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What's Wrong With American Ninja Warrior?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the where-to-begin dept.

Japan 349

Reader Thom Stark (thomst) writes with a pointed review of this year's Americanized version of (awesome) Japanese TV show "Sasuke." "I've been a fan of the program the G4 channel calls "Ninja Warrior" since I first encountered it in mid-2005. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it's a re-edited-for-American-TV version of a Japanese show called "Sasuke," with often-snarky English commentary and graphics overlaid on the Japanese original. "Ninja Warrior" is a fast-paced, wildly-entertaining program in which 100 contestants of varying skill levels pit themselves against a 4-stage obstacle course that grows ever more fiendishly difficult with each passing season. There've been 27 such seasons to date, and the most current incarnation has become so incredibly taxing that Batman himself would have trouble completing it. Now G4 has teamed up with its corporate parent, NBCUniversal, to bring the world's toughest obstacle course to America, and the resulting show, "American Ninja Warrior" turns out to be distinctly inferior to its Japanese progenitor. The final broadcast in a series that has run for six previous weekly installments appeared on July 9, with segments on both G4 and NBC, and I thought it was fitting that I mark the occasion with a critique of what I believe to be "American Ninja Warrior"'s fatal philosophical and production missteps, and contrast them with the original pitch-perfect product." (Read on below.)

First, it's important to understand that the Japanese program's name has nothing to do with either ninjas or warriors. "Sasuke" means something like "excellence" in Japanese. It has much the same flavor as the Greek concept of arete, the pursuit of excellence as a defining life goal. G4's marketeers clearly decided that their ADHD-addled core audience of video gamers was unlikely to find a show called "Excellence" compelling enough to warrant paying attention, so they decided to jazz it up by invoking ninjas, instead. Oh, and warriors, too, to make it more appealing to the World of Warcraft fanatics. And that was fine, as far as it went, because G4 had the good sense not to mess with the program content itself (other than to poorly translate much of the Japanese-language commentary, again in an apparent attempt to inject some good ol' American zazz).

As a side note, commentary is not the only translational sin of which G4 is guilty. The competition takes place at Midoriyama, a Japanese place name that G4 insists on referring to as "Mount Midoriyama." The problem with that is that "yama" is a Japanese suffix meaning "mountain." Thus, "Fujiyama" means "Mount Fuji" and "Midoriyama" means "Mount Midori" — which, in turn, means that G4's translation is not only redundant, with its repeating of the word "mountain" in both English and Japanese, it's wildly inaccurate, because the Japanese word means "Mount Midori."

But I digress.

"American Ninja Warrior" — the strictly-domestic production — suffers badly from human interest bloat. The Japanese program (at least as it is presented on G4) frequently features mini-portraits of the competitors, but these segments are very short — typically under 20 seconds — and they help to put a human face on the often-superhuman efforts of the program's contenders. In "American Ninja Warrior," the corresponding segments too often are near-epic mini-documentaries that run a minute or longer, and they seriously impair the program's flow — especially because there are so flinkin' many of them. The producers badly need to rein in their out-of-control bathos machinery and reduce both the number and the running time of their athlete portraiture.

But the worst mistake that the brainiacs behind "American Ninja Warrior" have made is to Americanize the competition. The most endearing philosophical quality of "Sasuke" is that the participants compete, not against each other, but individually against the course itself. There is no zero-sum in the game of Sasuke. Should more than one contestant complete the nigh-impossible series of obstacles (an outcome that has never yet occurred on "Sasuke"), both would be equally celebrated, both would be equally entitled to claim the title of "winner," and the accomplishment of one would in no way diminish the glory of the other. To the contrary, such an event would be cause for national celebration, since winners of "Sasuke" are considered national heroes in Japan.

By contrast, not only have the American producers chosen to have the participants compete against each other in regional qualifying events for a spot in the "finals" competition in Las Vegas (not an unreasonable choice, given that they needed to whittle the field down to a manageable number of contestants for the trials at the actual Mount Midori course), but they've made it a zero-sum game. Like the Highlander, there can be only one American Ninja Warrior — which reduces the exalted pursuit of excellence to just another athletic competition, with the top prize of half-a-million dollars going to the one contestant who not only completes the course, but does so in the fastest time. Anyone else who makes it to the top of Mount Midori is, basically, just another chump. An also-ran. A footnote.

And that's what's really wrong with "American Ninja Warrior."

