A little variety

27 Aug

ImageIn Japan, a popular type of TV program is the variety show.  I have to disclaim, I’ve never seen a variety show in the US, but I’m fairly certain the Japanese incarnation is fairly different.  “Variety” basically covers everything that isn’t fictional or the news, and sometimes is much more topic and talk based, while other times means a competition or borderline game show.  Many variety shows are somewhere between the two, with talk and game portions, or quiz portions, or… anything, really!

One well known variety program in Japan is “VS Arashi,” a show hosted by the extremely popular boy band (you guessed it, under the Johnny’s and Associates agency).  The show usually features two teams: the Arashi team and a guest team, each doing five different games and earning points.  If the other team wins, one member of Arashi is chosen as the “most dame Arashi” (generally translated to “most faily Arashi” in this context) and is dropped into a pit of foam.  The games are all fairly simple tasks with fun or difficult twists, such as Bound Hockey, a game where each member has a station with a small movable wall on a giant air hockey table and the members have to move the puck from one end to the other and get it into a moving goal at the end of the table.

ImageAnother such game is Rolling Coin Tower.  The game is played with a turntable and “coins” that are essentially small plastic weights.  Each player must stack at least one and not more than three “coins” on top of the growing “tower” and the person whose coin makes the tower fall loses the game for her team.  This game is usually played by Arashi and the opposing team, obviously, but last Thursday, there was a special episode of VS Arashi.  Apparently, staff from the show went around to different regions of Japan, allowing groups of four middle schoolers to compete in Rolling Coin Tower competitions, and then the regional winners competed in quarter and semifinals in the studio on the show.  Last Thursday, this show was broadcast, and I was surprised and delighted to see that the winners from the Kanto Region of Japan were from my city of Kiryu!  Our mascot, “Kinopii,” designed after a specific style of roof that we have in Kiryu (cute, I know) even appeared on the show.

ImageHowever, I was even more surprised to discover that two of the middle schoolers in the team on the show (entitled “Mixed Juice” for reasons that I don’t understand) were from my middle school, Chuo Junior High!  In other words, my students were on VS Arashi.  I was very excited, especially since variety shows are usually reserved for idols, talents, comedians, actors, and other TV personalities and don’t usually have everyday people on them.  But my students had made it onto a variety show, and not just any variety show, but one hosted by a boyband very popular with kids their age.  Even better, they won their quarter-final… and their semi-final… and the whole tournament!  My students became the national Rolling Coin Tower champions on national TV.  It doesn’t get much more exciting that that!

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