Archive for June, 2013

Tokyo Toy Show . . . for little people and grown-up kids

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Bandai's new line of water guns enables players to shoot around corners.

The 52nd annual International Tokyo Toy Show, which kicked off today at Tokyo Big Sight, is featuring 35,000 products from almost 150 companies from around the globe. Organizers estimate the four-day event will attract at least 160,000 visitors.

At a press preview on June 13, one notable trend was smartphone- and tablet-compatible games and interfaces. Some allowed players to interact with their environment and other gamers.

Another was the emergence of figurines and merchandise spinoffs from popular phone apps.

But the show clearly wasn’t just for kids. Many companies showcased toys aimed at the child inside. And who knows? Maybe Ultraman, Sailor Moon and Mazinger Z can one day appeal to a new generation.

The Tokyo Toy Show is open to the public June 15-16. Admission is free.

[Photos by Mai Hasebe and Eric Ruble]

Tweet Beat: #deresama13, #akb総選挙, #日本代表, #ほこたて

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag.

Bands compete for a spot on a Summer Sonic stage

926 bands are competing for a chance to perform at e+ Meets x Summer Sonic’s #deresama13. “Derreno!? SamaSoni!?” (“You’re playing Summer Sonic?!”) is in its fifth year, offering ostensibly any band the chance to be a hit at #サマソニ, one of the major summer music festivals. The Side-show Marine stage may be small, but it can supposedly put you in front of over 2,000 people.

Bands had to enter by June 4, but the hashtag really lit up when public voting began on the 6th. In addition to votes, which can be submitted via Twitter, plenty of other tweets are flying, including appeals from bands and recommendations from venues. The video included above is by the band in first place overall as of this writing, Mesumen.

After the voting phase ends on the 16th, 500 acts will move on to be culled further by judges. After a final live performance inspection, the winning line-up will be announced on July 24. In 2012, 14 bands performed. Who will make it through this year?

AKB48 fans crown new center for 32nd single

On June 8th, the results of idol group AKB48′s 32nd single general election (#akb総選挙, also #akb48総選挙) were announced live on Fuji TV. Rino Sasahara of sister group HKT48 came in first. This is the fifth years fans have been able to vote for which girls they want to see and hear the most. The right to vote is earned by being a member of various fan clubs or buying the previous single CD for a code — or in one case, 1.9 million yen worth of CDs (that’s almost $20,000 US) prompting someone to ask if it was even possible to open them all in time to vote, in addition to plenty more dropping of jaws.

While the general search results are a mess thanks to some bots, it is still possible to find genuine reactions. One fan remarked how Mayu Watanabe seems to be growing up as evidenced by her speeches, while another admired Yuko Oshima’s ability to take her dethroning lightly. An AKB48 fan club in southern California recorded a video of their reaction to the results, which was later found by Japanese fans. Their conclusion? “They’re just like us.”

“Hoko x Tate” outrages viewers with absurd Hacker vs. Security Co. special

“Hackers: ‘We’ll show you how we can hack any program!’ vs. Boujin: ‘We’ll change any virus into a safe file!’ but what it ended up being was a ’15 hour endurance file search game.’”

Hoko x Tate” is a show on Fuji TV that pits absolute opposites against each other to see which side comes out on top. The June 9 two-hour episode was “Hackers who can invade any program vs. A security program that won’t let any hackers invade,” which translated into pitting three Russian hackers against a security company called NetAgent, makers of email security software, Boujin.

The hackers were supposed to break into a computer to find specific photos, but the computers given to the security team were running on versions of Windows over 10 years old and there were all sorts of rules about what they could and couldn’t do. The hackers were deemed winners in the first round, but not as fast as the show made it out to be. Maybe “30 minutes” was cited as the time it took to the hackers to break in, but in reality they had only jumped threw half of the hoops the security team had thrown at them.”

In the end, NetAgent won overall, because the hackers forfeit due to losing the second round (of three planned rounds) despite hacking into the computer because they couldn’t find the image; it was explained that the “file name was changed,” but it turns out this is was edited by someone on the show’s production side in post and the security team had actually “encrypted the file.” Nevermind that the hackers actually got into the computer. But then, the show was rigged so that the computers had huge security holes. I feel exactly like this Twitter user:

“I didn’t watch it, but looking at my timeline it seems like today’s Hoko x Tate was, simply put, lose-lose?”