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Slow news day? (-1, Troll)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628461)

I hear the Higgs boson was seen with Katie Holmes in SoHo.

Re:Slow news day? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628485)

I am pouring down hot grits in my pants thinking about Higgs Boson touching the buttocks of naked Katie Holmes.

Re:Slow news day? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628757)

HOT GRITS

Re:Slow news day? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628591)

His hair was perfect.

Re:Slow news day? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628887)

126 GeV? Kinda fat if you ask me.

There must be a winner (5, Interesting)

Princeofcups (150855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628473)

In Japan, people are praised for trying their best. In most seasons, no one wins the final obstacle. In America, there has to be a winner to celebrate, everyone else is a failure. I much prefer the Japanese way of looking at things.

Re:There must be a winner (5, Funny)

CodeHxr (2471822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628547)

I much prefer the Japanese way of looking at things

I find this to be the case more often than not. Unless we're talking about vending machines... creepy.

Re:There must be a winner (4, Funny)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628877)

I hate dried squids too. That's what you meant, right?

Re:There must be a winner (5, Interesting)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628577)

Agreed. This is what I loved about the Japanese show: I could honestly root for every single competitor, and sincerely hope that they could win. Those challenges are HARD! I love the spirit of camaraderie they show towards one another, and that some people compete just to have fun.

Re:There must be a winner (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628641)

actually we now do this in kiddie sports where everyone is a winner every season. supposedly people hate it

Re:There must be a winner (5, Insightful)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628733)

actually we now do this in kiddie sports where everyone is a winner every season. supposedly people hate it

"people are praised for trying their best" is not the same as "everyone is a winner".

Re:There must be a winner (1)

InvisibleClergy (1430277) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628847)

Hey, I'm commenting here because I misclicked and downmodded you. I agree with your point - it's the difference between a participation ribbon and someone telling you where you were awesome and how you could improve.

Re:There must be a winner (4, Interesting)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628939)

*THIS* I hate that stupid US custom where you must tell everyone they are number one and they too can be an astronaut and president.

Re:There must be a winner (5, Insightful)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628821)

That's because when everyone wins, it's not a competition.

In SASUKE, the trials are near-impossible. More often than not, nobody wins. It is not a competition against yourself, it is a competition against the challenge of the obstacle course. If multiple people win (never happened, but is always possible), it would be celebrated (and the next season's obstacles would probably be harder). If nobody wins, that's OK, too. But certainly there is never a time that everybody wins.

And I would argue that if everyone wins, it encourages people to be lazy. If one person wins, it gives that person an ego and makes the losers disinterested. If nobody wins (because it is hard), or if winning is equally available to all but is incredibly difficult (a la SASUKE), it encourages people to try harder. On that note, isn't that the American spirit? That everyone has an equal opportunity to rise to the top, proportional to your efforts, and there is no zero-sum game?

Re:There must be a winner (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628931)

everyone is a winner is totally opposite of the possibility that nobody might win.

Re:There must be a winner (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628683)

In Japan, people are praised for trying their best. In most seasons, no one wins the final obstacle. In America, there has to be a winner to celebrate, everyone else is a failure. I much prefer the Japanese way of looking at things.

Fast-forward to a week or two from now where we'll see a report on the state of the American education system, explaining how more schools are shifting to a model where kids are praised for trying their best rather than actually understanding the material, and this same poster will be deriding that exact same trait he's gushing over now when it's done by Americans.

Expect the word "coddling" when describing it being done by Americans and "supportive" when the Japanese do the exact same thing.

Re:There must be a winner (4, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628901)

In Japan, people are praised for trying their best. In most seasons, no one wins the final obstacle. In America, there has to be a winner to celebrate, everyone else is a failure. I much prefer the Japanese way of looking at things.

Fast-forward to a week or two from now where we'll see a report on the state of the American education system, explaining how more schools are shifting to a model where kids are praised for trying their best rather than actually understanding the material, and this same poster will be deriding that exact same trait he's gushing over now when it's done by Americans.

Expect the word "coddling" when describing it being done by Americans and "supportive" when the Japanese do the exact same thing.

School should not be a competition. It is possible for everyone to win and it is possible for everyone to fail. (or rather, it should be this way; you are right about the coddling aspect though)

Re:There must be a winner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628935)

I thought they already tried this and found that it does no good.

Re:There must be a winner (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628945)

But it's not.
The Education system says it's alright to be average, not excellent, which is what Sasuke celebrates.

