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layzee Mar 17, 2017

There's no shortage of critiques of Japanese game depictions of other countries (e.g. historical inaccuracies, bad voice acting [I think the German in Akumajou Dracula X for PC-Engine CD might count as an example? I'm not German so I can't judge], plain wrong things, etc...) so it's nice to finally see the other perspective (albeit still in Japanese so their voice will remain unheard unless someone does English subtitles):

洋ゲーの変な日本 - マル秘ゲーム - (Western Games' Weird Japan)

It's still an interesting watch but here's a guide as you go through it:

Part 1 - According to the video creator (VC), there are mainly three types of Japanese people that appears in Western games' Japan:
1. Ninja - an assassin for a Japanese organisation.
2. Samurai - A foreign (non-Japanese) protagonist that is taught secret Japanese traditions. Afterwards, exists as a teacher and called "sensei".
3. Yakuza - merely a bad guy.

Furthermore, the ninja stereotype and the Yakuza stereotype is often combined (e.g. Saints Row 2). The VC thinks it is particularly weird ("this... is a Yakuza?).

Part 2 - Sumos are misunderstood. VC doesn't seem to elaborate however. (footage of various crappy Sumo-related smartphone games)

Part 3 - Signs and posters in cities. In other words, reverse-Engrish. This is Japanese that has incorrect spelling, grammar, or just plain nonsense. VC can't help but feel that the Japanese-language signs are a bit off. One example is 「ヌス10ネトウォック ウォールド・リアダー・イン・ヌス」from Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. VC's response is basically "wtf is this". I think the intended meaning is most likely "News 10 Network - World Leader in News", except Japanese people would think it is horribly "spelt" (hence the wtf). Another example from the same game: a truck with the words "Truck Company" on it. Red Steel has sideways Japanese. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men has words on a financial firm building that basically commands/demand you to make to invest (I assume that game leans more towards realism than Grand Theft Auto-style satire).

Part 4 - Wrong/incorrect Japan. VC makes the assertion that since Western game developers have a shallow understanding of Japanese culture, they end up creating a weird setting as if it was a combination of Chinese and Japanese cultures.* Furthermore, like part 1, there are certain things that must be in Japan, no matter what. The VC then imagines a meeting between Western game developers and what they think should be in their Japan, namely, sushi, Geisha, and Samurai armour. Also, a particular big mistake is Japanese people taking off shoes before entering one's home (e.g. No One Lives Forever 2). I've never lived in Japan, but based on what I've seen in Japanese movies and anime (see! you can learn something useful from anime!), Japanese people usually enter the house (in the case of students, school), THEN take off their shoes. Another one is apparently Japanese people only sleep on futons, not beds. And even if they sleep on futons, only the mattresses can be seen. I'm not a futon expert or slept in one so someone else may wish to explain the mistake here.

Part 5 - Voice acting. Reverse-Engrish, in audio form.

*Side-note, I think this (the fusion of China and Japan) is a particular underrated phenomenon. Case in point: the Mortal Kombat franchise. I can't tell if the game devs are trying to get inspiration from Chinese culture (e.g. the mystical stuff) or Japanese culture (e.g. the Ninjas) or both. Though to be fair, their countries do have a shared history (the Chinese characters in the Japanese language for one) but there are still things that are distinctly Chinese and things that are distinctly Japanese and if you end up combining them while attempting to go one way or the other, then that just looks weird.

longhairmike Mar 17, 2017

would anyone really buy a video game where you are the main character spending 50 hours a week stuck working in an office cubicle?

layzee Mar 17, 2017

longhairmike wrote:

would anyone really buy a video game where you are the main character spending 50 hours a week stuck working in an office cubicle?

Sure. In 20XX, when automation has fully replaced most or all of human labour, we'll be playing these games as a form of escapism to avoid our impoverished reality and to relive the "good old days" (back when there were still jobs available, however scarce).

vert1 Mar 18, 2017 (edited Mar 18, 2017)

Thanks for posting this. Even though I don't understand Japanese the videos are very easy to follow. Probably the best put together videos I've seen from one person on amusing game scenarios.

I couldn't figure out what the issue was with the sumo games. Because developers makes the sumo games play out comically and remove showing the strong discipline aspect in training?

layzee Mar 19, 2017

layzee wrote:

Part 4 - Wrong/incorrect Japan. VC makes the assertion that since Western game developers have a shallow understanding of Japanese culture, they end up creating a weird setting as if it was a combination of Chinese and Japanese cultures.*

layzee wrote:

*Side-note, I think this (the fusion of China and Japan) is a particular underrated phenomenon. Case in point: the Mortal Kombat franchise. I can't tell if the game devs are trying to get inspiration from Chinese culture (e.g. the mystical stuff) or Japanese culture (e.g. the Ninjas) or both. Though to be fair, their countries do have a shared history (the Chinese characters in the Japanese language for one) but there are still things that are distinctly Chinese and things that are distinctly Japanese and if you end up combining them while attempting to go one way or the other, then that just looks weird.

I just remembered a possible addition for the video: The "Oriental Riff", the Chinese-y sounding set of musical notes as I pointed out here. The riff is most commonly associated with the "Kung-Fu Fighting" song - you should know what I'm talking about even without re-hearing the song.

From a Westerner's/non-Japanese person's point of view, the Oriental Riff is always used in an Asian context, regardless of the specific Asian (e.g. Chinese or Japanese). I can't recall any specific examples at this very moment of the riff being used in a Japanese context. Clearly however, Japanese composers (refer again to above link) associates this riff as being Chinese. Furthermore, Japan has their own "Japanese Riffs" anyway - there was one in the video you just watched (the "Ondo" song during the Sumo section).

A counter-argument is that the Oriental Riff was probably created by Westerners in the first place so they can use it however they want.

layzee wrote:

Part 2 - Sumos are misunderstood. VC doesn't seem to elaborate however. (footage of various crappy Sumo-related smartphone games)

vert1 wrote:

I couldn't figure out what the issue was with the sumo games. Because developers makes the sumo games play out comically and remove showing the strong discipline aspect in training?

After doing a bit of casual research, I think that was what the Video Creator was trying to assert. By removing the traditions/rituals and the discipline/strong regiments, and by simplifying rules/play strategies (e.g. it's all "belly bumping" with no hand or grappling techniques, then in the VC's words:

「もはや相撲ではない」 (It's no longer Sumo)

Remember that this video is for a Japanese audience (who should already know about Sumo stuff) so I guess that the VC didn't think this was worth a proper critique (e.g. the wrongness is self-evident). So in those trashy games, you might as well replace the Japanese Sumos with, for example, obese Americans, and it wouldn't change a thing.

vert1 Mar 19, 2017 (edited Mar 19, 2017)

layzee wrote:

So in those trashy games, you might as well replace the Japanese Sumos with, for example, obese Americans, and it wouldn't change a thing.

LOL. Imagine if a Japanese developer did this. Oh man.

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