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Kinniku Banzuke, known as Unbeatable Banzuke in English language airings, was a Japanese sports variety show that ran from July 7th, 1995 to May 4, 2002. Banzuke contained over 100 unique events, but is most famously know for containing the first 9 SASUKE tournaments, as well as Kunoichi 2001.

History and Concept

Kinniku Banzuke began as a weekly serialized spinoff of the popular program Sportsman No.1, containing almost exclusive events that appeared in that show. Over the first 9 months of broadcast the show grew it's own identity, and beginning in the 2nd Quarter of 1996, it began premiering new events based on courses (i.e. Hand Walk) and events based on sports target practice (i.e. Struck Out)

Like SASUKE, it's derivative program, when a competitor earned kanzenseiha in one of a handful of events, it was completely redesigned but the general purpose stayed the same. To reflect this, the event name had a roman numeral added to the end of it (For example, after Hand Walk was defeated, a new course was made for the event, now known as Hand Walk II). In addition to this, many events had special versions with names and no number. These were special, typically with only a limited amount of taping and episodes, that acted as supplements to the event without counting as a major version.

Due to injuries that occurred during an event titled "Power Island", the show was put on a temporary hiatus and relaunched 5 months later in October 2002. Due to this hiatus, SASUKE 10 was broadcast as an independent program, and has ever since. KUNOICHI 2 was broadcast as a special in the rebranded program "Taiiku World", but broadcast as a standalone program for KUNOICHI 3 following the series finale of Taiiku World.


Rebranding History

The Banzuke series has seen numerous iterations through the years. Below are a series of tables explaining the relationships between each of the many shows. For a more detailed look at each series chronology, please see each respective show's page.

Main Canon

The Main Canon is determined as the core entries in the series that are directly related to one another and have been officially acknowledged by the series creators. These shows were all broadcast on TBS and direct sequels to each other.

Nickname Official English Name Romaji Name Japanese Name Network Number of Episodes Start Date End Date
Sportsman Muscular Athletic Championship Sportsman No.1 Keitteisen スポーツマンNo.1決定戦 TBS 39 Specials 1993/12/29 2010/01/07
Banzuke Muscle Ranking Kinniku Banzuke 筋肉番付 TBS Exact Unknown, >250 episodes + >20 specials 1995/07/07 2002/05/04
Taiiku Taiiku World Taiiku Ookoku 体育王国 TBS 35 + 1 special 2002/10/12 2003/09/13
GM Golden Muscle Ougon Kinniku 黄金筋肉 TBS 28 + 3 specials 2003/10/15 2004/06/29


Series Reboots / Spiritual Successors

Following the closure of production Studio Monster9 that had been handling SASUKE, Kunoichi and other shows from 2005 until 2011, TBS relaunched Sportsman No.1 and Kinniku Banzuke as reimagined versions. These shows are considered fully canon to the original series and feature flashbacks to the original forms of challenges.

Nickname Official English Name Romaji Name Japanese Name Network Number of Episodes Start Date End Date
Spodan Sports Danshi Grand Prix Saikyo Sports Danshi Chojo Kessen 最強スポーツ男子頂上決戦 TBS 10 specials 2012/11/12 2018/01/01
Taiiku Kai Hono no Taiiku Kai Hono no Taiiku Kai 炎の体育会 TBS 227 + 25 "Extras" + 2 Bunka Kei Specials 2011/01/01 Ongoing

Spin-offs

In addition to the main series described above, the Banzuke series has had several spin-offs.

These spin-offs have been based on:

