Sports drink uses katakana- and KANJI speaking alien: Contrast with McDonald’s “Mr James” katakana-only character


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Hi Blog. Saw something surprising on the road down in southernmost Shikoku today:

At a convenience store (Lawsons), we have a sports drink company which uses an alien character to promote its products.  Visual:

(ad tab borrowed from Lawsons Shimanto City, Kochi-ken, September 1, 2009)

Note that like McDonald’s Japan “Mr James” Character, he too speaks katakana.

But UNlike “Mr James”, even the space alien speaks kanji!

Somebody please explain to me again why space aliens but not Caucasians are allowed to speak in more natural Japanese? We can’t use the “island society” mentality against fellow humans in favor of extraterrestrials, can we?

Is there a backstory where this space alien came here with his daughter many years ago, and enjoyed the space drinks to the degree where he returned to shill?

Or is it just anti-Caucasian “Karma”?

Either way, this helps to show just how alienating this “Mr James” campaign actually is.

Arudou Debito in Shikoku

19 comments on “Sports drink uses katakana- and KANJI speaking alien: Contrast with McDonald’s “Mr James” katakana-only character

  • Well, the aliens would have to have far superior intelligence to make it to Earth. Thus, they are able to comprehend extremely complicated kanji such as 地 that poor James could never hope to master.

  • Today I put in a call to the Immigration main number since my visa renewal date is coming up. I am an interpreter so language was no problem, but I wisely gave a phoney name.
    My god, the guy that answered was so hostile, even though I was the perfect polite caller. He was really trying to find out who I was, where I lived (but didn’t ask if I had a knife!), etc. All of these probing questions I deflected since I was merely trying to determine if there were any other documents I needed to renew my long term resident visa.

    This guy, if he is an anomaly, that is fine. But if his attitude is somehow representative of the Immigration Dept.’s new attitude, we are all in for a bad time.

    For example, he tried to get me to bring a copy of my last income tax filing (never and still now not required), and even told me to go to the Ward office to get a “kazei shomei sho” proof of payment of municipal taxes (never and still not required). When I asked for his name and indicated that I happened to have friends who have political contacts way up in the Homusho Justice Dept. and wanted to report his “impoliteness” to “foreign guests”, he backtracked and got off the phone without giving his name.

    So beware, friends, we are in for a new era of rude discrimination, I am afraid. I may be wrong, I often am, but I really got a bad vibe in comparison to my notes on my similar Immigration contact call 3 years ago…

  • You’ve missed a very important element with this comparison…

    The alien may be able to use kanji, but he fails to use……hiragana! The basic Japanese letters!
    Even if these aliens can appear to be able to use kanjis, they fail to grast the fundamental basic written letters of the Japanese language. Mr. James, on the other hand, is very comfortable with the hiragana.

    Keeping with the basics is considered very important here in Japan. Kanji use may not necessarily mean an absolute upper-hand…

    — Did you come in late? The McD tray inserts were ALL katakana. It wasn’t until we complained when hiragana trickled in.



  • Ugh. I just followed your link to the McD blog; it was infuriating trying to read his katakana/hiragana, but the caption for something that he got in Kamakura (couldn’t be bothered to read his explanation) is “カンジたくさんでむすかしかったです・・・”. So, it’s gone beyond implication for Monsieur Jeemusu: he stated just yesterday that he is actually illiterate. Evidently none of this uproar is getting through to McDonald’s.

    Aliens, however, don’t have an illiterate stereotype to conform to.

  • This is a clear case of the aliens watching “The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” and the discovery of the “BABEL FISH”.
    The Babel Fish is a universal translator which simultaneously translates from one spoken language to another. It is inserted into the ear,and its nutrition processes convert sound waves into brain waves, neatly crossing the language divide between any species you should happen to meet whilst traveling in space.
    Clearly the aliens have found this and MR JAMES has not.or he has a faulty BABEL FISH.
    “Still Lovin it”. NOT.

  • Re: Jay’s message above. Yes, I noticed the Kamakura entry on James’ blog where he says “カンジたくさんでむすかしかったです”
    I may be paranoid but I take this as a deliberate swipe at us.
    They even wrote the hiragana wrong, leaving the “ten ten” off the す.

    — Did you also notice how the “ten ten” was rendered as “quotation marks” (not dots) in the original food tray inserts? Dentsu really thought this gaijinizing thing out.

  • How many “tourists” go on holiday with a shirt and tie, none methinks.

    sheesh , I sometimes feel like Im living in a time-warp when it comes to discrimination/stereotypes issues in Japan

    the country I left sorted out this nonsense about 30 years ago and has an anti discrimination law…

    keep up the good work Debito,
    your blog is constant support for us long time residents.

