Last January, fans got hit with a mix of awe and envy at an Attack on Titanevent in Osaka where the heroes’ 3-D maneuver gear was on display. Looking over the intricate harness and paired swords, it was hard not to find yourself wanting a set of your very own.
Soon enough, that anime daydream can come true, as preorders have now started for life-size replicas of Attack on Titan’s iconic giant-killing battlefield technology.
It’s raining in Yokohama right now. I’m about to go pick up lunch, though, which means that when I head out the door I’ll need to take my umbrella, which is a cheap collapsible model I bought for 500 yen (US$4.60).
But should I decide to upgrade, a team of engineers in China is developing an umbrella that shields you from the rain not with a sheet of flimsy nylon, but with blasts of air, in the form of the aptly named Air Umbrella.
Back in the summer, we spent a day chasing Pikachus around Yokohama as part of the amazing, multi-day Pokémon event held in the bayside city. The smile it put on our faces still hasn’t completely faded, but that year’s supply of cuteness came with a price. While we were there we got a hug from one of the Pocket Monster ambassadors, and we now know only too well just how fluffy a Pikachu is.
It’s thrown our whole baseline off for what constitutes cozy and comfy. Compared to a soft Pikachu coat, our blankets now feel like burlap, and it’s been keeping us up at night. Thankfully, there might be a solution, in the form of this awesome Pikachu bed.
Voice acting seems like it should be a pretty cushy job. You sit in a booth, slip into character, and just, well, talk. Nothing to it right?
Well, for quieter scenes, that may be true, but it’s hard to get a proper performance for a fight sequence without really throwing yourself into the role. So while it may not be as physical as live-action stunt work, when the vocal cast of the newest Dragon Ball Z movie showed up to do their lines, they worked every muscle in their throats and faces, plus a few more, as seen in this video of the recording session.
Summer is the season for ghost stories in Japan, and at the end of August we sent one of our reporters to try out the terrifying haunted house from the horror masters and game fans at Obaken. Amazing as that six-room production is, Obaken has since expanded its scale to something even bigger: Zombie Camp, a two-day excursion that combines the majesty of the great outdoors with the threat of rampaging zombies!
Back at the start of the year, we all had the urge to go out and fight some monsters when we saw Hollywood blacksmith Tony Swatton recreate the massive sword wielded by Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth. Of course, Sephiroth is just one member of the gigantic collective cast of the long-running video game franchise. With so many more iconic weapons to choose from, it was only a matter of time until craftsmen went to work on armaments from the other games in the series, and next up is a real-life version of Squall’s gunblade from Final Fantasy VIII.
Earlier this year, we stopped by Artnia, the café run by video game publisher Square Enix, to munch on buster sword chocolates and drink material cocktails. Just as you’d expect from the company behind some of Japan’s biggest RPG franchises, though, there’s now an upgraded sequel, the Eorzea Café, with an even larger menu of Final Fantasy themed foods.
Led by our sense of adventure and gnawing appetite, we journeyed to the strange and wonderful land of Tokyo’s Akihabara to check it out.
Dry ice is some pretty handy stuff. Aside from keeping shipments of groceries and other perishables nice and cold, it’s perfect for producing billowing smoke, which is always nice to have if you’re throwing a high school dance.
Dry ice doesn’t just have the power to compel teens to shake their bodies, though, but coins and spoons too, as shown in these awesome videos.
Back at the start of summer, our jaws dropped to the floor as we watched what might be the coolest commercial for Nissin Cup Noodle instant ramen ever, in which a man dressed in samurai armor travelled to Brazil and wowed the people of the World Cup host country with his amazing freestyle football skills.
The Japanese national team turned in a less than impressive performance in the contest, though, failing to advance past group play. Would the disappointment over his countrymen’s early exit lead the soccer samurai to retire?
Not at all, as his second video finds the samurai with a new set of armor, new, European surroundings, and now a group of adversaries: ninjas!
