Friday, January 22, 2010

Japan jumps shark?

I ask that question in my latest column for The Daily Yomiuri, out today, writing about Sony's booth at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, the JAL bankruptcy, political shenanigans and stagnancy, and the ongoing troubles in the anime and manga biz.


Yeesh.

SOFT POWER, HARD TRUTHS / Is this the year Japan jumps the shark?

"Jumping the shark" is an American idiom describing the point at which a television series, a career or just about anything that has developed popularity or momentum blows its own credibility and heralds its own demise.

The phrase was coined after the Fonz, a character in the long-running TV series Happy Days, known for its rosy vision of postwar American life, literally jumped over a captive shark while water-skiing. Many now see the shark-jumping episode as an omen of the program's decline into cancellation.

The expression came to mind earlier this week, as I perused reports of Japan's poor showing at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the bankruptcy of Japan Airlines, and the rising numbers of unemployed Japanese seeking government aid over the holidays, finding temporary shelter in bubble-era capsule hotels.

This news of sinking fortunes had me wondering: Can you jump the shark without actually doing anything? Paralyses that have long gripped Japan's producers of popular culture, whose profits continue taking a beating overseas and at home despite growing global enthusiasm, are now damaging its gadget, travel and other industries. In Japan, the Year of the Tiger is looking a lot like the Year of the Great White. [more @ YOMIURI HERE; @ 3:AM magazine w/graphics HERE]

Saturday, January 09, 2010