Doraemon Giant Speaker has light-up cat bell that flashes in time to music

Written by: Japan Trends on May 20, 2015 at 10:31 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

When I first arrived in Japan, my room mate had an alarm clock that played the Doraemon theme song — very, very loudly. So when he had to get up for his morning shift, it was like a full blue-and-white cat orchestra was playing right beside my ear, every single day.

This colored my perception of the time-travelling cat somewhat, though who can resist his charms for long? And who doesn’t want a door that takes you anywhere?

Fujiko Fujio’s Doraemon, despite being one of the longest-running manga and anime series in Japan, continues to attract new fans, and this then inspires new merchandise.

Like this Doraemon Giant Speaker.

doraemon giant speaker audio toy flashing cat bell

The large Doraemon figure features a speaker on the base that plays music from your MP3 player, phone or other audio device.

doraemon giant speaker audio toy flashing cat bell

doraemon giant speaker audio toy flashing cat bell

doraemon giant speaker audio toy flashing cat bell

But perhaps the coolest thing is how Doraemon’s cat bell lights up and flashes in time to whatever music playing.

There has been a revival of interest in the classic Doraemon franchise of late. The feature film Doraemon: Nobita no Himitsu Dogu Museum was the fifth highest-grossing movie of 2013 in Japan and made Doraemon more lucrative than Godzilla for studio Toho.

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E-Sakuga Evangelion 3:0 You Can (Not) Redo. utilizes “tap-motion” to show future of manga digital publishing

Written by: William on May 11, 2015 at 9:43 am | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | 4 Comments

E-Sakuga has released a next-generation e-book that serves as a neat example of anime tie-in merchandise and also an interesting idea for how anime and digital publishing can intersect successfully.

E-Sakuga Evangelion 3:0 You Can (Not) Redo. was released on iBooks on May 8th in a format specifically tailored to combine the advantages of digital publishing with the features of manga and other local types of literature.

e-sakuga evangelion 3:0 you can not redo ebook tap-motion digital book publishing content anime

The E-Sakuga series employs an original “Tap-motion” function that allows you to browse the digital content like a flip book. The interactive Evangelion e-book feature original drawings from the anime and allows the reader to view each frame in detail, and also “anime” key frames to see the drawings transform into the cult Evangelion film.

e-sakuga evangelion 3:0 you can not redo ebook tap-motion digital book publishing content anime

e-sakuga evangelion 3:0 you can not redo ebook tap-motion digital book publishing content anime

e-sakuga evangelion 3:0 you can not redo ebook tap-motion digital book publishing content anime

Priced ¥2,000 (around $16), E-Sakuga Evangelion 3:0 You Can (Not) Redo. is available only for iPad or Mac. It is published both in Japanese and in English.

E-publishing has been making headway in Japan, though the manga market remains dominated by big, heavy weekly comic magazines. Saying that, even these are far past their prime and no longer sell anything like the millions they did at the peak of the industry. Manga magazine sales have been dropping every year since 1996. That said, general manga sales have started to creep up since 2010 after years of decline, following the success of One Piece. So-called e-manga (manga e-books) dominate e-book sales, accounting for somewhere in the region of 80% of the market.

Innovations like this represent a way forward for manga and anime-related publishing.

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Funassyi TV anime series, starts March 30th

Written by: William on March 10, 2015 at 8:42 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

It was surely just the next logical step: Funassyi the anime is here.

A series of animated shorts will premiere on March 30th on Nippon TV’s Sukkiri starring the yellow pear mascot.

funassyi anime tv series nippon mascot character sukkiri

Funassyi no funafunafuna hiyori (Funassyi’s Aimless Days) will be broadcast every weekday and feature Funassyi, as well as Guressyi (voiced by Lynn) and Nashigami-sama (voiced by Naoki Tatsuta). Funassyi will be voiced by, well, Funassyi.

The rise, rise and rise of Funassyi is the most incredible story of Japan’s regional mascots (yuru-kyara), not least because the pear character is such an oddity but because it is not the official mascot of Funabashi. It was created by people power alone and its subsequent popularity laughs in the face of the bureaucrats of the city in Chiba who wanted a tamer mascot.

funassyi anime tv series nippon mascot character sukkiri

The hyperactive Funassyi even recently made a lively appearance at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (imagine trying to be the interpreter for that press conference!), where it lent its support to Japan’s pacifist Constitution.

funassyi anime tv series nippon mascot character sukkiri japan foreign correspondents club japan

So far the Funassyi Industry includes manga, games, music releases, food, toys, clothes, and so much more. Now anime has been added to that long list, what can be next? Politics?!

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More cast photos released for upcoming stage version of “Naruto”

Written by: William on January 14, 2015 at 8:02 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

More photos have been released for the upcoming stage musical version of beloved anime and manga “Naruto”.

“Naruto” recently ended its long, successful manga serialization, leaving the door open for a second life on film or stage.

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

As the publicity photos suggest, though, the new theatrical version has a grittier look than the manga. It is being dubbed a “live spectacle” rather than a play or musical, so expect lots of visuals rather than a sensical story.

