- Fuji TV held a press conference for “Anmitsu Hime,” a drama special starring Mao Inoue. The cast showed up in costume, including Mao in her princess outfit. [Pics: Mantan Web, Sanspo, Sponichi, Nikkan Sports, Sports Hochi]
- Mari Natsuki received a “sponsorship award” for Dove Pro-Age. Dave Spector was also given a special award. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sponichi, Sports Hochi]
- Kumi Koda attended a Japan premiere event for the Blue Man Group. TRF, Verbal, and other celebrities also appeared. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sports Hochi]
- Daisuke Matsuzaka, swimmer Kosuke Kitajima, and idol Akina Minami were at a Christmas illumination event sponsored by Coca-Cola. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon]
- Speaking of Akina Minami, she also helped promote the movie “The Darwin Awards,” though she was dressed in a Santa outfit for some reason. [Video: Yahoo]
- Also dressed in a Santa outfit, Leah Dizon was at another Christmas event, sponsored by Ameba. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi, Sports Hochi]
- Teppei Koike, Yu Aoi, Koichi Sato, and Yo Oizumi have been chosen as 2008 campaign characters for the Japan Racing Association. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon]
- A preview screening of the “Simpsons” movie was held this week. Some members of the dub cast (Akiko Wada, George Tokoro, Atsushi Tamura) appeared on stage for the event. [Video: Yahoo]
- “Little DJ” also had a preview event this week. Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mayuko Fukuda, and Akihito Okano (of Porno Graffiti) were present. [Pics: Sanspo, Sports Hochi]
Archive for November, 2007
I just saw the video for Tokyo Jihen’s “Senko Shojo,” and it makes me feel all tingly inside.
The world definitely needs more Tokyo Jihen/Shiina Ringo.
- The 2007 Best Dresser awards were held on Tuesday. According to Japan Men’s Fashion Unity, this year’s fashionable people included Ebizo Ichikawa, Chiaki Kuriyama, Koji Yakusho, Naomi Kawase. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Oricon, Sanspo, Sanspo]
- Another prize being handed out this week was the Nail Queen award. The winners this year were Becky (her 3rd), Kumi Koda (her 2nd), Mao Inoue, IKKO, Masato, and Hiromi Go. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi, Sports Hochi]
- Popular gravure idol Leah Dizon made a guest appearance at the 19th Slim Queen Contest (whatever that is). [Pics: Sanspo, Sports Hochi]
- There was an opening party for the Bulgari Ginza Tower, which will officially become the world’s largest Bulgari store when it opens on Friday. A lot of stars attended the party, including Ryoko Yonekura, Yoshino Kimura, and Kurara Chibana. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon]
- “The Golden Compass” had its world premiere in London on Tuesday. Tomoko Yamaguchi got to take pictures with Nicole Kidman (who she voices for the Japanese dub). Riko Narumi and Mariya Nishiuchi also attended. [Pics: Sanspo, Sponichi]
- The new “Professor Layton” game (Nintendo DS) went on sale. Most of the voice cast showed up for the release event, including Maki Horikita, Yo Oizumi, Takao Osawa, Suzuka Ohgo, and Salyu. Kaori Manabe served as a host. [Pics: Mantan Web, Oricon, Sponichi, Nikkan Sports, Sports Hochi]
- A press event announced the completion of the live-action film of “Bra Bra Ban Ban,” which stars Beni Arashiro, Osamu Adachi, and Narumi Konno. [Pics: Mantan Web, Oricon]
- “Dondo Bare” star Manami Higa is promoting financial services organization Shiruporuto. [Pics: Sanspo, Sponichi, Sports Hochi]
- misono was at a promotional event for Yokohama Customs. [Pics: Oricon]
- Ai Kawashima and Mitsuki Takahata attended a preview screening of “Meet the Robinsons.” Kawashima wrote and produced the Japanese dub’s theme song, which was sung by Mitsuki. [Pics: Oricon]
What? Two days in a row? How can that be? To be honest, I’m not sure either. Anyway, onto the news:
- Vogue Nippon (the Japanese edition of fashion magazine Vogue) presented its Women of the Year 2007 awards. 9 of the 11 winners attended, including Riyo Mori, Maki Horikita, Haruka Ayase, and Anna Tsuchiya. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Mainichi, Oricon]
- Shun Oguri and Yu Yamada showed up to a premiere event for the Japanese dub of “Surf’s Up.” During the event, Oguri denied the rumor that he’s dating Yu Kashii. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Mantan Web, Oricon]
