Note: This text is reproduced verbatim and provided courtesy of © Fuji Television Network, Inc.

(Interview Date: October 2019)

We had the valuable opportunity to interview Yuuki BANJO, who is the General Director of “VS ARASHI”! As one of the main figures involved in the production of the incredibly popular show, he gives us some amazing behind the scenes gossip you won’t get anywhere else. We hope you enjoy it!

Yuuki BANJO from “VS ARASHI”- General Director.

Q How do you originally come up with all the games and their titles?

We get a lot of inspiration from many areas, such as sports and popular game applications, but the most important factor we always consider, is whether it will lead to contestants having a smashing fun time. Plus, the rules should be simple for the guests and the viewers to understand. Moreover, the games shouldn’t make the challengers feel frustrated if it doesn’t go the way they had originally planned. Rather, it should create feelings of exhilaration and refreshment, like ‘we were almost there’!

Up until now, we have created around 20 games. And in terms of their titles, we base it on actual movements and action contents of the games, with a combination of simple ‘Katakana-style’ English which everyone would know. Also, we take into account of the ‘feel good’ factor for when titles are verbally called aloud by ‘ARASHI’ members in the show. In meetings, we actually do rehearsals for this.

Above all, when coming up with titles, the harmony of the sounds is the main focus, so staff members who are proficient at English give me some useful pointers when I ask them about it… (laughs).

Q Having worked with the show from the beginning, are there any specific areas you always focus on as a director?

As the show is aired weekly on prime-time, we try to make sure that the content is suitable and comfortable for everyone watching, and also that the on-screen elements are appealing. Also, making the rules as fair and as equal as possible for everyone is important, as we wouldn’t like the challengers to think that the game rules are unevenly sided. For example, the ideal is for the games to be unpredictable right until the end. However, if we have it too structured in a way which could lead to a sudden flip of an outcome, even though a team has performed so well, then it wouldn’t be suitable right?

Q The show can also be watched in various regions around the world. How do you feel about this overseas popularity? 

Surpassing the language barrier, as we are making the games to be as simple and exhilarating as possible, I’m happy that our viewers from abroad are also having a great time watching the show!

In the past, we used to have a lot of games packed into one show, so we mainly had the contestants talk about their thoughts on the coming games. However, these days, we are trying to allocate more time for ‘talks’ between members of ‘ARASHI’ and the guests, so that the viewers get an extra chance to hear interesting stories and gossips which you might not get the opportunity to do so anywhere else. I’m sure that these talks by ‘ARASHI’ members are enjoyed by their fans abroad, but as we also welcome great guests who some viewers may not be familiar with overseas, how much of these stories and gossips are recognized, is something I tend to get a little curious about… (laughs).

Q Do you have a message for our global viewers?

We hope to continue creating the show in a unique way which transparently portrays the goodness of ‘ARASHI,’ and above all, a show which everyone will continue to enjoy.

VS ARASHI – The symbolic set!

Q After doing the show for over 10 years, what do you think are the attractive elements of the ‘ARASHI’ members?

One of the amazing things about them, is that all the members really respect one another. They are always very considerate of their fans, viewers and us staff members too. It’s also fantastic, how each of the members keep to their way of justice, whilst continuing to remain faithful to the fans who have been supporting them ever since their debut 20 years ago.

Yuuki BANJO: Profile
Originally from Tokyo, he joined Fuji Television in 1999. Since then, he has supervised many popular shows such as the music program ‘HEY!HEY!HEY!,’ for which he was the General Director. And in April 2008, he set-up ‘VS ARASHI’ after supervising the direction for ‘Johnny’s Countdown 2007-2008,’ for which ‘ARASHI’ was the main host group for the first time. Since then, he has been involved in the main production and planning of ‘VS ARASHI’ as General Director.

By - Ben K.