Japan: Who Cares?

I like anime. Japan isn’t anime. Q.E.D.

Like most people, I enjoy a good story. Anime has consistently delivered better stories than any other form of entertainment I’ve ever come across. That’s why I’m a fan. There’s nothing uniquely Japanese about it, nor do the brilliant stories that drew me to anime exist in Japan at large. When you get rid of the anime, Japan isn’t much different from any other society: I like a few things, I dislike a few things, and I’m apathetic about damn near everything else.

I have no particular desire to go to Japan. Sure, I’d go for free, but that would never happen since I’m not a girl and can’t slut my way into free trips like my slutty cousin, who slutted her way into courtside seats for the NBA finals in Boston. The worst part is that she pretended to be a Celtics fan despite being from Orlando. You’d expect better sense from someone who was beaten as a child.

As I was saying, traveling to Japan is expensive. A cursory Google search reveals I’d have to put down at least three thousand dollars for a decent trip. There are hundreds of new places I could check out for a fraction of the price. I’ve only been to six countries in my entire life, and three of them were just layover stops during which I never left the airport (UK, Netherlands, Kuwait).

Even in America I’ve only once gone west of the Mississippi River. Sure, they’re mostly filler states carved into boring shapes through the legacy of the Land Ordinance of 1785, but they’re cheap.

Traveling to Japan, or anywhere for that matter, is currently pretty low on my list of discretionary expenditures. I have student loans to pay off. I need a new car. My diplomas are frameless. My lawn mower is broken. I don’t own a gun. I’ve never donated to orphans. My entire wardrobe consists of white t-shirts. I’ll need money if I ever go on a date. My phone doesn’t have a data plan. I’ve never even played golf.

Let’s say money’s not an issue. What would I do once I got to Japan? Buy stuff I could buy online? Look at stuff and say, “Hey, that looks kinda like stuff in anime”? I have better things to do with my time, like watching more anime.

Even if I wanted to buy something in Japan, I’d have to use yen, the worst currency ever. One yen is barely worth a penny. In 11th grade I wrote a paper proposing the abolition of the penny. I got a 97 because I was right. Why base your economy on a unit with no individual purchasing power? Oops, my bad, I guess you can buy a good luck wish at a temple for one yen. Wonderful, I just happened to be running low on wishes.

But Baka-Raptor, that’s culture! Don’t you think it would be exciting to experience Japanese culture?

No. Those aliens who hated culture in that one anime were right. Culture blows. People should do stuff because they like it, or at least because it’s useful, not because it’s culture. Think about it. When was the last time you did something that wasn’t fun? Was it useful? If not, it was probably culture.

Culture is everywhere. Why should you have to go to Japan for it? Just because you like anime? Would you suck up to Moroccan culture if anime came from Morocco? Would you care about Japanese culture anymore?

I only read about Japanese history when I’m trying to make sense of an anime I’m currently watching. It’s rarely absorbing. The only history I ever have fun reading is American history, and that’s only because it’s relevant to my everyday life (like the Land Ordinance of 1785). In the unlikely event I’d want to read foreign history for fun, I’d first go with European history, then Chinese history, and then maybe Japanese history.

Some people feel compelled to eat Japanese food just because they watched a little anime. Not me. Pocky is for girls. I’ve never had sake, nor do I care. The only ramen I’ve ever had is that crappy instant ramen. I’ve eaten sushi only twice in my life, and I didn’t pay for it either time. It’s not worth the price. I could feast like a king at Taco Bell for the price of a roll of sushi.

One thing I do like about Japan is its language. Hiragana and katakana are sensible writing systems. Verb conjugations are relatively painless. The only thing I can’t stand is Kanji, which you can technically blame on China.

Wearing a Japanese t-shirt doesn’t make you Japanese

English spelling isn’t much better than kanji. You’d think it’s self-mockery that we have spelling bees, but no, people actually take them seriously.

Memorizing obscure spellings isn’t useful. It certainly isn’t fun. But when you dare suggest that English spelling would be better off simplified, people deride you for threatening their culture.

Why do so many anime fans obsess over Japanese culture? Is it because they’re losers with nothing better to do? Is it because they’re unsatisfied with their own lifestyles and seek vicarious fulfillment through anime characters? Is it because they haven’t learned the truth about Japan through Gaijin Smash Gaijin Chronicles?

Japanese music is all I’ve listened to for the past several years. There’s just one catch: it’s always anime music. I have no interest in J-pop that doesn’t appear in anime. First of all, too many J-pop idols are mediocre singers. They’re just there to look “cute” and sound “cute” until they’re abandoned in favor of someone younger and “cuter.” Second of all, Japanese songs don’t rhyme. Even the rap. You’d think being unconstrained by rhyme would produce better lyrics. Unfortunately, reading translations has ruined every Japanese song I’ve ever liked, like Lion from Macross Frontier:

Turn the stars at the centre of the world.
If you sneeze, a butterfly in a forest somewhere will dance.
The door you guard has a useless key.
It’s an embarrassing story.
Though they often lick one another, lions are strong.


Why do so many anime fans want a Japanese girlfriend/boyfriend? Shouldn’t the real qualification be whether they like anime? It’d be pretty awkward to have a Japanese girlfriend/boyfriend who doesn’t like anime, assuming they’d want to go out with you in the first place.

Japanese porn has its pros and cons. On one hand, it’s pretty creative at times. On the other hand, the actresses are always trying to act “cute,” they always sound like they’re crying, and the censorship makes no sense (and it’s not a ship).

In conclusion, Claymore kicks ass.

132 people love sucking up to me

  1. I fell aspleep in history classes and was bored shitless on field trips to various historical and cultural sites so why would I want to see the same stuff from other countries…

    I love J-pop, and I never even tried looking up the words for the songs, I just liked how they sounded.
    I once tried to see a live performance of J-pop group on youtube, 1 min in I stopped the video and vowed not to bother watching those live performances again.

    • I once tried to see a live performance of J-pop group on youtube, 1 min in I stopped the video and vowed not to bother watching those live performances again.

      Change “1 min” to “20 seconds” and you have my experience attempting to watch a Prince of Tennis musical.

