The early 2000s were a great time for English-dubbed Japanese game shows. Iron Chef had already achieved cult status on Food Network, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge was the cult obstacle-course game show on Spike TV that would spawn an American version called Wipeout.
Lesser known, however, was another Spike TV show imported from Japan called Hey! Spring of Trivia. In the spring of 2005, I was an obsessive watcher. The premise of the show: A panel of celebrity judges was presented with an obscure trivia, and would then vote on a scale of 1-20 based on the incredibility of that fact. For each vote the trivia received, the viewer who submitted it would win 100 yen, or roughly $1 USD. (The title Hey! Spring of Trivia plays off the sound the Japanese would make to express surprise, which sounds like Ehhhhhhh?! with an upward intonation—“Hey!” looks better in print, I suppose)
Sounds kind of ho-hum, right? Leave it to Japanese television producers to dress up the show in bizarre, surreal packaging. The show takes places in a fictional Temple of Doom in which the useless trivia springs up from a fountain of wisdom. Then there’s the show’s final segment called “Seed of Trivia,” in which a hypothetical question—leaning towards the ridiculous—was posed, and the show’s attempt at answering that question would yield a judgment from Chairman Tamori, who would pull a lever and... Jesus, I’m losing you, I can tell, but it’s so weird and wacky that you just need to watch the show to get the gist.
I know there’s countless clips from Japanese game shows out there in YouTubeLand, mostly involving pain and humiliation, but are there any shows out there—Japanese or otherwise—that should be on my radar? Let us know. I know what I’ll be doing all weekend.