Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

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.

Tweet Beat: #真4, #ソクラテスの死, #キスの日

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

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

Demons and Samurai

“Shin Megami Tensei IV,” the first numbered title in the Shin Megami Tensei role-playing game series in 10 years, was released on May 23 in Japan. Between the anticipation of the release date, the build up of PR like the 10-minute gameplay video above and the tweets of fans buying and playing the game, it’s not surprising that the hashtags #真4 (“shin”) and #メガテン4 (“Megaten” is the series’s nickname among fans) would trend.

“Shin Megami Tensei” is known for its brutal difficulty. One player finds a humorous way to say he was annihilated in the tutorial. This time around, the characters are samurai from the Mikado Kingdom, but they still become stronger via the series hallmark of negotiating with demons for help. The game is due out in North America July 16.

“The Death of Socrates” as re-created by Japanese students

Jacques-Louis David painted “The Death of Socrates” in 1787. According to Plato in “The Apology of Socrates,” the great thinker was sentenced to death by poison for “act[ing] unjustly in corrupting the youth, and in not believing in those gods in whom the city believes, but in other strange divinities.” David’s work is said to be somewhat historically inaccurate, though it is nonetheless famous.

In fact, it’s so famous that some Japanese students decided to re-create it as a photo the other day. Once tweeted May 25, with the hashtag #ソクラテスの死 (“The Death of Socrates”) the image promptly blew up (on a popularity trajectory that had it beating out a tweet from kawaii idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu by some metrics) as people expressed their interest in giving it a shot, wished they had enough real-life friends to be able to pull it off or just laughed.

Taking creative photos like this has been a popular hobby lately, it seems. You may remember Makankosappo but have you seen the “Attack on Titan” meme yet?

Kiss Day

May 23 is #キスの日 (Kiss Day). No, really! It commemorates the first time a kissing scene was shown in a movie in Japan, which, by the way, was the premiere of Yasushi Sasaki’s “Hatachi no Seishun” in 1946. People tweeted a lot of kissing pictures, whether of celebritiesDisney characters, dolls or their single selves. There is also plenty of fan art, even some featuring Harry Potter characters.

Tweet Beat: #NintendoDirectJP, #華麗なる公式 , #デザフェス

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

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

The latest news from Nintendo

When Nintendo has something to announce, it has been tending in recent years to do it via a Nintendo Direct presentation. These streaming events allow “direct” communication with fans of their games. On May 17 the latest #NintendoDirectJP included a special focus on Sega. The next three Sonic the Hedgehog games will be made exclusively for Nintendo platforms; “Sonic: Lost World” is slated for release on Wii U and 3DS this fall. Sega is also bringing “Yakuza 1 & 2 HD” to Wii U in Japan.

Another highlight was downloadable content for “New Super Mario Brothers U” called “New Super Luigi U” with 82 revamped Luigi-only levels. It will also be available as a stand-alone Wii U game. For the the full details of the presentation, check your local Nintendo Twitter account: @Nintendo, @NintendoAmerica, @NintendoEurope.

The “magnificent” presence of official Twitter accounts in Japan

If you follow Japanese companies on Twitter, you may have noticed some of them have boatloads more personality than you might expect. Forgoing stiff PR and capitalizing on the “social” in “social media,” accounts such as @kumamototaxi (a taxi service), @enganbus (a bus company), and @imuraya_dm (food company known for red bean sweets) became known as #病気公式アカ (“sick official accounts”) last fall (perhaps because it seemed as if they had gone off the deep end). The tweets that chronicle the history of the hashtag are archived here.

suggestion from @nhk_pr that they come up with something less insensitive to people who are actually suffering from illness led to adopting #華麗なる公式 (“magnificent official [accounts]). For a good example of how these accounts interact with each other, see this collection of tweets between @tanitaofficial and @sharp_jp. Note the liberal emoticon usage.

So how did #華麗なる公式 end up so trendy this particular week? It’s hard to say for sure, since it’s continuously active, but I’d like to think because of this play on words by the Japan Self Defense Force Miyagi Provincial Cooperation Office:

They were having trouble cooking their Friday curry, but the best part is the hashtag duo: #華麗なる公式 (karei naru koushiki, “magnificent official [accounts]“) is joined by #カレーなる金曜日 (karē naru kinyoubi, “curry Friday”).

Design Festa Vol. 37

The “international art event” #デザフェス (“dezafesu,” short for “Design Festa”) vol. 37 was held May 18 and 19 at Tokyo Big Sight. Just browsing the tweets gives a great taste of what was on offer as exhibitors posted photos to promote their booth and attendees were documenting on the fly. If you’re distraught over discovering this gathering after the fact, don’t despair! Vol. 38 is already on the calendar for Nov. 2 and 3.

Tweet Beat: #이노래를듣고돌 #wizard #finalburning

Friday, May 17th, 2013

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

Fresh tunes from 2PM and B1A4

Aside from #ozzfest (aka #オズフェス) Japan 2013, which took place over the weekend at Makuhari Messe in Chiba featuring artists from Black Sabbath to Momoiro Clover Z, the other big music trends this week were all written in Hangul as K-pop fandom continues to flourish.

Korean boy band 2PM‘s music video for # 이노래를듣고돌 (“Come Back When You Hear This Song”), released on May 5, was followed by one for #하니뿐 (“A.D.T.O.Y.”) on the 11th. Both track are off their third album, “Grown,” which came out on the 13th.

2PM wasn’t the only Korean boy band trending last week. B1A4 (a name which distractingly resembles paper sizing lingo, but means “Be the one, all for one”) held a live streaming event on May 8 that got people talking about their just-released 4th mini album #이게무슨일이야 (“What’s Happening?”).

Sunday Morning on TV Asahi

Sunday morning TV trended as usual as fans of tokusatsu (“Kamen Rider”) #wizard and (“Juden Sentai”) #kyoruger  tweeted up a storm during #sht (“Super Hero Time”). Even though these shows are aimed at kids you can always expect a flurry of activity from adult fans when they are on. By the way, do you know the other two that bookend “Super Hero Time” to make up #nitiasa (short for “Sunday Morning Kids Time,”  the unofficial nickname of a two-hour programming block)? The current schedule includes (“Doki Doki”) #precure and #battlespirits (“Sword Eyes”).

Pro wrestler Kenta Kobashi retires

After a career spanning 26 years that included overcoming both injury and kidney cancer, pro wrestler Kenta Kobashi has retired. A commemorative fight#finalburning, took place at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on May 11, but you can bet it will trend again when the six-hour “complete” version with documentary footage added airs on May 26.

J-blip: The secret behind Disney + Gogo no Koucha

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Kirin is currently collaborating with Disney to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disneyland. Not only are they giving away a grand prize of a 30-night stay for four at the DisneySea Hotel Miracosta, year-long passes to both parks and a resort giftcard worth a million yen, but each flavor of their popular Gogo no Koucha (“Afternoon Tea”) features a different character on the package:  the straight tea has Mickey Mouse; lemon has Winnie the Pooh; and milk has Donald Duck.

Recently, an observant fan noticed there are different numbers on each bottle and decided to investigate. To his delight he found  60 numbers on the the straight tea version and 18 on the lemon tea and milk tea. His interest piqued, he bought all of them and took photos of each in sequence.

Although it is hinted at on Gogo no Koucha’s site, only a clever and dedicated tea drinker would go to all this trouble. By lining up each “frame” in video form, he revealed short animations of each character.

While we’d like to praise this creative campaign, it’s a bit ironic considering Disney just laid off nine veteran hand-animators.

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