Gaijin Smash

Drivel In a Box

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on June 9, 2009

I have spoken out on the evil that is Japanese TV quite often, but I realize I’ve never really gone in depth about it. Please allow me to do so now.
If I had my way, I would never watch it. My TV would only be used for video games, movies, and…um…entertainment of the adult persuasion. Unfortunately, my wife loves Japanese TV, a habit I have yet to break her of. Since she gets home before I do, the TV is already on and spewing its crap before I can even object. I have a subscription to cable TV which includes international versions of American channels, and I’ve even tried to steer her in the direction of music, but she always comes back to the boob tube. Sigh.
I feel that I should clarify exactly why Japanese TV sucks. I’m sure many of you are thinking “but, American TV sucks too!” And yes, there are a lot of horrible American TV shows that make you question your faith in justice in the universe. But I feel that for all the crap, there are gems that shine brightly enough to more than make up for it.
In Japan, its all crap.


I’ll elaborate. Japanese TV is dominated by a type of TV show called “variety”. I find this naming ironic, because the shows all follow the same worn-out formula. Variety shows revolve around gathering a group of talent/celebrities, and one of the three activities…
1. Celebrities talking.
2. Celebrities eating.
3. Celebrities taking quizzes/playing some sort of game.
They may combine one or more of the above three (celebrities taking quizzes about what they ate, for example), but this is the nucleus of the Japanese variety TV show. As if that wasn’t drill-a-hole-in-your-skull boring enough, the celebrity pool in Japan isn’t that big, so you end up seeing the same damned people over and over again. Plus, the word for celebrity, or talent in Japanese, is “geinoujin”, which means “a person with talent abilities”. This is also highly ironic…as none of these people are actually even interesting, let alone talented. If you want to have some fun with a Japanese person, ask them who their favorite geinoujin is, then ask them what exactly their talent is – watch as their entire reality shatters around them. It’s fun!
Perhaps if Japanese TV had other stuff to balance it out, say a Japanese version of 24 (how would that work anyway? Jakku Bauaa has 24 hours to make sure his kids pass their college entrance exams while hiding his mistress from his wife?) or something like that, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but variety dominates the airwaves.* The crap is just inescapable. Its the lack of variety plus the horrible repetition that makes the situation so grim.
*I know many of you are thinking “but, what about drama/anime?!” Good drama only comes around every now and then, and even then the dramas are kind of formulaic (office, police, doctor, school (good teacher reforms bad kids), romance, family). Anime…I won’t get into that.
So basically, Japanese TV is like going out with your friends to dinner. Except, you are trapped in a glass box. While you can hear and see everything that happens on the outside, everyone outside is completely oblivious to you. So you can watch them all eat and talk about “you had to be there” stories and maybe play some games, but not actually participate. Again, I’ve tried to point this out to people; instead of watching this crap on TV, why not call up your friends and actually do it in real life?* And again, they will go into a semi-catatonic state at such a preposterous and unthinkable proposal.
*Maybe its just me, but has anyone else found the odds of calling up a Japanese friend randomly and having them be receptive to going out on the fly close to mathmatical zero? Even if they are just sitting at home doing nothing (or watching God-awful TV, which is pretty much nothing), the stock response seems to be, “But, it’s so sudden…” I’ve also asked some Japanese people about this, and the answer I’ve gotten is that they haven’t “mentally prepared” for going out. Not saying all Japanese people are guilty of this, but I’ve pretty much given up on meeting any Japanese friend unless the date was penciled into a calendar and ratified by the National Diet.
This entry was born from a conversation with my wife, where we found that the 5 shows I loathe the most are among the ones she most enjoys watching. So I would like to present my Top 5 Worst Japanese TV Shows. …Of course, giving these shows a ranking sort of implies that one is somehow better than the other. Don’t get me wrong. They’re all horrible, festering piles of steaming donkey shit. Its just that one is the donkey shit, and perhaps the next one is donkey shit covered in natto, and the next one is donkey shit covered in natto and left out on hot open asphalt.
Az Presents: The Top 5 Worst Japanese Television Shows On Air
(Disclaimer: List is based on personal preference…but they all suck. I Men’s Warehouse-Guarantee It.)
…Before I get to the Top 5 though, a shout out.
Honorable Mention: London Hearts
I feel kinda guilty for listing this show, this is one I can actually watch and even (gasp!) enjoy. As a man though, it is my duty to list this one for the epic Chris Hansen-level trapping they do.
I’d love to tell you what this show is about – but I actually have no idea. The content seems to change every week – sometimes they follow around a celebrity with hidden cameras for a whole week, sometimes they do the whole “gather celebrities and talk” bit, sometimes they pull “average” girls off the streets and give them makeovers. Why I have to give this show a nod involves some of the pranks they pull on guys.
Some segments will involve putting guys into situations where hidden cameras are in play, and then ridiculing the guy for what he does. That by itself isn’t too bad, but the unfortunate part is that the situations they put guys in are pretty much situations in which every red-blooded heterosexual male will react in almost the same way – and then they ridicule him for it, on camera.
For example, one bit involves having the target be at a beach. They will have a very attractive girl in a bikini sit somewhere in his immediate area, and then with hidden cameras, count how many times he tries to discreetly check out the girl. The show will start the segment off with a sum of money that they will give the guy for not looking, and continually subtract from it every time he takes a look. The guy, of course, does not know that this is taking place. In the studio, the hosts and the celebrity peanut gallery will laugh at how many times he looks/the ways in which he looks, and sometimes they even bring the guy’s girlfriend/wife in on it, and ask her if she thinks the guy is going to look (to which she usually says something like “I have confidence that he won’t look that much”). To this, I can only say………..OF COURSE WE ARE GOING TO LOOK! WTF DID YOU THINK?! “Oh wow, there’s a hot girl sitting over there rubbing herself down with lotion…but hey look at that fluffy cloud in the sky.” NO. FUCK NO. WE ARE GOING TO LOOK.
So, I don’t understand the humor/entertainment of laughing at a guy doing something that is completely and totally natural. They might as well have a seqment where they ridicule people for breathing. “Look at this guy! Look at his dependence on oxygen and his constant need to expel carbon dioxide from his body. Look, he just exhaled again! Let us laugh at his shame!” To further add insult to injury, the segment will end with the bikini girl going up to the guy, and verbally accosting him for constantly staring at her. The guy will be bewildered until the staff comes up to explain that he was just targeted by the show.
And yes, to all the girls/women reading, we look. Accept it.
In another epic trap segment, they will have a cute young girl (they often use models for this) give her email address to one of the celebrity guys. The guy may email, at which point the “girl” will email back – but in reality, its the (male) host of the show. The girl will express interest in the guy, which eventually leads to a date. For the date, the original model will come back, and with an earpiece and the direction of the hosts, will be very into the guy. This will culminate into her asking him back to her apartment to spend the night. As the two walk back to her place, the guy will fall into a hole that the show has constructed in the ground. “From Heaven to Hell”, they call it. As the guy, understandably upset, climbs out of the hole, he’s greeted by lights, cameras, and the show’s hosts + peanut gallery standing around the hole and laughing at him.
This shit just ain’t right.
Give a guy a model-calibur girl, have her hang off his every word and be totally interested in him, and then have her invite him back to her place…what guy isn’t going to go for this? And then as the guy is all happy and preparing himself for a nice night of sex, he gets dropped in a hole. Because the cameras are on him, the poor guy can only smile and laugh it off, but I think the most usual response here would be: murderous rage. At least, that would be my response. Like I would instantly double in size, start glowing green, and then just Hulk Smash whatever happened to be in my line of sight.
So yeah, the epic trapping is just plain wrong. As a fellow male, I cannot condone this nonsense at all. Even if it is kinda entertaining. I can’t help but to think “What if that were me?” For the bikini girl segment, I’d end up owing the TV station money. Luckily, I have an understanding wife – not only does she not care if I look at other women, she’ll even point out women she thinks I should be looking at. I think that’s a pretty good deal. But yeah, for the humiliation of men doing ordinary men things, London Hearts earns an honorable mention on my list.
Next Entry: Getting started on the Top 5!

