Unbeatable Banzuke

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Close to being Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
Welcome to Japan's legendary Temple of Champions, where athletes gather to face the most diabolical challenges ever conceived, testing balance, endurance, and sheer strength! Competitors have one goal...beat the course! But victory is elusive, and the only constant is the bitter taste of defeat. This is the ultimate competition of Man Vs. Obstacle! Who will top the Unbeatable...Banzuke?

Also known by the name "Kinniku Banzuke", which literally means "Muscle Ranking", Unbeatable Banzuke is a Japanese athletic Game Show in which competitors are challenged in one of nearly two dozen events, all for the honor of adding their name to the list of champions, the titular BANZUKE. This show is in a similar vein to Ninja Warrior/SASUKE; failing once on any given event means you are out. It is shown in the United States on G4 TV, often hand in hand with Ninja Warrior.

Unfortunately, since it's not on the air anymore, G4 only shows a decent handful of episodes over and over again. Thankfully, they have gotten a fresh batch of episodes in recently, which are going into rotation.

Tropes used in Unbeatable Banzuke include:
  • Brian Blessed: The host of the English United Kingdom version. Those silly Americans just get a straight sub on the G4 TV Network, with Dave Wittenberg doing dubbed commentary.
    • It should be pointed out that "host" rather undersells it. Blessed presents the show as "Banzuke Brian", wearing bright red plastic samurai armour slightly too small for him, enters the set every episode doing effects-enhanced spins and jump kicks and generally being as Brian Blessedy as possible. It is glorious.
  • Catch Phrase

Rome Kanda/Kei Kato: "Until next time, this is Kato Kei...the doors to the Temple of Champions are ~ sealed."

  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Naomi and Tatsuya Gunzi, a mother and her seven-year-old son, tried out for Athletic Love, a course where two people stand on an unstable bridge and both of them must make it to the platform in the middle in sixty seconds. They managed to beat the course with one second left. Considering the course's meaning, it was almost as a mother-son relationship powered them to beat it.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Courses that get beaten enough are reimagined and given a different Roman numeral indicator.
    • Taken to (il)logical extremes with the upgrade of the unicycle event "Like A Pierrot". After five course upgrades before it were all beaten, the course was upgraded into "Like A Pierrot Ghost", a track with a definitive horror movie theme. The first competitor was a second-grade schoolgirl.
  • Death Course: No shortage of those here.
  • Engrish: In Like A Pierrot Ghost, competitors pick up a phone, which proceeds to play the following soundbyte to them: YOU ARE ARLEADY DEAD. * Evil Laugh, Dramatic Thunder* With exactly that enunciation. May be a bit of Narm for English speaking audiences.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Similar to Ninja Warrior it's pretty popular among G4's current crop of shows. Not as popular mind, but still it's up there.
  • Fan Service: Lampshaded in the US airing.

Dave Wittenberg: "She's a school dietician, responsible for student lunches at an elementary school. For some reason, she came to the event dressed as a waitress."

  • Gratuitous Japanese / Too Long; Didn't Dub: Admit it, Unbeatable Banzuke sounds a lot cooler than Muscle Ranking or even Unbeatable Ranking.
  • Harder Than Hard: Again, no shortage of that here.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: According to "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader", Michael Jordan made an appearance on the show once.
  • Humongous Mecha / Everything's Better with Samurai: The opening sequence, commercial headers, and occasional scene transitions on the G4 airing feature a giant samurai-adorned robot. Yes, G4. We get it. Unbeatable Banzuke is Japanese and badass.
    • Also, that ludicrous outfit BRIANBLESSED has to wear.
  • Level Ate: The first half of Neko de Drive, which has obstacles such as a steep, slick watermelon slice and a narrow circular doughnut competitors must do a full rotation on before progressing. The second half of the course is more in line with the Incredible Shrinking Man.
  • Mega Neko: The cat-cart in Neko de Drive, a full-sized wheelbarrow decorated like a kitten.
  • Rare Vehicles: There are courses where competitors have to ride on unicycles, skateboards, a pogo stick and a giant rubber ball.
  • Serious Business: Apparently there are races held outside of this show where people do indeed ride on unicycles.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: The competitions are dotted all over this scale, from very silly (Kangan, the aforementioned pogo stick course) to very serious (Quick Muscle, a hell-on-earth push-up competition).
    • And then there's Neko De Drive. As Wittenberg puts it, "Hard to complete. Impossible to describe."
  • Spin-Off: SASUKE, which turned into its own phenomenon.
  • Stage Names: The American host, Rome Kanda, operates under the name Kei Kato.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: See True Companions, below.
  • Timed Mission: Several events require the player to either finish or reach a Check Point (the "Break Zone") within a fairly tight time limit.
    • As noted above, "Athletic Love" had a 60-second time limit.
    • An event called "Banzai 90" required a six-player team to throw four of its players onto padded logs 9 to 12 feet above the arena floor. The team had 90 seconds to finish. Also counts as a Try Not to Die, since once all four players are on the logs, the remaining two players have to hit a button to start a 10-second countdown, and the players on the logs have to stay on for the duration.
  • Too Good to Last: The show's run ended abruptly after a new event injured the spines of two competitors.
  • True Art Is Foreign: G4, in localizing the show for American audiences, hired a host who only speaks Japanese and must be subtitled. Presumably this was to play up its status as a foreign game show.
  • True Companions: The word "nakama" is used in a co-op event; i.e., an obstacle course where two people tied together by an elastic rope have to navigate a series of obstacles.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Unicycle course Like A Pierrot II is beaten by three people in a row. Mr Blessed does not take this well.