Japan’s idol world is quite…expansive, for lack of a better word. Even with the wide variety of groups running around, it can be hard to really tell them apart–though we have to say there was no mistaking Osaka’s Obachaaan for any other group. In fact, the “old lady” idol group is still going strong–perhaps thanks in part to the dearth of elderly competition. But it looks like Obachaaa and AKB48 are about to face some new rivals: KBG84, Okinawa’s own geriatric idol group!
Feb 17, 2015
Aside from protagonist Goku’s voice actress Masako Nozawa, it’s pretty hard to find a performer who can claim to have made his or her presence felt in all of anime hit Dragon Ball’s over 290 TV episodes and dozen-plus movies. One man who can make that claim, though, is vocalist Hironobu Kageyama, who supplied the opening theme for each and every episode of Dragon Ball and its successor series Dragon Ball Z, plus 12 of its 13 movies to-date (and even the most recent film used a cover of his iconic hit “Cha-La Head-Cha-La”).
Now in his 50s, no one would blame Kageyama is he said he didn’t have the energy for live performances anymore, but the tireless singer isn’t ready to retire yet. Aside from being the front man for anime song supergroup JAM Project, next month Kageyama will be performing for TV program Anison CLUB!, and anime music Internet portal animeloLIVE! is giving away tickets to the event.
And don’t worry if Dragon Ball was before your time, because animeloLIVE! is also looking for fans to come out and support up-and-coming voice actress and idol Azusa Todokoro at yet another event to be held in March.
Feb 11, 2015
Hugely popular idol group AKB48 was founded on the premise of “idols you can meet” and over the years they’ve stuck to it, hosting numerous handshake and meet-and-greet events on top of their live shows and performances at their own special theatre. Sadly, that open, accommodating fan policy was jeopardised last year when two members of the group were viciously attacked at a handshake event by a crazed “fan” wielding a hand saw.
Luckily, the girls weren’t too seriously injured, but the incident shook the entertainment industry and led to increased security measures being implemented at celebrity events, and it was reported yesterday that the individual responsible for the attack has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Feb 2, 2015
Now that we’re into February, shy men across Japan are out of excuses not to ask out the girl they’ve got a crush on. This month includes a special day with its own framework that allows guys to express their feelings with an established method that leaves no doubt about their affections.
Of course, we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day, because in Japan, women give gifts to men on February 14. No, we’re talking about Twintail Day, observed on February 2, which not only celebrates the dual-tail hairstyle, but also seeks to strengthen the bonds between young lovers and established couples alike.
Dec 14, 2014
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.
- Japanese tourist gets lost in Windsor Castle, wanders into Queen’s private rooms1
- Resort in the Philippines decides to stop ripping off Gundam, rip off another robot instead2
- The 11 Cat Islands of Japan 【Photos】3
- Nissan unveils “smart BBQ” car that comes with a drone, karaoke machine, mist shower…and a grill4
- We visit a reasonably-priced sushi shop so good you’ll forget all about that “Jiro” guy5
- Anime pillow responds to your rubbing with moans and groans, gets angry if you get too grabby6
- Prince William meets Domokun and has other fun adventures during his first visit to Japan7
- Watch out for slang: 10 outdated words to make you sound like a “hoddypeak” in Japanese8
- New nail art technique produces beautiful nails, sticky abominations in equal measure9
- Six outdoor Japanese hot springs you can visit right now (with Google Street View)10
- Anime pillow responds to your rubbing with moans and groans, gets angry if you get too grabby1
- Japanese netizens stare at red dot for 30 seconds, freak out when they see what happens2
- ISIS-inspired gang kills middle school boy: “We’ll cut off your head while you’re still alive!”3
- The 11 Cat Islands of Japan 【Photos】4
- Fan film ‘Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope’ – two years in the making, but well worth the wait【Video】5
- Japanese netizens rediscover “Full Armor Game Boy,” question how the ’90s defined portability6
- “Hell on Earth” as Tokyo subway station floods with sewage7
- Creepy news: Estimate a complete stranger’s breast size with this new plastic folder!8
- Revenge bento show us it’s a dish best served cold (and boxed) with insults and hidden chilies9
- Online seller pulls cruel trick, sells pencil lead photographed alongside Nintendo 3DS XL10
- Hachiko, Japan’s most loyal dog, finally reunited with owner in heartwarming new statue in Tokyo1
- Anime pillow responds to your rubbing with moans and groans, gets angry if you get too grabby2
- Literal breastplate will give you a cosplay-ready, anime-class bust in seconds 【Photos】3
- Japanese netizens stare at red dot for 30 seconds, freak out when they see what happens4
- English hot spring manners poster is so thorough, even Japanese people are learning from it5
- Meet Asuna, the hyperreal android that will leave your jaw hanging 【Video】6
- Keanu Reeves tries to be a tourist in Akihabara, gets mobbed by fans instead7
- Man beats up woman for not looking like “goddess” he spent thousands of dollars to meet8
- Someone finally built the massive, room-filling Dragon Ball Z diorama the world deserved9
- The last photo of faithful dog Hachiko breaks our hearts10
- Hachiko, Japan’s most loyal dog, finally reunited with owner in heartwarming new statue in Tokyo1
- Self-taught Singaporean artist creates unbelievably realistic art on plywood2
- Anime pillow responds to your rubbing with moans and groans, gets angry if you get too grabby3
- Literal breastplate will give you a cosplay-ready, anime-class bust in seconds 【Photos】4
- Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”5
- Kyoto taxi drivers reduce convenience store robberies by 50 percent by doing absolutely nothing6
- Historic Kyoto temple first in Japan to offer gay weddings7
- Cosplay ideals vs. cosplay reality, a.k.a. cool vs. funny 【Photos】8
- Internet ready to shut up and take your money as preorders finally start for Cat Ear Headphones9
- Korean illustrator gives Western fairy tales a whimsical Eastern makeover【Pics】10
- Anime pillow responds to your rubbing with moans and groans, gets angry if you get too grabby
- Prince William meets Domokun and has other fun adventures during his first visit to Japan
- Watch out for slang: 10 outdated words to make you sound like a “hoddypeak” in Japanese
- New nail art technique produces beautiful nails, sticky abominations in equal measure
- Six outdoor Japanese hot springs you can visit right now (with Google Street View)
- Japan’s newest idol group, KBG84, hails from Okinawa, has an average age of 84
- Staggering servings of salmon roe are waiting for you at these four Tokyo restaurants
- Why do most concerts held in Japan prohibit taking pictures?
- Godzilla appears in the Tokyo skyline atop new Shinjuku skyscraper! 【Photos】
- Boys’ turn: The top 10 most common shonen manga scenarios, according to Japanese fans
- Clever kitchen tool adds paws-itively adorable cat paws to your meal
- In Neo Tokyo this weekend? Check out the bizarre “Bartkira” project exhibition
- Miso soup anime ads are so touching they’ll warm your heart as the soup warms your tummy