Ultra Seven x Black Ice Eyewear for superhero stylish retro glasses

Written by: William on October 21, 2014 at 8:52 am | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

What in some countries would be merely retro or even geeky, in Japan can be mainstream and inventive.

The Ultraman franchise continues to innovate and expand despite its age. As promotion for the Blu-Ray release of Ultra Seven in November, Tsuburaya Productions has got together with a manufacturer from Sabae in Fukui Prefecture, said to be home to Japan’s eyeglass frame manufacturing industry.

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

The Ultra Seven x Black Ice is a series of eight eyeglasses products designed in the trademark Ultra Seven colors that use highly durable Carbotitan hybrid materials to create the eyewear worthy of a superhero.

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

The special limited edition spectacles will set you back over ¥50,000 (nearly $500) and won’t be yours until next April (you can pre-order them from December). Clearly these are for the serious collector!

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

This latest development follows previous Ultra Seven hashed beef food products, an Ultraman luxury guitar, and even an appearance by Mother of Ultra in a series of Kyushu shopping mall TV ads. And if that’s not enough, head on down for a drink at the Ultraman Monster Bar in Kawasaki.

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

This time we see Japan’s love of stylish retro combining with its very lively eyewear market — an industry which has seen the launch of its own fashion magazine of late, plus collaborations with the likes of Monster Hunter and Rilakkuma, and hi-tech advances such as JINS Meme glasses that tell you when you’re tired and the Fun’iki Ambient Glasses, which link with your smart device.

ultra seven black ice eyewear eye glasses spectacles frames

In Japan retro sci-fi TV shows are not just for geeks, they can be forward-thinking fashion accessories too.


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Chogokin Tower of the Sun Robot: Taro Okamoto’s Taiyo no To recreated as transforming mechanical action figure

Written by: Japan Trends on October 1, 2014 at 12:23 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

The Tower of the Sun is one of the great icons of postwar Japan and the Showa era. The huge sculpture is a kind of totem pole that was created by artist Taro Okamoto as one of the signature attractions at the 1970 Osaka World Expo.

After the Expo closed, the Tower of the Sun (Taiyo no To) was one of the few structures that was preserved at the park in Senri, north Osaka.

taro okamoto tower of the sun expo 1970 osaka

The park is now mostly empty — though we highly recommend the ethnology museum in its grounds — but Okamoto’s massive tower still greets visitors as soon as they enter the gates.

Well, the Taiyo no To has now become a die-cast model in the Tamashii Chogokin alloy series — and one that transforms into an action figure!

chogokin tamashii taro okamoto tower of the sun robot taiyo no to expo osaka 1970 sculpture

A kind of tribute-cum-remake of Okamoto’s vision, the Chogokin Tower of the Sun Robot is only “robotic” in name, though it is certainly mechanical. It has moveable parts, including a chest that opens up and an extendable neck.

taro okamoto taiyo no to expo osaka 1970 tower of the sun chogokin bandai tamashii robot action figure toy

Okamoto was a playful artist who believed in art for the masses, so we don’t think he would disapprove of this merchandising of his primitivist sculpture.

This is far from the first time that the Tower of the Sun has been turned into a product but it’s definitely the best we’ve ever seen.

Bandai Tamashii’s Chogokin is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary at the moment and as such has embarked on an ambitious series of releases. This includes the truly remarkable Chogokin Hello Kitty Robot Model, which is Kitty-chan like we’ve never seen her before. It also created a kind of “mutant” of six Fujiko F Fujio characters for the Chogattai SF Robot, which is just so many levels of awesome we don’t know where to begin.

Chogokin also has a series of models for “grown-ups” too, such as this Otona no Chogokin Series 0 Shinkansen Bullet Train Model and Hayabusa Spacecraft Model Kit (based in the JAXA design), for the more serious enthusiast who wants a challenge.

Still, nothing quite beats a Tower of the Sun Transformer-style action figure!

The Chogokin Tower of the Sun Robot is now available from JapanTrendShop.


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Mother of Ultra in swimwear joins Ultraman monsters on beach for Fukuoka, Kagoshima Amu Plaza malls summer campaign

Written by: William on June 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | 1 Comment

When you think of summer in Japan you will usually come up with a stream of images of matsuri festivals, firework displays, flash rain storms, and sweaty Tokyo trains. What you probably won’t get is an image of Ultraman’s mother dressed for a swim at the seaside.

But that’s apparently the way to appeal to shoppers in Kyushu.

amu plaza hakata fukuoka kagoshima mother of ultraman dada Jamila Pigmon swimwear summer campaign

Mother of Ultra, along with a host of other Ultraman monsters and characters, is helping promote the summer campaigns for Amu Plaza Hakata in Fukuoka and Amu Plaza Kagoshima.

