As Japan slowly approaches the end of one busy decade, it almost seems like it’s trying to condense the essence of the last 10 years into the final days of 2019. That would certainly explain why this past week in Tokyo pop culture was a weird mix of the cute, the funny, the touching, and the baffling. For example…
The “Paprika” Earworm Returns – in English
The world never stood a chance against the original 2018 “Paprika” song by Kenshi Yonezu. The simple yet incredibly catchy tune (which represented the upcoming Olympic Games) was performed without any special effects by a bunch of energetic kids obviously giving it their all, and it immediately became a huge hit, racking up nearly 150 million views on YouTube.
Yonezu even re-recorded it later on for more adult audiences. But because someone apparently felt that more people would benefit from not being able to get “Paprika” out of their heads, the song returned again this month in the form of a Western remake with a new cast of children and all English lyrics. Listen to it for yourself if you don’t mind hearing the song whenever you close your eyes.
2020 Will Be… “Interesting” For Movies
March 2020 might go down in history as the date where one of the weirdest non-horror/porn Japanese movies is released (on unsuspecting audiences.) Not Quite Dead Yet starring Suzu Hirose, Ryo Yoshizawa and Shinichi Tsutsumi, is the story of a girl who does not get a long with her father. And she’s in a heavy metal band. And the dad takes a drug that turns him into a ghost so he can investigate who’s been stealing from his company. And that’s just the setup. By this point, it wouldn’t be all that strange if Vampire Godzilla made a surprise cameo. Check out the trailer yourself if you don’t believe me:
But because life is really all about balance, March 2020 will also see the release of a movie that is the exact opposite of Not Quite Dead Yet: Momi’s House. The movie will tell the slow-burn story of 16-year-old Ayaka (Sara Minami) who is sent to a facility in the country where young people are supposed to learn how to find their way in life and adult properly.
Although the movie doesn’t outright say it, Momi’s House seems like it will focus on the problem of depression among Japan’s younger population by exalting the ideas of hard work, etc. That idea might seem a little played out, but if the trailer is any indication, the acting might elevate the story to something truly special.
Also, remember how I said that life is all about balance? Yeah, that was a lie, because Japan will follow Momi’s House with the May 2020 release of The Sun Does Not Move, an aggressively ridiculous movie about industrial spying, solar panels and, if the posters are to be believed, bombs planted inside the hearts of the two main characters: Tatsuya Fujiwara and Ryoma Takeuchi. It’s like if Speed and Crank had a baby that was raised by Michael Bay. Check out the trailer below:
The Devil’s Attorney Plays Devil’s Advocate
On December 7, Fuji TV aired the first episode of their new show, The Devil’s Attorney, about a ruthless lawyer who’ll do anything to win a case. The main character is played by Jun Kaname, who is not a stranger to the legal system, having himself been involved with it after he accidentally hit a 9-year-old girl with his car in 2014. The girl thankfully lived and Kaname took full responsibility for his part in the incident, but one might wonder how the character that he’s playing now would handle it. We’ll have to keep watching the show (which does seem to take inspiration for its storylines straight from the headlines) to find out.
「ホーム上の酔っぱらいジジイをサブマシンガンで仕留めようとしている駅員さん」に見えて、さすがはおれたちの京急だ！ と思ったけどよく見たら違ったわ pic.twitter.com/Fu3pDuuShB
— 茸本 朗(たけもとあきら) 「野食ハンターの七転八倒日記」好評発売中！ (@tetsuto_w) December 9, 2019
One Way to Stop People from Rushing onto the Train
On December 9, Twitter user @tetsuto_w posted a picture of a recruitment poster for the Keikyu Line, which currently has been liked more than 111,000 times, because the unfortunate design makes it look like a picture of a station attendant pointing a submachine gun at someone. The cherry on top of this particular sundae is the poster slogan, which reads: “Someone that we need at the station.” So maybe take the bus instead of the Keikyu Line next time or something.