Posts Tagged ‘manga’

Today’s J-blip: Google celebrate’s Doraemon’s -100th

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Doraemon, as most people reading this blog will probably know, is the loveable robot cat hero of the popular manga/anime series. Sparking the imaginations of children since 1969, the popular cartoon character has been featured in 1,344 stories and almost 2,000 TV anime episodes.

In the lore of the series, Doraemon is born on Sept. 3, 2112, and sent back to the present with an inexhaustible pocketful of tricks and tools from the future to keep Nobita, his lazy and unlucky fourth grade co-star, out of trouble.

With  a video tribute that celebrates the blue earless cat’s “minus 100th birthday,” Google Japan seems to be suggesting that the corporate monolith can bring us closer to the future and Doraemon’s time-saving capabilities. Real-life versions of Doraemon’s “bamboo helicopter” and cloak of invisibility — or at least people’s best attempts at them — are only a Google search away.  Via Streetview, Google itself virtually whisks us around the world much like Doraemon’s “anywhere door.” These experiences are no longer just the stuff of cartoons, and the company has cleverly tapped into the popularity of the cat to show the parallels.

And with just the click of a magical hyperlink, you too can find out how the city of Kawasaki is celebrating the minus birthday of its most famous time traveler.

Pulsations (07.06.12)

Friday, July 6th, 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 . . .

  • Free at last! Starbucks brings easy to use free wifi to Japan (from La Vie En Tech): At long last, the wonders of easily-accessible free wifi may have finally reached Japan. Steve Nagata gives readers a run down on how to set up your devices to tap into this great power. Don’t worry, this service is much easier to understand than other “free” wifi services found in Japan. It’ll only take a few minutes and then the next time you’re asked to fork over too much cash for a caffeine fix, at least you’ll have wifi.
  • Make eco-friendly iced tea (from Being a Broad):  Of course, if you aren’t persuaded to venture out to your local Starbucks by their new Wifi, you can always stay home and enjoy a glass of home-brewed tea. Kirstin has some great tips on how to use the power of the sun (and your fridge) to brew the perfect summer teas. Eco-friendly, refreshing, and delicious? Count me in.
  • The Japanese Seasons: July (from Japan Navigator): With the rainy season (hopefully) behind us, it is time to enjoy summer in Japan. And just what does Japan have to offer in July? Festivals, mountain climbing, cloud watching, seasonal dishes, and that’s just the start. Pop quiz: do you know what the flower of July is?
  • Are Japanese Houses worthless? (from Tofugu): Japanese houses may have some flaws, but they are certainly balanced by clever architectural design and unmatched efficiency right? Apparently not. After 15 years most Japanese houses lose the majority of their value.

No video this week, but rather a comic from Lars Martinson‘s Kameoka Diaries. Click on the first one and scroll through, then head to his site to see them as they’re meant to be read.

Check out the rest!

Pulsations (06.23.12)

Saturday, June 23rd, 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 . . .

  • How to Spend 3 Nights in Tokyo All Included on ¥10,000 ($US125) (from Tokyo Cheapo): While some tourists in Japan spend at least ¥10,000 a night for a hotel alone, others prefer to spend the same amount for their entire stay in Japan. Impossible? Well, these guys claim they have a plan for spending three days in Tokyo for just ¥10,000, everything included!
  • 1929 Japanese animation “Kobu tori” (from Japan Sugoi): Here is your chance to see the 1929 Japanese anime “Kobutori” by Chozo Aoji and Yasuji Murata. It is a 10-minute piece featuring two old men with large lumps, the “kobu” in the title, on their faces. They encounter similar situations, but one has a good temper while the other has an evil one.
  • Pots made from radioactive soil collected from within the Fukushima exclusion zone (from Spoon & Tamago): That’s the fascinating but radioactive idea Hilda Hellström had for her senior thesis show at the U.K.’s Royal College of Art. The project indeed is historical as the artifacts will always remind us of the most serious nuclear disaster in human history.
  • Lesbian invisibility in Japan (from Japan culture blog): Lesbianism is not as widely discussed as male homosexuality in Japan, where women are expected to be primarily good wives and wise mothers. Ramona Naicker explains how three decades ago, plenty of lesbian activist groups emerged seeking change but were forced to shut down due to lack of support.
  • Why Do Japanese People Wear Surgical Masks? (from Tofugu): I have been asked several times why so many Japanese people wear masks in public spaces. I did not know how to answer this question until I stumbled upon this post on Tofogu. Find out if you should be wearing one, too.

A former Australian rugby captain puts his unique skills to use on a rush-hour Tokyo train.

Pulsations (06.01.12)

Friday, June 1st, 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 . . .