      The primary reason I gave up listening to American pop is that the lyrics got boring and repetitive. The nice thing about J-pop is that the tunes are just as catchy (if not more so) and I don’t have to understand a word they’re saying. On the flip side, there’s a limit to how much I can like a song if I don’t understand the lyrics.

    • History class is actually a synonym for Sleep class…at least that’s how I treated it. I sat in the front and just slept, and my teacher didn’t give a shit, because he was a History teacher, so he knew his job as a joke.

      • I had a history teacher who’d slap the bottom of your desk right under your head if you fell asleep in class. Sometimes even that didn’t work.

  2. Out of interest, have you actually made any effort to track down decent Japanese music and live action films? There’s a thriving indie music and film culture in Japan, but you have to actually make the effort to find this stuff. I mean, there’s a good reason why you’re into anime, and I’m convinced you will find other aspects of Japanese culture you would enjoy for the same reasons, but it won’t just fall into your lap like anime.

  3. > In conclusion, Claymore kicks ass.
    This is the best breakdown I’ve probably seen of why Claymore kicks ass. If I still needed convincing, I would now be convinced.

    Also, lyrics suck in pop music everywhere. It’s either about people verbally informing you of their intent to copulate with you, reminding you that capitalism is about having the most toys and/or money, or just using terrible metaphors and the wrong adjectives to convey emotion the shite accompanying music can’t convey on it’s own.

    And, as we all know, it’s easier to like music in a foreign language because you DON’T know what’s being said: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVCh6Xp_VD8

  4. Same here. I would go to Japan if a good (free or really inexpensive) opportunity arises, but otherwise I’m in no hurry to get there. And yes, Claymore kicks ass. You should put “Claymore kicks ass” as the subtitle to your blog.

  5. I think a lot of people like Japan because they have this idea that Japan is some sort of anime-haven to find like-minded people and escape evil Western bias against anime. In reality, if you say you watch anime in Japan, most people will think you’re either a kid or an unemployed hikkikkomori.

  6. Well, it makes sense to me that if a person finds themselves knowing more about a halfway decent country they’ll find diverse and incidental stuff to like and discover interesting places to potentially visit. I’ve always considered it fortunate that anime naturally counterbalances that process by making me suspicious of the whole damn country. What’s with all those aryan looking women being domineering in a Europish setting? What’s with the tongue rape scene? Should I ever find myself tempted to spend money on a visit I could just get hold of some pornography and return to my senses.

  7. I get your point. However, unlike 87% of anime fans out there, I actually had an honest interest for Japan before even watching anime. In fact, I even used to despise anime whilst being interested by Japan itself; I just got more and more curious about it as I was looking into Japan culture related stuff. So yeah I guess this article doesn’t really concern my case, right ?

    But yeah, getting obsessed over Japanese culture solely because of anime is pretty much how you described it.

  8. I actually like Japanese culture and stuff, and from that I got into anime. That being said, the most creative porn I’ve seen was American, two people having sex while suspended from a cliff. It was pretty fucking awesome. I wish I knew where I found it.

    Don’t bother trying to find it on google, I just searched “sex while suspended from a cliff” and all that came up was shit about Cliff Lee. Thanks google, you suck.

    EDIT: Well I found it, and joke’s on me, there’s an Asian in it:


    [I shouldn’t have to tell anyone this, but the above link is NSFW — Baka-Raptor]

  9. “…and three of them were just layover stops during which I never left the airport (UK, Netherlands, Kuwait).”

    Well, its not like there’s any reason to leave the airport in Kuwait.

    “I’ve never had sake, nor do I care.”

    Sake is disgusting, and I don’t understand people enjoying it. It’s like drinking lighter fluid mixed with black pepper. If people wanna pretend to be Japanese, couldn’t they at least stick to plum wine?

    Yeah, I didn’t read the whole thing, I got distracted by a cookie.

    • The Kuwait airport was pretty cool, but maybe I only feel that way because it was the last stop before getting to India and the first stop on my way out. I’ll leave it to you to draw whatever inferences you wish (I was requested to tone down the India-bashing).

  10. Sure man, I actually feel the same way about some of the things you said.

    I don’t watch anime for the Japanese culture. I don’t even watch anime for the stories. There are better stories in other media, and told better.

    I watch anime because it is animated ‘film,’ that appeals to my tastes. I prefer anime over other cartoons because like you, I find their stories (and most other elements) preferable. My wife still watches all these Batman and Justice League shows, as she did The Last Airbender, but I can’t get into them.

    But I do appreciate culture.

    Is it because I value it the way you describe people who do? No. I’m just curious. I am naturally curious and I like knowing and learning things.

    Yakk, deculture~

      • I can easily think of The Wire, or even Friday Night Lights from television (cable and network TV), as for film I’m sure you can list your own favorites unless you really think anime films are superior.

        There are also novels. I prefer Milan Kundera and Umberto Eco stories, but that’s me.

        That said, I would like to see animated adaptations of some stories, though I think there are notable shows that are great because they can’t really be told better in other media, such as Revolutionary Girl Utena.

        • Neven seen The Wire. I don’t get those fancy premium cable channels. I’ve heard great things about Friday Night Lights. I’d watch it if I ever knew when it was on.

          I’m not crazy about movies period (see comment #2). I have some favorites, but they can’t compare to the potential of a 26 episode series. My favorite anime movies are either part of an existing series (FMA) or a series of their own (Garden of Sinners).

          I used to like books. A lot. Then high school English classes ruined novels for me. I’ll never again like novels as much as audio/visual works. Everything I read these days is non-fiction.

  11. > The only history I ever have fun reading is American history

    Susan Jacoby’s “The Age of American Unreason” (reading this now) and “Freethinkers” are pretty good. Although, they aren’t really “history” as much as historical analysis.

    > My diplomas are frameless.

    I framed mine, but I seem to be the only one that’s impressed by them. People don’t even examine them when they visit.

    • Hey, she appeared on the Colbert Report! Guess she’s worth a chance.

      Soon I’ll to get to hang my diploma in the Law Office of Baka-Raptor Esq. The only point is to impress people. Just like all those books I’ll stack in my office. If Simpsons clips weren’t pulled from YouTube so quickly, I’d have a Lionel Hutz clip right here.

