entertainment

NHK says sayonara to 'Eigode Shaberanaito'

42 Comments

NHK has announced that its English-learning program “Eigode Shaberanaito” will end in March. Model and co-host Moe Oshikiri, 29, attended a "sayonara" press conference held at an NHK studio in Shibuya along with Patrick Harlan ("Pakkun") and other on-air personalities.

Oshikiri has appeared on the 11 p.m. Monday night program for about two years. Oshikiri said: “Two years ago I was afraid of speaking English but this show gave me a lot of courage. I’m really sad about it ending, but I’ll continue learning English for the rest of my life.” She said her fondest memories of the show were those of meeting Will Smith and Cameron Diaz.

Harlan, 38, who has led the show for the past six years, said he was disappointed and that there were many things he had wanted to achieve. “I haven’t met the current U.S. president, and I haven’t asked for Moe’s email address yet either," he joked.

NHK will air an “Eigode Shaberanaito” special on March 16 from 10 p.m. After that, special editions of the program will be aired on an irregular basis.

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Too bad NHK has decided that Japanese people don't need a chance to learn better English. But, good news that "Pakkun", and is obnoxious personality, will be less exposed. He gives gaijin guys a bad name.

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He gives gaijin guys a bad name.

How so? He's smart, successful, and has done something with the "English teacher gig" in Japan that far exceeds most of our meager expectations. Seems more like a role-model. Met him once about a year ago with his partner from their Pak-kun Mak-kun comedy duo, and they were both really nice guys.

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Silent Sayonara - No reason given by NHK.

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Ooops. Got sidetracked. It's a shame about Eigo-de-shabaranaito. I blame the drop in ratings on the switch from the really good announcer they used for the first four years to another guy who looks a like him.

The first guy was good at what he did and conveyed a sense of fun and excitement to each segment of the show. But the new guy? He had all the enthusiasm of a wet blanket, introducing segments with this weird semi-sultry/crime-noir voice that just didn't fit the tone of the show.

Or maybe it was just in a bad time slot.

I liked it a lot better than that other drek with the dog lost in New York and all the supporting characters who are essentially walking parodies of various gaijin stereotypes.

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sayonara pakkun, sad he made speaking english into a stunt for a wow factor. Kobayashi's voice is overexposed in Japan, i won't miss that at all.

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are we supposed to believe he didnt even get moe's email address. hes gotta be tapping that for sure...

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Agreed spudman. If people want to learn English. Will they really learn if English seems like a gimmick? I understand that it's important to make it interesting, but if someone is not representing English speakers (how would you do that anyways?) well, then why would someone want to learn English?

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Does this means Pakkun's gonna be sleeping in Yoyogi Park now?

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Amazing - I thought this is a top program for the Japanese television as a whole! I never could call it English teaching program though. Probably the way they were doing it was connected with very high costs. All that interviews with most popular celebrities and so on...

Anyway - sad one of the very little valuable programs is dropping out.

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Pakkun's smug style of humour is a turn-off IMHO.

He makes an unfunny comment and then seems to expect laughter as if he has told the funniest joke in the world.

I think someone like Girolamo Panzetta is more entertaining and he's not even doing comedy usually! Marty Friedman from Megadeth is also very funny.

But overall Eigode Shaberanaito was a good program with something interesting every week. Sad to see it go.

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Moe looks pregnant

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C'mon,he was just like any other geeky english teacher here.Surprised they cut it though,it was one of the more interesting ones.

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I like this show but I think it was not very useful to learn english. It was nice for people who already speak english and want to learn vocabulary or expression (I learned "out of the blue" and I'm very grateful to that show as now I notice it is used quite a lot in movies and TV shows ...). For someone who doesn't speak english, I guess that show won't help them. Well, now it won't be aired anymore, it surely won't. Oh, and Moe is so beautiful! ^_^;

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more space for dramas with shouting in rain/knife showdowns on the beach

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The recent episodes seems to have the Japanese hosts speaking a lot more Japanese in the show than before and have given up somewhat in trying to speak English.

The message of the show is to "try and speak English as best as you can; don't be too self-conscious about it, just try, etc." but the two guy hosts (Yashima & Aoi) aren't making much of an effort to do it themselves.

I think Moe-chan gives it a much better attempt and is a plus for the show. The loss of Matsumoto and Shaku hurt the show.

It's too bad the show's being canceled, since it's usually a more interesting watch than many of the other shows I see on TV. But with the current feel of the show, its time probably has come.

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Maybe of the "I want to become an oyster, shell, or clam", ("Watashi wa, kai ni naritai"), campaign. My motto is "Let's break that shell".

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For a Japanese to learn English is best to have him/her isolated from fellow Japanese. Keep them around English speaking people only.

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Nice legs!

S

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Pakkun's use of overarticulated english is a turn off

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Speed,

I agree completely. After the switch from Matsumoto and Shaku to Moe and Yashima, it seemed the level of English being used in the show, particularly in the guest interview spots, went down dramatically. Basically, they dumbed down the show.

