Sunday, September 20, 2009

Zenryoku Saka: Run for the Hills!

Britain introduced the world to harmless sexist programming with the likes of The Benny Hill Show, while Japan has a long history of improving existing formulas. Its latest concoction is Zenryoku Saka, loosely translated to "Full Speed Ahill." Cameras follow a girl as she dashes up a hill, lingering at the top to capture her tousled hair and ragged breathing. That’s really all there is to say.

Girls on Trampolines, your throne has gone empty for too long! A successor has finally arrived.

Hill: Munatsuki Saka
Name: Noriko Aota
Birth date: October 7th
Blood type: O
Specialty: Jazz dancing, singing, table tennis
Hobbies: Movies, travel, health nut
If you thought it was difficult to walk pigeon-toed, imagine running up a steep set of stairs. Thankfully it’s nothing that a little bit of Para Para dancing can’t overcome.
The name Munatsuki Hill refers to how one has to puff out their chest while climbing this treacherous slope. I’ll leave it up to the peanut gallery to make their own crass comments here.

Hill: Sakura Zaka
Name: Kei Matsubara
Birth date: August 25th, 1983
Blood type: AB
Best feature: Black eyes
Comment: Each city has its own unique scenery. I wonder what other hills have in store for me!
What self-respecting Japan blog would be complete be without cherry blossoms? Enjoy the mono no aware as the camera captures her spring beneath the blooming sakura. The girls employ a number of finishing moves at the top of the hill—some grasp onto an electric pole, some merely fall over. You have to appreciate the ingenuity of this runner’s makeshift butt brace.

Hill: Aioizaka
Name: Mitsuki Andou
Birth date: August 1st, 1985
Blood type: AB
Best feature: Birthmark on breast
Comment: The run was grueling but I felt great once it was over! A lot of things in life are like that…
Now were getting into the meat and potatoes of the show: Spunky girls getting worked up and sweaty to the point that they collapse on the ground like it's the station platform before last train and after one Chu-Hi too many. The Germans would call this schadenfreude. I wonder what the Japanese word is?

Hill: Dousaka
Name: Asami Itou
Birth date: September 23rd, 1985
Blood type: O
Sports History: Rhythm gymnastics for 6 years (5th in prefecture)
Cheerleading (’05, ’06 best in country)
Comment: I haven’t torn asphalt in a long time! I feel great!
There’s more to Zenryoku Saka than just cheesecake. Take this firecracker for example. From the moment she laces up her climbing boots you know that the hill has it coming. Some critics claim that serious runners go against the spirit of the show, but I think we need more tough women on TV. Variety is the spice of life!

Hill: Hinashi Zaka
Name: Mika Nada
Birth date: September 22nd, 1978
Blood type: O
Sports History: Rhythm Gymnastics Club (Middle/High school)
Comment: The run touched me deeply. I can still remember how the landscape transformed when I was running at full speed.
Zenryoku Saka caters to a large clientele. Between the OLs, sporty girls, and Yankee trash, you’d think they’d have all their bases covered. But don’t be so quick to disregard Japan’s love for the traditional! Nothing brings out a man’s burning Yamato Damashi like a kimono-clad cutie.

Fifty girls, fifty hills, fifty different ways to feel embarrassed about yourself! While we ran the gambit of various fashions, I can’t help but feel cheated by the absence of girls with bob haircuts. What’s a girls-running-up-hills enthusiast to do?

Buy the next DVD of course!

Until next time, catch the show Monday through Thursday at 3:00 PM on TV Asahi.


  1. Aw man, these have been taken down since the last time I watched them :'(

    1. Seriously? What a bummer. They were still live about a month ago. I can't believe that the rights holder found them; they had NO tags.
      I guess that cinches it: We'll be covering the sequel after all!