Posters released for live-action film version of Attack on Titan

Written by: William on November 21, 2014 at 10:50 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

The first posters for the upcoming live-action adaptation of Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) have been released, showing the cast in costume as their respective characters.

Regardless of your taste in manga or anime, the posters are pretty awesome just in terms of graphic design.

It also gives fans of the Hajime Isayama series a chance to see how the cast of the upcoming big screen version measure up to the characters as depicted in their previous animated or comic-book incarnations. Oh, and the weaponry and hardware also get a very strong emphasis.

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

The all-star cast includes Hiroki Hasegawa, Haruma Miura, model Kiko Mizuhara, idols Nanami Sakuraba and Ayame Misaki, Jun Kunimura, and Satomi Ishihara.

Kotaku did a nice comparison of the anime, manga and film versions of each main character.

Attack on Titan has become a commerical phenomenon in recent years and this majoro film adaptation is the icing on the cake. Filming on location at Gunkanjima, it will be released in Japan in summer 2015.

If you can’t wait, you can always stage your own mini Attack on Titan battle scenes on your desk with the Tsumikore EVO! Attack on Titan Mania.

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ALMA Music Box telescope captures radio waves from a dying star, turns them into music

Written by: William on November 19, 2014 at 9:00 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

What would a melody from a dying star sound like?

ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is a state-of-the-art radio telescope developed and operated by 20 countries and territories across Asia, Europa and America.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Connecting 66 parabola antennas deployed in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, ALMA works as a giant radio telescope with a diameter comparable to the size of the JR Yamanote Line. It detects faint radio waves emanated by distant celestial objects to study the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planets. Obtaining a clue to the origin of life is another goal of ALMA.

In 2011, ALMA observed radio waves from a dying star R Sculptoris. Made in collaboration with the Tokyo and New York-based agency PARTY, the resulting ALMA Music Box utilized this data, translating the 70 different radio images onto 70 musical discs, one for each frequency. In other words, the music for this music box is supplied by a red giant star 1,5000 light years away, a melody from a soon-to-be supernova.

As the makers told Wired:

As the disc spins around the player, little teeth pluck the holes and emit a twinkling sound. It sounds sweet, like a lullaby coming from the mobile above a baby’s crib. But there’s a sadness to it, too, perhaps because we know the star is in the process of dying out forever. As Masashi Kawamura, co-founder of PARTY, puts it: “It’s made to sound like a requiem for the star in a way.”

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

ALMA Music Box is a new kind of visualization project to try to find a way to make the uses of the ALMA telecope more accessible to non-astrophysicists. It is now on display at 21 21 Design Sight’s “The Fab Mind” exhibition until February 1st.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Impenetrable science projects in Japan often come up with very sophisticated ways to “advertise” their achievements to the public. NIMS (National Institute for Material Science), for example, has made a great series of videos called “The Power of Materials”.

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Design your own Attack on Titan character with Titan Montage app

Written by: William on November 17, 2014 at 8:54 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

It’s sold 40 million comic books and counting. The live-action film adaptation is coming to a big screen near you soon. And now you can design your own Attack on Titan character and have it eat people. The “Titan Montage” app lets you mutate a face to create an original titan, and then places it into scenes from the anime so you can see your monster run amok trying to devour victims.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

The app has been launched as a promo for an Attack on Titan exhibition about to kick off in Ueno in Tokyo. You can go to the special website and design a portrait in the distinctive Attack on Titan style, customizing all the parts of the face from the teeth to the hair, eyebrows, nose, mouth and facial structure.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

Your titan character is then inserted into the world of the manga. Your creation is first placed into an Attack on Titan pose against a randomly selected background image from the comic and anime series. Needless to say the titan is not looking to make friends with the smaller humans. There is also an option to have the site generate an anime scene with your titan racing around the landscape looking for people to gobble up.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

This is then dispatched into the digital nether of Facebook and Twitter, populating Japanese social media with caricature crowd-sourced titans!

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Tokyo Designers Week 2014 Photo Report

Written by: Japan Trends on November 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Japan’s biggest design showcase Tokyo Designers Week (TDW) landed again for the year in the Gaienmae Aoyama area.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos

We went along to check out the exhibits. Here are our highlights.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos

tokyo designers week 2014 photos chintai asami kiyokawa

Real estate company Chintai are a regular face at TDW. Here they created a “Tokyo Merry-Go-Round” with artist Asami Kiyokawa.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos clappy pachi pachi

At the Robot Exhibition we liked this “clapping robot”, a kind of large version of the Pachi Pachi Clappy. Maywa Denki also participated in this part of TDW, showing off their latest instrument toy, Mr Knocky.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos noriko yamaguchi keitai girl suit

This was more mysterious. Artist and digital sculptor Noriko Yamaguchi created the “Keitai Girl Suit Chi”, whose entire body is covered in cellphone (keitai) keypads. It was a contemplation on how touch is still important to communication.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos asuna android a-lab uncanny valley receptionist

