Posts Tagged ‘ Regain ’

“Elite Yankee” エリートヤンキー三郎 – Not What You’d See in the US.

It’s not as though this is s particularly great show or anything, but Elite Yankee Saburo is, indeed, a very Japanese show.  It’s funny to me how — for all it’s reputation of being a more staid, obsessed-with-protocol, rigid society — Japan can produce some television shows and films that go way beyond what supposedly boisterous Americans would dare try.  It’s an irony, of sorts.  Anyway, last year the show became a movie.  It’s a whole franchise in Japan.

From the Elite Yankee Saburo Official Website

Exhibit A:  Elite Yankee (Saburo) — エリートヤンキー三郎.  From the Wiki:

“Based on the comedy manga by Abe Shuji, “Elite Yankee Saburo” tells the story of Ookochi Saburo (Ishiguro Hideo), a plain and shy boy entering high school. Unfortunately for him, his two older brothers had built a reputation as legendary troublemakers at that school. When Saburo arrives, he is immediately misunderstood and treated as an ‘elite yankee.'” And there’s nudity.  It was not a prime time show, of course.  Aired late at night, but, still, not your typical Bravo Channel or USA Network fare.

Here’s a PG(maybe)-Rated Trailer:

Heh, heh.  Fun, eh?  Not quite as cerebral as U.S. comedies think they are.  Certainly not what I’d want to watch all the time.  I’m the first to note that it’s so much vapid silliness.  But it seems that U.S. networks, writers, producers could occasionally drop some of their pretensions from time to time, to the benefit of their product and to the benefit of the imaginations of their television viewers and film goers.

And the commercials can be pretty surreal, too:

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Another (rather creepy) classic, from almost 20 years ago just below.  A more fulsome context for this “Regain” commercial can be found here.  Yes, the chorus goes:  “Bus’nessman!  Bus’nessman!  JapaneeZU bus’nessman!” This was a product of the peak of Japanese corporate hubris in the last few years of the ’80s and ’90-’91.  Some of that may still linger, but with The Bubble popping in ’91, the “lost decade” of the ’90s and continued economic doldrums of the past 10 years, and the rise of China, few Japanese companies are so publicly full of themselves.

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China’s Econ Passes Japan’s. Let’s Take a Deep Breath, Shall We?

Is this little girl coming after you?

Beijing. July 2005.

Today, Monday, August 16, 2010, the headlines are blaring and everyone seems to have the vapors:

China Passes Japan as Second-Largest Economy

“SHANGHAI — After three decades of spectacular growth, China passed Japan in the second quarter to become the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States, according to government figures released early Monday.

“The milestone, though anticipated for some time, is the most striking evidence yet that China’s ascendance is for real and that the rest of the world will have to reckon with a new economic superpower.

“The recognition came early Monday, when Tokyo said that Japan’s economy was valued at about $1.28 trillion in the second quarter, slightly below China’s $1.33 trillion. Japan’s economy grew 0.4 percent in the quarter, Tokyo said, substantially less than forecast. That weakness suggests that China’s economy will race past Japan’s for the full year. . . .”

. . . and so on.

While all this may be true, so are these things:

+ China’s poverty rate is around 2.8% (that’s over 37 Million people in poverty). Japan’s total population is about 128 Million.

+ Japan’s poverty rate is, according to the CIA’s World Factbook 0%, “N/A.” Now I have, indeed, seen some homeless Japanese here and there, but compared to most industrialized countries, let alone developing countries, let alone China, Inc., the rate is negligible.

+ Japan’s economy still remains more robust than France’s, Germany’s, Brazil’s, Canada’s, the UK’s, Italy’s, Russia’s, Norway’s, Chile’s, Singapore’s, Ireland’s, Australia’s, Switzerland’s, India’s, South Africa’s, Spain’s, Malaysia’s, Egypt’s, Sweden’s, Ukraine’s, Mexico’s, Finland’s, Morocco’s, Poland’s, Israel’s, Saudi Arabia’s, Hungary’s, Colombia’s, and about 150 others.  Not too shabby.

