Posts Tagged ‘tokusatsu’

Take the kids back in time this summer

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Lunch at Ubusuna House, part of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. (Rebecca Milner photo)

Last week, NHK ran a story on a “Showa Lifestyle” exhibition at a shopping center in Mito, a city two hours northeast of Tokyo. The exhibit wasn’t aimed at baby-boomers — Showa refers to the historical period from 1926-1989 — but rather their children and grandchildren.

The Mito City Museum, which put on the event, set up a mock living room circa the 1960s. Here kids could experience sitting at a low table on floor cushions, turning the dials on a black-and-white TV, many of them likely for the first time. They could also see what it was like to use an old rotary phone, a foot-pedal sewing machine and even a few pairs of take-uma, bamboo stilts, a popular amusement from an era of few luxuries.

For kids weaned on mobile phones, there may be no greater novelty than the past. They can also get an inkling of how different their world is from that of previous generations.

While the Mito event has already ended, there are plenty of other places where the family can get a taste of Showa life. At this summer’s Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, in rural Niigata prefecture, visitors can eat and sleep inside country homes and schoolhouses dating from the early to mid-20th century.

Many such structures outside of cities around Japan have lost their original usefulness on account of the country’s aging population and lack of attractive job opportunities there for young people. Countless such sites have been lost forever; however, there is a growing trend to label them heritage buildings and turn them into museums or hands-on learning centers.

Continue reading about the Showa nostalgia kick →

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 →

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.

A new generation of cosplayers

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Transform your baby into a superhero

Transform your baby into a superhero

Bandai have just announced the release of a new range of cosplay baby romper suits featuring characters from tokusatsu and anime series such as Kamen Rider, Doraemon, Ultraman and Dragon Ball. The rompers come hot on the heels of a similar range of hoods and bibs released last summer and are extremely affordable at only ¥1,575 each. The characters chosen are designed to appeal to an older generation who remember these classic series with fondness and want to transform their tots into Super Sentai.

Given the popularity of cosplay in Japan, it’s not surprising that parents would want their kids to get in on the action. Take these Naruto babies and Death Note toddlers, for example. As well as anime, video game characters costumes are also a source of inspiration. Foreign fans of Japanese video games have handmade some awesome baby costumes such as this knitted Katamari Damacy suit or this Link baby costume for lovers of Zelda.

Naturally, many parents turn to the classics – Disney costumes and cute bear hoods – when dressing up their tikes, but what about those looking for slightly hipper threads?  Hip hop gear is definitely on trend at Baboo Wear’s online shop, where parents can stock up on kid-size baseball caps and New Skool romper suits with a motif that makes your kid look like it owns a fat pair of headphones.

The Bandai romper suits hit the stores later this month. Baby henshin!

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