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Browsing Categories

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Browsing Category: > Current Affairs

More Nova News

Date: 2007 November 23rd Friday [12:39] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Following on from the stories about Japan's English Language School Nova being bankrupt, The Times, are running a story by a Nova employee about the situation, even if you're not interested in Nova, but are considering teaching English in Japan it's worth reading, as it gives insight into what to expect when teaching English to a broad array of Japanese people as Oliver Clarke explains - "... no topic seemed taboo as I was frequently regaled with tales of extra-marital office affairs, bowel movements and alcohol-induced vomiting, despite my best efforts to steer the conversations towards shopping or pets..."

The article ends explaining that Nova employees are still waiting to find out what the situation is, as Japanese staff haven't been paid since July, and 4,000 non-Japanese instructors have not been paid since October.

Source: The Times

Japanese staff get benefits for their pets

Date: 2007 November 20th Tuesday [14:10] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

In a heart warming story from the Mainichi Daily News, they are covering details of the latest employment perk in Japan - pet allowances, which is part of recognising pets as legitimate members of the family.

The article highlights a few companies that are doing this, including Kyoritsu Seiyaku Corp, which plans to give every dog and cat owning staff member a pet dependency allowance of 1,000 yen a month. They are also considering a 12,000 yen reward fee for anybody who agrees to adopt a stray.

The article also mentions that pet food company Hills Colgate (Japan) was one of the earliest companies to reward employees with pets, as they have a pet condolence system which started in 2005, where staff are rewarded 10,000 for each animal they own and another 10,000 yen in condolence if the pet passes away, along with a condolence telegram from the company president and a days leave to grieve.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Tokyo Top city for good food

Date: 2007 November 20th Tuesday [13:34] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Cuisine

BBC News have just published a story which states that Tokyo has the finest cuisine in the world. The Michelin guide, famous for awarding the coveted Michelin stars has devoted it's first ever edition to an Asian city. Tokyo was awarded a total of 191 stars, which is nearly twice as many as Paris and more than 3 times New York's total.

The article ironically states that 3 of the top 8 restaurants in Tokyo serve French food.

Source: BBC News

Cosplay pubs all the rage in Japan

Date: 2007 November 12th Monday [17:57] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

The Mainichi Daily News has an interesting article about the latest trend in Japan, Cosplay pubs, where staff dress up in cosplay (and sometimes customers too). The costumes vary from venue to venue and don't seem to be anime themed. The article concludes that it's a great way for office workers to unwind and isn't "as geekish as the maidcafes the otaku like to go to".

Source: Mainichi Daily News

It's over for Nova?

Date: 2007 October 26th Friday [5:00] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News are running at story about Nova, Japan's largest chain of foreign language schools. Apparently the company is in financial crisis and has filed for court protection from creditors. 2,000 Japanese staff have not been paid since July and 4,000 non-Japanese instructors have not been paid their October salary, according to union officials. Nova has also closed all of it's schools.

The firm primarily offers English classes, being the largest foreign language school in Japan, Nova were always keen to recruit English speaking graduates eager for adventures in Japan and frequently attend graduate fairs. English Language schools are often used by otaku as a sort of gap year experience, many have extended their stay from just a year to a couple of years, and some even joining the company permanently making their chosen career path. Nova also advertised their lessons heavily in Japan and even had a mascot, the Nova Usagi, a cute pink rabbit who was enthusiastic about learning English.

For our readers who want to go to Japan for a year, we don't think the English language school market has collapsed, Nova lost a court case that had ruled it had misled customers in adverts about it's services, as a result student enrolment dropped, and Nova accumulated huge debts. There are other English language schools in Japan (we wonder if their enrolment has increased instead of Nova's), and failing that there are also a few government schemes for foreign nationals to participate in.

Source: BBC News

Japanese civil servants in trouble over Wikipedia edits

Date: 2007 October 5th Friday [8:52] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

BBC News are reporting a story about some Japanese civil servants who got into trouble at work for making lots of Wikipedia edits. One particular man was found to have made 260 entries to Gundam articles. The article features a classic quote from a ministry official, in case you didn't already know "The Agriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gundam".

