Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Pulsations (07.12.13)

Friday, July 12th, 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 . . .

  • Sales of adult diapers surpass baby diapers in aging Japan (from Quartz): Some say the adult variety of “incontinence products” are already beating their infantile counterparts in sales. For those looking for new business opportunities, Japan’s shrinking population may not be all bad news. 
  • Spelling your name out loud in Japanese (from LinguaLift): Whether your surname is Smith or Finklestein, for longterm gaijin, spelling a Western name in Japanese can be a headache. Here are some helpful tips to make your next pizza ordering experience less painful.
  • Japan-China white (paper) hot tensions (from Japan Real Time): Controversy in the East China Sea is nothing new, but this year’s official reports from Japan reveal a concerning trend that received a harsh reception from Beijing.
  • Volunteers building ‘Great Forest Wall’ tsunami barrier from earthquake debris (from Japan for Sustainability): On 3/11, the pines planted near the coast tumbled easily from the force of the tsunami and rammed into structures. Now, volunteers have begun planting the first of 90 million trees as part of a natural seawall.
  • Meet Yohio, the Most Kawaii Man in Sweden (from BuzzFeed): On a lighthearted note, check out Yohio (if you haven’t already). Well known for his eccentric, androgynous style, the young Swedish pop sensation is a genuine Japanophile — with the Twitter account to prove it.

Visual Pulse

This impressive little video’s artificial lighting effects will leave you thinking, “How did they do that?”

Tweet Beat: #音楽の日, #ときレス, #シュール

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Each week, the Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag.

Music Day

The No. 1 trend in Japan last week was #音楽の日 (Music Day), a 13-hour (and 40 minutes) live television extravaganza featuring almost 100 artists. TBS has been producing the show for three years now, and once again SMAP’s Masahiro Nakai and TBS announcer Shinichiro Azumi hosted.

With every new artist came a rush of emoticons and exclamation points.

I was trying to think what Tomohisa Yamashita would sing, and what would would it end up being but “Idaite Senyoriita” …!!! How many years ago is that song from?

I think the last number was great!

At the end of the show, there was a great outpouring of love for the hosts, praising them for their hard work. Nakai is also currently filming the ATARU movie, so fans were worried he would exhaust himself.

Many people recorded the event to watch later, so the tweets are still coming. That said, some apparently missed the memo and thought it was just a day designated for us all to listen to music.

Happy Birthday to Kento Fuwa

It’s not uncommon for fans of celebs to tweet birthday congratulations on Twitter. Even this in this batch of top tags we have #happybirthdayseohyun, wishing Girls’ Generation member Seohyun well on June 28. However, she did not get as much love as Kento Fuwa. Who’s Kento Fuwa? Well…

Happy birthday, Fuwa! Thanks for being born!

Turns out he’s a fictional idol in the world of iPhone/Android game Tokimeki Restaurant (#ときレス [TokiResu] for short). Yes, in the world of otaku fandom, and perhaps especially romance games, the birthdays of favorite characters are quality times to be cherished.

For more info about TokiResu, check out this detailed blog post, but the premise is that you run a restaurant that happens to be next to the company that produces idol groups 3 Majesty and X.I.P. How could there not be a bit of chemistry simmering there? A cute girl who can cook, cute guys who can sing — and what better way to utilize a touch-screen than “skinship” events?

Kento’s fans were thrilled when he showed up in their restaurant to eat birthday cake on June 26, but some went all out in real life.

I made meat-wrapped onigiri, so please come by and have some!

A Kento bento, elaborate strawberry cake, and plenty of fan art made this hashtag a fun one to browse.

Sur-really?

The number eight top tag this week was #シュール. It takes a little more than katakana reading skills to grok that vocab, but it means “surreal.” People use it to tweet things that strike them as out of the ordinary, bizarre or sometimes just kind of funny.

There was a madman at the bowling alley!

The reason it trended so high, though, was that @surrebot appeared posting a bunch of meme-y images and jokes resulting in a pile of retweets. But what’s this? The account gave up and deleted all its content after attracting almost 3,500 followers. Mysteriously, another account showed up and earned about 4,100 followers in two days doing the same thing.

By the way, remember @fanghibli? Two weeks ago we pointed out that account and @ghiblitalk doing a similar dance and speculated that they were up to no good. As it turns out, @fanghibli has indeed been repurposed into a spam account spewing links to a website that pays you for advertising.

“In general, the more followers you have, the more your tweets are worth, so the amount of points you get goes up, too,” says Tweepie’s about page, although it notes that its algorithm will assign low reputation to accounts who are abusing the system.

There’s no proof that @surrebot will turn into a spam account, but let’s hope this trend-and-run scheme is not a trend of its own.

Tweet Beat: #6k_live, #都議選, #進撃の育児

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Each week, the Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag.

Deep sea voyage live-streamed for the first time

On board mother ship Yokosuka, the research team and Shinkai 6500 pilots continue their strategy meeting, laying out data regarding the underwater expedition zone.

The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (#JAMSTEC),  the same people who discovered Atlantis’s cousin in May, paired with Nico Live (#nicohou) to stream a deep sea voyage of the same sub, the Shinkai 6500. The Nico Nico page was very honest in expressing their concern about whether the stream would succeed or not: “Will the live broadcasting go well? . . . Not sure. If not, . . .sorry,” but #6k_live appears to have gone off as planned; over 300,000 people are said to have tuned in. The highlight was the discovery of a bunch of shrimp.

