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Monday, June 20, 2016

Sasuke 32 Airdate Announced + Other related news

Edit: Added YouTube Vlog at the end of the blog.
As I mentioned before, Sasuke 32 has officially been taped and we finally have a confirmed date of airing on television. The Official Sasuke Facebook and the Official Sasuke Twitter accounts confirmed the date for the television broadcast of Sasuke 32 on TBS (Tokyo Broadcast Systems) in Japan.  Director Inui has been working some mad hours trying to finish on time considering that cameras lost footage for several hours and they had to work with backup tapes.  So the official date is July 3rd after all with a time of 18:30 Japan Standard Time.  They also added the 1 hour preview time and the 30 minute version!  Usually we have to dig for that information.  So as of this blog it is a week and a half away! For those who ask every year, SMF handles all live streaming inquiries.

SASUKE 2016 - Navi (Preview show)
Sunday, July 2, 2016
15:00 JST (3:00 PM local time in Japan)
15:00-15:54 so just under 1 hour long 
Station: TBS (Japan)
2:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time) (SATURDAY Morning)
11:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time) (FRIDAY Night)

Additional time conversion
30 minute version of Preview Show with possible "Easter Eggs"
Sunday, July 3, 2016
26:53 JST (2:53 AM local time in Japan)
1:53 PM (Eastern Daylight Time) (SATURDAY Afternoon)
10:53 AM (Pacific Daylight Time) (SATURDAY Morning)

Champion Banners at Sasuke 32 ©Masato Inui

SASUKE 2016 - (Sasuke 32) TOURNAMENT
Sunday, July 3, 2016
18:30 JST (6:30 PM local time in Japan)
18:30-21:48 so just over 3 hours long 
Station: TBS (Japan)
5:30 AM (Eastern Daylight Time) (SUNDAY Morning)
2:30 AM (Pacific Daylight Time) (SUNDAY Morning)

Additional time conversion

Nico Nico broadcast from 2015

Sunday, July 3, 2016
18:00 JST (6:00 PM local time in Japan)
18:00-22:00 so approximately 4 hours long 
Station: Nico Nico (Streaming service in Japan)
5:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time) (SUNDAY Morning)
2:00 AM (Pacific Daylight Time) (SUNDAY Morning)

Fair warning for those who never watched a Sasuke broadcast.. that 6:30-7PM half hour has a LOT of commercials... so be prepared for that!  The preview show (or "Navi"/Navigational) is a preview show that sometimes has runs that are cut from the main broadcast. This is where they do the majority of the personal segments and fluff pieces.  Considering that Makoto Nagano is retiring after this tournament I would suspect a good portion of that would be to say goodbye to him.  And the Nico Nico broadcast should be the same as always where you stare at the guys watching the show (the show itself is not shown just that room as pictured above) as they offer commentary in Japanese. I don't think I need to say this but previous years have taught me otherwise.. All broadcasts listed on this page are entirely in Japanese with no subtitles. This is the official Japanese airing for the Japanese audience live as it airs in Japan.
Sasuke 32's Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger ©Masato Inui
Previous blog had the photos of the brand new obstacles for Sasuke 32's partial renewal tournament.  A "Renewal" indicates revamping the course because the previous version was defeated  by a Grand Champion. In this case it was Yuusuke Morimoto 森本 裕介 who defeated Sasuke 31 becoming only the 4th man in 19 years to have ever conquered the Steel Castle.  Sadly, as I indicated in this month's Final Stage Podcast, Morimoto could not attend the 32nd tournament.  I'll do a full post on Sasuke 31 (including my own photos) AFTER I finish the Sasuke 32 Spoilerific Review which will be of the TBS broadcast. I'm thinking mid-late July at the earliest.

One of the TBS YouTube channels posted 5 videos in preview of Sasuke 32.  These videos were all taken before the taping of Sasuke 32 in May, 2016.  The videos were taken by none other than Sasuke All-star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己 who now retired is continuing to promote Sasuke.  He gives his advice on "How to Sasuke" in this video.  Given his clothing.. this was taken Friday, May 27 just before checking into the same hotel I was in. LOL!!

