Ninja Warrior is a Japanese physical gameshow, in which contestants attempt to overcome and complete tough obstacle courses.

Each competition begins with 100 contestants, all with the hope of reaching the final. However, to do this, they

need to successfully clear three stages of challenging obstacle courses; each tougher than the previous one. Only the fastest and strongest contestants will make it through each course, with most being knocked out on the very first obstacles.

Anyone who manages to make it to the final is faced

with the task of scaling a giant tower. If a contestant is able reach the final button, at the top of the tower, within the time limit they claim total victory, and are awarded four-million yen.

Several women-only competitions have also been held. These "Women of Ninja Warrior" contests follow the same format as the regular show.

In the UK, Ninja Warrior is aired in series' of half-hour episodes voiced-over by Jim North (previously by Stuart Hall, in series' 1 - 3).

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Originally beginning as a part of the physical challenge show "Kinniku Banzuke"
, Sasuke (the competition's original name) gained enough popularity to become a TV event in its own right. In Japan, each competition is aired on TBS as a three-hour-long show. The very first was broadcast on the 26th September 1997. Since then, several competitions have been held, and screened, each year.

Each competition begins with 100 contestants, chosen through auditions and trial rounds, who all attempt the

first stage against the clock. This is the easiest course of all, yet still deceivingly tough. Any contestants that manage to make it through all the obstacles, and hit the button at the end before the time is up, make it through to Stage Two. All obstacles are built over pools of water. If a contestant falls in, or even just touches the water, they are out.

Stage Two features a tougher set of obstacles. Again, contestants have to beat the clock and reach the button at the end in order to move onto Round Three. As before, falling off and into the water means disqualification.

Stage Three is a test of upper body strength. All

obstacles are positioned in the air, so contestants must only use their hands to cross them. This is the only stage without a time limit, allowing competitors to take it at their own pace. If anyone reaches the finishing platform at the end of the course they move onto Stage Four.

Stage Four is the last stage in the competition. Here, finalists have to climb up a tall tower to reach the

button at the top. If a contestant can hit the button, before the time limit runs out, they become the ultimate Ninja Warrior champion, and win four-million yen (previously two-million, the prize was upped in Competition 17). This feat has only even been achieved four times.

The obstacles in the first three stages are usually changed and swapped around. The way contestants must climb the tower in Stage Four is changed every time there's a winner.

Kunoichi (Women of Ninja Warrior) competitions are

held in exactly the same way. There are four stages (only three in the first two competitions), each harder than the previous. Contestants that manage to complete all four stages win two-million yen.

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Ninja Warrior / Sasuke
Comp.# Aired
(in Japan)
Results
(Highlight to read)
1 26th Sep '97 Four reached Stage Four,
all failed.
2 27th Sep '98 Two reached Stage Four,
both failed.
3 13th Mar '99 Five reached Stage Four,
all failed.
4 16th Oct '99 Kazuhiko Akiyama completed all four stages and became the first champion.
5 18th Mar '00 Only Shingo Yamamoto reached Stage Three,
but failed the Pipe Slider.
6 9th Sep '00 Five reached Stage Three,
all failed.
7 17th Mar '01 Shingo Yamamoto reached Stage Four, but failed.
8 29th Sep '01 Two reached Stage Four,
both failed.
9 16th Mar '02 Four reached Stage Three,
all failed.
10 25th Sep '02 Four reached Stage Three,
all failed.
11 21st Mar '03 Makoto Nagano reached
Stage Four, but failed.
12 1st Oct '03 Three reached Stage Four,
all failed.
13 6th Apr '04 Makoto Nagano reached
Stage Four, but failed.
14 4th Jan '05 Ten reached Stage Three,
all failed.
15 20th Jul '05 Six reached Stage Three,
all failed.
16 30th Dec '05 Eight reached Stage Three,
all failed.
17 11th Oct '06 Makoto Nagano completed all four stages and became the second champion.
18 21st Mar '07 Three reached Stage Three,
all failed.
19 19th Sep '07 Two reached Stage Two, both failed.
20 26th Mar '08 Levi Meeuwenberg reached Stage Three, but failed.
21 17th Sep '08 Three reached Stage Three,
all failed.
22 30th Mar '09 Yuuji Urushihara reached Stage Four, but failed.
23 27th Sep '09 Two reached Stage Four, both failed.
24 1st Jan '10 Yuuji Urushihara completed all four stages and became the third champion.
25 28th Mar '10 Five reached Stage Three, all failed.
26 2nd Jan '11 Six reached Stage Three, all failed.
27 3rd Oct '11 Yuuji Urushihara completed all four stages and became the only person ever to achieve total victory twice.


