Walk Like a Ninja: Crazy Japanese TV Watch

Japanese television is insane, in the best possible way. Trying to detail the madness that makes it on the air over there is a futile proposition at best. So I trust other people to tell me what I should watch. And I got this tip from writer Greg Rucka (if you haven’t read his phenomenal Queen & Country espionage graphic novels, go get some. I’ll wait.).


That’s from a show called Ninja Warrior, currently airing on G4TV. (Remember: the password is "insane.") The dude running those obstacle courses is named Makoto Nagano. And it looks like he’s barely breaking a sweat. To quote Rucka: "If the definition of true fitness and power is the ability to move one’s own body with precision, the way one wishes to, when one wishes to…he is the walking, talking, definition of this ability."

What struck me was that these types of obstacle courses look like videogames writ large. I absolutely see some Tomb Raider in there, as well as some Prince of Persia. Hell, even some Frogger.

The only logical next step is to make these live-fire obstacle courses. To make it snappy.

Comments (18 total) Add your comment
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  • WH

    My kids love this show & I gotta say it’s hard to rip your eyes from it. The narration is a hoot & some of the contestants are amazing.

  • lilly

    my husband and I are totally addicted to this show. I have had to talk him out of building his own course several times now.

  • Bertie

    So you just watch it on the website?? Crazy!! I couldn’t help but cheer him on at the end!

  • Andria

    My boys and I watch this religiously! Its amazing!!!

  • EP Sato

    Marc, I’m a little disapointed that you are jumping on the Ninja Warrior bandwagon so late in the game. This show’s been on forever AND your colleagues from popwatch (Scott Brown most notably) had a viral video that became a winner on G4’s Attack of the Show.
    G4 is the ultimate geekster video game channel, and also features the Happy Tree Friends tv show.
    Nothing beats this awesome Japanese gameshow though. I’ve watched tons of Japanese tv and aside from sumo, game and variety shows are what the Japanese do best!

  • Angela

    I’d hate to go up against that guy on Survivor.

  • roel

    for real… where ya bean? the bf and i have been enjoyings this awesome (sometimes) trainwreck for months now!

  • Kristi

    I discovered this show a few months ago and literally did not leave my couch for an entire Saturday afternoon.

  • Sara

    NINJA WARRIOR ROCKS!!! I’ve been watching since early this year. Only like 2 people have ever completed the whole thing in time. EVER!!!

  • anomynous

    g4 also plays arrested development and heroes. ew should be sponsoring that channel.
    ninja warrior is amazing. i like this clip since the US version edits out so much of it that you can’t really see the strain they’re under in that third stage.

  • Houstonian Jen in DC

    Marc, welcome to the Ninja Warrior club. This show is amazing. I love watching the challenges, but I love hearing the stories of the contestants, like a guy they refer to as “Mr. Ninja-Warrior”. He hasn’t won the competition even though he’s competed in it multiple times. Last year, his family told him to give it up, he was embarassing them…but he just couldn’t do it. He built a course in his backyard for training. I don’t even know if he has a job!!! His life is Ninja Warrior. It’s awesome and sad at the same time.
    I also love the Gas station manager who was once just an attendant. More power to him — I don’t think any of the gentlemen at my local gas station are Ninja Warrior material.
    I miss the show, I don’t have G4 in my new apartment, and refuse to give our cable company any more money.

  • Jen

    I caught this show on tv last weekend, and I love it! More than the outrageous obstacles and unbelievable athleticism, I enjoy the commentary by the show’s announcers. It’s oddly poetic, the descriptions of people flinging themselves into giant nets and scaling walls.

  • RP

    I LOVE Ninja Warrior! It is important to note that when Sara says only two people have completed the course in time, we’re talking about only two wins out of 19 competitions and they start out with 100 people. But the really important thing is that if no one finishes in time no one wins…period. The person who got the farthest isn’t considered the winner. That is hardcore!
    There needs to be an American version of this show. Don’t change anything (the course, the style of the commentary, the rules, ect.) just locate it somewhere in the United States.
    Don’t forget the Women’s version of Ninja Warrior. The course is just as insane but it focuses more on balance and agility instead of strength.

  • lucky7

    Regular Ninja Warrior watchers, help me out here – I’ve caugth the show on occasion but don’t want it religiously. Is there only one obstacle course? I thought I’ve noticed bunch of different versions. Am I seeing different stages of one giant course?

  • RP

    There are only four stages to the entire obstacle course. What you’re seeing are the changes made to the stages from season to season. For example, the rolling log has changed from season to season. The warped wall has gotten taller. Some obstacles aren’t included every season.
    I can’t remember the contestant’s name but I remember one season he’d trained to get past a particular obstacle in the third stage that defeated him twice and it wasn’t included that time.

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