Clearly tongue-in-cheek, the TV ads are very well made and should amuse aficionados and non-fans alike.

And if you have ever wanted to know what Jamila, Pigmon and Dada look like when dancing, now you can find out…

Here are the cast dressed for the beach.

jamila dada pigmon mother of ultra ultraman  characters swimwear swimsuit beach dance kyushu fukuoka amu plaza kagoshima summer campaign

jamila dada pigmon mother of ultra ultraman  characters swimwear swimsuit beach dance kyushu fukuoka amu plaza kagoshima summer campaign

If you thought that old Tsuburaya sci-fi series were the preserve of geeky guys and hipsters, think again. After all, these days fans can even go to special Ultraman monster bars and enjoy special hashed rice meals.

This is not the first time the Kyushu mall has used giant images from the retro Ultraman franchise. When it re-opened in March this year the campaign TV ad and poster featured Ultraman’s mother posed up against the building.

mother of ultraman hakata amu plaza renewal


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Kaijyu Sakaba: Ultraman Monster Bar, opening soon!

Written by: William on January 20, 2014 at 11:33 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | 1 Comment

Retro is still going strong, it seems.

If you’re a fan of Ultraman baddies, then head on down to Kawasaki in March to visit the Kaijyu Sakaba. Not surprisingly, it is themed around the kaiju (or kaijyu) monsters who populate the Ultraman series.

ultraman kaiju tokusatsu japan tv series

Normally just open to monsters and aliens, for a limited time only earthlings will also be able to enjoy the retro charms of TV sci-fi while sipping a few drinks.

kaijyu sakaba kaiju monster bar kawasaki japan ultraman retro sci fi

If you feel brave enough to try it out, head to the Kaijyu Sakaba from some unspecified date in March.

Apparently, though, monsters won’t actually be appearing during “earthling business hours,” but look out for some “hints” of them! Be sure to brush up on your Ultra Kaiju first.

kaijyu sakaba kaiju monster bar kawasaki japan ultraman retro sci fi

The bar will be a one-year-only establishment, though we presume if it’s a success they will keep it open for longer.

It’s being produced by Tsuburaya Productions, the special effects studio behind many tokusatsu (sci-fi) and kaiju (monster) series like the Ultraman franchise.

If you like the idea of drinking with monsters, try this watering hole in Nakano or this little tavern in Shibuya.


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International Rescue lands in Odaiba, Tokyo, for the Thunderbirds Expo

Written by: William on July 3, 2013 at 11:15 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Thunderbirds, the classic Sixties puppets TV show created by the late Gerry Anderson, is still quite popular in Japan.

We reported last year, for example, on the Thunderbirds-themed restaurant in Jinbocho.

japan thunderbirds anime

“Thunderbirds 2086″ was a short-lived anime based on the British Supermarionation series, while eagle-eyed anime bloggers have spotted many other references in anime that pay homage to Thunderbirds. Japan even produced its own marionette tokusatsu TV called “X-Bomber”, though it, well, kind of bombed.

Now comes this Thunderbirds Expo at the Miraikan, Tokyo’s science museum out in the Odaiba bay area.

japan thunderbirds expo miraikan

Visitors can enjoy 3D films, as well as models and exhibits showing off the workmanship behind the original series’ effects.

There is even a Thunderbirds 2 that you can interact with (details aren’t clear at time of writing — we’ll have to wait till next week to find out more).

Kentaro Yoshida, executive officer of TFC, Japanese agent for the Classic Thunderbirds brand, was quoted as saying: “Miraikan with the help of so many of the big names behind technological innovation in Japan, has done a great job of creating an exhibition that will appeal to a wide range of age groups. And of course Thunderbirds, with its enormous following in Japan, is the perfect vehicle for the exhibition. With its 50th anniversary coming in 2015 it still looks futuristic.”

japan thunderbirds expo miraikan

The first 500 visitors on the first day have also been promised original Thunderbirds merchandise.

The Thunderbirds Expo runs from July 10th to September 23rd, with tickets for adults costing ¥1,300 and ¥700 for kids.

All this Thunderbirds love is one thing, from the cult following to ironic retro love or genuine popularity amongst a new, younger generation — but we think things went a bit too far when the Japanese Self-Defense Force started to use Thunderbirds on their recruitment posters.

japan thunderbirds sdf self defense force recruitment poster


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Ultra Seven diners get their own retro Tokusatsu hashed beef dish

Written by: William on March 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Hungry Ultra Seven fans, get ready.

