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Sasuke January 31, 2008

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Odds and Ends.

Aside from the best that prime time TV had to offer in the Fall, the only other program I consistently went out of my way to watch while in the US was Ninja Warrior. One of the few things worth watching on G4, it’s the American-localized presentation of the Japanese program Sasuke, arguably one of the toughest obstacle courses on the planet outside of iron man contests.

There have been nineteen Sasuke competitions so far. Those unfamiliar with the show need only know the following about it:

  • It is composed of four stages, the obstacles for which are occasionally changed from competition to competition.
  • Contestants who do not complete a stage cannot advance to the next one.
  • Contestants who time out are eliminated.
  • Contestants who touch the water beneath any obstacle (which is there to break their fall should they fail) are eliminated.
  • It sounds simple enough, but so far only two people have ever completed all four stages in the show’s ten year history. While each competition features its fair share of oddballs and crackpots (as typical of Japanese TV), it’s the the ten or so “all-stars” in the competition that really make the show worth watching.

    For those in doubt, here’s a video compiling the successful run of fisherman Makoto Nagano, the second person that has beaten the obstacle course:

    Two things about the video: First, on the fourth stage, if the competitor doesn’t ascend the twelve-meter “spider-climb” in fifteen seconds to grab the rope and continue on, the walls will begin to part (seriously!). Second, as a result of this run, the producers have completely revamped the course, making it devilishly hard.

    If given the chance I’m pretty sure I can make it through to the final stage…on a stretcher. So until the day that I can actually live out my Ninja Warrior fantasies, it looks like the best I can do is enjoy the video podcasts of the show, available via G4tv.com.



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