it is a maddeningly difficult side-scrolling video game
July 24, 2016 4:17 PM   Subscribe

 
The Clacker, for the curious.
posted by madajb at 4:46 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hurm. So it is something like pro wrestling, but different, more an essay on the competitor than godzilla movie soap opera. In my home we like to watch Chopped, a lower dose but similar.
posted by vrakatar at 4:52 PM on July 24, 2016


The reasons the show works for this household are twofold: the power of human vs. challenge and the genuine goodwill that floods over the airways from the not-at-all impartial hosts to the competitors themselves. The meanest thing about the show is the obstacles which are there to challenge and trip contestants in bold colors and angled wide-spread steps. We fast-forward the surely-practicing-for-the-Olympics human interest profiles in our house because it makes no difference to the glory of the show: the ways people overcome the challenge in front of them, and the sense that everyone on that darkened set is in it together even while everyone wants to be/do their best.
posted by julen at 5:03 PM on July 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


Ninja Warrior is my favourite simple entertainment show at the moment. Master Seven-Year-Old adores it, and we're fortunate to get the Japanese, American and Swedish versions in rotation on Australia's SBS. As noted in the post, you don't need to have the sound on or pay a lot of attention.

Most importantly, its clear everyone involved is having fun.
posted by jjderooy at 5:22 PM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I used to really like American Gladiator when it was on in the 90's. I don't really watch TV but I liked the average guy ,unscripted nature of it.
posted by boilermonster at 5:25 PM on July 24, 2016


I'm with Julen. The coolest thing about it is not that Person A beat Person B, but that Person B is only competing against him/herself. ALL of the ninjas want to see ALL of the other ninjas beat their own personal best.

I like that my family gets to see this example of sportsmanship.
posted by dfm500 at 5:40 PM on July 24, 2016 [13 favorites]


I, too, have fallen under the spell of ANJ. I like that I can watch it with my kids (my 4-yo has already declared he think he would be good on the show). I like that the tallest, "strongest" contestants don't always win. I like that they actively avoid discussing anything about the way the female contestants look (sometimes they objectify the men, which I suppose I should be against in principle but...).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:41 PM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh good. I can take this out of the Guilty Pleasure category.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:52 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I really wanted to hate this show, but I have to agree with what everyone had said thus far.
posted by goatdog at 6:00 PM on July 24, 2016


we're fortunate to get the Japanese, American and Swedish versions in rotation on Australia's SBS

Yes, we watch American Ninja Warrior and Swedish Ninja (Ninya!) Warrior on SBS, haven't caught the Japanese one yet.

American Ninja Warrior: Filmed at night in front of a god damn BATTLESHIP with FLASHING LIGHTS and BAYING CROWDS.
Swedish Ninja Warrior: Filmed in the middle the day on what looks like a school soccer field with half a dozen people clapping.
posted by Jimbob at 6:33 PM on July 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


So one of my kids has a developmental issue that makes him uncoordinated for his age but also antsy and in need of constant motion. We kept trying to find him a sport because he has So. Much. Energy, but local kiddie sports had trouble accommodating both his skill deficit and his need for constant motion. Largely because he fell in love with American Ninja Warrior, we stumbled on to a kid ninja skills class (Ninja Zone, to toot their horn) at a local gymnastics gym. Ninja Zone, as it turns out, has an adaptive curriculum specifically aimed at little kids (especially boys) who are high energy or have trouble sitting still or following directions -- like those with ADHD or on the autism spectrum.

Every other kid sport we've tried has been too rigid to accommodate kids with developmental issues (although dance classes have been good!) but Ninja Zone has been so relentlessly positive, so willing to accommodate, with so many built-in helps for kids with differences, that it's been fantastic for him. He will do Ninja exercises that he won't do for occupational therapy, that help with coordination, and he has made enormous strides in his physical capabilities since starting Ninja Zone. And he's willing to TRY skills he doesn't want to work on in occupational therapy if it's in Ninja Zone.

Anyway, we never miss an episode of American Ninja Warrior and its relentlessly upbeat cheering for everyone because THAT IS THE REAL NINJA THING that the whole sport promotes and I cannot even tell you what a difference it has made in my family's life. I will watch every damn teary testimonial they air because it's ALL TRUE.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:34 PM on July 24, 2016 [61 favorites]


The coolest thing about it is not that Person A beat Person B, but that Person B is only competing against him/herself. ALL of the ninjas want to see ALL of the other ninjas beat their own personal best.

