June 11, 2007

Baby Beauty Pageants Ain't Got NOTHIN' On Tensai Electone Shoujo

First off, let me just say what this is: Johnny Depp appeared on a Japanese TV show, where he was serenaded--no, ambushed and stunned into submission--by four little stage-managed girls, ages 4-8, dressed in Pirates of the Caribbean 3 costumes. It's the most painfully bizarre and pathetic television 8 min. of television I've seen this year. [I'll wait while you watch it. In fact, I'm going to watch it again myself.]


OK, the show is called Gakkou e Ikou! MAX [Let's Go To School MAX!, here's a fanblog of the show in English], and it's on TBS. The kid[s] is/are known as Tensai Electone Shoujo, [Genius Electone Girls], after the Yamaha Electone organ/synthesizer they play. The 4-yo is named Kinoshita Rei-chan. TES has 15,000+ Google results in Japanese, and one [from yesterday] in English.


From the awkward studio setup, it looks like they taped the performance at a POC3 junket. Orlando Bloom's Rei-chan & co. ambush is set to air Tuesday in Japan, so stay tuned.

Tensai Electone Shoujo is from Yamaguchi prefecture, the backwoods of western Japan near [sic] Nagasaki. Rei-chan and her classmates were discovered by the MAX producers at the beginning of May, and they have been on the show several times before this Depp episode.

What the hell is wrong with these people?? Who the hell is this teacher, Yamazaki-sensei?? Sure, she's on TV now with her little mutant creations, but what were those kids doing up until six weeks ago?? The teacher has basically programmed her wacked out aesthetic onto hapless, impressionable kids. Watch their every move and utterance and tell me you don't see it. It's like Little Miss Sunshine-meets-Waiting For Guffman. Forget rural China; move the international adoption operations to BF Japan; these are some of the most unfortunate children I've ever seen.

So here are some more clips:

  • Tensai Electone Shoujo vs Johnny Depp [youtube via japanprobe and boingboing]
  • I think this is Rei-chan's audition tape, shot by her teacher [who bobs her head--and the camera. so annoying]
  • Gakkou Max's hosts visit Rei-chan's class, who perform "Do Re Mi" with mortarboards, then giant ski hats.
  • Gakkou Max's second visit to the dance/synth class, including some odd swing dance-ballerina thing, again with the giant ski hats.
  • second visit, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" w/interpretive ribbon dance

    Related; Gakkou e Ikou summary blog coverage of the Depp-isode


    Look at the girl's expression at 4:12 remaining. I'm trying to think of a pithy comment, but her face right then says it all.

    Wow. That's so "Lost in Translation".

    Trust me, I've been working on my Japanese for 15 years and am fluent by all accounts... knowing exactly what they're saying doesn't make it any less creepy... only makes it worse.

    [I remember reading about some American dude who was invited to meet the Emperor, only he could never figure out why. Then when he saw the ecstatic awe in his Japanese hosts' eyes, he realized he was just being used, part of an elaborate scheme so THEY could meet the Emperor. That's how Rei-chan's teacher feels to me. Freaked out fanchick. -ed.]

    On a smaller and less creepy scale you see a bit of the same look in the eye of kindergarten and elementary teachers in Japan who spend a huge part of their classtime getting the kids to march and dance in unison for the sports meet days. One of the teachers I worked with there once leaned over and said "this must look like some kind of totalitarian nation's military parade to you... I wish we didn't keep doing this stuff year after year"

    Seriously though, the thing that kept running through my mind was that this is the country that loves to chuckle at the spectacle of the (admittedly creepy) dancing children performing for Kim Jong Il in North Korea... at least those people have an excuse... they're performing for the privilege of continuing to live.

    [lol, yeah, I was watching them dance out of sync and thinking starvation must be a better motivator than meeting the guy in your Happy Meal -ed.]

    Wow. So Japanese and bizarre! It kind of explains why my Japanese mother demands my three year old daughter perform for her all the time instead of just letting her do her own weird cute things naturally. They are all about making other people watch the explosion of cuteness...

    Now I know why Johnny Depp looked so wary and skittish when he came on screen.

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