Sorry, Hulu tends to only be viewable in America :(  … use a proxy?

Okay, fine, normally we do Timewaster posts on Saturday… but, today’s Timewaster post does at least come from Saturday Night Live (keyword Saturday), so that’s gotta count for something. If you watched this week’s episode of SNL, you’ll have seen this skit titled “J-Pop America Fun Time Now!” which is a fake Michigan State Campus TV college program. Basically, it makes fun of weaboos for five minutes. I’m going to break down all the hilarious stereotypes covered. It’s more hilarious, though, because it’s stereotypes of non-Japanese people trying to be Japanese thus creating new stereotypes of Japanese people. Awesome!

The Dancing Intro

dancing japanese

One of my favorite Japanese stereotypes is the weird repetitive dancing that all Japanese people apparently do. This probably stems partially from para para dancing (popular in Japan starting from the 80’s, during the disco boom), and partially from how Japanese singers and such tend to dance even to this day.

[yframe url=’′]

Anyone can do this – you just need more than one person (preferably) and you do the same kinds of things over and over again. And, of course, at the end of the video one of them does the peace sign to pose. You always pose at the end of a Japanese dance. C’mon. That’s standard dancing stereotype.

Peace! er… ピース!

The Clothes

The clothes, of course, are pretty standard weaboos stereotyping Japanese stereotypes. You have a ton of layers and the guy has the long hair with it sort of puffed up in the back. Of course, it also has the “I tried to bleach my hair, but my hair is too black and Japanese to be totally bleached!” look.

crazy japanese clothesThe psych hospital had a breakout… be on the lookout for strange individuals…

Clothing looks like it came out of a 70’s pawn shop. My guess is that they’re trying to copy the weird sort of “Harajuku Girl” style which of course isn’t what most Japanese people wear, just a small percentage that seems to represent the whole when it comes to Japanese clothing style.

Basically, everyone’s just a big Japanese Hipster. They do a pretty good job making everyone dress like this, but the key difference is how they attempted to dress like this (but couldn’t quite capture the entire spirit of it) because all their clothes came from Goodwill, not Japan. So, it’s sort of a halfway-there sort of thing, where they’re trying, but they just can’t quite do it because clothes in America is different from clothes in Japan, and no matter how many layers you add, or how many colors you attempt to clash, you can’t quite get that crazy Japanese look down. I had like 5-10 people in my highschool / college who sported the Goodwill-Japanese-Look. More points for SNL.

Calling Yourself Name+San

When the program starts, they introduce themselves by saying:

Konnichiwa! I am Jonathan Cavanos san

“…and I am Rebecca Sternmarkawitz san

They hit it right on the head here. Lots of folks who don’t want to take the time to learn Japanese but wish they were Japanese run into this. They call themselves Name+san because it seems right, even though adding san to your own name is a big boo-boo. Basically, the name suffix -san elevates the person who has it attached to their name. So, you use it on other people’s names, but you don’t want to add it to your own (because you don’t want to be some kind of jerk).

In this sketch, they start things right off by calling themselves san. Either they just didn’t know better and they went for it or they had a really good adviser helping them to be very stereotypically weaboo. Bravo again, SNL. Bravo again.

Singing To Japanese Music

Hey, if you like singing Japanese music, then more power to you… but for some reason, it seems like everybody sings Japanese music. Search any Japanese song on YouTube, and there’ll be like 40 teen non-Japanese girls mouthing the words to the song (or sometimes actually singing if they’re really fancy).

Still, in this sketch, the sudden switches to singing in Japanese for almost no reason is kind of hilarious. Also, they’re making up words because they don’t know how to speak Japanese (like a lot of the folks they’re making fun of), which makes it all the more funny.

“We Should Clarify: We Are Not Japanese”

“Tee hee hee hee hee!”

I love these lines:

Rebecca: “Before we begin, we should clarify that Jonathan and myself are not Japanese. I am from Nebraska.”

Jonathan: “And I am from Daytona Beachuru. We have never been to Japan, but it is our dream.”

Together: “hee hee hee hee hee hee”

I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard Japanese wannabes clarify that they’re not Japanese… I have no idea why, it’s totally weird, but it happens from time to time.

