Friday, August 05, 2011

Idols in Anime: IDOLM@STER Edition

I'm one of the lucky few people in the world whose job it is to watch anime, and I've been checking out THE IDOLM@ASTER, a series based on a popular game about cute girls trying to make it in Japan's professional JPOP idol world. Anime has a long history of stories about girls becoming idols going all the way back to Super Dimensional Macross (which turns 30 years old next year, by the way), when Lynn Minmei rode the general wave of JPOP idols in the 80s to become the first "anime" idol singer, though she would not be the last. THE IDOLM@STER is a fun anime that deconstructs both idol groups and what makes them tick as well as moe characters in general. In the first episode, the new manager asks the girls why they want to be idols, and he records each girl's answer. "It looks like a lot of fun!" came one girl's reply, followed by "I want to sing...that's all," and "I don't know, I just always yearned to become an idol someday, ever since I was a child." I'll keep watching this show and see how it all unfolds.

Idol culture crosses over with anime quite often.

Things I Notice About America

Because I live outside the U.S. and only come back to visit a few times a year, it's interesting to see what changes I notice. During the nearly 20 years I've lived in Japan, I've often been on the receiving end of culture shock in my own home country, feeling like Rip Van Winkle at times, or perhaps his Japanese counterpart Urashima Taro. When I went to Japan in 1991, it was not common for manufacturers to print Spanish or French on their products, but then one year I came back home, and suddenly every package was shouting New! Nuevo! Nouveau! at me. I was similarly surprised when overnight (or so it seemed to me) every retail store switched to the newfangled computer terminals with screens you sign. This trip I find myself surprised at how 80% of products are sold as "organic" and how every other eating establishment has "grill" in its name. Also, suddenly America started using the Japanese style vertical flags -- the kind you see at J-List's booth, if you've ever seen us at a convention -- and suddenly I see them everywhere.

I'm not kidding...every other restaurant has "grill" or "grille" in its name.

Hello from Twin Peaks

Hello again, this time from...the Pacific Northwest. I've driven with two friends up to Snoqualmie, Washington, to attend the Twin Peaks Fest convention, a celebration of the cult TV show that ran from 1990-92. I'd never made it up to see this part of the U.S., and this year's Twin Peaks gathering seemed like a sufficiently nerdy excuse to make the journey.
Twin Peaks was popular in Japan, one of the early kaigai dorama (foreign TV dramas) to win big with Japanese fans, made available through video rental shops mostly and heavily marketed by ABC in what would be a pattern repeated by other networks. Its popularity was helped along by the Coca-Cola company, which hired David Lynch to direct a series of TV commercials for its George Coffee line of canned coffee. In the commercials, Special Agent Dale Cooper is searching for a Japanese girl named Asami, who's gone missing in the town. He follows a series a clues, drinking can after can of refreshing Georgia™ coffee along the way, and eventually finds the girl. One of the first products sold on the proto version of J-List I ran back in the early 1990s was Georgia Coffee Twin Peaks posters I'd, ah, liberated from Japanese vending machines. Good times, good times.

Georgia is damn good coffee...and hot!

