24 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Joshiraku episode 1 – Language Barriers (Scamp’s take)

Joshiraku starts with a long fourth-wall breaking skit where the characters explain that watching this anime is a waste of time, and not even the best way to watch it, then following that with a message that the only point of this show is to watch the cute girls because the dialogue goes nowhere. There’s something awfully amusing about a show laying out exactly why you shouldn’t watch it in the first few minutes, and then proceeding to do all those exact criticisms it levelled at itself in the rest of the episode.

The fourth-wall breaking elements of Joshiraku are legitimately funny satire. The issue is that it’s satirising itself and shows of its ilk. That results in my reaction to this episode being “hahaha yeah that’s right, you do suck”. As soon as it moves into the main bulk of the episode and stops fourth-wall breaking, it goes and does all those things it said were terrible. The conversations are the lazed ponderings of a bunch of Japanese schoolgirls that lead to nothing and signify nothing. The directing doesn’t add anything to the conversation either. This is where my big “LOL JC STAFF” stamp gets planted. The only part something about the visual direction genuinely added something was the “but the animators put in so much effort” while the girl swayed all over the place in a completely pointless fashion. Heck, even that was basically them pointing out the uselessness of their directing.

The issues with the conversations in Joshiraku is they have no meaning. It’s not like the author’s other work, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, where the discussions were generally satirising some part of society. Even the nationalistic part was just them being nationalistic rather than any actual commentary on nationalism. These conversations are just observations about language, which segues nicely into the main point I wanted to make with this post: why are we watching this? I mean us. English-speaking folk.

Some of you lot understand Japanese, so wonderful for you, but it’s safe to suggest that 99% of the people reading this have about as much Japanese as any weeaboo who watches subtitled anime would have. That is, you understand phrases and single words, but not the nuances of language that make up wordplay and puns. The jokes are completely lost on us. I mean, god bless gg for attempting to come up with relevant puns of their own, but when the entire show is based around puns, there’s only so much they can do. If watching gg coming up with puns is enough for someone, it begs the question of why don’t gg just release a blank screen where they dumb pun jokes.

I don’t think Joshiraku is a bad show. It certainly expresses more self-awareness and intelligence than most shows that are essentially just excuses for cute girls to be paraded by the screen (Joshiraku admitting this is why this anime exists doesn’t really change that cute girls for the sake of it is still dull). That said, Joshiraku made me question why the hell I watch anime anyway when there are such blatant language and cultural barriers. Why am I watching some cartoon from Japan rather than something from my homeland where I understand the cultural nuances. It’s gloriously ironic that a show this nationalistic was the anime to turn me to consider stopping watching foreign cartoons.

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  1. Posted July 10, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    It’s cause the girls are cute.

  2. †Croos†
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Not just the language but also the text(I guess language is also included in text but anyway). Since Japanese text are related to Chinese, or should I say the origin came from them, they’re are just so many things you can experiment with it.
    魚 fish – http://puu.sh/H8G5
    火 fire – http://puu.sh/H8JM
    木 tree – http://puu.sh/H92O
    肉 meat – http://puu.sh/HfsO

  3. Posted July 10, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink


  4. Borneo
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Does your homeland produce children’s cartoon shows which don’t suck? My homeland does not, unfortunately, which is why I’m forever doomed to watch foreign children’s cartoon shows. I think that’s reason enough.

    P.S., by “doesn’t suck”, I mean “has cute girls doing cute shit in it”, of course.

    • Ian K
      Posted July 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Well, they made this:

      • Borneo
        Posted July 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        I should add that by “cute girls doing cute shit”, I mean “cute girls being horribly dismembered by freakish monsters from outer space”.

        I do like that clip, though. Maybe Scamp really has no excuse to watch foreign children’s cartoon shows instead of homemade ones.

