Archive for the ‘J-blip’ Category

The onsen odyssey of the Japanese snow monkey

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

What would lure a monkey away from his kingdom in the snowcapped mountains and into the concrete jungle of Tokyo? A good soak, of course.

That’s the premise of new cinematic commercial from Mitsubishi Estate in which we see a monkey protagonist leaving the natural hot springs of the country with only his wash bucket in hand. He catches a ride on a train to eventually emerge in Japan’s capital and reach his final destination: Tokyo Station. After asking for directions, our hot spring hero finally arrives at Otemachi Onsen.

This wild macaque (called nihonzaru in Japanese) is one of the world-famous monkeys that are known to take dips in natural hot springs in Nagano Prefecture during the winter. The Jigokudani Monkey Park, located in Yamanouchi valley, has become a popular tourist spot where visitors can watch these snow monkeys bathe in peace and warmth.

If the new Tokyo onsen can drive this little guy in all the way from Nagano, then it must be good. The Otemachi Onsen isn’t any regular urban bathhouse — Mitsubishi Estate was actually able to tap into natural hot spring water right in the middle of the city on a plot of land meant to be a hotel and office complex.

The commercial’s scenario is very reminiscent of the classic 1980s Sony Walkman spot in which a monkey enjoys the sonic possibilities of the then “high-tech” cassette player. It seems that a monkey’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s. Seeing as 2016 is, according to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Monkey, the timing couldn’t be better.

Studio Ghibli on a roll with licenses for new toys

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

If you’re still wound up about Studio Ghibli more-or-less leaving the animation industry, there are some new toys that may help ease the pain.

Toy company Nibariki has a new “pullback collection” of figurines that will race forward when wound up. Certain items are downright adorable while others are just creepy crawlers.

On the cute side, Nibariki has three “My Neighbor Totoro” vehicles, including the blue vehicle that Mei and Satsuki cling to during moving day, and the city bus their father takes to work. (Sorry, no Catbus though.) There is also a wooden buggy made from a tree that’s driven by a Totoro.

The new toys based on Studio Ghibli's movies are both darling and disgusting.

The new toys based on Studio Ghibli’s movies are both darling and disgusting.

On the gross side, there are the huge worm monsters from “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” that roll with such realistic movements that it may bug you out. And just like in the movie, the red-eyed beasts will dart forward while blue-eyed ones go at a much slower speed.

All items are available on Ensky Shop’s website and cost ¥2,300, making the perfect stocking stuffer this season for your anime-loving friends.

Sharp dials up the fan service to celebrate 20 years of ‘Evangelion’

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

For those who have always dreamed of owning an Evangelion robot, this might be the closest you get.

Just in time for the 20th anniversary of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”  a mecha lover's wet dream (Kyodo photo)

Just in time for the 20th anniversary of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” a mecha lover’s wet dream (Kyodo photo)

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the popular “Neon Genesis Evangelion” animated series, Sharp is releasing a special smartphone that pays homage to the show both in the device’s hardware and software.

The phone itself is detailed in purple and green with a backside decorated with an Evangelion mech. Naturally the phone’s custom interface echoes the show’s iconic purple and green coloring. For the extra devout, there’s a special themed phone cover.

Perhaps the biggest fanboy perk is 365 different wallpapers that feature illustrations and concept art from the show. Its calendar app will reveal a new wallpaper each day of the year. In addition, the phone will have original character voices and sound effects from the anime.

“Evangelion” fans can apply for the phone, which costs a hefty ¥84,240, at 7-Elevens nationwide on Nov. 2 (or register online). Make sure to suit up and grab yours because the company only plans to make 30,000 units, to be divvied out in December (5,000) and April (25,000).

J-blip: Ipsa’s Face Melody

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Every face has a name, a story and . . . a song? That’s the idea behind cosmetic company Ipsa’s newest creation.

We should, uh, take it at face value, but the company claims that its Face Melody program can measure the user’s appearance and write a unique tune based on their attributes. The application will even create a personalized song title for your fantastic face.

Users can go to Ipsa’s website, upload a picture of their face and watch as the program measures their smile level, face balance, face color and lightness. Then Face Melody will generate a song based on a special algorithm and produce a trippy music video complete with 3-D effects and psychedelic visuals.

