Creepy-crawlies and slapstick antics on Japanese gameshows

Creepy-crawlies and slapstick antics on Japanese gameshows

Japan, that weird and wonderful land of the rising sun, has game shows that would never be allowed on Singapore TV, possibly because of safety concerns.

While the rumours of pornographic games being shown on late night Japanese TV are not true - those videos are actual pornography, set up to resemble a game show - these TV shows are real, and garner plenty of views.

1. AKBingo!
Starring girl group AKB48, AKBingo is a gameshow hosted by the comedy duo Bad Boys. The setup sounds simple: popular girl group plays dodgeball and whoever gets hit has to pay a penalty.

Those penalties are the part that makes AKBingo so outlandishly weird. In one episode alone, the penalties for getting hit included eating extremely spicy curry to staring down a savannah lizard to eating crickets.

A clip currently viral on the internet comes from episode 337 and features members Oshima Ryoka and Mogi Shinobu trying to blow a dead cicada (it's a cicada, not a cockroach) towards each other.

AKBingo has been airing since 2008.

2. Mystery Solving Battle Tore!
Also known as Tore! for short, this game show has the usual obstacles and quizzes for contestants to solve. Wall climbing, trivia games, and avoiding holes can all be found in this gameshow, but setting it apart from the rest is the Mummification round.

In this round, contestants have to answer seven trivia questions within a minute before a machine wraps them up in bandages and puts them in a sarcophagus. Answering questions correctly won't stop the machine - it only slows it down.

Some of the other rounds include contestants climbing up a wall at a thirty degree angle, which is a lot harder than it sounds, and trying to contort their bodies to fit into a series of puzzle blocks in order to stay on the edge of a cliff.

Tore! aired on Nippon Television from 2011 to 2013.

3. Gaki no Tsukai
Its full name is Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! (with two exclamation marks) and it is technically a variety show hosted by Japanese comedian duo Downtown. This show has been airing since 1989 and is still going strong.

Chances are, you would have seen or heard of Gaki no Tsukai, even if you don't know what it actually is. Typically, the comedians Downtown are by Cocorico, another comedy duo, and a fifth comedian Yamazaki Hosei (now Tsukitei Hosei) to play games and tricks on each other.

Among their most famous segments are Silent Library, which was adapted into an MTV gameshow in 2009, their 24-hour No-Laughing New Years' specials, and the Chinko Machine, a contraption which hits the comedians' genitals if they could not answer trivia questions.

The hosts, Downtown, are widely regarded as the most influential and prolific Japanese comedy duo, and have shaped modern Japanese comedy since their debut.

As one of the leading pop culture centres of the world, Japan has certainly captured viewers' imaginations. From anime to gameshows, Japanese TV remains one of the most outrageous. The tactics used by the gameshows may be considered safety violations in other countries, but they certainly do bring in the viewership from Japan and all over the world.

andrewg@sph.com.sg

 

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