A Half-Pint of "Sono Hoka no Zasshu 2," please.

archive2

As part of the never-ending late-Heisei taste deflation, the main alcoholic-beverage firms are currently marketing a new low-price, low-quality beer-esque beverage for those who think happōshu — the original low-price, low-quality beer-esque beverage — has gotten too ritzy. These new “malt-less beers” are classified under the ultra-catchy name — その他の雑酒2 — “Other Mixed Alcohols — Class 2,” and this particular ad for New Draft (新生)proudly proclaims that it contains “soy bean peptides” (大豆ペプチド) and “the yeast from [Asahi] Super Dry” (スーパードライ酵母).

Meanwhile at my local pub, this dialogue is surely in progress: What’s on draft? Well, we have Sapporo, Kirin…, No — I mean in your “Other Mixed Alcohols – Class 2” section…

W. David MARX (Marxy)
April 13, 2005

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

28 Responses

  1. mmm Says:

    I tried the Kirin のどごし<生> recently which is another “その他の雑酒2”. I really could not tell the difference between it and a happoshu. They both taste like someone accidentally dripped some beer in a cup of water.

  2. Momus Says:

    TERMIAL!

  3. r. Says:

    nick said: TERMIAL!

    and i say: huh???

  4. dettol Says:

    life is too short for shithouse beer substitute. for an extra 50 yen I say you should just buy a real can of super dry or kirin.

  5. marxy Says:

    he means TERMINAL.

    For those new to my site, read http://www.pliink.com/mt/marxy/archives/000268.html about my thoughts on Japanese alcohol taste deflation.

    Japan is famous for being a market more interested in quality/design than price, and here we have the inferior goods of near beer (I mean “inferior goods” in an economic lingo way) holding 40% of the malt beverage market. This somewhat undermines the entire “Japanese consumers are unique” case, because they are now acting just as rational as consumers everywhere: price > quality. In the short run, half of the conbini shelves are fake beer, and this new rationality could make Japan really boring in the long run.

  6. sparkligbeatnic Says:

    I still think the best example of taste/quality deflation is the 100 yen shop.

    I like neither the 100 yen shop boom nor the (slightly earlier) convenience store boom.

  7. r. Says:

    david,
    if you want some real historical perspective on the issue of the quality/price debate regarding drinks in japan, you need look no further thann the whole ‘hoppy’ (yes, i said ‘hoppy’ and not ‘happy’) boom in its original phase, and now, in its second or third phase. (depending on who you ask.) this will get your started.
    http://www.hoppy-happy.com/top.html
    naturally we can comepare notes over drinks sometime soon.
    best,
    r.

  8. Momus Says:

    TERMIAL is the new Neomarxisme catchphrase. It’s like when you shout “All your base is belong to us!”

    “Termial” started as a mistype in an Amazon.com customer review of Alex Kerr’s “Dogs and Demons”. A reader said “From the problem with Cedar plantations to city and towns with expensive and useless town halls and museumsm he details in each chapter one aspect of a land with a termial illness.”

    So every time you read something about Japan being in decline, shout TERMIAL! Like, for instance, a comment about “never-ending late-Heisei taste deflation”. I mean, it’s TERMIAL, right? Beer is just going to taste worse and worse until death occurs, right? It’s a scientific fact, but it’s also TERMIAL! What’s more, “All your TERMIAL is belong to Japan!” No other countries are TERMIAL like Japan is TERMIAL!

  9. Sarmoung Says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that a soy-based “beer” could be worth some work as an idea? Maybe not as it stands though. Ponders technique…

  10. marxy Says:

    Hoppy was an inferior good/beer substitute back in the days that’s now become a good-time shibui nostalgic throwback. One of the main izakaya chains has a whole Hoppy-revival thing going on. Happoshu’s 40% of the market does not seem to be fringe style phenomena, but a mass acceptance of price over quality.

    Japan’s decline as a nation may not be absolutely terminal, but the post-war Japan we know and love looks to be over. They’ll be a radically different society for the next twenty years – higher income disparity, merit-based employment, a lack of taste inflation (today’s deflation is just realignment) – but maybe we’ll see a rise of Japanese elitist snobbery. Mass good taste, however, is on the way out.

  11. Momus Says:

    Mass good taste, however, is on the way out.

