Friday, 30 January 2009

My Practically-Worthless Opinion On A Political Thing

I've just been asked whether I think Aso Taro is going to call an election to secure a mandate any time soon. I'm by no means an expert on these things, but the answer is 'absolutely not'.

Aso's approval rating is at 19% - less than half what is was four months ago. In September it looked like he could do no wrong. Apparently he then decided that he should therefore take this opportunity to do lots and lots of wrong, and by the sheer density of mistakes people started noticing. Unemployment has hit 4.4%, which, as Shisaku points out, is disastrous. And he's also getting a spanking in the Diet over his economic stimulus package. If he calls an election now he has no chance of winning.

What I think he'll do (and this is speaking from an ill-informed and politically ignorant perspective) is wait for something to happen. Something he can take credit for. If the economic slow-down slows down, he can try to take credit for that; if Korea does something about the abductee non-issue that the Japanese populace are so obsessed about, he can pretend he had some hand in it. Aso's chances can't really get any worse than they would be if there was an election now, so there's absolutely nothing to lose by waiting.

So if anyone wants to know what I think about that, there you go. But seriously, don't quote me on any of this shit.

Aso's "No, I AM a people-person" face

Monday, 26 January 2009

When Capital Punishment Just Won't Do...

Most people are aware that Japan has an astoundingly low crime rate. There are far fewer 'danger areas' in Tokyo, for instance, compared to any other capital city. Some parts of Kabukicho are a bit rough, but it's hardly like dodging the hatchets in London's East End, or going to Brixton where you will die, guaranteed. Petty crime is so low that you can swagger around Tokyo flaunting great wads of cash for at least a month, as I proved last summer, and have no fear of being mugged.

(Conversely, if you are a victim of crime in Japan, your attacker is much more likely to be a warped psychopath who'll drown you in a bath of sand and then remove your limbs. Swings and roundabouts.)

But some petty crime does exist. The staff at the Namba IOSYS shop have tried many and varied tactics to stop people shoplifting. They have signs inside the shop that tell customers about the aspirations of specific members of staff, most of them involving finding a girlfriend or getting married. Other signs tell customers about the history of the shop and have personal profiles of the staff. All of them to cleverly guilt potential shoplifters into leaving them alone.

But their newest tactic looks to be far more effective. This is a poster on display in the shop:

The text reads, "If you shoplift, you will pay with your body." The staff are literally threatening to chase, capture, and then rape anyone who steals from their shop. This idea of fighting crime with even-worse-crime is at least daring. Some people might say that "two wrongs don't make a right." But of course Shakespeare would want us to "be fire with fire, threaten the threatener and outface the brow of bragging horror." And what is the 'moral high-ground' if not a platform to dive off?

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Schwarzenegger Ads

You've probably all seen the Schwarzenegger advertisements for the California Tourist Board, but have you seen his adverts for Japanese energy drinks?

The way he laughs in this is quite frankly terrifying.

More terrifying laughter.

More terrifying everything.

Possible Pokemon Generation V Names!

"Holy shit!!" That's what I thought when I read the Bulbapedia headline "Possible Generation V Names", that I then stole in order to attempt to provoke the same reaction in you. What the headline actually referred to was Nintendo's recent trademark registrations.

Nintendo have re-registered all the Gen I names: Pokemon Red, Pokemon Green, Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Yellow. But they've also registered the new names Pokemon Black, Pokemon White, Pokemon Brown, Pokemon Gray, Pokemon Purple, Pokemon Crimson and Pokemon Scarlet.

This doesn't mean that these names will definitely be used for games. As Bulbapedia point out, Nintendo have registered lots of names in the past that never made it to production, such as Pokemon Opal. They also speculate that Nintendo may be registering these names so that they can discourage bootlegs, hacks and pirate versions of their games.

Still, Pokemon Crimson sounds like an epic game.

Anatomical Kaiju Diagrams

A guy on Flickr has an awesome set of pictures here.

The set features anatomical drawings of various Kaiju from the Godzilla films. This is a picture of Godzilla himself, showing his small brain, huge lungs, and 'uranium sac'.

Guiron, kicking ass

Angiras has infra-red detecting eyes, and two mini-brains that control his forelegs and rear legs.

Mothra larva

"Raaaaaawr! Puny hu-mans!"

So awesome.

