Friday, August 03, 2012

All Aboard the AnoNatsu Train

As the anime industry has changed, with fans no longer willing to plunk down $800 to own a series on laserdisc as we used to (really!), anime studios have had to come up with fresh ways of engaging fans and advertising their properties. One way has been to tie up with rural Japanese towns, setting series in real locations in part to promote the locations as nice places to visit, as Hanasaku Iroha or Rinne no Lagrange have done recently. This trend started a decade ago with Please Teacher! and Please Twins!, which were set next to the pleasant Lake Kizaki in Nagano Prefecture, and the area quickly became "holy land" for thousands of otakus who visit every year. The anime Ano Natsu de Matteru (Waiting in the Summer) is located in a nice town called Komuro, also in Nagano Prefecture, and this weekend there'll be a ceremony to launch an ita-train (a train with anime images printed on the side) to promote the series as well as raise tourist interest in the region. If you're in Nagano this weekend, I'll see you on the train!

Random Memes Seen in Anime

It's fun to pay attention to the visual memes that show up in anime series. For example, if a boy is waiting for a girl so they can go on a date, when she shows up she'll nearly always say, "Did you wait long?" and he'll reply, "No, I just got here a moment ago" (even if he'd really been waiting for an hour). If a boy stares at a girl for too long, she'll probably ask, "Is there something stuck to my face?" Then there's the fairly common meme of a boy who can't bring himself to call a girl he's just started dating by her given (first) name -- something that implies an extremely intimate relationship in Japanese -- instead shyly using her family name or an honorific title like "Morishima-senpai." This trope shows up anime series like Amagami or in eroge like our own School Days, and it's a cute reminder of how different Japan can be from the rest of the world.

"Did you wait long?" "No, I only just arrived."

Would You Like Some Olympics Rice Bowl?

The London Olympics are going on right now, and throughout Japan fans are watching the drama of the games unfold. Japanese fans are cheering on their favorite athletes while companies use the event to pitch hundreds of products, from Toyota cars to Nisshin cooking oil to famous sports drinks. Even a local restaurant is getting into the spirit, making a limited edition dish called a Lon-Don ("don" being short for donburi, meaning "rice bowl," a rather silly pun) that consists of battered fish n' chips served over steamed white rice with five onion rings on top. (Don't tell the IOC, I don't want to get them in trouble.) While Japan has only bagged two gold medals, far fewer than the U.S., China or even South Korea, the athletes are competing well and doing their best. This year there's been some anger over problems with referrees making errors, causing fans to nickname the games the "Goshin-pics" (goshin means "mistaken judgment by a referee") in frustration.

All Japan is excited about the Olympics.

"Harem" Eroge in English

Last time I mentioned DearDrops, a gorgeous game about rock n' roll and finding love that's really a great example of a of Japan's visual novels. Not every game we sell has such a well-developed story and characters -- there's also a genre of eroge known as "harem games" like Harem Party, a game in which the female characters from a fantasy computer game somehow leave the game world and emerge in this one. Click here to see the top English eroge titles, as ranked by our customers.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kokoro Connect and "Kokoro"

I've started watching the new anime Kokoro Connect, a surprisingly deep anime series about members of a school Culture Research Club who find themselves switching bodies inexplicably. The word kokoro is one of my favorite Japanese words, so I thought I'd write a bit about it. Basically, it means the heart, but the philosophical and metaphysical aspects of it -- it's often translated into English as as soul, spirit and mind. Kokoro is your inner self, similar to your soul, although there's a more complex word for that particular concept (which is tamashii). The kokoro is thought to reside in the chest, in contrast to most Westerners, who would probably put the mind's physical location as being inside the head. The concept of reading one's mind is expressed in Japanese as kokoro o yomu (to read one's heart), and the science of psychology is shinrigaku (lit. the science of studying one's kokoro). There are other words in Japanese that correspond to other meanings of the English word heart, such as shinzo (the heart that's hopefully beating in your chest right now) and haato (the English word rendered with a Japanese accent, which describes the classic heart shape). Learning a language is fun because it makes you realize that complex ideas can't be simply brought over on a 1-to-1 basis all the time, which makes you reflect more on what language is all about.

The girls of body-switching anime Kokoro Connect;.

