Takeshi's Castle (風雲！たけし城 Fūun! Takeshi-jō , literally Turbulence! Takeshi Castle) was a Japanese game show that aired from 1986 to 1989 on the Tokyo Broadcasting System. It featured the Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano (also known as Beat Takeshi) as a count who owns a castle and sets up impossible challenges for players (or a volunteer army) to get to him. The show has become a cult television hit around the world. A special live "revival" was broadcast on April 2, 2005, for TBS's 50th anniversary celebrations.
Original Takeshi's Castle
The original show involved between 100 and 142 contestants whom General Lee (Hayato Tani) "forced" into a series of silly physical challenges, eliminating many of the contestants. Each show finished with a "Final Showdown" in which Count Takeshi (Kitano) was faced by the remaining contestants. In early episodes they would storm the castle set itself in a short-range water gun assault. Later episodes introduced carts with paper rings, and eventually lasers and light-sensitive targets. If the contestants gun penetrated the paper ring or hit the sensor on Takeshi's cart, against such weapons as a large water gun and a laser-armed plane, Takeshi's cart was deactivated, the castle was "taken" and the game "won". The player who stopped Takeshi won one million yen (which, at the time, was roughly equivalent to $8,000 US or £5,000 sterling). However, there were only nine winners in total during the show's run.
Takeshi originally wanted the show to be a 'live-action Super Mario game'. Early in the series the games and production values were low budget, but later series featured extensive landscaping of a fixed campus at TBS-owned Midoriyama (Green Mountain) Studios that included large man-made lakes and extensive permanent obstacles in Yokohama, Japan. October 18, 1990 was the final episode of Takeshi's Castle.
Each episode was filmed over the entire length of the day, with some challenges going well into the night.
A wide range of challenges were used throughout the history of Takeshi's Castle, some occurring only once or twice, or others in virtually every show, depending upon their popularity and ease of preparation. Many challenges involve falling into water or mud on failure.
Takeshi's Castle challenges used a wide variety of well-known songs from movies, television shows, video games, anime, and other sources.
- Count "Beat" Takeshi (ビートたけし; Kitano, born 18 January 1947) — The lord of the castle and eventual target of the competition. He also made commentary on the contestants. He is known as Vic Romano in the American re-edit of Takeshi's Castle called MXC. See below for all references to that program.
- Takeshi Doll — During a prolonged period when Takeshi was forbidden to appear on television (his "punishment" for an act of violence against reporters and photos from a scandal magazine), one of the Emerald Guards filled in by wearing his robe and a giant papier-mâché Takeshi head similar to the ones sports team mascots use over their heads. Known as Mini-takeshi in Spain and Mashiro Tamiji the Big-Head in Italy. On MXC he was the uncool, not-so-hip Vic Romano and Zeppo the Waterhead.
- Saburo Ishikura (石倉三郎, born 16 December 1946) — First advisor (or councillor) of Takeshi. Discussed the competition with Takeshi and provided comedy skits as well. He was shown on MXC as a teacher showing Vic (Takeshi) how to be a lumberjack. Known as 'el primo Mario' (Mario, Takeshi's cousin) in Spain.
- Sonomanma Higashi (real name Hideo Higashikokubaru, born 16 September 1957) — Originally leader of the Emerald Guards, he replaced Ishikura as Takeshi's advisor in the middle of the series run. Known as Kenny Blankenship on MXC. Known as Junior in Spain. He can be seen on the British version on the guards special.
- Takeshi's Gundan (Defense Troops) (たけし軍団) — The Count's guards who wore white or emerald green, seen in "Final Showdown" and other challenges, and are more popularly known as "The Emerald Guards". When Higashi became Takeshi's new advisor, Omori Utaeman took over as the leader. Other members included Matsuo Bannai, Tsunami Edamame, Yurei Yanagi (known as Joker in the UK version), Rakkyo Ide, Great Gidayu (known as Purple Ronnie or Putrid Porker who play Sumo Rings in the UK version), Danken, Third Nagasima, "Rusher" Itamae, Taka Gadarukanaru, Hakase Suidobashi, Sintaru Mizushima and "Loyal" Tadajij Kikuchi. Rakkyo Ide was the bald guy in the "Monsters Special" who wore a shark outfit and suffered some serious bleeding when he fell in during Skipping Stones. These troops were also usually seen in the background behind Takeshi and his advisor during the show. In MXC, they are known as teamsters, game testers, Department of Education playground monitors, and flunkies, among others. They are known as Los esbirros de Takeshi (Takeshi's henchmen) in Spain.
