So last night my dad introduced me to Businessmen vs. Aliens, a live-action Japanese series that I can find very little information about in English. It’s on Amazon Prime, though, so it will be relatively accessible to a lot of folks.
How to describe it? Hmmm… It’s kind of like… like… like the premise of Deep Space Nine flipped upside-down and set in the present day, then possessed by the spirit of Saturday Night Live.
Ok, like, what does that even mean? So in DS9 they had a space station to serve as a place to guard the wormhole and handle diplomatic negotations, letting nice aliens in and keeping mean aliens out. Whereas in BvA, the space station (really a moon base, but potayto/potahto) serves as a diplomatic way to keep everyone out. Worried about a covert alien invasion of Earth, the Japanese government has set up the base and uses a “sucking beam” (tractor beam? wormhole?) to draw nearby UFOs to the moon.
There the aliens meet with our heroes—the businessmen (and businesswomen)—who make every effort to persuade them to leave peacefully.
The end result is wacky conversational diplomacy, in a setting that traditionally has been used for sci-fi conflict, and it generally works. The first alien they meet literally only lives a week after being born: “May I go to Earth immediately, please? I need to report back to my queen about whether Earth is suitable for us to invade, and I only have a couple days to live.”
I don’t really have anything to compare it to, as the only Japanese live-action I’ve ever seen is the occasional Godzilla movie. (And Throne of Blood. Samurai Macbeth FTW!) Do any of my readers know whether this kind of humor is representative of Japanese TV comedy or not? I am also curious about the language used. I don’t speak Japanese, but after listening to tens of thousands of hours of subtitled anime, you pick up a feel for the language’s sound. Or at least I thought I had, until I listened to this and at first thought they weren’t speaking Japanese at all. Eventually I realized they were, but it seemed like the sounds were pronounced noticeably differently, a lot more softly or “mushy”. Is this because it’s live-action and not animated? Are they supposed to be speaking a different dialect? Can anyone satiate my curiosity and keep it from killing me again?
Anyway, the show’s got great reviews on Amazon. It won’t be for everyone—to me, the gags did seem to drag out at a few points—but it’s probably worth a try.