With a large music market and some of the world’s highest prices for physical releases, Japan has been very slow in adapting to digital distribution. Rights holders are finally warming up to the idea, though, and it doesn’t look like it’s ruining the industry in Japan. What downloadable music does seem to be doing, though, is splitting the country’s pop music market into two distinct parts, as the lists of Japan’s top 20 single downloads and CD purchases for the year are almost completely different.
Dec 11, 2014
Long ago, being an otaku, one of Japan’s hyper-obsessive subculture fans, made you sort of an outcast. People, especially respectable adults, didn’t really want to look at you, either out of embarrassment for your childish hobbies, or perhaps fear that having spent the last three days indoors had given you a case of shut-in cooties that would jump onto them.
That’s starting to change, though. More and more people are becoming comfortable identifying themselves as otaku, and while some still worry their fixations on fantasy are a drain on society, they’re definitely a boost to the economy, as shown by a survey that indicates spending is up in several sectors of the otaku world.
Nov 19, 2014
Creating costumes for idol singer groups can’t be an easy job. If you’re going for cute, designers already hit the limit for the number of frills a single item of clothing can hold sometime around October of 1986. Hot pants are an easy way to achieve short-term crowd-pleasing sexiness, but that might interfere with the girl-next-door image the most successful acts cultivate.
So instead of sweet or sultry, you might settle on snappy. That’s what the four members of Korea’s Pritz have been doing in some of their recent appearances, where they’ve shown up in matching black skirts and crisply pressed black shirts buttoned at the collars. Oh, and to add just a dash of attempted systematical genocide to the ensemble, what look like Nazi armbands.
Sep 27, 2014
For many of Japan’s most successful music acts, there’s a huge gap between their popularity at home and abroad. Five-man vocal unit Arashi has been at the top of Japan’s boy band heap for years, and while they’ve picked up a few ardent devotees in the U.S., their fan base there is miniscule compared to their legions of followers in Japan.
This became even clearer than usual last week, when Arashi had a concert in Hawaii. The effective cost of a ticket bought in Japan for the event calculates out to some 100,000 yen (US$925), but in Hawaii, you could pick up a ticket for less than a fifth of that price.
Sep 18, 2014
We recently got a sneak peak at the second batch of Sailor Moon lingerie from merchandiser Bandai and intimate apparel maker Peach John. But while the two companies were generous with photos of what the new bra/panty/skirt sets will look like, they were only shown on nondescript, limbless mannequins.
Not only does a new batch of pictures rectify that with a human model, it also shows off some more modest bedroom attire, in the form of negligees and pajamas inspired by the dresses of characters Princess Serenity and Black Lady, plus the school uniforms worn by the five core Sailor Senshi.
Apple has officially announced the iPhone 6, and also its big-screen sibling, the iPhone 6 Plus. This is great news for technophiles who’d already started lining up for the new device before it was officially unveiled, but there’s one slice of the Japanese population that’s completely unimpressed: hard-core fans of idol singer video game and anime franchise Aikatsu! The otaku subset has compiled a list of seven reasons why, compared to one piece of Aikatsu! merchandise, the iPhone 6 is a piece of junk.
We talked recently about a creative smartphone case inspired by Love Live, the current standard bearer for the “cut girls strive earnestly to be the best at something” genre of anime. But while it’s all well and good to be able to dress your phone up in the same uniform worn by the show’s teen idol singers, it doesn’t create a direct connection between fans and the show.
Love Live attire isn’t just for smartphones, though, as there’s now a line of shoes based on the popular franchise.
Last month a set of futons for smartphones caught our eyes. Considering all the handy gadgets do for us, we agreed it’s only fair we help them get the rest they need. After all, don’t you enjoy a good’s night sleep at the end of a busy day?
Still, you don’t want your smartphone loafing about all day. Sooner or later it’s got to get up and get to work, just like you. Of course, unless you’re a work-from-home nude model, you can’t be running around without any clothes on. Once again, it’s only fair that you apply the same standards and extend the same consideration to your phone by giving it a proper set of clothes, like this school uniform from the hit anime Love Live.
May 22, 2014
It’s becoming more and more common for idol singer units in Japan to pump up their sales numbers by offering some kind of special prize to fans who purchase multiple copies of the same CD. Each disc might come with a raffle ticket for a chance to shake hands with the group, and at least one band will let you straight up go on a date with the member of your choice if you buy enough copies.
