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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sasuke 20 - Michael Milner - Special Agent Sasuke

"SASUKE" logo at the beginning of the TBS Broadcast of Sasuke 20

The following is a tribute to an American competitor, Michael Milner, in Sasuke 20 that was cut from the American Broadcast in the G4 network. He was shown in the original TBS broadcast and I wanted to make sure he got his just due. I will restrain from my normal G4 rant of showing only people they want to in order to monopolize the North American audience (they cut the Canadian James Eddy as well..) and create the illusion that the only way for Americans to get on the show is through G4 so I will only concentrate on introducing all of you to a wonderful person. Thanks to the Power of Sasuke I've been fortunate to be introduced to a great guy!

Special Agent Sasuke Michael Milner

First off, when I wrote my very first blog, which happened to coincide with the TBS broadcast of Sasuke 20, I had no idea Michael Milner would be reading it! Actually.. I didn't think anyone would read it .. but I digress... Anywho.. He was so kind to provide his own personal pictures and a story about his experience in Sasuke (article to follow below). As someone who has never been to Japan, let alone the set in Mount Midoriyama in Yokahama, Japan, it was nice to hear the experience from someone who went there and competed!


Special Agent Sasuke Michael Milner, Grand Champion Makoto Nagano and Michael Milner's wife ©Michael Milner

I asked Michael to provide me with as much information as possible so people can get to know him (me included). After reading a lot of data I realized how friggin' accomplished this man is! Good lord.. so from this point on.. He's my Special Agent Sasuke :) Hey.. everyone else wants a nickname.. I'm giving it to him :) Besides.. former SWAT guy is not my thing.. I know TBS picked that name but it sounds so passe like he's dying of old age or something (for pete's sake, dude is only 3 years older than me..).. so Special Agent Sasuke he is to me :D Besides.. the title is current :p Wow I'm digressing already.. stay on target.. Anyway, Special Agent Sasuke Michael Milner provided me with a great link to his personal background detailing his career (past and present) from a recent conference he was a speaker. This is a link to his current line of work - Director, Computer Crime Investigative Unit for the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command. Also a great interview conducted by the Federal Security Spotlight about his current line of work can be found here! (Very interesting stuff Michael :D)

Michael Milner being introduced to the crowd in Sasuke 20 (screenshot sent to Michael by a fan in Japan :D )

Below is an article Michael wrote to be included in a newspaper article and was kind enough to email it to me as well to be used in this blog.

Ninja Warrior for a Day - written by Michael Milner (my Special Agent Sasuke :D)

Imagine getting an e-mail on a Monday, inviting you to compete on television's toughest obstacle course the following Monday. In Japan. That's exactly what happened this past March, when the producers of "SASUKE" selected me to join 99 other challengers for this semi-annual event.

All-stars in line waiting to be registered for Sasuke 20 (L-R) Some female, another female.. Shinji Kobayashi (gray cap), First Champion Kazuhiko Akiyama (red suit), Grand Champion Makoto Nagano, Toshihiro Takeda (black suit), Kenji Takahashi (back to us with gray pants), Shingo Yamamoto (shaking hands) and unidentified lucky person in the world ©Michael Milner

Let's rewind a bit to find out how I got myself into this situation. I first discovered "SASUKE" in early 2007 when it began airing on American television as "Ninja Warrior." The program appealed to me because of the difficulty of the obstacles and the genuine camaraderie between the challengers. Unlike "American Gladiators," where challengers compete against each other and an army of buff brutes, everyone in "SASUKE" competes only against the course.

All-stars cheering on their fellow competitor (L-R) Katsumi Yamada, Toshihiro Takeda, Kazuhiko Akiyama, Makoto Nagano, Shingo Yamamoto ©Michael Milner

Another great aspect of "SASUKE" is the incredible diversity of the challengers: young, old, and every age in between, athletes ranging from Olympians to armchair quarterbacks, Japanese comedians and celebrities, acrobats, firemen, fishermen, and even a few regular folks. The intrinsic rewards of "SASUKE" almost certainly outweigh the extrinsic reward, since the prize for completing all four stages—approximately $20,000 before taxes—won't buy many sessions with a physical therapist or chiropractor.

