Pencils, watermelons, and talks with anime legends – All part of the hiring process at Ghibli

They do things a little differently at Studio Ghibli. Given the feast or famine realities of life in the anime industry, many production houses take on as many projects as they can, but part of the philosophy behind Ghibli’s founding was that if the staff felt like making something, they would, and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t. That’s not to say Ghibli’s animators don’t give maximum effort though, which the higher-ups recognize and reward with weekly massages on Saturdays.

Ghibli’s uniqueness isn’t limited to its artistic ideologies and rub-down policies, though. Its interview process for new animators is pretty unorthodox, too, with applicants being asked to complete such tasks as sharpening pencils and slicing up watermelons.

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Fighting like cats and dogs? Not these cute little guys! 【Photos】

Sometimes just keeping up with the news makes you despair for humanity. Between all the war, racially motivated killings, ethnic strife, and general meanness, you have to wonder if we will ever be able to get along.

It’s been one of those days and I needed a pick-me-up, so here is a collection of photos of dogs and cats getting along. Because if they can manage to overcome their differences, maybe we can too.

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Ex-plant worker jailed for 42 months for tainting frozen food

The man charged with lacing frozen food products with a pesticide last October has been sentenced to 42 months in prison by the the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture.

Toshiki Abe, 49, a former plant worker at the Oizumi plant of Maruha Nichiro Holdings subsidiary Aqlifoods Co, was convicted of lacing the food products.

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Singing, ticking timebombs – 5 facts about the special significance of cicadas in Japan

Coming from the UK where the largest insect you’re likely to encounter is a slightly overweight bumblebee, I was quite taken aback the first time I saw a semi, or cicada in English, in Japan. Having arrived in the middle of summer, at first the ear-piercing racket coming from the tree outside my window drove me to distraction, but over the years I came to enjoy the sound these little bugs made, even if their appearance still gives me the creeps.

As it happens, I’m not the only one who appreciates these little bugs’ songs. Cicadas hold special significance here in Japan, and are considered to be almost synonymous with summer, so join us after the jump for five quick-fire facts about Japan’s summer bug.

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AKB48 recruits new part-time idols – for US$10 an hour

The popular idol group AKB48 announced at the AKB48 Group Summer Festival on Sunday that they are recruiting new “part-time” members — for 1,000 yen (about US$10) an hour. Typically, potential AKB48 candidates must first undergo audition and become trainees before being promoted to regular members. However the “Part-Time AKB” campaign will bypass this long process, similar to Glico’s campaign to recruit a member over 30 years old earlier this year.

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Geopolitical dictionary: Japanese net users turn countries into verbs

You know how in English you can take pretty much any noun and make it a verbderivation for the cunning linguists out thereby adding to to the front? For example, how the search engine Google has become to google, as in, “Why the hell are you asking me? Go google it, you twit!”

Well, you can do the same thing in Japanese by adding –ru or a handful of other suffixes to the end of a word, and some Japanese net users recently had some fun with this by turning country names into some very non-PC verbs.

Have a look at our geopolitical dictionary and see how your country fared.

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Crafts for grown-ups! Make your own portable smartphone speakers with toilet paper tubes

It’s a well-known fact that the average person has 27 plastic bags under their kitchen sink, and a minimum of three old toilet paper tubes in their bathroom. Also, did you know that 63 percent of statistics are made up?

Anyway, if you’re looking for a nifty use for old toilet roll tubes, and don’t have a small child to palm them off on in the name of encouraging their crafting creativity, Japanese Twitter user @ChigasakiR134 has a summer life hack for you! All you’ll need is one toilet paper tube and two paper cups.

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Cristiano Ronaldo is endorsing one of Japan’s weirdest ever beauty products 【Video】

Japan is no stranger to celebrity-endorsed products. Stars who ordinarily wouldn’t be seen dead in a commercial in their home country practically flock to Japan where, rather than being seen as a black mark on one’s resume, appearing in an ad can be a sign of having made it big, with companies prepared to pay top dollar to get a celebrity’s face alongside their product.

World-famous soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, though, was the last person we expected to see endorsing a face-toning exercise product that makes the user look like they’re devouring a frantically flapping seagull head-first…

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How many have you seen? 18 must-visit sites in Japan 【World Heritage】

Visiting World Heritage Sites is a great way to see Japan. Since the sites are scattered all around the archipelago, you’re bound to be close to at least one of them no matter where you are in the country, and having gained the prestigious status by UNESCO, you can be sure you’re seeing the very best of Japan. After all, World Heritage status is not easily obtained and competition is stiff.

Join our peripatetic reporter as she takes you to each site and gives you the lowdown on what to see, how to avoid the crowds, and how to enjoy the sites on your own terms. Ready? Let’s go!

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【Bonus Monday Kickstart】Maru up to usual adorable antics, now featuring window blinds

Still not getting into the swing of things this Monday? What better way to start your Monday than with another adorable video, this time featuring Maru being…well, Maru!

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【Monday Kickstart】Beat the weekly grind with these adorable ‘jamming baby owls’

Who‘s got to go to work, you ask? Not us!, is what these two adorable owlets seem to be saying as they lazily bob back and forth in this YouTube video. These fuzzy little guys have even been popping up on Japanese websites, so we thought we’d spread the kawaiiness some more. No matter how dreary your Monday may be, keep calm and ‘jam’ with these owls!

