We originally ran this piece on April 8, 2014, the anniversary of Twin Peaks debut on ABC. Today it was announced Twin Peaks will return to Showtime in 2016 for a nine-episode series.
By Legba Carrefour
David Lynch’s work has always done well in Japan (and France) one of the major reasons no single film of his, no matter how absolutely disjointed and accidentally self-parodic (cf. Dune, which I love but has its…ah…flaws, shall we say), has ever lost money. Twin Peaks kicked it to another level. Somehow, despite only one broadcaster with a mere 900,000 subscribers in 1992, the Japanese embraced the idiosyncratic drama with gusto. The low-level of reach has led more than a few stateside commentators to wonder whether the Japanese were going nuts for a show they’d never even seen. That could either be a sign of collective madness, a testament to the strength with which Lynch was able to capture eyeballs with a murderous hook and reel them in with the tweaky soap opera, or both. The New York Times reported that thousands attended unofficially organized mock funerals for Laura Palmer in Tokyo and other cities and other media noted a big business of organized travel tours from Japan to Snoqualmie and North Bend, Washington to see filming locations. Tourists would take photos of themselves wrapped in plastic, playing dead.
Ultimately, it should come as no surprise how well the show did there. The Lynchian take on soap opera is readily adaptable to the then-exploding-out-of-Japan medium of anime’s emphasis on sweeping sudden emotional aggregates, non-sequiturs, characters that are somehow broadly-drawn yet deeply idiosyncratic, and an underlying brutality that can only be described as appalling and lurid, yet rendered deeply compelling thanks to the tricks of the screen. The dark (and highly recommended) manga and anime Monster even featured a neo-Nazi character named the Baby, clearly influenced by the Man From Another Place, frequently dancing in a curtained off room reminiscent of the Red Room.
Take a brief look with us at a few of the brilliant bits of cultural errata produced by the Japanese, officially and unofficially, right up to this day, or take some time to troll eBay. We swear you’ll be amazed at the creativity that far surpasses the dull mugs and t-shirts we got.
Not so much a piece of Japanese produced memorabilia as a sheer testament to how clap-your-hands-with-glee excited the Japanese seem to get about the show, here’s a photo of Frank Silva (aka Killer BOB, malevolent spirit of the Black Lodge) screaming like a loon to the absolute delight of Japanese tourists visiting Snoqualmie, Washington.
Don’t believe us? Here’s a video of Frank Silva simply looking quiet and menacing for 35 seconds on Japanese television.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlV2R3iILbw
The Japanese were so into the show that they got the first fully functional box set of the entire series plus both versions of the pilot and the Fire Walk With Me feature film…for $440 USD. 22,000 copies were sold, despite the highway-robbery price.
On the creepier side of fan memorabilia but still actively on sale, are phone cards bearing the image of Laura Palmer’s escort advert photo. Others are a bit less dark, featuring various characters from the show.
Are you a fan of Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting soundtrack? Of course you are. Are you a fan of the show’s many lush and languid exterior shots? Of course you are. Would you listen and watch both them on a loop? Damn straight. So WOWOW (the Japanese broadcaster who held the rights to air the show) produced a “Visual Soundtrack” release: The full soundtrack album set against a compendium of exterior shots from filming locations as well as general tourist videos.
Would you kill to play a Twin Peaks video game? Well, too bad, there aren’t any official releases. But you can play bootleg imitators like 1998 Playstation release Mizzurna Falls about a high school boy searching for the murderer of a beautiful high school girl in a small town at the foot of two large peaks in Colorado. Whaaaat? One imitator game isn’t enough? Here’s another, Deadly Premonition, a game that was originally to be released as Rainy Woods, a game so close to the plot of Twin Peaks that the entire development had to be be delayed while the protagonist (a baffling town-outsider with a guff manner and a tendency towards confusing non-sequiturs) and major plot points (You like really short guys in Red Rooms? You do? This game upped the ante by giving us no less than two Men From Another Places) were overhauled before its 2010 release. BONUS ROUND: This isn’t Japanese but an American designer released a homemade Atari 2600-style tribute game called the Black Lodge for both Mac and PC in 2011. 8-bit Kyle Maclachlan!
Turned off by all that high-tech not-friendly-for-smalltown-life gaming? Kick it old school with this truly Byzantine (and we mean that as a compliment) Twin Peaks board game released in the 90’s, complete with a game map so detailed it actually served as a reference point for our own map-making ventures. Also included was a full scale character map, helping you keep track of our strange little corner of the soap opera world.
The Japanese may appreciate coffee more than Mr. Lynch. If you’ve ever doubted their love of Coop and coffee, these very amazing commercials should alter your mind. Watch them in order.
THANK YOU, JAPAN!