What Happens When "The World Sinks Except Japan"

A Japanese social satire of the country's love-hate relationship with America, The World Sinks Except Japan is about what happens when earthquakes suck every land mass under the ocean. Except Japan.

One immediate result is that everybody has to immigrate to Japan. So the country has to throw its doors wide to a multicultural crowd of refugees, who live in shantytowns all over the island. At first the Japanese are enchanted by all the American movie stars and politicians who flock to their country, but (as you can see in the clip above) the honeymoon is quickly over when overcrowding and xenophobia kick in.


Foreigners are forced to become maids and thieves, famous actors are reduced to selling underwear with their lipstick stains in them, and a Tom Cruise-like actor (who keeps waving his Oscar around) is deported to a watery grave for stealing a piece of candy.

Released in Japan in 2006, and distributed in the US with English subtitles by Synapse Films last year, The World Sinks, Except Japan is a weird and pleasingly bitter satire of Japanese politics and pop culture. It was especially interesting to me as a Westerner, since the stereotypes of whiteys are so clueless (a Texan girl speaks English with a French accent, for example). And yet the movie is self-aware enough to make fun of the Japanese tendency to use pop culture as a way to work out frustrations with foreigners.


This movie really has everything: Global apocalypse, panty-chasing scientists, tragic interracial love, giant monsters, Japanese men being waited on by Western maids, and a scene where a washed-up Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis (played by Japanese actors) are ordered to "act out a scene" from their movies for a drunken Japanese salaryman with a few yen. Must be seen to be believed!

Check out The World Sinks, Except Japan at Synapse Films.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



That was some beer. No beer made me 53 stories tall and 55000 tons.

I just loved the irony of a nation sitting on a major fault line and built on the remains of volcanoes surviving earthquakes that sink the rest of the world but anyone not educated in Japan realizes that silly facts never stopped the Japanese from telling their stories (or writing most of their history for that matter.)