Pac-Man

Pac-Man was first released on May 22, 1980 in Japan by video gaming developer and company Namco. It is an arcade game which helped paved the way for a new genre of gaming when space shooter games and other sports themed games were dominating the video game industry in the 1980s. Pac-Man ended up as being one of the most iconic video games in pop culture history, and becoming one of the most successful and best selling video games of any kind of genre. Pac-Man generated about 2.5 billion dollars in income by the 1990s. The mechanics of the game revolve around pac-man moving around a maze while eating continuously dots or pellets which is known as pac-dots.

screenshot of the classic pac-man

 

The objective is to be able to eat all of the pac-dots in the maze, while staying alive by avoiding enemies in the process. If an enemy touches Pac-Man, Pac-Man dies and the user loses a life. If the user loses all of the lives, then the game ends immediately. Pac-Man, however gains the ability to eat his enemies by eating the bigger and flashing dots known as the power pellets, which are found at the 4 corners of the maze. There are 4 enemies of Pac-Man in the game, which are colored red, orange, blue, and pink. The enemies have their own distinct movement and behavior in the maze, with the red chasing Pac-Man all the time, the blue and the pink are always aiming to stay in front of Pac-Man’s mouth. The orange, meanwhile, tends to be more random among the 4, which according to some game analysis, tends to move towards the lower-left corner or follow Pac-Man relentlessly. Upon release of the game, the Pac-Man had a lukewarm reception from the Japanese people, while it became an instant hit in the United States. This is because of the popularity of space shooter games during that era.

 

Image from google

Resident Evil

Resident Evil is a third person horror and survival game that was launched in 1996 by Capcom. The game first released for the Sony Playstation console, and due to popular demand, it was also released for Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows console. The concept was developed by Shinji Mikami, taking inspirations from the 1992 game Alone In The Dark. The game revolves around the two main protagonists of the game, Special Tactics and Rescue Service (most famously known for its abbreviation S.T.A.R.S) members Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. The whole team of S.T.A.R.S is trapped in a mansion, where in zombies and other creatures lurk, attack, and ultimately infest humans and turn them into zombies. The mission or the task is to unveil the secrets inside the mansion, and also being able to get out of the mansion alive.

Resident Evil

 

The game involves a detective like dynamic, as documents and other items in the environment of the game help solve puzzles that further continue the narrative of the story. The game introduced the now iconic typewriting animation for saving the game data. The player also has an access to the character’s inventory in order to use and interchange between weapons and other items such as herbs and first aid kits to restore health. A chest box is also present in the game, which is found most of the time inside the saving area where users can store items that cannot be placed in the inventory due to insufficient space. The game became a hit in North America, and sold about 5 million units. It was the best-selling Playstation game in February 1997. The game itself became the start of the Resident Evil Franchise, which has become a smash hit to gamers and a household name to the public. As of 2013, the total sales of the game is listed as 11 million units. It also helped popularize and expand the horror and survival game genre.

Image from google

Street Fighter

Street Fighter is one of the most popular video games in the world. It is created by Capcom, and it is the second best selling video game franchise in Capcom’s existence. Street Fighter is a typical fighting game where each player has the option to choose between characters who all have unique skill sets and moves. It was first released to the public in 1987, in an arcade platform. The player is able to control the main protagonist, Ryu, who is also one of the more notable characters in the game.

Street Fighter IV characters

 

The main goal of the very first game is to defeat every opponent and competitor in the 20 man tournament. Ryu can perform different kicks and punches, and can eventually perform his famous special moves such as the hadouken, shoryuken, and the spinning kick tatsumaki senpukyaku. The popularity in the arcades eventually carried on to when it was brought into gaming consoles, such as the PC. 1991 saw the release of Street Fighter II, which was the sequel to the original Street Fighter. This was the first Street Fighter where the player was given the option and freedom to choose between characters who have different moves. The Street Fighter eventually became a major hit, boosting the Street Fighter’s popularity. Calculations of revenue in 1993 saw Street Fighter II taking home 1.5 billion dollars in revenue and establishing Street Fighter’s position in the video game scene as a sustainable franchise with a strong fan base and great playability. It also boosted sales in video game consoles for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis consoles. Street Fighter then released multiple gaming sequels, with Street Fighter EX and Street Fighter Alpha as notable ones, and expanded into having film releases, manga releases, toys, and cartoons, with each of them having varied success and high revenue.