Cool Products Friday, August 5, 2011

Here are today's "really cool products" that I've picked out for you, out of the 30+ new items we've added to the J-List and sites today. Note that some products may be "not safe for work" but that all links will allow you to redirect yourself either to the J-List or websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the updated products link.
Bomb Aug 2011
If you love Japanese idol groups, like AKB48 and Morning Musume, then you will love Bomb, the leaning magazine for all things aidoru in Japan. Gorgeous photography and free stuff in each issue!
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Dengeki Comic Daioh Sep 2011
Dengeki Comic Daioh Sep 2011 New issue of Daioh, the really big manga with over 500 pages of great stuff Japan. This issue comes with a cool manga tote bag.
A  A Channel Visual Fanbook
A ~ A Channel Visual Fanbook A Channel fans will want to see this fanbook that is made with them in mind. Tons of beautiful illustrations of your favorite characters.
Revoltech Danboo  Yostsuba *Preorder*
Revoltech Danboo, Patlabor Figures One of the most popular toys in J-List's history -- we regularly sell out before the stock can come in -- this is Danboard from Yotsubato, awesome!
KOS-MOS ver. 4 Action Figure
KOS-MOS ver 4. Action Figure In Stock Then enjoy the gorgeous KOS-MOS from Xenosaga, a superbly detailed figure from Alter. I love the accessories, too.
Strength Figma Action Figure  Black Rock Shooter
Strength Figma Action Figure ~ Black Rock Shooter  We love all things Black Rock Shooter around here, and the new Strength Figma figure is one of our favorites. It just came in stock.
Evangelion Seele Black Wallet
Evangelion Wallets Now in Stock The next time you whip-out your wallet, your friends will wonder if you are part of some shadow-government organization thanks to these cool wallets.
Seifuku Chara Zukan
How to Draw Manga Uniforms Here's a fun new How to Draw Manga book that focuses specifically on drawing uniforms of all types. You'll be a manga-ka in no time with this!
Cat Ears Clips (Neko Mimi Clip)  Black
Cat Ears and Shimapan for All J-List always strives to bring you superb cosplay items, from shimapan striped panties to kawaii Cat Girl ears. Click to see what we have!
Totoro Mascot Stamp (DL-004) -- OK Totoro
We've got some great ink stamps with the always lovable Totoro. We think they will be a hit with any child, because who can't love Totoro? They have great kanji messages, too.
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Whisper of the Heart  Mimi wo Sumaseba (Blu-ray Disc)
Whisper of the Heart (Blu-ray Disc)  The popular Ghibli anime Mimi wo Sumaseba (If You Listen Closely, official English title Whisper of the Heart), is out in Blu-ray format!
Project DIVA Presents  Miku Hatsune 39's Giving Day  (Blu-ray Disc)
Anime Blu-ray Discs Restocked See other Blu-ray discs in stock too, from the Project DIVA Hatsune Miku live convert to the Yamato live action movie to the Laputa Blu-ray and more.
Sakaagari Hurricane Portable
Sakaagari Hurricane Portable This pure love and romance dating sim is now available for PSP, where you might find a flowering relationship with your childhood friend.
Visual Novels from Japan We love to carry visual novels and other import game from Japan, from the popular Rewrite Special Edition (by the makers of Clannad) to steamier titles.
Ice Cream Hello Kitty 3D Post Card
Ice Cream Hello Kitty 3D Post Card This is cool: Hello Kitty redesigned to look like delicious ice cream. Where can we get some of this to eat?
Hello Kitty Sushi Shop
Other Hello Kitty Items Other popular Hello Kitty items include the Hello Kitty Sushi Shop, Restaurant Order Set and more -- they're kawaii and fun.
Girls Girls Girls! 7  Anniversary Girl Collection
Restocked Artbooks from Japan Enjoy some nice artbooks we got in for you, including Girls Girls Girls vol. 7, which features cute anime girls (big surprise there).
Let's Make Eraser with Microwave  Ice Cream
Let's Make Eraser with Microwave Series Restocked The Japanese are serious about awesome erasers, and here is fresh stock of the microwave eraser sets -- so much fun to make!
SAKURA Bath Deluxe Set  2 Bath Salt  Tablet  Tenugui  Furoshiki
SAKURA Bath Deluxe Set This is a great Bath Salt + Bath Tablet + Tenugui + Furoshiki set for people who are serious about Japanese style bathing. A great gift item too.
Chic Color Woman TATAMI  SETTA Sandal  Size L
Chic Color Woman TATAMI SETTA Sandal Then enjoy authentic tatami sandals that are we posting for our female customers. Love the sakura styling and authentic design.
