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- One of the girls in <a href="?p=273">Ai Yori Aoshi</a> is <strong>Tina Foster</strong>, an American expatriate who is now living in Japan. She goes to school with Kaoru and lives in the mansion next door to him. On the rare occasions when the story isn't focused on Aoi and Kaoru, it's usually focused on Tina.
- Tina is a classic American stereotype: very loud, inappropriate, a party animal and an eating machine. She's often a catalyst for the sort of mayhem that gets Kaoru into trouble. She can usually be counted on to introduce booze or wild behavior to a situation where everyone would otherwise behave sensibly.
- Tina also has this thing for grabbing the breasts of other girls. The series is very clear that she's not a lesbian, so this was hard to understand at first. I mean, <em>what the heck</em>? At first I reacted as though they were trying to portray American behavior and getting it wrong. My thought was, "Hey! Americans don't do that!"
- It takes a while to see this through the eyes of Japanese culture. She seems to do it as a prank, or when someone is being too stiff, reserved, or serious. The point isn't to fondle the other person, but to humiliate them and thus shatter their overly dignified stance. Miyabi is very humorless and stoic, so she is Tina's most common target.
- <a href="http://omega.med.yale.edu/~pcy5/japanese/teacher.html">Azarel</a> is an American teaching English to students in Japan, and he has many bizzare stories about the "pranks" the school kids play on teachers. They say and do things that would result in a life sentence of sensitivity training if done in this country. I won't even repeat them here, but you can <a href="http://omega.med.yale.edu/~pcy5/japanese/teacher.html">visit his site</a> if you want all the strange and icky details.
- But even allowing for the crazy pranks that Japanese students pull, the breast-grabbing is still outrageous behavior in adult society. If a native tried it they would be rejected as a freak or a lunatic. But Tina's status as an American gives her some leeway, since she comes from a famously oversexed foreign country with strange customs. So what we have is a Japanese-style prank being perpetrated by an American because it makes it easier for her (and thus the writers) to get away with it. This is particularly funny when done to someone stiff and serious like Miyabi. Imagine going up to James Bond and giving him a firm swat on the behind with a, "What's up, big guy?". Or picture sneaking up on Mr. Spock and snapping him in the ass with a towel. That sort of gives you an idea of where this joke is coming from.
- Looking back on American movies I've seen, I can think of several where a foreign exchange student was some sort of freak, pervert, or lunatic. It was funny at the time, and now I can see that gimmick from the other side. Very interesting.
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