Kinniku Banzuke (lost unaired "Power Island" episode of sports variety show; 2002)
Kinniku Banzuke (Muscle Ranking, also known as Unbeatable Banzuke internationally) was a Japanese game show that was broadcast on the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) between 14th October 1995 to 4th May 2002. It challenged contestants to complete a variety of sports-related challenges, including obstacle courses, to earn the title of "Banzuke". On 5th May 2002, a new episode entitled "Power Island" was being filmed. However, two contestants suffered serious injuries during their runs on the course, resulting in the episode never airing, as well as the show's cancellation.
Near the end of its run, Kinniku Banzuke still remained a popular show in Japan. Nevertheless, it continued to introduce new obstacles to remain fresh, including Power Island. It consisted of two main obstacles; the first, called "Rock Attack", tasked contestants to catch a 47kg ball that was rolling down towards them from a 15 degree slope. They then must push it up the slope so that it can be used in the second obstacle, "Rock Valley". Here, the contestants had to walk on the ball across a waterway about 2.5 metres wide and 1.4 metres deep to the endpoint.
On 5th May 2002, a taping of the "Chikarajima" ("Power Island") episode commenced at around 7pm. In total, 35 people attempted the course, with the majority safely participating. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Wei Tao, a Chinese freshman at Kyoto University, had successfully completed the Rock Attack part of the course and commenced with Rock Valley. However, disaster struck when Tao ended up losing his balance and fell off the ball into a waterway. Tao managed to climb out of the ditch unassisted, but later complained of pain. He was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a cervical vertebrae injury.
Despite the serious injury occurring on the course, TBS continued with filming. The very next contestant was 20-year-old Tokai University student Takunori Isa. Isa attempted to catch the ball in Rock Attack but ultimately failed to do so, falling down in the process. Unlike Tao, Isa was unconscious when he was taken to hospital, where he too was diagnosed with a cervical vertebrae injury. According to some reports, Isa suffered paralysis of his legs as a consequence of the accident. It is unknown whether Tao also ended up paralysed following his accident.
Following Isa's accident, TBS immediately ceased filming. On 13th May, it published a statement where it announced Kinniku Banzuke would be indefinitely suspended pending a pending a safety evaluation of the show, while also claiming that the course was safety tested by its staff beforehand. It did note however that this was the first instance that contestants were injured while performing on the show. It is also known that police quizzed TBS officials on the suspicion that there was professional negligence that ended up causing the accidents and thus bodily injuries. Ultimately, despite generating high television ratings, Kinniku Banzuke was cancelled, being replaced by Taiiku Ookoku five months following the accident.
As a result of the suspension and the subsequent cancellation of Kinniku Banzuke, the "Power Island" episode was never televised. Thus, footage of all 35 course attempts remain publicly inaccessible. Nevertheless, a few photos of the course itself can be viewed online, as they were published on various news reports.
- Lost in Ube detailing the Power Island course and the accidents that occurred. Retrieved 1st May '22
- The New York Times' review of the show, noting its cancellation in spite of its popularity because of the accidents. Retrieved 1st May '22
- The Japan Times reporting on the accidents and police investigation. Retrieved 1st May '22
- Archived Zakzak reporting on the accidents and claiming Isa ended up paralysed (article in Japanese). Retrieved 1st May '22
- Tokyo Broadcasting System's statement on the injuries and the suspension of Kinniku Banzuke (statement in Japanese). Retrieved 1st May '22
- Narinari reporting on Kinniku Banzuke being discontinued (article in Japanese). Retrieved 1st May '22