Over the months, I watched most of the previous "SASUKE" competitions, and I wondered if I could be a challenger. I soon learned that the obstacles to getting on the program were almost as daunting as the ones on the "SASUKE" course. For starters, the competition takes place in Japan, and the vast majority of the challengers are Japanese. Also, the demand for slots is so great that the "SASUKE" producers hold qualifying events throughout Japan. And to top things off, I had no idea when the next competition would be held.

Michael Milner being introduced to the crowd in Sasuke 20 (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

In December 2007, I was thrilled to see an item on the Internet announcing an open call for "SASUKE" applications. I knew the odds were against me, but I put together an application that focused on my athleticism, public service, and perseverance (bouncing back from three reconstructive shoulder surgeries). The initial feedback from the "SASUKE" producers was not promising, so I looked for another constructive way to spend my off-season from triathlons.

Michael Milner competing in a triathlon ©Michael Milner

I had recently read an article about parkour, which involves moving from point A to point B regardless of the obstacles in between, using a combination of running, vaulting, jumping, and climbing. All of that sounded like great training for "SASUKE" should I get an opportunity to compete at some point in the future.

Michael Milner competing in a triathlon ©Aaron Schwartzbard

That opportunity came much sooner than I had expected. During the final week of my parkour boot camp in late February 2008, I received a surprise e-mail from the "SASUKE" producers. They asked if I was still interested in participating and indicated that the competition would be taped on March 17th.

Michael Milner video as shown in the TBS Sasuke 20 broadcast (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

Even though I would be responsible for all travel arrangements and costs, I wasn't dissuaded, since this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Michael Milner video as shown in the TBS Sasuke 20 broadcast (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

I had to fill out an additional questionnaire for the producers, and then I waited. And waited. Because of the logistics of getting from Virginia to Japan a few days before the 17th, I decided that I absolutely had to get the green light from the "SASUKE" producers by the 10th.

Michael Milner video as shown in the TBS Sasuke 20 broadcast (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

On the morning of the 10th, I found that much-anticipated green light waiting in my in-box: "Congratulations! You are chosen for the next 'SASUKE'." After a bit of scrambling, I was able to find a somewhat reasonably priced flight to and from Japan that didn't necessitate a second mortgage or selling a redundant organ.

Michael Milner video as shown in the TBS Sasuke 20 broadcast (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

On the morning of the competition, my wife and I traveled to Midoriyama, the outdoor complex where "SASUKE" is taped. The producers gave a walk-through of the course, and presumably lower ranking staffers demonstrated the obstacles before the taping began. Unfortunately, I was assigned a low number, which meant I would go fairly early and not benefit from seeing a lot of other challengers' attempts.

Michael Milner tackling the Sextuple Step (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

The eight obstacles in the first stage were largely unchanged from the previous competition, but that's not necessarily a good thing: The last time, only 2 out of 100 challengers completed the first stage.

Michael Milner completing the Sextuple Steps (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

I hoped that my parkour training would help with the Warped Wall and Half-Pipe Attack, but I had to get through the dreaded Jumping Spider before then.

Michael Milner getting ready for the Log Grip (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

As I soon found out, even the "easy" obstacles were anything but, as challenger after challenger failed to advance very far.

Michael Milner completed the log grip and on his way to the Pole Maze (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

I knew that very few first-time challengers had ever cleared the first stage, but I considered myself a winner for even making it to the starting line.

Michael Milner in the Pole Maze (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

I just resolved to do my best and hopefully avoid embarrassing myself on international television. After the starting tone, I felt tunnel-vision creeping in, and sensory inputs from the outside world seemed to fade away.

Michael Milner competing in the Pole Maze (screenshot sent to Michael by a fan in Japan :D )

I was totally focused on the course, and autopilot quickly kicked in based on my frequent mental rehearsals.

Michael Milner completing the Pole Maze (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

And just like that, I was at the Jumping Spider. This fourth obstacle had foiled many elite challengers in the previous competition and required that I hit the mini-trampoline squarely in the sweet spot.

Michael Milner getting ready for the Jumping Spider (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

Otherwise, I would not have enough forward and upward velocity to catch myself between the two walls.

