At the very beginning of this episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ), they put big dramatic letters up asking whether Ayase Haruka-san can make delicious miso soup, and my heart sank.

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Actually, it was fun watching Ayase-san and Ohno-san cooking – Ayase-san was in an especially bubbly mood and Ohno-san is the perfect Arashi to work next to someone in that mode.

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We didn’t get to find out how the miso soup came out just yet, as they decided it was time to bring Ayase-san before the studio audience. The director is clearly trying to set us up for some mayhem . . .

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. . . but keep in mind that this is the same director who wanted to make cooking miso soup seem dramatic.

They started out talking about working together on the 64th Kouhaku – the most recent year-end music festival.

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Ninomiya-kun handled the first main segment – his usual biographical segment Ninomi-ya – in which he tried to discover the true face of Ayase Haruka-san.

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When she was young, Ayase-san dreamed of being an announcer, and during elementary school she wanted to be a basketball player. I think we’ve heard all of this before, frankly – Ayase-san is way too well-known for any details like this to warrant an “eh!?” (even though the audience dutifully expresses their surprise anyway)

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Nino-kun rushed through the list of Ayase-san’s hit dramas in record time . . .

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. . . and asked the Arashi members to say what they liked about Ayase-san (except we didn’t get to hear Sakurai-san or Nino-kun answer the question).

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Then we saw something even better: they asked people in three totally different districts what they liked about her. Some of these people (especially the elderly citizens) may not know who Arashi are, but they sure know Ayase Haruka-san.

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I couldn’t quite follow the next bit of conversation (something about bicycles apparently) . . .

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. . . and then there was something about making pom-poms as a hobby. For some reason, Ayase-san didn’t like this topic, and in the middle asked how the miso soup was doing.

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Right now, what she wants most of all is a bread maker. I think they skipped a part right after the initial reaction to this – they jumped over the next slot on Nino-kun’s board.

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The next topic was horror movies . . .

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. . . so the lights dimmed and music grew eerie as Aiba-kun told a creepy story.

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And they also showed a horror video from 1999. It’s funny, with all the truly scary things Japanese cinema produces, many Japanese (including Ayase-san, apparently) are squeamish about relatively mundane attempts at horror. Ayase-san couldn’t even bear to watch.

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But her inability to watch horror flicks isn’t the problem Ayase-san wants Arashi to help her with. No, she wants them to give her advice about her sensitivity to the cold. What an interesting topic to bring up in the middle of summer!

Apparently this was a ploy to get Sakurai-san into a lab coat and glasses:

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Why does it seem like this is a reworking of Aiba-kun’s A no Arashi from way back? I’m glad Sakurai-san might finally have a corner, but I would have preferred if they had done an actual experiment. There really wasn’t much to this at all – they just rolled out three foods, had the Arashis guess which one would be best, and Sakurai-san gave the answer.

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The real activity for the episode came after that, when Ayase-san wanted to direct the Arashis in a scene that was supposed to be in imitation of Full House – one of the familiar sitcoms of my childhood. I don’t remember there being a “mama” role in it, though, so this is a very loose imitation.

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Ayase edited the script along the way (as directors do), and the assigned the roles:

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In a total reversal of Full House, there was only one adult male role (papa). I think this was just an excuse to get the Arashis in drag (and I’m not complaining).

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One thing I will complain about: why do the Japanese always think that directors should have a Hitler mustache?

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Nothing against mustaches, as I’ve sported a decently full one myself, but that particular mustache is always a bit jarring.

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And here they all are in costume:

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Thankfully, we get to see a healthy amount of the rehearsal, and if this doesn’t get you interested in seeing the episode, nothing can.

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If there’s anything the Arashis can make entertaining, it’s a humorous skit – having Ayase-san as the director is a bonus.

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Unfortunately, in the middle of all that fun, there was a Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment, and if there’s anything the Arashis can’t make entertaining, it’s one of these (though sometimes the restaurant owners manage to make things crazy). Sakurai-san and Aiba-kun were the ones who got fed.

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Enough of that! Back to the action:

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Really, there’s no way I can convey how much of a mess this scene was.

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At the end, Ayase-san picked who she thought did the best in it, and then they all tried out the miso soup to see whether it turned out right.

Despite lots of slow sections and parts that were difficult for a Japanese novice like myself to understand, this was a fun episode to watch thanks primarily to Ayase-san’s unique personality as well as the more interesting parts of the plan – the miso soup (which became somewhat of a running gag) and the sitcom scene at the end.

Given the guest and the activity, though, I wouldn’t say this turned out as well as I thought it should. There was a lack of energy among the Arashis compared to what Ayase-san brought to the show. That was especially evident with Sakurai-san’s lab coat bit.

The Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi was definitely Ohno-san, who started out with the lead by helping out with the miso soup at the beginning, and participated enough throughout the show to retain the M.O.A. until the end. Aiba-kun was also a contender, sharing his scary story and playing the baby at the end.