This post is also available in: Japanese
From time to time clients have requested that I show videos in my seminars for Europeans on how to work with Japanese counterparts. I usually try to dissuade them from this. Partly because the technology never works well – I either have to try to get a DVD player to work on the client’s system, or if I try to stream something from YouTube, there is a problem with the firewall or internet connection.
Also, there used to be a lack of good content to show. There are films like Karate Kid or Lost in Translation but they are either rather stereotyped or it’s difficult to find a clip that makes sense on its own without seeing the whole film.
We thought about making our own videos of Japanese and European actors interacting in typical business situations, but not only is this costly, it dates very quickly, and can look awkward and artificial.
I can understand why it would be good to show some videos. They would not only bring variety to the training, but also to help people feel empathy with other cultures through watching emotionally engaging films of people from those cultures, behaving in a way that they can relate to.
Recently I’ve noticed a huge improvement in the amount of video content available on Japan. I have been crying with laughter at Aggretsuko, the anime from Sanrio about a red panda office lady which is currently showing on Netflix in the UK. I assumed it would not be appealing to people who did not know the Japanese workplace, but actually my 18-year-old son, and our Hong Kong Chinese homestay student both really enjoy it too.
It led to an interesting conversation with my son who compared it to the Japanese manga Beastars which also had anthropomorphic characters. It turns out this will be shown as an anime on Netflix in 2020, joining other “made in Japan” series like Midnight Diner, The Naked Director and Terrace House.
My son’s generation get most of their content from Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime, to the extent that we hardly ever watch live TV together any more. The UK public broadcasting service, the BBC, is beginning to see its license fee revenue decline because younger people are watching these channels on their laptops and smartphones, and so do not have TVs.
This means that for businesses, the way to reach the younger generations is not through live TV advertising or news stories on TV or newspapers, but through online videos.
What seems to work best is either an authentic rather than scripted conversation, between real people rather than actors, or a short “how to” or story telling style narration of a video. These kinds of videos are much easier and cheaper to make than the older style feature film type videos. So I have started to record my own – but they will be to advertise my business rather than to use in a training session.
This article was originally published in Japanese in the Teikoku Databank News on 11th March 2020
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