Japan Pulse » » Otaku culture http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse Taking the pulse of trends, trend-watchers and trendmakers in Japan. Mon, 25 May 2015 03:40:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/wp-content/themes/orange/favicon.ico Japan Pulse Grow a new boyfriend with ‘ikemen’ seeds http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/grow-a-new-boyfriend-with-ikemen-seeds/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/grow-a-new-boyfriend-with-ikemen-seeds/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 10:50:10 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20168 ikemen-seeds

Sick of waiting to meet your dream man? Why not grow your boyfriend from the ground up?

That’s the idea behind “Tabegoro kareshi Ikusei Setto” (“Ripe Boyfriend Growing Set”), a line of vegetable seeds that are adorned with cute ikemen.

The manufacturers hope to turn up the heat in the greenhouse as each vegetable features a handsome animated character (Mr. Habanero Pepper has fiery red hair, Mr. Eggplant as smooth purple hair, and so on). Girls are encouraged to buy their favorite boy and watch him grow right before their eyes . . . after some tender love and care.

Gardeners might have to turn the hose on themselves to cool down after reading the salacious details and backstories behind each boy. Spoiler alert — Mr. Mint likes to eat mint chocolate ice cream.

The mail-order males can be purchased for ¥900. Available vegetables include cherry tomatoes, arugula, baby carrots, mint, habanero peppers and eggplant.

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Ultraman monsters invade your travel show http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/ultraman-monsters-invade-your-travel-show/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/ultraman-monsters-invade-your-travel-show/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:19:42 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20140 ultra-monster-walk

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.

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Rewinding some of Japan’s top YouTubers http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/rewinding-some-of-japans-top-youtubers/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/rewinding-some-of-japans-top-youtubers/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 03:08:05 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19999 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKx2B8WCQuw

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.

5. iTakahashi (250,000+)

  • Takahashi is an otaku master of apps and snacks. He uploads videos of him and his friends trying out the newest, weirdest and scariest games available on PC and mobile. He also reviews “konbini” food and drinks to help gamers stay energized during gaming sessions.

6. Kosuke (700,000+)

  • The only thing Kosuke cares about is “Pazu Dora” (“Puzzles & Dragons”), the enormously popular mobile game in Japan. He and his fellow co-workers at AppBank give viewers the best tips and tricks for mastering the puzzle/RPG game.

7. Max Murai (1,150,000+)

  • Going by the name Max Murai, he is the president of AppBank, a news site about — you guessed it — mobile apps. He talks about a variety of mobile games, including “Monster Striker,” and often collaborates with Kosuke and Takahashi.

8. Manako (35,000+)

9. MasuoTV (410,000+)

10. Mika Shindate (27,000+)

11. PDS (630,000+)

  • PDS is often shirtless but never serious. He does a wide variety of silly videos and skits ranging from singing to pulling pranks on friends. He will also show subscribers some of the super weird and super cute toys available in Japan.

12. Sasaki Asahi (300,000+)

  • Sasaki gives practical makeup tips and reviews new cosmetics but also takes it a step further by painting her face for some extreme makeovers. Some of her most-viewed videos include zombie, doll and “Frozen” transformations.

13. Seikin (750,000+)

14. World Order (190,000+)

  • World Order takes its dance moves and its quirky humor around the world in their videos. Whether they’re dancing in Japan or abroad, the singing salarymen are never afraid to strut their stuff right on the streets.

While every YouTuber is different, there seems to be a secret recipe for becoming big in Japan:

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J-blip: Doraemon hard boiled eggs soften your heart http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-doraemon-hard-boiled-eggs-soften-your-heart/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-doraemon-hard-boiled-eggs-soften-your-heart/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 06:06:22 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19986 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.

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Astro Boy gets green light in robot-branded Sagami http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/astro-boy-gets-green-light-in-robot-branded-sagami/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/astro-boy-gets-green-light-in-robot-branded-sagami/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 03:38:24 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19914 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMyEReoTw6c

Astro Boy stoplight in Sagami

Red = cool your jets; green = blast off!

Astro Boy is using his seven powers not to fight evil to but to direct traffic in Kangawa as a new traffic light was erected in the prefecture using Astro Boy’s image as the pedestrian walk signals.

The traffic light was created to draw attention to the Sagami area, which is rebranding itself as the premier robot town and a “robot industrial zone.” Kanagawa Prefecture recently released a video highlighting the technological advances being made in Sagami.

