Dear JapanZine Editors,
I have always enjoyed your Charisma Man (CM) character, so I wrote a humorous story using Charisma Man (CM) as the lead character. The story is about CM moving from the world of the English Teacher to the world of the Japanese company - a step many of us have taken! I also use the story to hype a new web site I've made for studying Japanese. If you find the story humorous please publish it. Or if it needs to be shortened or altered please feel free to alter it or request changes.
JapanZine Reporter, Bret Jennings (BJ), interviews the Managing Director of Spam Japan.
August 2002 [Saitama, Japan]
BJ: Today we are honored to have the Managing Director of Spam Japan, Charisma Man talk to us about his new product: ii-Kanji.
CM: Thanks for inviting me Bret. You know Bret in my entire career, this is the most exciting product I've ever been involved with.
BJ: Well before we talk about your new product, why don't you tell us about your new company "Spam Japan".
CM: I glad you asked Bret, Spam Japan was started by me and my partner, Bob Cricket. This company specializes in introducing American and other foreign companies to the Japanese market, allowing these companies to contact Japan.
BJ: Oh I've heard of Bob Cricket. He is a somewhat of a legend in the foreign business community. How did you meet Mr. Cricket.?
CM: Bret it all started in Gifu where Bob, Carol, Ted and I were working as English senseis. Bret, "sensei" is the word for teacher here in Japan. You wouldn't believe the number of fixes I got Bob out of (laughter) !
BJ: That's interesting, well tell us a little about the ii-Kanji system.
CM: Well Bret, recently my friend Eric said to me, "You know Cha" - my friends call me 'Cha'; "You know Cha, if I only had time to study I would be as good at Japanese as you are". This gave me an idea.
BJ: OK Cha - may I call you "Cha"? By the way "Charisma Man" is an unusual name. How did that come about?
CM: Everyone asks me that Bret. Well it all began with my mother. My mother in her youth was Marilyn Monroe's makeup artist. Well, the story goes: Marilyn introduced my mother to Jack, President Kennedy that is, and the rest is history.
BJ: Sorry I don't follow.
CM: Well as everyone knows, John Kennedy, was the most charismatic president of all time and, gee, you know, I got the Charisma from my father.
BJ: Oh I see. But how old are you Cha? May I call you 'Cha'?
CM: I'm 31 and actually only my friends call me Cha.
BJ: That's strange, how could you only be 31 when President Kennedy was assassinated almost 40 years ago? Your name is very interesting but could we get back to ii-Kanji. What is this kanji.jciti.com?
CM: Hmm. I never thought about that. Well yes, ii-Kanji (www.kanji.jciti.com) is a way to learn Japanese on your Mobile Phone. Bret, in Japan a mobile phone is called a "keitai'. You probably have been wondering why you pay all that money for i-Mode service and you have never used it. Now there is a reason to use i-Mode. Take my friend Eric, he had failed Level I of the Japanese Proficiency Test twice, but after using ii-Kanji for only two months on his long commute into Tokyo he was able to pass the test last December. Bret, why don't you call me Harry.
BJ: OK, Harry, Is that your real name?
CM: Yes, my legal name is actually "Hairy Mountain".
BJ: Wow! I don't mean to be rude, but that is a strange name!
CM: That's OK Bret. Well when I was a boy the man at the corner 7-Eleven said that I got it from the Chicken Delivery Man. Well my mother named me after him, something about him being big, I really don't know the whole story. And I prefer my name pronounced Japanese style - so please call me "HAH-RI". You know Bret, people say that my Japanese skill is beyond "Pera-Pera" and it is perfect. I am inclined to agree with them.
BJ: That's interesting Hah-ri, but could you tell us about ii-Kanji? Aren't there dozens of Japanese learning courses on the internet.
CM: That is true, but ii-Kanji is actually custom tailored for each individual using the patented SIP System.
BJ: "SIP System", what is that?
CM: I'm glad you asked that Bret. SIP means "Sensei In a Pocket". ii-Kanji is actually your own personal Japanese Sensei that you can put into your pocket and take everywhere. Now tell me Bret, haven't you always dreamed of putting your Sensei In your Pocket? With ii-Kanji and the patented SIP system your dreams have come true.
BJ: Sorry, I don't get it.
CM: That's OK Bret, this is a big concept! Remember that ii-Kanji is built for the i-Mode mobile phone. Bret, we call this a 'Keitai'. Your Keitai will now, like your own Sensei, remember your skill level and give you lessons accordingly. ii-Kanji keeps lists of Kanji and Vocabulary customized for your skill level.
BJ: But how can a phone know my skill level?
CM: Through the patented Sensei In a Pocket technology, as you browse Kanji or Vocabulary you can save them to a database and then the next time you access the site, SIP remembers the Kanji and Vocabulary you want to study!