If your very own Ultra Seven guitar wasn’t enough for you, there is even now a special hashed beef dish especially for your retro diet.

ultra seven hashed beef rice ultraseven kohji moritsugu dish

It may need no introduction to some but Ultra Seven was the 1967 sequel to the first Tokusatsu Ultraman TV series made by Tsuburaya Productions, continuing the adventures of the Ultramen superheroes.

The Ultra Diner Ultra Seven Hashed Beef with Rice has been made especially for Bandai by a restaurant run by Kohji Moritsugu, the Joli Chapeau in Kanagawa. Moritsugu was one of the most popular stars of the original Ultra Seven series, playing Dan Moroboshi.

ultra seven hashed beef rice ultraseven kohji moritsugu dish

The hashed beef can be ordered in a four-pack for ¥6,300 (around $67) and they come with a complimentary red Ultra Seven Task-Mask (“Ultra Eye”), if you want to transform yourself into an Ultra hero.

But if you’re hungry now, you’ll have to wait. The dish isn’t released until June.



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Ultraman and Ultra Seven musicians can now play on luxury retro themed guitar

Written by: William on January 23, 2013 at 5:52 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Are you a fan of Ultraman and Ultra Seven?

Do you have $30,000 to spare?

Can you play the guitar?

If you answered “Yes” to all of the above, you may want to get your strumming hands on the Flying Seven Ultra Seven Guitar, a luxury musical instrument designed especially for fans of the retro Tokusatsu TV series made by Tsuburaya Productions.

ultraman flying seven guitar

Ultra Seven was the 1967 sequel to the first Ultraman series and continued the adventures of the Ultramen superheroes.

Ultraman and other retro characters like Kamen Rider may not have the overseas iconic status of, say, Godzilla, and likely many local people in Japan under forty may not have even ever seen the original series — but that doesn’t stop them from appearing seemingly everywhere!

ultraman flying seven guitar

From Kamen Rider notebook PC cases to Ultraman instant noodle kitchen timers, there are still product collaborations frequently released.

ultraman flying seven guitar

Either Japanese consumers have a good sense of humor or are genuinely nostalgic for these old manga and TV superhero characters.

Well, they are still making Ultraman movies (the most recent was released in 2012, impressive given that the Ultraman franchise first began broadcasting way back in 1966), so I guess there must be plenty of demand.

ultraman flying seven guitar

The Flying Seven Ultra Seven guitar is made to order, hence why it’s so expensive, and just judging from the look of it, it would be all your Christmases in one for a hardcore fan.


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Tokyo’s Thunderbirds Cafe brings retro puppets to delicious life again

Written by: William on September 26, 2012 at 12:14 pm | In LIFESTYLE | 4 Comments

Sometimes it seems there is a cafe for every theme in the pulsating, organic mass that is the city of Tokyo. From cat cafes to robot ones in Kabukicho, Gundam eateries, maid cafes and more… every subculture or hobby seems to get its own bistro of some kind.

We recently stumbled upon the Thunderbirds Cafe in Jimbocho of all places, a strange location for a strange place. We would have thought that somewhere in Akihabara would have been more appropriate for something paying homage to a Sixties puppet science fiction show but then, perhaps with the demographic, salaryman town is a better choice.

thunderbirds cafe tokyo

It has been created by Pasela (with licensing from Gerry Anderson), known for their themed karaoke venues. You get to it by going into the basement of one their karaoke complexes, pushing through layers of fake foliage (you are entering Tracy Island of course!) before prizing open the air-lock-style doors.

Inside you are confronted by a model of one of the show’s heroes in a “rocket”, and then several tables, including ones in “pods” based on each of the famous Thunderbird machines, which are also on display in replica form. This is a fan boy’s dream come true.

thunderbirds cafe tokyo

On the opposite side is a TV always playing episodes on loop (random excepts from the soundtrack also continues out of the restaurant’s speakers, slightly jarring if you want a quiet bite to eat).

thunderbirds cafe tokyo

The upholstery and design of the place is quite nice and new (it only opened earlier this year). It might be kitsch but it’s been done with a budget of reasonable levels, it seems.

The menu is standard Tokyo cafe fare, though they have attempted to create or match a dish with as many countries around the world as possible (after all, this is “international rescue”). The food also comes with Tracy Island-style palm tree decorations.

thunderbirds cafe tokyo

The staff also give you a chipper Thunderbirds salute when they take the order and pepper the customary keigo with “stand by” and other snatches of quasi-dialogue from the series.

We asked the manager about the clientele (there were only three other customers when we were there) and he said that it is mostly older fans of the original franchise and often people who work in the area.

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