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Podcast: The Tonkatsu Tapes

Tonkatsu Tapes

According to Japanamerica author Roland Kelts, Patrick Macias is “an American otaku and blogger extraordinaire.” More accurately, he is the author of multiple books in both English and Japanese and currently the Editor-in-Chief of Otaku USA. Mr. Macias was in Tokyo a few weeks back, and we met over a discount tonkatsu lunch to talk about the state of Japanese recession and the current yankii cultural takeover. Luckily, a recording device captured our dialogue (and my total inability to enunciate words or complete sentences).

So please enjoy the hour-long mp3!

Download: The Tonkatsu Tapes: Marxy vs. Patrick Macias on Japanese Recessionary Culture
General Néojaponisme Podcast RSS Feed: .rss

W. David MARX
April 27, 2009

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

9 Responses

  1. Adamu Says:

    Wow awesome spam trackbacks.

    I can understand your sense of crisis as people who make their livings in the consumer market, but for Japan as a whole I don’t see this as so bad. Back in the day even Marxy pointed this out as “normalization” — The era of excess consumption was unhealthy, so it doesnt make sense to call yankii unhealthy if its just a manifestation of that correction

  2. W. David MARX Says:

    I think my ambiguity about yankii is pretty clear: I salute the fact that it’s grassroots, “from the streets” culture taking over the mainstream, but I cannot personally associate with any of the values. That being said, it is probably an inevitable product of social and economic changes.

  3. Adamu Says:

    OK just got to the part where you mention “where youth culture is right now” and so on

  4. Ratiocinational Says:

    Well, that was a nice hour long time killer at work, and it was pretty interesting, though depressing. I can sort of relate to your trepidation to what’s happening, but as someone who never had that insider perspective I don’t think I’ll ever fully grasp it.

    I can’t really comment with any authority, but I kind of feel like the rise of Uniqlo and H&M alludes to the rise of the urban hipster in the Eastern US. It’s young people moving to edgy neighborhoods and adopting these “cool” and “unique” trends when they are really devoid of any kind of real culture. Personally I don’t mind the H&M or Uniqlo look (in fact, I’m willing to drive to NYC just to hit a Uniqlo store) but you’re right about how it’s devoid of any culture. Even brands that were standouts for me, like Urban Outfitters (though I’m not sure how familiar you are with them), have lost all of their cultural value now.

  5. megan Says:


    Hollow hipsters perhaps? They dress that way and listen to that certain music just because its what the ‘cool kids’ do. I understand what you’re saying.
    Though what sort of cultural value did Urban Outfitters have? I know the store, but I’m not very familiar with the cultural part of it.

  6. Ratiocinational Says:

    Well, I’m from Philadelphia, and Urban Outfitters got it’s start here well before I was ever alive. In the past 10-15 years or so its popularity has really skyrocketed though. Unfortunately it’s continually going from a place where you can get vintage/retro/unique stuff that really resonated with the indie scene to really commercialized. It sort of became a victim of its own success. Instead of being a place where people could shop in the hopes of actually finding comfortable yet unique clothes, it became a place that shilled mass market brands and a look that had become all the rage. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but their audience became so diluted that it lost its cultural uniqueness, which I suppose is what always happens.

    Anymore I haven’t ever met a hipster that wasn’t hollow. Maybe it’s some nostalgic bias, but even as little as five years ago I don’t think I’d have used the word “hipster” so holistically. They were the kids who had good fashion sense and who knew where all the good bars and all the best DJs in town, and they lived on the edges of nice parts of town because it’s all they could afford. Now, for example, hipsters flock to those edge neighborhoods because it’s the hip place to be. Now, as I recently experienced in Fishtown, a hipster can’t eat brunch without there being a DJ for the morning because it’s not “cool” enough. The culture seems “hollow” to me because they are basically aping the crowd that they thought were cool ten years ago. Meanwhile the people who actually started the trend have gotten jobs and moved downtown.

    Maybe it’s just a part of getting older, although I’m only 25 so I’m hardly an authority, but I can relate to Marxy’s sense of dread as to the emptiness of culture coming out of my peers.

  7. megan Says:


    Ah, I never knew it was more of an indie/vintage place.

    What you’ve said about hipsters reminds me of some things my boyfriend has told me before about the people of his age group (he’s nearly 23): They try so hard to be ‘deep,’ they think every little thing they do or say has to amount up to some life-changing, and so on. And looking at it from the outside, it all seems so contrived.

  8. John Says:

    Why do you keep trying to peg him as some kind of right wing conservative? It just makes you sound like a dick. Comments like “too much skin for you?” when referring to fashion trends or, “that doesn’t offend me” when you annoyingly over assume what he’s trying to say (when it’s clearly not) end up making you seem like you’re trying to get him to label himself as a conservative in value, while yourself as the “open minded wiser liberal.” Gah, stop jumping the gun on positions people obviously aren’t holding.

    The man has some good points with backed observation and you annoyingly cut in finishing sentences and summing up just-said comments (with broad and redundantly off point strokes) that lead to pauses in the conversation where he has to disagree and try to salvage his train of thought. You obviously know what you’re talking about for what you blog about, but cut the dickish crap about taking his opinions and labeling them with an implied “me: the progressive open-minded liberal vs you: the conservative who can’t handle change.” It’s annoying.

  9. W. David MARX Says:

    Your anger makes me think that you confused Patrick (the guy with the flat voice who SARCASTICALLY says “too much skin for you”) with me, Marxy, who has the high-nasal voice and is whispering the whole time. Otherwise, this is the first time in my blogging history where someone has so aggressively defended me!