BJ: That's amazing! Hah-ri, tell us a more about your company Spam Japan. Your product brochure says you are somewhat of a legend in Japanese Marketing.
CM: Well that's true. I started at a company called "Schlok Japan". This is a company that sells distressed merchandise that was marketed in America on "Info Commercials". You know: exercise equipment, Chinese diet aids, George Freeman Grills, etc. As Director of Info Commercials (DIC), I decided to expand the scope of our offerings. I introduced the "Turbo Wanker" and the "Speed Bugger" ... products that turned out to be Schlok Japan's biggest sellers of all time! After that my title was changed to the Big Director of Info Commercials.
BJ: Yeah, I think everyone has seen those on TV. The 're vacuum cleaners right? But the product names, "Turbo Wanker" and "Speed Bugger" sound, well, sort of, uh, ...
CM: You see Bret, market research showed us that the original English names actually had negative connotations to the potential Japanese buyer, so alternate names were picked that sounded more pleasing to the Japanese ear, similar to how Toyoda Corporation changed the name of it's car company to Toyota because it was more pleasing to the English ear. This Bret, is the "Science of Marketing".
BJ: Recently I met with the Director of Schlok Japan, Ralph Rugburns, and he told me that you have turned the company around.
CM: That's true Bret, You see I am one of the few foreigners - we call them "gaijin" here in Japan - I am one of the few foreigners that understands the Japanese "kokoro". Bret, do you know what a "kokoro" is. Bret, the "kokoro" is like the heart, or the soul. There are few foreigners that understand the "Japanese kokoro". With this understanding of the kokoro, I have turn the company around. That and I also invented "Wangiri". Our automated calling machines can make 1000 Wangiri calls in one second! Bret, what's your phone number?
BJ: Har-ri, tell us more about Schlok Japan. You are based in Saitama right?
CM: Well my new company, Spam Japan, is based in Saitama. Schlok Japan, is my former company, and it is based in the marketing capital of Tokyo - Mizonoguchi. The company is run by three Americans who met, of all places, Oakland, California. They met at a special retreat that is held once a year for recovering gay alcoholics. Oakland is across the bay from San Francisco, which as you know Bret, is a center of gay culture and commerce. These three hit it off immediately and started a company called "OAk Town Sales" or OATS. You see, "Oak Town" is a term used by the locals for the city of Oakland. Even though all three are from the East Coast of the U.S., Oakland or "Oak Town" has a special romantic feeling.
BJ: That's a sweet story, Hah-ri. Well tell us more about ii-Kanji.
CM: Well you know in addition to being a marketing genius, I am also a computer whiz and I developed ii-Kanji and the patented SIP system using Furry Rabbits on a Lava platform.
BJ: Wah? Your Product Brochure says that ii-Kanji is based on "Fuzzy Logic on a Java platform". Hah-ri, did you actually develop ii-Kanji?
CM: Hmm, Oh. ...
BJ: Okay. Hah-ri, I have to ask a difficult question. The rumor has it that you are actually in Japan because of legal problems in the U.S., is this true?
CM: Bret, I'm glad you asked me that. There is no truth to that rumor. I was in the U.S. doing some research on a hot new product that we are considering introducing to Japan. This is a home liposuction kit. As you know obesity is a major problem in the United States. The hamburger chain "Lardys" is developing a new product that will not only be a solution to the obesity problem in America, but also finally end the scourge of world hunger.
BJ: That's amazing. I've never heard about it.
CM: Well we are having some technical difficulties but Lardys plans to have a product announcement this month.
BJ: Wow, tell us about it!
CM: Sure Bret, Lardys has developed a Liposuction implant or "appliance", that is permanently attached to one or both, the stomach or buttocks of the obese person. When they come to Lardys for a cheeseburger, fries and milk shake, they are simultaneously hooked into the liposuction machine. Each table has 4 convenient outlets for the entire family. Our technology, patented as "Suck a Gut" and "Suck a Butt", will eliminate 500 percent of the body fat consumed at that meal in the stomach and buttocks respectively. The body fat is then hygienically packaged for sale as cooking oil in the Third World. The Lardy's customer derives three benefits from this 1) the elimination of obesity 2) the satisfaction of ending world hunger and 3) a tax credit based on a charitable contribution of cooking oil.
BJ: Hah-ri, you must be extremely popular in America now?
CM: Well not exactly, Bret, you see we had a bit of a technical problem with the lipo compressor. I am sort of a "Do It Yourselfer" and I was messing around with the Furry Rabbit's technology on the Lipo unit. Anyways it seemed that the lipo compressor algorithm had a bug and it sucked out a little more than fat from all 30 of Lardy's customers. Schlok Japan thought it best for me to come back to Japan to work on the ii-Kanji product.
BJ: Well tell us the URL of that product again:
CM: Bret it is www.kanji.jciti.com Please visit!
This story is fictional. Any resemblance to any person or company, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.