A guide to most of the main characters from Takeshi's Castle.
Count "Beat" Takeshi Kitano: Count Takeshi is the lord of the castle and presenter of the show. During the show he would sit with his assistant (Saburo or Higashi) and talk over the game play. In the later episodes Takeshi and his assistant Higashi would take part in a comedy sketch between each game. He is known as "Vic Romano" in America's MXC. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1.
Outside Takeshi's Castle: "Beat" Takeshi Kitano is almost anything from a movie director to a TV presenter, comedian, author, actor, singer and even a tap dancer. Some of the films he's starred in and directed include "Battle Royale", "Dolls", "Zatoichi" and "Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence". His career in entertainment started when he and a friend held a comedy double act: "The Two Beats", which went on to TV in 1974.
Commander Hayato Tani/Hajime Iwatani: Tani plays the General who wants the castle from Takeshi. He leads the contestants through most games, right up to the final battle/showdown. Tani has appeared in every single episode of Takeshi's Castle apart from episode 7, where he was replaced with Shingo Yanagisawa and a person dressed as "Ultraman" (the reason for Tani's absence was unknown). Tani was lord of the castle in two specials (episodes 17 and 62), but Takeshi won the castle back in those two occasions.
Since the show finished in 1990, Tani has returned to the role as the General in a number of occasions, such as the mini live special in 2005, the DVD press conference in 2009, a one-off Skipping Stones game as part of a Fuji TV new years special in 2013, and in the same year Tani filmed some brand new material for Challenge and an exclusive interview as part of the 'Takeshi's Castle Rebooted' series for the UK. Tani was known as "General Lee" by Craig Charles in the UK version and "Captain Tenneal" in America's MXC. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1.
Outside Takeshi's Castle: Tani is a Japanese TV actor. As well as the General in Takeshi's Castle, he is also famous for playing Commander Sugata in "Hikari Sentai Maskman". In 1981, he married his second wife Kikko Matsuoka.
I'd also like to add I'm the proud owner of an exclusive autograph from Hayato Tani, sent to me by Challenge as part of a bonus prize from their Takeshi's Castle Awards competition from early 2013, thanks Challenge (and Tani)!:
The Takeshi Doll: When Takeshi was not avalible for episodes, the "Takeshi Doll" took over. The Takeshi Doll was someone who wore Takeshi's costume and had a large "Takeshi Face" over his head. Also a special guest would come in for an episode and sit with the Takeshi Doll and Saburo (or Higashi) and talk over the game play, as the Takeshi Doll never said a word. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 28.
Saburo Ishikura: Saburo was Takeshi's first assistant from episode 1 right up to episode 43,and left the show afterwards. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1. Outside Takeshi's Castle: Ishikura is a Japanese actor, who has made appearance in a few of Takeshi's films including "Zatoichi" and "Asakusa Kid".
Sonomanma Higashi/Hideo Higashikokubaru: Higashi was the leader of the emerald guards in the earlier episodes and later became Takeshi's second assistant after Saburo left. He is known as "Kenny Blankenship" in America's MXC. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1. Outside Takeshi's Castle: Higashi is a former comedian who was apprenticed by Takeshi Kitano after being graduated from Senshu University. From January 2007-January 2011, Higashi was a governor of Miyazaki.
Takeshi's Gundan/Emerald Guards: These group of guards protected the castle and tried to avoid contestants from winning the games (like Flag Down, Knock Knock, Slipped Disks, and The Showdown). Higashi was the original leader to these men before Omori Utaeman took over. Members of the emerald guards include Matsuo Bannai, Tsunami Edamame, Yurei Yanagi,Great Gidayu ,Danken, Third Nagasima,"Rusher" Itamae, Taka Gadarukanaru, Hakase Suidobashi, Sintaru Mizushima and "Loyal" Tadajij Kikuchi and Rakkyo Ide. These troops were also usually seen in the background behind Takeshi and his advisor during the show. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1.
