Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) has been trying new things for a couple of seasons now after some worrisome stagnation late last year, and that was especially true this time:

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Like Ohno-san and Sakurai-san, MatsuJun hasn’t had a corner the way Aiba-kun and Ninomiya-kun have, but he gets a crack at it this time.

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And as if just finding out how that’ll turn out isn’t enough reason to watch, they also have a phenomenal guest on this time: Mizuhara Kiko-san.

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Mizuhara-san apparently knows Matsumoto-kun well (including from working together in Shitsuren Chocolatier), and has also worked with Ninomiya-kun in the movie Platina Data. They state their impressions of her at the start, then we turn to the MatsuJun segment . . .

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. . . in which he gets a very comfy-looking seat and does the talk with the guest interview-style.

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Except, it seems like the top are the things he in particular knows about Mizuhara-san, so is this really a corner that he would be able to do with other guests?

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Actually, considering he very often seems to know the guests already, maybe he would be able to.

The format, though, does lead the other Arashis to wonder who the focus of this segment is supposed to be. After all, why is MatsuJun in the comfy chair while the guest is sitting on the same sort of seat as the other Arashis? It doesn’t seem right for the host to be more comfortable than the guest.

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I think MatsuJun tries to blame this arrangement on American programs, but I don’t think that flies. Eventually, they give up on that and let him continue with the segment.

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And it gets off to a clearly rocky start. The first thing he says about Mizuhara-san compares her to a doll, or her style to a doll. Now, that’s clearly not meant or taken in a bad way, but since this segment was supposed to be about information that MatsuJun has about Mizuhara-san that no one else does . . . it didn’t really fit with the premise.

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The Arashis totally give him grief for this, and for the continuing failure of the format, but Mizuhara-san tries her best to help him out when she finally gets a chance to talk.

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Matsumoto-kun then wisely asks her to give her impressions of the other Arashi members, and she starts with Ohno-san. She says that he goes at his own pace and has a lot of hobbies, which is mostly accurate. Ohno-san agreed to it.

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Obviously, Aiba-kun is energetic (genki), but I didn’t quite get the other trait she cited – I think it was something like “suddenly showing a lonely eye/look”, but don’t quote me on that.

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I really need subs for some of this, but there’s one fact that jumps out: they skipped her impression of Ninomiya-kun. Did I miss something?

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We found out that Mizuhara-san has a Transformer backpack, which led the audience to shout “kawaii!” when she put it on to show them.

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Mizuhara-san got another rare chance to talk before MatsuJun took over again.

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The next topic was Midnight Samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) and food in general. I was starting to grow less attentive here, hoping for some sort of activity.

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What got my attention again was when Sakurai-san mentioned the case of Arimura Kasumi-san’s birthday flowers – when MatsuJun gave her a bouquet and DVDs and the works. Since Mizuhara-san was in Shitsuren Chocolatier, she knew about that first-hand.

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Matsumoto-kun got a good laugh out of it as Mizuhara-san acted offended. Apparently during the Shitsuren shoot, Matsumoto-kun was much more favorable to Arimura-san than to Mizuhara-san.

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In the hot seat now, Matsumoto-kun tries to make up for it by complimenting Mizuhara-san for being mentally strong. Hmm . . . .

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The last point on MatsuJun’s list was that Kiko-san’s ideal proposal is one that seems like a joke . . .

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. . . and so the Arashis each (actually, only three of them end up doing it) have to pretend to propose to her in the required manner. Now, I have no idea how to propose in such a way that it seems like a joke but still ultimately gets taken seriously, so it’s a good thing idols like the Arashi members get plenty of practice making strange love proposals.

Matsumoto-kun picks on Aiba-kun to go first – rather a natural choice.

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He went with palm reading as his gimmick, and it seemed to meet with general approval from the crowd, though I don’t think Mizuhara-san was satisfied.

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Sakurai-san went next, and while I don’t know how to describe his approach . . .

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. . . it required some help from Ninomiya-kun and it seemed like Mizuhara-san was very happy with it. It was apparently exactly the sort of thing she was looking for.

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And so that made MatsuJun’s next line – saying that he had the right answer for the proposal – a bit odd. Sakurai-san naturally objected.

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And, in fact, when everyone got to see Matsumoto-kun’s rendition . . . .

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But let’s move on, shall we? With MatsuJun’s corner concluded, the Arashi members faced a challenge . . .

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. . . a fashion challenge . . .

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. . . or, if you like, an outfit coordination battle similar to what they used to do on Himitsu no Arashi, except with far more extreme styles, and a goal to get as close to a total cost of 100,000 yen ($1000) as possible.

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They went in turn and had the run of the racks.

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I will not, however, show you the outfits they ultimately put together – you’ll have to watch the episode for yourself to find out what kind of fashion show they ended up putting on.

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And before we got to hear whose outfit was closest to 100,000 yen, that segment that I thought was finally extinct once again returned:

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Yes, it’s Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise with its original host – Watabe Ken-san – alongside Ohno-san and Ninomiya-kun.

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If you want to find out who won the challenge (and there is a punishment for the loser, by the way), you’ll have to get through this kudoi segment, or just skip to the last four minutes of the video like I did.

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This was a difficult episode to assess. On the one hand, Mizuhara Kiko-san was charismatic, we got MatsuJun doing a new segment, and the challenge was great. Even if MatsuJun’s corner didn’t go perfectly and he needs to figure out how to tweak it if he ever wants to do it with another guest, it was certainly interesting to watch whether it would work out.

The best part of the show was the fashion challenge, especially since it had a nice, clear way to determine victory. I still wonder if the loser lost on purpose because of the batsu-game, though, but I’ll let that pass. It brought back fond memories of Mannequin Five segments, not to mention the specials they used to do (and I wish they’d find a way to bring back).

Obviously, I didn’t think highly of the decision to bring back the Mise segment as time filler, though I can see that they probably really didn’t have any more video to use when it came to the main show.

The Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi for the show was, of course, Matsumoto-kun. He dominated his own segment (that was somewhat of a problem, too, but that’s where the tweaking comes in), and he’s theoretically considered the Arashi fashion leader – or at least he has been on this show previously – so it was interesting to see if he could fulfill that role in the challenge. The other members did fine, with Ohno-san and Ninomiya-kun perhaps losing out by not getting a chance to do a proposal scene with Mizuhara-san and ending up in the Mise segment instead. Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun both had great moments – the former in the proposal scene and the latter in his choice of clothes in the challenge.