Re:There must be a winner (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628953)

more schools are shifting to a model where kids are praised for trying their best rather than actually understanding the material

Welcome to Dumbtardia. Where devolution to Idiocracy is a God Given Right!

Re:There must be a winner (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628729)

In America, there has to be a winner to celebrate, everyone else is a failure.

If you're under the age of 25, everyone is a winner. We wouldn't want to give people the impression that life is hard. Or that sometimes the only way to achieve something is with teamwork. Or even that the effort yields its own rewards. Fuck that noise -- I want everything now, with a large fry, and if anyone has a problem with that, I'll mount an uzi on my mobility scooter and rain bullets upon your shitty country while drinking beer and shouting "AAAAAMERICA, FUCK YEA!"

Re:There must be a winner (1)

Krojack (575051) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628789)

^^ This. The Japanese one could have 5 champions or they could all be losers.

Some of the extras are the goofy little outfits and 5 seconds of entertainment many of the contestants put on before they start their run.

On and lets not forget "Women of Ninja Warrior". Komiya Rie, Mikie Hara, and Ayako Miyake. Lets not forget Sara Jean Underwood. Maybe the American version needs to get her on there. As for the guys, Makoto Nagano [google.com] is just a pure badass.

Re:There must be a winner (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628943)

Makoto badass? IIRC he got beaten by a shoe salesman in Sasuke ;).

Re:There must be a winner (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628825)

In America, there has to be a winner to celebrate, everyone else is a failure.

Think you're missing something there, everyone in the last 25 years has been taught that "everyone is a winner" no matter if they fail here in the west, everyone is a winner. That crack head? Yeah they're a winner. The idiot, yep they're a winner. That soccer team who won by 7 more goals, well we need to take 3 of them away so the other team doesn't feel so bad(Happened in Ottawa and Toronto), then one of the teams who refused to follow the rules of "not scoring so much" was banned from playing for the rest of the season. Both teams were winners too though.

Success should be celebrated. You don't get anywhere in life by celebrating the person who's doping up in an alleyway, or do you? Well I guess they're a hero to someone. Look, I know what you're saying, but it's not that they're celebrating that these guys were winners, but that they lost, and that they took their lumps, had fun, and kept going, rather than getting into a huff and throwing a temprtantrum like so many other people do. Japan does have a winner-first mentality too, and it's even worse than the US.

Re:There must be a winner (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628869)

In Japan, people are praised for trying their best. In most seasons, no one wins the final obstacle. In America, there has to be a winner to celebrate, everyone else is a failure. I much prefer the Japanese way of looking at things.

And furthermore, in America there must be only one single winner in everything. You are never allowed to have multiple people complete some challenge and share in the victory. While in a lot of things it is reasonable to have only a single winner (or team of winners), such as most competition sports, people tend to spill this over into everything.

who the fuck cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628477)

oh

Re:who the fuck cares (-1, Troll)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628515)

buncha dumbass manchildren, obviously

Re:who the fuck cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628541)

Spoken like a true beta-male. I'll bet you couldn't curl 4 sets of 10 reps at 30 lbs to save your life.

Re:who the fuck cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628749)

I'm good enough to curl your mother's toes, asshole.

no soul (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628491)

It just has no soul.

See also: American Top Gear (5, Insightful)

edremy (36408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628523)

Or rather, don't. Seriously, don't.

Cargo Cult (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628665)

I was going to post about the American Top Gear too.

It seems that the USA excels at finding good shows from other countries, bringing them here, and then completely missing the point. It's classic Cargo Cult mentality: the superficial form is there, but they entirely fail to understand why it was good to begin with.

Re:See also: American Top Gear (1)

ameen.ross (2498000) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628677)

Which brings to mind the issue that Top Gear has been shelved until 2013 [cartrade.com] ! Bastards...

Re:See also: American Top Gear (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628779)

We still get a christmas special thankfully.

Re:See also: American Top Gear (3, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628703)

I tried - once - never again.. that show is horrible.

Re:See also: American Top Gear (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628819)

Serious question: Do Americans like it...?

Re:See also: American Top Gear (1)

TheTerseOne (2447418) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628903)

None that I know of. But then those that I have talked to about it are all fans of the original. I can't speak for anyone who just stumbled across it while channel surfing. I sincerely doubt anyone has ever called the US Version "The greatest show on Television," which I have heard several people say about the original Top Gear.

Re:See also: American Top Gear (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628921)

I don't like either.

