Thanks to the Internet and improved distribution channels, there seems to be very little Japanese product not making its way over to the West these days. And for the melon pan, Pocky, panko bread crumbs, and Mitsuya cider that Japan provides to United States, America sends its hottest items in return:
1. The Game by Neil Strauss.
The English subtitle is “Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” as if rock critic Strauss is less interested in the techniques of hitting on girls and more interested in the sociology/psychology of those wielding the know-how. The Japanese subtitle, on the other hand, is pretty explicit in the book’s intention: 「退屈な人生を変える究極のナンパバイブル」(The Ultimate Pickup Bible for Changing Your Boring Life). Now I am sure many British and American guys have successfully deployed the pickup chicanery featured in the narrative, but the Japanese marketing cuts to the chase and sells a bit of life-changing snake oil.
I don’t, however, see the implementation of The Game being so smooth in the Japanese social scene. Based on what I skimmed from Nick Sylvester’s controversial Voice cover story, most of The Game™ involves approaching women and asking them ridiculous questions like, “My friend wants to buy a rare endangered mongoose that kills lawn snakes, and we want to get a female opinion on it” in order to start up a conversation. This works well in the Western-style standard pub or bar, where you have large groups of people milling around in loose formation. Popping your head into closed-off izakaya silos to ask such a question, on the other hand, would invite mostly blank stares.
The classic way to meet girls in Japan is goukon（合コン）where a multiple number of men pre-arrange a group date with an equal number of women. The Game™ would give no advantages in this setting since girls are already provided. Japanese men could use these techniques to pick up girls on the street or in tachinomi bars, but maybe it is The Game™’s second-stage tactics that have more cultural crossover. My guess is that dating advice is contingent on environmental factors. I just can’t place the American sleazy smugness of asking an unfamiliar girl “Do you wanna kiss me?” in this particular climate.
2. 1 Night In Paris
For a while, the CanCam-type, OL-targeted “good girl” fashion magazines in Japan tried to make Paris Hilton into a young feminine rich fashion hero, and more than one Louis Vuitton-wearing, chapatsu girl I know (with ambitions of becoming a TV announcer) was a big fan. What a fun blonde lifestyle! Jetting around the world! Celebrity! Paris has a pet chihuahua, which automatically puts her close to the hearts of many young, single Japanese women with unconscious status-aspiration. Females outside of the mainstream plurality, however, would repeatedly tell me that Paris Hilton struck them as being “不潔” (unclean), although revelations of her vulgarity did not seem to be appearing in the Japanese media. They just had good intuition.
But on the NEW shelves at your local friendly Tsutaya: 1 Night in Paris, the infamous leaked sex tape. No Internet trading for the Japanese — the DVD is right next to copies of Pierrot le fou at mainstream video rental stores. Hoorah for America 2004.