anime

Relax on Titan! Rilakkuma joins Recon Corps, becomes protector of humanity

It can take a while to wrap your head around the concept of “character goods” in Japan. It’s a term used to refer to licensed merchandise such as notebooks, stickers and figures featuring the likenesses of fictional characters. What sets character good apart from plain old cartoon or movie merchandising, however, is that its characters generally don’t appear anywhere else, and are created solely for the purpose of having an excuse to produce their associated knick knacks.

It’s a tradition that was firmly established by Hello Kitty, and carried on by newer characters such as Rilakkuma. A blending of the words “relax” and “kuma” (Japanese for “bear”), Rilakkuma is exactly what you’d expect, a bear who loafs around, usually depicted in the prone position.

But what if the world had greater things in store for Rilakkuma than just yawning and eating stack after stack of pancakes? If humanity needed a savior and destiny called, could he be bothered to pick up the phone?

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Classic Ghibli anime impresses with its story, makes some viewers want to kill themselves

Sometimes, it’s only after the fact that you realize just how close you came to dying.

After eating dinner a few nights ago, my wife was flipping through the channels on TV. “Oh, that’s right, Whisper of the Heart is on. Do you want to watch it?” she asked.

Now ordinarily a cute girl asking me if I’d like to watch anime with her gets an automatic “Why yes, I would.” But at that point there were just 20 minutes left before the end, and I said I’d rather just rent it from the video store down the street some other time, so we could watch it from the beginning.

That decision may have saved our lives.

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Anime-loving teachers spice up finals for their students

It’s the end of the first semester of the Japanese school year, and you know what that means: party time!

No, wait, sorry, it means kimatsu shiken, the end of semester tests. Man, what a drag.

Fortunately, some teachers at least have a sense of humor about it. Here are nine examples of anime-inspired attempts to spice up tests!

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He was a good man; a perverted man; a man who liked games in which female characters’ unfeasibly large breasts bounce around with every tiny movement of their body, and clothes dissolve into pixel dust with every well-timed button press or click. Today, ladies and gentlemen, we mourn an ero-gamer.

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A day in the life of a Japanese anime director

If you thought being an anime director was all cosplay groupies and cool action figures, think again. Turns out it’s long, long hours in front of a computer, less-than-fancy convenience store dinners and tons of office all-nighters.

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New Pokémon XY anime series to air October 17: will Ash finally become a Pokémon Master?

The latest Pokémon TV series has been announced, and it’s due to air this fall! Will Ash finally achieve his dream of becoming a Pokémon Master? I wouldn’t count on it…

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Feed your heart, mind, and stomach at Roppongi Hills’ LOVE Exhibition and Hatsune Miku Café

Aside from being an upscale shopping center, Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills complex is also home to the Mori Art Museum and a 54th-floor observation deck. We recently paid the building a visit to check out two concurrently running events, the LOVE Exhibition and Hatsune Miku Café.

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We try 400-year-old Ghost Child Care Candy – so good it’ll raise the dead

In the Higashiyama area of Kyoto City stands a candy shop which boasts a unique regular customer, the specter of a woman who comes for their candy. The legend began in 1599 and has been handed down from generation to generation to the present day.

The shop, now called Minatoya Ghost Child Care Candy Main Office, only sells its legendary Ghost Child Care Candy. RocketNews24’s Kuzo decided to head down to Kyoto to investigate the bittersweet story behind this candy shop’s connection to the other side.

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It’s Ghibli Fest… not in Japan, but at The Cinematheque in Vancouver!

With the newest (and as always, highly anticipated) feature-length film from Studio Ghibli — The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) — scheduled for release in Japan in less than a month, we’ve been seeing the anime production company’s name a lot in the news recently. Well, it appears that fans of Ghibli animes based near Vancouver, Canada, now have reason to be extra happy over the next month or so. Why? Because it’s going to be Ghibli Fest at The Cinematheque, the film society and cinema establishment located in Vancouver!

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Pray for rain – Six great wet weather deals in and around Tokyo

I love summer. Cold beer! Warm sunshine! Cold Beer! Hot sand between my toes on the beach! And how can I forget lukewarm beer left in my glass after waking up from an impromptu nap brought on by all the cold beer proceeding it?

Unfortunately, summer in Japan also means plenty of rainy days, as humidity levels are at their highest across the country. Thankfully, it’s not all bad news on rainy days, and as long as you’re willing to take an umbrella with you when you go out, you can score some great deals in the Tokyo area.

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Fire up your fish roe: the battle tank sushi inspired by an anime series

Ōarai, a town in Ibaraki Prefecture 130 kilometres north-east of Tokyo, was an area hit hard by the devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. After the tragedy though, the port town received support from around the world, including an unexpected show of encouragement from an anime series set in Ōarai and screened on Japanese TV last year. The intriguing storyline, about a group of local girls who compete in battle tank championships, sent a surge of tourists to the area, with one sushi shop taking out the big guns and offering up a unique, and entirely edible, battle tank creation.