- General Lee (Hayato Tani) (谷隼人, born 9 September 1946) — Led the contestants through the challenges set by Count Takeshi. (Was known to speak English on occasion), Captain Tenneal in the US (a play on the 1970s husband/wife soft rock duo Captain and Tennille), Napoleon in the Spanish, Generale Putzerstofen in the Italian and General Lee in the UK version (a play on the car of the same name). In the India version, Javed Jaffrey jokingly calls him sometimes Gajodhar Pandai. His real-life wife, Kikko Matsuoka (born 11 February 1947), appeared in an episode resulting in a comedic conflict between the couple. He is also affectionately known as the "ladies' favourite" or "the man with the tan" by Craig Charles in the UK version.
- Lee's Assistant - On international specials (involving non-Japanese players), General Tani was assisted by a lady who served as his translator whose name is unknown. On the UK version, she is referred to as Corporal "Psycho" Kirsty. On MXC she was called Pey'oncé (taken from the pop-star, Beyoncé Knowles).
- Junji Inagawa (also known as Jyunji Inagawa) (稲川淳二, born 9 September 1946), Akira Sakamoto (born 31 July 1949) and Shingo Yanagisawa (柳沢慎吾, born 6 March 1962) — Three of the Battlefield Reporters, however there were many more. They usually wore safari outfits. Known as Guy LeDouche and his assorted cousins on MXC and as Pepe Livingstone in the new Spanish version. (Note: Whilst they were seen in the UK version of the series, they were not actually acknowledged, except once when Craig commented on the size of the reporter's microphone by telling him to "Put the toffee-apple away and help him!")
- Kibaji Tankobo (丹古母鬼馬二, born 4 January 1950) and Shozo "Strong" Kobayashi (ストロング金剛, born 25 December 1940) — A pair of guards who would probably scare you off just by looking at them, which they normally did to contestants in the Honey Comb Maze and other games. Kibaji usually wore a long red wig, while Strong was bald, and they painted their faces to further intimidate contestants. Tankobo and Kobayashi were considered to be two of the finest henchmen Takeshi had. They're known as Paco Peluca/Franky Wig/Kibaji and Juanito Calvicie/Johnny Baldness/Strong in the Spanish version. Also known in the UK as "Tina Turner" and "Baldy" respectively.
- Brad Lesley, aka "Animal" (亜仁丸レスリー, born 11 September 1958) — Famous Japanese/American baseball player. His main job was to humiliate and frighten the contestants in any possible way, usually dressed as a samurai complete with a sword. Animal has also been seen in a green sumo suit, spider costume, Fred Flintstone–style outfit, a baseball uniform and a Las Vegas–era Elvis Presley jumpsuit costume. In MXC during the Circle Jerkers game he is known as the Green Tea Bagger, because he picks up contestants, flips them over his back and sits on their heads. He's been known as El malvado occidental or "The Evil Westerner" in the old Spanish version; in the current one, he's known as Animal too. In the German version, his name is misromanized as "Animal Resry".
- Michiru Jo (城みちる, born 18 November 1957) — One of the few guards to have been involved from the very first episode and be involved until the show finished, he normally wore a distinctive pink outfit. Jo was a famous Japanese pop singer in the 1970s. Known as Danny Glands in the US (a play on words of long-time Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans), Jimmy Junk, Golden Shower Boy or Barry Sosa (a play on baseball players Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa) on MXC, and as Pinky Winky (in the UK, a pun in his pink coloured clothes, and Tinky Winky the Teletubbie) in the newest Spanish version. In the Indian version aired on pogo, he is commonly called as Chooslee by Javed Jaffery.
- Yoroi/Ritter Chuu — He stood almost sixteen feet tall and tried to keep players from reaching the goals in several games. Known as the Boxing Beast in the UK version. On MXC, his name is Skanky. Known as El Pequeño Samurai (The Little Samurai) in Spain.
