As we all know, the Japanese are known for their insane game shows. Many of these shows have placed contestants into physical and psychological danger to provide their audiences with an entertaining viewing experience. The way in the late 90s and early 2000s, a broadcast that many believed to be the craziest and potentially unethical aired on a Tokyo based network named Nippon TV. The show was titled Susunu! Denpa Shōnen.
The show was known for putting its contestants into several extreme situations. It gained high ratings and also became controversial due to the inhumane challenges and rule changes that were made by the TV producers whenever they felt that the contestants were doing too well in their extreme situations.
The participants were usually comedians who were relatively unknown and they were ready to do anything just to become famous. These participants will be chosen randomly and they will not be told what the objective of their challenge was. Some of the participants became quite famous but not for the right reason, while some remained unknown. The show was cancelled due to the government’s tracking down on torture-themed shows. It had become one of the most insane shows that have ever existed and has achieved a cult status over the years.
One infamous challenger from this show was Tomoaki Hamatsu, where he was mostly known as Nasubi. In the beginning, Nasubi was forced to stay in an apartment, alone and fully naked. Inside the room was a stack of envelopes, a rack of magazines, water, and a gas burner.
He was only given water and to provide himself with food, clothing or any means of entertainment during his stay in the room, he must win them through sweepstakes that were available from the magazine’s rack. Nasubi will use the prepared envelops to mail contest applications. The point of his challenge was to mainly survive on his contest prizes. Once Nasubi’s winnings earned a monetary value of 1 million yen or roughly 39 000 Malaysian Ringgit, he was declared the winner and allowed to exit the apartment.
So, did Nasubi succeed? That depends on how one defines success.
Nasubi faced this challenge for about a year and throughout this challenge, he thought that he was being recorded for a show that will be broadcast later. But the reality was that he was on a 24-hour live stream broadcast. The re-broadcast version would consist of highlights of each week and it comes fully edited with comedic sound effects and subtitles which makes fun of everything he did, this also includes his sadness and frustration.
Nasubi would only drink water and lose his weight until he eventually won some drinks from his sweepstakes entries. He then won a bag of rice and later on survived for weeks on dog foods that he won. He would make occasional conversations with a stuffed animal that he won.
He never won a single piece of clothing that he could wear, and he even did not win anything that could trim down his facial hair. He also won prizes that he could not use like a ticket to a movie and a bicycle. He would later receive a television set that was initially useless because there was no cable or antenna hooked up in the apartment. The TV eventually became useful when he won a VCR as well as a Sony Playstation game console which he would play video games that he won, endlessly.
As he finally reaches the 1 million yen goal, the producer decided that it was still too early to end the program especially when the show was at its high in popularity. So, they blindfolded Nasubi and brought him to a different location. Nasubi thought that he had finally reached the end but he found himself living in another apartment in South Korea.
Once again, Nasubi was forced to strip naked and enter sweepstakes. The trials for this one was to win enough money to get back home. This became more challenging when Nasubi has to translate from Korean to Japanese using only a couple of dictionary that he was provided with. Despite all that, he met his goal weeks later. The goal, however, was revised by the producer and Nasubi must then afford a ticket in first class.
When he successfully achieved the goal, he was blindfolded, clothed and brought into another apartment in Japan. Being already used to the situation, Nasubi immediately strips his clothes off. At this point, the walls of the apartment suddenly collapsed to reveal that he was actually inside a TV studio together with live audiences. Nasubi was visibly confused and shocked as he does not know that the show had already been broadcast. This whole thing lasted about 15 months and the show broke records with 17 million viewers weekly.
After the show, Nasubi reported that he was having difficulties wearing clothing daily. He also had difficulty in conversations for the first six months since then. He was unable to succeed in the TV variety world.
He did, however, become a local talent in his hometown in Fukushima and he also became a stage actor. Nasubi comments on the show that he was grateful for the experience despite all the things that he went through. Considering all of that, did Nasubi overcame this ordeal? That depends on how one defines it as a success.
1. Aizat Bin Kamarul Khisham adalah pelajar Fakulti Filem, Teater dan Animasi.
2. Dr. Mohd Syuhaidi Abu Bakar adalah Timbalan Dekan Penyelidikan dan Jalinan Industri,
Fakulti Filem, Teater dan Animasi.