Last month, it was announced that Haruki Murakami would release a new full-length novel. True fans, also known as “Harukists” may note that the title for the upcoming work is the same as one of the author’s past “failures.” Harukist Daniel Morales joins the show to decipher clues as to what is going on. Later, Patrick St. Michel and Shaun McKenna discuss their thoughts on a BBC documentary on controversial J-pop titan Johnny Kitagawa.
On this episode:
Read more/Hear more:
- What to prepare for when you’re expecting one of Murakami’s mammoths (Daniel Morales, The Japan Times)
- Conquering ‘Commendatore’: Murakami brandishes familiar lexicon in latest novel (Daniel Morales, The Japan Times)
- The guilt of fatherhood helped shape Kenzaburo Oe’s literary vision (Thu-Huong Ha, The Japan Times)
- How To Japanese podcast (Daniel Morales)
- Johnny Kitagawa: The mogul who defined and controlled Japan’s entertainment industry (Patrick St. Michel, The Japan Times)
- Deep Dive: The Death of Johnny Kitagawa, J-pop’s puppet master (Oscar Boyd, Patrick St. Michel, W. David Marx)
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Transcript note: Deep Dive is made to be listened to, and we recommend this transcript be used as an accompaniment to the episode. This transcript has been generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcription, and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the episode.
Shaun McKenna 00:08
Hello and welcome to Deep Dive from The Japan Times. I'm Shaun McKenna.
On Feb. 1, Shinchosha Publishing announced that, after six years, one of Japan's most celebrated writers, Haruki Murakami, would be releasing his 15th full-length novel. It's set for release on April 13. That's about one month from now.
This is the author behind “Norwegian Wood” and “1Q84,” and his team is generally tight-lipped when it comes to plot details on upcoming projects since spoilers leaked ahead of the release of his 2002 novel “Kafka on the Shore.”
Earlier this month, however, he revealed the name of this new publication, “Machi to, Sono Futashikana Kabe.” Also revealed was a photo of what the cover is expected to look like and there on the cover was an English translation of the title, “The City and its Uncertain Walls.”
Daniel Morales is a frequent contributor to The Japan Times’ Bilingual section, but around the newsroom we know him as the guy to go to for coverage on Murakami. On today's show, we'll talk to him before speaking to music writer Patrick St. Michel about his thoughts on a separate cultural topic, the BBC’s recent documentary “Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-pop.”
Hello, Daniel, thanks for coming on Deep Dive.
Daniel Morales 01:26
Thanks so much for having me, Shaun.
Shaun McKenna 01:27
Let me start by asking on a scale of 1 to 10. How important is the announcement of a new Haruki Murakami novel to the world of Japanese literature?
Daniel Morales 01:36
I think that really depends on who you're asking. He's gotten so popular in the last 10 to 15 years that he's got a lot of critics and haters of his work and they’d probably call it a nonevent. If you ask one of the so-called Harukists, which is what his fans call themselves, I think they usually rank a new Murakami at a solid seven or eight. And with his new novel having such a strong connection with one of his earliest works, and earlier lesser-known works, it's easily a 10 for me personally, and I think a lot of people would agree.
Shaun McKenna 02:04
Nice. Do you consider yourself a Harukist?
Daniel Morales 02:07
Yeah, absolutely. I would say I've been following the main Harukist since I was in college. I used his website as a source to find Murakami articles when I was writing my senior thesis in college and he was profiled in The Japan Times last year. I was really impressed with that interview.
Shaun McKenna 02:23
Well, in the second segment of the podcast, I'm hoping to just speculate wildly about what's coming up in the new book. But for now, let's give people who aren't Harukists or Murakami stans a bit of background on the author. He released his first piece in 1979, “Hear the Wind Sing.” What was he like as a writer in his early years?
