Sunday, December 30, 2007

The First SASUKE? Plus, Kane Kosugi at the Shaolin Temple: Kinniku Banzuke!

Well, it looks like G4 is going to re-air the Kinniku Banzuke (Muscle Ranking) series as a show called Unbeatable Banzuke. For those who don't know, Kinniku Banzuke is the TV series that spawned SASUKE, KUNOICHI, Sportsman No. 1 and the Muscle Musical. It aired from 1995 to 2002 and was then replaced by two other shows that didn't do as well and eventually got canceled. You can read all about it here.
Kane Kosugi was a big part of Kinniku Banzuke as a competitor in SASUKE and the Sportsman No. 1 shows (he dominated the early Geinojin Sportsman shows until Naoki Iketani showed up). Kane moved to Japan to try to make it on his own, away from the shadow of his father Sho Kosugi (well-known by teen-aged boys of the 80s for being a ninja). Part of Kinniku Banzuke was about Kane going around and trying different things like being a stunt man or going through SWAT training. In the following clip, we see him learning martial arts at the Shaolin Temple:

And here's an interview from 2003 with Hawaii's Eye-Ai magazine.

Omori Akira AKA Monkkiki (he changed his name to jump-start his career based on advice by that fortune teller lady who's always telling people that they should have died some time or that they will die because of..something) was also a regular in the early days of Kinniku Banzuke. He even went to learn Muay Thai kickboxing for the show. As far as I know, G4 has never aired any part of the first SASUKE competition so we don't know much about it. In the following clip, I assume that the first 40 seconds of this is part of his run in the 1st show as his contestant number matches that found in the SASUKE wikipedia entry and he makes it to the final stage:

Couple of other SASUKE related notes:
The cast of the Muscle Musical will once again perform during NHK's Kohaku Uta Gassen.

Some other competitors for the Sportsman No. 1 show on New Years Day aside from Ronaldinho, Paul ANTHONY Terek and Wakky are Nakayama Kinnikun, handball player Miyazaki Daisuke (who won Sportsman No. 1 in 2006), football player Kinoshita Noriaki (NFL Europe) and San Francisco Giants outfielder Rajai Davis.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

For many people back in the states, it's still Christmas Eve...

But since Japan is in the future, it is officially Christmas so Merry Christmas everyone!

Pictures are from the corner near the ANA Hotel in Ube. Isn't amazing how nobody has tried to vandalize the display? Truly the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Ube!

Simple It's a Wonderful Life Drinking Game: Take a drink any time someone says "George Bailey" in the movie. It should be something like over twenty times. If that's not enough, down the whole drink if a character says "Hee-Haw" or "Hot Dog".

Monday, December 24, 2007

Don Quijote in Ube! ドン・キホーテ 宇部店!

So the other day I rode down to the latest place to open in good ol' Ube, Don Quijote. The first I Don Quijote I ever went to was the one in Sapporo. It seemed very random in it's selection of goods and it was quite bewildering. Of course that one seemed normal compared to the Don Quijote in Akihabara which is the home to idol group AKB48 and has an entire floor of costumes and a maid cafe. But a combination of the reasonably priced and the strange is what Don Quijote is all about. Some of the random things I found during my shopping:

Candy G-string:

Your penis? A faucet:

Kojima Yoshio mask:

And of course, the Billy Blanks costume:

Don Quijote has been trying to extend it's reach as they converted the old Kaheka Daiei/Holiday Mart in Honolulu late last year to create it's first overseas Don Quijote store. At the time, people in Hawaii seemed a bit confused, especially with the name. Then again, I never knew which it was (Daiei? Holiday Mart?) when I was living there anyway.

This is the second new big chain to open in Ube this year as a Kojima Denki opened near Fuji Grand back in October. *Sniff* My city is growing up *sniff*

Friday, December 14, 2007

Caught! Three foreign NPB players named in Mitchell Report - Alex Cabrera, Jeff Williams and Adam Riggs

Edit! Added one more active player, Yakult's Adam Riggs!

The biggest news in the sports blogosphere right now is the Mitchell Report. For those who don't follow Major League Baseball, steroid and drug use has apparently been running rampant and ruining America's pastime and it was time that someone put a stop to it! So former U.S. Senator George Mitchell was tapped by Bud Selig after the cat was out of the bag reading Game of Shadows, the book that details how Barry Bonds' head has grown throughout his career.

89 current and former MLB players were named in the report and two Nippon Professional Baseball players were named: Seibu's Alex Cabrera and Hanshin's Jeff Williams.

Cabrera's name first pops up on page 94 of the report. Cabrera was with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000 and a package arrived for him in September of that year. A snooping clubhouse employee - probably looking for stuff to take - found anabolic steroids and diet pills in the package, turned it over to the team and it was sent to the DEA. While the DEA took it's time thoroughly investigated the package the Diamondbacks had gotten rid of their potential problem shipped Cabrera to the Seibu Lions. The investigation was halted because Japan is really far away from Arizona. Cabrera has insisted that he does not know why the package has his name on it.

Williams paid for his steroids by check back in 2004 which turned out to be a bad idea because former Mets (!) bat boy Kirk Radomski turned it over to Mitchell. Williams is first named on page 227 and on pages 230 and 231 we get to read about how he and his minor league teammates (all five of whom were later called up to the big leagues, four of them to the L.A. Dodgers that year) had a little party in 1999. But rather than play cards and have drinks they injected themselves in the butt with steroids. Fun!

Whoa, I just realized something: Williams only played in L.A. from 1999 to 2002. He was already playing for Hanshin by 2004 which was also the year he helped Australia take the Silver at the Athens Olympics.

This is apparently bad timing for both players since I believe that their contracts were up after this past season. In fact, if I'm looking at this Asahi Shinbun story right, it looks like Williams was in contract negotiations this morning when the report went public. Oops.

Edit: I just picked up from here that I missed another current player: Adam Riggs of the Yakult Swallows is also mentioned in the report. His story unfolds on pages 211 to 212 and started when he was either with the Dodgers, Padres or Angels. Man, they must have nothing to do in California except inject themselves with steroids. In this case, there is even a scan of an international money order sent from Riggs to Radomski.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ronaldinho in next Sportsman No. 1

I was just browsing through the New Year programming and caught this on the TBS website:


This roughly translates to "We've got our biggest participant yet with superstar Horseyface Ronaldinho!"

Should be interesting. I believe Paul ANTHONY Terek will be there to defend his title as will Wakky since he is the reigning Geinojin champion plus someone from the San Francisco Giants and other athletes from around Japan.

The photo at the top of this post (stolen shamelessly from the TBS website) seems to be a bit spoilerish since Horseyface Ronaldinho looks like he's just missed his carrot a ball during the Shot-Gun Touch.

I may or may not live-blog it but the damn thing is something like four hours long (with the Monster Box portion taking up at least 45 minutes). Of course, it's not like I have anything else to do on New Year's Day.