NyaRan, the Cute Advertising Cat

I've written before about how Japan's Internet is quite different from the net in the English-speaking world, with different memes being created and spread around by fans. While Internet users on our side of the cultural pond might be remixing "Call Me, Maybe" or "Overly Attached Girlfriend" images, Japanese fans are mixing MAD videos of Vocaloid and Touhou music and creating cute ASCII kaomoji art, with surprisingly little crossover between the two worlds. One thing Internet users in Japan share with the rest of the world is a deep love of cats, and cats are so popular here that they often become Internet idols in their own right. Like Tama, the calico cat who was named the official stationmaster of Kishi Station in Wakayama, which created a boom in local tourism as people came from all over to see the famous feline, or Maru, a lazy cat who loves to sit around the house while his owner makes videos of him. The newest kitteh to thrill Japanese Internet users is NyaRan, a cat character created by Japanese travel company Jaran to promote its package tours. The ads are very effective, because who can resist clicking on an image of a cat? He carries a little suitcase around his neck, and loves to take him kitten son on trips with him on trips around Japan.

Japanese Internet users truly love cats.

Back in Gunma

I'm back in Japan after a rather grueling trip that included a canceled flight from San Diego to Los Angeles forcing us to drive at high speed to LAX, a packed 10-hour flight to Japan and a three-hour bus trip from Narita to our home prefecture of Gunma.
It's great to back home, although I could do without the sauna-like weather that was waiting for us here. As usual being in Japan means experiencing culture shock, being surprised at little things like extremely clean toilets that wash your butt then bow to you when you're done (just kidding about that last part). It also means getting used to driving on the other side of the road, which isn't as much a problem as you might expect -- just make sure you're closer to the center of the road than your passenger, no matter which country you're in. For some reason, though, nothing can keep me from trying to get into the car on the wrong side. I do it...every time.

I'm back in Gunma, after a very eventful summer.

My Favorite Eroge: DearDrops

J-List has been involved with licensing and selling visual novels and eroge in English for 15 years now, and we're huge fans of these fun and unique games from Japan. One reason I like them is that there's a depth of story that many games reach, which really involve you with the characters while you play, so that when you reach one of the special endings it's really a glorious thing. We're happy to be carrying shrinkwrapped package games from MangaGamer now, like the gorgeous new DearDrops, a game in which you join an all-girl band to help the members grow musically, with many possible game outcomes and wonderful art. The passion of the music is a big part of the game, and it's something special to experience. Why not try DearDrops or some other visual novel today? Click here to see the top English eroge titles, as ranked by our customers.