Here we entered the Uncanny Valley. The android Asuna was a “receptionist” created by A-Lab.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos toyo ink co shintaro kago manga stickers

tokyo designers week 2014 photos shintaro kago manga stickers

This booth was very popular, a manga sticker world presented by Toyo Ink and manga-ka Shintaro Kago.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos kengo kuma dnp tree metal

DNP and Kengo Kuma teamed up with technology that allows you to print directly onto a tree, fusing the texture of metal with wood and promising a “new materiality”.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos tanjo no katachi nihon university

The outdoor schools section featured this “Tanjo no Katachi” by Nihon University, a primitive representation of form itself.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos sebastian masuda container

Staying outside, these kids seemed to love this container installation designed by Sebastian Masuda (an art director for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).

tokyo designers week 2014 photos hokusai exhibition

It wasn’t all “new” stuff, though. A special pavilion was devoted to the work of Edo-era ukiyoe print artist Hokusai.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos hokusai digital interaction

Here the Hokusai prints came into digital life. Using a special interactive app, holding up your phone brought the flat images into colorful life on your mobile screen.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos shiori yano mothers mountain

Shiori Yano’s “MOTHERS MOUNTAIN” bottled up motifs of street culture.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos sato sugamoto fashion non-verbal communication

Finally, Sato Sugamoto’s “Non-Verbal Communication” shows two “hats of thought” of two people meeting and trying to communicate.

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Halloween costumes take over Shibuya: Crowds go cosplay wild for October 31st

Written by: William on November 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm | In CULTURE | No Comments

If you passed through Shibuya yesterday evening or night you cannot have failed to notice that it was Halloween. A bustling and manifold place at any time of the year, on October 31st it burst into even more colorful life with a motley bunch of locals (Japanese and foreign) taking to the streets wearing an impressive variety of costumes.

Japan is of course the land of cosplay, so importing Halloween culture makes perfect sense and teenagers in particular seemed to rise to the occasion.

From Jesus (on a pagan festival?!) to Kaonashi, Sento-kun and even Sailor Moon, the inspirations went beyond the usual Halloween motifs to draw on Japanese anime and more.

The reliable folk from Kai-You were out and about in the streets of Shibuya snapping this fun gallery of images.

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 sailor moon

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 matsuri omikoshi shrine portable

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 omikoshi shrine matsuri

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 santa where's wally waldo

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 girls in police uniforms

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 jesus sento-kun

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 mario luigi

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 tenga

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

Images: Kai-You

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Iron Maid Cafe: Akihabara maid cafe now irons shirts for customers

Written by: William on November 1, 2014 at 9:05 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Maid cafes in Akihabara have almost become a cliche of themselves, catering for the curious tourist as much as the genuine enthusiast. But cosplay restaurant subculture apparently still has some tricks up its sleeve.

Take the Iron Maid Cafe — we had to be careful not to write “Iron Maiden Cafe”! — which opens as a temporary pop-up in the Maid Kissa Tougenkyou from November 1st.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

Iron Maid Cafe is nothing to do with a certain British heavy metal band or the notorious torture device. Instead it features maids who will iron your shirts for you, a sort of laundry service cum maid cafe.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

The menu includes the usual drinks and snacks, plus you can even get measured up for a tailored shirt by a maid.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

The pop-up is a promo for Original Stitch, the American online made-to-measure tailor clothing service run in Japan by insprout.

Ahead of the official opening, some lucky people tried out the ironing service at Iron Maid Cafe, though we’re pretty sure that regular patrons will have to remove their shirts first before the ironing can begin.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

Having a maid of your choice iron your shirt for you will cost ¥800 (under $8), while getting a measurement from a maid as well as a handwritten message will set you back ¥1,000 (about $10). It seems you can’t sit there and watching the maids do your ironing, though. The shirts are ironed and returned to you in 3-5 days.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

The Iron Maid Cafe is open November 1st to November 16th at Tougenkyou.

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Marco releases first photography book, “Spring Pedals by lovely hickey”

Written by: William on October 30, 2014 at 10:00 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Photographer Marco’s first photography book “Spring Pedals by lovely hickey” will be released by Futabasha on November 7th. Featuring mostly portraits previously showcased by Marco on the website JADICT, it features young models such as Nana Komatsu and Mona Matsuoka.

Marco is a “disciple” of Mika Ninagawa, and that photographer’s influence is obvious: female models, lots of flower visuals, soft aesthetic, and so on.

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

Some might find the emphasis almost exclusively on girls in their late teens slightly unsettling but this kind of photography is popular with a certain market of female consumers.

Marco started working for Ninagawa in 2003 and then kicked off his own career as a photographer in 2008. He mainly works in advertising and fashion catalogs.