  12. Cheers to all that.
    The only thing worse than having to deal with chauvinistic, nationalistic hordes in your own country, is having to deal with those who obsess over a country that’s not even their own. At least the first group can blame it on brainwashing/their upbringing.

    Oh and I’m quite pleased to read that some other folks dislike JPop, JRock and its variants as well. When you want good rock you shouldn’t go looking in Japan. When you want good pop…shit…contradictio in terminis.

    Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look overseas when searching for music. I’m European and I mainly listen to Tom Waits, Eels and Leonard Cohen…
    Oh I also listen to that old grannie Ikue Asazaki…one of her songs got featured in Samurai Champloo…that’s the type of music I expect from Asia lolz.

    The craziest shit is live action though. I became aware of its existence through Crunchyroll. Why in heavens’ name would you want to watch shitty Japanese drama when there exists shitty American drama (they have bigger budgets and there’s some self-selection going on. On the contrary, anime has taught me that the Japanese masses have (more) trouble weeding out the good from the bad).

    Oh, on a final note I should add that you have my pity…letting anime seduce you into listening to JPop tssss…
    I thought you were some strong-willed individual that would make Nietzsche swoon…tsk tsk.

    • Hey, I was used to skipping anime openings and endings back in the day when fansubbers cut them out to conserve every last bit of bandwidth and hard disk space. These days I only watch them because I’m hypnotized by all the karaoke effects.

      The same old crap with a lower budget…don’t get me started on Indian movies.

  13. Well said on the J-pop stuff. Far too often, image is more important than actually being able to sing well, which is why you’ve got so many idols who fly by night and are never heard from again once the next pretty face shows up.

    Also, I wouldn’t characterize being unable to understand lyrics as a bad thing since that actually gets you to focus more on the music. My experience with Western pop music is that the large majority of songs have decent tunes, but once you understand what the lyrics are saying, the song becomes horrendously awful. I’d try to filter the lyrics out, and it’s easier if you actually don’t understand what it is they’re saying.

    Finally, culture is overrated. I’m sure hundreds of years from now, anthropologists/sociologists will look back on this and declare it to be culture. Which means that we’re at the forefront of it all!

    • To deviate from the topic a bit, Western pop songs used to have excellent lyrics back in the ’60s and ’70s. Remember Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son”? How about the songs of Simon and Garfunkel? Man, those were poetry set to music. And they knew what they were singing about.

      Songs today is more about the melody than the words…

    • No way, this site is too useful to ever be thought of as culture. Historians will put me in the same category as the steam engine.

      Maybe this is why I like Yuki Kajiura. She doesn’t bother with real Latin lyrics anymore. It’s all beautiful jibberish.

  14. I will add in sushi’s defence that chowing down on raw fish is at least as manly as chowing down on Taco Bell. Your position though is completely understandable; the price/quality of sushi depends a lot on where you live.

    As for the obsession over Japanese culture by overseas fans, I’d say it’s more a result of the culture deficit in North America. The oldest institutions on the continent are only a couple of centuries old(I suppose older if you really want to count First Nations, but I don’t think even they want to be lumped in).

    I don’t think this sort of thing is just centered on Japan, it’s just that Japanophiles tend to stand out a little more than Francophiles or Anglophiles since there is a bigger gap in ethnicity. Other ethnicities that still have large, stable, homogenous populations in other countries (ex. Indians, Chinese, etc.) can fall back on those cultural practices even in their migrant country without anyone batting an eyelid, but an interest in traditions that cross-ethnicity draws suspicion.

    • There’s some “grass is greener on the other side” mentality as well. There’s plenty of culture all around that people ignore. One time I caught myself thinking of a Japanese school festival while I was at a school festival of my own.

      The communities you mentioned aren’t entirely immune. I was listening to one of those asshole neocon propaganda pundits blaming socialized medicine on Little Italy and Chinatown.

  15. I like Japanese culture. I love Kimono for example and wears them on occasion. Japan has always been one of the country that I would like to visit. But don’t think I can afford it. Everything is so damn expensive. It was cheaper to go to US and I’m from Asia!

  16. Indeed my good dinosaur. I’m pretty much 100% with you on this, except that if I was researching other cultures for fun I’d go ancient Greece then Rome then Egypt then maybe Japan.

      • Well I don’t keep up with modern European affairs, because I don’t care, but I believe that I heard a couple of weeks ago that Greece’s economy was bringing down the Euro. If true that’s a plus in my book. GO UNITED STATES DOLLAR! All other currencies can eat it.

  17. Agreed. In short, no one like Japanophiles who love Japan only because of anime.

    As for culture… It is overrated, but I like reading about most cultures.

      • By reading, I mean youtube videos and wikipedia usually, neither of which count as reading.

        On a serious note though, most of the “culture” stuff I pick up from the mass amount of TV and drama I watch. And I like actually knowing the references so I sometimes look into those.

  18. The tragedy of a person exclusively listening to anime music for several years is only minimized by the realization that said person’s brain must have been pretty fried
    already when s/he embarked on that course. Seriously.

  19. I also find it odd that a lot of otaku tend to become Japanophiles x_x AniManga is not exactly equal to Japan =_=

    As for me, I’m interested in all countries in general, Japan not excluded. I want to tour in Japan for that reason as well…. though I admit one of the main reasons why I’m quite desperate to be in Japan for the movies that air there first, the manga that are released there first, and for the mangaka that only do signings and give freebies there only. Damn, lucky Japanese.

    • Guess the “Hyper” isn’t just for show. Take things as they come. Waiting a week for a manga release in Japan is the same as waiting a week anywhere else. Knowing it’s already out in Japan doesn’t change that.

      Can’t argue about free stuff though. I love free stuff, especially in t-shirt form.

  20. I can’t stand weeaboos/Japanophiles. It never sounded logical to me to have an obsession with a culture that you both aren’t part of and have limited knowledge of just because you’re a fan of a subset of animation that comes from Japan. Does that mean you can’t have an interest in the said culture, of course you can, but there’s a striking difference between parading that enthusiasm like some super retard or keeping it in reasonable bounds.

    Long story short, loving Japanese culture only because of anime and manga is stupid beyond belief.

    • Reasonable bounds. I like that.