  • Events that grew popular enough to have their own dedicated broadcast (SASUKE, Kunoichi)
  • Supplementary broadcasts holding behind the scenes footage and recaps (Muscle Elite, Muscle Pilgrimage, Kane the Muscle, Sasuke Mania)
  • Recaps or previous events (Muscle Kingdom, Sportsman No.1 Legend)
Nickname Official English Name Romaji Name Japanese Name Network Number of Episodes Start Date End Date
Sasuke Ninja Warrior SASUKE スポーツマンNo.1決定戦 TBS 38 specials 1997/09/27 Ongoing (Last episode 2020/12/29)
Muscle Elite Muscle Elite Muscle Seiei 筋肉精鋭 TBS ~45 2000/04/05 2001/02/28
Muscle Pilgrimage ??? Kinniku Angya 筋肉行脚 TBS 25 2001/04/04 2001/09/26
Kane the Muscle Kane the Muscle Kane the Muscle ケイン・ザ・マッスル TBS 20 2001/10/03 2002/03/27
Kunoichi Women of Ninja Warrior KUNOICHI くノ一 TBS 11 specials + 2 episodes 1999/10/30 (original), 2001/12/22 (standalone) Status Unknown (Last episode 2018/7/1)
Muscle Kingdom Muscle Kingdom Vol.1 Kinniku Ookoku 筋肉王国 TBS 1 special 2005/02/15 N/A
Sasuke Mania Sasuke Maniac Sasuke Mania サスケマニア TBS TBC 2006/07/02 2008/09/28
Sportsman No.1 Legend Sportsman No.1 Legend Sportsman No.1 Legend 令和に蘇る!スポーツマンNo.1決定戦 レジェンド TBS 1 2020/06/08 Clip show of previous episodes

Extended Canon

Following the main series entries, there are additional shows that are generally considered to be canon to the main Banzuke series.

Between 2005 and 2008, the studio Monster9 worked on several sequel series. Monster9 was formed by former TBS employees who made their own company. While these series have not been directly referred to as canon by TBS due to airing on other networks, they act as direct sequels to the original series and are considered by most fans to be fully canon.

Nickname Official English Name Romaji Name Japanese Name Network Number of Episodes Start Date End Date
Viking Sea Muscle King Viking Umi Kinniku O 海筋肉王 FujiTV ~70 + 10 specials 2005/03/22 2007/03/25
Muscle Channel Muscle Channel Muscle ch マッスルch BS-TBS 18 + 2 specials 2007/04/19 2007/09/13
Sports Casino Sports x Casino Supo*Kaji スポ★カジ TV Asahi 6 + 1 specials 2007/06/13 2007/09/26
Jikan Taiiku no Jikan Taiiku no Jikan 体育の時間 TV Asahi 14 + 2 specials 2007/10/23 2008/02/26

Sportsman Derivative Events

50m Backflip

Banzai 90

Beach Flags

Body Clock

Brain Panic

Clock Athlete

Daruma

  • Competitors use a sledgehammer to knock out all the clocks without letting the Daruma head or any of the blocks fall.

Dokodemo Pump Up

The Final Push-up

The Final Sit-up

Monster Box

Muscle Gym

Muscle Record 9 Minutes

Quick Muscle

Seesaw 60

Shotgun Touch

Super Kendama

Trampoline

Untouchable

Course-Based Events

Amazing Road

  • Description: A 15-meter long narrow beam that must be crossed while dodging numerous bars mounted on turnstiles.
  • Versions: 1

Bamboo Derby

  • Description: Obstacle course where competitors must use a set of stilts. There is no Break Zone. This event has two confirmed winners.
  • Versions: 3

Born Connection

Cannonball Catch

Cannot Fly

Escape

  • Description: A six-stage obstacle course with a prison theme. Similar to SASUKE, it begins with 100 competitors. The 2nd to 4th Stages all use various team formats.
  • Versions: 5

Fantastista

Game Maker

Giant Ball

  • Description: Competitors must get atop a large red ball and roll it across an obstacle course.
  • Versions: 1

Hand Walk

  • Description: Competitors must attempt an obstacle course while walking on their hands. The course features a Break Zone near the halfway point. This event has at least four confirmed victories.
  • Versions: 7 (4 Regular, 3 Special)

Kangaroo

  • Description: Obstacle course that must be attempted on a pogo stick. The course features a Break Zone around the halfway point.
  • Versions: 1

Kunoichi (Strong Mama in the G4 broadcast)

  • Description: Female exclusive obstacle course consisting of nine obstacles. The first five and last four are divided by a Break Zone and have different time limits. This event was reworked into the more well-known KUNOICHI in 2001 without any victories in the original version.
  • Versions: 2

Like a Pierrot

  • Description: Competitors ride a unicycle through an obstacle course. The event has around 8 confirmed victories.
  • Versions: 6 (5 Regular, 1 Special)

