While it implies in An Idiot Abroad’s opening credits that Karl knows what he’s getting into this time, the show’s second season hasn’t really captured that jadedness until now. With Karl finally at his last journey, he seems ready for the usual visit to a culture he can’t understand while partaking in various activities that he can’t hope to be remotely good at. In “Climb Mount Fuji” Karl is pretty much resigned to it and as a result the episode doesn’t have quite as much fun as some of the others. The torments have become standard and he’s ready for them. Yes, Karl goes on a rollercoaster, which is something he hates, but just an episode ago he rode on the outside of an airplane. You can’t really top that sort of thing.
Not that “Climb Mount Fuji” is a bad episode, but it really does go through the motions. Karl begins in a cat cafe, which he completely fails to appreciate (some of us have always wanted to visit one…) and soon heads to sumo wrestling. This is pretty entertaining, but it’s also exactly the activity that you’d think the show would have him do the moment it was announced he was headed towards Japan. The lack of surprise takes away from this, and that’s true for a lot of the episode. Karl’s cultural intolerance here is typical, and his dumb Westerner comments aren’t anything that stereotypes haven’t said on other shows hundreds of times before.
Karl’s response to the capsule hotel was more entertaining, as was the fermented sushi. It was clear that the waiter was just as disgusted by the food he served as Karl was, and their game of who gets to eat it worked great. Similarly, the Buddhist monk who met Karl at his temple was a really good sport and seemed to be thrilled to torment the Westerner. After all, who doesn’t want to beat Karl with a stick sometimes?
The end of the episode, with Karl actually making it to the top of Mount Fuji was a bit of a surprise simply because, as he put it very well, Karl is a quitter. He likes taking the easy way out, and while his determination wasn’t exactly inspiring, it does illustrate that he has changed due to the show. This isn’t the same Karl Pilkington that visited the Great Wall of China back in the show’s first episode.
As with the show’s first season, the journeys in its second have been pretty hit or miss. All of the hoops Karl jumped through and various insane observations he made, in particular the “invention” he spent “Climb Mount Fuji” working on, were fun. But they weren’t novel, and as the season winds down it’s hard not to be happy that it’s a British show, with a tiny season that makes it basically a mini-series. It’s been enjoyable, but should there be a third season in which Karl visits, say, Canada, and makes fun of their accents? No, not really.
•I really have always wanted to visit a cat cafe. That looks like a ton of fun.
•Karl says Sumo is “just something for fat people to do.”
•They also don’t wear underpants for sumo because they “can’t get any to fit them.”
•It really is a wonder that Karl hasn’t seriously hurt himself fighting for the show by now. It feels like he has to do that in one form or another every time out.
•Poking Karl awake with the boom mic is great.
•Karl’s biggest complaint about Japan: a random dancing robot he met can’t dance the robot.
•It looked like the waiter was laughing so hard at Karl he began crying.
•I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of Spirited Away when the monk began showing Karl how he cleans the floors.
•Ricky’s message while Karl meditated was pretty unnecessarily mean, and not funny.