In this VS Arashi (VS 嵐), the guys waste no time telling us that there is, in fact, a new game! Now, while that’s very exciting, and I’ve been waiting quite a while for this, I have to point out that the previous new game, Popcorn Hitter, went nowhere and the one before that, Shotgun Disk, is only rarely played and generates practically no drama. Meanwhile, a lot of my game-related complaints have to do with existing games that aren’t played enough – like Jumping Shooter and Falling Pipe, which are games that the Arashis can still do poorly in despite being the regulars and which also pit the two teams against each other head-to-head.

The new game is called “GoGo Sweeper”, and from the little view in the corner, it looks like it only involves two people at a time, and if it takes any skill at all, would be relatively easy to develop an optimum strategy for. That’s just a first impression, though, and I’ll give my definitive review of it at the end. Will it be a keeper, or will it end up another Popcorn Hitter?

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 000 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 001

Sakurai-san is about to call out the guest team, but Ninomiya-kun wonders if it’s all right – whether they’ll need to put up a mosaic to pixel out (for censorship). That gets the audience’s attention (eh!).

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 002

And yes, it is the Suikyu Yankees team. So, as if the promise of a new game isn’t enough, we get a bright young team making one of the more epic entrances on VS Arashi that I’ve ever seen. Don’t worry, they’re not required to play all the games in their swimsuits.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 003

So, the Suikyu Yankees team is composed of Hey! Say! Jump’s Nakajima Yuto-kun and Takaki Yuya-kun along with Yamazaki Kento-kun, Ohara Sakurako-san, Oomasa Aya-san, and Kurashina Kana-san. Kurashina-san is the eldest of the bunch at twenty-six. Of course, it’s very nice to see Yuto-kun and Takaki-kun competing against their senpai, and I hope we see some exciting performances in the games.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 004 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 005

Just a epic as the entrance of the guest team was that of the plus one guests – Kojima Yoshio-san and Cunning Takeyama-san, who matched the outfits of the Suikyu Yankees team, wearing the bare minimum. This was a genius booking move as Kojima Yoshio-san is . . . well, if you haven’t seen him doing his comedy gags in a swimsuit already, there’s probably no stopping him from it here.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 006

As MatsuJun pointed out, while Kojima-san appearing in a swimsuit was understandable, Cunning Takeyama-san . . . well, he was just the inevitable unflattering comparison, right?

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 0072014.07.17 VS Arashi 008

To my further great surprise (these just keep coming in this episode, don’t they?), the first game they played was Jumping Shooter. It’s sort of a case of ask and ye shall receive (eventually). Of course, if they weren’t going to play this game with this young and sporty team, would we have ever seen it again?

Nakajima Yuto-kun strikes a pose after switching to a more conservative outfit for the actual gameplay.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 009

But will the Arashi team really pose much of a challenge when Cunning Takeyama-san is defending the bottom goal (where most of the balls end up)? I don’t suppose Yuto-kun and Yamazaki-kun could do Arashi a favor and aim at Ninomiya-kun in the upper goal instead?

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 010

It’s not impossible, since both Yuto-kun and Yamazaki-kun were in Yowakutemo Katemasu with Ninomiya-kun just a season ago, and maybe they want to show off their throwing arms to their former fictional baseball coach. Ninomiya-kun complemented how quickly Yuto-kun improved his baseball skills, by the way.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 0112014.07.17 VS Arashi 0122014.07.17 VS Arashi 013

Or maybe the two shooters will throw at Ninomiya-kun simply because he started a side conversation with Takeyama-san while the Suikyu Yankees team was talking about their training.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 015

Either way, Yuta-kun and Yamazaki-kun have the stamina, so the Arashi team had better be prepared to score a lot of goals to even out the score.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 016 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 017 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 018 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 019

The keeper for the guest team were Takaki-kun in the bottom goal and Ohara-san on top. The shooters for Arashi were Kojima-san and Aiba-kun – certainly a high-energy combination.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 020 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 021 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 022

It was so good to see this game again. Having done this, though, I’m guessing they won’t do Cliff Climb, and that’s a shame because I wanted to see how Yuto-kun or Takaki-kun or both would do there.

