America may have trivia-based game shows on lock, but when it comes to crafting innovative, ridiculous, and sometimes borderline sadistic ones, Japan is lightyears ahead. One of the most hilariously bonkers series to come out of the country is Documental, from esteemed Japanese comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto. The show's third season drops on June 21, but so long as Amazon keeps streaming it with English subtitles, Documental will return for Season 4 — and Seasons 5, 6, and 7. If you happen to have access to the Japanese version of Amazon and a firm grasp on the language, you can watch all seven now. Otherwise, you may have to wait a while.
The thing is, there are some Japanese game shows you can watch just for laughs; you don't really need to understand what's going on. The have wild premises such as "fit through the hole" or "stand in an apartment and throw a frozen pizza out a window and into a microwave in another apartment across the street." Documental, however, is a bit more cerebral, and requires subtitles to help viewers fully follow what is happening.
The show follows 10 comedians selected by Matsumo, who each pay one million yen to participate in the challenge. Those 10 comedians are locked in a room together, where they partake in the ultimate endurance test — they cannot laugh. If a contestant laughs, they are eliminated. The last comedian standing wins 10 million yen, and the knowledge that they have strong enough willpower keep a straight face for hours in a room specifically designed to try and make them crack up. If you've seen the show, that's saying a lot: the comedians go to extreme lengths to make each other crack, including, as Post magazine described, "stripping almost naked, smacking heads with kitchen implements, [and] screaming insults at each other."
Documental's first three seasons are streaming on Amazon internationally, but in Japan, all seven are available to watch. And while it can be assumed Amazon will continue to stream the show globally, season by season, it may be a while before Season 4 through 7 get subtitled and released worldwide. If you're especially hungry for more episodes of Documental, your best bet may honestly be to start learning Japanese, but those waiting on subtitles will have to find another way to get their fix. Luckily, Amazon doesn't make it hard.
If you're interested in the concept of the show but are not necessarily attached to Matsumoto, you can check out LOL: Last One Laughing, a Mexican adaptation that follows the same premise but in a different country and with a different host. And if you just want more of Matsumoto, Amazon has you covered there, too: Big Man Japan and R100, both directed by Matsumoto, are available for rent on Amazon Video.
There are plenty of other shows and movies to look forward to if you're a fan of Documental, but the wait for a subtitled Season 4 may require the same kind of patience Documental's subjects need to win.