I don't understand advertising campaigns like "don't trust your mates"... for me, the message is ambigous... or better said, it is a linear message: never, ever trust your mates because it can get you killed. OK, I get that, so far so good. The guy is just too stupid to keep hanging out with "redneck-friends" who always play pranks on him... however, when he gets into the car full of drunks... that is not a prank. So, there is no linear relationship between pranks like wrapping a celophan on the toilet seat or tipping off a port-a-loo. It's not that the drunken driver wanted to play a prank by crashing into a pole! They are just beeing stupid still. The story could be OK, IF... for example, someone covers the eyes of the driver just to play chicken and see if the friend gets scared. Drunk driving is not a prank, it's just stupidity. So, for me, the idea of "don't trust your mates" doesn't make any sense.
Anyway, back to the japanese... here's a good example of cultural encoding: The japanese version of spiderman. Look at the typical elements: the super hero is always a normal average person or even better a "loser"... the bad guys always send a monster or someone powerfull to destroy the superhero, but they never fight face to face, because the vilains are always out of reach. If the monster transforms into a super-size monster, then the hero also has a way of getting bigger (by means of an exo-skeleton or simply with a magic spell or device). When the hero launches an attack, he has to shout what it is like: "supaideruneto". There's always someone dead to avenge. And many, many other cliches... you just have to get used to them to be able to understand the whole plot.
OK, go get some popcorn! and enjoy this 1/2 hour episode of Supaaideluman. (I admit, this is also a test for embedding movies on my blog).
If you think about western cliches and conventions on movies and tv series, they are also not very sophisticated... it's just that we are more familiar with them and play along. But for an outsider, they may look silly aswell. Once again, if you want to learn more about encoding of meanings and intertextuality... just read David Chandler's book.