  • City of Kitakyushu Starts Test of Tidal Power Generation (from JapanFS): Solar power is so last decade. Check out how the city of Kitakyushu is looking to harvest the power of the moon by generating electricity from the tides.
  • Political kabuki in Japan (From Ampontan): Observers who toss around the term “political kabuki” are usually way off base, Ampontan says. However, he explains why the Osaka political maneuvering around the restart of the Oi reactors is indeed a drama worthy of the name.
  • Making sense of dollers (From Tokyo Scum Brigade): Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask about dressing up like a giant, silent, perpetually grinning anime doll. Did we say “afraid?” Maybe “terrified” is the word.
  • Are Japanese Moe Otaku Right-Wing? (from Neojapanisme):  Passionate about anime? Check. Teen idols? Check. Right-wing politics? Ch . . . wait, what?  It may be surprising, but those are some of the most common topics on Alfalfa Mosaic, a popular blog and 2ch aggregator. Is this is the start of an otaku political movement?
  • Simplifying Chopstick Etiquette (from Spoon & Tamago): You know that awkward moment when you’re using chopsticks and aren’t quite sure where to place them after a bite? Fear no more, because designers Takeshi Hamana and Yuya Iwagaki plan to teach proper dinner etiquette with their new chopstick packaging. (Disclaimer: Basic origami skills required!)

Pulsations (04.13.12)

Friday, April 13th, 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 . . .

  • Hashimoto Toru (from Ampotan): Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka, is locked in a battle with the central government over nuclear power. This looong read —  in six parts — tracks the background and political ambitions of  Hashimoto and his party One Osaka.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Reading Food Labels in Japan (from Surviving in Japan): Japanese supermarkets can be a confusing place for the allergy-prone, calorie counters and anyone curious about what they put in their mouths. This detailed guide takes some of the mystery out of grocery shopping.
  • Japan, Land of the Rising Meth (from Tofugu): Crystal meth makes you less hungry and more productive (for a short while, anyway) … and —surprise, surprise — it was made in Japan. Tofugu looks at the history of the drug, from its invention and wide use among Japanese soldiers in World War II to its hallowed place in yakuza culture.
  • First Impressions — Polar Bear Cafe (from Isugoi): The young panda is forced to find work, but the polar bear would rather have a human working in his cafe. Confused? Who wouldn’t be .. but John Howard Marshall tries to figure out what on earth is going on in the popular animated sitcom “Polar Bear Cafe.”
  • YouTube Hanami Party 2012 (from Tokyo Jin): A frenzied look at the costumes, crowds, parties, lines, food, drinks and — oh yeah — flowers that made up a day of hanami in Tokyo’s Yoyogi park this past weekend. Kampai to that!
  • And while we’re on the topic … don’t miss The Japan Times’ sakura stories for one last stroll under the pink trees.

‘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.

Calligraphy gets a brush-up

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Apart from writing New Year’s cards once a year, most adult Japanese rely on computers to help them write out complex Chinese characters (kanji), meaning many forget how to write them by hand. This has had a detrimental effect on the traditional craft of shodo (calligraphy), which, until recently, was steadily losing popularity among Japanese. But artists who’ve been giving shodo a fashionable spin and popular dramas about the craft have led to a quiet revival.

Suitou Nakatsuka, for instance, is a self-styled “calligraphy space designer.” In addition to practicing traditional calligraphy, she creates modern calligraphy artworks live at fashionable parties, has decorated a munny doll, digital weather reports and her own collection of Arita-ware pottery. Her work has appeared on TV and in various fashion magazines like Can Can. In December last year she released a calligraphy work book for beginners who might want to take up the craft.

Live calligraphy painting is also practiced by artist Kotaro Hachinohe, who uses a camera inside his brush during performances. This performance in Sapporo last year (above) shows him creating an artwork to a jazz soundtrack. He doesn’t limit himself to using traditional washi paper but has used walls and even the interior of a tent as a canvas.

Calligraphy as performance art is an idea that reverberated in the 2010 movie “Shodo Girls!!” in which a high school calligraphy club shakes things up at the national Koshien competition. An NHK TV drama series titled “Tomehane Suzuru High School Shodo Club,” an adaptation of a popular manga of the same name, also came out last year and is thought to have inspired many young Japanese to take up the craft.

In a recent interview on J-Cast TV, Fumiko Ota, the editor of shodo magazine “Sumi” (ink), said that people were attracted to shodo because it involved taking time to do something carefully, taking time out for themselves. The magazine is now celebrating its 35th year with a special Jan./Feb. edition aimed at riding the wave of the shodo trend. The edition features tips for beginners as well as a special DVD featuring performances from the country’s top calligraphy artists.

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