In Japan Focus, Stephen Epstein and Rumi Sakamoto discuss The Pizza Ad and the various reactions.
Here’s just a sample:
Irony can be a risky strategy in the absence of obvious cues to tip it off, as anyone who has ever had an intended attempt at humor in e-mail misconstrued knows well. This factor lies in part behind the striking differences in the like/dislike ratios of mirrored versions of the same video. Moreover, when in-group discourse such as that of 2-channeru leaves its immediate context, we encounter strong reaction against it by those who don’t share the same sensibilities. Even the same internet site can, as a result of contingent circumstance and circulation, develop different “cultures of commenting” on different mirrored webpages. We have made clear our own subject position in regard to this Mr. Pizza ad as New Zealand-based scholars who work on questions of East Asian nationalisms and national identity in the Web 2.0 era: we find it a stroke of genius. Many academic friends with whom we have shared it have agreed. Yet, we also recognize that our position is merely one possible reaction and can hardly be taken as authoritative. YouTube commenters are regularly asking each other “Is this a joke?” or “Should one find this funny?” Indeed, part of the humor is that for several seconds, we too, on a first viewing, were uncertain whether we were seeing an expression of East Asian nationalistic debates over product originsin extremis.