Friday, 23 January 2009


This is kind of interesting: Hoshijima Takanori, who is on trial for the murder of Tojo Rurika, a 23-year-old Tokyo resident, has recently stated that he wants to apologise to the victim and her family by accepting a death penalty. It's odd because the murder was so brutal - she was a neighbour of his, and he broke into her apartment (I think) and then stabbed her to death and dismembered her. He dumped parts of the body in a variety of places to try to cover his tracks. Now that he's arrested and on trial he's not even putting up any sort of defence, and seems genuinely broken up by the whole incident. He's clearly a disturbed man.

Max's Vision Of The Apocalypse #3721

My List of Apocalypses is becoming unwieldy. I could make a sub-list of Robot Apocalypses that would total at least 200 entries. Recently something new has come to my attention and is going to have to go on that list: the imminent ascension to consciousness and inevitable betrayal of our security robots.

The BBC ran a story yesterday about a collaboration between Tmsuk Co (a robot company) and Alacom Co (a security company). In a leap of inspiration they have paired up to create security bots. The frightening thing is, they've called their prototype the T-34. Yep, they're using the same naming-system as the robots that go to war with Mankind in the Terminator films.

The T-34 [shudder] is equipped with motion sensors, and when it detects someone on the same floor as itself, it contacts its Master via their mobile-phone. The Master can then actually operate the T-34 [shudder] using their mobile-phone as a remote control. They will be able to move it around and fire a net at the human-target.

The most significant foretoken of our doom is the fact that they've forgotten to install a self-destruct command in the mobile-phone control system for the T-34 [shudder]. That specifically will be the mistake that kills us all.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


On Tuesday, Barack Obama was sworn in as the latest King of America (that's what he actually is, don't believe the lies). And Japan loves Obama. I'm not entirely sure why, but they've taken him to heart more than most public figures. As with all things it probably has something to do with the media portrayal - if the American media are going to continually show him as a cross between Martin Luther King, Elvis and Jesus, then people are going to start believing it.

He's been particularly taken to heart by the people of Obama-shi in Fukui. (Incidentally, there are also two Obama Castles and an Obama Onsen in Japan.) The Obama-shi residents have had some coverage in the international media, and quite a lot back home, mainly for their shameless milking of the fact that the name of their city is coincidentally the name of the new US President. They knew about him when he was still a Senator though, and the Mayor sent him gifts - a letter of introduction, a set of chopsticks, and a home-made DVD about the city. Obama then sent a letter back thanking them. That's how excited they were when he was a Senator, so now that he's the President they've pretty much gone batshit insane.

Obviously they produced novelty Obama Sweets - everything seems to get a line of novelty confectionery these days. But the Mayor has also declared that the 4th of November, the day Obama was elected, will be an annual holiday for the town. And he's also insisted on commissioning a statue of the President that he intends to erect at the entrance to the Town Hall. On the actual Inauguration Day, they partied throughout the day and night. They had hula-girls dancing at the local temple, fireworks, and no doubt anything available to buy would have had "OBAMA '09!" stamped on it.

The second of these t-shirts isn't just about Obama, it reads "Obama and Ozawa are the new leaders", referring to Ozawa Ichiro, the leader of the DPJ and the person who stands to replace Aso as Prime Minister this year. A bit political for an Obama t-shirt, right?

The rest of Japan haven't been slacking off on merchandising either. Ogawa Studios are based in Saitama, and they specialise in hand-made rubber masks of politicians. Rather a limited market for those, right? Your customers are either going to be bank-robbers who want to get rich quick and simultaneously hilariously satirise the Lower House of the Diet, or they're going to be junior politicians who want to cause vaudevillian havoc at the next interplenary session. Well not any more! They sold 2,500 Obama masks since December, and are now having to work round the clock churning out 300 masks a day to meet the demand.

A website called Obamicon allow you to use your own images to create posters like the iconic Obama poster used in the election campaign. (I know this doesn't look Japan-related, but just wait, I'm going to link it in, just wait it'll be awesome.) Some of the funnier ones people have uploaded include:

Japanator have uploaded some anime-themed pictures too, as is their particular wont. (Boom! There you go, I told you I'd link Japan in! See? See?! Yeh.) The best two they've done so far are these:

Obama's speeches are being used as learning-aids for school students. In two months The Speeches Of Barack Obama have sold 400,000 copies. It's a really good idea - I'm sure speeches must be really useful for learning a language. The book is on sale at for £6 (direct link here), and it comes with a CD of all the speeches included, so students can follow along with Obama. It sounds like a great deal for Obama fans even if they're not students.