Tokyo’s Nakano Broadway is mainly known for its anime specialty shops, but that’s not all you’ll find if you make your way to each corner of the shopping center’s labyrinthine interior. Inside you’ll also come across an old-school video arcade, suit tailor, watch store, and painting workshop for tabletop role-playing game lead miniatures.
But what we’re talking about today is what awaits visitors in Nakano Broadway’s basement: just about the biggest ice cream cones we’ve ever seen.
Not too long ago, I ate ramen from a can on a Tokyo backstreet. It didn’t taste half-bad, but between the barkers for maid cafes and the homeless guy raiding the surrounding vending machines’ recycling bins for cans, it really didn’t make for the most elegant dining ambience.
But the great thing about Japan is the contrasting extremes you can find, and if eating in the middle of Tokyo’s concrete jungle by the soft glow of neon signs isn’t to your liking, you can always come on down to Yokohama, which has a café with plenty of natural sunlight thanks to the restaurant actually being an awesome treehouse.
Even though anime legend Hayao Miyazaki has been a household name in Japan for decades, his films are still a recent discovery for many foreign viewers. A common question from an enthusiastic newly formed Ghibli fan is to ask, “Which Miyazaki film should I show my friends and family to make them understand how amazing they are?”
It’s a tricky question to answer. For example, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke are both incredible films that can evoke emotional responses far beyond what many adults expect from animation. The feelings the films stir, and the ways in which they do so, are extremely different though. It’s hard enough to pick one from just those two, let alone the 11 feature films for which Miyazaki served as director.
So perhaps the best plan isn’t to show the person you’re trying to convert one Miyazaki movie, but all of them, and thanks to one fan’s compilation video, it’ll only take nine minutes.
Earlier this year, we came across a photo of an anime fan in Hong Kong and his back-covering tattoo of his 2-D crush, Love Live’s Nozomi Tojo. Impressive as it was, though, we couldn’t help but be a little concerned over his exact choice of large-scale body art.
While the Love Live franchise has exploded in popularity, with multiple games, anime and manga, the whole thing only got its start in 2012. No matter how much that guy thinks he loves Nozomi-chan now, isn’t it still a little too soon to be making such permanent declarations of his affections?
Wouldn’t it be wiser to wait a few years to make sure his feelings are genuine, like the other otaku who just got his back inked with over a half-dozen of anime’s biggest heroes from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s?
A few weeks ago, the handlers of the Pokémon franchise announced the Pikachu Tairyou Hassei Chu, or “An Outbreak of Pikachus” event. First they brightened our day with a TV ad showing the adorable Pocket Monsters hanging out in a shopping mall. Then they teased us with a photo of the electrified rodents landing on the dock.
And now, they’re here!
We grabbed our cameras and went Pikachu hunting in Yokohama, and we were not disappointed. We were, though, almost completely paralyzed by the awesome overdose of cuteness that comes from a parade of a pack of 20 Pikachus.
Compared to cats and dogs, fish do have a couple of undeniable drawback as pets. You can’t really play fetch with them or take them on walks, and while there’s nothing physically stopping you from holding a goldfish on your lap and petting it, the sight of it desperately flopping around makes it far less relaxing than petting a purring kitty.
That’s not to say fish don’t have anything going for them. For example, they’re far less likely to pee on the sofa or cough up a hairball than a dog or cat. Plus, since they live in the confined space of a tank of water, you can create amazing scenery for them, like these amazing artistic aquariums.
We’ve no doubt all experienced that feeling of frustration when, right when things are getting good, our favorite TV show is interrupted by an ad break. We kick ourselves for getting suckered in, knowing full well that both the show’s makers and the networks that host it put the ads in where they did for good reason – to keep us glued to our sets that little bit longer.
But there are times when even the ads are so well made that they’re as entertaining as the shows we were watching. This new commercial for a Japanese soft drink, for example, is so cleverly shot that for the first few seconds we genuinely thought it was footage taken by a couple of high school girls tooling around in their classroom. Until, of course, they started back-flipping off buildings, sprinting across roofs and pulling every trick in the ninja book.
Sure, it has almost nothing to do with the product, but we think you’ll agree this is one of the coolest ads around.