is one of the maddest shows on the planet. It was originaly broadcast in Japan from 1986 to 1990, where it proved a hit. Then in the 2000s it was syndicated internationally and became a massive hit everywhere else.
It was to Japan what The Crystal Maze
was to the United Kingdom
, or what Fort Boyard
was to France. Except this turned the wackiness to a(n) (un)considerable degree
100-140 (Or maybe possibly more) Japanese Contestants (Or International depending on what episode it is) take part in a series of madcap challenges, hosted by Japanese actor/comedian Takeshi Kitano
. He envisioned it as a live action Super Mario Bros.
game and this was evident as the budget grew.
Challenge (who do the UK version) reportedly only bought this in 2002 as a weekend filler, with Craig Charles
doing very humorous commentary. One hundred and twenty-two regular episodes, ten double-length specials and twelve "Best Of" specials were produced from the source material, which says something about how popular it became. A Revival
, Takeshi's Castle Rebooted
, with unused material started on Challenge in 2013, with Dick & Dom
replacing Craig on commentary.
The show was wildly popular in Spain
, where was known as Humor Amarillonote
. It was broadcasted twice in ten years, with the second one becoming the most succesful thanks to its commentary, which reinvented the show making (even more) over-the-top characters and stories out of the original material. It was more of a reinterpretation of the old show than an exact retake, but nonetheless the audience loved it.
The show is also popular in Italy, where it was brought there with the famous prime-time show Mai Dire Banzainote
, together with fellow game show The Gaman
. Both shows received huge popularity in Italy, and Takeshi's Castle
received numerous Italian Gag Dubs. Some of the challenges were even readapted in other Italian shows such as Ciao Darwinnote
and Mezzogiorno In Famiglianote
It was adapted for CBS
in 1993 as a one-shot special, Storm the Castle
. The U.S. version, MXC
(formerly Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
), effectively completely alters the show
The ultimate aim of the game is to storm the eponymous castle. This has only ever been accomplished once in the Challenge version— the prize, which had been the subject of much speculation up to that point, was revealed to be a small box
. Craig Charles speculated that it contained the contestant's teeth
. It was achieved nine times overall, with a prize of ¥1,000,000 (which was about $8000 or £5000 back then.)
In late 2008, Tokyo Broadcasting System sued the American network ABC
, claiming the latter's summer 2008 series Wipeout
was an infringing copy of Takeshi's Castle
This program provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: Several versions changed the original Japanese format of breaking up the challenges with comedic sequences by merely focusing on the challenges with gag dubbing over it, persumably to fit it better into timeslots. There has been demand for uncut versions of the show to be broadcast.
- Very notorious in the new German version, almost to the point of people considering it completely ruined.
- Anachronism Stew: Appears as the result of Rule of Fun. A Japanese medieval castle, with correspondingly-suited count, his geishas and advisor, plus General Lee/Tani/Tennant; all mixed up with such modern and futuristic stuff like lazerguns, karaoke bars and American football fields.
- Art Evolution: As the budget grew, so did the sets and the quality of them. The best example would be for the finale, whcih started off as a water fight in the castle itself, then added carts with paper rings, and finally Frickin' Laser Beams with light senstive targets on them, a cart for the general, an airplane, and a fake cart. They also gained a fixed campus with permanant obstacles and lakes before the show finished.
- Ash Face: The result of Non-Fatal Explosions featured in comedy skits.
- Author Avatar: The Spanish announcers, Paco Bravo and Fernando Costilla, once "appeared" in the show pretending that two contestant were them. Both were unsurprisingly eliminated.
- Back from the Dead: The General, and just in time to close out the series in the Grand Finale, at least in the Original Challenge version of the UK dub, in the Original however, that happens early on in the first One-off special in 1990.
- Bald of Evil: Shozo Kobayashi, humorously called "Juanito Calvicie" (Johnny Baldness) in Spain.
- Beach Episode: Six times.
- Beard of Evil: Animal
- Book Ends: Many an episode has a starting game that take place at the castle.
- Bowled Over
- Broken Heel: As Craig Charles put, the general purpose of the contestants was for them to fall down in a variety of ways for our amusement.