After the game, announcer Itou-san wanted to ask Ohara-san something, but when she said “hai!”, there was another voice saying “hai!” as well – Ohno-san. I wonder if he suddenly woke up thinking he heard his name. Ninomiya-kun spontaneously blocked Ohno-san from the camera as they proceeded to explain the difference between the two names.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 024

They went to Rolling Coin Tower next, so yeah, probably not expecting Cliff Climb. There was a nice energetic vibe in the studio here. Yuto-kun is very good in his first go at being team leader. I haven’t really seen him in many variety shows in the past few years, and certainly not in this capacity, but he was quite at ease – not even his normal hyperactive giddy self.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 025 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 026 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 027

Not much to say about Rolling Coin Tower – it was the usual banter beforehand and the usual crapshoot during the game (there are all sorts of changes they could make to this game to make it more interesting – like changing it to a minimum of three coins but otherwise letting the players place as many as they want while the tower is in their zone). Onto the main event – the new game GoGo Sweeper:

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 028

I don’t understand all the rules just yet, but Ohno-san and Sakurai-san were driving (so it’s not adversarial, though I wish it was), and they got to position themselves in an initial “Formation Lap”. The other team members didn’t seem to have any roles except shouting at them.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 029 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 030 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 031 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 032

After the Formation Lap, which seemed like a total waste of time and will probably be cut shorter or out completely in the future, a hundred balls were released and the players proceeded to try and shove them into one of two goals. They were given ninety seconds, which is probably too long.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 033

There’s something called “FEVER” if they get the four pink balls into the goal, and at that point more balls are released.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 034

Did I say that Rolling Coin Tower was a crapshoot? Sorry, I should have saved that term for this, since it literally is one. This seems like one of those games that are more fun to play than to watch, but maybe I should wait and see how the Suikyu Yankees team does.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 035

The players for the guest team were Takaki-kun and Oomasa-san, and it looks like the score gaps in this game will be fairly tight.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 036 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 037 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 038 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 039

The players seemed to have fun, so at least there’s that.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 040 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 041 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 042

The next game was Kicking Sniper and the guest team sent up Yamazaki, Nakajima, and Ohara alternating with Kurashina in the ladies zone. Kurashina-san says she has confidence despite a lack of soccer skills.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 043 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 044

It was here that Yamazaki-kun and Yuto-kun has some notes about their experience working alongside Ninomiya-kun. We knew it was coming.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 045 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 046 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 047 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 048

Now, Yuto-kun and Yamazaki-kun spent one season in baseball and then this season in water polo . . . but how about their soccer skills? I guess we’re about to find out.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 049 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 050 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 051

This was really a gag-heavy episode, by the way, as the Arashis and the plus one guests tried to set up the gags at every turn with varying results.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 052

The Arashi team’s kickers were the two plus one guests in the first slot, then Aiba-kun and Matsumoto-kun. Aiba-kun messed around with Takeyama-san for a bit about whether he had any soccer experience.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 053 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 054 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 055

Kojima-san scored a fine play by delivering one of his gags as an answer when it wasn’t being deliberately set-up, but was nevertheless appropriate. If only all gag deliveries came this way.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 056 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 057

The final game was Dual Curling, which means this was one of the rare episodes in which we didn’t see Korokoro Viking. I’ve said before that I like Dual Curling as the final game because it pits the two teams directly against each other, so the game selection in this episode was definitely excellent (I’ll forgive Rolling Coin Tower and the lack of Cliff Climb).

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 058

For the first round, it was Ninomiya, Kojima, and Ohno against Oomasa, Kurashina, and Yamazaki. The rest of the teams would participate in the second round.

In an interesting twist, the Arashi team decided to leave Kojima-san with only a single stone – the 2x stone – and determined that if he got it into the bonus pocket, he would get to do a gag medley. Just a reminder – if he gets it in, he also gets another 2x stone, so if he’s properly motivated, he could nab quite a lot of points despite only having one stone.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 059 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 060 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 061 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 062

The Arashi team had an extra member, so Aiba-kun actually sat out this game. Otherwise, everyone who hadn’t played got a chance in the second round.

2014.07.17 VS Arashi 064 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 065 2014.07.17 VS Arashi 066

This was an excellent and very smooth episode altogether. The guests were obviously great all around – uniformly excited, energetic, and communicative. Nakajima-kun proved to be a very sturdy leader and was never caught by surprise when prompted for something to say. Takaki-kun might have been slightly more nervous, but not as much as I thought he would be.

The plus one guests were excellent, and really the humor of the show was largely provided by Kojima-san and the relevant gags. I’m not usually a fan of gag comedy, but Kojima-san contributes in other ways (his game participation was very strong, for instance), so I give him the leeway.

The Arashis were fully engaged (well, Ohno-san in a sort of humorously disengaged way). There wasn’t any direct kouhai needling, but it’s possible that they were a little more focused because they were facing Yuto, Takaki, and a host of young’uns. Who was the most outstanding member? That’s tough to say. I don’t know if I should give credit for prompting gags, but perhaps Aiba-kun deserves credit for starting the “daijoubu, daijoubu” string. On the other hand, maybe the key was interaction with the guests, in which case Ninomiya-kun had an edge thanks to his recent work with Yuto-kun and Yamazaki-kun. I think I’ll give the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi to the two of them, though other cases could be made for the other members.

And the new game? Let’s wait and see how often it’s played. I couldn’t decide from this episode whether it would become another Popcorn Hitter, but we’ll find out soon enough.