Full disclosure: Once again, I was able to attend the taping of this year's SASUKE through the kindness of friends.
13 new areas! A 50 percent change! How will it affect everyone.
Will anyone defeat the course this year? SASUKE 2016!
But first, a buff old man.
Let's go back to July of last year. 12 meter spider climb into a 12 meter rope climb. Yusuke Morimoto! But...what if terrorists come and they still shoot Doc Brown an...oh, wait, he did it!
Helpful that they have "Replay" in the corner.
And up to now! There is Yusuke starting his new job. And telling us that he WON'T be here this time. But he'll be back next year. If there is a next year. Dun dun dun!
Does this mean that we will have a new hero this year?
Let's get started! With the celeb booth. Comedians, gravure idols and idols in general oh my.
And let's get the plugs out of the way while we're at it.
Let's get started! 115 seconds to clear!
No. 1! トレンディエンジェル 斎藤司 Trendy Angel's Tsukasa Saito is up first! Quad Steps..NO! Well, that was fast. Everyone has a good laugh at that.
Hey, Wataru Mori!
No. 3! 鳥澤克秀 Katsuhide Torisawa! Deadlifts and blows himself up! He can't even start. He..sort of gets through the steps!
No. 4! 国山ハセン TBS announcer Hasen Kuniyama next. And he doesn't do much better! Not off to a roaring start here.
No. 5! 山岸将也 Mr. Japan 2016 Masaya Yamagishi is up. And he is through the Steps! Rolling Hill. Down slowly. Clear! Tie Fighter is next. Yes! Mister Japan! Orugoru next. NO! Not even close. Let's take a look at the Tie Fighter...from above!
No. 10! ジャングルポケット 太田博久 Jungle Pocket's Hirohisa Oota! Well, he looks nicer than your average comedian. But he faceplants after the steps! Naze da!
No. 11! A.B.C-Z 塚田僚一 A.B.C-Z's Ryoichi Tsukada is up next. Yuuji Urushihara gives him the spray! A.B.C-Z video plays. Acrobat Boys Club! Yari massuru! Doko made iku? Clear desu! He has a big yellow cheering section.
Here we go! Steps.Yes! Rolling Hill. Down slowly. Yes! Tie Fighter next. Keep your head up. Yes! Orugoru up. Slowly. Going down. Through! Double Pendulum. Yes! Can he do it? Tackle next. 240, 300, 320! And he's up. Soritatsu Kabe next. NO! Needs to hurry. NO! His legs are dead. Hioki Cheering him on. No! Timing running out. Going red but he's not giving up. NO! That's it!
Good lord he looks dead after that.
And we FF up to No. 21! 大倉士門 Shimon Ookura. Ninki men's model! Steps. Rolling Hill. Ikimashita! Tie Fighter. Through! Orugoru. And he gets it! Double Pendulum next. NO! He's trapped! He can't get from the bar to the pole thingy. He tries again! And no! He finally went for it but couldn't get his arms around it in time.
No. 28! 肥田隆弘
No. 29! 秋山純
All go down! 0/30!
It's up to No. 31! 日置将士 Masashi Hioki! Can he do it? He has had the pressure of being the first to clear the past few years. Will he be our first? Clip of ANW! Here we go.
Steps. Almost missed! Rolling Hill. No problem. Tie Fighter. Yes! Orugoru next. Clear! Double..AHH! NO! Oh hey, Kazuhiko Akiyama sighting. He totally missed the bar. Well, his right hand missed the bar. Everyone is shocked. The wife sez Kuyashii.
Yuuji is crying. Kinchou suru yo.
Uh oh. Mister SASUKE's Black Tigers are on the secene! They are:
No. 32! 松原慎治 Shinji Matsubara
No. 33! 山本浩茂 Hiroshige Yamamoto
No. 34! 海小畑仁志 Satoshi Obata
Can they redeem the name of Yamada?
Hebi up first. Steps. Rolling Hill. Slowly. Tie Fighter up next. GO! NO! You could see his right leg slip just before he went down.