Sagami and Kanagawa Prefecture are also hosting a variety of festivals and tours in the prefecture to publicize the Sagami area and its robot-building brand.

In addition to parades and exhibits featuring Astro Boy, Kanagawa is holding a “Find the Atom” competition for people around the region to race and find Astro Boy buttons in exchange for prizes.

For more information, visit Sagami’s website.

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Ultra Hawai’i: Even superheroes need a vacation http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/ultra-hawaii-even-superheroes-need-a-vacation/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/ultra-hawaii-even-superheroes-need-a-vacation/#comments Sun, 25 May 2014 04:27:15 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19767 oahu_1280_800

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!

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVo1SPNd7MY

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J-blip: Pipo-kun’s new song and dance http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-pipo-kuns-song-and-dance/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-pipo-kuns-song-and-dance/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2013 05:02:37 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19176 The Pepo-kun song on the website of the metropolitan police

Pepo-kun, as seen on the metro police’s website

Japanese netizens are apparently all in a lather regarding the question of whether virtual pop star Hatsune Miku is the new voice of police mascot Pipo-kun. The “Pipo-kun Song” video, made to celebrate the fact that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s counter crime initiative Twitter account now has more than 60,000 followers, is a collaboration between a synthetic voice and the police headquarters’ orchestra.

However, the consensus on the web seems to be that there is no mistaking that Pipo has Hatsune’s distinctive saccharine sweet voice. When asked by J-Cast if this was a correct assumption, the police replied, “The identity of the singer hasn’t been announced.” One wonders why they’re being so reticent as Hatsune’s “dulcet” tones are now commonplace, having been widely used in the many commercials and TV show theme songs.

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Tweet Beat: #七夕, #鯖アニメ, #愛国競争 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-%e4%b8%83%e5%a4%95-%e9%af%96%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-%ef%bc%83%e6%84%9b%e5%9b%bd%e7%ab%b6%e4%ba%89/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-%e4%b8%83%e5%a4%95-%e9%af%96%e3%82%a2%e3%83%8b%e3%83%a1-%ef%bc%83%e6%84%9b%e5%9b%bd%e7%ab%b6%e4%ba%89/#comments Fri, 12 Jul 2013 11:18:15 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18426 The Twitter Japan blog releases a list of top hashtags for each week. Tweet Beat investigates the buzz behind the hashtag.

A tweet is a wish your heart makes

May everyone’s wishes come true. Hikoboshi casually greets Orihime in English.

#七夕 (Tanabata, the Star Festival) takes place at different times depending on where you are in Japan, but July 7 is the first major date. It’s a holiday for making wishes and celebrating the once-a-year reunion of legendary separated lovers Hikoboshi and Orihime. The accompanying decorations make for great tweets, but the concise format (and this tool that allows your text to mimic the shape of a traditional paper tanzaku) is also perfect for sharing wishes.

Write your wish on a tanzaku.

Some people expressed personal aspirations or concerns:

“I want to belong to Amuse.”

“I wanna be a hottie.”

“May I become fluent in Japanese.”

“May my smartphone not break until I can buy a new one.”

“I want friends.”

Some looked outward:

“World peace.”

“May black kigyo go under.”

“May I be able to repay many favors.”

One person wrote a wish for the manga character Detective Conan, and one, instead of wishing, realized that he hadn’t done anything Tanabata-ish at all.

May all my follower’s wishes come true.

Summer anime take the trends by storm

Of last week’s top trending hashtags, all except three were anime-related, and while the NTV Friday Roadshow showing of Studio Ghibli’s #耳をすませば (“Whisper of the Heart”) grabbed the top spot, most of them were fans buzzing about summer season premieres.

July 1:

#inuhasa (“Dog & Scissors”), based on the light novel by Shunsuke Sarai, is the story of a bookworm who is killed during a robbery, reborn as a dog and terrorized by a novelist.

July 2:

#monogatari (“Monogatari Series Second Season”) further adapts NisiOisiN’s urban fantasy light novel series that began with “Bakemonogatari.”

#bc_anime (“Brothers Conflict”) is adapted from Atsuko Kanase and Takeshi Mizuno’s light novels where a girl ends up with 13 stepbrothers when her dad remarries.

July 4:

#symphogear (“Senki Zesshō Symphogear G”) is the second season of an original anime where idols battle aliens with music.

#love_lab_tv (“Love Lab”) is based on Ruri Miyahara’s 4-panel gag manga about students at an all-girls academy preparing for romance.

