Friday, May 30, 2008

Will America Survive the Japanese Game Show?

When I studied in Osaka, it seemed only right that my first ketai (cell phone) mail address would be hamachan.daisuki! At that time, the comedian's popularity was at an all time high, and he was the first Japanese celebrity I actually came to know by name. He's the one who puts his arm around one of the others, resting his head on his friend's shoulder. Why? Why is he so adorable?

When I first decided to study abroad in Japan, I was greeted by a chorus of horrified 'Why?'s. Very few of the people I talked to knew anything about Japan, as evidenced by the many times I had to answer this question: "Do you even speak Chinese?" I actually had to explain, more than once, sadly, that China and Japan were very different countries with very different languages and cultures.

Since then, Japanese culture has exploded in popularity, not only in America, but around the world. First it was sushi, then Spirited Away, Samurai and Sayuri. Gwen Stefani found her muse in Harajuku, and before I knew it, Kanye West was singing Japan's praises, even subtitling his Stronger theme with katakana. And who could forget the Japanese Office skit on SNL?

Now when I mention that I've recently spent over three years living in Japan, I'm greeted by scores of "No Way! That's so freakin' cool! I've always wanted to go there! Oh my god, I so love sushi. And anime, of course." Everywhere I look I see 'new' fashion trends that were commonplace in Japan when I was in university, and almost everyday Yahoo has a Japan-related story in the headlines.

Not suprisingly, Japan continues to weave it's way into mainstream American pop, most recently with ABC's announcement of a brave new reality series: I Survived a Japanese Game Show!

Japanese games shows can be cruel.

Anyone who has had the pleasure (or misfortune) of numbing their brain with the wacky and outrageous phenomenon that is Japanese TV may have an inkling of just what these poor suckers are in for. If not, read this excerpt from the show's website:



“I Survived a Japanese Game Show” has begun shooting in Japan and will premiere TUESDAY, JUNE 24 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on ABC. This unscripted reality/game show takes an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at 10 Americans – many of whom have never traveled outside the United States -- who are whisked away to Japan and compete in the ultimate Japanese game show… with hilarious results. The final winner will take home $250,000.

Guiding the American players through their stay in Japan will be host/interpreter Tony Sano (“Touch Wood,” “Beating Vegas”), an American actor fluent in Japanese; a house mother and resident pot-stirrer, Mamasan; and the witty game show host Rome Kanda (“Pink Panther,” “Saturday Night Live”), who leads the contestants through all of the zany challenges.

Some of the games/challenges will include:

WHY IS THIS FOOD SO HARD TO EAT? -- Why? Because the food is attached to the head of a teammate who must run in place on a fast-moving treadmill, while the first teammate leans over a platform and tries to eat from the moving dish.

CRAZY CRANE FINDS FLUFFY BEAR -- This takes the American arcade game to the next level, as blindfolded teammates must operate a moving crane while another teammate precariously dangles trying to collect as many stuffed animals as he/she can.

CHICKEN BUTT SCRAMBLE -- The contestants create their own version of Japanese scrambled eggs as they attempt to smash goo-filled oversized eggs with only their butts… while wearing chicken suits.


This You Tube hit is being brought to America by FOX. Compared to the others, it's actually pretty tame.

And here's one for Abbey's Hurdlingly challenged Kyoto Sensei:


Abbey said...

That hurdle one was hilarious, especially with the Kyoto-sensei reference!

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