alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.15 No.49 | December 7 - 13, 2006 

Idiot Box

The Real Deal

“Ninja Warrior” on G4

When, oh when, will America learn the valuable lesson imparted to us by Japanese game shows? While America blindly accepts and even celebrates dull crap like “Deal or No Deal” (the TV equivalent of Keno), Japan pumps out inexplicably brilliant game shows that simultaneously puzzle, terrify and delight. We get “pick a number between 1 and 26” and they get “Fear Factor” crossed with “Super Sloppy Double Dare” and a random Bollywood musical.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of American TV viewers are irredeemably stupid and lazy and don’t much like seeing people who are smarter and less lazy than them. How else to explain the runaway success of a show like “Deal or No Deal,” which rewards no measurable skill, strength or attribute? The show is a random guessing game separated only from that annoying one your grandfather used to play with two closed fists and a quarter by the addition of Howie Mandel and a bunch of vapid models. Why can’t we have more game shows in which people dress in ridiculous costumes, jump into live volcanos, get beaten with giant flowers by scantily clad bikini girls and otherwise suffer bizarre humiliation on television for little or no reward? The Mexicans do. The Japanese do. I’m willing to bet dollars to doughnuts the Russians do, too.

The latest proof that American TV isn’t as cool as it should be comes in the form of G4 network’s “Ninja Warriors,” a late-night game show imported from the Land of the Rising Sun. “Ninja Warriors” (known as “Sasuke” in its native land) has been a sensation in Japan since 1997. Here’s how it works: Twice a year, 100 hopefuls arrive on a mountaintop in rural Japan to challenge the world’s strangest and toughest obstacle course. Contestants fall roughly into three categories: professionals (wrestlers, gymnasts, martial artists), amateurs (garbage men, firemen, boat captains) and “comic relief” (comedians, beauty queens, jugglers).

In almost 20 years, only one contestant has ever actually completed all four stages of the course to win the championship. Can you imagine an American game show that no one wins? Americans thrive on competition. They love to beat people. They favor clear-cut results. The Japanese, on the other hand, don’t. Believe it or not, the nigh-impossibility is what makes “Ninja Warrior” so damn addictive.

Typically, 90 percent of contestants are defeated in the show’s first round. Very quickly, the show becomes not about beating other contestants, but about conquering that seemingly insurmountable obstacle course. As contestants plummet one after another from an inexhaustible array of monkey bars, trampoline jumps, trapeze swings and revolving hurdles, the remaining players can only commiserate. While the first round provides a touch of humor (as a parade of wacky Japanese comedians tumbles into the numerous pools of muddy water below), the progressively tougher second and third stages offer up some nail-biting suspense.

Do yourself a favor, turn Japanese and check out “Ninja Warrior.” And don’t be surprised to hear yourself shouting, “Hang on, Bunpei, just one more inch to go!”

“Ninja Warrior” airs every Tuesday at 10 p.m. on G4.


Today's Events

Trash at National Hispanic Cultural Center


After three boys picking trash in the slums of Rio de Janeiro find a wallet in the daily detritus of their local dump, they little imagine that their lives are about to change forever.


Trolleywood at Albuquerque Museum of Art and History


New Mexico Labor Film Festival at Center for Progress and Justice

More Recommended Events ››

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.