Archive for the ‘Otaku culture’ Category

Fans irked by a nuclear-free Doraemon

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

A reference to Doraemon’s internal nuclear power plant has been erased for the Big Doraemon Dictionary

Japan’s antinuclear movement is still going strong, but when the news came out  that Doraemon, everyone’s favorite robot cat, had lost his nuclear power source, fans were not impressed.

@FUKUBLOG, a sharp-eyed Twitter user, posted a photograph of the Big Doraemon Dictionary, in which the reference to a power source for Doraemon has been erased from the page. The original version shows that Doraemon is powered by his own nuclear reactor which, rather than plutonium or uranium, runs on anything he eats. Indeed, built with future technologies, Doraemon has so far been able to run around and fly in the sky without triggering an internal meltdown.

The reason for this omission is more than likely related to the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Doraemon fans, however, are not reacting well to this PC makeover. “So how on earth is Doraemon powered then?” tweeted one.  “A non-nuclear Doraemon isn’t Doraemon,” wrote another.

When the story was reported in Byokan Sunday, 2chan users reactions included: “So what should we do after this change? He moves by solar-powered battery or something?” and “This kind of deletion is not necessary.”

Many others were worried about the future fate of Atom Boy and his rather unfortunately named younger sister Uran-chan (Uranium girl). Will they be switched to alternative energy sources?

Today’s J-blip: kabe-don

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Picture the scene: A blushing girl is dashing off somewhere when all of a sudden a tall handsome guy slams his hand against the wall in front of her, she’s flustered, there’s nowhere to hide, their eyes meet and . . .  If you’re a fan of shōjo manga (manga aimed at teenage girls), you’ve no doubt seen this scene countless times and maybe even groaned a bit as the hackneyed plot device is once again wheeled out. The situation has been nicknamed “kabe-don” by manga fans, as “don” is an onomatopoeic word for thunderous sound, in this case created by a hand slamming into a kabe (wall).

This month a spate of parodies that turn the situation on its head have been produced by playful Twitter users, giving rise to the “semi-don,” and the “ten-don,” among others.

A whole new vocabulary has been born: There’s the “standard” don where a boy blocks a girl’s escape with one arm and the “slightly wild” don in which her escape is blocked by a leg. But the most popular parody by far has been the semi-don (cicada don) that, according to J-Cast, was first posted by a Twitter user on Oct. 13 as a panel of four drawings riffing on the kabe-don idea. The final panel shows a girl being completely cornered by a boy who is blocking her exit not just with both hands, but both legs too, like an insect clinging to a wall. The tweet was retweeted more than 20,000 times and lead to a number of people posting tribute photographs of themselves performing this difficult feat.

Following on from the cicada don we’ve now had the “ten-don,” in which a girl is cornered by a giant bowl of tempura and rice, the Pteranano-don, in which the flying dinosaur traps its prey in a corner and most successful of all with more than 10,000 retweets the “neko-don” featuring a pile of cats in a corner, presumably on top of their victim. Because “don” could also refer to a drum beat, it’s also common to see kabe-don parodies featuring WadaDon from Namko’s “Taiko: Drum Master” game taking the role of the “ore sama” (guy who’s a bit full of himself) lead.

Twitter is the perfect medium to disseminate this kind wordplay coupled with a one-shot visual gag, and it seems like manga fans both young and not so young are having a ball creating and re-tweeting kabe-don parodies. When it all dies down, we’re wondering which manga cliché will next receive an online dressing down. We vote for the one where a guy trips over a girl and lands on top of her, inadvertently touches a boob and receives a slap.

Today’s J-blip: ‘Yurei Attack!’

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Who you gonna call?

Want to get rid of that strange woman who’s been watching you sleep at night, the one whose feet aren’t touching the ground? Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt may have just the help you need in their recently published little encyclopedia, “Yurei Attack! The Japanese Ghost Survival Guide.

The authors offer deep insight into yurei, figures in Japanese folklore who died under savage circumstances and who are now doomed to seek revenge until someone gives them proper funeral rites. The book also tells you why there is (probably) no need to be afraid. In addition to a biographical fact sheet and background story for each yurei, the book details how every one executes its attack and, more importantly, how to survive an encounter should you have the misfortune — or fortune, depending on your tastes in adventure — of meeting with an impassioned Japanese spirit. Already being haunted? This book may just be your saving grace.

Embellished with dozens of colorful illustrations, the guide not only embodies information on 39 unfriendly and vicious Japanese specters but discusses haunted places in Japan and the occult games one may play if trying to invoke a demon. For what, we don’t know, and we’re not going to ask — though if you do attempt these games we won’t be expecting to hear from you anytime soon.

Oiwa, of the famed kabuki play Yotsuya Kaidan, is one of the featured ghosts, and it is recommended that one visits the Tamiya Shrine at Yotsuya if bedeviled by her. We’ve been there, and the shrine, albeit small and set right in the middle of a residential area, does have something creepy about it. But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Not that we were being haunted. Unless nightmares count . . .

Whether out of plain interest or out of the desperate need to combat your own yurei attack, you can purchase the guide through Amazon Japan. Also check out its predecessors “Ninja Attack!” and “Yokai Attack!” That should cover your bases against just about any made-in-Japan misfortune that may befall you.