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Check your doors: Japan’s most popular door locks disabled by pink ribbons

If you live in Japan chances are you have one of these things pictured above attached to your front door. These U-shaped door latches provide an extra lock to your door but also allow you to prop it open to let a cool breeze through your home on a sweltering summer day.

Many Japanese people while sleeping or napping rely on these simple devices to safely crack their doors for comfort, but probably shouldn’t. As we will soon show you, these latches are actually about as secure as a stick of warm butter. In fact, in a demonstration video uploaded to YouTube, you’ll see that even the most amateur of criminals can bypass them in seconds.

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Badass art: Ono Gaf and his giant metal turtle

There is no doubt that life as an artist is difficult. From struggling to hone your craft to fighting for the respect of your peers and the attention of an audience, it’s often seen as a career only pursued by the obsessed. While we’re certain that you don’t need to be insane to be a successful artist, we’re also pretty sure that it doesn’t hurt to be at least a little compulsive in your dedication.

When it comes to driven art, Ono Gaf may fit the archetype to perfection. And if you disagree, you can take it up with that giant, hand-built turtle standing over him! Read More

Someone’s mother carved this Love Live! watermelon art, left the Internet applauding

There is, obviously, an unending supply of anime available for your viewing pleasure in Japan. Whether you want giants, cyborgs, or balls from dragons, there’s something for everyone. But one of the most popular shows right now is the high-school-idol series Love Live!. The anime has proven so popular, it even inspired a bizarre recruiting tweet from the Japan Self-Defense Forces last year and this massive back-piece tattoo earlier this summer.

Recently, a main character of the show, Honoka, had her birthday, and a dedicated Japanese Twitter user’s mother carved this surprisingly detailed piece of watermelon art in celebration.

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Genius Chinese college students use indoor inflatable pools to beat summer heat

I thought summers in America were hot, until I moved to Asia and learned firsthand what a hot summer is really like. In Japan, China and other parts of East Asia, the summer can be brutal to the point that people flock to public pools by the thousands, risking other people’s disgusting mud butt and possible drowning by crowd crush just to enjoy a few moments in the tepid water.

But a number of enterprising Chinese college students have apparently figured out a genius workaround: Just put a pool in your own dorm room.

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Twitter user shows us how to make your own pet Japanese giant hornet

It’s summer again in Japan which means it’s time for nature’s little nightmares to come pay us a visit. I’m talking of course about the Japanese giant hornet (ōsuzumebachi) a four-by-six-centimeter (1.5 x 2.4 inch) poisonous flying insect which kills a handful of people every year and has a generally bad demeanor.

This is great news for those who enjoy making alcohol out of them, and bad news for those who have encountered them before and probably still require counseling. However, this year, one Twitter using bug enthusiast is showing us to stop worrying and love the deadly bugs by making one their own pet on a string.

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They made anime back then? Five old-school anime that we still love today

Do you have a favorite anime? Nowadays, especially with so much information and videos available on the Internet, we’re surrounded by so much anime of every genre conceivable that it’s easy to forget works that haven’t had significant recent exposure. But as you may well be aware, Japanese anime has been around for a long time. So today, we thought we’d take you on a trip back in time to share with you five of our favorite anime from more than 20 years ago, which we still think are awesome even today.

Whether you’re a long-time anime fan or a relative newcomer, come take a look at our selection and see what you think. (And by the way, the anime are listed in no particular order, since it was too hard to decide which anime we like the best!)

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Ghost in the Shell Arise #1-2’s English dub cast announced

Funimation announced the English dub cast for Ghost in the Shell Arise episodes one and two at its Otakon panel on Saturday.

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Malaysian artist overcomes dyslexia, creates art to inspire the world

Childhood can be difficult–dealing with homework, classmates, teachers, parents, and sweaty, screaming gym coaches is enough to frustrate anyone. But add a learning difficulty like dyslexia to that mix and “difficult” becomes a drastic understatement. For many, the frustration of being mislabeled as lazy or simply shunned for having difficulty in school can turn into a lifetime of trouble–but that doesn’t need to be the case. In fact, with just a little understanding and some patience on the part of teachers and family members, young dyslexics can turn into extremely successful and talented adults, as Malaysian artist Vince Lowe so ably proves!

Despite his unhappy school days, Vince has gone from a “bad kid” to a well-respected professional with art skills that are simply amazing.

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Singaporean guy looking for a girlfriend pins his hopes on YouTube, dances to thank viewers

There are dozens of matchmaking websites and mobile apps these days that help bring people together. Which means you don’t even have to step out of the house to meet someone new, all you need is an internet connection and a computer, tablet or smartphone. It’s easy to hide behind an online profile, but in order to take a budding cyber romance to the next level, you’ll eventually need the guts and sincerity to meet your love interest in real life.

Instead of relying on matchmaking services, this Singaporean guy mustered all the courage in him and conveyed his sincerity in a YouTube video he made in an attempt to find himself a girlfriend, winning praise from YouTube viewers and local citizens. Check out the date plan he has for his potential girlfriend after the jump!

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