Thirty Minutes over Tokyo

Infobox Simpsons episode
episode_name = Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo

image_caption= Homer and Bart in a Japanese jail.
episode_no = 226
prod_code = AABF20
airdate = May 16, 1999
show runner = Mike Scully
writer =
Donick Cary
Dan Greaney
director =
Jim Reardon
blackboard = "I'm so very tired"
couch_gag = The Simpsons sit on the couch, but get sucked inside and come out looking like shredded paper.
guest_star =
George Takei as Wink
Denice Kumagai as Japanese Mother
Karen Maruyama as Japanese Stewardess
Gedde Watanabe as Japanese Father/Waiter
Keone Young as Fish
Mako as Battling Seizure Robot
commentary = Matt Groening
Mike Scully
Donick Cary
George Meyer
Ron Hauge
Matt Selman
Jim Reardon
season = 10
"Thirty Minutes over Tokyo" is the season finale of "The Simpsons"' tenth season, which originally aired on May 16, 1999. This episode was never aired in Japan and is not included in the Japanese Simpsons season ten DVD box set.


The family, on Lisa's suggestion, visits a cyber café named The Java Server. However, things get dangerous when Homer, looking at his bank account online, is cyber-robbed by Snake, which saddens Marge because they were saving the money for their family vacation. After Homer has a discussion with Flanders (when Ned catches Homer burgling his house to recover the lost money), he says that he got more for less by attending the Chuck Garabedian Mega-Savings Seminar. After considering Ned's advice, Homer steals Flanders' tickets (and his Jesus fish fridge magnet). The family attends the seminar, which explains many money-saving strategies, some of these examples used by Chuck are: his suit is the same suit that Roy Cohn died in, the yacht he owned smelled like cat urine, and the beautiful women by his side used to be men. Later, in order to save money, they go to a 33¢ store where Homer eats a can of plankton which contains red tide poisoning, as warned by “the Mexican Council of Food.” They get tickets to go to Tokyo when they get mega-saver tickets at the airport, narrowly snagging them from the Flanders family.

The Simpsons arrive in Japan and, although Lisa wants to explore Japanese culture when they go there, Homer prompts the family to eat at an American-themed restaurant named Americatown. Later on, Homer and Bart attend a sumo wrestling match. While there, Homer picks a fight with one of the sumo wrestlers. He and Bart knock him out, and the Emperor of Japan comes to congratulate Homer. After introducing himself as "The Emperor", Homer thinks he is another wrestler and throws the man into a dumpster of worn mawashi. As a result, he and Bart are put in jail. They stay in jail, learning Japanese and exploring its culture until Marge pays the bail. But when Homer makes an origami crane from his last million yen, he loses it in the wind, saying a Japanese version of his famed "D'oh!" catchphrase.

After losing the money, the family goes to the U.S. Embassy, and the Ambassador suggests that the family get jobs. They eventually find work in a fish-gutting factory in Osaka. The Simpsons are dissatisfied with their new jobs, except for Bart who believes he has found his purpose in life, until they watch a TV game show called "The Happy Smile Super Challenge Family Wish Show". They decide to appear on the show, telling the game's Japanese host Wink that what they wish for is to get plane tickets back to Springfield, but they have to go through a rough ride and suffer physical torture (particularly Homer). The Simpsons are given their tickets, but they must be retrieved from a bridge over an active volcano. Lisa is able to get the tickets, but the bridge breaks and the whole family falls into the volcano, which is actually only orangeade - with lots of wasabi added. The family get their plane tickets and leave Japan. As they leave, their plane is confronted by Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera and Rodan but Lisa goes to sleep and the monsters let the plane fly off on the journey back to America.


According to DVD commentary, at the time of making this episode Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer and Nancy Cartwright were working on the American Godzilla remake, hence the original Godzilla reference.

