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Tracey Jordan: The future is like a Japanese Game Show; you have no idea what's going on.Japan. Wonderful little country that it is, it has given us anime, karaoke, and katanas to name just a fraction of the goodies of the Land of the Rising Sun. None, however, can really compare to an Insane Japanese Gameshow. The trope has elements stemming back to the Heian period of history which began the Manzai tradition. The Manzai was comedy surrounding the tsukkomi and boke. This practice continued throughout the Edo and Meiji Periods. The practices of comedic routines ended during the periods of WWI and WWII, in which militarism was key. The end of the Showa Period and beginning of the Heisei Period ushered in the new wave of technologies that soon took advantage of a society starved for entertainment. One of the best examples of this new entertainment is an Insane Japanese Gameshow (known as Variety Show in the native country), a Slapstick program that tests the mettle of contestants in a series of physical challenges that ultimately have no goal and almost no prize. In all, the show must have three properties to qualify for this trope:
- It must be made in Japan or be an import from Japan. Naturally, you would expect a Japanese game show to be made in Japan.
- It must be ridiculous. This is one of the main reasons that the Japanese have come to be seen as lovers of all things insane.
- It must carry some form of embarrassment for contestants. Be it being whacked in the balls, getting drenched in tar, having a banana shoved up their ass (after other people did the same thing to the same banana), or being pushed into a pool of water by a giant wall; the game provides a great deal of people laughing at your misfortune (note: all of the examples are Real Life).
ExamplesAnime and Manga
- In Gravitation Shuichi took part in a crazy gameshow.
- In Cars 2, during the flight to Japan, in one Mater and Lightning watch a Japanese Game Show as part of their in-flight entertainment. The car-contestant went down a ski-jump type ramp, over some obstacles, and then ran smack into something.
- Takeshi's Castle (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge or MXC in the U.S.) is a famous example within its native land. Over 100 contestants ran a series of weird and improbable obstacle courses in order to reach the castle where host Takeshi Kitano resided. Defeat the final challenge and win Â¥1,000,000. Kitano often called it the live action Super Mario Bros.. The American version is a Gag Dub with preposterous dialogues and silly contestant names.
- I Survived a Japanese Gameshow parodied the idea as a Show Within a Show. The reality show had American contestants compete on the fake show "Majide?!" which included many basic elements of a Japanese game show.
- In The Amazing Race, contestants once had to participate in a Japanese Game Show as one of the race's challenges.
- Supernatural: When Sam & Dean are Trapped in TV Land one of the first shows they're in (if not the first) is a Japanese game show. If you don't answer correctly you get slammed in the crotch by a giant ball. Problem: Sam & Dean don't speak Japanese, so they don't understand the questions.
- Wipeout is a US game show inspired by (some say ripped off from) Takeshi's Castle.
- The short-lived game show Banzai was a parody of these.
- Once parodied in a sketch on Saturday Night Live in which Chris Farley accidentally found himself on such a game show and tried, while not speaking a word of Japanese, to get through it without suffering the extreme penalties such as cutting off one's own finger and being electrocuted. He got to the final round by first guessing Godzilla, then a series of random syllables that happened to be the right answer.
- The Colbert Report riffs on this every so often. One Japanese election, Colbert actually analyzed their political system as expressed through Japanese game shows.
- One episode of Jonathan Creek has another Show Within a Show example, in which a TV producer (the husband of Jonathan Creek's sidekick) is producing a show for the Japanese market in which one member of a married couple is asked embarrassing personal questions while connected to a lie detector rigged (without the knowledge of the couple or the studio audience) to produce occasional false positives.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic also parodied these in his film UHF with his East-meets-West crossover, Wheel Of Fish.
- Saints Row: The Third
- The game contained the side mission "Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax!" (or "S.E.R.C.") Players make their way through an obstacle course of lightning and fire while killing mascots and shooting targets. Make it to the end and you keep all the money that you earned during the run. Don't shoot the pandas as killing them is UNETHICAL!
- The Genkibowl VII DLC has the entire city is under Genki's control and the stunts are turned Up to Eleven.
- Spoofed in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 where, in the ending, Shuma-Gorath becomes a host of this kind of Japanese game show.
- Robot Chicken used this concept with the skit "Who Poop Last"? Contestants eat a pile of bananas and sit on the toilet. The winner is the contestant that...well, you get the point.
- A famous episode of The Simpsons, "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" had the "The Happy Smile Super Challenge Family Wish Show".
- Gravity Falls: The twins are transported to a futuristic gladiator ring where aliens and mutants are battling to the death, prompting Mabel to ask "Wow, is this a reality show? Are we in Japan?"
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