With its crude animation and humor, “South Park” shocked audiences when it first aired back in 1997, with viewers unsure of its place in the schedules and target audience. Since then, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s animated comedy has grown to become arguably one of the most entertaining, risqué and cutting-edge shows on TV today, with episodes pumped out at breakneck speeds so as to ensure that their content is always as topical as it is amusing.
With endless spoofs, homages and no-holds-barred social commentary, “South Park” has entertained audiences in dozens of countries for almost 17 years now, but there’s one theme in particular that just keeps cropping up season after season: Japan.
So come with us today as we take a look at seven of “South Park’s” most memorable and outrageous “Japan” moments.
1. Japan tries to conquer America with Pokémon
Season 3: “Chinpoko Mon“
Sure, they changed the name to one that contains a Japanese word for penis (“chinpo”) and used a ton of artistic license, but it’s obvious that “Chinpoko Mon” is all about Nintendo’s hugely successful franchise, from its characters to the fact that, just like in real life, the anime’s flashing images gave kids seizures.
With the local kids suckered in by powerful advertising, Chinpoko Mon toys are flying off the shelves in “South Park” until one local toy shop owner discovers that they are actually being used to spread anti-American propaganda and are teaching the brainwashed kids that they must overthrow their government. But of course, all the kids can think about is collecting them all and becoming Royal Crown Chinpoko Master.
2. Plotting businessmen claim innocence due to penis size
Season 3: “Chinpoko Mon“
Later in the same episode, the concerned “South Park” toy store owner visits the makers of Chinpoko Mon at their facility in America to demand an explanation for the propaganda-spreading dolls. Although angry at first, he is quickly placated by two business executives from the company who assure him that, on account of the fact that they have terribly small genitalia, they wouldn’t dream of doing something like attempt to overthrow the USA.
The men then begin to compliment the toy store owner on his own penis, which can they assume must be “gargantuan” on account of his nationality. Moments later, a group of Japanese women are ushered into the room to applaud the man on his enormous member. Suitably flattered, the gullible American thanks them for their time and goes home.
3. Japan claims ownership of heaven
Season 6: “A Ladder to Heaven“
The kids win a prize draw for an all-you-can-grab session at a local candy store, but Kenny, who died (again) months earlier, had the winning ticket. Stan, Kyle and Cartman decide the only option they have is to pile up enough junk to create a “ladder” to heaven to get the ticket back. Seeing this, and unaware that the venture is all in the name of candy rather than love, the kids’ parents and townspeople are overcome with emotion and the ladder quickly becomes a national sensation.
Not long after, however, news arrives that Japan has also begun building its own ladder to heaven. The Japanese reporter gleefully informs the world that his country is making astounding progress and will beat American to the top, ending his broadcast by blowing a raspberry in the country’s face.
The Japanese then use a rickety set and a team of terrified wire-hanging “angels” to prove its arrival in heaven, and goes on to claim the territory for itself. Oh, and the weather report for the new region? Partly cloudy.
4. The Japanese whalers…
Season 13: “Whale Whores“
Stan and his family are visiting the Denver Aquarium and enjoying the “dolphin encounter” where they get to enter a pool with the dolphins. All is going well until a group of Japanese whalers wearing hugely impractical clothing and armed with harpoons inexplicably appears on the horizon and charges in their direction. The whalers dive into the pool and angrily slaughter the dolphins before vanishing as quickly as they appeared.
As well as criticising the Japanese whalers, the episode also poked fun at the American reality TV show Whale Wars, which follows the crew of the Sea Shepherd in its efforts to foil Japanese whalers’ attempts to capture the creatures. It was described as “delightfully savage ridicule” by one critic, while others felt it wasn’t especially funny and did a poor job of conveying its messages. Either way, “Whale Whores” was easily one of the most WTF? episodes of “South Park” we think we’ve ever seen.
5. The boys buy weapons and become badass ninjas
Season 8: “Good Times With Weapons“
On visiting a local fair, the boys discover a stall selling genuine martial arts weapons from Japan. They trick the stall owner into selling them some, and then go about dreaming up their own anime-style ninja personas, each with his own magical abilities.
They quickly learn the dangers of playing with real weapons, though, when their friend Butters (who appears dressed as his own fictional alter-ego “Professor Chaos” after the others won’t let him play) nearly loses an eye to one of Kenny’s shuriken ninja throwing stars. Ah, reminds me of my own childhood days as my friends and I wandered around town carrying makeshift, but equally deadly, Ninja Turtles-inspired weapons…
This episode also included one of the best Japan-spoof theme tunes ever created, “Let’s Fighting Love”. Enjoy!
6. Kenny becomes a Japanese princess
Season 17: “A Song of Ass and Fire”
In the lead up to the Black Friday sales, two factions of South Park kids battle it out to decide whether Sony’s PlayStation 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One should be the console of choice. Catching word of their struggle and the dirty tricks played by Microsoft to aid Xbox fans in procuring their console during the mall rush, Sony bosses in Japan visit “South Park” and grant Kenny, who has been playing the role of a princess in their Game of Thrones-style drama, the power to be a real Japanese princess, complete with unicorn steed and the power of kawaii.
We love you, Princess Kenny!
7. Sony boss fights to the death with Bill Gates
Season 17: ”Titties and Dragons“
At the climax of its three-part Black Friday story, the kids of South Park are still at odds over which of the two new games consoles, Xbox One or PlayStation 4, to buy. As part of an elaborate plot, a grand banquet is held at the mall’s Red Robin restaurant, only for none other than Microsoft top dog Bill Gates and the president of Sony Japan to show up. The only way to decide which console deserves to be number one, it is decided, is for the two bosses to duke it out–to the death. We wonder how many people changed their mind about which console to pick up by the end of this one…
Oh “South Park,” you’re so messed up. Promise us you’ll never change.
There are plenty more crazy Japan moments to be found in “South Park‘s” 247 episodes to date, but these are just some of our favorites.
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