Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Appeal of Unbeatable Banzuke

I'm a little burnt on technology today so I'm going to blog about one of my favorite TV shows, Unbeatable Banzuke. It airs on the I'm way too old to be watching this channel G4 TV. Most of you probably skip over this cable channel because it's usually filled with video game lore/reviews, and bad reruns/recaps of Cops and Lost. Banzuke is worth a look. The show originally aired in Japan on the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) under the name Kinniku Banzuke - which means "Muscle Ranking". G4 re-cast the show with an English voice over and called it "Unbeatable Ranking"!?!

Banzuke features contestants who attempt to navigate unbelievably difficult obstacle courses, or odd events like hitting the tower of blocks called, "Daruma 7". The genius of the program is what you use to compete. I've seen episodes with pogo sticks, hand-walkers, wheel barrows, skateboards, R/C helicopters, and much more. Most of the contestants fail early, but that sets up the finishers to be adequately adored and lauded (in typical Japanese fashion). Here are some clips from youtube...

I love the concept of common people competing to be the best in these bizarre events. Why don't we have a version of this in the U.S.? Instead of worshipping the NFL, NBA, MLB, we could be celebrating the unique and under appreciated skills of common 'mericans. Last summer, ABC floated "Wipeout" last summer on primetime but I think this is closer to "American Gladiators". I've read that Banzuke was cancelled due to some horrible neck injuries. Our loss.

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