Michael Milner on the Jumping Spider (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

Did I mention that I'd never practiced on a mini-trampoline? I ran a few steps, hopped forward, jumped up, and then took a swim in the muddy water below.

Michael Milner swimming after the Jumping Spider (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

The instant replay clearly showed what went wrong: I hopped too far, landing on the mini-trampoline's padded border instead of the sweet spot. The laws of physics prevailed, and thus ended my first attempt to conquer "SASUKE."

Michael Milner replay of the feet on trampoline at the Jumping Spider (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

After a quick shower and change of clothes, I had a chance to meet a number of the more famous and recognizable "SASUKE" competitors. They were gracious and friendly, and the expected language barrier wasn't really much of a barrier, since we all understood the universal language of "SASUKE."

Michael Milner replay of the feet on trampoline at the Jumping Spider (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

I won't spoil the results for those who haven't seen the broadcast, but suffice it to say, "SASUKE" retains its reputation as the toughest obstacle course on television. I'm hoping to compete again on "SASUKE" later this year, and I've been busy surfing the Internet for a good deal on a mini-trampoline.

Michael Milner interview by TBS after his run at the Sasuke 20 course (screenshot provided by Lost in Ube)

Additional comments left on my blog which I also wanted to share:

I was able to meet the All-Stars and other frequent participants (Mr. Hang Glider, Mr. Octopus, etc.), and we did out best to bridge the language gap. They are all class-acts, gracious, and friendly. I brought along plenty of Special Agent pins and patches for my new friends, which they seemed to enjoy.

Michael Milner's wife, Special Agent Sasuke Michael Milner, Mr. Sasuke Katsumi Yamada ©Michael Milner

They have some porta-showers set up. Hot water, too! (that was a question I had always wanted to be asked LMAO!!!)

In a nutshell, I was notified on 3/10/08 that I'd been selected to compete on 3/17. Travel from Virginia to Japan on 3/14 over 3/15. The morning of was very hectic, and I didn't have a Japanese translator with me. I had a low number, so I didn't get a chance to relax or really get settled before my run. I was most concerned about the Jumping Spider, due to a complete lack of trampoline training, and my misstep there took me down. Overall, a fun and challenging experience.Thanks for the kind words. Hopefully, I did well enough and made a sufficiently favorable impression with the producers to earn an invite back in September (this time with a bit more advanced notice).

Michael Milner being interviewed by TBS ©Michael Milner

One of the TBS staffers spoke English and was very helpful, but she was juggling a million tasks at once. The G4 staffers were quite busy as well, but they seemed nice. They did a separate interview with me after my swim, so I have only good things to say about those folks. I know that one other non-Japanese (Read: Canadian), non-G4 competitor also had positive dealings with them.

One of my new Japanese fans posted it for me to view. Being my own harshest critic, I've dissected every step and misstep a million times over. I now know how the All-Stars feel when they apologize for letting everyone down and then vow to train harder and return.

Michael Milner jump on the Jumping Spider (screenshot sent to Michael by a fan in Japan :D )

Additional articles written about him and his experience:

Friday, May 16, 2008 - BelvoirEagle.com - Story written by Tamika Matthews - Belvoir home to its very own ‘Ninja Warrior’
Thursday, May 22, 2008 - BelvoirEagle.com - Story written by Tamika Matthews - Win or lose, Milner leaves Japanese television competition a champion

Again I want to thank Special Agent Sasuke Michael Milner for taking the time to send all this stuff to me so I can share with the rest of you guys :) Let's hope TBS gives him another chance to attack the course in Sasuke 21! If you feel compelled to do so, please email Monster 9 or TBS to ask them to please allow Michael to be reinvited again this year!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sasuke Maniac - May 18/19


Sasuke Maniac - A 1/2 hour show that runs every Sunday night (into Monday) on TBS in Japan featuring Monster 9 events. Today is part 2 of the Maguro Festival (Maguro = Tuna for those of you at home) that Nagano helped coordinate (at least his company's (Takasui) section). Part one is covered here by me and here by Ube. This week's Ube post can be found here. I returned to my trusty program to watch Japanese TV and enjoyed news and documentaries I can’t understand. :)

Title shot of Sasuke Maniac for this week! Part 2 of Maguro Festival - showing Day 1 of a shirtless Akiyama pwning the Shin-Cliffhanger.