Cool Products Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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.
Megami Magazine Sep 2012
A new issue of the definitive bishoujo moe poster magazine is here! Get your Megami Magazine issue today, the best way to shower yourself with free posters from the hottest new anime series in Japan now. Click to browse all the cool free posters you get!
View products »
Dengeki G's Festival vol. 27 Sep. 2012  Love, Election and Chocolate
Dengeki G's Festival vol. 27 Sep. 2012 The latest edition of Dengeki G's Comic Festival is here and it comes with an amazing oppai mousepad and more. Please see on the J-List side.
Dragon Age Aug 2012
Dragon Age Aug 2012 We're big fans of the super-thick monthly manga magazine Dragon Age, a great publication that's full of popular series.
Rurihime Summer 2012 feat. TYPE-MOON
Rurihime Summer 2012 feat. TYPE-MOON The summer issue of Rurihime, the awesome creators magazine, featuring tons of illustrations, comics, features, tutorials and more. See on the J-List side.
Toka Sekai -- Haruaki Fuyuno
Other New & Restocked Artbooks Also see other gorgeous artbooks, like Toka Sekai, the fabulous art of Haruaki Furuno, and fresh stock of Quarterly Pixiv.
Ika-Musume Nendoroid Figure
We've got so many gorgeous anime figures in stock today, we had to group them together to fit them into today's update. See the Naruko Anjo figure from AnoHana, Yozora from Haganai, the Buddhist Revoltech figures, various Nendoroids (Fate/Papakiki/Ika Musume/Hatsune Miku), the awesome Dog Days and Berserk Figmas and more.
View products »
egg Aug 2012
egg Aug 2012 This is Egg, a Japanese magazine of youthful kogal fashion and style, filled with lovely fashion photos of Tokyo's charming kogals.
Cure vol. 108 Sep 2012
Cure vol. 108 Sep 2012 The new J-Rock and Visual-key culture magazine, Cure vol. 108 is here. Punk and Gothic style fans, don't miss it!
Black Open Ribbon Knee High Stockings (ML size)  BEILEISI
See Restocked Japanese Fashions We've got some fun Japanese fashion items restocked, including the Knit Star Onepiece Sress, Black Open Ribbon High Stockings and the famous "2D Bag."
Gakken - Otona no Kagaku Magazine  V Twin Steam Engine
Otona no Kagaku Magazine ~ V Twin Steam Engine For people who love to build cool machines, we have the new issue of Gakken's Otona no Kagaku. Build your very own V-Twin Steam Engine!
SUMI-SHIGURE  Charcoal Beauty Set (Towel,  Bath Salts  Deodorizers)
Beauty Products Posted Enjoy the traditional and natural cleansing properties sumi, Japanese charcoal, in this nice gift set.
Black Black Menthol Cooling Sheet  2 Sheets
Black Black Menthol Cooling Sheet ~ 2 Sheets Take out a huge stick of Black x Black gum... to cool yourself? What a great idea for beating the heat of summer.
Star Wars Stackable Cups -- Darth Vader  Storm Troopers (Set of 4)
Star Wars & Anime Mug Cups from Japan We stock many fun coffee cups from Japan and today we've got Star Wars, Fate/stay night, and the penguins of Mawaru Penguindrum.
Rei Ayanami Interface Earphone *Preorder*
Restocked Evangelion 'Head Interface' Earphones J-List is always happy to help our audiophile friends by stocking awesome anime-themed earphones and headphones. Eva type restocked today.
Steins;Game  Steins;Gate Minigame Anthology
Steins;Game ~ Steins;Gate Minigame Anthology Steins;Gate fans will want this doujin anthology of 8 fun mini-games starring your favorite characters from the series.
Listen to Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! -- PapaKiki First Limited Box Set
Huge Restocking of Anime Games Enjoy Steins;Gate, Ore no Imouto for PSP, the gorgeous PapaKiki game for PS3 (the limited set of course), Nitroplus's new Robotics;Notes and more.
Rilakkuma Mini Towel
Fun New Rilakkuma Products We love to find Rilakkuma products from Japan for you, and today we've got an awesome mug cup, huggable plush toy, glasses case and more!
Re-ment Hello Kitty Japanese Sweets
Re-ment Hello Kitty Japanese Sweets See fresh stock of the extremely detailed traditional Japanese cakes and candies called wagashi, designed with a Hello Kitty theme. Wow!
Kiki's Delivery Service  Mini Towel
Fun Ghibli Mini Towels, More Restocked We've got the last stock of the model of Ponyo's house, plus some amazing Totoro and Jiji the Cat mini towels for building a Ghibli shrine in your bathroom.
Panda-Kun Glasses Case  Shirokuma Cafe
Panda-Kun Glasses Case ~ Shirokuma Cafe From the Shirokuma Cafe (Polarbear Cafe) comes an extra kawaii glasses case that is full of character and fun.
Alpha Gel Soft Grip Ball Point Pen
Alpha Gel Soft Grip Ball Point Pen With a grip that is on the cutting edge of gel technology, you won't ever feel uncomfortable using this new pen.
Sweets Nerikeshi Eraser  Set of 3
Sweets Nerikeshi Eraser ~ Set of 3 Make your own Japanese eraser sets, with this full kit of moldable erasers. Let loose your creativity between your tough studies.
Glico Wasabi pretz
Glico Wasabi pretz We love Pretz, the popular pretzel sticks from Glico, and often sneak a box or two while writing an update. Enjoy the new wasabi flavor!
Nabisco Oreo Green Tea Sticks
