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The hard hitting hair metal puppet journalism of Japan’s ‘Pure Rock Digest’
04.06.2017
11:01 am
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Given its highly visual element, 80s glam metal was tailor-made for the MTV age. It was born, matured and died on heavy video rotation, perhaps the first, last, and best musical genre defined entirely by its image. A sexual aggressive splatter of hot pink fishnets, bottle-blonde hair and sweaty black leather, the gender-bending men (seriously, despite all the Aqua Net and mascara, the whole movement was 98% dudes) of Hair Metal Nation loved capering around on video.
 

First he gets tossed out of Metallica, now this…
 
Of course, many countries had their own version of MTV or its metal-centric VHS spin-offs like the Hard N’ Heavy series. Japan’s version was called Pure Rock Digest. And Japan being Japan, they threw in puppets interviewing bands in broken English.

You honestly can’t ask for anything more 80s than a nerdy Japanese puppet (with sorta racist slanty eyes, even) talking to White Lion about groupies or swilling beer with WASP. I mean, holy fuck, people.
 

 
More metal puppet madness after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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04.06.2017
11:01 am
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More WTF Japanese TV
06.16.2015
10:00 am
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My introduction to the joys of Japanese television was via Clive James on Television, a clip show hosted by the Antipodean writer and broadcaster Clive James and screened on British TV way back when in the 1980s. James was always good at presenting a rich platter of choice cuts of the weird and wonderful, surreal and amusing television culled from around the world, which he jovially introduced with his trademark caustic quips. The highlight of most episodes was the startling extracts from Endurance, (ザ・ガマン) the bizarre game show from Japan that involved varying degrees of nudity, torture and national humiliation.

Oh, how we Brits all lapped these moments up, laughing at the strange practices of other cultures, which in hindsight was deeply ironic considering how our TV broadcasters (in particular the BBC) were promoting gross sex offenders like Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter—all of whom, at one time or another, had family entertainment shows on primetime Saturday night. (You may not be too familiar with the name Rolf Harris but Alice Cooper once covered his hit song “Sun Arise,” as did Led Zeppelin’s Page and Plant.) Looking back on these shows now, it seems that perhaps the Japanese may have had the best idea of externalizing any repressed or unhealthy desires through national humiliation on TV game shows rather than allowing such feelings to fester under the guise of “Reithian values.”

Yet, where to begin with the following clip? It is like some skit from Jackass—though perhaps nearer Peter Griffin’s cartoon take—and really should be called perhaps something like Balls of Steel? Anyway, from what I can glean, this is one of the games played on the exceedingly popular entertainment show Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! (ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで!!) which means something like “Downtown’s ‘This is no task for kids!!’” (Well, hell, that’s certainly true.) According to Wikipedia, the best known part of these shows is the “batsu games” or punishment games where contestants undertake physical challenges. One of the most famous batsu game is “No Laughing” where an individual will have to endure humiliating and physical suffering (e.g. a slap or a blow dart to the buttocks) at which his team mates cannot laugh—once they do, the game is lost.

The start of this batsu has a muscleman putting a seven stone weakling into a backbreaker, from whereupon he is enthusiastically whipped in the nuts by a over-zealous sadist. This ball-whipping may perhaps be something a few readers might like to try out on enemies, though others (I’m sure) may find it to a leg-crossing and eye-watering moment.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.16.2015
10:00 am
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Psychological torture makes for good TV: Japan’s demented real-life ‘Truman Show’
04.22.2014
01:26 pm
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Even for a culture well-known for its sadistic game shows, Japan’s Susunu! Denpa Shōnen (進ぬ!電波少年) still stands out. The producers of this “torture”-themed reality series, which ran from 1998 to 2002, took things so far that the government actually stepped in and cancelled it. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the program remains an iconic part of Japanese television history.

“Denpa Shōnen teki Kenshō Seikatsu” (“a life out of prizes”) was the best known segment of the show. Think of it as the naked, solitary confinement version of Big Brother. In it, Nasubi, an aspiring Japanese comedian—who it should be noted, auditioned for and agreed to this—was forced to live in a studio apartment, unclothed, with no supplies for a year and a half. Nasubi’s genitals were covered with a digital eggplant, a reference to his nickname for his elongated face.

He was provided with a radio, phone, sink, shower, toilet, gas burner, a small table and one cushion. He was also given a rack of magazines and a stack of stamped postcards so that he could enter commercial sweepstakes to get things that he needed. Like food. And toilet paper, which he didn’t win until about ten months in! He had to win anything he used or ate (the crew probably provided him with food, but not much, apparently). Once he’d “won” ¥1 million (about $10,000) in prizes he’d be able to leave his imprisonment and they would edit together a segment about his experience and call it “Sweepstakes Life.”

All he was offered, in exchange, was a chance at fame.

