By Jenny Uechi
Vegetarian Boy Meets Carnivore Girl
No, it’s not some PETA campaign for girls who want to meet hot guys by embracing vegetarianism. Rather, soshoku danshi or “vegetarian boy” is a popular new term to describe a growing phenomenon among young men in their 20s and 30s in Japan. These men are known for being more passive, less sex-crazy, and more fixated on gender equality than their fathers’ generation.
Business magazine Nikkei MJ, profiled these vegetarian boys to show the business community how love and sex are no longer big motivators for spending among youth, that these type of guys keep up-to-date with the latest trends in cooking and fashion, and happily hang around with girls without expecting to sleep with them at the end of the day. While they seem like ideal guys, they also spend less on chocolates and jewelry for women, prefer their own house as a date spot, and meekly insist that girls cough up some dough when eating out.
Coverage of “vegetarian boys” in the media has been mixed: popular girls’ magazines like an-an commend them for breaking the stereotype of macho, dominant man idealized in the past. Others blame them for the vast number of single, unmarried women—which, according to government statistics, account for 60 per cent of Tokyoites between 25 and 30—in urban Japan. The vegetarian boys are famously risk-averse, often avoiding marriage proposals to their long-time girlfriends due to fear of being rejected.
Which brings us to the nikushoku jyoshi, or the “carnivore girl.” These women and girls chase after guys, hitting on them shamelessly until reaching the bedroom. On the one hand, they’re classic girly-girls who use fashion and make-up to attract their mate; on the other hand, they read too many sex manuals and never pass up a chance to hook up with someone, even if that someone isn’t their boyfriend. One example of the classic carnivore girl is the caramel-haired young woman in clear spike heels and groin-skimming dress, cruising around Tokyo’s Shibuya district in a loose T-shirt that screams, “I (recycle) boys.”
While these man-eating girls tend to have a bad rap, they’re a godsend for the more passive, vegetarian guys. A matchup between a classically demure Japanese girl and the vegetarian boy would result in a whole lot of Mamihlapinatapai—a native Yaghan word meaning long looks between two shy folks who are attracted to each other, but wait for the other to make a move.
Thanks to the carnivore girls, though, fewer vegetarian guys are spending their nights alone. This might partially account for the recent boost in the country’s fertility rates, despite depressing economic times.
Asian YouTube Celebrities
Asian actors still have a tough time being cast for roles onscreen and onstage in North America, but they make up a surprisingly large portion of the top YouTube celebrities in the world. In addition to now-famous songwriters like David Choi and Jennifer J. Chung—who have more subscribers than Justin Timberlake—Asian Americans like comedy duo Nigahiga, and individuals like Kevjumba are making the Top 20 “most subscribers” list. Nigahiga is a hilarious, Japanese American comedy duo composed of Ryan Higa and Sean Fujiyoshi from Hawai’i. In May, they amassed over one million subscribers to their channel, which is filled with silly “how-to” video series that teaches viewers how to become a Ninja, an Emo kid, a Gangsta and a Nerd, among other things.
Admittedly, their jokes sometimes border on the offensive—like the Emo-kid cutting himself—and much of the material would fly over the heads of anyone over 30. However, other videos are hilarious and filled with sharp-witted satire, such as Nerds who go by “Elite Dark Lord_Dragon Slayer 3.14159” and the “Guide to gangsta-posing.”
With many distinctive quirks, such as a green exercise ball used to kill at the end, and the “Tee-hee!” at the end of every video, it’s only a matter of time before fans start demanding DVD versions of the duo’s work.
Meanwhile, Chinese American comedian Kevin Hu (a.k.a. Kevjumba) offers viewers short ramblings on race, stereotyping and girls, winning him high-profile fans from around the world, including Jessica Alba. Hu’s videos are sometimes more thought-provoking than outright funny, as is the case with his comparison of girls to M&Ms. And like his hero Dave Chappelle, Hu has revealed his philanthropic intents by setting up the Jumba Fund, where money earned from YouTube is donated to a charity of the viewers’ choice. Hu gets much of his humour and laid-back confidence from family; his father—who is featured as the butt of jokes in some of Hu’s most viewed videos—is a blend of crusty, old Chinese immigrant complete with thick Cantonese accent and modern dad.
Even while insisting that his son marry an Asian girl, the dad surprises viewers by using colloquialisms like “what the hell” and “man” when talking to his son. Although a web celebrity, Hu spends his days going to college in Davis, California. Millions of fans are holding out for his next video to be uploaded in between exam periods.