TV

Is Japanese TV really as bad as its reputation?

Foreigners living in Japan, our own editor included, often give Japanese TV a hard time. For many, it’s either too weird, too predictable or too obnoxious. If it really is so bad though, surely shows like Iron Chef and Ninja Warrior (Sasuke) would never have been introduced in the US? Nor would America have created the show I Survived a Japanese Game Show. So if foreign stations are taking cues from the Japanese TV shows, the originals must have some merit, right?

One Reddit user finally asked the big question, “Japanese television. Is it really so terrible?” As you’d expect, the responses poured in, both in favor of and adamantly against it. One user proclaimed that Japan only has three kinds of programs, “Shows about celebrities. Shows about food. Shows about celebrities eating food.” But like TV in any country, there are actually a lot of different kinds of shows, so it’s probably worth a moment to take a walk through some of the programming options.

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Beautiful models and actresses delivering boxed lunches in Tokyo with new bento service

Bento, Japan’s multi-dish boxed lunches, come in a variety of styles. While it’s most common to make your own or pick one up at a cheap takeout joint, there’s also a whole sub-industry of high-class bento delivery services that cater business conferences and other high-rolling events.

Of course, rich and powerful clients tend to have demands as high as their positions on the corporate ladder. They expect the food to be delicious, the service to be impeccable, and now, with Platinum Lunch, they can expect their bento to be delivered by beautiful models and actresses.

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Tokyo court rules that hotels must pay NHK fees according to the number of rooms with TVs

Last year, we brought you news of a court ruling in Yokohama which stipulated that anyone who owns a device capable of receiving a TV signal, regardless of whether they’ve entered into a contract with NHK (Japan’s public broadcasting station) or not, is legally obligated to pay the NHK licensing fee. An important point to note is that the fees are only paid once per household, and not according to the number of TV sets or devices capable of receiving a signal in the house.

However, a recent court decision seems to be taking the issue of NHK licensing fees in a whole new direction. On October 9, Tokyo District Court ruled in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit that the management company behind three Tokyo hotels must first enter into a contract with the public broadcaster. Furthermore, the hotels, all three of which had refused to enter into contracts despite repeated requests from NHK, must also pay their overdue licensing fees in proportion to the number of hotel rooms with TVs.

Just wait til you read how much money that all comes out to be…

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Hatsune Miku performs “live” on David Letterman! We love it, not sure he does though…【Video】

Hatsune Miku made her American TV debut on Wednesday night, performing on none other than the Late Show with David Letterman. Miku, of course, is a vocaloid, a super-famous Japanese idol who just happens to be virtual. The turquoise-haired star surprised viewers by performing an English song, “Sharing the World”.

Mr. Letterman, meanwhile, looked a little nonplussed.

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Japanese sweets and giant robots combine in a new anime series intriguing the Internet

If you’ve ever been to Kyoto, then you may know that the city’s food culture includes a rich history of traditional Japanese sweets, known as wagashi, which can be a perfect accompaniment to a day touring Kyoto’s famed temples. While many in Japan associate Kyoto with traditional sweets, a new anime series is about to take this aspect of the city’s food culture and combine it with a giant robot for a one-of-a-kind TV show.

Set in modern-day Kyoto, Domaiga D will center around a dessert shop owner who finds a giant robot beneath his shop right when the city is coming under attack by huge monsters.

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Tech FAIL – Japanese man uses butter to try and turn his normal TV into a 3-D TV

For those who have never been to Japan, the country seems like a high-tech wonderland. There are constantly reports coming out about new technologies, new robots, and new gadgets; you would think every Japanese person is some sort of tech wunderkind! We hate to shatter your dreams, but Japan is just as full of non-techy people as any other country in the world. No thread shows this better than one that recently popped up on 2channel (2ch). While the rest of the world might be trying to look at leaked photos of celebrities, one 2ch user attempted to turn their normal TV into a 3-D TV by applying…butter. Yeah, we aren’t sure how that’s supposed to work either, nevertheless, we present to you…The Buttering!

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GIF: Chinese SASUKE contestant’s unexpected fail immortalized in Web’s favorite file format

While a little belated, it seems like the world has fallen in love with the Japanese-created obstacle course action game show SASUKE (known as Ninja Warrior in other countries).

