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.