One of my fondest childhood memories was excitedly anticipating 6pm on a Saturday. No, it’s not because my mother was going to prepare a favorite dish. It’s when Goranger is shown on one of the local channels. Goranger was one of the first Sentai series to come out of Japan. They were also one of my favorite heroes. It’s been almost three decades (!) since I’ve seen Goranger but I still have a soft spot for it. It practically defined my childhood.
Sentai are one of the quirky genres that can be categorically confirmed as purely Japanese created. If you’re confused about what Sentai is then just look at any of the current iterations of the Power Rangers, because the Power Rangers are absolutely Sentai. The Sentai phenomenon spawned so many different titles and heroes that only the most hardcore sentai fan would even recognize all of them. But a common theme does run through all of the sentai series and heroes — the preference for distinctive colors to identify individual heroes, distinctive designs on the helmet, a group of four or five, and unique abilities for each sentai hero. With the emergence of Super Sentai, other conventions became established — separate vehicles that could either form into a robot or enter a robot and a first battle with a villain that culminates with the robot battle.
Adults watching a sentai series now may find it quite silly. But in our childhood, they were the pinnacle of cool. I admit, they are still the coolest things I’ve seen on TV, and I still secretly long to become the Aka Ranger.
Posted October 30th, 2007 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
Talk about manga usually revolves around Japanese style superheroes, mythological beings and mecha robots (okay, some of you dirty devils would also think about those disturbing porn). These genres have become so entrenched in manga culture that a title like Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku is like a breath of fresh air to the medium.
The title, also known as UTK, is written by Kenji Hamaoka. Roughly translated, the title means “the steel-reinforced concrete family of Urayasu.” This manga tells the story of the lives and various adventures that happen to a bunch of children from elementary school as well as their families.
UTK is one of the best drawn mangas to come in a while. The attention to detail in the comicbook is worthy of attention. It really shows that the people working on it do it with love. The characters are also people that you will come to love and admire. Just like everyday people, the slow unfolding of each person’s character may take time but what you have invested in it pays off in the long run. One bad thing though is that since the stories are very entrenched in contemporary Japanese culture it may be quite hard, if not impossible, to see an English translation of this wonderful manga. But then stranger things have happened. Hopefully, UTK does get a translation deal because this is the kind of manga that more people should read.
Posted October 29th, 2007 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
When it comes to quirky games nothing can beat the Japanese. They have practically invented the genre and the market for games that are so out of this world in concept and gameplay that you wouldn’t even think that it is playable, much less marketable. And yet, the Japanese have proven time and time again that their formula actually succeeds in capturing the imaginations (and the wallets) of gamers.
Of course, most of these quirky games would really cater more or less exclusively to the Japanese domestic market itself. Take for example the popularity of “dating” simulators. These dating games are one of the biggest game genres in Japan but it has yet to really penetrate the market abroad. But thent there are games that are soo out there in concept and gameplay mechnics but still manages to get a worldwide audience.
Katamari Damacy is a puzzle/adventure game. You play the role of an alien who needs to replace “lost” stars in the sky and the only way you can do that is by accumulating all types of things on earth by rolling a “sticky” ball until you reach a desired diameter. It’s a really crazy concept but it became a really huge game when it was released and even spawned a sequel.
I think we should try to imitate the Japanese people’s ability to become open about new changes and ideas.
Posted October 27th, 2007 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
Japan is known for being a leader in technological innovations. But it has also gained a reputation for being a center for wacky ideas and innovations. The Japanese have a knack of really thinking out of the box and devising really weird inventions that may make us laugh but at the back of our minds, it would also make us think and say “why didn’t I think of that?”
Take for example the idea of Aya Tsukioka for urban camouflage. This camo is an answer to the rising incidence of street crime in Japan. Other people might think of personal security devices like mace, tasers, personal alarms or security cameras. But leave it to Tsukioka to think of a more innovative and definitely more outlandish answer to the problem. Tsukioka, who describes herself as an experimental clothing designer, designed a skirt where, if you lift up a flap, will transform the wearer into a soda vending machine. The illusion is believable enough.
She has designed a line of different products with the same “camo” dual feature, like a purse that becomes a manhole cover and bag that can become a fire hydrant. It would be cool to imagine a whole city that has assimilated Tsukioka’s designs. I can just picture men and women suddenly disappearing and turning into benches, trees or phone booths. It would be such an interesting city to live in!
For $800, you can bring the reality of a wearable vending machine home.
Posted October 25th, 2007 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
With Halloween fast approaching, I am feverishly preparing for my horror movie marathon that begins at at 10 am and ends when I pass out from sheer exhaustion. I’m now mentally listing down my snacks and already issued invites to friends or relatives that may want to join me (watching horror movies are more fun when you have other people watching with you). Of course, I’m also preparing my movie list.
I have some predictable American movie titles in my list like The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Salem’s Lot. But the piece de resistance on my list are the succession of Japanese horror movies that will surely add the most spice to my horror movie night. I’m preparing Ringu, Ringu 0, Ringu 2, Kairo, Dark Water, The Grudge, The Grudge 2, Premonition, and a few other movies that I’ve acquired through the years.
There’s no denying the fact that the Japanese make the scariest horror movies. What makes them click is the fact that Japanese horror does not rely so much on cheap frights that are just designed to surprise you. They instead rely on dread and atmosphere and the anticipation of horror. And when it does come, it’s like a taut rubberband that snaps. It just jolts you from your complacency and lingers with you long after the movie has ended. Any movie fan should check out Japanese horror films, it’s the only way to really discover what the horror genre can offer.
Posted October 23rd, 2007 by Maki+ | Comments (2)
The main source of most electronics and technological gadgets today are surely to be easily traced from Japan. Having this distinction for quite some time now, many people are tracing via the Internet the leaks on new releases of modern technology. This of course was made possible through the proper optimization practices such by affordable search engine optimization to local sites as offered by teams like the Los Angeles SEO. There is surely a large market out there looking for first hand news on the latest trends and tricks today.
Moreover, Japan will always be synonymous with electronics. All it needs is to feed the latest gigs and deals and people will surely be raving and making their reviews. Add to this, release dates will be monitored since people always want to be the first to try them out, not matter what the cost may be!
That is simply how people are today, always after distinction.
Posted October 3rd, 2007 by geisha+ | Comments (2)