The “Guessing” project + the know-how of a P from “Numahama”…
Asa Ichi” (NHK Sogo) has become a famous program on NHK’s “Asa Ichi”.
The first installment, “The secret to a shining life! Recommendations for a “Life with a “guess””” (aired on October 5, 2020), followed by the second installment, “Life and Society Change! The second volume of the series, “The Power of ‘Guessing'”, “Guessing Actors”, “Guessing Music Artists”, “Guessing Comedians”, “Guessing Asian Actors”, and “Guessing Stage Actors” will be broadcast on July 20 and 21, followed by the eighth volume, “Guessing Japanese Dramas” on July 20 and 21.
Why does “Asa Ichi” push so many “guess” projects? The program’s chief producer, Toshie Ishizuka (Ishizuka P), explains the start of the project as follows.
There are about 10 producers on “Asa Ichi,” and the director first proposes a project that he or she wants to work on. Among them, the “Guess” project was one that director Inoue suggested that I would like to do for the episode I was in charge of.
Before moving to “Asaichi” in August 2020, P. Ishizuka was the producer of “Numa ni Hamaite Kiteitama,” a program that researches and shares the “swamps” that teenagers are into. Meanwhile, Sayuri Inoue (hereafter Inoue D) has been “guessing life” in various genres for many years. In other words, the meeting between Inoue D’s project and Ishizuka P, who has “swamp” know-how, brought the project to fruition in one fell swoop.
I thought it would be interesting to do a project that would focus on the lives of women in their 30s to 50s, who are the main viewers of “Asaichi”. I thought we could provide viewers with the positive power of people pursuing what they love and how they enjoy their lives.
The initial survey received an unprecedented 45,000 responses…
The “Guess” project became a hot topic when a survey was conducted via Twitter prior to the first broadcast, and the survey received 20,000 responses on the first day, with an unprecedented 45,000 responses eventually coming in.
Asaichi” is a program that has been running for more than 10 years, but usually any given project doesn’t get more than 1,000 responses, so the response was off the charts. In the first round, we did not narrow down the genre, but asked a wide range of questions as ‘people or characters you are passionate about,’ and we had quite a few, including actors, musicians, comedians, celebrities, and athletes, so we thought we would like to make it a series.”
The survey asked about “guess genre,” “guess target,” and “specific guess activities,” with some idea of the program’s structure and the possibility of digging deeper later on location. There was also a reason why the survey was so popular.
The way we made the questionnaire, many of the directors are engaged in various genres of guess activities, such as musical guesses, in addition to Inoue, who is an actor guesser, so we tried to make the sentences we gave as examples of answers more angular and niche. Those specific examples seemed to make it easier for everyone to write specific guesses.”
The production period was 3 months! People with a lot of enthusiasm take the time to fill out the questionnaires…”
The questionnaire was first collected about three months prior to the scheduled broadcast date. Asaichi” usually takes about two months to produce a “special feature,” but the “guess project” takes even longer.
The survey is the lifeblood of the “Asaichi” project. I found out in “Numahama” that people with a lot of enthusiasm tend to take their time to answer the questionnaires. They say, ‘I can’t tell you how attractive my guesses are so easily’ (laughs).
The process of reading them all was also very difficult, so we increased our staff to six or seven people and read them all carefully. It is an important stance of “Asaichi” to read through all the letters in order to value communication with the viewers, so we felt we had to respond to the enthusiasm we received.
The people we interview for the program are selected from 45,000 letters by the director’s sense of smell, who he feels are interesting and have a half-dozen or more activities to push for.
However, we can only introduce a small percentage of these people on the program. However, we can only introduce a small portion of these people on the program.
During the live broadcast, we try to include as many messages as possible at the bottom of the screen, so that we can include the thoughts of as many people as possible.
Another specialty is the “guess name writing,” in which the names of the guesses are lined up. We decided that we wanted to put as many names as possible on the board, so we decided to put up a board behind the MC, because it is important to be “present” at all times.
Incidentally, the name “guess name writing” was found by Tadayuki Matsuoka, an announcer at the time, from a post by a viewer who had heard it referred to as “guess name writing” on Twitter.
The program’s specialty, the “guess name card” with 3,000 names.
The names lined up in the “guessing list” total about 3,000!
It is very difficult to check the names to make sure they are written in the correct kanji and that there are no duplicates, a task that makes the staff cry. The selection process is fair and the order is random.
However, if a guest is included, we adjust the position to make it easier to find him or her, or if it is an Asian actor with a long name, we try to place him or her in the right position to fit in one line.
In fact, I myself had an experience when I spotted the name “Nathan Chen,” my guess, on the pink board, my heart rate increased and I hurriedly took a picture of the screen with my smartphone. What is the joy of finding the name of one’s guess in an unexpected place?
That’s exactly what I was aiming for, and exactly what I wanted them to do (laughs). (Laughs.) It’s a simple thing to have the guesses appear on the TV screen as letters, but everyone searches for them with great enthusiasm.
D. Inoue, the creator of this project, then told us how to make the “guess name writing.
We use a very analog method: we pour the names of the people we guessed from the questionnaire into an Excel sheet, make a list, and then copy and paste the list.
What makes it quite difficult is that everyone often writes the name of their guesser as a nickname. I look up their real names on the Internet and study the nicknames that fans call them on Twitter and other sites.
Creative” is the name of my favorite activity.
What new or unexpected things did you discover during your interviews?
What surprised me when I interviewed them was how creative they are. For example, in the first broadcast, there was a person who said, “I do housework at home as if I were a housekeeper at my guess’s house. If I were a housekeeper, I would make it clean. Because it’s the house of someone I love,’ and by fantasizing about it, he says that his home actually becomes clean, a reality that can be reduced beyond his fantasy.”
Furthermore, there are various advantages to the “guessing game,” she says.
The ways in which people enjoy the “guessing life” are truly varied and limitless, but you also have a wide variety of jobs. You have department heads at listed companies, freelancers, and people who are starting up their own companies, all while maintaining your own creativity with a sense of fulfillment.
Some have the ability to take action and get others involved, and some are cutting back on sleep to keep pushing forward. Some of the managers of publicly listed companies work even harder because if it interferes with their work, they may be blamed for their guesses, and they say it is a win-win situation, even though they are sleepy, because their company’s performance improves, their reputation increases, and they have guesser friends.
What everyone says is that they are enriched and work harder because of their guesses.
What was particularly impressive about the guessing activities?
He transcribes all of his material, including M-1 and ABC Grand Prix material, and compares and analyzes the composition and other aspects of the material.
Actually, it was something I myself wanted to do when I was doing the comedian’s guessing game, and I wrote it down as an example for the survey. ‘ (laughs).”
Still, when I asked …… why it is so interesting to hear about someone’s unknown guesses, Inoue D., who is himself in the midst of a highly praised “guessing game,” told me.
I found out through my own interviews that even though everyone has established their own “guess activities,” they are surprisingly unaware of what other people do for fun and what kind of fantasies they have in their homes.
In a sense, I think the biggest thing that “Asaichi” has done for me is to step into the house and reveal the details of how other people enjoy their homes. Even if it is not my genre, there are things I can learn and incorporate into my own activities in the future. And at the same time, I can affirm my own guesswork.
Interview and text by： Wakako Takou
Born in 1973. After working for a publishing company and an advertising production company, became a freelance writer. She interviews actors for weekly and monthly magazines and writes drama columns for various media. His main publications include "All Important Things Are Taught by Morning Drama" (Ota Publishing), "KinKiKids: Owarinaki Michi" and "Hey!Say!JUMP: When 9 Tobira Open" (both from Earls Publishing).