Banzai

From Academic Kids

The word "banzai" means "ten thousand years" in Japanese. This article is about the television series. The name can also refer to the German version of Weekly Shonen Jump, BANZAI!


Banzai was a comedy gambling gameshow spoofing the Japanese gameshow and general television style. Each segment of the show was a silly or bizarre contest. The viewing audience was encouraged to bet with each other on the outcome of each segment.

Betting contests on the show included grannies playing chicken with shopping carts, amputee soccer, egg eating, blindfolded gas pumping, and the length of time it would take an object to hit the ground after being dropped off a roof. The show also sometimes intentionally skirts the bounds of what some people would consider appropriate television content, as in contests to guess which person in a lineup has the longest penis, or the biggest breast implants. Some minor celebrities took part in the studnts, and the occasional more major celebrity like Rutger Hauer.

The show's MC Mr Banzai, played by opera singer Masashi Fujimoto, did not speak except for saying and singing the word "Banzai" in different ways. Other regular contributors include Mr. Shake Hands Man, who maintains a handshake with a celebrity for as long as possible, and Lady One Question played by non-professional Shizuka Hata, who poses as a celebrity reporter, asks a single interview question and then stands silent. In both of these segments, viewers are invited to bet on how long it takes the celebrity to put a stop to the ruse.

Banzai first aired in the UK on Channel 4. It was later picked up for broadcast in Canada by Citytv, which broadcast the original uncut episodes of Banzai Wednesday nights at 10:30. Then in 2003, FOX Network picked up the series in the United States, airing its first episode on July 13. After six episodes, however, pressure from Asian-American groups led FOX to drop the show. In early 2004, the show found a new American home on Comedy Central.

Controversy

In 2001, two years before FOX aired its first episode of Banzai, USA Network aired clips of the Channel 4 edition of the show as part of their Banzai Movie Friday. Asian-American groups objected to the clips. Meanwhile, the show's website (now removed) maintained:

THIS SHOW CONTAINS SILLY BEHAVIOR, UNREALISTIC CHARACTERS, AND BAD VOICE OVERS. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO INSULT OR OFFEND. DO NOT TRY ANYTHING AT HOME, TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY, OR IMITATE OUR IMITATIONS. ABOVE ALL, ENJOY THE SHOW.

When FOX picked up the show, the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans protested outside the a presentation of the show in Hollywood. Group co-founder Guy Aoki told BBC News, "It's just all the backward images of Asian-American people. This is like an Asian minstrel show. Can you imagine the black version of Banzai?" [1] (http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds11398.html). During Banzai's two-year run in Canada, Citytv received very few complaints about the show's content.

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