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James May: Our Man In…Japan – Season 1, Episode 5 – Peach Boy – Review

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The fifth episode of “James May: Our Man in…Japan” is entitled “Peach Boy” and begins in Osaka, the third-largest city in Japan and initially begins with a new female translator.

Osaka is essentially the Las Vegas of Japan and, as such, is the center of food choices, gaming and cosplay cafes. For food, James’ new translator introduces him to the four “hangover foods” of Japan, which she identifies as sushi, ramen, takoyaki and kebab – in other words, nearly everything in Japan. James makes a visit to Maruhan pachinko palace – a kind of combination bingo parlor/slot machine emporium before visiting an octopus dumpling dining establishment where he clarifies that the plural of “octopus” can, in addition to “octopi”, also be “octopuses”.

James then turns into Ultraman – star of many a Japanese feature film – to drive the “Maricar” go-kart which is extremely similar to but not exactly the same as Nintendo’s Mario Kart. After taking a few laps around Osaka, it is time to go to a comedy club where we witness the return of Yujiro – James’ effusive translator from the Tokyo episode – and Yujiro and James team up to bomb at the comedy club but viewers do learn that “tintin” in Japanese does not mean the classic comic book character but rather, “dick”.

Yurjiro then attempts to coerce James to enter a cosplay café called the Black Cat Bar where girls have dressed themselves up in French maid costumes but pretend they are cats. James refuses to go in – repeatedly calling it “pervy” – and rebuffs Yujiro’s attempts before calling in backup – a female member of the crew – who also attempts to get him to go in the cosplay café, which he does for all of seven seconds.

However, while James will not enter the Black Cat Bar with girls dressed as French maid cats, he readily enters a sumo wrestling academy filled with mostly naked men – but refuses to engage in a ceremonial contest – instead employing Yujiro to briefly tussle with a sumo wrestler.

Next comes a wasabi tutorial – wasabi was originally intended as a disinfectant and not as a flavoring – and James participates in wasabi roulette, where some particularly pungent wasabi is hidden inside eight chunks of salmon sushi and the two participants pick off each salmon, one by one, until the loser finds the one with the wasabi embedded within it. James loses.

After losing at wasabi roulette, James goes by bullet train to Okayama, but first he must navigate the train station and find a ticket to Okayama at the kiosk – a ticket written in Japanese imagery that appears to look like “two Mexicans fighting over a broken television followed by another television on a sledge and a square tree.” Once that has been accomplished, he can visit Okayama and gamely attempt to tell the tale of the local hero – Peach Boy.

He moves on to a visit to a traditional Japanese garden because he is “here to bask in the beauty of a well-trimmed bush” as well as engage in some Zen practice.

Finally, a somber trip to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum and a reverent trip to a temple by the sea end the episode. This episode was lively and gave another good glimpse into James’ perspective on life as well as informative bits about Japan – we award it an 89 out of 100.

About Alex Bean

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