Glico Spicy Shichimi Pretz
Today's Hot & Cool Japanese Snacks We've got some excellent new snacks today, featuring the spicy flavor of shichimi Pretz and the cool flavor of Vanilla Ice Cream + Pie!
Kameda Rice Crackers w/ Peanuts  Kaki no Tane (6 Packs)
Excellent Restocked Snacks Doraemon traditional Kawarinbo! Lotte Fusen no Mi bubblegum, bold new Hi-Chew flavors, Black Black Caffeine Gum and more.
Brown Bear Chilled 2-tier Bento Box w/ Elastic Band
Brown Bear Chilled 2-tier Bento Box We always have fun bento boxes in stock for you, and today is no exception. See kawaii chilled bento, traditional bento and more.
Strawberry Short Cake Kitchen Sponge
Strawberry Short Cake Kitchen Sponge A great sponge in shape of a cake. It may look delicious, but it is much better at cleaning your dishes than being a desert. Very kawaii.
SAND de PANDA  Push Style Easy Sandwich Maker
The Most Awesome Sandwich Cutters See fresh stock of that awesome SAND de PANDA sandwich maker, plus other similar items. Because Japanese sandwiches are awesome.
iTunes Japan Music Card
iTunes Japan Prepaid Cards Whether you like your idols 2D, like THE IDOLM@STER, or real like AKB48, there's lots of good stuff on the iTunes Japan store.
Germanium Detox  Relax Foot Sheet
Interesting Health Items Restocked We've got some fun Japanese health items restocked, incl. a device for removing cellulite and Germanium Detox & Relax Foot Sheets, very soothing!
Cup Noodle Mug
Cup Noodle Mug Cup Perhaps the most awesome coffee cup we've ever carried, the Cup Noodle Mug Cup, is restocked today. Such a fun way to enjoy coffee...or ramen.
Min-Min Bamboo Cicade Swing Whistle
Traditional Products Restocked Man, I love these fun items, including the Kyudo Japanese Archery set, the Min Min Bamboo Cicada Whistle and Taiyaki Maker!
Chihaya Kisaragi 1/10 Figure Beach Queen  THE IDOLM@STER **Preorder**
Chihaya Kisaragi 1/10 Figure Beach Queen *Preorder* A cute character from the THE IDOLM@STER anime and game, here is Chihaya, ready for summer.
Katja Oppai Mouse Pad  The Qwaser of Stigmata II **Preorder**
Katja Oppai Mouse Pad *Preorder* The Qwaser of Stigmata II redefined oppai for anime fans, and we have a high quality (and, need we say, large?) mouse pad for you to preorder.
Punching Kyubei **Preorder**
Punching Kyubey *Preorder* Hate Kyubey? Want to punch him really hard? Then this is the product for you. Preorder the Kyubey Punching Toy now!
Rei Ayanami 1/6 Figure by Sentinel **Preorder**
But wait, we have more for you. See a 1/6 scale Rei Ayanami "battle damage" figure, HoiHoi-san LEGACY Figures, plus cute new Nendoroid figures for you to drool over.
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Young Japanese Wife Kit  Tsuya Duma no Nukumori Perfect Box
This is your own personal kit for a fantasy of a lifetime. Included in this package are the tools needed to fulfill a fantasy about having a super hot, young Japanese wife.
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Junction -- Tomomi Nakagawa
Junction ~ Tomomi Nakagawa The wonderfully curvaceous Tomoni Nakagawa is somewhat of a rarity in Japan, with hips and oppai we can't believe!
NUDE POSE Books They're actually books to help artist learn to draw, but if you're just going to enjoy the beautiful bodies, we don't mind.
Shino-Jyu ~ Beautiful Stacking Girls This is a fantastic *full color* manga that is filled with the most delicious art we've ever seen. Click to take in its awesomeness now.
Otonyan vol. 4  Joso Boy Special Magazine
Otonyan vol. 4 ~ Joso Special Magazine For those fascinated by joso or "traps," boys dressing as girls , then here's a special magazine that you will like a lot.
Tony Works Ciel Chronicle
Gorgeous Artbooks Retocked Master illustrator Tony Taka's epic artbooks are back in stock. Also enjoy other great artbooks back on the site.
Swimming Club Girlfriend  K-On! Parody Toy
So, it's an alternate universe in which Mio from K-On! joins the swimming club instead of the light music club. She's your girlfriend, and allows you to take her while she wears her swimsuit. A nice toy for otaku types!
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EROS 2.0 TYPE. 001  Rei Type
Restocked Stress Toys for Otaku See other fun toys, including Love body Ren (both the doll and the part that goes inside), the EROS 2.0 Evangelion toys, and soft oppai to touch.
T-Back Kuri Kuri  T-Back Panty  Mini Rotor
T-Back Kuri Kuri ~ Panty & Mini Rotor, Lotion Then see some rather interesting stress toys, including panties with massagers inside them and more -- we love you, Japan!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Americans Speak their Mind

