Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Taste of Japanese culture

We found out that until July 5, we're getting the Documentary Channel for free. I do love free stuff! And the Documentary Channel is awesome, because they showing movies that happen to be true :)

Tonight they showed a documentary on male hosts in clubs in Japan called The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief. The film interviews both the hosts and their customers to show what the life is like and what it costs. When women go to the club the first time, they pick a guy to spend time with and he becomes their host or companion for the evening. They drink (ridiculous amounts) and talk and spend time in the club. Of course drinks are very expensive and the women can spend thousands of dollars per night ... each... on a guy.

The guys make phenomenal money, but at a cost. It's clear that while the women love them - whatever that means - it's hard on the hosts themselves. All their relationships are superficial because they are all things to all women and they lie so much that they find themselves unable to trust anyone.

And what the women do to have these "relationships" and spend all of this money? It's not much different for them, but their pay is much less.

It's an interesting documentary about a part of life I didn't know existed anywhere, let alone Japan, and it's definitely worth watching.

Speaking of things Japanese, I just finished reading Battle Royale. It's a book set in a near-future socialist pan-Asia where every year, a set number of junior high classes with about 40 students each are chosen to participate in the Program. The Program puts the students in a confined space, preferably an island, give them weapons varying from forks to Uzis, and tell them that they have to kill each other until one person remains.

The book is awesome. Of course I read the English translation as my Japanese is non-existent but I think that the English version is fairly close to the Japanese text. It's sort of slow to read at first because there's a fair bit of character introduction at the beginning. The story and the words are compelling, though and the ending is amazing. Seriously.

The subject matter of the book is not an easy read - 15-year-olds killing each other? with descriptive accounts of the deaths? - but it's a good, thought-provoking read. It's not hard to imagine such a thing taking place, or the characters behaving the way they do.

They made a movie of the book, and a second movie has been made, and there are mangas out there, too. I very much want to get a hold of the two movies, neither of which are widely distributed in the US. I think I should be able to find the movies somewhere - there's a guy on eBay who's got them; if I can confirm that they'll play in Canada (ie they're Region 1), then I'll probably buy those. I very much want to see the book in a visual medium.

And I think I might try and find the mangas as well; I think it would be interested to see this story told in yet a different visual medium. Yes, I find this story *that* compelling.

I think that book could only have come from Japan, though. It's a culture that is so different from ours... such a book might have a hard time being published here due to its content.

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