Nocchi, the hero of a man who dressed up as Obama and flew to America to try and randomly accost him, went to Obama-shi recently and was given a sample tour, a kind of what-you-might-expect-if-you-were-actually-the-President tour. It was shown on TV, and I've posted it below. The clip ends with Nocchi meeting the Mayor, and pledging to do his bit to welcome the real Obama if/when he comes to Japan. Like everything Nocchi does, it's kind of awesome.

There have also been quite a few groups of people speaking out in Japan, hoping that Obama will do something to change their lives. At the end of last year students in Hiroshima asked him to visit and show his support for nuclear disarmament. There hasn't been a US Presidential visit there since before World War 2, so it would be a significant gesture. The letters were backed up by bomb-survivors and school students in the following weeks.

The people of Okinawa have called for Obama to visit them too, and experience the life of those living next to an army base. They cite such problems as the noise of jet fighters taking off throughout the day and night, and grenades going off. Perhaps a stronger complaint would be against the US servicemen who every few months rape a random under-age local Japanese girl and when arrested are merely sent back to America with a dishonourable discharge and no further punishment, despite having ruined someone's life, because they're not subject to actual criminal courts but to the military courts who couldn't care less about crimes that occur half the world away, even if they did ruin someone's life. But if those complaints were voiced (and I'm fairly sure they must have been - there are quite a few ruined lives in Okinawa thanks to the US Forces), the Associated Press sure didn't report them.

I didn't actually want to conclude on a sour note, but it seems to have turned out that way. Hmmm. Well, normal service will resume tomorrow, probably.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Pappy's Fun Club

50 years ago cannibalism was banned in Papua New Guinea. But there are still people alive today who remember the taste of human flesh. And apparently the Japanese taste the best. Is that a compliment or not? I think it must be, even though it's fairly odd.

The Papua New Guinea people said that "The meat of white people smells too strongly and is too salty", and we're told that the only taste better than the Japanese is the meat of the Papua New Guinea women.

Um, yaaay...?

Okuru Kotobaaaaa!

Sumo is awesome. It's often said that there's nothing funnier than a fat person falling over, but surely by logical extension two immense men slapping each other until one of them falls over is far, far funnier.

Sumo has been in the news again recently, this time regarding death threats. Last year it was two Russian wrestlers who were caught using cannabis, were arrested for it, and then whined when they were subsequently banned from the sport by the Japan Sumo Association. The year before that it was match-fixing claims by a magazine that lead to Asashoryu becoming the first yokozuna to appear in court, and the papers going nuts over that. But this year the category of scandal is 'Death Threats'.

Some people on 2chan don't like Asashoryu. No surprise, as there seem to be lots of people that don't like his 'attitude'. Basically he was caught bunking off tournaments in 2007 and everyone just decided there that this was behaviour unbecoming of a yokozuna, and he's not been forgiven since. Nothing to do with the fact that he's Mongolian and has been schooling every Japanese star in their national sport for the last five years - it's his attitude they don't like

So someone posted a message on 2chan saying that they were off to his Takasago stables to kill him. After the Akihabara stabbings last summer the police have been really hot off internet death threats, and they immediately sprang into action to protect the stable. Yes. They wanted to protect twelve men who average 150 kilos each, and particularly the one who's the shit-kicking badassest of them all. I feel this was the wrong position to adopt.

Why would you threaten this man?

Police have now arrested the man, Takahashi Chiharu, and want to charge him under the law stating that, "a person who intimidates another with a threat to life, body, freedom, reputation or property can be punished with imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to 300,000 yen." Again, wrong position. He should be put in the ring with Asashoryu. If Takahashi thinks he can take him on, fine. He'll get the chance to square up to him, and Asashoryu will get a chance to mete out the justice he deserves.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


Osaka is too cool for words. It's basically the Showbiz City of Japan, but instead of being shit like every other country's Showbiz City, it's actually too cool for words. Which is why I'm posting a video.

The YouTube description for the video says that, "Only in Japan can you find an entire city where you can walk up to just about anyone and say 'Bang' to get such a comedic response". And it's true. Whilst Osaka is known as the birthplace of most of the professional comedians in Japan, pretty much everyone there is friendly and has a great sense of humour. So it's not just the young people that respond in this video, it's also pensioners and businessmen, and they often respond before they even know it's being filmed.

