Takeshi's Castle (partially lost original TBS episodes of Japanese game show; 1986-1990)

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Logo for the show.

Status: Partially Lost

Takeshi's Castle is a Japanese game show. Originally broadcast on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) channels from 2nd May 1986 to 19th October 1990, it involved contestants attempting to overcome exceptionally difficult physical challenges in order to conquer Count Takeshi's Castle, owned by Japanese comedian Takeshi Kitano and defended by the Gundan. The show proved popular in Japan, and later thanks to edited broadcasts, became an international sensation in countries like the United Kingdom and United States. But while some international edits are fully available, some of the original TBS episodes have been lost to time.


Takeshi's Castle was conceptualised by Takeshi Kitano in 1986 as a means of promoting outdoor games and activities, and to discourage increasing usage of indoor entertainment systems like the Nintendo Famicom.[1] A pilot was filmed that same year, which actually involved Takeshi and contestants attempting to take over the Castle after Takeshi was overthrown by General Tani (Hayato Tani).[2][1] After presumably being overthrown between the pilot's conclusion and the first episode's airing, typical episodes followed the format of General Tani "forcing" a large pool of contestants to help him storm Takeshi's Castle.[3][4][5] However, Takeshi has protected his Castle with numerous obstacles, often placing between eight to ten barriers before his Castle, which only the toughest contestants can overcome.[5][3][4]

Only a small fraction of contestants would remain by the time Kart Battle commenced, which tasked them to deactivate the Karts driven by Takeshi and his highly accurate Gundan while avoiding being hit themselves.[6][5][4] Ultimately, only a select few have been declared winners on the show.[4][5] Winning the Kart Battle gave victors ¥1 million; if a draw was declared or if Tani himself won, each contestant earned a Special Fighting Spirit Award and ¥100,000.[4][3][5] Finally, a Fighting Spirit Award for the best-performing or most entertaining contestants were awarded every episode, with contestants also earning ¥100,000.[7][4][5] In total, 133 episodes were aired on TBS from 2nd May 1986 to 19th October 1990, with some specials featuring families, partners, and even the Gundan themselves also attempting to storm the Castle.[8][9][10][4][5][3] It attracted an average audience rating of 17.8%, peaking at 24.7% for the 25th episode, before declining considerably in the later seasons.[11] The final regular episode aired on 14th April 1989 though some specials occurring in exquisite locations like Hokkaido and Yokohama aired in 1990.[12][10][8] Among them included a record 1,000 contestants for the 133rd episode, beginning in Yokohama before the surviving contestants attempted to storm the Castle one last time.[10][8]

But while the show departed Japanese television screens, it later became an international hit.[4][3][5] For example, starting from November 2002, the British channel Challenge aired edited versions of the episodes, with commentary provided by comedian Craig Charles.[13][8] The Challenge version became a major critical and ratings success, though some games and sketches unrelated to the main competition were omitted from most episodes.[8][4][13] Based on episode analysis from Keshi Heads, one of the most frequently skipped challenges was Man-Eating Holes, retitled as "Final Fall".[8][2] Meanwhile, Spike TV aired Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC) for five series from 19th April 2003 to 9th February 2007.[14][3] Unlike most edited versions, MXC created a different narrative, consisting of two "teams" completing the challenges to outscore the other.[3][14] Eventually, full adaptations were aired in the 2010s and 2020s, including in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand.[15][4] Finally, a Japanese reboot started airing on Amazon Prime in April 2023.[16][4]


Thanks to devoted fans regularly recording the episodes, all MXC and Challenge-edited broadcasts remain publicly available. The majority of these episodes have since been uploaded to the Internet Archive, with a few omitted MXC episodes accessible via Dailymotion. However, considering most international versions were significantly altered, it has led to numerous hardcore Takeshi's Castle fans seeking the original TBS episodes.[17][18][19][20] A major issue surrounding obtaining the episodes is that most international versions either harness Challenge's edits, or make their own, resulting in significant footage being cut from the broadcasts.[17]

