Hot Pulse

Pulsations 4.18.14

April 18th, 2014 by

Here’s a new batch of 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 . . .

Gadgets before flowers – Japanese moms reveal what they really want for Mother’s Day (from RocketNews24): Survey says that the most popular present on Mother’s Day will be a bouquet of flowers, but when moms themselves were asked what they most wanted, the results were a little different.

An Indoor Floating Forest by Sou Fujimoto (from Spoon & Tamago): Are the mirrored boxes these trees sprout from beautiful or busy?

LEGO Builder Creates Life-Sized Hatsune Miku Statue (from Kotaku): Of course, the final product is charming, but Chaos Brick’s photos documenting the process are truly fascinating.

Q&A: Disney Executive Tells of ‘Frozen’ Success in Japan (from Japan Realtime): “Frozen” fans should be happy to hear the film is doing well in Japan, too.

Traditional Japanese craft informs Jo Nagasaka’s furniture for Ichiro (from designboom):  Designer and architect Jo Nagasaka came up with furniture featuring bamboo-weaving and rope-tying techniques.

Visual Pulse

A teaser trailer for upcoming Lupin III spin-off movie, “Lupin IIIrd: Jigen Daisuke no Bohyō” (“Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone”), was released this morning. Takeshi Koike, who designed the characters and served as animation director in the 2012 TV anime “Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine” continues as the character designer and director of the movie, which features manga artist Monkey Punch’s famous thief Lupin III’s partner, Jigen, as its protagonist. The film will run in a special screening June 21-27 at the cinema Shinjuku Wald 9.

Hanami! Sakura! Spring snacks have also sprung

March 27th, 2014 by

I am not one to require too much of a reason to throw a mini cream puff party in the office, but Beard Papa‘s announcement of karintō cream puffs was a good one; so, I take the liberty of starting this spring snack write-up with our impressions.

If you’re not familiar, karintō are those things in the snack aisle or local dagashi-ya (sweet shop) that look like dirty twigs. The dirt, however, is brown sugar and the twig is best explained as “fried.” Not fried “something” but just . . . fried. The main ingredient besides sugar is flour, and they’re crunchy like cookies despite being cooked like doughnuts. By the time you get that far, it’s only a couple leaps to the cream-puff idea.

Beard Papa‘s surprisingly delicious karintō cream puffs

Beard Papa‘s surprisingly delicious karintō cream puffs

The website copy calls it a “masterpiece confection that can be confidently recommended to karintō fans since it captures the flavor of the real thing.” Here are some comments from our tasting panel . . .

CONTINUE READING about spring snacks →

Pulsations 3.25.14

March 26th, 2014 by

Here’s a new batch of 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 . . .

No Objections to Resident Evil’s “Deaf Composer” in Ace Attorney (from Kotaku): A fan-made satire video puts Mamoru Samuragochi on trial in a popular courtroom videogame series.

Sprint Turns to Spokes-Hamster (from Japan Realtime): Is the wireless carrier taking a cue from parent-company SoftBank’s talking dog?

252 Pocky lovers gather in Shibuya to set world record (from RocketNews24): It’s harder to sustain a relay of people feeding each other than you might think.

A ‘Heartbreak Box’ That Helps You Get Rid Of Your Ex-Lover’s Belongings (from Design Taxi): Japanese company Brandear has come up with a handy and charitable way to unload your ex’s stuff.

The Secret World of Japanese University Cafeterias (from Spoon & Tamago): Did you know a bunch of them are open to the public with the same student-geared prices?

Visual Pulse

Anime Japan was held March 22-23 at Tokyo Big Sight. MAiDiGi TV was at the convention collecting video highlights.

Bump of Chicken x Hatsune Miku, plus two other ‘must-see’ J-pop music videos

March 12th, 2014 by

Bump of Chicken‘s seventh album, “Ray,” came out today along with the announcement of a Hatsune Miku duet remix of the titular track. It’s available now under the artist name “Bump of Chicken Feat. Hatsune Miku” on iTunes and Recochoku and is the first time the band has done a collaboration of this type. Not only that, but Crypton Future Media is producing a video using tons of new tech, including a “14 [ichiyon] model” of their virtual idol. Hatsune Miku will not be edited in later, but perform in real time with the band. Find out more details about the development process in the documentary above.

Babymetal - “Gimme Choco!”

Cuteness has never been this metal. Blending hard rock and idol pop, Babymetal has been recording since 2011, but it was only with the release of their first major album last month that they went viral. “Gimme Chocolate!!” is a tale of chocoholism that cannot be cured even though “I’ve been worried about my weight lately.”  If that particular instance of will power isn’t the most hardcore, how about this for metal? Trio member Yuimetal fell 2 meters off the stage at their Budokan show earlier this month, but was back up and performing again within minutes.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - “Yume no Hajimarinrin”

Kyary’s popularity continues to grow, and not only in Japan. Her latest single is used in a commercial for the apartment listings company Chintai. The video, however, remains solidly in the Kyary universe, including plenty of references to her other videos. Toast clapping! How nostalgic.

Bonus: Omodaka, who engineers a quirky harmony between traditional Japanese folksongs and chip-tunes, released a new album today called “Bridge Songs.” Wonder when we can expect another amazing music video . . .

Pulsations 3.7.14

March 7th, 2014 by

Here’s a new batch of 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 . . .

Bird’s Eye View Maps of Cartographer Hatsusaburo Yoshida (from Spoon & Tamago): Google celebrated the hard-working map-maker’s birthday with a doodle homage.

Tokyo luxury hotel offering special Galaxy Express 999 anime guestroom (from RocketNews24): Spend a night surrounded by artwork featuring Maetel and other characters at Hotel Grand Pacific Le Daiba.