The fiasco prompted comments like ”I trust TV show production companies waaay less than computer security companies,” and “Fuji TV vs. Viewers.” NetAgent later posted a detailed blog post about exactly what conditions were like and security measures they took that ended up leaving some people with a positive image of the company, despite Fuji’s harmful editing choices and the overall bad set-up.

Info added from Gadget Tsūshin.

Bonus: Japan qualifies for World Cup

Although the official hashtag for team Japan is #daihyo, the most popular one during last week’s World Cup qualifying match versus Australia was #日本代表. The Japan Times social media team actually created a Storify summary of the event featuring plenty of tweets, so if you haven’t seen it yet, definitely check it out!

Japan by the numbers (06.11.13)

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

J-blip: high school girls with ‘tuba guns’

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Japanese students have sparked yet another inspired photo meme. This time they’ve put a new twist on the Makankosappo meme that went viral a few months ago. Using “tuba guns” (チューバ砲 “Chuuba Hou”), school band members appear to be blasting one another away with their instruments.

A French horn is just as explosive, and as is the drum section.

The tuba guns are just the latest in a string of memes that have swept across Japan and beyond as kids create their own versions of each photo craze. In a recent Tweet Beat, we talked about an “Attack on Titan” meme that shows some impressive staging skills, making students appear to be eating each other. We also shared this recreation of “The Death of Socrates,” which has received some 21 thousand retweets.

Hungry for more? These sideways-studying scholars show that being a Japanese student doesn’t have to mean all work and no play. They might even have time for a round of Quidditch à la Harry Potter after school.

Tweet Beat: #tof2013, #ビフォーアフター, #rubykaigi

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag.

Good memories for “Tales of” fans

Tales of Festival 2013 (#tof2013) was held June 1 and 2 at the Yokohama Arena. The annual event is put on by Bandai Namco for fans of the “Tales of” RPG series that has been going strong since 1995′s “Tales of Phantasia.” The biggest news was that “Tales of Symphonia” and “Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World” (originally released on GameCube and Wii respectively) are getting upgraded and ported to PS3 as “Tales of Symphonia: Chronicles.” The main draw, however, was the chance to see series voice actors perform original skits live. Each day was different, so there was a lot to take in. Comprehensive reports on both days are online on various sites, but if you regret not making it to Yokohama, watch the official page for news of the DVD release.

Did you even know pro wrestlers lived in a dorm?

On June 2, Asahi Broadcasting Corporation’s home make-over show “Daikaizou Gekiteki Before After” (hashtagged as #ビフォーアフター) aired a two-hour special about  ”a dorm whose fighting spirit is almost burned out,” the dorm of . . . the New Japan Pro Wrestling crew. According to the show recap, besides a myriad of spacial issues, the foundation was held together in some places with packing tape and poking a hole in the wall was as easy as laying a hand on it.

One of the major changes was adding a lobby to connect the dorm, dojo and bathing area, but Liger‘s new room was especially impressive, having been tailored to his taste for tatami:

People laughed at some of the staging, felt inspired by the positive attitude of the athletes and noted that Tanaka and Kobayashi got a follower bump  (yet another before and after).

Rubyists gather in Tokyo

If you know anything about Ruby, you know it was born in Japan. #rubykaigi, the conference for Rubyists (people who code in the Ruby programming language), came back in 2013 after taking last year off. For three days from May 30-June 1 at the Tokyo International Exchange Center, participants celebrated the release of Ruby 2.0 with talks focusing on a variety of projects, including a robotics framework, not to mention the past, present, and future of Ruby itself and how programmers can stay involved in the community. This time there was Ja-En interpretation available.

Beyond being a great place to learn about developments in the Ruby world, it was apparently also a great place to eat lunch (handed out by no less than the creator of Ruby himself, Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto). One participant met an old friend after 15 years. If you weren’t able to attend, talks that were filmed will be available on Vimeo soon.

Pulsations (06.02.13)

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

Visual Pulse

Japanese feline Internet sensation, Maru, has turned 5 years old. In his latest video, he can be seen trying to squeeze his frame into just about anything. We find his attempt at a paper envelope particularly entertaining.

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