A shirtless Kazuhiko Akiyama pwning the Shin-Cliffhanger in style..

Starting a little later than the last couple times the show started around 12:20 pm my time in the east coast USA. I was trying to use Cam Studio but it didn’t want to cooperate so I said .. screw it :p

The area in the Maguro Festival that had the Sasuke course. God I love the crazy animations they put in their posters.

Today is Sasuke 20 in the USA.. hope G4 doesn’t screw it up.. /sigh.. I’m almost afraid to figure out how much they are going to cut.. /cry… happy thoughts.. happy thoughts.. Anyway.. looking forward to seeing Shingo outside of Sasuke!

Dude.. you wouldn't BELIEVE the traffic.. Shingo Yamamoto making it late to the Maguro Festival.. still... iirc this is the very first off-Sasuke appearance... ever!

Today is supposed to be the 2nd part of the Festival.. they showed Shingo last week so I hope they show Bunpei. As I mentioned in last week's blog.. Nagano wasn't sure if either of them were going to be able to make it.

(Nagano: Dangit.. I can never get off of doing some sort of administration.. 2 +2 equals..) Oh wait.. Yamada, Takeda and Akiyama spots Yamamoto in the distance.

Ew.. that freaky bobblehead commercial again.. the freaky marionettes… Yay they started! Okay.. title is of Akiyama clearing the Shin-Cliffhanger in style without a shirt to a wowed crowd! They show the area where they are having the festival and talk to the guys for a while.

Duuuuuuuude.. everyone already lined up to greet Yamamoto.

Finally they show Shingo Yamamoto arriving to the second day of the Maguro Festival (he lives in Tokyo).. apparently late since the guys were already there from the day before.

Herro! Sorry sorry.. just got here! (Shingo waves to the his friends as the crowd looks on)

As Shingo arrives the guys who are lined up either to do registration or get ready for autographs.. or.. just set there because they can.. see him coming in from the distance. He walks over and high-fives everyone.

Shingo high-fives everyone as Nagano grabs his hand at the end (Dude.. you are soooooo gonna pay :p Thanks for comin' man..)

They do the prerequisite interviews and such with Shingo and the guys talking about.. er.. iono.. Read Ube's blog.. I'm here for the scenery :p

Shingo hanging around just talking to interviewer.

Looks like they are recapping some of Day One's highlights... if that crazy lady wasn't embarrassed before.. TBS is going to show her again to show how really schizoid this nutjob is...

Crazy psycho-hosebeast (who wants to marry Nagano) juuuuuust before she goes mental.. taking picture with Nagano (L) and Takeda (R) (see part 1 of the blog to understand this picture more..)

Next they go through this long intro of this guy who's apparently REALLY into Sasuke and has mailed countless letters and videos and stuff to TBS about wanting to participate. Video of him in Muscle Park.. I guess he didn't fare well in the prelims.. so I guess they are going to give him a chance here at the Festival in front of cameras and the All-stars.

Some guy who is serious about Sasuke doing the meditation under waterfall thing.. is he whiter than the water?

He's doing pretty good considering the Pipe Slider doesn't .. glide.. it's sorta pipe.. grinder.. have to get the stupid pole to slide a little bit.. then hop over the connections where they meet up with other poles..

Dude that sucks! Toshihiro laughing at Mr. training-under-waterfall-guy's death by Shin-Cliffhanger.

Poor guy doesn't make it past the Shin-Cliffhanger and Toshihiro thinks that's just the bomb.. Next is a bunch of other people failing in the exact same spot (to the delight of the All-Stars who think all of this is a hoot!)

Meeting of the minds.. sorta.. "er.. what do you want to do?" "Iono"...

Looks like the guys are deliberating over something.. Iono.. I guess they are deciding what to do next.. OH! Ube says they are deciding that they are going to make this into a time-trial on TOP of trying to one-up each other.. boys will be boys..

