Posted by debito on April 3rd, 2008
Hi Blog. Let me open with a disclaimer. Every time I finish a book, I’m essentially sick of writing for a little while. I never fight this feeling (I usually play video games every evening for a couple of weeks), and instead just wait until it passes (and it always has). But nowadays with commitments (including a Japan Times column, people contracting me to write new articles, and this daily blog), I’m really having trouble taking a break. So if I must write, I’m going to make it kinda fun for awhile until I’m ready to get serious again. (And if anything, this should demonstrate that I’m not here just to criticize; rather I am merely an avid student of things Japanese, and take delight in things I see around me…)
In that vein, I saw the following advertisement on the plane yesterday. From Sankei Sports. I love reading sports shinbun because their advertising and appeals are, quite often literally, so nakedly clear. Look at this keitai dating service ad for “Pure-I” (very aptly titled, with meanings possible of pure eye, pure ai (love), or pure me). Comments follow.
The reason I like this ad so much is not the basic “naked clarity” aspects. Yes, we have the promise of hooking up the predominantly male readership with somebody cute (Ogura Yuuko has the ideal face for this market, as you can see in the second half of the scan, below where she’s holding up the keitai; she has the perfect anime-style tokimeki eyes), slightly shy, but with a great rack nonetheless. Perfect for the otaku. Of course, he’s 29 and she’s 23, all perfectly average and ideal (despite the realities in recent years), for marriageable ages in this society.
No, what I love about this ad is the story being told. Contrast the female lifestyle (who get Pure-I service for free, unlike poor Atsushi-kun) with the male. In the course of an afternoon, Manami-chan has gone from interested consumer, to relaxing parker, nutritious supper, soap-bubbling bather, and finally home-bound early sleeper ready to make a date for the weekend.
But Atsushi-kun, in contrast, goes from eating a simple late lunch (4PM) in the park (note milk carton), to harried worker, to hopeful but harried commuter, to drinking and smoking salaryman with an unhealthy diet in the izakaya, to snatching tomorrow’s breakfast at the convenience store at 10PM.
Look very closely at that 10PM panel and you’ll see the convenience store is entitled “ALONE MART’; being a bachelor myself, I know EXACTLY the feeling of going to the convenience store for a late dinner (happened to me the night before as I finished my last speech in Fukuoka), and think just how lonely it is, with that overbright fluorescent light dazzling you against a cold dark sky, to have nobody waiting at home.
It’s enough to drive the average hardworking single solitary salaryman to his keitai (whereas, note, the woman has a much richer, healthier, relaxed life and can basically “take it or leave it” at whim).
Finally, however, it’s a happy end, as they meet for the first time and get drunk (she’s already looking nanpa and tipsy by the last circular photo), all ready for a bit of chome chome.
It’s all in fun. But I consider this to be a lovely bit of Japanicana, offering some insight on the state of love relationships in present-day Japan. End of digression. Arudou Debito in Sapporo