Cultural references

* The title is a reference to "Thirty Seconds over Tokyo", a film based on the Doolittle Raid.
* When the family goes to the cyber cafe, Homer tells Lisa he just invested in something called NewsCorp, then with Lisa saying, "Dad, that's Fox!" This is a reference to Fox's parent company, News Corporation.
* At the Mega Savings seminar, Rich Uncle Pennybags (the icon from the game 'Monopoly') is sitting next to Mr. Burns and after a brief chat, he drives away in a car which is also one of the playing pieces of the board game.
* Homer says he wants to travel to Jamaica "to pass the dutchie on the left hand side." A reference to the 1983 reggae song by Musical Youth.
* When Marge says to Homer on the plane that he liked "Rashomon" by Akira Kurosawa, Homer claims he doesn't remember it that way. The underlying joke is that this famous film is about people remembering different things about the same event.
* The fictional movie which is being filmed in the plane where the Simpsons travel to Japan which features Jim Belushi dressed in a toga while screaming "TOGA!" is a reference to his brother John Belushi's famous film National Lampoon's Animal House.
* Bart plays a Nintendo Game Boy while on the plane. A brief picture shows that he is playing Tetris.
* A sign on the Japanese Royal Hotel says: "Now with 20 % more bowing. (See Customs and etiquette of Japan).
* When Homer goes to the toilet, we see a picture with モスラ written on it. This is the Japanese name of Godzilla's enemy/ally Mothra.
* The buildings Lisa sees out of the hotel window are the Imperial Gardens, the Meiji Shrine and the Hello Kitty factory.
* The fictional mecha anime "Battling Seizure Robots" is a reference to the infamous Pokémon episode "Dennō Senshi Porygon" (or as known as in the English translation of the title, "Electric Soldier Porygon"), which is known for having caused around "700" photosensitive epileptic seizures around 20 minutes into the episode. This event is also known as "Pokémon Shock" (ポケモンショック, Pokemon Shokku), and caused the episode to be banned world-wide. It also changed the laws for Japanese television broadcasting.
* Other typical Japanese things like the gong, haiku, fusuma doors, square watermelons, geisha's, origami, sumo, Japanese gardens, Emperor Akihito, the tea ceremony, wasabe and water spraying toilets (See Toilets in Japan) are referenced.
* Americatown might be a parody of Amerikamura, an American outlet similar to Chinatown.
* Homer mentions he once knew a man from Nantucket. When Bart asks Homer about him, he says: "Let's just say the stories about him are greatly exaggerated."
* Woody Allen filming a commercial in Japan is a reference to various Hollywood celebrities who made Japanese commercials. These commercials are known for usually putting American celebrities in a strange, totally out of character context. During his speech Woody Allen references his films Interiors and Bananas.
* Homer and Bart tell Marge and Lisa that during their jail time they had to perform in a kabuki play called The 47 Ronin, followed by origami, flower arranging and meditation.
* The fish that Bart kills during his job in Osaka ("Spare my life and I will grant you three wishes") is a reference to the fable "." When Homer was talking to Ned about how he thought they were, he states that he has Marge locked up in a mudbeehive, which is the same place the Fisherman and his wife reside in said fairytale.
*In the Latin American version of this episode, when Homer watches the TV at the factory, he says that he wanted to see "Dragon Ball Z". At the time of the translation of this episode, "Dragon Ball Z" was the most watched (Japanese) TV show in this part of the world. In Mexico, Canal 5, a family oriented channel aired "Dragon Ball Z" at 8:00 PM, opposed to "The Simpsons" that airs in the rival channel, Azteca 7.
* The gameshow which the Simpsons take part in to win tickets back home is an extremely over the top parody of Japanese gameshows. Although not even close to being as brutal as depicted in this episode, Japanese gameshows are notorious for being very unusual, some demanding a lot of awkward physical activity from its participants. Of partial note is the passing resemblance of the bridge over the volcano to the "Takeshi's Castle" game bridge ball.
* The game show's host, Wink, is named after Wink Martindale and played by George Takei.
* When Homer answers a question correctly on the game show with "Japan", Wink angrily castigates people behind the show's curtain in accurate Japanese: "You idiot! Who gave him the answer?".
*In the scene at Moe's Tavern, when Barney is impersonating Homer, one of the phrases he says is "That boy ain't right!" This is a phrase Hank Hill often said on "King of the Hill" to describe his son, Bobby, which was airing after The Simpsons when this episode first aired on May 1999.
* Bart says he 'll miss the "sparkling whale-free seas of Japan". This is a reference to the fact that Japan still practices whale hunting.
* The appearance of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and Gamera is a reference to the internationally famous Japanese monster movies (kaiju).

External links

*snpp capsule|AABF20
*imdb episode|id=0701273|episode=Thirty Minutes over Tokyo

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