Re: American special series
Japanese Fenders are great guitars, underappreciated by the world at large but highly regarded by many people who know them. I really doubt a 2008 is MIJ, as far as I know, recent Fenders are made in the USA, Mexico, or Korea. China for the Squiers. If you find a MIJ Fender from the Nineties, even a Squier, those are the good ones.
I don't know exactly what the hardware quality level on the American Special is but they are nice guitars. Pickups (Texas Specials, I think) sound great and the finish is gorgeous. Gloss urethane.