But because most episodes were regularly rebroadcast on TBS-affiliated channels, it enabled ample opportunity to record the episodes, many of which eventually leaked outside of Japan and were uploaded to video-sharing websites like the Internet Archive.[17] Official sources, including a DVD set released in Japan, a collection of MXC DVDs containing the original episodes, and TBS allowing 20 episodes to be streamed on the Japanese version of Amazon Prime, have also helped reduce the extent of lost original episodes.[21][22][17][18][20]

However, 13 episodes (14 when including the pilot) currently remain partially or fully missing.[20] Analysis from Keshi Heads and Takeshi's Castle user channel4squares1 indicates four episodes currently have no available footage, including Episodes 7, 44, 70, and 132.[20] 7, 44, and 70 do partially survive in the form of international broadcasts. In contrast, 132 is an especially unique case, as it was a special clip show rather than a full program, thus not receiving any known international airings and making it fully lost.[20] 7, 70, and 132 were not re-aired upon their original TBS broadcasts, and 44 is not known to have received another broadcast since 2010.[20]

Episodes 73, 116, and 130 were partly included in the official DVDs, though most segments were ultimately not included. Off-air VHS recordings have allowed 9 and 20 minutes of Episodes 41 and 131 respectively to be recovered. A few seconds of Episode 41 were also included in the documentary Clive James in Japan.[20] Finally, some episodes are partially lost. Episodes 56, 63, and 129 have been mostly recovered thanks to sources like TBS2, though two minutes remain omitted from each. Finally, The MXC DVD-set allowed most of Episode 86 to be recovered, with 15 minutes currently being inaccessible.[17]

Episode 28 was previously missing about 45 minutes after most of it was included in the official DVD set, but on 14th August 2023, keshiheads forum user "Estrebus" mentioned he has a copy of episode 28 from his uncle's VHS collection and is publicly shared the following day, rendering this episode found.



The first episode of the show.
The first instance of a winner on Takeshi's Castle.
Clive in Japan including some footage of Episode 41.

See Also

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 The first two pages of a magazine interview Takeshi about the show and the pilot, translated into English (courtesy of Keshi Heads user DuffDan, links in the post). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 Takeshi's Castle History Museum summarising the history of the show from its beginning. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present summarising the original show and the MXC version. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Keshi Heads summarising the original show, the UK adaptation, the few winners on the show, and a few official means of acquiring the original TBS episodes Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Takeshi's Castle History Museum summarising the show (website in Japanese). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  6. Takeshi's Castle History Museum summarising Kart Battle (website in Japanese). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  7. Takeshi's Castle History Museum summarising the Fighting Spirit Award (website in Japanese). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Keshi Heads listing the 133 original episodes of Takeshi's Castle and how the Challenge version differed. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  9. Takeshi's Castle History Museum listing episodes from Season 1 (website in Japanese). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Takeshi's Castle History Museum listing episodes from Season 5, including the elusive Episode 132 (website in Japanese). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  11. Takeshi's Castle History Museum documenting the ratings for the show (website in Japanese). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  12. Takeshi's Castle History Museum listing Season 4 episodes, including the final regular broadcast (website in Japanese). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  13. 13.0 13.1 UK Game Shows summarising Challenge's broadcasts of Takeshi's Castle. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  14. 14.0 14.1 Slate reporting on MXC and its continuing popularity by the third season. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  15. Keshi Heads summarising the Thailand version of Takeshi's Castle. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  16. Gadgets 360 previewing the Amazon Prime reboot of Takeshi's Castle. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 r/JapaneseGameShows discussing how to obtain the original TBS episodes of Takeshi's Castle, with the MXC DVDs and Internet Archive noted as sources. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  18. 18.0 18.1 r/japan discussing finding the original TBS episodes back in December 2011, with the official DVDs noted as a source. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  19. r/lostmedia discussing the missing TBS episodes of the show. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 Keshi Heads listing lost or incomplete TBS episodes of Takeshi's Castle. Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  21. Jtamestaff reporting on 20 episodes being made available on Amazon Prime (article in Japanese). Retrieved 6th Jul '23
  22. r/JapaneseGameShows discussing 20 episodes being released on Amazon Prime in Japan Retrieved 6th Jul '23