The Battle Field Reporters: People wearing safari zone outfits interviewed the contestants after they lost the game. The first person to play this role was Shingo Yanagisawa, then it was Akira Sakamoto and later it was Junji Inagawa(pictured)-who became the main reporter, but many other people stepped in to do the role when Junji wasn't available. All the battle field reporters in America's MXC are part of the "Le Douche" family-they are dubbed as english speaking people with french accents and are known to act slightly crazy. Junji was dubbed as the main member of the Le Douche family, as Guy (pronounced "Gee") Le Douche. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1 (Shingo),19 (Akira),22 (Junji).
Kibaji Tankobo: Kibaji is a TV and film actor, who would pair up with Strong in the 3 maze challenges: Honeycomb, Square and Giant. He's also one of the guards in Grid Iron. In The Gauntlet he would push the player into the water if they got to the finishing platform when the time limit was up. He's been a cannon ball shooter in Bridge Ball and Ride The Wave, and black handed the player's face if they sang badly in the outdoors version of Karaoke. Other games he is found in are Wet Paint, Yellow Brick Road and Buggy Me. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 5.
Shozo"Strong"Kobayashi: Also known as Strong Kongo, Strong is a former Japanese wrestler who pairs up with Kibaji in the 3 maze challenges: Honeycomb, Square and Giant. He's also one of the guards in Grid Iron. In The Gauntlet he would try to put the player off when they were trying to cross the spinning plank. He's been a cannon ball shooter in Bridge Ball and Ride The Wave, and later became the boss of the outdoor version of Karaoke. Other games he is found in are Wet Paint, Yellow Brick Road and Buggy Me. He was also the blue fighter in one occassion of Sumo Rings. Strong is one of the few cast members to of appeared in every episode. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1.
Animal/Brad Lesley: Brad Lesley is an American/Japanese baseball player who plays the role of an aggressive character. He's the green fighter in most occassions of Sumo Rings, a guard in the Honeycomb Maze, a bowler in Skittles, the puck pusher in Puck Over, a counter of the downhill version of Blueberry Hill, pushing the contestants down the hill in Tobogoff, and a guard in Grid Iron. Animal also had his very own 'keshi challenge that he made up himself called "Animal Bang" (Home Run), where he is seen pushing the swinging baseballs with the help of some emerald guards. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 72.
Outside Takeshi's Castle: Brad was a former baseball player originally from California-he played for the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers. He later became a Japanese TV personality before joining Takeshi's Castle. He has made appearances in movies like "Brother","Space Jam" and "Mr Baseball". Sadly Brad Lesley is no longer with us, it was reported be died of kidney failure on 27th April 2013. He maybe gone, but our memories of him will live on.
Michiru Jo: One of the most gentle members of the cast on the show. Jo is mostly seen in a pink outfit. He has been as a bowler in Skittles, the teacher in Show Of Hands and the yellow fighter in Sumo Rings. He was the leader of the guards in Uphill Garden, and the captain of the Avalanche and Go Nuts (Avalanche) games, where he would stand on top of the hill's yellow fortress giving commands to the guards when to roll the boulders down. He has also teamed up with a lot of characters in the cannon ball shooting in Bridge Ball, and would get strangled by them if a contestant managed to cross the bridge! Jo is one of the few cast members to of appeared in every episode. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1. Outside Takeshi's Castle: Jo is an actor, but is most famous for being a J-Pop artist in the 1970's. His most famous album was "Irukani notta shounen", which was also his first one.
Yoroi Chuu/Ritter Chuu: This character is someone dressed in a very large samuria costume and stood almost sixteen feet tall. He was the guard of the third wall of Knock Knock, kicked a contestant down the hill in Indestructaball if they got stuck between the obstacles, and is the guard of the cave the contestants came out of in Final Fall. He is known as "The Boxing Beast (or Monster)" by Craig Charles in the UK version and "Skanky" in America's MXC. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 10.