Re:See also: American Top Gear (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628827)

Happens all of the time, [cnn.com] there's even a TV show [wikipedia.org] about recreating foreign TV shows for American audiences.

Re:See also: American Top Gear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628925)

Top Gear America is not bad if you lower your expectations.

After Top Gear Australia, Top Gear Russia, and Top Gear China, there was an obvious trend.

Top Gear Korea is actually not bad.

What's Wrong With Slashdot? (5, Insightful)

arosas (904929) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628533)

~800 word reviews about "American Ninja Warrior".

Re:What's Wrong With Slashdot? (1, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628573)

That don't even really review the subject. Also, how about we don't watch the channel that gutted TechTV.

Re:What's Wrong With Slashdot? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628721)

~800 word reviews about "American Ninja Warrior".

Well, it was either this or the $100M VC investment that Andreesen-Horowitz made in GitHub, which somehow never made it out of the firehose queue. Priorities, man!

Obama blasted him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628543)

He was in the way of the pirate.

Actual critique: 10% (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628551)

This is mostly a disturbingly obsessive whine over details that do not matter, with an actual critique only making up a fraction of the last couple paragraphs. It uses 500 words to lodge exactly two valid complaints:
1. Making a competition out of a challenge, which are fundamentally different.
and
2. Slightly increasing the proportion of the show that is human interest.

If there were some sort of news that made this arbitrary blob of complaining relevant, it would just be badly written, instead of bizarrely atopical and badly written. There's not, and it just seems like completely off the wall "nerd-rage" over nothing in particular. Shameful editorial standards at work here.

Re:Actual critique: 10% (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628637)

'Shameful,' if anyone gave a fuck about what you think, you know?

Re:Actual critique: 10% (1)

CaseCrash (1120869) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628667)

Totally agree.
I mean, WTF is this? It seems like a blog entry from a blog I would never ever read, not a slashdot news item. I usually get pissed at all the "How is this news for nerds?" comments on stories that aren't all that slashdotty, but this isn't even news. The book reviews actually review something, this is just one guy who really wants to bitch about something but can't seem to find anyone to care so he's trying with us.

Re:Actual critique: 10% (5, Funny)

Provos (20410) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628697)

It's like the American Ninja Warrior of critiques.

Re:Actual critique: 10% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628841)

Hilarious. Critique another critique with worse writing.

Re:Actual critique: 10% (1)

RabidTimmy (1415817) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628853)

Ahh, critiquing the critique. I see what you did there. Now for my critique of your critique of the Ninja Warrior critique...

What's wrong with American Professional Wrestling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628555)

I've big a big fan of Japanese Professional Wrestling for decade, or Puroresu as it is known in Japan. But when I attempt to watch American Professional Wrestling, such as Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment, I am frequently left disappointed. Puroresu is full of great athletes telling stories of stength and honor, while WWE seems to cater to children with goofy characters. That's not to say that WWE doesn't have some great wrestlers such as CM Punk and Daniel Bryan that would fit well into Puroresu, but WWE doesn't utilize them in the same way. And when a great Japanese wrestler appears in WWE, such as Lord Tensai aka Giant Bernard, they are never treated as well as they were in Japan.

It's almost as if each is aimed at different audiences and tastes.

A guess? It's designed for idiots. (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628563)

I've not seen American Ninja Warrior, but the vast majority of American remakes of popular import shows get the same treatment. First, you start of with something that's popular. Then you assume that Americans are too stupid to understand any culture other than the perfectly homogenised average of the USA as portrayed by Hollywood. Then you remove everything that doesn't conform to this. And then you end up with something that even the target audience thinks is dumb.

Re:A guess? It's designed for idiots. (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628783)

I don't know that I agree that a zero-sum game is American.

Re:A guess? It's designed for idiots. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628843)

You forgot one:

Add a presenter who's nowhere near as witty as he thinks he is.

what's wrong? (1)

kontos (560271) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628571)

So, basically, you're upset that an Americanized foreign show has been Americanized?

Re:what's wrong? (1)

ildon (413912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628765)

What's wrong is that the original audience was a niche audience and not a mass market audience. They liked it for its bizarre quirks as much as its content (perhaps more so). The bizarre quirks were smoothed over in favor of mass market appeal (because why would they spend all this money to produce a show for a niche audience rather than the more lucrative mass market?) and this alienated the original audience, surprising no one with half a brain.

This same thing happened with Iron Chef and Takeshi's Castle. Fans of the original simply should not have gotten their hopes up.