      Reasonable bounds: Going to a cherry blossom festival with your friends

      Parading that enthusiasm like some super retard: Going to a cherry blossom festival with your friends dressed as Naruto characters and spanking each other with yaoi paddles

      Too bad some people can’t tell the difference.

  21. Some anime have nice soundtracks. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Nodame Cantabile, FLCL, to name a few.

    But FFS, buying sushi just for the excitement of eating something from Japan?! I despise such people and I’m happy Baka-Raptor has written this post – now I can send it to some of my friends.

      • I don’t think that’s entirely the case – for instance, in the Paris Hen season, several variations of Bolero have been used as the background music. And they are awesome. You can basically loop them and go on like that for many hours. Or maybe I just like Bolero. Whatever.

        • @Coaxen:

          I don’t listen to soundtracks as much as I’d like to. Usually it’s just the OP and ED. It’s more of a laziness issue than a disinterest issue.

          I dropped Paris-hen when Chiaki kissed Nodame. Wasn’t intentional. Just forgot to get back to it.

          Everyone likes Bolero.

          And once again I’m shocked that my readers have friends.


          I never listed to the BGM on its own. All I remember from the show is that I like what they did with Rhapsody in Blue.

  22. I like anime (not all of them), i like japanese food (not all of them), i like the japanese writing system (not all of them), i like to travel (not all of the places). i like japanese music (not all of them), i like japan (not all of it)… see ? it is impossible for anyone to like 100% of some category !

    The japanese society is not a mixed culture society like ours, it is a true unique society with more than 97% pure japanese! Which means their traditions, way of life and et cetera are still running and strong up to this day. There is a whole more real japan we don’t know that is not shown in animes/tv that may be or may not be worth knowing/travelling to.

    Of course we can’t ignore globalization and internet, which made everyone everywhere share their culture but it hadn’t conquered the masses yet 😉

    One thing to mention though is that american ocupation of japan had an insane impact on their culture after the ’50s, introducing a great “japanese adapted” english vocabulary that in some way or another, helped them to loose some of their identity. (i said some…)

    The fact is that you have strong arguments as always, but you shouldn’t be tooooooooo meticulously critical of everything, people like stuff just because they like, tastes aren’t discutible, let them all be hypocrite and cheer for japan in the world cup just because they like anime, =P

    I bet everyone outside there has a wrong idea about brazil (now the simpson reference), and when they finally come here they think it reaaaaaaaaaaaly is an unique and totally different country.

    In conclusion, One Piece/Bleach/Naruto Sucks.

    • As much as I love the Simpsons, I’m one of the many Simpsons fans who’s quietly ignored it since it started going downhill 10 or so seasons ago. Didn’t even know a Brazil episode existed until this comment.

      Sure, people are allowed to like Japanese stuff. If anime directs them to Japanese stuff they never knew they’d like, that’s great. As long as they’re not superficially latching onto anything and everything Japanese just because it’s tangentially related to anime, I don’t mind.

      In conclusion, I’ve regained the #1 Google result for “Naruto Filler.”

  23. One interesting fact i forgot to mention, i live in São Paulo, which is home to the largest japanese community outside japan (465,000 Japanese people including descendants), so i am overwhelmed by japanese people/culture daily, (although most japanese around here behaves more brazilian than japanese), i can go downtown in japantown to eat a TRUE naruto ramen/yakisoba and buy imported NARUTO japanese/chinese stuff… in fact they have a strong cultural bound with japan, most of them only marry their own kind to keep a pure japanese breed and…definitely i don’t want a japanese girlfriend because there’re much more prettier (other races mixed) girls around to choose from.

    Come visit Brazil, you won’t regret it 😉

    • That reminds me, I have a slutty cousin (a different one) who’s a Brazilophile. True story. I’m not sure why. Haven’t spoken to her in ages. Maybe I’ll go to Brazil with her someday.

  24. Oh and also i forgot to mention, Portuguese language verb conjugations and spellings are a TOTAL HELL, if you’re complaining about english, thank england you hadn’t to learn such a motherfucking hard language like mine’s. English is much simpler than portuguese, and japanese is so much easier that if it wasn’t for the kanjis i would already have mastered it. But this doesn’t mean portuguese sucks, it is a beautifull language for poem writters (which i am not) and those who actually managed to go through the total hell of master it (i don’t use nearly 50% of the verb conjugations/spellings it can achieve).

    Now i promisse this is my last time/comment. (for the day).

  25. Yeah, I don’t know why people who love anime also love Japan so much. By far the creepiest person I’ve ever met was obsessed with anime. If she ever saw an Asian, she would take pictures. I was on a field trip once and there were some Asians. She pointed them out to everyone, all the while exclaiming, “Look! ASIANS!”. She asked me if I thought it was ok to follow them. I promptly threw up.

    On the other hand, the people who should really love Japan are the people who have really weird fetishes. If there is a fetish that makes me go “WTF”, the chances are 100 to 1 that Japan will have porn/something close enough to porn to satiate that fetish. It just works that way.

    • Wow, what part of the world do you live in where asians are such a rare breed?

      /checks your IP address

      Massachusetts? Of course.

      The Middle Tennessee Anime Convention would always have a panel called “Asian in America.” That’s something you’d expect from Tennessee.

    • …A person tried to take pictures of me while doing that yesterday.

      I told her to fuck off. Strange, because there is a huge amount of Asians here.

  26. I just watched the end of Tatami Galaxy. It was even better than Cross Game. Please, watch it.

    On topic, I want to go to Japan since I want to scrounge around for their cool video games, and just appreciate the place.

    • Please don’t go until you have money again. Actually, never mind, it won’t matter. You’d waste all your money on crappy antique video games anyway.

      At this rate I might decline to watch Tatami Galaxy out of spite.

  27. True. More than half of the anime I love aren’t even set in Japan. I’m not even saving up for a trip for outerspace or the Forest of Weirdos.

  28. Some of the J-Rock bands I hear in anime get me into their music, and consequently bands similar to them. Hey, if you like one song from the artist maybe you’ll like the others.

    By the way, everything you said is awesome.

    • Welcome to Baka-Raptor.

      Could a good anime OP/ED could cross me over to listening its band’s other songs? I guess, it just hasn’t happened so far.