Image from Google

Sumo Wrestling: Japan’s National Sport

Sumo wrestling is one of Japan’s most famous forms of entertainment and sport. The main goal of Sumo wrestling is that the wrestler, also known as the rikishi, should be able to throw his opponent out of the ring or by forcing him to touch the ground other than the soles of his feet by means of pushing, grappling, shoving, and any other forms of contact. The only country that practices this sport professionally is in Japan, and includes a series of rituals in its matches, which gives commemoration and homage to its Shinto roots. The sport is governed by the Japan Sumo Association, and provides the rules in which the wrestlers should abide to. The association requires its wrestlers to have a very strict training and eating regimen, and every aspect of their lives is closely monitored to ensure that they conform to tradition. The highest rank in Sumo wrestling is the Yokozuna, or the “Grand Champion”.

Yokozuna, or “Grand Champion”

 

Origins of the sport come from the Shinto religion, where shrines are found to perform ritual dances similar to that performed in Sumo wrestling. It is also seen as a vital part of tradition in the imperial court. It is compulsory for each and every provincial representative to attend and fight with other representatives. The popularity of Sumo wrestling depended on the orders of leaders at the time, and in dire need of the country especially in times of war. The winner of a Sumo wrestling match is defined by two things: The first one who forces his opponent out of the ring wins the game, and also the first one who forces his opponent to touch the ground except for the soles of his opponent’s feet wins the game. Sumo wrestling’s popularity worldwide has it closely associated to Japan, and it has for a good reason expanded and enriched Japan’s cultural significance around the world.

image from Google

Akira Kurosawa: The Great Director

A number of notable directors in Japan have gained international recognition, especially during the Golden Age of Japanese film. One of these great names in film would be Director Akira Kurosawa. What is great about him is that he was among the first few sets of great directors in Post-War Japan. As the country emerges from the darkness brought about by war, he made his way up from working as a scriptwriter, assistant director and finally his own directorial debut.

Rashomon (1950)

His first film was titled Shanshiro Sugata in the 1940s and seeing his promising potential in the field, he was given another chance to show his talents when he filmed Drunken Angel in 1948. Through this 1948 film, Akira became widely recognized in his abilities and influence in the Japanese film industry. He also gained the reputation as one of the most promising filmmakers of his time. Kurosawa’s most famous works include Kagmusha directed and released in 1980 and Rashomon in 1950. His international fame was brough about by his film entitled Seven Samurai which was a period film set in 1578 Japan. It was the story of a village that hired several samurai to hopefully protect their village against bandits. Another film that brought Kurosawa great fame would be Yojimbo which was filmed and released in 1961. This is another Japanese period film that focuses on the life of a samurai that has no master.

Akira Kurosawa (1910 – 1998)

Without the impressive influence of Akira Kurosawa, perhaps the industry of Japanese film and cinema would not be what it is today. He is known to be one of the most celebrated filmmakers in history due to about 30 different works in his almost 60 year career filled with success and honor. His works continue to be quoted and watched even years after his death. He is a true legacy in the industry of Japanese film and many directors of today are inspired by him and his works.

What it took to be a DiVA

It is common for large idol groups from Asia’s music industry to subdivide into smaller units to produce a separate brand or music. Often times, the large group and the subunit work simultaneously with releases from both groups without any conflict of interest. This is so that each member can get the exposure that they need and let the fans appreciate this greater exposure from their favourite talents.

DiVA, in particular, was a sub-unit of the most popular Female Japanese pop group called AKB48. It was formed originally in 2011. This subunit is consisted of Sakaya Akimoto, Ayaka Umeda, Yuka Masuda and Sae Miyazawa. They are supposedly the first “Dance and Vocal Unit from AKB48”, maximizing both singing and dancing talents to provide excitement and enjoyment to listeners and fans. Their fame was short lived; due to their very busy schedules and continuous performances with AKB48, they were only able to release two songs in 2011 and one single in 2012. One of the members, specifically Yuka Masuda left in 2013.  Meanwhile, Akimoto Sakaya also left AKB48 on August of 2013 but it was announced that she would still continue her work with DiVA.

