Saturday, June 14, 2008

Through the Magic of Ryoko's Sudsy Time Machine, You Can Relive Japan's Decadent "Bubble" Era!

This is a trailer for Hirosue Ryoko's Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust, a science fic... er... fantasy flick that came out in 2007. A researcher creates a time machine inside a washer, rather than a sexy DeLorean with its shiny stainless steel body and gull-wing doors. I suppose a washer is more economical and practical. The DeLorean would use increasingly expensive gasoline and require difficult-to-acquire plutonium, while the washer not only provides temporal shifts but also covers the traveler in a pleasantly aromatic detergent foam.

When the scientist doesn't return from her trip to 1990, the government does what any responsible group of leaders would do- it sends the woman's frivolous club hostess daughter (Hirosue) back to rescue her mother... and also Japan's national finances.

The subtitles at one point have Ryoko raising a glass of champagne and screaming that she loves the bubble, but my translation is closer to, "The bubble is so cool!"

And, indeed, it was.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Japan's overheated economy was the envy of the world, especially in the United States where every day we had news reports of Japanese corporations buying choice commercial real estate in New York City and Putney, Georgia. Cell phones were roughly the size of Greyhound Scenicruisers and required users to wear nuclear-powered mechanical exoskeletons in order to carry them about, an aging Arthur Fonzarelli gave up his Harley for a Suzuki dirt bike, Mothra became CEO of Levi Strauss and started shipping weathered jeans back to the mother country where newly affluent Japanese teens paid thousands of yen for them only to grind them into a fine powder and snort them off mirrors in nightclub bathrooms.

Yes (according to the film trailer), the bubble years were a time of "exuberance and over-indulgence, ruled by lust and decadence!" And also dangly earrings and old guy lechery. How very different from Japan today where we've successfully eliminated dangly earrings.

In the States, those bubble years were characterized by Michael J. Fox films, acid washed denim, white high-top Reeboks and brightly colored t-shirts. As the era wore on, these increasingly gave way to pocketfuls of kryptonite and attempts by two or more princes to kneel before various young women and demand they choose a proper mate. Eventually it all collapsed both in Japan and America in an orgy of flannel and Timberland hiking boots. This led to a period of retrenchment in the late 1990s in which groups of self-styled "neos" experienced bullet time while still others became ill with some sort of "bug," from which untold millions of Beanie Babies perished.

All of this will be addressed in the sequel film, entitled Millenium Fantasy: No Scrubs.

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