We wonder if the agriculture ministry could do with some robotic help, as lots of labour intensive tasks in agricultural circles could surely be made easier. We're wondering if they're not so keen on Gundam, what robot would be better? ^_-

Source: BBC News

Anime Cancelled Following Axe Murder

Date: 2007 September 24th Monday [19:27] | Posted By: Jeremy
Category: > Freaky Things

Two anime series get cancelled after a girl kills her father with an axe!

Read More... | Source: Mainichi Daily News

Manga shares gain in Japan

Date: 2007 September 13th Thursday [8:49] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Manga

As a slightly strange side effect of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announcing his exit, shares in manga retailers in Japan have surged with speculation that manga fan Taro Aso is the leading candidate to replace Mr Abe.

According to BBC News, Mr Aso is a big promoter of manga abroad. They cite the rise of manga publisher Broccoli gaining 71% and Mandarake (a retail store in Japan which is a treasure trove for otaku), jumping 13%.

The article states that Mr Aso served as foreign minister, and suggested that embracing Japanese pop culture was an important step in cultivating ties with other countries. If this is the case the Otaku News crew would like an invite to Japan to meet with Mr Aso to help promote manga and anime. ^_-

Sadly the BBC gets some facts wrong about anime and manga stating that they have "psychedelic colours and outlandish story lines", and emphasises the more explicit side of anime and manga. They also manage to mention Spirited Away and Quentin Tarantino in the same sentence, which I'm sure can lead to all sorts of associations for those who haven't actually seen the wonderful family film that is Spirited Away.

The article also states that Mr Aso created an International Manga Award to honour non-Japanese cartoonists.

Source: BBC News

Toilet Money Mysteries

Date: 2007 July 18th Wednesday [8:42] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

No, it's not a name of a new bizarre anime series, but a puzzling story that's being reported on BBC News. Someone has been leaving envelopes with 10,000 yen notes (that's about $82 USD, or £40), in men's toilets around Japan. Over the last couple of months around 4 million yen has been found. Most of the money has been found in government office buildings.

Read More... | Source: BBC News

British rural tea-rooms seek geisha girls

Date: 2007 July 12th Thursday [17:03] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

BBC News are currently running an interesting story about the quest for geisha in Cumbria. The Lake District is a popular destination with Japanese tourists. So much so that Cumbria Tourism has translated a map of tea-serving places off the beaten track into Japanese and even hosting a Green Tea Day on 19th July 2007. Cafes on the tea trail are advertising for geishas to help with intricacies of the tea ceremony. Experts are also required to help translate the more trickier recipe names like "tarty tarn drizzle" into Japanese.

Fully-trained geisha are rare and apparently would charge up to £7,000 (more than $13,000 USD) to fly across from Japan. So the tourist association is hoping some more local experts can help out. Which is why I'm really posting this story on Otaku News. I know of our readers would be able to help. Any experts when it comes to tea etiquette in Japan should contact Cumbria Tourism. I'm sure a few translators could come in handy too. ^_-

Source: BBC News

Australian soap to target Japanese tourists

Date: 2007 June 27th Wednesday [4:49] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News are currently running a story about a new Australian soap opera that is set to target a Japanese audience. With Yoshino Kimura getting the main billing, the soap is going to focus on a group of Japanese students living near the sunny beaches of Queensland. The idea is basically to create a 30 minute long advert to why it's good to go to Australia. The article draws parallels to the success of Neighbours in the UK and the effect it had to increasing the amount of British tourists to Australia.

The article states that Japanese tourism is worth A$1.98bn ($1.68bn USD) to the Australian economy each year, with 624,000 visitors annually.

Personally I've travelled to Queensland, and I'd rather the Australian government don't promote themselves, as I would prefer that places like Noosa were kept a secret. ^_-

Source: BBC News

Russian ninja caught in Italy

Date: 2007 June 13th Wednesday [4:51] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

In what can only described as a truly bizarre story reported by BBC News, it seems that Italian police have arrested a Russian robber wearing a ninja like outfit. He has all the hallmarks of an excellent manga villain, dressed all in black the ex-military robber equipped with a night scopes, bow and a knife breaks into farmer's houses and robs them and their families.

The wannabe ninja was only caught out when a farmer was expecting him and was ready and waiting with a rifle. Coming down the stairs the farmer tripped on the last step, letting the gun off and frightening the robber away, who instead of jumping into trees or flipping out, hopped into a bicycle and made a getaway into a nearby cornfield, where he was followed and later caught by police.