+ Earlier this year The China Daily reported that China’s wage disparity between those living cities and the countryside is the widest since the launch of economic reforms in 1978:  “Song Xiaowu, president of the China Society of Economic Reform, said the widening urban-rural income gap has partly resulted in China’s increasingly ‘appalling income disparity between the haves and have-nots.‘”

+ Japan’s income equality is the second highest in the world, after Denmark (source:  scroll down to the middle of the page).

+ Life expectancy in China (male/female):  72/75.   Life expectancy in Japan79/86.  Life expectancy in the United States75/80.  (source:  World Health Organization).

+  In terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which seeks to, among other things, get a bead on actual living standards and buying power for a given country or region, depending on the source (the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, or the CIA — they all use slightly different calculations), Japan ranks 23rd, 24th and 29th, respectivelyChina:  99th, 92nd, 102nd, respectively.

So let’s not throw in the towel for Japan, just yet.

Admittedly, Japan certainly has its own challenges and problems, too:  a rapidly aging society is putting — and will continue to put — a tremendous strain on the society (but elder care economic opportunities present, as well; depending on the degree to which Japan will welcome foreign investment and collaboration and imports in that sector); anemic economic growth that shows no substantive signs of abating; a cramped, unimaginative and too powerful bureaucracy that’s been a drag on an economic resurgence for almost 20 years; the inability to make a decent hamburger.  Personally, I don’t need a decent hamburger whenever I’m in Japan, but the inability to get one symbolizes some fundamental crack in, comparatively speaking, a generally well-run system.

All that said, I do still have a sentimental wistfulness — a natsukashii feeling, if you will — for days gone by in Japan, when it was peaking around 1990 and about to fall with the bursting of The Bubble.  Indeed, it’s difficult, nay, impossible, to imagine that those days will ever come again:

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UPDATED (September 18, 2010):  “China Set to Lose 2% of GDP Cleaning Up Decades of Pollution.”

Excerpt:

China, the world’s worst polluter, needs to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product a year — 680 billion yuan at 2009 figures — to clean up 30 years of industrial waste, said He Ping, chairman of the Washington-based International Fund for China’s Environment. Mun Sing Ho, a senior economist at Dale W. Jorgenson Associates and a visiting scholar at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, put the range at 2 percent to 4 percent of GDP.

Failure to spend that much — equivalent to the annual GDP of Vietnam — may cost the Chinese economy half as much again in blighted crops, health costs and pollution-related expenses, He said: “The cleanup can’t catch up with the speed of pollution” if spending is less.

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A Few Favorite Posts You May Have Missed…

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In order to see older Home Page posts (from, say, a couple of months ago, or last summer) one would have to go to the bottom of this page, click on the “Older Entries” tab to the bottom and left, then scroll down that previous “Home Page,” then repeat the process again and again.  A hassle of sorts.  So in order to bring some of those older pages to you, I’m posting their links right here.

After Work:  いざかや、ガード下、赤提灯(from early last September) discusses my favorite kinds of little, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and watering holes.  These are some of the best kinds of places to eat and while away time with friends no matter where in the world one is.

Izakaya in Kyoto, “Pontocho.”

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Dear, Beautiful Kyoto (from early last August).  A little homage to a place that’s wafted into and out of my life (or my life has drifted into and out of Kyoto) since the fall of 1984.

Near Kyoto University, looking East towards Shinnyo-do Temple. 2009.

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And here’s one about “kotowaza” (wise sayings/proverbs):  Spring Trips / C’est la Soul Sonic Boogie.   And here are Five Favorite Post from 2011.

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One more:  this one’s just a couple months old, but it surprisingly didn’t get as many “hits” and looks and so forth that I thought it would, and deserved:  “Regain, Chibi Maruko-chan and (in retrospect) Simpler Times.”   If you don’t check out the Regain and other vids (one of them below), you’re really missing out.

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I’ll do this again from time to time, bring forward former, fun posts.  Enjoy.

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Regain, Chibi Maruko-chan & (in retrospect) Simpler Times.

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Update:  August 16, 2010. News Flash:  China’s just pulled ahead of Japan as the World’s No. 2 Economy.  Eh, whatever.  But all the more reason to reflect back to  . . . “the salad days“.

