My super old childhood friend Mai is a weather girl at NHK World. Watch!
I was in the car with my friend Masami today, and she asked me if I knew what Magical Banana was. But of course! Magical Banana was a segment of brain teaser variety TV show in which celebrities stood inside booths and played a word association game set to a rhythmic beat. It was really popular — kids played it in elementary school to learn language, and we used to play it in high school as a late night drinking game in parks and bars.
In this TV clip from October 1996, Japanese celebrities — including pop diva Amuro Namie — play Magical Banana. It’s super fun! You should try it sometime.
A few months ago, actor James Franco made a guest appearance on NBC’s 30 Rock with his body pillow girlfriend, Kumiko-tan. I think the show might have drawn inspiration from my NYT Mag article. Here he is behind the scenes with Tina Fey and Kumiko-tan.
This week’s episode of The Office featured a snippet about a Japanese immigrant who claims to be a top surgeon who operated on a yakuza boss. Funny!
Did you know that Glee, my favorite thing to watch on American TV, is airing in Japan? So exciting! Glee is a musical comedy about a bunch of high school kids in Ohio who are in a Glee Club — a group of people who sing and dance, often at the bottom of the who’s-cool-in-school hierarchy. The story line is fairly simple, but it’s so much fun to watch — it is, in fact, probably the only show on American TV that genuinely makes me happy. Instead of just having ordinary casting calls, producer Ryan Murphy spent a bunch of time on Broadway recruiting some of his favorite talented singing-dancing actors there. The main character, Rachel, is actually played by broadway veteran Lea Michele, for example.
I just discovered this Glee Japan ad via actor Cory Monteith’s Twitter feed. (He plays the part of Finn, a sweet airhead football player who likes to sing in the shower — my favorite character in the show!) It’s an amazing clip featuring legendary sumo wrestler Akebono that really gets at the heart of how enjoyable and silly the show is.
Btw, here’s one of my favorite scenes from Glee:
Woohoo! I mean, Hulu! Japanese TV is coming to the US. NTV (Nippon Television) is partnering with Hulu to bring cool Japanese game shows, the real kind, not the fake kind, to the US. Check out episodes of Gaki, in which comedy team Downtown do things like get stuck in a gym for 24 hours, or compete in Golf Club Assault Battle, Chili Bean Paste Smearing Battle, and Mini Champagne Ass Catch Battle. You can also watch the entire Nasubi series from Denpa Shonen, a classic. It’s great for getting your daily dose of Japanese humor, if you’re one of those people that needs that. No more digging around YouTube for something worth watching.
Nasubi, the naked guy who lived on freebies for a year
Ken Shimura’s Thriller parody (and tips on upping your Japanese joke cred)
I survived “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”
My below-the-belt prank tutorial
This is a funny, horrifying clip of a Japanese game show featuring 30 hot girls in bikinis, one old man, and lots and lots of lotion. In the first challenge, called “lotion curling,” they try to see how far the guy can slide across a row of bikini-ed, lotion-ed up girls. My thoughts as I watched this were:
– I would NEVER want some old dude sliding across my chest, especially if I was wearing a bikini.
– If I had to be in that row of girls, I would want to be towards the end of the row. Not the beginning.
– How much did they pay these girls to do this?
About a year ago, I blogged about Nasubi, an aspiring comedian who took up the challenge of living in an empty room by himself, naked, for a year, relying only on magazine giveaways for food and sustenance on a national TV program called Denpa Shonen. It was a crazy, controversial, hilarious show. And now available in full episodes on Hulu!
Related story: Nasubi, the naked guy who lived on freebies for a year
During lunch yesterday, I watched the first episode of ABC’s new reality series called I Survived a Japanese Game Show.
In it, 10 Americans who know next to nothing about Japan get on a plane and go to Tokyo. The day after they arrive, they’re taken to a TV studio where a live audience and a game show host await. They divvy up into two teams—the Green Monkeys and the Yellow Penguins—and take part in this silly game where they run on a treadmill and feed mochi off their heads to a teammate. The winners get a helicopter ride; the losers have to work as rickshaw drivers in Asakusa.
While I’m not really one to judge, there were a few things about this show that made me want to barf. Bullet points after the jump.
The LA Times has a fun piece called 10 thing you may not know about Masi Oka, the guy who plays Hiro in Heroes—one of my favorite shows. Oka plays a Japanese otaku who can time travel in the series, but he’s actually Japanese-American. Did you know he translates all his own dialogue in Heroes? He says:
It’s important to me to translate the English dialogue in a way that I
think Hiro would say it. A formal translator would make it too rigid
and not colloquial. I’ve been tempted (to sneak in a Japanese curse word) but I’d
never get away with it. I have sometimes mis-translated things on
purpose when we’re shooting and then there’s one person laughing — the
Japanese language coach we work with. So yeah, I’d get caught.
I think that’s so great! Hiro is best known for putting both arms in the air and saying: "Yattaaa!!" When he does something cool, like saving the world from mass destruction. It’s nice to know that it’s genuine.
Apparently, this girl—whom I swear was in my brother’s middle school class in Tokyo (can anyone confirm?)—is a celebrity in Korea. Here she talks about sex ed and Korean chicks.
This little Chinese girl, who makes an appearance here on a Japanese TV show, is really good at playing the xylophone. And she’s having so much fun!
I don’t watch Star Wars, but this adaptation of the movie’s theme song in Japanese is silly enough that even I can appreciate it. The guy in the afro is the singer/songwriter, and the music video is being introduced on a variety TV show.