渡辺おさむのフェイク・クリーム・アート (from JDN Station): Osamu Watanabe invites you into his world of “fake cream art” in the exhibition “Sweet Sentiments.” Animals, tea sets and more are sculpted to look as though they’re made out of cookies and cream.

cuboid house in kitakarasuyama by mizuishi architect atelier (from designboom): Kota Mizuishi’s house is designed to balance openness and privacy.

A History of Video Game Consoles, In Japanese Commercials (from Kotaku): Do you remember the Cassette Vision Jr.? Explore the history of consumer console gaming from the beginning to present day via this YouTube collection.

Hello Kitty Teams Up With Playboy For A New Kind of Cute Sexy (from Anime News Network):  Bow meets bunny ears when Hello Kitty dons fishnet stockings to blow playboys a kiss.

Visual Pulse

Hina Matsuri (Girl’s Day) came and went (March 3) but Chika’s overview and cute hand-made hinadan is a must-see for those interested in Japanese culture. If you want to practice your Japanese listening skills, check out her bilingual lesson.

 

Chocolate & honey mustard: the Valentine’s Day pair to avoid

February 12th, 2014 by

“But there’s mole sauce, right?” my boss remarked when I expressed my initial disgust at Lotteria‘s chocolate & honey mustard grilled chicken burger. There is mole sauce, it’s true. And I love mole! Spicy chocolate is great! In fact, why not just do a mole burger? That would have been fine. What was not fine was . . .

burger choco

Honey mustard grilled chicken and Ghana Chocolate sauce, the horror.

It could just be that I am not built to eat Lotteria. The chicken sandwich was offensive before I even opened the chocolate. Half of the meat was actually fat and skin, and the bun was already getting soggy from the mayo splotch and sweet mustard sauce. The lettuce was entirely too biological in its sliminess.

CONTINUE reading about Lotteria's chocolate & honey mustard grilled chicken burger

Bandai’s projection-mapping candy toy: Hako Vision

February 7th, 2014 by

Bandai’s Candy Toy division is known for those inexpensive character-driven toys packaged with just enough sugar to score shelf space where food is sold so that parents can use them to reward kids for being good at the grocery store. Their anime tie-up rosters includes Kamen Rider, Pokémon, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, One Piece, Yokai Watch and more. With the initial round of Hako Vision releases, however, they’re doing something a little different. Did you ever imagine you’d be watching recreations of popular projection-mapping shows rigged up with your smartphone and a cardboard box? While chewing grape-flavored gum?!

You can think of it as the latest evolution of shokugan (“candy toy”) culture that supposedly has its roots in Meiji Era collectible cards that came packed in cigarettes (definitely not for kids), or a new direction in diorama construction for the 21st century. As of Jan. 27, there are two kits available for ¥500 each: Tokyo Michiterasu 2012 “Tokyo Hikari Vision” and the Tokyo National Museum’s “Karakuri” (2013). The package itself  is the stage for the miniaturized versions of these special events (“hako” means “box”), so don’t go tearing it up to get inside. Once you set up the scale model of the building to be projected on and the reflecting panel, all you need is the lighting, which you provide by pulling up a specially made video on your smartphone and laying it on top like a roof to your cardboard theater.

Projection-mapping itself seems to be all over the place lately. Even just in the past several months The Japan Times has noted Tower of the Sun Beam Painting, Art Aquarium 2013, “live” Hatsune Miku shows presented by NTT Docomo, and Yokohama Odyssey. On the horizon, Disney (pioneering projection-mapping tech for years — since building the Haunted Mansion ride in 1969 according to Projection Mapping Central) is debuting a new show mapped to Cinderella’s Castle at Tokyo Disneyland May 29th.

As for the future of Hako Vision itself, Bandai already has big plans. Instead of just continuing to reproduce shows people have already seen life size, they’re creating original videos to go with Mobile Suit Gundam figures. Giant mecha familiar to fans of the anime, Gundam and Zaku II, each get their own video helmed by creative director Ryotaro Muromatsu of Naked Inc., the same company that produced the video for “Tokyo Hikari Vision.” The new kits go on sale April 14.

Needless to say, if Hako Vision catches on, the licensing possibilities at Bandai are nearly endless. And now that the kits are out in the wild it’s not hard to imagine fans of the tech creating their own models and fantastic videos to go with them.

 

Pulsations 1.27.14

January 27th, 2014 by

Here’s a new batch of 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 . . .

職人の本気を感じるスマホスタンド「食品サンプルスタンド」4種類は観るだけでお腹がすいてくるクオリティ (from Gigazine): That’s a lot of Japanese for non-speakers, but the photos are what you’re clicking through for! How about propping up your iPhone on a super-detailed food model like the ones they use at restaurants?

Interview with graphic designer Ryo Ueda of Commune (from designboom): “Good identities might look simple on the surface, but are often the result of deep thinking. To err here and just create a simple things for the sake of it is very dangerous. because a superficial, simple design becomes immediately obsolete.”

Tomopinion: Land of the Setting Sun (from Tomopop): Chris Seto gives a state of the Japanese figure industry address and blames the lack of innovation on the fans.

In Japan, Being Mickey Mouse Is a Part-Time Job (from Kotaku): The guy who does the Japanese voice of Mickey Mouse has a full-time job as a university professor.

Why deciding whether or not to help a crying girl is complicated in Japan (from RocketNews24): Can getting involved get you in more trouble than minding your own business?

Japanese Company Turns Font types into Glasses (from japanese streets): Now you can rest Helvetica or Garamond on your nose.

Video Pulse

Adam Magyar‘s high speed footage from a train sliding into Shinjuku Station has been making the rounds, but if you haven’t seen it yet, prepare to get sucked in.

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