Watch out for the guy at about 1.50 - he's my hero.

Friday, 16 January 2009

They've Signed The Contract

"Oh my God. All the time, it was... they finally, really did it! You maniacs! Ah, damn you! God... damn you all to hell!"

I like to think that if Charlton Heston was younger, had a soul, and gave a damn about possibly the greatest tv series the world has ever seen, that's how he would have reacted to the news that a Cowboy Bebop movie is now definitely going to be made, and Keanu Reeves is officially going to play the part of Spike Spiegel. There aren't enough tears in the world for me to come to terms with this.

The movie is going to be produced by 20th Century Fox and Sunrise, and the Executive Producer will be Erwin Stoff. You might have heard of Erwin Stoff before. He produced A Scanner Darkly, starring Keanu Reeves. And also The Lakehouse, starring Keanu Reeves. Come to think of it, he also produced Constantine. Starring Keanu Reeves. Is this fucking dipshit guy just hot for Keanu Reeves or something? And if so, why can't he keep it indoors instead of ruining Cowboy Bebop? Fuck you, Stoff.

Seeing as the call-to-arms that I wrote at the end of last year didn't work: I'm now offering £5,000 (that's about $10,000) for the death of either Keanu Reeves or Erwin Stoff. Let's do this.

Honestly, if they fuck up the casting of Ein I'm going to go properly mental.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Hara Vs. STDs

Hara Saori is the new Stop! STD girl.

If you've ever been to Shibuya there's no way you'd have missed the Stop! STD campaign. They have a frighteningly large poster across from the 109 building, always a close-up of an AV idol's face, and seem to be trying to raise awareness of STDs by just writing Stop! STD everywhere. A worthy cause, but a dubious method. You should go to their website, if only to see what kind of mascot they think is appropriate for an STD-awareness campaign.

Amongst their videos is this one, claiming that 1 in every 15 Japanese youths have an STD. Which can't be true. Can it? I mean, it couldn't be. Could it?

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A Complete Dipshit

Someone in Nagoya thought it would be funny to put a brick in a cardboard box and write on the box that it contained a bomb that would go off if moved. Then he ran away, probably while giggling like a little shit, to wait for the bomb squad to arrive so he could finally get an erection to jack off. What a total asshole.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Cue Chase Music!

There was a Benny Hill-style chase in Ikebukuro when a 55-year-old man dressed as a woman tried to shoplift. I would usually quote from news articles, but frankly every line in this is a gem: Japan Today article. It's so awesome.

I wish they'd caught this incident on film so much. So. Much.

Max's Vision Of The Apocalypse #3586-B

So it might have been a mistake to give the Clearest Portent Of The Apocalypse Award 2008 to the brain scientists after all - it's looking like Vision #3586 was closer to the mark.

This data was released by Spectrum IEEE in December, and shows that Japan leads the world in terms of robot density. Of course, we already knew this. What we didn't know is just how completely Japan outclasses the rest of the world. You can see from the chart. Look at it! They have almost twice as many robots as the runner-up, Singapore. And the robots they have are probably five years ahead of the robots they have anywhere else. You might have seen their AT-STs on here before. What if they were all like that? I know I'm not selling this Apocalypse very well, but just trust me - you need to be afraid.

Update: Ha! You didn't believe me, but look at this. This'll show you not to believe me. This'll show you good.

See? Farmers using robotic exoskeletons. They're not quite as sophisticated as Dr. Yoshiyuki's exoskeletons, but they are still turning Japanese farmers into Supermen. It's all going to go wrong. And that's you told.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Aso Vs. Religion... FIGHT!

Aso's done it again. He's added to the now novel-length list of things he shouldn't have done but did anyway. The newest addenda include:

  • Thinking that 'the world religions can learn from Japanese work ethic'.
  • Then not dismissing that thought out of hand.
  • Then deciding to voice that thought.
  • Then not changing his mind about voicing it.
  • Then actually voicing it.
  • Then not immediately retracting it.

This happened at a press conference on Thursday, just two days after he'd basically laughed off calls for his resignation. Granted the calls for his resignation were due to a perceived inability to handle the economic crisis that he was voted into a mere three months ago, but my point is this is no time for him to feed his addiction to stunned silence.