Source: BBC News

Grey Japan propping up the economy

Date: 2007 June 11th Monday [14:30] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News have an interesting story about the elderly in Japan who are old enough to retire, but choose not too, partly because they enjoy it, but also because they companies they work for need them. Many companies now have older worker schemes to keep their skilled and experienced staff in the company.

The article continues with a rather lonely technology solution, a kettle for old people that sends text messages to their children to tell them that they're still using the kettle and therefore OK.

Source: BBC News

Japanese MP gets virtual office

Date: 2007 June 11th Monday [8:27] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

In what sounds like something from Serial Experiments Lain, BBC News are running an article about a Japanese MP who has opened an office in the virtual world of Second Life.

MP Kan Suzuki states that he wants "to discuss new policies with net citizens, deliver lectures and also hold meetings".

Mr Suzuki claims to be the first Japanese politician to establish an office there. Interestingly the MP could be breaking the law by doing so, the Public Office Election Law (which is over 50 years old), restricts election campaign materials to postcards and pamphlets, with officials recently deciding that web pages cannot be created or updated during the official period of campaigning for elections.

The BBC conclude that it's not clear if this will affect Mr Suzuki's plans to use his second life office to help him win re-election. Some have claimed this is just a gimmick. What the article doesn't say is what Mr Suzuki's avatar (on-line character) looks like, the Otaku News crew suspect it's probably a virtual copy of him, but we're secretly hoping it's something a lot cooler. ^_^

Source: BBC News

Golden Bathtub stolen from hotel

Date: 2007 May 31st Thursday [16:56] | Posted By: Jeremy
Category: > Current Affairs

Million-dollar bathtub stolen from hotel near Tokyo.

Read More... | Source: Yahoo! News

Hikonyan the cat helps Hikone Castle

Date: 2007 April 27th Friday [15:38] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

Everyone knows that cute stuff is popular in Japan. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Hikone Castle in Shiga Prefecture they created a mascot cat called Hikonyan, a fat white cat wearing a samurai helmet sporting big yellow horns. According to The Mainichi Daily News, Hikonyan toured major cities and generated massive merchandise sales. Apparently people travel to Hikone Castle now just to see Hikonyan, who comes out four times a day to greet visitors, people are willing to wait for hours, lining up for the greeting sessions. The article states that part of Hikonyan's popularity is down to his vulnerability making him appealing to otaku.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Lambs dressed as poodles

Date: 2007 April 26th Thursday [19:21] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

In one of the more bizarre stories we've published recently, it seems a news story doing it's rounds on many news sites including the UK Metro, about Japanese people who have been scammed into buying lambs, believing that they were poodles. What is even more odd is that the scam was only spotted when a Japanese actress appeared on TV and said her poodle didn't bark and refused to eat dog food. Apparently as many as 2,000 people have been fleeced this way as poodles are extremely rare in Japan and many people have little idea what they look like.

Source: Metro.co.uk

National Office for Vocation use manga to promote vocations

Date: 2007 April 26th Thursday [17:12] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Following on from our story about the Manga Bible, it seems that many religions want to remain accessible to a wider audience, according to the Catholic News Agency manga will be used to promote vocations in the UK.

The article states: "We have chosen the Manga cartoons for the 2007 campaign, because we hope it will appeal to young people under twenty as well as people in their thirties," Fr. Paul Embery, Director of the National Office for Vocation, explained to the Italian Religious Service.

A new website has been launched too - www.calledtoday.com which features artwork in a manga style and tells the stories of various people dedicated to the church.

Source: Catholic News Agency

Manga events at the Bristol Comics Expo

Date: 2007 April 11th Wednesday [13:34] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Events

Following on from our earlier story about the Bristol Comics Expo (on 12th and 13th of May 2007), we've got some more details regarding their coverage of manga stuff. They'll have:

- Tokyo Pop
- Sweatdrop Studios
- Selfmadehero
- Yishan Li
- Umisen-Yamasen
- Siku
- Boychild Books
- Ilya
- Misako Rocks

They've bundled everyone together into a Manga Ally too, as always it's good to see Sweatdrop attending these events.

