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The Reality TV Experiment: Nasubi

A deep dive into Nasubi's challenge: Part two

By BeatricePublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
Nasubi's during his well-deserved summer break in August or September 1998.

This is the second part of Tomoaki Hamatsu’s story, I strongly recommend you read the first part here to learn the full story.

Resume: In January 1998, Tomoaki Hamatsu, a 22-year-old aspiring comedian, was randomly selected to participate in the upcoming "Denpa Shōnen" first season: "Denpa Shōnen Teki Kenshō Seikatsu", which roughly translates to “The Crazy Youth Prize Life”. The premise of the show, “Can someone live only by rewards in Japan?”, brought Tomoaki Hamatsu, nicknamed Nasubi, to a very dangerous living situation. Unbeknownst to him, he would become a reality TV celebrity and early Internet streamer while living under deadly circumstances. Here is the story of Nasubi.

In the early summer of 1998, Nasubi was introduced to a second, nearly identical to the first, apartment containing his previously won prize possessions. The producers took advantage of the move to introduce a new way to consume Nasubi’s rising content: They created the Internet Live Project which was an early livestreaming platform on the World Wide Web. While this addition seemed like progress, Nasubi’s challenge was stalling in this new apartment.

An Early Internet Star

The Internet Live Project would broadcast live, on the World Wide Web, Nasubi’s experience. Nasubi was still under the impression that the footage would be edited and broadcast at the end of the challenge. Unbeknownst to him, his challenge was already aired every Sunday in an edited format on Nippon TV and, now, would be broadcast 24/7 in an early streaming platform version. This addition created a new challenge for the NASU staff (a pun on NASA and Tomoaki Hamatsu’s nickname): The producers’ team would watch Nasubi’s every move, day and night, to ensure the censorship of its crotch with a pen and a tablet during the live broadcast. This type of broadcast was unprecedented for the reality television show and brought Nasubi’s challenge outside the Japanese sphere.

Nasubi's appearance on the World Wide Web, during the summer of 1998.

The Hudson Soft Company Limited even hopped on Nasubi’s fame train. At the time, the video game company had already released popular games like Bomberman, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. In 1998, the company launched a Windows 95/98 PC game titled "Denpa Shōnen Teki Kenshō Seikatsu: Nasubi No Heya". For 1200 yen, they promised that the uprising star, Nasubi, would be included as a desktop character so you too could experience The Prize Life.

Hudson Soft game on Nasubi's challenge, released in Japan in 1998.

Divine Interventions

If the producers’ involvement was, until now, unclear, the team approached the second phase of the challenge with increasing involvement in Nasubi’s experience. Far from being kind and caring, the producers set the tone upon Nasubi’s arrival in the second apartment: They conveniently “forgot” in their truck the valued bag of rice and waited for Nasubi to notice it before returning it.

The progress Nasubi made toward the one million yen goal, during his time in the second apartment, was very minimal. He received a lot of non-food and paper gifts which frustrated him greatly. His reaction went from dancing and singing to desperation and anger displays. He would start destroying bad-news prizes and pretend to eat non-food gifts. Naturally, he expressed tons of concerns regarding his food intake during his stay in the second apartment.

At the eight-month mark, the producers gave Nasubi a short summer vacation since he had been in isolation for the most part of the challenge. He returned to the challenge without any additional luck, overall still concerned and disappointed by the prizes.

In October, 10 months in, the producers decided to wake up Nasubi in the middle of the night to relocate him, promising, this time, Feng Shui, renewed luck… And a renewed joke, since they have hidden the rice bag under the table.

Nasubi's being pranked a second time by the producer concerning his rice bag, in October 1998.


Click here to read more on Nasubi's story

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About the Creator


I'm a multidisciplinary artist and web sleuth.

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