Oh, and then there’s the dream of going to Japan. That’s cool – I’m all for that… but as for the characters in this sketch… totally standard.

And then lastly, there’s the “tee hee hee hee hee” laughter… what’s up with that? How do characters like this teach themselves to laugh unnaturally like that? Japanese people (mostly girls) laugh softly because it’s drilled into them from a young child. But, you are not a young Japanese girl, so quit it. Japanese girls who laugh soft and titteringly should quit it too. I like normal people laughs.

Sensei Mark

By far, the best character introduced into this sketch is Sensei Mark. He has to be there because he is their most honorable hero (talking like you’re in an English dubbed Anime? Check) and also they need a faculty present to run the studio. His first quote is one of the best.

Hey guys, I love the enthusiasm… I would like to point out to everyone watching that what Rebecca and Jonathan have… um… latched on to, represents a very narrow and mostly inaccurate view of Japanese culture. They are actually my two worst students.

Jonathan and Rebecca respond by saying:

Thank you Sensei Mark. “Sensei” is Japanese for “one who has been guided by the spirits of many ages.”

Sensei-Mark just says:

No.. no no no… no no… it’s not. It just means teacher. That’s all it means

So, SNL didn’t just bring in characters to be the weaboo students… they also brought in that poor, poor teacher who has to put up with everything. He’s all serious and academic about the Japanese language, but his students are not :( I’ve seen this sort of thing between these two characters in real life all too often. Definitely was surprised to see SNL bring out the teacher character for this sketch, too. Normally folks only know about the student characters. The teacher makes it ten times as funny.

The Guest

Then they bring in a guest (after doing their para para singing dance thing). Their guest is someone who has the largest Anime video collection on MSU’s campus. Who was that on your campus? There’s always one winner.

Of course, the guest is wearing a Sailor Moon outfit and sporting the Sailor Moon hair. She then goes on to make up some Japanese (then Sensei Mark interjects letting everyone know that “no, no… none of those are actual words.”).

Turns out the guest made their costume from a character they made up named “Cherry Cherry Rock n’ Roll.” Gotta say, sounds like a Japanese band name, so that’s something. But, have you noticed? Characters like the ones depicted here often make up their own characters. I have no idea why, and that’s their own business, but nice and spot on for an SNL sketch.

They go on to compliment each other by saying they are all the most Japanese. Sensei Mark (go Sensei Mark!) interjects again saying, “None of you… none of you are Japanese. Also, you’re riding a fine line between homage and racism.”

Japanese Girlfriend

Then, after the racism comment, Jonathan replies “Sensei Mark, you must know I am not racist. My girlfriend is Japanese!” Then they cut to the Fred, who’s a pretty hot Japanese girlfriend… gotta say.

Fred Armisen Japanese Girlfriendhawt.

But, I love that response. I think I’ve heard that before, too. Something like “I can do that because my girlfriend is Japanese” (it’s always Japanese girlfriend… rarely you hear this kind of thing talking about a Japanese boyfriend). It’s kind of like saying you can be racist about black people because you have a black friend. Pretty sure that’s pretty racist, though maybe not for me, because I have two black friends. Take that, racism police!

But yeah, I love that he has a Japanese girlfriend.

And The Rest

The guest goes on to say she’s holding a viewing party of some Anime, and that she’s so happy that she wrote a song in Japanese about it. She sings something that doesn’t really sound like anything, and then they all thank Sensei Mark (who made it all possible!). He goes on to reply “No, no. Don’t you dare put this on me.” Lols.

They all sing themselves out while psudo-para-para-ing – the perfect ending, of course.

Anyways, I somehow ended up writing over 1500 words on an SNL sketch. I was just impressed how well they made fun of a stereotype of a stereotype. Definitely mirrors a lot of people I’ve known and seen over the years, especially in college / high school. There’s always a few, right?

Notice anything else particularly hilarious about this video? Let me know about it in the comments. Hope you enjoyed this rant / timewaster / just for fun post. I enjoyed watching the video thirty times in order to be able quote everything. Time to go create my own Japanese character along with a song for it. See yah! Or… as the Japanese would say. jaa ne.