- Fuji TV held a press event for the “Nodame Cantabile” special and announced that it will be aired on January 4-5. Naturally, Juri Ueno and Hiroshi Tamaki were present. [Pics: Sanspo, Sponichi, Sports Hochi]
- Model Hinata Eto was named the new Sapporo Beer Campaign Girl. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo]
- Yuki Amami and Yu Shirota at the opening day of the musical “Take Flight” [Pics: Oricon, Sports Hochi]
- Sumiko Nishioka starring in a music video for Ossan’s “Hyaku” [Video: Yahoo]
- Yuko Ogura at an event for Belle Mariée [Pics: Oricon, Nikkan Sports]
- Karina promoting her wedding dress brand Sancta Carina [Pics: Oricon]
One big topic in the anime scene right now is the impact of fansubbing on the industry. Justin Sevakis, who has been working in the industry for years, today posted an editorial about the topic on Anime News Network. It’s a good read, and for the most part, I agree with him, but there are a few things I’d like to touch upon.
First of all, I disagree with one of the basic premises of the editorial. Justin writes:
Now, if this was something new, perhaps I’d have a little more sympathy when the rights holders cry victim. However, the fansub scene is approaching voting age at this point, and digitally transmitted fansubs started circulating about a decade ago. Every year they’ve gotten more and more widespread (with the historic popularity of Naruto pushing them into complete prominence). And to date, those rights holders have done very little to stop them. There is now an entire generation of anime fans who have never been forced to pay a single dime to get their anime fix.
I do not blame the fans who download with impunity and don’t buy a thing. Their attitudes, while damaging, are simply a reflection of the value of anime, which these days, is about $0.00.
That’s right. Anime that has been fansubbed is effectively worthless. It’s being given away for free. In terms of supply and demand, there is an infinite supply, and therefore the product is worthless regardless of how many people want it – it’s like trying to sell buckets of sea water to people on a beach. The only people who would pay for it are either older fans who are attached to the old ways of consuming media, or worse, are doing so out of charity.
That is the state of this industry. And the companies who depend on anime for their livelihood let this happen.
A little later, he says:
Legal rights, such as copyright to an anime, must be defended if they’re to be recognized. Anime has not been defended to any effective degree.
Now, while I agree with him that the anime industry hasn’t really been effectively trying to protect copyrights (and as he says, has been trying to “guilt people into buying something they don’t want”), his argument is ultimately misleading. The way it’s written, combined with his placing blame on the anime companies, makes it seem that he’s arguing that the industry wouldn’t be in its current state if they had cracked down on copyright earlier. And that is just patently wrong.
To make a statement like that is to ignore everything that other industries have learned in this digital age (as well as in the past). The truth is this: the consumer population, as a whole, does not care about copyright. A consumer is only concerned with getting a functional product at a reasonable price. We’ve seen this in all forms of media, from TV to movies to video games to software to books to art, etc. Even with more physical merchandise, such as in apparel, consumers will often turn to imitations. Whenever people (remember, as a whole) can obtain an equivalent copy of something for a lower price, they will do so.
Did attempting to enforce copyright help the music industry? They thought shutting down Napster would help them monopolize supply again, but it failed horribly. They continue to try to monopolize, rather than realizing that they need to compete, like Apple did with iTunes. Trying to use copyright law to protect outdated business models is the real problem.
The industry isn’t to blame for current consumer attitudes about copyright. There’s nothing the companies could’ve done to stop the growing social trend towards open content. Yes, they could’ve realized sooner that they needed to compete rather than monopolize, but we can’t really fault them for that given that almost every media industry is still coming to grips with that fact.
