I think a lot of the time weird Japan is weird, weird Japan knows it is weird and weird Japan is laughing about it, e.g.
“We know. It’s OK, go ahead and laugh. We know.”
But sometimes Japan apparently has no idea it’s peculiar and creepy to invent an AI talkbot bear called (I think) Himitsuno Kumachan– Secret Bear?– then have it introduced in a stilted, badly dubbed video by the 100 Yen Shop version of David Duchovny. Remarkably, even I can tell that the Japanese is even more stiff and unnatural than the English.
“Mr J” also visits a coffee shop to have a little chat with his bear, which isn’t a strange and awkward thing for a grown man to do, no, not at all.
Children are presumably the actual intended users for the product, as opposed to 100 Yen Shop David Duchovny. Here we see a genuine human child who is somewhat interested for a good forty seconds before looking around for something else to do. SUPAA FUN!!!
More information here, though like most of these sites it’s quite baffling even if you do read Japanese. Or if you’d like to immediately and decisively cut off the development of your child’s social skills and render them unable as adults to ever look at fake fur or shiny black buttons without an involuntary shudder, you can buy one for ￥10,778 (about €79 / £56 / $88)
If you search your heart you will recognise that your life has in truth been a sad and pitiful travesty because you’ve never found any way to conveniently inject bananas with chocolate sauce. Luckily Sonna! Chocobana-na is here to fill your bananas and to plug the aching abyss of your soul hole. そんな！チョコバナ～ナ: Sonna translates as “like that” or something similar, although I’m guessing they mean something more like “Such/So Chocobanana!”. You can also insert cream into your banana if you’re in the mood for even more symbolically charged fruit consumption than that which will ensue from the chocobana-na. You could try some jamu, or other gelatinous substances, but we need to face the fact that this product is called Sonna! Chocobana-na so I’m afraid you’ll just have to accept that chocolate is the orthodox choice. One thing to be said in the ad’s favour is that it’s relentlessly innocent, which is just as well considering it features two little girls, but at the same time I don’t think there’s any way to advertise bananas or banana-related products that doesn’t bring other things to an adult’s mind.
On the subject of smut, you must also click on the auto-generated English subtitles to experience YouTube’s simultaneously poetic and wholly inappropriate introduction of Don the Bottom, gender ambiguity and YOUR MOM to this already sexually fraught chocolate banana injection scenario:
The bottom Don
From the bottom comment on
July double by now your mom
MM-hmm little bit your mom got that
But cast I had lost it
Segal he’s big meet up
Google past II doubled and I your mom
Little bit moans little bit mom dude
Home movie him home yeah
On many people here then we’ll see you
Go bad now
All a bit James Joyce, isn’t it?
Obligatory and inevitable Chocolate Disco postscript: The only thing better than a chocobana-na would be a chocobana-na disco. Read about Chocolate Disco, as previously discussed on this blog, or see how the ladies of Perfume faired once they escaped from the Laser Prism Valentine’s Hell Dimension only to find themselves locked in a room, knocking on a door that never opens and practising small acts of telekinesis.
Fishing for compliments. #fatherofthenationbod
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia this May, enjoy this honest and unbiased video in which ORDINARY CHINESE PEOPLE have DEFINITELY NOT BEEN COACHED OR COERCED into giving their opinions of Russia and particularly of its “handsome leader, like President Xi”: Vladimir Putin. Show solidarity to COMPLETELY UNPROBLEMATIC COMRADES WHO ARE IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL LAWS AND TREATIES by eating bread, consuming dairy products, admiring Putin’s “big muscles” (not shown in these pictures), and repeatedly, SINCERELY expressing your desire to marry him. But REMEMBER to appreciate Putin’s big muscles only in a HETEROSEXUAL MANNER because he strictly forbids any reception upon his person of HOMOSEXUAL EYE BEAMS. Pity all countries which do not have handsome, shirtless, DEFINITELY HETEROSEXUAL leaders with big muscles. Presumably photos of Xi Jinping in his budgie smugglers are to follow shortly. You will ENJOY THEM and praise the MANLINESS of President Xi and announce SPONTANEOUSLY and VOLUNTARILY that you would like to marry him.
His Little Pony.
I’m sure there have been no end of articles and blog posts about ゼンタイ zentai: skin tight, faceless body suits. Originally they’re from Japan, of course, like many other cross-cultural mutations. The term is an abbreviation of 全身タイツ zenshin taitsu, “full body tights”. It’s also a safe bet that most of these articles fall into the categories of a) LOL weirdos b) LOL perverts or c) both of the aforementioned. Frankly, I would advise against uncontrolled internet searching on the subject unless you’re broad-minded because some of the people who are into it are absolute FREAKS and you might well see some obscure corners of the porn world that you’d really rather not. Also beware of YouTube’s “up next” autoplay…
Being an absolute freak is fine by me, actually (just wash your hands and probably have a shower too, before you do anything else) but perhaps especially for those who are creeped out by the whole thing, it’s worth watching the completely non-pervy and un-LOLZ-seeking Singaporean short film embedded here– Zentai Walk Documentation. Its participants, zentai-wearers all, have some very intelligent and insightful things to say about the suit’s erasure of racial and national signifiers, their reasons for enjoying zentai, the political and social implications of masks, and the paradoxical, simultaneous attention-seeking narcissism and humility or lack of ego that are required to step out in public wearing a peculiar costume. I have some experience of these issues as a performer, although fortunately for the public’s poor, blameless eyes I’ve never yet done any zentai.
