What are Japanese game shows really like? I Survived A Japanese Game Show

June 24, 2008

I’m staying up late tonight to blog about yet another cnn article that shows a complete lack of knowledge about anything Japanese… that’s fine however if these writer’s would do even the slightest bit of research. The assured way they write about Japan, while being completely wrong will never fail to amaze me.

“American TV not crazy, just Japanese”

The above article makes several completely incorrect assertions about Japanese television so let’s do some debunking…

  • “stress relief for conservative Japanese”

The problem with this statement is the generalization of all the Japanese people as conservative, reserved, modest, shy…

  • I’ll paraphrase: the article states that the motivation for the Japanese game show contestant is escapism, not being the person who just fits in all the time, “to stand out is funny of itself”.

This is completely horrible. Not only is it an over-generalization, it is evidence that absolutely no research was done into these Japanese “game shows” themselves. First of all, they are not “game shows”, they are variety shows with ensemble casts of young comedians, actors, and announcers… but mostly comedians.

If you watch Holes, you’ll notice that one of the guys going through the Holes played the Japanese guy in the old baseball comedy movie “Major League 2”. His name is Takaaki Ishibashi and he’s a member of the comedy duo called “Tunnels”. They have a talk show in which two famous people sit accross a table from each other. Each of them has three different foods in front of them, and they try to guess which of the three foods the other dislikes.

Before the talk show portion begins, they do a little physical comedy with some other comedians. Occasionally the segment they do is the Holes thing.

Now take a look… the first guy is an ex-K1 fighter. The second guy is a comedian. You can see Ishibashi from Major League 2 laughing after the second guy falls in the water. The third guy is Ishibashi himself… notice that he got an easy one. The fourth is yet another comedian. The fifth is Ishibashi’s comedy partner and co-host of the show. The sixth (koala shaped hole) is a comedian. The show continues with various combinations of those guys.

None of them are amateurs. In fact you rarely see amateurs on tv in Japan. The only two game shows I know of that use amateurs is one that is on early Sunday morning and is very very boring. People answering questions and strategically choosing squares on a board (though I haven’t seen it in a few years so I’m not sure if it’s still on. The other is the Japanese version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” which hardly ever uses amateurs. Almost every show involves famous people or tv personalities.

  • “It’s just shock for shock’s sake. If they feel bad, who cares?”

Well, it doesn’t matter if they feel bad because they are highly paid comedians. Sometimes the horrible experiences they endure are not even real. There was a big controversy last New Year’s when a young comedian was standing in water which was supposed to be boiling hot but he forgot to pretend it was boiling hot so everyone got mad at him for not playing along.

I really hope that CNN starts doing the right thing and ceases generalizing information about Japan. They are not doing a good job of informing the public.

I’ve got one more video for you. i think this is also well known in the U.S. but it’s comedians again. The comedy groups Downtown and Cocorico are in this one. If you look closely at Cocorico you’ll notice that they were also in the video above! The fourth and sixth guys!

No amateurs. Pure comedy… pure planned out comedy. It’s still funny though,
right?

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