Japanese hidden camera show: Panic Face King

The purpose of the hidden camera program Panic Face King is to induce an extremely panicked expression on the face of an unwitting victim by placing them in (what appears to be) a dire situation. This video clip shows one way to create a panic face king. The producers of this program ought to be fined and locked up, if you asked me.


  1. How would someone not end up even a little traumatized from this? The paranoia that would fallow must suck.

  2. And I thought terrifying people by fooling them into thinking a baby got kidnapped while they were watching, or convincing them they just caused large amounts of property damage was bad… I suppose there is always another level we can sink to.

  3. Scare Tactics anyone? This show is basically the same as Scare Tactics with Shannon Doherty.

    God, how I used to love that show.

  4. You would have to carefully screen the contestants for a US version of that. He (or she) just might pull his (or her) own gun and start shooting back…

  5. ^Right, I was going to say…If this prank was pulled in the US, the pranksters could have easily been shot to death, and rightly so I might add.

  6. Sorry, but I laughed hard all the way through this. Most of you obviously haven’t seen much Japanese television. This is pretty mild.

    Check out the Downtown Batsu (punishment) shows. It can get much worse than this.

  7. It’s already in the US, has been for years, it’s called “Scare Tactics” and it’s hosted by Tracey Morgan(!) which would actually be scary enough really.

    They seem to be a bit more controlled, and perhaps more staged, than this Japanese version.

    Also, the idea that they’re using “24” as a trope, a show that takes delight in torture, only ads to the weirdness.

  8. Ugh. This makes me feel ill. It seems pretty inevitable that at some point they’re going to give someone a serious heart attack, and then get sued for all they’re worth.

  9. A sniper can be funny if your ancestors were evaporated. Same way prostitution can be funny if your ancestors were literally slaves.

    Brutality begets brutality. I anxiously await Iraqi TV circa 2040.

  10. Ha-ha! This is such merry fun! Perhaps they can top this by trying to induce a coronary on hidden camera…

  11. If that “prank” victim had attacked and killed anyone that had a gun on him would he had been charged with a crime, I wonder? I would hope that the judge would rule it as justifiable homicide in this case.

    Maybe we’ll see something like that in the “blooper” reels later.


  12. In fairness, one of the things that was different about Scare Tactics (at least the first season or two before it got really sadistic) was the inherent ridiculousness of the situations. They’d have people getting abducted by aliens or the men in black arriving or similar things. Even given that, it was still a horrible thing. This show seems to not even bother with the attempt of using inherently improbable situations.

  13. I can’t begin to say how much I would have loved to see the victim produce a 9mm and return fire.

    But to be more realistic, could a victim of such a show sue for emotional distress? It’s not like they could sign a waiver before the prank, so it seems like a viable option. What a great way to gain a few thousand bucks, eh?

  14. Not to worry, I’m sure that the Japanese producers will express deep humility and apologize profoundly when the first chump dies of a heart attack. Then, they’ll do it again, all while the studio dopes laugh away in picture-in-picture delight.

  15. If it didn’t induce PTSD, I bet it would be incredibly cathartic for the person being pranked. Surviving a near-death situation gives you a whole different outlook on life.

    I’m curious, though, about the authenticity of this and Scare Tactics. Don’t releases need to be signed? How would someone sign a release or otherwise get involved with a TV show and then not think it’s all part of the show when bullets fly?

    1. They don’t have to sign the release before the shots are taken, just before they are aired. Also, there are lots of ways to trick someone into signing a release form – reality tv producers are skilled in all of them.

    2. Release come after, which is why there is a risk of the person turning around and being really peeved, and not signing.

      Although the risk of that doesn’t seem to mitigate the more hardcore scenarios from shows like scare tactics et al

  16. Reminds me of the Punk’d spoof Justin Timberlake did on SNL a few years ago. You know, where they scare the crap out of 50 Cent and he ends up killing one of the Punk’d cast members?

  17. I’m so glad I live in a state where placing a reasonable person in fear for their lives is a felony. This shit ain’t funny.