#danganronpa (“Danganronpa: Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei The Animation”), based on the videogame series by Spike Chunsoft, takes place at a high school where students have to kill or be killed.

#c3部 (“Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3″), based on the manga created by Ikoma and Momoka Midorito, focuses on girls who play military survival games.

#rozen (“Rozen Maiden – Zurückspulen”) adapts Peach-Pit’s second “Rozen Maiden” manga about living dolls.

#kitakubu_anime (“Chronicles of the Going Home Club”), based on the manga by Kuroha, is a school life comedy that follows a group of girls who have fun going home instead of doing extra-curriculars.

#鯖アニメ (“Servant x Service”) is based on the manga by Karino Takatsu about government office workers in Hokkaido. The hashtag appears to be a pun on “servant” and “mackerel” (saabanto, saba).

We went with #鯖アニメ as the hashtag as a way to get people who don’t know about it to be like “An anime about . . . mackerel?!” . . . I’ll leave it up to you guys.” — Karino Takatsu

July 7:

#makaiouji (“Makai Ouji: Devils and Realists”), adapted from Madoka Takadono and Utako Yukihiro’s manga, follows a guy who is strapped for cash, accidentally summons a demon and ends up a candidate for substitute ruler of hell.

If you can believe it, these are only the anime that premiered last week and made it into the top twenty trends; there were other shows that weren’t as heavily tweeted, and all the shows of the season have not even premiered yet! You can check a digest of recent and upcoming titles at Anime News Network.

Political Activists Stage ‘Twi-Demo’

I might be called stupid, I might be called an otaku, I might be called net-uyo, but today I just love Japan, and hate anti-Japanese. That’s it.

“Will you betray your country? Will you quit being Japanese? The Upper House election is a #愛国競争 [patriotism competition]!” shouts the website of a rightwing movement staging demos on Twitter. “Round 1: Our nation’s people are angry about the comfort women hoax! Twi-demo” was held 9-11 p.m. on the day the campaigning officially kicked off, July 4.

There were two main issues on the table. One was (United States Congress) House Resolution 121. Introduced by Mike Honda and passed in 2007, it recommends that Japan apologize to comfort women. Demo organizer Nadesiko Action [sic] is promoting a White House petition to repeal it.

A secondary hashtag #撤廃署名 (“repeal the signature”) seems to refer more to the second main issue, the Kono Statement of 1993, which acknowledged the coercion of comfort women by Japan. The demo participants are collecting signatures to pressure for a repeal of this as well.

The enemies are here in Japan! Now is the time to stand up and fight to reclaim the nation of Japan! Look to the right! THE RIGHT!

As for the demo itself, the official round-up is here. It sounds like at least one of their tags made it to the #1 trending spot and they estimate that there were around 10,000 tweets.

Many people people posted tweets directly related to the themes of the demo, even some in English. Others mixed in their own themes:

One participant combined distrust of Koreans with an explanation of the Hinomaru (rising sun) flag.

A Tanabata tanzaku tweet made with the tool mentioned above wishes for the dissolution of NHK. Incidentally, the people who believe the national broadcasting company is somehow controlled by Koreans or Chinese, protects their interests, runs commercials that promote their products on purpose and is in-general anti-Japanese, are pretty vocal on NHK hashtags, so they are hard to miss.

Conservative girls are beautiful / Leftist girls are ugly.

A fan of erotic manga finds it baffling that the “patriot right” will recognize the necessity of comfort women and then restrict ero-comics like child pornography. One of the many hashtags is a play on the words “porn” and “brain.”

A tweet calling out specific politicians hits them with the slang 害国人 (gaikokujin) meaning “people harming the nation,” but it’s hard to ignore the homophone 外国人 (also gaikokujin) “foreigners/non-Japanese.” One could imagine, coming from a nationalist, that play on words only deepening the insult,and it seems to tie in to the “Will you quit being Japanese?” taunt.

At least one voice takes a cynical view:

We still haven’t figured out who is the biggest patriot yet?

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Kimo-kawaii: a chronology in 13 steps http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/kimo-kawaii-a-chronology-in-13-steps/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/kimo-kawaii-a-chronology-in-13-steps/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 09:48:56 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18246 Kimo-kawaii, the slang that mashes up kimoi (yucky, gross; which is a shorter, slangier version of kimochiwarui, itself) and kawaii (cute, sweet) has become an apt description of more and more things over the years. While aficionados might disagree on what defines kimo-kawaii, generally if something has an eerie, sweet creepiness that makes it hard to look at but harder to look away, it’s kimo-kawaii.