Meeting of the minds.. sorta.. part deux.. "okay.. race then?" "er.. sure.. "

LOL I love Ube's Maguro Festival Mock-SASUKE Obstacle Course of Doom and Destruction title for this event.. They go through the introductions as each of them climbs waaaaaaaaaay up high to wave to the crowd as their name is called.

Toshihiro waving at the crowd as he's being introduced for the All-Star rumble... wait.. Ube had a better idea.. Maguro Festival Mock-SASUKE Obstacle Course of Doom and Destruction!

Okay this is really freaky.. they are not being supported by anything.. OH and I'm afraid of heights.. so help me no one better fall.. oh crap.. Akiyama who's practically blind has serious cojones to be the first going up there.. he seems to be having a ball :) Nice to see him smiling :) (My picture came out blurry for his part so it's not shown).

Dude that's a long-ass name.. Maguro Festival Mock-SASUKE Obstacle Course of Doom and Destruction.. wtf is that? Shingo laughing as he's introduced to the crowd.

Shingo seems to be having an attack of the giggles as he wimps out and doesn't do the whole up-the-friggin'-pole-to-say-hello thing.. Toshihiro was next.. or was the other way around.. oh I don't care.. I think Mr. SASUKE Spray.. er.. Yamada was next.. Nagano's intro of course is the longest and he just teeters in the wind.. oy.. going to throw up...

Nagano being introduced to the crowd.. Dude's like barely stable up there.. I don't want to look..

Kazuhiko Akiyama is the first to go on the Maguro Festival Mock-SASUKE Obstacle Course of Doom and Destruction! The course starts at the pipe.. grinder.. er.. Pipe Slider.. then around the corner as they climb up to the Jumping Bars.. then around the corner to a mock Jump Hang where they catch the pole and go around to the Shin-Cliffhanger where they hop down and finish. Not entirely sure if there is a finish line.. I guess when they hop down?

Okie dokie.. Now for this stupid trampoline... Akiyama's first up in the Maguro Festival Mock-SASUKE Obstacle Course of Doom and Destruction!

He's doing great! Goes through the course - Pipe Slider.. around corner.. Jumping Bars.. around corner Trampoline to the psedu Jump Hang.. pole thing.. climb pole to get to Shin-Cliffhanger. C'mon.. just like yesterday.. up.. and oveeeeeeerrrrrr.. gah.. down he goes.. he's just in a fit of laughter!

Akiyma: I sooooooo had that yesterday.. I guess I can't do it with my shirt on!

As Akiyama is the first to get pwned by the Shin-Cliffhanger everyone just laughs with him. We all know he beat it yesterday.. but.. awww well.. he did a great run up to that point. He's in giggling fits in the mat as everyone around him is laughing and cheering.

Akiyama: Dude.. the tip of my fingers.. gah.. I had it .. I HAD it.. LOL

Akiyama gets the prerequisite interview afterwards.. he's still giggling from his defeat. At least they are having fun :)

Akiyama: Yeah.. we all know I was the first to defeat it yesterday.. and I was bad-ass lookin' too :P We all know I have style.. yeah.. I pwn :)

Next is Shingo Yamamoto's turn. He's giggling even before he starts! Okay.. he's off! Doing a little faster than Akiyama.. stupid pipe grind..

Yamamoto rocking the Pipe.. grinder..

He's doing well going up the Jumping Bars.. then.. turns.. a sharp left.. er.. uh.. he's totally bypassing the Jump Hang.. LOL!!!!!!

Okay.. to Shin Cliff-hanger..

Nagano is sooooooo not going to let him slide.. he screams at Yamamoto to go back and redo the last section...

Nagano: Hey MORON.. you cut the course in half! Cheater!!!

Shingo just giggles his way back to the part he screwed up and goes for the Jump Hang.. pole.. thingie..

Yamamoto: Doh.. this is embarrasing! Who's the one that's blind???

Shingo does the Jump Hang on a tilt so he can cut off time.. LOL I love this guy but he is soooooo not graceful! LOL I call it to "Shingo" the course.. you know.. to scrap your way through the course as ugly as you can.. completed.. but still leaving body parts all over the course.. right leg under a bar.. fingers still hanging on to another pole.. his hair trapped beneath something.. his spleen attached to some other obstacle.. and his remaining finger touching the red button LOL Nobody ever said he was the fastest, strongest, smoothest, or graceful.. he's all sheer willpower!