Muscle Focus

Nakama

  • Description: A two-person team is tied together with various ropes connecting them, and must pass through an obstacle course in 70 seconds or less.
  • Versions: 2 (1 Regular, 1 Special)

Neko de Drive

  • Description: A man-woman two-person team must take on an obstacle course, with the woman riding atop a cat-shaped wheelbarrow while the man pushes said wheelbarrow through the course.
  • Versions: 3 (2 Regular, 1 Special)

Ottoto 9/A Craftsman

  • Description: Obstacle course that must be completed through balancing a pole on the index and middle fingers of whatever hand is dominant. The course features a Break Zone. The event has one confirmed victory.
  • Versions: 2

Power Island

  • Description: Special event course based on a strength concept. Open to general applicants, totaling at 34 confirmed. Two accidents occurred on this event that violated recently implemented safety guidelines, requiring the rebranding of Banzuke as a result. Overall success/failure ratio is unknown.
  • Versions: N/A (Never broadcast due to injuries)

Rolling Seesaw

SASUKE

  • See the link for more details

Sasuke Junior

Skeboarder

  • Description: Competitors, using a skateboard, ride through a specially-designed obstacle course. This event has at least 2 confirmed victories.
  • Versions: 2

Spider Walk

  • Description: Competitors wedge themselves between a set of parallel panels and cross an arranged distance within. This event has at least two confirmed victories and was ultimately reused in SASUKE as a single obstacle with numerous variations.
  • Versions: 1

Snow-X

Sponge Bridge

  • Description: Competitors walk atop a series of vertical Styrofoam boards that are delicately balanced. This event has at least two confirmed victories.
  • Versions: 4 (2 Regular, 2 Special)

Power SASUKE

Super Dog

  • Description: Competitors coax/work with their pet dog through an obstacle course.
  • Versions: 4

Super Helico

  • Description: Competitors pilot a remote-controlled helicopter through a specially designed obstacle course. This event has at least two confirmed victories.
  • Versions: 1

Super Rider

  • Description: Competitors ride a mountain bike through an obstacle course. This event has at least six confirmed victories
  • Versions: 7

Vase Transportation


Panel Event

9 Hoops

Balloon Shooter

Big Arch

ChaChaCha

Fishing Kyubei

Hustler

Kick Target

Long Shoot

Perfect Arms

Punch Out

Service Ace

Spray Hitter

Struck Out

Super Dive 97

Super Touchdown

UFO


Concepts Used In SASUKE and KUNOICHI

Many obstacles, events, and concepts were reused for the SASUKE and KUNOICHI tournament, which itself was a spinoff of SASUKE.

  • Deadly Hammers - This obstacle was used in many events and was later recycled into the Goren Hammer. It was based off of the version used in Like a Pierrot IV. On KUNOICHI 5, a similar obstacle, title Furiko Michi, was added as the fourth obstacle on Stage 2, then the Goren Hammer was returned on KUNOICHI 10 and KUNOICHI 11. The Goren Hammer was also appeared on SASUKE Vietnam and Mongolian Ninja Warrior.
  • Spider Walk - This was both an event in Banzuke and an obstacle in SASUKE. In the first four SASUKE's the Spider Walk was very long and similar to the event, but it was shortened for SASUKE 5, then the walls were arranged like an upside down "J" from SASUKE 7 to SASUKE 17. When the obstacle returned from SASUKE 28 onward, the wall arranged same as the one used on the Jumping Spider, and added the Spider Drop from SASUKE 30 onward. A similar obstacle, title Jumping Spider (a hybrid of the Spider Walk and the trampoline on the Jump Hang), was used from SASUKE 18 to SASUKE 24, then returned on SASUKE 26 and SASUKE 27. From American Ninja Warrior 9 onward, thers was a similar obstacle title Bouncing Spider, which was a hybrid of Jumping Spider and Wall Drop.
  • Stage system - This was used in the Trampoline event and later in SASUKE.
  • Conveyor Belt - This obstacle was used in several events and was later named the Gyakusō Conveyor (Reverse Conveyor from SASUKE 32 onward and KUNOICHI 9 onward). It was the same in every event save for Like a Pierrot V, where instead of simply going forward against the movement of the conveyor belt, competitors instead had to stay away from a gate that would close for ten seconds while the conveyor belt moved forwards towards the gate.

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