Here are 13 things deemed so in Japan, in chronological order:

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Skr2s1LMcA

1999: Dancing Baby, a funky CG animation, became a meme in United States in the ‘90s (even appearing on the TV show “Ally McBeal”), but it became so popular in Japan that Toyota put it in a Cami ad (above). Young people of the time who had already begun saying kimo-kawaii applied it here in an early use case.

Mid 2000s: Ungirls, the comedy duo comprised of Takushi Tanaka and Yoshiaki Yamane became known as kimo-kawaii, somewhat cruelly, mostly due to their looks. Over the years and depending on whom you ask the assessment seems to change from “Tanaka is kimoi, but Yamane is kawaii” to just deciding that Tanaka himself is kimo-kawaii. Or maybe not even kawaii. . . Last year on the variety show “London Hearts” when Tanaka ranked high (low?) on a list of most disliked celebs, he said everyone should give being him a try because it’s a hellish life, but he will keep doing it as long as he lives.

Kobitozukan

Kobitozukan

May 2006: “Kobito Zukan” originated as a picture book illustrated by Toshitaka Nabata. Literally “dwarf encyclopedia,” these weird little humanoids were first aimed at children. Adult fans, however, greatly expanded the fan base and the dwarves became a popular Nintendo 3DS video game last year. The official online store is also chock full of figurines, which one could argue are an art form all their own.

By the way, 2006 is the year that the word “kimo-kawaii” is considered to have really “arrived.”

August 2007: Face Bank, the piggy bank designed by artist Eiichi Takada that actually pigs out on your savings, went on sale. When you place a coin near its mouth, it opens and swallows the currency — a perfect way to add some kimo-kawaii to your everyday life.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn4wWEdzcj8

2008  Noi Asano’s manga “Chiisai Oyaji Nikki” (something like “Little Old Man Diary”) about a girl who one day discovers a tiny man began airing as a series of anime shorts  last year and most recently got promoted with latte art at Double Tall in Shibuya.

nishikokun

Nishiko-kun

October 2010 Nishiko-kun (right), the mascot of Nishi-Kokubunji, was born. The “fairy” is one of many regional mascots that have become widespread across Japan in recent years. Unlike its traditionally cute counterparts, however, Nishiko-kun is a lanky, armless thing with a huge head that evokes the image of a happy manhole. His proportions have made for some especially awkward dance moves, but he remains oddly alluring, don’t you think?

October 2010 Jigokuno No Misawa‘s “Kakkokawaii Sengen” comic was collected and published. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the extravagantly eccentric singer known for being the current flag-bearer of Harajuku kawaii fashion, is a big fan of series. In fact, she had a cameo in the comic last year — of course with the artist’s trademark pudgy-faced style.

nameko

Nameko

June 2011 BeeWorks‘s “Mushroom Garden” (aka “Nameko Saibai Kit”) smartphone game series has exploded in popularity since its release two years ago. These nasty-yet-endearing fungi have gained quite the following (ask almost any elementary schooler), leading to an avalanche of merchandise, including a Nendoroid that reaches back to its “Touch Detective” roots on Nintendo DS.

June 2012 Body part jewelry makes a kimo-kawaii splash from across the globe. Handmade in the U.K. and sold on crafty website Etsy, these doodads allowed people to attach ears to their ears, mouths to their fingers and noses to their necks, among other things.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9kB1ezSETU

alpaca

Alpaca

Fall 2012: Later that year, the freaky-looking toy with its own language, Furby, relaunched with a smartphone app and a Momoiro Clover Z campaign (including the above commercial).

March 2013: There are plenty of kimo-kawaii videogames, but Cocosola‘s smash hit “Alpaca Evolution” is a textbook example of how strangely addicting bizarre characters can be. Your objective is to absorb other alpacas in a cannibalistic fashion as you mutate into a more and more grotesque creature. A prequel has already been released and it looks like the merch parade is marching along.

June 2013:  Isopods are something like gigantic, aquatic cockroaches. Naturally, the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium decided to make a life-sized stuffed animal based on the critter, because who wouldn’t want to cuddle one? As evidence to the popularity of kimo-kawaii nationwide, all 140 were sold out within a few hours, despite costing a hefty ¥6,090 (around 60 USD) apiece. Another creepy aquatic sensation is based on the NHK television documentary that captured footage of a giant squid  for the first time. With help from the National Museum of Nature and Science, the TV channel is selling a variety of tentacle-related merchandise.

shingeki3

“Attack on Titan” stamps for LINE

June 2013: “Attack on Titan”-branded LINE stamps feature a number of human characters from the anime, but also explore a kimo-kawaii side of the monstrous titans that will give fans a chuckle (or surprise/gross out the unsuspecting friend on the other end of your LINE chat).

