My friend loves TV. Actually when her TV broke late at night, she rushed to a 24 hour shop by taxi and got a new one. All happend just in 30 minutes. She says recently TV shows are getting boring, stuck in a rut, nothing unique anymore. She says she really misses "Denpa shonen". Denpa Shonen was a kind of "challenge" documentary TV series. (Susume Denpa Shonen, Susunu Denpa Shonen). They have no acting, no script, everything was so real. But the challenges were complete nonsense. The most famouse one is "Nasubi's Kensho Seikatu".
It began in January 1998. Unsuccessful comedians gathered in a room at Nihon TV network offices. A Producer of show said he would pick "one guy" for a new project for Denpa Shonen, He said a criterion for selection was to just be a "lucky guy". Then he chose a guy "Nasubi" (means eggplant) by lot. Nasubi was pleased but he did not know what the new show project was. What he needed to challenge was "Kensho Seikatsu", which means "Living on offers and competitions in newspapers and magazines." He had to live by getting everything through offers and winning competitions, getting prizes from magazine and newspaper competitions until things he got value more than 1 million yen. The funniest part was he started from zero! nothing!. It means he could not have any food, clothes, bed, no tooth brush, of course no entertainment. What he could have was pen and postcard and telephone to apply prize, .
The life was started in winter, but he did not have any clothes. In the
first week he wrote about 900 postcards, then finally he got 12 pieces of
jelly. Then two weeks later, after he finished about 1300 postcards, he got
5kg of rice. But he didn't have a pot to cook it in . Yes if he wanted
to eat cooked rice, he needed to get it by prize....In such way, he tired to
live on prize. Then to conclude, he made it one year later.
You can read about his the life in here and here too. Unfortunately everything is written in Japanese only, but you can see his one year life in this web.
Another funny project was "Hako Otoko" (= Box man). A misanthrope meanbone
guy was packed in a small box. The box had toilet and small tatami mat and LED
panel as comminication tool. He couldn't move, get food, do anything by
himself. The purpose of the project was to move from Kagoshima to Tokyo
(1500km) with others helping. To make that, he should ask them to push the box,
get food, water, anything he needed by LED panel. If he made it, MAYBE he would
know the people's kindness, warm hearts.
People could see only LED panel conversation with his typing from outside, but TV aired everthing inside and outside during this series. People know his mean and bad attitude inside. For example, someone gave him orange and say "gambatte" but inside the box he said "Orange again! I hate it", someone gave him rice ball, he said "anything else?", someone gave him a blanket, inside the box he said "stinky!!". He did not show any appreciation. Really mean guy he was. Amazing part was, it would be so hard to live in such small box, but he sometimes hummed "Star-Spangled Banner" (Why??) and looked like he enjoyed that life. Since the TV show was aired every day, people were getting know how mean he was. But many people were still helpful for him (of course sometime he had a tough time, no food, no movement) and pushed him as much as they could. He even got a job as an Ad panel at a Gas Stand. Then one day finally he typed "Thank you" on the LED to a lady who pushed for one night. The box did not reach at Tokyo but the Box was opened. ha ha ha it meant he could learn something finally after 7 months box life by people's help only (it took too long to get it!)
Anyway This idea was originated the novel "Hako Toko". If you have interested in that, you can buy the book.
Denpa shonen was such funny, weird, interesting TV show. And there are many other funny projects. I will talk about more in near future.*