Read More... | Source: Bristol Comics Expo

UK MP fears reduction of British children's TV

Date: 2007 March 19th Monday [15:30] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Anime > TV

The Guardian are reporting on British Conservative MP John Whittingdale's recent speech at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers conference. Mr Whittingdale is the chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee. He's rather worried about a children's TV and the impact of pulling food advertising from children's TV - "[It will] have a damaging effect on children's broadcasting that will lead to money going out of it, the effect will be fewer children's programmes produced in this country except for the BBC," the main concern he stresses is increase in imported Children's TV - "There will be a growth of the likes of Japanese anime cartoons and American animated content which is something we are concerned about and may need to be addressed as part of challenge of maintaining public service plurality."

So in a nut shell he's worried that there won't be enough British produced children's TV, as ITV has been reducing it's children's output. The Otaku News crew want more TV greats like Danger Mouse. ^_^

Source: The Guardian

Artist Accused of Plagiarism

Date: 2007 February 9th Friday [22:03] | Posted By: Jeremy
Category: > Current Affairs

Manga artist Rin Yoshi has been accused of committing plagiarism in the pages of her manga, Switch. According to Umeo Kamitsuo, Editor-in-Chief of Cookie, the manga magazine that serializes Switch, the opening pages of the manga were reproductions of images from the fashion magazine Gravure.

As a result of the accusations, the Switch manga will no longer appear in Cookie as of the April issue. Shueisha, the publisher behind the magazine, has also stopped distribution of Yoshi’s other works, including Kurabeyou mo nai Hodo ni (Uncomparable) and Silent Summer Snow, due to further instances of possible plagiarism. To prevent future incidents from happening, Umeo has stated that Cookie will step up their checks for potential copyright violations and make sure that their staff are aware of the problems associated with such issues.

Source: Anime News Network

Natto sales sky-rocket due to weight loss claims

Date: 2007 January 23rd Tuesday [7:55] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Cuisine

Natto a traditional Japanese dish made of fermented soy beans is an acquired taste even by Japanese standards, but recently sales of natto have gone through the roof in Japan due to a TV show aired by Kansai Television Corporation which claimed that eating natto morning and night has helped people lose up to 3.5kg (roughly 7.7 lbs).

However as BBC News reports, the show's producers have admitted that some of the data was false. The US professor shown on the programme was not the same one that did the original research, additionally he was misquoted.

The company president has issued an apology, buy KTV still believe the diet could help people slim.

The BBC report a media backlash from the Yomiuri Shimbun stating the show had harmed the credibility of the television media sector as a whole. The Mainichi Shimbun's editorial commentary points out that popular media tended to exaggerate or give misleading information to keep their ratings high when reporting on weight loss or other health issues.

Source: BBC News

Target Seal stickers prove a bit hit in Japan

Date: 2006 December 30th Saturday [16:30] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

Japan is famed for it's high tech toilets, with automatically opening lids, heated seats, jet washers and many other built in gadgets, but a new fad seems to be sweeping men's urinals, the Target Seal, a 3-centimetre high sticker placed inside a urinal to encourage men to take aim instead of randomly spraying all over the place (sorry to be crude, but this is so strange we just had to cover it).

The stickers proved to be so successful in Kansai International Airport that they've been labelled the cleanest toilets in any airport in the world by a London market research company.

The stickers are available in different designs and will change colour when warmed. Pachinko parlour urinals are using stickers with the number 777 (the lucky score in pachinko games) will go red just like a real pachinko machine does. The stickers also make cleaning the toilets a lot easier as their is less mess to clean up. Strange but true, you never know it might come to a urinal near you.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Oriental City under threat?

Date: 2006 November 22nd Wednesday [13:33] | Posted By: Azure
Category: > Current Affairs

Many readers of this site will be familiar with Oriental City in Colindale, North London (formally known as Yohan Plaza) a purpose built shopping centre which contains in all manner of East Asian shops, restaurants as well as a Sega arcade.

The complex's new owner Development Securities, is planning to redevelop the site, offering current tenants alternative accommodation whilst it does so. Current tenants argue that the development will disrupt the community adding that plans to allow space for a DIY superstore would destroy Oriental City's distinctive feel.

