There’s something strange about Ninomiya-kun at the beginning of this episode of VS Arashi (VS 嵐):

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Hmm . . . is it even really Nino-kun? Or just an extraordinarily weak-seeming Kamen Rider? Aiba-kun attempts to tackle the problem directly, chasing the person in the Raiders cap (nice touch, by the way) around the studio.

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Turns out it was Nino-kun after all, and he gets early points for Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi for inciting the most interesting episode opening we’ve had in a long while.

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The guests for May 15th were Momoiro Clover Z supported by Tsutsumishita Atsushi-san from the comedy duo Impulse. Momoiro Clover Z is always good, of course, because they’re high-energy and competitive.

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I’m not too sure how Tsutsumishita-san will do, though.

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As you might expect, Momoiro Clover Z declared this a battle between the idol groups – but specifically a battle between idol groups who have performed at the National Stadium.

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Ohno-san takes up the gauntlet in the his typically unique way.

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As if we needed any more humor, the plus one guests were Bakarhythm-san and Kikuchi Ami-san, who have worked together on Idoling!!! for the past seven years. It’s sort of appropriate to have them on given that, but I was kinda hoping for some silliness between Arashi and Momoiro Clover (like the last time the idol groups met), so I hope the guests will just relax and let it happen.

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I was also hoping for something more exciting than Rolling Coin Tower for the first game.

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I’m apparently not the only one who wondered how Tsutsumishita-san would do, by the way – Sakurai-san asked whether he was really tight with Momoiro Clover, and Kikuchi-san revealed that, in fact, he was a big Idoling!!! fan.

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Hmm . . . so is she suggesting he’s a double agent?

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Trying to deflect from the issue, he says he likes both Idoling!!! and Momoiro Clover Z and even likes Arashi.

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Sakurai-san verifies that, in total, he likes three groups. The crazy thing, of course, is these three groups literally cover everyone else present, since Bakarhythm-san is a host on Idoling!!!  Tsutsumishita-san seems to have found a way to please everyone . . . except he has somewhat undermined the idea that he’s going to fight hard on behalf of Momoclo.

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Announcer Itou-san asked Matsumoto-kun whether the Arashi team would have good teamwork, and Kikuchi-san answered “hai!” While I wanted Arashi-Momoclo silliness, I appreciated Kikuchi-san’s efforts at making this entertaining.

And it was nice to see her up as the Arashi team runner in Pinball Runner. Sakurai-san, Bakarhythm-san, and Matsumoto-kun were up to call numbers out to her.

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Apparently, the last time she was on, she ended up getting flooded with comments on Twitter – there was a bit of discord in that episode. I totally don’t remember what happened in that August 22nd episode, though I do recall the “sumimasen, arigatou gozaimasu” gag.

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Well, as long as she does her best, everything should be all right.

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Momota Kanako-san ran for Momoiro Clover Z, and she pointed out that Sakurai-san had attended their live performance and said some really cool words to them afterwards.

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To demonstrate, Tamai Shiori-san pretended to be Sakurai-san while the others did appropriately surprised reactions. She got his words and mannerisms down quite well, except he had to correct her – she said “mata isshou ni asobou na!” instead of “mata isshou ni asobou ze!”

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That was a funny scene to spice up this round of Pinball Runner.

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For the actual game, Tsutsumishita-san did most of the actual number calling. You’ll have to watch to find out how that worked out.

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The third game was thankfully Jungle Bingo – one of the less common games. Momoclo was ready for action.

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Bakarhythm got a doll of Shiori-san around his neck because Ninomiya-kun decided that it matched him.

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The two groups tried to have a brief 5-on-5 candid chat, but that didn’t seem to go anywhere, so Itou-san prompted Ohno-san to give some advice. I don’t think he decided to go funny here.

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On the Arashi team’s turn . . .

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. . . Ninomiya-kun was back to pretending he was an action hero. Sakurai-san was almost in tears laughing at Nino-kun’s moves. It wouldn’t have been nearly as good without the sound effects that the editing department added to his moves.

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Nino Rider (as Itou-san called him) kept the mask/hood on all the way through the maze, and I didn’t quite understand the little peeks he did afterward.

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The topic during the start of Bank Bowling was disparities within a group like Momoiro Clover Z. For instance, on one magazine cover, they had different masks on, and for two of the members, their faces were totally covered. The same two members were minimized on other images – put into the distant background. I think we recognize this sort of thing with some other groups, though not with Arashi.

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Those two members who got minimized in the magazine – Takagi-san and Ariyasu-san – took the first throw for the Momoclo team.

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They were followed by Tsutsumishita-san and Shiori-san.

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The first throw for the Arashi team was taken by Aiba-kun and Bakarhythm . . .

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. . . and for some reason Aiba-kun decided to take Ninomiya-kun’s jacket to become Aiba Rider (complete with sound effects).

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Ninomiya-kun got his jacket back for his own turn, but he didn’t go into full Rider mode since Aiba-kun had done that bit already. Kikuchi Ami-san joined him for the attempt to get a spare.

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The final game was Korokoro Viking, and the Momoiro Clover Z Team had the first crack at it.

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Momoclo did a cheer and when Aiba-kun tried to match Shiori-san’s feisty comment at the end of it, he failed.

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And with that, Momoclo had their last chance to rack up points . . .

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. . . and then Arashi got their chance to clinch victory. They tried to do a cheer, but I wouldn’t say they really did their best.

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Ohno-san then made up for that by doing a Shiori-style cheer successfully.

It was a good and smooth episode. However, the game selection was sort of lacking, since these two teams could have easily played the more interesting games like Jumping Shooter or Shotgun Disk, and that left me disappointed. We didn’t even get Kicking Sniper or Dual Curling, much less my favorite game – Cliff Climb.

Momoiro Clover Z was, of course, excellent. Certainly, this was a step up from the usual geinin team or actor team, and we haven’t had an athlete team in a while. They gave Arashi a good fight and also got plenty of laughs.

Among the plus one guests, it was all Kikuchi-san, and whatever happened in her previous appearance, she was all right here. She was rather like a big sister to Momoclo and a little sister to Arashi.

The Arashi members were clearly more charged up than usual in this one – especially Ohno-san, Ninomiya-kun, and Sakurai-san. Aiba-kun had his moment in Bank Bowling, but he was just imitating a bit that Nino-kun had already done during Jungle Bingo. Altogether, I think the Most Omoshiroi Arashi has to go to Ninomiya-kun, who, as usual, put his apparel to effective use in getting laughs. Ohno-san had numerous moments as well.