The ongoing demonstrations in the United States might have been sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, but they go far beyond this one incident. It’d be impossible to quickly explain the entire Black Lives Matter movement in any meaningful way, so naturally when NHK attempted to do so on June 6, it was a disaster. Not only did they conclude that the entire thing was about money, the segment also featured animation of offensive African American stereotypes. Here’s what they should have done instead:
Japanese Celebrities Ask Fans to Learn, Sign and Donate
There were many reactions on Japanese social media to the BLM protests. Popular singer-songwriter Taichi Mukai simply tweeted the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and expressed his desire to learn more about its cause and goals.
— 向井太一 (@TAICHI313) June 1, 2020
Mukai is hopefully following model, actress, and singer Kiko Mizuhara (Norwegian Wood, Nobunaga Concerto), who linked to a comprehensive Japanese guide explaining the protests, compiled by an editor at Off Topic, a Japanese startup. It’s a long read but for an explanation of what’s shaping up to be a new civil rights movement, brevity would be the enemy of learning.
Some of the reactions were also aimed at the celebrities’ international fans, like when singer Crystal Kay linked to petitions to get justice for George Floyd, or when the R&B performer BENI linked to the official BLM site and asked her fans to educate themselves on the movement.
Simple and to the point. Let’s learn, sign, and donate! #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/wUjKoQnON9
— BENI (@BENI098) June 2, 2020
Then there was the pop-performer Haru Nemuri who asked people to donate to the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Most importantly, though, none of them pretended to be any kind of expert. By and large, Japanese celebrities didn’t talk over the BLM movement or try to dumb it down, and it’s a bad sign when Japan’s largest broadcaster gets such a sensitive topic so wrong while musicians and other celebrities handle it with much more aplomb in 280 characters or fewer.
Retro-Style Pokémon is Here to Make the World Less Scary
Remember the old-timey cartoons from Max Fleischer or early Disney with the soft-brush backgrounds, big brass music and goofy characters that looked and moved as if they had jelly instead of bones? Younger readers might recognize this style from the Cuphead game. But everyone now can appreciate it in a new Pokétoon video Chase the Beans.
The work of official Pokémon producer and animator Yoshiyuki Koie, the video is an old-timey-style cartoon starring Scraggy and Mimikyu (or Zuruggu and Mimikkyu in the original) who go on a heart-warming, dialogue-free adventure looking for… beans. And it’s precisely this kind of low-stak,e 4-minute-long escape from reality that some of us could probably use right now.
Japanese TV Shows and Movies to Watch Out For
Thirteen (Fuji TV), is the Japanese remake of the 2016 British miniseries by the same name about a young woman who suddenly returns to her family after being missing for 13 years. The Japanese version so far seems more focused on the mystery aspect itself rather than the dark family-interpersonal dynamics that made the original so intriguing. But the main character, portrayed by model Nanami Sakuraba, is played convincingly enough to give this one a shot.
Year 2020 Love of May (WOWOW): Two weeks ago, we got excited for this show because of its stellar cast and we weren’t disappointed. Every episode of this series is presented as a split-screen phone conversation between a divorced couple as they’re finally talking to each other after many years. They catch up, they talk about the past, and every scene with them is rich in nuanced performances that make these two feel like real, living people. A definite recommendation.
The Brightest Roof in the Universe. Scheduled to premiere in September, this movie by Michihito Fujii looks like a typical, almost-plotless story about a young girl named Tsubame (Kaya Kiyohara) who has no real problems in life but is angsty and often retreats to the rooftop of her calligraphy class. That’s where, one day, she meets the Star Granny, and judging by the recently released trailer, that’s when the seemingly naval-gazing movie transforms into something bigger. More magical. Possibly something slightly similar to Children of the Sea, only more cheerful. We will have to wait until September to find out.