Posts Tagged ‘anime’

Fun for one, online and off

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

While Japan’s konkatsu, or “marriage hunting” boom is into its third year, it seems that Japanese companies are embracing the fact that there are plenty of people out there who are rolling solo. Pulse has looked at a yakiniku restaurant that takes the embarrassment out of cooking meat by yourself, as well as places that serve ramen for one and cater especially to women looking to grab a solo drink and snack on the way home.

Dinner for two... sort of.

For the working woman who simply wants to have a relaxed meal at home with a little — and only a little — company, there’s the iPhone app Kare to gohan (Dinner with My Boyfriend). The English version is called PlusBoys. The app has photos of clean-cut young men who each have personality profiles and back stories: Biker and college student Tatsuya is “friendly, but a luck pusher. He likes going to rock festivals by himself.” There are photos of each of them whipping up a meal for two, accompanied by screens of cheerful “welcome home” banter. The instructions warn that checking on more than one character might make them jealous. (Is nothing simple?) As you proceed through the stories, you can buy new characters from within the app.

For guys, there are a handful of apps that will liven up a dinner for one – or make you seem popular with the ladies when you’re out with friends. That is, as long as your friends don’t see who’s actually calling: These apps send you “phone calls” from anime characters or, equally unlikely to actually call you, pop stars. A recent version of Dream Call requires you to pick up the phone and make appropriate “I’m listening” noises in response to the recorded pre-programmed chat and scores you on your “mm-hmms” and “I sees.”

And then, for the . . .  actually, we’re not sure who this is for. Hatofuru kareshi (pigeon boyfriend) is a dating simulation game where you are a second-year student at the St. Pigeonation high school, finding yourself increasingly attracted to your male classmates, who are all pigeons. If it comes to this, please, put down the iPhone and get out of the house.

While you’re out there, may we suggest checking out OneKara, the new karaoke place for soloists only? There’s no shame in a little hitokara. Rent a room for one and rock your own socks off.

Corporate brands drawn to anime’s selling power

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Tiger & Bunny,” which just ended its first season, has been one of the most popular anime releases this year, despite that fact that contained blatant product placement for Calbee, Softbank, Pepsi and Bandai. The show features superheros called NEXT who perform acts of bravery about the futuristic city of Stirnbild, earning points as they do so. As their activities are filmed on TV in this fictional world, each hero is sponsored by a different company and sports the logos of  a sponsor.

Characters include Pepsi’s Blue Rose and Rock Baison, a bull-themed hero who  advertises the yakiniku restaurant Gyu-kaku. According to Tokyo Walker, fans of Rokku Baison have even affectionately nicknamed him Gyu-kaku -an. These companies are keen to capitalize on their involvement in the show: Pepsi is running ads featuring Blue Rose (see above) and Gyu-kaku are offering discount vouchers for a special Rokku Baison set meal (a pretty good deal for yakiniku lovers btw).

Despite anime characters being used to sell just about anything in Japan via product tie-ins, product placement within a contemporary anime is unusual, according to Nico Nico Pedia. One reason is that anime creators believe this would turn off fans, another reason is that once the toy industry got involved in anime and tokusatsu, toy companies had strong objections to introducing other products onto a show, so instead sponsers names were announced at the beginning and end of ad breaks.

Continue reading about product placement in anime →

Cult of the voice actor continues to grow

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Peace Love

Seiyu supergroup Peace Love employs 45 anime voice actors

Stepping out from behind their animated alter egos, a supergroup of seiyu (voice actors) made their debut at Womb in Tokyo on Nov 5. Performing tracks from their recent album “Rebirth,” 45-member Peace Love treated fans to a mélange of pop, rock, house and R&B at the sold-out show. Though the popularity of this band owes much to the similarly overpopulated and insanely popular act AKB48, another factor at play is the ever-evolving cult of the seiyu, which shows no signs of abating.

Since the late 1970s seiyu actors have been forming bands or putting out solo records, so the success of Peace Love will come as no surprise to the industry. As seiyu stars became famous in their own right, they began to increasingly appear in the media, so that by the ’90s magazines dedicated solely to seiyu actors started to appear. Despite the flagging fortunes of the magazine industry, in January 2010 Voice Girls, a gravure mag dedicated to female seiyu, joined other established titles such as Pick-Up Voice, Voice New Type, Seiyu Grand Prix and Seiyu Animedia.

Using seiyu talent to provide dialogue for the games industry is also becoming increasingly popular and this month a new title just got released that employs no less than six big name voice actors. “Blue Tears” is an action online fantasy RPG for PC. Those who’d like to hear the dulcet tones of these voice actors before buying the game can access sample sound files on the game’s website.

As the demand remains high for seiyu related merchandise, one canny business has discovered the perfect way to feed the appetites of a hungry fanbase. The Seiyu Cafe in Akihabara opened its doors in July this year. Closely resembling a recording studio, complete with a professional microphone on a small stage, all the serving staff employed at the café are professional seiyu actors. A quick glance at the staff list shows that the café employs actors who’ve worked on such big titles as “Darker Than Black,” “Fairy Tail” and “Death Note,” albeit in rather minor roles. Visitors to the coffee shop can order dialogue from the menu from the staff who then perform their lines. This way starving seiyu actors forced to wait tables are still able to practice their craft.