  29. As someone who has been to Japan, has a BA in Japanese and Asian Studies, I agree with you. Japanese history is pretty boring on the whole. Mostly because they’re on an island and never had to deal with invaders or defending shit. If anything, the Sengoku period is where it is at but there is hardly anything written about it in English.

    We talked about a lot of the things you brought up in my one Asian culture class. Where does culture begin and end? How do you qualify culture? Those kinds of things. I think a lot of people like anime or can like anime is because it IS that accessible. There really is hardly anything Japanese about it.

    I guess I like Japanese culture because it’s different. I never learned about Asia either in school because my schools sucked. It was always America and Europe, and I found them pretty boring. I agree I love the Japanese language too. I think it just has a lot of nuances and such that can’t be conveyed in English. Kanji is a bitch but over time you just get it some how.

    • My schools glanced over Asian history as well. We did a decent amount of ancient Asian history in 9th grade. Then it was mainly European history in 10th grade plus whatever minimal knowledge of the rest of the world was necessary for state standardized tests.

      I like European history for the military history. 100 Years War, 30 Years War, 7 Years War, you name a number, European history gives you a war. My interest in American history comes part and parcel with my law/politics geekiness.

      I didn’t take Japanese classes until my senior year of college. Two A’s in two semesters. That’s as many A’s as I got in my undergrad major (computer science) and law school combined. Anyway, I wish I’d taken them earlier. I’m stuck where I left off with high school Spanish: great grades but nowhere close to fluency.

    • Heck, even most anime dealing with Japanese history is boring, except for Rurouni Kenshin. Japanese architecture is kinda interesting though, the way they build structures without nails is pretty cool (blame it on my bias as an Architecture major). For me, the only interesting part of Japanese history came after Japan reopened its borders to the outside world in the mid 19th century. Then they quickly gained the attention of the world by defeating the Russian Imperial Navy not long after. Oh, and don’t forget World War II (though someone told me you should never discuss that with a Japanese, they seem to get depressed about that).

  30. (In her best Captain America voice:) I care.

    I’m also hoping to ensnare a real life bishie when I eventually do go there. No doubt I shall worry about family approval later.

    • Your Captain America voice is too smooth.

      Just so you know, you have no hope of getting a bishie unless you’re [insert appropriate shoujo heroine trope, I don’t know much about them].

  31. Is Japan even interesting culture wise? I really don’t like history so I would be kinda biased.

    Is it just me or does that visual kei thing remind you of hair metal? I thought a dude was a chick. It was beyond weird.

    • Having just looked up both Visual Kei and Hair Metal for the first time ever, I can honestly say one doesn’t remind me of the other. I could picture it though.

      As to your first question, it depends what you mean by interesting. Interesting enough to want to learn about in your spare time? Not for me. More interesting than other cultures? Probably not overall. More interesting than anime? No way.

  32. The only history I know, is British and European History. Why? Because in England we are so egocentric the only history that matters is our own and if we do learn the history of another country, we usually learn about all their bad history so we can feel better about our shitty history.

    Having said that I did enjoy history class, because it was the easiest fragging class next to R.E, which was easy because if you got the teacher talking about Rugby, the boys could keep him chatting about that for the whole lesson and then you never had to bother actually learning about God. Which pretty much is a good thing for all concerned.

    • Right, you Britishers don’t have the Establishment Clause. Thanks for inspiring us to create one!

      English and European history is pretty interesting though. Lots of murder and stuff.

  33. Wow, you don’t know what culture is. Culture IS people doing what they like and doing things that are useful. That chart of yours makes no damn sense. Really, what the hell is your definition of culture?

      • Yeah, I understand the stupid diagram. You have “stuff people like”, “useful stuff” existing in set with culture. That still demonstrates rather nicely that you don’t understand what the hell culture is.

        • You do get the diagram! So what’s your problem? Do you think that culture is limited to stuff that people like and stuff that’s useful? Do you think everyone in a society enjoys its culture? Do you think “culture” is never an excuse for the selfish few to impose their ways on society at large? Do you think “culture” never outlives its purposes? Do you think “culture” is always abandoned if it does? If culture only included stuff people liked and stuff that was useful, it would be called common sense, not culture.

          Now let’s all celebrate with a cool glass of turnip juice!

          • Do you know that you’re being a complete ignorant on this subject? Your definition of culture is too arbitrary and is somewhat rooted in some disdain or lack of knowledge of/for it. What you define as “culture” cam in reality have different meanings. Look at these definitions and if any of these match your description of “culture”

            Culture –
            # An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning

            # The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group

            # the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.

            # the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.

            You make it seem like culture is some archaic shit nobody cares about or it is limited to shit some farts created in the distant past that we happen to be still doing today. That doesn’t make sense. What’s your gripe about culture? It is a necessary part of humane nature. Take that away and we would loose the staple in us that makes us the social animal. Either way, if we were to end all cultures will you actually think it will be the end of culture? No, because new ones will spring up. Culture is not something we do, is who we are. So to answer you questions.

            “Do you think that culture is limited to stuff that people like and stuff that’s useful?”

            No, because along with many more aspects, that’s essentially is what culture has been for centuries. Especially on a pragmatic level.

            “Do you think everyone in a society enjoys its culture?”

            There are many aspects of a society culture to choose what you like, to contribute, or to create you own. To say that somebody don’t like something in their culture or culture surrounding them is like saying that’s the person who hangs out with nobody in anything ever.

            “Do you think “culture” is never an excuse for the selfish few to impose their ways on society at large?”

            Is this babbled drivel some sort of excuse or justification to be against culture in general? So according to your world, culture is just a tool for the powerful “the man” to use on the oppressed. Marxist much? If that’s the case, you’re doing the same thing. There ware just as much a culture of those who were dominant and aggressive as was a culture of those who were not. There ware just as much a culture of the privileged class as was a culture of the working class. And more relevant, There are just as much a culture of non-traditional, evolved variants, subculture, and counterculture as is a culture of those more conservative are not of the “mainstream”. Like I said, Culture is not something we do, is who we are. There is no such thing as a society without culture.

            “Do you think “culture” never outlives its purposes?”

            If one outlives its purposes then another or evolved one emerges. If one culture lose relevance, then another one gains prevalence. There is no such thing as culture in general outliving it’s purpose. Because if we were lose favor of all culture at present tomorrow, new ones will gain acceptance. It’s not in humane nature to be a culture-less society.

            “Do you think “culture” is always abandoned if it does?”

            Again, if a culture is abandoned, it’s not like we won’t make a new one in it’s place. Many cultures have been abandoned, only to have new ones to replace them. It doesn’t negate the fact that they’re still cultures in there own right. Cultures of the past were very different to the cultures in modern society. Some survived, but there are obvious significant changes and differences of cultures threw out ions.

            “If culture only included stuff people liked and stuff that was useful, it would be called common sense, not culture.”

            Common sense is a part and staple of culture. Think about it dude. Nuff said!

            So in conclusion, I really suggest doing a blog post about culture to fully explain your gripe about culture. And please do some research first and while you’re doing it. Or else you just gonna come off as some angst douchebag who had bad experience, too isolated to look at others, and as response spread your disparity onto others.

            • You and Li Si both seem to be missing the point. Li Si couldn’t seem to reconcile my placement of fun and usefulness within the framework of culture and ran away. You seem to be unsatisfied by my definition of culture, which I never defined anywhere. I’m not concerned with the outer bounds of culture. Culture could include every damn thing that ever happened in the entire universe for all I care. What I do assert is that there’s a lot of cultural crap that’s neither useful nor fun. Take away the fun and useful stuff from culture. Tell me why I should care about anything left over. You can’t.

              My point is a practical one, not an academic one (not that it matters because I’m right either way). Culture alone is a sad justification for doing something. Why should I go to the art museum? Because it’s culture. Why should I eat nasty food? Because it’s culture. I reject this sort of “because it’s culture” mentality. It’s never applied to the useful/fun aspects of culture. Why should I grow crops? Because it’s culture? Why should I play video games? Because it’s culture? Nobody says that. The “culture” excuse is only applied to stuff nobody would do otherwise.

              • I could go on about this all day, But since I have a life, here are points to be made:

                I’m unsatisfied by your definition of culture, because you lump culture as an irrelevant or harmful mechanism, which it’s not. It’s a part of human life. And you made your definition of culture pretty well in your post and comments. Which is neither practical nor academic. Your defining culture the way you see it and how you disdain for it, not what it really defines in general. Culture does include every damn thing that ever happened in the entire universe, because culture is not restrictive of anything. If you read the definitions, you’ll see why. Taking away the fun and useful stuff from culture doesn’t mean it’s not culture. It only means you’re making it evolve and/or relevant to you. You not emasculating it, only enhancing it to your interest.

                Your point is neither a practical one, nor an academic one. Because it neither assess to common everyday examples of culture, nor it is comparable with the generally accepted term of culture which can be basically anything as long as a number of others do it as well. Pretty much of what you are doing and said to have done is culture in its own right. Culture alone is a COMMON justification for doing something. As well as the staple of human interaction. And you’re drawing an unessential dichotomy of the view of culture. The “because it’s culture” mentality is not what culture is about. The correct term for this mentality is traditionalism, which is neither culture nor a necessary trait of culture. Culture as well is not restrictive to art museums, food, music, growing crops, or playing video games. You can have a culture of doing damn well nothing, it can still be considered a culture. And last point, You’re not doing it because it’s culture, you’re doing it hence it’s a culture. Get the difference? I highly recommend to reassess your nihilistic view and do some thorough research and understanding of the subject. Until then, have a nice life.

                • I accept your brave surrender. Now to put in some final words for the rest of the readers:

                  Once again, the issue isn’t what culture is but why I should care. How many times do I have to repeat this? I’m not defining culture, unless you count the Euler diagram, and if you think a bunch of circles is a definition, my Spirograph kit is a dictionary. Any definition of culture that includes things that suck is wholly consistent with my usage and criticism of culture in this post. Stuff that sucks shouldn’t be done just because it’s culture. It’s common sense.

                  There’s plenty of stuff people do only “because it’s culture.” I gave you several examples. You haven’t bothered to challenge that, so I win. It’s not even limited to traditionalism. People don’t go to the art museum because it’s tradition; they go because it’s culture. Further putting this into the context of the post, foreigners are always going to Japan do all kinds of cultural crap just for the sake of culture. It’s stupid.

                  • I’m late to the party, but the Raptor clearly won this debate. FilnoChan clearly failed to take exception to anything you were actually saying, and instead substituted the reality of your premise with a strawman which he then swiftly and ably proceeded to destroy.

                    The irrelevance of his entire existence in this thread is neatly condensed into this particular bit: “You’re not doing it because it’s culture, you’re doing it hence it’s a culture”.

                    That makes culture exactly what he said it wasn’t: irrelevant. It’s not enough for culture to be for it to have any importance or relevance. The fact that it is says nothing about whether or not anything useful or fun to the ego can be derived from it.

                    Hell, even the egoistic search for fun and usefulness can be a described as a culture (which is what his premise seemed to say), but describing it as such isn’t particularly important or relevant to actually searching for fun or usefulness. So culture is pretty much irrelevant.

                    tl;dr FilnoChan said a whole bunch of nothing in defense of culture, ergo, you win.

  34. You fight the good fight against weabooism. I really don’t understand why people get so weird about Japan. There’s this one girl I used to talk to middle school because she liked anime; I asked a while ago if she had watched any lately, and she said she doesn’t watch anime anymore because she gets frustrated about not being Asian. What?

  35. Well people who only like Japan because of anime and want to suck up to the country is one thing… but a huge amount of anime fans (even in North America) are actually East Asian. Japan therefore is popular because it’s a great destination to visit, much like every white person I know wants to or has already visited Italy or France.

    Great shopping (their clothes fit perfectly for asian people, maybe not so much people like you, their consumer electronics are usually a generation ahead and largely not sold outside of Japan), great food (Tokyo has more Michelin Stars than any city in the world, and even fast food in Tokyo is ridiculously awesome), and amazing hospitality. Add to the fact that that it’s traditionally been the only ‘first world’ East Asian country around and they actually don’t try and rip you off all the time and it’s virtually crime free makes for a really good ‘safe’ travel experience that asians enjoy. Considering many Asian cities look like Japan but just aren’t as nice and built up (Hong Kong and Singapore are the big exceptions) it makes for a nice trip.

