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Wednesday, December 13

I Want My MTV

This has been a busy week but with little to share that would be construed as interesting other than to my self. There is a week long break from school starting next week but most midterms and papers were due this week, keeping me in the throes of American history. Many evenings were spent alone as Kimono Hubby had various events that kept him at work late into the evening, leaving me with ample time at night to nurse my swollen cerebellum back into condition for the next day’s work.

As American’s we are truly fond of our televisions. Don’t try to deny it. We all know that we say we don’t watch much but when you are bored, where is the first place you go to? The television. I often take a book with me, but I also will spend many wasted hours in front of the boob tube. Perhaps not as many as my husband, but if you want to spend time with him, you can bet it will be with the rays of the flat screen illuminating both of our cheeks.

Television in Japan isn’t like television at home. While I generally sing the praises of life here, it is time to be honest about just how much television sucks in this advanced country. To give you some background, Kimono Hubby is an addict. Because of this, we have the big TV with a cable program from the provider J:Com that gives us as many channels as you can get outside of the two “HBO-like” channels which we couldn’t justify the cost. A total of 67 channels with absolutely nothing on. On Tuesday night, prime time between 8:00 pm until about 9:15 pm, I wrote down exactly what was on for you. There are different tiers here for programs which I can’t explain but just is, so I have broken this list down by the tiers and also indicate at the start what can be viewed in English. A handful of Japanese shows can be turned into English with the push of a button but this really only gives you about five more programs and they really shouldn’t even have bothered. Those channels that you can get in English will have Japanese subtitles on the screen which you may be able to turn off but we have never figured out how.

C210 – Japanese – Local News (It would be ever so helpful if this were in English. We would never know if that killer typhoon is on its way unless we happened upon the news from the base.)
C211 – English – CNN
C212 – Japanese – News Program
C213 – Japanese – NIKKEI CNBC
C220 – Japanese – MTV (I’ve only ever seen videos and no programs like The Real World.)
C221 – Japanese – Another video and music channel.
C222 – Japanese – Yet another video channel (And actually a pretty song on.)
C223 – English – The fourth music and video channel (playing some life concert of an old 70’s group that still thinks they are cool and people want to hear them play.)
C230 – Japanese – Gymnastics
C231 – Japanese – ESPN playing a Baseball game
C232 – Japanese – Soccer
C233 – English – Basketball game (Mavericks vs. ?)
C235 – Japanese – Golf (Good Lord, even the people here are tortured with golf on TV?)
C236 – English – Tennis
C237 – English – Golf Network (Again?!?)
C240 – English – Some 70s movie complete with tweed and large butterfly collars
C241 – Japanese – A schedule for some channel of which is not clear
C242 – Japanese – Some 70s program that, due to its age, promises to be quite hilarious
C243 – Japanese – An old black and white movie
C250 – English – Super Drama Channel which has an old West Wing on at this time
C251 – English – One of the early Friends episodes
C252 – German – AXN which each night plays a movie of varying languages
C253 – Japanese – My favorite Proactive commercial which replaces Jessica Simpson with a prettier Japanese girl
C254 – Japanese – A modern soap opera-esque movie. I watch this channel a lot even though I have no idea what it going on. I make up my own dialog.
C255 – Japanese – One of the greatest, and numerous, Samurai movie channels
C256 – Japanese – Another Samurai movie channel
C260 – English – Disney Channel playing Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
C261 – English – Toon Disney playing a Chipmunks cartoon
C262 – English – Cartoon Network showing the Powerpuff Girls
C263 – Japanese – Animax (Shows anime that would be excellent if a single show as in English)
C264 – Japanese – More anime
C265 – English – Discovery Channel (Tonight’s program is on… IKEA?!)
C266 – English – Discovery HD (A show about African wildlife)
C267 – Japanese – History Channel (This is often in English except, of course, like tonight when it is playing a program I would really like to watch about Japanese history)
C268 – English – National Geographic (All about cargo ships)
C269 – English – Animal Planet (Playing the only program on J:Com that I really like, a show about ASPCA agents in New York City locking up people who hurt their puppy dogs
C270 – Japanese – Another old black and white movie
C271 – Japanese – More cartoons
C273 – Japanese – It appears as if it is an educational program about Pachinko
C274 – Japanese – Reality TV Channel which often puts English words over the Japanese making it almost impossible to understand
C275 – English – FoxLife showing tonight old episodes of the North Shore
C276 – Japanese – Looks like a regular Japanese sitcom
C280 – Japanese – Game Show meant only for smart kids
C281 – English – A show all about cuts of beef – wow.
C282 – Japanese – never figured out what this was all about
C286 – Japanese – Home shopping network-like programming
C289 – Japanese – More home shopping
C499 – Japanese – J:Com commercials
C500 – Japanese – Movie channel preview channel advertising Mr. & Mrs. Smith
C501 – Japanese – More preview channels, this one King Kong
C511 – Japanese – And more preview channels, Spanglish here