Although Justin’s argument is wrong in this regard, he does recognize that further attempts to futilely enforce copyright is not the correct solution for the industry. He states:
Before legal action will be effective, fansubs must be replaced. THERE HAS TO BE A LEGAL, INEXPENSIVE WAY TO WATCH NEW ANIME IN ENGLISH. Not necessarily own, but at least watch.
I have long been in agreement with this statement (except the part about whether legal action will be effective). The current system of sending anime straight to DVD, with no legal way for potential consumers to watch it first (other than maybe at conventions), and expecting it to miraculously sell is hopelessly optimistic. Especially when DVD releases are typically at least a year behind the fansub scene, meaning that any hype has largely died, except for popular long-running series or for insane meme-spawning phenomena (such as Haruhi).
DVD sets of American shows sell well because people have seen the shows before and loved them. And those are profitable because of volume. However, the anime industry doesn’t enjoy the luxury of a large consumer base in the U.S., as anime is still a niche market and very few properties (such as Pokemon) can ever hope to come close to reaching a mainstream scale.
But even then, the industry really shouldn’t be primarily aiming to bring DVD sales back to what they once were. Given the continuing trend away from packaged media and the current oversaturation of the market, the industry should focus less on DVD numbers and constantly look at how to expand monetization. Simply selling DVDs is not likely to remain a feasible business for very long.
The industry also needs to recognize that a lot of shows are simply not worth bringing over. I think that in the past there has been some belief that increasing the number of licenses somehow translates into the growth of the market, and that’s the common mistake of confusing quantity for quality. Rather than trying to give consumers more things to buy, the companies should be giving consumers more reasons to buy.
Ultimately, though, the overall business model needs to adapt. Justin points out that one of the major obstacles to finding a new solution is the Japanese industry, unfortunately. Many industries in Japan tend to resist strongly to change, and endangering domestic sales (their primary revenue) is a real concern. In addition, the possibility of internet broadcasts is heavily complicated by the networks’ relationships with their advertising sponsors. The companies can’t simply decide to put shows online as it ultimately conflicts with the value of television commercial time, and negotiating that is going to be tricky.
Fortunately, there appear to be some Japanese media companies venturing into online content distribution, and this will likely become more common as Japan phases out analog broadcasting (which is set to be completed in 2011) and technology like 1seg becomes more widespread. The real challenge is in making these systems affordable and accessible to the international market.
A lot of ideas have been floated about, such as subscription services or online broadcast channels that include commercials just as in television. To be honest, though, I don’t see a subscription service working well unless all the networks were involved - I don’t see many people willing to pay subscriptions for multiple sites that each only carries a handful of shows that they want to watch.
So will the industry find a solution before it’s too late? I certainly hope so. And this extends beyond just anime - there appears to be huge potential for Japanese media companies to expand their operations and reach the rest of the world with all kinds of content. It’s all up to them if they want to capitalize on the opportunity.
Daily Japan needs a new name, but I can’t think of one. Any ideas?
Meanwhile, here’s what was in the news this weekend:
- The charming actress Yu Aoi promoted her photobook “Dandelion,” which includes shots of her in Russia. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sponichi, Nikkan Sports, Sports Hochi]
- 18-year-old Miyu Fujii has entered the public eye after winning the 2007 Miss Keio Contest, which has previously produced many television announcers. [Pics: Mainichi Shinbun]
- Also making her entry into show business is 15-year-old Rika Adachi, who won this year’s Horipro Talent Scout Caravan. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi, Sports Hochi]
- Actress Mikako Tabe saw her 2008 calendar go on sale, and she attended a signing event for the calendar’s release. [Pics: Sponichi, Nikkan Sports, Sports Hochi]
- Kenta Fukusaku’s “XX” opens on December 1, but it was screened at the Tokyo International Cinecity Festival this weekend. Attending the event were co-stars Ami Suzuki and Nao Matsushita, along with U.S. pop duo Aly & AJ. [Pics: Mantan Web, Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi]
- Teen talento Sora Matsumoto’s first photobook went on sale. [Pics: Sanspo, Nikkan Sports]
- Actor group Pure BOYS also put out their first photobook. [Pics: Sanspo]
I’m behind on some stuff due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but I hope to be back on track by the end of Saturday, or Sunday at the latest.