Women of Ninja Warrior / Kunoichi
Comp.# Aired
(in Japan)
Results
(Highlight to read)
1 22nd Dec '01 Two reached Stage Two,
both failed.
2 21st Dec '02 Two reached Stage Three,
both failed.
3 24th Sep '03 Three reached Stage Four,
all failed.
4 25th Dec '04 Ayako Miyake completed all four stages and became the first Kunoichi champion.
5 7th Jan '06 Ayako Miyake completed all four stages to become champion for the second time.
6 20th Sep '06 Ayako Miyake completed all four stages to become champion for the third time.
7 5th Sep '07 Maho Tanaka reached
Stage Three, but failed.
8 7th Oct '09 Rie Komiya and Satomi Kadoi successfully completed all four stages and became the second and third Kunoichi champions.

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The "All-Stars" are a group of regular contestants who have continued success within the competition. Even if their performances take a turn for the worst, they are still the most popular competitors.
- This section contains spoilers

Sasuke All-Stars

  Kazuhiko Akiyama
- Profession: Crab Fisherman
- First Competition: 2
- Furthest Stage Completed: Four

In his first competition, Kazuhiko progressed to Stage Two. He failed again here in the 3rd competition, however, in the 4th competition he became the first contestant ever to achieve total victory. Unfortunately he suffers from declining eyesight and, since the course redesign, has struggled to be as successful; usually failing obstacles that require grabbing something (such as Stage One's 'Jump Hang').

  Makoto Nagano
- Profession: Fisherman
- First Competition: 7
- Furthest Stage Completed: Four

On Makoto's very first attempt he failed the 'Warped Wall'. It wasn't until the 9th competition where he made it all the way to Stage Three's 'Pipe Slider'. Makoto reached Stage Four three times consecutively in the 11th, 12th and 13th competitions; however was unable to beat it until the 17th, when he became only the second man to achieve total victory. He has competed in every competition since his debut. Makoto has also performed well in similar obstacle course show, "Viking".

  Bunpei Shiratori
- Profession: Government Worker
- First Competition: 9
- Furthest Stage Completed: Three

Bunpei's first competition was the 9th, where he failed the 'Warped Wall'. He was heartbroken when he was not invited back in the 10th competition so had to re-qualify for the 11th, where he made it to Stage Two's 'Wall Lift'. In the 12th competition he made it all the way to Stage Four, but timed out on the rope climb. Apart from his debut, until the course re-design in competition 18, Bunpei had never failed Stage One. In recent competitions he has been unable to compete due to injury, but is usually still there to support his fellow All-Stars.

  Toshihiro Takeda
- Profession: Fireman
- First Competition: 5
- Furthest Stage Completed: Two

Toshihiro's first competition was the 5th, where he failed Stage Two's 'Spider Walk'. Since then he has reached Stage Three in the majority of his performances; however has not yet managed to reach the final and is the only All-Star never to have attempted it.

  Katsumi Yamada
- Profession: Temporary Worker
- First Competition: 1
- Furthest Stage Completed: Three

Katsumi, known as "Mr Sasuke", was once thought the most likely to achieve total victory. He debuted in the 1st competition, failing on Stage Two. In the 3rd competition he made it to Stage Four, however unfortunately timed out. Katsumi dedicates his life to training for Sasuke, and therefore does not retain a full time job. At times his training has alienated his family and, more than once, he has claimed to be retiring from the show. After a break in the 13th competition, Katsumi returned for the 14th, but has not completed Stage One since then. He is known to be very emotional after certain failures.

  Shingo Yamamoto
- Profession: Petrol Station Manager
- First Competition: 1
- Furthest Stage Completed: Three

Shingo is the only man to have competed in every competition. He failed Stage Two in the first competition, but then improved until he made it to the final in the 3rd competition. He again made it to Stage Four in the 7th competition, meaning he's the only person to have attempted both of the first two Stage Four iterations. However, due to a dislocated shoulder, he failed early on in the climb. Since the course re-design in competition 18, Shingo has been prone to making mistakes in Stage One; such as falling from pathways between obstacles.

Kunoichi All-Stars

  Rie Komiya
- Profession: Newscaster and Model
- First Competition: 4
- Furthest Stage Completed: Four

Rie made her debut in the 4th competition, where she became a victim to Stage Three's 'Domino Hill'. She had her revenge in competition 5 and advanced all the way to the final, but was unable to climb the last few feet of the 'Skyway Pole'. Rie wasn't so successful in the 6th competition; however, in the 7th she was one of only four contestants to make it to Stage Two. In competition 8 Rie finally managed to compete all four stages and become a Kunoichi champion.