Ah yes.. I see Yamamoto is "Shingo'ing" his way through the course.. again..

Anyway back to this competition.. He gets to the cliffhanger and .. DOWN he goes.. then again.. in a hysterical fit of laughter!

Yamamoto: This is so not fair.. I had no training on this stupid thing.. I can't believe to totally botched this course!!

What follows next is a myriad of shots of everyone in laughing fits. Apparently the combination of him being a dufus and going the wrong way and then albatrossing the Cliffhanger was just way too much fun for everyone watching.. and everyone involved LOL

Duuuude that was funny! (Nagano cracking up in the foreground while Takeda is clapping Shingo's misfortune in the background)

Lot of pictures of everyone laughing.. doubling over in laughter.. clapping.. outright gasping for air in a fit of giggles.. I'm laughing at home myself!

Akiyama is happy he's not the only one who botched the Shin Cliffhanger!

Prerequisite interview of the loser.. Shingo is still laughing.. I mean.. CACKLING in laughter.. he's probably embarrassed out of his mind .. but still it's all in good fun.

Yamamoto: Did you see that?? Holy crap!

Meanwhile back at the starting gate.. Yamada looks like he's going to his funeral.. All goes tense as Mr. SASUKE Katsumi Yamada gets ready for his run.. Meanwhile I can almost FEEL Ube grinning going "what is he going to botch and bitch this time?" Sorry Ube.. I'm channeling you too.. I'm thinking he'll at least get to the Cliffhanger.. if not taking his sweet time...

Yamada: So help me.. if I fail this stupid thing I'm friggin' retiring for real..

Yamada can't possibly go slower can he? He is taking his time.. methodical the man is.. granted.. the part he's messed up in the last couple Sasuke's.. is coming right up.. Doesn't have walls though.. he should be fine..

Concentrate... Concentrate.. can't have these yahoos have all the fun..

Dudes taking his time.. I mean seriously taking his time but he's not making a single mistake.. Then inexplicably.. he stops.. looks like he's talking to Nagano or something.. he's wasting time as he prepares mentally to tackle the Cliffhanger..

Yamada: Crap.. I have to do this now.. right? Can't I just pose for a second? I AM Mr. SASUKE after all.. I'm all about image..

He's still swinging.. no wait.. there was no commercial.. wait for it.. still swinging.. he's going to jump.. oh come on already.. you are going to fall ... just get it over with!

Yamada gets ready to Jump the second span.. okay.. he's swinging around alot.. it's like 7-8 seconds long..

HOLY FRIGGIN' CRAP! HE ACTUALLY DID IT! WOW.. I think everyone is in a collective stage of shock! I'm gawking at the screen.. wow..

Sweet Moses.. Yamada FRIGGIN' DID IT! He actually beat the Cliffhanger and clocked!

Yep.. everyone is in a total state of shock! Then the all erupt in applause as even Mr. SASUKE himself is a bit surprised as how well he did! He looks almost embarrassed! If that's even possible....

WOW!!! Just.. WOW!!! Akiyama and Yamamoto are utterly amazed as Yamada pwned the Shin-Cliffhanger!


More pictures of everyone in shock.. I'm still sitting here going .. aww man.. he's going to be unbearable.. he's coming back to Sasuke 21 with a VENGEANCE now!

HOLY FRIGGIN' CRAP! (Takeda background and Nagano foreground)

Nagano looks the most surprised out of all of them LOL!! That's just sweet! I'm sure he had a bet or something.. c'mon.. who didn't?!?!

YEAH! Takeda and Nagano clapping Mr. SASUKE's success!

Katsumi now all smiles after his run talks to the interviewer and just sucks up all the love from the audience who is still in shock as to what just transpired.

Katsumi sheepishly acknowledging the crowd I secretly wonder if he was utterly worried about today.. he's been really serious the past couple of days.. he can finally relax now.