Upon seeing the shrimp at 5,000 meters, super Japanese comments started flying, like “Can you eat’em?” “Seems like they’d be good with mayo, right?”

Getting the Tokyo assembly election vote out, or not

Politically minded Twitter users encouraged their fellow citizens to vote in Sunday’s Tokyo assembly election, but turn-out was only 43.05%.

I went to go vote and was surprised by the extent to which it was entirely old people. If that’s the case, there’s no way society will turn out as one young people will like. What good does it do to lament the future after waiving your right to vote? Use this to research and get going!  

One of the main themes once the results came in was the perceived Communist Party “surge” (from eight to 17 seats).

That the party that held power until recently would lose at assembly seats to the Communist Party is just lol.

Some had the feeling that the results of this election will serve as a lesson of what happens when voter turn-out is low, while others couldn’t stop smiling.

Of course there were also those were more concerned with how election coverage disrupted the normal TV schedule.

Pretty much all of today’s late-night anime are at 1? I’m only watching “Kingdom” and “Attack on Titan” so I can cover by recording, but for people watching all of them it’s gonna be chaos. “Kingdom,” “Attack,” “Nyaruko” and “Flowers of Evil” — all four start at 1!

“Titan” children terrorize their parents

In addition to being a successful manga and anime series, “Attack on Titan” is proving to be a veritable meme machine. This time, parents have taken up #進撃の育児 (following the formula straight would yield something like “Attack on Childcare” but that makes about as much sense as “Attack on Titan”) to chronicle the battles waged raising their children by comparing them to the struggles of humans living in a walled-city trying to protect themselves from people-eating giants. Sounds strange, but the results are pretty amusing.

Wall Diaper has been breached by Infant (extra large female type), heavy damaged confirmed in the Bouncer district.

Our 60cm grade is attempting to breach Wall Playpen by standing tip-toed. You can already stand on tip-toe? Amazing!

Some participated by cleverly rewriting well-known dialogue  while others just pointed out how funny the tag is for people familiar with the anime/manga. For more, check out a round-up here or here.

Tweet Beat: #e3, #ふなっしー, #ジブリファン

Friday, June 21st, 2013

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

Was this generation’s console war fought and won at E3?

Last week gamers turned their attention to the action happening at this year’s #e3 in Los Angeles June 11-13. That includes Japanese gamers, who reacted much the same way as gamers elsewhere when it came to comparing Sony and Microsoft‘s press conferences on the 10th.

One person noted they were glad they weren’t interested in the (Xbox exclusive) Halo series, while another was surprised that the price of the #PS4 was lower than they expected (it undercuts the Xbox One by $100).

Nintendo showed off their new lineup via streaming video (#nintendodirectjp) and #pokemonxy got #pokemon fans around the world fired up. One observer of the “Super Mario 3D World” (for Wii U) trailer compared Mario’s cat form attacks to the way another game character, Kirby, sucks up his enemies and steals their powers.

“News flash! Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be sold as Final Fantasy XV on PS4! Yesssssssss”

Of course, a three-day conference had too many game announcements to include in this post, but there is an organized run-down of them all over here.

What the heck is a Funassyi?!

Maybe you’re not familiar with the unofficial yuru-kyara of Funabashi: #ふなっしー (pronounced “Funasshii,” but officially romanized “Funassyi”). Well he’s a pear from Funabashi, Chiba . . . and don’t be thrown off by the unofficial nature of “the fairy of the Funabashi pear.” He appears in Asahi Soft Drink’s Juroku-cha commericals alongside the likes of Sky Tree-neighboring Azumabashi’s Azu-chan and Yoshida-no-udon-buri-chan, who promotes Yoshida City’s noodles with her bowl-shaped head.

But let’s not get distracted. Funassyi leads a bustling life, so bustling it’s sometimes hard to tell whether it’s the real Funyassi or someone ripping him off. The above makankosappo meme pic is pretty great, even if it was posted by a “bot” that collects Funassyi memes such as this mash-up with the manga “Attack on Titan” and not the official account (which boasts over 150,000 followers).

The real source of the current trendiness, though? New crane game-prizes released on June 14:

https://twitter.com/prize_adores/status/345485537668395008

“[Prize Info] Pear fairy “Funassyi Mascot” has boldly appeared! Dazzled by the pear juice, huh. The list of participating stores apPEARs on our official website!”

Studio Ghibli fans unite in hashtag . . . or?

Trend #9, #ジブリファン (“Ghibli fan”), seemed like a no-brainer: Who doesn’t love animated classics such as “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Porco Rosso”?

But why now? In little more than a week, the account @fanghibli amassed thousands of followers on the back of this tag. The account’s bio roughly translates as “A bot for Ghibli fans. I’ll be sharing misc. info, urban legends, funny or heartwarming jokes — anything.” Here’s an example of how the account engaged fans:

“Black hair! (RT @Fanghibli: Which Howl do you like?)”

Strangely, though, by June 19 , every single tweet had been deleted.

What’s even more mysterious is that another account, @ghiblitalk, has appeared, tweeting some of the exact same memes and jokes, racking up followers at the same breakneck speed — over 10,000 in four days.

The account’s bio reads, “I’ll be tweeting interesting or moving Ghibli stories. And maybe some scary stories?!”

Obviously this is only speculation, and the owner may have a perfectly good-yet-unfathomable reason to abandon such a “valuable” account, but one could guess that someone is taking advantage of Ghibli fans to fatten up follower counts just like Chihiro’s parents in “Spirited Away.” For what purpose? Probably not anything allowed by Twitter’s rules.

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

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.

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