Advertisements

73 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Sam G said, on June 9, 2009 at 3:41 am

    London Hearts actually sounds interesting to me. I’m a little bit sadistic, so I’d definitely laugh at the person caught. Out of curiosity, what’s the approximate ratio of variety shows to other things, like drama, news, anime, Western dubs and other things? And do they tend to show at worse times than the variety shows?

  2. K-Prime said, on June 9, 2009 at 3:45 am

    wtf? first entry, ever??
    I’m curious why you won’t go into anime…

  3. Arrow said, on June 9, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Now see, this shit is why I limit my Japanese TV to Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. I realize that’s no better than anime, but at least if I’m watching young Japanese adults getting up to random hijinks, I get monsters blowing up out of the deal.

  4. not a doktor said, on June 9, 2009 at 4:35 am

    It’s funny that the ad on here is for the American Iron Chef, that show lost all charm when it was imported here.
    Also there’s been a small swell of physical ‘Takashi’s Castle” type shows (like the ‘fit through the moving wall’ one) that are ok-ish, but remove the embarrassment factor. My mom said she ends up feeling bad for the people on there.
    Also I just saw an ad on MTV for an imported Silent Library. It even looks like the same set.

  5. K.K. said, on June 9, 2009 at 4:45 am

    I remembered a show just chronicling this celebrity glutton (a really slim lady) on her quest to eat up the entire Japan while the hosts kept feeding her and marveled at how she could just eat everything at huge portion… Quality TV I tell you

  6. Marjorie said, on June 9, 2009 at 4:48 am

    Oh man, that show’s just mean. Who wouldn’t check out a hot girl at the beach? And the hole in the ground… that’s just sadistic.
    On the bright side, I was in Japan for the first time last month, and it was kind of amusing to realize that I could mostly follow most Japanese TV, because it’s all so America’s-Funniest-Home-Video-ish that you don’t have to understand the language to follow what’s going on. Maybe that’s a plus?

