Posted in Commentary, TV Program

Atarashii Arashi, hajimatta

Another overdue post. Been meaning to write on the new 嵐にしやがれ (Arashi ni Shiyagare) for weeks now but have been sidetracked by other shows and things. I initially wanted to give each member corner 3 tries/chances before weighing on them; by now i’ve lost count on how many missions they’ve done. We don’t get all five in one go — we got four in the first week and only two per episode in subsequent weeks.

But after watching the latest installment (for the nth time now), i guess it’s time to finally sit down and get it over with done.

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[golden chicken wings a la Arashi, anyone? 😂]

I believe we unanimously concur that the new format is an improvement since i only read positive comments on it. The original learn-from-aniki(s) was interesting if limiting, so they reworked the setup that female guests could appear on the show too. But it was styled like Himitsu no Arashi-chan, the VIP Room and Mannequin (fashion coordinating) segments; the latter was hilarious, but the former was a hit or miss — and i barely bothered about the “ii mise kudoi mise” segment. It picked up when they revamped the game again and started to shoot outdoors where Arashi had more candid confab with the guest, but i like the current format the best.

Here, the program focuses more on them and less on the guest. Each member has an individual corner for which they did location shooting beforehand, similar to “Encounter the unknown”. What they do in the studio is watch the VTRs and make offhanded remarks as they go. So yes, each episode is VTR-heavy embellished with witty remarks and ribbing captions from the staff. Another appeal is in the amount of fun yet bizarre experiments they have a hand in, a reminiscent of their older shows (like Shukudai-kun era). I have to remind myself that Shiyagare is a variety not a drama series because it is actually getting better and more amusing (even laugh-out-loud funny) by the week.

A quick rundown of the corners:

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Jun: THIS IS MJ

In which MJ pursues the kakkoii-ness of the world, doing something kakkoii-ly which shall make those watching squeal “kyaa~” or gush “kakkoii~”, even if that something is as impractical as jumping off the fence or making an odd avant-garde confession through ventriloquism. The recent projects are less off-kilter although not less intricate to execute: tying secure knots which may be useful in everyday setting or cooking crumbly fried rice in a showy manner.

But, whatever the challenge is, he’ll gallantly accept it and dive straight to the crash course even if the skill seems impossible to master within the given time limit (ranging from a few hours to a day). That doesn’t mean he’s immune to grouses and uncharacteristic fails though. Nevertheless, i think they milk his stoic element a bit too much that it feels contrived, especially in the interview section, but well, that’s his image after all?

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Aiba: Daiko Chosa (Investigation Agent)

In which high-spirited Aiba investigates the trivial questions people are curious about but don’t bother or too lazy too busy to find the answers to. Regardless how silly or derisory it is, he’ll test it out for you and conclude with Top 3 viable solutions or if the request is doable. The cases so far range from noteworthy (what to do when vending machine rejects your precious coins/notes, how to cure motion sickness) to somewhat ingenuous (which Olympic game i could represent the country if i start training now) to completely ludicrous (can we draw Baikinman using baikin/bacteria? *eww*, is there a way to make sour summer oranges sweet?).

This corner is fun to watch for the experiments conducted and his zest alone. He really does it all — does he ever say no? — even if that requires him to get seasick to test the effectiveness of some of the methods himself or hop onto a roller coaster and go into haunted house (despite being a scaredy-cat) to see if either could lower orange’s sourness level. The filming conditions he has to put himself through is probably the harshest yet worthwhile as you can see how much he enjoys those crazy experiments. That we end up learning a thing or two from it is an added bonus.

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Nino: Chiichana Yabou (Little Ambition)

In which the brat sets off to fulfill his ambitions and practices his coaxing skills to accomplish his mission, going as far as selling his and his group’s name if need be. His goals can be ambitious (collecting cedar pollens — which cause hay fever — and create a drawing from it, wearing helmets of Japan’s greatest men in history) or absurd (using firefly squid for a glow-in-the-dark costume) though not without good intent (transporting abandoned Ninomiya Kinjirou’s statue(s) symbolizing thrift and diligence to a school that doesn’t have one yet).

Like Aiba’s, i find Nino’s to be a hit or miss depending on what’s covered in the episode. In Daiko Chosa, it is the nature of the question or the visuals that can be off-putting, but here his segment tends to be tedious that it ain’t as lively and engaging as the other four’s. However, his wisecracks, quick-thinking, and manipulation make up for it as they’re always a pleasure to watch.

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Ohno: Tsukutte Miyou (Let’s Make it!)

In which the spaced-out leader puts his artistic sense and dexterity into good use by making crafts from nearly scratch. So far, he has successfully made a joumon pot (and cook rice with it), super thin yet sturdy toothpicks, kitchen knife, and conch horn. All of ’em require high level of precision and concentration yet he goes through each step like nobody’s business. He’ll receive help from the pro from time to time, but still: sugoi deshou? Is there anything he cannot make?