Daniel Morales 02:42
Murakami really made a name for himself writing about the aftermath of the student movement in Japan. When it ended in 1970, everyone kind of went back to college, graduated and then entered the workforce. Murakami opened a jazz bar and kind of dropped out of the usual career path until he started writing in 1978. His first few novels are really focused on a strong sense of loss, both personal and cultural, and that kind of sense of disillusionment with rapid growth that was changing Japan. So he built this readership of, you know, maybe tens of thousands of readers, with books that basically show a lonely narrator coming to terms with the system in which he lives, the narrator is usually a him, very similar to Murakami's own experience in college. He's also using elements of magic realism, especially from his second book onward “A Wild Sheep Chase.” These books have pinball machines that house the spirits of the dead, a talking sheep man or a girl with magical ears. These are the techniques that he's really become well-known for in the subsequent decades.
Shaun McKenna 03:46
OK, a lonely narrator, elements of magic realism, that's early Murakami. In 1987, he releases “Norwegian Wood” and you wrote an essay for the website Neojaponisme that said this is when he became a true phenomenon. So how did the phenomenon come to be?
Daniel Morales 04:03
That's a really good question. And actually that word “phenomenon” I borrowed from Jay Reuben’s book, Jay Rubin is one of Murakami’s translators, and he wrote this book called “Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words” that is basically a history of Murakami and looks into all his works. Rubin uses that word “phenomenon” to describe “Norwegian Wood” because it was a complete commercial blockbuster. The reason why I think it was so successful is because it's a straight realist story, as opposed to his previous works, which were all not totally experimental, but maybe more experimental, more, jumping back and forth between different types of writing whereas “Norwegian” with a straight story the whole way through, tells the story of Toru Watanabe arriving in Tokyo for college in 1968, in the middle of the student movement. He's trying to come to terms with the politics of the era, but also of the suicide of his best friend, Kizuki. Kizuki also left behind a girlfriend, who the narrator runs into on the Chuo Line, and they get off the train at Ochanomizu and walk around Tokyo and they start dating and form this kind of romantic relationship that can never be fulfilled, really. So he's not really using the magical realism techniques, but he still manages to create this sense of unreality. And there's a lot for people to sympathize with, of loving someone that you know you'll never be able to be in a relationship with, and then having that love consume you and maybe sabotage other potential relationships.
Shaun McKenna 05:28
So since this book was so successful for him, did he keep with that style afterward?
Daniel Morales 05:34
His style has really varied over the years, he often gets himself a new kind of challenge with his books for “Norwegian Would” that challenge was, for example, writing dialogue with three characters talking. Up until that point, it had been mostly one-on-one. two characters talking with each other. And other books, the kinds of experiments that he's given himself, the goals for the reading have been different. Some elements of “Norwegian Wood,” I would say, you can see in books like “Sputnik Sweetheart,” which has a lot of dialogue and a lot of characters tortured by the impossibility of their desire. Both books actually end with a phone call between two characters, a kind of disconnected form of connection, they’re talking but they're still at a distance. But he's also gone on to write like completely third-person novels to like “1Q84” and “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.” So he's shifted between realism and fantastic elements, you can't ever be really certain what to expect. Other than that he isolates his characters. That's the one tendency he's had, I think, throughout his career is to really kind of isolate characters in the novel. He isolates them literally in a physical sense but also emotionally. So that might be something we could see in the new novel. We'll see.
Shaun McKenna 06:50
Right. So “Norwegian Wood” was the commercial success, “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” was a big one overseas... This may be a tricky question, but what's your favorite Murakami novel?
Daniel Morales 07:00
That's actually a pretty easy question for me. I have this theory that the first Murakami novel you read influences the way you read the rest of his works and is often your favorite. For me, that was “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.” It has a really creative English translation from the translator Alfred Birnbaum, who worked really closely with his editor, Elmer Luke, combined some sci-fi cyberpunk elements with fantasy and tells alternating stories of a data agent in the 1980s Tokyo, and a new resident for the capital T Town for this unnamed town, which is run by this brutal gatekeeper who watches over flocks of unicorns and finding out how these two halves of the stories are interconnected is really an incredible journey to go on.