- Butt Monkey/Chew Toy/Designated Monkey: In Humor Amarillo, one of the most popular made up characters was the Chino Cudeiro, an usually anodine but spirited contestant who always ended spectacularly failing and "dying" in some challenge (see They Killed Kenny below).
- Camp Gay: The Spanish version had a entire gang of this, starting from a pair of Japanese humorists who were called "Dúo Pirata". They were sometimes joined by fellow gay Pinky-Winky to form the "Trío Pirata", and occasionally tagged with Chupy as the "Cuarteto Pirata".
- Cartoon Bomb
- Celebrity Edition: The third Special of the show.
- Celebrity Resemblance: In the Spanish version, Saburo Ishikura was called "Primo Mario" (Cousin Mario) given his resemblance to Mario Bros..
- Christmas Episode - Japan episode #115
- Compressed Adaptation/Edited for Syndication: Most of the Foreign Dubs (Mostly shows based on the UK Dubs (Specifically the Challenge Version (Until the Rebooted Series)) is edited to exclude Comedy Skits, and/or interviews so that more or less games are shown.
- Consolation Prize: The fighting spirit award (Which has 100,000 yen thrown in) which is given to at least one person for their best efforts or being very amusing.
- Corridor Cubbyhole Run: "Avalanche" features cubbyholes so that the contestants can hide for cover from the boulders, however they are also occupied by the Crazy-Prepared Emerald Guards.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: One of the final assaults on the castle was ended after just five seconds — only two competitors were left by that point, and so Takeshi and his men concentrated their fire and took out both the two remaining competitors and the General almost instantly.
- In the episode when Takeshi was recruiting monsters and the Guards were dressed up they allowed every. single. one to take part in the storming of the castle, no matter how many times each of them had failed during the show up to that point. So it was twenty people v two hundred.
- Some "Tug of War" and "Sumo Rings" matches were these as well, depending on the luck, such as somebody playing tug of war with a tractor or a small woman trying to fight a sumo wrestler.
- Defictionalization: The show was originally devised as a recreation of Super Mario Bros.
- Demoted to Extra: Takeshi himself in most of the foreign dubs, to the extent that he practically qualifies as The Ghost. Since his main role was as narrator in the Japanese original though, this was kinda inevitable.
- Difficulty Spike: Happened when the paper rings and water guns originally present on the go-karts in the final battles were replaced by laser targets. The paper rings usually took several close range hits to pierce (with a larger gun having the potental to pierce a paper ring in one shot), but with the laser targets the contestants could be zapped from the other side of the arena and instantly eliminated.
- Door Roulette: Often used for various events and challenges.
- Dub Name Change: The Spanish version had a lot of them: "El Chino Cudeiro" (see They Killed Kenny below), "Pepe Livingstone" (the field reporter with the safari hat), "El Grano de Café" (The Coffee Bean), "Pinky-Winky", "El Primo de Harry Potter" (Harry Potter's Cousin), "Dolores Conichigua" and "Gacela Thomson", among others.
- Dumb Muscle: An excepcionally known one in Spain was the Maxi-Chino Cudeiro (also called the Chinazo Cudeiro), a hulking, large-sized contestant who brainlessly rammed its way through the challenges and even tackled Yoroi to the ground thinking he was another obstacle.
- Dungeon Bypass: One competitor, faced with the "Square Maze", decided that rather than go through the doors and potentially encounter one of the two goons waiting to throw him out, he simply climbed to the top and walked across the borders of the rooms straight to the goal.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Most of the episodes in Series 1 of the UK version had the background music for some or all of the challenges (Save for the tracks in Karaoke, and the drums in Sumo Rings) edited out for some reason.
- Every Year They Fizzle Out: Out of hundreds of contestants that would show up each and any time, you would be lucky to see more than 10 make it to the end, there were even fewer people who actually won the thing.
- Nine throughout the entire show.
- Excited Show Title!: The show's original title is known in the original Japanese as Fuun! Takeshi-Jo
- Excuse Plot: Justified, as the third special of the Original Challenge UK edit of the show involved General Lee's stolen spare pair of yellow boots.
