Way before there were wacky game shows like "Wipeout" and "Minute To Win It," there were a whole slew of bizarre shows running in Japan, including these, which are perhaps the all-time most messed up Japanese shows ever. We all know about the weird Japanese game shows where people have to fit themselves through a bizarre hole in a wall or fall into a pit of goo, but these gems take television to a whole new level.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."
Panic Face King
With a series name like "Panic Face King," it's easy to imagine that this hidden-camera show makes people flip out, but the lengths to which the series goes to achieve the titular shocked expressions are intense. One unsuspecting contestant learn this the hard way when he found himself in the crosshairs of a sniper. Thinking he's being filmed for a documentary about telephone fraud, this gentleman loses his mind when he sees the people he's been speaking with apparently taken out by a remote gunman.When he's finally told that it's all part of the show, the man does not appear amused whatsoever. (Maybe the explanation is just part of the sniper's fiendish plot!) Let's hope he was paid enough to hire a good therapist after this traumatic incident.
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."