Aso's "telling-it-like-it-is face"

The AFP reports that,

"Our values in Japan regard hard work as important," Aso said during a discussion on the global economic crisis.

"To work is good. It's completely different thinking from the Old Testament," Aso said.

Which does sound a bit iffy, right? But it sounds less iffy if you compare it to what the Nikkei Shimbun reported of a speech of his in December:

"In the Old Testament, God gave Adam punishment: labour. The Old Testament, Christianity, Islam - if you add them up, what percentage of the world is that? About 70% of religions hold a philosophy that work is a punishment."

He then referred to Japan's oldest known book, the Kojiki, which features Japan's creation myths. In the text, an important sun goddess saw many other deities working.

Still slightly iffy though. And probably not something that he should just say. And you'll also notice that he didn't mention about the Kojiki stories in which Ame-no-Uzume dances naked in front of all the other gods to lure out Amaterasu, or how the Emperor Jimmu conquered Japan with the help of a three-legged bird called Yatagarasu. Surely the world religions could learn just as much from those stories.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Get Ready To Have Your Mind Blown

As Japanese scientists ask the inevitable question, "If we can get Freddie Mercury spinning in his grave fast enough, will we be able to power a kind of zero carbon-emissions turbine-engine?", comedians help out by ramping up the RPMs.

Still, I think this is very funny, in a gratuitous and anarchic sort of way. And it's no worse than the surviving members of Queen and Ben Elton have done to the man's memory. At least this was all in the spirit of good fun, and not shameless profiteering.

See, people who complain about Japanese TV just aren't watching the right programmes.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

2008 OTN Awards: Part 5

Here we are: Part 5! Wow, it seemed like such a good idea at the time. The next time I try to do something in five parts, just remind me that it's five times as much work, not the same work divided by five. Anyway, let's crack on...

Quote Of The Year Award

It couldn't be anything else. "I am different from you." Fukuda Yasuo's timeless snort of derision towards a particularly rude member of the press at his resignation press conference spawned a rather exhaustive line of merchandise and even a few tasty remixes.

If only Fukuda had said something like this before deciding to resign. He would still have had to resign, but he could have got at least another week out of the brief surge of minor popularity. 

The Osu! Tatakae! Nippon! Grand Prix:
Icon Of 2008 Award!

This coveted award goes to the Shibuya Monkey! Congratulations, Monkey!

First seen on the 20th of August in Shibuya Station, "terrorizing" commuters, and sighted an additional four times, the monkey has yet to make an appearance since the 12th of November. Police and "experts" speculated that it got into central Tokyo by hitching a train ride, and significantly the monkey seems to be staying inside the Yamanote Line, as noted in Let's Japan's monkey-tracking campaign.

We hope the monkey survives the winter, and look forward to seeing it in 2009! Of course, I'll be sure to keep you fully updated if he is sighted, whether you like it or not.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

2008 OTN Awards: Part 4

Sorry, I was going to write this Part 4 of the OTN Awards last night, but I was too drunk. You know how it is. As such this is going to be quite a short Part 4. Anyway, it's here now, so enjoy. (Or don't. I'm not telling you what to do.)

Ueto Aya Story Of The Year Award

It's been a busy year for Ueto. But every year is a busy year for her. In 2008 she was crowned CM Queen for the second time (the first was in 2004), she was in the second Attention Please Special, she played the lead in Hokaben, she filmed Celeb to Binbo Taro and Sakura no Sono, she was named Best Dressed Entertainer of the year, and SoftBank gave her a mobile phone worth 13 million yen. But it's the interview with her by the Japan Times that wins this award, because it doesn't conform to the standard interview-template for idols: "When are you getting married? Are you seeing anyone at the moment? What kind of person are you looking for? So, when did you say you were getting married? Come on, just give us a guess." Even though it plays up the "reluctant star" angle too much, it does at least treat Ueto like a person. I guess we can all learn something from that article.

Song Of The Year Award

Summer Song by Yui. Obviously.

Monday, 5 January 2009

2008 OTN Awards: Part 3

It's Part 3, and when you finish reading this you'll be over half-way through the 2008! Osu! Tatakae! Nippon! Awards! Doesn't that sound like something worth fighting for? Come on, push through to the other side - I know you can make it.

Most Insane Person Award

On the 23rd of November, Mizuta Manabu, a 35 year old salaryman, was arrested for "obstructing business". That's a euphemism of course. Why not take a guess at what it's a euphemism for...?

