One of my bosses at the studio gives me pretty good advice quite often, sometimes telling me stuff I haven’t even noticed before. One such thing is that Japanese can’t hold my gaze and I can assure a superior position in arguments this way, because of the power they feel in my stare due to my different facial structure. I was really fascinated by this idea and decided to try it in practice.
Actually I tried it a few times when talking with the producer, but without much success. For this I can think of two reasons: one is that he’s got longer professional experience than I’m alive, and the other is that our discussions were always really neutral and peaceful, so there was no reason for him to feel threatened whatsoever.
Then the other day I was discussing this project sketch with another guy, and as he’s done on a number of occasions before when the topic arose, he brought up a (or possibly, the only) project he started, that got gutted by the sponsors and in the end turned into Sacred Seven. He seemed to be displeased with that, so I commented on how anyone with a bit of common sense could see what a terrible flop that show was bound to be (and actually was).
However, he in turn seemed offended by that and, barely able to control his temper (I could hear his voice trembling), told me not to say stuff like that since I’m just a little peon and anyway how many anime have I made to say that. I swallowed my retort of “none, but I know trash anime when I see one” and instead decided to try the gaze.
I sat up straight, clasped my hands and just looked at him. He tried to keep scolding me, but I went on saying hai to whatever he came up with, and just as my boss predicted, in no time I could see that he was losing confidence. He almost shrunk on his seat, and his disdainful attitude was gone in a puff. He couldn’t hold my gaze for more than a few seconds, and instead kept looking around the room like a trapped animal trying to find an escape.
I found guilty satisfaction in his distress, since he’s one of those Japanese who just can’t treat a foreigner as an equal, bringing up cultural differences and tradition every time there’s a disagreement (or in any discussion in general), and constantly amazed by the fact that
this western barbarian I’m capable of communicating and taking notes in Japanese (even after three months of working together). It was a good revenge to give him a taste of “foreigner magic”. (And I now know that I have a powerful tool to use in the ruthless world of business.)