I almost considered skipping this VS Arashi (VS 嵐) because I’m so far behind on what I want to watch and it’s another World Cup booster episode. Will the guest team, made up of a seemingly random mix of talents and comedians, prove to be more interesting than I think they will be?

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The Arashis were apparently told to wear something appropriate to golf, which gives a pretty big hint about who the plus one guest might be, and Ninomiya-kun decided to go fully traditional while Ohno-san had a slightly older mode, though not a bad choice. The other three went a bit more stylish than I think golfers tend to aim for, though I don’t know how it is in Japan.

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The highlights of the guest team were Wakki-san, who is very athletic and brings a lot of crazy energy, and JOY-san, who is a tad unpredictable when it comes to his input. Alongside them, there was also Hide-san, Wakki-san’s partner in the comedy duo Penalty. I haven’t seen much of Hide-san, but I’ve seen even less of former baseball player Ishii Kazuhisa-san and sportscaster Kojima Ruriko-san. The comedy duo Peace, though, are frequent Arashi guests – so frequent that I wasn’t especially excited to see them.

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Some of these guests have very tenuous ties to soccer, though others have better credentials. Ishii-san explained that even though he was a pro baseball player, he was also the head of his soccer club during elementary school days. Some people actually went “eh!?” here, because that’s what you’re supposed to do on Japanese variety shows, but I think the appropriate response was a shrug.

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The plus one guest was pro golfer Koga Miho-san, who may have been on Arashi shows before, if I recall correctly. She won the most prize money among Japanese women golfers in 2008 and retired in 2011 due to problems with her left wrist. Incidentally, she admitted to not watching soccer at all – not even the World Cup. She was so clueless about soccer (and television) that she thought the guest team was actually composed of soccer players!

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The first game was Korokoro Viking (and if they’re going to do it, I’m glad they’re getting it out of the way first) with the guest team starting things off. Wakki-san started being silly right away, and the team pointed out the finer points of the Adidas uniform design (I doubt Adidas was actually paying them for the promotion, but who knows?). Try tried to get Ishii-san to lead the huddle and cheer, but he’s really soft-spoken.

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On the critical orange zone, it was Ishii-san on one side while Wakki-san and Kojima-san shared the other side (actually, Wakki-san controlled the side while Kojima-san advised him on what to do – she was surprisingly active).

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Announcer Itou-san asked Ishii-san for another word to inspire the team, and Ishii-san immediately complained that he had already said what he had to say in the huddle! The guy really doesn’t like to talk.

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Wakki-san accuses him of being a shaky character. I don’t know how much TV experience Ishii-san has, but he sure seems nervous.

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For the Arashi team, the orange zone was controlled by Matsumoto-kun and Koga-san. Wakki-san pointed out that, as a golfer, Koga-san’s instinct must be to get the ball into the hole (which is exactly what they want to avoid in this game), and Koga-san admitted that that was true.

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Koga-san seems confident. How will she and MatsuJun do?

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Koga-san was certainly fired up throughout the game – highly competitive, and quite a contrast to Ishii-san, who played in that position for the guest team.

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The next game was one we rarely see – Shotgun Disk. There was a huge height discrepancy between the two shooters for the guest team, even when they stood on the same step:

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Ishii-san had misgivings about how he would do in the game, but Ayabe-san pointed out that Ishii-san had been a pitcher so . . . throwing things should sort of be something he’s good at. Certainly, this is as close as any game is going to come to using his skills as a baseball player – they still need to develop the baseball equivalent of Kicking Sniper.

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There’s rarely anything noteworthy about the gameplay in this game, unfortunately. For Arashi, Sakurai-san was the passer and Ninomiya-kun was the receiver, so with the two most level-headed Arashi members at either end of this, it was unlikely that we would see any strange happenings.

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Well, unless Koga-san, who was one of the shooters alongside Ohno-san, has some strange trouble with frisbees.

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Ohno-san has been pretty quiet through this episode.

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The third game was Cliff Climb (yay!), with Wakki-san and Kojima-san the climbers for the guest team. I was really interested to see how Kojima-san would do. She’s been very expressive throughout the episode so far – second only to Wakki-san, whose wonderfully elastic face was in full form.

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Kojima-san went up first on the right side so Wakki-san could tackle the difficult overhang. As long as Kojima-san can do her part, there’s virtually no question that Wakki-san can handle the climb in good time.

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For Arashi, the climbers were Aiba-kun and Koga-san. Aiba-kun declares himself “Makki” to indicate his own climbing abilities, but when they try to get him to do the same gag that Wakki-san did before climbing, he refuses – he genuinely doesn’t like that one. That makes Wakki-san collapse to the floor, but he recovers and offers Aiba-kun an alternative funny face to help Aiba get into the proper spirit.

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Climbing really isn’t in the golfing repertoire, so how will Koga-san do? She’s handling the same part as Kojima-san.

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The penultimate game was Kicking Sniper.

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Somehow, even though the guest team is all dressed up in soccer uniforms, and many of them have legit soccer backgrounds, they don’t worry me as much in this game as the previous week’s team. And that’s mainly because they decided to send everyone except Kojima-san (since there were seven on the team, one would have to sit out) and rotate who would take the shots, meaning each player would have half the opportunity to adjust based on experience.

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I didn’t like this Honda Keisuke impersonator in the previous episode, and nor in this episode, but in both cases he was received well by the Arashis and the crowd, so what do I know?

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Oh, by the way, as a little note in the corner of the screen pointed out (as did Itou-san very quickly), there were six targets in this Kicking Sniper instead of just the usual five.

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Arashi sent up everyone and rotated just like the guest team, though naturally all of them except for Koga-san have much more experience in this game than the guest team. Will they show it and get a good number?

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Ohno-san agreed to coach Koga-san and instruct her on how to kick, given that she’s a total soccer novice. His recommended kicking style was . . . well, it was certainly straightforward. Perhaps a bit too straightforward.

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They made Dual Curling the final game this time, and I’d prefer for that to be the consistent pattern since it’s the only game where the teams go head-to-head.

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To include as many people as possible, there were two rounds, but that still meant one person on the guest team had to sit out and it was Wakki-san this time.

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Most of the talk before the game was focused on the competition. Actually, there’s been minimal silliness in this episode.

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I think this actually turned out to be a much better episode than I was expecting. For the guest team, the initial focus was on Ishii-san and his evident quiet nature. To a large extent, I think he filled the time that JOY-san would normally have occupied, but JOY-san made up for it with success in Kicking Sniper. We didn’t get much from the members of Peace or Hide-san, but Wakki-san was as solid as I had hoped and Kojima-san was a pleasant surprise. Both Wakki-san and Kojima-san did a great job injecting energy into the proceedings throughout the episode, and their collaboration on Cliff Climb was good viewing.

Koga Miko-san was also better than I expected – she’s got an interesting, talkative, and competitive personality that served her well through the episode.

The Arashis only had to make a bit of effort to keep things moving entertainment-wise, so the main noteworthy contributions were game-related. Among these, I think Aiba-kun is clearly most deserving of the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi for his Cliff Climb performance and his efforts in Kicking Sniper.