The other 4 videos took advantage of the 360 technology.  You can watch the video and toggle up, down, left or right to see more of what he sees.  There are 4 videos in total.  Stage 1, Stage 2 and 3, Final Stage and a compilation.  While I appreciate the videos.. I'm not too keen on 360 technology that is not from a fixed boom.  The shakiness of someone holding it can be jarring. That said if you pause it a lot to look around it may not be as vomit inducing.  Again, I'm thankful that there were full course coverage but the 360 technology is not my thing. I had the same sickness problem when I saw Team Ninja Warrior do the same thing.

Totally rocking farmer's tans! (Tomo, Kanno, Shingo, Hioki, Yuuji and Ryo) ©Masato Inui

Finally, just yesterday from this post the Sasuke stars listed above appeared on stage on a small production promoting Sasuke at a local music festival!  This was held the weekend of June 18-19, 2016 in Japan.

Sasuke stars, Director Inui and Yatsui Festival stars backstage ©Yatsuiichiro

This was the first time they have appeared at this event.  It was nice to see them interacting with a live crowd!  It was a way to promote the show's just announced air date (it was tweeted just hours before they appeared on stage).

Director Inui on microphone as Hioki plays with the crowd ©Mayumi Hioki

This was a cute photo taken by Masashi Hioki's wife Mayumi.  She's in the crowd taking an awesome photo of her husband on stage during the music festival.

Yatsui Festival stage prop ©Donburimc

There were a few obstacles that they had on stage including the Salmon Ladder and the Crazy Cliffhanger Jump.
Crowd photo from the stage point of view ©Yatsuiichiro

It was a rare opportunity for a captive audience to not only hear about the airdate of the show but to interact and see the stars perform on stage.  I hope they do more of this stuff in the future. It also helps to introduce fans to the new stars of the show.

Yuuji doing the Crazy Cliffhanger jump ©Yatsuiichiro

As a side note that is worth noting, all of the stars were still in Japan during this weekend which also meant that Japan was not present during the taping of USA vs. World in Las Vegas/ANW 8.  Needless to say I won't be doing a blog about that when it airs as Team Japan was not present.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sasuke related updates - Obstacles, Documentary, Podcast, etc

The last photo of all 6 All-Stars at Midoriyama - Sasuke 32 ©Shingo Yamamoto

As you know, Sasuke 32 has taped.  We now anxiously await the announcement of the official Air Date that as of this post has not been made available. The only clue we have is that it will happen during the month of July, 2016. Beyond that is pure speculation.  Trust me, when we have a date announced, I will be posting it here.  In the meantime, above is the last photo of all 6 All-Stars together in Midoriyama. This was to commemorate the retirement of the legendary Grand Champion and Sasuke All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠. Yes, you read that right. He is now retired from competition from Sasuke.
Sasuke All-Star Bunpei Shiratori 白鳥文平©Kung-Cheen Howng

As I mentioned before, there is a documentary being filmed ("Finding Midoriyama") over the past year on Sasuke and more importantly, it's competitors.  Time and logistics permitting, the documentary crew is going all around the world to interview as many Sasuke/Ninja Warrior competitors as possible. Recently they returned to Japan to interview a rare competitor... the elusive Sasuke All-Star Bunpei Shiratori 白鳥文平.  Having finally met him during Sasuke 32's taping, I can assure you that the inclusion of the man I refer to as "The Gentleman" will be something to look forward to. Thank you Bunpei for sharing his thoughts on Sasuke and welcoming everyone to your home in Chiba Prefecture.

Grand Champion and Sasuke All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Just a couple of weeks ago, Nagano had his interview completed.  This was taken at the hotel he was staying at during the taping of Sasuke.  Massive thanks to Nagano for figuring out a way to get the interview done while he was in town for the tournament.  This interview was done before his final run at Sasuke.  You can keep up with the latest progress of who's being interviewed on the official Facebook for Finding Midoriyama.

