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Run For Money Tousouchuu is a Japanese Game Show that has been airing as a series of specials on Fuji TV since 2004. It usually airs one new episode every couple months. As of this writing, the most recent new episode aired on April 8, 2012, bringing the total to 27 episodes. It spun off a short-lived US version by the name of Chase on the Sy Fy network. A Spin-Off has been announced, titled Battle For Money Sentouchuu and scheduled to premiere on May 19, 2012.
At the start of each game, contestants are set loose to roam in a set playing area, and must remain inside the area for the duration of the game. The show then releases "Hunters" into the area, paid agents whose sole goal is to chase down and tag the contestants. If a player is tagged by a Hunter, they are eliminated from the game. The Hunters walk around the play area and will only start to run if they spot a player, and breaking line of sight for a couple seconds will cause them to give up the chase.
Each episode gives players various "Missions" to complete during the game, each of which carries a reward for successfully completing it in time and/or a penalty for failing to do so. Missions vary widely by episode, although two types of missions are fairly common:
- A section of the play area is set to be closed off. Players are given several minutes advance notice, and must vacate the section before it is closed. Players who fail to do so are automatically eliminated (or occasionally, locked in while they release 100 Hunters into it).
- Several Hunter Boxes are placed around the play area. Players who get to a Hunter Box before it opens have some way to lock it from the outside. At some specified time, all unlocked Hunter Boxes open, each one releasing an additional Hunter into the game.
Rewards for success often include an item which helps the player(s) evade Hunters or increased money amounts for the rest of the game, while penalties for failure often include the addition of more Hunters to the game, handicaps that make it easier to be spotted by Hunters, or outright immediate elimination.
Players earn money for every second they evade the Hunters, but lose it all if they are eliminated from the game. Unlike the American spin-off, this ticker is actually meaningful - whenever Tousouchuu offers players a chance to leave the game, the offer is to take the money they have accumulated up to the exact second they accept the offer, as opposed to a small fixed amount. The amount of money earned per second and the total time limit differs from episode to episode.
Also different from Cha$e is the lack of the exit. Instead, the goal is to simply avoid elimination until the timer reaches 0:00, at which point all remaining contestants in the game win the maximum amount.
Over time, the show has developed its own plotlines and mythology through cutscenes and occasional materials planted in the game, often simultaneously using them to explain missions. Initially, these plotlines were self-contained in each episode and simply connected together the missions in the episode, but they have since started developing into multi-episode Story Arcs and an overall Myth Arc. The Myth Arc gradually reveals a Backstory of the game, which is supposedly being run from hundreds of years in the future by a mysterious man named Satoshi Tsukimura, with the title of "Game Master" in a company named Chronos; the Hunters are said to be androids built by Chronos and sent back in time by Satoshi for the sake of the game.
The current story arc revolves around a mysterious secret plan by Chronos named "Hunter X", devised by the president of Chronos to use the Hunters for a much more nefarious purpose. A poster found by one of the players in Episode 26, previewing the next episode ("Last Mission") implies that that the upcoming Episode 27 will be the climax and resolution of this arc.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- All or Nothing: Unless you take the bailout option.
- Bonus Round: In some episodes, winners who lasted until the clock ran out can either take the money and quit or opt into an extra round, risking all their winnings for the chance at a significantly larger sum if they win.
- Home Game: Bandai has made a board game version.
- Whammy: Being caught by a Hunter.
- Personnel: Only The Announcer. In an unusual move for a game show, there's no traditional Game Show Host onscreen; the closest the show gets is Game Master Satoshi Tsukimura, who is only occasionally seen and generally does not interact directly with the players.
- Chekhov's Gun: In episode 26 (January 2012), one NPC met early on was a fortune-teller who told players to "beware of blue things". A few minutes later, players had to face a Wire Dilemma, where the blue wire was the one that would release an additional Hunter into the game.
- Difficulty Spike: Many games start out very easy, then sometime after the halfway point comes a Nintendo Hard mission which causes players drop like flies.
- Exact Time to Failure: Mission time limits are enforced to the exact second. Even when the mission is something like "figure out the password to lock the gate before the additional Hunters arrive", players will be told the exact time at which the Hunters will reach the gate, and they will arrive at that exact time down to the second.
- Genre Blindness: In Episode 27 (April 2012), the runners were faced with a mission of inflating one of 2 balloons to bursting - one in a red box, the other blue - one balloon contained a switch that would open up an additional area, the other had a Hunter inside. They picked blue.
- Hold the Line: See Instant Win Condition.
- Instant Win Condition: The moment the clock hits 0:00, everybody left in the game wins, even if they're running from a Hunter three meters behind them.
- The Men in Black: The Hunters. Black suit over a white shirt and a black tie with black pants? Check. Sunglasses? Check. No indication of a personality or emotions? Check. They never even say a word, and are only referred to by code names of 2 numbers followed by 2 letters, such as "01KR" and "02NN".
- Non-Player Character: Later episodes frequently had hired actors involved in the missions.
- Stalked by the Bell: Failure to vacate an area that's about to be closed off doesn't always eliminate a player immediately; they're sometimes locked in while 100 Hunters are released into it.
- Turncoat: In episode 27, after considerable confusion is sown about if one of the players is a traitor, they're instructed to send someone up to the top of a nearby tower to learn their identity. The player who gets there discovers there was no traitor to begin with, but is offered to become the traitor for 300,000 yen per player he helps eliminate. He can't bring himself to do it.
- Timed Mission: Nearly every mission has a time limit which is enforced to the exact second, some of which automatically and immediately eliminate players who don't complete it in time.
- Wire Dilemma: The locking mechanism on the Hunter Boxes in Episode 26. Cut the correct wire and Hunter Box is locked, cut the wrong wire and the box immediately opens to release an additional Hunter into the game, who would almost certainly tag you right away.