- Makoto Dainenji (大念寺誠) and Katsuo Tokashiki (渡嘉敷勝男, born 27 July 1960) — Makoto, a karate master, and Katsuo, a boxing champion in Japan, were the Final Fall guards, usually wearing outrageous costumes. They were called The Pink Panzers in the UK version of the show. Katsuo also served as the referee in the Sumo Rings game. In MXC they have only been seen in small sketches, once as the New Jersian Kenny and Vic. A Dainenji head costume appeared in one episode during the Sumo game; on an episode of MXC it was called "The Engorged Head".
- Masanori Okada (岡田正典, born 19 October 1953) — Usually seen in the game "Slip Way", he would jump out of the water to push the contestants into the drink if they failed to reach the target. Okada has also played in the Honey Comb Maze and other games as well. Also known as the "Sea Goblin" in Japan and was a boxer in the 1970s. On MXC he is known as Mr. G-Spot, Dr. Bill (a spoof on Dr. Phil), Bill Veto (a play on ESPN hockey commentator Bill Pidto), or The Diddler. Known as El Monstruo de la Laguna Sucia (The Monster of the Dirty Lagoon) in Spain. In Indian version, he is known as Shaitan Mamu.
- Umanosuke Ueda, (上田馬之助, born 20 June 1940) — This aggressive guard, a former wrestler in real life, has been seen in Honey Comb Maze, Square Maze, Sumo Rings, Grid Iron and Bridge Ball. He is Blondie in the UK version and El Rubio de bote (Dyed Blonde) in Spain.
- Yousichi Shimada (島田洋七, born 10 February 1950) — A guard that was usually seen in the games Blueberry Hill in overalls akin to those worn by Dennis the Menace (his UK nickname), and in Wipe Out dressed up as a female Native American nicknamed "Pocahontas" who would push people into the water if they missed the surfboard. The latter is known as Chief Otto Parts on MXC (a parody of the Chief Auto Parts auto supply store chain). Known as La India (the Indian Girl) in Spain.
- Shoji Kinoshita and Shoichi Kinoshita — Better known as "Popcorn" (ポップコーン, born 1 January 1959), these well-known identical twin actors in Japan were commonly seen wearing rainbow ponchos and bowler hats. They have also worn baseball uniforms and other humorous costumes, appearing in the game Rice Bowl Down Hill where they would try and put the contestants off by singing a very annoying chant, 'unda unda unda' as well as Bridge Ball and other games. Called Bud and Pud or Em on Em (a spoof of rapper Eminem), among others, on MXC. They're known in Spain as Duo pirata (Pirate duet). Craig Charles calls them "the Japanese Thompson Twins" or most commonly the "Rainbow Warriors". In India, they are known as Changu-Mangu.
- "Ordinary" Oki Bondo (大木凡人, born 1 July 1949), Takayuki Yokomizo, Nobuo Yana and Koji Sekiyama — They participated in the Karaoke game. Oki acted as the emcee, Takayuki was the bouncer who ejected contestants who did not sing well, and Koji was the owner of the karaoke bar, later replaced by Nobuo who appeared in the later episodes of the show. In the MXC spoof, titled Elimination Idol, Bondo plays Ryan Seachest, Takayuki is Andy Jackson and both Nobuo and Koji are called Simon Bowel, all of course playing off American Idol regulars Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell.
- Shinoburyo (忍竜) — Sumo wrestler in Japan who appeared in the game Sumo Rings during the series. On MXC he was one of the two Purple Packages. Called the Purple Porker in the UK version and La Señora (the Lady) in the Spanish version, because of his make-up face.
- Large Fuji (born 26 August 1958) — Replaced Shinoburyo in the later episodes as the purple sumo fighter in Sumo Rings. On MXC he was one of the two Purple Packages.
- Konishiki Doll — Only seen in Sumo Rings and on an odd occasion of Tug of War. The Konishiki Doll was one of the Defence Troops dressed in a large costume (often credited as a potato suit in the UK version) which is meant to resemble Konishiki Yasokichi, one of the largest sumo wrestlers to ever live. Known as Spud in the UK and as Mel Anoma on MXC. Known as El Grano de Café Gigante (Giant Coffee Grain) in Spain.