I like that my family gets to see this example of sportsmanship.


This is super important and bears repeating, I think.

There have been several runs where the competitor has made it through an obstacle, come up to the next one and then paused.
It's pretty clear they are out of juice, we know it, the hosts know it, and they probably know it as well.
Inevitably, they make that jump, grab for the rope, and miss. But they make the attempt.

Similarly, how many times do you see someone hanging from an obstacle, unable to continue forward but unwilling to give up until they literally can't hold on any more?

Both cases I try to point out to the kids as examples of perseverance and doing the best that you can do.
That not everyone can win, but everyone can go out there and try their hardest.
posted by madajb at 7:11 PM on July 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


As an aside, can I say I am amused that they put a white stripe at the former height of the Warped Wall.

Just to point out that, well, last year, you would have made it, so sorry.
posted by madajb at 7:21 PM on July 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


+1 to pretty much everything already said.

But you haven't seen the a Ninja Warrior course run until you've seen it run by a T Rex!
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:36 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


American Ninja Warrior makes me feel better about the world every time I watch it. I wish it was on all year around except I cannot possibly miss a minute of it and I don't think I'd want to commit that much time.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:00 PM on July 24, 2016


Yep, we are fans, too. We watch it on YouTube and the women on the show are amazing. Our daughter loves it! She sometimes cries a little if the competitor doesn't make it through. The hosts are great – high energy and, yes, friendly and encouraging – and the other competitors seem to always be cheering on whoever is running the course. Great sports. Plus, that stuff is HARD.
posted by amanda at 9:01 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Aww. What a sweet article. Thanks for sharing!
posted by notyou at 9:32 PM on July 24, 2016


jjderooy: "we're fortunate to get the Japanese, American and Swedish versions in rotation on Australia's SBS."

Can I take this moment to vent my frustration at the last Japanese Sasuke (Ninja Warrior)? I gather the U.S. version is a weekly show, but the Japanese one is a 3 hour show that only has two episodes per year. Given that they only make two episodes per year, any frustration is immensely magnified.

So this last special they kept on filming despite it starting to rain, meaning there were participants holding onto slippery handgrips even though slipperiness is not supposed to be part of the challenge, and even though previous participants got to do the same obstacle course with nice, dry handgrips. Call it a day and film the rest the next day! The Tahitian contestant was fucking robbed.

And then they cut the entire first stage run of the guy who operates a parkour school, despite him having a pretty good finishing time. And then they cut his entire second stage run, again despite a good finishing time. And then they cut his entire third stage run, despite him getting as far as the other contestants who got that far. The prevailing internet theory is that it's because he runs a parkour school, and the TV station doesn't want to broadcast anything which might make parkour look appealing because little kids might go out and try it and get injured, and the TV station would get complaints.

You're showing goddamn Sasuke! It's a whole show about running dangerous obstacle courses! If you don't want to glorify parkour, fine, cut his backstory, but don't cut his actual runs! Hell, don't even mention his job, or call it an "athletics school" or something. Admitting that there's a professional parkour guy and then refusing to show his actual runs is just rubbing salt in the wound.
posted by Bugbread at 10:07 PM on July 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


Sorry, had to get that off my chest for a few weeks, now.
posted by Bugbread at 10:07 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have to agree with you there, Bugbread.

The US innovation of running the show as a season (that travels and has heats around the US) rather than as an semi-annual tournament special as in Japan gives us spectators much more to enjoy.

The show will jump the shark when the backstories take up more time than the runs themselves.
posted by jjderooy at 10:48 PM on July 24, 2016


Admitting that there's a professional parkour guy and then refusing to show his actual runs is just rubbing salt in the wound.

Similar things happen on the American version.

We'll get:
{Fade in from commercial}
"While we away, 3 people ran the course, with Jane Smith making it all the way up the Wall in just under 4 minutes"
"Our next contestant has overcome horrible odds to be here."
{Fade to poignant music}
{Cue 2 minute back-story about someone running to honor their father/prove they can overcome cancer/inspire children}
"And here we go"
{Contestant wipes out on second obstacle}

I know, you've got the footage, done the interview, etc. etc.
But c'mon, if they don't make it, show the person who did!
posted by madajb at 10:59 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


The article is tagged 'akbarisms', but when clicked it finds no other articles with that tag. I am disproportionately saddened by this, because I both love and hate Akbar Gbaja-Biamila's ridiculous banter. Half the time it sounds like someone asked him to do an impression of John Madden talking about ANW.