  5. Posted July 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Now I am not so sure if I want to watch this. But again, what to watch? Many things from Family Guy of the Simpsons are lost on me as well, because I’m not from the US. Hell, even for British shows I sometimes need TVTropes. And there Isn’t anything even a bit like those in Poland. So in the end, I’d understand Joshiraku about as much as other comedy cartoons from anywhere.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Certainly true. Some shows are better at making ther jokes universal and understandable. Joshiraku is not this. Not that it has to be, but it does make it impenetrable for us dirty gaijin

  6. Chipp
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink


    • Noname
      Posted July 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you!

  7. Erif
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    The only way to understand these cultural nuances is to experience them first hand. Although there’s not much I can say about the language barrier (unless you decide to learn the language), anime is not only entertainment but also a learning experience.

  8. Daniel
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    “It’s gloriously ironic that a show this nationalistic was the anime to turn me to consider stopping watching foreign cartoons.”

    This is what those of us who are AWESOME call a challenge. The solution is to overcome it, and smile.


  9. Posted July 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I already noticed your criticism of how a show “turning into what it parodies” is supposed to be a bad thing, but I think Joshiraku is a good example of why this is not the case.

    As Mel Brooks said, “you have to love the genre you’re parodying”. Without that, a parody will end up being shallow, and bitter. There is quite a large moe hatedom, so it wouldn’t be all that hard to settle down with an audience where they can start circlejerking about how much the shows that neither of them are watching suck.

    Compared to that, there is much more potential in a genre pointing out it’s own quirks in a tongue-in-cheek manner, with the implication that really, the case is not all that bad, than another genre berating it and preaching to the choir.

    • Posted July 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Mel Brooks did say you have to love the genre.

      He didn’t say you have to become the genre.

      Take “Young Frankenstein” for example. It’s clear from the care put into the directing and the attention to detail that Brooks likes monster movies. But “Young Frankenstein” never truly becomes a monster movie. It stays a parody and never plays anything straight.

      Joshiraku does not do that. As Scamp said, it is a parody for a few minutes, then switches gears and becomes just as vapid as the shows those first few minutes made fun of. That’s not clever satire. That’s simple laziness.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 10, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      What Dustin said. Besides, I disagree with your statement anyway. Anger directing at something is hugely entertaining. That’s what satire usually is

  10. Posted July 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    “Why am I watching some cartoon from Japan rather than something from my homeland where I understand the cultural nuances?”

    I keep asking that, too.

    I mean, not why *I* keep watching anime. I know that I’m a huge weeaboo and anime resonates with me much better than either my local Hungarian media or Hollywood.

    But I keep wondering why the people who are not like me, who keep treating anime’s Japaneseness as a fault, and worship all those 80’s-90’s series that were made for americans during the Anime Boom for their western aesthetics, and use “otaku-pandering” as a cussword, bother identifying as anime fans to begin with.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Because it’s possible to enjoy some parts of a medium and not like other parts. I can love anime’s weirdness and colourfulness and embracing bizarre concepts and running with them. I can also dislike its pedophillia, reliance on cuteness and appealing to loser male demographic. The two don’t cancel each other out

      • Posted July 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        Then you are not the kind of anime fan that I was talking about, but I really met some people who have this attitude, to the point of explicitly stating it, that they see anime’s Japaneseness as a fault rather than a core feature.

    • Erif
      Posted July 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      Also Scamp, by that logic, why would we bother to watch foreign film or read foreign literature? Sure, there will be language barriers, but for the most part the themes and messages of a work are universal.

  11. Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    “Why am I watching some cartoon from Japan rather than something from my homeland where I understand the cultural nuances”

    When they make an anime about riverdancing and Lucky Charms, I’ll be sure to let you and Cara know.

    • fathomlessblue
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Lucky ☆ Charms

  12. Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    Best comedy this season (champion by default).

  13. siladem
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Scamp –

    Why do I read a difficult obtuse referential novel chock a block with faded signifiers at play in the fields of language that is set on June 16 1904 in Dublin?

    Cause it’s f***Kin’ good

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