Reason #164 why pachinko sucks.

One of the most beloved manga series in much of the world is Captain Tsubasa, the epic story of one boy’s rise from the elementary school soccer team to professional glory. Its themes of sportsmanship, teamwork, and the occasional superhuman move are as universal and wholesome as they come.

Captain Tsubasa‘s most famous line, “The ball is my friend,” is meant to show the character’s unyielding commitment to his sport developed at the tender age of one, when his soccer ball saved his life.

One famous story often associated with the manga was during the war in Iraq, when Japan’s Self Defense Forces used Tsubasa’s image to deliver water supplies to people because it conveyed an image of “Japan” and “peace” that transcends language.

I mention these things to show how highly regarded this series is and why people might be so upset at this ad for a pachinko machine that Twitter user KOU (@KOU02342239) recently came across.

The ad shows Tsubasa alongside a pachinko machine decorated in the manga’s style. The caption down the middle chillingly reads, “This time, the PACHINKO is my friend!”

While Captain Tsubasa in many ways represents the best of Japan, pachinko tends to typify the worst. Although the games themselves aren’t found as much in other countries, most people have probably encountered a basic version of it as an infant.

I assume it was as an infant, because it usually doesn’t take long to realize the game is rather dumb and involves about as much skill as popping bubble wrap. However, Japanese pachiko would be like if the bubble wrap was all slicked out with videos and music, and popped in the most noxious environment possible with billows of smoke and a blaring cacophony of conflicting lights and sounds all bouncing off the walls of the windowless pachinko parlors.

While that all sounds dreamy by itself, the real appeal of pachinko for adults is that at the end of the day you can win money from it. Despite Japan’s ban on gambling, players who are successful are rewarded with little silver balls, and they can exchange said balls for money in a sort of legal way. It’s all quite shady and a really great way for organizations like the yakuza and North Korea to launder money…not saying they actually do that, but it would be a great way were they so inclined.

▼ Giving the phrase “the ball is my friend,” a whole new sleazy meaning

So you can see how this all flies in the face of the themes of fair-play, fresh air, and exercise inherent to Captain Tsubasa. Netizens in Japan reacted to this poor attempt to cash in on their youths the best way they could, by mocking it.

▼ Caption altered to read, “The cock is my friend.”

▼ “Tsubasa: ‘I brought along my friends!'”

At this point it should be needless to say that pachinko is the antithesis to everything Captain Tsubasa stood for. The real kicker though, as many people noticed, is that the advertiser used a picture of the school-era Tsubasa which would suggest it is endorsing pachinko to be the “friends” of students – a friendship which is in clear violation of Japanese gaming laws.

Others also noted that this image is actually a few years old, meaning that the Captain Tsubasa pachinko machine has already been out for some time. It’s hardly shocking, despite its inappropriateness, as pachinko has shamelessly co-opted just about every notable franchise that would appeal to middle-aged Japanese people from Rocky to Metal Gear.

However, recent moves towards opening casinos in Japan may spell the end of this industry and we’d be better off for it – not just because pachinko is exploitative and addictive, but mainly because it’s incredibly lame and obnoxious.

Source, featured image: Twitter/@KOU02342239