By far the most coveted prizes are those handed out by Japan’s biggest musical act, AKB48. The loyalty of the supergroup’s fans is legendary, but even with their reputation proceeding them, we’re shocked at just how much cash the unit squeezed out of one ardent supporter.
May 10, 2014
When you really stop and think about it, the concept of idol singers is a little strange. At its core, the idea is to leverage the performers’ good looks into higher sales than they could achieve through their musical talents alone.
We realize that in face-to-face dealings, there’s very little a guy won’t do for a pretty girl, if for no reason other than to raise his chances of getting a date with her by even the tiniest fraction of a percentage. But does it really make sense for hard-core fans to try to impress their idol of choice? Regardless of how many copies of your favorite singer’s albums you buy, it’s not like she’s going to go out with you or anything.
Unless, of course, you’re talking about the idol group AeLL.
Apr 16, 2014
Some say that pop idols in Japan aren’t so much born as they are manufactured. A skilled producer can carefully tailor almost every aspect of his rising star’s appearance and public persona by tightly controlling how she’s presented in the mass media, which generally has a cozy, cooperative nature with recording companies.
If you’re feeling cynical enough, you might even ask what the point is in even working with a human being, if all of the individual’s uniqueness first has to be washed away in order to produce a blank slate for the producer to work with. It’s a question that, apparently, executives at record company Pony Canyon couldn’t come up with an answer to, as suggested by its newest idol, a sex doll, and the event it held for fans to come and meet her face-to-face.
Mar 14, 2014
Job hunting is a concentrated, intense process in Japan. In general, major companies all do their recruiting during the same, single stretch of the year, which runs through winter and early spring. Most college students try to line up a job roughly a year before graduation, and those who fail to have a doubly difficult road ahead, as not only will they have to wait a year to try again, being a year or more older than other candidates is considered a black mark against an individual.
With so much pressure on them, job hunters should be happy to learn of what may be a new secret weapon they can implement in trying to land their dream job: make it completely clear that they love idol singers.
Mar 6, 2014
While North America has had the PlayStation 4 for a few months now, Japan had to wait until February 22 to pick up the (arguably) hottest console in the world. Now that the long wait is over, Japanese gamers can hunker down and get some serious gaming done!
And, thanks to the PlayStation 4’s snazzy new streaming technology, they don’t even need to leave the house to catch a live idol show! This Thursday (March 6) at 6 pm JST, the game-centric group Game Girls will give their debut performance–and be the first to stream a live show via PlayStation 4! Because…umm…well, why the hell not, right?
Feb 5, 2014
Marketing men’s fashion can be a tricky thing, since, as on average, guys don’t spend that much time worrying about their outfits. One exception, though, is when they’re trying to impress girls. You can sell a man a jacket as long as you first sell him on the image that it’ll make him more attractive to women.
Of course, even if it is the underlying message, most companies are more subtle than to come right out and claim you’ll look so cool in their clothes that women will take their pants off for you.
Japanese online retailer Men’s Fashion Plus is not most companies.
Jan 28, 2014
Sometimes, stories and characters designed for kids score a hit outside of their target market. Witness, for example, all of the Disney-themed engagement rings and wedding ceremonies inspired by princesses created to appeal chiefly to girls far too young to be seriously planning their nuptials.
Sometimes, the popularity of a franchise can even cross gender lines. Sailor Moon rose to popularity partly because its leggy heroines and tongue-in-cheek humor appealed to guys, and then there’s the puzzling yet undeniable Brony phenomenon of young males ardently following the My Little Pony animated series.
Next up on the carousel of unexpected fanboy demographics: full-grown men who are hardcore players of Aikatsu, an arcade game solely intended for little girls.
Jan 15, 2014
While the 48-member, Tokyo-based AKB 48 still holds the spot as Japan’s top idol singer unit, its sister troupes around the country are no slouches either. NMB 48, which operates out of Osaka’s Namba neighborhood, joined the sorority of tri-letter mega-groups produced by the prolific Yasushi Akimoto in 2011.
NMB 48 has followed its predecessor’s lead in providing fans with a high level of personal access to its members. Aside from regularly holding concerts in their proprietary theatre, the performers of NMB 48 occasionally hold events where they greet and shake hands with their adoring supporters.
It’s an exciting opportunity for any fan to press palms with their idol, and it’s understandable that some hope to make an impression on their favorite, either with a heartfelt smile, a kind word of encouragement, or a legally binding marriage proposal.