  7. CW said, on June 9, 2009 at 5:06 am

    I was over there for only 3 weeks, and after 2 days I couldn’t stand watching Japanese television. It really mind numbing. The whole celebrity eating thing made me laugh after a while, but it was a laugh of hysteria! How many times could they say “oishii” or “umai” (tasty, to anyone who doesn’t know) to food that looks like it had just been thrown up by a drunk Japanese chef the night before which had been on a massive drinking binge, and then garnished with some herbs.
    Az! Completely agree about you with the friend thing too. Even if you know that they’re going to be free and just feel like hanging out with them on the spare of the moment, it’s like they have a schedule of NOT doing anything as well as doing something. I mean, there are some rare exceptions, but it is usually the case.

  8. Ook said, on June 9, 2009 at 5:11 am

    I think, Japanese people need to plan everything even their “fun time” like going out with friends or the answers they give.
    Next time you will ask them what talent this “famous” person have, they will have their pre-made answer ready. But you came out of the blue with a question or a proposition a little bit to direct for their planned discution/life planning pattern…

  9. feitclub said, on June 9, 2009 at 5:40 am

    London Hearts is definitely one of my guilty pleasures. Somehow watching people fall into pits gets me every time.
    For the worst list, I nominate Pitanko Can Can (it’s on Friday nights). It’s nothing but eating and longing close-ups on the food. One of the eaters is usually a big fat guy too who makes these really uncomfortable faces after he takes a bite. Sadly, my wife loves the host so she never misses an episode.

  10. Rob said, on June 9, 2009 at 5:57 am

    “In Japan, its all crap.”
    This is hyperbole, right? What about Hello! productions like Haromoni@, Yorosen, and predecessors like Hello! Morning? Blows away any and everything on American T.V. IMO…

  11. Joe said, on June 9, 2009 at 6:43 am

    What about Gaki no Tsukai? I always thought the downtown guys were great.
    While the looking one doesn’t seem that bad that “Heaven to Hell” thing sounds pure evil, don’t think I would just laugh that off…

  12. Joseph Nieves said, on June 9, 2009 at 9:25 am

    “geinoujin” – you mean a nation of Paris Hiltons???
    I am reminded of Murphy’s Law of Television Viewing:
    Pure Drivel drives Ordinary Drivel right off the screen.

  13. Jeff said, on June 9, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Game Center CX?

  14. Shen said, on June 9, 2009 at 10:34 am

    In concurrence with K-Prime, I would like you to get into anime also.

  15. Cait said, on June 9, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Honestly, i found this entry scarcely entertaining. It’s okay to have different likings and to also state them, but i think you are a bit over-offended by a show making fun of only stereotypes, as almost any comedy show does. Why not a show making fun of sex-hungry men, when there is enough shows making fun of shopping-/shoe-/talk-hungry women or whatever. Maybe they cannot be found on Japanese TV; I don’t know about that, but we got enough so-called comedians e. g. in Germany that make fun of every and any stereotype you could imagine. I don’t see why a certain type of guy should be left out. And Japan seems to be a country making a lot of fun of men being undersexed or inferiour to women. Accept it they way you command or let’s say ask us to accept men staring after other women.
    On a side note: I once cherished this blog for it’s wonderful stories taken straight out of life and for your amazing talent describing other people and make every character alive in front of our very eyes. I have the feeling this special something has vanished over time and that is very sad imho. I cannot ask you to go back there; you’ve got to do it your way. Just kinda wanted to let you know.

  16. code monkey said, on June 9, 2009 at 10:39 am

    At least the commercials in Japan are entertaining. And those late night foreign language lessons show could be entertaining. And those guys roaming around for the best eateries…
    In Singapore, if it weren’t for cable TV, TV would just be plain horrible. You the same “talent pool” all over (as if all the better looking people up and left for the cable networks).
    But yeah, the “variety” show (ironic, isn’t it?), I think is an Asian thing. But at least Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines are putting out better (not necessarily the best) serials.
    Oh, I pity you Az. “I cried because the local shows are crap…until I saw a man who had no choice but to watch the local shows.”

  17. Me said, on June 9, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Actually, 24 is running in Japan, I think on FoxJapan…
    Maybe not right now, though.

  18. Anonymous said, on June 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I am not Japanese, but back when I had friends I’d turn down going out a lot because I wasn’t “mentally prepared”. I wouldn’t SAY that except to other people who understood it (never the ones to ask me :P), though. I don’t know why I feel like this, and I really wish I didn’t. I suppose it’s an anxiety problem, I’m obsessed with being alert and prepared.
    STRANGELY THOUGH, I’ve never had a problem going out if someone straight up comes over to pick me up without warning. Try that! ๐Ÿ˜› Just bypassing the lack of time to mentally prepare entirely. I dunno, worked for me.
    Also, I will never understand the interest in people who are not interesting. Dear god.

  19. Anonymous said, on June 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I am not Japanese, but back when I had friends I’d turn down going out a lot because I wasn’t “mentally prepared”. I wouldn’t SAY that except to other people who understood it (never the ones to ask me :P), though. I don’t know why I feel like this, and I really wish I didn’t. I suppose it’s an anxiety problem, I’m obsessed with being alert and prepared.
    STRANGELY THOUGH, I’ve never had a problem going out if someone straight up comes over to pick me up without warning. Try that! ๐Ÿ˜› Just bypassing the lack of time to mentally prepare entirely. I dunno, worked for me.
    Also, I will never understand the interest in people who are not interesting. Dear god.

