After 15 years of a very focused formula, Zenryokuzaka is making a change.

Japanese TV has a reputation for being pretty weird sometimes, and things don’t get any less unusual once you hit the late-night time slots. Even in that niche, one of the odder programs is broadcaster TV Asahi’s Zenryokuzaka, which translates to “Full-Power Hill” or “All-Out Hill.”

Airing at 1:20 a.m. Monday to Thursday, each episode of Zenryokuzaka is only six minutes long, including the credits and commercials. That’s because the concept is extremely focused. Each episode, the program introduces a new steeply sloping street, usually somewhere in Tokyo or other nearby cities. After setting the scene, a stylish young woman, usually an actress, entertainer, or other media personality, runs up the hill as fast as she can. As she pumps her legs narrator Mitsuru Fukikoshi intones “This, too, is a hill that makes you want to run up it.”

▼ A clip from Zenryokuzaka

TV Asahi leaves the specific appeal of the program up to the viewer to decide. Japanese TV has several programs that introduce walking or urban exploring courses, so maybe some enjoy Zenryokuzaka as a showcase of picturesque backstreets. Others may appreciate the whimsical athleticism of running full-speed along the street, something just about everyone enjoys doing as a kid, but stops indulging in once they grow up. And, almost certainly, some Zenryokuzaka fans are there for the final seconds of each episode, when the camera lingers on close-ups of the woman, having just come to the top of the hill, panting and sweating post-exertion.

Whatever the secret to Zenryokuzaka’s success, the overall package has proven popular enough that the program recently celebrated 15 years on the air. However, TV Asahi has announced that this summer they’ll be tinkering with the program by, for the first time in its history, showing men running up hills as well, starting with actor Ryosuke Miura, perhaps best known for his role of Ankh/Shingo Izumi in Kamen Rider OOO.

“It’s an honor to be the first person chosen for this new initiative,” says Miura, who has already completed filming. “I work out regularly, but I don’t often sprint up hills like this, so it felt great. I’m really happy to have been able to appear on Zenryokuzaka, which I’ve been watching since I was little, and to be accompanied by Fukikoshi-san’s narration.”

With Miura currently being 34, his recollection of watching Zenryokuzaka “when I was little” seems like a liberal use of the term. His enthusiasm appears genuine, though, as he’ll be appearing on the show twice, both times to run up hills in Tokyo’s Chofu City district.

Zenryokuzaka still plans to feature predominantly female talent, but says that men will appear on the first and third Thursday of each month, with Miura’s debut on July 1 and his follow-up on August 5.

Source: Oricon News via Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
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