While James May was in Japan, he came across an interesting group of people in Tokyo called Salarymen. Salarymen are white-collar workers who practice a very specific pattern of behavior. They devote themselves to the company they work at above all else. While they are working, they adopt diplomatic behavior with both their superiors and colleagues. Even if they hated their boss, they had to display absolute loyalty to the company especially if their boss was older than them (senpai). When their shift was over, the Salarymen would go party with their colleagues. Their activities range from drinking, karaoke, and so on. During this time, the Salarymen get to relax and be completely honest about their true feelings about everything even their relationship with their boss. When morning comes, they start the whole thing all over again. During James May’s visit to Tokyo, he got to play karaoke with some Salarymen, who were more than eager to party after a hard day’s work. Among the Salarymen James partied with were two employees from a mergers and acquisitions company and a banker. James May had a surprisingly good karaoke singing voice as well.
I remember another one of James May’s funny antics during his visit to Japan. While he was in Osaka, James got to dress up as Ultraman and drive around in a go-cart. Apparently, this is a common activity in Japan’s metropolitan areas like Osaka and Tokyo. People would dress up as their favorite anime character and drive around in go-carts as though they were in a Nintendo game. At the end of this scene, James made an interesting point. Japan’s obsession with anime characters, superheroes, and monsters is not just something they imagined. It has become a deeply ingrained part of their culture. Due to this, you can find anime characters everywhere in Japan from sign posts, to appliance manuals, bedrooms, stores, you name it. With this in mind, James wondered if this concept can be seen as a modern interpretation of Shintoism, which talks about many gods and everything being inhabited by a spirit. These anime characters, superheroes, and monsters could be representations of these entities.
During James May’s trip to Japan, he made a number of interesting discoveries and encounters. While looking through the stores of Tokyo, he discovered a number of gadgets that were designed to solve problems that no one else thought of. Among those gadgets were self-cleaning toilets. I always knew Japan was a technological superpower, but I never thought their usage of technology would be this diverse.
Then James’s day in Tokyo got even better when he met a couple of otaku or “super geeks”. The interesting thing about otaku is that while geeks would be shunned by Western society, geeks in Japan are welcomed as an essential part of the social fabric. Otaku interests can range from anything from manga to video games. The otaku James met were a special breed of otaku known as train spotters and they knew everything about trains. They could imitate the sounds of trains, they would take photographs of trains in stations, they enjoyed listening to train station music, and they could imitate train station announcements.
As a super geek myself, I could easily relate to these two otaku. The moment I saw their quirky mannerisms and the passion of their interests, I knew they were like me. Since geeks are embraced as part of the social fabric in Japan, I think I would feel right at home there.
As I have mentioned in many of my posts, I love anime with complete passion. My reasons for loving anime are numerous. First, the creators of anime seriously think outside of the box when it comes to the characters and world-building. Many of the things anime creators come up with an average person would not imagine. That seriously ignites my own imagination as a writer. Second, you can really see the emotions of the characters in fine detail. With live action characters, you get some sense of what they are feeling, but with anime the characters’ emotions are laid bare and you get more connected with them as a result. Third, the writing is elaborate with just the right amount of complexity. The pace the story takes keeps you hooked and makes you want to know what will happen next. Once the story hooks into you, it does not let go. Fourth, the character development is fascinating because the characters deal with relatable problems and that gives you a closer connection to them. When the story is over, you can see yourself in their shoes as though you lived through their adventures with them. Fifth, I thoroughly enjoy the countless references to Japanese culture and how it is applied in creative and unique ways. The way anime portrays Japanese culture gives me a greater appreciation for it and makes me want to visit Japan to experience that culture firsthand. If you love vivid animation, good storytelling, and relatable characters, then anime is the genre for you.
Out of all the Japanese names out there, my favorites have always been Shinji and Ryoko. Shinji sounds like the type of name you would expect from an average Joe, which feels more down to Earth than the more glorified names. I loved the name Ryoko ever since I was a kid watching Tenchi Muyo because I found the character Ryoko in that show to be the cutest of the female characters. I am thinking of including these two names prominently in my superhuman series.
I thought of something interesting I could do for my Kaiju story. Because the Kaiju genre was created in Japan, I decided to include some Japanese themes to my story. Just as I gained inspiration for my fantasy series by trying authentic medieval food, I am planning to gain inspiration for my Kaiju story by tasting ramen, rice balls, and sake. All three of these food items are things I have never tried before, but I am thinking of including them in my story and I will require an authentic description of their taste, smell, and texture. I will keep you updated on any further developments.