Keep those "L"s!
posted by tocts at 5:09 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


The show will jump the shark when the backstories take up more time than the runs themselves.

They already do. Much like NBC's other summer fare, America's Got Talent, I can't watch it in real time because I just can't stand their Olympics style presentation. I find it cheapens the legitimate breakthroughs when they play the same sad piano package for the guy who lost his puppy in the woods as the woman battling back from cancer. It's also why I won't watch the Olympics in prime time. (Well that and lacking the urge to watch 16 hours of women's gymnastics.)
posted by dances with hamsters at 5:10 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can't watch it in real time because I just can't stand their Olympics style presentation.....when they play the same sad piano package for the guy who lost his puppy in the woods as the woman battling back from cancer

yup basically this is why god invented the fast forward button

show me the ninj, not the whinge
posted by lalochezia at 5:39 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I call shows like this (and America's Got Talent, House Hunters and the dearly departed Wipeout) "15 minutes of entertainment in a 1 hour bag."
posted by Rock Steady at 5:57 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have gotten really bad recently in that I fast forward to the course description, to know what obstacles are on the course, watch the first few runs until you find the hard obstacle that week. Fast forward until you come across the first person to beat said obstacle, repeat as necessary. Fast forward until people start finishing the course, and then fast forward to see who made it through to the next round. Maybe watching someone that I like or care about in there somewhere. It takes like 20 minutes to get through an entire 2 hour episode.

At least they are now out of the preliminaries, so everyone running is at least more physically capable and more than just a human interest story.

I did see some of the filming of ANW at Universal Orlando last year. They film the city preliminaries and the city finals back to back on successive nights, so I always get a laugh when the announcers start talking about what happened "Several weeks ago in the preliminaries" when it happened the previous night.

Oh, and Matt Iseman was wearing cut off dress pants because it is hot and humid in Orlando in June.

But as other people say, it is nice to see all of the other competitors on the sidelines cheering them on, even if they are partially doing it to plot strategies for their own runs later that night.
posted by Badgermann at 6:35 AM on July 25, 2016


A few thoughts, as a huge fan of this show:

- I will admit that part of the reason I started watching is the shirtless men

- Most of the reason I kept watching was the relentless positivity. I have never heard anyone say anything bad about anyone else on that show. I can't stand shows that stoke drama and criticize the participants.

- I started working out recently and when I feel like I'm going to run out of gas, I'm inspired by those ninjas who are in obvious pain but they complete their obstacle anyway.

- You could definitely play a drinking game with this show. Take a shot every time they say "And [s]he goes RIGHT UP IT [the wall]" or "Keep those L's" or "OHHH! [when they fall]." On second thought, don't do this, you'll kill yourself.

- I have a hard time believing they don't dub in the audio later and that it's not written by someone else. No one's that quick-witted with puns in real time.

- Matt (@mattiseman) and the official show twitter (@ninjawarrior) are very responsive on Twitter and are very encouraging of fans who say they want to try out.
posted by AFABulous at 6:50 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing they don't dub in the audio later and that it's not written by someone else.

I feel like it has to be a 50/50 kinda thing, because on the one hand it does seem like they're a bit too quick with the puns, but on the other hand there are times where the camera is such that you can see the contestant and the commentators in the frame at once and they are clearly saying the audio that's being played.

@mattiseman

Every time I see his twitter handle, I can't help but think of this comment from a previous ANW discussion.
posted by tocts at 6:54 AM on July 25, 2016


One more thing: I like the unpredictablity. On most shows, if they air a tragic backstory, you know that person is going to the next round. On ANW, they could fail on the first obstacle. Also, veterans seem to fail almost as much as newer contestants, so even when they hype up someone who's been there 6 times, s/he's just as likely to fall. (Poor Kacy.)
posted by AFABulous at 6:55 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing they don't dub in the audio later and that it's not written by someone else.

When I saw a filming, you could not hear the commentators, so it is totally for the TV audience, not the crowds. I suspect that they have a lot of the punny lines written beforehand, so they have something to throw out during the run as well, at least for the invited competitors. I am not sure about the walk-ons, although they are lined up for days prior to taping, so there is plenty of time for PAs to lift things off of their paperwork and walk down the line taking notes to gather material for the writers. That being said, Iseman has a stand-up comedian background, so he may just be quick.