Graphic for Episode 14
A couple days ago I added the latest episode to the Final Stage Podcast website.  Thanks to William for editing the podcast and hosting it on the sites. This month's episode was a difficult one to record as we had tech issues. However, thanks to the hard work from William.. you'd never know the conversation was interrupted many times.  Thanks so much!  The episode covers the ANW All-Star Special and NON-Spoiler review of Sasuke 32 but more importantly my trip to Japan that was funded by all of you who participated in the IndieGogo campaign. All of our previous podcasts are officially up on iTunes and on the hosting site of Podbean in addition to William's YouTube channel (with handy List of all Episodes)

 Quad Step/Rolling Hill Climb combo ©Masato Inui

Thanks to Sasuke Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 we got official pictures of a few of the new obstacles.  The steps should look VERY familiar to those who follow my blogged way back when..

ANW2 Quad Steps in Venice Beach ©G4TV
Yes.. The steps should look familiar.. ehem ♥  either way the black thing on the Quad Steps/Rolling Hill combo (btw they are 2 separate obstacles - there is just no break between them) is a safety floating mat to prevent people from sliding underneath the Rolling Hill.

Tie Fighter (Yes that is the real name and yes it is officially licensed) ©Masato Inui 

Up next replacing the Log Grip is something that when I first arrived and saw it from a distance I kept telling myself "nah.. they'd never call it the Tie Fighter.. Disney would sue them..".. Sure enough, the official name IS the Tie Fighter and yes they got permission to use the name! LOL Inui posted a Video of obstacle in motion.

 Music Box ©Masato Inui

 Music Box is back with minor alterations making it a lot more dangerous obstacle.
Double Pendulum in Sasuke 32 ©Masato Inui

New obstacle should look familiar to American Ninja Warrior fans.  As someone who wasn't in Los Angeles to see this in the regional.. this was brand new to me.  It's called the Double Pendulum.

Tick Tock in American Ninja Warrior Season 8 ©NBC (Screenshot)

This is the sister obstacle but with differences.  The ANW version has a chain/trapeze entrance from a solid surface.  The dismount also has a cargo net you can hold on to if you miss the platform.

Double Pendulum in Sasuke 32 ©Masato Inui
The Sasuke version has a mini tramp onto the old Giant Swing (solid bar and rigging) obstacle that goes to a more.. cushioned pendulum and no cargo net to save you on the landing.

Yoshida on Conveyor Belt ©Masato Inui

Returning in the Second Stage is the Conveyor belt.  Shoutout to tester Yoshida. I hope some day he can run the course as a competitor. /sigh
Conveyor Belt (Left) - Wall lifting (Right) ©Masato Inui 

You can see the *&*%(& backstream in the back before the conveyor and onto Wall Lifting that got a mechanical change.

Drum Hopper ©Masato Inui

Greeting everyone in the 3rd Stage is the return of the Drum Hopper.. except the Drums are modified.  Each hop is 10 cm (4 inches) higher than the one before.

 Drum Hopper ©Masato Inui

Daytime pic from Inui's phone on the startline.  Here you can see the hops getting higher and higher.

Flying Bar ©Masato Inui

We have the Flying Bar back in action in the 3rd Stage.  Yes they are missing one of the rungs. That's probably because they needed the space for the rest of the stage.

Sidewinder R Kai ©Masato Inui

As you can read from the descriptions.. Sidewinder R Kai is modified to include a huge change.. now they drop 60 cm (about 24 inches or 2 feet).

Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger ©Masato Inui

And the one photo everyone freaked out about.  This is the new Cliffhanger in Japan.  There are two jumps and the 2nd jump is onto a moving (mechanized) ledge that goes up and down (on a motor) 90 cm (or 3 feet).

Vertical Limit ©Masato Inui

With no breaks it goes directly onto the modified Vertical Limit. This one has 3 ledges..

Pipe Slider ©Masato Inui

After defeating the Vertical Limit you hoist yourself up to the green bar of safety™ and then tackle the Pipe Slider to complete the Third Stage.

Final Stage ©Masato Inui

This was the original photo that most people saw of the Final Stage without really realizing what it was that they were looking at.