    Simply put, many anime fans are East Asian, and likely they or their non-anime watching families like visiting Japan and as such have a positive view of touring the country (WWII history aside). Not to mention the anime stuff you can buy in Japan is vastly, vastly, vastly better than anything you can get outside the country.

    That said, a lot of Japan-philes like the place because it’s just so wacky and different but not dangerous. Also white guys have it made there because Japanese are scared of them and treat them well, Japanese girls will go for even ugly white guys for kicks, no one knows that they are losers (just like I’m sure you can’t tell if a Japanese is a loser or just… Japanese) and I’m sure average height white guys like the feeling of towering over everyone where ever they go.

    • I’d look great in Japanese clothes, thank you very much.

      I don’t know too many East Asian anime fans. Actually, I don’t know too many anime fans in general.

      Also white guys have it made there because Japanese are scared of them and treat them well, Japanese girls will go for even ugly white guys for kicks, no one knows that they are losers (just like I’m sure you can’t tell if a Japanese is a loser or just… Japanese) and I’m sure average height white guys like the feeling of towering over everyone where ever they go.

      Speaking from experience?

    • I’m East Asian, so it may be true. I dunno. I want to visit Japan just as much as any other Asian country, so I know it has nothing to do with anime.

      I do know, for a fact, that Japan realizes how many foreigners are tards and do NOT treat them well just because they’re white or anything, though.


      ^White guy obviously acting the part.

  36. You should get to reading the manga. Clare and the survivors get even more badass post-Northern war.

    And on topic, I blame yellow fever. The same reason these idiots attribute themselves to the most derogatory subculture in Japan. The same reason the majority of online artists are terrible with no intention to improve “because it’s anime style, it’s supposed to look that way!”. Though as you can tell from my name I don’t necessarily hate Japan; just the wannabe Japanese which even the natives find absurd, especially considering it’s one of the most xenophobic developed countries in the world.

    • Same deal with my name. Though in all fairness I didn’t come up with the “Baka” part. The truth on my name is hidden somewhere in the depths of this website.

      I’ve been reading the manga since halfway through the anime. Couldn’t hold myself back. It was as if I awakened around the same time as Ophelia.

  37. Japanese History is so boring that I got distracted even though someone made an excellent comic/writing of it using character representations that I love.
    Woo run on sentence.

    I would go to Japan because I can’t buy shit online. And the middlemen rack up the prices to the extreme.

    I’d rather go to Hong Kong because stuff is actually cheap there.
    Although on my recent trip, I bought mainly Japanese stuff there. And ripoffs of Japanese stuff in Mainland China.

    • Hey, I could be wrong about this. Shopping is one of only three things in the world I suck at, and I never buy anything that isn’t necessary for physiological survival.

  38. >Turn the stars at the centre of the world.
    >If you sneeze, a butterfly in a forest somewhere will dance.
    some things are seriously just not meant to be translated > > …
    visual novel games in Japanese should never having English versions for the same reason

    • It’s not like I don’t see where you’re coming from, but there has to be limit to how good “If you sneeze, a butterfly in a forest somewhere will dance” can sound in any language.

  39. I can’t agree with culture blowing. That culture isn’t any fun is a very modern conception. Actually, from the dawn of history until only very recent times, culture was the only fun thing around. It just got a bit complicated when culture’s younger brother, the pop-culture that includes anime and stuff, came around. Ever since then, culture has to violently avoid appearing fun so that it won’t be mistaken for its younger brother or the other way round, which is a pretty miserable situation for both.

    Still, culture and pop-culture have the same parents, so a harmonic relationship should still be theoretically possible. One thing that draws many western youths to anime is that (due to the time lag in the westernization process) Japan’s pop culture isn’t just grounded on the idea of doing what culture didn’t, or even on mocking culture like pretty much every modern American cartoon (except the children stuff) does. Japanese pop-culture, and anime in specific, shows a much greater number of attempts to cite and integrate cultural works. Japan itself does not yet completely believe that culture is boring and worthless. Japanese spirit has always been more focused on integration than on conflict. Japanese concepts of culture resulted from integration processes, foremost of religions. If you used the simplification that American culture stems from a clash of Judaism and Christianity, then Japanese culture stems from an integration of aspects from Hinduism and Buddhism into Shinto belief (which on its own was a very unspectacular kind of primitive animism if you think about it). So instead of pop-culture fighting culture like it does in modern America, Japanese pop-culture actually respects the cultural heritage of Japan and other countries and draws from it. Whether it is the inclusion of mythological beasts, religious concepts, traditional or classic music, historical wars, or even sports. Japanese pop-culture draws heavily from actual culture, and even though it kind of disvalues it by doing so, the audience is not manipulated into hating the original. In fact, becoming interested in real culture by watching pop-culture is a much more often occurence in anime audiences than in the audiences of, say, the Simpsons or South Park (which already draw from pop-culture resources the audience is familiar with). Like children watching Sengoku Basara or Sangokushi and starting to become history buffs; this is something that Western initiatives often tried (think horrible Edutainment or Infotainment) but always failed to produce. What happens when anime stops drawing from culture and begins drawing from pop-culture can be clearly seen at Lucky Star and companions, which you dislike so much. So if you like to think in terms of “story”, anime not influenced by culture will never have an interesting story and will end up as shallow surface irrigation. The story in itself is something ancient and antiquated, modern people actually don’t have the attention span to follow any of them. Storys appear only where pop-culture draws from culture. The only American cartoon I know which has a “story” is Gargoyles, which – big surprise – is not only full of scottish castles, ancient magic and mythological creatures, but also uses some very archaic plot elements for its premise. So Japan’s pop culture has more and better stories because it draws more often and much stronger from existing culture. And because audiences are more often willing to pretend a show was actual culture instead of just pop-culture (think Gundam). This in turn is, obviously, because culture still SELLS in Japan, even if it has to be sold in small doses. Japanese people still have a much higher desire for culture. There never was a cultural revolution in Japan which branded old things bad. In America we had at least the sexual revolution, which branded Christian morality bad, and makes even pretty recent cartoons like He-Man look preachy and annoying. American culture was heavily influenced by Christianity, and since we are told today to hate Christianity, we end up hating large parts of our culture. Since we lack the integration ability of the Japanese, we can produce either pure entertainment without any culture in it or things so heavy on culture that it becomes too obvious that they are culturally influenced (as soon as we consciously find out something draws from culture, we automatically begin hating it, since we at one point in recent history decided to hate culture). Culture can only be brought to Americans by smuggling it into their pop-culture, a job at which Americans fail but Japanese excel. But even then, the majority of Americans still prefers American pop-culture over Japanese pop-culture withought a thought, the anime and manga boom in itself is just an subconscious reaction to the overwhelming culture-hatred ruling the land. Modern American culture as aw hole, is a culture of hating culture. Cutting off your own roots, a culture of death. I don’t deny that Japan is heading the same way, but as it stands now, Japan severely lags behind in their death march due to their heavy effort of integration. Sure, they can’t go on integrating forever. At some point they will come infinitely close to becoming the thing they tried to integrate because the percentage of original essence left after making room for all that new stuff. But as it stands now, Japanese pop-culture still treats Japanese culture with lots of respect. So if you talk about the culture of Japan as a whole, it is still a culture of life, including death. Whereas American culture is a culture of death, NOT including life.

