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James May: Our Man In…Japan – Season One, Episode 3 – Deodorant – Review


The third episode of “James May: Our Man in…Japan” is entitled “Deodorant” and begins in Tokyo with yet another new guide/translator named Yujiro.

First, a brief history lesson as James mentions that the bustling cosmopolitan metropolis now known as Tokyo was once a sleepy fishing village named Edo [meaning “bay” and ruled by a shogun feudal clan until 1868 – when it was then renamed Tokyo, or “eastern capital”].

Master James – as Yujiro begins the episode by referring to him in the master-servant roles – first visits the cherry blossom festival in Tokyo which he notes “is beautiful but tragically short – just like Richard Hammond”. But the festival comes to an abbreviated end when rain begins to fall from the sky, sending the Japanese scurrying but causing only confusion from the rain-hardened Brit.

Next is a collection of Japanese salarymen who are corralled with James into a karaoke room where James eventually gives a brief snippet of a song he sings [“very similar to the Blondie song, “Rapture”] before moving on to Kawasaki to participate in the 50-year-old Kanamara Matsuri – or Penis Festival – in honor of the god of sexuality.

From there, James goes to Akihabara – a massive shopping district experience which could be described as the type of experience one might have if Ikea, Walmart and the Dollar Store were all combined in one massive location.

James then goes to lunch with some self-professed train geeks at a model train-themed café before eventually going to Shibuya Station to catch a glimpse of a rare passenger train making its anniversary appearance and then to the studio of a composer who creates unique jingles for each train station [and creates a jingle for “James May Station”].

James moves around quickly in the second half of the episode – first visiting some haiku experts to get their assessment of his attempts at haiku, then going to lunch at a sushi café before visiting an anime/manga studio where he becomes the growling voice for “Dog #2” in a feature film.

The episode concludes in a digital art facility where James basks in the images of a wide variety of digitally-created scenes that are said to be reminiscent of drug trips in the 1960s.

The third episode of “James May: Our Man in…Japan” moves faster than the second episode but fails to achieve the vibrant nature of the first episode, so it falls in between those two and we award it an 85 out of 100.

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