After being in active since 2012, the group released a statement in 2014 that they will be able to release a new single in 2014. The group even promised that the Masuda, the member who left temporarily in 2013 is returning for this new single. However, the fans were soon disappointed as this uplifting news entailed the announcement that this new single is unfortunately their last. The group officially disbanded in their farewell concert on the 30th of November, 2014. For further sad news, by the time that DiVA disbanded, all members of the group left AKB48 as well and have already been transferred to different groups.

DiVA members

Though the concept of DiVA was promising, there were a lot of factors that hindered their success. For instance, all of them have performances with AKB48 which happen almost on a daily basis. Their very busy schedules, as well as their personal appointments and events have hindered them in meeting up and formulating their album. Though they were able to perform in various events, there were no major career launching debut that happened.

image by japanjpop

KPOP Lovin’ in Japan

Along with the rise and growth of the Japanese music industry, the listeners’ interests in music and entertainment have expanded beyond Japan. Among the genre of entertainment popular in Japan, next to JPOP would be KPOP or Korean Pop Culture. Other than music and its artists, South Korea also has great influence to the Showbiz industry and fashion as well. Though most Japanese would prefer their own music over others, they still appreciate the talents of the Korean counterparts of their favourite idols.

Korean Idol Group, T-ARA, in a Japanese show

Japan is a very nationalistic country and they would prefer producing whatever primarily for the benefit of their people. Due to this nature, it is also more common for them to prefer Japanese produced music, films and the like over others.  For this reason, a lot of Asian artists are always nervous with their debut in Japan. And any form of success in the said country is already a great achievement in anyone’s career. Though testing one’s career in Japan is a risk, the love of the Japanese fans will be difficult to surpass. To penetrate the rigid bubble of the Japanese entertainment industry, a lot of Korean artists learn the language. They believe that it is more respectful to speak to their audiences in their vernacular than to hire a translator. Furthermore, the fans could easily identify with their idols if they speak the same language. A lot of Korean artists actually have Japanese versions of their songs, where their singles are translated and sung in the Japanese language.  Among those Korean idol groups who enjoy a lot of fame and popularity in Japan would be the SNSD or Girl’s Generation and Kara.

In the recent years, there were a number of Korean Idol groups who debuted in Japan. These groups were even able to surpass the fame of a lot of local artists perhaps because KPOP was a new trend back then. However, in the last few years the popularity of KPOP is slowly declining. One by one, KPOP idol groups started to withdraw from their limelight in Japan because they already lost their popularity in the country. Some fans say that a huge factor of it is because of the decrease in the value of the Japanese Yen. Though it truly improves the economy in Japan, it hurts foreign investors including the Korean Music industry.

image by sonediadem

The Legacy of Yoshiko Yamaguchi

YAMAGUCHI0011410820151

One of the most famous Japanese stars, Yoshiko Yamaguchi, passed away this month. Known worldwide as Shirley Yamaguchi, Yoshiko was, as many superstars of the past, an accomplished film actress, stage actress, and singer.

Born in 1920 in Manchuria, Yoshiko’s parents were among the Japanese colonial elite. It was in Manchuria that she first gained fame, becoming internationally recognized only after the war. Her most notable appearances were in Akira Kurosawa’s Scandal in 1950, and as lead on a short-lived Broadway musical. She was married to Osamu Noguchi, an acclaimed Japanese-American sculptor.

shirley02

But Yoshiko’s legacy goes far beyond her work on the silver screen. After leaving show-business, she entered politics as a member of the Japanese Diet, representing the Liberal Democratic party.

When she left politics, she continued to help people, especially women, by working with the Asian Women’s Fund, serving as Vice President in the organization that provided atonement for the Japanese comfort women of the war.

