I Survived “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”

080624_japan_game_shows_2During lunch yesterday, I watched the first episode of ABC’s new reality series called I Survived a Japanese Game Show.

In it, 10 Americans who know next to nothing about Japan get on a plane and go to Tokyo. The day after they arrive, they’re taken to a TV studio where a live audience and a game show host await. They divvy up into two teams—the Green Monkeys and the Yellow Penguins—and take part in this silly game where they run on a treadmill and feed mochi off their heads to a teammate. The winners get a helicopter ride; the losers have to work as rickshaw drivers in Asakusa.

While I’m not really one to judge, there were a few things about this show that made me want to barf. Bullet points after the jump.

– The overdose of sensationalism. Bad enough that the
premise of the show is to go to "crazy Japan!" The show completely over-dramatized Japanese culture. The audience
members carried old school Japanese drums. The dressing room at the
studio had shoji, traditional paper doors—obviously a set. And when the
losers went to Asakusa to drive rickshaws, the commentary for the show
said something like: "Rickshaws are still a common mode of
transportation in downtown Tokyo." Um, yeah. Just like horse-drawn
carriages are still a common mode of transportation in midtown
Manhattan.

– The task-based, reality-show style format only captures
Japanese humor at the most surface level. Sure, it’s funny to watch
grown humans falling into a sandbox full of flour; but after watching
several rounds, I was bored. In a real Japanese game show, there are
live commentaries by panels of celebrities, and the host is constantly upping the ante for the tasks. And there’s always a horrible punishment at the end (a common one is jumping into a tub full of freezing cold water) and a random prize, like crab legs or a year’s supply of rice. The task in Japanese Game Show was easy and static. It was boring. There was no commentary except by the overenthusiastic host.

The only funny thing about it was that the subtitles for the Japanese host didn’t always match what he was really saying.

8 thoughts on “I Survived “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”

  1. I concur, this was a horrible show >.< however, just watched Wall-E and it has washed away all the bad taste this show has left in my mouth.

  2. I think the simpsons did this better, anyway…when the host says “While your shows reward knowledge…we punish ignorance” and Homer ends up getting gassed by a skunk…well then!
    Seriously though I totally agree…this was just bad…if they really put the people on a real show like you say it would have been way cooler.

  3. I don’t have TV but my step dad was telling me about it earlier tonight. He didn’t see it either.
    I think I’m going to check an episode out but I am DEFINITELY taking your word on this. I saw a clip and just shook my head. I’m thinking “great, NOW im going to be SUPAH DUPAH stereotyped.”
    god damnit.

  4. I’d just like to point out that the image attached to this post is actually for the show Wipeout, which aired immediately before I Survived a Japanese Gameshow.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. The contestants were borderline offensive with their ignorance, the game show was so stale that it was clearly invented solely for this show, and , worst of all, I had to watch the announcer from Unbeatable Banzuke! If they wanted a good show they should have brought the contestants to The Monster Box!

  6. That is true and sad. When I first heard of it, and saw how they where portraying Japanese game shows. I didn’t even want to spend a little time to see if the weren’t making fun of the culture. America(ns) usually do stupid stuff like this. (making fun of others culture, race, or religion). I know because I was born here. -_-

  7. Ah yes, I agree. It got boring really quickly. How lame is it to wait for a guy to swallow pieces of mochi? If you’re gonna incorporate food, ya gotta at least squirt some karashi in it like Ron-bu’s “Not 100” =P But seriously, a caricature of Japanese people is the last thing the U.S. needs.

  8. A quick and dirty Japanese humor tutorial

    Japanese humor is slowly but surely infiltrating mainstream media in the US. Fake Japanese game shows on ABC, human Tetris on Fox, the YouTube video of the guy that shoots out of a toilet stall into a ski slope… as someone who grew up in Tokyo watch…