Since I got my DivX player a few months back I have been going through some of my dvd downloads and I ended up watching two series’ about Japan. The first was Jonathan Ross’ Japanorama which was tucked away on the BBC3 schedule last year and the other was ‘Adam and Joe Go Tokyo’ which was on the same channel a few years back.
Both series were a bit different to the usual documentary or travel programme and delivered to the UK public in a humorous way which I guess is not too difficult to do given the contents which would be seen as being “bizarre’ by most Brits and that probably includes myself too even though i have been in among it for the last few years.
Many people may think Japan is a homogenous society where people remain on “the inside” not wanting to be “outsiders” or different so that it may upset social harmony. However, if you look beyond the generalisations there are different people as outlined particularly in the second series of Japanorama. Wossy ethusiastically focused on six different parts of Japanese culture (e.g. cool, cute, geeks etc) and he was like a big kid at times. He even used one of the Japanese toys in the last episode of the 2nd Extras series in which he played himself.
Both programmes did overlap at times but thats not too surprising.
Far too many things to mention here but highlights among other things included geek spotting in Akihabara, finger-phones, noodle slurping, robots, maid cafes, cos-play conventions, elvis dancers, loose socks, the yakuza, hard-gay man, fugu, hello kitty, beetle racing and work uniforms which are actually worn with pride, status and a sense of belonging to the company unlike in other countries.
The Adam and Joe show included many off these things too but they got a little more involved in creating situations such as trying to become famous in a city where “any washed up star” can do so! This included wearing strange costumes for the Matrix premier, trying to get stuff for free in a shop and a mock TV interview in Shibuya which saw them mobbed by actors which resulted in more people gathering around. The best part of this over the eight week show was the forming of a band named ‘Gaijin Invasion'(see the video here) who busked in the park in Kichijoji and even got on music station Space Shower TV.
They also went to a cos-play convention dressed as Harry Potter and Wizard, held a speed eating contest and looked at the other wierd and wonderful things in Tokyo like dog petting zoo’s, host bars, capsule hotels and a stack of useless gadgets and inventions. These included a nude bra, a cushion that looks like an arm for those lonely people and a device to let you know what you’re dog is saying called “Bowlingual”. I’m sure you agree that this is all essential stuff!!
One of my highlights from this series was seeing them play finger pointing game “Gets” with Dandy Sakano who is a Japanese comedian from yesteryear and can be seen here. Doing this action to illicit the word ‘get’ or ‘gets’ in class normally guarantees cheap laughs.