  18. It’s so out of context, since I don’t know Japanese. As a producer, I’d be damn sure to provide some bullshit situation that made like the ‘mark’ deserved it in some way.

    Not that it makes it any better:

    “Bob acts real tough, bragging about how brave he was in the army, when he was actually a cook in the mess hall, and pretending he’s in the mafia… his friends decide to turn the tables on this loser”

  19. I don’t believe it. I think the whole thing was staged and that guy’s just a good actor. I can’t believe you could get away with inflicting real psychological trauma on someone just for shits and giggles on a television show. I mean, I know how bizarre Japanese television can be but surely this crosses the line.

  20. Oh, c’mon, tightasses. Stop whining. PTSD?

    You are all secretly forwarding this to everyone in your contact books.

    1. Are you serious? If this is real (and I don’t believe it is) it is sick and amoral. The stated objective of this television show is to induce a state of panic in it’s victims. That is also the objective of WATERBOARDING.

      In a true state of fight-or-slight panic, a person will quite willingly injure themselves to escape something they perceive to be a greater threat. Like jumping out the window of burning building.

      The more I think about it, the more I’m sure it’s fake.

  21. “Show me a man who knows what’s funny, and I’ll show you a man who knows what’s not.” – Mark Twain

  22. There was a clip going around recently of a Japanese show where they had built public toilets over hydraulic lifts. They wait until some dude sits down for his morning dump, then quickly lift the entire toilet (and passenger) up through the roof and high into the air, exposed to the public.

    I hate stupid lawsuits, but I could see that being pretty traumatic for someone. It amazes me what the Japanese TV shows’ lawyers let them get away with.

  23. One of the episodes of Scare Tactics actually fooled the mark into believing he was hired as the prankster on a Punk’d-like show. Then they had the fake-prank backfire when the fake-mark pulled a gun and fake-shot his accomplice. The kid freaked out and thought he was going to go to jail.

  24. @dculberson, I work in reality TV, the way you handle a situation like this (or Taxi Cab Confessions, for instance) is to put the person in the situation and then ask them to sign the waiver after the reveal. The ones you wind up seeing are people who consented after the fact. The people who didn’t agree are the ones you don’t see.

  25. But if Ashton whatshisface did this and then came out yelling “Punk’d!” I guess it would be okay?

  26. HAHAHA! They scared the hell out of a vulnerable, trusting person. What genius! I don’t know who I would want to see shot more in real life, the scum who worked on the show or the dirtballs in the audience laughing at it.

  27. just like the gladiator battles of ancient rome–people like watching this sort of stuff since the dawn of man. At least they aren’t actually people being killed.

    Although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Running Man become a reality one day.

  28. OK, I did find myself laughing, and I feel terrible for it. This kind of thing should never be done to anyone.

  29. I enjoy threads like these, where people get their first taste of real multiculturalism. Did you think Japan was all kawaii desu ne and sexual harassment? Every nation has its less-desirables, the figurative uncle that you have to invite over for family gatherings but you just hope to hell he stays out of the hootch and doesn’t say anything out loud to your in-laws. Britain has its chavs, Germany has its skinheads, Russia has… well in Russia they run the place, but you get the idea.

    But here’s the real kicker: you have no right to criticize. Their culture, their problem, their resolution. Giving up that right is what people call, in more favorable terms, tolerance.

    1. But here’s the real kicker: you have no right to criticize.

      You seem to feel entitled to criticize the comment culture here. Is speech only free when it’s yours?

    2. I think I speak for most Americans when I say that it’s now time to invade Japan and liberate their TV show prank victims with cluster bombs. There may be some collateral damage, but it’ll make for hella great television, god dammit.

    3. The thing that always gets me is that there are people who use the existence of shows like this to push the argument that “Japan is awesome”. I knew a girl who cursed shows like ‘Scare Tactics’ and extolled the cultural virtues of Nasubi in the same breath.

  30. “you have no right to criticize”

    Actually, yes I do. Prohibitionists did as well, despite slavery being culturally acceptable.

