Everyone knows the language of love. Everyone knows the language of happiness. Those feeling go past man made languages and borders.
I’ve been talking about the Olympics a lot recently as those will be bringing Japan back into the international spotlight (for good and bad) once again. It will be bringing lots of foreign tourists here too.
I think lots of people will be very surprised when they come to Japan and see just how popular American cartoon stars are in Japan. In fact, some of them are much more popular in Japan than they are in the USA?
The president of TV Tokyo (they own the rights to the Peanuts cartoons and characters) once told me that sales of Snoopy in Japan surpass those of the entire United States and Europe put together. Did you also know that Winnie the Pooh massively outsells Mickey Mouse in Japan too?
Winnie and Snoopy truly are superstars in Japan!
Of course, though, everyone already knows that Japan loves Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse and Snoopy, but did you know that Betty Boop was popular in Japan before any of them? It’s true. And Betty Boop was popular in japan in the 1930s!
I think it is because Betty Boop could speak Japanese… No. Really. I’m not making it up. Watch this cartoon and see for yourself. In it, she sings in Japanese and dances. Her Japanese is pretty darned good too!
Here is a 1935 Max Fleischer produced Betty Boop cartoon called “A Language All My Own.” Max Fleischer was famous for Betty Boop, Koko the Clown, Superman and Popeye.
Wikipedia says about this cartoon:
The studio produced this short after discovering that Betty was very popular in Japan. Animator Myron Waldman, worried that Betty’s gestures might offend the conservative Japanese audience, asked a group of Japanese college students to review his work. Having Betty sing in Japanese also allowed her to slip a racy comment past the Hays Office: one of the lyrics in the Japanese song translates to “Come to bed with me and we’ll boop-oop-a-doop!” “Come to bed with me and we’ll boop-oop-a-doop”
Indeed! Please enjoy this 5 minute cartoon from a simpler time from yesteryear! This is so charming. You don’t get any more eclectic than this!(Betty starts singing in Japanese at about 3:45!)
Betty Boop? You kidding me? I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating rice crackers!
I think it is interesting the date of this cartoon; it is a mere 5 years before the 1940 Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to start! Just like today, 5 years until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! This just shows that a good film or video production in English or Japanese truly does speak a million words!
Oh, and here’s one more thing that will blow your mind, Betty Boop is STILL popular in Japan! I see her image on girl’s bags and accessories and see her image on posters around Tokyo to this very day… I’d bet that, in 2015, Betty Boop is much more popular in Japan than in the States.