The Tokudane! team had Kikukawa Rei-san and Ogura Tomoaki-san (who should know Arashi very well since he hosted Arashi no Shukudai-kun with them for years), the Morisanchuu had Kurosawa Kazuko-san and Oshima Miyuki-san (MatsuJun’s biggest fan), and last but not least, there was Ogiyahagi:

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So, lots of Arashi knowledge among the guests, and they should be able to give good reasons why they’re picking the people that they do. And they have some incentive to take it seriously, since the victorious team will win a trip to Macao . . . where they will get to make even riskier bets, if they so choose.

The Arashis don’t look particularly surprised when the first challenge is announced . . .

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. . . but the formidable outdoor set for their precarious battle must have given them a bit of pause.

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They had to walk across the equivalent of a 20 meter i-beam 15 cm in width and propped up at a height of 5 meters above the roof of the building – high enough so that they could get a good view of the fact that they were 60 meters above the ground floor. A good view of the heart of Tokyo across the bay, too.

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Playing “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from Aerosmith as they emerged was a bit cheap . . .

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. . . but they’re comments once the dramatic entry were good. Ninomiya-kun noted that it was windy and the camera helicopter was loud, while Matsumoto-kun recalled his own high-wire acrobatics in concerts.

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You’ve got to figure that it’s all between Ohno-san and MatsuJun unless Aiba-kun manages some kind of miracle.

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Sakurai-san tried to say that his fear of heights won’t affect him because, after all, he’s done crazy stuff like flying over Tokyo Dome before . . .

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. . . but I don’t believe him, and neither did any of the guest teams. Tokudane! picked Matsumoto-kun, Morisanchuu went with Aiba-kun, and finally Ogiyahagi took Ohno-san.

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Ogiyahagi pointed out that the people who were least capable talked the most, which is why they picked Ohno-san. Well, by that logic, they would pick Ohno-san for every challenge . . . which might not be a bad bet, actually. Except with cards – definitely go with Nino-kun for cards.

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And so they each took their turns trying to cover the most distance on the beam in a minute, doubling back if necessary. Aiba-kun went first . . .

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. . . then Ninomiya-kun . . .

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. . . then the stoic MatsuJun . . .

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. . . then Sakurai-san, trying to prove that he’s all right with heights . . .

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. . . and finally Ohno-san.

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But they weren’t done with this set after that first round. Obstacles were added to the beam, making the whole thing trickier, and the distance they covered in the second round would be added to the first. Among the obstacles were these steps that were 45 cm high:

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So, how will the Arashi’s approach those steps? Standing up or sitting down?

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Oh, before I forget to mention it, Nino-kun wore a head cam in the first round and Ohno-san did in the second. And another important point: that beam shook like crazy. While I called it an i-beam, it was apparently flimsy plastic rather than anything resembling metal.

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So, who do you think won?

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That challenge took 28 minutes of program time, leaving 19 for the second challenge, which was the card game Concentration (神経衰弱 – shinkeisuijaku – literally ‘nervous breakdown’). We’ve all played this memory game before (I hope it’s part of our common culture) and it doesn’t strike me as a very good replacement for baba-nuki.

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First of all, the card game is one part where I don’t mind guests playing against the Arashi guys, since they’re wild cards. Second, there are so many more intriguing games available. I’d love to see these guys play poker.

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On the bright side, it is a game of skill – specifically of memory – and minimizes the luck factor.

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They try to make things interesting by psyching each other out, and that was good. But there was only one round for the whole remaining time – a far cry from the four rounds of baba-nuki we saw previously.

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Another downside? Strangely, announcer Itou-san’s commentary. There was too much of it, and I would have much rather heard a bit more of what the guys were saying in the room.

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Oh, and I hated the way they kept telling us where the cards were – I was trying to play along! They totally robbed me of any chance to do that. If the viewers didn’t remember where the card was, sucks for them – let the rest of us test our abilities. That was a fundamental mistake.

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Well, I can’t show you too many screenshots, or we’ll get into spoiler territory. There are 26 available pairs, so there were plenty of scoring opportunities. Who do you think will win?

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So, the verdict from me is that the first challenge was very good – though some of the other Bet de Arashi challenges in the past were much better. The second challenge was a clear step down from baba-nuki, even though the Arashis tried their best to make things as interesting as possible and it was still watchable.

Still, a somewhat weak Bet de Arashi special is still an order of magnitude better than a great regular episode of VS Arashi.

The Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi was Ohno-san, and I’d be surprised if there was any debate about that.