    It is at its basest level mean and cruel, and it’s not funny to me at all.

  31. First of all I’m not criticizing, merely hoping to point out where the real test of values lies. How much moral offense is multiculturalism worth? The fashionable use of the term is to disguise the cherrypicking of cultural aesthetics while ignoring the actual culture. This works only as long as your morals line up with the exotic veneer you’re using.

    Also, although the internet as a whole probably comprises a culture (with 4chan being the bit no one likes to talk about), the term “comment culture” does not share the same usage, and it’s a bit disingenuous to use it that way.

    Actually, yes I do. Prohibitionists did as well, despite slavery being culturally acceptable.

    I think you mean abolitionists. Prohibitionists were the ones who objected to alcohol on moral grounds, despite it being culturally acceptable. But yeah, they had a right to criticize too. Neither of them preached tolerance while refusing to practice it. Quite the opposite, actually.

    1. the term “comment culture” does not share the same usage, and it’s a bit disingenuous to use it that way.

      So reality television culture is legitimate and defensible, but internet comment culture isn’t? What a fascinatingly fluid and convenient sense of definition.

      1. I can’t tell if you’re just batting at it like a cat or if you genuinely wish to engage a troll in an argument.

  32. Ah! Now I see. I’ve been assuming people would take the logical next step and transfer their offense to the cultural elements which give rise to this sort of entertainment. For the same reason that busting any number of drug dealers won’t keep drugs off the street, getting angry at TV shows won’t stop similar shows from being made. Might be cathartic though, so give it a whirl.

    Although, if people want to get their panties in a bunch over the show itself, there’s much better examples. Japan is the reigning world champion of fucked-up media.

  33. I’m starting a homemade instrument band called the Concern Trolls. I wanted to give all the musical instruments a brand. May I use “Beelzebuddy?” I think it would make for a cool looking logo!

  34. “you have no right to criticize” is so worn out. It’s also not true now and never has been. I have every right to criticize, say, female circumcision. What is “cultural” and harms human beings is not defensible.

  35. There’s a whole genre of loosely candid-camera style shows in Japan, most of which would be lawsuited into oblivion in most other countries.

    Though most of the ones I’ve seen are more about embarassment – by removing the walls of an outhouse, while it’s in use for example.

  36. All of the people “traumatized” on these Japanese variety programs are professional comedians and television personalities, not random civilians. Being abused in this manner has become sort of a rite of passage for these people; in fact, there have been quite a number of cases where an up-and-coming comedian will be set up like this, and their performance turns out to be that which jump-starts their career.

    So these guys can only *want* this to happen to them; it might bring them national fame.

    To paraphrase a well-known saying: “The only thing worse than being abused on a Japanese television program is… not being abused on a Japanese television program.”

  37. OK, what some of the posters need is a good dose of facts. As a guy who has lived in Tokyo for the past 6 years I have some things I want to share.

    This is no ‘vulnerable, trusting person’, but a comedian, a television personality who knows damn well how to ham it up.

    They are not taking random people off the street and subjecting them to this, but professional actors who do this for a living.

    Is it all staged? No, probably not, but it is not the shocking thing it looks like if you do not know any of the actors.

    Japanese Network TV, (I don’t have cable so I only know the networks) is filled with comedians bothering the heck out of each other all the time. Sometimes it’s an eating contest where the loser has to pay for the entire meal (can be thousands of dollars), or pranks like this one, or even showing up at one’s apartment in the middle of the night to toss cold water on each other while sleeping.

    The point is, this is what it means to be a comedian on Japanese TV. You sign up for that kind of job, you will get stuff like this pulled on you. And when it happens you ham it up for all it’s worth because it’s your job to entertain.

    So is it all staged? No, there is a real ‘panic face’ there. But is it some random sucker pulled off the street and into a lifetime of nightmares and horror? Not at all.

