Monday, October 28, 2013

Aiba Masaki, the Tall, Giggly Manchild

Aiba being bashful on VS Arashi.
Aiba, as I have mentioned elsewhere, is really one of those personalities that just aren't around that commonly anymore. It's so hard to describe him in a single phrase, but I settled for "the tall, giggly manchild" in the title; that's because while it is by no means the only side to our darling Aiba-chan, it is the most prominent side that tends to get emphasized in Arashi bangumis, in fandom, and even in the La Tormenta lyrics (don don ban ban, talking in onomatopoeia? Looks like even Arashi themselves like to think of him as the child-like one). And boy, do we love this side of Aiba. Manchild Aiba is a package of bubblicious fun, always energetic, always spouting ridiculous proposals that make you question just what sort of logic runs in that gorgeously shaggy head, and always positive. He's someone we instinctively feel as friendly and approachable, despite being able to pull off one hell of a smoldering sexy face; I personally think that's because he never seems to judge anyone and generally has straightforward desires that he's not shy about voicing.

But of course, it would be terribly remiss of me to glide into the next section without bringing your attention to the well-oiled sexiness that is the non-manchild Aiba. Here are a few pics for reference.

As fans with normally functioning brains, we do realize that Aiba's bubbly personality is not something that is on 24/7. I mean, you'd need the energy of a supernova next to the door to power bubbly Aiba 24/7. He has another side that we are familiar with, Aiba the grown-up, thoughtful to his bandmates, reflective on his own actions, and cool. Yes, that dorky guy who suggested all his bandmates wear balloons under their shirts as breasts can actually attenuate his bouncy frivolity to whistle-worthy levels of suaveness.

So without further ado, let me present: Arashi no Aiba Masaki!

Basic Info
Born Dec. 24, 1982 (Third-oldest in Arashi) in Chiba Prefecture, Japan to owners of a Chinese restaurant. He (and other Arashi members) often bring up the Chinese restaurant in their shows. He is also the only one in Arashi to be born outside of Tokyo, another fact that comes up in bangumis (he's very proud of being from Chiba). Has a younger brother. Is the only one in Arashi to have AB type blood. Joined Johnny's in 1996. Nicknames: he usually is simply called "Aiba" by his bandmates, though Nino likes to throw in an "Aiba-shi" when he's making fun of him, and all members except Jun also frequently call him "Aiba-chan."

Appearance/Physical Traits
Aiba is the tallest in Arashi at 176 cm, and he was pretty tall even in the chibi stage, as we can all see from photos of MAIN where Aiba easily dwarfs both MatsuJun and Nino. I worship his legs, which are lovely and long and slender, and very very sensual in any sort of tight pants (watch the performance of Rock This and always in the BW Concert DVD). He's got a birthmark on his left shoulder that kind of looks like a splash of wine. It's pretty noticeable when he wears tank tops, but sometimes gets photoshopped out to make his skin look nice and pristine. Aiba is fond of the birthmark, though, saying that it's how his family can recognize him if he gets lost.

Aiba has a happy slender face, with sharply slanting brows that characteristic of Asian pretty-boys. He loves to smile, and you can see the lines of his face softened by the constant smiling. He's got crows feet around his eyes now, but somehow it doesn't diminish his cuteness at all. He's often seen with soft brown hair (though all of Arashi change their hairstyles every now and then) with long-ish bangs. Is he sexy, despite his "tennen" nature? Uh, hell yeah! The reason we love Aiba is because he is both of the following:
 Always down for fun and games.
But ready to bring it when it gets serious.

Aiba is sunshine. He's fond of peace signs, mapo tofu, referring to his brain as Masaki dottu commu ( and inventing games that make seem to serve no purpose other than to make people die laughing, like all those Ailand games, where he makes all the members sing weird lines in weird styles, tread in icky white liquid with force-dependent stiffness, and pop balloon breasts they stuff in their shirts. And I haven't even mentioned the genius scenes from Aiba's Sugoroku game back in G no Arashi, where the enduring concepts of nipple-exposing shirts and stockings over the face were born. And there're still all those A no Arashi experiments that we haven't even touched on! Can we breathe underwater by sucking air from peppers? How many balloons does it take to lift a man into the air (he actually did this in one of Arashi's concerts, with a whole dome cheering him on)? What would happen if you were dressed entirely in mirrors? He tried every one of those experiments, to the great merriment of his bandmates and all late-night Japanese TV viewers. He really takes the term "for shits and giggles" to a whole new level! Aiba is the fun in Arashi, that hyperactive child who just can't sit still and let the adults talk like normal people. Oh no, with Aiba there, sparks will fly.

