1.) Absolutely Insane Japanese Television Show

     ….which is about as redundant as an ‘orange orange,’ but I digress. I found this link last summer and misplaced it until now, so it might be old news. It’s a great site recounting the events of Japanese reality-show ‘Nasubi.’ The show is named after its lone contestant:

     “When he arrived at the apartment, he was shown a stand full of magazines, a huge pile of postcards, and told to strip naked. The room was empty except for a cushion, a table, a small radio, a telephone, some notebooks, and a few pens. There was not a crumb of food, a square of toilet paper, or any form of entertainment. Whatever he needed, he was to win by sending thousands of postcards into contests. The producers left and Nasubi was on his own in his unique survival challenge.”

     The site goes on to describe the events of the year Nasubi spent trying to reach his goal of one million yen worth of prizes. Some Highlights:

     “Nasubi won his first contest on February 8th. He got some jelly, a 1560 yen value, leaving him with 998 440 yen left to win. That day, he ate food for the first time in two weeks! On February 22nd, he won a 5 kg bag of rice. Unfortunately, he had no cooking utensils. At first he tried eating it raw, but eventually devised a cooking method where he put it in an empty can beside a burner for an hour until it was “cooked”. He ate about a half cup of rice a day using two pens for chopsticks.”

     “A doctor’s visit in May, after five months in the room, revealed Nasubi to be in perfect health! No scurvy, no fleas or lice, and no signs of malnutrition. He had lost a lot of weight, and his ribs were showing through his skin, but his blood tests and a physical examination revealed no other problems. His fingernails had grown to several inches long and his hair and beard were getting rather unmanageable by that time, but they were annoyances rather than dangers.”

     “When he won a video deck to go with his TV, he was able to watch his two videos–an exercise video and a cycling tape. He saw a woman for the first time in 10 months. In November, he won two rolls of toilet paper, a huge moment in his life! He also won a Sony Play Station, which went well with the train driving game, and special controller he had won earlier and he spent hours in front of the TV. He spent about three days playing with it and then decided that he was wasting too much time playing with it.”

     You should really read the whole thing. It’s seriously INSANE. After the summary, the author of the site reflects on reality television in japan:

     “So what was the point of the Nasubi experiment? Ostensibly, it was to test the thesis that contests had become so ubiquitous that it would be possible to live entirely on what one had won in them. This was called kensho seikatsu (Living off contests).

     Of course the real reason is that programs involving human suffering are extremely popular in Japan. The gambaru genre, started in the 1980’s with the immensely popular show Za Gaman, a show in which university students competed in contests to see who could stand the most pain, eat the most unpleasant foods, and perform the most humiliating tasks. Denpa Shonen is a logical continuation of this trend, and the stunts are becoming more and more dangerous/appalling.”

     The official (japanese) Nasubi website is here. What I don’t understand is how they got him to mug for the camera all the time. The Nasubi link came from this site, which features all sorts of strange japanese shows, such as ‘Namidame (Tear-Filled Eyes):’

     “Namidame is a show about crying. In the words of the show’s creators, “The tears of the Japanese are fine. Therefore, let’s cry together. As much as possible, let’s cry, and face front, and work. Namidame is a program which delivers impression to you.” Airing at 11:55 every Wednesday night on TV Tokyo (Monday on TV Osaka), this program’s most popular segment is called “Namidame Battle Royale” in which ten young women compete to see who can cry the most in a contest to win one million yen. They keep the women up in a house over a period of one week, give them two test-tubes to collect their tear drops in, and leave them to cry their eyes out. Techniques include insulting one another and slapping each other in the face, drinking a lot of water so that they would be able to cry well, sitting in front of a fan, and claustrophobic girls locking themselves in closets. Every day the girl who is in last place is eliminated and when the competition really starts to heat up, the girls do things like going to the local video store and renting every copy of Titanic so that the other girls will have nothing to cry over. Just one of these girls has enough neuroses to keep a team of psychologists busy for decades and watching them cry over comic books and sappy love songs or playing bizarre emotional game is as disturbing as it is funny.”

2.) Japanese Jessica Rabbit

     Another thing I found last summer and forgot about: This Japanese singer has adopted the identity of Jessica Rabbit from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’ Fair enough.


3.) Shadowsuits

     I thought EVERYONE had seen these shadowsuit clips, but I was talking to someone yesterday who had no idea what I was talking about, so I’m posting them here. In case you didn’t see them, they’re clips of people interacting with other people wearing all black so that they blend in to the background. This allows all sorts of crazy real-time fake ‘camera tricks.’ It’s like a fake fake-out – you’re so used to the camera tricks that it’s weird to see things happen in obviously unedited real time. If you haven’t already seen these, I suggest you watch them at least twice so you figure out what’s going on. The ping pong clip got all the press (link, link, link. One of those is bound to work), but there’s also a basketball one (link).

     They’re both from a show called Kasoh Taikai:

     “Kasoh Taikai (Masquerade Contest) is a wonderful show. They have it about 2 or 3 times a year, always with the same beloved old comedian (sort of Milton Berle-ish) as the MC. All the contestants are amateurs — families, or school classes, or housewives, etc. They think of something to imitate, using their bodies mostly and homemade improvised costumes. Some are horrible and some are quite fantastic, but all are unexpected and inventive. After each act, the audience (or judges? I forget) evaluates them and the really bad ones are bong-ed out (a big carnival gong is used, with each vote making it go higher). There are about 20 acts in each program, and at the end big prizes are awarded to some of the un-bonged ones. “

     The official Kasoh Taikai site has a video page and images of all sorts of crazy shodowsuit antics. If anyone knows of a way to see a full episode of the show, I’m ALL ABOUT IT.