Archive for October, 2009

Rich harvest of autumn anime

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

The last couple of weeks have seen a colourful blizzard of freshly inked anime storm across our screens. For those of you who feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fall releases, we’ve put together a compact roundup of the most promising storylines from the most outlandishly complex fantasy adventures to the more down-to-earth world of high-school romance.

The Fighting Librarians (Tatakau Shisyo) – The Book of Bantorra (8/10)

We kick off with The Fighting Librarians (Tatakau Shisyo) – The Book of Bantorra; the librarians in the title are not fighting to retrieve overdue tomes but instead use their super powers to protect magical stone tablets that contain the memories of deceased people. Lead by the voluptuous and rather bloodthirsty Hamyuts Meseta they are fighting a sinister cult called Shindeki Church who seem to preach the rather disturbing doctrine that men are not created equal and that ascent to heaven can only be achieved by indulging your own appetites to excess. While the latter debauched tenant of faith is rather attractive, their treatment of those who they consider to be lesser beings is pretty appalling. They appear to have enslaved an army of people and brainwashed them into believing they are less than human, referring to these slaves as “meats.” If this wasn’t enough some meats have also had bombs surgically implanted in them and are hell bent on killing Hamyuts Meseta. While the librarians are fighting to free the meats, it’s not their first priority and conflict about this issue among their ranks appears to rankle. The difficult moral issues involved are sure to make good fodder for this first season’s viewing. The downside is that we are plunged directly into the complex action from the get-go and if you’re not paying close attention, you’ll easily lose the thread of the storyline.

Continue reading about the best anime of fall 2009 →

Japanese agency projects their message well

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

One of the most interesting and innovative new features in the digital camera market is the built-in projector. Right now, only one camera (the Nikon COOLPIX S100pj) has it, but if it takes off, it won’t be the only one for long.

There’s much to love about this promo video put together by Japan’s GT Inc, a creative agency whose work is frequently brilliant. Take, for example last year’s “Love Distance” commercial, which won big ad the Cannes Lions, the advertising world’s version of the Oscars.

Seriously, have you ever seen a commercial for condoms that could make a grown man weep? I’ve only seen one, and this is it.

Thanks to Jean Snow for pointing this out.

 

NYT’s David Pogue chimes in on the S100pj.

The right platform for selling to women on the go

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Even though Tokyo Metro tried to stop women putting on makeup while riding trains with an ad campaign, it seems that everywhere else on Tokyo’s public transport system, women are being encouraged to indulge in a little personal care. Stores that have popped up in stations include: Ranking-Ranqueen, which, among other things, offers a wide range of best-selling toiletries, cosmetics and skincare products;  Fancl, a preservative-free skincare range; and, more recently, Plazastyle’s cosmetics-focused Beautilicious in the Echika shopping complex inside Ikebukero Station.

Continue reading about station shopping →

Twitter swoops into the Japanese market again

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Have iPhone, will Tweet

Have iPhone, will Tweet

As the tools of Social Networking envelop the globe, Japan’s market remains an elusive jewel that every major player wants in their crown. However, not even the mighty Facebook has been able to usurp local favorite, Mixi and its growing audience. Twitter threw its hat into the ring last year,  but the wildfire growth seen around the globe didn’t catch on here (it’s worth noting that some of the most influential and most followed Twitter users in Japan still hail from other countries). But at a  PR event in Tokyo last Thursday, Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, announced a new strategy: Japan-only mobile site design exclusively for local cell-phone carriers.

Will Japanese users embrace it?

Continue reading about Twitter in Japan →

The fruits of sharing a love of art

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Tokyo Art Beat iPhone appIf you love art and design, then chances are you’ve spent some time perusing the listings and reviews found on Tokyo Art Beat (TAB), or if you get around, perhaps the Kansai (KAB)* and New York (NYAB) sites as well. About a year ago, the clever guys that run Art Beat released their API for all to see, which basically means that they made all of the site’s relevant data available for any programmer to use as he/she sees fit:

“In other words, this time we are setting our data free, free for people to share and broadcast to more places and in more ways than we could imagine.”

One of the fruits of such generosity is the new Tokyo Art iPhone application, which I am growing to love quite quickly. Not only can you search the TAB listings for a particular genre of art you’d like to see (photography, sculpture, etc.), you can also choose a specific area of town you’d like to explore.

The app goes a step further by using the iPhone’s maps and geolocation capability to find the closest Tokyo art and design events to wherever you’re standing. Just open the app and touch the “nearby” button after you choose a radius you want to work with (500 meters to 3,000 meters). A few seconds later, you’ll have gallery choices and directions. You can read TAB’s info on the gallery and exhibit, or go straight to a map.

Sort galleries by distance or popularity, or use the “free” filter to only see events with no entrance charge. There are hundreds of art events every month in Tokyo. TAB made them much easier to discover, and now the the Art Tokyo app practically walks you to their doorstep.

Just one more reason to get out there and see some art.

*KAB is currently on hiatus. They aren’t updating the calendar, but the site is still a great resource for art-related venue information such as maps, descriptions and directions. Just go to the Venues tab.

Fancy pants climb the walls in Ginza

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Visitors to the Sony Building in Ginza on Oct. 19 might be a bit bemused to witness an intrepid climber abseiling down the face of the building and plucking colorful pairs of pants from its wall. Sony’s innovative Recycle Project JEANS is a limited edition sale with a difference: All the jeans are made from the fabric of colorful billboard adverts and to emphasize this point they’re all displayed on the buidling’s exterior.

Out of 120 pairs produced, there are only 20 left, so you’ll have to get to the 3rd floor of the building early with your ¥15,000 if you’re keen to buy a pair. Some of the profits are going to a charity that helps with the restoration of World Heritage sites. While billboard material has been recycled into bags before, we think using it for funky-looking garments is a rather new concept.

Continue reading about Sony's makeovers →

All the leaves are brown . . . and the chips are purple

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Calbee's Jagabee purple potato snack

Calbee’s Jagabee purple potato snack

As the leaves begin slowly to change color on the trees, so too do the products lining the shelves of our local convenience store. Many products, such as Calbee ç Purple Potato pot of potato chips, can only be bought during a particular season.

These chips are made from an unusual variety of purple potato called Inca Purple grown in Hokkaido that contains a naturally occurring pigment called anthocyanin. While Calbee aren’t promoting this snack as a health food, the pigment is an anti-oxidant and has been found to reduce the occurence of stomach cancer in mice.

When we bit into the chip it did taste rather greasy. However, we liked the rough cut natural look of the product and thought that the salt flavor was the perfect complement to its slightly sweet taste. While this purple snack won’t be inspiring any prose of the same hue, we thoroughly recommend it as a more natural alternative to your workaday processed product.

If you’d like to try a pack, don’t forget that they’ll be off the shelves in three months.

Running with the Red Bulls in Odaiba

Monday, October 12th, 2009

At Japan’s first Red Bull Box Cart Race, held Oct. 11 in Odaiba, Tokyo, 78 box carts battled it out on the incline of Yumeno-obashi, competing for a grand prize of ¥1,000,000.

Not surprisingly for an energy drink, Red Bull has poured a lot of marketing dollars into the sponsorship of extreme sports and race-related events. Called Soap Box Races oversease, it would appear that wipeouts are just as important as winners. While the race judges here, led by actor Koichi Iwaki, did have to factor in course times and vehicle performance into their final scores, the event was less about white-knuckle adrenalin and more about homespun humor and creativity. In that respect, everyone was a winner.

Continue reading about the Red Bull Box Cart Race →

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