The show, for those that somehow haven’t seen or heard of it yet, gracefully combines three things that human beings all love the world over: Competition, people failing spectacularly, and ninja-like acrobatics. Although, in most SASUKE obstacle course runs, you only get either one or the other of those last two.

But, a recent contestant on the Chinese version of SASUKE pulled off an amazing hat trick of all three when he managed a nearly flawless run, only to fail spectacularly just before the finish line.

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Korean video game ads borrow K-pop group’s faces to depict the horrors of war, noodles 【Videos】

Never willing to be outdone by their island-dwelling neighbours, South Korea upped the ante in the weird olympics recently with a series of ads for free-to-play first-person shooter Sudden Attack. Enlisting the services of popular K-pop group Girl’s Day, the commercials show nary a snippet of footage from the actual game itself, instead focusing on the kind of situations most online gamers will know all too well.

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A skeptic’s guide to anime – Five series to ease you into Japan’s most popular export

Viewed from afar, Japanese animation may appear to be populated entirely by giant-eyed, squeaky-voice schoolgirls and young men who suffer from frequent nosebleeds. Their plots, too, can seem awfully convoluted at first glance, and so anyone who didn’t grow up with anime or have the chance to catch popular series when they were just getting started may feel completely out of their depth when trying to get into it.

If you’re the kind of person who, like me, despite being into Japan and Asia, never really understood what all the fuss was about anime, or who would like to give this strange medium a chance but doesn’t know where to start, then we have a special treat for you today: no fewer than five anime recommendations from members of our very own writing staff, guaranteed to be easy for even anime-skeptics to get into. Who knows, these might just be the gateway shows you’ve been looking for!

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Japanese viewers spot “real ghost” in TV broadcast, get all freaked out

As well as barbecues, rooftop beer gardens, and delicious ice-cream, summer in Japan is time for horror. No, not the fear of opening your August electricity bill after all those nights sleeping with the air-con on, but scary stories. Whether you get your scare fix by going to the movies, visiting a pop-up haunted house, or do it old-school by telling ghost stories around a campfire, in Japan, summer is the season to cool off by giving yourself the chills.

I’ve never quite seen the appeal of actual horror films, personally, and tend to find them mildly distressing, although not in an exciting way like other people do. “Well, that’s kind of gross”, is about the strongest reaction I can muster. I do love Japanese TV though, and there’s no shortage of scary programming here in summer. Honto ni atta kowai hanashi (“scary stories that totally actually happened”) – or Honkowa for short – celebrated 15 years onscreen this year with a summer special that went out on the night of August 16th. During the broadcast, something unexpected happened – and viewers took to Twitter to ask the eternal question into the internet ether: “Did anyone else see that, or was it just me!?”

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“I know how it’s done!”: Japanese TV guest learns what not to say to a magician on live TV【Video】

If the first rule of magic is that the illusionist must never tell an audience how a trick is done, the second rule must be that you never interrupt a magician live on air to yell, “I’ve seen this one before! I’ll tell you how he’s doing it…”

Obviously, no one told studio guest Airi Taira that, because that’s exactly what she did during a live TV broadcast featuring Japanese-American magician Sero (セロ) on Tuesday night. Join us after the jump for one flying hoverboard, one defensive peeved magician and more awkward smiling than you can shake a stick at.

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Defrost a steak in 5 minutes without using heat or the microwave? What is this sorcery!?【Video】

Buying in bulk and freezing some of your purchase to cook another day is a great way to save money. But the problem with freezing things is that then you have to unfreeze them. That’s right, my friend. We need to talk about defrosting.

If I told you there was a super-fast way to defrost meat that doesn’t require a heat source, a microwave, or even hot water, you’d probably think I’d been drinking too much Lemon Coke or something. But, dear reader, never again will you feel depressed about the single-person servings lined up neatly in your freezer. Never again will a good steak go to waste for want of an eater. Never again. And it’s all thanks to the magic of physics. Yes. Magic.

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No console? No problem! Sony tests streaming video games direct to TV sets

Those of you who don’t immediately catch fire the second you step outdoors may not yet have heard of PlayStation Now. Essentially the video game equivalent of Netflix, the service is due to be rolled out on July 31 and will, in theory, allow PlayStation 4 owners to pay to stream and play a selection of PlayStation 1, 2 and 3 games without having to download them first, with all the processing being done in the cloud.

