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.
- Chinese netizens left reeling after father of slain Japanese hostage apologizes to the public1
- Cross-dressing talent Matsuko Deluxe: AKB opening the Tokyo Olympics “would embarrass Japan”2
- Japanese net users surprised to learn that painfully cute bento was in fact made by a teenage boy3
- Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”4
- Fushigi Yugi stage adaptation gets cast and schedule as Mysterious Play becomes a real one5
- Burger Decision 2015! Which crazy Lotteria sandwich will you vote for to make a comeback?6
- Steam Garden: Tokyo’s steampunk festival might be better than a Victorian time machine7
- Side-boob Shirt is the useless evolution of last year’s Boob Turtleneck8
- Don’t miss these painfully cute photos of lawless cats invading your privacy【Photos】9
- Russian street turned into solid block of ice as water pipe bursts in northern town【Photos】10
- Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”1
- Edo era Samurai were pretty gay2
- Attack on Titan’s Universal Studios Japan attraction opens3
- New magnetic “slate” lets you write on actual paper, digitize your drawings in real-time4
- No more photo retouches! New makeup for cosplayers claims to create photo-perfect skin5
- Cross-dressing Cosplay Idol Group a Huge Hit in China6
- Disney Store is all grown up with new branch designed for adult women opening in Tokyo7
- The cat hairband, for when cat ears just aren’t enough8
- Creating your own custom etched glass is a lot simpler than you think9
- Cross-dressing talent Matsuko Deluxe: AKB opening the Tokyo Olympics “would embarrass Japan”10
- Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”1
- Kyoto taxi drivers reduce convenience store robberies by 50 percent by doing absolutely nothing2
- Cosplay ideals vs. cosplay reality, a.k.a. cool vs. funny 【Photos】3
- Internet ready to shut up and take your money as preorders finally start for Cat Ear Headphones4
- Edo era Samurai were pretty gay5
- Ugly-cute makeup genius feeds off negative troll comments on Twitter6
- New magnetic “slate” lets you write on actual paper, digitize your drawings in real-time7
- Teacher draws over students’ doodles to make red pen masterpieces8
- Photos of people lining up outside of the Sapporo Apple Store make us feel positively frozen9
- Netizens hatch adorable baby birds from supermarket eggs, provide evidence10
- Hayao Miyazaki working on new project, says “I’m going to continue making anime until I die”1
- Self-taught Singaporean artist creates unbelievably realistic art on plywood2
- Buyers’ remorse in China: After a record-breaking day of online shopping, the angry selfies begin3
- 1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours4
- Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】5
- Japanese high school holds annual contest to decide the prettiest “girl” in school6
- Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”7
- Kyoto taxi drivers reduce convenience store robberies by 50 percent by doing absolutely nothing8
- Sorry guys! Video of “sexy ice cream girl” in Taipei only delivers on half its milky promises9
- Oysters’ amazing cleaning skills shock Japanese netizens who question their shellfish habit10
- Burger Decision 2015! Which crazy Lotteria sandwich will you vote for to make a comeback?
- Steam Garden: Tokyo’s steampunk festival might be better than a Victorian time machine
- Side-boob Shirt is the useless evolution of last year’s Boob Turtleneck
- Don’t miss these painfully cute photos of lawless cats invading your privacy【Photos】
- Russian street turned into solid block of ice as water pipe bursts in northern town【Photos】
- Web series’ anime arsenal expands with real-life version of Kill la Kill’s Scissor Blade【Video】
- The cat hairband, for when cat ears just aren’t enough
- Hello Kitty keeping as busy as ever — this time she collaborates with…money itself!
- Let’s take a tour of the best sushi in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market with Mr. Sato! (Part 1)
- Do clothes make the man or the man make the clothes? Japanese Twitter user tries to find out
- When nature is so beautiful you can’t tell whether it’s real or a painting
- Seriously unlucky Chinese man takes an actual arrow to the knee while doing laundry
- “Can you help meow-t here?” Twitter user discovers why his bread clock was constantly wrong