- Facial Markings: Shozo Kobayashi, Strong Kongo, and especially his partner Kibaji Tankobo.
- Fake Difficulty: Several challenges were much harder than they look. Occasionally someone would find a way around it.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Water/Paint and Laser Guns in the episodes.
- Fast Forward Gag: In some occasions in man eating Hole in many an episode.
- This is also invoked in Episode 67, because one contestant was trying to get on the mushroom but keeps slipping off, because he thought his clothing is making him do that, and decides to take them off, two fast forward segments later he's stripped down to his white clothing.
- Fiery Red Head: Kibaji Tankobo, the facepainted mook with the red wig.
- Foreign Wrestling Heel: Animal, the lone white guard, also a Giant Mook, would often taunt people before easily beating them in Sumo Rings.
- Gag Dub (MXC)
- Craig Charles (and later Dick & Dom) in the UK version, who displayed what seemed to be only a fleeting idea of what the show was about, but hey; Rule of Cool.
- In 1989-90 the show received a Gag Dub in Italy under the title "Mai Dire Banzai" (Never Say Banzai): clips from the show, with original audio, were edited along with clips from another show, Za Gaman, and shown together to give the impression of a single huge contest. The Italian hosts, Gialappa's Band, faked being broadcasting live from Japan and their humorous commentary treated Japanese people as an entire nation of masochistic nutjobs. Finally, every character were given a mock-Japanese name, from "Pokoto Pokoto" to "Mashiro Tamiji" (the latter one was the guy with the giant papier-maché head, treated by Gialappa's as if he were the mind behind everything).
- Ren-TV, the Russian channel was pretty close to creating a full-length Gag Dub which kept all of the original cutscenes intact... and filled the remaining part with references to more familiar cultures. Sadly, only one episode dunned like this is available online.
- The Spanish version, Cuatro's Humor Amarillo (2006-2007) is an overdub even though the original content of the show remained intact (Including most of the show's audio), but edits out some of the challenges (Including (in a majority of the episodes) the final Showdown).
- Gag Sub: The UK Dub of the show in Finland was titled Hullut Japanilaiset, while the original audio was audible and the UK Narration remained untouched the subtitles for the UK commentary however was in finnish.
- Game Show: Well duh!
- Giant Mook: Jumbo Max, who (after a couple of weeks) was replaced by Yoroi.
- Funnily enough, the Spanish dubbers renamed Yoroi as "El Pequeño Samurai", which translates as The Little Samurai, and never referred to his large size, pretending he was as small as his name indicated.
- Green Hill Zone: "Leap Frog" (Known in the UK dub).
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Starting from Takeshi's Gundan and ending with various monsters like The Ghost of Bloody Samurai.
- He's Back: General Tani makes an appearance in 2013's Takeshi's Castle Rebooted (which is possibly more faithful to the original Japanese show than the original Challenge version). In a Continuity Nod however, he noted he's sometimes known as General Lee.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Takeshi's Gundan are known for it, and even Craig even noted this by thier "Incredible Accuracy".
- Indy Escape: "Avalanche" is known for contestants invoking this trope.
- Large Ham: Dolores Conichigua from Humor Amarillo, in which she was a sadistic, loud-spoken contestant advocate. Oddly enough, she qualifies both in the this and the original show, as she originally was a contestant who shouted to the camera when interviewed.
- Frankly speaking, almost all the characters in the Spanish version were at least significantly Large Hams, which was part of its popularity.
- Laugh Track: Makes it sound like it's recorded in front of a live audience.
- Long Song, Short Scene: The Final Showdown music due to said showdown commonly being a Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Possibly averted though, as the final showdown music is the same as the theme music and/or it depends on how long said showdown lasts, you'd be lucky when the music loops from the part after the beginning.
- Luck-Based Mission: The series ran on this trope, almost.
- Such challenges like "Final Fall", "Sumo Rings" and "Tug Of War" (albiet Episodes 88 and 89 in Japan) are the more or less true embodiments.
- "Sumo Rings" was also only half of an example. Contestants drew by luck who they would have to fight but after that it was really up to them. The tougher fighters (an actual sumo wrestler and Animal) have been beaten at least once each and the weaker ones (the potato and the weak man) have both beaten contestants.
