Video featuring cute characters trying to avert nuclear disaster. The explanation of Chernobyl Boy is especially notable.
Category Archives: Japan
Thinking of Totoro as the situation worsens
“May you live in interesting times.” – Ancient Chinese curse.
CNN proves BBC America is a great news source
The 6:30 AM news update on CNN started with Japan followed by the latest on Charlie Sheen. Click here for BBC World News America.
Image courtesy of the Great Gregory Marlowe
First Galliano, now Japanese boy band causes a Führer
You would think by now everyone would have figure out the rule that No Nazis is Good Nazis. While this is universally true it seems the business world in particular has a problem remembering it.
Although former Dior designer John Galliano’s besotted ode to Herr Schicklgruber has captured the most headlines, he isn’t the only public figure with a swastika issue. In Japan (no slouch itself when it comes to fascist World War II atrocities):
Sony Music Artists Inc. apologized Wednesday on behalf of its popular boy-band Kishidan, after the group performed on MTV Japan in outfits that Jewish groups said looked like Nazi uniforms.
That description makes the whole thing sound like an acute case of oversensitivity, but if you watch the group’s video for its song Kira Kira! you see that Kishidan is astoundingly clueless in its use of imagery.
First we have the band – with haircuts that would make Flock of Seagulls blush and outfits that are definitely inspired by The You Know Who – being faux gunned down by someone wearing Soviet-like army garb. (As you will recall, Commies were one of the other groups the National Socialists were going to save Germany from. How’d that work out, anyway?) This is followed by the band members being beaten up by
- Someone in metallic Japanese feudal armor
- A dominatrix who has definitely seen The Night Porter too many times
- The Russian, again; and
- A zombie. Don’t ask me why. (It’s time to let the whole zombie thing go. Either that or someone needs to tell a story from the Zombie’s point of view. Sparkly Zombies!)
Finally a virtuous and seemingly virginal Japanese school girl held captive by a sadistic robo-teacher takes a bullet for the band. This is easily the most incomprehensible Japanese film I’ve seen since Gegege no Kitaro and not 1/100th as entertaining.
Best quote in the story is from Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center who “said he thinks the incidents reflect a hole in Japan’s education of World War II. “
“Generally my experience has been in speaking with young people they don’t necessarily know very much other than that Hitler was a strong leader or that aesthetically this is very striking and interesting. For a lot of young Japanese they don’t even understand. When these controversies come up their initial reaction is ‘what’s the controversy? What did we do wrong here? What did Nazi Germany do?’”
The war is a bit of a touchy subject in Japan. Almost as touchy as it is for the Chinese, Koreans, Philippinos, Allied vets and others the Japanese visited themselves upon.
I don’t think this band is pro-Nazi as much as they are idiots. Reminds me of Walter Sobchak’s line from The Big Lebowski: “Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”
Japan launches anime series with fetishized school girls explaining the management theories of Peter Drucker
The series is an animated adaptation of Natsumi Iwasaki‘s business novel Moshi Kōkō Yakyū no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no Management o Yondara which translates into "If A Female High School Baseball Team Manager Read Drucker’s ‘Management’…" The original book has sold 1.3 MILLION copies in J-land. The novel is about
a high school girl named Minami Kawashima who becomes the baseball team manager at Tokyo’s Hodokubo High School. Minami accidentally buys Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices — a classic productivity guide by the Austrian-American management guru Peter Drucker — and uses it to rally her dispirited team.
<<Slaps self in head>>Why didn’t I think of writing that?
Because that title is a bit long, the anime will be known as Moshi-dora [もしドラ]. Moshi-Dora is such a phenomenon that its title is #32 on a list of the year’s Top 60 Japanese words and phrases. (In case you were wondering, #1 is “~zeyo!: One symptom of this year’s widespread Ryōma Sakamoto fever is the tendency to emulate the 19th-century samurai’s Tosa dialect by finishing sentences with an emphatic ~zeyo!” I want to live in a nation that gets this obsessed with an 18th century revolutionary. Anyone care to join me in creating a pop-culture movement about Garibaldi? Don’t all hold your hands up at once, now.) Here’s a link to the official website which Google offered to translate and, when I clicked yes, rendered the page in Kanji.
Below is the promotional video. My ignorance of the Japanese language didn’t impair my enjoyment at all.
I’m going right out and buying the animation rights for Who Moved My Cheese and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
I’ll be damned if this isn’t the weirdest thing to come out of Japan since Calamari Wrestler.
A character based on a pastry is killing Hello Kitty
I just don’t want to live in a world without a nation as weird as Japan – and thankfully I don’t have to. Where else but Japan would you encounter Anpanman, which the NYT says is “a character that is based on a Japanese jam-filled pastry and is produced by Nippon Television”? (Dear NYT: An Anpan is filled with bean paste, not jam.) Further, where else would Jelly Donut Man be the best-selling character image in a nation obsessed with the images of cute cartoon characters?
