Friday, 22 May 2009

In Before The Clock Ticks Over

It's 11.57pm over here, so it's time for today's blog post!

The brilliant Crazy Ken Band have just signed with a major label. Universal are establishing a sublabel called, for absolutely no reason, Double Joy International just for them. Frankly, I didn't know they weren't already signed with a major label. Well, 'every day a little wiser', eh?

For those of you who aren't already familiar with Crazy Ken Band, here are a couple of songs. They kick ass. Bask in the glory! Etc!



Thursday, 21 May 2009

Lock Stock

There's a reason I haven't written any blog posts since Monday - I forgot. I've been literally so busy over the past three days that I completely forgot to write on the internet or watch even a single minute of baseball. Apparently I missed a Mariners win last night. :o( Still, the reason I'm so busy is that the Pokemon World Video Game Championship is currently happening around the globe and the London heat is in nine days, giving me a frighteningly short amount of time to do a frighteningly large amount of preparation. So you can expect anything I write on here over the next ten days to be quite spectacularly half-assed. Even more so than last week when I only had university exams to prepare for and not a potentially life-changing Pokemon tournament.

But anyway! Today, let me introduce you to the Stocking Tug Of Team War!


Available in shops.

Behold! The heady mix of two parts entertainment, five parts extreme lack of taste!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Paper Plane World Record. Whoopee.

Toda Takuo is a 52 year old paper plane enthusiast from Fukuyama. He recently broke the world record for the longest paper plane flight by 0.3 seconds, and it now stands at a proud 27.9 seconds. He tells us that "the key to breaking the record is how high you fly it." No. Shit.

That story makes today officially the Slowest News Day Of The Year so far. It's actually slower than the days when I didn't even have any news to post. Give me strength.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Stagnation

I said a week ago that I'd do a post on the DPJ leader election when they announce who's running for office, but they already elected Hatoyama Yukio this weekend when I wasn't looking. Sorry. That's what happens in politics when you're not paying attention: nothing.

Somehow the DPJ decided that instead of giving Japan something different from the failing LDP, trying to win an election by being better than the other candidate, they'd give Japan something exactly the same and hope that people confuse the two enough to elect the DPJ. Or something. Shisaku points out that both Hatoyama and Aso are bad communicators who are recent descendants of former conservative party Prime Ministers. (We can also add the other two leaders of the LDP since Koizumi to that list - Fukuda's father was Prime Minister and so was Abe's grandfather.) So what's making the DPJ more electable now? They might have had something under Ozawa, but that's been scuppered.

Time to elect the Communist Party?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Well I Blame The Parents

The Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Konoike Yoshitada, resigned a few days ago due to "health issues". Not having a formal education in politics it took me a while to realise that "health issues" is actually a euphemism for "being caught using government money to pay for a golf trip as part of a poorly-concealed extramarital affair with a young lady". Don't you just hate jargon?

And you know when Aso said to reporters that he shouldn't be held responsible for the appointment of someone who later had to resign for being a cheat and a crook? That was a euphemism he cleared up in yesterday's speech. It's apparently a more poetic way of saying that he's "responsible for appointing all those who ended up resigning" and that "This time is no exception". I guess we should have known that. Silly us. Who knew we were actually supposed to trust politicians less?

So now Konoike is "entirely to blame", and Aso is also "fully responsible". Once Japanese scientists invent an engine powered by Japan's surplus guilt we're all gonna be driving hovercars.

Aso's "How-can-you-ever-forgive-me?" face

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Why I'm Not Working In R&D

Japanese scientists have developed technology for an organic electro-luminescent display that stretches. Apparently,

The team demonstrated a face-shaped display showing changing expressions, and a spherical screen to show weather information. They were produced by spraying a layer of carbon nanotubes with a fluoro-rubber compound to produce a stretchy, conductive material. The displays are thinner than plasma and LCD equivalents, and consume very little power, making them suitable for a range of different uses.

Not entirely sure that it's going to make much difference in the world. What actual good can this technology be put to? Maybe they'll be able to make bras that have a Twitter-feed on them. Or bras that show the baseball scores. Or bras that tell you what mood the wearer is in. Hmmm. Maybe someone with more imagination than me should have a look at the new technology.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Miss Universe Japan 2009

Miss Universe Japan 2009 has been chosen! And this time she's actually hot! Cue a gallery of Emily Miyasaka photos! Yaaay!







