Ashley’s back with another review of something I didn’t know existed.
Why did I bother? I hate him. Idiot.
Well there you go, Ashley is not a fan of Justin Lee Collins, who knew? JLC as he’s colloquially known, shot to some sort of fame (and by fame I mean he was on the telly) as one half of a fairly odd double act with Alan Carr. Alan Carr went on to have his own chatshow and a Radio 2 slot playing mostly tat to people who are getting ready to go out and get pissed on a Saturday evening. Justin Lee Collins is now making TV shows that upset our linguistically challenged blogger.
I’ve noticed this in their art, films and music as well; culturally the Japanese have an interesting, thoughtful and uniquely creative approach to making music, film and art. Some of the best examples of this come in the form of animated movie colossus Hayao Miyazaki, who makes very, very good animated fairy tales, based largely on the strong Japanese mythical culture which comes from telling ghost stories and generally being a little bit to fascinated by nuclear accidents.
His Studio Ghibli film company is responsible for some of the very finest animated film works, Howl’s
and Spirited Away are especially fine films and well worth watching, as much for the intricate detailing of the animation as the quality of the stories and the staggering attention to detail of the work that Miyazaki puts into his celluloid fairy-tales. Moving Castle
If animated movies aren’t your bag then you could always try one of their actual movies, often violent, sometimes spookier than a witches photo album, but almost always interesting. The Japanese have made some of the best movies inrecent years. If my Other Half was writing this you couldn’t get her to shut up about the Death Note movies, which you can find in both Manga form or as an actual movie, and they are very good. They blend natural suspense with fantastical mythology. Or if you fancy a sort quasi-apocalyptic, societies all gone to Hell mentalfest then there’s Battle Royale, which is very violent and focuses on a group of school children purposely stranded on a remote island by a government that is trying to teach it's feral youth a lesson, it's a similar message to the one in a Clockwork Orange, in that the whatever level of shit a society stoops down to, the justification in violent, mind changing severe solutions aren't an answer, the kids are pitched into an all vs all battle to the death and quickly become very Lord Of The Flies terrifying when the game begins ad they've all got weapons, only one of the school-children can get off the remote island alive in a very life or death game, because the only way to win is to be the last person alive at the end of the game, I told you the Japanese were a bit mental.
Then there’s the horror films, now we all know a ghoulish, murderous spirit in The Grudge followed around that Sarah Michelle Geller, from off of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but this movie is a remake of a Japanese movie of the same name, although in Japan, it’s called Ju-On, which means The Grudge (funnily enough) and is pretty much the same movie, only scarier and better.
Likewise the Ring series were originally Japanese films, although they were called Ringu, like Pingu, but with much more creepy unpleasantness and less wholesome, comedy penguin fun. This tale of a haunted videotape is as unnerving and weird as it is compelling. It’s quite an interesting concept as well because if you’re watching the thing at home, on a video/DVD, then that gives the fact that the evil thing that’s going to kill everything has an added level of creepiness because while you’re watching the damn thing and having a little poo of fright every time the bloody thing starts clicking and going nuts you’re kind of thinking it could well becoming from my fucking telly and then you really start to shit yourself.
But if none of that floats your boat you could always go and see Japan live, like JLC did (I'd nearly forgotten about him), you could go to Tokyo and mingle with the other 25,000,000 people all busy-beeing about the hoofing megatropolis but if you fancy your culture a little less hectic and a bit more serene, then there’s always the excellent monkeys, or Japanese Macaques as they’re better known, these cute, furry fellas live in and around thermal springs in a fairly remote, mountainous and wooded area of Japan and spend most of their days escaping the very cold weather by having a bath in the natural hot-springs that dot the frosty mountain forest. If you go and see them the nearby towns have lots of bathhouses where you can take a break from macaque hunting and take a relaxing spa in one of the traditional cabins and splosh about in the thermal spring waters with some complete naked strangers. You even get your own kimono and wooden flip-flops (and yes this is the one and only time you’re allowed to wear flip-flops if you’re a bloke who isn’t an Olympic level swimmer) and you can take a leisurely stroll up and down the main street of the town going from one bathhouse to another, if you fancy that kind of thing (and no, bathhouse isn’t Japanese for brothel, or soapy massage parlour, it just means bathhouse).
There, it's not hard to get a Japanese cultural exposé going and the befit of reading this instead of watching Justin Lee Collins is that you never have to watch Justin Lee Collins, ever again if you don't want to. There, Japan done.