Also, the show wasn't so much about learning to speak English from scratch (there are plenty of other shows for that on NHK). What Shaberanaito did was present English in the context of how it could be used once you reached certain levels of ability.

Sure, they brought on lots of foreign celebs, like Will Smith, but they also interviewed many local celebrities, Japanese who had succeeded in one way or another in their chosen professions thanks to English. IMO, those were some of the more interesting programs, particularly the one with movie translator, Natsuko Toda, or the episode with Seattle pitcher Shige Hasegawa. These two brought thoughtful insight into what one can do with English if they try and spent time talking about the rewards and pitfalls they faced. Good stuff. The kids at my school borrow my old copies of the once-frequent “Eigo de Shaberanaito” magazine all the time.

Bummer to see it pass. But then again, life is change. Maybe something better will take its place. I saw somewhere that NHK was thinking of creating a new program built around Barrack Obama’s political speeches, in an attempt to appeal to a higher level of spoken English. Could be interesting.

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Or it will make room for yet another food show where all they scream is OISHII!!!

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LOL! You made me spit coffee with that.

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At least this was more entertaining than those screaming in the rain and knife fighting on the beach drivel-dramas. They have something as equally/more entertaining to replace this with?

more space for dramas with shouting in rain/knife showdowns on the beach

...please, say it ain't so.

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I hope they don't cut Chad's show with the 2 underage twins where he jumps up and down shouting "Banana! Apple! Musk Melon!"

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LFRAgain -- I think several other posters have answered your guestion. But, to summarize, if you want some un-funny, geeky, pseudo-English teacher to represent you to Japanese society, go for it. Which, given your "meager expectations" may be just fine with you. I set my bar a little higher.

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herefornow,

Sorry. I had to suppress a giggle, but what in the world are you going on about?!

I'm sorry, but I wasn't under the impression that Patrick Harlan "spoke" on my behalf to Japanese society. Damn. I must've missed the petition. And all this time, I thought I was supposed to represent myself through individual words and deeds.

Also, you might want to let Harlan know you've appointed him official cultural ambassador for ALL of Gaijin-dom. Maybe that’s why he disappoints so many. He didn’t read the job description that says, “If you become successful in Japan, you must earn a living in a way that satisfies the unmet aspirations of fellow English-speakers in Japan.”

The guy's a Harvard graduate, speaks fluent Japanese, and has nine published works here in Japan. In addition, he currently co-hosts alongside Minno Monta, the "busiest man in Japanese show business.” If he is so damned awful and does such a disservice to English education in Japan, then what does that make you?

When complaints about Harlan boil down to "He's not funny" and "He's geeky," despite the reality that his Japanese audience (and annual income) disagrees, I can't help but wonder if this all the pissy-moany whining about him is more than a little sour grapes. He did well for himself without skimming from retirement accounts or bilking stockholders. Is that really so terrible?

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LFRAgain (sorry, but I don't feel the melodramatic need to bold your name like you do)-- but, I didn't suppress my giggle. Not only do you miss the point of my post, but, you fail miserably as an amateur psychologist. The plain fact of the matter is that, as you surely know, Harlan owes his livelihood to basically delivering on the comfortable stereotype of gaijin talent that Japanese folks want. He dumbs down his sense of humor to meet Japan's slap-stick tastes, over-reacts to everything, and basically acts like a non-threatening geek. And the fact that you think that simply because that nonsense affords him a good income is OK, really concerns me. Because all he is doing is furthering the desired stereotype. Much like Bob Sapp does. Personally, also having a Harvard degree, and an income and D&B that I'll compare any day with Harlan -- but having done so by building a successful business -- I believe the less guys like him are on TV the better. And, that fact that he rubs elbows with Monta is a huge "so what"? Is that something we should aspire to?

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LFRAgain: nice rant but Harlan does not elevate the discourse to that of Ivy League status Barrack Obama does. It seems a shame that Pakkun couldn't do more with his opportunity than to make money and reinforce the stereotype that gaikokujin are funny, goofy and laughable. Sure humor is great but how about something more sophisticated than the prepubescent variety favored by Spector, Harlan, Bobby and even back to Mr google eyes Kent Derricott. Sure thats what pays the bills but so does taking your clothes off( in some circles).

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The lowest part of the show was when pakkun took his team to his hometown in the USA and showed to the TV vieweres his high school, his teacher (who began to praise him for being such a smart boy in school), his mother, his house as if anybody was interested in his life.

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herefornow,

sorry, but I don't feel the melodramatic need to bold your name like you do

Actually, it was a courtesy to you and other readers to prevent any confusion as to whom I was replying to. But since you apparently have no qualms about simply flipping the “I’m going to be an a-hole from the get-go” switch because we simply disagree, then I guess my concerns were unwarranted.

In any case, if you weren’t serious about what you are saying here, I’d almost think it was funny, but instead all that stands out is your incredible pretentiousness.

