A very nice person handed me a CD with four episodes of Takeshi’s Castle on it, and I had to keep myself from watching them while at work, as I was getting my officemates distracted. If you’ve never seen samples of wacky Japanese TV before, Takeshi’s Castle is a good start. This wacky Japanese show throws a bunch of a hundred or so contestants into a series of ridiculous games, each one hoping to make it to the end to defeat Count Takeshi and win one million yen!
Takeshi’s Castle had a Philippine run, hosted by local actors Anjo Yllana and Smokey Manaloto. Although shown on a less popular channel, the show’s hilarious antics and ridiculous games earned it a cult following. The games themselves are sheer madness, requiring mostly luck, agility and a whole lot of guts in order to win.
Most games usually pit you against Count Takeshi’s henchmen. The guards hunt you down in the Honeycomb Maze, shoot cannon balls at you in Bridge Ball and roll giant rocks at you in Avalanche. Several games feature the contestants being stuffed into ridiculously large suits that impair movement. The best games are those that run on pure guts, such as the ever-favorite Skipping Stones, where you must quickly jump across rocks to cross a river — but some of the rocks are fake! If you have nerves of steel, just blaze ahead, jumping from rock to rock, don’t care if the one you’re stepping on starts to sink!
My single most favorite game is “Knock Knock”, where a contestant is faced with four walls, each with four doors. Three of the doors on each wall are paper… but one is boarded up with wood from behind. The contestant doesn’t know which is which, but he must choose a door at each wall and charge through in whatever way he can, usually throwing all of his weight into the attempt – with horrible results if you choose the wrong door. It’s cruel and it’s mindless, but you find yourself laughing out loud whenever a particularly enthusiastic contestant slams helmet first into the door. It’s all about guts baby.
I swear, I wish there were some Japanese channel on cable with these types of shows. It’s the kind of mindless, addictive stuff that makes TV so dangerous.