Japan Pulse » » Tech/web/mobile http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse Taking the pulse of trends, trend-watchers and trendmakers in Japan. Sat, 05 Sep 2015 02:58:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/wp-content/themes/orange/favicon.ico Japan Pulse J-blip: Ipsa’s Face Melody http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-ipsa-face-melody/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-ipsa-face-melody/#comments Sat, 05 Sep 2015 02:56:18 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20436 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJdFcaEOFaI

Every face has a name, a story and . . . a song? That’s the idea behind cosmetic company Ipsa’s newest creation.

We should, uh, take it at face value, but the company claims that its Face Melody program can measure the user’s appearance and write a unique tune based on their attributes. The application will even create a personalized song title for your fantastic face.

Users can go to Ipsa’s website, upload a picture of their face and watch as the program measures their smile level, face balance, face color and lightness. Then Face Melody will generate a song based on a special algorithm and produce a trippy music video complete with 3-D effects and psychedelic visuals.

Go to the Face Melody website to hear your song.

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Japan celebrates the GIFs that keep on giving http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/japan-celebrates-the-gifs-that-keep-on-giving/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/japan-celebrates-the-gifs-that-keep-on-giving/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 07:23:45 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20407 GIFs — which stands for graphics interchange format, don’t you know — have made the Internet an even more enjoyable place than before, and we have the receipts to prove it.

These digital designs were technological wonders back in the days of AOL and Netscape (Google it, kids). But they eventually went from high-tech animation to cliched novelties.

In recent years, the retro aesthetic of GIFs has been making big comeback. Nowadays, instead of flashing text, they often reference classic signifiers in pop culture and have become a sort of emotional shorthand, a form of emoji.

They’re now a hip way to express a gamut of feelings — excitement, annoyance, surprise . . . Name an emotion and there’s bound to be the perfect GIF for it. That’s why sites and apps such as Giphy and Nutmeg are becoming the must-have tools for when a smiley is just not enough.

They are not only being used just to express LOLs and winks, but recently GIFs have entered the realm of boda fide art. This year Japanese artist Toyoi Yuuta set Tumblr ablaze by posting a beautiful series of 8-bit GIF creations depicting sometimes melancholic, sometimes surreal scenes of life in Japan.


Thousands of users reblogged the pieces as the designs invoked memories of the Nintendo Entertainment System and took the seemingly trite medium of GIFs to a new level.


The artist Segawa 37 took the genre a step higher for Adobe’s GIF contest by giving a modern twist to classic works of “the floating world.” Segawa 37 humorously tweaks the time-honored woodblock prints by including things such as a spaceship swooping in and beaming up Mount Fuji or a group of kimono-clad travelers watching a shinkansen train zoom by.


Segawa 37’s GIF set also includes pieces that rely more on aesthetics than humor, including paintings of the warm glow of lanterns in Edo’s Yoshiwara district and people watching the Sumida River fireworks.


It seems that GIFs are beginning to get the artistic credit they deserve, and some are even making the jump from computer screens to galleries. The GIF Exhibition will be held Sept. 5-13 at Tokyo’s Tetoka and will feature a variety of works from around 10 artists. Although the pieces may be over in a flash, visitors are encouraged to slow down and take in every frame.

GIFs have gone from Internet meme to art, but where will they go next? It’s anyone’s guess.

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Smart absolutions: Send off your sins with just one click http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/smart-absolutions-send-off-your-sins-with-just-one-click/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/smart-absolutions-send-off-your-sins-with-just-one-click/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 05:59:10 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20391 Advances in technology have enabled us to converse with anyone, anywhere, and globally distribute information — and unlimited cat pictures! — in the blink of an eye.

Sumaho ooharae: Just rub and send.

Sumaho ooharae: Just rub and send.

Now, thanks to an online service from National Depart’s Kitokami, we can be rid of our sins with a click of a button.

Kitokami users have two options. Smartphone Ooharae is free smartphone service that enables users to absolve themselves of sins by merely rubbing and breathing on a human-shaped figure displaying on their smartphone screen and clicking the “send sins” button. The figures, imprinted with the name, age and gender of the user, will later be printed out and purified with a sacred fire at Bizen no Kuni Soushagu, a shrine in Okayama.