Source: The Independent

PS3 Disasters Already

Date: 2006 November 18th Saturday [9:44] | Posted By: Jeremy
Category: > Freaky Things

A dislocated jaw and gunshot customers already reported at releases for the new PS3.

Read More... | Source: G4TV.com

Fake priests in Japan

Date: 2006 November 3rd Friday [15:50] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

In what could be described as a bizarre plot from an episode of Father Ted, BBC News are running a story about the increasing trend of westerners earning money as fake priests in Japan. With western style weddings proving popular making up about 90% of ceremonies (despite only 1% of Japan being Christian), there is a shortage of real Christian priests, so Westerners are hired to give a performance and add to the atmosphere. The ceremonies are not legally binding, being more for show, so a visit to the local registrar is also required.

The article also reports that these wedding chapels can appear in untraditional locations, like on the sixth floor of a supermarket, the chapel is apparently very plastically, with lots of plastic stone and flowers to add to the atmosphere of fairy lights.

Authentic Christian Priests in Japan are annoyed at the impersonators, pointing out that people deserve a proper wedding and giving the real priests a bad reputation. The article also highlights that most Japanese people are unaware that there are fake priests, expecting all priests to be real.

Source: BBC News

Japanese traumatised by Paris

Date: 2006 October 23rd Monday [3:24] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

A syndicated press article reports that around a dozen Japanese tourists each year need psychological treatment after visiting Paris. Apparently the real Paris does not meet their expectations, with unfriendly locals and scruffy streets. Harsh customer service when compared to Japanese shops and everyone looking stern on public transport seem to be key factors.

More bizarrely some people have extreme symptoms of being traumatised in Paris, with individuals believing their hotel room was bugged, another thought that she was being attacked by microwaves, with one man certain he was Louis XIV, this sounds like a plot from a crazy anime series.

Source: The Scotsman

YouTube take down nearly 30,000 Japanese Clips

Date: 2006 October 20th Friday [12:36] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Websites

BBC News and many other news sources are currently reporting that 29,549 clips have been removed from YouTube after the Japanese media companies complained of copyright infringement. The popular video hosting site (recently bought by Google for $1.65bn USD) frequently had clips from Japanese TV shows along with some anime as well.

It is not clear from the article what content has been removed, if it's Japanese TV programmes, more extreme quiz shows, comedy sketches and skits such as Matrix Pong, users of YouTube will have to discover that for themselves. What will be interesting to find out is if YouTube will automatically take down any future content or if the Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) will have to file more requests.

Source: BBC News

Chinglish bad Engrish begone!

Date: 2006 October 15th Sunday [13:22] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

Those familiar with Engrish the nonsense English found in Far Eastern countries where English can be written in unpredictable and impossible to understand ways, will no doubt feel a bit of sympathy towards Beijing who are trying to clamp down on what BBC News have dubbed Chinglish in time for the 2008 Olympics. People can report the mistranslations and a panel of English professors and expatriates will review the signs and hopefully provide a more meaningful translation.

Source: BBC News

San Francisco hotel to have Anime theme

Date: 2006 October 13th Friday [3:57] | Posted By: Davie
Category: > Anime

Interesting news from Anime News Network, San Francisco's Best Western Miyako Inn Hotel is going to be turned into a Japanese pop culture persona, starting with a contest to rename the hotel. The new theme will be "an energetic, optimistic expression" of anime, manga, J-Pop, and street fashion, said Matt Harvey, Creative Director of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a boutique hotel operator that took over the 125-room hotel in May.

Source: Anime News Network

Otaku Hunting

Date: 2006 September 29th Friday [9:33] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

Otaku in Akihabara beware! The area famed as the spiritual homeland of otaku is under fire from young thieves who are targeting the mild mannered geeks. According the Mainichi Daily News eight youths (aged 14 to 18 detailed in other reports) were engaged in what they called "otaku hunting". The teens targeted otaku in Akihabara for mugging because they are weak, and are known to have money especially when in Akihabara due to the many popular anime shops in the area.

The bullies demand money from powerless otaku and threaten violence.

