Take the 1992 Japanese television program Eikaiwa taisō Zuiikin' English (英会話体操), or as it is known, Zuiikin' English.
A mere 24 episodes on Fuji TV back in 1992… and aside from its sickening time slot of 5AM, this television show that combines English lessons with gymnastic exercises would still be on.
Note: This is NOT the 20-minute Workout.
Because programming was required for such an unBuddha-ly time slot as 5AM (there's a 5 in the morning, too??!!), broadcasters wanted low-budget stuff to air.
I can't state for sure, because by this time I was sleeping off the effects of having a regular girlfriend, but there was a television program that helped people fall asleep, while another had an actor read a well-known novel. That's it.
So… having a program where there are three sexy Japanese women in colorful exercise gear doing squats and lunges in sync while chanting nonsensical English phrases… well… someone should have won the Japanese equivalent of an Emmy for the show's concept.
The three Zuiikin Gals—the gymnastic exercise team—(all surname first) Miyazawa Maiko, Saito Reiko, and Inayoshi Takako—would thrust and shimmy (no, not shimmy) towards the lucky cameramen while chanting any of the following phrases (really) - the stuff in brackets are my own pithy comments:
- Take anything you want;
- Spare me my life!;
- I was robbed by two men;
- Call an ambulance please; (The above four sound like the plan was to recreate some real-life emergency scene);
- I have a bad case of diarrhea (this might stop a rape from occurring);
- I feel feverish and sluggish (Perhaps these are excuses gaijin (foreigners) have used to their Japanese bosses?);
- I am allergic to penicillin;
- Is there anyone who speaks Japanese? (Not a useful phrase for a Japanese person in Japan.);
- How many of these should I take?;
- Will my insurance cover today?
- Unbelievable! It's amazing! We did it! (I know! 24 episodes!);
- Is that so? Really? Are you sure? (Yup… 24 episodes);
- Nevermind. (No worries.);
- The climax scene really got to me! (I am sure no one uses English in that manner. Would you ever say that? No. But if you were with me, you might, but it might sound more like "I'm cumming!" LOL!);
- How dare you say such a thing to me! ( I dare just fine, thank-you. How antiquated. Just like the word antiquated.);
- You drive me crazy!;
- Don't make fun of me;
- It's your fault this happened (This is only ever used by bosses to their inferiors, after which the inferior is expected to fall graceful upon their katana.);
- Leave me alone! (I've probably said this more than it's been said to me. To be effective, it has to be slowly snarled, while baring one side of the teeth and scrunching up the nose. That's what a snarl is. It's not JUST a sound. It's an effect.);
- I can't stand the sight of you (What the hell was going on in the producer's mind when he was coming up with the last few phrases? Poor gaijin.);
- Hasta la vista, baby (While not exactly an English phrase, it is certainly a phrase spoken in English be every Arnold Schwartzenegger-wannabe (like myself) for the movie Terminator.);
- Let's go Dutch! (Apparently the show was nearing the end of its lifespan, and the producer knew he was going to be broke. Women… if any guy on a date suggests you go Dutch, tell him he is being offensive to Dutch people everywhere, despite the fact that their frugal nature is legendary. I have a Dutch half-sister-in-law. Hot, and cheap. And not the good type of cheap. I wonder if any real man has ever used that "Let's go Dutch!' phrase while on a date and ever dated again?)
As the phrase was being chanted (and the girls working their thighs and buttocks to the amusement and shame of the gay cameraman… just kidding) on screen the English phrase would be written out, with the corresponding Japanese translation below.
Hear. See. Understand. Solid thighs.
|Hmmm... she really does seem like she has to poop.|
Okay... here's the scene you are all waiting for:
For the show's last episode, the show's creator and producer—Fernandez Verde—got three gaijin (foreigner) men to become the Zuiikin Boys… and they did their version of bum and thigh exercises while chanting Japanese phrases, such as tsumaranai mono design, which means "please accept this trifling gift"… which might actually be a good phrase for the Japanese to learn.
I can't believe that this show did not extend its life beyond the initial 24 episodes! By not? Sure it sucked, but did it suddenly become more expensive to produce?
Did using the phrase "Hasta la vista, baby" cause monies to be paid out for copyright infringement?
Sigh… I wonder if my buddy Matthew's wife Takako ever watched this show. She used to often wag her finger at me and utter: "You drive me crazy!"
Somewhere, the climax scene really got to me.
PS: What? You thought I would end with a joke about me having a bad case of verbal diarrhea? Pu-lease. LOL!