One word you learn pretty early when studying Japanese is gaman suru (gah-mahn suru) which means to endure or tolerate something. If a restaurant is too cold, for example, most Japanese will gaman or put up with unpleasant situation rather than asking the restaurant staff to turn the air conditioning down. This tendency to show extreme patience is considered a virtue in Japan, and it may be in some situations. But I refuse to join the rest of Japan in putting up with what needs to be changed: whether it's speaking out about the lack of a non-smoking section at a restaurant, tactfully recommending that the soba noodle sauce might taste better if it were chilled rather than served at room temperature or politely mentioning that the bathroom in a restaurant wasn't very clean, I do my best to speak my mind, something that can really take courage at times.

Don't you get it when your udon or soba soup is room temperature?

"Genki Girls" in Anime

When manga and anime creators go to design a new character, they have many personality types to start from. They might choose an orthodox osana-najimi childhood friend, a girl who's known the main character all his life and thus knows all his faults, or perhaps go with a classic tsundere, a girl who's angry at the main character 85% of the time, then head over heels in love with him the other 15%. One fun character archetype is "genki girl," a girl in a perpetual state of genki, a Japanese word that means energetic or happy. (It's also used in Japanese greetings to mean "fine" or "well," and it can also refer to a certain state men find themselves in when they wake up in the mornings.) Genki girls are ridiculously high-spirited and full of energy, always shining brightly and full of life, though sometimes the reason for their excessive genki becomes an interesting character twist later in the story. Some example of the genki girl character type include Minori from Toradora, Tomo from Azumanga Daioh, Kaolla Su from Love Hina, the "cat girl" Nekoko from our outstanding visual novel Yume Miru Kusuri, or (sorry to get all old school on you) Hikaru from Magical Knight Rayearth and Hikaru-chan from Kimagure Orange Road.

Minori from Toradora is my favorite "genki girl."

"The Teriyaki Effect"

Being away from Japan for a long time can make a gaijin and his son yearn for real Japanese food. Last night we started wandering around downtown San Diego to see what we could find, and ended up at a nice place called Kiyo's Japanese Restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter. I was immediately impressed because the place was run by actual Japanese people from Japan and not Koreans, which is usually what you find when eating sushi in the States. (A major complaint Koreans have about the Japanese is that they like the spicy pickled cabbage called kimchee almost as much as Koreans do and "pretend that kimchee is really from Japan," which hurts their national pride. It's kind of ironic that the vast majority of sushi you're likely to eat outside of Japan will be prepared by Koreans.) Though we'd come in for the sushi, my son opted to have Teriyaki Chicken instead, saying, "I've never seen this, and want to tell my friends back home about it." It's an odd fact about Japan that teriyaki is not that common inside Japan, though the flavoring is used on certain foods like yakitori chicken on a stick without the teriyaki name. It's similar to the way French demi-glace sauce is extremely famous in Japan as one of the basic flavorings of Western cooking, yet it's not nearly as common in France proper. Perhaps we should label this strange phenomenon of foods becoming more famous outside their home countries, "the Teriyaki Effect."

Teriyaki Chicken is actually rare in Japan.