P.S. Want some J-Pop America Twitter Time Now!?
P.P.S. Or, perhaps you’ll find your very own Japanese girlfriend (as cute as Fred Armisen) by liking our Facebook Page.

  • Akashi

    I laughed pretty hard, although I think they missed a few chances to be even more hilariously scathing.

  • maybe more

    I thought the fake eyelashes put on wayyyy below her lash line were a nice touch. You definitely see that done by a lot of girls who like Japanese fashion and try to mimic makeup from Gal magazines!

    I loved this sketch. I hope they get the chance to do it again!

  • koichi

    ooh, is that what that was? I didn’t know what those things were – haha, but yeah, that’s perfect

  • noctua

    I loved this skit.

    Anyone who’s ever studied the Japanese language or culture seriously has had to deal with people like this. 

  • Jennifer Walker

    Here’s the YouTube link for anyone who doesn’t live in the US, and can’t access Hulu:

  • Jennifer Walker

    Here’s the YouTube link for anyone who doesn’t live in the US, and can’t access Hulu:

  • Hashi

    Hits waaaaay too close to home.

  • Jaypalin101

    Oh man, lmao. I can’t tell you how many people I know that are like this. Maybe some of you have known the people that are aaaalways cosplaying?

  • Kintaro

    I participate in a Japan Homestay Program, and it’s quite disturbing how many times I’ve run across kids like this – and even more disturbing when someone tries to straighten them out, and they’re not having it.
    Pretty funny, and kind of heartbreaking, to see their little bubble burst upon arriving in Japan, when they find that typical Japanese folks are JUST LIKE US, trying to make their way day-by-day.

    And yeah, I always hear about how they are worst-in-class of their Japanese Language course.

  • Ms. N’Donna

    LMAO Oh my LORD!!  This reminds me of every Anime Chat room I visited and every Anime Convention I’ve ever been too.  This is hard to watch because it’s so true!  I’ve always like anime, but I can honestly say I have NEVER been a weeaboo.

    I’m waiting for the Naruto/Full Metal Alchemist/Sailor Themed episodes!

  • Jon E.

    I understood all of it and thought it was funny, that is, until they kept going “OOOOOOOOO” after every “tee hee hee” laugh. Why did they keep doing that OOOOH part? I don’t understand that one – it was just annoying.

  • Jordan Taylor

    Now been blocked :( There’s another one but worse quality here:

  • Joseph Becker

    One of my biggest fears is being labeled as a weaboo.

  • Joseph Becker

    One of my biggest fears is being labeled as a weaboo.

  • Context Fitting Name-San

    I liked the part where the teacher outright states what the sketch is parodying, and then half the comments on YouTube can’t figure out what they’re making fun of. Yeah… yeah, it’s pretty much making fun of people in China. Yeah, good work YouTube.

    Also, Candy Candy.

  • Christopher

    Sadly, I won’t be able to make myself watch that, because just a few wrong clicks on the internet would have turned me into that. I wonder how many of those manga site kids are like that… wait, I shouldn’t think about that. It’s painful enough to know that that is what people think of me when I mention anything about Japanese culture.

  • Barbpj

    This was awesome!!  I also loved how they imitated English dubbed dialog with the long ooooh’s at the end of sentences. 
     I had heard that this was done to fill out time when the English words didn’t quite fit all the Japanese dialog.   The characters mouths were still moving after the English translation was finished so they threw these sounds in to make the moving mouth match up. 
     I’ve watched English subbed Japanese anime and they DON’T make those sounds in the original language. (or nihongo-desu! lol!)   So damn funny!!

  • John

    lolmg yes.

  • Unknown

    The joke stops being funny when you explain it Koichi 0____0

  • Anonymous

    Lol this is great;  Feels like I am in my Japanese class

  • Gracearlis

    I learned a new word “weeaboo” never heard of it until now!  weeaboo is different from otaku, right?
    or is it a higher levle of fanaticism that borders on the ludicrous?

