Anime, manga, live-action shows and kaiju, and video games. These are how some people believe is typical Japanese life. No, I don’t think they actually believe Godzilla goes stomping around the city (and if you do, please seek help) but when it comes to how Japanese life is depicted when there are no monsters or mecha running loose Japanese media is about as accurate as US media is to life in the United States Of America. If you think Hawaii Five-O or Magnum PI is accurate to Hawaii or any of the thousands of shows set in New York is accurate…note that often these shows don’t get their own geography correct. Like, I live in Connecticut and whomever was working on Gilmore Girls apparently couldn’t even get a proper map. Granted I know this from a video about it because I’ve watched maybe one episode in full if that but it’s still wrong. And that’s just the live action stuff. Thrown in cartoons, especially the more comedic stuff, and you will be clueless about how we live.
I have two videos to showcase this. Both are produced by The Anime Man (who I should warn you does swear in his videos) but the second guest-stars our old favorite, Gaijin Goombah. These videos will show that learning about Japan through their media alone will not really tell you anything about the country, including anime and manga. Especially anime and manga.
Here’s a link to that “Japan Laifu” playlist he mentioned. He also mentioned that depiction of school life is different, and in another video The Anime Man and Gaijin Goombah went over those mistakes.
Now, nobody is trying to talk you out of going to Japan. The Anime Man lives there and Gaijin used to live there and still goes back to visit and research. My friend Matt Burkett (you know, Apollo Z Hack and host of kaiju-fan series Monstrosities) has been there a few times recently and loves the place. This is just a warning that if you go you should be prepared to not live the life of your anime favs, and if you live in any city, town, or sometimes even just the state where a US show is produced, or how it works in whatever country you live in and shows set in or near your hometown, you already know that fiction doesn’t always imitate life. Japan is a beautiful country so feel free to go and enjoy yourself.
Just don’t expect to get there by giant robot. I know that’s disappointing.