The webisodes explore what it’s like to be gay in Japan.
As the LGBT community continues to fight for equal rights across the globe, here in Japan small steps are being made towards equality, with same-sex partnerships now officially recognised in six areas of the country, including Osaka, Shibuya, Setagaya, and Naha.
While spokespeople and politicians are also doing their best to give a face and voice to the community, now there’s a short film project that’s working at a grassroots level to openly reveal what it’s like to be a gay man in Japan, and it’s currently attracting a lot of attention online.
For an overview of the series’ characters, take a look at this short clip below:
Called Tokyo Neighbors, the 12-part series is currently being released on YouTube, with the first episode appearing at the end of May.
Click on the closed captions button to view the first episode with English subtitles:
While it’s easy to focus on the series’ less-than professional feel, and the fact that the actors aren’t turning in the most stellar performances, these elements actually work to the show’s advantage. Rather than presenting exaggerated characters with polished or over-the-top performances, a caricature commonly portrayed by gay personalities on Japanese television shows, this series plays up the everyday awkwardness of the men onscreen.
The absence of professional lighting and conventional camera shots gives each episode a raw feel, adding to the sense of reality, which serves to highlight the fact that these lives and these experiences really do exist in Japan.
▼ These men are, in fact, your Tokyo neighbours.
Onabys Pictures, the group who spearheads the team of photographers, illustrators, musicians and actors involved in the project, is currently releasing a new episode of Tokyo Neighbors every Monday and Thursday on their YouTube channel.
The series, which centres around a Tokyo bar in Shinjku’s ni-chome district, follows different characters as they explore topics such as love, marriage and coming out, with an honesty and frankness that’s rare to find on mainstream TV shows.
While English subtitles are yet to be added to the rest of the episodes in the series, we’re hoping that they get added soon so we can follow them on their journey up until their very last episode, which is scheduled to appear on 6 July.
For updates and more information about the series and the people involved in the project, head on over to the Tokyo Neighbors Twitter account. With series like this one and Japanese television ads also working to raise awareness for the LGBT community, hopefully it won’t be too long before we see more leaps and bounds being made towards equal rights in Japan.