Takeshi’s Castle was a Japanese game show that ran between 1986 and 1989. A volunteer “army” of 100 and 142 people (commanded by Commander Tani) plow through a series of obstacles in an effort to defeat Count Takeshi and his army. The contestants sported costumes, jumpsuits, and the ever present “little red helmet”, which became the trademark for the American version, MXC. The obstacles often lead to painful eliminations. “Soldiers” had to scale walls, jump across pond stones, play rock-paper-scissors, sumo wrestle, swing on ropes, and other games.
The mud they used as a “safety net” looked alive with the way it swallowed players.
Only 9 people won in the entire life of the series. What was the ultimate prize? 1 million yen ( about $8,000 at the time).
Takeshi’s Castle is better known to Americans as the Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC). MXC’s episodes were spliced from 2-3 episodes of Takeshi and randomly dubbed over. The dubs retain the original flavor of the Japanese show. The count (Vic Romano) and his adviser (Kenny Blankenship) joke and commentate the events. In MXC, the commander (Captain Tenneal) is working with them instead of trying to defeat them like in the original version. Captain Tenneal opens each episodes with a “You’re wrong!” lecture about everything from politics to media.
Takeshi’s Castle is weird and a spectacle…. in short it’s AWESOME! People get black eyes, bust their faces on things, and get horribly filthy. MXC is one of the few shows that makes me laugh until I cry. There is something about watching people suffer doing insanely goofy things for a chance at a little money that is hilarious. Most of them are laughing too despite becoming double jointed the hard way.
Now you’d think the actors and comedians who starred in this show were has-bins. Actually all the actors where stars at the time. They had famous sumo wrestlers and baseball players. Commander Tani was a well known soap opera actor. When MXC was released in the US, Takeshi’s (yep that is Vic’s real name) popularity as an actor increased. Japan is funny. A game shows are often the last place washed up actors go. In Japan, stardom leads you to goofy game shows. It’s much like musicians and anime. Musicians make it big when they do a theme song for an anime series.
The creators of MXC even say Bill and Hillary Clinton enjoy the show.
Takeshi’s Castle has versions in 25 different languages. Slap stick comedy, general weirdness, and pain are universal sources for comedy.
Next to sushi, Japanese game shows are probably one of Japan’s biggest exports.