  Ayako Miyake
- Profession: Gymnast and Acrobat
- First Competition: 4
- Furthest Stage Completed: Four

Ayako made her debut in the 4th competition and surprised many by achieving total victory; beating many other promising competitors for the title. She returned in the 5th competition and performed even better, completing Stage Four with over 7 seconds remaining. People doubted that she could make history again, however, with less than one second remaining, she completed the 6th competition's final and achieved total victory for the third time. After the course re-design in competition 7, Ayako was one of only four contestants to make it past Stage One. Here, for the first time since her debut, she failed an obstacle just inches from the end. Ayako has since left the "Muscle Musical" (a show created by the makers of Kunoichi) and has not competed in Kunoichi again.

  Yuko Mizuno
- Profession: Celebrity Athlete
- First Competition: 2
- Furthest Stage Completed: Three

Yuko is often compared to Katsumi Yamada ("Mr Sasuke") as she has often faced similar heartbreaking defeats. She made it to the final in both the 2nd and 3rd competitions, missing the button in the 3rd by 0.10 seconds. Many believed that Yuko would be the first champion of Kunoichi, however in the next competition she lost her balance on the first obstacle, the 'Dancing Stones', and was eliminated in Stage One. Although she made it to Stage Three again in the 5th competition, she failed Stage One in the next two tournaments and hasn't competed since competition 7. Yuko has taken part in Sasuke many times, although is yet to beat Stage One.

  Maho Tanaka
- Profession: Professional Snowboarder
- First Competition: 5
- Furthest Stage Completed: Three

Maho quickly made it to the status of "All-Star" after reaching Stage Four in the 6th competition. She holds the record for the fastest completion of 'Domino Hill', one of Kunoichi's most difficult obstacles. When the course was renewed and made much more difficult in the 7th competition, Maho was the only contestant to make it to Stage Three, but she didn't manage to pass 'Domino Hill'.

  Kazue Watanabe
- Profession: Track and Field Star
- First Competition: 2
- Furthest Stage Completed: Two

Kazue has never failed Stage One or Two. She and Yuko Mizuno were the only two contestants to attempt the 2nd competition's final stage. Kazue returned in the 3rd and 4th competitions, failing Stage Three's 'Domino Hill' both times. She hasn't competed since the 4th competition, and now lives in London.

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The "New-Stars" are a group of contestants who had never taken part in Sasuke before the 20th competition, but quickly built a fanbase due to their impressive performances.
- This section contains spoilers

  Yuuji Urushihara
- Profession: Shoe Salesman
- First Competition: 21
- Furthest Stage Completed: Four

Despite a slip on the first stage's Flying Chute during his debut, Yuuji quickly won fans by making it to the final stage in just his second appearance, becoming the first man to do so since the course redesign back in competition 18. Although he didn't beat the stage, he vowed to practice rope climbing and return to complete it. Sadly in his next competition he fell on new stage 2 obstacle the Unstable Bridge. However, in the 24th competition he became the third man ever to achieve total victory and was added to Sasuke's hall of fame. Following that Yuuji's attempts were a bit shaky, failing in the 2nd and then the 1st stage respectively, however he confirmed his desire to return and prove he still deserved his title. He undoubtedly did this in competition 27 when he managed to scale the final tower for a second time to become the only person to achieve total victory twice.

  Hitoshi Kanno
- Profession: Gymnast
- First Competition: 20
- Furthest Stage Completed: Three

Debuting the competition before Yuuji, Hitoshi hit the water early in stage one after failing the Spider Jump. After this dissappointing performance, he was not invited back, and had to qualify for the 22nd competiton via the trials. There he surprised everybody by becoming the first of the New-Stars to clear the New Cliffhanger. However he ran out of energy on the Spider Flip, and was disqualified. After seeing Yuuji make it to the final stage, Hitoshi was determined to come back stronger, and he did, making it to the final stage along with Makoto Nagano. Unfortunately he run out of time close to the end. Since then, he's struggled in both the first and second stage.

  Koji Hashimoto
- Profession: Gym Instructor
- First Competition: 21
- Furthest Stage Completed: Three

Koji had to qualify for Sasuke in all of his first three competitions by competing in the Sasuke trials. Improving each time, he finally made it to the second stage in the 23rd competition, before joining fellow New-Star Yuuji in the final stage during the 24th. Despite not achieving total victory, he has performed the strongest out of the New-Stars since the course redesign, failing the new Ultimate Cliffhanger in the third stage, and the Metal Spin in the second stage respectively.

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