Susunu! Denpa Shōnen
|Susunu! Denpa Shōnen|
|Opening theme||Beyond, "The Great Wall"|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Original network||Nihon TV|
|Original release||January 11, 1998 –|
September 29, 2002
The title is a pun. The predecessor of the show was called Susume! Denpa Shōnen (lit. Forward! Signal Youth). To depict that the show indeed moved forward, one of the characters of the title was made longer by changing the "me" (め) to "nu" (ぬ), approximately meaning Do not advance! Signal Youth.
The show is known for the extreme situations the participants were placed in. It gained high ratings, spawned a sister show, Raiha Shōnen (雷波少年), and was controversial due to the sadistic challenges and rule changes made by the television producers if they felt the participants were doing too well. The show also received criticism for some of the show segments being staged.
The participants were usually unknown comedians who were ready to do anything to get famous. Upon application, they were chosen randomly, and were not told what the objective of their challenge was. Some of the challengers became more or less famous, while some remained relatively unknown.
The program's initial cancellation was related to a government crackdown on "torture"-themed shows, but has seen a revival on the World Wide Web from October 2009 on the streaming website Number Two Nihon Television (第2日本テレビ). Its first new "challenger" for the webcast was comedian Yoshio Kojima.
In the four-year course of the original program, participants completed about 20 challenges.
Amongst the best known are:
- Denpa Shōnen teki Kenshō Seikatsu (電波少年的懸賞生活; lit. "Denpa Shōnen's Prize Life"), probably the best known challenge of the show. Nasubi, a young comedian, was forced to live over a year naked in an apartment in both Japan and Korea by living only on commercial sweepstakes.
- Denpa Shōnen teki Mujintō Dasshutsu (電波少年的無人島脱出; lit. "Denpa Shōnen's Desert Island Escape") and the Swam series. Two comedians were put on a desert island, with no food nor clue about where they were, and were only told that their ordeal would finish if they built a raft and reached Tokyo. After their escape from the desert island, which took them four months, they were given a swan-shaped pedalo and were told to reach Tokyo with it, and then go with the same pedalo from India to Indonesia.
- Denpa Shōnen teki Africa Europa Tairiku Ōdan Hitchhike no tabi (電波少年的アフリカ・ヨーロッパ大陸縦断ヒッチハイクの旅; lit. "Denpa Shōnen's Vertical Africa-Europe Continental Hitchhike"). A comedian named Takashi Itō and a Radio DJ from Hong Kong named Tse Chiu-Yan hitchhiked from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to Nordkapp in Norway. The two contestants were forbidden to use their travel money and thus faced starvation, dehydration and harsh weather conditions. At one point in the challenge, Itō collapsed in the Sahara Desert and was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment.
- Denpa Shōnen teki Pennant Race (電波少年的ペナントレース; lit. "Denpa Shōnen's Pennant Race"). This segment tested the loyalties of diehard fans of the Central League teams - the Yomiuri Giants, the Hanshin Tigers, and the Chunichi Dragons. The contestants would be confined to a single room with a TV that only showed their team's baseball games. Their faces would also be hidden from public view. If their team won, they got to eat dinner and a small portion of their face would be revealed to the audience. If their team lost, they would get no food and the lights would turn out, leaving them in darkness until the next day's game. If the contestant's favorite team went on a win streak, the quality of the food they could eat would increase as well as gain public exposure and popularity due to their entire face being shown on TV until their team finally lost. A losing streak would mean that a contestant could go days in the dark without food. At the end of the season, the contestant would win an overall prize depending on how their team placed.
Denpa Shōnen International
Denpa Shōnen International was the special of the program with location shootings outside Japan, aired mainly on holidays or reorganizational periods of TV programs.
Kunihiro Matsumura, Akiko Matsumoto, and other guests performers attempted to visit foreign celebrities to do challenges without appointments. Major challenges include:
- Sing the song Ladybug Samba to Yasser Arafat of Palestine Liberation Organization.
- Meet foreign leaders and say "I hate you". Leaders that the programs ultimately succeed to meet were Nelson Mandela of South African and Jimmy Carter of the United States.
- Play rock paper scissors with Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
- Shave the beard of Fidel Castro of Cuba (failed).
Other challenges include:
- Stop AIDS Campaign (STOPエイズキャンペーン): Tetsurō Degawa went to LGBT Bars in London, San Francisco, and Sydney with a hidden wireless microphone to distribute condoms. During one distribution event, Degawa signaled was sexually harassed by a man but the staff of the program did not rescue him. The program that was ultimately aired has the audio recording of the process of Degawa being sexually assaulted. Degawa later reflected this to be the "most horrific" location shoot ever in his life.
- Inherit the will of Princess Diana (ダイアナ元妃の意思を継ぎたい): Matsumoto heads for the removal of landmines buried in Cambodia.
- Matsumura Overseas Animal Confrontation Series (松村海外動物対決シリーズ): Matsumoto confronts various dangerous animals like a lion (in Africa), a bear (in Canada), a crocodile (in Australia), a mountain gorilla (in Africa), and Komodo dragon (in Jakarta) with a harisen.
- Kunihiro Matsumura
- Nasubi - A comedian that gained a modicum of fame via the show.
- Hiroiki Ariyoshi
- Bluem of Youth - A J-Pop duo that garnered its biggest success from their involvement with the show.