The video relates to a zentai festival taking place in Singapore this April and May. This year’s public zentai walk takes place on the 23rd May. Check out the site for some more relatively wholesome information about zentai.
I was left with one burning question after watching the film, however. We see several of the people buying food, drink, or other items. So apart from the lady in the black suit and pink wig, who very sensibly has a backpack, where are all the others keeping their wallets and money?
On reflection it’s probably best not to think about it too much, unless you’re into that kind of thing.
Even more from the series of Japanese short films about crafts and manufacturing, which was featured yesterday: this time the videos feature the making of clockwork and tin toys, daruma (達磨, the hollow good luck dolls supposedly modelled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism), oil pastel crayons, oil paint for artists, and mosquito coils.
The film about daruma shows equally fascinating traditional hand-made techniques, and slightly more industrial manufacturing of them. Even so, they’re all still finished individually just like the other items shown in these videos, the paint and the mosquito coils included. The pastel one is a bit tedious at the start, but if you’re an artist like me or otherwise just get excited about colours, stick with it and the one about paint for some huge, lush blobs of intense, glossy pigment erotica. The film about mosquito coils is initially rather alarming because despite them working with insecticide all day, not a single person is wearing a mask or gloves. A little research, however, showed that pyrethrum and pyrethrins derive from chrysanthemum flowers (as shown in the film) and are so safe to humans and other mammals that a person would have to ingest many grams of the substance to even get ill. The film also does a little introduction to anti-mosquito incense, which was in fact invented by a Japanese gentleman in the 1890s, although it was his wife who came up with the improved coiling version still in use today. Guess who usually gets the credit, though?
And since we’re on the subject of mosquito coils– how often does that happen?– what a great excuse for a link to two of my favourite posts on the site, though they’re among the least favourite with readers: MUSHUDA and Mushuda II: Miscegenation!
(See also Fascinating Repairmen )
Along the same lines as the aforementioned Fascinating Repairmen, more short documentaries from Japan about crafting, which is apparently a genre. There seem to be dozens if not hundreds of these that have been uploaded to YouTube by the Japan Science and Technology Agency. Apart from a few captions– in Japanese, obviously– the videos are all wordless and self-explanatory. The seven embedded here are the ones I’ve found most interesting so far (listed in ascending order of Japanese-ness, possibly): manufacturing marbles from recycled glass, sculpting and moulding shop mannequins, kendo (Japanese bamboo stick-fighting) armour, paper lanterns, dolls for the annual 雛祭りHinamatsuri (Doll Festival), realistic fishing lures, and creating food samples out of PVC and wax.
Firm advice for ladies who pride themselves on saucy chique, very stout persons, and gentlemen who so far forget what is elegant as to smoke in the street from George Routledge’s Manual of Etiquette, circa mid-to-late 1860s judging by the complaint about crinolines, which had gone out of fashion in favour of bustles by the 1870s.
Some of the advice is actually still completely relevant; Mr Routledge’s glove fixation, not so much. “Worsted or cotton gloves are unutterably vulgar,” apparently. You’ve been told.
It is always better to let your friends regret than desire your withdrawal…
If you are yourself the performer, bear in mind that in music, as in speech, “brevity is the soul of wit.” … If your audience desire more they will ask for more; and it is infinitely more flattering to be encored than to receive the thanks of your hearers, not so much in gratitude for what you have given them, but in relief that you have left off.
Remember that all “slang” is vulgar.
It has become of late unfortunately prevalent, and we know many ladies who pride themselves on the saucy chique with which they adopt certain Americanisms, and other cant phrases of the day. Such habits cannot be too severely reprehended. They lower the tone of society and the standard of thought. It is a great mistake to suppose that slang is in any way a substitute for wit… Puns, unless they rise to the rank of witticisms, are to be scrupulously avoided. A lady-punster is a most unpleasing phenomenon, and we would advise no young women, however witty she may be, to cultivate this kind of verbal talent… Do not be always witty, even though you should be so happily gifted as to need the caution. To outshine others on every occasion is the surest road to unpopularity.
Lady correspondents are too apt to over-emphasize in their letter-writing, and in general evince a sad disregard of the laws of punctuation. We would respectfully suggest that a comma is not designed to answer every purpose, and that the underlining of every second or third word adds nothing to the eloquence or clearness of a letter, however certain it may be to provoke an unflattering smile upon the lips of the reader.
All letters must be prepaid.