Shaun McKenna 07:47
So given that the first Murakami book you read is going to be your favorite. For people who haven't read Murakami, where would you suggest they start?
Daniel Morales 07:57
That's a really good question. Oh, man. I mean, I always like to recommend “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World,” but I do think you need to get through about 100, 150 pages before it starts to become an easier read. “A Wild Sheep Chase” is a really great first Murakami novel, I think it's really well-executed, easy read, very funny, light has a lot of his early themes and stylistic techniques. “Norwegian Wood” you also can't go wrong with, it has a great setup in the first 70 to 80 pages. That's a great one to read, too, if you're looking for something more realist.
Shaun McKenna 08:30
OK, so I have to admit, I haven't read any of Murakami's fiction. But I did read “Underground” after it came out in 1997. So that was a nonfiction work in which Murakami interviewed survivors and those connected to the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system on March 20, 1995. That was a terrorist incident carried out by a religious cult that killed 14 people and sickened thousands more. Did you read “Underground”?
Daniel Morales 08:59
Yeah, I read it in English translation when it first came out. It was actually two volumes in the original Japanese, the first volume focused on the victims of the attack and the second one on the cult members. It's a really incredible work and I think it shows how broadly talented Murakami is, I think English language readers especially consider Murakami, a fiction writer, whereas in Japan, he's very much a nonfiction writer and his nonfiction has gone into a lot of other languages like Chinese and Korean. He's written a lot of travel writing, for example, he lived in Europe from 1986 to 1989, and wrote a really big book about that experience. He lived in the U.S. for many years after that and has written several collections of essays about that experience. He's also written nonfiction about music, whiskey, most recently his T-shirt collection that one went into English. So, I think you're starting to see a little bit more of the true Murakami, in his wide set of writing skills “Underground” probably comes closest to his fiction in terms of its effect, I think. It shows individuals struggling in a postmodern world looking for some kind of connection and suffering random violence.
Shaun McKenna 10:08
So earlier this week, we learned of the death of another Japanese literary great, that was Kenzaburo Oe, at the age of 88. He was a Nobel laureate and after he won that prize he received Japan's Order of Culture but because it was awarded by the emperor, he refused to accept it and said, “I do not recognize any authority, any value, higher than democracy.” Last year, Murakami hosted a special radio program called “Music to Halt the War” to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and at the end of that program, he warned listeners against becoming disenchanted with democracy, and a perceived lean toward authoritarian systems. Are you aware of any links between these two writers?
Daniel Morales 10:53
Uh, yeah, actually, they're not really directly connected that much. They weren't working together. They weren't meeting, they're not hanging out, they're not doing any projects together. But Oe was, you know, a major figure in Japanese literature, especially in relation to junbungaku, which is, literally means “pure literature.” It's a designation for serious literary fiction in Japan. Early in Murakami’s career, Oe was quite critical of him. But, over the years, he kind of came around on Murakami. And with the publication of “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle,” Murakami wins this literary prize, the Yomiuri literary prize. And that's really the first time that Oe recognizes Murakami as a serious writer. And again, Jay Rubin, has written about this in great detail in his book, but Oe was the head of the prize committee for that award, and held a dinner for Murakami to celebrate it. And at that dinner, he read a passage from the book and after he reads the passage, after everybody's kind of eating from the buffet, everyone's going up to Oe, this Nobel laureate, to try and have just a moment to talk with him. And Ruben writes that, after all the kind of initial jostling to speak with Oe is over, Oe makes some space to go over and talk to Murakami, and that, this is a huge moment for Murakami. He wasn't ever awarded the Akutagawa Prize, which is one of Japan's most important prizes for junbungaku. His first two novels were candidates, but he lost both times. So to have Oe praise “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” in the way that he did, he called it “beautiful and important.” It was a huge moment. And I think that Oe's death is also a reminder that we also, we only have so much time with these great writers. Murakami’s 74 years old this year, and a Murakami novel is an Olympic event. We only get them every six to seven years. So you have to try and really enjoy them.
