It’s truly remarkable how our
countrymen are now learning to appreciate Orientalism, as opposed to a
more Westernized culture before.
After the strong Taiwanese and
Korean cultural wave in the Philippines, another face of Northeast
is starting to fit in the Filipino tradition. Japan, along with its
considered highly unique customs, has been taking the Filipino streets
As early as the 1980s,
two-dimensional cartoon shows have already been prominent among the
children and those who were young-at heart. Who would not be familiar
with Dr. Tenma’s robot masterpiece, Astroboy; or the Voltes team’s
overheard “Let’s Volt-in!” union shout?
It was during the 1990s, however,
when animé started massively invading our television sets.
Animé is a colloquial term referring to animation, most popularly
made by Japanese animators. I remember always being in a hurry to go
home after my special afternoon classes back in grade school, just to
be in time for my then favourites --- Dragon Ball Z, YuYu
Hakusho (a.k.a. Ghost Fighter), Zenki, Eto Rangers
and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Shortly after Dao Ming Shi
and Shan Cai (from Taiwan’s famous TV drama, Meteor Garden)
and Carlo and
(from Korea’s famous TV drama, Lovers in Paris) popularity,
Tsukushi Makino and Tsukasa Domyouji (from Japan’s famous TV
drama, Hana Yori Dango) also started to become familiar names in
Currently, canned drama series
from Japan, dubbed in Filipino language, with their manga-based plots
and nature, receive a wide patronage from the people. I personally
prefer Japanese drama series over other countries’ due to the latter’s
lighter and more humorous approach. That is the reason I most of the
time find myself undisturbed while playing my DVD copies of Hana
Kimi, Hana Yori Dango, Gokusen, Proposal
Daisakusen and other popular Japanese TV series or more known as
Probably, the most recent sign of
Filipinos’ embrace on Japanese culture would be the patronage on Jap
game shows featuring batsu games (punishment and
humiliation games). These game shows are characterized by
high-stamina-requiring obstacle courses, unexpected and shocking
challenges and uniquely created plots.
When I was still a child, watching
Takeshi’s Castle, a classic Japanese game show in the late
1980s, was considered a bonding moment for my family. Interestingly,
along with the fame of I Survived a Japanese Game Show last
year, a Western parody of batsu game shows, Takeshi’s Castle
began airing again in Philippine television. Furthermore, a number of
such programs start to take spots in local programming. Among these are
ABC 5’s Baikingu and the upcoming GMA 7’s Hole in the Wall.
Just why do Filipinos easily
imbibe Japanese culture and entertainment nowadays?
Perhaps, in these trying times,
anything western connotes polarization. In this context, Japanese
entertainment offers a lighter, less controversial escape – with no
geopolitical, racial and religious tensions to add to our growing
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