Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Load up YouTube because it’s morphin’ time!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Summon your Megazord because the Power Rangers are heading to YouTube — and it’s all in Japanese.

power-rangers

The Rangers are back.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” was a hit children’s show back in the ‘90s that featured campy acting, ridiculous monsters and possibly the best theme song of all time. It was actually based on the long-running “Super Sentai” TV series in Japan, with the Western version featuring American actors mixed with action sequences from Japan.

Toei is now celebrating “Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger,” the season that was adapted into “Power Rangers,” by releasing episodes of the Japanese show online every Sunday. Beginning this June, Toei will post two episodes on its YouTube channel that is dedicated to its “special effects” action shows.

Viewers who grew up with the “Power Rangers” will finally have the chance to see the Japanese counterpart of their favorite show — and there are a lot of differences. For example, in the Japanese show, the Pink and Green Rangers never dated; the Red and Green Rangers were actually brothers; and the Yellow Ranger was a dude!

Oh, and another minor plot change. The Rangers weren’t simply “teenagers with attitude” navigating high school but instead ancient tribal warriors that once co-existed with dinosaurs.

Ultraman monsters invade your travel show

Friday, March 27th, 2015

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After getting beat by Ultraman, the bad guys need a vacation.

Channel Fuji TV One is letting the monsters loose in a new travel program called “Ultra Monster Walk.” It will resemble other Japanese travel shows on which hosts visit a featured city’s landmarks, sample local cuisine and soak up the area’s flavor — but this version has a kaiju twist.

In the first out of 12 total episodes, scheduled to air on May 22 at midnight, the monsters invade, er, visit Yokohama and Kamakura.

This isn’t the first time Ultraman’s enemies have taken a well-deserved rest. Last year saw the opening of Kaiju Sakaba, a Kawasaki restaurant-bar themed on the space monsters from the sci-fi TV series that invited visitors to share a pitcher with the costumed evil-doers.

Even Ultraman has to take a break from saving the world once in a while. In May 2014, he flew to Hawaii to help promote Hawaii Tourism Authority’s travel packages. Ultraman even had enough time and money to bring the entire Ultra family to the islands as they tested the waters with surfing and whale watching.

Maybe someday Ultraman and his enemies will bury the hatchet and they can all go on a relaxing trip together. Stay tuned.

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.

Rewinding some of Japan’s top YouTubers

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

At the end of 2014, YouTube took a look back at some of the fun, freaky and unforgettable videos that went viral over the past year. Titled “YouTube Rewind,” the official retrospective (which has 50 million views) gave special recognition to dozens of online personalities, including Kid President and Jenna Marbles, who YouTube decided were the top of class in 2014.

Japan was well represented with 14 YouTubers joining the global ranks. Their talent ranges from makeup tutorials and video game walkthroughs to clever pranks and English lessons. Without much further ado, here are the top YouTubers from featured in Rewind 2014:

1. Aichi Ono (7,000+ subscribers)

  • Aichi Ono, aka Spinboy, has a pretty thick skull. He is a performer that does dances and tricks while spinning on his head. He also gives behind-the-scenes looks at breakdancing practices.

2. Bilingirl (300,000+)

3. Hajime (900,000+)

4. Hikakin (1,475,000+)

  • Human beatboxer Hikakin has drummed up more 300,000,000 views on YouTube. He usually makes beatbox covers of hit songs including Disney’s “Let It Go” and even collaborates with pop stars like Ariana Grande.

CONTINUE READING about popular YouTubers in Japan

J-blip: Kokoro Scanner knows what’s in your heart of hearts

Friday, October 17th, 2014

The recently released Kokoro Scanner (“mind scanner”), from Takara Tomy, is attracting attention with its simple yet clever concept.

The head-mounted toy supposedly monitors small heart rate changes and flags fibbers with a colored light system. A green light means you’re in the clear; yellow means you’re only telling half the truth; red means guilty as charged. The fact that user can’t see what color the light is just adds to the fun.

Retailing at a mere ¥2,700, this is clearly a poor man’s lie detector. Does it work? We’ve yet to test it, but our professional advice is, IT’S A TOY, so Truth or Dare? Yes. Court of law? Uh, no.

The Kokoro Scanner goes on sale Oct. 30 and can be ordered on Takara Tomy website.

Pulsations 9.25.14

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Here’s a new batch of 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 . . .

