Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"I am game."

Say what you will about Japanese entertainment, it is very self-aware, which makes it very good at parodying itself. Take the tokusatsu (short for tokushu satsuei, the "special effects" that are its main focus) genre, what we know from shows such as Power Rangers. "Rollling Bomber Special" is an insightful - and hilarious - seven-minute look at sixty years of action-packed... action.

They also love school dramas, and I've come to as well, maybe just because it's my environment. At first when I got here, I thought, "It's just like such-and-such show," because it is superficially. Every school building in Japan is built on the same plan, and the uniforms are similiar, and the classes are the same. But for the most part, real school is pretty uneventful. And TV school, of course, is the opposite. Students there are continuously swarming the principal's office in tears and shouts to demand their favorite teacher not be fired, or standing up in assembly to make some grand speech. Nothing like that happens. But I've had the discussion that Japanese people like this shows, unrealistic in aspects as they are, because they make the familiar more exciting. School might be boring, but you can watch the perfect inspirational teacher reform a class of delinquents, or vice versa. Maybe it's only because I've seen so many variations on a them now, but I think this parody (answering the age-old question of how the bad kids in school become the bad kids) would be quite funny even if I hadn't. It's also a nice tongue-in-cheek look at the culture here. One of the teachers who frequently complains about how "bad" our students are, but I managed to silence her effectively (if briefly) by pointing out that the image of bad kids in America is the ones who bring guns to school. There was also an American news report recently about how drug use in Japan has sky-rocketed, when of course it's still extremely low compared to the US itself.


Naturally junior high students doodle on their textbooks - if only I'd known the more interesting ones could get on TV, though, I would have copied them or something.


xkcd is a strangle, simplistic little webcomic where most of the jokes go over my head because they're about math or science. This one I liked, however, and this one I can definitely relate to.


Hitotoki is an interesting site, subtitled "A Narrative Map of Tokyo." People write up short experiences they've had in a sort of prose-poem form, complete with footnotes to referenced words and a mark on the map where it occurred. I haven't spent enough time in Tokyo to have an appropriate story - that I can think of off the top of my head - but I'd like to contribute in the future. I like these two.


Song of the Day: is not a Japanese artist. Emily Shock! Lisa Hannigan is an Irish musician, who was featured on the Colbert Report and was absolutely adorable. "I Don't Know" is a song I'm am very sincerely identifying with at the moment:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c

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