What if James Bond was Japanese?

As Daniel Craig steps down from the role, we imagine a parallel universe where 007 is actually from Tokyo
James Bond
Illustration: Haruna Nitadori

Words by Cal Widdall

Daniel Craig has announced that ‘Spectre’ will be his last James Bond movie, and after telling Time Out he’d rather slash his wrists with broken glass than do another, we doubt he’ll change his mind. He also said he couldn’t give a hoot who takes over the role (actually, he used a different word than ‘hoot’), but based on the media speculation surrounding the next Bond, he might be the only one who doesn’t care.

The current frontrunner is ‘Homeland’ actor Damian Lewis, but there’s also a substantial amount of support for Idris Elba to become the first black Bond. Which made us wonder how the Bond universe might be altered if he were Japanese. Now, we know what you’re thinking: ‘Hasn’t there been a Japanese James Bond before? In “You Only Live Twice”?’ No, that was just Sean Connery wearing a toupee and eye make-up that was as convincing as it was racially sensitive. Easy mistake to make.

Just to be clear, our musings on how James Bond might be different if he were Japanese are based on the character actually being Japanese, not just the actor playing him. Here, we look at how the 007 fundamentals might change if Bond were a true Tokyoite.

The gadgets
Japan’s notoriety for gadgets could serve our Bond well, and the mix of ultra-modern and anachronistic often seen in Q’s gadgets would be a good match for the country that invented bullet trains yet still uses fax machines. Since Sony took Aibo out to pasture, we probably won’t get an updated version of the robot dog used in ‘A View to a Kill’, but perhaps a humanoid like Honda’s Asimo or Softbank’s Pepper could provide some assistance. The spike umbrella from ‘For Your Eyes Only’ would need to be kept safe in the lab though, as it would almost certainly end up in the wrong hands if left in any public space.

The drink
Rather than the ubiquitous shaken not stirred Martini, our Japanese star might go for something more homegrown. A glass of high quality sake could display a refined taste without sacrificing masculinity, while a cup of matcha tea could signal the beginning of a new teetotal Bond. Perhaps the best choice would be a Yamazaki single malt, which shook and stirred up the whisky industry last year by beating Scottish brands to the title of world’s best.

The catchphrase
Rather than the usual ‘Bond. James Bond’, the Japanese reverse name order would see our new hero introducing himself as ‘Bond James’, confusing his enemies and giving him a few seconds of extra thinking time.

The action
Perhaps our new Bond could take a page out of Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto’s surreal doodle-filled book. During the final development stages of the GoldenEye video game, Nintendo’s legendary producer was concerned about the amount of violence and suggested that it might be nice if, at the end of the game, you got to shake hands with all your enemies in the hospital.

The theme song
In Adele and Sam Smith, the producers have stuck with British talent for the last couple of movies, but let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see a hallucinatory Kyary Pamyu Pamyu-inspired vision of the opening credits?

The sex
Statistics show that while Japan may not be the sexless realm many foreign media outlets have portrayed it to be, there are less undercover operations taking place than in most other countries. For a Japanese Bond, this may actually mean focusing on the mission at hand rather than getting handsy on the mission. Hopefully the sexual innuendo would remain though, it would be enjoyable to see someone else expel them with the obvious discomfort Pierce Brosnan showed.

'Spectre' is out in Japan on December 4. Read our interview with Daniel Craig here.

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