  20. Anonymous said, on June 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    London Hearts needs to bring back “The Stinger”. That was always fun, as long as it’s not your girlfriend. I don’t miss much japanese TV but I did like Ururun and the show that had the binbou battles.

  21. Anonymous said, on June 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    London Hearts needs to bring back “The Stinger”. That was always fun, as long as it’s not your girlfriend. I don’t miss much japanese TV but I did like Ururun and the show that had the binbou battles.

  22. Roger Monticello said, on June 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Keep in mind, gentlemen, that Mr. Gaijinsmash went into this some 8+ years ago as a massive japanese culture fiend like yourselves, and has now come out the other side
    If he weren’t completely immersed in Japanese culture he might find Japanese TV more interesting and American TV less so

  23. Amanda said, on June 9, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I think men looking at other women is okay, but us (women) looking at other men is perfectly okay too. If you want us to accept that you look at other women, then you have to accept that we look at other men.
    In my case it’s a bit reversed – my boyfriend complains when I ogle any hot guy that walks by and rolls his eyes whenever I point out a girl I think is cute.

  24. Davey said, on June 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I gotta say, as a guy who ain’t been laid in so long my bollocks scrape the floor as I walk, that’s just… words can’t describe it. There might not even be a kanji for it.
    Especially the last part. I mean fair enough, the looking part is pretty amusing, but leading a dude on with a nice piece of arse and then BAM! cockblock, that should be cruelty to men right there. I mean if you lead a stray dog on with a steak and then close the door on it, the RSPCA would fuck you in the arse so fast, but you do it to a dude and that shit’s funny?

  25. Aaron Brown said, on June 9, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    What about a couple of those shows I’ve seen on youtube that have Japanese people run through those gauntlet type activities? Do they show those over there? Those would be mildly entertaining. Kinda like Double Dare or American Gladiators over here…well, back in the day, anyway. -_-
    Oh yes, and I must say…I half hate and applaud you for that Busted Tees ad in the upper right corner. They show the same darkly pretty girl with the “Why so Syria?” shirt. Can’t…stop…STARING…!
    …there’s just something about darkly pretty girls. *drool*

  26. Eli said, on June 9, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Re: Cait’s post.
    Az’s outrage was not at a show making fun of “sex-hungry men.” It was at a show portraying normal male reactions to be “sex-hungry” in a way that humiliates them (and sometime their girlfriends) publicly for actions that would be taken by pretty much any heterosexual male in that situation. He clearly wrote that in his post.
    Unfortunately, the awkward wording of the last half of the first paragraph makes it difficult to understand and respond to.
    As far as your side note goes: I have a feeling that the talent you are referring to has not “vanished.” Az does have a rare gift for translating his world into an engrossing blog for us to read. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that Az’s life outside the JET world doesn’t lend itself so readily to the kind of in depth (and often character driven) narratives he was producing for his first few years of writing for the site.
    To Az: I thought that this entry, as usual, was very entertaining and I eagerly await your top 5.
    (Az’s Note: Thank you.)

  27. Anonymous said, on June 9, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I wanted to respond to Cait’s comment. You seem to be of the opinion that Az thinks it’s in some way “unfair” or “just wrong” to make fun of men for wanting to look at women. While I agree with you that, like most men, Az doesn’t find it to be very funny, rather just a natural physiological fact of life, I disagree with your charge that he feels that it’s wrong and should never be done. What he objected to was that it was done in such a sadistic, conniving, and degrading manner. A German comedian cracking jokes about it is one thing, and I don’t think Az would object to that. Take your women and shopping/shoes example. It’s fine to crack jokes about their ridiculous obsession, but totally tasteless and cruel if you have women toiling through all sorts of uncomfortable situations in hopes of obtaining some new designer shoes, and then being (surprise!) dropped in a pit or having a bucket of slime poured over their head, etc. Even if some people might fine that a little funny (I bet most women wouldn’t), it would be so cruel that most would rather not watch/endorse it.

  28. Anonymous said, on June 9, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    I wanted to respond to Cait’s comment. You seem to be of the opinion that Az thinks it’s in some way “unfair” or “just wrong” to make fun of men for wanting to look at women. While I agree with you that, like most men, Az doesn’t find it to be very funny, rather just a natural physiological fact of life, I disagree with your charge that he feels that it’s wrong and should never be done. What he objected to was that it was done in such a sadistic, conniving, and degrading manner. A German comedian cracking jokes about it is one thing, and I don’t think Az would object to that. Take your women and shopping/shoes example. It’s fine to crack jokes about their ridiculous obsession, but totally tasteless and cruel if you have women toiling through all sorts of uncomfortable situations in hopes of obtaining some new designer shoes, and then being (surprise!) dropped in a pit or having a bucket of slime poured over their head, etc. Even if some people might fine that a little funny (I bet most women wouldn’t), it would be so cruel that most would rather not watch/endorse it.

  29. cosmoZ said, on June 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I hate variety show. They all just a bunch of stupid show that only focus on stupidity and celebrity. I think there is a lot of variety show in Japan because their country is overcrowded by multi-unknown-talented celebrity and goof face idiotic host.
    Sorry if my English is bad.