    1. Nice to have a bit of clarification.

      In this light, it reminds me of a show we had in Canada (and France) where celebrities would be tricked into weird, scary or ludicrous situations and caught on camera. Most pranks were really funny and fairly tame, but a few were quite scary (I remember one where a singer took a taxi cab and the driver- a disguised professional stunt driver- got into a wild car chase, crashing through fenced gates and going airborn over hills). Most celebrities were good sports about it as it was a sort of a badge of honour to be pranked on that show. Their motto was something like ‘You never know when you’ll be next‘.

      I’m not saying the prank above is anything less than shocking, but I’d be curious to see a full episode, with the celebrities’ reactions/comments after the fact.

  38. I don’t really see how the fact that the victim is a professional comedian matters if they don’t know what they’re facing going in. They may have an idea ‘oh, I’m gonna be pranked in this job’, but unless they give fully informed consent to a potentially traumatic prank, it’s still a pretty heinous thing to do to a person.

    I’m going to troll the BoingBoing Outrage Factory by suggesting that good humour and good taste are at least partially disjoint. That is, some sick jokes are truly funny. A person can fight the urge to laugh because of disgust and still be decent.

    1. I think it makes a great deal of difference. If it was someone from the jackass or CKY camps then I’m sure there would be a lot less shocked/horrified responses going on because more people reading this blog would have recognised the person on the show as ‘oh it’s those douche bags that always prank each other’.

      Particularly scary prank, absolutely. However if your life is full of pranks you’ve probably got a fair idea what’s going on 5 seconds after the first ‘shot’ and you play along with it.

  39. @therevengor, yea, sorry about that

    @dccarles, heinous thing to do? No question about it. It’s cruel and tasteless, but as you noted, funny. It has been said that all humor is fundamentally cruel.

    I’m not an apologist for Japanese TV, or Japan in general. I just wanted to clear up a few things.

  40. Now I know why some are so big on carry concealed weapons in the US. There could be a random shootout at any moment!

  41. I’m going to call BS on this. This man is a Japanese professional funny face maker. He is a 4chan meme already. http://imgur.com/nmMnJ.jpg Notice the same expression (including the 2 little lines to the left of his mouth same lines on the right of his mouth, 2 wrinkles above each eye etc) In this photo he is wearing a yellow tshirt so it is from some other show.

  42. You guys are kidding, right? The “victim” is a celebrity in Japan. He was on Sasuke as a joke competitor and everything. His schtick is making that very face.

  43. I’d like to clarify my earlier comments and say that if this is really staged (and it appears that I was right and it is) then it is not sick and immoral but is, in fact, funny as fuck.

  44. These comments reminded me of a show that used to be on in New Zealand, “Immigration Patrol” or some damned thing, where cameras would follow cops around who kicked down doors, rounded-up and sent home over-stayers (all Chinese, on the episode I saw). Do any other Kiwis remember that? Is it still on? An incredibly depressing bit of reality programming. Who would enjoy watching that?? And it was on at prime-time, if I remember rightly, so apparently more than a few did.

  45. One of these days these tv guys are going to end up dead or in the hospital. Staging terror attacks and impersonating law enforcement agents seems like a good way to get shot.

    Did anyone see the video of the french kids at the mall last week. They pulled some kind of hidden camera prank and a bystander drop kicked the guy in the face. He was knocked out cold his friends has to come to the rescue to get the guy off him.

    1. Can we punk Cheney? Make out like he’s being snatched by Al-Qaeda? Like finally ‘it’s on!’?

      I bet the Secret Service (et al) would play along, so long as we cleaned the ‘evacuation-stains’ off his orange jumpsuit (they run a tight ship).

  46. “America’s interwebs” ? And what exactly is that? Last I checked Boing Boing was hosted in Canada.

    And there is no need to worry about getting shot in Japan. The idea that anyone goes anywhere armed with a gun is ludicrous here. Only two types of people carry guns: Law Enforcement and Yakuza. Neither are professional comedians on their own show.

  47. For those that don’t know, the “businessman” is a famous Japanese comedian. I’m not saying he knew about this particular prank, but he has been the focus of previous pranks so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some sort of consent clause worked into his contract.

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