    If my Japutopia is situated in the future (it’s all medieval and Slow Life and electronic), yours in situated in the past. When did Japan ever have “mass good taste”? And why use objective measures to chart Japan’s departure from such a subjective Golden Age?

  12. marxy Says:

    Japan had mass good taste when a song written by Momus hit #1 on the Oricon charts.

  13. Sarmoung Says:

    I thought that was that was the Year Zero from which one dates TERMIAL? Perchance…

  14. r. Says:

    MOUS said: TERMIAL is the new Neomarxisme catchphrase…

    and i say: wow, i’ve never seen nick grasping at straws like that to cover a simple spelling mistake. everything would have gone off with a lot more dignity and a lot less flailing if he’d just said something like ‘whoops!’ how the mighty aren’t falling…

  15. Chris_B Says:

    r: lil nick is at his best when he’s a graspin’. Were I a drinkin man, I’d say hoist a can of その他の雑酒2 whenever he types the word postmodern and two cans for when he grasps for a straw. Half can for when David uses the phrase terminal decline. Wish I could remember one of my own catchphrases, but if I type one then no drinks for anyone.

  16. Momus Says:

    The spelling mistake was not mine, F-worth, but the Amazon poster’s. I’d have thought someone as up-to-date as you are with “Glitch” (remember 2000?) and “appropriation” (remember 1985?) would appreciate the strategy of making other people’s errors into catch-phrases. What I particularly liked about that comment — and what makes TERMIAL such a good catchphrase for Neospenglerisme, is its catch-all, conspiracy theory nature:

    “From the problem with Cedar plantations to city and towns with expensive and useless town halls and museumsm he details in each chapter one aspect of a land with a termial illness.”

    If anyone is “clutching at straws” here it’s the Kerrites, who grab things randomly (A new brand of beer! A teddy bear!) and pour them into the ice-mold of their preconceived notions, producing beer-flavoured, teddy bear-shaped portents of “terminal decline”. It is these people’s stubborn relentlessness which we must salute with loud cries of “BRAVO! TERMIAL!”

    May these bold Spenglerians never, ever post a blog entry saying “There’s a new brand of beer on the market, and I’m damned if it’s not better than the industrial swill that passes for beer in the United States of America!” or “It’s yet another symptom of America’s hegemonic decline that the iced chai in Japan is so much better than the stuff back home!”

  17. marxy Says:

    May these bold Spenglerians never, ever post a blog entry saying “There’s a new brand of beer on the market, and I’m damned if it’s not better than the industrial swill that passes for beer in the United States of America!”

    I didn’t have a blog back in olden days (I was still using Gopher probably), but you’ve perfectly described my raison d’etre from 1996 to around 2001: Japan is cooler/better than America. Then I got wiser to the shadows and Japan’s cultural industries started falling apart.

    Japanese beer is better than American beer, so that’s why I feel it’s a sign of decline that the market is now 40% fake-beer. It’s certainly not progress.

    (Japanese public policy towards tobacco is also improving as I mentioned earlier this week. I’m happy to have those plastic divders.)

  18. r. Says:

    mous said: The spelling mistake was not mine, F-worth, but the Amazon poster’s.

    i’m sure this is some grand scheme by the japanese, and the effect of the engrish is finally being felt on the west…

    mous also said: I’d have thought someone as up-to-date as you are with “Glitch” (remember 2000?) and “appropriation” (remember 1985?)

    and f-worth says: touche! lucky for you, clique is eternal!

  19. Momus Says:

    I didn’t have a blog back in olden days (I was still using Gopher probably), but you’ve perfectly described my raison d’etre from 1996 to around 2001: Japan is cooler/better than America. Then I got wiser to the shadows and Japan’s cultural industries started falling apart.

    Well, there really is enough out there to spin out the honeymoon forever. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look. I mean, Tokyo is like any city: it contains an enormous amount. There are people right now in Tokyo living lives as fabulous as anything you experienced in the late 90s, I’m sure. You just have to make a conscious decision to sift and select. I mean, you’re already sifting and selecting, but for some odd reason you’re selecting only the rubbishy bits. Why bang a trash can when you can bang a matsuri taiko?

  20. MM Gossamer Says:

    Why bang a matsuri taiko when you can just bang a girl named Taiko?

  21. r. Says:

    by the way, i’ve no beef with beer per se –as most of you know i’m a single malt man– but i’d just like to let david know that judging the relative merits of different kinds of beer is a little bit like trying to pick the best of the worst. anyone with decent taste in beer will be drinking microbrews from japan (there are half-a dozen good ones in tokyo) or one of the good european beers.
    naturally anyone with real taste won’t be drinking beer at all (wink), but i don’t want to ‘hit the bush from which that snake will come out’, so…

  22. Dave Says:

    I personally am also surprised to see a comparison in beer brewing between Japan and the USA… Let’s be honest. The Japanese do a good dry pilsner and that’s it as far as the major breweries go. (And the US does a good… well, they have beer there too.)

    higher income disparity, merit-based employment, a lack of taste inflation (today’s deflation is just realignment) – but maybe we’ll see a rise of Japanese elitist snobbery

    Are you suggesting that the nonsense that goes on about Todai isn’t elitist snobbery now? While I’m not all for the income disparity, surely merit-based employment is a step forward (and a big one) from the seniority nonsense that has been going on in Japan since the year dot.

  23. marxy Says:

    Are you suggesting that the nonsense that goes on about Todai isn’t elitist snobbery now?

    I think they justify it by an idea of total meritocracy -anyone can get into Todai if they study hard enough. In reality, it’s cliquish and totally makes the education system way too focused on pre-collegiate work.

    Merit-based employment is probably positive, but it’s not going to help income disparity to pay everybody differently based on education (which is corrlelated to parents’ income).

  24. Momus Says:

    Why is meritocracy better than a seniority system? Do we Westerners think that because we love vertical hierarchies? Do we desperately want to believe that they’re based on something we’re personally responsible for (distinction) rather than something impersonal (age)?

    “I’m high-paid because I’m worth more than you are” is a belief calculated to nurture resentment, competition, egotism and snobbism between colleagues and subordinates. “I’m high-paid because I’ve been here a long time and I’m old” is something much more forgiveable. Because everyone will be old one day.

    Seniority is a distinction system which is egalitarian, impersonal, and tends to promote harmony. The respect we pay the elderly is merely formal. And whatever resentment we might feel is tempered by the fact that we’ll be old one day too. People who rank low on a meritocratic system can never tell themselves “I’ll be an elite worker one day too”.

    Anyway, why are we talking about this on a beer thread?

  25. Chris_B Says:

    momus: that pissing contest is like earning your way to heaven through faith vs good works. Also allow me to remind you, since you have never worked for a company, that the seniority system causes alot of internal resentment as well as a tremendeous ammount of daily bullshit in the workspace. Please take my word for it or become a 会社員and see for yourself.

    BTW I seem to remember that most beer in the US tasted like piss except for a little Texas beer called Shiner Bock. Then again when I was a beer drinker, I could never afford any of that fancy import stuff, so I have a very narrow range of experience on tha matter. I can say that Japan has developed a taste for “near beer” (perhaps because of the recently strenghtend DUI laws). There are finally a few on the market here that actually taste like beer. I’m quite happy with Buckler myself. Its an import from Europe.

  26. Chris_B Says:

    BTW has anyone tasted this soy bean peptides beverage? I cant imagine it tastes good at all. Is it like ghetto malt liquer as sold in the USA?

  27. Antonin Says:

    so what ? talking about beers ? come on, they all suck except beers coming from Europe. Belgium is the shit, sorry Japan !

  28. Dave Says:

    Seniority is a distinction system which is egalitarian, impersonal, and tends to promote harmony. The respect we pay the elderly is merely formal. And whatever resentment we might feel is tempered by the fact that we’ll be old one day too. People who rank low on a meritocratic system can never tell themselves “I’ll be an elite worker one day too”.

    That’s well said – I think it’s worth remembering that (in my view anyway), the old also have to earn and maintain respect as well. You get a certain amount of respect for being old (in theory, you should be wiser), but it can always be lost.

    In Japan I think in many cases the old have lost the respect of the young. They receive lip service (and ‘harmony’), but in reality the young people are actively disengaged and are just putting up with the bullshit because they have to.

    As for the old, I suspect in many cases they think they are due respect for no other reason than being old, and aren’t interested in communicating with the younger generation in a constructive way. This isn’t all bad attitude, I think it may partially be that the idea of the old listening to the young in a non judgemental way, not to instruct, but just to learn, is something that nobody has ever heard of.

    I probably need to train myself to shut up and listen more often as well.