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Nagano is known for his consistency in the competition. Nagano reached the Final Stage three times in a row (the 11th, 12th, and 13th competitions), but failed each time. Of the three, the closest he came to winning the competition was in the Fall 2003 competition (competition 12), missing the red button by 0.11 seconds. Since the 10th competition, he has failed the 1st Stage four times, the most recent being the 19th Tournament. He has only failed the 2nd Stage twice (15th and 20th tournaments). He also holds the record for the most attempts in the Final Stage at four.
Perhaps the strangest failure that Nagano suffered was in the December 2005 competition. Nagano once again had made his way towards the end of the 3rd Stage. Nagano took his time and rested on the green pipe directly before The Devil's Swing obstacle that leads to the Pipe Slider. Instead of trying to generate momentum from an idle position on the trapeze-like Devil's Swing, Nagano instead grasped the Devil's Swing with one arm, and held onto the green pipe with the other. He then swung back and forth, eliminating most of the effort needed to get to the Pipe Slider. However, one of the chains on the Devil Swing got caught on the green pipe. Nagano eventually got himself free, and even got a hold on the Pipe Slider with one hand, but he couldn't hold on. When he let go, the orange pipe slid a short ways down the track. With no choice but to generate as much momentum as he could, Nagano fell short of the pipe. Nagano got his revenge the very next competition and completed the final stage with 2.5 seconds left.
His accomplishment paved the way for the completely redone Sasuke course, which was unveiled at the Spring 2007 competition. During the 18th meeting, Nagano made it all the way to the 3rd Stage, but was disqualified when he attempted the new Cliff Hanger. The fourth rendition of the Cliff Hanger has the second bar inclined upwards and shortened, making the gap between the second and third bars a jumping distance, rather than an arm's reach. While Nagano cleared the jump, his hand touched the frame of the Cliff Hanger and was disqualified. He stopped after he got off the Cliff Hanger and announced his mistake himself.
The 19th competition was the scene of his most shocking defeat to date. He showed some impressive speed on the first few obstacles until he reached one of the newest obstacles, The Flying Chute (which he cleared easily in the 18th competition): an obstacle in which one must sit and go down a large slide and at the right time, jump off the slide to grab on to a distant rope. Nagano just grazed the rope with his hands, instead of grabbing the rope from under his arms, which is needed to successfully grab the rope. He then lost his grip and forcefully fell backwards into the water, shocking the entire audience and the announcers, as well as his fellow All-Stars. It was his first defeat by the first stage since 2002.
Nagano currently holds the speed record on both the 1st and 2nd Stages of Sasuke. Even though he claims he wasn't as ready as he would've liked, he finished the 1st Stage in only 50 seconds. Along with his reputation in Sasuke, Nagano is the only man to have ever made it to the final stage (Final Viking) of Viking: The Ultimate Obstacle Course, coming within 5 feet of the finish before running out of time. He has also trained his older sister, Taeko Uchida, so she could compete in Kunoichi, the female-only spinoff of Sasuke.
During the 23rd competition, Nagano failed on the transition of the sliding bar to cargo net portion towards the end of the first stage. Due to a technical error in which a rope attached to the bar got jammed, Nagano's supposed failed run was ruled as a 'no contest.' This was the first time such an issue has ever occurred in up to the point of the 23rd competition. Nagano, for the first time, was given a chance to rerun the first stage. He completed it successfully and reached the final stage for the first time since the 17th competition.
This list shows all the competitions Nagano participated in, along with his contestant number, and the stage and obstacle where he was eliminated.
- 7th competition (87) - Failed Warped Wall - 1st Stage
- 8th competition (41) - Failed Warped Wall - 1st Stage
- 9th competition (61) - Failed Pipe Slider - 3rd Stage
- 10th competition (999)* - Failed Jump Hang - 1st Stage
- 11th competition (96) - Failed Rope Climb - Final Stage
- 12th competition (100) - Failed Rope Climb - Final Stage (by 0.11 seconds)
- 13th competition (100) - Failed Rope Climb - Final Stage
- 14th competition (100) - Failed Jumping Bars - 3rd Stage
- 15th competition (100) - Failed Metal Spin - 2nd Stage
- 16th competition (100) - Failed Devil's Swing - 3rd Stage
- 17th competition (99) - Total Victory (2.5 seconds to spare)
- 18th competition (96) - Disqualified on Shin-Cliff Hanger† - 3rd Stage
- 19th competition (100) - Failed Flying Chute - 1st Stage
- 20th competition (2000)* - Failed Downhill Jump - 2nd Stage
- 21st competition (100) - Failed Gliding Ring - 3rd stage
- 22nd Competition (100) - Failed Slider Jump - 1st stage
- 23rd Competition (100) - Failed Rope Climb - Final Stage (by approx. 1 second)
- 24th competition (100) - Failed Jumping Spider - 1st Stage
- 25th Competition (99) - Failed Circle Slider - 1st Stage
- 26th competition (99) - Failed Jumping Spider - 1st Stage
- 27th competition (100) - Failed Ultimate Cliff Hanger - 3rd Stage
- 28th competition (100) - Failed Second Warped Wall - 1st Stage
- 29th competition (100) - Failed Second Warped Wall - 1st Stage
- 30th competition (2999) - Failed Swap Salmon Ladder - 2nd Stage
* In the 10th Competition, the contestant numbers ranged from 901 to 1000 to show that 1000 competitors have attempted Sasuke. Thus, rather than 99, Nagano's contestant number was 999. Similarly, in the 20th Competition, the numbers ran from 1901 to 2000 to indicate that 2000 competitors have attempted Sasuke's First Stage. Nagano's number was 2000 here rather than 100.
† When Nagano tried to cross the second gap in the Shin-Cliff Hanger, he accidentally grabbed the top frame with his left hand. Rather than continue on with the 3rd Stage, he announced his mistake, gracefully disqualifying himself from the competition.
- Makoto Nagano Official Page (Japanese)
- 11th Sasuke Homepage (Tokyo Broadcasting System)
- Ninja Warrior Homepage (G4)
- Press Release for Premiere of Ninja Warrior
- 新SASUKE 2007春 (Tokyo Broadcasting System)