Monday, July 16, 2018

Genki T.V. for You & Me

by V (writer), Venice!, January 21, 2007


Having just been ejected from a portable toilet stall -- as if from a canon - a man with pants around his knees just manages to protect his modesty with his fast-slipping-off Y-fronts. He is sliding b

In the early hours of the morning, on the other side of the city, a man enjoying deep, REM sleep is woken brutally at gun-point by five men, dressed in balaclavas and fatigues. They are his friends.

A classroom filled with Japanese men watch a DVD of a fellow English-language student, reading poorly from an English language children's text. When one of them laughs, he is commanded to kneel on all fours and is caned on the derriere.

This is Japanese television. Often completely bewildering, shocking and hysterically funny to us in the Western world, it is silly, wildly, politically incorrect, slap-stick, offensive to some and devastatingly cutesy in equal measure. Anyone who has visited or lived in Japan will know that, like Japan itself, its T.V. is genuinely unique.

It was no surprise to me then, when I came upon some weird and adorable, Japanese language, video episodes on You Tube, of a real-life Chimpanzee (dressed in overalls) and an English bulldog wearing a back pack. The pair appeared to be roving around the countryside, involved in some kind of adventures. Absolutely riveted (primates my most favorite of all in the animal kingdom), I commenced research on this unlikely duo.

My probing unearthed a Japanese T.V. show on NTV called, "The Adventures of Pan and James -- A Monkey and a Bulldog on Errands." This laugh-out-loud, melt your heart, fascinating, family T.V. show follows Pan the Chimpanzee and his sidekick James the Bulldog, as they complete a task each episode. One episode their mission is to go to a market and buy some fishing net, another is to collect truffles in the woods. The missions are vast and varied.

Having obviously been raised in Japan, it is fascinating to note Pan's very inherent Japanese idiosyncrasies, an obvious result of nurture. Various obstacles and unexpected distractions spring up a long the way to completing their tasks, providing compelling viewing as you watch clever Pan, come up with solutions. The one with the thumbs is clearly Top Dog, but the brute strength and endless patience of James, contributes greatly to their success.

Growing up as a child, my very, very favorite television show, with which I was a little obsessed was another Japanese T.V. series produced by NTV from 1978 to 1980 called, "Monkey Magic." The extremely strange action/ adventure show was performed by Japanese actors in China and inner-Mongolia and dubbed into English. The series was based on one of the four great, classical novels of Chinese literature, "Journey to the West" by Wu Cheng'en, telling the fictionalized account of the Buddhist monk XuánzÃ'g's pilgrimage to India during the Tang Dynasty to obtain the Buddhist texts.

Now, I have a new show to be obsessed with, "The Adventures of Pan and James."
God love weird and wonderful Japan!

For a taste of the Adventures of Pan and James, go to and

To buy the DVD – like me – go to

About the Writer

V is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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