Fourth Stage/Final Stage Tower - Sasuke 32 ©Masato Inui

Yep.. You are looking at the first 3 Stage Final Stage Tower. It is taller at 25 meters (82 feet).  It is comprised of an 8 meter (26 feet) Spider Climb, then 7 meter (23 feet) Salmon Ladder (Approximately 20 rungs) then a 10 meter (33 feet) Rope Climb.
Champion Banners at Sasuke 32 ©Masato Inui
Once the airdate becoming available I'll definitely post it!  Having seen the event, what awaits you is an unpredictable and exciting tournament!  I can't wait for July!
Sasuke All-star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己 and Perry Oosterlee Representative from the Netherlands ©Arsenette

As I mentioned in the podcast I was surprised to find out that our group ended up booking in the same hotel as 2 of the All-Stars!  The night before Sasuke was the unexpected running into of Mr. Sasuke himself!  Perry was running the course the following day.
Grand Champion and Sasuke All Star Kazuhiko Akiyama 秋山和彦 and (me) Arsenette Reiter ©Arsenette

I found out in the morning (when I met Akiyama) that they were in town for a special they were doing.  They got to run the course I was told as part of a cross promotion bit for Sasuke on another network. 
Lo and behold a few weeks later I found out it was for a show called Suiyobi Downtown (Wednesday Downtown).  The Show aired on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 (yes.. today). I'm not screen capping the whole thing but this should give you an idea of the show on the Sasuke portion which was a total of about 15 minutes of the 2 hour show.

The show was also promoting Super Mario Maker.  You had the option of choosing to either compete on the obstacle on Sasuke or clear the stage on Mario maker.

You had to do 4 of the obstacles and 4 of the video game courses. You could choose which ones you wanted to tackle.  The limit is 4 though so you had to choose wisely.

They showed the Mario maker stage along with the corresponding course that you could choose which was the Quad Steps.

Just like in Sasuke the stage was tied together to the Rolling Hill so that was considered 1 full section to choose.

The second area was the Tie Fighter. Should you chose the Mario maker stage instead, this is the path they were showing you had to complete.

The third area was the Music Box.  This was the corresponding Mario Maker stage.

The fourth area is the new obstacle that starts with a trampoline. This is the Double Pendulum. 

 And this is the corresponding Mario Maker stage.

The fifth area is the Tackle (first confirmed here btw) and it's corresponding Mario Maker Stage.

Warped Wall is next along with it's corresponding Mario Maker Stage.

Tarzan Rope is next which connects to the next area.

Which is the Lumberjack Climb.

So the trick here is to wisely choose between the physical course you think you can clear or if you have video game skills to try to clear that course instead.  A combination of the two within the time limit will give you the clear.

Here are our four challengers

For now this may be a placeholder since I don't know what his name is.

This was taped on Friday, May 27 which was still quite rainy and judging by the course.. quite swampy.  The tournament itself was not taped until the following day. Most of the standing pools of water dried up leaving a lot of muddy spots. But for this event.. it was quite muddy.

He chooses poorly.. and quickly fails the first obstacle on Mario Maker.

Yamada offering his wisdom as they laugh at how much the guy is complaining about failing.

Up next is another .. wait.. I can read some of that kanji.. That's definitely Yamamoto something..

he meets the same fate..

both fail at the exact same place on Mario Maker.

I think I've seen him before.. 

that's definitely registering on the wedgistrator™

more comments from the peanut gallery!

Up next is a boy band guy

Yep.. another Golden Bomber member. We are up to 3/4 that competed in Sasuke right?

 He clears the first obstacles on Mario Maker!

Notice that they set up stations for the video games along the side of the course

Mr. Sasuke watching..

hmm .. I can't tell from the quality of the video.. but I think that's Cliffer #5 on the Tie Fighter.. I know he was one of the testers but I can't tell if this was him or not.

Bomber chooses Mario Maker and clears it!

really does look like Keitaro from the potato footage I have..

He says screw it on doing the Music box as well..