According to the Tokyo-based research firm Character Databank (!!!!), Anpanman’s image is outselling the perennial powerhouse Pokémon and the rapidly fading Hello Kitty. This is quite a blow for Sanrio’s Kitty, who invented the category of cute characters created solely to sell product. Kitty is also facing challenge from two newcomers the panda Tarepanda, and Rilakkuma (“Relaxing bear.”FYI, Rilakkuma has a sidekick Korilakkuma whose name translates into, and I’m not making this up, “co-relaxing bear.”) — which has charged up the Character Databank charts and ranks fifth in the latest survey.
As an aside (isn’t this whole blog an aside?) it is interesting to note Hello Kitty lost her long-held spot as Japan’s top-grossing character in 2002 and has never recovered. That is the same year that Mrs. CollateralDamage made her pilgrimage to Sanrio Purio Land, the HK theme park near Tokyo. Coincidence? I report. You decide.
Godzilla is official spokesmonster for Cup Noodles in Brazil
If you need to wordlessly convey the idea of Japanese fast food to the Portuguese speaking people of Brazil who better to work with than Sensei Gojira himself? He even brought along some of his other rubber-suited movies stars (although I was sorry to see neither Mothra nor The Smog Monster included in the series). Message here: Monsters prefer to nom on people who eat Cup Noodles – which spells doom for graduate students everywhere. [Via: I Believe in Advertising]
Meanwhile in other movie-monster related advertising: A new campaign by The Chiba Lotte Marines seems to be positioning the team as the imperiled maidens of those movies. Given that the Marines are currently four games below .500 and seven games out of first place this is taking truth-in-advertising very seriously.
Japanese cafes where you pay to pet cats
“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” — Terry Pratchett
In Japan, pets are the new kids. As the nation rapidly edge toward zero population growth (1950 fertility rate = 3.65; 2009 = 1.21), cat and dog obsession is reaching strange heights – even for the Japanese. The latest example is the increasing number of cat cafes. According to the GlobalPost, one magazine listed 39 such establishments, up from 1 just two years ago.
At one of these, Calico, “customers pay to sip tea and stroke one of the 20-odd resident cats, representing 17 different breeds.” An hour of doing a cat’s bidding costs about $9.
Customers at Calico are given a set of rules when they enter:
- wear your cat-access pass around your neck at all times
- no one under 5th grade may enter
- cats too young to be held have scarves around their necks
- do not hold or stroke a cat if it resists you
- never wake a napping cat
- bringing cat nip or cat food to the cafe is strictly forbidden.
Oddly, nothing about trying to bathe them.
Fetishized girls join Hello Kitty, Doreamon as “cute” Japanese ambassadors
Japan’s latest ambassadors in marketing are a young woman dressed as a schoolgirl, another as a Victorian doll in voluminous frilly skirts and a singer dressed in a polka dot shirt with a bunny print, offset by bouffant back-combed hair. They join the previously named ambassadors Hello Kitty and Doraemon as the latest weapons in the nations attempt to conquer the world with cute.
Faced with the prospect of being overtaken in both economic and military might by giant neighbor China, Japan has been making concerted efforts to boost its “soft power,” a strategy that analysts see as important. “You get people to love your culture and use that as a way of gaining power around the world,” said Phil Deans, professor of international relations at Temple University’s Tokyo campus “Whether this is a strategy on which the world’s second largest economy can base its diplomacy, I have yet to be convinced.”
School girls are a huge theme in Japan’s sexual psyche – any questions on that issue can be answered by this post over at Tokyo Mango.
Ninjas — not pirates — sent to fight tourism slump
Nine ninjas have been sent to Honolulu to lure visitors from Japan. No, I am not making this up. The stealthy killers were hired by Hawaii Tourism Japan and come from Iga City, a castle town in Japan which apparently specializes in all things related to the ninja art.
Officials said it was the first time the ninja group has come to Hawai’i to promote a historically accurate depiction of a Japanese art popular in Hawai’i and worldwide. The tourism authorities emphasize that this ninja group is faithful to the ancient traditions. The black-clad specialists show off skills in swordplay, sickle work, juggling, throwing stars and even “piercing objects with flying chopsticks.”
Who knew that “piercing objects with flying chopsticks” was part of the ninjitsu tradition? Equally obscure is why Japanese would be lured to Hawaii by the chance to see something developed and practiced in their backyard. Would people from Illinois come to Hawaii for the chance to see one of their corrupt (redundant?) politicians take a bribe?
Related — and true — story: Friend of mine got a call from kindergarten her daughter was attending. Seems the teachers were concerned because the little girl kept insisting her father was a ninja. When told this issue of lying was a problem the friend replied with complete accuracy, “Her father teaches ninjitsu — what would you call him?”