Seems like they are interviewing everyone now about how they are going to do (Meaning Takeda and Nagano). Oh! Yamada's winning time 50''91 (Just under a minute).

Big smile from Yamada who's quite pleased with himself as Akiyama and Yamamoto look on.

Takeda is next in the starting blocks. If I know my little spikey boy wonder.. he's not going to take this lying down.. he's a friggin' competitor.. I'm getting shades of Sasuke 11.. or was it 13 where he was interviewed at the end of his Stage 1 blistering run as to whether or not he was going for the best time.. "A little" :D Yep.. he ain't competitive or nothing..

Nagano: Awww crap.. that means I have to beat the stupid thing.. great.. thanks a lot Mr. SASUKE.. dangit.. that means I lost my bet too...

Toshihiro.. dude.. he's got a totally determined look on his face... as soon as the signal is given.. he's BLOWING through the course...

Takeda starts his run on the Pipe Slider as Nagano is already giving him tips on how to hold the bar.. er.. Nagano... dude.. he already knows :p

Someone set his pants on fire.. he's FLYING!!!!!!! He's blowing Yamada's run out of the water.. heck.. everyone else up to this point.. dude.. look at his time!!!!!!!!

Takeda PWNING the course.. check out his time!!!

Clears first 3 obstacles.. on to the Cliffhanger.. won't mean jack if you don't pass this dude..

Takeda on a mission.. I will not lose.. I will not lose.. I must have best time..

I think he only swung on it once.. was it? He's FLYING through the Shin Cliffhanger.. up up and???

Takeda is next to pwn the Shin-Cliffhanger as he does it in RECORD time..

WHOOT! He made it! Wow.. he's got the best time.. by more than twice!!!!! WOW (Yamada must be pissed LOL)


Takeda dismounting the course 30 seconds faster that Yamada...

Now follows a display of bravado I haven't seen in a long time. Takeda is mighty pleased with himself LOL He's pumping fists and screaming and hollering as he finishes with an awesome time!

Takeda: WHO DA MAN?!?!... YEEEHAW!

LOL that hotdog is still parading around as everyone is amazed at how easy he made that course look!

Nagano: Aww crap.. freakin' hotdog had to show me up.. alright.. alright.. I got your number..

Meanwhile.. Nagano must be feeling even more pressure.. I mean.. he designed this course after all.. LOL Wow.. I don't want to be feeling what Nagano is feeling now...

Yamada (center): Well damn.. that just pisses me off... way to go hot shot! (Yamamoto (L) .. looks like Takeda (R) getting ready to see Nagano try to outdo him)

Yamada still from the high of beating the course.. irregardless of time.. is still pretty satisfied and actually smiling after Takeda kicks his butt...

Nagano: Son of a ... fine.. okay.. blazing fast.. no pressure or anything.. nah.. why are they calling my name so loudly.. and like a friggin' prize fight..

Now of course Nagano has to compete.. yeah.. his name is called.. NAGANO MAKOTOOOOOOOOOOOOO.. I mean.. it sounds like he's being introduced in a coliseum!

Nagano hauling his puny butt accross the course as fast as he possibly can...

He's giggling in the beginning but as soon as the time starts.. his smile dissapears and starts to FLY through the course...

Showing more of the course so all of you at home can see what the course looked like.. this is right after the Pipe Slider.. you turn right.. and start climbing..

Everything looking good so far.. seems like he's doing better already.. not sure.. I'm sure somene at home is paying attention to how fast they are tackling each section.. I look forward to that :)

Nagano climbing to get to the top of the Jumping Bars.

Still doing well as the crowd at this point is chanting Na-ga-no.. Na-ga-no... he's not slowing down for anything at this point.

Nagano across the Jumping bars..

Still going strong.. c'mon.. beat Yamada LOL So help me I'll swallow a canary if he falls off the Cliffhanger LOL

Nagano went around.. did the jump hang (Behind him) to the pole.. then immediately climbing across to get to the Shin Cliff Hanger.

About to get on the Cliffhanger.. Dude is totally up to corner.. I don't think you can get away with that in the real one.. actually .. I think you can.. hmm.. I can smell the comparison tapes...

Nagano going as far as his hands can get to get across the Shin Cliff hanger.. because he'll be damned if Takeda beats him...

