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Takeshi's Castle (風雲！たけし城) (Fuun! Takeshi Jo) is a Japanese comedy game show created and presented by the famous Japanese actor, film director, and TV presenter Takeshi Kitano. The pilot episode aired on 29th April 1986, and the show first aired from 2nd May 1986 to 19th October 1990 on TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System). The show was filmed at Green Mountain/Midoriyama Studios in Yokohama.
133 episodes were made: there were 122 regular episodes (running 60 minutes with ad breaks), 11 feature length specials (running for 90 minutes, some 120 minutes).
The show was about a castle protected by Takeshi and his army of henchmen/emerald guards. In each show, Commander Tani (played by Hayato Tani) wanted to claim the castle. He had an army made up of over 100 contestants (all geared up in red helmets, shin pads and elbow pads). The contestants had to pass through Takeshi's funny and physical challenges without falling in dirty water, mud, or get eliminated in any sort of way. Any contestants that manage to pass through all challenges got the chance to storm the castle in the final tank battle. Storming the castle and beating Takeshi was a hard task for the contestants, but any who did won the 1 million yen cash prize.
Between the games, Takeshi and his sidekick would discuss the battle. In later episodes they performed comedy sketches, these sketches also included other cast members.
In the pilot/test episode, Tani took control of the castle while Takeshi and his henchmen had to play their own games to claim the castle back. The games were the same ones played in the main first episode a month later, along with an unknown game called 'Sprinkler Mine Zone', which never made it in to the main show.
There have been special versions of regular episodes, which were dedicated to a paticular type of contestant: such as men only, college girls, family couples (parent + child or husband + wife) and international (where all the contestants came from different countries, with none of the regular Japanese contestants).
There were 11 feature length specials that ran longer than the normal 60 minute episodes. Most of them took place in different locations from the normal Midoriyama Studios such as the beach, the snow, and sometimes even in different countries.
After 15 years when the show stopped, Takeshi's Castle returned with a mini live special which was broadcast on 2nd April 2005 as part of TBS's 50th birthday. Only two games were played, which were Skipping Stones and Bridge Ball. Hayato Tani and Higashi returned for this one-off special, followed by the Takeshi Doll, two emerald guards and a female battlefield reporter.
Takeshi's Castle has become a hit all round the world, and has been aired in many countries under different names and formats. Germany, UK, India, Italy, France, and Greece have all aired edited versions of the original format while countries such as USA (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, or MXC for short), Spain (Humor Amarillo) and Portugal (Nunca Digas Banzai) dub the dialogue.
As well as edited versions of the original show, some TV networks have remade the show in their own country such as Brazil (Olimpiadas do Faustao and Gincanas), Taiwan (Ever Victorious and Determination Derby), Netherlands (Way Of Life), USA (Storm The Castle (one episode only) and King Of The Mountain (two pilots), Thailand (Takeshi's Castle Thailand), and Indonesia (Takeshi's Castle Indonesia).