22 thoughts on “Hatoyama makes his South Park debut”

  1. That episode was a weird mix of stereotyping and stereotype-busting. They sympathized with the Japanese attitude toward whaling (probably more out of disgust with the “vegan douchebags” than anything else) and went to so much trouble to accurately recreate the peace museum (and do a pretty good job of South Park-ifying the emperor). But in the same show “the Japanese” are an identity-free, spear-wielding collective.

    I have to congratulate Hatoyama for making enough of a splash on the world stage that the South Park writers can remember his name and at least attempt a likeness.

  2. I have a lot of questions about this episode. Little of it made sense, and it was rather unfunny throughout (but then SP is not that funny when it gets preachy, though often has some interesting things to say for a TV show). The whole Japanese as a banzai war-mongering mass _may_ be taken from US media depictions (and redneck ideas) of them in terms of whaling, but the whole Hiroshima and Emperor thing just felt way out of place. Was the depiction of the Japanese as that necessary to make Trey Parker’s point that anti-whaling is just media hype and killing cows is no different? Showing some rednecks going banzai on some cows would have made that more clear. I was hoping for more subtlety and less reliance on knowledge of American media hype. This makes it an episode that will be hard to export, and probably another one not shown in Japan.

  3. How well known is South Park in Japan anyway? I’ve never seen the TV show here, but the Japanese dub of the South Park Movie (all the South Park characters are voiced by Osaka-ben comedians and the song translations are amazing) is one of the most hilarious things ever.

  4. I believe the caricature of Japanese people was to illustrate that the hypocritical view regarding Japanese whaling of non-threatened whales as evil and eating hamburgers as OK is rooted in a racist conception of Japanese people. I found that the episode made perfect sense viewed from this lens and powerfully illustrated Western cultural imperialism, hypocrisy and racism.

  5. I think it has only been shown sporadically on WOWOW, and of course this kind of episode would not be funny at all to Japanese people (much like the “Chinpokomon” one).

    I basically had the same reaction as Jade to the Hiroshima and Emperor segment at the end — it simply wasn’t very funny (apart from Cartman laughing at the Hiroshima story, natch), until the last scene where the Japanese characters start screaming again. The episode also suffered from mixed messages.

    But then again, I don’t take the plot and morals too seriously when the show has previously featured a talking turd with a Santa hat…

  6. My video rental place (used to at least) have the first season on tape to rent, and it is known (probably akin to Asimov in Japan in degree).

    And what the hell was up with the serious whacked Japanese (kanji) in the show? Not even an attempt at any sense there. I dunno – if you’re going to excuse any silliness with “this is how Americans see it, and we can get away with replicating it as hey, we’re really ripping on Americans, at least at the end” then perhaps it is silly to expect any sense at all.

  7. Yeah, the same few kanji repeated on every surface was kind of odd, since I believe South Park has actually done a better job of that in the past. Maybe the guy on the staff who knew some Japanese left?

  8. The biggest problem with this episode was that it just wasn’t all that funny.

    Another problem was the same old nihilistic, reductionist message South Park always adheres to, which is that the annoyingness of left wing tree-huggers is equal to the evil of people who hunt down endangered species. Tree huggers may be annoying, but the relative evils are not equivalent.

    Also, this episode relied WAAAY too much on the viewer being familiar with the various controversies surrounding the Animal Planet show “Whale Wars.” Granted, Whale Wars has been a “big hit” for Animal Planet, but a a big hit for Animal Planet was the fact that it garnered as many as 1 million viewers for its most popular episode, a new record for the channel. But even just counting America, as a nation of 300 million people, that is only one-third of one percent of people who care about this rather obscure show.

  9. “Maybe the guy on the staff who knew some Japanese left?”

    Since that was supposed to be Trey Parker himself, not likely. In fact if anyone has left, it is Matt Stone. He and Parker used to do writing and directing together, but Stone has not done a thing all season, and his participation seems to be getting less and less (and I might argue as SP has been getting preachier and preachier). I agree with this review comment:
    I’m as anti-hypocrisy as South Park, but only if I get to laugh. That’s their job, first and foremost, and this one mostly sank like a stone. (Instead of floating like a dead whale.)