Police state that there have been 25 separate reports of otaku hunting since the start of the year with the victims losing a combined sum of 350,000 yen ($2965 USD / £1590 GBP) between them.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

New York - Tokyo Music Festival scheduled for this weekend

Date: 2006 September 23rd Saturday [15:58] | Posted By: Dallas Marshall
Category: > Events

Fujisankei Communications International (FCI) and Sharp Electronics Corporation join forces to present you the New York-Tokyo Music Festival 2006 on Saturday, September 30, 2006 at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park a free, all-day, good old-fashioned outdoor concert that will have some inspired artistic talents from the East and the West. The festival’s focal point this year is on artists that are just beginning to make a name for themselves in several different musical subgenres, ranging from Turntablism to Dancehall, Hip-hop to Progressive Jazz.

Read More... | Source: Anime News Service

Japanorama Returns

Date: 2006 September 4th Monday [3:57] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Anime > TV

Keen readers of TV guides may have spotted the return of Japanorama, Jonathan Ross' TV show focusing on the more cool and bizarre side of Japanese culture. The previous season was well worth watching, and this latest instalment promises to be just as entertaining and informative.

UK Viewers (with freeview/cable/satellite) can catch Japanorama on BBC Three starting Thursday 7th September at 11pm, this weeks episode Ross explores the meaning of kakoii, Japanese for cool.

Source: BBC Three

Geisha Advertise On-line

Date: 2006 August 21st Monday [17:22] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

In a really good of example of the traditional world colliding with the high-tech world, the Mainichi Daily News are running an interesting article about adverts for apprentice geisha Kyoto. Recently the number of applicants had steadily started to drop, until an enterprising teahouse started blogging about the experience of being an apprentice geisha and started posting adverts for applications.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Rare Games Collection Stolen

Date: 2006 August 20th Sunday [15:36] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Fandom

We've been passed a press release from DDR:uk, a group of hardcore Dance Dance Revolution fanatics, on the 18th of August their equipment was stolen (with the exception of their custom build DDR machine, as it too big to easily move), their £25,000 collection includes a wide variety of rare and sought after games, most of which are no longer in production, along with specialist hardware and games controllers.

Since the items in question are rather unique, we would like to ask community minded otaku to be aware of the items stolen and keep a look out for them on places like popular auction sites, specialist games dealers and other places second hand goods are traded. The DDR:uk crew are offering a reward for any information.

The DDR:uk crew also help run events at anime conventions such as the games room, which was a huge success at AmeCon 2006, with the DDR machine being a huge attraction, along with the more unusual classic games. DDR:uk also put a plea out for hardware and games donation to help replace what was stolen.

On a side note the AmeCon manga library (which is made up of generous donations from Tokyopop and Tanoshimi and is stored with the DDR:uk hardware), was also vanadilised by the same criminals, with boxes of manga thrown out onto the street into the rain, and is now spoiled as a result.

We've deliberatly posted this to all editions of Otaku News, as although the items in question were stolen in the UK, many of the items stolen are rare they're desirable internationally, so all our readers should be made aware.

Read More... | Source: DDR:uk

The Mists of Akihabara - How Japan beats the summer heats

Date: 2006 July 31st Monday [17:49] | Posted By: Dallas Marshall
Category: > Current Affairs

Japanese summers are usually extremely hot and that goes for this year as well. The sun shows no mercy for Japan as it shines down on its streets, the people have no choice but to endure.

But Tokyo (Akihabara to be exact) is showing the summer sun what it is made of! Right in front of the JR Akihabara train station is a machine that sets of a refreshing mist when the temperature outside reaches a certain level. That is one of the best ideas yet, am I right?

How would you like to have one of those in your town? What do you do to stay cool during this unbelievably hot summer?

Source: Akadot

18 Year Old Arrested for Stealing Girls Online RPG Account

Date: 2006 July 31st Monday [17:25] | Posted By: Dallas Marshall
Category: > Current Affairs

An 18-year-old boy was arrested in Tokushima, Japan for using a girl’s account for a popular online RPG. According to recent investigations, the boy got the username and password for this girl's account (how he did it is unknown), while chatting with her at the time of 2pm on April 30th. He then accessed her account so that he could play the game free of charge. The game that he worked so hard to play for free was not mentioned in the article.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that arresting this guy was a little harsh? And what game did he want to play so badly?