Watching Ohno giving his undivided attention to what’s in front of him is already mesmerizing, but then we also get to see a different side of him we hardly see on TV: talkative/grumbling Ohno. We knew how voluble he can be when he’s alone or it’s fishing related from the Hawaii and Las Vegas footage, and here such propensity continues. So, let’s relish in the rare sight of him making a hell of a lot of noises and bickering with the senseis or the director before we all get amazed by the end result. That’s artsy Ohno for you~

Random like: that round-faced emoji 😄

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Sho: Oshinobi Ryokou (Secret Gateway)

In which highly-organized Sakurai travels around the country to rediscover Japan… under one condition that he can’t get recognized from beginning to end. Once busted, he is to retreat immediately. We witnessed a fair share of the strict, jam-packed, and unforgiving style of his traveling habit/schedule (stressful but a blast to watch) before, so this Secret Getaway is nothing in comparison. It is a wind-down, leisurely version which isn’t without its own thrill — will someone recognize and call out to him?

While the trip looks far from uptight, who knows if Sho keeps his guard up at all times: he ought to want to end his getaway unnoticed (so he can do/see what he aims to do/see) yet he may want to get recognized. Because, how can nobody is aware a super idol is amongst them when he dons minimal disguises and walks around filming himself with a handheld camera? He also (deliberately?) chooses places that are crowded or where he gotta share space with others for an extended period of time (like inside a train or a boat). It may be understandable in the former’s scenario since we don’t really look at people’s faces in those situations, but highly improbably in the latter’s setting — there are only so many people in your proximity, how can you not see their face or strange behavior? I mean, i would totally do a double-take whenever i spot someone filming oneself or even talking to oneself.

So, the charm doesn’t lie entirely in the journey or destination itself but also in the bigger picture — if he’ll be busted, when he’ll be busted. And what happens afterwards — how they’re gonna make up for shortened airtime. Other compelling bits are his try-on guises (even if he always ends up choosing the ‘normal’ one), antics, and of course… selfies.

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[He totally looks like a kid in the bottom left pic. How can a 33-year-old looks this cute? Tell me…]

This guy really likes taking a lot of (hilarious and cute) selfies filled with one-of-a-kind expressions. Can’t blame the editing staff for those ribbing captions, his face asks for it! XD  And although he claims that in this corner, he’s happy when he isn’t recognized, it inevitably hurts his pride when no one does. So much so that the narrator has to specifically asks viewers/fellow day-trippers to call him out when they do spot him on the road, lol. Because, as expected, he’s all ear-to-ear when that happens.

While the member segments are appealing in their own right, i like it best when we get to see all five on one screen. I therefore enjoy when they ‘finish’ the project in the studio — mostly with Ohno’s as he proudly flaunts his creations to everyone — or when they move away from their seats and do/challenge something together in the last corner called Arashi Calendar. Here, the show brings to our attention that any day can be a special day we’re unaware of since it isn’t as big and eventful as say, New Year or Christmas, covers the significance a certain date of the week holds, and prepares an activity related to it for all cast to partake in.

The last point is arguably the best part. The challenges are amusing in and of itself but become hilariously entertaining as we see how united they are as a team or competitive as challengers given the circumstances.

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Arashi Calendar is also probably designed so that the visiting guest has something to do besides serving as the sixth face and commentator during the VTRs; otherwise, i don’t see their role in the program other than to promote whatever project they have on hand.

Speaking of VTRs, i’m still pleasantly surprised at how good and engaging they are as i don’t usually enjoy a program with clips after clips when they have host and guest. Even if the format becomes more individualized in a sense, i have little complaints as they are in their element: Jun to maximize his coolness and capable self, Aiba to be experimental, Nino to be a brat who’ll do anything to get his wants fulfilled, Ohno to tap into his artistic side, and Sho to travel more frequently and explore places he’s been wanting to visit. It’ll be nice should it is something they’ll like/enjoy doing. So far, Sho and Nino set their own goals, and while the other three mostly do what’s given to them, Ohno was able to chip in (the kitchen knife was his idea), so it’s not far-fetched to assume that they don’t just go with the motion but have more creative freedom this time around.

Lastly — this post has gotten unforeseeably verbose this shall be my last point, i promise! — the tease. As much as we’re used to Nino’s snark, it’s refreshing to hear it coming from the production team. That can only suggest the good rapport between the two parties because i doubt they dare to openly poke fun at each other if they haven’t established such accord. Now, what’s not to love?

How much do you enjoy the revamped program, by the way?

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Author:

I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

2 thoughts on “Atarashii Arashi, hajimatta

  1. I was actually a huge fan of the initial AniShi format – probably because it was sort of new when I joined the fandom. I like it mainly because it’s structured enough that you know what to expect, but spontaneous in that the guest contributes to the bulk of what will happen during his episode, so what happens changes constantly. The lack of structure in the newer formats of AniShi is what makes it difficult for me to follow, I think. Between like and dislike, I do like the latest AniShi format. But I don’t love it. I wish the guests could contribute more. (The Arashi Calendar, I find really interesting though.)

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    1. Ah, now you point it out, it dawns on me that the current format is a complete opposite of the initial setup, from the guest taking the lead to nearly being wasted. That’s probably why i like Arashi Calendar a lot, if not the most, because we get to see Arashi as 5 and the more of the guest.

      Yup, i did enjoy the original format a lot during its run as i got to learn more about the aniki guests i would otherwise have little knowledge about and saw Arashi learn a thing or two from them, but i found it quite hard to follow without subs — therefore my love for the latest format, lol.

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