Re:what's wrong? (3, Interesting)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628961)

Fans of the original simply should not have gotten their hopes up.

Fans of the original never had hopes for this version - as you said, the core group that loved the original knew from the start that the american version would be an abortion. Late comers, God bless them, might like the new, watered down version, because ignorance is bliss.

I find it absolutely entertaining to see how poorly a marketer or television guru can do when given enough time and money. Hell, I could rip off a show from another country and do it terribly. Where's my paycheck?

And I LOVED the "most extreme elimination challenge" version of Takeshi's Castle. I don't care how far off it was. I fucking loved that show. Guy LeDouche was my favorite 'character' of any show, ever.

It's like Godzilla (5, Informative)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628575)

I prefer the clearly dubbed versions of Godzilla to anything made to "resemble" Godzilla. G4s version of Ninja Warrior holds onto the same cheezy camp that makes a Godzilla Dub intriguing. The "American" Ninja Warrior doesn't hold the same level of camp that only can be done via a dub. Maybe if they took American Ninja Warrior and dubbed it in Japanese they would be able to enjoy the same level of camp we do with Sasuke.

Re:It's like Godzilla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628823)

I prefer the clearly dubbed versions of Godzilla to anything made to "resemble" Godzilla. G4s version of Ninja Warrior holds onto the same cheezy camp that makes a Godzilla Dub intriguing.

Right. Most of the dubs, or at least the successful ones, are made with the intent of making the original film look like the silly, unrealistic work of foreigners too clueless to see the seam in a godzilla suit. The translation of Sasuke likewise reduces a serious celebration of the human spirit to slapstick. You might prefer "Wipe-Out" to "American Ninja Warrior." "Ninja Warrior" could appeal both to people able to look past the heckling to the actual competition and to people who just want to make fun of someone getting hit in the balls.

"Human Interest bloat..." (5, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628587)

>> ""American Ninja Warrior" — the strictly-domestic production — suffers badly from human interest bloat. The Japanese program (at least as it is presented on G4) frequently features mini-portraits of the competitors, but these segments are very short — typically under 20 seconds — and they help to put a human face on the often-superhuman efforts of the program's contenders. "

Oh, just wait until the Olympics. They will do lengthy segments that try to ferret out the most painful moments in every athlete's life (with soft piano music) so the audience can have a little Rocky moment when an athlete wins an event.

Re:"Human Interest bloat..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628883)

Agree. The parent company is the same in both cases, NBCUniversal. And they have prefered to unearth human frailty instead of celebrating athletes and immersing in the competitions themselves.

I don't know if you ever saw "Last Comic Standing" on NBC. It was a show about stand-up comedy that hated stand-up comedy, and devoted as little of the episode as possible to the stage and the comics.

WEABOOOOOO (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628595)

I read the whole article and came up with a quick summary.

Weaboo: "It's not Japanese, therefore it's far too inferior, stupid gaijin".

Re:WEABOOOOOO (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628645)

exactly...

Anybody who watches G4 and is a fan of the channel and its programming does not deserve to be respected in teh /. community.

TechTV or die.

Easy answer (5, Insightful)

Perldivr (514838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628603)

The Japanese version does not insult the viewers intelligence. The American version does.

Re:Easy answer (2, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628735)

"The Japanese version does not insult the viewers intelligence. American viewers don't have any."

FTFY

That was not the final broadcast (3, Insightful)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628611)

There are two more episods in the July 9th episode, they only did the first stage of Mount Midoriyama.

I do agree that the American show emphasizes competition against each other with the line "who will be the first" instead of "will anyone".

But I do have to ask, how on-point can a review be if the reviewer didn't even watch the show enough to notice it didn't actually go to the end?

Re:That was not the final broadcast (4, Funny)

heathen_01 (1191043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628791)

There are two more episods in the July 9th episode, they only did the first stage of Mount Midoriyama.

I do agree that the American show emphasizes competition against each other with the line "who will be the first" instead of "will anyone".

But I do have to ask, how on-point can a review be if the reviewer didn't even watch the show enough to notice it didn't actually go to the end?

You're just trying to piss of the reviewer now aren't you.

Re:That was not the final broadcast (0)

thomst (1640045) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628971)

YesIAmAScript complained:

But I do have to ask, how on-point can a review be if the reviewer didn't even watch the show enough to notice it didn't actually go to the end?

