How anime ‘Yo-Kai Watch’ beat ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ at the box office in Japan

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Japan Times (by Giovanni Fazio):

As 2015 came to a close, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was the movie on everyone’s lips, with fans dressed up in costumes and camping out to buy tickets, and a social media presence bigger than the Jabba the Hutt. Yet, despite breaking all box-office records on its opening weekend in the United States, the new “Star Wars” ranked only No. 2 in Japan (with more than 800,000 viewers), beaten to the top spot by “Yo-Kai Watch the Movie 2: King Enma and the 5 Stories, Nyan!,” which had almost 1 million viewers. A week later, this cheap and chirpy big-screen version of a Japanese kids cartoon derived from a Nintendo game kicked Jedi butt again.

So, the story would seem to be that anime still rules the domestic box office. A quick look at Japan’s top-grossing films in 2015 reveals that six out of 10 were animated movies (three of which were domestic), and anime topped the box office for 20 individual weeks with films like “Big Hero 6″ and “Bakemono no Ko” (“The Boy and the Beast”) beating competition such as “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” and “Terminator: Genisys.”

Then again, opening weekend in Japan is still based on Saturday-Sunday figures. If the Friday opening revenue for “Star Wars” was included, the film would have beaten “Yokai Watch” by a good margin. The force finally prevailed and on week three of release, “Star Wars” is No. 1.

It’s worth noting though that despite the graying of Japan, cinemas are scoring best with films aimed squarely at the pre-teen market.

Hello Kitty x Mazinger Z die-cast crossover toys unveiled with anime short

Rocketnews 24/Anime News Network:

Bandai posted an English-subtitled anime short to promote its Mazinger Z and Hello Kitty crossover project on Wednesday.

The video also teases a possible collaboration between Getter Robo and My Melody at the 1:45 mark.

The Mazinger Z and Hello Kitty collaboration will include two revamped toys in Bandai’s Chogokin line. The Hello Kitty toy now comes in the colors and likeness of Mazinger Z, which includes a pop-open cockpit featuring a Hello Kitty mini-figure in Koji Kabuto’s uniform.

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The Mazinger Z toy uses the Super Robot Chogokin Mazinger Z as a base, and is painted in Hello Kitty colors. It includes a special belt for its Jet Scrander pack that features a Hello Kitty symbol.

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Both toys have replaceable parts that allow them to depict the handshake shown in the short anime.

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The crossover Chogokin Hello Kitty is slated for release in May, while the revamped Mazinger Z is slated for June.

Bandai will also release the Chogokin toy of Sanrio character My Melody on January 18. The release celebrates the character’s 40th anniversary.

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German toy-maker Steiff is launching a $340 limited edition stuffed Pikachu doll

German premium toy-makers Steiff are launching a limited edition stuffed Pikachu doll that measures at 11 inches tall and is made with the finest natural mohair for an added luxe touch.

The adorably plush Pokémon will be priced at $340 USD with a limited Japan-only release of only 1000 units.

Preorders are available via GoodSmile right now, with a February shipping date.

Artist depicts kill count of major Dragon Ball heroes in cool illustrations

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RocketNews 24:

Insofar as you can say that a character in the Dragon Ball  universe can really “die” (Krillin has supposedly “died” so many times we’re suspicious he’s actually a Terminator) there have been a lot of major deaths in the franchise, and the large majority of those kills are, unsurprisingly, at the hands of the series’ primary protagonists.

Even though the series is ostensibly a kids’ show, the weighty subject matter, with battles often fought to determine whether or not entire worlds and/or solar systems will be blown up, basically demands that somebody’s gotta give up the ghost once in a while. But it’s hard to get a handle on the true extent of the carnage, given that every major death is typically punctuated by nine episodes of people yelling and grunting.

Now, though, we can finally get an at-a-glance picture of how many kills each hero in the series has racked up, thanks to these neat illustrations by DeviantArtist, Alberto Cubatas.

It’s not entirely clear what medium Cubatas used to put together these amazingly detailed pieces which emulate series creator Akira Toriyama’s art style to a T, but to our (admittedly untrained) eyes, it looks a hell of a lot like they’re hand-drawn and colored. So far, Cubatas has put together kill-count illustrations for series heroes Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo, Yamcha, and Trunks:

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Now, I’m not going to even pretend that I know who most of these murdered villains are – which explains why, to me, Goku’s kills kind of just make him look like a serial animal abuser – but it’s clear that Cubatas has done a pretty exhaustive job of representing each character’s victories. Still, we’re well aware a lot of our readers are hardcore DBZ fans. If you notice Cubatas has missed a corpse or two, sound off in the comments section below.

Be sure to check out Alberto’s page over on DeviantArt.

The Hollywood Reporter: Is Japanese anime finally making money abroad?

'Stand By Me Doraemon'

‘Stand By Me Doraemon’
The Hollywood Reporter (by Gavin J. Blair):

Japanese anime has attracted a cult following around the globe for decades, but has long struggled to parlay that dedicated fandom into revenue.

Complex rights holder arrangements in Japan, slow international releases and pirated versions with fan-created subtitles have all contributed to restrict the financial rewards for both anime TV series and movies in the global marketplace.

However, the latest Doraemon movie brought in nearly $100 million outside Japan, while Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is nudging $50 million in the middle of a 74-country release.

Meanwhile, TV anime series are getting faster international distribution, including day-and-date releases on some platforms. With a shrinking home market, the pressure is on to better leverage the global fan-base that has helped make anime one of Japan’s most recognizable cultural symbols.  

The most successful Japanese anime film to date is Hayao Miyazaki‘s 2003 Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, which scored around 85 percent of its $275 million global tally in its home market. To put that in perspective, Stand by Me Doraemon took nearly double Spirited Away‘s overseas total over the course of 11 days in release in China alone.

Nevertheless, Toho, which handled its domestic release and international sales, thinks it’s too early to say that the overseas box-office conundrum for anime has been cracked.

I think it’s the strength of the film itself. And the Doraemon brand is very strong, especially in Asia,” Takemasa Arita of Toho’s international business department tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not like any animation from Japan is going to automatically succeed overseas now.”

Stand by Me Doraemon was no slouch at home, clocking up $70 million last year before landing $3.2 million in Italy, $3 million in Indonesia, $2.7 million in South Korea and $1.2 million in Thailand. It was the $5 million-plus, record-breaking take in the small Hong Kong market though that was a harbinger of its performance on the mainland.

Released on May 28 – due to political tensions, the first Japanese film in Chinese theaters in nearly three years – the cat-type robot racked up $86.9 million in less than two weeks. Although the rise of China as a box-office giant is a game changer across the global film industry, anime is getting paid elsewhere, too.  

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the 19th installment in the franchise and not the first to get a wide release internationally. 2013’s Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods did approximately 40 percent of its $50 million global box office outside Japan, and Resurrection ‘F’ is on course to surpass that. Co-produced with Fox International, the anime feature’s world premiere was held in Los Angeles in April. Still performing well in South and Latin American markets, it has U.S. and China releases to come.  

Toei Animation, the company behind Dragon Ball, is one of five studios, along with two ad agencies, that launched the Daisuki online anime platform in 2013, aimed at overseas fans of TV anime. At the end of last year, the private-public Cool Japan Fund invested around $8 million in the venture, forming the Japan Anime Consortium, to boost its worldwide presence.  

Many Japanese anime content holders are small companies, and it’s difficult for them to breach the global market, with all the costs of localizing productions,” a Cool Japan Fund spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Piracy has also been a major problem, and the plan is to release some anime series simultaneously with their broadcast on Japanese TV.”

In addition to pay-per-view offerings and original content, the Daisuki platform also sells anime merchandising, though it doesn’t disclose its viewing figures.

Japan’s population fell by more than 260,000 last year and is rapidly aging. Under-25s, the key demographic for anime fans, now make up only around 20 percent of the population, and their numbers are set to continue falling.

Amid those trends, the industry will have to learn to tap more of the global market if it is to survive in anything close to its present form.   

Hello Kitty-themed restaurant in Beijing is now serving up dim sum

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Audrey Magazine:

In the last few years, we’ve been seeing Hello Kitty cafes and food trucks popping up to bring adorable desserts with Hello Kitty’s face or her signature red bow peeking up. With conventions and exhibits dedicated to our favorite Sanrio character, it’s obvious we just can’t get enough. Thankfully, it seems we keep getting more and more Hello Kitty everyday. In fact, now you can find Hello Kitty dim sum!

Before you get too excited, there’s one thing that may stand in your way. You’ll have to get a plane ticket to Hong Kong if you want to have dim sum in this Hello Kitty-themed restaurant. Although the very pink Hello Kitty Dreams Restaurant in Beijing was the first to bring savory foods inspired by the iconic character, this new dim sum restaurant is the first of its kind. Opening this month, it will also be serving noodle dishes, rice dishes and pretty much anything else you would typically find at a dim sum restaurant. Just much, much cuter to look at. We’ll just have to wait and see if they taste just as yummy as they look.

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Hopefully there will be a Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant popping up in the U.S. But in the meantime, let’s take a short preview tour of the restaurant below:

Anna Sui jumps into the world of Sailor Moon fashion with necklaces, earrings, and bags

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RockeyNews 24:

Tokyo’s Isetan is welcoming back Sailor Moon and her magical gal pals. From now until March 31, the department store chain’s Shinjuku branch is offering a special lineup of fashion items based on the hit anime. Previously, we’ve looked at the new offerings from Samantha Vega, Honey Bunch, and Riccimie Premiere Salon, all popular Japanese brands.

Now, Anna Sui is getting in on the moon prism action, with a selection of coolly feminine bags and accessories inspired by the Sailor Senshi.

In contrast to the bright pastels of Samantha Vega’s Sailor Moon collection, Anna Sui’s aims for a more mature allure. The front of the 21,000 yen (US$176) compact head necklace takes the lines of Sailor Moon’s Crystal Star, but recolors them in the trademark Anna Sui purple, with the designer’s name appearing on the back. Similarly, the Key of Space-Time necklace (16,000 yen) has an ornate, almost gothic look to it.

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Even though Sailor Moon is the star, she’s hardly the only popular character from the franchise. If you’ve got a soft spot for other members of the ensemble cast, you can show them some love with these 18,500-yen Luna and Artemis earrings (featuring black cat Luna on the front and white kitty Artemis on the back) or the 21,000-yen pearl catch earrings, featuring the image colors and celestial symbols for Sailors Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus.

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Your wrists won’t have to feel left out either, with the 19,000-yen ribbon bracelet and its charms shaped like the Crisis Moon Compact and Inner Senshi celestial marks. Rounding off the wearables, the 12,000-yen Anna Sui Sailor Moon logo T-shirt provides perhaps the biggest sticker shock of the lineup, while the set of five clear files for 1,600 yen is the most budget-friendly option.

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Of course, unless you have Sailor Moon-style magical powers that allow you to summon whatever special items you need out of thin air, you probably require something in your daily life with more carrying capacity than the files provide. Once again, Anna Sui has the answer, or actually two, with these leather bags adorned with celestial mark charms, the smaller of which (pictured on the right) is priced at 32,000 yen.

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Not only will they hold your wallet, keys, and phone, there should also be some space left over in case you find something else you just have to have while shopping at Isetan.

Shop information
Sailor Moon X Isetan Shop
Address:
Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-14-1
Isetan Shinjuku Main Building 3rd floor Center Park Stage #3
東京都新宿区新宿3−14−1
伊勢丹新宿店本館3階 センターパークステージ#3
Open 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
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