  30. Helen said, on June 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Az! HAHA you finally tied the knot?? Congrats man! Well, its prob. old news but I was just thinking woah. I used to read your posts all the time, they made me laugh so and for the past couple of years I’d stopped. Just wondered yesterday “Yeah how is Gaijin Smash doing now anyways?” and lol lol lol, you’d already gone and gotten hitched fantastic! Don’t let your married life impede too much on posting updates on Japan though!
    Warm hugs and wishing you the best.
    (AHA highlights, photo threads? I never thought we’d actually get to see Ms Americanised, Cherry Boy or all the old-time chars. I still wanna see Moeko though, she’s been a favourite. And Velma. Hehehe.)

  31. Sven Viking said, on June 9, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Re: Wife’s aversion to anime: Even Ghibli?

  32. wmata said, on June 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    There are some good programs on Japanese TV. Two of my favorites are ็ง˜ๅฏ†ใฎใ‚ฑใƒณใƒŸใƒณSHOW on Nihon TV and ๅคงๆ”น้€ !!ๅŠ‡็š„ใƒ“ใƒ•ใ‚ฉใƒผใ‚ขใƒ•ใ‚ฟใƒผ on TV Asahi. ็ง˜ๅฏ†ใฎใ‚ฑใƒณใƒŸใƒณSHOW talks about all the various regional oddities in Japan, from food to customs to songs, which I find to be pretty neat, living in Tokyo. Japan has a reputation for being homogeneous, but if you watch this show you will quickly find that to be untrue. ใƒ“ใƒ•ใ‚ฉใƒผใ‚ขใƒ•ใ‚ฟใƒผ shows rebuilding of houses (think “This Old House” but in Japan); some of the ones they feature are pretty amazing, and it really makes you respect the skills of the architects to create livable environments in such small or restricted spaces.
    ใƒŠใƒ‹ใ‚ณใƒฌ็็™พๆ™ฏ is also a fun show on TV Asahi where they show contributions from viewers of weird or unusual sights/customs from around the country. Some of them are pretty weird, like running a relay race holding a sea cucumber instead of a baton, or a giant spider robot built by a guy in his garage.

  33. Alita said, on June 9, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Ooh I love London Hearts. Too bad I’m usually only home at the end of it. The pranks they have played on Kano Eiko are hilarious because the guy is so full of himself.
    I’m a fan of most of the variety television, though more the ones where they are doing games (like Tokyo Friend Park and Hexagon) or watching strange news from around the world. The news is the interesting part so the geinoujin don’t have to be.
    Most of these shows would be boring in the US because they’d always have your average joe, and no I don’t want to see average joe on quizzes. Yes it makes sense in America where celebrities are ridiculously overpaid, but here even celebrities need some extra cash so I say we make them work for it.

  34. HiEv said, on June 9, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Heh… When you talked about the types of variety shows they had on Japanese TV it reminded me of a lot of what I see when my roommates watch Spanish TV. Just add in some cheesy soap operas (with really hot females!) and it’s pretty similar. I seriously don’t know how they can watch that crap for very long.
    Still, I’m sure that there is _some_ good stuff on Japanese TV, even if it’s just American imports. But then, what do I know? I enjoy cliche harem anime shows from Japan, despite knowing that they’re just dumb entertainment. Opinions on what is “good” will obviously vary. (And yeah, I know you’re “forced” to avoid anime so as not to look like an otaku.)
    Regarding “London Hearts”, do the people who watch the show look away from the TV when the hot girl is oiling herself up? Ha! Of course not. No, the show is using exactly what it’s making fun of to get people to watch it. I’m not sure if that’s ironic, hypocritical, or both!
    Anyways, I can’t wait to read about the next awful show on your list. Thanks.

  35. anonymous NY girl said, on June 9, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    I LOVED this post AZ!! And I love London Hearts! I still have some old episodes of…Idol Trap, was it? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a member of the same school of thought as your wife. I don’t mind at all when my boyfriend looks and will point out good oogling prospects, and I don’t think guys should have to apologize for natural male behavior as long as they don’t go off the deep end with it. But it really is morbidly facinating to watch another human being dig themselves a deeeep hole and then fall into it. LOL! Sorry.
    I think there’s something about watching Japanese television IN Japan. When I’m home here in the states, I will happily watch shows that very likely made your list. SMAPxSMAP, Utaban, Shin Domoto Kyodai, Dotch Cooking…I know, I know. But when I watch them in Tokyo, they seem so much less interesting, pretty (dare I say it?) boring actually. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Or whatever.
    Anyway, been reading you for years & love what you do! Can’t wait to see which gems made the top 5…so much to choose from. Keep up the great work AZ!

  36. Anonymous said, on June 10, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Hey Az why dont you just download your shows or watch them on Hulu? Although Im not sure if its accessible in Japan. (Az’s Note: It isn’t.)
    I dont even watch tv the conventional way anymore since I hate commercials and the only good thing on TV is sports.

  37. Anonymous said, on June 10, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Hey Az why dont you just download your shows or watch them on Hulu? Although Im not sure if its accessible in Japan. (Az’s Note: It isn’t.)
    I dont even watch tv the conventional way anymore since I hate commercials and the only good thing on TV is sports.

