Well, I’m gonna be on TV again. Same bat-time, same bat-channel.
One of the tough things about keeping up a site that catalogues the weird little quirks of Japan, is that the longer you live here, the more the weird becomes normal. Living here 5 going on 6 years, I don’t even bat an eye anymore at grandmothers with rainbow-colored hair, old men in dresses, festivals that worship the penis, et al. It’s just…Japan. But on the other hand, the closer I get to Japan being normal, the further I get from my home of America being normal. So now Japanese people can point out things about my homeland that they don’t get, and I can understand where they’re coming from somewhat. I’m not sure if America will ever reach the levels of eyebrow-raising hijinks that Japan does…but not for the lack of trying.
I don’t think I’ve officially come out and said it, but I have a new job.* Its further from my old job, which means I have to ride an earlier train. Yep, you guessed it…new train crew.
*New job is also the reason why I don’t post so much. I’m getting closer and closer to the Japanese salaryman dream/nightmare with each passing day.
Although one morning, I was running late and ended up riding the old train. Didn’t see Sub-Zero (but this is the summer, maybe he’s hibernating…?), but I did see Shorty and Brandy. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but Shorty chews on her fingers, a bad habit that has apparently still continued up until now. Shorty is kind of cute, but girls who like to bite down on long cylindrical objects tend to lose sex appeal points. Brandy got a haircut – I like longer hair so I’m not a fan, but she’s still cute and still carries stupidly expensive bags. Even if we did hook up, I imagine she wouldn’t let me hit unless the condom was from Versace or something. I also didn’t see Massive Melon Tits or Tats, so I can only hope that they and their plentiful/graffitied bosoms are doing well wherever they are.
Before we get to the #1 spot, there’s one more show that deserves mention.
Dishonorable Mention: Waratte Ii Tomo!
The title of the show translates to “Its Okay To Laugh!”. Which is a pretty bold statement, considering they don’t give you much to laugh at. Its almost like a dentist who specializes in root canals hanging a sign up over the dentists chair that reads “It’s Okay to Orgasm!”
This show doesn’t make the main list primarily because its daytime TV…and I think it’s a rule of the cosmos that daytime TV must suck. Like, if Moses had stayed up on the mountain just wee bit longer, God would have carved “Thou Shalt Not Enjoy Daytime TV” as the 11th Commandment into the stone tablet. So I can’t hate on it for sucking, because sucking is a part of its destiny. This show did teach me something rather eye-opening about Japanese TV in general though, which is why it gets the mention at least.
The show features Tamori as a host (he joins Sanma as one of the “Big 3”). Tamori conducts a dull interview with some random celebrity, and the rest of the show is devoted to celebrities playing games, often with food involved. …But wait, this sounds almost exactly like every other show you’ve described so far, you may say. And you would be absolutely right. So, think about that for a moment – Japanese daytime and primetime TV are virtually identical.
The other thing I noticed while being subjected to this show is that the studio audience is 100% female. That got me thinking, and I realized that most shows had a predominately female audience. It makes sense, because Japanese guys are rarely ever home in the evenings. They work late hours, and even if/when they don’t, there are drinking parties, trips to the local whorehouse, or hours to waste away at the pachinko parlor. And that’s when everything clicked – Japanese TV is primarily meant for Japanese women. So its like a combination of daytime TV and the Lifetime Channel, on every channel, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
So, for us guys, this is more or less the first step into Hell itself.
The worst hits parade continues!
#3 – Sanma’s Dancing Palace
This is one of those “round up a group of talent and just have them talk” shows. They tell “you had to be there” stories, which is boring because…well…we weren’t there, these jackoffs aren’t interesting, and I just don’t care.
As this type of show dominates Japanese TV, I’m singling this one out because of the host, Sanma Akashiya. He’s considered to be one of the “Big 3” entertainers in Japan, but watching this show “entertainment” is a terrible misuse of the word. As his guests say something supposedly funny, or stupid, he makes a horrible overreaction, braying like a donkey, falling to his knees, and often hitting a podium with a scepter that features a buck-toothed, dragon-head* likeness of himself. The podium seems to serve no other purpose than to give him something to hit with his Dragon Zord Scepter.
What, me make things up? Never!
And now, my Top 5 most hated Japanese TV shows.
I would like to stress again that this list is based purely on personal preference and experience. So if I’ve never seen a show and don’t know of its existence, I can’t really rank it. And while there may be more horrible shows out there, these are the ones that irk me on a personal level. Again, while the shows themselves might not be that terrible, you have to factor in that Japan offers nothing better – this is what passes for entertainment, and almost everything else is an uninspired re-hash of the same concepts over and over again.
