Monday, June 2, 2008

Ninja Warrior

As a continuation on Ryan and my embarrassing viewing habits today I would like to talk about our favorite entertainment from the east. Yes, Japan has many, many game shows that showcase everything from overeating, to cross dressing, to that bitch goddess of a game Pachinko, but there is nothing better than Ninja Warrior. Here is a show that combines brute strength, co-ordination, and careful planning with prat falls, and circus like showmanship. Oh, and it is all topped off with a healthy dose of shame for those who fail. If you have never seen an episode, check out the clip below:

See? Isn't that awesome? Isn't that everything you ever could have hoped for in a television show? The pathos, the pride, and the pleasure at watching the mighty fall? Its like Roman gladiators without (much of) the blood lust. You don't have to feel bad about rooting against these people because they don't die, they just let down their nation and their ancestors, and must forever live a life of shame. My favorite is when the last competitor of the day is about to take the course, and everyone else before him has failed. The announcer talks as if failure on the part of this man will not only mean disappointment for him, but the downfall of the entire Japanese nation, and their thousands of years of history.

None of these competitors want to take the walk of shame, so they go to amazing lengths to prepare for the competition. At least twice a show competitors talk about their "practice courses" they have built at home to prepare for the contest. I have seen one guy on at least three different episodes, and each time he talks about the improvements he has made to his course in order to make his training harder, and up his ability to beat the actual course. Then he falls into the mud on the first obstacle. And I laugh. I have to. It's my right as a viewer.

Oh, the mud. Farm animals are not plentiful in Japan, but I imagine every one of them is asked to bathe in Ninja Warrior course. It is truly disgusting. Really, it looks as if dirt threw up. No wonder none of these guys wants to land in it. It isn't just about shame, it's about giardia.

An American version of the show is being launched this summer on ABC. They're calling it "Wipeout," which I think will pretty much sum up the ratings. After all, who wants to watch a pale imitation of the original? It's the reason Frank Sinatra Jr. isn't more famous. Watch the video below and you'll understand:

Yes, there are people falling, and yes there is dirty water, but where is the heart? They are encouraging you to laugh at these people, not root for them. And rooting for them, as we all know, is the only way laughing at them is truly worthwhile. See, that's why we're losing ground to Japan as a world power. Well, that and the incompetence of our government, but that's another post. For now, let's just blame it on out lack of Warriors, Ninja Warriors.