I would call him “sir” unless told otherwise.
Japanese man tries to make cartoon marriage real
And to think the Right was worried about gay marriage …
A Japanese man has enlisted hundreds of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon characters, saying he feels more at ease in the “two-dimensional world.”
Which is why he works for the Bush administration… ba dum dum….
The comic (not to say cartoon) possibilities are endless here:
- Didn’t Rodney Dangerfield have a cartoon marriage?
- Whole new realms of infidelity become possible. Or, as Jessica Rabbit put it: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
- Instead of a divorce you get your marriage erased.
- What if the character dies in the comic book? Do you get bereavement leave? How about life insurance?
- What if the character is later brought back to life? Do you have to give the money back?
- Plastic surgery just got a whole lot cheaper.
- How do cartoons pay alimony?
- Where do couples register for gifts?
- Will a licensing fee replace the wedding license?
Japanese government now regretting naming Hello Kitty and Doraemon as ambassadors. The petition may have support in very high places, “Prime Minister Taro Aso is an avid fan of manga and recently complained that he has been too busy to read comic books since taking office.”
Best line in the story: “Japan only permits marriage between human men and women.”
I will support this petition only if we ad an amendment that allows me to adopt Ein from Cowboy Bebop and PenPen from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Or maybe they could adopt me.
International tensions prick condom ads
South Korea’s subway system said Thursday it had removed advertisements for Japanese condoms from its carriages amid growing public anger over Tokyo’s renewed claims to disputed islands. About 200 ads for Okamoto condoms were removed from carriages in Seoul on Tuesday, only five days after being posted, said Seoul Metro.
The ads didn’t actually show any condoms — heaven forbid! — but did include the phrase “No. 1 in Japan.”
Hello Kitty is 2nd marketing logo to be named ambassador by Japan
Japan has named Kitty an official tourism ambassador today. This follows the appointment last March of Doreamon to be the nation’s anime ambassador. While the press and public have been fooled into thinking these are benign actions, there is in fact a strong militaristic bent to both figures that should not be ignored. Both are frequently seen carrying weapons. I believe this is in fact Japan’s latest attempt at global domination.
I know first-hand the tourist power of the Kitty. It was the lure of the Sanrio Puroland theme park in Tokyo that got Mrs. CollateralDamage to convince us to go to Japan for a vacation (no complaints about this from me, btw). I am hoping that the siren call of Sanrio Harmonyland gets us back there for another visit.
If not she will have to make do with the multi-million-dollar musical featuring Hello Kitty that opened earlier this year in Beijing and is in the midst of a national tour. “Hello Kitty’s Dream Light Fantasy” is then scheduled to travel to Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S. over its three-year run. And there’s also the fact that, “according to her official profile from Sanrio, Hello Kitty lives with her family in London,“ which we will be visiting later this year.
Headline of the Day: “Japan’s baseball stadiums urged to drop octopus”
Won’t the octopi get hurt?
TOKYO (AFP) – Animal rights activists on Tuesday urged Japanese baseball stadiums to give up their usual fare of hot dogs and fried octopus balls and go vegetarian to fight global warming. Japan’s baseball commissioners announced as the season opened last week that the national pastime would take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by speeding up games. But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it would be more effective for concession stands to serve exclusively vegetarian fare.
When will PETA start speaking up on behalf of the endangered Tofu?
I would like to commend the Japanese baseball league for making game lengths an environmental issue. I hope MLB follows suit. Anything to speed the games up.
9:29 AM — Manny puts Sox ahead 6-4 in the 10th. They should play more games with a 13 hour time difference. I like watching baseball over breakfast.
And speaking of Japan & cephalapods: Got to watch the Japanese movie Calamari Wrestler last weekend. BRILLIANT! Plot: A dying pro-wrestler is cured by monks. Only drawback: cure turns him into a squid. He resumes his life as a pro-wrestler. Also resumes his relationship with his girlfriend. There are so many hysterical scenes it is hard to pick a favorite but I especially loved the one where the happy couple are skipping down the street hand-in-tentacle. It has special effects on a par with early Dr. Who and a truly wonderful campy humor. The Times quote on the box sums it up perfectly: “A cross between The Muppets and Godzilla.” Which is also a great idea for the next Muppets movie.
Japanese appoint cartoon character to be ambassador
Further proof of the growing influence of anime in Japanese politics: The foreign ministry announced Friday it was appointing the cartoon cat Doraemon as the nation’s first “anime ambassador,” in Japan’s latest effort to promote its soft power through its animation industry. Doraemon — or at least a person dressed as the earless, blue-and-white cat — will receive his official assignment letter from Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura in a ceremony scheduled for Wednesday.
- He’s got just as much foreign policy experience as either of our last two presidents did before taking office.
- They should have gone with Totoro.
- If they ever figure out a way to weaponize cute cartoon characters Japan will rule the world.