Posted in Commentary, TV Program

Teamwork Arashi

Remember Korekatsu Arashi? It’s been half a year since it aired, and the one thing i remember the most about it is hands down the epic Teamwork Match. I liked this game in particular and that special in general that i wished it wouldn’t be a one-time show.

At that time, Junior-san mentioned the possibility of the proposed games being brought over to VS Arashi, so when they actually did so around a month later, i was beyond thrilled. The more when it was my favorite game that made the cut, either because it received the most positive responses or because it’s the most workable game to be incorporated into the regular program. Now, every Arashi member has gotten a chance being inside the box… that i suppose it’s okay to blog about this segment again.

How well Arashi knows the other members?
With Ohno being an oddball leader person, how predictable the other four are?

[I’ll cover four matches, so you know how long this post is gonna be, right? 😉]

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Teamwork Sho (2016.02.04)
The first teammate to be dissected is Sakurai Sho. (The opposing team is Yoshimoto Comedians, but hereafter i’ll be focusing on Arashi Team unless the opponent has epic happenings going on.) Like the Korekatsu‘s episode, food-related question opens the game. However, instead of eating order, it is about the sauce to be used when eating aji furai (deep-fried horse mackerel). There are five options. Jun thinks it’s either worcester or tartar, Nino assumes it’s worcester, while Aiba believes it’s chuno. They go with chuno, agreeing that Sho is predictable. (The supporting theory is, majority of households in Kanto region buys chuno sauce while those in Kansai buy worcester sauce.)

But of course the challengers won’t know what the question is, and Sho therefore proceeds with caution, starting with miso soup then a mouthful of rice, taking a few glances at the sauce rack while he’s at it. He reaches for worcester sauce first but picks chuno, as Nino nods proudly at the back. It’s new for any team to get the opening question right, and we’re given a few shots of Sho’s smug faces before he delivers the final words: he can’t even differentiate the two sauces. LOL.

Q2: which hand and finger they’ll start from when cutting nails. Both teams choose left thumb, the most common starting point. They frown at the Yoshimoto’s guy who says he starts from the middle finger, but their representative, Fujiwara’s Haranishi, proves to be the bigger anomaly: he does his left ring finger’s! He argues that he’s just cut them and the ring finger is the least trimmed one, but who could’ve guessed that? On the other hand, Sho scans his left fingers briefly and does as predicted. Cue: a round of his trademark smirk.

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Q3: what they’ll write following the kanji of 新 (new). Jun is quick to propose three options. The team settles with shinbun (newspaper), the thing Sho reads every day. It’s the third match. Cue: full-on caster mode. News Zero~

Q4: which drink they’ll take during break: mango juice, green tea, iced chocolate, hot latte, or hot coffee? To trick the challengers, the staff also prepares some snacks (as they will only be asked to take a break). Again, Jun’s the first to voice that Sho would go for latte if it were iced. Given Sho’s custom, Jun and Nino guess it’ll be latte; Aiba leans toward coffee. Sho usually drinks iced latte BUT! he may have coffee with cheesecake (one of the provided snacks, which he lurves).

The result? After eyeing the lined-up dispensers and scanning the snacks, he grabs a paper cup and goes for hot coffee but gets distracted by the hot latte right next to it (“Ah…”). He hesitates for a second and pours the latter into the cup. Aww, Arashi gets the last question wrong. Sho affirms that he intended to have coffee to go along with cheesecake, and blames the box for his out-of-the-box selection. Which snack to eat would be the easier question, huh?

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Teamwork Jun (2016.02.25)
After Yama, it’s Kaze’s turn. I thought they’d do it in order — since Ohno was first and Sho second — but they sent the youngest in for the third round. Again, question on food preferences comes first. This time it’s which salad dressing to use: wafuu (Japanese-style), sesame, or Caesar salad? Sho murmurs he has no idea, Nino states it’d be an easy question were it for Ohno. Ohmiya believe it’s sesame, the healthier choice, but Sakuraiba bring up the possibility of “no dressing”. Shinohara Shinichi, one of the plus one guests, however voices that Jun gives off Caesar salad image than sesame.

They provide a hotel breakfast spread, so Jun begins with the small bowl of soup before taking the plate of salad…and digs the content as it is. Three Arashi members hang their heads at that, while Sho looks at him wide-eyed. Jun points out that he just ate veggies in the green room earlier, implying they should’ve gotten it correct (Sho: “That’s why we were divided.”), at which Shinohara counters but you’d normally drizzle some, right? Cornered, Jun resignedly agrees it’d be sesame in that case. Nino, cutely: “Then add some~”

Q2: what they’ll write following the katakana of “sha”. Sho quickly proposes the obvious: shampoo (the CM deal Jun has with Aiba). Aiba is all, yup! either that or shake (salmon), which earns laughs. Nino: won’t it be [the simple ones like] shaapen (mechanical pencil)? Oddly, none of these makes the cut; they choose shanpan (champagne) instead. I didn’t get the reasoning, and neither did Jun.