Shaun McKenna 12:57
OK Daniel, you've got a podcast called “How to Japanese” on which you interview people working in Japan. With the news about the new Murakami novel, however, you've turned your podcast into a weekly analysis of all things pertaining to “The City and its Uncertain Walls,” the new book. That title in particular got you excited, how come?
Daniel Morales 13:16
Oh, yeah, I was really stunned to see that title because it's the same title he used for a 1980 novella, a long short story, he kind of called it literally, that Murakami has basically disavowed. He called it a failed work. He never included it in any short story collection, or, or any published collection. And his publisher asked to include it in a set of his complete works, published in 1991. So in 1991, they put out a set of his complete works for the first 10 years of his career. And when they asked to include it in that set of complete work, he refused, and he literally told readers, if you absolutely have to read it, you should go find the magazine and a library and read it there. And funny enough, I got my copy in the mail today, I ordered it from the National Diet Library and it came in the mail today, you too can do this. If you're registered at the National Diet Library, you can get your own copy for ¥1,295, and they mail you a voucher that you go pay for it at a convenience store. You can probably also find the magazine and a lot of other libraries in Japan, it's the September 1980 issue of “Bungakukai.” He uses the same title from this novella that he said was a failure. And now that's going to be the title for this new novel. The novella is basically a rough draft of “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” it tells the “End of the World” section of that story, which is about the unnamed narrator going into this unnamed town inhabited by unicorns and this gatekeeper, and in this town the narrator is the Dream Reader and he's reading old dreams that he coaxes out of unicorn skulls in the library. It's a pretty wild story, and it'll be curious to see what Murakami does with it.
Shaun McKenna 15:04
Is there a precedent for Murakami to repurpose his old material for new novels?
Daniel Morales 15:09
Yeah, he's got a long history of doing this. So “Hard-Boiled Wonderland” was the first time he did this, in 1985. “Norwegian Wood,” actually we talked about that, is based on the 1983 story called “Firefly”; “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” is based on the 1986 short story, “The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday's Women”; “Sputnik Sweetheart,” published in 1989, is based on a 1991 story called “Man-eating Cats”; and, more recently, in 2013, Murakami mentioned that his novel “Colorless Tasaki Tsukuru” was started as a short story, and then he just kind of kept writing. So I think it's representative of how Murakami works, and kind of his view of fiction. He really lets ideas come to him, almost automatically. So I think he'd probably argue that these characters wanted to be written about, these stories wanted to be told, and maybe in the case of these ones that he's reworked that they want it to be revised or continued. So with “Hard-Boiled Wonderland,” he also changed the ending from the novella version to the novel version. And he's also mentioned that when he wrote the novel, he showed the first draft of the ending to his wife, and she said, now you have to rewrite it. So Rubin mentioned in his book that he rewrote it several times. So, yeah, it'll be really interesting to see what he has planned this time.
Shaun McKenna 16:28
So this new novel could be a sequel to that “Hard-Boiled” story, or it could be a prequel or maybe even a requel?
Daniel Morales 16:35
Yeah, this is the question I've been asking myself basically nonstop for the last two weeks, there's a short blurb provided by the publisher on the website. And, you know, it's listed on places like Amazon. And it suggests that someone will go back to the town, they have to go back to this town or actually, so I keep saying town. That's how it was translated in the English version. But Murakami attached this new title to his work “The City.” So that could be a hint of where he's going with this, maybe he has a different take on town versus city and it's a larger place. But based on that description from the publisher, I think it will be a sequel of sorts. If we're going back to this town it suggests we're following up on the action from at least part of “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.” It's not a perfect novel, I would say. There are a lot of loose threads that Murakami can go back and explore. For example, in this town, in the town, or the city, in this case, the people who are exiled from it go to live in an area called the woods. We never go to the woods. We never meet any of the characters who were exiled, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that come up.
Shaun McKenna 17:44
How long does it usually take to get these books translated into English?
Daniel Morales 17:48
For the translations for his last three novels have each taken about a year or so? So I think we'd probably see this in English in 2024, or 2025.
Shaun McKenna 17:57
So English speakers may have a little longer to prepare and clear their schedules before the new novel comes out. OK, what should we be reading in the meantime to get us hyped for this?
Daniel Morales 18:06
I'd recommend Jay Rubin's “Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words” is essential for Murakami fans, it's the complete story of his life and has a great overview of his works, and also “Who We’re Reading When We Read Murakami” by David Karashima. Just a fascinating look at who are these people that are giving us Murakami's language in English? How did they end up doing these translations, and then also how Murakami was sold and marketed abroad. Also, you might consider picking up a collection of his short stories. He's got great short stories. Those aren't gonna take you quite as long as some of his heftier novels. “The Elephant Vanishes” is a great collection that includes some works from his early years, and “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” has a huge number of stories from across his career. You can't go wrong with either of those books.
Shaun McKenna 18:56
Sounds good. Daniel, thanks for coming on Deep Dive. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the book, and if other people want to hear your thoughts as well, where can we find your “How to Japanese” podcast?
Daniel Morales 19:07
You can find me at howtojapanese.com, you can find the podcast wherever you get your podcasts from, it should be there. I'm also at How to Japanese on most social media platforms. And actually for the very next episode of the podcast I'll be talking with fellow Japan Times writer Matt Schley about Murakami's origin story.
Shaun McKenna 21:25
We'll put those books in the show notes as well as a link to Daniel's “How to Japanese” podcast. Even if you're not into Murakami, he has a lot of episodes that explore people working in different professions in Japan so, if you're looking to come here, those chats can provide a good sense of what you're in for when you arrive. Up next, we'll switch from literature to music with Patrick St. Michel.
Last week the BBC aired a documentary titled “Predator: The Secret Scandal of J-pop.” In it, journalist Mobeen Azhar looked at the allegations of sexual abuse made by former boy band hopefuls against Johnny Kitagawa, the head of the talent agency Johnny's and Associates, Kitagawa died in 2019, at the age of 87.
With me to talk about that documentary is music writer Patrick St. Michel, who has covered the topic for The Japan Times and this podcast. Patrick, welcome back to Deep Dive.
Patrick St. Michel 20:24
Thank you so much for having me, Shaun.
Shaun McKenna 20:26
The documentary is set to air this Saturday on BBC World at 6:10 p.m. Patrick, we both found a way to watch it early. So what did you think of it?
Patrick St. Michel 20:35
I think when the documentary focuses on the scandal surrounding Johnny Kitagawa and the ripple effects of it, that's when it works the best for me. I think, putting all the focus on that, looking at how Japanese media sort of ignored or even did their best to just never have to address this. And going out and talking to actual former trainees of Johnny and Associates is a very good thing to do to actually get their stories out there and hear a wide variety of experiences, some very negative and some a bit more nuanced. When the BBC looks just at that, it's great. When it starts trying to expand outward, when they try to be a bit more ambitious about what they're saying and try to sort of make this about the greater Japanese entertainment world or even Japan itself. I think it starts missing the mark and becoming less compelling. And frankly, it gets a lot wrong.
Shaun McKenna 21:38
OK, that's interesting. So you are maybe talking to actual points of the documentary that I liked, where they kind of mentioned the age of consent in Japan is currently 13, although that felt like maybe a throwaway line that they kind of added, because that's been in the news recently. Then there was also that segment where the host was talking to one of the trainees, and he was kind of in disbelief about this trainees own thoughts about his experiences there. But that led to a segment where he talked about the lack of therapists in Japan, especially those that are kind of able to help men who've suffered sexual abuse. I thought that was a really interesting part of the documentary.
Patrick St. Michel 22:21
Well, that's something that almost feels like it deserves its own documentary, right? And I think that actually touches on what didn't work for me, which is there's a lot of interesting threads that they're looking at throughout this that totally deserved their own spotlight, whether it's age of consent laws, therapy, how fandom functions in the J-pop industry, a topic they really don't touch on at all. But because it's ultimately about Johnny Kitagawa and his scandals, they don't have the ability to devote the time needed to present a fully fleshed out picture of any of those things. Whereas with Kitagawa, at least, you know, they're always focused on that they're at least getting things about that topic. But when they talk about Japanese entertainment, I feel they really didn't spend enough time giving you the proper context or history of how Johnny's fits into it.
Shaun McKenna 23:16
What's an example of that?
Patrick St. Michel 23:18
Well, one thing that jumped out to me was, they sort of imply that Johnny and Associates has been kind of just running the Japanese music and entertainment industry since like 1960, like it was founded in the 1960s. But it didn't really become the central powerhouse until the late ’80s — and not even really until SMAP, the beloved boyband of the Heisei Era came to prominence in the ’90s. Right, like that's when they moved all the strings, if you will, in the entertainment industry. But the way the documentary presents it, it just makes it seem like they've been running everything since like the end of World War II, basically. And it's kind of like not really it took a long time. It's not that simple.
Shaun McKenna 24:02
Yes. So you actually were on Deep Dive doing a podcast after Johnny Kitagawa died back in 2019. And really a lot of the kind of ideas that came up in the documentary you and W. David Marx discussed on the podcast with Oscar at the time. Where has Johnny and Associates gone since Johnny Kitagawa’s death?
Patrick St. Michel 24:25
That's a great question because that's something that the documentary itself doesn't really devote a lot of time to. Since Johnny Kitagawa died, the company has changed quite radically. And I would argue J-pop as a whole actually has changed quite a bit because of his death, which kind of underlies how much power he really had. One of the things Kitagawa was known for was having a very conservative approach to how his music and general media was distributed to people. Most notably, he's a guy who didn't like the internet, he avoided it as much as he could. He didn't want music, images, anything online, which is just not how entertainment travels in the 21st century. After his death, Johnnys is now all over YouTube, you can watch music videos from whatever group you want almost, it's become more of a case by case basis for each group. And even some groups you can find their songs on subscription streaming services like Spotify, you can find a handful of Arashi songs, for example, or the group Travis Japan who this is telling too, last summer went to America just to like learn something that Johnny and Associates was not pushing while he was still alive. Johnny famously didn't think an Asian artist could ever break internationally. He thought America was just too racist. Yeah, so now he's dead, so now they can actually try that and sort of propelled by the success of things like K-pop, or even the smaller successes of Japanese groups like Babymetal, like people there now see that there's possibilities out there. And those possibilities require the internet, which they're kind of embracing more and more.
Shaun McKenna 26:14
How else has the kind of J-pop landscape changed?
Patrick St. Michel 26:18
One of the focuses from the BBC documentary is on TV and how TV stations, you know, used to be so dependent on Johnny's talent to appear in their dramas and on their music shows. But even before Kitagawa died, I think the ubiquity of Johnny's talent was starting to fade away a bit. They're still popular, they're still ever present, you will probably turn on a TV and see someone from Snowman or SixTONES at some point during your evening. But since the start of the 2010s, there's just more diversity in which groups are breaking through, whether that's from other domestic companies like LDH, who are responsible for Exile and that whole stable of performers, to the arrival of just so many Korean pop groups who have found great success in the Japanese market. BTS of course, was a huge player here, but also groups like 17 and Stray Kids recently, who are also appearing on variety shows and even hosting their own language programs on NHK. And post Kitagawa you're just seeing a whole new generation of talent agencies emerge. Some of them are created by former Johnny’s trainees, the performer Sky-Hi being a very notable one, he launched his own group called Be:First who have become really popular. And you're also seeing a greater intersection between Korean companies and Japanese companies, which have produced outfits like JO1 who have introduced an entirely new company into this ecosystem, and are just kind of disrupting what Johnny's used to have.