The sound effects for the gameplay are definitely added in post. There is no countdown prior to start, or noises associated with failing or beating the course. If you fail, the lights turn red on the course. If you complete the course, the air jets go off and the gate rises, but otherwise it is a rather quiet experience.
posted by Badgermann at 7:14 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


We love this show in my house also. It slots neatly into that "kid-appropriate yet not adult-stultifying" place, and as everyone else mentioned, I love the sportsmanship and the positivity and the self-challenge nature of the course. But my favorite thing is the way they talk about the female competitors -- which is to say, exactly the same way they talk about the male competitors. There's never any "adorable" or "gorgeous" or "I'd be scared to go out with her" or really any kind of sexual or objectifying content at all. They talk about their bodies, but in the same way that they talk about all the competitors' bodies -- "with those long legs, she's going to power right over the spinning blocks" or "at only 5'1", he's going to have trouble with the spin cycle -- it really tests the wingspan!" or whatever. It took me a couple of episodes before I realized what was so refreshing about it, but now that I see it, I grin every time.
posted by KathrynT at 9:19 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am not sure about the walk-ons, although they are lined up for days prior to taping

I hear them say this- do people really line up for weeks on end for a chance to be on the show? Who has that kind of time? How do they stay fit in the meanwhile without access to their backyard ANJ practice stunts?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:57 AM on July 25, 2016


I also wonder if the long-time veterans, who are frequently featured in promos, get anything in the way of compensation. There's been only one million-dollar winner in 8 years, right? There are no (stated) prizes for finishing the qualifying/semi-finals/etc. That would suck if they were making money off of these people who put significant amounts of time and money into training for years, and not giving them any cut. Does anyone know?
posted by AFABulous at 10:17 AM on July 25, 2016


I thought that the purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:20 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


typo!
posted by tavella at 10:41 AM on July 25, 2016


I don't know how I wound up knowing all of this crap but here is my limited knowledge.

I also wonder if the long-time veterans, who are frequently featured in promos, get anything in the way of compensation.

Not really, but some of them do wind up with endorsement opportunities. A lot of the multiple year finalists have opened training facilities, or work at them. So getting on the show lets them do a soft plug for their gyms, and showing that they work.

The people who get paid you never see on screen. The competitors aren't allowed on the course until they run it. They get a good look at it, but they can't try any of it out. So someone has to make sure the elements work like they are supposed to. Most of them are either former competitors, or people who applied and fell just short of the cut for invites. Sometimes you might see one of them if they need to show a clip of how an element works during the intro, but the shots typically are done where you can't see their face.

I hear them say this- do people really line up for weeks on end for a chance to be on the show? Who has that kind of time? How do they stay fit in the meanwhile without access to their backyard ANJ practice stunts?

I don't think they wait weeks in a particular location, because each location is on site for a week, including set-up and tear down, but a fair number of the walk-ons will follow the production city to city hoping to get on the next show if they didn't the previous, a lot like other reality competition shows (AI, SYTYCD, etc). As to how they work out, I don't know specifics, but there are lots of exercises you can do without much equipment. Plus Parkour has a strong presence in the community, so using what you have in the vicinity is probably pretty common.

Am I even being helpful, or just filling your screen with a wall of text?
posted by Badgermann at 1:30 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm at a climbing gym almost daily, so I see a lot of the contestants, as they also climb quite frequently, or to say it another way: they climb, and then do ANW as sort that side thing they do, cause they can do most of the obstacles without any additional training, as most of it is upper body, pulling-specific/forearm-specific movement.

Seeing AMW-specific gyms in videos is somewhat fascinating to me, as climbing gyms already have this strange abstraction from the real world of a cliff, but AMW gyms just take it 10x further from reality. A lot of the original bouldering badasses were also gymnasts - John Gill would see a boulder as just another gymnastic prop. ANW this is kinda actually the case.
posted by alex_skazat at 2:10 PM on July 25, 2016


American Ninja Warrior is a sport I can get into! As others have mentioned, I appreciate the sportsmanship and the lack of direct, antagonistic competition. It's totally gymnastics meets side scroller meets obstacle course and I love it.

When I was a kid, I was a bit of a gymnast. Never competed, but I practiced a lot and really enjoyed it and got pretty good at some things. I also loved climbing on everything. If ANW was around back then, it would have been my calling. It might be fun to try, on a small scale, even now. Just have to... you know... get remotely fit again. Haha.
posted by defenestration at 10:38 PM on July 25, 2016


« Older I think about food constantly   |   CSM on LGBT and Conservative Christianity Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments