Okay, so I found what I think will be a stable source for Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) and VS Arashi – at least I got the episodes I missed. The upside is that the files are better quality, but the downside is that the compression is a bit glitchy, causing an issue with screenshots so that there will be fewer of them. Anyway, I’m eager to catch up on what I’ve missed, so expect a flurry of Arashi stuff as the spring season concludes.

The guest for this episode was Ishihara Satomi-san, who has primarily worked with Matsumoto Jun-kun among the Arashi members. She was in Shitsuren Chocolatier and the Lucky Seven Special with him recently, but also had a part in Kimi wa Pet all the way back in 2003. Of course, she was also in Rich Man, Poor Woman with MatsuJun’s brother-in-arms Oguri Shun-san.

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So . . . are we going to get that MatsuJun corner again? No, thankfully not. Instead, we’re going to get the challenge where each Arashi member will take Ishihara-san on a mock date. Do you suppose she looks a bit nervous about this plan?

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Actually, she looked nerve-wracked right from the start with a strained smile. Her smile relaxed a bit thanks to some Ohno humor. And after Ishihara-san explained her expectations for the date – that it should be a romantic date in a pretty place, and something appropriate for their age (not something high schoolers or even college students would do) – it was Ohno-san’s turn to be dismayed.

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Though really, with those requirements I think Aiba-kun would be the one in the most trouble.

Ishihara-san also made things harder on them with the phrase they had to end on, which very roughly translates to “Ah – I want this sort of bride.” It’s such a hard phrase to actually use (especially with a straight face), you can imagine how the guys cringed. Ninomiya-kun was very dramatic about his confusion at this point. Things had just gotten interesting.

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This sort of ending phrase . . . is MatsuJun the only one who could say it convincingly?

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The five members gathered in the back room and did janken to see who would go first. I can’t believe after all these years of doing janken, Aiba-kun couldn’t figure out the result.

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Ninomiya-kun, usually one of the more perceptive members in scenarios like this, went first. That sort of puts the pressure on the others.

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Nino-kun took Ishihara-san to a nice restaurant set . . .

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. . . and then did a card trick. Aiba-kun said that it was sneaky and unfair, but I guess it was just Nino-kun playing to his strengths. And anyway, this is exactly why I said he was one of the more perceptive members – he walks in with a definite idea of what he wants to do. Aiba-kun mostly wings it.

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I think the ploy worked . . .

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. . . and the bar was set pretty high for the other four.

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Next up was Sakurai-san, who decided to take Ishihara-san out to the movies, though what movie or even what type of movie wasn’t specified.

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They end up playing shiritori (a word game) waiting for the movie to start, and I swear I’ve seen Sakurai-san pull this one before, haven’t I?

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Ishihara-san did a lot of laughing thanks to this gimmick, but was it really a mature way to win her heart? It sure seemed like something high schoolers would do.

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And I think Sakurai-san realized that, but couldn’t come up with a better plan. He explained afterward that it didn’t go as he had conceived it – they were supposed to do shiritori with their heads close and whispering so as not to disturb the other viewers, but that intention wasn’t clear to Ishihara-san.

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Well, that eased up the tension for the others. Ohno-san was the next member up, and he found a unique way to play to his strengths. Thankfully, it wasn’t fishing this time – it was art.

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I think this was rather brilliant on his part, though the dripping paint sort of ruined the effect.

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Nevertheless, Ishihara-san was impressed and Ohno-san ended up looking proud of his work.

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Now, if their best shot is to play to their strengths . . . what exactly would MatsuJun do?

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Well, he could just go romantic, right? I mean, isn’t he the member who specializes in the straight-up romantic scene?

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Certainly there’s no risk that he’ll be childish, but will there be any flair to it? He starts on the marriage talk pretty much right away, and it seemed like the standard MatsuJun pattern as far as I could see.

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But maybe he has an advantage in this game because they know each other so well.

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That left Aiba-kun, who . . . well, he’ll certainly provide a contrast to Matsumoto-kun’s approach. Even from his mode of dress, though, he seems very college. Out of all the sets, he picked camping.

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Rather than seeming like a romantic scene, it had all the marks of a comedy.

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Obviously, comedy is Aiba-kun’s strong suit, but he doesn’t find it easy to transition between the comedy and the serious matter of winning someone’s heart.

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I don’t think this was as much a fail for him as he had the last time they played this game, though. I actually thought the way he used the ending phrase was quite clever.

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So, who did Ishihara-san pick? Actually, she picked who was worst first before going on to the best. I totally agree with both of her choices, by the way.

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After that game, they turned to another game that they’ve played before, where they have to guess which of two choices applies to the guest. As with the last time they played this, Ninomiya-kun served as host and didn’t participate.

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Here’s my question: shouldn’t they have played this game before doing the date challenge? First of all, this is more of a getting-to-know-the -guest thing, and that’s usually what they do first in the show. And besides that, shouldn’t they have gotten to know her a bit better before trying to take her out on a mock date?

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I’m not going to try to explain how this game went – it’s pretty self-explanatory anyway, and the date challenge was the more engaging part of the show.

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MatsuJun always seemed to be alone in his choice, while the other three tended to go with the same option.

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They only played two rounds of the game, and used the second round, which involved a choice of seasoning – seven chilis or balsamic vinegar – to segue into a food corner:

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But that wasn’t the end of the show . . .

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. . . instead, we got the survey corner next, where the Arashis meet a group of 30-40 people who have something in common and get to ask them questions about it. Until this episode, this segment has been placed at the beginning of the show, and I’m not sure about the wisdom of putting it right at the end.

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This time, it was a group of 40 women (and I think this is the first time it has been gender-specific), and it turned out that they were women who watch baseball.

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After saying this, they quickly donned their team colors:

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This seems like yet another tie-in to Ninomiya-kun’s drama (which is on this network), frankly.

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There was a glitch in the video in the middle of this, so I have no idea how they got to talking about food. I did get to see the Hiroshima team fans do their well-coordinated cheer, though.

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And maybe this wasn’t just a tie-in for Nino-kun’s drama – it looks like they were promoting some actual baseball games:

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It was a pretty good episode – definitely not boring. My only real suggestion would have been to put the date challenge at the end, and just shift everything else forward (with the survey segment in the middle).

Ishihara-san was pleasant and readily responsive to everything. She always seemed a bit nervous, but also had some delightful reactions during the date challenge.

Among the Arashis, Matsumoto-kun and Sakurai-san were the most disappointing members in the date challenge, as I swear I’ve seen both of their approaches before. Ninomiya-kun was pretty much as expected, though the magic trick was a nice touch. So, the real Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi in this episode were Ohno-san and Aiba-kun because . . . well, because we really didn’t know what they’d do.