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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Japanese humor


Japanese humor is as extreme as Japanese seriousness: it’s no holds barred, often lunatic stuff. One of the latest comic phenomena to sweep Japan has been the ‘Hard Gay’ character played by the (straight) Razor Ramon Sumitani of Osaka. Check out the Mainichi News article about Hard Gay.

While Hard Gay is funny, it is, like 99% of Japanese humor, strictly slapstick. While the Japanese are indeed fond of puns and wordplay, it doesn’t feature nearly as much in popular TV comedy as it does in the West.

Cartoons abound in newspapers and magazines but even when translated don’t really work. Here’s one from the weekly newsmagazine, the Shukan Bunshun. Follow the number at the bottom right of each frame. Translation of relevant frames below.

Comic 1st half from Shukan Bunshun.
Comic 2nd half from Shukan Bunshun.Frame 1: (speech bubble) Oh, oh! (Sound effect)
Frame 3: 'There's one!'
Frame 5 shows a sign which says 'Cleaning in progress'.
Frame 11: 'Seems like the suave types can use the toilet, but not plain ordinary types like me.'
Frame 12: 'No one said anything like that.' 'Please read the sign.'
Frame 13: (sign) 'Cleaning in Progress. Desperate people, please apply.'

Tokyo Confidential; Titillating Tales From Japan's Wild Weeklies
by Mark

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