  • chcgann

    I’m just living here in Japan, trying to figure things out. I’ve decided that ex-pats have their own version of Japanese pronunciation that only they understand, like the secret language of twins. As for the Harajuku style, I’m amazed at what I see in some of the resale shops: old 1970’s era clothes and I even saw some thermal underwear with moth holes! Definitely a lot of vintage US clothes floating around but I guess you have to be a young Japanese person to understand how to put it all together ; – )

  • hypnocrown

    hahah yea. in my japanese class a bunch of nerds were kinda like this.
    idiots. glad they made fun of it on snl hahaha

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to think I’m not a weaboo! Haha.

    Very cool skit. I enjoyed watching that. I kind of know a few people like that, and I try my best not to be, because let’s face it, they’re kind of too flashy for the Japanese culture.

    Anyway, very nice post. 

  • Context Fitting Name-San

    Weeaboo was the word that 4chan temporarily wordfiltered “wapanese” into. It originates from a Perry Bible Fellowship comic strip, where the word had no meaning whatsoever. It’s current meaning is rather vague, usually being something to do with someone who is obsessed with Japan, yet knows very little about the culture outside of what they see in anime.

  • Anonymous

    reminds me of a lot of people from my school. my friend wears a medical mask and eats noodles (not even the japanese kind!!!! they are thai or something) and she uses chopsticks. she has her bangs cut like many japanese girls.

  • Nathaniel

    Now you’ve got me interested in the evolution of the Jpop dancing style. The foot movements sort of remind me of square dancing while the hand movements make me think they should have fans in their hands.

  • newzjapan

    Great article, and I love that this skit also pokes fun at the people in the media who, under-educated about Japanese pop culture still try to make something funny about it. By introducing “Sensei Mark”, SNL turns that around and says – This is not what Japan pop culture is like at all and we all know it… the trouble is there are a lot of Japanophiles and people in the media who don’t know it.

    Good work SNL, and thanks for jumping on this Tofugu!

  • Hailey

    That was amazing. I actually showed this to some of my friends who are in Japanese and they said there were a couple of people like this in class

  • inna

    My friends and I host an Asian Music radio show on campus, and we advertise to the community. We are privileged to have listeners tune in, but more often than not, our main demographic would be these kinds of people.

    I don’t mind that they’re huge anime fans and whatnot, but it irritates me whenever one of them would say (we have a live chat going on throughout the show) “I am here desu!” or “OOOOH!!! keeki!” or “please puree my song desu!” I am currently studying the Japanese language as a serious admirer of the language, and it pisses me off whenever someone just bastardizes the language because they think it’ll make them sound like the head honcho of anime fans or something like that.

    Wanna know something else? 3/4 of this year’s Japanese 100 class in my school are all of this kind.

    Oh well.

    Anyway, I really loved the SNL skit, because it just satirizes the very people I dislike a lot. And finally someone is making fun of them bigtime. It’s about time.

  • dottehcookie

    I’ve learnt pronunciation through singing and listening to Japanese Music, and I feel proud of myself for improving to the standard I am at now. The jibe about singing in Japanese made my heart sink. I love the Japanese language, and I would never reduce it to a silly gimmick.
    Otherwise, I love the sketch, and great article :)

  • dottehcookie

    May I add that my weaboo email name was created years ago. ahem.

  • Murt

    if you stay in Japanese long enough, hopefully all of THEM will drop out. and if they don’t, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re probably getting a higher grade and learning a lot more than they are.

    stick with it!

  • Murt

    well, i think they were satirizing those who sing Japanese without understanding the words or, at the very least, the phonetics of the language.

    i actually feel guilty every time someone mentions “anime is good for practicing japanese” or “that is good listening practice,” even when it comes from my teacher. but i think like any resource, it’s good if you really dive into it, but the more study you get out of it, the less fun it gets. You just have to balance it, the fun and the learning. One way, you lose motivation, the other, you lose usefulness.

    and, i think that’s something Koichi has told us to do, right?

  • Vincent

    Hahaha, probably one of the funniest/borderline-hard-to-watch-it’s-so-offensive skits I’ve seen on SNL. But those “Otaku” do really bug me…I even made a post about them a week ago

  • Vincent

    yeah I hear ya, especially the worst in class part. All of those wannabe’s in Japanese class, it turns out they know the least Japanese because they only care about the pop culture -___–

  • Sorry

    I study Japanese and even the teacher is spot on to ours.

