A call light went off leading to conversation with a patient and a series of revelations, culminating in the ultimate revelation, I’m secretly Japanese. This patient loves cartoons and can be very demanding. This is an excellent combination for someone who wants to appear extremely helpful while secretly desiring to catch a glimpse of his favorite television program. This glimpse and the administration of pain medications made us instantaneous friends. We immediately began to discuss anime. After two months in the hospital, he was getting frustrated and had run out of shows on Netflix.
“You should check out Hulu,” I said. “They have a much larger selection of anime and I know they have the second season of that program on Hulu. If you enjoy the style found in Samurai Champloo, you may also like Bleach or High School of the Dead. ”
We continued through the genre within Netflix and we discussed favorite episodes and shows based on our preferences. This continued for fifteen more minutes until I realized, I’m at least a thousand times more pathetic than he was. This is a sad revelation to arrive at given the frequent discussions about the patients predilections outside of the room. This is an aspect of the Japanese culture that is not easily adopted by the majority of Americans who see them as merely cartoons. Cartoons and comics are stupid they say, which I immediately follow up with my favorite counter question: what are your favorite movies.
Clueless movie guy: I love action. The movie Sin City is pretty cool, along with V for Vendetta, and 300. I also liked the television series, The Walking Dead, oh, and The Matrix.
Fact: Most of the movies and television programs you watch and love are ripped directly from comic books or anime, including all of the above.
The Wachowski brothers were inspired by scenes or concepts from major Japanese anime when they made many of their movies. Ghost in The Shell is one of these. This movie takes place in a future world, where the line between machine and man is increasingly blurred. Artificial bodies are a reality and people have their brains augmented to allow a direct link to the information superhighway accessed through plugs at the rear of their neck. Technology had grown more vast than anyone could imagine, propelling the movie towards answers to long standing philosophical questions regarding the definitions of humanity and life or death. Sound familiar? Matrix anyone?
The movie Ghost In The Shell is not some stupid cartoon, but an in depth and philosophical analysis of humanity buried within a pretty kick ass action movie. I’ve seen both Ghost In The Shell 1 and 2 and although the second was too philosophical and I wished it was more kick ass than Kierkegaard, they both provide excellent entertaining and thought provoking content, remaining relevant today despite all the advancements in technology seventeen years after it was released in 1995. Critics agreed, and Siskel and Ebert gave the movie two thumbs up. Other movies they have given two thumbs up include: Tokyo Godfathers, Grave of the Fireflies, and of course, Akira. Still think all cartoons are for kids?
I also love Japanese game shows. My favorite program is Ninja Warrior. Imagine if American Gladiators and Wipeout had a baby and that baby was trained in the ancient art of Bushido. People in America look at Wipeout with their fat, middle aged contestants bouncing off giant rubber balls into slime filled foam obstacle courses and remark about how extreme it all is, but nothing is more extreme than Ninja Warrior. Sasuke, or Ninja Warrior has been running for over six years and of the thousands of competitors attempting the course, only a handful have made it past the second stage and even less have completed it. Over the years, the course has been continually refined and has attracted top athletes from the world over for its challenge. Our own olympic greats Paul and Morgan Hamm have attempted the four stage competition multiple times and have either been eliminated right away on stage one or got creamed later in the earlier parts of stage two or three. I’m pretty sure even the X-Men would fail.
Wolverine might make it past the first and second stages, but I’m pretty sure his chain smoking would get the better of him by stage four. Even with his healing factor, how fast can lungs heal after four rounds of constant torture speeding through the courses, provided segments of the course could even support the weight of his ultra dense adamantium skeleton. Rogue and Jean Grey may attempt to levitate through the course, but judges are pretty anal about those things and they would be eliminated as early as stage one. Gambit could attempt to use his agility, but pole vaulting over obstacles is only as good as your ability to dangle from them in later segments requiring muscular endurance. Charles Xavier could try, but would immediately eliminate himself after precognitively anticipating his failure. Oh yeah, and he’s paralyzed.
Japanese entertainment beats the crap out of American entertainment. In fact, everything produced within Japan should just be called Japanese, as entertainment is automatically implied. In America, when a teenage boy first sees an attractive girl they just creepily stare for several minutes and avoid contact, but in Japanese anime eyes explode out of their skulls and their noses erupt into spontaneous bleeds gushing across all four corners of the screen. Robots created from American minds can barely walk a straight line and speak with a four year olds vocabulary. At best, we get a sissy English butler called C3PO whose talents involve walking in one direction and shitting his pants every time the empire shows up (to be fair, he can shit his pants in over a thousand languages). In Japan, robots are several stories tall and have thousands of weapons at their disposal that can all be combined into one ultimate weapon.
Hell, these are the guys who made Voltron. What’s more terrifying than mechanical sabre toothed tigers? How about five of them that combine forces to create a massive creature who then pulls out a giant flaming sword. Yeah, I rest my case. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to rot my brain on sushi and Ninja Warrior.