  38. RVIsh said, on June 10, 2009 at 2:14 am

    I’m sure that Japanese TV sucks as much as you say, (sounds like mostly SO’s with 100% more reaction shots thrown in to me). However, have you been keeping up with American TV these days? This pretty much sums it up: http://www.cracked.com/blog/columnist-watches-shitty-tv-regrets-it-immediately/
    Once that ‘Island/Fear Factor’ show(s) came out, it was all downhill from there. Anything worth watching now, is worth watchin on DVD.
    On a completely unrelated [yet still slightly relate] note, you should know the ‘guys looking at girls and their GF’s okaying it’ thing works both ways. My boyfriend makes it a point to point out chicks making out in a bar/wherever to me whenever he notices it first. Sometimes I think I enjoy it more than he does.

  39. Edgar Nigma said, on June 10, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Got to agree with you on this one Az. Aside from the more adult orientated programming brodcast late at night (oh, and Sasuke; you yanks know it as “Ninja Warrior.” Nagano is my hero!) Japanese variety is basically a dark, abyssmal dirge pit of soul-sucking dread.
    I think Az would enjoy it if all his wife’s/Japan’s favourite geinoujin were stuck on a deserted island and had to fend for themselves for three months, think “Survivor: geinoujin edition.” Except in this version nobody gets sent home for the entire three months they’re out there. It would be beautiful, no? Maybe make you the host; as long as nobody called you ‘Sapp’ no one would get hurt.

  40. Beto said, on June 10, 2009 at 9:03 am

    You forgot that most shows involve a Ryokan and onsen. Plus they make the stars walk from the train station instead of paying for a taxi(cheap bastards).
    I liked the London Hearts were they told the one lady she was going to be in a fashion show in Paris if she lost a bunch of weight. After doing this she was forced to model terrible clothes with her ass hanging out. At the end, the “designer” came out and was the guy from the show with all the teeth. She was pissed but it was too funny.

  41. Anonymous said, on June 10, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I am betting you can’t comment on the anime since your wife would probably murder you to remove the shame you would bring on the family by watching it, you filthy otaku! Can’t comment on what you don’t watch. If it’s something else, I am sad my guess flew wide of the mark.
    If that is the problem, just stream it online when she’s not around, that might work.

  42. Anonymous said, on June 10, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I am betting you can’t comment on the anime since your wife would probably murder you to remove the shame you would bring on the family by watching it, you filthy otaku! Can’t comment on what you don’t watch. If it’s something else, I am sad my guess flew wide of the mark.
    If that is the problem, just stream it online when she’s not around, that might work.

  43. Aaron said, on June 10, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    There’s one thing in Japanese TV I would definitely watch. Pro sumo.
    The one-hour compilations of the six major tournaments were shown on Eurosport until last year. Then, the Sumo Association of Japan wanted more money. Eurosport did not comply. And, now sumo is not shown and Sumo Association doesn’t get any money at all.

  44. Kikuchi said, on June 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    dude…the part about ppl not going out with u if u randomly call them is just so true…
    and so is the definition of jap tv!!

  45. Anonymous said, on June 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Is Gaki No Tsukai no longer on the air? From what I’ve seen of the show it’s hilarious.

  46. Anonymous said, on June 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Is Gaki No Tsukai no longer on the air? From what I’ve seen of the show it’s hilarious.

  47. evil_tennyo said, on June 10, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Az, I’m surprised too you won’t go into the anime topic… aside from your wife prob not approving, didn’t you used to like anime?
    As for “London Hearts”… I wish we had that here! Nothing like laughing at other people’s misfortune!

  48. duralsilver said, on June 10, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    London…Hearts…
    If that’s a Japanese reality show then, I would probably heed the advice given to me by Robot Chicken: “Go read a book.”
    Good lord, and the way that you described it made me say “WTF? Is this the Japanese version of to catch a predator or something?”
    Then all these people jump out of their hiding places and laugh at the guy which is pretty random as hell.
    Are there any reality TV shows that isn’t like dramas on MTV or worse… Big Brother (sorry BB fans, but I don’t get it.)

  49. Xak said, on June 11, 2009 at 12:23 am

    Wow, you aren’t kidding about that being lame. And as a girl, as you know from your wife, we look, too. I feel bad about the guy falling in the hole–that’s not funny, that’s crap. If that’s only your honorable mention, I’m scared to read about the sun-ripened natto-encrusted donkey shit.

  50. Jonathan said, on June 11, 2009 at 12:29 am

    I have to agree here. When I went over to Japan, my idea of television over there would be total awesome-ness and nonstop anime/tokusatsu action. Someone had warned me otherwise, however, and I had read the same thing from people online. However, my faith wavered only slightly up until the point that I actually sat down one night to enjoy it.
    Or, so I thought.
    My first experience with Japanese television involved a bizarre game show. For those of you that don’t know, the game shows in Japan are even more mind-boggling and horrific. The one I wound up viewing was a strange mixture of The Price Is Right meets Jackass…
    On crack!
    I am not kidding. I saw men doing the sort of things on tv you shouldn’t have been able to coherse them into going through with photographs of them screwing three fat women at once as blackmail material. I thought my eyes might burn out of their sockets. More to the point, I couldn’t figure out why all three guys were HAPPY at having lost! All three of them were just grinning their heads off as they broke into an imprompt dance number (minus the music!) after being told they were screwed over. It made no sense, and the language barrier had little to do with it.

