nine-to-five noodle ninja 

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Nice shooto!

The Japanese national team may have said sayonara, England may have headed home, my initially promising sweepstake draws may have crashed out (France, Sweden and, despite a delightful run, Mexico), people may have been killed in riots in Moscow, been shot by spouses in power struggles over the remote control or tried self-immolation in an attempt to bolster their team's fortunes but, all in all, this has to be the most enjoyable World Cup I've ever seen.

Obviously a lot of that is due to the corking games we've had and the sheer number of form-defying results - it's been great to see so many underdogs giving the favourites a good stuffing; the huge number of upsets and early plane rides for those who weren't expecting it has led to some great, wide-open matches in the knock-out stages and some great football.

But another thing that's made it really good is watching the whole thing through the filter of the Japanese media - the studio punditry is generally appalling, no matter whether you watch in Japanese or English (NHK broadcasts carry on-the-fly English-dubbed subchannels for those of use fortunate enough to have suitably equipped bilingual tellies) but it all becomes watchable thanks to one little detail: papier-maché garden gnomes of all your favourite players.


These are taken from the build-up to the England-Argentina match the other week; the Japanese text on the screen behind the two presenters reads, dramatically, "innen no taiketsu", lit. "fateful showdown".

I've already mentioned the short explanatory documentary they played before the match detailing the two teams' history; I don't *think* any of the three Diegos - Maradona, Simeone, Heskey - bear much personal responsibility for the Falklands War, but NHK didn't seem to be ruling it out. Stoke the flames of rivalry? Media frenzy? Who, us?

Posted by chris at June 23, 2002 12:16 PM | Permalink

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