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Manga and anime declared good study tools for kids

Children’s books and television shows these days are nothing compared to the ones that many of us had growing up. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. I think back fondly on those days of watching Rugrats and Scooby Doo marathons and scoff at the thought of modern-age children rotting their brains with Spongebob and Annoying Orange. But the fact of the matter is that letting kids subject themselves to those books and animations is important to the development of reading comprehension and critical thinking skills, though the shows now seem like garbage to our fully-developed minds.

In Japan, the same sort of issue arises with kids becoming obsessed with manga and anime. Parents may try to insist that their children put away the comics and pick up a real book. Some may even go so far as to throw out their child’s comic magazines as they begin to pile up. However, according to one of the professors at Tama University, Yuichi Higuchi, in his short essay “Are you a Bad Parent?” keeping kids away from their anime and comics is a terrible thing to do!

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Set your DVR – 10 new anime to watch out for this summer!

Unlike the U.S. television cycle of new episodes from fall to spring with reruns through the summer, Japanese TV chugs along with continuous new content. The calendar gets broken up into four blocks of 13 weeks each, and with a new one starting next month, there’s a slew of anime about to premier. Hold on to your butts, anime fans–this is going to be a fun season!

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Family Mart and Hatsune Miku team up to brighten your rainy days with limited edition umbrellas

Each of Japan’s seasons has its own unique charm. Whether it’s the cherry blossoms of spring, fireworks on the beach in midsummer, crimson maple leaves in the fall, or a hot spring surrounded by winter snow, there’s something to enjoy at almost any point of the calendar.

The glaring exception, though, is the few weeks of rainy season during June, when the constant threat of sudden squalls make the weather report about as reliable as a third-rate palm reader. You’re pretty much guaranteed of getting caught in a shower at some point, and if you’re not lucky enough to be around a 100 yen shop at the time, you’re stuck ducking into a convenience store and paying a premium for a clear plastic umbrella you’ll probably throw away as soon as you get home and can swap it for your sturdier regular one.

Thankfully, convenience store chain Family Mart has a new product to take some of the sting out of that situation.

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Bizarre Doraemon cakes dodge copyright issues by looking nothing like Doraemon

China has something of a reputation for playing fast and loose with international copyright, even though the results sometimes get horribly mangled in translation. Nowhere is this more evident than these Doraemon cakes, which are so poorly designed, they border on depicting a different character entirely.

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Calbee partners with Baki the Grappler creator, Unleashes tyrannosaurus steak-flavored potato chips

Keisuke Itagaki, creator of the Baki the Grappler manga series, has teamed up with Calbee to produce Grappler Baki potato chips.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Baki is a young wrestler who travels and fights around the world, honing his skills in the hopes of following in the footsteps of his father, Yujiro, to become the strongest fighter on the planet. In staying with the theme of strongest, Itagaki decided the Baki-themed chips should be flavored after one of the most powerful creatures to walk the planet, Tyrannosaurus rex. According to Itagaki, the packaging of the chips is also designed to reflect “forcefulness” and “intensity,” traits associated with the popular manga character.
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Tokyo Toy Fair: The only place you’ll see cute girls and Star Wars figures in the same room

We used our journalistic cred to gain access to the Tokyo Toy Fair a few days in advance of the public. Don’t hate us–we did it for you!

Check out our gallery below, and please excuse any blurring. We’re perfectly comfortable interacting with Gundam models, but talking to female models gives us the shakes.

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Ultra-detailed Laputa figurine will make your friends fly into jealous nerdrage

After teasing a release of “something” for a month on their website, Bandai unveiled this painstakingly detailed figure of the iconic robot from Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky, to the delighted squeals of Ghibli geeks everywhere.

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Moviegoers upset about Studio Ghibli anime’s trailer trailing the film they came to see

With the rainy season already here in Japan it’s time to start planning out your summer activities. Anime fans already have July 20 marked on their calendars, being the day when the newest animated film from Studio Ghibli, The Wind Rises, is set to premier. With legendary studio head Hayao Miyazaki back in the director’s chair, expectations are sky high for the tale about Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Zero fighter plane used by the Japanese military in World War II.

It’s normal to see trailers for upcoming films when you go to the movies, and some theatres are currently showing an extended four-minute preview for The Wind Rises. What’s unusual is some cinemas’ decision to show the preview directly following the conclusion of the feature film viewers just paid to see.

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Line of Attack on Titan capsule toys soon to be released, give children nightmares

The hit anime and manga title Attack on Titan (Shingeki No Kyojin) has grabbed readers and viewers with its combination of high-flying action and surprisingly disturbing giants.

More than just being violent, something about the titans in this series strikes the creepy chord perfectly in people. So when figure maker Kaiyodo released four capsule toys based on the series they wanted to make sure that feeling came through.

And come through it did. Be warned that some of these figures depict scenes of violence and gore.

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