YES! He made it.. LOL and TBS took down his time.. we are now getting he's neck and neck with Takeda to build some suspense.. bastards..

Nagano pwns the cliffhanger.. and if you noticed.. they are not showing his time....

He's almost done.. I'm sure a huge weight lifted as he dismounts and can't see his time.. did I beat him? I'm sure he's thinking that right now..

Nagano dismounts the cliffhanger to get to the end to stop the time which right now is withheld from the audience...

Okay.. time for TBS to build suspense.. no one can see the time.. they know he was close.. so.. what's going to happen? They are going to drag it out that's what..

Holy crap this is close! Wtf is up with the suspense? Takeda and Nagano are freaking out to figure out who's first..

Everyone going through fits of laughter as they all wait to find out who won the pissing match between friends!

Tension builds as Akiyama and Yamamoto wait to hear who wins today!

Waiting.. waiting.. Takeda's time was 20''87.. what would Nagano's time be? Could he beat that time??

And the winner of the Maguro Festival Mock-SASUKE Obstacle Course of Doom and Destruction is... TAKEDA!!!!!!! Nagano can't take it and starts to fall over in laughter!

21"20!!!! Nagano was short! Toshihiro Takeda wins!!!!! Pandemonium has insued! Nagano drops to the ground!

Takeda enjoys the moment while Nagano collapses in defeat! LOL

We're talking real wrath of God type of things.. like real Old testament stuff here.. Rivers and seas boiling.. Cats and Dogs.. living together.. Mass Hysteria! Sorry.. got carried away here with Ghostbusters :p

Nagano can't take it and drops to the ground in a fit of giggles.

This is hysterical.. Poor Nagano can't BELIEVE his misfortune by losing by .37 of a second!!!!! You have GOT to be kidding me!

Takeda: HAIL TO THE KING BABY!

Meanwhile Toshihiro is prancing around like the new King of the World LOL. I don't remember him being THIS outgoing LOL. It's just a fun thing to see :)

Slow-mo of Nagano collapsing in the nets

Nagano having kittens.. LOL

They keep showing Nagano drop to the ground in hysterical fits as Toshihiro is dancing and flexing to the crowd! LOL

Takeda prancing around like a peacock after his win!

Meanwhile they change to talking to the guys (after the festival) and apparently they are thinking of Bunpei still recovering at home.. Speaking of Bunpei Shiratori..

Meanwhile we are walking up a small road in a tiny mountain town in Chiba, Japan...

We take a trip to see his house that has become famous and called the Shiratori Shrine thanks to the 19+ obstacles he has put in his backyard.

Where we see Bunpei Shiratori cleaning up his shrine to Sasuke.

A very somber looking Bunpei is speaking something I cannot understand.. wish someone translated it for me so I can put it here :(

A very solemn Bunpei missing both Sasuke 20 and the Maguro Festival due to a serious back injury.

Nice to see him running around again. The last video of him back in March, 2008 from his home he was sitting down in a rocking chair.. I seriously hope he's back by Sasuke 21.. I pray for his health! WE MISS YOU BUNPEI!!!!!!

Bunpei getting his strength up jogging in the local park.

Back at the festival the guys are getting gifts.. apparently Toshihiro broke open his and showed everyone LOL. Each has freshly frozen chunks of Maguro.. wow.. don't even want to know the market value on that sucker..

Takeda (bottom): So.. I wasn't supposed to open my prezzie now? I just totally took off the protective strip.. oops..

The last bit was something funny both Ube and I saw.. Enjoy! Dunno what's up for next week so if this is it for a while have a great summer!

Nagano being interviewed at the end of the Festival.. note the sequence of pictures coming up..

Perplexed Nagano thinking of something smart to say while this little girl just noticed a television camera!!!

Hey Mom!! I'm on TV!!!! Little girl is showing up Nagano in his interview LOL

And that's it folks! Sorry it took me so long.. I had waaaaaaaaaay too much fun with these pictures this week! Had to sift through 436 pictures.. As usuall.. my previous Sasuke related posts can always be accessed through the tags under Sasuke or Sasuke Mania ;)

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