Based on the number of results a Google search returns for “dating an idol,” we can only assume that more than a few people have a bubbly singer or two in their sights. After all, who wouldn’t want to date a young, cute, (sometimes) talented girl or guy?
While it might seem like a dream of pure folly, it turns out that dating an idol isn’t exactly impossible. It’s highly unlikely, for sure, but it’s more “a meteorite destroyed my car” and less “Godzilla ate my homework!” Here’s a few tips on how to (possibly) make your scandalous dreams a reality!
Up until a few years ago, Tokyo’s Akihabara district was strictly an enclave of computer, video game, and anime merchandise stores. All that changed when two pop culture movements both set up camp in the neighborhood.
The maid café scene exploded, offering patrons the chance to grab a bite to eat while being served and surrounded by cute girls dressed in frilly outfits. At the same time, the incredibly popular pop idol unit AKB48 built an intimately-sized theatre in Akihabara where they give regular concerts for their adoring fans, often accompanied by handshake sessions.
Not content to let Tokyo have all the glory from combining food with up-close musical performances, Nagoya is stepping up to the plate with an idol singer sushi restaurant.
Typified by the saccharine songs of AKB48, the Japanese idol world is largely the province of the young. One rarely expects to see a singer over the age of 25 among the mini-skirt-clad ranks of the ultra-kawaii groups.
A group from Osaka—called Obachaaan—are ready to change that up.
- 4 Things women are banned from doing in Japan 【Women in Japan Series】1
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- Ready to tie the anime knot? Company offers marriage certificate for you and your 2D waifu3
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- Truck driver hailed as “hero” for cutting off car on wet highway8
- Sharp’s awesome new display tech licensed to Nintendo… who may not even use it for games9
- Unhinged Japanese boyband fan stalks “rival” on Twitter, demands they delete their account10
- Korean illustrator gives Western fairy tales a whimsical Eastern makeover【Pics】1
- Ready to tie the anime knot? Company offers marriage certificate for you and your 2D waifu2
- Self-taught Singaporean artist creates unbelievably realistic art on plywood3
- Artist magically transforms Sailor Moon characters into black women4
- Character images of new Digimon Adventure series released, expected to air in spring 20155
- Too busy to wrap Christmas presents? Not if you’ve got 12 seconds, Japanese store shows【Video】6
- Life imitates (Sword) Art (Online) as Japanese gamers find they can’t log out of online RPG7
- How humanity ends: Virtual reality headset hooked up to Tenga love cup for men 【Video】8
- New Evangelion short film now streaming on animation studio’s website9
- Evacuation orders issued as town in northern Japan is flooded by rising tidewaters10
- Self-taught Singaporean artist creates unbelievably realistic art on plywood1
- Buyers’ remorse in China: After a record-breaking day of online shopping, the angry selfies begin2
- Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】3
- How to say “I love you” in Japanese – 47 different ways 【Videos】4
- Japanese man proposes to girlfriend with Guinness World Record-winning GPS drawing5
- Historic Kyoto temple first in Japan to offer gay weddings6
- A Ghibli mystery solved — the identity of exotic looking food in Spirited Away revealed!7
- Korean illustrator gives Western fairy tales a whimsical Eastern makeover【Pics】8
- Hayao Miyazaki comments on Chihiro’s final test scene in Spirited Away9
- Fashion gone wrong? Boob shirts take Twitter by storm10
- “No one sleeps in her class!” Internet goes gaga for gorgeous Chinese science teacher1
- Hayao Miyazaki working on new project, says “I’m going to continue making anime until I die”2
- Mickey and friends in human form are more charming than we had imagined! 【Pics】3
- A sad turn of events at a butterfly exhibition in China4
- Self-taught Singaporean artist creates unbelievably realistic art on plywood5
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- Chinese cat with unfortunate dark patch of fur tired of people asking why it’s shocked7
- 1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours8
- Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】9
- Japanese high school holds annual contest to decide the prettiest “girl” in school10
- New Evangelion short film now streaming on animation studio’s website
- How to make epic pancakes with your Japanese rice cooker
- Truck driver hailed as “hero” for cutting off car on wet highway
- Sharp’s awesome new display tech licensed to Nintendo… who may not even use it for games
- Unhinged Japanese boyband fan stalks “rival” on Twitter, demands they delete their account
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- Latest evolution of Pokémon cafe to open in Shibuya this January
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