ear my house in Vienna-Fairfax is a Korean supermarket called Lotte. They have a video rental section. I checked it out. They had Japanese animation. They had Japanese movies. They had *gulp* Japanese drama. I told M. They have a bunch of shows! She reminded me that I’m pretty busy with work. They have Taiga dorama! She reminded me Taiga dorama lasted 50 episodes. It’s only $1.50 per tape! She reminded me that our last name was not Rockefeller. But there’s two episodes on each tape! She reminded me that I have a compulsive nature and that once I started watching one episode, I would watch the rest without stopping until I saw the last episode. I had to concur. M won. I tried to forget… really hard…
We soon began shopping at another Korean place called Super H and the videos at Lotte soon became a distant memory. But recently, M has been shopping at Lotte again because sometimes Super H is too far just to get vegetables. Then last November, before Thanksgiving break, I accompanied M to Lotte to do some shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. You never know when you might need some bok choi or daikon or shimeji mushrooms for Thanksgiving dinner, right? So I went and was suddenly reminded of the J-videos.
As M was strolling through the produce section, I sauntered–yes, sauntered–off to the video section. In front of me was a long row of the Taiga dorama. For those of you who don’t know, Taiga dorama is an NHK program that usually focuses on an historic figure or group. It runs for a year, hence the 50 episodes. Many of the stories are martial/samurai and so I used to imagine it meant Tiger Drama, but it really means Great River drama. Well, right in front of me was 44 episodes of Yoshitsune, the tale of the storied Minamoto Yoshitsune, handsome youth and valiant warrior of the late Heian-early Kamakura period. He is the younger brother of the first Kamakura shogun, Yoritomo, and his story is as famous as anyone’s in Japan.
I pulled out the first tape. Takizawa Hideaki. Ugh! Isn’t he Tackey of Tackey & Tsubasa, the young boy-band-like singers in the mold of the johnnies? There’s also Matsudaira Ken. Okay, he’s pretty solid in period pieces, although he’s also become well know for his rather corny Matsuken samba. You have to see it to believe it. Can you imagine Toshiro Mifune singing and dancing The Macarena? Well, you get the picture…
But still, I caressed the case. I fondled it, trying futilely to get a sneak preview through my fingertips. I returned the case to its shelf and skipped back to the produce section. I had to tell M.
You know, it’s going to be Thanksgiving break and its been such a long semester, and I’ve been working so hard that I think I need and deserve a break because if I don’t, I’ll go crazy, and it would be really relaxing to just kick back and watch some TV, maybe some Japanese drama, because it would be fun, and… (brief pause for breath) who knows? Maybe it’ll come in handy with my work at school, because it’s in Japanese and maybe I’ll find something I can use in class, so it would be a like killing two birds with one stone, and if I play my cards right, maybe I can even write it off OUR taxes, because it would actually be a legitimate deduction, since it would be something I’d use at work, and…
M put her hands up in that universal sign for “STOP!”
“You win,” she said, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it, I hummed, skipping back to the video section. I pulled out five tapes, And went to the counter. I gave the lady at the counter my address and she told me what my ID number was. I put down a sawbuck, she gave me back $2.50. I was so happy that when she said “Thank you ” in English, I responded komapsmida, (Okay, my transliteration sucks) and again skipped back to M, showing her what felt like ill gotten goods.
She smiled weakly and once again reminded me check my compulsive nature at the front door. Yeah, yeah. don’t sweat it. doll face. I’m in total control…
Well I watched fifty 45-minute episodes over the next three weeks, sneaking in as many as I could in between work, grading, eating. when one episode ended, I had to see the next one. And every time I would go back to Lotte to return the tapes, I would look at the shelves and make a mental note of available series for future viewing. I was and am hooked. I have since seen Shinsengumi (50 episodes), Last Christmas (12), Sea Monkeys (12), Brother Beat (11), as well as other miscellaneous programming. We have just started seeing Saiyuki, the story of Son Goku.
I think I need to go into rehab.