A game show where upwards of 100 contestants (give or take) try to get through various wet, dirty, and wild obstacles and games for a chance to win the grand prize of 1 million yen (Approx. $10,000) by defeating Takeshi and his crew.
"Takeshi's Castle" is a surreal gameshow in which 100 contestants join General Tani's army and go through a series of bizarre and hilarious tests, being gradually whittled down, until the finalists take to their tanks in an attempt to overthrow Count Takeshi's castle. Written by
Toni Rodriguez <email@example.com>
Probably the best and most fascinating "light-entertainment" programme that I've ever seen
Operation! Takeshi's Castle (1986-1989) is essentially an endurance-based game show in which 100+ contestants compete in a series of outlandish assault-course-like challenges until the numbers are whittled down to a select few. From here, the remaining handful of contestants can go on to battle the infamous "Count Takeshi" and his guards for the chance to win up to one million in Yen. The show is notable for at least two reasons; the first is the outright eccentric nature of the events and the seemingly dangerous falls, scrapes and mishaps that befall the contestants during their bid for glory. The second is the appearance of esteemed Japanese actor/filmmaker/comedian Takeshi Kitano, who here plays the titular count (though his appearance is often edited down in the international versions). The format of the show mixes the bizarre events alongside some even more bizarre sketch-based moments of typically absurdist Japanese humour, as the contestants put themselves through some of the cruellest and most punishing events ever witnessed on national television.
What is great about this show is the way that the contestants seem to be having a great time, even when falling eight feet into shallow water, being smeared in mud or talcum powder and being knocked off a rickety suspension bridge by a barrage of rubber-ball cannon fire. It also has a colourful, larger than life quality to it, in keeping with the tradition of early Nintendo video games and Anime films, as the overstated supporting characters and continual appearances from General Tani (renamed General Li in some of the international versions, in particular, the UK) give the events a sense of context and continuity. Ultimately though, the programme works because of its uniqueness; with the nature of the games, the imagination, the willingness and excitement of the contestants and the obviously low-production values all adding to the bizarre, subversive glee.
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