Web Ooharae is a slightly more tangible version of the service. Customers can purchase wood or paper cards online to be delivered to their homes. After doing the required rub-and-breathe routine on the card, customers will mail them to the shrine to be purified. The cards come in shapes of cats, dogs, bicycles and more, and are priced at ¥1,000 to ¥2,500.

Although Kitokami’s approach is novel, mention of the ooharae custom can be found in the Kojiki, Japan’s oldest record of history, which dates back to the 700s. Ooharae is a Shintoist ritual that takes place every year on June 30 and Dec. 31 and other days when necessary. In this ritual, participants transfer their sins and impurities onto nademono, human-shaped paper cutouts. They then blow three breaths on the paper, and Shinto priests recite prayers as they burn the sin-carrying papers in a sacred fire.

Bizen no Kuni Soushagu will light the fire on Aug. 1, 8, and 15 at 9 p.m., so customers should make sure their sins get there on time.

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Make 12th-century art using 21st-century tech http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/make-12th-century-art-using-21st-century-tech/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/make-12th-century-art-using-21st-century-tech/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 08:34:31 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20355 choju-giga

The Choju-Giga, the famed animal caricature ink paintings displayed Kyoto’s Kozan-ji Temple have been captivating people for centuries. The four scrolls, which date to the 12th and 13th centuries and depict rabbits and monkeys getting into mischief, are often cited as the first manga comics in Japan’s history.

Now art lovers can create their own masterpieces from the comfort of their Internet browser with the Choju-Giga Construction Kit website.

The site allows users to drag and drop a variety of ink-drawn animals and hiragana letters onto a virtual scroll to make whatever scene they choose. Some of the options include a fiddle-playing frog and a bow-wielding rabbit, giving users numerous story possibilities. The tools — enlarge, shrink, erase — are naturally depicted in hand-drawn calligraphy.

In the Q&A section of the site, the creator basically says he or she simply wanted a free way for users to create classic art. So go forth and roll your own epic scroll, one mouse-click at a time.

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Pokemon ages ungracefully with middle-aged ‘Ojisan Monsters’ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pokemon-ages-ungracefully-with-middle-aged-ojisan-monsters/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/pokemon-ages-ungracefully-with-middle-aged-ojisan-monsters/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 07:03:36 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20307 ojimon1

Someday Pikachu and friends will have to stop following Ash Ketchum around the world, retire from battling and get a real job.

That’s part of idea behind “Ojimon,” a new mobile game that is a portmanteau of ojisan (middle-aged man) and Pokemon. Using “ojiballs,” players can catch aging pocket monsters, who have disturbing Kobito Dukan-like faces, and make them do their bidding.

Players can put their new Ojimon to work in gold mines and construction sites, but they’ll need pay attention: These Poke-oldies have a tendency to doze off on the job but can be woken with a quick jab on the touch screen. If enough gold is harvested, players can build roads to the next town and find new Ojimon to catch.


The game includes the original 150 Pokemon, with graying versions of Charizard, Haunter and Gyarados. Even though it’s not as exciting as battling wild monsters, your Ojimon can still gain experience points through their menial labor and evolve into more powerful forms, albeit with the same sad, unshaven faces.

For an extra laugh (or to avoid copyright infringement), all of the monsters have been given punny names. For example, Fushigidane (Bulbasaur) has been renamed Oyajidane.

“Ojimon” is available for free on Android and iOS.

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Save your breath and let ‘Suimasen!’ make the call http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/save-your-breath-and-let-suimasen-make-the-call/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/save-your-breath-and-let-suimasen-make-the-call/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 09:44:57 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20203 suimasen3

Getting the attention of a server can make some people feel a little anxious. Should I raise my hand? Do I wait to make eye contact? How loud should I yell?

Well rest your nerves (and your voice) because there is a new app that makes eating out a little less stressful for soft-spoken diners.

Suimasen Daikō” (“Excuse Me Agent”) is an application where users simply tap a button and their phone will let out a hearty “すいませ~~~ん!” (“Excuse me!”)

Users can choose between a female voice, a male voice and even an ikemen voice for the cool kids. In addition, there is a bell and buzzer button to grab someone’s attention.

Need to adjust the volume? The app comes with three scene settings ranging from quiet cafes to noisy izakaya.

Suimasen Daikō is now available on iTunes.

