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  Commentary | The Art of Ryo-Ism




Japanese dude in LA --
A peer into Japanese pop culture in the USA

When I decided to attend a university in LA, I had my mind set on a lot of things. Getting used to the dollar, speaking English all the time, those kinds of things. None of these were a problem, I've done them before, no biggie there. But what really actually got me was a big surprise from a really unexpected, but strangely familiar, corner. It was like being lost in the Sahara desert and being jumped by Barney the Cute Purple Dinosaur. Barney acted like he knew me. Barney expected me to know him. Perhaps worst of all, I discovered I liked Barney. In the Sahara desert. The "desert" was L.A. and "Barney" was Japanese pop culture.

I was naive.

Basically, I discovered that American people listened to J-Pop. American people watched anime. American people played Japanese video games. It felt like I jumped out of home and landed there again. It was very comfortable and unsettling at the same time. Comfortable because it was so familiar, and unsettling because sometimes, it was so horribly wrong. Sure, no one was running around screaming "SAMURAI! GEISHA! BANZAAAAI! Ichiban!" anymore, but sometimes I just had to look the other way to save myself from bursting into insane laughter.

So now I'm writing this little passage here to hopefully dispel certain myths (and reinforce certain others) about Japan, J-Pop, anime, J-games and such, from the point of view of a Japanese guy looking at the American point of view on the aforementioned topics. How do American people perceive anime? How is it different from how it was seen where it was made? Why are those Korean guys so good at Tekken? Why do you guys listen to that stupid singer (insert J-Pop star here) instead of million-seller (insert million seller here)? Why do you guys have such crummy arcades? Why do I think they're so bad? While assessing these questions that I ask myself all the time, I also will try to cover the Japanese language and culture and why you English-speakers are so confused about certain Japanese things (and vice-versa, to be fair, and because it's really funny).





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