Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Survived A Japanese Game Show, Season 2

by Dick Mac

One of the guilty pleasures in our household this Summer was "I Survived A Japanese Game Show."

I love game shows that remind me of childhood favorites. In this case, I am reminded of Beat The Clock and Shenanigans. I actually had board games of both of these shows, and although Shenanigans did not require the physical feats of Beat The Clock or I Survived A Japanese Game Show, my memory makes the connection.

"I Survived . . . " takes place in Tokyo on the set of Japanese game show "Majide." Majide is not a real game show in Japan, but is designed to simulate a Japanese game show. It succeeds.

Contestants dress in funny costumes and perform ridiculous feats ranging from eating raw squid to dressing mannequins while spinning in circles. There is a lot of slap-stickery and it is all very amusing.

The "America" angle (the part of the production that makes the show distinctly not Japanese) is the contestants shown backstage expressing their feelings and sharing their opinions. If the absurdity of the games themselves weren't low-brow enough, the phony emotionalism and boring self-promotion bring the show lower than you could imagine. Fortunately, DVR allows me to fast-forward through the backstage drama, cat fights, gossip, and sophomoric romance.

The sophisticated angle of the show takes place after each team challenge. The winning team is treated to a day of Japanese culture: Samurai school to learn how to handle a sword, sumo wrestling to watch the workouts and actually participate in a match, a sake distillery to taste different kinds of sake and enjoy a nice meal, a baseball game to throw out the first pitch, etc. The losing team generally visits a similar venue and performs tasks like cleaning bathrooms, providing massages, making or delivering food, etc. The producers succeed at showing us glimpses of some distinctly Japanese cultural institutions.

I like the show, and appreciate the ability to FF through the Big Brother-ish behind-the-scenes vignettes.

Here is the final competition between Linda and Kathy, to determine which American would win $250,000!

I look forward to next Summer's season!

Hai majide! (Yes, seriously!)

I Survived A Japanese Game Show - Official Site

I Survived a Japanese Game Show, from Wikipedia

Hai Majide Facebook page

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