  10. They should know Hatoyama speaks better English than that. Would’ve been funnier if he started out in very smooth, diplomatic English, and then snapped.

  11. Well, since Matt Stone voices about half the male characters he’s certainly still heavily involved in the show. It’s possible Parker has been doing more of the writing this season, but I’m pretty sure they go back and forth on that.

    “the annoyingness of left wing tree-huggers is equal to the evil of people who hunt down endangered species.”
    If you include the very last line, the final message is really that the hunting of whales is no different from our farming of animals for meat. And isn’t that an argument of the pro-whaling contingent in Japan? And remember, most of the whales they hunt are actually non-endangered minke whales. That doesn’t really have any bearing on how evil the hunting of the endangered varieties are, but there are a lot of people who mistakenly think that ALL whales are endangered.

  12. This show is in reference to the documentary we will probably never get to see here in Japan, “The Cove”, about the slaughter of dolphin in Taijima, Japan.

  13. The funniest scene for me:

    Larry King: “Well, there are many people who see what you’re doing as a positive thing. And of course…many who see problems with it. Joining us now is one of those people and you say that Stan’s methods are unethical.”

    Cid the Pundit: “Larry, you just can’t go out and take matters into your own hands like this. If you want a hit TV show, you have to go through producers, directors, people who are in unions!”

    Larry King: “But Cid, you saw the show before Stan took it over. You have to admit that it was nothing but incompetent vegan pussies doing absolutely nothing and trying to turn it into drama.”

    Cid the Pundit: “Yes, but it doesn’t justify changing the entire show structure that their old captain had pitched to the network…”

    Stan Marsh: “Can we please just talk about the actual whaling problem for a second….”

    Larry King: “…But their old capital Paul Watson was an unorganized, incompetent, media whore who thought lying to everyone was okay as long as it served his cause.”

    Cid the Pundit: “Yes, of course. Everyone knows that Paul Watson was a smug, narcoleptic liar with no credibility, but we must….”

    Stan Marsh: “Screw this! I need to get back to work!”

    Hmmm….the jibe about activists sounds vaguely familiar, wouldn’t you say?

  14. “This show is in reference to the documentary we will probably never get to see here in Japan, “The Cove”, about the slaughter of dolphin in Taijima, Japan.”

    Few distributors want to show this film in cinemas because, quite frankly, nobody wants to pay 2,000 yen to watch animals get slaughtered on a big screen. The film even failed to fill theaters in anti-whaling countries.

  15. Meh, documentaries pretty much never fill seats in cinemas no matter what the topic. I wouldn’t pin any special meaning on that. The market for documentaries is public television, not theatres.

  16. I loved this episode, especially the scene where Cartman is singing Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’. “…I don’t give a crap ’bout whales so go and hug a tree…” LOL. classic.

  17. Mrs. Adamu has been singing Poker Face for two weeks since seeing Cartman. That was pretty hilarious

  18. A little late, but today a few of my students suddenly asked me what I thought about whaling and then started asking if I had seen the South Park episode about it and talking about how funny it was.

  19. In way after the fact, but that happens when trawling archives of recently discovered websites, apologies to all.

    Yeah, the same few kanji repeated on every surface was kind of odd, since I believe South Park has actually done a better job of that in the past. Maybe the guy on the staff who knew some Japanese left?

    No, they didn’t. It has always been the same, same kanji on all buildings and signs on the ‘japanese’ sets of SP. I think Jade is spot on in his musing that the reason is because of the target audiences inability to read kanji and reusing the same kanji for all signs is probably easier than having Trey ask his wife if the japanese he produces for the show is correct and make sure the set designers (or whatever they are called in 2D stop motion animation) don’t make any mistakes. As gripes go, this is on par with english speakers griping about the brokes english in anime.

    As Jade also said, Trey is the one with the japanese skills, as he was majoring in music and Japanese at University of Colorado. In Trey 2006 married Emma Sugiyama.

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