Go to the Face Melody website to hear your song.

Mister Donut went berry picking for its newest line of treats

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

mister donut strawberry

Spring is the sweetest time of the year, and Mister Donut is celebrating with its Strawberry Donut Fes.

From now until May, the dessert chain will have a special selection of five sugary sweets for customers, including a custard-filled strawberry croissant donut and a strawberry and whip pie.

mister donut strawberry donut

The standout of the collection though is its strawberry donut, created in the shape of a real strawberry. The treat is topped with green-colored chocolate to resemble a strawberry stem.

The move comes at a time when Seven-Eleven is rolling out its own line of donuts, including a strawberry flavor.

With all treats under ¥200, there’s no excuse not to indulge your sweet tooth. Plus, some of them are covered in real freeze-dried strawberries, meaning there are a few vitamins hidden among all of those calories.

I wanna rock ‘n’ roll all night, and be kawaii, ev-er-y day

Monday, January 26th, 2015

After the major success of Babymetal, who fused Japanese idol culture with head-banging metal and opened for the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Lady Gaga, another J-pop unit is setting their sights on overseas fame and getting a helping hand from rock giants.

The teen idol group Momoiro Clover Z just released a new song, “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saite Mina,” with the help of legendary rockers . . . Kiss.

What? The Satanic pantomimes? The subterranean lizards of Detroit Rock City? Yes, that Kiss.

On Jan. 19, the two released a music video that is high on Japanese tack and low on coherence, more or less taking every possible traditional Japan cliche, putting them in a blender and turning it up to 11. Kiss — who are old enough to be their fathers — provides backup vocals and instrumentation while Momoclo do their thing with “Power Rangers”-esque transformations and sumo dance moves. The ukiyo-e-inspired video features the bands facing off with their signature brands of kowaii (scary) and kawaii (cute). After several back and forths, the leaders of each band eventually shake hands, so the world (and concertgoers) are safe for now.

While this combo might seem a bit random (a fated industry party hook-up perhaps?), the collaboration is actually cross-promotional effort as Kiss is scheduled to tour Japan with — surprise, surprise — Momoclo opening their Tokyo show. In addition, the same day that Momoclo released its newest video on YouTube, they also released an enthralling English introduction video, which includes choice quotes such as such as: “On stage, their ‘Power’ and ‘Performance’ unite the audience regardless of their age or gender.”

Kiss also plan to release their own version of “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saite Mina,” so this video is just the beginning of their budding marketing synergy. Will the aging Kiss Army happily lap up the sugarcoated sounds of J-pop? Or does this PR campaign signal more left-field J-pop collabs to come? Kyary Pamyu Pamyu vs Journey? AKB48 vs Blink 182?

Stranger things have happened — including this video.

J-blip: Doraemon hard boiled eggs soften your heart

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Doraemon1

Doraemon, everybody’s favorite blue robot cat, could be coming to a salad near you in the not-too-distant future.

Doraemon2

Anyone can turn a hard boiled egg into the shape of the Japanese icon, and the good news it doesn’t require Doraemon’s magical gadgets, nor high tech.

The simple four-step process is:
1. make a hard boiled egg
2. peel off the egg shells
3. put the egg in the Doraemon-shaped mold
4. leave it inside cold water for 10 minutes.

Voila! There you have it.

The special mold will be released, in Japan only, on Jan. 30, for ¥100 and will come in both Doraemon-shaped and Dorami-shaped (Doraemon’s little sister) versions.

J-blip: cat montage

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

If you’ve been keeping your eyes open, you might have caught a glimpse of the “cat montage” meme that has been spreading through Japan and beyond.

The gist: A human draws a set of cartoon eyes for its furry friend and creates a funny collage.

Credit for this simple yet viral idea goes to Twitter user Shirotamaaaa, who sparked the trend in early November. His original post has been retweeted more than 4,500 times.

Spilling over into Instagram and YouTube, the meme is also gaining traction overseas.

The joke has even spread further into the animal kingdom with pictures of dogs, rabbits and hamsters.

Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! #猫モンタージュ

Pro tip from cat montage experts: snap it when your feline is sleeping.

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