So White Day was very white, but I started the day feeling pretty blue.
I woke up around 7 or so and glanced at my phone, hoping that I received an e-mail that I’ve been waiting a few days to receive. There wasn’t a notification for the e-mail on the lock screen of my phone, which meant that either I hadn’t received it or Gmail determined it to be less important. I wasn’t ready to wake up yet, and it was too easy to fall back to sleep. An hour later, I woke again, and nothing was any different except that I could hear more commotion from everyone else in the household. I’m not sure if I couldn’t fall back to sleep, or I did and never realized it.
“Come downstairs if you want French toast!” I heard my friend’s significant other call out. With the abundance of storm supplies, we did have plenty of bread, milk and eggs to make French toast, so it was a good call. It’s also my favorite breakfast food, even though I don’t often eat breakfast. So I replied with, “I’m already downstairs,” even though I knew the shout wasn’t meant for me. There was enough French toast that I had some to eat, and I popped open a can of Pokka Vanilla coffee to wake me up and wash down breakfast.
The cats had been in pursuit of a mouse, which somehow caused them to be interested in the area where I keep my suitcase, computer, and binders with music and movies. I moved things around a bit, hoping there wasn’t a mouse hidden within. Thankfully there was not a mouse, but I had to deal with herding cats so I could put my things back in place. While I had my binders out, I pulled out my DVD of Darby O’Gill And The Little People along with my DVD of The Princess Blade. I figured I’d play at least one of the DVDs in the afternoon while the kids are passing through the living room, which meant I wouldn’t be watching The Princess Blade until later as there’s swords and blood.
I started with playing things on YouTube, as I was in the mood for one or two particular music videos to get my mind off things that were bothering me. Eventually I ended up watching Gaki no Tsukai, or more specifically I watched one of their No Laughing challenges. This one was their Earth Defense Force special from a couple of years ago. The YouTube video was a little over an hour long, so I figured I’d watch the segment and then do something else with my life.
And then there was a part two.
Okay, cool. The second part was also about an hour long. That made sense, because most of the clips I’ve seen have been about a half hour long at best, and those were for things like their Kiki segments where they have to guess which food item out of about 12 to 15 items was the same as the one they tasted while blindfolded. So a two-hour special is a decent length, right? I mean, it’s a special event, not a regular show. After that was done, I figured I would remember to take my laundry out of the dryer, and I could get on with my life.
And then there was a part three.
Oh yeah, and it’s a fansub, meaning that someone who likes the show took the time to add English subtitles for those of us who don’t know Japanese. They might also have been responsible for editing the recorded footage, as the commercials were removed and were no longer in between segments. So I’m on to a third, commercial-free, hour of comedy.
But then, there was a fourth hour.
For the comedians, it was an entire day of trying not to laugh at things, laughing anyway, and getting punished on their rear ends for laughing. For me, it was four hours of watching comedy groups Downtown and Cocorico along with Hosei. Downtown consists of Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada, and the duo has probably been everywhere on Japanese television. There’s a clip of Hyde getting kissed on both cheeks, one man on either side of him, and the two men are Hamada and Matsumoto. Cocorico is Naoki Tanaka and Shōzō Endō, another owarai comedy group like Downtown where one guy is the straight guy and the other is the “funny” guy. And then there’s Hosei, who’s known either as Hosei Yamasaki or Hosei Tsukitei throughout the Gaki no Tsukai series depending how old of an episode you’re watching.
While I like seeing Downtown’s Hamada come up with punishments and getting punished for things himself, my favorite comedian on the show is Cocorico’s Tanaka. Despite being the boke of Cocorico, he usually comes off as being level-headed and focused, though he’s just as capable of acting dramatically over an impending punishment as the rest of the group. Also, he doesn’t really look Japanese, which is to say that Tanaka doesn’t really look Asian to me, he looks like he’s from a British movie from the 1970s or 1980s. He’s taller than the other cast members, with thick, wavy hair that, to me, is cut similar to old British hairstyles. If you put him in a polyester leisure suit, maybe stand him next to a poster for The Who or near an entrance to the London subway system, he might fit in until you hear him speak Japanese. And there’s polite Japanese, and then there’s Tanaka who sometimes comes off bashful and apologetic depending on the situation. He’s quite distracting to watch, because I’m thinking about all of these things while I’m trying to pay attention to the show itself at any given time. I wish I could see more of his acts, but there’s a very limited selection of Cocorico stuff that’s not Gaki no Tsukai-related.
After the fourth installment of the No-Laughing Earth Defense Force special was done, I realized that I spent my entire afternoon watching one show.
And it was hours since I restarted the dryer so that my clothes would be warm when I removed them. They weren’t warm anymore, but at least none of my clothes were damp.
And I felt like I was a notch above neutral. Yeah, I wasted the better part of the day, a day which already felt like I wanted to crawl back under my blanket and sleep until I got an offer to wake up that was equally as good as French toast. But I didn’t feel like shutting out the world anymore. The world was going to keep rotating, it would keep moving on and doing its thing regardless of whether I received that e-mail or not. It wasn’t the end of the world, after all. There would be other opportunities, which also means I have more time to improve myself before one of those opportunities comes along. But until then, I have comedy to keep me sane when I’m not listening to music.
Aside from the vast collection of short clips, I’ve probably exhausted all of the fansubs of Gaki no Tsukai on YouTube. I’ll have to chase down the teams responsible for the fansubs and see if they have anything that’s only on their own website for now. I highly recommend Gaki no Tsukai for anyone who likes reasonably lowbrow comedy that doesn’t make you feel entirely stupid for watching it. Then again, I probably don’t feel dumb because I feel like I’m trying to learn Japanese, so there’s that.
If you’re snowed in and have nothing to do, start with the Kiki series and go from there. Even if you’re not snowed in, if you have the time, watch some episodes. If you don’t, you’ll make Tanaka angry.