“American Ninja Warrior” Review

I watched “American Ninja Warrior” on NBC.  My overall reaction was “It was a decent show.  They didn’t totally ruin it like the Olympics.”

My complaint about the Olympics is that they spend much more time on the athletes’ personal history, and very little on the action.

For “American Ninja Warrior”, they showed a decent amount of action.  They still did a lot on the history of the contestants, but they didn’t go overboard.  I prefer more action and less talk, but it was tolerable.

However, the structure of the US show is completely different than the Japanese version.

In the Japanese show, it’s completely “contestant vs. course”.  It is theoretically possible for all 100 contestants to win.  Most seasons, nobody wins.

Japanese Ninja Warrior is supposed to be ridiculously hard.  They make it so hard that one person wins every 5-10 years.  When someone does win, they redesign the obstacle course to make it harder.

The Japanese show also has some comic relief.  Some Japanese celebrities enter, even though they have no chance of winning.

Because the Japanese show is “constant vs. course”, the already-eliminated contestants show good sportsmanship and encourage the remaining competitors.

In the Japanese version, the # of contestants that qualify for each stage is determined by the difficulty.  If 30 people finish Stage 1, then 30 people attempt Stage 2.  If only 3 people finish Stage 1, then only 3 people attempt Stage 2.

The US show is completely different.  A certain number of contestants must qualify each round.  For example, 15 people from each region must advance to the finals.  If more than 15 people finish the course, then the 15 best times advance.  If fewer than 15 people finish the course, then people who didn’t finish advance.  The first tiebreaker is how far you got, and the second tiebreaker is how quickly you arrived at the obstacle you failed.

I understand why the US show did it that way.  They want to have a certain number of people advance past each round.  They want to have an overall guaranteed winner.

I like the Japanese style better, where it’s “contestant vs. course”, and most of the time nobody wins.  However, the American version of the show is also decent.

I also liked the Japanese show “Unbeatable Banzuke”.  It was a predecessor to Ninja Warrior.  That show features contestants attempting practically-impossible stunts.  Unfortunately, the show was cancelled because some people got injured during some stunts.  That seems silly.  It would be better to cancel or change those specific stunts, rather than cancelling the show.

Overall, it was a decent conversion.  They didn’t waste too much time talking about the contestant’s history.  When game shows waste time on talking instead of game, that ruins it.  However, I miss the Japanese flavor, where the obstacle course is ridiculously hard and most seasons nobody wins.  They could have kept that flavor, if they wanted to.  For example, the “winner” gets $500k, and then he gets to attempt a ridiculously hard obstacle to become a grand champion and win $5M.

4 Responses to “American Ninja Warrior” Review

  1. I’m sure a lot of people who watch American Ninja Warrior have never seen the Japanese version, like me. I was curious about it when I saw the title show up on my PrimeTime Anytime recordings on my Hopper DVR. Actually, I found a lot of shows I had never seen before by looking on my Hopper. I used to rely on my Dish co-worker to tell me about what he was watching. With PrimeTime I feel like I’m getting more value out of my service, and now American Ninja Warrior is our family’s new favorite quality time activity.

    • You just barely qualified for the spam cutoff. I almost deleted this.

      I am planning a post on the copyright lawsuit, regarding Hopper/Dish and the “skip commercials” feature.

  2. I honestly just watched the NBC version and it’s terrible how racist it is. At least, G4 was liberal in the competition on Ninja Warrior when I had first watched it. G4 supports everyone’s views, however their own company, NBC doesn’t. Even if they’re on NBC, NBC probably was extremely pissed because they didn’t have their version compared to the Japanese version. So there you go… I’m done being political right now.

    The United States one (NBC) is already staged compared to the G4 version as what I think, and it’s working (so far). I think the specific contestants cannot go to the next round because they’re too weird, or they want the common stereotypes (Mexican, black, and person who cannot do anything go to the next round.) They need to stop making the competition rigged and have it a real competition.

    However, in the US, it’s true, that the contestants have to qualify before they go to the next round. However the G4 version is a mixture on the course and the contestant (in a comedical element). The Japanese one they have to do to it, but they months and months on it, so I understand why they have qualification rounds for the Japanese series. NBC only spends a 1-2 weeks, maybe 3 weeks on the qualifying round[s] – so they can have more shows such America’s Got No Talent, Deal or Why Have a Deal, etc. I do not understand NBC’s qualifying rounds, they’re pointless… G4 actually has time to air those episodes because they do not air bullshit, they’re straight to the point. It’s ALL video games, comedy, animated shows, and etc. I love it. I hate NBC though, they do not deserve anything from me.

    NBC always dramatizes EVERYTHING, especially with the announcers (that just irritates me), even the focus on the competitors in the interviews rather the real competition itself. Even last season was terrible and I haven’t seen the NBC one since – if they do have a new series, I could less about it. It makes me wants to break a fucking television screen.

    Japanese > American.

    They do not hold back in the dialogue, well, in the announcers, they always talk shit worse than the NBC one – even if it’s in Japanese. It’s hilarious as shit. Or they dub everything with English (sometime), I really do not give a shit. NBC just bullshit as everything as always and they do not anything right.

  3. I miss the original Ninja Warrior (Sasuke) just like I miss the original Iron Chef. The one thing I liked about the original is that anybody could participate. Plus if a contestant accidentally did something that was against the rules, they would disqualify themselves. All contestants came from a varied background. The Americanized version of the show isn’t as interesting. Sure it has its moments but those moments just aren’t constant enough to keep my attention. Lovely review by the way.

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