- Medium Blending: The early segement in the fourth special that has puppets.
- Nintendo Hard: After all, it was an attempt to create a live-action Super Mario Bros. It took some time for the budget to come around. Plus the Final Showdown was as hard as you'd expect; there were times where as many as 20 people made it to the finals, and all of them still lost.
- Nobody Can Die: Boarders with the Cartoon Bomb, and Non Fatal Explosion. As a matter of fact no-one ever dies in the show (except the general who gets resurrected by lightning after being strangled by Chinese zombies), despite it being greatly exaggerated.
- No Budget: The show started off as this (which explains why there are no life threating hazards in the Tazarn Swing Challenge Just Shreaded Paper (Even though it was greatly exaggerated)).
- Non Fatal Explosion: Comically results with someone getting an Ash Face, and Clothing Damage.
- Oh Crap: General reaction in Sumo Rings to picking either the Sumo Wrestler or Animal.
- Out of Order: The original Challenge version of the UK version.
- Platform Hell: And how!
- The only shows to equal and perhaps beat it in terms of difficulty would be Ninja Warrior and Unbeatable Banzuke. Even then, those shows are designed for professional athletes, whereas Takeshi's Castle was meant for anyone (albeit mostly older teenagers and young adults) to take part in.
- Punny Name: Dolores Conichigua from the Spanish version, whose last name sounded like the Japanese salute (konnichiwa).
- Pyrrhic Victory: The aftermath of the Final Showdown in Japan Episode 9 (Ironically this was the first time a winner was declared (however it's against the rules to stab one's ring)).
- Race Against the Clock: The "Adventure Zone" for example.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Michiru Jo, the male idol singer who wore a pink outfit. He was even called "Pinky-Winky" in Spain.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Wikipedia has a whole list of these. Observe.
- Recycled Title: The Original Challenge version.
- Rock-Paper-Scissors: A one-off challenge in the Celebrity Special involved doing this.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Takeshi, mainly because he's defending the castle and one million yen, but mostly his castle.
- Special Guest: Used during the time Takeshi was banned from Japanese TV.
- Sphere Factor
- Spin-Off: There have been versions where kids tried to storm the castle and even one where people from around the world took part.
- Stock Sound Effects: The UK Dub.
- Storming the Castle: the ultimate aim, which failed almost every time.
- Story Arc: Most of the specials in the original Challenge version of the UK dub.
- Styrofoam Rocks: Any chalenge that feature these.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- When Takeshi was banned from Japanese TV due to assault charges, he was replaced by someone wearing a Paper-mâché head of him. Later (which is about a few weeks after Higashi took the position as Chief Retainer after Saburo left) he returned, and three weeks later the substitute was anticlimacticly unmasked.
- A Giant Mook resembling King Kong was changed to a giant samurai named Yoroi shortly after.
- Sycophantic Servant: In the Spanish version, Higashi Sonomanma (here known as Junior) was this to Takeshi Kitano, in a Waylon Smither-like manner.
- They Killed Kenny Again: The Spanish Humor Amarillo created a character, dubbed the "Chino Cudeiro", who became its staple. The character was a random contestant (usually dressed in red or wearing some red garment) picked by the dubbers each episode that crashed rather spectacularly at certain point, playing this trope at that moment, with tragic Titanic music montage and all. The Chino Cudeiro would come back the following episode with little to no explanation, although at some time it is mentioned he had superpowers that allowed him to come back from the dead. He had a wide array of variations, but the most of them kept the traits of wear in red and dying in a challenge.
- Travel Montage: During each one of the three New Year's on location Specials (You could also say it was so nice it was done thrice).
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Many a contestant would detect a pattern in certain challenges.
- Vacation Episode: Many times in the series for on-location specials.
- The Voiceless: The Takeshi Doll, usually he uses non verbal cues.
- Voice For The Voiceless: The episode's featured Special Guest would talk on behalf of him.
- Who Wants To Be Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: Winning the final showdown and storming the castle earns the victor a million yen (A very difficult task but a rewarding payout).
- Widget Series