Image pinched from the Charisma Man home page where one can order a comic book of the strips. Click this version to see a more readable size, or, visit the web site.
Back when I first started working in Japan, there was a young Canadian man working at Nova who worked the same morning shifts as I. He was only 20 years old and had come to Japan when he was 19. Somehow, he managed to get a work visa despite only having some junior college under his belt. (For those who don't know, the minimum requirement for a work visa is (usually) a Bachelor's degree.)
On occasion, I interacted with him either when no lessons were scheduled or in the conversation lounge when we were scheduled in there together. Unsurprisingly, he was sometimes pretty immature. Somewhat surprisingly, he was prone to emotional outbursts on the job. The main things I noticed were that he was prone to chatting with young female students in Japanese whenever the least opportunity presented itself, even when he was supposed to be helping them practice English.
As time went by, he developed a crush on a British coworker who I was friends with. He interacted with her like a lovesick puppy until she agreed to go on a trip to Tokyo Disneyland with him a few young Japanese women. Upon returning from this foray, my friend told me that his behavior was extremely childish and overtly attention-seeking and boastful. She said she was both embarrassed to be with him and as a witness to this behavior in front of the Japanese women. She also said that she was told by the Japanese girls that his speaking was very much like that of a Japanese schoolgirl because he'd honed his skills on young girls.
This young man didn't tend to socialize much with the foreign coworkers between classes or at lunch time. He tended to spend most of his time chatting with secretaries or lunching with students. At that time, socializing with students was not prohibited, or, if it was, it wasn't enforced. Eventually, he seemed to develop a superior and contemptuous attitude toward the other foreigners and wanted little to do with them, particularly after my friend was forced to overtly reject his interest in her.
I didn't know it at the time, but I'd just had my first experience with a classic "charisma man" type of foreign male. This is the type of guy who lacks sufficient social skills and emotional maturity in his home culture that he would have a lot of difficulty cultivating a romantic relationship with a woman in his home country, but cross-cultural differences allow him to form relationships in Japan. His "foreignness" explains his awkwardness and lack of grace in a manner which allows Japanese women to forgive him. They can't tell the difference between someone who doesn't conform to their cultural expectations because he doesn't know how to and someone who is an oafish dork. Also, Japanese people value tolerance and "enduring" hardship silently as a part of their culture so the women feel that part of being in a relationship is accepting the rough patches in their mates to a far greater extent than foreign women do. Previously, I talked about how Japanese women also generally have different expectations of a mate and that's part of the situation as well.
Fast forward 12 years and the "charisma man" I worked with at Nova shows up as an employee at the company which bought out my former company. The interesting thing is that his arrogance, disdain for foreigners and tendency to suck up to the Japanese haven't changed. He says he actually hates foreign employees over a decade down the road. I avoided him as much as possible and am relieved that he didn't work in the same office as I, but rather in a branch office.
Among the men who fit the category lampooned in the cartoon above (and please don't misunderstand, I am not asserting that all men who pursue relationships with Japanese women fit this category...they don't, not by a long shot), I've noticed they tend to have certain things in common. Before undies get balled up in large, uncomfortable wads, keep in mind, sensitive male readers, that even if you fit every item on this list, I'm not saying you're one of these losers. After all, I don't know you so I can't possibly be talking about you. I can only talk about the men I've actually met.
- Most of these men came to Japan at a relatively young age and had limited social experience back home. They tend to be here for the vast majority of their young adult socialization and maturation process.
- Most of them met their wives or girlfriends in Japan, not in their home countries. I've noticed a serious difference between men who meet Japanese women in their home countries and marry them then come to Japan as compared to men who meet their wives here initially. The former tend to be a lot nicer group of guys.
- All of them (in my experience) are good at speaking Japanese as it is a high priority to become proficient enough to chat up girls, but also they prefer socializing with Japanese people as they can easily impress them simply by being foreign. They also vigorously throw themselves into practicing as it gives them more interaction with women.
- Few of them have ever had a Western girlfriend.
- Most of them have extremely stereotypical and derogatory opinions about Western women. They tend to view them as lazy, pushy, controlling, demanding, and opinionated.
- Most of them have stereotypical and shallow opinions of Japanese women and emphasize the physical assets of Japanese women in opposition to their stereotypical views of the physicality of Western women. That is, they talk about how naturally (and eternally) slim, beautiful, nurturing (as in willing to do all the cooking and cleaning without complaint), and feminine (quiet, demure) Japanese women are whereas Western women are all going to end up fat and ugly.
- Most of them base their relationship from an emotional viewpoint on trivialities such as Japanese pop culture and light social activities like karaoke, pub crawling, travel, and sports. Few of them value deep or meaningful dialog with their significant other as an important part of a relationship.
- Most are very arrogant and have difficulties when their ideas, opinions or knowledge are challenged. Personally, I believe that is because debate where ones assertions are disagreed with is not common in Japan and since most of these men came here at a young age, they have never developed the ability to handle disagreement well, particularly if women have been a large focus in their socialization here.
- Most of them dislike other foreigners and tend to regard most of them with contempt. In some cases, part of this contempt involves constantly measuring other foreigners' language ability, work type and status and cultural knowledge against theirs and smugly concluding they are better.
In many ways, there's nothing wrong with these guys as they are succeeding in a manner which harms no one and often makes the Japanese women they couple with (seemingly) happy enough. In fact, they have essentially traded in social failure in one country for social success in another. The only problem comes when you're a fellow foreigner and are forced to work or interact with one of these sorts and put up with the attitude. It's a real test of your better nature to be around one of them for any length of time and to not start returning the contempt they exude at you in kind.