Harlan does not elevate the discourse to that of Ivy League

No, he doesn't. And to my knowledge, that wasn’t a requirement for working in the entertainment industry, either here or abroad. Furthermore, I wasn’t aware that graduating from an Ivy League college obliged the graduate to performing good works and raising public discourse. Why, that would suggest some sort of gentile elitism in this egalitarian free society in which we live, where people are free to make a living any way they want.

Harlan doesn't reinforce any stereotype that gaijin are funny, goofy, and laughable. He reinforces the perception that Patrick Harlan is funny, goofy, and laughable. He is, after all, a comedian. His particular brand of funny, goofy, and laughable, while perhaps not your cup of tea, is what works for him here because that’s precisely what other Japanese comedians do to be successful here.

He’s a comedian. That’s what he does. He’s not offensive. He’s not vulgar. He doesn’t even come close to lowbrow. He does slapstick with an English twist. And for that, he harms the image of gaijin in Japan? Hardly. Drunken US military servicemen and equally drunken college grads on holiday here in disguise as Engrish teachers do more than their share of dispelling any myths about the jocular nature of gaijin, quite honestly.

Harlan owes his livelihood to basically delivering on the comfortable stereotype of gaijin talent that Japanese folks want.

Horse pucky. What stereotype is he feeding specifically? And don’t say “funny, goofy, and laughable, because if you’d been here for any appreciable amount of time, then you would KNOW that’s not any stereotype enjoyed by gaijin here. Arrogant, demanding, and spoiled, with an unjustified sense of entitlement are far closer to the mark.

He dumbs down his sense of humor to meet Japan's slap-stick tastes . . .

He’s a comedian.

. . . over-reacts to everything . . .

He’s a comedian.

. . . and basically acts like a non-threatening geek.

He’s a comedian.

What would you prefer? Delivering humor that his audience won’t get? Low-key under-reaction to counterbalance the low-key under-reaction of the Pakkun-Makkun straight man/funny guy dynamic? Or better yet, since you seem to take issue with it, perhaps he should loom menacingly over his co-workers and display the same sort of aggressive false bravado and arrogance that motivates some to come here and berate an entire culture for its “inferior” sense of humor?

When you start making efforts to “raise the level of discourse” on Japanese television, come back and share your war stories. Until then, get over yourself, son. Your feces doesn’t exude a scent any rosier than Harlan’s.

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I find Patrick Harlan's demeanor on TV commendable. His Japanese is quite impressive and he comes across well as a comedian without going over the top and looking idiotic. The shows he's been on, from the morning news show to eigo de shaberanaito, have been pretty good, in my opinion.

I think the differing and high expectations of the expat community here in Japan will always find fault with whomever becomes a celebrity. It's always been this way as long as I've been in Japan and I've still yet to see the "perfect talento" that everyone is happy with.

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Pakkun's use of overarticulated english is a turn off

Yea. Jenkins' is much better.

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While I liked this show with Shaku on it, and Moe is perfectly dishy, I hope that NHK will use this opportunity to give us more of the entertaining, and sometimes nail-bitingly tense, dramas that they so often produce.

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I liked Yashima's interview with Stan Hansen.

"Moe is perfectly dishy"

Plus, she's so nice!

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Many of the comments here say more about the expats in Japan than it does of Patrick Harlan or the TV show.

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I thought it a bit odd that the title would have NHK not saying "Good-Bye" to the show. Oh, well.

As for the controversy about Patrick Harlan, my not living there but visiting Japan about twice a year (over 25 years), I didn't find him to be all that different from many other gaijin-tarento. But in fairness, I have not observed him more than once or twice, and so may be missing something. I think the whole thing boils down to the issue of stereotyping. I have noted the tendency by most Japanese to be very comfortable with the behavior of non-Japanese when that behavior fits within a pattern of their expectations.

I am not talking about good manners. But to give an example, I was once asked to make a short video presentation to a Japanese audience and, during an early take while I was rehearsing it, made an error or two in pronunciation that I self-corrected. To my surprise, one of my hosts asked me to purposely mispronounce those segments in the final take so as to give them a more authentic "gaijin flavor."

All that said, I don't think that playing to stereotypes does any good and probably does a fair bit of harm -- both to the audience as well as the individual who engages in it. But that is just my opinion. I've enjoyed reading the discussion here.

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LFRAgain -- pardon my delay in responding, but I actually have other priorities. Please just turn to page #40 of this week's Metropolis, and see where Harlan is working now. If that is what you hold you as a benchmark for your life/career here, go for it. As you said, you have "meager expectations". But, personally, a guy who uses his Harvard degree to do comedy in bars is not my idol.

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I'm sure he'll feel right chastened by your opinion, herefornow, and be so glad you showed him the light.

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Pakkun is admirable, flawless japanese and doesnt let himself be made to look stupid for some Yen which most of the other gaijins do. Herefornow doth protest too much, some gaijin envy there....

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Wow what a shame! I'll watch the rest of show. ..."gaijin" is never uttered by Japanese now a days other than stubborn senior citizen.

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"Pakkun" may not be the best actor, but I don't suppose he's the worst either.

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oh nooooooo. i need to find new fun way to learn eigo now!

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