He gets along with everyone, and is often dubbed the "mood-maker" in Arashi by fans because he is really a presence you feel when the five are together. He loves to laugh, and has a really characteristic thin high-pitched giggle that I'm sure you'll come across in most episodes of any one of Arashi's variety shows. And when he laughs, he sometimes likes to cover his mouth with a bashful hand. It is so adorable it'll make you melt. He is the designated "nickname-giver" in Arashi, and for a while on Shukudai-kun, they would take a moment in each episode to let Aiba give their guest a suitable nickname. Another term you'll hear used on Aiba is "tennen" or "天然" and it basically means "natural" or "naive," which fits his onscreen image pretty well, as he frequently misinterprets things (like when he said he would wait for Sho to wipe his ass in VSA) or asks inappropriate questions. I guess our Aiba-chan is a bit baka sometimes, ne? He seems to embrace this image with good humour, though, and even picked himself as the Arashi member who is most likely to fall prey to women's lies on a Music Station episode. At any rate, uchi no Aiba is an adorable puppy, which may be why he gets bullied by his bandmates (especially Nino!) who like to take advantage of his defenselessness and clumsiness. Remember that time when Nino had to rank the Arashi members in popularity with girls? He dragged the chair for the last place far far away from the other four to indicate that the difference in popularity there was really really huge, and then he made Aiba sit in fifth place. Poor Aiba just sat with his head down, blinking, as Nino gave his reasons to the MC's. But we all know that the Aimiya relationship is the one that goes back the longest in Arashi, as they had been friends since the very beginning of their junior days, when they would be commuting buddies and were inseparable in the jimusho, so Aiba's probably used to Nino stepping all over him.

Aiba wiping away his tears after
reading the letter on 24 Hour TV
Aiba's a softy and along with Jun, are the crybabies of Arashi. Who can forget the heartwarming letter he wrote to the other Arashi members back in 2004, before they were super popular, when he plaintively pledged to make their dream to reach the TOP come true. His tearful letter-reading on 24-TV might just be one of the biggest Arashi-member-ai moments ever. Aiba loves Arashi, and he has always been thankful that he could be a part of it. He often gets emotional when he talks about the uncertainty he felt during his hospitalization for pneumothorax back in 2002. It's just about the only topic that can make him completely serious (like during an episode of Shukudai-kun, when he talked rather soberly about his worries that he might not be able to rejoin Arashi due to his delicate health). He takes nothing for granted, and one can only imagine how hard he works behind the scenes to do his part well for Arashi because he has always felt guilty for not being able to contribute to Arashi activities during his long hospitalization. And in fact, he has been hospitalized twice for the same thing since that first time. Nino, being the one who has known Aiba the longest, has mentioned that Aiba was rather prone to illnesses in his younger days. Of course, no one in Arashi actually blames Aiba for having delicate health; in fact, they all worry about him and urge him to take care of himself. Aiba mentioned in an interview that Leader and Sho were quite upset at him once for not resting properly after getting sick. Doesn't that sweetness make your heart just go squeee?

Aiba getting molested by a tiger. Bet Nino's
skinship doesn't seem half bad now, huh?
Also known as the animal expert in Arashi, Aiba has a side-job of being a guest host on the zoo show Tensai Shimura Dobutsuen, which is a show where he basically takes care of and plays with different animals in front of a camera. Some of his tasks are downright dangerous (like when he had to clean a crocodile's teeth with a broom, or when he had to approach a cheetah in  a South African safari, or when he was put in the same cage as a frickin' tiger who jumped on his back!). He likes to joke that he has almost lost his life and Arashi was almost down to four members several times because of his tasks on this show, but we all know that he loves animals and enjoys playing with them. He hates kangaroos, though, because of a rather unpleasant encounter with one, and he professes to be hopeless with birds, but he is a cheery zookeeper for the most part! Since this is a show that is primarily aimed at children, Aiba does enjoy some popularity with the elementary schoolkids, and Sho has made fun of him by revealing that he is the only member in Arashi who gets called by his name directly, sans honorifics, when children recognize them in public. Aiba pretends to try and shut Sho up, but we all know that he adores children and is probably secretly pleased at his way of making them comfortable with him almost immediately; his super-cute six-year-old co-star in My Girl would cling to him so much it made some of the other adult actors jealous, and when middle schoolers came to compete in VS Arashi, Aiba was the gentlest in his words of comfort to the defeated teams.

Aiba speaks a very special kind of English. I actually suspect that his English skills are quite decent now, but back in the earlier days, he seems to have a lot of hilarious English fail moments captured on camera, earning him a reputation for having the funniest English among all Arashi members. Some trademark Aiba phrases: "Very Very Danger!" "Cuticle!" (which means "Cute," by the way), and who can stifle a little chuckle whenever we hear him say "Just a MO-ment!" His little English self-intro to Hasegawa Jun in HnA was also side-splitting. While Sho and Jun played it traditional with "Hello, nice to meet you, my name is..." Aiba flat out raised his arm for a high five and opened with a "Yo!" and started talking randomly about a Hawaiin king. So very very random, but that's our beloved Aiba-chan for you!

Aiba is athletic, and likes to play basketball. He purportedly applied to Johnny's because he saw SMAP playing basketball on TV and thought that he would be able to play with them if he was accepted. He didn't even know that Johnny's was an agency for idols that sang and danced when he went to the audition, and felt like a fool when he arrived in his sports clothes. He is also acknowledged by Arashi as their fastest runner and generally pretty good at the Cliff Climb game on VSA, showing a sexy litheness in his movements as he scales the wall (though he has also had his fail moments in the past, too). Recently, he's taken a shine to golf as well, and has even managed to drag Jun to go golfing with him on at least one occasion. Wooo! Now that's an image I'd give anything to see: the steam rising from the green as two of Japan's hottest idols, barely in their thirties, casually saunter around with golf clubs over their shoulders. I love me some Junba (or as they are aptly dubbed in Japan, the "model combi"), and there's just not enough of it!

