Posts filed under ‘Japanese Entertainment’

It’s Michael!

I can’t get enough of this video featuring a Michael Jackson doll that slides into playgrounds and soars through the sky. It’s a fan-vid made for a toy company called Marusan. They’re known for classic monster figurines made of soft vinyl, but I guess this is their way of keeping with the times.

Even after he became known as Wacko Jacko, MJ remained incredibly popular in Japan. I went to his History concert in Tokyo several years back and adoring fans were still fainting at the shrill of a high note. But will they faint for a vinyl Michael? Heheh, probably not, but it’s still cool to see him as an action figure. He comes in two versions with removable masks: A werewolf and a zombie, both a la “Thriller.”

You probably can’t pose him like you do with GI Joe figurines, but watching the videos makes the doll look fun. The entire time, the kids are asking, “Where’s Michael?!….oh there he is!” The doll is a whopping $58 in Japan, which I suppose doesn’t sounds as bad in yen. I can totally imagine all kinds of MJ collectors buying it for their showcase.

Rest in peace, Michael!

Himawari

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
japanizmo, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more

March 16, 2010 at 2:44 pm 1 comment

The Japanese iPhone Apps: What’s out there?

Of course, the Apps Store is the best part. Everyday I’m searching for applications that’ll hopefully blow my mind, whether it’s useful tools or wacky games I can play on the toilet.
The one thing I’ve found is that the U.S.-born apps outnumber the Japanese ones. That’s because not as many people in Japan have an iPhone. Unlike here, Apple has tough competition in Japan. So when it comes to making apps, they’re not necessarily made for the iPhone. But that just makes me want to seek out those few cool Japanese apps even more!

Here are some of the more interesting ones:

Amamiya Momo ($2.99)

Meet Momo, a girl dressed in a cat outfit who lives inside your iPhone. You can poke her cheek, pat her head and even lift her skirt. Momo comes with 200 pre-programmed behavior patterns, so depending on how you treat her she can turn from happy to angry very quickly. Apparently, her mood changes depending on the time of day, so watch out!

iBBQLite (free trial)

The object of this game is to cook meat on the grill and hand it to customers. If it’s overcooked they’ll say in Japanese, “Ugh, this is awful!” If it’s undercooked, they’ll say, “What the heck is this!” So be sure to grill it just right. It’s a simple game but oh so addicting.

Harlequin novels (free trial)

There’s now a handful of romance-filled manga series at the disposal of your fingertips. Just do a keyword search for “harlequin” and out comes English-translated stories of love and heartbreak. The first chapter is free, but once they grab your attention you’ll have to pay to read the rest.

LadioTouch (free)

Now you can listen to Japanese radio! Up until now it’s been pretty limited to anime songs, but the range of genres have slowly widened. With this app I can now listen to one of Tokyo’s most popular stations, J-Wave, along with hundreds of other internet radio stations. Unfortunately, the listing is mostly in Japanese.

So what’s your favorite iPhone application? Let me know!

November 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm 1 comment

7-Eleven Loves Domo-Kun

7-Eleven has gotten so much cooler in my book. For a limited time, they’re offering a product line of cups, straws, comic books, plushies and T-shirts for a funny-looking Japanese monster called Domo-kun.

Most Japanese people would agree that seeing Domo-kun in the U.S. is really strange cause he’s a mascot character of NHK, the PBS of TV stations in Japan (keywords: conservative, wholesome, family-fun time). First appearing in station-identification spots in 1998, Domo-kun went on to star in his own animated show for children. He’s fairly popular among people in diapers, but hardly the hipster sensation he’s become in the U.S. If you wore a Domo-kun beanie in Japan, people would question your affection for children. Wearing Domo-kun would be like a Japanese guy wearing a purple Barney beanie.

Thanks to You Tube and other viral sites, a groundswell of enthusiasm has developed in the U.S. for the alien creature hatched from an egg, and enough to rise above the radar. Last Halloween, Domo-kun merchandise surfaced at Target stores. Not sure how it did, but considering he’s not back on shelves this year, maybe not well.