TFA (The Fucking Author) here. Two points in response:

1. It's an editorial, not a review.

2. I finished writing the piece two hours before Monday night's episode of "American Ninja Warrior" began its broadcast. Obviously I didn't then know that NBC would choose to spread the finals out over three broadcast weeks. And that's really beside the point, now isn't it?

Sounds Familiar (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628615)

Nearly every japanese show that is rellocalized in the US does the exact same thing. Chances are it will bomb or quickly be retooled, (to go on to very modest success). They have trouble understanding that the fans of the original show actually like the show as-is.

It's like the difference between Chef Ramses UK and US Kitchen Nightmares. They are essentially the same show, but in the US version they add dramatic music and minimize their portrayal of the team building exercises, (making it seem more like a battle then his genuinely trying to help the restaurant achieve greatness; and they seem to go looking for the most combatative restaurant owners they can find).

Mount Midoriyama? Not as cool as Torpenhow hill. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628621)

In England there's a hill called Torpenhow Hill. The first mapmakers asked the locals what they called it, and the locals said "Tor", which meant "hill" in the old language. The newcomers spoke a different language, and so they named it "Tor Pen," adding a suffix which meant hill in their own tongue. Few centuries go by, new mapmakers come around speaking Old English, which uses the word "How" for "hill." "Tor Pen, you say? Okay Torpen How it is!"
Finally modern English maps are made and this time they contract "Torpen How" into "Torpenhow" and add "Hill".

  So the name of the place, translated into English, is "Hill-hill-hill hill." How's that for silliness?

Re:Mount Midoriyama? Not as cool as Torpenhow hill (4, Funny)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628963)

Gobi Desert

PIN number

Crappy remake

i was a fan of the original japanese iron chef (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628635)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Chef [wikipedia.org]

And then they bought it to the USA, with William Shatner, and it completely and utterly sucked:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Chef_USA [wikipedia.org]

The point is, the TONE was off, it was like drunk golf buddies who stumbled on a casual cooking competition, no reverence for the food, no care for the technique. Much like American Ninja warrior: wrong tone, just as you say.

Luckily, the Food Network made another stab at Iron Chef, and this time it worked, with Alton Brown and the "nephew" of the original Chairman Kaga (Hawaiian Fillipino martial artist Mark Dacascos), and other cross overs like Iron Chef Morimoto:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Chef_America [wikipedia.org]

Not as delightful as the original, but it works, it is enjoyable to watch, because the TONE is the same: they really care about the food, and they really pay attention to the cooking and technique.

If something works, don't mess with it!

I am certain some useless Hollywood suit said you need to change Sasuke to suit American audiences. Rightfully, that suit should be fired. If the formula works, don't mess with it, or you have some stillborn mess no one wants to watch.

Re:i was a fan of the original japanese iron chef (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628807)

I still shutter when I think about William Shatner's version.

The Food Network one was like a sequel that while good, doesn't quite live up to the original.

Re:i was a fan of the original japanese iron chef (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628873)

Not as delightful as the original, but it works, it is enjoyable to watch, because the TONE is the same: they really care about the food, and they really pay attention to the cooking and technique.

No they don't, though they do an excellent job of making you think they do. The whole point of the show is to showcase the Food Network's favored sons, name drop foodie celebrities and flavors of the moment, and oh - bring in Cat Cora, an untrained third rater, so the Food Network couldn't be accused of not being politically correct.

To summarise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628639)

...an American production company with lots of money and no ideas took (yet) another successful foriegn tv show, "americanized" it.. and not-so-royally fucked it up. No surprises there...whats the issue again?

Their #1 sin? Taking it seriously. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628649)

Their #1 sin? Taking it seriously.

Half the fun is that Ninja Warrior is self irreverent. And the prize for winning should only be winning, not cash.

this is why i'm cancelling cable (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628655)

part of my $165 bill goes to this crap

Re:this is why i'm cancelling cable (4, Informative)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628919)

You should be cancelling cable because it's $165.

Batman himself would have trouble completing it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628675)

But what about Superman? Have you even considered that, just maybe,
that Superman is better than Batman? Superman doesn't have a batmobile
becase he doesn't need one! Even consider that! Thought so...

CAPTCHA = stormed

"Human interest bloat" (5, Insightful)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628681)

"American Ninja Warrior" ... suffers badly from human interest bloat.

