The show originally aired on the Japanese station TBS, who also produced it about 10 years back. Today, it is shown on the German channel DSF, featuring the whole show dubbed by an incredibly stupid speaker, who can't even pronounce the names right or close to right.
The show always begins with the general instructing his 120 new recruits to do their best. Sometimes all recruits are members of a company, sometimes fathers with their sons, sometimes women only, one time was gaijin only, but most of the time they are just normal Japanese out to have a day of fun.
Then there are a number of obstacles that must be overcome one after the other. Those are not always the same, but alternate between shows, with new games added all the time. Those contestants who fail at an obstacle are no longer in the running, so the number of contestants is reduced drastically by the time the final game begins.
Here is a list of the games I can think of from the top of my head:
- A 50% wall that the contestants must climb over. To add to the difficulty, there is a mud moat on both sides of the wall, that ensures the contestants get dirty real quick. (Takeshi seems to like wet contestants.)
- Storming the barricades: All recruits must try to get through a stone barricade of multiple levels. To add to the difficulty, the defenders (Takeshi's men) fire waterguns at paper target ever recruit must wear. If the paper rips, The contestant is out.
- The circling mushroom: The players must try to hold onto a mushroom that wildly spins to get to the other side of a mudpit. Those who can't hold on, get wet.
- The surfer I: A surfboard in a pole turns around an axis. Stay on it, and jump over obstables. If you fall, there is a mudpit (See the pattern yet?).
- The surfer II: The players must slide along a pier while lying flat on a surfboard. If they go to fast, they fall over the edge, into... If they are to slow, they won't reach the marked area, and be pushed off bu a defender.
- Karuta: The card game with the giant hands mentioned above.
- Karaoke: Simple: Sing the song you are given. If you are bad, you are out.
- Earthquake: Sit upright on a pile of cushions while the room shakes, and try not to fall off.
- My favorite, the Pinball: Players are stuck into a giant plastic ball, and then rolled down into a giant pinball machine. Those who enter the wrong exits are out.
- The Maze: A set of hexagonal rooms with doors everywere. Players are hunted by two defenders. There is one exit and lots of mudpits.
- The 4 walls: Four walls with three doors each. Some doors are fake, only painted on, so when a recruit storms against them, pain often follows.
- Sumo: Pick a ball, the colour of the ball determines which wrestler you are set against. Some are easy pushovers, while others...
- Go bowling: Recruits are dressed in lage pin costumes, and then draw cards to determine their position. Then a giant ball is rolled down a hill, towards the pins. Fall and you are out.
There is a buttload of other games I forgot right now, if you know one, tell me and I'll add it. The last three games however where always the same. The first one involved passing a wooden bridge over a ravine filled with... While on it, you must catch a ball fired at you, and the the defenders shoot at you with a ball cannon, often aiming for the head or even worse spots (Yes, there too!). If there are still too many players remaining, there are stones attached on the bridge which you must go over or around... Oh, did I mention the bridge was held by one rope only, and thus turned around it's own axis very easily?
Then there were the tunnels to the castle, a set of five holes the players had to jump in one after another. Problem was, two holes held defenders.
Finally, out of once 120 recruits 1-10 reached the castle to do battle with Takeshi Kitano (or sometimes Dummy-Takeshi) himself. All the defenders are there too for this final game: Both sides have vehicles with paper targets and water guns, but Takeshi's vehicles were bigger, faster, and usually more numerous. They also had stronger waterguns. If the players managed to destroy the paper on Takeshi's vehicle, they won. But the game was set so this only rarely happened. Thee was a time when I watched every day, and I still only saw the players win twice. But the goal was to have fun, and that they probably had.
There were also acting scenes between the games, where Takeshi talks with his advisers, or discusses new tactics, games or costumes, but these were all lost in the awful german dub of the show.