Here are some of the things that happened in the news recently:
- Actress Naomi Kawashima held a press conference regarding her engagement to pastry chef Toshi Yoroizuka. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo]
- “Midnight Eagle” opened in theaters this weekend in Japan (and also in the U.S. at New York’s ImaginAsian). The cast showed up in Tokyo for an opening event. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sponichi, Nikkan Sports, Sports Hochi]
- Meanwhile, a press event was held for the completion of the “Sanjuro” remake, which stars Yuji Oda and features a cast that includes Kenichi Matsuyama, Etsushi Toyokawa, and Anne Suzuki. They all showed up at the event on Thursday. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi, Nikkan Sports]
- Popular model Yuri Ebihara promoted her 2008 calendar. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi]
- Actress Sei Ashina attended a talk event for the movie “Silk” on Thursday. It also happened to be her 24th birthday, so she was surprised with a cake and a bouquet. [Pics: Oricon, Nikkan Sports]
- Idol Ami Tokito promoted her first trading card set, which just went on sale. [Pics: Sanspo, Sports Hochi]
- It was announced that AV actress Sora Aoi is starring in a music video, and Oricon was able to snap some pictures. [Pics: Oricon]
- On Friday, singer Mai Kuraki held a show at the Taipei Arena, her first overseas concert. [Pics: Sanspo]
It’s good to know that some people care about these posts, so I’ll continue this way for now.
- One of the hottest news topics right now is of course the imminent marriage between L’Arc~en~Ciel’s bassist tetsu and model/actress Ayana Sakai. Sakai held a press conference on Wednesday to talk about how it all happened and the plans for the future - they’re registering the marriage by the end of the year, and Sakai will continue working. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sports Hochi]
- The other hot topic is veteran actor Hiroshi Abe, who also announced that he is getting married. His wife-to-be is a non-celebrity, but he at least brought sketches of the woman to the press conference. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi, Sports Hochi]
- For those of you who love beautiful women, Shiseido announced a new commercial for its Maquillage brand. Misaki Ito, Yuri Ebihara, Chiaki Kuriyama, and Anne all showed up to the press event. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Sponichi, Sports Hochi]
- More hotness: Kyoko Hasegawa showed up as a fashion model for a bridal collection by Van Cleef & Arpels and Lanvin. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi, Nikkan Sports]
- Megumi Yasu also modeled some wedding apparel for I-Primo at the opening of a new store in Shinjuku. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi]
Also in the news:
- Taiyo Sugiura and Mariko Takahashi at a release event for the DVD of “Academy” [Video: Yahoo]
- Aya Ueto at an event for Lacoste [Pics: Nikkan Sports, Sports Hochi]
- Yukie Kawamura promoting a PS2 game [Pics: Mantan Web]
- Ami Suzuki at a preview screening of “XX” [Pics: Mantan Web]
- Aya Hirano in her new DVD [Pics: Mantan Web]
- Rena Tanaka, Eriko Sato, Eita, and others at a preview screening of “Giniro no Season” [Pics: Oricon]
I’ve been considering getting rid of the Daily Japan posts and limiting the blog to actual written posts (as opposed to just link collections). But I decided instead to try changing the format a bit, though the extra writing means I may get tired of keeping it up. I’ll also probably be cutting down on the amount of links and chopping these up into smaller, more frequent posts. Which also means I’ll throw away the “Daily Japan” title - it’s not like these are daily anymore, after all.
- First up, I wanted to mention Pink Tentacle’s translation of the top 60 words/phrases nominated for “buzzword of the year.” I was planning to write up a full article on this, but now I’ve been saved the trouble. Lots of interesting stuff there.