In Arashi songs, Aiba's voice is easily recognizable as the soft teddy-bear like voice that blends with the music in an organic, velvety way. Despite having a high-pitched giggle, his vocal range is not particularly known for being high (that's Ohno and Nino domain) and he generally sings in the middle range. He is an excellent harmonizer, and I love his voice in combination with any of the others (especially with a low/sexy Sho or Ohno). Aiba has been seen to play the guitar amateurishly, and can perform on the harmonica (as he did for the 2013 ARAFES). He used to be able to play the saxophone as well, but we all know how pneumothorax put an end to that particular endeavour... At the elaborate affairs that Arashi concerts have evolved into, Aiba's dancing is always a bright spot to watch out for. He just puts so much heart into every little movement in the choreography and stands out among the five. He is also quite flexible, and likes to do backflips, cartwheels and the like. Of course, he is now 30, and I can't remember when the last time he did a backflip was, but his flexibility shows in the choreos of any Arashi performance. Double squeals for when he's in tight pants and dancing, because his long legs and the way he moves them are just aaaaaahhhhhhhhh~
A snippet from the Beautiful World Live Tour. Aiba-chan isfront and center
and showing off some serious legs and booty 8-P 
Though generally outshone by Jun in wardrobe choices when they do their various shows/performances, Aiba is purportedly a very stylish person in private (i.e. when he gets to choose his own clothes) and favors fedoras (like Jun!). His performances in the Mannequin Five may only have gotten mediocre results from the female guest judges/shoppers, but I personally think his fashion choices were generally in the direction of leisurely cardigans or sporty-chic ensembles (he really likes fancy basketball shoes), though he is sometimes prone to bouts of whimsy when his "tennen" side takes over and dresses him in a half-fastened pair of overalls or a standout floral ensemble. Arashi bandmates jokingly refer to pants that are cut to about 7-8 inches above the ankle as being "Aiba length" pants because of his affinity for this style.
A random sample of the outfits Aiba chose for the Mannequin Five segment in HnA. From a feather in his cap to low-crotch pants to denim overalls, Aiba sure isn't afraid to push the limits!
He isn't as active on the acting scene as his bandmates, but Aiba is capable of pulling out his dramatic chops when such a job comes around. He's done quite a lot of stage plays (and supporting roles in doramas) since his junior days, and his first starring role in a dorama was in 2009's My Girl, also known as the dorama that launched an intense wave of jealousy in Japan and beyond at a six-year-old girl. Basically, Aiba played an aspiring photographer who suddenly finds out his ex-girlfriend had died and left him a cute and really sensitive six-year-old daughter. It is the cutest relationship, and I loved Aiba's Masamune-kun (I still can't read that name without hearing it in Koharu-chan's innocent little voice). You don't see Arashi members playing parental figures (they're still a bit young for those kinds of roles) so this was a refreshing plot. Since then, Aiba's been keeping up with the dorama roles, starring as a squeamish detective in Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri, a bartender with a past in Bartender, and most recently as a dessert-loving doctor in Last Hope. I personally still think that My Girl is the best Aiba dorama so far in terms of plot, character and emotional punch. Last Hope was intriguing, had lots of excellent banter between Aiba and Tabe's characters and I loved it right up to the last episode. I thought the ending was a little off-kilter though, which is why I'm ranking it lower than My Girl. Bartender was straight-up orgasmic Aiba eye-candy, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I watched the whole thing through for one sole purpose: Aiba's tall slender figure dressed in a shirt and vest, his long fingers and arms skillfully maneuvering a shaker behind the bar... It was better than porn, girls, and Aiba isn't even my ichiban.
Aiba being gorgeous in My Girl

The beloved Masamune-kun and Koharu-chan (wipes away tear)
So that's Aiba Masaki, people! Now go watch My Girl if you haven't already and drown yourself in his soft brown eyes. Everyone needs a dose of Aiba-sunshine every now and then!

Lastly, a picture of sexy serious Aiba to end this post! You know you want him ^^


  1. Oh my, I laughed my ass off here with your little joke and here and there! :D
    Perfect for a post about Aiba-chan!

    1. Haha glad you enjoyed it! Aiba-chan is just so... easy to joke about, but at the same time incredibly sexy and deep. I'm sooooo in love with him ❤o❤ and fangirl over him shamelessly (as I'm sure you already know)

  2. now I would like to watch My Girl

    1. YES you really should! I still think it's Aiba's best drama, even though it was his first =D Masamune-kun <3

  3. hi i know this is a long shot but do you know which himitsu episode aiba wore the red check suit i can't for the life of me remember and i've been searching for ages with no luck. My last resort is to watch them all again but id rather not as there are so many.

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