A strong contender who didn't quite make it was this chick:


There's an exhaustive gallery of photos from the event at the Mainichi. I'll leave you to enjoy the photos in your own way. (click them to enlarge)

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Abe In Nine Hour Play

I don't want to turn this blog into a laundry list of my woes, because that list is about as long as the Thames and growing every day. But I will say that today has already been an especially shit day, because the exam I thought I was supposed to be sitting is actually scheduled for next Monday. So I've been working myself up thinking that after today I'd be finished with university til October, but now I have another week left because I can't read a bloody exam timetable properly. I must be the only literature student who can't even read a timetable.

But anyway. That's a phrase I'm having to use more and more to distinguish actual blog posts from the opening paragraph of whinging.

Abe Hiroshi, star of Trick and Hero, is going to be playing the lead in the first production of The Coast Of Utopia in Japan from September to October. It's actually a trilogy of plays set in nineteenth century Russia, but they're going to be performed back-to-back. Which means that Abe will be onstage for nine hours per day.

The play was written by British playwright Tom Stoppard, widely known for writing Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, but whose real genius came out when he co-wrote the Brazil screenplay. That was a fucking awesome film. Why don't they do a stage adaption of that? Abe Hiroshi as Sam Lowry would be kickass.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Le Sigh...

Something has actually happened in politics! After several particularly dry months for political news, Ozawa has announced that he's resigning.

The DPJ fund-raising scandal that had nothing to do with Ozawa himself has still affected his image, and that's what's prompted his decision. It's a shame, because his approval ratings were far higher than Aso, and if the scandal hadn't dragged its sagging, irrelevant ass onto the scene then he'd be almost guaranteed to win the election this year. Now we don't know who we're going to get.

I just can't agree with this Japanese culture of offering resignations as a form of apology. Resigning is a one-hit-deal; if someone's screwed up and they're really sorry then they should be prepared to stay on and work like a dog to make things right again. I guess it's gratifying to see someone who screwed up making a sacrifice as penance, or just suffering, so people are very keen to demand resignations. Hey, I do it all the time. But of course Ozawa hasn't actually done anything wrong.

Anyway, when they announce who's taking over or running for office I'll do a proper post on this, the most tedious and boring scandal-resignation-leadership-race in history.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Prognosis: Shit

Fresh from kicking the ass of a bad case of flu, only to have it kick back, and then completing all my university coursework in record and hysteria-inducing time, I now have some kind of stomach bug. It's entrenched in my stomach and it really hates me. This month has started as badly as last month. At least it hasn't dampened my joie de vivre, eh? OH WAIT.

Anyway. Let's see what's happening in Japan.

The papers say something about a Pacific Islands Summit and the leaders of Fiji not being invited, and how that's making some people unhappy. But hey, people are always unhappy. At least they haven't got stomach bugs. Three cases of swine flu have been confirmed. They were from America and had been travelling in Canada, so expect all Americans and Canadians to be put under house arrest for the next ten years.

In politics, Aso Taro wants to host a nuclear disarmament conference in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, to get world leaders talking about possibly planning to do something which might marginally reduce the pace of Armageddon. And Aso is also going to "face-off" against Ozawa in the Diet on Wednesday. Unfortunately the "face-off" is a public debate and not a "Face/Off", with Aso playing the part of John Travolta and Ozawa playing Nicholas Cage. Aso has also inadvertently said something that insults most of the population, again, but this time had the sense to retract it afterwards. Who gives a shit? I certainly can't because all my food is coming out the other way.

In business news, all car companies are going down the drain. Fuck them. It's not like they have stomach bugs or something.

That's the news. Take two pills and pass the bottle to the left.

Aso's "John Travolta circa-'97" face

Friday, 8 May 2009

OMFuckinG! Nintendo Announcement! Pokemon Gold and Silver Remakes! OMFuckinG!!

As I type this I am happier than I could ever admit to people not on the internet. This is one of the best days of my life! Nintendo have announced that they are remaking Pokemon Gold and Silver for the DS. The remakes will be called Pokemon HeartGold and Pokemon SoulSilver. It's all confirmed, it's on the official website. It's actually happening! The dream has become real!

Look at the title graphics:


Isn't it beautiful? I'm so happy I'm genuinely on the verge of tears! This is one of the best things that has ever happened! I CAN'T STOP USING EXCLAMATION MARKS!!

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver are due for release in November this year in Japan. The US version will likely be released in mid 2010, with the European version coming whenever they remember the European market still exists. But we'll all be importing the Japanese versions and then importing the US versions and then completing them both and then framing the boxes before we even start thinking about the European release, right? I mean, we all will. Won't we?

I'm inviting all my friends out tonight to drink like there's no tomorrow. This is the Best Day Ever.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

"We Won't Diagnose You With Swine Flu If You Might Have It"

As my slow return to lucidity continues, it looks like everyone else is going the opposite way. My WTF-Moment of the Day happened when I read this article in the Mainichi. You remember how Japan was getting ready to fight the swine-flu virus by setting up hundreds of emergency clinics and heat-scanning people and encouraging everyone to wear thin, permeable bits of cotton over their faces? Of course you do, that was in the news yesterday - your brain only needs 24 hours of storage space to remember that.


Mr. Porky's foil-sealed Bag of DEATH

Well today it's being reported that people with any kind of fever are being turned away by doctors and hospitals. They've also refused medical-examinations to people who mention that they have a foreign friend. The potential infected are being sent to public health centres (which are not actually equipped to test for the H1N1 virus), or just having doors slammed in their faces amidst shrieks of "Unclean! Unclean!".

So on the one hand they've set up more facilities for treating the virus than anywhere else in the world, but on the other hand they're refusing to send the possibly-infected to places that might be equipped to deal with them. There's a paradox here somewhere, I know there is. I can smell it.


Bird Flu and Swine Flu collide... with hilarious results

Monday, 4 May 2009

Swine Flu Over The Cuckoo's Nest

I haven't been writing much in the way of Japanese news lately, but that's only because I haven't been reading any. But I've started again out of an illness-induced lack of things to do.

I guess the most important news over the past week has been swine flu, right? So far I've managed to avoid caring about it, as I have with everything the Central British Media Brain has churned out as a scandal or triumph in the past five years. But then I got ill, and suddenly it became very interesting indeed. Obviously I don't have swine-flu, just the unfashionable and unglamorous regular flu, but it seems like whenever anyone sneezes these days everyone dives for cover "just in case". The Japanese have a great tradition of wearing a face-mask if they're ill (so they don't spread it to others) or if there's a bug going round, a purely speculative and useless precaution that's more a gesture of social-consciousness or panic than a viable preventative measure. Of course, there's always a bug going round, that's just how the world works. Somewhere, someone you know is ill, and that'll never change. Unfortunately, this time it's me.

But anyway. I'm rambling now. That'll probably be the flu. Japan is currently on "high-alert" for this swine-flu thing, and have created 684 emergency clinics to deal with it. 684 clinics, all with absolutely nothing to do, because there hasn't actually been an outbreak of swine-flu in Japan yet. 684 clinics, all with nothing to do but work themselves into a frothing panic.

They've also started running heat-scans over arrivals at Japan's airports to see if anyone has a fever. And absurdly, people are worried that they're not prepared enough. The world really has gone stone-cold crazy.

This is why I hardly read the news any more. I'll be back tomorrow with some jokes. If I'm still alive.


"Death! Death and Pestilence upon ye!"

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Time-Lapse Tokyo

Some time-lapse footage of Shinjuku was recently posted on TokyoMango, so I got to tracking down other time-lapse footage of Tokyo. The most interesting ones are obviously the ones which retrack a number of years into a number of seconds. This video shows the construction of a few skyscrapers over the course of two years in Roppongi:


Pretty cool, right? But this next video is a little more ambitious - it retracks 35 years into 10 seconds. Every year from July 1969 to July 2004 a picture was taken of the skyline over Shinjuku and then strung together by a tv show:


This next clip shows time-lapse footage of roads:


And finally this is the awesome video that made me spend a half hour looking at sped-up home-movies:

Saturday, 2 May 2009

OMFuckinG New Pokemon Game Announcement Is Imminent!

Aaaaaaahh! Aaaaaaaah! A new Pokemon game! A new Pokemon game! AAAaaaaaaaahh!!

According to Bulbapedia:

Several media outlets have revealed that the announcement of a major, popularly-discussed Pokémon game will be made later this month. Pokémon Sunday is set to reveal the title May 10.

Issues of CoroCoro and Nintendo Dream will be published the day after the announcement with screaming headlines and about the "much-talked-about big title".

Bulbapedia reasons that since Nintendo have said that the new game has been the centre of speculation, this means they're probably referring to the Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver remakes that the whole fanbase is collectively trying to will into existence. The reasons for expecting a remake of those two games are numerous. They are so numerous, in fact, that it would take a Pokemon fan with psychotic-level obsession and a flagrant disregard of his readership to list them all on his blog. So here they are:

1. Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue were remade in Generation III, setting a precedent for remaking games two generations before after the new generation games have been released.
2. The Generation IV games are set in the same time span as Gold and Silver, just as Gen III was in the same time span as Red and Blue.
3. The red Gyarados from the Lake of Rage is mentioned on the news in Sinnoh.
4. The Olivine Gym Leader, Jasmine, has a cameo in Sunnyshore City.
5. Professor Elm's Pokemon egg studies are mentioned.
6. Cynthia gives the player a Secret Potion in Gen IV, just like the Secret Potion needed to cure the Ampharos in the Olivine lighthouse. The in-bag description also mentions Cianwood City.
7. Bebe talks about a "friend from Johto", who gave her an Eevee, and sounds a lot like Bill.
8. The guy in the Hotel Grand Lake talks about locations in Johto, namely the Tin Tower and Whirl Islands.
9. The Veilstone City Department Store has Ragecandybars, but they're always listed as "sold out".
10. In the game data, possible locations for non-Sinnoh Pokemon are Kanto, Hoenn, and Johto.
11. In the Diamond/Pearl series of the anime, every major character has obtained at least one Gen II Pokemon.
12. One of the promotion Pokemon for the new movie is a unique Pichu, who was also used as a promotion for Gold and Silver.
13. The new movie also features all three Johto starter-Pokemon.
14. Trademarked names include Pokemon DuskGold and Pokemon DawnSilver (which might correspond to the Dawn and Dusk Stones in the Gen IV games), and also Pokemon WhiteGold and Pokemon MoonStone (and Nintendo also own the rights to www.pokemonwhitegold.com).

But anyway. We'll see come the 10th, right? I'm very excited. Pokemon Gold being my third favourite video game ever, if remakes are announced on the 10th I may very well cry with joy.

Please please please, Nintendo. Please.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Oricon Survey Aggregate List

Disengage Laziness Protocol! OTN is back! I've not been blogging for a week due to a nexus of life setbacks including multiple deadlines, a broken internet service, illness, and a predisposition towards sleeping a lot. But now that's all over so we can get back on track. What was I almost definitely talking about? Oh yes, Ueto Aya.

So I've been doing some research on recent Oricon surveys, through the brilliant Tokyograph. And I've come to the conclusion that Aya isn't quite as popular as she used to be. In the "Ideal Younger Sister" survey she came fourth (Becky came first), in the "Ideal New Co-worker" category she came second (Becky came first), and in the "Ideal Type Of Daughter" survey she came fourth again (Becky came first). Seriously, what the hell? I'm a fan of Becky, obv - who isn't? But she's no Ueto Aya.

The surveys kind of puzzle me. It would be interesting to see what kind of criteria the public are using which makes them think Aya would be twice as good as a new co-worker as she is a daughter or younger sister. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you can't sleep with your daughter. Well... it's frowned upon at any rate.

I also looked at the "Who Do You Want To Marry?" survey, in which Aya came second, and the "Who Do You Want As Your Lover?" survey, in which she came first (YES!). Funny how those two surveys aren't the same, eh? It seems the average man wants to marry Ayase Haruka, whilst sleeping with Ueto Aya. Anyway, I then aggregated the positions of the celebrities in each survey using a rudimentary point system (a technique carried over from too much time spent on Fantasy Baseball games), and got the following Top 5 Most Popular Female Celebrities:

1. Ueto Aya (37 points)
2. Becky (30 points)
3. Aragaki Yui (25 points)
4. Nagasawa Masami (22 points)
5= Ayase Haruka (18 points)
5= Horikita Maki (18 points)

So there you go. Rudimentary statistics crunched from laughably small sample data don't lie. Ueto Aya is officially the most popular female celebrity in Japan.