- Noboru "Shin" Suganuma (すがぬま伸, born 5 July 1952) — Loyal member of Takeshi's Gundan, whom wore red and who was a pathetic sumo wrestler in Sumo Rings. He is known in Spain as el primo triste de Harry Potter (Harry Potter's sad cousin).
- Ritsuko Nakayama — Also known as Refreshing Ritsuko-Ritsuko, she is a professional bowler in Japan who has appeared in the Star Bowling game. She appeared on an MXC episode as "Viva Longoria". Called "Mother Lee" in the UK.
- Yutaka Enatsu — This Japanese baseball player who was the pie thrower in Die or Pie in a single episode. In the MXC "Master Debaters" special, he was renamed Nader O'Reilly, a fusing of the last names of multiple-time United States Presidential candidate and consumer activist Ralph Nader and TV political commentator Bill O'Reilly and also a pun on M*A*S*H character Radar O'Reilly.
- Koji Sekiyama (関山耕司 born 22 May 1929) — Karaoke bar owner who decided whether contestants singing was good enough to progress through to the next round. Later replaced by Nobuo Yana.
- Nobuo Yana (born 13 August 1935) — Replaced Koji Sekiyama as the karaoke bar owner later in the series and decided whether a contestant had sung well enough to progress through to the next round.
- Yakayuki Yokomizo (born 2 August 1963) — Bouncer in the karaoke bar who violently withdrew contestants from the building if Sekiyama (later Yana) decided that their singing wasn't good enough.
- Geisha Girls or Playboy Bunny Girls — Led by Miyuki Ono, they helped contestants in several games and also helped Takeshi and his advisor in comedy skits. The others were Harumi Tomikawa, Mika, Mina Morishima, Sawada, and Mitsumi Yokota. Sometimes, when Junji and Shingo were off the show for other commitments, one of them served in the Battlefield Reporter's role. They can be seen in a special of the UK version in Turtle Hurtle.
- Shizuo Miyauchi (宮内鎮雄, born 24 January 1945) — Commentator for the original series in Japan. Retired from TBS in 2005 after working as a commentator for several decades. His voice could sometimes be heard in the UK Series due to the fact that the original audio could be heard under Craig Charles' commentary, however in MXC he was not heard at all.
- Ultraman - Has appeared in the show on three occasions, the first was to help the kids through a number of the challenges in the "Kids Only" special, the second was as a replacement for General Lee, when he was "kidnapped", according to UK Commentator Craig Charles. The third occasion was in the monster's special, along with other members of the "Ultra Brothers". (Due to an ongoing licensing dispute, "The Monster Special" was heavily edited upon its release on DVD, with all Ultraman characters removed.)
|Count 'Beat' Takeshi\ Takeshi Doll||Vic Romano||Master Takeshi||Count Takeshi|
|Sonomanma Higashi||Kenny Blankenship||Bisita I|
|General Tani||Captain Tenneal||Master Kapitan||General Lee|
|Junji Inagawa||Guy LeDouche||The Man with the Toffee Apple|
|Micharo Jo||Danny Glans||Captain Japan\Cowardly Custard|
|Popcorn||Em on Em||The Rainbow Warriors|
|Tani's Assistant||Pey'once||Bisita II||Corporal Kirsty|
|Yoroi||Skanky/Fisty||Boy Kamao||Boxing Monster|
|Youshi Shimada||Chief Otto Parts||Boy Tulak||Dennis The Menace|
|Oki Bondo||Ryan Seachest|
- "Cool Japan: Why Japanese remakes are so popular on American TV, and where we’re getting it wrong". AsianWeek. Retrieved on 2008-09-15.
- Takeshi's Castle
- UK Websites (Alphabetical order)
- Challenge TV (UK) Page: Takeshi's Castle
- Keshi Heads: Takeshi's Castle fan site
- Keshi Kingdom
- Takeshi 2012: Campaign for a new series of Takeshi's Castle
- Takeshi 2012 Petition
- Storm the Castle (Alphabetical order)
- MXC (Alphabetical order)
- #1 MXC Fan Club on the Net
- Get It On: MXC Fansite
- MXC at the Internet Movie Database
- MySpace.com MXC Fansite
- SpikeTV.com MXC website
- Humor Amarillo (Alphabetical order)
- Videos of Humor Amarillo (Spanish)
- Japanese Websites (Alphabetical order)