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Is Ninja Warrior getting too American?

by Michael Pascua, posted Jun 30th 2009 7:13PM
Olivia Munn wipes out on Ninja WarriorG4 must be getting on my nerves. I'm giving Web Soup another few weeks because Chris Hardwick is still warming up. I'm more upset on Ninja Warrior's evolution, becoming more and more American. By adding several G4 characters, they are diluting a fun Japanese show.

I can forgive a show like Iron Chef America because they are their own separate entity that is respectful to the original, but inserting G4 people into the original Sasuke feels forced and unnecessary, as if Sasuke just got taken over by Americans.

I was insulted by Olivia Munn. She unnecessarily showboated after passing the first obstacle and then fell on the next. I understand putting a few gag contestants like Octopus guy on, but when TBS, the Japanese broadcaster, doesn't air Olivia's failed run in Sasuke, there's saturation. Having her then pop up before every commercial and scream "watch my pick next!" was annoying. Her pick failed the first stage.

Having real athletes invited to Sasuke is different. The Japanese want to see how an Olympian or athlete would do. I appreciated the Hamm twins and Paul Terek because they did well. Olivia's space in the 22nd competition could have been for an Olympian with potential.

I wouldn't get rid of the American Ninja Challenge, rather pare it down to two finalists (Levi Meeuwenberg gets one last shot) and not allow Kevin or Olivia to compete. With places for 100 contestants, only two should come from G4. Put potential representatives on the Sasuke Trials, which give out golden tickets to Sasuke. This would also give the American airing of Ninja Warrior an extra episode and explain how finalist Urushihara Yuuji made it to the competition.

If the show is so popular, why can't G4 build an American course? Let's recycle the defunct American Gladiators arena. I imagine American Ninja Warrior on G4 with a faithful course, but with influences from shows like Wipeout. I suggest 11 hour-long episodes with 10-14 contestants attempting the first course for eight. I'd allow a max of two gag contestants per episode and invite Japanese contestants to attempt the course. The last three episodes would deal with the latter rounds. Throw in an energy drink sponsor and you got a show.

It's not that G4 competitors are bad or undeserving; I want my Japanese television to be Japanese. Do you think an American Ninja Warrior could succeed? How would you keep the balance between translating a show and transplanting the show with Americans? Leave comments below.

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How do you even apply to get on the show if you are from america? ive seen the olympians or whoever else from the US or other countries on...I am a former college decathlete, and I think that I can give that course a run for the money....and no, im not taking the course lightly. I can see it is hard, but I want to get on there. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

July 07 2009 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Matt's comment

I am trying out next weekend in LA. I think most of the competitors in American Ninja Warrior are serious and trying to compete in Saskue as legminent contestants. Hopefully I will pass the trial. Matt if you look up ninja warrior you should be able to find information on getting the course.

August 24 2009 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sasuke is only getting as American as the Japanese producing it will let it get. If they want to give G4 4 spots to fill, that's their decision. They still have 96 other contestants who aren't American.

And if you're going to gripe that Olivia was a non-competitive failure, then you might as well gripe about all the goofball comedians that dress up as Obama just for a quick bath. I'd say there's roughly 50 actual athletic competitors to balance out the comic relief of the first stage.

July 01 2009 at 4:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First time Levi was on he got further than any other contestant. Second time he got to the second stage and the other guy that was competing with him got there too. The girl that g4 chose actually completed the spider thingy.. first female to do so.

G4 is certainly picking the right people. they are just going overboard on the coverage of the events.. The post/pre shows are a bit much. Olivia is beautiful but TOO MUCH. they need to just give us the original telecast and sprinkle in the Americans..

Levi needs to keep going as long as he gets a ticket. There are at least 10 guys (The Allstars) that come back every season and some dont even make it past the first round. Levi belongs he just needs to stop the showboating! where the hell did all that come from?

Sasuke should up the number of contestants.. "octo" guy or "model making" guy or "thong" guy are just as worthless as Olivia and Kevin..

July 01 2009 at 3:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like your idea of a more formal tournament to determine who'll audition for the actual Sasuke - I think it could work.

However, as a Chinese-Caucasian who was primarily raised in Tokyo, I think Olivia was probably more Asian than most, if not all, of the American contestants. She'd probably work better on one of the less serious and more outrageous game shows, though.

July 01 2009 at 1:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why so butthurt about a few G4 people on Sasuke? There's already TONS of gag contestants, how the hell does Octopus Man qualify every year?

They're just there for comedic purposes, sit back and laugh, don't take it so seriously!

July 01 2009 at 12:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Anonymoose's comment

My sentiments exactly.

July 05 2009 at 7:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

G4 doesn't produce their own version of Ninja Warrior because it would be too expensive. They don't do any show any more which can't be wholly produced in the same studio X-Play and AOTS are filmed in.

Also, I think the Iron Chef comparison is very apt. The UPN version stunk because they were trying too hard to copy the camp of the Japanese show. We don't do that sort of camp well anymore. But the FN version does well because they didn't try to ape everything the Japanese original did.

June 30 2009 at 10:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't like the bald guy doing tai chi moves before and DURING the middle of the first round. It felt pretty insulting to the show.

I'm sure Levi is cool, but he simply doesn't deserve going to three straight tournaments, doing unnecessary wall-runner flips as if he's being forced to act "xtreme" by the G4 people.

The tournament is somewhat better this year before they only devoted a third of the 100 contestents to being goofballs with no real chance. It used to be 50% in years past.

June 30 2009 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Sasuke. Olivia shouldn't have been in it and her training wasn't interesting. It made it seem as if the producers thought putting an attractive woman on TV was all that was necessary for people to tune in. And why was she given discretion as to who was chosen to go?

Also, could the new guy be more politically correct? He's a vegan? I mean, really, he was great in the videos and much better than I could ever hope to be but why even bring up his diet?

I completely agree with you. Make an American "Ninja Warrior" and have the winner - or the best five guys, if they make a really good course - go try out for Sasuke. And stop the Olivia silliness as it just degrades the show and G4.

June 30 2009 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm not sure I buy the premise of this article. Olivia was undoubetdly there for the hot chick factor, not the American factor. And her boasting, clearly stchick. One thing that was Americanized was Obama. That guy was awesome, and I was suprised that "yes we can" wasn't in engrish. And Levi has to have earned a lifetime exemption. He's 66% for getting to the 2nd stage and 33% for getting to the 3rd. That's a better percentage that almost all of the all stars

June 30 2009 at 8:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

whenever I watch ninja warrior I almost start expecting to hear the voices of the MXC hosts.

Wasn't mxc great? What happened to that? We made wipeout which is the same thing as it except NBC is being completely serious with it.

June 30 2009 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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