Why Were the Police Called on This Japanese Variety Show? | Koji's Odds & Ends


Late one night in December of 2018, Tokyo police were called to Toshimaen park to investigate a disturbance. A massive crowd of people had arrived, seemingly out of nowhere, and were causing chaos in the early hours of the morning.

What could have caused this strange and disturbing phenomenon?

To answer that question, we need to rewind a few months and start in October of 2018, when popular comedic show Suiyoubi no Downtown premiered their newest experimental segment.



The Wednesday night variety show, which is hosted by the incredibly popular comedy duo “Downtown” (Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada), along with various celebrity guests and a revolving door of comedians, is known for mischievous pranks and caustic humor. They usually have pre-recorded segments for the hosts to watch and comment on (with all of their laughs and cringes displayed in the top corner of the screen).

On this particular episode, Comedian Tamura Kenji appeared to announce the new project, which was mysteriously named “Monster House.” He explained that shows like “Terrace House,” a reality show involving young men and women living together, were becoming increasingly popular. To capitalize on this trend, Suiyoubi no Downtown had created their own take on the genre.

Promotional poster for Terrace House: Opening New Doors

The first episode of “Monster House” began just as the aforementioned “Terrace House” would. One by one, attractive young adults arrived at a stylish, lavishly-furnished abode and introduced themselves to each other. There were female models, a cool guitar player, one young man who was relatively inexperienced in romance… all the typical pieces were falling into place.

That was, until the last house member arrived: the portly mustachioed comedian Kuro-chan, who was awkwardly led, blindfolded, into the house (a particularly disturbing sight for the cast members who had already arrived).

Kuro-chan's introduction to the house

By this point, Kuro-chan, who had started his career as part of the comedy tro “Yasuda Dai Circus,” had already become established as a recurring character on Suiyoubi no Downtown, with some of his appearances eventually becoming fan favorites.

Known for his grating falsetto voice and forced "cutesy" mannerisms that contrast sharply with his ogreish appearance, Kuro-chan leaves an instant impression wherever he goes (even if it isn't a particularly positive one).

Yasuda Dai Circus in one of the Bleach movies

One particularly cringe-worthy segment he participated in (which would be referenced by the other cast members of Monster House) was called “The Future Kuro-chan Project.” The premise was this: the production staff of Suiyoubi no Downtown would make a Twitter account called “Future Kuro-chan,” which would make predictions about something that would happen in the real Kuro-chan’s life the next day. Once the tweet was sent, the staff would do their best to make it actually happen without Kuro-chan catching on.

The "Future Kuro-chan" project

One particularly grotesque example was the prediction that Kuro-chan would consume 6,000 calories in a single day. To accomplish this, they enlisted the help of some of Kuro-chan’s contemporaries, who would keep inviting Kuro-chan out to bars and restaurants until they had reached their target calorie count. Incredibly, they ended the day with Kuro-chan consuming over 9,000 calories.

The segment also famously showcased some of Kuro-chan’s questionable behavior; notably his constant lying. He would write things on Twitter like “Going for a run in the park today,” and post a selfie dressed up in his exercise clothes, only to sit down on a park bench and browse the internet on his phone instead.

Kuro-chan's total calorie count

One infamous scene involved Kuro-chan waiting for a model he was having dinner with to leave the room before proceeding to lick the rim of the glass she’d been drinking out of. Completely aghast at this, the hosts of Suiyoubi no Downtown would bring it up often when discussing the rotund comedian.

As a character, Kuro-chan is incredibly fascinating. It’s impossible to tell where his actual personality ends and his comedic persona begins. With his manipulative behavior, unsightly appearance, and uncomfortable demeanor, he’s turned himself, whether purposely or incidentally, into the perfect TV villain for our age.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why “Monster House” became as popular as it did. Who wouldn’t want to see this kind of creature thrown into a house with a group of trendy young adults?

Warning: Disturbing imagery ahead

As it turned out, Kuro-chan’s behavior exceeded the hosts’ expectations. In the first episode of “Monster House,” he lied to several of the female housemates to get on their good sides, and largely ignored the other men. The first night in the house, he kept his roommates awake with his CPAP machine, which he needed for weight-related sleep apnea.

The show’s hosts watched on with growing horror as Kuro-chan’s web of lies gradually expanded. Eventually, the series would take a dark turn once the house members began watching their own show as it aired on television, revealing the short-sighted Kuro-chan’s schemes to everyone. One female house member actually broke out into tears, feeling betrayed by the plus-sized troublemaker, who she had unexpectedly taken a liking to.

Also, this happens...

The series chronicled more and more of Kuro-chan’s misdeeds and generally creepy behavior, culminating to the series finale: a live-broadcasted special filmed at Toshimaen park. Having reunited the Monster House cast at the park, Suiyoubi no Downtown staff led Kuro-chan, once again blindfolded, to a makeshift set in front of large cage (the kind that would normally be used in a zoo exhibit).

That was when Tamura Kenji announced his diabolic plan to close out the Monster House project: viewers watching the live special would be able to vote for whether or not Kuro-chan should be forgiven for his misdeeds, and these votes would determine how long Kuro-chan would stay in the cage.

The percentage of votes for “not forgiven” would be applied to a span of 24 hours (so a 50% split vote would be the equivalent of 12 hours in the cage). The vote ended with a vast majority of people voting not to forgive him (with the graphic that showed the vote counts comedically extending off of the screen), and it was determined that Kuro-chan would spend 22 hours in his prison.

That's a lot of votes!

That wasn’t all, though. This twisted zoo exhibit would also be open to the public, complete with piles of bananas and other treats that spectators could buy for the obese comedian to eat. Immediately after the broadcast ended, viewers piled into the park, eager to get a glimpse of the humiliated performer and mock him.

Monster House had succeeded at becoming the freak show it promised to be, but it was perhaps too effective. Viewers weren’t satisfied with just seeing Kuro-chan on TV. They wanted more. They craved more. And so, the park was flooded with visitors eager to get a glimpse of the bald menace. Luckily, there is still YouTube evidence to document the absolute chaos of that cool December night.



Eventually, the crowd grew so large that the police were called, and the producers of Suiyoubi no Downtown were asked to shut down the event early (funny enough, this was actually the second time the police were called on the popular comedy show). Kuro-chan may have gotten out of his punishment, but he gave Japan a spectacle that they will not soon forget.

Perhaps we’ll get more crazy hijinks from Kuro-chan in the future. In the meantime, you can follow him on Twitter to see all of his unsettling morning selfies.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

Thank you all very much for reading! Let me know in the comments if you want more writing about Japanese comedy and variety shows.

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