Takeshi's Castle

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Takeshi's Castle
Keshi Poster.jpg
No winners this time on Takeshi's Castle.
Genre: Action
Game show
Comedy
Action
Running Time: 47 minutes
Country: Japan
Release Date: May 2, 1986 –
October 19, 1990
Network(s): Tokyo Broadcasting System
Created by: Takeshi Kitano
Distributed by: Tokyo Broadcasting System
Starring: Takeshi Kitano
Hayato Tani
Seasons: 4
Episodes: 133


Takeshi's Castle (JP: Fūun! Takeshi-jō) is a Japanese game show devised by "Beat" Takeshi Kitano where a small militia of contestants try to navigate a series of wacky physical (and sometimes mental) obstacles in order to take on the devious lord of the land.

Synopsis

Each week, General Tani would round up a group of contestants (usually around 100-140) in order to storm the castle of the evil Count Takeshi, dealing with the defenses his Emerald Guard army has set up to impede them. If a contestant fails to clear an obstacle, they are (usually) removed from the rest of the show. Each episode would feature a wall climb, an uphill water gun battle, six games picked at random, a guessing game, and finally a bumper car based water gun showdown with Count Takeshi, the ultimate aim being to disable his car. Inbetween games, there would usually be comedy interludes featuring Takeshi and his Guard.

Why It Rocks

  1. The extreme variety of games. Over 100 games were featured in the Japanese original, some of which were once-an-episode affairs and others of which only appeared once.
  2. The presentation of the games was also a major factor in the show's popularity. Games were larger-than-life, colorful, and delightfully absurd.
    • To complement the games were characters such as Japanese wrestlers, flamboyant twins, and a mascot costume designed after a sumo's head that helped to elevate the presentation.
  3. The show was designed so that one could easily get enjoyment from both the hilarious (but painful!) failures of contestants while also cheering for those who managed to clear a difficult obstacle.
  4. Comedy skits and reporter segments were enjoyable diversions from the main games.
  5. The Show Down was always an awesome way to end the proceedings, and it only got better as technology improved to add more visual flair to the game. Count Takeshi would also use creative tactics to try and cheat out a victory against the surviving contestants.
  6. Despite Takeshi Kitano's professed dislike of video games, the show is one of the closest examples to a real life video game that can be found in the 1980s.
    • Some of the tracks used as incidental were from recent video games, as well.

International versions

The footage from Takeshi's Castle has seen many exports across the decades, several of which are noteworthy:

  • The UK version cuts out the skit segments and focuses solely on the games being played. Comedian and actor Craig Charles (of Red Dwarf fame) serves as the narrator and commentator, offering his own quips to the proceedings. It is from this version where the term used by fans of the show to refer to themselves, "Keshi heads", comes.
  • The American version is recut and rebranded as MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, using redubbed footage to turn the show into a competition between two feuding groups. This version still keeps close to the spirit of the original, featuring interludes with the "hosts" Vic Romano and Kenny Blankenship (a re-dubbed Takeshi and his advisor) as well as contestant interviews with the lecherous Guy LeDouche (a redub of the battlefield reporters).
  • The Thailand version does not use footage from the original, but rather uses the format in a new competition and features a storyline where General Shahkrit leads a group of 20 to rescue his beloved Princess Woonsen from Shogun Takeshi.

Trivia

  • There is a dedicated fan site with more information about the Japanese, UK, and Thailand versions of the show.
  • Several episodes featured crossovers with Ultraman, a popular tokusatsu franchise. Ultraman monsters as well as the titular heroes showed up in a "role reversal" monster special, and the original Ultraman subbed for General Tani's actor in another episode.