- As reported in September, B’z was inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk on the 19th, becoming the first Japanese musicians to be honored there. It would’ve been cool to see it in person, but I don’t have the luxury of that much free time. [Pics: Oricon, Sports Hochi]
- Aside from launching a blog that has become very popular, Yui Aragaki has also been hard at work promoting her movie “Koizora.” She traveled more than 3000 km on Sunday, visiting Fukuoka, Sapporo, and Tokyo for PR events. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi]
- Also promoting new movies is Satomi Ishihara, who appeared with Tomonori Jinnai at an event for “Cinnamon: The Movie” and with Chiharu Niiyama and Saya Kazuki at an event for “Mari to Koinu no Monogatari.” [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi]
- For those looking for the next popular male idol, the JUNON Superboy Contest is a good place to start. This year’s winner is 14-year-old Taku Takeuchi, so he’ll have plenty of time for fangirls to fall in love with him. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sponichi]
- On the other hand, if you’re looking for female talent, the new Sanai Mizugi Image Girl is 19-year-old Chiaki Tani. Last year’s winner Yukina Kinoshita also attended the event. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi, Nikkan Sports, Sports Hochi]
- What do Etsushi Toyokawa, Kosuke Toyohara, and Takako Uehara have in common? Aside from sharing some kanji in their last names, all three do voices for the Xbox 360 RPG Lost Odyssey, so here they are together at a press event. [Video: Yahoo] [Pics: Oricon]
- Filming has already started for the NHK Asadora “Hitomi,” which begins its broadcast in March. The charming Nana Eikura plays a dancer and Naoki Iijima plays her mother. Toshiyuki Nishida plays her grandfather, though I’m not sure what to make of his costume. [Pics: Oricon, Sanspo, Sponichi, Nikkan Sports]
I meant to talk about this earlier, but I picked up Super Mario Galaxy over the weekend and, of course, that ate up a lot of my time (I’m almost at 70 stars!). Anyway, what this post is really about is that I went to see Puffy AmiYumi in concert at the Key Club in Hollywood on Friday.
I saw Puffy once before when they played at the Wiltern two years ago with the Aquabats. The Key Club is a much smaller venue, so I was a lot closer to the stage this time. (I wasn’t that far away during the first concert, but it’s still not the same as having only one person standing between you and Ami.)
The other acts weren’t as amazing as the Aquabats - but then again, how many are? First up was Linus of Hollywood (MySpace, YouTube), who’s not bad but isn’t really my type of music. He was followed by pop-rocker Katy Perry (MySpace, YouTube), who recently signed with Capitol Records. I liked her voice and style, and she put on a pretty good show.
Puffy finally came on stage shortly after 10:00. We were warned beforehand that they weren’t allowing cameras, and I wasn’t going to take my chances, so I don’t have pictures, but you can see a nice gallery of the show over at LAist.
They kicked off the show with the energetic “boom boom beat.” I didn’t quite recognize the second song, and I couldn’t make out the lyrics, so I figure it’s off honeycreeper, since that’s the album I’ve listened to the least - possibly “Hayai Kuruma”? Anyway, the next song was “Nagisa ni Matsuwaru etc.” and that one was definitely a crowd-pleaser. A lot of people were getting into it and dancing along.
Ami and Yumi stopped to talk roughly every three songs, reading off their little notepads. They were as cute as ever, talking about their love of L.A., sharing a little anecdote about their tour, and talking about their GAP poster. I can’t help but love their personality.
At one point in the show, they performed “Mogura Like.” Two men came out in yellow hardhats to join in the “mogura dance.” I actually had never seen that particular music video before, so the dance was new to me. I tried to join along, but still ended up a bit confused.
Near the end, they played “Asia no Junshin,” and halfway through confetti started falling from the ceiling. Unfortunately, most of it seemed to be localized near me, so I ended up with tons of confetti on me, but hey, I don’t mind. They ended with “HiHi” and an encore of “Circuit no Musume.”
For the curious, here’s the rough set list, at least as long as my memory serves me right (the order may be slightly wrong):
- Boom Boom Beat
- Hayai Kuruma (I think?)
- Nagisa ni Matsuwaru etc.
- Closet Full of Love
- Kimi to Ootobai
- Radio Tokyo
- Kuchibiru Motion
- Tokyo I’m On My Way
- Teen Titans
- Mogura Like
- Youkai Puffy
- Oriental Diamond
- Red Swing
- Basket Case (Green Day cover)
- Asia no Junshin
- Circuit no Musume (encore)
Overall, an awesome show, well worth it. I definitely hope they come back soon, because I’d love to catch them in concert again.