I’ve been meaning to get this post out the door for over four months, just haven’t been able to do it out of laziness. But seeing as how I just found out that a 3rd season has already started airing I thought it was about time I finished this blog post about season 2 (see season 1). What I’m basically saying (once again) is that if you have the least bit interest in Japan, then this is the documentary series for you!
I got the episode descriptions from the BBC website.
Jonathan explores the meaning of Kakkoii or ‘cool’. As the international trendies will tell you: it’s Cool Japania. The cool looks and sounds of tomorrow are in Japan today. Cool robots, cool pop videos, cool phones, cool tunes… and definitely cool shoes.
Jonathan meets up with one of the coolest men in Japan, Nigo, the 33-year-old DJ, designer, entrepreneur and billionaire creator of the Bathing Ape fashion empire.
He discovers the weird world of international video artist Nagi Noda, meets our robot friends of the future, and tracks down the actor dubbed the ‘Japanese Johnny Depp’ and star of most of Japan’s major cult films, Tadanobu Asano.
We also have our first instalment on the road with the Magic Numbers on their sell out debut Japanese tour.
Jonathan investigates the rise of the Otaku or Japanese nerds.
Long scorned worldwide, the nerd has in recent years become the toast of Japan, with women queuing up for his geeky charms. Jonathan immerses himself in Otaku culture and discovers why so many young Japanese men can only feel love for manga, anime and model collecting.
He investigates the phenomena of Cosplay, or mass fancy dress, and why it is such a hit with the nerds. Jonathan discovers why the nerds like a lady in a Victorian maid costume as he visits one of the many ‘maid cafes’ currently taking over Tokyo.
Plus The Magic Numbers sample a local delicacy after a show on their debut tour of Japan.
Jonathan shares his fascination with the Zoku or urban tribes that characterize Japan.
The Japanese may not be divided by race or religion, but thanks to some amazing uniforms, they neatly divide themselves into tribes such as Girl Bikers, Lolita Goths, and of course the Yakuza, Japanese gangsters.
Jonathan explores his interest in these fashions and uniforms, meeting the gangs, trying out the exotic work wear and discussing it all with Japan’s best loved British designer Paul Smith at his new shop in Tokyo.
He uncovers the secret world of school girl crossdressing and discovers why Japanese gangsters dress to stand out and how their fashions are changing as new laws attempt to quash their power.
We also catch up with the Magic Numbers who discover the Japanese love of dressing up like cartoon characters.
Jonathan investigates what makes the world’s hardest working nation laugh.
Japanese comedy is not all slapstick and screams - it is actually home of some very strange and very funny comedy. Jonathan uncovers the original Jackass comedy extremists and meets the ultimate in high tech humour, a fully functioning comedy robot.
Jonathan explores the very weird world of comedy art and discovers what really has the Japanese rocking in the aisles when he enjoys the annual cherry blossom with Japan’s biggest current comedy sensation, a pro wrestler turned comedian called Razor Ramon Hard Gay.
We also catch up with the Magic Numbers playing a practical joke in the home of Japanese comedy.
Bushido (Samurai Spirit)
Jonathan investigates Samurai Spirit. Swords and shoguns are now out but the spirit can still be found in battling beetles, lethal schoolgirls and a goalkeeping crustacean that can stop 9 out of 10 penalty kicks.
We look at the unlikely warriors who are behind Japan’s strangest new sport, Beetle Sumo. Having started as a video arcade game, battling live beetles is big in Japan.
Jonathan meets Japan’s deadliest schoolgirl, ‘Kill Bill’ star Chiaki Kuriyama, and tests out the latest mobile phone controlled robotic warriors. He also meets film director Minoru Kawasaki, whose giant sporting seafood films like Calamari Wrestler and Crab Goalkeeper champion some of the most unlikely heroes imaginable.
Jonathan displays his own Bushido when he sits down to sample Japan’s deadliest dish, the samurai slaying blowfish.
Plus we catch up with The Magic Numbers who discover the singing never stops with karaoke around.
Jonathan embraces the passion that underpins most aspects of Japanese popular culture, the concept of Kawaii, which means cute.
Jonathan salutes the fat cat of cute, Hello Kitty, and visits the global mecca of all things cute, Hello Kitty Land. He discovers the ultimate 21st century accessory when he meets the Hello Kitty robot.
We look at the latest and cutest Japanese animation and examine the weird trend for Kawaii Noir, dark cute. Jonathan meets Gloomy Bear, a giant pink teddy bear turned bloodthirsty killer who is all the rage in Japan.
The Japanese love of dolls is also examined and Jonathan looks into the cult of the Super Dollfie, outsize £500 dolls, and their strange hold over Japanese adults.
And we catch up for the last time with the Magic Numbers as they hit Japan’s most famous concert venue, the legendary Budokan.