Morning news shows tend to focus on the, some might say, “fluffier” aspects of the domestic media industry. Analysis of current affairs tends to co-exist happily alongside reports on newly observed trends in the food sector as well as decidedly more banal features such as how zoo animals occupy their time during the COVID-19 pandemic almost irrespective of the importance of news. Generally, such programming isn’t anything to get worked up about, as it’s the virtual equivalent of having a cartoon of no-pulp orange juice at the ready upon waking up each day.

Sometimes, though, such fare verges on the ridiculous. On May 21, TBS’ “Hiru Obi” aired a segment that examined one theory as to why Japan has seemingly handled the outbreak of novel coronavirus better than other countries. The program’s hypothesis — spoken Japanese isn’t as pronounced as spoken English, implying that the virus spreads less easily as a result. To illustrate this point, the production crew hung a tissue on a clip in front of a woman who was asked to say the phrase, “This is a pen” in both languages, with her English delivery of the final word causing the tissue to be propelled forward in a somewhat violent fashion.