A Norwegian YouTuber, known simply as Mr. Yabatan, has become quite a hit in Japan for his antics playing a silly foreigner.
Mr. Yabatan, who has kept his real name a secret for privacy reasons, started his “cultural comedy” back in 2014. His Instagram account boasts of more than 375,000 followers while his YouTube channel has so far racked up a total of over 6.7 million views.
His Youtube persona, a newbie French visitor exploring the country for the first time, seems convincing enough despite having visited the country multiple times since 2012.
According to Yabatan, he committed himself to language school in Japan back in 2013 after spending two weeks in the country the year before. He would then travel between Norway and Japan over the years before finally settling into Tokyo in 2017.
In an interview with Japan Times, Yabatan said his language school training led him to his idea to do imitations.
“So I started doing accents, in Japanese,” he revealed. “Very simple, in my room. This character kind of became Yabatan. He’s innocent, pure. He sounds a little weird. He misunderstands things, but he has that respect for everything.”
Yabatan’s typical videos show him as a gleeful, excited, but sometimes perplexed foreigner, delivering his trademark catchphrase, “I am really surprised!” While his videos are in Japanese, he includes English subtitles for his international audience.
Yabatan believes his act has become a hit among netizens due to his over-the-top comedy which is popular among Japanese comedians in a variety show. His audiences also appear to find his fluent yet stiff delivery of Japanese language quite entertaining judging by the reactions.
His videos usually involved finding a good location and then come up why it’s cool from a foreigner’s perspective.
“Then I take the Japanese language and find the funny things present in the language to try to come up with things that they will think is funny,” he revealed.
Yabatan also shared that the most common criticism he receives come from non-Japanese people, who thinks his representation of foreign residents can be misleading.
“It’s never nice to read negative comments, but I believe in what I do,” he said. “I guess this person just doesn’t understand what I’m doing. So it doesn’t really matter what this person thinks about what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I believe in it, and I have many fans who like what I do.”