Source: Akadot

Tokyo Police Get Heavy on Otaku Culture

Date: 2006 July 28th Friday [9:58] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Fandom

In another interesting article from the Mainichi Daily News reports that otaku culture in Akihabara is under threat. Traditionally every Sunday the main strip through Akihabara is closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians to rule the roads, bands to play in the street and ladies dressed in maid costumes to handout pamphlets for events otaku will be interested in.

But recently the police have been stopping bands' performances and prevented maids from handing out their leaflets causing many otaku to complain that they're being persecuted. On Sundays the street is frequently packed with cosplayers and fans taking photographs. The article reports that the cosplayers and photographers are "they're at least wary, if not afraid, of the cops".

Read More... | Source: Mainichi Daily News

Yu-Gi-Oh! to Enter World Guiness Book of Records

Date: 2006 July 22nd Saturday [8:10] | Posted By: Davie
Category: > Anime

According to Anime News Network the popular anime series Yu-Gi-Oh! will enter the World Guiness Book of Records for selling over 15.8 billion cards.

Konami has contacted Guinness and applied for a card game sales world record. There is currently no Guinness record for the category. The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game was first released in 1999. Since then, the game has been released in 45 countries.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is believed to have set another record in 1998, when 17.5 million copies of its video game were sold.

Source: Anime News Network

Adults Enjoy Colouring In Too

Date: 2006 July 10th Monday [7:38] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

The Mainichi Daily News has an interesting story about adults going back to childhood pastimes. In an article that reads a bit like product placement Mitsubishi Pencil Co. have released a range of colouring pencils for middle aged and senior people. This is apparently to meet the demand for the current colour boom for retired people. Stationary manufactures claim that colouring in and thinking about separating colours provides a good mental workout. The range has special water colour pencils that produce a watercolour hues when pictures are brushed with water, along with erasable colour pencils (which do exactly what they say). There is no word yet if these pencils will be imported or if similar models will be made available over seas. We’re sure budding artists will want to get a hold of them!

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Manga Added To Dictionary

Date: 2006 July 8th Saturday [2:39] | Posted By: Davie
Category: > Manga

According to Anime News Network the word 'Manga' was one of the latest words to be added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It joins words like Google, gastric bypass, drama queen, and about 100 other nouns, verbs, and adjectives. The new edition is expected to be released this fall in its original left-to-right format

Source: Anime News Network

Japanese Prime Minister To Visit Graceland

Date: 2006 June 29th Thursday [3:18] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

While attending talks between US President George W Bush and Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the two leaders will pay a special visit to a very American home. They will be visiting Graceland the famous house of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley.

According to BBC News this is widely seen as a thank you gesture from Mr Bush to Mr Koizumi, who is known to be a huge Elvis fan. Mr Koizumi has even released a CD with a selection of his favourite Elvis songs. The Japanese PM is such a dedicated fan he helped fund a statue of the King which now stands in Harajuku.

Source: BBC News

Rennai NEETs a New Kind of Dropout

Date: 2006 June 26th Monday [15:15] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Freaky Things

From the country that brought you hikikomori, the Japanese now have a new kind of outcast, Rennai NEETs, (Not in Employment, Education or Training). According to Mainichi Daily News the twist with Rennai NEETs is that they enjoy being single. Apparently a survey of 3000 single Japanese men discovered that two thirds do not have a girlfriend and one third haven't had a partner for three years or more. They state that looking for a girlfriend is too much nuisance and there are limited opportunities for them to meet girls. They also mention Dragon Odawara, an artist who specialises in Rennai NEET manga.

The article goes on to explain the Psychological reasons for Rennai NEETs and then raises concern as half of Japan's men in their 30's are unmarried, and is worried that this figure will grow. Results to the Japanese economy could be disastrous in years to come, especially when you factor in the declining Japanese birthrate.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

Educational Anime in Planetarium

Date: 2006 June 13th Tuesday [17:21] | Posted By: Dallas Marshall
Category: > Current Affairs

Every week, a planetarium in the Aichi prefecture in Japan screens a show made for children and their parents. Word of mouth has made the show popular and is beginning to prove even more successful at pulling people in.

The show features questions about space asked by ordinary people of the Aichi region. The questions are then answered by the shows very own original characters Chris and her robot dog Beebo. In addition to the shows educational qualities, Yui Harue, a respected voice actress who has given her talents to the characters Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket) and Naru Narusegawa (Love Hina), also provides the voice for Chris. As a result Yui Harue has attracted many men in their 20s and 30s to see this exhibit.