Legendary Snacks Restocked Enjoy our Ninja Food candy that makes you smarter, Japan-made Oreos (including Green Tea Oreo Sticks, why not?), Felix the Cat Gum, Meiji Heart Poiful and more.
Real Ukon
Real Ukon, Other Popular Japanese Drinks We have awesome Japanese drinks, too, including the power of Ukon, a traditional root used in China and Korea for curing hangovers.
Taiyaki Maker Pan  Oyatsu Land
Taiyaki Makers Restocked Uguu! Some people would describe taiyaki as Japanese waffles, and they are so delicious that we have these taiyaki makers in back in stock!
Gold  Pink Sakura 2 Tier JUBAKO Box
Gold & Pink Sakura 2 Tier JUBAKO Box  This gorgeous two-tier box is set to make your picnic one that your friends and family will remember.
White Lucky Cat Lacquered 2 Tier Bento Box  Elastic Band  Fork
Lucky Cat Bento, Other Fun Bento Products See fresh stock of our cute traditional bento boxes for Lucky Cat fans, plus a nice offering of chopsticks, bento bands, bags and more.
Hello Kitty Die-Cut Mug Cup
Restocked Hello Kitty Kitchen & Bento Items Other bento and kitchen items include our Hello Kitty Die-Cut Mug, a great way to cook spaghetti or rice in a microwave and more.
Rewrite 2013 Wall Calendar **Preorder**
Rewrite 2013 Wall Calendar *Preorder* We're revving up our 2013 calendar offerings, and today we've got a gorgeous calendar for fans of Rewrite, the visual novel from the creators of Clannad.
Konoe Tsuruma Mini Towel  Kono Nakani Hitori, Imoto ga Iru **Preorder**
Kono Nakani Hitori, Imoto ga Iru Products For fans of the new anime My Little Sister is among them! are some cute towels for making your moe dreams come true.
AcchiKocchi Pin Badge Set of 2  **Preorder**
Atchi Kochi, Joshiraku Products *Preorder* We have more new products from currently-airing anime series, a great way to score some kawaii character goods from shows you're watching now.
Nekomimi Alternative Parts -- Black Nekomimi **Preorder**
Nekomimi Neurowear Alternative Parts *Preorder* This is great: alternate ear pieces for the awesome brain-activated Nekomimi cat ears, a really epic way to make yourself stand out at an anime con.
Sena Kashiwazaki 1/7 Figure  Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai **Preorder**
Finally, Gorgeous Preorder Figures & Dolls Finally, a fistful of new anime figures for preorder, including a Nyaruko doll for Cthulhu fans and the most lickable Haganai figure I've ever seen.
Canopuri Comic Aug 2012
Canopuri Comic Aug 2012 Canopuri (Cannon Princess) is one of Japan's hottest erotic magazines. With art by Shirow Masamune and other top artists, you won't want to miss an issue.
Love Letter -- Nozomi Hazuki
Love Letter ~ Nozomi Hazuki Hot Japanese porn actress Nozomi Hazuki shows off her beautiful body in this new hardcover photobook that fans will want to add to their collection!
Gorgeous Photobooks Restocked We have several photobooks restocked too, including Office Lady Complex, Nude Pose Lab, Nozomi Sasaki and Pet's Eye 2. Love them all.
Female Clothing Boys  Joso Shonen photobook
Female Clothing Boys ~ Joso Shonen photobook Another astonishing take at Japanese eroticism, this photobook by Yuki Aoyama focuses on cute girl uniforms, with close-up hot models that are all...traps!
Orifushi Mafuyu 1/7 Figure  Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo **Preorder**
New 'Cast Off' Figures Posted *Preorder* We have new "cast off" figures for you to drool over, including Orifushi Mafuyu from Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo and the gorgeous Elsa...
Wives  Waifuzu
We've gotten backed up on posting ero manga for you, so enjoy several new offerings today. We have Hame Tsuma and "Waifuzu" for fans of unfaithful wives, the amazing Tsuitekimasu! with art so good it even gave us nosebleeds, the amazing Princess Story and more.
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PIECES 9  Kokon Togihime Soushi Shu (Hiden) -- Masamune Shirow ** Preorder **
PIECES 9 ~ Kokon Togihime Soushi Shu *Preorder* Masamune Shirow, the renowned artist behind Ghost in the Shell, has produced another fantastic artbook. Preorder this hotness today.
Erect!  Limited First Print Edition
Erect! ~ Limited First Print Edition In this wacky eroge, you play a lucky guy who discovers that the cute girls who attend the nearby academy have a very unusual secret - they're all succubi!
Nure Nure Mina-chan
Nure Nure Mina-chan If you've had a hard day at work, let Mina-chan take away your cares with her super realistic onahole. Comes with a hefty 200 ml bottle of lotion.
Sujiman Kupa Roa
Our Most Innovative Onahole Toys Restocked We have other onahole toys in stock too, including the Gucho Nure Monster plus the Sujiman Real Onahole, the most realistic toy ever.
Babble Shake  Function
Restocked Onahole Stress Toys We got the popular Bubble Shake series back in stock, along with that Shakuhachi Musume Oral Pump that our customers can't seem to put down.
Pepee OMEGA 3
Awesome Japanese Personal Lotion Finallyu, see fresh stock of the most popular pesonal lotions from Japan, including Pepee Omega 3 and Organic + Sena Kashiwazaki Tsubu Tsubu Lotion.