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

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Tokyo International Film Festival 2014 stirs up controversy with nationalist advertising slogan

Written by: William on October 29, 2014 at 7:31 am | In CULTURE | 2 Comments

Tokyo International Film Festival is currently running in Roppongi. Japan’s premier film event always draws crowds and plenty of press attention.

So far this year’s biggest headlines have perhaps been generated by comments by director Takeshi Kitano, who has reached the age where he doesn’t care what people think anymore. He criticized the monopoly of the major Japanese film studios which control movie theaters, and how the local media never writes proper reviews. “The Japanese film industry is going to ruins,” he decried. He also admitted his dislike for anime. “I dislike Hayao Miyazaki the most. But I give credit to his works for earning so much money.”

Meanwhile Hideaki Anno, whose work is being showcased in a retrospected at TIFF, lamented the state of the local anime industry. “The Japanese animation industry has hit a dead end — it will be tough to escape unless we can make animation without commercial considerations.”

Hardly the stuff of a buoyant festival that the organizers were no doubt hoping for.

tokyo international film festival criticism copy advert slogan

However, there has been even more criticism of the festival itself by industry people and the public alike about the way TIFF is presenting itself. TIFF has never been very sophisticated in its PR but this year might be the most crass.

In large print adverts run in major newspapers it has been pushing the country’s “legacy” for producing cinema maestros. This nationalist tendency might well meet the approval of the current government and no one would surely doubt Japan’s pedigree when it comes to past masterpieces, but this is bullishness verging on the right wing.

ニッポンは世界中から尊敬されている映画監督の出身国だった。お忘れなく。

The official English translation of the copy is even worse:

Lest we forget; our nation gave birth to some of the world’s most respected directors.

The “lest we forget” is horribly formal and also sounds like an intonement at a memorial service. It is the kind of phrase you hear uttered after terrible events. And the “our nation” is, needless to say, hardly welcoming to the many foreign visitors to the festival.

It has been harshly criticized by director Tetsuaki Matsue.

Our question is also this: Who has forgotten? Just as no one has forgotten about the great directors of France, America, Germany et al, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Ozu have not been blotted out of the public’s mind, as far as we know. Does TIFF need to remind us, especially like this?

tokyo international film festival criticism copy advert slogan

Better alternatives have been suggested:

世界から敬愛される映画監督たちはこの国から生まれた。

Some of the world’s most respected directors were born here.

However, no matter how you adjust the copy, the rightist nuance reminds.

It is also perhaps no surprise that AKB48 producer and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe favorite Yasushi Akimoto was invited to produce the film festival this year. The rather inexplicable appointment by the government has resulted (directly or otherwise) in a nasty taint of politics over the event.

The festival was sponsored by Toyota until 2012 and it was in past festivals that the copy really rankled with us personally. That year the theme was all about ecology and the environment, including even a “green carpet”. This from an international event based in that eco paradise Roppongi, flying in guests and staff from all over the world. And sponsored by the biggest car manufacturer on the planet. “Action! for Earth” [sic] the slogan said. Yes, quite.

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OK Go “I Won’t Let You Down” music video: Drones, Honda UNI-CUBs, Perfume, umbrellas, Japanese girls

Written by: William on October 28, 2014 at 8:23 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

American band OK Go have released a music video for their song “I Won’t Let You Down”, from the album “Hungry Ghosts”.

Filmed using a “multi-copter camera” and directed by Morihiro Harano, the choreography for the video has been clearly sped up in the editing process but it still has the usual OK Go fun vibe and charm.

ok go i wont let you down honda uni-cub music video drone camera multi-copter japan dancers

OK Go are famous for their inventive music videos that feature challenging set-ups and long takes. “I Won’t Let You Down” is no exception, including some bravado moments such as an aerial shot and the band “dancing” the whole time while riding self-balancing unicycles. And holding umbrellas.

The “Japanese” elements are pretty inconsequential. Some anonymous Japanese girls appear, twirl their umbrellas and legs in synchronized group movements, and occasionally chant “Ichi, ni, san…” (Look out for the three members of Perfume, who pop up for a few seconds at the start.)

The setting would also appear to be Japan, though certainly not Tokyo, given the expansive surroudings.

ok go i wont let you down honda uni-cub music video drone camera multi-copter japan dancers

The machines the band members ride are Honda UNI-CUBs, a robotic scooter kind of like a very small Segway that can balance itself. The customized drone camera that filmed the whole enterprise was also apparently contributed by Honda.

ok go i wont let you down honda uni-cub music video drone camera multi-copter japan dancers

There is a worrying precedent when overseas music artists come and make a “Japan-inspired” song or music video. The biggest criminal of recent times has been Avril Lavigne and her wacky “Hello Kitty” music video. We might be tempted to say the OK Go have almost opted for that cliche of Japanese or Asian people prancing around in mass games-style crowd choreography, but on the whole they pull it off with the emphasis leaning much more on fun tribute than cultural appropriation.

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