Japanese game shows are bit of an enigma really. While most of Japan can be said to be remarkably uncreative (Nintendo being a prime example of Japanese “creativity” on a corporate level), I have to admit that Japanese game shows tend to go where no western network would dare. Here then, is my pick of 10 of the most ridiculous game show clips from the land of the rising sun.
Bear in mind when watching these that TV culture in Japan is quite different to the UK or US – in that there’s a core set of celebrities who appear and host just about everything, including game shows. They’re called “talent”, which is a remarkable misnomer since most of them have very little actual talent. Instead, they would be better thought of as quirky personalities.
Slapstick-style stand up comedians and whatever pop group is trending at the time also make regular appearances. Some of these game shows even have the same set of “contestants” making a come back every week.
TORE: Mummification challenge
From “Takarasagashi Adventure NazoToki Battle TORE!”, is a show in which contestants must perform some kind of Egyptian themed physical task while solving riddles. In this particular clip, the girl is asked to name 7 of the 20 most popular dogs sold in pet shops in 2011 (before she’s completely mummified).
Here’s a full episode, though it’s not nearly as funny, so skip it you’re just looking for the lulz.
Interesting Fact: most shows have Japanese subtitles hard coded to the broadcast. There are a couple of reasons for this: word play with kanji characters is common, as is just clarifying words where one pronunciation can have many different meanings; and for adding comedic effect by highlighting something important or silly that the actor says. This is actually pretty useful if you’re studying Japanese, but obviously the English subtitles don’t reflect any of these subtle comedic effects.
Dasshutsu Game DERO!
Dero – or “escape the room” – is a similar show in which contestants are put in supposed life threatening situations and made to solve riddles. DERO was cancelled when the March 2011 earthquake hit, TORE (featured above) was it’s spiritual successor.
Here’s a clip featuring some of the members of the all girl pop group AKB48. Standing on ever shortening planks, they must solve the puzzle before they fall.
Here’s another one, which is less funny and somewhat terrifying: escaping from a room slowly filling with water. Oh, the comedy!
Push-Pull Battle from The Team Fight
An old show but still hilarious; The Team Fight had a host of regulars and guest teams who would come on to challenge them. Unlike most of these clips, this doesn’t just look hilarious, it looks downright painful and lawsuit inducing. Which is probably why it’s not on anymore. Ouch.
Silent Library (Gaki no Tsukai)
“Gaki no Tsukai Arahende!” (roughly translated as “Not for use by children”) is an epic variety / gameshow which we’ll take a few clips from; it’s been running since 1989 with over 1000 shows. These clips are all from the “batsu game” segment of the show – punishment – in which contestants must endure various things without laughing.
In this first clip, silent library – contestants take part in a series of rounds which begins with picking a card – whoever picks the “poison” symbol is subjected to some pretty horrible stuff. If this doesn’t get you laughing out loud, there is really no hope for you.
Interesting Fact: This is the one and only time Ernesto Hoost appeared on a Japanese game show (I wonder why?) – he’s a former kickboxing legend and four times K–1 World Champion. Perhaps the baseball bat spanking and nose hair pulling was just a bit too much for him.
Boring fact: here’s a rather pathetic American remake of the silent library game featuring WWF stars.
Wall of Boxes (Gaki no Tsukai)
Time for some old school Gaki now~ Wall of Boxes sees the contestants sitting atop a wall of, well, cardboard boxes. They take turns to choose a number, which corresponds to an attacker. The attacker (or team of attackers) then use their skills to try and punch a hole in the wall; until someone inevitably falls down.
Another classic Gaki no Tsukai moment; I won’t spoil the surprise, but it involves giving the guys a fake MRI scan with a little more than they planned for at the end. This isn’t really a game, more just hilarious torture.
Shower Room Struck-Out
From an old show, and I can’t find the original name, but this particular segment involves a bungee cord, a bath of black goo, and half naked men throwing balls at shower panels in order to reveal the showering girl behind. Probably falls firmly into the realm of WTF.
Team Fight: Dodgeball
Another from the Team Fight series. Rather than throwing the balls at each other, teams must get the ball into their opponents net, which randomly launches another ball out even faster in the hopes of getting someone out in traditional dodgeball style. It seems fairly innocent at first, until the office chair and bowling balls come flying out.
Enjoyed this? I’d love it if you could share with your friends, and post your own favorites in the comments! For more, check out the Japanese Game Shows sub-Reddit, my pick of videos to learn about real Japanese culture, or GakiFiles fan-subs.