TORONTO - When teenage siblings Scott and Taylor Alderdice applied to be contestants on a new YTV game show, they weren't told the nature of the program or what they would be doing on it, so they did some stretches the morning of the taping just in case things got physical.
And boy, did they get physical — not to mention bizarre.
As the Burlington, Ont., duo found out when they got to the Toronto studio and took off their blindfolds on set, they were part of "Japanizi: Going, Going, Gong!", a comical new Japanese-style game show for teens and families involving wacky obstacle courses and personalities.
Surprised but enthusiastic, the Alderdices had to wear octopus costumes and do a three-legged race while carrying "seawater" in a wok across a slippery inflatable pit filled with liquid.
As they competed, a giant fan blew on the colourful arena while ninjas threw objects such as pool noodles and inflatable toys at the contestants, and a studio audience, including Japanese-Canadians, cheered them on in zany outfits with noisemakers.
"I was completely surprised it was like a Japanese game show," said Taylor, 16. "I was totally taken aback. I was like, 'What?'"
"I took off the blindfold and I had to take a minute to get my eyes adjusted," said Scott, 14. "But it was good."
"Japanizi: Going, Going, Gong!" premieres on YTV in Canada on Tuesday, a day after its premiere on Disney XD in the U.S.
The host is spirited Japanese game show personality Yoshi Amao, who's known simply as Yoshi. Masayuki Hashimoto (a.k.a. Masa) of Toronto acts as the stoic judge.
Other personalities include a group of ninjas led by a character called Shinobi, who also acts as the English translator.
Contestants are brought on to the set with no knowledge of what they're walking into.
Keeping them in the dark was a way of eliciting the most authentic reactions, which can sometimes be a challenge with teens on TV, says show creator marblemedia.
"Revealing them too suddenly this incredibly fish-out-of-water experience, of feeling as if they've been transported over to Japan and landing into a Japanese game show with all the authentic Japanese elements made for a really great natural, honest reaction from the kids," said Matt Hornburg, co-CEO and executive producer of marblemedia.
Challenges include the aforementioned Multi-Leg Octodash as well as Human Sticky Jump, in which teams wear Velcro costumes and throw themselves against a sticky wall.
Then there's Most Extreme Froggy Jump, which involves slippery spinning disks, and Tokyo Belt Bike Race, in which contestants ride small bicycles on a conveyor belt and try to hit a buzzer with their head.
"No injuries so far. It's a miracle," Amao said with a laugh.
Hornburg assures the company has "a fair bit of experience working with kids on these types of physical shows," citing "The Adrenaline Project" and "Splatalot!"
"We're certainly no strangers to thinking of the considerations of the safety for the kids."
There has been some crying, though, said Hashimoto.
"There was a mother doing the Happy Penguin Fun and the mother had to ... make herself as slippery or non-slippery to go down the slide and land on a target," he said.
"The younger daughter, she's like, 'No, don't put any more liquid on you, don't pour!' The mother kept on pouring, pouring, 'It's OK, it's OK,' and the (daughter) started crying. She's like, 'No! I told you, don't put it on!' and she ended up missing the target, plunged right into the water.
"I felt so sorry for her. It's very emotional. Kids get right into it."
Winners get a trophy and bragging rights.
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