Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kiru Your TV: Aura no Izumi

Just because I stop making Kiru Your TV posts after the first one doesn't mean I stop being sick of Japanese TV. Whether it's a show where people over-react to the taste of okonomiyaki, or a show where people get teary-eyed over goofy dramatizations of real-life medical miracles, Fiancee usually has to crank up the volume in order to hear the show over the sound of my grinding teeth. But if there's one genre of TV show that really annoys me to no end, it's that of "spiritual advice."

TV psychics, baby.

As a representative title for this genre, I'll use TV Asahi's Aura no Izumi (Aura Fountain). This is a show where, basically speaking, a celebrity guest is brought on to speak about his or her insecurities so that a pair of counselors can read the guest's "aura." Manning the emotional baggage claim are spiritual adviser Ehara Hiroyuki (a hefty, effeminate dude in a kimono) and elderly singer/cross-dresser Miwa Akihiro (an old man with bright yellow hair, dressed as a woman). If it sounds a bit strange, then I've described it correctly. Here's what Mr. Miwa looks like:

I've got no problems with a guy who's more comfortable in women's clothes, but somebody was playing a cruel joke on this guy when they convinced him to buy that mane of dandelion fury at the wig shop.

Anyway, after a bit of discussion between the guest and hosts, Ehara produces something called a "Spiritual Message." It's pretty much a flowery haiku, accompanied by maudlin music, designed to make the celebrity guest feel good about himself. And it often prompts the guest to cry tears of ultimate redemption. Meanwhile, viewers like me are crying tears of ultimate exasperation.

Another annoying thing about this show is the condescending, grandmotherly tone in which both hosts speak to the guests. And that is amplified by the guests' tendency to react with fake (but polite) awe and respect. They usually say things like "Heeeeeh, naruhodo! ("Oooooh, I seeee!") in order to properly convey the idea that, yes, Ehara and Miwa really are geniuses who really do have all the answers and really can solve your every problem in life.

You might recall that, in my previous Kiru Your TV about SMAPxSMAP, I complained that the show's main purpose was to entertain the cast rather than the audience. The same troublesome dynamic is at work here in Aura no Izumi, leading me to believe that Japanese TV is suffering from a crippling dependency on celebrity personalities. There has to be a happy medium between that and watching a dozen unlikeable nobodies running obstacle courses and getting diarrhea on a deserted island.

Aura no Izumi airs every Saturday night on TV Asahi at the unlikely time of 7:57. Don't ever watch it.


butt? said...


Vee said...

I do agree that most japanese tv is so dependent on celebrities showing up to the show, but these psychic guys are for real.

They may look "weird" when seen from western eyes, but they look this way so that they get more of their powers through this. Yes, even the ghastly yellow hair.

The way the guy in the kimono (which by the way was the norm dress in the old days in japan) deals with the guests is amazing. He doesnt badger them to change (like hosoki kazuko on zubari, which has ended), he is calm and relays messages that needs to be dealt in such a soft subtle way that the person who needs to hear the message can actually listen to it, which in itself is very difficult when dealing with such stubborn people.

You may be perfect so you dont need much advice in life. This show sometimes may be boring as well if you're not interested in the guest. But for me, Im amazed when watching them get the message that needs to be made to the person, and I wish all people would know how to do that so we arent left hurt. isnt that one of the things we aspire to do before we die? to leave the person better than we found them.

Jesse Jace said...

1. That yellow hair is a wig. It has nothing to do with power. And my Japanese fiance agrees, it's ugly as hell, so I guess my "western eyes" aren't to blame after all.

2. I find the kimono guy's constant, serene calmness positively infuriating. The calmer he is on the air, the easier it is for me to picture him exploding with anger and physically abusing stage hands when the cameras are off.

3. Thank you for acknowledging my perfection.

BilloBallo said...

Jesse, your blog post seems to have worked. I haven't seen Aura no Izumi on air for a long time. Are they on break or did they finally see the "light" (and by light I mean stupidity).

Anonymous said...

Actually the yellow hair is his (or her whatever) real hair just dyed, or at least that's what I heard.