This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor do we presume to be authorities on the matter. In fact while researching we noticed Tofugu had nicely summarized the trend recently. We’re sure the wave of kimo-kawaii will be good surfing for years to come, so remember this useful word when you come across a sort-of-cute character that makes you feel kind of icky at the same time.

Additional research for this story contributed by Emily Balistrieri. (Full disclosure: Emily is the Japanese-English translator of “Alpaca Evolution.”)

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Tweet Beat: #音楽の日, #ときレス, #シュール http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-%ef%bc%83%e9%9f%b3%e6%a5%bd%e3%81%ae%e6%97%a5-%e3%81%a8%e3%81%8d%e3%83%ac%e3%82%b9-%e3%82%b7%e3%83%a5%e3%83%bc%e3%83%ab/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-%ef%bc%83%e9%9f%b3%e6%a5%bd%e3%81%ae%e6%97%a5-%e3%81%a8%e3%81%8d%e3%83%ac%e3%82%b9-%e3%82%b7%e3%83%a5%e3%83%bc%e3%83%ab/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 09:34:27 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=18179 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.

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Tweet Beat: #6k_live, #都議選, #進撃の育児 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-6k_live-%e9%83%bd%e8%ad%b0%e9%81%b8-%e9%80%b2%e6%92%83%e3%81%ae%e8%82%b2%e5%85%90/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-6k_live-%e9%83%bd%e8%ad%b0%e9%81%b8-%e9%80%b2%e6%92%83%e3%81%ae%e8%82%b2%e5%85%90/#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 07:34:01 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17982 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.

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Tweet Beat: #e3, #ふなっしー, #ジブリファン http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-e3-%ef%bc%83%e3%81%b5%e3%81%aa%e3%81%a3%e3%81%97%e3%83%bc-%ef%bc%83%e3%82%b8%e3%83%96%e3%83%aa%e3%83%95%e3%82%a1%e3%83%b3/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tweet-beat-e3-%ef%bc%83%e3%81%b5%e3%81%aa%e3%81%a3%e3%81%97%e3%83%bc-%ef%bc%83%e3%82%b8%e3%83%96%e3%83%aa%e3%83%95%e3%82%a1%e3%83%b3/#comments Fri, 21 Jun 2013 02:04:24 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17826 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.

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Tokyo Toy Show . . . for little people and grown-up kids http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tokyo-toy-show-for-little-people-and-grown-up-kids/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/tokyo-toy-show-for-little-people-and-grown-up-kids/#comments Thu, 13 Jun 2013 14:26:56 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17734 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]

The Gyogyo Collection app, was produced by famed comedian Sakana-kun. A man costumed in vending machine attire demonstrates new Bondai products. Anpanman to the rescue! This talking egg from Bandai not only entertains kids it might also teach a thing or two about manners. Figurines from Nameko's popular Osawari Tantei (Touch Detective Mushroom Garden) app. Actors from the Ultraman TV series introduce the release of a film, due out in September. Popular in the 1990s, Tamagotchi now feature local characters from various prefectures. Toyota showcased this not-for-sale electric car, big enough for a parent and two children. Inflatable armor allows adults to dress up as childhood hero Majingah-Z. With this electronic game, friends can collect virtual beetles and do battle against one another. A Bandai representative promotes Space Battleship Yamato. A vegetable growing kit allows children to experience gardening on a miniature scale. Bandai's new line of water guns enables players to shoot around corners. Thanks to mandatory dance classes in schools, hip-hop themed cosmetics have become a hit. Brighten your desktop with these solar-powered caricatures of politicians. CCP's latest micro-helicopter was a popular attraction at the show. ]]>
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Japan by the numbers (06.11.13) http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/japan-by-the-numbers-06-11-13/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/japan-by-the-numbers-06-11-13/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 10:25:42 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17685 ]]> http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/japan-by-the-numbers-06-11-13/feed/ 0 Pulsations (06.02.13) http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-06-02-13/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pulsations-06-02-13/#comments Sun, 02 Jun 2013 03:22:40 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=17600 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.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYlTO1jP_BY

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