Posts Tagged ‘gotouchi idol’

2012 trends: consumer ‘neta,’ relocating and regional flavors

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

On Jan. 10 Recruit, a corporation that has its fingers in a number of different pies, including tourism, recruitment, real estate and publishing, published its trend forecasts for 2012. Though Recruit has a vested in fulfilling its own prophesies, a few predictions really did seem on the mark. Here’s the best of the bunch:

  • Free word of mouth: The rise in the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter during 2011 obviously brought more young Japanese closer together, and more than ever, marketing divisions wanted to tap into the consumer posses that make recommendations. Recruit’s free magazine R25 predicts that the big thing this year will be companies finding clever ways to provide netizens with opportunities to write neta (amusing stories). The shy consumer on the social network will have something to post, sans that nasty self-promotional aftertaste, and the company gets a free, natural-tasting word-of-mouth plug. Sounds like super-stealth marketing to us, but we’ll see.
  • Relocating: When the earthquake occurred, many of those working in Tokyo were unable to get home after train services were cancelled. Being stranded in Tokyo was that bit more stressful for working couples who had children. In light of this experience, Recruit’s real estate website SUUMO predicts that double income families will be looking to either relocate to locations closer to work, or seek employment closer to home. Centrally located compact apartments for those who can’t change jobs but want to cut the commute may prove popular in April (the busiest month for real estate agents in Japan). For added peace of mind and extra childcare support, many couples will also be considering moving closer to their parents, or even moving in with them, and that might mean that large apartments that can accommodate three generations could be in demand.
  • Gotouchi-ism: According to Jalan Research Center (a subsidiary of Recruit), the quake in 2011 sparked a resurgence of pride in all things Japanese, particularly in the unique charm of different localities. Gotouchi means “your home town” and has been a buzzword used particularly in connection with the b-kyu gourmet boom: a trend for simple regional cuisine. Last year as well as gotouchi gourmet, there was a rise in interest in gotouchi idols — pop groups who promote their localities. Following on from this it’s predicted that tourists taking holidays within Japan in 2012 will be seeking a gotouchi experience: to connect with the everyday lives of the locals by paying to participate in activities that offer a taste of the local lifestyle. Though Recruit don’t specify what this might exactly entail, we think it could be making crafts, or even going out into the fields and working alongside farmers.

Local hero Ryujin Mabuya to save the day

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

This month an unusual tokusatsu hero appeared on TV screens throughout Tokyo. Hailing from Okinawa, Ryujin Mabuya has an accent so thick that subtitles appear at the bottom of the screen to help viewers of TOKYO MX understand the dialogue. Despite, or perhaps because of this strong regional flavor, the channel is obviously anticipating that the show will have a wide appeal as it is broadcast on Saturdays between 18:15 and 18:30.

According to Cyzo, it’s the first time that TOKYO MX has picked up a local hero show but they reckon that it’ll pay off. Prior to its Tokyo debut on Oct. 1, a DVD box set of the show went on sale nationwide. The event to promote the sale of the DVD organized by TOKYO MX was packed to the gills with enthusiastic fans and the channel received over 2,000 applications for 250 available pairs of tickets.

Local, or gotouchi heros, often used to promote moral values to children in their region, have been popular for some time and some even make it to nationwide fame. Take Hokkaido’s Marimokkori, for example, whose likeness is seen reproduced on cell-phone charms or stuffed toys throughout the country. Ryujin Mabuya is already hugely popular in Okinawa and, at its height of popularity, the show had 17.8% viewing figures. Now it’s been picked up by TOKYO MX, the hero’s status is likely to rise even higher.

The show is full of local character: Shisaa (lion dog) statues, which can often be seen guarding homes in Okinawa from evil spirits, suddenly come to life, eyes flashing red as they shoot up into the sky and Ryujin Mabuya’s enemy, Habu Devil, has distinctive snake arms calling to mind Okinawa’s famous habu awamori (a distilled rice liquor that contains a snake).

Unlike other tokusatsu that feature storylines in which good conquers evil, the conclusion of a Ryujin Mabuya series has this hero reconciling with his enemy, showing local children the power of forgiveness. That doesn’t stop Habu Devil and his Devil Gang from getting up to lots of mischief in the meantime, giving viewers the chance to witness lots of glorious fights between our hero and his colorfully costumed enemies.

At the start of next year, a Ryujin Mabuya movie will be released nationwide after first being shown on local Okinawan TV. If successful, 2012 could be the year in which this local hero breaks into the big time.

Can anything stop the AKB48 mutations?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Hot on the heels of the b-kyu gurume (local cuisine) and yuru kyara (local mascot) crazes, gotouchi idols looks like the next big thing to come out of provinces. By copying the massively successful formula used to create AKB48, these all-singing, all-dancing, locally based pop groups are aimed at revitalizing tourism in their respective hometowns.

AKB48, the many-limbed J-pop monster, officially resides in Akihabara at their very own theater on the 7th floor of Don Quijote, where the group gives performances daily. Then there are the regional clones, such as NMB48, from Namba, Osaka, SKE48 in Nagoya, and HKT48 in Fukuoka.

Along those lines, Fukuoka’s Himekyun Fruits Can established its own theater at Matsuyama Kitty Hall where the goup also performs daily. Like most gotouchi idols, Himekyun Fruits Can strongly resembles AKB in numbers, age range and gender: all eight members are young women in their teens and early 20s.

Continue reading about the spread of AKB48 →

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