Toshio Tsuchiya: Japanese Producer is Still Involved in the Television Industry

With Hulu’s ‘The Contestant’ exploring the way Tomoaki “Nasubi” Hamatsu unwittingly became an extreme case study on a 90’s Japanese reality show, we get a documentary unlike any other. That’s because it incorporates not just archival footage and an insight into the local culture back then but also exclusive interviews with all those involved in that former controversial production. Amongst them was thus none other than creator-producer Toshio Tsuchiya, whose entertainment decisions throughout filming have since often been described as inhumane as well as sadistic.

Who is Toshio Tsuchiya?

It was reportedly back when Toshio was a college student attending Hitotsubashi University that he first developed an interest in television, only for it to continue expanding as time passed. He hence worked hard to ultimately secure a position at the renowned commercial broadcasting network Nippon, where he then rose the ladder to evolve into a full-time lead creator-producer. Most of his ideas hence gradually came to life, subsequently enabling him to earn the title of a pioneer too — after all, according to reports, he was the one to make original reality shows mainstream.

“The TV industry has celebrities and stars,” Toshio candidly expressed in the film. “They are seen as special. However, if you drop anyone in any situation, give them a task, and capture it on camera, actually ALL humans are entertaining.” Therefore, of course, he had a significant role in the production of ‘Susunu! Denpa Shōnen,’ a competition series wherein randomly selected participants were asked to undertake intensely unique challenges solely for viewer amusement. So his ego was hurt once critics simply called it a travel game show, driving him to come up with ‘A Life in Prizes,’ a special test for one player to secure goods valued at ¥1 million in total from magazine sweepstakes while n aked in isolation.

The truth is this idea was interesting, yet the way Toshio handled its execution was more than a bit extreme as he also forbade the crew from communicating with the player and had him survive on only crackers until he won something to eat. There’s also the fact he hadn’t made this aspiring comedian Tomoaki “Nasubi” Hamatsu sign a contract and had stated nobody would see everything he was doing, just to release weekly episodes before later internet broadcast him 24/7. Moreover, admittedly obsessed with breaking expectations, he eventually changed this challenge’s goal too — once the latter had reached his original target, he took him to South Korea, treated him for a day, and then set it all up again there.

In the end, nearly 15 months had passed when Toshio concluded ‘Denpa Shonen: A Life in Prizes’ by bringing Nasubi back to Japan and surprising him with the truth plus a live audience of fans. The latter had no idea his experiences were being broadcast to more than 15 million people, so of course, one of the first things he said after everything came to an end was that he’d been tricked. He also admittedly used to consider this producer a God in entertainment, but it’d changed to the devil because his decision alone had actually broken him to the point of contemplating suicide.

It took years, but even Toshio now concedes he’d gone too far back then — he’d been blinded by his ambition as well as his drive to be the best of the best and break all possible viewer records. He has also expressed that even though he has since met Nasubi, come to an understanding with him, and helped him with his funding to climb Mt. Everest in 2016, he’d still do anything for him. “Without a doubt, I’d do anything,” he said. “Even if he asked me to put my life on the line… I might even consider that. If he said, ‘I need you to die to get closure.’ I would seriously think about it.”

Where is Toshio Tsuchiya Now?

From what we can tell, Toshio’s past mistakes have only encouraged him to be a better creator-producer today, which means he’s still an active part of the television entertainment industry. In fact, it appears as if this 67-year-old resident of Tokyo, Japan, now serves as the owner-operator of the October 2022 established television planning and production company Gontents LLC. He previously held the titles of Senior Creator as well as President of the Research and Development Lab at Nippon Television Network Corporation, an organization where he worked for over 43 years.

Moreover, the former President of Life Vidoe Co. is a representative director of the TOKYO VR General Incorporated Association, a part-time lecturer at the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo, and an author. He actually has three books under his belt as of writing, along with countless television shows as a creator, director, or producer, with his most recent one among the latter being ‘We Love Television?’ (2017).

Read More: Nasubi: Where is the Denpa Shōnen Contestant Now?