Now this year, Big Tent Entertainment, Domo’s licensing company has struck a deal with 7-Eleven for a six-week campaign. My favorite merchandise is their cups, one which has the cuddly monster getting a brain-freeze cause he just had a big Slurpee. The original goods are pretty well thought out; much nicer than what was selling at Target.

IMG_2840TH
A friend came to visit this week from Japan, so I took her to 7-Eleven to check out the stuff. She left with an armful of cups and spoon-straws to give to friends back home. Who knows, maybe this will start a reverse trend?

Himawari

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
japanizmo, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more

October 20, 2009 at 2:02 pm Leave a comment

I Have a Pen Fetish

Japan doesn’t make new technology, they simply improve on what’s already out there.

That’s what people say when talking about cool Japanese products like stereos, washing machines and even mechanical writing instruments.

Take for example the Pentel Slicci Gel Ink pen, offered in dozens of hues and variable ball-widths. They come in fun, brilliant colors like ‘milk blue,’ and glide onto the paper like wet paint on linoleum. The smallest ball-point is .25 mm which is so thin and sleek it even makes bad penmanship look like a work of art. I use them to draw Doraemon.

doraemon_110003_th

Their commercial campaign is really cute. Each pen color supposedly has magical powers of fulfillment. In pink, you write the name of the boy you want to go on a date with. Use the red pen to write the name of the boy you like and in a few days he’ll like you back. It’s completely hokey, but I know if I was 13 years old I’d be scribbling the name of that cute boy in math class all over my desk:

Check out this video

In Japan, whether you’re a guy or girl, old or young, you own a set of color pens. Unlike those boring Paper Mates, these Pentels are like trophies behind a glass case. And when you run out of ink, you’ll be sure to run out for a replacement.

Oh wow, thinking about these pens triggered a flashback. When one of my last boyfriends broke up with me, I gathered my things and headed to the door. Though just before I left, I opened his desk drawer and grabbed a set of color pens he had borrowed from me. He might’ve stolen my heart, but I wasn’t going to let him steal my pens!

Himawari

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
japanizmo, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more
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January 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm 2 comments

Mixi to the Rescue?

How many logins and passwords for websites do you have to keep track of? Just off the top of my head I can think of ten…It’s enough to drive me insane trying to remember them, or even to remember to use them (MySpace, I’m talking to you). Sometimes less is more. Ditto with the platform and style; Craigslist is famously bare-bones but effective. Leaving out the bells and whistles on a website can be a wise move if it means delivering what people truly want all in one place.

Mixi, Japan’s most popular social networking site, combines aspects of MySpace, Craigslist, Facebook, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Amazon and iTunes. According to the Washington Post, Mixi grabs 15 million users and 14 billion page hits per month. 1 in 5 Japanese people with Internet access are members.

Bulletin boards,job opportunities and blogging are the three main draws, but there are also music plug-ins and DVD / book reviews that link to places where you can purchase the products immediately. Unlike MySpace, where you are expected to constantly update the look and style of your personal page, on Mixi there is no way to alter the design or coding, and anonymity is preferred (forget about plastering your personal info out there for all the world to see). Membership is restricted to invitation from current users only — much like Gmail used to be — and users must be 18, as well provide a Japanese cell phone contact number. For these reasons, Mixi will probably remain insular and never catch on outside Japan.

If could pare down my logins and passwords to one each, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Then again, the grass is always greener: “Mixi Fatigue” is already on the rise…

Sarah S.

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
JPBizDirect, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more
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August 8, 2008 at 12:19 pm 1 comment

For Your Bookshelf: Japanamerica by Roland Kelts

Journalist and novelist Roland Kelts’ book, Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S., is a well-presented and easy-to-read guide, perfect for anyone who’s ever wondered: “What is Pikachu, anyway?” It helps if you’re familiar with popular Japanese artists like Haruki Murakami and Takashi Murakami (both of whom are interviewed) and anime, but it’s by no means a requirement to enjoy the book.


