JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hirohiko Araki’s manga that started life in 1987, may not be as big as One Piece or have the otaku kudos of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but that hasn’t stopped it selling 70 million copies in Japan alone.
And like any self-respecting manga franchise, there is a spin-off anime series and already plenty of tie-up merchandise and goodies to get, including smartphone gloves perfect for tapping on your touch-screen in the winter.
This new product is a bit more exclusive, though, and hi-tech!
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has got together with Beams T, the snazzy line of t-shirts by Beams, to offer Ora Ora Stripy T-shirt, an augmented reality t-shirt that works with your phone to bring Jotaro Kujo out of your clothes and into your life.
Jotaro Kujo is the main character from Stardust Crusaders, the third part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. He uses the “Star Platinum”, a co-called “Stand” which gives him magical powers. The t-shirt name “ora ora” derives from one of Kujo’s popular battle cries in the manga and anime.
Here is a ten-minute example of Kujo and his “ora ora ora” in action:
Orders are only being taken until 11:00 on Friday!
The new Liberal Democrat goernment has announced a new “Cool Japan” cultural campaign with a proposed budget of 50 billion yen funded from fiscal 2013′s budget. The bill is to be submitted to the Diet, where the government holds a majority.
Advisors include Yasushi Akimoto, who is almost singularly responsible for AKB48 and how it has turned Japanese advertising and music into the mundane, uniform and highly domesticated Galapagos Island industry it is today.
Tweeters have been quick to point out the average age of the key seven advisors on the industry panel is a sprightly 67, clearly strongly qualified to tell the globe about Japan’s youth and pop culture. It has also been noted that cinema is not on the agenda, despite its acclaim overseas. Instead, they are likely relying on the cliched marketing tool of “anime + manga = Japan”.
The Cool Japan marketing campaign has been tried before and met nothing but a muted response internationally, and cringes back at home. Ultimately you end up presenting Japan as an infantile and simplistic culture only interesting to children or geeks.
Japanese people don’t want to try to be chic hipsters. What’s “cool” about Japan is how there are so many interesting artists, designers, musicians, chefs, engineers and so on just doing their thing for its own sake. They don’t care what other people think and certainly don’t want to be promoted by the government.
This is a pointless use of public funds that can be better spent distributed to smaller art and cultural projects independently run by collectives and NPOs in Tokyo and the regions. Tohoku in particular could surely benefit much more from an art festival or programs to help the communities rebuild the identity and spirit destroyed by the tsunami two years ago.
Even someone who in many ways personifies “cool Japan” and utterly commercialized “Japanese” art, Takashi Murakami, has criticized the government’s naive (or cynical) reliance on ad agency-built pop cultural campaigns.
If the content is good enough, it will naturally leave Japan’s shores and make its way abroad. The country does not need to spend billions of yen — which will almost entirely go into the coffers of an ad agency rather than genuinely underpaid animators — to try to “promote” the industry, especially in the current digital era where users will do this automatically.
The government must be incredibly naive if it thinks that masses of tourists with money (i.e. not just students) will be attracted to Japan by anime expos in Asia funded out of Japan’s public purse. There’s an age-old maxim that says you cannot make something cool just by saying it is, no matter how many times.
I suppose it was inevitable when a medium can give birth to themes as diverse as the life of the Buddha through to bestselling tales of flying pirates that eventually Japan’s mainstream comic book artists would arrive at the Fukushima crisis.
The latest example of manga’s attempt to deal with the events of the Tohoku catastrophe has arrived and as an unexpected part of a familiar series.
“Fukushima, the Truth” (Fukushima no shinjitsu) has just started serialization in Big Comic Spirits as a new series for “Oshinbo”, the long-running manga that typically focuses on cooking stories.
“Oshinbo” chronicles the exploits of the Yamaoka’s, a pair of culinary journalists, and the new Fukushima-themed series will follow the married couple for a year as they cover the “truth” about the nuclear disaster.
The first issue was published today, January 28th.
This is not in any way actually the first manga to do this. There have already been some treatments of the crisis by the likes of Takashi Imashiro and right-leaning artist Yoshinori Kobayashi.
Meanwhile, Riki Kusaka’s “Help Man!”, already acclaimed for tackling Japan’s demographic dilemmas through manga, has also looked at the effects of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami from the point of view of eldery victims and care workers in Tohoku.
Forget the retro charms of Instagram, transform the photos taken with your phone into a personal comic book strip instead!
Manga Camera is an phone app that converts your regular image into a frame from a manga comic, complete with onomatopoeic phrases to give an extra edge to the latest portrait of your cat or loved one.
The iPhone app took the country by storm last year and received around 3 million downloads in its initial month of release, 1 million in the first week alone.
Japan is the home of manga (and Purikura photo booths), of course, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone but the relatively simple app really tapped into an as-then hungry niche. This is expanding, though, with a rival “Otaku Camera” app now available as well.
The life of the average salaryman could no doubt do with a bit of spicing up and pictures of your colleagues converted into comic book characters is certainly one way to make the twelve-hour stint at the office go faster.
The brainchild of Shunsuke Funaki, Manga Camera received some welcome publicity overseas when it was first released (yes, I know we’re late to the party!) and is still going strong (it released an Android version in December). Downloads are not just from Japanese users either. Taiwanese and Koreans also apparently rank high.
The problem is how to make this kind of app not just a quick blink-and-it’s-gone hit. Sure, there are 32 kinds of manga frames to choose from but can this genre of app keep going? The development time was apparently just under a month — but can the popularity of the app last any longer?
SNS functionality is a must, for sure, as is targeting other Asian regions, especially China.
Other photo-editing local apps on the market that have done a good job with this include Snapeee, which brings the uber-kawaii feminine touches of Purikura to your phone.
There is also miil, an app especially for sharing images of food. The Japanese are obsessed with taking photos of their meals and then uploading them to blogs and social media. Can this more esoteric kind of app, which has also passed local user milestones in the millions, grow in other regions as well? The jury’s out for now.