Well, if you didn't guess "throwing 200 mealworms, the well-known larvae of the fantastically named 'Darkling Beetle', at passengers in a train carriage, whilst carrying a further 3,600 mealworms in his backpack for immediate-future use", then you guessed wrong.

In trying desperately to justify his actions he said, "I wanted to see women get scared and shake their legs". And isn't it tragic when someone tries so hard to look less mad but only succeeds in looking madder than they ever could have if only they'd kept their mouth shut? He said more, too. Evidently he wasn't getting the reaction he'd hoped for from the police. He said, "It was fun to watch other passengers freak out when they looked at the creepy worms wiggling their way inside the train". And to back all this up he then added, "The worms wiggle around and are so weird. I like seeing people surprised".

Clearest Portent Of The Apocalypse Award

Oh man but this was a closely-fought category. I've covered some of the potential ends-of-the-world on this blog before, and choosing one particular story out of those and the many more that I've read was extremely difficult. But I've done it, and the winner of this category is the new technology developed by the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratory which analyzes the cerebral blood-flow in a person's brain and can reconstruct images from their mind and display them on a computer monitor. Sorry, let me rephrase that: the winners are the scientists who can now take pictures directly from people's BRAINS.

Ok, so the scientists did kind of put them there in the first place and then worked backwards, but they're now able to work forwards in a stumbling, black-and-white, grainy-imaged kind of way, and the point is that it's not a case of science anymore, it's a case of just improving the technology. And it won't take much but time to improve that technology. And once they do they'll not only be able to read the images from your mind, but potentially put them there too. And before you know it we're in The Matrix.

2008 OTN Awards: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of this very prestigious awards ceremony! Don't worry, it involves less death than Part 1. It does however involve more Hitler. Which is to say, it involves some Hitler.

Most Ill-Advised TV Scene / Programme Award

This award goes straight to a scene from Yorosen, with no other contenders even coming close. The programme screened a regular section they have where idols play teachers and pupils, and one at the end of November involved Hello Project, featuring Hitler. Yes, that's right: Hello Project, featuring Hitler.

Who says Japan can't get over the war?

In the clip they not only display a frightening ignorance of who Hitler was, they also call him "Hitler oji-san", which is kind of like calling him "Uncle Hitler". TV Tokyo had to issue an apology for this clip after receiving complaints.

Plan Most Doomed To Failure Award

In a year when Curry Bath Salts were being sold you might have thought this category would be a close-call. That's certainly what I thought, until I found out that the Curry Bath Salts have actually proved immensely popular. And until Ibaraki prefecture decided they needed an airport.

(By the way, I should point out that a lot of other blogs would have immediately and smugly given this award to 'Aso Taro's premiership', and then sat down to think about how witty they were. The problem is that Aso Taro's premiership isn't so much a 'plan' as it is a bigoted, short-term thinking, raving lunatic, prancing around Tokyo trying to emphasise how much Japan rules seemingly by insulting everyone who lives there, and then everyone else. So I hope you appreciate the way I'm letting the whole Aso angle slide.)

As I was saying, until Ibaraki prefecture decided they needed an airport. And not just any airport! No, a $268 million airport! Yes, a $268 million airport which airlines refuse to fly to, people in Ibaraki refuse to support, and is located 15 miles from the nearest train station! A $26... oh wait.

(Here's where I would put a picture, if it wasn't all million-dollar mud-fields til 2010.)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

2008 OTN Awards: Part 1

2008 is over, as some of you might have noticed. And after almost a week of sporadic deliberation, and even more sporadic caring, I have decided on the categories and winners of the 2008! Osu! Tatakae! Nippon! Awards! It has truly been a journey.

There are ten categories, and contenders have been considered from all Japan-related news stories I've read throughout 2008, not just in the paltry 3 months this blog has existed. Strap in, here we go!

Most Unbelievable Death(s) Of The Year Award

This award doesn't go to the seven people who were stabbed to death in Akihabara in June, as you might have expected, because those deaths were both tragic and tragically believable. No, the Unbelievable Death(s) Award goes to the three seperate people who managed to get themselves killed by foot massagers in December.

