Japan’s funniest comedy duo14 August, 2010 by Chad
Ramenzu (ラーメンズ) or Rahmens are a Owarai comedy duo from Japan that are best known for their part in the Japanese Mac advertisements back in 2006. But the two have been churning out potentially viral videos even before the two words were ever part of the same sentence.
Online, the Rahmens are best known for their “Japanese Tradition” series of videos. Initially released on VHS, the videos have made their way to the rest of the world 4 years ago through the wonders of Youtube. The group have been revived once more with the recent rise in popularity of SNS sites like Facebook, so now is as a good as any a time to write a little about them.
I’ve attached a number of their signature mockumentaries from their Japanese Tradition series some below and more at the end of the post. Note that some parts might require a certain familiarity with Japanese culture to fully appreciate. I had a hard time convincing some Chinese and Caucasian friends that the videos weren’t in fact true. Don’t worry if you don’t get it, you’re none the poorer. But those who do will be rewarded with much laughs.
Comedians utilizing slapstick Manzai gags are a dime a dozen in Japan. In fact there are agencies carrying nothing but such “talents”. For a national that has been cultivated to take everything at face value, a tongue-in-cheek act like Rahmens clearly stands out from the crowd. Rest assured that when it comes to satire, the duo are top notch. It’s great that they’re able to poke fun at the quirks and shortcomings of the Japanese people.
Formed in 1996, the Rahmens consists of the multi-talented team of Katagiri Jin (left) and Kobayashi Kentaro (right).
With his crazy hair do, Katagiri is often the more recognizable of the two, he’s appeared a number of commercials, solo and as part of Rahmens. No stranger to mainstream media, Katagiri can often be seen in many television dramas and films. Granted, none of these flicks can be considered popular by any means, but he often takes a lead role in the shows.
Kobayashi Kentaro on the other hand is the brains behind many of the duo’s acts. He manages and directs a number of other theater groups as well. Outside of the group, Kobayashi also appears in a number of movies, commercials and music videos though not nearly as often as Katagiri. He also worked as a mangaka to produce the Hana Usagi series that ran from 1999 to 2004.
Unknown to most, Kobayashi also had a musical stint with Tanaka Tomoyuki (aka Fantastic Plastic Machine). Kobayashi first appeared in the music video of Fantastic Plastic Machine’s Tell Me in 2005, the two later collaborated to form SymmetryS in 2008. If you’ve ever been to the Uniqlo website then you’d probably familiar with some of their work. The two are credited with the music for the Uniqlock and some of the company’s other commercials.
I’m leaving you with more videos from the Japanese Tradition.
There are still more out there in the series yet to be subbed and a greater number of skits from the group. Google them if you’re interested. For those with more time to spare, the group did an extra long half hour short film in the same series about “Japanese Dating”. It comes highly recommended as it’s one of their best works to date. It stars Ichikawa Mikako of Cutie Honey The Live fame.