The upcoming Avengers movie is currently filming in Atlanta, Georgia. Recent set photos reveal what appears to be a Tokyo setting. It doesn’t quite hit its target. Here’s why.
The set isn’t the worst effort at recreating Japan in the USA, and it looks more like what someone might think Shibuya, Harajuku or Akihabara look like than what they actually do.
Here’s a view of the set. From afar, the street just waiting for movie magic to turn it into Tokyo.
Whether you think this aesthetically looks like Tokyo is a debate worth having, but where the Avengers set really gets tripped up is in the details.
It’s not enough to have a bunch of signs in a foreign language to get the vibe of a place. That’s superficial. You need to get those signs correct, and that can be surprisingly difficult.
Via AtlantaFilming, here are set images proving that.
What jumps out are a couple things. One is the orange sign that reads “24間営.” It looks like one character (業) is blocked by the purple bar, so the sign actually reads, 24間営業 (24kan eigyou).
Which looks really weird. It should read 24時間営業 (24 jikan eigyou), which means “Open 24 hours.” This sign is missing the 時 character, so the sign doesn’t say “jikan” (時間), here meaning “hours.” Only having the character 間, makes it read like “24 spaces,” “24 intervals” or “24 gaps.” In Japanese, it basically reads, “Open 24 gaps.” It’s a typo Japanese sign makers would not make, just as English language sign makers don’t goof up with “Opun” signs.
Here are several stores with 24時間営業 (Open 24 hours) signs. Notice how much English there is? That’s the one thing Hollywood continually gets wrong. When it tries to recreate Japan, it puts everything in Japanese, which simply isn’t done in reality.
The advertisement for the anime and manga store (bottom sign with the weepy eyes) is called “Chika no Shuunin” (地下の住人 or “basement dweller”) and gives its location as 地下 (chika), meaning “basement” or “underground.”
Attempt at humor aside, an actual Japanese sign would not say 地下 (chika) for a location, but B1, B2, or B3 (basement level 1, basement level 2, or basement level 3). This is even true for stores with only one basement level.
B1F, B2F, or B3F are also common.
One of these signs reads 最後の呼び出し (saigo no yobidashi), which means “last call” in a Google Translate kind of way. “Yobidashi” means “call,” “summon,” “marshal,” “subpoena,” and “send for.” It looks incredibly odd in Japanese and even somewhat scary. Like someone is going to die.
If the sign is supposed to mean “last call” as in what happens at restaurants or bars, which seems to be the case because the sign shows a hand with chopsticks, then perhaps ラストオーダー (rasuto oodaa or “last order”) would have been better.
The sign reading 吠えるバー (hoeru baa) or “barking bar” miffed people online in Japan until they seemed to figure out it was an English alliteration, but even then it’s hard to follow and bizarre.
The above tweet reads, “Hoeru bar?????? (The Avengers 4 Japanese style set constructed in Atlanta).”
How does this happen? It’s for the same reason that Japanese recreations of America don’t really look like America! Nailing the look and feel of a place is hard. But surely, can’t these movies that cost hundred of millions of dollars at least get the signs right? Or maybe it’s something else.
As this Twitter user points out, even though times have changed and with the internet, there’s also sorts of info at one’s fingertips, Hollywood continues to portray Japan the same way it’s done since 1982.
Be sure to follow AtlantaFilming if you’re interesting in movies being shot in the city.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.