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Q3: where they’ll affix the staff pass sticker. Aiba supposes it’s thigh, which Sho concurs — right thigh is the so-called orthodox location. Arashi Team jumps to their feet to celebrate their first correct as well as the appearance of the Matsumoto Jun they know. Haha.

Q4: which eye they’ll close when winking for the camera. Sho thinks it’s the left eye; Aiba has no idea since he can’t wink. Cue: the weird faces he makes attempting to make one. Despite Sho’s initial guess, the team answers right eye instead. To fool the reps, the staff prepares six different types of hats, and hat-lover J falls for it immediately.

Fashionista J takes his sweet time weighing the options, clearly thinking that’s THE question (at which his teammates snort in the background), that the cameraman asks him to hurry up. LOL. He finally settles on the snapback, clearly expecting a buzzer sound and hence utterly confused when the photo session continues. The hat part is arguably unnecessary, though i love the embarrassed expressions/gestures Jun displays upon realizing he wasted so much time on the inconsequential accessory.

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Teamwork Aiba (2016.04.21)
There was a two-month break between Jun and Aiba’s turn. Despite the 16.5 years of camaraderie Arashi shares as a group, Jun worries that Aiba Masaki’s unpredictable AB-ness may surface. The tennen assures that he’ll turn A-type in front of camera, but nobody is convinced.

Q1: which laundry item they’ll hang last. Nino assumes the baka will simply hang what he sees, and thus the last piece would be the one at the bottom of the pile: sweatpants. Aiba does ruffle with the items but as expected hangs them in order from the top of the pile. And the rumor was true: he does it neatly. He even clips the left and right parts of the bath towel so it won’t fly away. Too bad he takes sweatpants before socks. Arashi team rips him on that, yet the man himself remains clueless. (“Was it my fault?”)

Q2: which pickle they’ll eat with ochazuke (green tea over rice): takuan (daikon), cucumber, or shibazuke. Arashi goes with Ohkubo Kayoko’s (one of the plus one guests) answer, who deems the rep resembles Kappa (the folklore creature which is green in color and fond of cucumber). The setup is self-service, so the challengers need to select the topping(s) and make the dish themselves. Aiba puts salmon, kelp, and seaweed on his bowl, pours hot water in, and picks the green pickle.

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Q3: which kitten they’ll cuddle. The kittens are as cute as but naughtier than the pups in Korekatsu episode. Again, Arashi goes along with the plus one’s suggestion: the green-scarfed kitten of Norwegian Forest breed. (I wondered if Ohno opted for the blue-scarfed puppy as it matched his image color…) The animal-lover lights up at the sight and after deliberating scoops the red-scarfed Munchkin up. Cue: wrong buzzer’s sound. They ask what his second selection is, so he lifts the blue-scarfed Scottish Fold. Another wrong buzzer’s sound. Nino orders him to return to the box.

Q4: which part of the face they’ll draw a mole on. A woman’s face is divided into seven zones. The other plus one, Hashimoto Manami, mentions the chin area if Aiba likes a sexy person. In the end, they leave it to Ohkubo to pinpoint the location: forehead, since it’s the broadest area. In my opinion, it’s more toward what he finds attractive in women, hence the female caricature, and he draws a big dot…right under the nose. o.O

That not only shocks everybody but also doesn’t fall under the given zones. He would at least thought of the members’ face moles, or so i thought, but no, it’s Chiba Lotte Marines’ Satozaki Tomoya he’s referencing. Nino snaps, “We don’t need that kind of Chiba-ness” at his defense.

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Teamwork Nino (2016.05.26)
So, the last one to be scrutinized is Nino. I’ve anticipated his turn the most, curious to know how predictable he is and how the others would fare when the talkative brat is inside the box. The members believe he’s predictable, mainly because he’s consistent with his choices/actions. Like, he will order this when at eatery A and that at eatery B. He won’t be swayed by special menus or even chef recommendations.

Neen’s love for hambaagu is no secret that the first question is too easy for Arashi Team: what they will eat on the first date. I doubt the occasion will affect his preference. Besides, it’ll be out-of-character for him to choose something else, or for the team not to write that unmistakable answer. Ninomiya Kazunari = hambaagu after all. The surprising part is when he takes the passenger seat in the car set. The audience’s “eehhh~” is so loud.

It is the first time both reps challenge the question at the same time, and it’s a fun scene thanks to Ayase Haruka’s ditzyness. Like me, she confuses hambaagu (hamburg steak) with hambaagaa (hamburger). She feels like eating udon but decides to go for Nino’s favorite food. Sasuga hambaagu shishou!

