Magical Banana, a popular word association game from the 90s

I was in the car with my friend Masami today, and she asked me if I knew what Magical Banana was. But of course! Magical Banana was a segment of brain teaser variety TV show in which celebrities stood inside booths and played a word association game set to a rhythmic beat. It was really popular — kids played it in elementary school to learn language, and we used to play it in high school as a late night drinking game in parks and bars.

In this TV clip from October 1996, Japanese celebrities — including pop diva Amuro Namie — play Magical Banana. It’s super fun! You should try it sometime.

CM featuring Akebono for Glee, the best TV show ever

Did you know that Glee, my favorite thing to watch on American TV, is airing in Japan? So exciting! Glee is a musical comedy about a bunch of high school kids in Ohio who are in a Glee Club — a group of people who sing and dance, often at the bottom of the who’s-cool-in-school hierarchy. The story line is fairly simple, but it’s so much fun to watch — it is, in fact, probably the only show on American TV that genuinely makes me happy. Instead of just having ordinary casting calls, producer Ryan Murphy spent a bunch of time on Broadway recruiting some of his favorite talented singing-dancing actors there. The main character, Rachel, is actually played by broadway veteran Lea Michele, for example.

I just discovered this Glee Japan ad via actor Cory Monteith’s Twitter feed. (He plays the part of Finn, a sweet airhead football player who likes to sing in the shower — my favorite character in the show!) It’s an amazing clip featuring legendary sumo wrestler Akebono that really gets at the heart of how enjoyable and silly the show is.

Btw, here’s one of my favorite scenes from Glee:

Watch Japanese comedy show Gaki on Hulu

Gakiattack_banner_125X125cWoohoo! I mean, Hulu! Japanese TV is coming to the US. NTV (Nippon Television) is partnering with Hulu to bring cool Japanese game shows, the real kind, not the fake kind, to the US. Check out episodes of Gaki, in which comedy team Downtown do things like get stuck in a gym for 24 hours, or compete in Golf Club Assault Battle, Chili Bean Paste Smearing Battle, and Mini Champagne Ass Catch Battle. You can also watch the entire Nasubi series from Denpa Shonen, a classic. It’s great for getting your daily dose of Japanese humor, if you’re one of those people that needs that. No more digging around YouTube for something worth watching.

Related posts:
Nasubi, the naked guy who lived on freebies for a year
Ken Shimura’s Thriller parody (and tips on upping your Japanese joke cred)
I survived “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”
My below-the-belt prank tutorial

Bikinis + old man + lots of lotion = lotion curling game show

This is a funny, horrifying clip of a Japanese game show featuring 30 hot girls in bikinis, one old man, and lots and lots of lotion. In the first challenge, called “lotion curling,” they try to see how far the guy can slide across a row of bikini-ed, lotion-ed up girls. My thoughts as I watched this were:
– I would NEVER want some old dude sliding across my chest, especially if I was wearing a bikini.
– If I had to be in that row of girls, I would want to be towards the end of the row. Not the beginning.
– How much did they pay these girls to do this?

Watch Nasubi, the naked Japanese comedian, on Hulu

Picture 1About a year ago, I blogged about Nasubi, an aspiring comedian who took up the challenge of living in an empty room by himself, naked, for a year, relying only on magazine giveaways for food and sustenance on a national TV program called Denpa Shonen. It was a crazy, controversial, hilarious show. And now available in full episodes on Hulu!

Related story: Nasubi, the naked guy who lived on freebies for a year

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.

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Masi Oka of Heroes Writes his own Japanese Dialogue

The LA Times has a fun piece called 10 thing you may not know about Masi Oka, the guy who plays Hiro in Heroes—one of my favorite shows. Oka plays a Japanese otaku who can time travel in the series, but he’s actually Japanese-American. Did you know he translates all his own dialogue in Heroes? He says:

It’s important to me to translate the English dialogue in a way that I
think Hiro would say it. A formal translator would make it too rigid
and not colloquial. I’ve been tempted (to sneak in a Japanese curse word) but I’d
never get away with it. I have sometimes mis-translated things on
purpose when we’re shooting and then there’s one person laughing — the
Japanese language coach we work with. So yeah, I’d get caught.

I think that’s so great! Hiro is best known for putting both arms in the air and saying: "Yattaaa!!" When he does something cool, like saving the world from mass destruction. It’s nice to know that it’s genuine.