Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Japan's ultra-surreal "Zuiikin' English"

This may well be the strangest, most surreal thing you see all day.

But first, a little background.

Three of Japan's biggest obsessions are learning English, getting in shape, and watching attractive young females. So why not combine all three into one TV show? That's exactly what the creators of "Zuiikin' English" did.

"Zuiikin" means "voluntary muscles" and refers to the belief that since physical actions are often easier to memorize than something only seen or heard, English phrases practiced while doing mild aerobic exercises should stay with you longer than if you had just practiced the phrase with a book or audio CD.

Hey, I'm not vouching for the veracity of the theory, just relaying what is stated at the show's official website [Japanese only].

I've always felt that unintionally humorous things are always funnier than satire, and this is definitely the case with "Zuiikin' English": You just can't make this stuff up, as the saying goes.

And as if the concept alone weren't surreal enough, this particular segment deals with sharp rebuttals. One of the basic concepts of humor is contrast, and there's contrast in spades between the smiling Zuiikin' Girls aerobicizing to a sappy melody and the blunt English expressions they are practicing.

—Mellow Monk

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