Yoshiko Yamaguchi also wrote an autobiography, My Life as Li Xianglan which includes an account of her early life in Manchuria living as a Chinese national. She was 94 when she passed away.

Kabuki Theatre Then and Now

Before the rise of the Japanese pop culture, Manga and even cinema in Japan, the noble classes were entertained by what is known as the Kabuki Theatre. It is one of the most prominent forms of Japanese Theatre which emerged in the 1600s. In this kind of theatre, all the roles are played by men and a single performance can last up to four or five hours.

The kabuki, unlike other traditional theatre, is more of a narrative form of performance. Unlike its counterparts which use dance and music, the Kabuki focuses on telling a story and providing the audience entertainment.  It uses elaborate stage sets, multiple set changes and costumes. The background normally contains trap doors and wireworks which can create different sounds or lighting. It even has an intricate musical ensemble which is known as the Hayashi – creating a variety of sound and music for emotion and sound effects making the story much more entertaining and relatable. Some of the sounds are even formed without music and are made entirely from chanting. On top of all of these, the Kabuki is also best known for the use of bold face make up patterns which are known as Kumadori. This kind of makeup transforms the actor into his various roles which can range from a human being to a supernatural creature. Through this make up as well, the actor can look like a man or a woman depending on the design of the makeup.

Kabuki Actor with Elaborate makeup and costume

Though it was established several centuries ago, most of the essence of the Kabuki still stays as it was. There are still intricate music, elaborate stages and bombastic costumes and makeup. However, over the years with the changes in the people’s preferences for entertainment, the Kabuki had to be more competitive so that it will not be a forgotten art and lose to its competition, digital cinema. Today, even women can become actors for the Kabuki theatre. Costumes are made more elaborate and new stories are being put on stage. It experienced a bit of threat when many forms of entertainment were banned and censored by the end of the Second World War. Though many theatres were closed down, the art still survives up until today. The great thing is that even some actors from television and cinema have a fond love for kabuki that they continue to bring audiences to the theatre. Today, it is considered as one of the best Japanese entertainment that any tourist must experience upon visit to Japan.

image by theatereri

Celebrities and Double Eye-lid Surgery

Asian girls and women have similar standards when it comes to beauty. This continent is actually divided into different races with different facial features. Some Asians have upper eyelid crease while others seem to have cute, tiny slits for their eyes. Many Asian women, not only the Japanese, believe that bigger eyes are more expressive and thus are more beautiful. For many years, double eyelid surgery has been very popular for years, that the first published account of this kind of surgery was impressively recorded in Japan in the late 1800s!

A huge percentage of actresses, and even actors, have undergone a certain kind of eyelid surgery which is also known as the Blepharoplasty procedure. Some of these celebrities are not too open about talking about their cosmetic surgery experiences and claiming that all the features of their faces and bodies are natural. However, there are still a number of people who are open on talks about these. There is a list of the 25 most popular Asian celebrities that have undergone double eye lid procedures and the results are quite remarkable.

The hype of Cosmetic surgery in Japan and other Asian countries have their impending societal effects to the Japanese people. There are even some protests that cosmetic surgery has no other positive effects other than when a person truly suffers life threatening scenarios that require corrective surgery. However, using it for commercial and personal uses may be controversial.  Some health experts explain that continuously being under the knife and needle may be dangerous to an individual’s health. Seeing their idols, openly publicizing about procedures done to make them smoothly beautiful, a large percentage of the Asian youth of today are also openly accepting and are strongly influenced by these popular personalities. Some girls and boys as young as Junior High school start saving for cosmetic surgeries in the future. Others even have the actual procedures at this age.

Before and After Double Eylid Surgery

Many people would suffer great amounts of pain and suffering for eternal beauty and youth. The Blepharoplasty is actually very expensive and painful where excess tissues of the eyes such as skin in fat are removed and repositioned around the eyes. Just imagine how painful that would be considering that the skin around our eyes is among the most sensitive in our bodies! There are other procedures that are very popular in Asia that alter the features not only of the face but the body as well for an individual to have a more holistic and natural looking beauty.

Image by rudyard