Q2: what they’ll write following the katakana of “ja”. The plus one guests (Kendo Kobayashi and Jinnai Tomonori) can only think of the most obvious continuation to them: [ja]niizu. That, however, doesn’t come to the minds of the four Johnny’s idols. Jun thinks of janpu (Shonen Jump) Nino reads earlier that day; Aiba opts for jaiantsu (baseball team Giants Nino’s a fan of); Sho deems janiizu improbable; Ohno, for probably the first time ever in Teamwork matches, suggests something: [ja]nii (Johnny).

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The other team answers Jaian (Doraemon’s Giant), which seems possible in Nino’s case since he likes Doraemon as well, but they stick with Giants. The moment Nino asks, “It is okay (if i write this)?” however, i knew he’s going to write niizu. Both plus one rip Sho for shooting their suggestion down. Aiba asks about Giants and Nino points out that he calls it “Kyojin”. Isn’t it weird that the members didn’t realize it?

Q3: which leg is on top when crossing legs. Aiba folds his arms and says Nino does the opposite of him. The fact that he mixes up legs with arms baffles everyone. Oh Aiba… how tennen can you be? Sho explains that he sits to Nino’s right in the green room and feels like he sees his left sole a lot, meaning Nino crosses his left foot, but since he got the “ja” question wrong, he isn’t confident with this hunch.

Before getting to the crossing legs instruction, the announcer asks him to “be happy”, “be angry”, and “be embarrassed”, as if it’s a casting audition. The moment Nino rests his right leg on top of his left’s, his teammates drop their heads to the desk. Sho doesn’t even look up until much later. Haha, it’s unexpected to see Sho this down guessing Nino incorrectly. Both plus one take no time to rip Sho the second time, at which Nino demonstrates his usual sitting style, wherein he folds his left leg under his right, which explains Sho’s sightings.

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I feared that Teamwork Nino would be boring without his quips, yet i worried for nothing. It’s as fun as the other matches, if not the most epic due to Sho’s unforeseen dejectedness. I anticipated Aiba to be the active one, since he seems to know his Shoubu-sen nakama best — like how Jun chipped in a lot for Sho’s turn and Sho for Jun’s. Ahem. Nino often became the team’s spokesperson regardless of who’s inside, though it’s interesting to note that every member would chip in for Teamwork Ohno and rip him for his uncharacteristic selections. Nevertheless, i still find it strange that they left Ohkubo to do the work for Teamwork Aiba. Granted, the questions were more random, but their general quietness was odd to me. Maybe that’s why his turn was the least exciting episode.

After watching Teamwork Sho where they nearly got a perfect score, i deduced that the rounds would be more entertaining if the answers didn’t match; it would open room for heated discussion that way. On the other hand, it contradicts the point of this game: to rake as many points as possible. Maybe i was too quick to judge. Sho is probably too by-the-book that the other members aren’t as easy to read. But even with the high match rate, his turn remained engrossing to watch; his doya-gao made up for the lack of ‘protests’. It’s also pretty apparent that the VSA versions aren’t as fluid as Korekatsu‘s. They cut a lot of scenes and reduced the number of questions. Nino’s was the closest to Ohno’s in this regard, and then i realized there were only three questions for his turn. Oh well, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

My favorite parts about this game don’t change though. I still love the theories, challengers’ cluelessness, teammates’ micro expressions, and challengers’ behavior inside the box. Speaking of the last point, the tennen pair was calm; Sakumoto bopped their heads to the music; Nino (also Ayase Haruka) couldn’t stay still — he changed his sitting positions and even messed with the headphone’s hanger. Above all, i love learning new information about them. Despite having been an Arashian for seven years and following their daily news updates (through fan accounts, that is, since the dorks do not open official social media accounts), there are many things i have yet to know or remember. E.g. Sho’s love for (iced) latte and cheesecake, Nino’s love for Doraemon, down to the little/trivial things like Aiba’s way of hanging laundry, Jun’s orthodoxy, or Ohno’s eating habit (including his penchant for Caesar salad (dressing)). It’s always nice getting to know them a little bit better, even if it’s merely their public persona.

Now that all five have been in, i wonder when the next occurrence is gonna be and who’s gonna be the next representative. I mean, they’re gonna keep this game in rotation and not shelve the sets after only four regular uses, right? Admittedly, the spirit of Teamwork isn’t as competitive as the other VSA games, it’s also quite difficult to score those 50 points, but it’s engaging and hardly boring. Well, the opponents and plus one guests play a part in livening things up, but if they continue to be able to churn out interesting settings and questions, i believe no one would mind seeing Teamwork Match more often. I know i don’t.

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