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R2-D2 toy keeps fans company and food fresh http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/r2-d2-toy-keeps-fans-company-and-food-fresh/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/r2-d2-toy-keeps-fans-company-and-food-fresh/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 08:49:25 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20143 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeH8RiWgPDg

R2-D2, the eccentric cylindrical droid from “Star Wars,” has helped save the galaxy time and time again, but now he will help you save electricity.

Mobile gadget company Hamee will be releasing a 10 x 7 cm version of the robot to keep in your refrigerator. He will greet you when you open the door, and panic, if you leave it open.

“Living alone can get a little bleak. We wanted to create something that could welcome you back home at the end of the day,” explains Atsushi Yamashita of the product management team in the promo video.

Although this mini R2-D2 may not be able to project holograms, hack computers or extinguish fires like we’ve seen on the big screen, the company has made sure he looks and sounds exactly like the original by receiving direction from Lucasfilm. It responds to light, but pressing the button on his head works too.

It has 15 types of beeps, including some rare outbursts that you may catch if you are lucky enough. A fan may recognize R2-D2 “lines” from specific scenes in the movies.

Pre-sale orders for the R2-D2 Talking Fridge Gadget are already available, but its official release will be April 30, 2015, at ¥4,320 — just in time for the Star Wars Exhibition, scheduled to take place at Roppongi from April 29 to June 28, 2015.

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Will Line put the brakes on Uber with its taxi app? http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/will-line-put-the-brakes-on-uber-with-its-taxi-app/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/will-line-put-the-brakes-on-uber-with-its-taxi-app/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 06:26:04 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20063 line-taxi-app

In the not-so-distant future, it might be considered quaint to hail a taxi with your hand instead of using a smartphone app.

Line Corporation, after expanding its mobile business with game apps and online purchases, is expanding its smartphone messaging platform with a new service called Line Taxi for users to book cabs in Tokyo via its app.

Launched in January, users simply type their address into the app and, with GPS, the taxi’s dispatch time appears on the map. The taxi ride is automatically paid for using a pre-registered credit card, so there is no need to worry about having cash on hand. Line hopes the app will be useful for people who don’t want to fight over cabs during rush hour.

Competitor Uber, a taxi booking app that’s already available in 55 countries, already expanded its service to Tokyo last spring and has many similar features to Line Taxi.

However, along with Uber’s global expansion has come a series of huge bumps in the road, including an Uber driver being accused of raping a passenger in India in December 2014, and in the same month in Australia, Uber was harshly criticized for jacking up prices during the hostage situation in downtown Sydney. (They quickly apologized for the snafu.)

Uber has also come under fire after testing out its services in Fukuoka. The government told the company to suspend its pilot project as the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry believes that the smartphone application service likely violates the Road Transportation Law prohibiting unlicensed taxi services.

Although Line Taxi doesn’t have the premium service of luxury cars like Uber, the face that Line’s partner is Nihon Kotsu, Japan’s largest taxi company, means there might not be a big gap between the two. More than 3,000 taxis will be connected to Line, and the company plans to include more than 23,000 taxis for its service nationwide.

Currently Line Taxi is only available in Japanese and the fare has to be paid with a Japanese credit card, but the app is expected to become more foreigner-friendly in the future and expand coverage throughout Japan. The company first said that they wanted to take their taxi service global since previewing it last October.

So what’s it going to be? Will you get in Line?

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YouTube’s #DearMe campaign looks back to look forward http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/youtubes-dearme-campaign-looks-back-to-look-forward/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/youtubes-dearme-campaign-looks-back-to-look-forward/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 09:53:56 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=20055 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gFdQM_Hpos

With International Women’s Day right around the corner, YouTube launched its #DearMe campaign, encouraging women to reflect on their past and post video messages with advice to their younger selves. The project became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter within an hour after its launch.

YouTube recruited a range of women from a variety of countries, backgrounds and professions, including blogger Grace Helbig, actress Felicia Day and the band Pentatonix. The selection also included many women living in Japan. Here are a few of the #DearMe videos highlighted by YouTube.

Bilingirl — YouTuber

Subscribers:  383,324


“As I lived each day of my life, trying new things and gaining new experiences, I discovered that there was more to me than just small eyes and a flat face. I learned that confidence comes from my accomplishments and not my appearances.”

“The best make-up is a girl’s smile, so don’t forget to smile!”

Rin Rin Doll — model, blogger, TV personality

Subscribers: 5,570


“Your achievements aren’t defined by other people. Wear what you want to wear. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid of obstacles coming your way — you’re going to be OK. You’re strong, and I believe in you.”