‘GeGeGe’ birthplace becomes tourist magnet

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

NHK's morning drama GeGeGe no Nyobo

In pursuit of ghostly fun and games, visitors flocked to the city of Sakaiminato in Tottori Prefecture during the recent Golden Week holidays (April 29-May 3). A shopping arcade in the hometown of quirky cartoon artist Shigeru Mizuki was the main attraction for day-trippers hoping to catch a sighting of their favorite “GeGeGe no Kitaro” characters. Despite a general drop in domestic travel due to the March 11 quake, visitor figures recorded by city’s sightseeing association, were up dramatically when compared the same period last year, according to MSN news.

The city is still riding high on a craze for “GeGeGe no Kitaro” that’s been sweeping the nation recently. Many fans have had their interest in the artist piqued by “GeGeGe no Nyobo,” a NHK TV drama that aired last year from March 29 to Sept 25. Based on the autobiography written by Mizuki’s wife Nunoe Mura, the drama details the couple’s life after their arranged marriage, and the struggles and hardships before Mizuki’s career really took off.

As the wife of a one-armed war veteran many year’s her senior, Mura at first finds it difficult to understand her work-obsessed husband. However, the couple grow to accommodate each other’s foibles in the gentle asadorama (morning drama) series. The same story was told in a movie of the same name released in Japanese theaters in November 2010.

“GeGeGe no Kitaro,” Mizuki’s biggest success, was a manga that featured various yokkai (spirit monsters) and retold the story of “Hakaba no Kitaro” (Kitaro of the Graveyard), which originally appeared as a kamishibai (paper play) in the 1930s. Over the holidays, bisitors to Sakaiminato’s Mizuki Road were able to enjoy a nostalgic kamishibai performance of the story as well as visit the famous kappa spring and view statues of GeGeGe no Kitaro characters.

 

Merchandise boosts ‘K-On!’ movie sales

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Though the “K-On!” movie is yet to open in the future on Dec. 3, J-Cast observed that on movie tickets completely sold out on April 29. Why had the sales spiked so much prior to the movie’s release? It turns out that ardent fans were desperate to get their hands on limited-edition merchandise.

Movie goers who order a ticket to see “K-On!” in advance get the perk of a clear plastic file that depicts a character from the anime drama. There are five files to collect and fans have been buying up to five tickets together in order to collect each one. Some fans even camped over night to get their mitts on these desirable slivers of brightly colored plastic. Stocks are now running low and a cinema in Kumamoto, for instance, reports that it has run out of the special files.

“K-On!” merchandise has been insanely popular. Back in November last year we reported on Lawson’s “K-On!” campaign. The convenience store sold specially branded K-On! snacks as part of a special campaign, some of which were so popular that they immediately sold out. This caused a huge commotion on the net among disgruntled “K-On!” fans who pride themselves on owning complete collections of all “K-On!” merch.

If you haven’t heard of “K-On!” before, here’s the takeaway: It’s a gentle, light comedy, bursting with saccharine sweet cuteness. Debuting in April 2009 on TBS, it follows the fortunes of five cute high school girls who decide to start a music club and a rock band is born.

The runaway success of the K-On! movie campaign is sure to inspire marketers to get busy to create similar limited-edition items.

Pop in to Tokyo’s latest pop-ups

Friday, December 10th, 2010

The “blink and you’ll miss it” pop-up trend is still booming and over this past year numerous establishments have opened up temporarily for business all over Tokyo. If you’d like a taste of pop-up culture, here are three new businesses that have just appeared. Just make sure you get there before the bubble bursts.

Going Merry One Piece Restaurant

Typical fare at Going Merry

Typical fare at Going Merry

The decor of this “One Piece” themed restaurant has been specially designed to resemble the interior of the pirate ship Going Merrry. On the menu of various pirate-themed dishes such as chicken leg branded with a skull and cross bones. Those who want to stock up on “One Piece” booty can purchase the limited edition merchandise on sale until the Dec. 15 in the same building on the second floor. “One Piece” is one of the hottest anime shows out right now, and people planning to visit are advised to ring ahead for a reservation.

The cafe opens Dec. 11 and closes its doors May 31, 2011. Ginza Meza Marche 11 F, Ginza 5-3-13, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Tel: 0120-299-034.

Mikey’s Cafe Nescafe

Fans of “Oh! Mikey” better rush down to Harajuku to enjoy a cup of coffee in the charming, but somewhat creepy, company of the Fuccon family. “Oh! Mikey” is a comedy TV show about an American family that have moved to Japan, in which, for some reason, all the characters are shop mannequins and speak fluent Japanese. The opening day of the cafe marked the 10th anniversary of the series and the occasion was also commemorated with the airing of a new episode and the release of the “Oh! Mikey Romance” DVD.

The cafe is open until Dec. 12. Jingumae 1-22-8, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Tel: (03) 6439 6555.

