One Punch Reviews #40: Teriyaki Girls

Oh, Japan. Such a powerful pop culture force these days, yet also so misunderstood. If only there was a cultural guide that wasn’t as stuffy as the International Traveler’s Resource Guide! Fortunately, Seiryoin Ryusui of Japan and Kai Chamberlain of Canada are ready to bridge the cultural divide across the Pacific Ocean with Teriyaki Girls.

It is, not surprisingly, some sort of online manga.

Teriyaki Girls centers around two girls — one Japanese, one Canadian. Like the creators. Hmmm. There’s also two other foreigners in the main cast who appear rather frequently: one, a freckled girl who loves sushi and the men who make it; the other, a womanizer/wigger. Along the way, they — and the readers — laugh, love, and learn the culture of modern day Japan.

Sadly, Teriyaki Girls features one of the most boring casts I’ve ever encountered. You know how most of your days are pretty mundane? Maybe you say hi to your friends. Maybe you go out and have a meal. It’s fairly routine, and when most people write memoirs, they tend to cut out all that boring stuff, since all of it is assumed. Not so with Teriyaki Girls. The comic is one mundane thing after another. This would be somewhat tolerable if the characters had any personality at all. They do not. Slabs of drywall are more charismatic.

Of course, this may be because the point of Teriyaki Girls is not to entertain, but to educate. I liken it to those workplace training videos on things like Ethics or Workplace Diversity or Office Safety that are almost always badly acted, cheesily filmed, and terribly lighted. But at least you learned not to route your laptop cord through the aisle so no one would trip over it, right? Sadly, Teriyaki Girls offers no such useful insights. While I do not doubt the sincerity of the writers, almost all of the tips boil down to “Asian people view relationships differently from Western people!” The tips can range from thuddingly obvious (“While many Japanese are very shy when communicating with foreigners, most foreigners are usually not shy. However, in a serious love situation, foreigners and Japanese can be equally shy.”) to transparently bitter (“Some gaijin living in Japan are never satisfied with their popularity. Eventhough they already have many girlfriends, they always want more. They are womanizers.”) to useless and somewhat condescending (“Sushi, a Japanese traditional meal, is loved by people the world over. Most Japanese often name Sushi as their favorite food.”).

And, well, some are slightly offensive. If I were to do a comic targeted at Asian audiences and informing readers that “When talking with an American woman, don’t talk about yourself too much, because American women are only interested in talking about themselves,” I would rightly get called out on it. The only guy who could possibly get away with it would be the Red Letter Media guy, and he’s sorta half-winking with the serial-killer gimmick and all. I don’t know how Asian women would read “Japan is an island country and only has a small population of foreigners. Many young Japanese women yearn strongly for foreign men”… but something tells me it’s kinda insulting.

And, hey, unless you’re Japanese, stop wearing that miniskirt, you slut!

Rating: 2 stars (out of 5).


About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on February 26, 2011, in 2 Stars, manga style webcomic, One Punch Reviews, romance webcomic, slice-of-life webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. You didn’t mention the most offensive thing about this comic.


  2. its so pretty though…I really like the coloring.

    at first glance I thought this was going to be a four panel strip like Azumanga Daioh, It would help if they had a sense of humor rather than having that educational feel.

  3. Adorable artwork, weeeeeirrrrrd generalizations on men and women. I feel like people usually don’t act like this in real life… But then again, what do I know? I’m just a baka gaijin. 😛

  4. Ha, it is kind of funny how they draw Jason the Womanizer’s face a little more ugly and leering each time he appears. He is becoming a caricature.

    Some parts are kind of offensive…yeah.

    • The picture of him saying “That really cute Japanese girl” is genuinely disconcerting. It’s like he’s looking right out at me through my monitor and, judging by his expression, I don’t much like what’s on his mind…

      • oh it most certainly is disconcerting, but the way they are doing it is so over the top and unrealistic, that all I can do is laugh. (This is not a compliment, BTW! I find Jason pretty ridiculous. And the fact that most of the girls are oblivious despite the constant orgasmic grimace on his face is just bad writing.)

