Japanese Game Shows Kick Butt!

May 20, 2008 at 9:50 am 4 comments

So what’s the talk around the water cooler this week? At my office it’s about a Japanese iron-man competition that sends athletes running and jumping through obstacle courses so backbreaking I get bruises just thinking about it.

“Ninja Warrior” airs locally on G4 TV and like “American Gladiators” it comes with a cash prize at the end of the sweat-drenched tunnel. But in lieu of WrestleMania dramatics, “Ninja Warrior” (titled “Sasuke” in Japan) sets a more organic stage between man and nature — that is, nature carved into uncertain ramps, dangling ropes and a murky moat for the defeated. To me, the obstacles are far more interesting than any joust battle. My favorite is when the competitor clings onto a giant rolling pin as it goes spinning down a steep rail. A slip in concentration and the home-viewing audience collectively screams, “Ouch!”

The top prize for “American Gladiators” is a cool $100-grand. For “Ninja Warrior,” a mere $34K. So rather than for fortune and glory, Japanese competitors do it for a pat on the back.

Remember the movie “The Running Man”? Well, Japan has its own game show version called “Tosochu” but instead of ex-cons it’s B-list celebs running and hiding from men in black – marathon runners and professional athletes, in real life – for cash prizes. Within an hour’s limit, the longer they go without getting caught the more they win. They’re equipped with cell phones for group tasks, but other than that it’s each man for himself. There’s no blood-spillage like in the movie, but it still keeps you on the edge of your seat. Imagine a chubby Japanese girl screaming her head off when she spots a black suit in dark glasses only half a block away. Then imagine 100 caged suits suddenly let loose onto the course. I’d peeing in my pants if I saw them coming my way.

There’s no limit to the imagination when it comes to Japanese shows, so it’s nice to see them slowly trickling into the U.S. The American version of “Tosochu” will be airing on the Sci-Fi channel sometime soon. I can’t wait. (^D^)/


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Entry filed under: Japanese Entertainment. Tags: , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thehoneycombcollective  |  June 3, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I Love Ninja Warrior and i think its awesome they do it mainly for the glory!

  • 2. Himawari  |  May 27, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    yeah soo close!

  • 3. rokkuramu  |  May 21, 2008 at 8:37 am

    The obstacle course show looks really fun. Poor guy, so close!

  • 4. Sarah S.  |  May 20, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    This is great! I heard that ABC is going to air a program called, “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” this summer, too. Should be fun.


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May 2008