Source: Akadot

After School Pressures in Japan

Date: 2006 June 10th Saturday [9:38] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Culture

BBC News has an interesting article about the hectic life of the average Japanese school child. It seems little Yataro spends a lot of his time when out of school in evening and weekend extra curricular activities. In an average week he would go to swimming, abacus, piano, judo, football and English classes, along with keeping up with his homework. It's not clear from the article how old Yataro is, only stating that he's a Tokyo journalists young son. What is clear from the article is that putting huge amounts of work on children like this is common in Japan. We were well aware of cram school, but never knew it went this far!

Source: BBC News

Doraemon based Train to stop running in Summer

Date: 2006 May 27th Saturday [8:07] | Posted By: Davie
Category: > Anime

According to Mainichi Daily News, there is an interesting article about an Hokkaido train based on the anime character 'Doraemon' that wil make its final run this summer, taking passengers to a station nearly 150 meters below sea level.

Read More... | Source: Mainichi

Foreign Minister Proposes Awards For Anime

Date: 2006 May 9th Tuesday [10:32] | Posted By: Jeremy
Category: > Current Affairs

Japan's Foreign Minister proposes Nobel Prize-like awards for anime and manga artists.

Read More... | Source: Anime News Network

Japanese Goverment Pay for Speed Dating

Date: 2006 April 26th Wednesday [7:45] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Current Affairs

BBC News are running an article about Japanese Speed Dating. Due to the decline of marriages and childbirth in Japan, the government are concerned to the social and economic impact this will have (no doubt they want to avoid a Roujin Z scenario), so the government have started to sponsor speed dating in the hopes of stemming the tide of the slowing birth rate.

The article mentions that since Japanese women are more career minded and financially independent, getting a husband is not always on the top of their list of priorities.

Aunts used to act as match makers, then office bosses, but now since people spend more time at work they don't really have a chance to meet others, so are willing to pay for a service to do so. The social impact of the declining birth rate can already be seen in Japan as over 2,000 schools have been closed down in the last decade due to lack of children.

Source: BBC News

New Aniplex Studio to be Built in Japan

Date: 2006 April 8th Saturday [7:59] | Posted By: Davie
Category: > Anime

According to Akadot, Aniplex has announced its plans to build a new animation studio in the Suginami district of Tokyo.

The studio will be a subsidiary of Aniplex, called "A-1 Pictures", and is slated for completion in October of 2006. In addition to 2D and 3D work, they intend to establish a digital animation unit to keep up with the current wave of full-3D animation production.

Source: Akadot

Italian Police Raid Firm Selling Pirate Anime

Date: 2006 April 3rd Monday [15:00] | Posted By: Joe
Category: > Anime > DVD

According the Mainichi Daily News, Italian police have raided firms in the first European case of pirated anime DVDs. As the author of the Pirate Anime FAQ, I've been aware of pirated anime DVDs ever since the format was released, however, it seems that the Italian authorities have started to clamp down on them, seizing around 400 titles, which included Naruto, New Getter Robo, Hinotori and Mazinger. The company raided originally sold leg anime, but started to sell Hong Kong bootlegs in 2002. Around 20,000 to 30,000 copies were sold each month for 25 euros each. The article states that the company and other companies being investigated are accountable for 90% of all pirated copies on the Italian market, as well as 60% of the legitimate market! It also shows that these companies make huge profits, (900,000 euros a year apparently), and that the companies in question are also being investigated for tax evasion.

This article is interesting since I've always had trouble getting solid figures for pirate anime merchandise, as a result it's been hard to gauge how much it's been hurting the anime industry. These figures present an insight to how much anime fans are being ripped off by pirate DVD companies and the retailers that sell them. Apparently this is the first time authorities have exposed a case of pirated Japanese anime Europe, I have a list of many other retailers and will be happy to pass them on the authorities if requested.

Maybe this is the first of many such raids, a sign of things to come to those other bad anime retailers out there, but I also hope that the authorities do not mistake legitimate import DVDs from other countries (often called grey imports) as pirate DVDs.

Source: Mainichi Daily News

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