madness in the metropolis 

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Yes! I am one ureshii usagi (lit. "glad bunny"). I just switched channels and caught what can only have been the very end of another Nic Cage advert... For those of you who haven't seen the first one, I'd better explain that one first.

Nic Cage, playing himself, is answering questions at a Tokyo press conference. He doesn't look happy. Press conferences in Japan tend to be rather lame affairs, especially when Hollywood stars are on show, and this scene captures the mood perfectly. Off camera, a reporter asks pleasantly, "Nihon no mono wa, nani ga suki desu ka?" lit., "What do you like about Japan?". The interpreter turns to an obviously bored senseless Nic and repeats in a sing-song voice, "What do you like about Japan?" Nic practically sneers: "Oh, I like sushi... Mt. Fuji." He condescendingly makes an exaggerated Mt. Fuji shape with his hands as he says this, and it's clear he'd rather be practically anywhere else.

Another reporter is heard to ask, "Hoka no nihon no mono wa, nani ga suki desu ka?" lit., "What else do you like about Japan?". It's clear that this is The Press Conference From Hell - but Nic doesn't hear the interpreter politely intoning "What else do you like about Japan". Cut and zoom! in on an attractive female Japanese reporter in the press pack! Cut and zoom! in on Nic's face, which is suddenly alive with joy, nay, rapt with wonder! - Zoom! back to the attractive female reporter, who smiles at Nic! Cut back to Nic, who's still clearly in awe at her beauty. Surely he's about to say, "I like Japanese women" or "I like her"... an advert for skincare products? Shampoo? Women? But no.

The reporter pushes a strand of her hair over her ear, knocking her earring as she does so. Part of the earring, small, silvery and spherical, drops off, falls to the floor and rolls towards Nic's table at the front of the room. Nic follows its path across the carpet, transfixed...We hear the interpreter ask, "Mr. Cage?" as the ball reaches Nic's feet - he deftly flicks it up into the air and catches it. His eyes are agleam as he jumps to his feet, brandishing the ball, and shouts, "I love... PACHINKO!" He dashes out of the building, jumps into a taxi and tells the driver, "Take me to Sankyo!" which is the name, one assumes, of a chain of pachinko parlors. Off they drive, Nic still with an excited, feverish grin on his face. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.

What? You don't know what pachinko is? Oh. Well then, I guess that makes it marginally less funny for you. But trust me, I nearly pissed myself laughing. Nuff respect to Cage-san for appearing in an advert which so brilliantly lampoons the standard gaijin-TV-advert format. Pachinko is a vertical pinball game where one feeds little steel balls into the top of the machine, and tries to manipulate their passage down the machine by twiddling a knob, in order to win... more balls. That's it. The balls are eventually exchanged for cash, but there is no skill; it's mindnumbing, financially ruinous, noisy and hopelessly addictive to millions of Japanese. Foreigners simply don't play it, so the idea of Nic Cage beign hopelessly addicted to this most Japanese of Japanesisms is a sublime work of genius. I only hope the second one comes on again soon - my remote control thumb is getting sore. I can't wait.

Posted by chris at April 18, 2001 10:05 PM | Permalink

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