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.

McDonald’s Japan releases Doraemon Happy Meals!

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RocketNews 24:

It’s no secret that McDonald’s Japan has been enthusiastic about collaborating with various anime and character franchises to come up with goodies for children. In the past we’ve seen toys featuring Pokémon and Yokai Watch, as well as Pretty Cure, Super Mario and Transformers, among others, being offered with their Happy Meals, and kids certainly seem to be, well, happy with their Happy Meals, since almost 100 million of these sets are apparently sold in Japan each year.

This month, none other than Doraemon, the time-travelling blue cat robot, makes an appearance as six different Happy Meal toys, and they definitely look ready to delight children across Japan!

The Doraemon toys have just been released from McDonald’s this past Friday, in collaboration with the new movie Doraemon: Nobita’s Space Heroes that is currently being shown in theaters across Japan. 

There are three types of toys available at this moment, and a different set of three toys will be offered starting March 20. Some of them feature Doraemon gadgets we know well (and wish we owned), and we can see how these baubles may get kids excited!

▼ These are the three toys currently available: the “Anywhere Door Game”, “Doraemon and the Spinning Burger” and “Look into it! Scope”.

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▼ And from March 20, these three will become available: the “Run! UFO”, “Exciting! Space Camera” and the “Memory Bread Drawing Kit”.

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Here’s a closer look at each of the items.

▼ The “Anywhere Door Game (Dokodemo Door Game)” is actually a miniature pinball machine in the shape of the Anywhere Door, which has to be one of Doramen’s most popular tools. There’s a different game on each side of the door, so you get two games in one toy.

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▼ The “Doraemon and the Spinning Burger (Doraemon to Kurukuru Burger)” features the Burger Director character that appears in the new movie. With this toy, when you place Doraemon and Burger Director close to each other, the Burger Director will start spinning.

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▼ This “Look Into it! Scope (Nozoite! Scope)” acts as a periscope, and you can look through the lens from the back of the planet on which Doraemon is sitting.

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▼ You can wind up this “Run! UFO (Hashire! UFO)” to propel it forward. What’s neat about this toy is that it can detect and avoid obstacles and also avoid falling off the edge of the table.

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▼ This “Exciting! Space Camera (Dokidoki! Space Camera) lets you see four different Doraemon movie scenes by looking through the lens and turning the dial on the side.

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▼ The “Memory Bread Drawing Kit (Oekaki Anki Pan)” contains five picture cards that you can copy and trace to create 10 different types of illustrations.

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In addition to the toys, the Doraemon Happy Meal comes in three adorable types of boxes, which should also put a smile on kids’ faces.

▼ The boxes all look cute, but we think Dorami-chan in the middle looks particularly charming. The boxes with Doramon’s and Dorami-chan’s face have a bit of a pop-up shape on the top. dora-box

Well, we think these toys actually look quite nifty, and we can easily imagine kids who’ve seen the Doraemon movie begging their parents to take them to McDonald’s for the trinkets. Hmmm … we wonder how many parents will be forced to make six trips to McDonald’s for all the items.

The Happy Meals are available at prices between 432 yen (US$3.56) and 504 yen ($4.15) depending on the food item you choose, but we expect the Doraemon toys will go quickly, so if you plan on getting your hands on one – or a few – of them, you may want to get to a McDonald’s sooner rather than later!

The 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival

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RocketNews 24:

Every February in Hokkaido brings another amazing display of artful snow and ice carvings, and RocketNews24 brings a firsthand account of the 66th annual Sapporo Snow Festival.

This year has already brought a couple of exciting stories from the festival. Whether it was soulless snow sculptures or an imposing Sith Lord, the Sapporo Snow Festival always gives you something to talk about.

The Yubari Melon Mascot! The only terrifying mascot in Japan.

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Although the city of Sapporo is very large, the sites for the festival are not that far apart. Especially the two sites that feature most of the incredible snow and ice artwork are within minutes of each other, making a lot of the festival easily accessible.

Susukino Ice World 2015, was where the ice sculpture competition pieces were shown. With plenty of amazing entries this year, it’s a wonder how the judges were able to pick just four sculptures as winners.

Overall winner of the ice sculpture contest!

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Odori Park was home to all the major installation snow works, including the international snow carving competition. Representatives from many countries were working very hard to complete their sculpture within the three days allowed.

Indonesia

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United States (Oregon)

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New Zealand

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Darth Vader and his imperial Storm Troopers might be out to steal the show, but there were plenty of other really incredible sculptures on display in Odori Park.

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For the smaller sculptures, a quick glance at them revealed a few pretty obvious themes.

Yokai Watch

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Frozen

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Studio Ghibli

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Parasyte

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The third site of the snow festival, the Sapporo Community Dome, had its share of snow art as well, but people came here to play in and with the snow, rather than admire it. The standout winner was definitely the Nissin sponsored “tube sliding” with lengthy lines right up until closing.

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Travel between the sites was really easy, with a shuttle bus running to the sites that was cheaper than taking the subway.

Night time provided a unique opportunity to show off for the crowd, performances graced the stages in front of the huge snow sculptures until the closing of each day.  The Star Wars stage had its own light show which repeated every 15 minutes.

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The real winner of the night was the projection mapping upon the Kasuga Grand Shrine sculpture, though.

If you haven’t gotten enough of the snow festival yet, here are a few more pictures to make you wish you were able to be there yourself. Enjoy!

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Fan parody of Ghostbusters set in Tokyo is totally “crossing the streams”

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RocketNews 24:

Genre streams that is! There isn’t an ’80s movie that is more perfectly matched for an anime makeover than Ghostbusters. The story is flawless, the ghosts would feel right at home, plus all the crazy special effects could be easily accomplished through animation. The fact that they were able to do all of that in a live-action movie is part of what makes it such a classic.

This parody simply nails the movie, but you don’t have to take our word for it, you can see for yourself after the jump.

The YouTube channel Nacho Punch is no stranger to 1980s-style anime parodies, but this one feels just right. Set in Tokyo and drawn in a style of animation perfect for the era in which the movie and original animated series were born, the Tokyo Ghostbusters really shine in their one-minute debut.

▼“Who you gonna call?”

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Since this parody is set in Japan, a few of the familiar Ghostbuster details have been changed to fit the Land of the Rising Sun. The team chows down on curry udon and travels around busting ghosts in a Japanese hearse.

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The role of Slimer is played by a green version of Whisper from Yokai Watch.

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The rest of the ghosts and baddies are assembled from some other very popular youkai (demons/monsters) from Japanese folklore. You can see Rokurokubi (long-neckedyoukai), Kappa, and Karakasa Obake (the one-eyed umbrella).

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Just as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man rumbles through the streets of New York City, a giant Doraemon is the oversized terror in this parody. The Tokyo Ghostbusters climb up Tokyo Tower in order to get a better vantage point to fight off the robot cat ghost menace.

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It’s a wonder why this mash-up didn’t happen sooner. The cartoon TV series of The Real Ghostbusters did a fine job of expanding on the universe after the movies, but a Japanese anime version done in the 1980s style adds a little more wackiness that is always welcome with the Ghostbusters name. Great work, guys!