Doing Some Follow Up

Some of the things I have talked about recently on Mummyboon have cropped up again in the news in short order so I figured I’d take the opportunity to follow up on them.

The saga of the mega-monkeys (or metabo-monkeys*) continues as the keeper updates us all on how their diet is going. Apparently it has been 2 months since they were put on a healthier diet of grains, vegetables and small fish and less bananas and sweet potatoes. The caloric intake of the monkeys ahs been cut by as much as 60% and signs and barriers have been erected to stop people throwing food to the monkeys. The keeper claims that there has been a noticeable improvement in the health of the monkeys but it certainly isn’t evident from the above photo.

That might be because some people are STILL feeding the monkeys! In fact the keeper is still finding candy wrappers and peanut shells in the monkey area (it isn’t a zoo but a park so the monkeys aren’t in cages). This is despite the high profile media attention the fat monkeys have been receiving and the fact that they clearly have obesity problems. I honestly cannot believe some people. They are either incredibly naive not to realise that the signs and warnings are in place for what is quite a serious health problem or are some kind of sadist that is actually trying to kill the monkeys. Knowing the general character of Japanese people I’m actually going to vote for the former.

*This is another great Japanese news story recently. The government have been trying to increase the Japanese peoples’ awareness of the health risks or obesity by renaming obesity/being fat as being “metabo.” Their hope is that “metabo” doesn’t have the negative connotations of obesity so people will be more confident seeking out medical attention from their doctor. They’ve published a fact sheet telling people when they qualify as being “metabo” and they hope that the “metabo” members of the population will feel less stigmatized and will seek medical attention earlier and with less fear. I have only two real thoughts about this. Firstly, that this is easily one of the stupidest things I have ever heard of any government doing and secondly that I have no idea why the Japanese government feels the need to create such a program when it has one of the healthiest populations on the planet.

Also it seems that the BBC has bought the rights to air “Tunnels”; the Japanese TV show that features the “human tetris” short I mentioned last month.

I reckon that this is probably going to be part of some “Tarrant on TV” style clip show making fun of Japanese TV (as is only right and proper. The international media gets Japan horribly wrong a lot of the time but Japanese TV deserves everything it gets) however I would be thrilled if the BBC are planning to produce their own version of human tetris.

Hrmmm, bit short. Tell you what, let’s talk about a uniquely Japanese phenomenon.

Everybody loves a good TV theme tune. Many’s the time I’ve had discussions with my friends about what the best them tunes of all time are and we’ve spent happy hours humming them away. However, with a few rare exceptions TV theme tunes remain as just that and rarely does a good tune cross over and become a genuine pop hit.

Not so in Japan. Most of the theme tunes for popular anime and dramas are done by established pop acts and the theme tune becomes a chart song, even an album track usually. In fact, some TV shows thrive purely on the strength of a really good song. Anime themes are everywhere in the pop culture of Japan. As song choices in computer games, as karaoke songs, as adverts, as number 1 hits and indeed as the theme tune to anime shows.

So here are a few of my personal favourite anime themes.

Let’s start with my all time favourite and the only one I have ever been known to sing at karaoke. “Flying in the Sky” from G-Gundam. My undying love for the sheer unbridled creative stupidity of G-Gundam has been mentioned a couple of times on this blog. Yes, this is the show with the giant robot fish.

However my love for the theme tune is entirely un-ironic. This is the best cartoon theme tune the world has ever known. It’s epic, ballsy, soaring and unbelievably 80’s. And most importantly it features Japanese people (or drunken gaijin) screaming “Flying in the Sky”, “Shining Finger” and “Bright you now” with pure unbridled joy in their hearts.

If this song doesn’t make you happy then you and I can’t be friends anymore.

Another popular karaoke song with my friends and the opening theme tune to “Full Metal Alchemist.” This is by the brilliantly named “Porno Graffiti” which I once thought my students were pronouncing as pornography. This has an insanely catchy tune and some of the most esoteric lyrics I have ever heard.

One of the many opening themes that Naruto has had and my personal favourite. The song is a bit shouty but it fits the character really, really well and I’m a big fan of the guitar work.

In contrast here is the first opening theme for Naruto. I can never decide if I like this song or not. It sounds sort of vaguely Billy Joel-ish but sung really badly.

Then he says “I waana rocks, rocks to the chest” and I burst out laughing.

From Cowboy Bebop. I hate Jazz and even I have to concede that this is amazing.

I am not hugely familiar with Fist of the North Star and this theme is not particularly inspiring (at least not until the Japanese Shirley Bassey kicks in and then it briefly turns into Led Zepplin) but I do know that it is incredibly fun to yell “You Wa Shock!”

This is only an anime on a really thin technicality (it was a French/Japanese co-production) but it squeaks by being bloody awesome. I opted for the longer song in favour of the actual opening theme with the proper lyrics. Why? Because more Ulysses 31 is always a good thing.

I guarantee that at some stage tomorrow you will yell either “uly-ey-ey-eysees” “bright you now” or “you wa shock!”

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