He clears the Mario Maker equivalent!

he now has to make a decision. He can only choose the video game 1 more time and should he pass it he has to do everything else physically.

here's video of the double pendulum

For those who watched ANW8 - this should look a bit familiar.

he chooses to do this (since he seems to have not wanted to do the wall leaving the video game for that).

But he totally geronimo's and misses the Giant Swing bar entirely.

He's much better at video games!

The hosts laughing at him visualize the run in front of the camera.

They are fast forwarding the woman.

She seems to have cleared the first stage in the game

and the second!

She decides to try the Music Box instead of the video game.

Nope.. not even close..

She also regrets her decision

Scoping out the chick..

more comments from the peanut gallery

Oh.. they call him HG now? That's totally Hard Gay.. I recognize him LOL
Razor Ramon Hard Gay レイザーラモンHG
Damn he's 40 years old now?

one footing the steps..

almost takes a header and holds himself up

perfect landing on the rolling hill and he stops completely..

very carefully going up and over..

he chooses the Mario Maker equivalent for the Tie Fighter and clears!

Decides on the Music Box instead

Nope.. they fixed that up top so you can't ride too far along it this year..

somewhere Inui is pitching a fit about someone on the course with glasses. LOL  HG kept his glasses AND his hat on.  he's got skills!

So the 6 talento didn't clear now for the vets!

Grand Champion and Sasuke All Star Kazuhiko Akiyama 秋山和彦

Well I was curious how he'd do on this course.. here's my chance!

but wait.. there's a fluff piece!

back in the last century.. he became the first Sasuke champion!

Reminder of his visual impairment.. wait.. did they totally blur out box lady because this is old footage? AHAHHAHAHAHAHA

Yes! They totally did!  This is when he starts to cry saying Thank You for letting him compete in Sasuke!

okay.. this is an epic shot.. I love the cinematography..

he's not much into video games.. he's just getting to figuring out how to make it jump..

Yay he's smiling!

nooooooo he's one footing it and totally facedives!

and the reason why there's a floating pad now. So they can gently recover in the water.


The more I look at it the more it makes sense for that black pad to be there.

LOL He's totally cracking up already

He can't help but laugh right now

There's Yamada again commenting LOL

The hell was that?

0 people have cleared.. time for..

Sasuke All-star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己
the crybaby... trust me.. he's known for this.. welcome to how Japan still sees him

He's one of the loud ones. He's been harping about Yamada since this whole thing started.  Remember that Yamada has a .. reputation in Japan long before us foreigners have even been introduced to the show.  So it's inevitable that they start making fun of him immediately.

Right on cue.. you see Yamada in the distance running for the camera.

He's 50 now and still doing well milking it for the camera. It has been 20 years.. he's a pro at it.

Speaking of pro.. he's training on the video game

and good at it

and milking it again.. he kanzenseiha'ed so he's ready

he's saying how far he can go.. lol he didn't say anything past the wall..

For those wanting to see how he would do on this course.. Yamada is up next..

single stepping the quad steps..

and FACE plant...

Oh.. worse geronimo than Akiyama.. he meant this one..

HG snickers and everyone starts laughing

LOL HG and Akiyama have a moment of laughter together

He's feeling sheepish right now after all that trash talking! LOL

Nobody cleared!

Sasuke 難しいです
Sasuke is difficult!

and.. Yamada again is the punchline to the joke..

They go on about how Yamada milks it every time he's on screen.. this goes on for a few minutes..  Either way, we got to see a preview of the First Stage of Sasuke 32 and got to see 2 of the All-stars that are retired actually try out the course! win/win honestly and all in good fun.

Sasuke Stars going to Yatsui Festival ©Masato Inui

And finally a local music Festival invited Sasuke competitors to their event!  It's called the YATSUI FESTIVAL and takes place this weekend June 18-June 19, 2016.  Tomohiro Kawaguchi, Hitoshi Kanno, Shingo Yamamoto (rocking that farmer's tan. LOL), Masashi Hioki, Yuuji Urushihara and Ryo Matachi will be in attendance!