On Japanese TV, there are lots of comedy shows. And on those comedy shows, there are often pranks. And, boy, Japanese pranks can be so cruel, but also so epic.
Japanese comedy shows typically aren't centered around pranks. They are often elements of the shows, as are the games known as "batsu geemu" (罰ゲーム). These are games in which the loser usually has to do something as punishment, whether that's eating disgusting food or drinking something awful like, for example, hot sauce or vinegar. Comedy is often physical, but many of the best comedians, such as the comedy duo Downtown also have razor-sharp wit.
These pranks and punishment games are a reason why in a recent poll in Japan, over sixty percent of those polled said TV programs promoted bullying. Obviously, this is a bit like blaming video games for violence, and there are larger cultural issues at play. Bullying is a national issue in Japan—a political one, too—with cases of students being bullied by other students, teachers bullying students and even students bullying teachers.
All of that being said, purely as pranksters pulling pranks, Japanese television has, over the years, an incredibly impressive track record. Here are a few of the standouts. You might have seen some of these before. Some might be new to you. Have a look in the gallery above.