It's endemic in US TV coverage of any individual sport, it seems. The Olympics have been unwatchable for years, because you get 2 minutes of sprinting or swimming or tumbling, and a half-hour sob story about the life struggles of one of the American athletes. Great, she was orphaned at age 2 and raised in abject poverty by her quadrapeligic great-aunt in the basement of a pig slaughterhouse; it's amazing that she overcame that to become a world champion gymnast. Now can we PLEASE turn off the sad music and cut to cycling or equestrian jumping, or javelin-throwing, or archery, or any one of the other dozen events you've been ignoring all week because there's not a photogenic American with a compelling life story in the top 5 contenders?

Re:"Human interest bloat" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628849)

It's not just sports coverage, the human interest garble in news broadcasts pisses me off more than anything. There are so many important things they don't cover, but they always manage to spend an inordinate amount of time on some sob story.

Re:"Human interest bloat" (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628915)

That happens everywhere.

Where I live we don't get the sob story but we do get to spend an entire week watching some crappy minority sport, completely ignoring all others, just because it's the only event where our country has a hope of winning a medal.

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! (1)

T-Mckenney (2008418) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628701)

No! It's the flying fucks I don't give! ...It must be a very slow news day.

Review too long (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628713)

A lot of this review is pretty obnoxious whining about small details that don't matter. The translation of the name of the mountain is irrelevant and unimportant. The title of the show being changed is also not important, and the American title is more relevant to American audiences anyway. All that need to be said (and what would be immediately apparent to anyone who had watched both the Japanese and American versions of the show) was that the producers spent too much air time profiling the contestants and not enough time on the actual competition. This is also something that was completely predictable to anyone who has spent even a few minutes watching "reality game shows," which is what the producers tried to turn this show into.

This "review" could have said everything that needed to be said in about one paragraph. 90% of it reads like a teenager's personal blog rather than a review. I'll give you a hint: Next time you feel the need to type "But I digress," just consider deleting the digression completely.

American Culture isn't completely like Japanese... (3, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628717)

America and Japan, are two very different countries, with a much different culture.
While we have similarities, there are also big differences.

For example back when I was a Kid, in Boy Scouts I was Hiking in New Mexico (Philmont a big Boy Scout Camp, where people come from around the world) There was a Japanese Troop that was taking a similar route that we had, and we met up from time to time. At the Trading Posts there was what was called a Swap Box. Where after we get our Rations of food (usually for 2 or 3 days) we can go threw them, drop food we didn't like, and pickup food that we did like. We actually loved it when the Japanese troop was there the same day. They would trade Oat Meal Packets which we really liked, with some energy bars we found to be disgusting. Because Americans Like Sweet food more then Japanese do.

Go outside (1)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628727)

Why are you sperging over what sounds like nothing more than an MXC clone? Life goes on.

ABC has hit, NBC copies (1)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628741)

They're just trying to compete with Wipeout. Don't judge too harshly for dumbing themselves down.

Because Wipeout is better (1)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628747)

Honestly. Its funnier and has a better T&A factor.

Who wants to see something that takes itself too seriously? I'll watch the Olympics for that.

"Sasuke" does relate to ninjas (5, Informative)

seibai (1805884) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628761)

Mr. Stark apparently doesn't know much about Japanese culture. "Sasuke" is a rather straightfroward reference to Sarutobi Sasuke [wikipedia.org] , and the name has been used to invoke the idea of ninjas since at least the 1920's.

mini-bios (5, Insightful)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628771)

The worst part is definitely the little bio bits. Boring, and I just don't care. Reminds me of Olympic broadcasts here in the U.S. Twenty minutes of giving the life story of every American athlete, then thirty seconds of those athletes failing miserably. If there's time left between commercials, they might show the top three or four foreign competitors. Yuck. Drop the "human interest", just give me the goddamn events - as many as you can cram into however much time you have. I would much rather be watching the last place pole vaulter from New Guinea than some shitty story about how American Athlete #3 is bravely competing through the pain of a stubbed toe and their mother's recent diagnosis of a hang nail.

Same with Ninja Warrior - I enjoy the Japanese version from time to time, because 90% of the show is someone actually trying to complete the course. You know, the interesting part that got me to turn on the channel. Minimal time is spent on building up each individual competitor, and the brief sketches they do occasionally give are more than enough to establish who the person is. American version, approximately 60-70% seems to be build-up for athletes who end up eating it on the first obstacle.

simpler than you think (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628799)

Everything G4 touches turns to a burning pile of dead ashes. They're like the grim reaper on steroids. That's the only explanation that's necessary really. But this show must be at least somewhat decent seeing as how a story about it somehow ninja'ed its way onto slashdot for no obvious reason. Pretty stealthy.

