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).