Born to a Japanese mother and an American father, Kelts was raised in the U.S. but spent several of his adult years living in Tokyo and Osaka and still has close friends and relatives there. He’s in the perfect position to interpret the cultural cross-pollination taking place between the two countries.

His book focuses on Japan’s influence on America in the modern era (from World War II onward), as seen in virtually every aspect of life, including films, books, food, TV, toys, games, cars, and of course animation. It’s not that Japan has changed its style; rather, Americans have come to appreciate what was there all along. Kelts believes that after 9/11, Americans became hungry for the sincerity and lack of irony presented in Japanese cartoons.

Surprisingly, Kelts reports, the global popularity of Japanese animation hasn’t made very many people in Japan wealthy. This is because the concepts of copyright and intellectual property were not widely understood there until recently. When animated films or TV shows come to America, the Japanese creators don’t always realize they need to hold onto the rights in order to see a profit from all the off-shoot products. As a result, the distributors wind up with the lion’s share of revenue.

Another interesting tidbit: according to Japanamerica, Americans are more than partly to blame for Japan’s otaku culture. Several interviewees immersed in otaku lifestyle said the concept for cosplay (costumed interaction) originated with American Star Trek fans. Ahh, Trekkies: the ultimate nerds.

One complaint about the book: the section on “mature comics” doesn’t dig deep enough. I wanted Kelts to provide more analysis on the topic of contradictions, because western people have a hard time reconciling what can appear to be a dichotomy within Japanese culture: the existence of violent and explicit manga in a society with an extremely low crime rate. The context is important, and I wanted to learn more about how and why Japan has integrated seemingly opposite attributes and allowed them both to thrive.

If Kelts writes an update to Japanamerica in the next decade, that would be a great topic to explore further.

Sarah S.

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!
JPBizDirect, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more
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July 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment

Beating the Heat

Japan gets nasty-hot in the summer. It’s the kind of heat that wakes you up at night, soaking your shirt in a most embarrassing way. It’s the kind of heat that makes you wanna live in an igloo. During the summer I’d remove any piece of furniture that bumped up the thermometer even one degree. So out went the fridge, computer and feather blanket. They stayed in the kitchen until winter.

At night, I set aside fear of robbers and kept ajar the sliding balcony door. Then over the course of eight hours I slowly edged my way outside where by morning I was in the company of curious birds coming to poop on me.

These days it’s much easier to stay cool. How bout an icy gel mattress? Or doggie-shaped feet coolers? Take a look for yourself:




I found these items on the Tokyu Hands website. It’s one of my favorite department stores in Japan because they sell useful household goods both creative and cute. For the ice mattress (~$150) all you have to do is place it under your fitted sheet. The pillow costs an extra $50. The feet coolers are only $12. Wrap the elastic band around the arch of your foot and watch as it cools down your body. For a quick fix, try the ‘cool skin bar’ for just under 10 bucks. Glide it onto your skin for a nice cooling sensation.

Unlike on the U.S. west coast, Japan’s heat is humid and sticky. So you can emerge from the shower and five minutes later need another one. It’s the most uncomfortable thing for those with overactive glands. On the other hand, the heat is a godsend if you suffer from chapped lips. Nothing stays dry in Japan.



By far, my favorite product for beating the heat is Biore’s ‘sara-sara‘ (soft and smooth) powder sheet pack. The moist sheet is coated with scented antiperspirant powder. Wipe it over troublesome parts of your body and you’ll magically stop sweating. Though the one drawback is that if someone tries kissing you on the cheek, they’ll be utterly grossed out because you’ll taste bitter. No one said antiperspirant tasted good.

Himawari

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Thinking of doing business in Japan? We can make it easy for you!

JPBizDirect, a Los Angeles based company, provides practical solutions for U.S. ? Japan business projects. Our experienced Japanese staff will support all phases of your business project to seize business opportunities and turn your vision into a reality. >> Learn more

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July 15, 2008 at 5:50 pm 1 comment

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