Bunpei Yorifuji’s ‘Wonderful Life with the Elements’

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Remember that kid who doodled all through your chemistry class instead of taking notes? Now imagine if that kid had an encyclopedic knowledge of the elements as well as a knack for drawings that made everyone giggle behind the teacher’s back.

Bunpei Yorifuji’s Wonderful Life with the Elements

That’s the feeling we get flipping through Bunpei Yorifuji‘s “Wonderful Life With the Elements.” Yorifuji is well known for his series of Tokyo Metro manners posters that urged riders to, among other things, “do it at home.”

Though the pull-out periodic table poster looks at first like a random collection of whimsical yellow guys, every part of each endearing little dude is carefully designed. From their ages, hair styles, and clothing (or lack thereof) to their weight and facial hair, every, well, element of each element matters and tells you something about each substance. (It might remind kanji nerds of the way kanji radicals add up.)

Most of the elements get their own pages. Illustrations show key properties (toxic thallium is soft like butter) as well as where they turn up in daily life (“Sodium compounds are great for housework!”) and beyond (boron is key in both fake movie snow and roach poison). There’s a section on eating the elements that compares the elements contained in a Japanese vs. a Western breakfast.

We learn which elements like to stick together for good, like the “digital semiconductor trio.” Troublemakers are grouped together, too, like the elements that were used to attack subways in Tokyo as sarin gas and to poison a pot of curry in Wakayama. They appear as benign-looking acrobatic combinations, perhaps suggesting that the elements themselves aren’t evil.

We wonder if future editions might address elements that have gained new prominence. Things have changed since the original Japanese version (元素生活, genso seikatsu) came out in 2009. Japanese scientists created Ununtrium for the first time just last month. Cesium, the subject of thousands of post-Fukushima articles, gets no more than a nod as a natural timekeeper, and there’s no mention of the problems that iodine can cause when its radioactive version is ingested.

The English version, published by geeky U.S. imprint No Starch Press, is available in Japan through Amazon.com or Amazon.jp. The original is at bookstores all over Japan and online. There is a bit of Japanese scattered throughout the book, including each element’s Japanese name and Chinese character, but not their readings. The book may be too late to help many of us pass our chemistry tests, but it’s a great second chance to get to know the elements as the individuals they are.

Today’s J-blip: Virtual Japanese trainspotting

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Obsessed with watching Japanese trains go by? Now you can indulge your hobby regardless of bad weather or friends who just don’t get your hobby — whether you’re in Japan or not.

The website Tetsudonow (“railroads now”) has elevated trainspotting to a new level by allowing viewers to watch virtual trains zip around the major cities of Japan on a Google map mash-up.  Twitter users in Japan were bubbling with excitement yesterday, with some tweeting that the illustrated trains move in real-time. If only. The site’s explanation says that the trains actually move in accordance with their weekday timetables, so the map doesn’t reflect delays, stoppages or weekend schedules.

The navigation tools do, however, let you see the routes of most major railways in Japan at any time of day. To hobbyists’ delight, the trains are all labeled with their actual line colors and approximate shapes, so you can tell a green Yamanote train from a snub-nosed shinkansen at a glance. Click on any moving train to see where it’s coming from and where it’s headed.

Now you can trainspot with a bag of popcorn in one hand and a Coke in the other from the comfort of your swivel chair with no one jostling or judging you. Us? We wouldn’t judge you.

Pulsations (9.28.12)

Friday, September 28th, 2012

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:

Need something to perk you up at work besides coffee? Try Morning Rescue, a Japanese energy drink popularized by the anime “Puella Magi Madoka Magica.” What would you do if a group of men dressed in orange overalls smashed through your ceiling and popped up right next to you so early in the morning?

J!NS eyeglasses vending machine at TGS

Friday, September 21st, 2012

jin vending machine

Anime characters need to protect their eyes, too.

If staring at a computer screen is as bad for your eyes as they say, J!NS found just the right place to set up its latest vending machine.

The eyewear company plopped one of its new eyeglasses dispensers right in the middle of this year’s Tokyo Game Show. These aren’t just any eyeglasses; the J!NS PC models in the machines are specially designed to protect your eyes when looking at an electronic screen.

Several of the touchscreen vending machines opened in Japan this summer, including a brand new one at Kansai International Airport. The company is planning to set up 50 more of the so-called J!NS Self Shops around the country. Different styles and colors are priced at ¥3,990 and ¥5,990, payable by credit card.

The company’s slogan is “Glasses that can see the future.” Are they seeing the future of retail?

Today’s J-blip: Name the Tokyu train mascot

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

He’s got a big, goofy grin and a funky headpiece, but one thing the Tokyu train line’s newest mascot doesn’t have is a name. The little guy’s purpose in life is to raise awareness — and “get children excited about” — the Tokyu-Toyoko line’s Fukutoshin extension, which is set to open in March of next year.

Word is that he’s a playful 10-year-old from Kanagawa Prefecture who is secretly on a diet. (What’s that all about? Every yurukyara needs a little bit of a backstory, and this one is a reference to the new trains running on less electricity.) The contest’s entry form has spots for writing the name in Japanese or English. The name should be accompanied by an explanation in Japanese. The winning entry, which will become the character’s official name, will get a ¥50,000 Tokyu gift certificate. Fifty runners-up will get Tokyu swag. The contest ends on Sept. 28. Think we’ve got a chance with “Stripey?”

Photo courtesy of J.L. Gatewood, aka @StarrWulfe.

RSS

Recent Posts