Junko Suzuki — model

Subscribers: 34


“If you love yourself and be yourself, you will make friends whom you will truly love.”

Chie Hidaka — makeup artist

Subscribers: 533


“To the person who had no self-confidence, who got too caught up in the little things and couldn’t move. To the person who cried everyday because of the acne on her skin. To the person who didn’t laugh because she didn’t know how to. To the person who felt inferior for not having a mother. Thank you. I am here now because you took the time to face your struggles. Thank you so much. Dear me, thank you.”

Caroline Kennedy — U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Subscribers (To the U.S. Embassy channel): 1,562


“I wish someone had told me not to be afraid to make a mistake. I think we spend a lot of time trying to be perfect. But it’s really your mistakes that make you who you are, that lead to future success.”

Miki — video journalist, blogger

Subscribers: 2,171


“Failures, failures, failures, failures, failures and more failures has helped me get to where I am now, so keep making mistakes.”

Sayulee — singer/songwriter

Subscribers: 22,302


“There’s only one you, and you are much cooler than you think you are.”

Saori Arai — TV announcer

Subscribers: 1,114


“You are feeling insecure because of your voice. Some people think you are trying to be cute or be a goody-goody because of how you sound. But one day, somebody will tell you that you have a beautiful voice. You may not believe that person right away, but try. Try to love your voice. Right now, I’m a television announcer, using this very voice. I know now what I felt insecure about in the past is actually my strength, my charm.”

Jun Nakayama — performer, model

Subscribers: 73


“Who directs the movie of your life? Yes, you do. It’s your life. Listen to your heart and soul.”

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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: cat montage http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-cat-montage/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-cat-montage/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 10:54:28 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19938 If you’ve been keeping your eyes open, you might have caught a glimpse of the “cat montage” meme that has been spreading through Japan and beyond.

The gist: A human draws a set of cartoon eyes for its furry friend and creates a funny collage.

Credit for this simple yet viral idea goes to Twitter user Shirotamaaaa, who sparked the trend in early November. His original post has been retweeted more than 4,500 times.

Spilling over into Instagram and YouTube, the meme is also gaining traction overseas.

The joke has even spread further into the animal kingdom with pictures of dogs, rabbits and hamsters.

Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! Ora! #猫モンタージュ

Pro tip from cat montage experts: snap it when your feline is sleeping.

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J-blip: Kokoro Scanner knows what’s in your heart of hearts http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/kokoro-scanner-knows-whats-in-your-heart-of-hearts/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/kokoro-scanner-knows-whats-in-your-heart-of-hearts/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:53:39 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19890 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgk8PNvR9uA

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

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

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

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

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J-blip: You TOO can be a ‘konbini’ manager of your dreams http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-you-too-can-be-a-konbini-manager-of-your-dreams/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/j-blip-you-too-can-be-a-konbini-manager-of-your-dreams/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:12:50 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19872 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF-8QfnC-vw

Ever have the urge to shriek “Irasshaimase!” and microwave meals for salarymen? You’re in luck as you can now control a Japanese convenience store right in the palm of your hands.

“Konbini Dream” lets users manage a typical Japanese konbini — complete with bowing employees and cheap snacks. Players can hire workers, rearrange the layout of the store and decide which items are up for sale for your anime-inspired customers with big eyes and stubby legs.

In addition, players receive experience points for every successful purchase. After leveling up, part-time workers and new merchandise become available, including seasonal items for Halloween and Christmas.

“Konbini Dream” was released for Nintendo 3DS on Sept. 24 as a downloadable title and only costs the price of a few pieces of convenience store chicken at just ¥800. Perhaps in the future this will be how Lawson, Sunkus, et al. train their staff?

Go to Arc System Works’ website to learn more about the game.

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My little pork industry can’t be this cute: ‘Pig Farm’ and ‘Slaughterhouse’ smartphone games http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/my-little-pork-industry-cant-be-this-cute-pig-farm-and-slaughterhouse-smartphone-games/ http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/my-little-pork-industry-cant-be-this-cute-pig-farm-and-slaughterhouse-smartphone-games/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 11:03:13 +0000 http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/japan-pulse/?p=19705 Is making a game butchering cute little pigs kimo-kawaii or just real talk? JOE Inc.’s “Yōtonjō” (“Pig Farm”) is a pig-raising simulation game with a predictable outcome. After all the vaccinating, poop scooping and keeping track of each porker’s picky eating habits, you send ’em off, and not not on vacation.