Remember when the World straddled the Epochs of Early Gorbechev years and Post-Cold War?  When Japan was riding Sky High (compared to most of the world’s economies, Japan’s remains pretty damn solid, and has even throughout its “doldrums”) and how it never really occurred to Ford that putting the steering wheels on the right side of the its cars might help its sales there?  When Bart Simpson’s marketing omnipresence across North America was match — if not exceeded — only by Chibi Maruko-chan’s in Japan?  Pebble Beach?  Before “9.11”?  It seems almost amazing how, comparatively speaking, those times were so much simpler than now, notwithstanding all the flux in which the world was then engulfed.  Whenever a New Year begins, I can get to feeling quite  なつかしい   (a word that goes much deeper than mere “nostalgia”) about years and times and things gone by.  Right now I’m kind of feeling that way about Regain, which sort of encapsulates those days from a Japanese (or expat living in Japan) perspective as well or better than anything.

It was 1990-91 and I was living in Japan for the second time.  A then-new(ish) product was wowing the consumer-at-large:  Regain.  This was the first (to my knowledge) mass-marketed “energy drink”.  So there have been others, but Regain was the first huge one, really, really huge and it started in the late 1980s, easily 10 years before American companies got in on the act.

A wide variety of Regains (and their knock-offs) rake in billions in the Japanese market.  “Regain J” contains 1500 mg of Taurine, now present in many “energy drinks”.  Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., of the Mayo Clinic says, “[s]ome studies suggest that taurine supplementation may improve athletic performance, which may explain why taurine is used in many energy drinks. Other studies suggest that taurine and caffeine act together to improve athletic and perhaps even mental performance, although this finding remains controversial.” (source).  “Regain 3000” contains Liverall.   And there are Regains that come complete with video game-themed novelty items:

But what I and so many other foreigners love about Regain (I may have tried one and it tasted on mediciny) have been the commercials.  THE hit commercial from 1989-90 was the one atop this post from Regain — set to rather catchy but creepy self-parodying (or serious???) martial music — during the last couple years of the Japanese Bubble Economy when Japanese corporate hubris was at its peak, just before it’s implosion, with the signature song even becoming a tongue-in-cheek nationalistic pop hit “A Sign of Courage” in its own right.  Followed-up by this one (yes, I’m re-posting), which I remember well from back in the day:

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Ah, who remembers those last couple of years before India began to overhaul its economy and the global economic powerhouse that China would become remained but a matter for debate and speculation around university seminar tables?  These were the days of Japanese corporate elites buying-up Pebble Beach and Rockefeller Center and famed nationalist crank (and current Mayor/Governor of Tokyo) Shintaro Ishihara  and his _The Japan that Can Say “No”_  (if you really want to delve deep into this, read these remarks by Representative Sander Levin, delivered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1989) .  Yes, I was living in Japan when the hilarious, stupid, paranoid, hyperventilating 1991 book, _The Coming War With Japan_, came out, described by Foreign Affairs (journal) thusly:

This one-sided, sensational book contends that a military confrontation between the United States and Japan is likely within the next 20 years. According to the authors, the issues are the same as they were in 1941: Japan needs to control access to its mineral supplies in Southeast Asia and to have an export market it can dominate. In order to do this, Japan must force the United States out of the western Pacific. There is little effort to explore the substantial differences between the 1940s and the 1990s. One of the authors has published several works of fiction and the other is a national security expert at the Heritage Foundation

Anyway, I mention this late-’80s-through 1991 history only to highlight the context of the over-the-top Regain commercials, which in retrospect seem almost sad in their naivete.

Here’s a more recent Regain commercial, with all of the cleverness, but none of the nationalism of the first ones.  I should note again, though, that the “nationalism” in the Regain commercials was — to this American — always done “tongue in cheek” (I mean, hell, they used funny, self-parodying puppets in that one commercial) and bespoke a new self-confidence — and,  sure, pride — which had been earned through hard work and business smarts, not through military conquest.  The down-side, of course, was the chronic ennui and even sickness (and even, occasionally, suicide) that developed among the ranks of Salarymen pressured to always put in more and more and more hours for their respective companies and “Japan, Inc.”:

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Here’s a collection of commercials from Memory Lane ’90-91: