Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Mitsuwa Man

Today, I'd like to talk about the Mitsuwa Man, or Mitsuwa Takashi as he's also known on KSCI. For about five minutes every Sunday, Mitsuwa Takashi pops up during Japanese programming to offer sage advice (and to plug Mitsuwa, a Japanese shopping center). There's something really scary about Mitsuwa Takashi, and yet, at the same time, equally appealing, which is even more scary. He's got this elvish face with a Pokemon smile, his eyes fiery with friendliness as he acts as the anointed clown/court jester of Mitsuwa. You just have to catch the opening segment where he dances with balletic grace while holding a rice cooker on top of his head.

A typical segment runs like this. Mitsuwa Takashi will offer advice on, say, how to clean your jewelry or get more gas mileage out of your car or what to do with gloves. If it's a Japanese holiday, he'll help you make decorations out of cucumbers. Maybe he'll talk to the Mitsuwa fish man. And then he might end the segment by dispensing more advice to some hapless viewer who has sent in a letter. Like "Dear Mitsuwa Takashi, I came to L.A. last year fired up by my dream of becoming a director. It's been a year and nothing's happened and I feel really bad. What should I do?" And he'll say something like, "Oh, yes, there's nothing like that wonderful enthusiasm you first feel trying to make your dreams come true. Why don't you try to resuscitate that feeling? Do you remember what you first ate when you came to L.A.? Maybe Kentucky Fried Chicken? Or a nice taco? Go and get some chicken and all those feelings will rush back into you. But if things get really bad and you've lost all hope, why don't you come and work part-time at Mitsuwa! Where you'll be able to use your Japanese!"

At these moments, how can you not love little Mitsuwa Takashi? (BTW, Mitsuwa Takashi, I can't speak Japanese, but Kentucky Fried Chicken isn't resuscitating me so can I come work part-time at Mitsuwa, too? I have Japanese friends and I've eaten a lot of ramen through the years, if that helps, and I can say "konnichiwa" and "kore wa nan des ka". Oh, "moshi-moshi" too!)

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