  • Guest

    Any stereotypes they used there are probably reflected somewhere in the Japan Hierarchy. I think you’ll find it frighteningly comprehensive . . . or maybe just hilariously comprehensive. :)

  • inna

    I actually did stick to it long enough– I’m at 300 level already. I just got info that we have a lot of weeaboos in 100 this year. But yeah, same trend with my class: weeaboos left after 101.

  • tweetyburdz

    How did I miss this article?! D:

    Anyway, I watched it on YouTube and it was hilarious! Some people on crunchyroll got offended though. Lol

  • elisabel

    LOL I’m also bothered by people who take no care to learn proper Japanese, yet pepper their speech with “desu,” etc. However, when people who obviously do speak Japanese (for example, people who have passed 1-kyuu of the JLPT) do things like say “san kyuu” instead of “thank you,” it’s just funny. Then again, the only people like this I know are those living in Japan.

    As for bastardization of Japanese, maybe 2 wrongs don’t make a right but it makes me feel better. What weeabos do is the same as the rape of English that is done in Japan. Besides the stupid things written on merchandise just to have filler text, there’s rampant wasei eigo that people don’t understand *IS* wasei eigo and end up using as if it were real English. I don’t know how many of my students write things like “If we carry my chopsticks, we don’t have to use breakable chopsticks.” They know that マイ箸 is not the same as 私の箸 yet they write such ludicrous sentences as “Everyone should carry my chopsticks.”

    English isn’t even my native language and it makes me mad! >o<

  • James O’Neill

    It’s kind of how languages have been developing right from the start though. I don’t know enough to point out any examples but there are probably lots of accepted English phrases that stem from the misuse of other languages, and that might irk anybody who actually speaks those languages. Difficult as it is I try and think of katakana English as being only tangentially related to English as I speak it, as much so as English words can be connected to words from other European languages that share a common etymology but not the same usage.

    For that matter I hear native English speakers say things far worse than マイ箸 practically every day.

  • shahiir mizune

    you say japanese girls laugh soft ly……my friend laughed loud

  • Ashley

    So, on this note, I have a question.

    In addition to obviously learning Japanese, if you legitimately like things about (mainstream and not mainstream) Japanese culture, what’s the best way to *not* be/come across as a weaboo if you’re white?

  • the_dizzy

     It’s not really something you should worry about.  As long as you’re not talking about one subject *all the time* (which would be tedious with anybody) you should be fine.
      There are people who are going to think that any interest in anything Japanese ever = weeaboo. Those people aren’t worth your time. Most people will realize the difference when talking with you.
    I’ve come across a few people who, after several friendly conversations, did a complete about-face and got really rude after they found out I liked anime. Those people are just as bad as weeaboos in my opinion.

  • Ed

    SNL get it very well, and sensei Mark is really amazing. They should probably do a regular sketch with theses characters as there are probably still a lot of fun to take from them out.

  • Tyler

    Have you seen snl’s “Japanese Office”? Its not as clever but I laughed a lot more

  • elisabel

    >>Difficult as it is I try and think of katakana English as being only tangentially related to English as I speak it…

    This is what everyone should do. I’m saying it bugs me when my students don’t do this.

    English has tons of words from other languages that are bastardizations, such as typhoon, but because English doesn’t Other these words by labeling them gairaigo, English speakers are just pleasantly surprised when, in the course of studying another language, they discover the etymology of words they’ve known simply as “English.” On the other hand, the Japanese students I’ve had at 3 different high schools tend to assume that wasei eigo and katakana English are correct in proper English, because, after all, it’s Eigo isn’t it? It comes from outside!

    To be fair, I have recently seen a trend to “over correct” for katakana English. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the name of the Canadian city Toronto romanized to “Tront.” Another common one is writing potato as “potat” or “potet.”

    And yes, there are ignorant people everywhere, so for any given language, you will hear native speakers making terrible mistakes.