The method was ingenious. Each of them had the cunning idea of taking the fabric cover of the foot massagers off, applying the foot massagers to the back of their necks, and then having the foot massagers roll up the backs of their collars thus asphyxiating them. In response, the company that makes the devices, the Matoba Electric Manufacturing Company, issued a statement belatedly asking people to please not be lethally stupid.

Most Unexpected Celebrity News Award

There were lots of new stories I remembered for this award, all coincidentally involving gravure idols and models. Either they lead particularly exciting lives or I'm somehow gravitating towards certain types of news reports. I guess we'll never know.

Coda Risa was arrested for possession of drugs, Leah Dizon got pregnant, Sawajiri Erika announced her engagement, but none of these were as shocking as the death of Iijima Ai. She was discovered dead in her apartment on the 21st of December after a friend became worried that she hadn't heard from her in days. She was found lying face-down, and the medical team stated on site that she'd been dead for a few days and that they couldn't yet ascertain the cause. Since the 24th no further statements have been released.

For those who don't know her, Iijima was one of the most popular AV stars in the late '80s and early '90s, leaving the industry in '92 to release a single and start appearing on daytime tv. She was a figure of female empowerment throughout the '90s, talking openly on tv panel shows about the dangers of STDs and the idea that it's ok for women to feel good during sex, whilst the other female celebrities sat there cutely, looking on and giggling. Iijima had a semi-autobiographical book, "Platonic Sex", published in 2000. There, as well as in various interviews and public speeches, she recounted her ascent from a horrible life in which she was homeless during her teens and raped at 14, to a life in which she attained national celebrity, having dinner with Koizumi Junichiro and campaigning prolifically for AIDs awareness.

She's died at the ridiculous age of 36, and it's understandably quite a big deal to a lot of people, me included. In the media nothing gets more coverage than a scandal or a story involving salacious revelations, and it often looks like the media are conspiring to create as powerful a state of shame as possible in which society can wallow self-pityingly. But Iijima refused to be ashamed of her past and showed that it's possible to change your life and the lives of those around you.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Speed Gamers - Final Score

The Speed Gamers that I blogged about a couple of months ago didn't succeed in catching 491 Pokemon in 72 hours like they claimed they would, ending their project with 429. I watched the videos of them playing live on their website, and while it was a noble aim they clearly just weren't up to the task. The guy who was playing FireRed whited out multiple times, once even at the Rival battle on the SS. Anne. That's an obligatory battle and everyone knows what his team is going to be, so to manage to lose at that stage is fairly baffling. I hope it was the same guy that played Ruby, because he was equally incompetent at battling. And we're not talking strategic errors here, we're talking actual elementary battling errors, like not knowing the type-chart. That's fairly unforgivable. Also, they guy playing Diamond chose Torterra for his complete play-through instead of Infernape, which is ludicrous.

Their project did raise $5929 for an Autism charity though, which was apparently what the whole thing was for. They wanted to raise at least $5000, and while that's a nice gesture it's still something of a consolation prize. How do you white out from a Rival battle? That's just plain embarrassing.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


Emperor Akihito turned 75 recently amidst a new surge of health problems. In 2003 it was prostate cancer that was treated with hormone therapy, which then lead to an increased risk of brittle-bone disease. This time round it's an irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and stress-related internal bleeding, apparently due to his concerns about the royal succession. Thus his worrying about death draws him closer to dying, which makes him worry about death more. And Crown Princess Masako's depression is getting either worse or better, depending on which news sources you believe.

Some websites claim that the Emperor's health concerns mirror a recent Telegraph article about a survey of workforce health. The article reports that, "As many as three in five Japanese workers complain that they have become ill or unhealthy as a result of workplace grievances", a sentence which means next to nothing. ("As many as" is a leading phrase, the use of "complain" is both leading and simultaneously throws doubt on the survey that it's pushing in a marvellously stupid contradiction, becoming "ill or unhealthy" is ambiguous, as is "workplace grievances".) In fact, the entire Telegraph article is so full of bullshit that to try to deconstruct the whole thing here would take ages and be Unspeakably Depressing. Needless to say, the websites that try to draw links between the two events are also Unspeakably Depressing.

Get well soon Emperor Akihito!


I'm back from an extended winter-break of not blogging! Yay!

Lots of news to catch up on, and Happy 2009 to you all!

As part of the 2009 blog design-tweaks, the second Ueto Aya slideshow has been replaced with the new OTN Radio thing! Yaaay! Click the play button for instant coolness.