Japanese Rice Cakes Shaped Like Cute Japanese Rice Cakes Shaped Like Olaf, Pokémon, Iconic Cartoon Characters(from ufunk): Do you really have the heart to eat these cuties?

The Cicada’s Song: Japan’s Summer Soundtrack (from Tofugu): Whether you hate them or love them, it’s not summer in Japan without the symphony of semi.

Top 10 tricks for cheap traveling in Japan(from kirai): There’s no need to spend all your savings during a trip to Japan (or what’s left of them after you’ve paid for the flight).

rooms 29 – September 2014 (from Japanese Streets): Care to be impressed by home-grown do-it-yourself creativity? Then scroll these photo highlights from the recent “rooms” event in Harajuku.

Saying goodbye to the buddha of the Yakuza (from Japan Subculture Research Center): Investigative journalist Jake Adelstein says, “even amongst the yakuza, there are some good people – in their own way.”

Visual Pulse

In his recent masterpiece, “Cooking ramen with yarn,” YouTuber and super-knitter betibettin shows us how to knit yourself a tasty-looking bowl of ramen.

In previous videos showcasing his craftsmanship, you can see how he creates objects such as teddy bears, umbrella handle covers and, um, fake boobs.

We are the World Cup: anthems from pitches past

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Brazil soccer fans pose with a replica of the World Cup trophy on June 11 inside a metro station near Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. | AP PHOTO

Brazil soccer fans pose with a replica of the World Cup trophy on June 11 inside a metro station near Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (AP PHOTO)

Japan plays its first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, against Côte d’Ivoire this weekend. Although the tournament kicks off two days earlier in São Paulo, for many the Samurai Blue’s opening game ushers in the event, along with the activities that would normally raise eyebrows but get a pass every four years, such as waking up at 2 a.m. to watch football and drinking before noon.

It will also unleash a new batch of World Cup songs that will play practically on loop for the duration of the competition, including the television network’s special theme tracks to various commercial tie-ins. And that’s just on the domestic side. Pitbull’s voice will haunt many for months to come.

World Cup-related songs have a long and interesting history, including official anthems (from superstars like Shakira down to half of Hall & Oates) and all sorts of country-specific tunes (Weezer sining for the U.S., the Village People putting on for, uh, Germany). Having qualified for their first World Cup in 1998, Japan doesn’t have the rich soccer-music history of other nations (“World Cup Willy!”), but entering their fifth cup, the country now lays claim to a handful of Cup anthems.

Here are the most noteworthy from each edition of the World Cup:

CONTINUE READING about World Cup support songs →

Ultra Hawai’i: Even superheroes need a vacation

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

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The Ultra tourists get a quick lesson before hitting the waves

In a stroke of genius, travel-deal website TravelZoo, in collaboration with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and tokustasu pioneers Tsuburaya Productions, has enlisted serious star power to promote its current Hawaii travel packages.

Targeting a wide range of would-be travelers, the “Ultra Hawai’i ” campaign follows the well-loved characters from the generation-spanning Ultra series as they engage in classic tourist activities on the main Hawaiian islands of Maui, O’ahu, Kaua’i and Hawai’i.

For a look at how the Ultra family spends its time off,  click over to the campaign site and travel along with Ultra Dad, Ultra Mom (yes, they really do exist in the series), Ultraman Taro and even their alien cohorts — the friendly, spindly-fingered creature Pigmon and the pincer-handed Alien Baltan.

Best of all, their special moments have been chronicled on their YouTube channel and set to the Ultraman theme song, played on ukelele no less.  In true Japanese fashion, they pack a lot into their vacation, which includes surfing lessons, hula dancing, poolside yoga, a friendly game of golf and a side trip to the volcanic terrain of Kīlauea, which surely must feel like a home away from their extraterrestrial home.

The campaign is both hilarious and touching in the way it humanizes the superheroes as they shoot selfies in a gelato shop and are moved by an afternoon of whale watching. In  rare moments away from the universe-saving day jobs, the family take in romantic sunsets and even Baltan Seijin, one of Ultraman’s archenemies, can put aside their differences to attend an intimate Ultra wedding on O’ahu. The beauty of Hawaii clearly brings people together.

The Ultra Hawai’i campaign runs until July 18. Oh, and there’s an island-hopping stamp rally. Collect ’em all and get a special campaign souvenir.

Schwatch!

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