Makoto Dainenji and Katsuo Tokashiki : These pair of characters are the guards in the Final Fall hiding in two of the wrong holes while wearing a different themed costume each week. They are also the shooters in Space Invaders, bowlers in Skittles, putting the players off in The Run Way (Human Curling), Makoto is the referee in Sumo Rings and Katsuo became the red fighter in later episodes. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1. Outside Takeshi's Castle: They both are a champion of a different sport in real life, Makoto was a karate master and Katsuo was a boxing champion.
The Sea Goblin/Masanori Okada: This character is mostly seen in Slip Way, he hides at the back of the Slip Way in the water and jumps out and suprises the contestant and pushes them in the water if they didn't reach the goal area. He was also seen in Sling Swing Fling, where he black handed the contestant if they didn't aim the ball in the pot correctly, and was a guard in the Honeycomb Maze. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 1. Outside Takeshi's Castle: Masanori was a former boxer in the 70's and starred in Takeshi Kitano's "Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence".
Umanosuke Ueda: He is an aggressive character who is sometimes seen as the blue or green fighter in Sumo Rings, a guard in Grid Iron and a cannon ball shooter in Bridge Ball. He is known as "Blondie" by Craig Charles in the UK version. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 2. Outside Takeshi's Castle: He was a former Japanese wrestler and has appeared in the film "Burst City". Sadly Umanosuke is no longer with us, but our memories of him will live on.
Yoshichi Shimada: Yoshichi plays three characters: he dresses as an over grown kid (known as "Dennis The Menace" by Craig Charles in the UK version) in Blueberry Hill, where he tries to spot a contestant moving and if so, pushes them down the hill. He's also seen on the ledge dressed as Pocahontas in Wipe Out, where he tries to put the contestants off from getting back on the board by dancing, shaking the person's hand or lifting up his skirt. He's also The Punishment God in a "Cave Of Punishment" segment, where a member of Takeshi's guards or troops are sent to if they've done something wrong. For example, one time Michiru Jo gutted twice in the Skittles game, and his punishment was to be lifted up by a crane and get soaked by the emerald guards' large hose pipes. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 28.
Shoji Kinoshita and Shoichi Kinoshita: Also known as the "Popcorn" twins, these pair of characters are twins in real life. They are mostly seen pushing the contestants down the slide in Rice Bowl Downhill and Tobogoff, when they do this they sing a chant which puts the contestants off when going down the hill. They are also the batters in Catch It (Baseball), and cannon ball shooters in Bridge Ball. They love to sing, dance and wear colourful costumes and are never apart.First Appearance: Japanese Episode 28. Outside Takeshi's Castle: They are both former baseball players and actors in Japan.
Oki Bondo: Oki is the presenter of the Karaoke game. He stands on the stage with the contestant and introduces the contestants to the song they are about to sing. Before Oki joined the show, the players were on their own on the stage.First Appearance: Japanese Episode 25. Outside Takeshi's Castle: In Japan he is a singer, TV/radio presenter and reporter. From 1982 until 1991, Oki was a presenter for a show called 'TBS Street Corner TV', which is very likely where the inspiration for the Karaoke game in Takeshi's Castle came from.
Takayuki Yokomizo:Takayuki is seen as a bouncer in Karaoke, he got asked by the boss to eject the contestants out of the club if they didn't sing too well. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 21.
Koji Sekiyama: Koji is the owner of the club in the Karaoke game. His role was asking the Bouncer to eject the contestants out of the club if he decided they didn't sing well. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 21.
Nobuo Yana:This person was a one off cast member who replaced Koji as the owner of the club in one occasion of the Karaoke game. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 82.
Shinoburyo: Shinoburyo is a large fighter seen in the purple ring in Sumo Rings. He used to be placed the red ring in the earlier episodes. He was known as "Porker" by Craig Charles in the UK version. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 13.
Large Fuji: This person replaced Shinoburyo in the purple ring in a few occasions of Sumo Rings. He's also been seen as a guard in the Honeycomb Maze. First Appearance: ???
Konishiki Doll: An emerald guard who wore a large sumo wrestler's head costume over his body in Sumo Rings, the head costume is meant to represent Konishiki Yasokichi, who was the largest sumo wrestler to ever live. The Konishiki Doll is the easiest to beat in Sumo Rings, but managed to win 2 or 3 victories throughout the series. He is known as "Spud" by Craig Charles in the UK version, as Craig compares him to a potato. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 15.