  51. Moe said, on June 11, 2009 at 2:52 am

    So Az, what if they had a segment on how many times Ikko checked *you* out?
    That would make an interesting show… right?

  52. planted said, on June 11, 2009 at 5:16 am

    “Not saying all Japanese people are guilty of this, but I’ve pretty much given up on meeting any Japanese friend unless the date was penciled into a calendar and ratified by the National Diet.”
    Having cut my teeth, socially speaking, in Tokyo during my formative years I thought the scheduled-only social life planning that I endured from age 5 to 16(driving age) was somehow a form a neglect that bred isolation, quashing of motivation, and lack of social development… but now with this info in the quoted line above I can be free of this misconception and realize my mother was just infected by this Japanese social disease and that I’m even more “Japanese” than I thought. Three “bonzai!”s for Introversion and the death of opportunities that poor eye contact has bred since moving back the States at the cresting of mein puberty.
    -bonzai

  53. Zolbrod said, on June 11, 2009 at 5:26 am

    London Hearts is one of my favorite shows actually!
    The pranks they pull can be REALLY harsh (especially on Kano Eiko, like someone already said) and the bits where they followed Torii Miyuki around were hilarious (because of her), but my favorite episoded BY FAR, are the Kakuzuke ones, where they ask 100 guys to rank 10 celebrity women according to some (mostly negative) statement, like “doesn’t have a clue” or “most likely to be bad in bed” etc.
    The catfights breaking out every week are extremely enjoyable ๐Ÿ™‚
    Apart from that, I enjoy ๆ‹ใฎ็ฉบ้จ’ใŽ (Sanma at his best), ใ‚ขใƒกใƒˆใƒผใ‚ฏ, ใ—ใ‚ƒในใใ‚Š007 (Variety shows with just people talking CAN be really funny) and some quizzes.
    And I found out they’ve been airing reruns of ALF lately, which holds up surprisingly well today ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’ll say this though, Japanese Dramas are absolutely godawful, every single one of them.

  54. Misty said, on June 11, 2009 at 5:45 am

    Az, you might not want to come back to America ever at this point. One of the new reality/game shows that has been renewed for a second season is “Wipeout”, a show that is exactly like those random Japanese “game” shows. Only completely American.
    On that note, as far as I’ve heard/noticed, “I’ve Survived a Japanese Game show” has not been renewed for a second season (and yes, that is EXACTLY what it sounds like). Add in the fact that everything is getting mosaiced these days and yeah. Thats why, 90% of the time my TV is on, it’s either a movie or a videogame. I only watch maybe 3 hours of TV a day on average.

  55. shibuyalover said, on June 11, 2009 at 6:26 am

    I luv this post!! I also completely understand about japanese pplz not going out!! It’s like they don’t want to go out or something!! Personally, I love to go out and have me some fun!! Yeah, so true about men looking at pretty women. I mean some with girls and a hot guy it’s completely natural but it is funny!! hahhaa but that’s embarassing about the model and the guy then BAM lights, camera, action!! lol

  56. tsukinodeynatsu said, on June 11, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    London Hearts used to be great, back in the day – before the stuffed the format up.
    Basically they used to get girls to come on when they suspected their men of cheating on them, and then they’d play the model trap —- at some point during the ‘date’ the model would go to the bathroom, and the wife/girlfriend would come back and take her place at the table.
    Probably quite sad for the lady, but great fun for the viewer (in a vulture kinda way).
    They’d also set up scenarios to trap ‘mashou onna’ – women who basically just use guys for money, and date several at a time – and humiliate them for it on TV.
    I remember a segment where they’d put him in a ‘His’ onsen and her in a ‘Hers’ and let them confess things to each other (not quite as much fun, but I remember one of the ‘confessions’ being ‘I’ve actually got a son and am a single mother’ … this being to the guy she’d dated for over a year at the time).
    I miss the old London Hearts ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The new version is so sanitised!!!!

  57. kris said, on June 12, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    hahahaha such nonsense is what draws me to japanese tv! it may be cuz im ใƒ‰S but seeing the pain and shame of the victims brings me so much joy…
    anyways its true that japanese tv is just the same people doing (insert food/talk related action)over and over, then rinse and repeat. that kinda makes it sad. but what are your thoughts on owarai? does that count as variety?

  58. Rob said, on June 12, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    The term “trap” has come to mean a well disguised transsexual in hentai circles so at first I was confused as to the nature of the shows since you talked about traps.
    Incidentally there is a Japanese show about traps now.

  59. Ret said, on June 13, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Like Shibuyalover and someone else mentioned, the skits you see on London Hearts these days where they target (usually) single entertainers with models are fairly recent. A decade ago, these targeted normal people with Blackmail or the Stinger. Basically a normal woman in a relationship wanted to see if her guy was cheating on her would go on Blackmail, where they’d set up a meeting via random cell phone mails (people used to do this) to see if her man would cheat. In Stinger, a guy would set up a date with his gf, then cancel at the last minute while a host would then try to pick her up for a date, then later get her home for sex. It’s only been the last 5-8 years that they’ve switched to mostly targeting other celebrities.