Coca Cola Eco Cafe @ RESPEKT

Fill out an eco questionaire with an iPad

This cafe’s rallying call is “Find Your Eco Style” and the space is designed to inspire young people to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It seats 110 customers and on display are t-shirts, hats and chairs all made out of recycled materials. There are 15 iPads available, which customers can use to fill out a questionnaire about their lifestyle habits. Once customers have filled out the quiz, it’ll suggest ways they can alter their habits to help save the environment. The menu features special cocktails made, of course, with Coca Cola.

The cafe is open until Dec.19  2F Shibuya-ku 1-11-1, Shibuya, Tokyo. Tel: 0120-308-509.

Some konbeni snacks with your favorite anime?

Friday, November 12th, 2010

K-On! goods displayed in Lawson convenience store

K-On! goods displayed in Lawson convenience store

Pop culture and junk food are a perfect combination: Both are brightly colored, easy to consume and totally moreish. Personally I can while away whole afternoons watching anime while stuffing potato chips and chocolate down my gullet. Sure,  I end up feeling a little sick and ashamed at the end, but while it lasts, the experience is sublime.

Space Battleship Yamato drinks at Family Mart

Space Battleship Yamato drinks at Family Mart

That’s why convenience-store tie-in campaigns that target anime and movie fans make so much sense. A limited-edition K-On! Choco Snack has proven to be hugely popular, so popular that Gigazine discovered that it had disappeared off the shelves of the local Lawson within hours of going on sale Nov. 9.  In addition to the K-On! Fair at Lawson, this month Seven-Eleven and Family Mart are also running campaigns. Here’s a round up of what’s on offer:

  • K-On!, an anime about five high school girls who form a band, is the focus of Lawson’s campaign. K-On! fans can purchase special yaki-soba sandwiches, cold cocoa drinks, sticker sets and caramel corn. Fans can also accumulate points by buying Gogo no Kocha drinks, which then qualifies them to win lottery prizes that include T-shirts, K-On! figurines and a custom-made electric guitar.  Lawson is also selling K-On! phone cards, K-On! figurines (from Nov. 16) and tote bags (that can be purchased on Loppi). The campaign runs until Nov. 29.
  • Fans of One Piece should set sail for Seven-Eleven. Customers who spend over ¥700 can enter into a prize draw to win special pirate-themed One Piece booty. Some drinks also come with a free cell-phone strap.
  • To promote the upcoming release of “Space Battleship Yamato,” Family Mart is running a special campaign until Nov. 29. Customers who spend over ¥500 can apply for a special lottery to win movie-themed goods. Sweetening the deal, Yamato-themed pastries and drinks are available.

Anime fan pilgrimages help boost tourism

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

A new anime set in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, seems set to revitalize the city’s flagging tourist industry. Since the anime “Yosuga no Sora” (above) went on air Oct. 4 the local government and tourist office of Ashikaga have been deluged with enquiries about visiting the city. But it isn’t the first case of popular anime sparking a boom in local tourism, as Kuki, Hakone and Kyoto have all become popular destinations among hardcore anime fans.

Perhaps the biggest success story is Washinomiya, a beautiful shrine located in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, that provided the backdrop for “Lucky Star.” The surge in tourists has revitalized the town, partly thanks to sales of  “Lucky Star” branded souvenirs. Even the mikoshi at a local festival this year was decorated with “Lucky Star” characters.

In November the area will host a special matchmaking event called otakonkatsu” (organized dating for otaku), providing an opportunity for single shy anime fans to hook up. Interest in the event saw daily visits to the chamber of commerce and industry’s website rise from around 500 to over 10,000, though some men were peeved that women could attend for free whereas men have to shell out ¥8,000 to participate.

Though already a popular tourist spot, Hakone is getting an extra boost from “Evangelion” fans who often make a pilgrimage to the area to view places featured in the smash hit anime. There’s now an official map of the area especially for fans called the Hakone Hoken Map.

Kyoto, featured recently in both the hugely popular “K-On” and in the cult hit “The Tatami Galaxy,” is another well-established tourist destination that’s profiting from otaku tourism. Earlier this year we reported that “K-On” fans were putting up ema plaques at a shrine featured in an episode depicting a “K-On” school trip. (If you’d like to visit these spots yourself check out The K-On Guide to Kyoto.) More recently, “The Tatami Galaxy,” which is set entirely in Kyoto, was featured in the travel issue of Spoon magazine, which included a travel guide to the sites shown in the cartoon.

Tourism tie-ups aren’t limited to anime/manga. As Pulse, and everybody’s blogging brother, reported in August,  fans of Konami’s virtual dating game Love Plus got a chance to live out their fantasy dates in Atami (the latest version of the game Love Plus + featured an option to go sightseeing in the seaside resort town). Fans who went on the tour could take augmented reality photos of their Love Plus girlfriends, fill in a special stamp book at sightseeing spots and buy Love Plus/Atami souvenirs. The augmented reality photos, available to iPhone customers, superimpose an image of your virtual date onto the actual background, though it was noted by Game Watch, that there were some proportional glitches. In one instance, the digital girlfriend appeared to be as tall as a building in the real-world backdrop. Bug or a programmer’s private joke – you decide.

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