Just when you thought Queer Eye couldn't get any better, along comes Queer Eye We're In Japan. So this is where the fab five embark on a mission to improve the lives of four Japanese people. This could have been a disaster. Ordinarily, it's a very tricky thing to take the idea of a show and impose it on a completely different culture. The Japanese, by their nature, are more reserved and quiet with entirely different customs and needs to Americans. So how did the Queer Eye team fare?
Actually very well. You get the distinct impression that none of the guys had any pre-conceived notions about the heroes they were featuring. They were sensitive to local customs and rolled with quieter personalities very well. They were probably also very shocked by the honesty of their heroes, who tended to very to-the-point about the changes needed in their lives. Which, as a viewer is very refreshing.
There are four episodes in Queer Eye We're In Japan and each runs at about 50 minutes. The first features Yoko, one of the sweetest people to have ever graced a tv screen. Yoko, a nurse, has surrendered her life to her home which she has turned into a hospice. Years of neglect means she has given up on being a woman. Honestly, it's such a sad story and she is so genuinely lovely that you can't feel heartbroken for her. But with some much deserved TLC, the guys go about transforming her home and her self-esteem. It's feel-good at it's finest.
Next up is Kan, a gay man struggling to come out and live in Japan. With a boyfriend in England, Kan is a guy with one foot out the door and must make some decisions about who he wants to be in the world. However, the out-and-proud aspect that the show tries to reinforce on Kan lacked the cultural sensitivity that it needed. It really isn't that straight forward for people living in Japan. However, the story ended well so…
The third episode focuses on manga artist Kae. Now, for those of you who have ever complained about needing more space, you really need to see the size of the room Kae shares with her sister. Teeny weeny and totally impractical, it is down to Bobby to work a miracle – and he does. Check out that mini-staircase!
Last but not least is one of the most personal and frankly moving episodes ever. Makoto is a painfully shy guy. Married for a number of years, he admits that not only is the marriage sexless, he's not even sure if his wife loves him. They live in incredibly cramped and cluttered quarters and haven't been on a date for years. This is where, as a team, the Queer Eye guys excel.
Overall, Queer Eye We're In Japan is a truly inspiring and uplifting show. There were some points which I felt were unnecessary, however. The introduction of their guide didn't seem to add much and she tended to be a little OTT at times. But other than that it is four hours of sublime feel-good tv. Let's hope they make more soon!