ANW vs. Sasuke
Comparing the American and Japanese shows
Recently, Ninja Warrior has become famous in the United States because of the spin-off American Ninja Warrior featured on NBC. However, this amounts to some confusion as the original Japanese version of the show is no longer aired on television, but still goes on. Here, we explain the difference between the shows and how American Ninja Warrior came to be.
Back in 1997, a company named Monster 9 created the first ever ninja warrior competition, called Sasuke. This event soon gained worldwide attention, and the american TV network G4 (now out of business) decided to cover Sasuke and feature it in America under the name Ninja Warrior.
American Ninja Challenge - As the competition continued to grow, Americans wanted more and more to compete and get involved. G4 decided to host it's own mini competition where competitors would submit videos of themselves online and the top finalists would run a small Ninja Warrior course. Of those finalists, one or two winners would get to travel to Japan. In this way, more and more American competitors were able to get introduced to Sasuke.
Levi Meeuwenberg Age - One competitor actually did so well, that he went the furthest of all competitors, American and Japanese in the Japanese course. His name was Levi, and after his run, Ninja Warrior exploded in America with more and more competitors training for the show and submitting videos. Most notably, one competitor named David Campbell began constructing and entire Ninja Warrior course. You will now hear him referred to as the "Godfather" of Ninja Warrior.
American Ninja Warrior
So successful was the show in America, that G4 decided to create an entire series as a spin-off of Sasuke and called it American Ninja Warrior. The show featured current host Matt Iseman. Competitors would run a qualifying and finals course in Venice Beach California, and the top 15 would move on to a reality TV style bootcamp, where they would compete on replicas in the wilderness, and each day, a competitor would be send home, until 10 remained. These 10 would go to Mount Midoriyama and take on the course.
It was in this age that many of the current American Ninja Warrior all-stars like James McGrath, Paul Kasemir, Chris Wilcewski, Brent Steffenson, Drew Dreschel, Flip Rodriguez, and David Cambell (though he competed in years past as part of American Ninja Challenge) were born. You now hear about these competitors often on TV.
Keep in mind, up until this point, not only is NBC not associated with Ninja Warrior, but the Japanese competition is still airing on G4.
NBC Era / Monster 9 Bankrupsy / G4 Bankruptsy
For three seasons, American Ninja Warrior grew as a hit, until two major events hit. First, Monster 9, the company that owned Sasuke announced it's bankrupsy. One last tournament, Sasuke 27 was aired on G4, and to this date, it is the last Ninja Warrior (Japanese) competition aired in America. With Monster 9 out, the fate of Ninja Warrior was uncertain.
The second development was G4 going out of business. In an interesting development, NBC and the new network Esquire picked up the show, eliminating the old format. Instead, there would be several qualifying rounds, and the city finalists from each region would run Mount Midoriyama, reconstructed in Las Vegas instead of going to Japan. This is the current format shown on television, and is in it's third season.
One important detail was left out. What happened to the Japanese competition. At this same point, a major announcement came out regarding Sasuke. Tokyo Broadcasting Station (TBS), the network that broadcast Sasuke, would purchase it's right from Monster 9 and planned to revamp the show calling it Sasuke Rising. This was good news, as it meant Sasuke was continuing. However, with American Ninja Warrior owned by NBC and G4 out of business, American fans were kept in the dark. All they knew was that Ninja Warrior had stopped airing and American Ninja Warrior was the new show to watch.
To this date, there have been three competitions in Japan that have not been shown in America. In the most recent, Sasuke 30 (which aired July 2nd in Japan), Drew Dreschel, American all-star competed. However, the Japanese competition is no longer publicized in the US and likely will not be. Keep in mind though, the Japanese competition still goes on.
With the new American competition, a lot of changes were made which did tend to tamper with the spirit of Sasuke. Some of them are briefly mentioned below, just to bring them into light.
1). Age Limit - Sasuke in Japan has no age limit nor does it limit competitors to being from a single nationality.
2). Competitor vs. Competitor - Sasuke was intended to be competitor vs. the course, and so unique because of that, however American Ninja Warrior pits competitors against each other in qualifying.
3). Announcers - The Japanese announcer tends to make really funny jokes including claiming that the Ultimate Cliffhanger "is said to be inhabited by Gods". The American coverage portrays the show in a slightly different light.
4). 1 competition - Sasuke is one competition, shown in one approximately three hour episode. American Ninja Warrior searches the country, and includes qualifying rounds as well as city finals, all before actual Mount Midoriyama.
5). Spirit - As more and more competitors hop on the Ninja Warrior bandwagon, some of what the original show stood for can get a little lost as people don't realize what Sasuke or Ninja Warrior is truly about.