I Survived a Japanese Game Show

 
(i)

 

Cultural differences and silly contests a poor mix.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A major focus of the show is cultural understanding -- but the cause isn't advanced very far here, given the negative way that many of the American contestants react when they're exposed to Japan's "quirks."

Positive role models

The Americans who are abruptly thrust into Japanese culture immediately label things (ranging from food to furniture to toilets) that are common in Japan as "weird" or "gross." The Japanese hosts turn the tables a bit by mocking the contestants in Japanese, to the great delight of the Japanese studio audience.

Violence

No actual violence, but many of the game show contests feature unusual -- and often somewhat humiliating -- physical challenges. Some characters argue.

Sex

Some people are shown half-dressed as they change clothes.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The whole series promotes a game-show-within-a-show called Majide.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this high-concept reality series trades heavily on cultural stereotypes. The show takes 10 Americans to Japan and makes every effort to make sure they're exposed to the most unusual, "foreign" parts of the culture. Not surprisingly, the Americans find plenty to complain about and are quick to call attention to things about Japan that they find strange, offensive, or just "gross." And while the physical contests that make up the game show part of the competition are funny, they often have an undercurrent of humiliation, and the audience and the hosts are clearly laughing at the contestants.

What's the story?

I SURVIVED A JAPANESE GAME SHOW presents a classic fish-out-of-water situation. Ten Americans who've signed on for an unspecified reality program are whisked to Japan, where they discover that their "show" is actually a Japanese game show, Majide (Japanese slang for "You've Got to Be Crazy," we're told), where they must compete in a series of physical challenges, ranging from the silly to the humiliating. As they play along, they're also forced to adapt to a culture that seems very foreign to them.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Shortly after arriving in Tokyo, one of the contestants declares that "we are some loud, rowdy Americans." In fact, it seems like the entire cast was selected primarily for their lack of cultural awareness and inability to blend in. Half the time they're proclaiming that Japan is awesome (usually after winning a challenge and receiving some reward), while the rest of the time they're complaining about the cultural differences (cue obligatory shots of people gagging on unfamiliar food and laughing at the hyper-engineered toilets, complete with remote control). These people are stereotypical "ugly Americans," straight from central casting. Consequently, the show borders on insensitive as it plays to the most basic of stereotypes of both America and Japan.

The tables are turned a bit by Rome Kanda, the manic host of Majide, who encourages the contestants to do their best in the wacky events, then makes fun of them in Japanese -- to the great delight of the studio audience. Japanese game shows are famous for their oddball activities, and this one is no exception. In one challenge, the characters wear diapers; in another, they dress as bugs and try to bounce off a trampoline and splat themselves against a giant windshield. Though some of these activities are so silly you can't help but laugh, many of them incorporate an undercurrent of shame, which can be difficult to watch. The reality show trend has become so pervasive that people now seem willing to endure almost anything for a shot a small-screen fame. When Kanda turns to the Japanese audience and slyly notes that "they will do whatever I say," it seems like his comment is directed not just at the 10 contestants on this show, but anyone else who's considered signing on to a reality program.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about cultural awareness. Most of the contestants have spent little time outside the United States and quickly find things to complain about in Japan. How would you characterize their comments? Do you think they offer a fair representation of America?

  • Do you think the producers purposely sought out people who would be uncomfortable abroad? If so, why?

  • Some of the show's Japanese hosts also make derogatory comments that the contestants don't understand. Do you think the contestants deserve such treatment, or is it just as rude as their own behavior?

TV details

Cast:Rome Kanda, Tony Sano
Network:ABC
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

This review of I Survived a Japanese Game Show was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old November 18, 2010
 

Japan... Game show... Japan! Game show! It's like I died and went to... Japan with Game shows!

Ok, the folowing is my opinion. This... is... extremly... funny! I watched it and for at least 5 minutes (a friend was counting) I could barely breathe! Yes, one may consider the show racist. Racist towards Americans or Japnese? Both! Still, I love it. It's like a live TDI! If your kid can a. read subtitles and b. understand the challenges, than this would be the right show for them!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old June 18, 2009
 

weird show

does not make sense at all
Adult Written bymickster February 9, 2009
 

I SURVIVED A JAPANESE GAMESHOW (Norwegian style)

Norway is airing their I SURVIVED A JAPANESE GAMESHOW, which was taped in Tokyo during the fall of 2008. The first segment of the show can be seen on this link: http://www.tv3.no/content/blogcategory/1282/1466/&categoryid=2074&videoi... The show is pretty funny, Rome Kanda is the host and is always zany and fantastic. The show, just like the one with American contestants, is meant for entertainment, and should be viewed as such. If you don't enjoy the show, TURN IT OFF! xo. mmickster.

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