“That’s how it works — they’re pigs after all!” The game’s copy reminds us.

 Left: Isn't it only right that each one would have its own preferences? They're pigs, after all. Devote yourself to their care. Then give thanks for the pork! Right: A chance a day! Get rare pigs in the piglet hunt! The better the pig, the higher the price it will fetch! Compete with pig farmers from around the country!

Left: Isn’t it only right that each one would have its own preferences? They’re pigs, after all. Devote yourself to their care. Then give thanks for the pork! Right: A chance a day! Get rare pigs in the piglet hunt! The better the pig, the higher the price it will fetch! Compete with pig farmers from around the country!

Here’s a look inside my pig pen:


I like how that one is sleeping with his face planted in his food. Pigtastic!

The color of the pig-pen floor is different on the right because I applied a sawdust coating to help the pigs grow faster. Where do you think I got that sawdust? I bought it, of course. Did I have enough points right off the bat for that? Of course not! “Pig Farm” is perfect for short bursts (those moments of time between checking your Twitter and Facebook at the bus stop, for example) but if you’re busy and you just want to see what kind of goofy pigs you can raise as fast as possible, or expand your pen faster, the in-game store is more than happy to take your money. Farmers who want to invest can buy points in increments ranging from 2,000 for ¥100 to 200,000 for ¥5,800.

Here are some of the fine specimens I managed to raise so far:


Left (name and description): “Large Yorkshire (American). The so-called White Pig. Has movie star relatives. If you’re going to cook it, meatballs are recommended.” Right: This pig is interesting in that he appears enlightened once he is mature enough to ship out . His name is a pun on buta (pig) and budda (Buddha).

Shooting piglets with a stun gun (or bathing them, for some reason) on daily hunting excursions is a surreal diversion that provides a chance to acquire pigs aside from just buying them. I say surreal because, well, I just can’t imagine pig farmers hunting wild pigs. Also less than realistic is the “Funba” (pun on Roomba with fun that means “poop”) that will clean up the pen for you, but these casual elements keep it cute and fun, vibes that need to be maintained in preparation for that awkward day when . . .


Right: “Large Yorkshire (American) (Okay, see you tomorrow!)”

Yes, the pigs speak their final words as they are carted away. From the oblivious, “I’m hungry . . . ” to the bitter, “I knew it,” various pigs have various levels of understanding regarding their predicament. The best way for you to get a better idea of their predicament is to download the sequel to “Pig Farm,” “Slaughterhouse.”


Left: “Slaughterhouse” Take orders and butcher, butcher, butcher the pigs! A new play sensation! A pork action game! Right: How to play: Swipe as directed! If you remove the wrong part or exceed the time limit, it’s game over!

There are no micro-transaction hooks; this game is purely skill based. Less like the classic board game “Operation” than it first appears, swiping the meat (and once, you level up, organs) out of the pig carcass (graphic, but true) is more a matter of knowing what part is being requesting and getting it out within the time limit. At first, the parts are labeled, but as you deconstruct more and more animals, they slowly fade away, leaving you to rely on your growing pig expertise or risk a fierce scolding.


Beginner difficult only tasks you with handling meat, while intermediate has you working with guts. Advanced keeps you on your toes since you won’t know if you’re removing meat or guts until the pig appears.

Not only can you kill time (and pigs), but you can learn the various pork parts and how they are commonly prepared:


Left: “Fillet: Low in fat, smooth and tender, this is the best part. Used for tonkatsu or sauté.” Right: “Heart: The fine muscle fibers make for a unique crunch. Low in fat and refreshing. Made into kushiyaki.”

JOE Inc. released these apps last year, with “Pig Farm” peaking at number one in the App Store’s free ranking on Jan. 11 this year, according to the developer’s official website. Up until these pig games the company had been releasing a mountain of “test” and “diagnosis” style apps that purport to tell how unpopular a girl will be at a gōkon, how hopeless a guy’s marriage prospects are or how much of an otaku someone is. Their latest, however, released Jan. 4, is another casual game called “Picket and Door.” Pickets are fairies that give you keys and the whole experience is just about poking these creatures, collecting keys and opening doors — a friendly change of pace from the abattoir.

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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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