  • Ed

    Thank you for the link. I didn’t see it but now it’s done.
    (I’m noticing this is the first time I can see a video on HULU – weird, as i’m currently living in Paris)

  • koichi

    haha, yeah, I love that skit. Posted about it on Tofugu even, though it was super long ago:


    Great post! I lived Japan 12 years so I really get it. My two favorite subtle points: 1. Mark Sensei’s hair- totally the other side of the spectrum – socially inept white guy who studied Zen after doing JET program in Aomori or some such 2. The Japanese girlfriend’s frumpy cardigan. Why do actual Japanese women love ugly cardigans so much???

  • Talia

    I’ve noticed that the worst students I’ve come across of the language are usually the ones obsessed with anime and are just learning Japanese to watch without subtitles and pretend that they’re one of the characters. I’ll bet that there are some “otaku” who are actually good but this is just what I’ve noticed so far.
    I tell people I’m majoring in Japanese and that I’m going to teach English in Japan and they almost always ask “do you like anime or manga or whatever those things are.” Not really, but it’s stereotypes like those shown in the video that have people always asking me whether I’m into that stuff or not.

    Those that are serious about the culture and language (not just anime or manga) are like Mark-sensei… he’s spot on. SNL made this so much better by including him because everything he said resonated with all of us that are serious.

  • TheJF

    For any Canadians that want to see it, GlobalTV has the clip up:

  • Poopbutt

    Candy Candy is an actual anime and I’m pretty sure that quote they recited from it is actually in the show.

  • Bria Mone’t

    This article was very funny! Thanks for the laugh. :)

  • Bria Mone’t
  • Dennis Huff

    Opening song. Want the lyrics? Took a while but here is my best shot:Oooh La Keechee Keechee Komono EyeeeeeSula Kata Metee Komono RiiiiteJ-Pop-America Fun Time Now!

  • MrHacks

    Anyone think Jonah Hill’s character in the other JPAFTN sketch was a parody of John Belushi’s samurai character from years ago…only more weeaboo?

  • dustin

    one thing I was hoping you would explain was the “Der’s” they put at the end of their words. nice rant BTW!

  • Jeffrey Kelso

    I want the lyrics to the theme song!!!

  • Science says I am Japanese

    Because they’re comfortable and snug. PS, this SNL skit is hilarious. I had a grandfather who looked Japanese and the whole family thought he was. DNA results came in today, and yes, we are Japanese. So, as a woman who thought she was African-American but has now had it confirmed I am Japanese, and who used to look down on weeaboos… I’m not sure what to think or how to see myself from now on :3

    But yeah, the ugly cardigan, I have quite a few. I seem to collect them. The closest I can get, since I now qualify as a Japanese-American girl and can say this, is the attraction to cardigan sweaters seems kind of to be:

    – Delirious comfort suggesting winter tea in a hot mug, and a certain related Audrey Hepburnness thereto

    – A wish for the cardigan sleeves to be too long, and hide the fingers, so you cannot see them while you sip winter tea in a hot mug, and indulge in a certain related Audrey Hepburnness

    – A wish to hide inside the cardigan and exist but not be seen (this one’s tough to put into words but very real)

    – A certain “squee” factor I cannot put into typed words, but if you add together “delirious comfort”, “hidden fingers”, “hot tea”, “winter”, “it will hide me so others cannot see me while I continue to exist inside it”, and “Audrey Hepburn”, that’s KIND OF the sensation the squee causes.

    *goes back into lurking*

    I *am* that girl in the cardigan. I think I own it.

    Twelve or thirteen of it.

  • Science says I am Japanese

    Hey, you’re black, too? I used to be, too, until this morning.

  • Science says I am Japanese
  • nijimasu

    great graph, but I think the JETs and the Mormon Missionaries need to switch places. The missionary guys have pretty phenominal Japanese skills, get along quite well without help, and don’t give a crap about any level of patheticism, which itself elevates them in my book. On the other hand, there are a lot of JETs that don’t ever do so well with the language, and are pretty much at the mercy of their job, which isn’t any too prestigious.

  • fjordprefect

    What’s with the “uru” at the end of everything – “Daytona Beach-uru.” Will someone please finally explain this to me?