But Sony is not content with going after just existing PlayStation owners, oh no. As promised at the beginning of the year, the company is now starting beta trials of the game rental service for certain high-end Sony TVs. That’s right, even if you don’t own an actual PlayStation console you’ll soon be able to play PlayStation games.

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Game of Thrones meets Zelda in Super Nintendo-inspired opening song

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, HBO’s hit TV show Game of Thrones must be feeling rather pleased with itself these days. From Disney cartoon characters to woodblock-like prints of the show in feudal-era Japan, there is no lack of love from talented fans.

This newest fan-made project is sure to please both fans of the show and gamers around the world, as it blends the world of none other than Super NES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with the realm of Westeros.

Click below to see Zelda get the Game of Thrones treatment.

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Doraemon anime’s visual & script changes for U.S. TV detailed

The Oricon Style website reported on changes that the Doraemon television anime is undergoing before its American television premiere this July. The Disney XD channel will run 26 episodes of the quintessential Japanese anime about a robot cat. The anime has been adapted for American culture and customs, as well its strict guidelines on violence, depictions of discrimination, and depictions of sexual content.

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Ultra-cute moe pilgrims embark on Shikoku’s 88-temple journey in new TV show

2014 marks the 1,200th year since Buddhist monk Kukai made his holy journey to 88 temples on the southern Japanese island of Shikoku. The Shikoku Pilgrimage now attracts people from all over Japan as well as the world to visit the same temples along the 1,200 km-route.

Now, a new TV series, Ohenro, is out to appeal to a new generation of religious travelers and features three female pilgrims stylized in the ever popular moe fashion of super-cute anime characters.

But Japanese netizens, eager to soak up all things moe, are wondering if they will have to make their own “holy trip” since only four broadcasters are airing the show!

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Microsoft’s cringeworthy new Surface ad makes Japan squirm in unison

Anyone who’s watched more than a smidgen of Japanese TV will tell you that the line between “appropriately heartwarming” and “so cheesy you want to tear your eyeballs out” is drawn in a different place in this country. It can seem like every exchange in a Japanese drama is overly emotionally charged. Why are the actor’s reactions so exaggerated? Does it really have to rain every time someone is sad? And why is there someone running through the streets frantically in every single episode? I have grown to love J-drama’s clichés and warm heart, but still occasionally regard Japanese acting as perplexingly over-done.

It’s heartening to discover, then, that a series of spectacularly cringe-inducing ads for Microsoft’s Surface tablets have been widely panned in Japan, as the nation screams, “Stop! You’re hurting my ears!” in one voice. Let’s take a look at this awkward new advertisement in all its glory.

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Tear-jerker: Brain tumor patient’s “final wish” is to find her husband a new girlfriend

Recent reports of popular celebrities embroiled in illicit love affairs may have caused many Chinese netizens to lose hope in love, but a devoted couple on “iDream of China”, a television program that gives common people a chance to fulfil their wildest dreams, touched the nation with their heart-wrenching story and rekindled the people’s hope in true love.

Get your tissues ready because the story of Ying Feng, a 23-year-old diagnosed with a fourth-degree brain tumor, and her loving husband is likely to bring a tear to your eye.

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Attack on Titan to run on Adult Swim’s Toonami Block

Adult Swim, the American television network paired with Cartoon Network, announced on Saturday that it will run Attack on Titan in its Toonami programming block. The anime series will premiere on the network on Saturday, May 3 at 11:30 pm ET.

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Japan’s public broadcaster goes thug-style, tags the house of man who refuses to pay fees

We’ve talked before about the oddities of how Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, goes about collecting its fees from ordinary citizens. Rather than sending you an official bill in the mail, collectors will come to your door and ask you for a stack of cash to cover the 13,600 yen (US$133) Japanese residents are technically supposed to pay.

However, many people refuse to pony up the money, since there’s no official penalty for nonpayment, and many feel that NHK’s programming is sub-par and rarely watch it. However, should you make one particular NHK collector walk away empty-handed, he just might mark your house for all to see, as he apparently did to one person we talked to.

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