America is the foreign country most familiar to Japanese people — and the hardest one for Japanese filmmakers to get right.

Often they want to emulate the styles of their American idols — be they Hollywood icons like Howard Hawks or contemporary hipsters like Quentin Tarantino — but end up with creaky cliches and obvious lifts instead. Or they try to be funny, the way their favorite American films are funny, but their jokes come across as generic or stereotypical. Then, when they try to sympathize with their American minority characters, they tend to caricature or patronize them.

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