In my recent presentations ‘Two Tribes, United by Music: Western Pop in Japan‘ and ‘Western Pop Acts in Japan: Putting the Cult into Culture‘, as well as in the part of my book Frankie Fans Say, I have been discussing the term ‘Big in Japan’. The term appears to be another one of those cliches that people look to use in relation to Japan when there’s an opportunity. A quick search of IMDb presented me with quite a long list of episodes of series that used the name. I was also aware of a new movie People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan from some adverts. Following on from my visit to the Tokyo Art & Photography exhibition, I thought the movie may be useful in relation to my teaching about Japan and also the update to Japan: The Basics.
The summary of the film (from IMDb) is as follows:
Since the end of their pirate radio station, life has been quiet for the Kurupt FM boys, but everything is about to change. News reaches them that one of their songs has been used on a popular game show in Japan. They’ve made it. Their music is reaching hundreds of thousands of people. It’s finally time for them to enjoy the fame and fortune that they’ve always known they deserved. Chabuddy G steps excitedly back into his management role as Grindah, Beats, Steves and Decoy begin their journey to international stardom – But is Japan really ready for Kurupt FM?https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11376010/
Despite People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan having a 7.3 on IMDb (at the time of writing), I went to the cinema with low expectations. Those expectations were met. I may have laughed some of the time, but there was little I enjoyed about the film – other than seeing Japan (mostly Tokyo) itself. In terms of my work for my book Japan: The Basics, which discusses cliches and stereotypes, there was the usual mixture of things (height, the oddness of food, the need to take off shoes, the crazy game shows, use of mascots) – but overall, it could have been worse on that front… it just seemed unoriginal and nothing close to being as entertaining as the Simpson’s episode Thirty Minutes over Tokyo (see https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0701273/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1).