Monthly Archives: November 2010

Japanese Things – A Syndicated Series

Also, I’ve done what I’ve been meaning to do for months now, which is add the link to the “old” Weekly Visitor on the side.  I’m still Sofa, this is still Weekly Visitor.  Just, different.

Japanese Things.  A series of articles for Weekly Visitor.

I probably know more about Japan than most people.  Its not a brag, a boast, nor an internet declaration of nerd phallus size.  Ill humbly admit my lack of knowledge in any and all fields, especially, but not limited to Heian court politics, Ozu films, and which of the millions of characters in Bleach is which. Im not the type of person to want to flaunt it.  Theres things I like and dislike about Japan.  Id consider myself pretty normal, except that too much knowledge about Japan ends up making one look rather geeky in the eyes of the general populace, especially when the majority of your knowledge either relates to post-Sekigahara politics, post-Meiji nativism and nationalism, and producing a lineage of significant giant robot animated television series. This is what my student loans paid for.

Contrast it this way.  Contemporary internet knowledge of Japan places Japan at the epicenter of several different radiation spheres.  Depending on who you ask, Japan is possibly emitting lethal doses of bizarre pornography, sexual filth and any perversion you can dream of.  A slightly outdated view has Japan still at the centre of a technological explosion of innovation, possibly with even older sentiments of one day theyre gonna take over Yellow Peril thrown in just for fun.  One version of Japan is populated entirely by childish adults dedicated entirely to the production and consumption of manga, anime, video games, and any other piece of pop culture simultaneously attractive and yet reviled as being for children.  I often refer to this as the Megatokyo Japan, as some tend to idealize this self-obsessed Japan for its apparent ability to do nothing but produce entertainment, while others look at the Japan seen on Saturday mornings in the United States and see a cultural wasteland that the entire country must be complicit in producing.

What we know about Japan on the internet usually boils down to 10 year old jokes about a vending machine, weirdo friends from college on our facebooktwitters with cutesy pink-haired avatars that no one seems to be able to recognize, and, as weve seen, Yellow Peril still isnt dead. (TODO Link to Chinese Professor) In regards to the vending machine, I honestly doubt more than one ever existed, but it has become so ubiquitous and unrefuted that all your base may as well belong to it, and, by the way, Mr. T ate my balls. My personal testimony having visited Japan itself on several occasions and never seen one could hardly be submitted as evidence to the contrary. Lack of evidence of the conspiracy is further proof of the conspiracy.  Im still waiting for the obstructionist governor of the Prefecture of Hawaii to release the vending machines birth certificate. As for me, Im not an expert on Japan. Id make some joke about how I barely understand my wife, who is Japanese, but that would make me lazy as everyone out there using a vending machine as a signifier for all of Japan.

The point of this series is that, like most people, especially all of us self-important people who use the internet to do things other than reaffirm our own beliefs about which Final Fantasy game sucked and which politicians I hate; I hope to entertain, but maybe to inform as well. I’m hoping to make the topics diverse.  I wont bore you with my quite frankly tedious knowledge of Japanese identity politics and nationalism, unless its related to the topic at hand (i.e., why Bandit Keith should have sown one of those little Canadian flags onto his backpack when he entered the Yu-Gi-Oh tournament.)

My knowledge isnt particularly impressive, however. As much as Ive tried to run away from it, my interests tend to run towards the geeky, the nerdy, and the downright embarrassing.  Like a hipster wanting to run away from his own hipsterism by labeling everyone but himself a hipster. (Not hating Vampire Weekend is so 2009, much like enjoying Hayate the Combat Butler.) So, hopefully I can get a few articles about the films of Kurosawa Kiyoshi in before devolving into a treatise on why its important for certain robots in a certain long-running series have one luminous pink eye. Stay tuned, watch this space.

Just another fucking tsundere writer,

Dandy English