  60. HWG said, on June 14, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Sounds like Arashi no Shukudai-kun or an even more low of Cartoon KATTUN……wonder if my guesses will be featured =] But i agree that the “talent” are very very poor and the “comedians” are reeaaaallllly annoying than funny.
    London Hearts reminds me of some crappy annoying UK show where they just purposely p!$$ you off. e.g an old lady at a pedestrian crossing when a driver lets her cross she offers to let him pass, when he starts to move she steps out onto the road, this continues until there’s a backlog of traffic.
    p.s i read that the drama Bloody Monday is 24-esque?

  61. AutumnFire said, on June 15, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Az, when you and Mrs. Az move to the U.S., please introduce your lovely wife to the joys of educational programs on PBS. Of course, right now you’ll have to hone her English skills. In the meantime, she’ll probably love Bridezilla or some other load of drivel.

  62. Ernest Radley said, on June 16, 2009 at 7:54 am

    The first time I ever turned on a TV in Japan I saw two guys dressed up like the Three Musketeers walking around Tokyo trying to talk women into showing their breasts. So they finally get a girl to lift up her shirt. Then they took her into the TV studio, painted her breasts red and white and pressed them to a board. The board with the breast imprints then was shown to a panel of judges who held up cards with a number from 1 to 10, like it was Olympic gymnastics or something.
    I have yet to see anything else remotely as interesting on TV here since. In fact, 3 years ago I put my TV in the closet and just totally gave up on Japanese TV. The NTT guy even stopped trying to shake me down for money. He just told me to pay if I ever took my TV out of the closet.

  63. Deepspacebeans said, on June 17, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Zolbrod: get HBO, it solves all problems.
    Actually, if you have a nice satellite service in Japan, my answer is the same. Before getting HBO and Showtime, the only thing I would ever turn my TV on for would be Downtown DX/Gaki no Tsukai or a decent NHK documentary, perhaps news (NHK again, I cannot stand most other stations for news, especially Fuji TV)and The only thing I would go out of my way to make sure I would watch would be the End of year special for Gaki no tsukai.
    TV in Japan rots your very being with inane, stupid drivel and melodramatic crap. I could stand the low production budget of most series if it weren’t for the ridiculously strained overacting.
    This obsession with talent whose first priority is to look pretty leaves me utterly baffled sometimes and I really have to wonder if these studies and broadcasting companies really think that I series could not possibly fly without handing some pretty face with zero acting ability a fracking leading role.

  64. Anonymous said, on June 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Regarding being “mentally prepared” for going out- I am somewhat like this, so it’s not just limited to japanese.

  65. Anonymous said, on June 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Regarding being “mentally prepared” for going out- I am somewhat like this, so it’s not just limited to japanese.

  66. Doug said, on June 26, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Truth be told, I stopped watching TV years ago after our daughter was born and don’t miss it. My wife who is also Japanese, does love the same variety shows you speak of, but she does watch some other shows which I think are pretty good.
    For our little one, I have to admit I think the children’s TV on NHK is overall much better than what I see in the US, so I am pretty supportive of that. Also, I like Okamura enough that any show he is on (not as guest, but host) is well worth the time. That guy is comic gold. ๐Ÿ™‚
    All the best,
    Doug

  67. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2009 at 8:28 am

    You talk about how America has some redeeming shows…
    Is “Friends” one of those ones you like? Remember what happened to Ross?
    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  68. Anonymous said, on June 28, 2009 at 8:28 am

    You talk about how America has some redeeming shows…
    Is “Friends” one of those ones you like? Remember what happened to Ross?
    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  69. Tomoyo said, on July 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    “London Hearts” sounds like something that’s probably going to be on American TV in about five years. And I just know someone’s going to end up getting killed.

  70. Blues said, on July 6, 2009 at 6:31 am

    The London hearts thing about a wife trying to find out if someone’s cheating sounds like something that they used to do in the States. I think talkshows used to do it before everyone started using lie detectors.

  71. Marz said, on July 12, 2009 at 11:04 am

    It’s either very odd coincidence or an Asian thing regarding aversion to going out on short-notice. I’m married to a Filipino and had a long relationship with a Korean, both provided me with ample opportunities to see this phenomena in action with both them and their friends.

  72. Eric said, on August 2, 2009 at 1:48 am

    I lived in Japan for 6 years from the mid 80s to early 90s and your blog was a lot of fun to read. LOL. Way to go, Sanma was an ass back then, and it doesn’t sound like much of anything on TV there has changed either. I’d rather give a cam corder to a group of kindergarden kids and watch the result than watch those moronic variety shows. There used to be a wife oriented cooking show where a medical researcher would present the health benefits of a different Japanese food. It was on weekdays not much after noon and was very interesting. Keep writing, you do it very well.

  73. seth said, on November 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    “Look at this guy! Look at his dependence on oxygen and his constant need to expel carbon dioxide from his body. Look, he just exhaled again! Let us laugh at his shame!”
    Did anyone else hear that in a Mooninite voice?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: