If you live outside of Japan, you’d be forgiven if you said you’d never heard of a wildly popular tile-matching video game Puyo Puyo. The puzzle game may have been initially inspired by Tetris, but the combination of competitive gameplay, cute characters, and a fun storyline have gained a huge following in Japan since it was first launched there in 1991.
And to celebrate the 24 years since gamers first got addicted to arranging rows of colorful, little blobs, Sega is turning the game into a live show next month with a cast of Japanese idols, actresses and models.
Puyo Puyo, which was first released on the Sega’s Mega Drive system in 1991, has become a hit in Japan and has spawned a series games over many different systems and even teamed up with Tetris last year to launch a crossover title. The game was originally created by the company Compile, but after it went bust in 2003, Sega got the rights and has been keeping Puyo Puyo alive for its many fans in Japan. Sega has said the special anniversary live show will be an original story based on the many characters that have come out of the series in the past 24 years, including the heroine Arle Nadja.
The show kicks off on May 2 and will have eight performances over five days in the Akasaka ACT Theatre in Tokyo. Among the cast are Japanese actresses, idols and a J-Pop star or two, including fashion model Risako Ito who will play the role of Arle. There will also be a chance to win a special edition Aime IC card to use to save your status in the latest arcade version of the game called Puyo Puyo Quest Arcade. And everyone who comes to the show will be given a special code to use in the Puyo Puyosmartphone app.
▼ A flyer for the 24th anniversary live Puyo Puyo show
Japanese netizens were excited to see one of their favorite video games coming to life with some shocked that it has been 24 years since Puyo Puyo first came out.
Mysterious, skilled Japanese girls’ rock band (pronounced: go go nana ni san ni rei) have appeared out of nowhere with a music video for their song, titled “Hanseiki Yuutousei” (Half a Century Honor Student). Their debut single is due for release on March 25, but the identities of these young ladies remains a complete mystery.
Check out their video:
The girls’ music is packed with dissonance and syncopation but, their formation is also unorthodox: three drummers and five guitarists but no bass player. Could it be that all this complexity is meant to reflect the complex feelings of youth? After all, the lyrics do talk about the desire to change oneself, a common feeling during one’s teen years. The contrast between the hard music and setting which looks like it could be an idol music video makes an interesting statement as well.
Several commenters on the video seem to be convinced that this is idol group Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku hiding their faces. Given the eclectic nature of Ebichu’s music and their unpredictable videos, that would not be surprising. Regardless of who these eight mysterious young girls are, they have skills beyond a typical band, male or female. Perhaps we’ll learn more when they officially debut on March 20.
Although details are still scarce, we hope that information on where to get “Hanseiki Yuutousei” (Half a Century Honor Student)” will be released soon since it’s really catchy, even though we’re probably tapping our feet to the wrong beats. In the meantime, here is the cover art.
The band’s official site can be accessed here.
Japan’s idol world is quite…expansive, for lack of a better word. Even with the wide variety of groups running around, it can be hard to really tell them apart–though we have to say there was no mistaking Osaka’s Obachaaan for any other group. In fact, the “old lady” idol group is still going strong–perhaps thanks in part to the dearth of elderly competition. But it looks like Obachaaa and AKB48 are about to face some new rivals: KBG84, Okinawa’s own geriatric idol group!
KBG84, the newest idol group making headlines, is commonly described as “Japan’s idol group closest to heaven,” which seems like a cruel way to say they’re all super-old. Though we like to imagine that it’s actually a reference to the fact that they live on an island paradise!
That said, the group’s members certainly aren’t young–in fact, you apparently have to be 80 years old or older to join and the average age is 84! And if you think that’s nuts, the central figures of the group are Miki Hanashiro, who is a mere 90 years old, and Tomi Menaka, who is 91. Say what you will about idol groups, but if we make it to 90, you can believe we’d rather be in an idol group than sitting around watching daytime TV. If you’re champing at the bit to get into the group, though, they will let people in their 70s or younger in as trainees, but you’ll likely face some competition: the group already has roughly 40 members!
As for the group’s name, the “K” is for Kohamajima, the “B” is for oBachan (old ladies), and the “G” is for “Gasshodan,” or “choir.” And, of course, the 84 is for their average age. We’re not sure if that means they’ll be adjusting the name of the group every year or not, but it’s good enough for now!
▼Kohamajima, part of the Yaeyama Islands
And, yes, this is an active idol group–in fact, they’re a “dance and vocal” unit, though we somewhat suspect that their dancing isn’t quite as energetic as some other idol groups. They recently recorded their first track, titled “Come and Dance Kohamajima,” and it has a planned release date for sometime around June. The group has also apparently filmed a music video which featured Menaka standing and dancing–which in most other contexts might not seem impressive, but definitely is here! There are even plans for KBG84 to come to Tokyo where they will perform a show at Shinagawa Prince Hotel’s Club eX towards the end of June.
Audrey Magazine (by Amber Chen)
Record producer Nick Cannon first pitched the K-Pop-inspired show Make It Pop to Nickelodeon about a year ago, and after months of speculation, Nickelodeon finally announced the series would be picked up for 20 episodes in the upcoming 2015-2016 season.
Similar to Korean drama Dream High and Nickelodeon’s Victorious, each episode of Make It Pop will have its own original soundtrack and performances. Luckily for us, this means new content every week to keep the audience wanting more.
Nickelodeon recently released the official synopsis:
Randomly selected to room together at boarding school, bookish Corki, fashion-forward Jodi and social media maven Sun Hi meet and bond over music. With the help of fellow boarding school classmate and DJ hopeful, Caleb, the girls grow from roommates to bandmates as they become a school-wide sensation and compete for a place in the upcoming school musical.
Young K-Pop Idol Megan Lee plays the role of the “social media loving pop diva” Sun Hi, while her onscreen roommates Corki and Jordi will be played by actresses Erika Tham and Louriza Tronco. Having dabbled in the acting industry before her musical debut, the 19-year-old starlet will likely have no trouble immersing into her role. In fact, Lee’s professional career began at the young age of 10. She has been in a number of television shows such as Kidz Bop, Nickelodeon’s iCarly and the popular South Korean show MBC Star Audition – The Great Birth.
The show is set to premiere in April 2015.
The Hollywood Reporter:
Hong Kong action legend Jackie Chan celebrated the success of his latest historical action movie Dragon Blade, which this week passed the $80 million threshold in China, and responded to accusations of nationalism by saying he was a proud patriot.
Chan stars as the commander of the Protectorate of the Western Regions who teams up with Lucius to protect China’s borders and sovereignty, which has prompted accusations that Chan is playing the patriotic card in the hunt for box-office success.
“I have always been a patriot. Is it wrong? If people are cursed for being a patriot, please curse me,” Chan told M1905, the official web site of state broadcaster CCTV’s movie channel CCTV6.”Seven years ago, I wanted to do this film. I didn’t make the film because the government policy wants to protect the Silk Road. I am ahead of them. I hope chairman Xi (Jinping) gets to watch this film.”
Dragon Blade was the big winner of the Lunar New Year holiday to welcome the Year of the Goat, taking $72 million in its first six days in the country.
Starring Chan, Cusack and Brody and directed by Daniel Lee, Dragon Blade is based on a story about a missing legion of Roman soldiers that traveled into China in 48 BC. The cast also includes South Korea‘s Choi Si-won, member of the K-pop band Super Junior, who previously appeared in Battle of Wits.
Cusack plays Lucius, a Roman general who led a legion of 1,000 soldiers into Han Dynasty China. Brody plays Tiberius, who after assassinating Rome’s Consul Crassus chases after Lucius with a force of 100,000 soldiers.
Chan was speaking at an event in Beijing to celebrate Dragon Blade passing the 500 million yuan ($80 million) mark. Chan went on to say that he doesn’t care about box office or online promotion. “I don’t understand e-commerce. After I finish shooting, it’s finished,” he said.
Chan recently welcomed his son Jaycee home from jail by giving him a haircut. Jaycee Chan‘s long locks seemed to have survived his six months in jail after being convicted of drugs charges, having been caught up in the government’s aggressive anti-narcotics campaign.
The Boston Globe recently shed light on the dreams that thousands of Korean youngsters have, which is to become the next big K-pop star — bringing the once regional trend to the forefront of popular culture. Led by Psy‘s rapid rise to stardom in 2012 with his Korean rap single “Gangnam Style,” which sent shockwaves around the world via a playful YouTube music video, K-pop is an ever-evolving entity with a vast amount of potential.
This photo series captures the arduous and gruelling task of gaining recognition in an industry that is saturated with pre-teens and teens striving to make a name for themselves. According to a recent survey, a staggering 21 percent of pre-teen respondents in Korea want to become K-pop stars — the most popular career choice in Korea by a large margin.
For more, head over to The Boston Globe and check out the full piece.