"Shin" Sugamema: Shin is a loyal member of Takeshi's guards who is the red wrestler in Sumo Rings, he isn't a professional wrestler and not very good at it but has managed to win a few victories. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 15.
Ritsuko Nakayama: She is also known as Refreshing Ritsuko-Ritsuko. She's a professional bowler in Japan and is the main bowler in Skittles. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 19.
Yutaka Enatsu: He is a former baseball player who was seen as the pie thrower in Die Or Pie. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 24.
Geisha Girls/Bunny Girls: Led by Miyuki Ono, a group of ladies in playboy bunny costumes who clapped for the contestants if they won a game (which were Karaoke and The Gauntlet). They also also seen in the background in the Roulette game. Other bunny girls include Harumi Tomikawa, Mika, Mina Morishima, Sawada, and Mitsumi Yokota. One of them served in the Battlefield Reporter's role when Junji wasn't available. They are also seen dressed as geisha girls inside the castle. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 10.
The Ultra Seven: A group of people dressed as the famous Japanese Super Heroes "Ultraman", appeared in the Monsters Special in the game "Boulder Dash". Their job was to roll the giant rocks down the hill to avoid the contestants from coming up the hill. Members of the Ultra Seven include Yousichi Shimada as the "leader", Ultraman, Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Jack, Ultraman Seven, Ultraman Taro and Ultraman Zophy. A man dressed as Ultraman has appeared in two other occasions on the show,one was when he replaced Tani in one episode and the other was to help Tani out in the very first Childrens special. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 7 (Ultraman), Japanese Episode 62 (The rest of the Ultra Seven).
Ultra Mother: Ultra Mother was another character from "Ultraman" who appeared in the Monsters Special, but was only seen in the Sumo Rings game. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 62.
Mimi Hagiwawa: This female professional fighter appeared once in the yellow ring in Sumo Rings. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 14.
Geneitically Modified Potato: This character is a man in a rock costume who appeared in Dino Ride, where he would spray the contestants with white powder if they failed the game. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 38.
Jumbo Max: Before being replaced by Yoroi/The Boxing Beast, Jumbo Max was a mascot based on the Japanese TV icon who guarded the doors in Knock Knock, and the cave in Final Fall. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 7.
Kikko Matsuoka: Kikko once appeared in the Rebuilding The Castle/'87 New Years Special where she slapped Tani across the face for not eating his noodles. She also made an appearance in the Battle Of The Countries special, here she replaced Tani in a few games while Tani was looking for contestants abroad. She is known as "Auntie Janice" by Craig Charles in the UK version. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 28.
Outside Takeshi's Castle: Kikko is an actress married to Tani in real life. Kikko and Tani made appearances on TV together alot.
Corpral Kirsty:This English speaking lady only appeared once in the third international special to translate whatever Tani said to the contestants. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 110.
Rammer: An octopus mascot only seen in the Karaoke game in the 1987 New Year Special. If the contestant didn't sing well, Rammer would squirt black ink in to the contestants' face to confirm their elimination. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 28.
Dainenji Doll: Only appeared once in Sumo Rings in the blue ring,this character was someone dressed as a large version of Dainenji's head. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 127.
Chuck Wilson: Chuck was General Tani's assistant in the first two international specials. He was seen dressed as Clark Kent (and then later Superman) in his first episode, where he was seen taking part in Slippery Wall, Skipping Stones, and Dragon Lake. He returned as Tani's assistant in the second international special, where he was wearing a red replica of Tani's costume. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 12.
Kunihiko Katsura: Kunihiko was the original producer of the show. He made a one off appearance in Karaoke and was seen in the green ring in Sumo Rings in the earlier episodes. He was also a contestant in Japan's first couples special with his wife, but went out in the first game: In The Sack. The red heads seen in the Take It Snow game were based on Kunihiko himself. First Appearance: Japanese Episode 15.