  5. About a year ago when I was toying with the idea of spending a semester in Japan, simply because I’ve never been to that part of the world, I came across this comic:

    While it was pretty annoying and the main character reminded me a little too much of a few girls I knew in high school who went to the anime club and annoyed the hell out of me, it was a still a lot more interesting and insightful about Japanese culture than anything is this bothersome webcomic. The biggest problem is that I don’t think this comic has been updated in several years.

    Although if anyone reading this is actually interested in learning about what it’s like to live in Japan I’d recommend the youtube blogger Kevin Cooney (aka TokyoCooney), who is a Comedian from New York who lives in Japan and it fairly entertaining.

  6. Haha, I like the strip where Julia is informed that she is “a good gaijin.” She’s not racist! She has loads of gaijin friends!

    I hope in a later strip we learn that “gaijin” is Japanese slang for “white demon.”

    • Interesting little fact. In Swahili speaking African countries they call white people “mzungu” which literally translates as “person who walks in circles,” though most will just say it means “foreigner” or “white person”.

      • In the Scottish Highlands, English who buy holiday homes and/or move but take absolutely no part in local society are known as…wait for it…white settlers!

        I think we can see a theme developing here.

        • Haha! in Ghana the kids (and some adults) would yell at me in the streets “Obruni!” which means “white person” with no sense of embarrassment, I would yell back “Obibini!”,’ black person’, they would either look at me confused or start laughing.

          My friends at the village clinic used it to tease me, “you crazy Obruni…how did you burn the rice? I mean…seriously…how did you do it? It’s in WATER!”

          yes…my helpless city ways caused many a hilarious moment.

  7. I don’t have the time to look into the comic yet, but could it be that its one of those senses of humor only some people have and others don’t?

    Case and point, Lucky Star.

    Perhaps its that same sort of everday humor you find in the fact that these girls lives are completely ordinary. However idk, I’ll certainly read it and see what its like.

    Also from what I hear, Japanese women really DO flock to foreigners, but that’s just from a youtube blogger. It was a pretty good episode though……

    Anyway, I’ll wait to judge it until its read =) There have been a few comics you gave low ratings that I liked, though not many =)

    Either way, thanks for the hard work Santo =)

  8. I dunno if this is a Tokyo thing or a weaboo thing or a “I was a JET teacher for a few months after graduation” thing, but what little I read of the comic strikes me as created by people who live in a vacuum isolated from common Japanese who are all very normal and don’t spend their time shyly looking off into the distance while sparklies glitter around them.

  9. A recent article in an publication – whose name now annoyingly escapes me although i swear it was the Economist – had a few points. Firstly it states that Japanese women are more outward looking and thus likely to learn english and go abroad than Japanese men. As women in Japan grow more confident and open men grow more uncertain and insular.

    So I guess there is basis for Japanese women rating gaijin over home grown alternatives although I’m sure not to the point where, like Amy, they’re willing to open their drawers to the first played out playa they meet.

    • Like women back home, Japanese women will decide if they want to fuck you within a few minutes of meeting you.

      • …which is to say that the foreigner aspect isn’t nearly as important as the “He looks like a good lay” thing is.

        The problem with the portrayal of relationships in the comic is that the Canadian girl is an intensely judgmental harpy and her view is being presented as the correct one by the creators.

        • The awkwardness of the scene was palpable as well..Amy’s god Amy’s smile. Awkwaaaard!!! If I were a friend in that room I’d be forcing a smile and saying “wow..lovely weather!” after the 2nd page.

  10. I like the relatively realistic color schemes, but that girl with the freckles and the sushi obsession has purple irises. She might want to see a doctor about that.

    I considered wording this post in the manner of the comic’s “culture notes,” but couldn’t figure out a way to do it without coming across as obscenely condescending.

  11. I have been living in Japan for a while now and I found this comic incredibly offensive. The term gaijin is actually not a very nice term, so the fact that a Japanese person is writing a comic for foreigners and using the term gaijin makes me want to punch her in the face.

    Also, the gai-gin comic someone referenced is equally frustrating. I actually know about the girl who drew those– she’s entirely self-absorbed and got everything she ever wanted from her rich daddy and blames immigration for speaking to her in Japanese for her problems, since she didn’t learn Japanese in Japan… I’m glad I never got introduced to her. I think she focuses all her attention on selling Pokemon toys now, which is why she doesn’t do the comic.

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