If you’ve been wondering about the creepy Japanese videos I’ve been posting — videos of girls staring blankly at the camera for a minute, then uttering a single short phrase — I’m finally ready to offer an explanation.
They’re called “ミテルだけ” (pronounced “miteru dake”) which means “Just Looking” or “Only Looking.” I first heard about the DVDs a few years ago — they’re for the shy and nervous men of Japan. Men so used to the company of other men, they’ve no idea how to interact in the dating world. Men who’ve never learned to look a pretty woman in the eye. Men who fear women.
It took days of prowling Tokyo electronics shops to track down a copy. Tower Records didn’t have them, nor any of the back-alley stores in Akihabara. No-one had even heard of them. “What do you mean,” I got repeatedly, as well as stares as blank as those in the videos below.
Finally, far from the glitz of Shibuya, and the glare of Shinjuku, I found a single remaining copy in a 6-floor electronics market in the suburbs. Was this the last unsold copy in Tokyo? Or was this the only copy ever sold?
I guess I’ll never know. But I did hear that they’ve come out with a sequel. “Only Looking, for Women.” It features men. Creepily, blankly, staring. I plan a return trip to Tokyo, soon.
Update: The friend who helped me track down the DVD just chipped in, “I think this is not so much for the typical Japanese salary man, as it is for people who withdrew from the social world at an early age and now have severe socialization/psychological problems. They’re called “hiki-komori” (recluses?) and were often ostracized at school and so withdrew from social interactions. They stayed at home and withdrew into a world of movies and video games. It is in fact a serious social problem, although I think these DVDs must be at least half-way satirical.”
He also translated the expressions at the end of the videos: “I think they aim to give the user a full range of emotional expression, to prepare you for a real life encounter. In one video, she says (loose translations), “Enough already.” In others they say, “Stop!” or “That hurts!” or “You’re not listening to me!” Sometimes they just giggle or say something playful.”"
If you read Japanese, see more at AvexNet.
And don’t miss this fantastic video of a pair of Scots in a plummeting Yangshou hot air balloon. (Kudos to Pete!)