011 – Japanese – Local News
012 – Japanese – PBS?
013 – Japanese – More PBS?
014 – Japanese – Food show
015 - ?? our television obviously knew I can’t understand Japanese and refused to allow me to go any further in these channels
018 – the television up and died for fifteen minutes when I tried to go here

BS101 – Japanese – American football game probably from a year or so ago
BS102 – English – Some 70s British Movie
BS103 – Japanese – More PBS?
BS141 – Japanese – A regular sitcom?
BS151 – Japanese – An infomercial about car graphics
BS161 – Japanese – Old movie, blah
BS171 – English – Some really bad movie about Neve Campbell as a dancer
BS181 – Japanese – While playing Rod Stewart’s “When I See You Tonight,” you can watch trains heading across the English countryside. I have no idea what this is about.
BS700 – Japanese – and the same as BS 103
BS701 – Japanese – same as yet another channel
BS744 – Japanese – same-o

So that’s what J:Com provides to us. If you made it through the list, you will note that any sitcom is from at least several years ago. While some of the programming on the Discovery-like channels looks good, it is! The first time around. These channels are notorious for replaying their programs. Often! Why, God, why?! The good thing about J:Com is that the commercials are few and far between. Some channels will not even play a commercial until the last fifteen minutes of the hour, when the program is over. No interruptions every other act to drive the viewer crazy.

So that we could actually get some American news, we do also have AFN, the Armed Forces Network which is all in English! While I will not sing their praises either, it is at least something. There are commercial breaks like back home but the commercials are all about being good to your family housing neighbor and lots of military and American history. I love the commercials on this broadcasting actually. We do not see product commercials or previews for anything beyond the programs that AFN has on which kind of makes us live in a huge vacuum of late. The downside is that there isn’t much on here either. Again, no new programming as of yet. We usually are watching the season that we just finished watching at home. There are ten channels and this is what you get on Tuesday night at 9:00 pm:

1 – Sports – Last week’s Monday Night Football game
2 – Guiding Light – ack!
3 – Boston Legal
4 – Supernatural – great! If you hadn’t watched it before you left home already.
5 – News Channel – the today show is on and it is live. When Al goes to the local weather, all we here is him cracking stupid jokes to the crowd.
6 – The Best Damn Sports Show Ever – that’s what it is called. I have no idea what it is nor do I care.
7 – AFN Program Guide
8 – Army Newswatch – all military news
9 – Family Channel playing the oft shown Even Stevens
10 – Movie Channel featuring The Preacher’s Wife

Sadly, this does not get much better on other nights. I know what you are thinking, what are you doing in front of the television when there is still so much out there to see and experience? Well… sometimes, you just want to plop your big butt on the couch and stay there. Just buy some DVDs from first or you will be sorely disappointed.


Heather said...

Wow, you're the first person I know to actually complain that MTV plays videos instead of shows. Most people I know complain the exact opposite!

My husband and I don't have cable TV, and we can't get air on our crappy hand-me-down television set. Most of what we watch are anime fansubs or series DVDs. We also keep up with the new episodes of House and Smallville (maybe you can guess how) and then buy the DVDs when they come out.

(I sent you an email the other day. Did you receive it? I'm not trying to pressure you if you haven't had a chance to respond--it's just that often when people send me email through my site's contact form and I reply, I never hear anything again...making me think my responses are getting caught in spam filters.)

Mike S said...

That's a vast improvement in TV over what we had. Did they change the name to AFN? Used to be a joke about AFRTS. "What do you expect from an outfit called a-farts?" We couldn't get that at all and only over the air local TV. Got to read the Stars & Stripes on occasion though. "Yesterday's news in Tomorrow's paper Today" Usually days old when I'd snag one at the Embassy when I had to go there.