From brutal public pranks on unsuspecting people (like making them think they are part of a shootout) to over-the-top stunts (like locking a man naked in an apartment until he can win his way out), clearly Japanese television is allowed to push the boundaries of common sense and good taste more than its American counterpart. The two styles of TV programming may be getting more alike in the future, as Japanese shows such as "Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Camp" continue to inspire similar shows for America, like the MTV series "Silent Library."
How To Escape a Fart
Some of these shows aren't just about cruelty, but also educating viewers and giving something back to the community. In this case, how to fart and then... do something.
The clip is called "How to Escape a Fart," but judging from the actual action, it seems like it's more about "How to Spread Your Delicious Farts Around for the Mutual Pleasure of Everyone in the Area." Essentially, players are put in an entirely black room and asked to break wind, which helpfully shows up dyed yellow for the benefit of the cameras. (Not to mention the comfortable digestion of our lunches.) Afterwards, the contestants must wave the gaseous release around, often mimicking a well-known physical activity, such as pitching a baseball. Hey, still...helpful...
A Life Out of Prizes by Denpa Shonen
Making us wonder how they come up with these concepts, a comedian known as Eggplant appeared in the highly bizarre Japanese show "A Life Out of Prizes by Denpa Shonen" in the late 1990s. Eggplant was stripped naked and placed in an empty apartment, then filmed around the clock. While this sounds like a bad version of The Truman Show, it comes with a big catch. Eggplant was forced to win everything he needed during his stay, including food and clothing, by entering magazine contests.
One year after living with only the things he'd won, Eggplant reached the one million yen mark in prize winnings, which fulfilled the contract for the show. Producers were not going to allow him to leave that easily though, so they put him in a new apartment (naked, of course) and forced him to earn enough to cover his airfare back home. It's sort of like that Korean film Oldboy, only more twisted.
Unlike modern definitions of the word, the '80s Japanese show "Endurance" does not put competitors through a long and grueling set of trials. Rather, they're asked to complete several bizarre tasks all at once. Though the English-speaking announcers with southern accents don't state what the grand prize is, one can only assume it's "not dying." Although honestly, the "Endurance" survivors may very well envy the dead.Take, for example, one episode in which contestants are given a bottle of hot sauce. To chug. Followed by having a hefty glob of spicy green mustard placed directly under their noses while wearing a nifty piece of headgear. (Spoiler: This causes some of them to puke. Both contestants and those watching from home.)
Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!
The title literally translates as: "This is no task for kids!" They ain't lying.
This popular comedy/variety series was hosted by the popular Japanese comedy duo Downtown (Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada). It featured segments called "Batsu" (roughly translated to "Torture!" Is it any wonder a US network grabbed this one?) During each Batsu, there's a task or question that must be completed. For example, the challenge might be "do not laugh at something funny." Fail, and you are punished...with pain! Just like on "Everybody Loves Raymond"!
The punishments themselves get pretty creative, provided you have a taste for the diabolical. A dart in the butt may not be enough of a disincentive to keep a contestant from laughing, but that's a lesson they'll remember the rest of their life. Which will be pretty short if they don't start acing more of these challenges.Downtown went on to host the series that inspired the MTV show "Silent Library," "Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ."