Your Friend in Japan

Truth in Advertising, and How to Think in Japanese

Written by HotAnime

Hello from your Friend in Japan, J-List! The San Diego Comicon is upon us (we’re at booth 4929!), but if you’re not fortunate to be at the show, never fear, because we’ve got our Comicon 5% Off Sale for you! Use code SDCC2016 to get a 5% discount when ordering through Sunday!

One theme I write about a lot is that Japan generally practices a “kinder” form of capitalism than other countries. While it’s become the American Way for companies in the U.S. to create new markets by “disrupting” old ones, although this causes real economic hardship for the dinosaur companies being disrupted (Nokia, Blackberry, Borders bookstores etc.), you never hear of Sony trying to destroy Panasonic’s television business, or Toyota putting the screws to Honda with its patent portfolio. While here in the U.S. I happened to catch a TV commercial for Proactiv, a skin cleansing product, and I was interested to note on-screen visuals that clearly showed the product cleaning away 100% of the bacteria and oils that cause acne. This was interesting to me, because in Japan, commercials never show products cleaning away “100%” of anything. Instead, an advertisement for a product like Listerine will always show, say, 98% of bacteria being removed, but there’ll always be a tiny bit remaining on screen, to avoid making a promise of 100% effectiveness that might not be accurate.

The Holy Grail of language study is, of course, learning to think in that language without translating everything from your native tongue in your head first. It seems like an impossibly difficult goal, but just as with learning to read your first non-Roman writing system, be it hiragana or the Hebrew alphabet or whatever, it can be quite exhilarating when things click into place. What I find interesting about language is the way you develop separate personalities when speaking different languages, and my “Japanese” self is quite different from my English side, probably more considerate of others, able to apologize more honestly if I screw something up, and so on. I’ve seen this kind of thing with my kids, too, especially my daughter, whose English “self” expanded after she went to Australia to attend high school, forcing her to become much more assertive for example, because that’s what English speakers do.

The San Diego Comic-Con is here, and J-List is at our usual booth, #4929, with tons of anime T-shirts, visual novels and “H” games (including Super Sonico and Jessica Nigri!), naughty manga and related products, and more. If you’ll be at the show, come by and say hi! If not, enjoy shopping on the site during our sale! Use code SDCC2016 to get 5% off $60 or more!

About the author