Shaun McKenna 28:06
I see, so if Johnny's doesn't have that same kind of monopoly anymore, then couldn't the premise of the documentary be kind of like valid in that the Japanese media should maybe start looking into these allegations?
Patrick St. Michel 28:19
I mean, that's a fair point for sure. Because, yeah, they don't have the stranglehold they used to. But, that said, Johnny’s is still super popular, the Johnny's talent are still super popular. So I do think there's still that remnants of fear, if you will, from Kitagawa’s time where the companies themselves believe we shouldn't rock this boat, we still need these people to be on our shows, it'll still help us in the long run, coupled with something I thought a lot about after seeing the documentary is, even though the entertainment landscape has changed, like Johnny's themselves don't ever address any of this, even post-Kitagawa. They don't have to necessarily, but there's part of me that's kind of like if they don't say anything about it, maybe the media themselves are like, oh, well, maybe it's still not time, maybe it's still something we have to be careful about, even if he's no longer here. So I think that actually does go a long way too, along with the desire for the talent to still be on these programs.
Shaun McKenna 29:23
Do you think that if they ever kind of want to be big overseas, that they're going to have to address this eventually?
Patrick St. Michel 29:30
I don't think they have to, but they have to accept that it will be something that's always shoved in their face, basically. I mean, I think the end of the documentary, which finds the BBC crew, kind of like just going into Johnny's headquarters...
Shaun McKenna 29:45
Patrick St. Michel 29:46
Michael Moore-style, and them doing that, to me, it's very, like dramatic and very, like, you know, this is, docutainment. But at the same time, I think it's a really good metaphor for what Johnny's always has to deal with, which is like, if they're not going to address this, other people are going to come into their face and talk to them about it. And that's one of the biggest changes, as mentioned, Johnny’s is more ambitious about going overseas now. They're putting on more international shows, they're eyeing more international markets, and it's a reality they have to face is if they don't address it, media abroad will. And it's not just media, some of the biggest critics who are going to bring up the sexual abuse scandals are just people on social media. Just like click the Johnny's English Twitter account, click a random tweet, scroll down, you'll probably find some rando bringing this up in their mentions. And that's kind of a reality that the BBC documentary doesn't talk about at all that I think is really important to note. However, those allegations surfacing on social media, are still going to have to compete with just whatever the complaint of the day from the Johnny's fandom is. I mean, this is just a reality of social media in the 2020’s, right? It's like, you can bring up these serious sexual abuse allegations, but they're gonna have to break through the crowded field of fans complaining about like, you didn't feature my favorite talent enough on that TV show, or how come you haven't sent me my CD yet? Or like, how come I can't join the fan club yet from overseas, there's just a sea of constant complaining online. And I think that Johnny's themselves are just gonna have to deal with the fact like opening up to this new world, they will be virtually screamed at from every angle. But as a result of that, these allegations themselves will also kind of just get mixed up in there. And, you know, if they don't address it, that's fine. It'll always be in the air, but also, it might not be as central anymore, just as everything becomes more fragmented,
Shaun McKenna 32:04
Right. Everyone, everywhere criticizing everything all at once.
Patrick St. Michel 32:08
The 21st century, good tagline Shaun, you did it. Put that on Time Magazine.
Shaun McKenna 32:13
Patrick, thanks very much for coming on Deep Dive.
Patrick St. Michel 32:15
Thank you for having me.
Shaun McKenna 32:20
My thanks to both Daniel and Patrick for coming on this week's show. Check out the show notes for links to their stories as well as the latest in what else is going on in Japan? If you've enjoyed this week's episode, please do leave us a rating or review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or whatever podcasting platform you use. It actually helps others find the show.
Production for Deep Dive is by Dave Cortez, our intern is Natalia Makohon. The outgoing song was written by Oscar Boyd and our theme song is by the Japanese musician LLLL. Until next time, I'm Shaun McKenna, podtsukaresama!