Top Three Japanese Game Shows

Today on the show we talked to Gavin Purcell , the blogger behind TV in Japan, about the magic of Japanese game shows. This week ABC premieres its new show "I Survived A Japanese Game Show." Purcell gave us some good insight on what makes these shows so fun to watch, and why they might not translate perfectly to mainstream American audiences.

Of course, Japanese game shows have been bringing joy to YouTubers for years. Frankly it's a wonder it took a major American network this long to start ripping them off. Here's my personal top three. I don't even know what most of them are called, but they're awesome. Vote for which one you like best, and submit your own for consideration...






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OMG. I simply couldn't pick between the three. They are all so great.

In Holland we had a show called "Lost in Translation" where they sent several Dutchies to Tokyo. Each week one person was voted off by a japanese audience: the person who had integrated the least that week was sent home. One week they did the same thing as video 2...only not in a library. Hysterical.

Sent by Nathan in Holland | 11:06 AM | 6-24-2008

I like the Ninja series like Ninja Girl. Once a year a group of women (or men with regard to the other show) do this insane obstacle course and try to progress and become Ninja Girl.

I'm also a fan of MXC. The original Takeshi's Castle is kinda boring but the redubbing done by Spike TV is hilarious.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 11:12 AM | 6-24-2008

NUMBER 3 and NUMBER 1 are from a comedy show called "Haneru no Tobira" ('You knock on a jumping door') - the games are actually in rotation: the former is from a game segment called "Girigirisu" (a pun of "kirigirisu" or 'katydid', hence the bug costumes), while the latter is called "Tunnels no Minasan no Okage Deshita" ('Everyone's grateful for tunnels (?)'). The third game segment is the All Star Athletic Games, where comedians dress up as other celebrities and participate in almost-impossible stunts. I think this is the most amusing of the game segments, btw - the people who fail these stunts either fall in flour or 50C water...

Falling into 50C water:

Falling into flour:

NUMBER 2 is from Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! (Downtown's "I'm Not An Errand Boy!"), with a popular comedy troupe originally from the city of Osaka.

Sent by Ed | 12:36 PM | 6-24-2008

These all crack me up! Wasn't FOX going to produce a show based on the third one?

Sent by lisa | 12:49 PM | 6-24-2008

I don't have time to watch the videos right now, but I vote for "Takeshi's Castle" or as Americans know it "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge". This was on Spike years ago and I'm a little surprised it didn't come up during the interview. The added ingredient was really bad dubbing into pun-filled, innuendo-laden English. This show is one of the very few things I miss about television.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 2:50 PM | 6-24-2008

The biggest difference between American game shows and Japanese ones is that all the contestants are celebrities, like Hollywood Squares. None of the common folk on these shows. These guys make their living making people laugh, they get money for having outrageous reactions. The more outrageous your reaction, the more shows you're on.

Second observation is that these shows are now in the minority. Every night now in Japan there are about six shows (so about 40 per week) that are trivia/knowledge quiz shows. It's a huge boom. People can't get enough of this stuff. History, language, science, kanji, math, English (a mandatory school subject in Japan), manners are the majority of the topics. The celebrities that show up on these ones are of a more intelligent variety, but still aiming for the laugh. There's no punishment, just standard cash or gift prizes. But that's what's all the rage now in Japan.

Personal favorites: Nep League and Q-Sama.

Sent by Brian | 8:55 PM | 6-24-2008