Complete the Course and Still Lose (4, Interesting)

theBraindonor (577245) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628809)

Your critique of the show turning winning contestants into losers is dead on. Kamerion Wimbley [nbcsports.com] took and completed the preliminary course. Watching a man of his size complete the course was amazing to see. Then we got to see him get knocked out due to other contestants coming in with faster times. And then watched an added insult in the finals when they bring in 'wild card' contestants--many of whom did not even complete the preliminary course. And of course all the wildcards were turned into 'human interest' stories. Thankfully the grandfather wildcard actually did complete the course.

My biggest issue with the show was that they end up giving only summaries of the runs to half of the contestants--even after having 2/3rds of the contestants competing on the G4 show. The original show packed the same amount of content into 30 minutes that NBC is trying to stretch to 2 hours.

Fujiyama? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628829)

While I'm not fond of silly pseudo-translations, I find it sad that someone who doesn't even know that Mt. Fuji is called Fujisan and not Fujiyama in Japanese is complaining about translations.

Most Americanized shows are inferior to originals (4, Interesting)

Norwell Bob (982405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628859)

Now, with sports, you'd expect a much easier crossover, but I can see the submitter's points, for sure. But in the case of most other shows that get imported to the States, most notably (IMHO) British comedy, they just don't translate well due to cultural differences. IT Crowd was a fantastic show in the UK... did the US version ever make it past the pilot (almost a scene for scene reproduction which, for whatever reason, was just weak and didn't work?)

The Office is another example people use, although I must admit I've never spent any considerable time watching either. How is the US version of Shameless compared to the UK version?

I'm going way off topic here, but I feel like ranting, so mod me as you will. It seems like ever since the Sonic the Hedgehog commercials of the mid-90s hit the airwaves, America has this obsession with being loud, irreverent, and in-your-face. TV shows and movies largely eschew complicated or subtle humor in favor of lets-see-how-much-we-can-get-away-with. That's what turned me off to Family Guy after the first few seasons. Alright, McFarlane, we get it... you're really pushing the envelope there with your three identical shows. Sadly, most "average citizens" seem to eat this garbage up. I often think of the scene in Idiocracy with the TV show "Ow My Balls".

Honestly, I have Comcast at my apartment solely for the Internet (it costs you more if you don't get TV through them also)... I have about a dozen channels, 8 of which son en Espanol... but I have an XBox360 and Netflix, and far more quality programming to watch than I'll ever get to, thanks to those.

Allow me to digress one more time, though... and slightly back on topic. One Japanese obstacle course show that was aired by Spike was altered to the point of parody, and THAT worked... in the US it was called "MXC" or "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge", and the ridiculous voice overs were done, IIRC, by comedians, and were genuinely funny. I miss that show.

Wrong audience (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628895)

G4's marketeers clearly decided that their ADHD-addled core audience of video gamers was unlikely to find a show called "Excellence" compelling enough to warrant paying attention, so they decided to jazz it up by invoking ninjas, instead. Oh, and warriors, too, to make it more appealing to the World of Warcraft fanatics.

I stopped reading right there. G4 is marketing a program about athletic ability, endurance, performance, etc. to a bunch of lard-asses who can't climb the stairs our of their mom's basement.

Definite FAIL.

any thing to boost the carp G4 channel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628907)

any thing to boost the carp G4 channel that used to have good stuff and tech tv was cool!

G4 only got most cable systems by buying tech tv.

NOW WHY IS on NBC but the Stanley Cup Final game 3 and 4 is on NBC Sports Network.

"Sasuke" came from a ninja named Sasuke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628917)

The japanese show picked up its name "Sasuke" from a infamous fictional ninja of the same name. A western analog would be producing a show called Zorro to find the best fencer or a show called Hercules to find the strongest man. Sasuke has been a popular name for ninjas throughout Japanese entertainment history. If I recall correctly there was a movie from the early 1900's featuring a ninja named Sasuke. The most recent incarnation would probably be the antagonist from Naruto which now litters google search results for the word Sasuke.

Nice work (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40628947)

Yes, we're all so totally impressed that you are a weeaboo who knows the word for mountain in Japanese. But was demonstrating that important enough to take up 15% of the reivew?

People actually watch G4? (2)

morari (1080535) | more than 2 years ago | (#40628969)

After they completely ruined TechTV? You're part of the problem.

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