Cool Products Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Here are today's "really cool products" that I've picked out for you, out of the 30+ new items we've added to the J-List and sites today. Note that some products may be "not safe for work" but that all links will allow you to redirect yourself either to the J-List or websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the updated products link.
NyanType Sep 2011
The latest issue of NyanType is packed with fold-out extra large A3 size bishoujo anime posters that you'll love! an amazing omake gift for fans in the form of a real oppai mouse pad! How awesome is that?
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Dengeki G's Magazine Sep 2011
Dengeki G's Magazine Sep 2011 Fans of moe-tastic girls all agree that Festival Comic never disappoints. Loaded with great ero but kawaii content!
Comic Alive Aug 2011
Comic Alive Aug 2011 Another great issue of Comic Alive is here at last. Get great information on all your favorite manga, including Highschool of the Dead!
egg Aug 2011
egg Aug 2011 The very popular egg magazine is well known as the "go to guide" for the kogals (Japanese Valley Girls) that often hang around Shibuya.
Gakken Otona no Kagaku Bessatsu  Theo Jansen Mini Rhinoceros
Otona no Kagaku ~ Theo Jansen Mini Rhinoceros Inspire learning in your child or in yourself with this cool kit, allowing you to make your own wind powered rhinoceros. We love science!
Blue School Swimsuits  Skirt Type (XXXL Size)
Various Cosplay Items Restocked Enjoy authentic school swimsuits in navy blue and white, great for anime cosplay or whatever, plus other popular cosplay items.
Dot Short Sleave One Piece  BLACK
Kawaii Fashion We are always surprised by the all the great fashion styles we get into J-List, especially this one. Mecha mecha kawaii!
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Little Mascot Strap Set of 5
This full collection of Madoka Magica straps in special gashapon capsules. They'll look great on anything and will be sure to protect you from witches. All five girls included in the set.
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Kaomoji Portable Fan Uchiwa
Kaomoji Portable Fan Uchiwa See fresh stock of the popular ASCII kaomoji (face-character) fans for summer, great for keeping cool and being nerdy. Several styles in stock.
Takehito Harada Art Works 1  Oshigoto Note
Takehito Harada Art Works 1 ~ Oshigoto Note Fans of the Disgaea game series already know the talents of Takehito Harada. This collection shows-off his amazing artwork in grand fashion.
Chaos;Head (Chaos Head) NOAH Visual Book / Game Guide
Amazing Artbooks Restocked, Too Before Steins;Gate there was Chaos;Head, and this artbook/game guide is fantastic. Also see the new Quarterly Pixiv artbook.
Sheena iPhone 4 Cover Designed by Tony  Shining Wind
Sheena iPhone 4 Covers When the legendary Tony Taka makes iPhone cases, J-List customers sit up and take note. Click to see the gorgeous new cases we have in stock (for now...).
Yomi Takanashi Figma Action Figure **Preorder**
Figma & Nendoroid Action Figures Several popular figures are in stock too, incl. Black Rock Shooter Nendoroid and Figma toys, plus that gorgeous Bakemonogatari figure set.
Reina First Photobook -- Reina Fujie
At J-List it's our mission to reflect Japan and its popular culture, and if that means carrying the gorgeous glossy photobooks filled with pictures of Japan's most beautiful women, like Reina-chan, then so be it!
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Queen's Gate  Spiral Chaos
Queen's Gate ~ Spiral Chaos  The impressive tactical strategy needed to conquer this game is overshadowed by the ability to inflict damage that removes clothes. ( ^o^ )0~punch)))
Touhou Project  Shoot the Bullet
Touhou Project Games Restocked, Too The Touhou "bullet curtain" games are so popular, we have trouble keeping them in stock. Click to see the official games restocked today.
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea Playing Cards
Ponyo & Totoro Products Every day we get new Ghibli products in stock is a good day. Click to see Ponyo playing cards, Totoro music box keychains and other wonderful items.
Mushiro Sandal w/ Black Random Strap for Men   26cm
Mushiro Sandal w/ Black Straps It's great to walk with your bare feet on grass... inside your home. These traditional sandals are great summer wear. Very cool (literally).
Kuriyama Bakauke -- Mos Burger Teriyaki Burger Flavor
Mos Burger Senbei Snacks We [heart] MOS Burger, and love their teriyaki burger since it tastes better than the McDonald's version. Check out these awesome rice crackers!