Starring Kodai Matsuoka as Naruto, the jury’s still out on whether the adaptation will beguile or betray fans when the curtain goes up.

Starting in March, the production will tour four venues in Japan in Tokyo, Osaka, Miyagi and Fukuoka, before going on to Macao, Malaysia and Singapore.

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

naruto stage musical adaptation theater version costumes cast

Big-budget stage adaptations of manga and anime are a growing trend in Japan.

“One Piece” is being turned into a Kabuki play this autumn, while the spring sees “Death Note, the Musical”, with music by veteran American composer Frank Wildhorn.

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Pokémon Cafe at Shibuya Parco opens January

Written by: William on December 19, 2014 at 6:58 pm | In LIFESTYLE | 4 Comments

Gotta catch ’em all. Or should that be “eat and drink ’em all”?

Shibuya Parco will open the Pokémon Cafe (Pokémon cafe Ω Ruby & α Sapphire) next month.

Opening January 9th, the pop-up cafe will be around until the end of February at THE GUEST cafe & diner, on the seventh floor of Parco 1 in Shibuya.

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

It will feature a menu of Pokémon-themed dishes, snacks and latte art, along with selling official merchandise. Customers who place an order will get a free coaster and the cafe will also have a “photo spot” for the serious fans.

You take a look at some of the drinks, dishes and desserts on the menu here.

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

pokemon cafe shibuya parco ruby sapphire

Shibuya Parco has previously hosted a Funnassyi-themed cafe and Tokyo also recently saw Snoopy and Woodstock cafes open in two locations.

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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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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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Premium Cocorobo Imouto Version: Sharp’s moe “little sister” character robotic vacuum cleaner goes on sale

Written by: Japan Trends on November 7, 2014 at 2:58 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | 1 Comment

After teasing us with the prototype back in the spring, Sharp has now made its moe version of the Cocorobo vacuum cleaner an actual product.

The Premium Cocorobo Imouto Version will only be available for online orders in November and December, with orders set to be delivered in mid-January. However, if it proves popular, we expect at the least the electronic stores in Akihabara will be carrying this “little sister” model of the cleaner.

Sharp’s Cocorobo is a successful robotic vacuum cleaner series that can talk to you. Add a cute female anime character (“Cocorobo-chan”) and a suitably moe “sister” voice and you have the concept for this Akiba-flavored version.

sharp cocorobo imouto premium vacuum cleaner robot anime moe character otaku talking akihabara

The Premium Cocorobo Imouto Version is voiced by the 16-year-old actress Ibuki Kido and with illustrations and character design by mangaka Kinusa Shimotsuki. It (she?) can tell you the weather and also greets you with a “Good morning, darling”, and even talks to you about famous regional spots around Japan. Since the voice actress hails from Aomori, Cocorobo-chan even switches into local dialect sometimes.

Sharp debuted the female robot in March and wanted 11 people to test it at home. They got over 1,200 applicants for the trial in just a week, so we can assume they are confident that mass production is going to be worthwhile for their coffers.

sharp cocorobo imouto premium vacuum cleaner robot anime moe character otaku talking akihabara

It draws on a cloud for the data to create the “conversations”, meaning it can respond to the season and weather for that day.

Such cuteness comes at a price. It costs a whopping ¥148,000 ($1,200).

If your budget doesn’t stretch that far or your tastes are rather different, we recommend you try out the regular Sharp Cocorobo vacuum cleaners instead.

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2.5D Masks: Cute, maybe creepy anime masks invade the Internet

Written by: William on October 13, 2014 at 7:59 am | In CULTURE | 1 Comment

Okay, we don’t know if this qualifies as a “trend”. It may only be one inventive person. But it got us thinking nonetheless: Is this cute or creepy?

The realm of Japanese kawaii has certainly spawned some manifestations that are hard to categorize or understand. And there is already a word for when the “cute” ventures into the grotesque — kimo-kawaii.

But “2.5D masks” — two and a half dimensional paper masks — might need an adjective all of their own.

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

The series of anime face masks have sprung up recently on Japanese social media, originating from a tumblr account that documents the creators adventures around Japan wearing the anime character face decorations.

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

The designer also includes details on how they are made — in funky animated gifs, natch — and downloadable files for those who want to make their own masks. Just don’t choose the mask model that’s called “Lolita”. (The other three choices are “Timidity”, “Cheerful” and “Grace”.)

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

The 2.5D Mask tumblr account began in September and showcases the female creator and her masks as she goes to various locations around Japan (typically incongruous ones). The anonymous designer’s Twitter account goes back further, though, at least to July, so this project has been developing over the summer.

Time will tell if this kicks off beyond a minor subculture into a real meme. People are encouraged to download, print and make their own 2.5D masks, and then share them online using the hashtag #2_5dmask. Could this start a revolution?

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

2.5d mask anime face cosplay japanese tumblr wear

Japan has always had a thing for papercraft and 2.5D Mask says making the mask only requires a regular household printer and some basic tools. It also taps into the love for dressing up (cosplay) and is like a paper kigurumi costume, only because it’s just a mask, it kind of looks a bit spooky. It’s like the girl’s body has been taken over by an anime invader.

Perfect for Halloween?

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