While I gave a general explanation of it in the last post, I found that Wikipedia actually has an article about the geinojin/talent, here. So for those who are interested/curious to the point of dangerous obsession, someone has already written more about it than I would care to. So, enjoy.
But anyway, here we go.
#5 – Hey Hey Hey Music Champ
This show tries to pass itself off as a music show, but that’s just a facade for the same ‘ol crap of rounding up a bunch of talent, and having them talk/eat/play games. Except now its music talent, and they justify the “music” portion of the show by having the artist(s) play a 90 second version of whatever new single they’ve recently released.
Hey Hey Hey makes the list because it is exceptionally boring. I cannot overstate how mind-numbingly dull this show is. I can’t even say bored to tears – tears would imply some sort of emotional response, something Hey Hey Hey couldn’t do even if the guests and hosts all spontaneously exploded. You know the phrase “bored to death?” Sometimes I feel like watching Hey Hey Hey actually shortens my lifespan. Like a giant soul-sucking vacuum is placed on my chest for 30 minutes and my lifespan is tragically shortened.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s an example.
Host: (to a famous female artist) So, tell us about your “secret” personal life.
Singer: Well, many people may not know this, but I’m actually really good friends with [some other famous female singer].
(Mostly Female) Audience: …..EEEEEEHHHHHHH?!?!
Singer: Its true! When we aren’t busy with recordings or tours we often go eat cake together.
My Wife: …..EEEEEEHHHHHHH?!?!
Me: …..No. You stop that immediately.
Wife: But, its interesting!
Me: Wow! Normal people do normal things! Yes, that certainly is fascinating.
That isn’t something I just dreamed up, that actually happened.
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.
If you all thought “uiiiiiish!” Daigo* was bad, let me introduce you to – IKKO.
*I was pleasantly surprised to see most of you think of the Street Fighter player Daigo first and foremost. I was also happy to see that entering in “Daigo” in YouTube returned more results of him than the Japanese rocker Daigo. Maybe the world isn’t as hopeless as I feared…
In the words of Austin Powers, that’s a man, baby!
I guess you would call IKKO the RuPaul of Japan. S/he rose to fame for being beautiful (????) and an expert on fashion and makeup. So many young Japanese girls follow IKKO’s advice on how to do their makeup and look beautiful. …Just think about that for a moment, let it roll around in your heads – Japanese girls turning to a cross-dresser dude on how to look pretty. …Yup.
So IKKO will point out some beauty or health care product that s/he uses, and Japanese girls will FLOCK to go and buy it. Gotta love the group mentality, huh? I remember thinking, after seeing s/he endorse some beauty product on TV once, “I wish IKKO would endorse negro penis or something, have Japanese girls flocking to me in the hundreds of thousands.”
And y’know…you really must be careful about what you wish for.
The building where I work isn’t a dedicated office building. Its got convention halls and a shopping center and stores and restaurants and all that stuff. So on Saturdays, it can get pretty lively with people coming here for events or just to shop or whatever.
One particular Saturday*, I went downstairs to grab lunch when, without even really giving it a second thought, I walked right past a 30-year old woman dressed up as Yuna from Final Fantasy X. It literally took a while to register, like at first I just walked by her and thought “Oh, that’s Yuna” and didn’t pay it any mind. Only a few steps later did I have to stop and think, “Hey, waitaminute. Why is a 30-year old woman dressed up like a video game character here in the middle of this shopping/convention/whatever the hell this is complex?” The fact that I was originally unphased by this worries me greatly. Have I become desensitized? Oh God…
*Yes, I do work some Saturdays. Sucks, but it can’t be helped I guess. I am becoming Japanese.
As I progressed further, I found that Yuna wasn’t the only one. I’d walked straight into a cosplay convention. Or, more accurately, the convention itself would be held downstairs, but the cosplayers were out and about, putting the finishing touches on their costumes, enjoying the nice weather, or posing for numerous pictures.
Japan has gone to the pigs.
There’s an outbreak of swine flu here in the Kansai region, specifically Osaka and Kobe. I know, I’m supposed to call it H1N1 or whatever, but that name sucks. Swine flu it is! What, are we expected to be politically correct to pigs now? Fuck that nonsense.
Anyway, pig AIDS. Some school kids have gotten it and have been passing it around like Mariah Carey at a rapper’s convention, so now everyone here has gone bat-shit insane over fears of getting the pig AIDS and dying. I’m not really surprised that its spread so quickly in the schools, I think I mentioned way back when that schools are little incubation houses for whatever Virus of the Moment is popular. If you work in a school and some sort of cold or flu breaks, you might as well pencil in your sick days in your calendar.