SEGA is next! The Nico nico chat just had a nice laugh at Yamada. He's past the Tie Fighter! Orugoru. Yes! Double Pendulum next. Yes! He didn't do the full body hug either. Tackled up next. Slowly. He'll have maybe one or two chances on the wall. Needs to hurry. He's blown up though. NO! One more time. DON'T LOOK AT YAMADA. Yes! On the third time! Needs to hurry! Tarzan Rope as the time is going red! Go! Go! Go! Go! NO! Time up!
Obata is up next. He's the last of the Black Tigers. Quad Steps! NO!..Wait. Yes! He had to go back but he did it! Rolling Hill. Tie Fighter. Orugoru. No problem! Double P..NO! He totally missed the bar. Lack of trampoline guidance by Yamada, obviously.
Yamada gundan zenmetsu.
OH COME ON. He has to be faking this time.
Before we get to some Golden Bombing, let's hit a commercial.
Golden Bomber bombs on course last year. This year he hopes to top his on course time of seven seconds.
No. 41! ゴールデンボンバー 喜矢武豊 Golden Bomber's Kyan Yutaka.
40 have tried! Zero have cleared!
That racoon make-up makes him look old. Steps. Rolling Hill. And he's through! Tie Fighter up nex...oops. Oooh, that was a nice head first dive he took just now.
No. 50! プロレスラー 飯伏幸太 Kota Ibushi is next! And he's done!
No. 55! SKE48 二村春香 Haruka Futamura is done too!
No. 62! ブレント・ステッフェンセン Brent Steffensen is up next! He is a SASUKE and an ANW veteran. Here he goes! He has the potential. Already up to the Tie Fighter. Orugoru next. Whoops, I turn my head and he's up to the Soritatsu Kabe. There he goes! And he's through! That's one!
Brent! Take your seat!
We go up to No. 66! 鈴木祐輔 Yusuke Suzuki. He's failed the 1st Stage four times! But will the 5th time be the charm! We'll find out, after this word from our sponsor.
Already up to the Tie Fighter! Yes! Orugoru up next. YES! Tackle is next. Yes! Soritatsu Kabe is up. Will he be the 2nd to clear? Taking a breath. YES! First time! You can take a breath if you do it in one. Needs to get going! Time is going red. Needs to hurry. YES! 2.1 left!
He and his students celebrate! Yuusuke Suzuki! Take your seat!
No. 76! 佐藤惇 Jun Sato gets a digest but clears!
80 have gone! 3 have cleared!
No. 81! 武尊 Takeru. Can he KO the course!
Up to the Tie Fighter. Orugoru. And he's through! Double Pendulum! And he's got it! Tackle. He's got it! Soritatsu Kabe up. And in one try! Can he do it? He's almost there! Tarzan Rope. NO! He dragged his foot! Mottainai! Masaka no miss! Of all the places.
No. 82! 森渉 Wataru Mori! Is up next! Hey, it's some Sports Danshi! Crossover! Tobi Bako king...Wait, can they not say Monster Box.
Mori on the Tie Fighter. Yes! Going good so far. Orugoru. Mori hasn't been on the show in eight years. Oh! He fell but was OK. Double Pendulum. YES! Tackle up next. YES! Soritatsu Kabe up next. Needs to catch his breath. YES! Ikeruyo! Tarzan Rope. Needs to hurry! Time going red soon! Too slow! GO! GO! NO! Time up! Darvish knows the feeling.
Tanoshikatta, he says through the tears.
No. 83! 井原直樹 Naoki Ihara and No. 84! 張汪洋 Wang Yang Zhang time out on the Lumberjack Climb and the Soritatsu Kabe, respectively.
From Sweden is No. 85! アンドレ・シム Andre Sihm is through! But he gets digested in favor of No. 91! ゴールデンボンバー ドラム 樽美酒研二 Darvish Kenji! That's four through!
We come back but it's not about Darvish.
No. 87! 長崎峻侑 Shunsuke Nagasaki! It's dark out now. Sorry, behind. He's already on the Double Pendulum! Tackle is no problem. Soritatsu Kabe up next. NO! One more try. YES! He's through! That's five!
No. 89! 漆原裕治 Yuuji Urushihara is up next! Rolling Hill. Slowly. Tie Fighter up next. Yes! Orugoru. YES! Double Pendulum! AH! Shin area double pendulum! He didn't have enough momentum.
89 have gone! 5 have cleared!
No. 90! 又地諒 Ryo Matachi is next! Tie Fighter. No problem! Orugoru. And he's through! Double Pendulum. And he's done. Tackle. And he...pushes each one. And then has to push them all together. Um. OK. Needs to hurry from now. And that took too much time. He's over the wall. But the time was red well before he got to the Lumberjack Climb.
Finally, No. 91! 樽美酒研二 Darvish Kenji is up.
Steps, Rolling Hill next. Down slowly. Tie Fighter up ne...No! He's already done before it even gets going.
Ugh, OK, usually I don't complain about the broadcast choices but I hate hate hate celebs sucking up and talking to each other. Either do it with everyone or no one.
No. 92! 高橋賢次 Kenji Takahashi is next! Steps. Rolling Hill. Tie Fighter next. Something's wr....! No! He slipped! Subetta!
The celebs throw some foreshadowing about the moisture.
No. 93! ドリュー・ドレッシェル Drew Drechsel up next! He gets the ANW Shield!
Quickly through the steps and Rolling Hill. Tie Fighter. Yes! Orugoru. He doesn't go very high but is through. Double Pendulum is no problem! Tackle next. Almost done! Lots of time. Soritatsu Kabe. It's wet. Drying his shoes. First time he slips! He can't get his grip. But he beasts through! Tarzan Rope. Time going red but he gets it!
And now they talk about how the course is wet. They've checked all the areas. The Soritatsu Kabe is too wet. So they've pushed the rest of the 1st Stage to the next day.
The All-Stars were there!
93 have run! 6 have cleared.
No. 94! ラギヴァル・アナスターズ Anastase Ragivaru is next! (And it's the next day). Steps and Rolling Hill are no problem. Tie Fighter. Yes! Orugoru. Double Pendulum. He is blitzing the course. Lots of time left. Soritatsu Kabe. YE..NO! One more time. YES! Tarzan Rope. Lots of time! He's through! That's seven!
No. 95! 朝 一眞 Kazuma Asa is next. 7/100 so far! He's fallen to the Crazy Cliff Hanger three times in a row. Will this be the year?
Here he ...CMs first.
Here he goes. Quad Steps. Rolling Hill. Tie Fighter. NO! He started losing it at the very end. He was leaning forward way too much at the end. Was he anticipating the next obstacle.
He's trying not to cry.
No. 96! 菅野仁志 Hitoshi Kanno is next! Lots of ANW footage. He jumps from the Rolling Hill! Tie Fighter. Orugoru. Slowly. Double Pendulum! Yes! Tackle. Lots of time. Needs to catch his breath. NO! One more time. No. YES! But wait..he's holding his shoulder. Time is going red. Hidari kata! Melodramatic shoulder tying!
No. 97! 川口朋広 Tomohiro Kawaguchi is up next! As he starts he gets logos plastered all over his run.
Back. Ummm..I was doing something. Let's just say he did it. And the Nico Nico room has something to cheer!
Tomohiro Kawaguchi! Take a seat!
Three are left!
Mister SASUKE! Take a drink! Akiyama Kazuhiko! Yamamoto Shingo! Shirtaori Bunpei! Takeda Toshihiro! Nagano Makoto!
No. 98! 竹田敏浩 Toshihiro Takeda retires on the Soritatsu Kabe!
No. 99! 山本進悟 Shingo Yamamoto fails the Double Pendulum!
There is only one left!
No. 100! 長野誠 Makoto Nagano!
Cue up his music. Let's look at his past! The crowd cheers for Nagano as his wife Asami cries.
99 have tried. 8 have cleared. Which way will the legend go? Find out after these messages!
Steps . Yes! Rolling Hill. YES! Although that was close! Tie Fighter! No problem! Look at the parade of people following him. Orugoru! Yes! Double Pendulum! YES! Tackle. Note how he kicked off the pole part. Soritatsu Kabe. He's had trouble with this recently. Needs to catch his breath. YNO! YES! Can he do it? Hurry! Time is going red! NO! GO! GO! GO! NO! Time Up!
Everyone is in tears. Or clapping.
I don't know if slo-moing him just missing the buzzer is something he'd want to see.
And then we're on to the 2nd Stage.
But before that! Let's have a word with a man with world-wide SASUKE/Ninja Warrior experience, Perry Oosterlee! You can catch Perry on Twitter and Facebook. Here's what Perry thought of Stage One:
Stage 1 looks brutal. So many new obstacles. The Tie Fighter is a lot of fun to do. As is the double pendulum. Tackle machine is very heavy and to be honest, the warped wall is the scariest wall I've ever done! It's so high and intimidating.. Overall, stage 1 is perfect for ssk32 since morimotos clear. The upgrade killed 92 dreams out of 100, so it's BRUTAL. But so much fun. Time wise, it's very tight.. You need to go go go.. It's set in a way that you can't take your time. It makes it interesting and mentally tough.
Oops, was out chatting. Sorry No. 62! ブレント・ステッフェンセン Brent Steffensen! You did a great job though!
No. 66! 鈴木祐輔 Yusuke Suzuki is next! Cross Slider. Salmon Ladder. Transition to down. Through! Spider Walk. It's all Christmassy. Spider Drop. Backstream next. Subarashii! Conveyer Belt. Wall Lifting! 1! 2! 3! Yes! That's two!
No. 76! 佐藤惇 Jun Sato is also through! And is No. 85! アンドレ・シム Andre Sihm! And No. 87! 長崎峻侑 Shunsuke Nagasaki! Plus No. 93!ドリュー・ドレッシェル Drew Drechsel! And finally No. 94! ラギヴァル・アナスターズ Anastase Ragivaru! We're batting 7/7!
Can No. 97! 川口朋広 Tomohiro Kawaguchi join them?
Cross Slider. Salmon Ladder. Spider Walk. Spider Drop. Backstream. Conveyer. 1. 2. 3. That's everybody!
Here are Perry's thoughts on Stage 2:
Stage 2 looks beautiful with all the lights. The obstacles are same as last year with only 1 new obstacle. So it would be do able for a lot of people. Since they either did it last year or have been watching and training for it. The time limit was pretty big, so I would say this is the easiest stage of all 4. However never underestimate the Cross Slider, Salmon Ladder Downwards... Those are the trickiest ones. I also like how the wall lift is "safe" now. It now has counter weights which prevents the wall from falling down on you rapidly, because now it slowly goes down, so you have time to dive under it and not get injured or stuck.
Celebs chatting about nothing in particular.
No. 62! ブレント・ステッフェンセン Brent Steffensen is up first. Drum Hopper. Yes! It's modified from last year and the drum heights go up as you go along. Flying Bar. He's through! Sidewinder R-Kai. The tubes now DROP when you get to them. Also, notice that he is wearing a climber's chalk bag. There is no chalk on the course and the next obstacle has no break before the one after that. Ultra Crazy Cliff Hanger. At the first jump. NO!
I'm sure TBS is happy that the Ninja Warrior legend has failed SASUKE. He gave it is his best though.
No. 66! 鈴木祐輔 Yusuke Suzuki is next. Let's see him train at school and find out that (surprise) his students love him. If they hated him, would they even talk to them?
Drum Hopper. WHOA! He almost lost it but he's safe! And it was a struggle but he's through! Flying Bar next. Getting ready. NO!
No. 76! 佐藤惇 Jun Sato fails the Ultra Crazy Cliff.
No. 85! アンドレ・シム Andre Sihm fails the Sidewinder R-Kai.
No. 87! 長崎峻侑 Shunsuke Nagasaki is up next. Let’s see what he's been doing to prepare.
Drum Hopper. Clear! No problem. Flying Bar next. But we need a word from our sponsor.
Back! NO! Darn. That was the most we've seen of Shunsuke on SASUKE in a while.
Next up is No. 93!ドリュー・ドレッシェル Drew Drechsel.
He's go the rhythm of the Drum Hopper down. Flying Bar up next. And through! Sidewinder R-Kai next. 1st tube. Yes! Next one. Making sure his shoes don't slip. Yes! One more to go. And he's through! Ultra Crazy Cliff up next.
First jump. YES! One more coming up after the turn. But CMs first.
Back. Second jump to the moving cliff. Yes! He's cleared it! Up to the Vertical Limit next! But no!!!
That's a tough one. There is no resting spot between the Ultra and the Vertical Limit.
That's a great line. He's sick and tired of staring at the Final Stage and not being able to do it.
And then it started raining.
WHICH THE CELEBS IN THE BOOTH WOULDN'T KNOW. SINCE THEY ARE UNDER COVER AND ALL THAT.
Let's take this time to hear Perry's thoughts on Stage 3:
Stage 3 is the real deal. All obstacles have been modified and renewed(except pipe slider). The drumhopper looks insane! So cool and so hard going upwards... Flying bar is a crucial obstacle. Mess up the technique and you're done. Precision is key. The new Side Winder is so scary. I would say this one is also tricky. The middle 2 drop down a bit, so you have to bear hug it until it stops going down. A very taxing obstacle on the muscles. Now the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger into New Vertical Limit.. Now that's amazing! I love it!!! It's exactly what I want. Sasuke 32 and beyon is a new era and things should be crazy like that. Now people will train harder, crazier and a lot more, so the new era of competitors will be insanely strong. As will I, going to replicate this as much as possible so if I get there one day, I could possible beat it and show the world to never give up! Pipe slider looks good however the dismount is the hardest thing...
No. 94! ラギヴァル・アナスターズ Anastase Ragivaru is up next.
Drum Hopper. AND he almost falls! But he gets through! You can see the rain now. A towel is covering the bar. And now he's ready to go. Yes! One more to go. NO! He got it but slipped off the bar!
Haha. The reporter asks a question in Japanese, Anastase's fiance asks in French and he answers in Japanese.
No. 97! 川口朋広 Tomohiro Kawaguchi is last but he has an injury! Can he be the first Japanese competitor to reach the UCCH?
This is our final competitor! Tomohiro Kawaguchi! Drum Hopper. Crowd is behind him big time.
And he's through!
Flying bar next. Here he goes. NO! He whiffed completely! Well, that sucks.
Well, that's that, I guess. No Final Stage attempt this year.
Before we get to the final final part of the show, let's give Perry more space. About the Final Stage:
Stage 4 is beautiful. I can't believe it's 25Meters now. With the added 19 salmon ladder jumps in between the spiderclimb and ropeclimb, this is now the hardest climb of the world. Even though it looks insane, I think it will be do able in time, as long as we competitors keep training hard. I'll be sure to practice this somehow, one way or the other!
And about SASUKE 32 in general:
Sasuke 32 and the future ones, are going to be spectacular. New obstacles, that are tricky, hard, insane and ultra crazy! This will defenitely inspire the new generations to come and amazing things will happen in the next tournaments I am sure.
Thank you Perry!
Finally, we get part of the retirement ceremony for Makoto Nagano.
After all these years, he has decided to hang up his tabi and go off into the sunset. While you may think that a) his 1st Stage result was a sad way to go out and b) it proves that he still has something in the tank it's better to have this bittersweet moment. It's not a consistent practice but in Japan it's not unusual for a pro wrestler to go into his retirement on a high point that actually results in a loss. Genichiro Tenryu just did it last year in a big match against Kazuchika Okada. He had no hope of winning but it still garnered Match of the Year in Japan. He's given us great memories, is a great representative for SASUKE, TBS and Japan and deserves to do what he wants. If he wants to retire, who are we to stop him? Let him enjoy his life.
To you, Makoto Nagano!
See everyone next time!