FritoLay PIZZA-LA -- Mayonnaise  Shrimp
Other Snacks from Japan Also, see delicious Pizza-LA (a famous pizza chain) with Mayonnaise & Shrimp chips, plus Pinky Tablet candies and other good items.
Glico Gyoza Pretz UHA
Fun Snacks Restocked, Too Traditional Bontan Ame candy, more Takoyaki snacks (??), Pokemon Gummies, Edamame and Gyoza Pretz, plus fun Sushi Gummi!
House Morning Rescue
Morning Rescue is Restocked By popular demand, the drink that saves you when you have a hangover, or when you get attacked by evil witches from Madoka Magika!
Navy Ume Modern Slim Bento Box  Genuine Lacquered 2 tier Box  Elastic Band  Microwave  Dishwasher Safe
Modern Slim Bento Box When you want to show off your lunch to your co-workers or friends, do it with a box that will equally awe and impress. It sparkles with style.
Red Rabbit x Moon Bento Box Set  Square 2
Red Rabbit x Moon Bento Box Set Red With this extremely adorable bento your children will be saying Okasan, oishii yo! (Mom, it's delicious!) Many others available too.
Vegetable Shaper Assortment Set  SAKURA, Plum, Maple Leaf, Chrysanthemum
Restocked Bento Accessories Restocked bento items too, including the Vegetable Shaper for Bento (make sakura-shaped vegetables!), onigiri shapers, plus Easy Boiled Egg Shapers.
Sakura Bamboo Long Chopsticks 2 set  Black  Red
Traditional Chopsticks from Japan The best material for making chopsticks is bamboo, and we've restocked the popular long-length chopsticks for you. Highly recommended!
Piko Piko Hammer
Piko Piko Hammer J-List loves strange things you can only find in Japan, and today we've restocked that Piko Piko Hammer which Beat Takeshi hits guests on the head with.
Other Wacky Things Also: we have authentic harisen, which are those giant fans you hit people on the head with. Click to see this and other wacky things from Japan.
FURO-TAN --- Bath Water Proof Study Flashcard Set
Japanese Study Products There are only 124 days until the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, will you be ready? Restocking some great study and back-to-school items.
Sci-fi Revoltech No.031 War Machine **Preorder**
Awesome New Sci-Fi Revoltech Figures *Preorder* Enjoy the gorgeous War Machine from the Iron Man films, plus the wonderful Revoltech Muv-Luv Alternative, so much fun to pose and play with.
Taiga Aisaka Nendoroid Figure  Tora Dora! **Preorder**
Taiga Aisaka Nendoroid Figure ~ Tora Dora! *Preorder* We're no small Toradora fans at J-List, and now we can finally (!) get the Taiga Nendoroid we deserve. I'll display mine in a place of honor.
Akiko Fudou 1/8 Cast off Figure Red Color **Preorder**
Akiko Fudou 1/8 Cast off Figures *Preorder* Finally, we've got some cute "cast off" figures from Kaitendoh, a warrior called Akiko with clothes that can be reconfigured.
Peeping Girls Life
This photobook takes a look at the daily life of typical Japanese girls, photographed from some interesting angles. The photography is interesting and excellent, and the girls are, well, they're pretty awesome too.
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Bachelor Sep 2011
Bachelor Sep 2011 Have a *thing* for kyonyu, we've got exactly the right magazine for you -- Bachelor, the top publication for large oppai lovers.
L'autocensure  Maya Miyazaki Illustrations
Restocked Ecchi Artbooks We're huge fans of 2D art and artbooks, and we've restocked some great ones for you to drool over. Click to see them all now.
A Certain Onanie Hole  Yuki Nagato Parody Toy
Here's a great item for fans of everyone's favorite Humanoid Interface, Yuki Nagato. Whether she's observing human behavior through the Godmind of Haruhi Suzumiya or experiencing it directly with Kyon (all for the purpose of understanding humans better, of course), this is a great fantasy toy.
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Amazing Vibrators from Japan See several popular personal massager products restocked, including the classic Pink Rotar and e-Rotar eggs, Nipple Papillon and more.
Fera Zoma
Also: Fera Zoma and other Amazing Stress Toys That mouth-shaped love hole is back in stock for you to enjoy, AKETEMITE! and the amazing Eri Himekawa doll toy, wow.
Fate/stay night DVD-ROM Version
Restocked Visual Novels We love visual novels from Japan, and carry dozens of the best important games. Click to see our most popular game titles today!
YUME MIRU KUSURI :: A Drug That Makes You Dream
J-List Recommends YUME MIRU KUSURI A modern fairytale of dreams and adversity in school life that seems both glamorous and all too familiar, meet three girls that will change your life.