What Nasubi didn’t realize is that segments were going out weekly to a large television audience. At some point, the producers set up a live video feed that meant fans could watch Nasubi 24 hours a day.

When interest in Nasubi became so great that his location was discovered by reporters, the producers more or less kidnapped him and took to him a second location in South Korea! This time he had to raise the money to get back home. While all of this was going on his diaries about his experience of being locked away from the outside world became a bestselling book. Footage of him eating a bowl of ramen noodles was turned into a popular soup commercial. Without knowing any of it, he’d become rich and famous.

Although Nasubi admitted that at certain points he wanted to escape and feared that he was going bonkers, he never really addressed WHY the hell he’d do something like this for so long. I mean, wouldn’t any sane person say “Fuck this” after a couple of weeks without toilet paper?

Ironically Nasubi’s national fame was short-lived, although his segment on the show is fondly recalled.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.22.2014
01:26 pm
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Computer animated talking turds and more! Insane (and legendary) Japanese kids show, ‘Ugo Ugo Lhuga’
11.14.2013
10:08 pm
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When I was working in Tokyo in 1994, not unsurprisingly, I had a really hard time adjusting to the abrupt change in time zones. I’d wake up like a pinball machine at 3:00 AM and then I’d stay up. There wasn’t much at all on TV at night in Japan back then—a lot of “learn English” soap operas, basically, and CNN—but each morning at 7:30 AM or so, an absolutely amazing kids show came on Fuji TV that blew my doors off each time I watched it. Not that I had even the slightest idea of what was going on, of course, but it looked so incredible. There were two child actors, a boy (“Ugo Ugo-kun”) and a girl (“Luga Chan”), a French painter, talking tomatoes and oranges, a talking TV set, etc. Curiously there was also a character, Dr. Angrily, who was a talking turd who’d pop out of the toilet bowl and tell viewers it was going to rain (that much I could figure out).

Ugo Ugo Lhuga was a big-budget children’s program that adults liked too, similar to things like Do Not Adjust Your Set, Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Yo Gabba Gabba! Sometimes pop acts like Shonen Knife, Harumi Hosano of Yellow Magic Orchestra, Cornelius, Jamiroquai or Pizzicato Five appeared on the show. It was a mix of live action and frenetic computer animation, most of it done on a Commodore Amiga. I’ve read that the producers of the program developed special joystick controlled methods of getting the primitive CGI animation to “interact” with the live actors. Apparently they cranked this show out daily for a year and a half, the team who produced it must’ve been complete maniacs. Talk about burn out! Yikes!

Ugo Ugo Lhuga was a victim of the economy and Japan’s “lost decade” recession, but was fondly remembered. It wasn’t until 2007 that a DVD box set of Ugo Ugo Lhuga was released in Japan and now you can buy action figures of some of the characters, including the turd.
 

 
First watch this. You’ll be instantly pulverized by how utterly insane (and fearless) this show was…

 
Imagine something like that on TV in America. Kids would laugh like hell at it, but it will never happen.
 
Here’s a complete episode, taped off the air with commercials. This was only posted on YouTube three days ago:

 
Pizzicato Five on Ugo Ugo Lhuga after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.14.2013
10:08 pm
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Happy Birthday Bryan Ferry

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Happy Birthday to Bryan Ferry, who was born today in 1945.

Ferry may have looked the epitome of the suave, sophisticated nightclub singer, sipping cocktails in evening suit and slick-backed hair, but he was one of the most revolutionary and original musicians and song-writers of past 4 decades.

Take a look at his song book and you will realize Ferry has written some of the most breath-taking, beautiful and exciting songs of the seventies and eighties, both with Roxy Music and as a solo artist.

Add to this Ferry’s uncanny ability to produce seemingly timeless tracks that are as startling today as when first heard. You can hear this in songs as diverse as “Virginia Plain”, “The Thrill of It All”, “All I Want”, “Out of the Blue” “Mother of Pearl”, “A Song for Europe”, and “In Every Dream Home a Heartache”, through to the series of solo albums he produced, in particular In Your Mind and The Bride Stripped Bare.

Here is Mr Ferry at his best on a Japanese TV show, The Young Music Show, recorded at NHK 101 Studio in June 9th, 1977.

The band consisted of Paul Thompson (Drums ); John Wetton (Bass); Chris Mercer, Martin Drover, Mel Collins (Horn Section ); Ann Odell (Keyboards); Chris Spedding, Phil Manzanera (Guitars); and Bryan Ferry.

Track Listing

01. “Let’s Stick Together”
02. “Shame, Shame, Shame”
03. “In Your Mind”
04. “Casanova”
05. “Love Me Madly Again”
06. “Love is the Drug”
07. “Tokyo Joe”
08. “This Is Tomorrow”
09. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
10. “The Price of Love”

Happy Birthday Bryan Ferry!
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.26.2012
04:39 pm
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