  • It does seem the greasy brats at Dentsu are really taking the piss- especially with the latest Kamakura comments; I really got what Debito was getting at when he switched the boot on the other foot.

    Just imagine McDonalds in Seattle running a campaign with glasses, slit-eyed buck tooth Japs saying “MacDonurodutsu buurga velly velly tasty, now I watching Mr. Ichiro…” the Japanese embassy and local groups would be all over it in an instant. In fact, it would be unthinkable.

    Yet over here, Time won’t go into bat, characterizing people who are offended with this as a frustrated oversensitive minority. Frustrated, well yes, minority, yes, oversensitive…so just put the boot on the other foot!

  • Ummm…Rusty?

    If you check the Immigration website about what is required to extend
    a visa, you will note that “Documents certifying an annual income and
    tax payment” are required for most types of work related visas. That
    includes LONG TERM RESIDENCE visas.

    There are bad attitudes found in all sorts of people. You just happened
    to get “lucky” this time around. Calling this “a new era of rude
    discrimination” is a bit of a stretch.

  • Did not know you made it out to this way of the woods.

    What do you think of Kochi and its aliens??

    — Very friendly place, used to travelers due to the pilgrims, food and minshuku cheap and accommodating! Enjoying myself immensely. Last prefecture I’ve never been to will be taken care of tomorrow — Tokushima, and then I’ve got the full set.

  • In the 2009/09/02 post, Mr. Jeemusu is learning kansai-ben: どないやねん! Not to discourage him, but I think that he should prioritize basic kanji a little higher.

  • I think that a tee-shirt is in order here. Maybe some upside down golden arches with the no symbol superimposed, with a tag line of “boycott racist restaurants”.

  • もし時間があれば、文句手紙の書き方を教えてくれますか?私の近くマクドナルドの店長さんに文句手紙に上げたいですが、100%正しい敬吾式を使いたいですから。よろしく 多美

  • And the photo insert you show makes me feel hopping mad! It makes him look not simply a beginner in Japanese, but a bloody moron (I can imagine the furor if they translated this into English, printed it in mock-Japanese script, and put it into the mouth of a Japanese visitor to London or New York). Enragedly yours, 多美

  • His posts are flooded by the so-called ‘gaijin mistakes’ (like セイカイイチ instead of セカイイチ, トオモタ instead of トオモッタ).It’s funny though that if you write say とおもた and press the space bar to turn it into katakana you’ll get トオモ他…the computer won’t recognize the word.むすかしかった would turn to something even more grotesque – ムスか叱った.Which shows how difficult actually is to write japanese using the style of his blog.Although it might be funny for the ghost writers to take cheap shots at ‘the gaijin’, I guess it isn’t actually easy to write.Computers make using kanji easier than not using them.
    The thing that really amazes me though is…his dirty hand…He even has dirt under his nail!!!Didn’t McD see the need to cut the poor guy’s nails?Apparently they do care a lot to maintain his hairstyle, but nobody showed him the bathroom and told him to wash his hands…wow

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    Ah, aliens… like the one in the “Suumo” ad who has no trouble renting an apartment, while humans of the wrong ethnotype or natioanality might get refused. Unless they get Kane Kosugi to talk to them and their cat [Century 21 reference]

    I’m also not pleased with the “Megane Ichiba” ad which features two caucasians with heavily accented voice-overs (which we can not even be sure were done by non-Japanese speakers) while the Korean superstar is allowed to speak in near-natural Japanese.

  • Just to let you know that I wrote my own letter of complaint in Japanese and delivered it to four McDonalds restaurants in Hiroshima today. I explained to the tenchou in each why I opposed the campaign and politely asked them to stop it (of course I know that that is beyond their power). They listened politely and one or two seemed far from surprised to be receiving a complaint about the campaign, and all of them promised to show my letter to their superiors. In my letter I explicitly requested a reply in Japanese. Well, it`s only a small thing, but I feel I have done something.

    In some ways, I think it might be better for everybody to write their own letter if they can. That might show the outrage of many people more lucidly than a wave of copies of the same letter, and would demonstrate that while (at least in my case) we may not exactly be masters of the Japanese language, many of us are at least pretty functional in it. Further, it would be less easy for the head offices to dismiss with a single cover-all response if they had to work out a fresh response to each unique letter they received.

    It may seem probable that our efforts will be fruitless, but look at it this way: the only certain way to fail is to give up.

    — Stopping the campaign is not beyond the tenchou’s power at all. They decide what campaigns to join and what not. Thanks for doing your bit. And yes, people are welcome to write their own letters. We were only trying to save people time with a template letter.


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