    Oh, and before any of you think I’m spewing hatred against only the Meiji Restauration and the loss of the Pacific War:
    Of course the decay began prior to the Restauration. Many things we today think of as Japanese culture where back in the Edo period already seen as a kind of pop-culture. The pop-culture of yesterday worked the same: Original culture dilluted into the direction of becoming merchandise by integration of urbanization and pacifism.

    • Okay, so what I actually said is that:
      1) Japanese culture actually IS different from American culture because it doesn’t seperate old culture (“culture”) and new culture (“pop-culture”) as much because there is a steady conscious flow from old culture to new culture.
      2) Just as much as people shouldn’t pretend to like things they don’t really like “because they are culture”, people should neither pretend to hate things they aren’t able to hate “because they are culture”. In either case culture as a whole would be on a suicide trip because culture actually should be identical with fun. Culture is meant to be enjoyed, even if it is death penalty and marriage.
      3) The cultural problem arises from people imagining and pretending that something like mass culture or natural culture (which are contradictions) could ever exist in human societies, and that you had a choice between enjoying culture or non-culture. As a consequence, people spend time thinking about which would be more enjoyable, and hence different conceptions about what the real culture, the enjoyable one, is, lead to clashes or to integration efforts. Both, culture wars and cultural integration lead to a dillution of culture until culture actually becomes some kind of non-culture, a culture that seeks its own death.

      The death of culture in itself is a misconception, because culture in itself is not mortal. Even if thrown back into prehistoric ages, the decay and death of culture would only close the circle, leading most likely to a rebirth of culture, ascending into the direction of a new cultural peak. So the death in itself is not a bad thing, but it is definitely a bad thing for the witnessing generations, i.e. us.

      • I was hoping you’d step up to the plate. I was also hoping you’d write something that’d take less than three days to read, but that would be asking too much.

        If I understand you correctly, the entire point of your comment is that without culture all anime would be like Lucky Star. Sir, fear-mongering will get you nowhere. There are plenty of good pop culture anime, like Detroit Metal City and…I’ll think of some more later.

        I begrudgingly acknowledge that some of my favorite shows would not exist but for heavy cultural influences. Higurashi for example. But I don’t want to learn about it. Too much work. I’d rather just pretend I shouldn’t have to look anything up, lazily make assumption upon assumption until everything falls into place, and whine about all the extra effort I’d have to put in to do things the proper way. This post was in part a reaction to this post, which argues that serious fans expand their culture to fandom beyond anime itself. Not me.

        Gargoyles kicked ass.

        I’d say the biggest problem with culture not selling in America is the racial history everyone wants to ignore. Can’t do anything before 1865 without slavery. Can’t do anything before the 60’s without segregation. Pre-60’s settings hardly appear anywhere on TV, let alone kid’s shows. That 70’s Show is as far back in time as we’re willing to go. Everything has to be racially harmonious these days. Japan has its dark spots in history too but doesn’t seem as reluctant bring it up.

        Anyway, excellent comment. Lots of insightful points, wish my eyes were well enough to respond to them all.

  40. Awesome post, I agree with it.

    I just want to go to Japan to buy lots of shit, great electronics, anime merchandise and games (maybe get some japanese pussy).

    I can’t understand why anime fans obsess so much about japan, some like anime just because it’s japanese or because it’s different, missing the whole point of it having stories and themes unexplored by other mediums (though I like gaming more). I know people that call all characters by their japanese names, even if they watched the show in spanish (mother language) when they were kids. Or call each other using japanese suffixes (some even say random japanese stuff sometimes, usually it’s not actually wrong what they’re saying, but there is really no point in doing it).

    And of course, they listen awful J-pop or even Korean shit. Myself I only hear stuff that’s from anime or games.

  41. I’ve learned one thing in college: Taco Bell is the shit. Pockey is useful though, as it doubles as two food groups.

    Japan I want to visit, but not because of anime. I’m a history geek. That’s means there’s a 1,000 places I want to visit and Japan happens to be one. Even then, it’s pretty low on the list. Heck, a lot of Japanese don’t like anime. That alone says another for me.

  42. “Turn the stars at the centre of the world.
    If you sneeze, a butterfly in a forest somewhere will dance.
    The door you guard has a useless key.
    It’s an embarrassing story.
    Though they often lick one another, lions are strong.”

    I’ve heard some loopy lyrics before, but this is ridiculous.

  43. If you’re into it, learning about other cultures is fun as well as interesting. Howsomever …..

    I can’t remember the name of the writer or the martial arts magazine I read back in the 80s, but I found this to be a good quote: “If you’re not Asian, don’t try to be. At best, you will only be a laughable caricature of one.”

  44. Wow, you don’t know what culture is. Culture IS people doing what they like and doing things that are useful. That chart of yours makes no damn sense. Really, what the hell is your definition of culture?

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