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Japanese company recognizes marriage with anime characters, provides family support benefits

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 07:00 PM PST

Tokyo-based employer's limited-time offer helps anime fans better enjoy life with their 2-D spouse.

Recently, a number of legally-binding anime-themed wedding registration forms have gone into circulation in Japan, letting couples who share a love of, say, Pokémon, or Sailor Moon, make their first step into married life an otaku-appropriate one. We've even seen VR games that let users experience a wedding ceremony with an attractive 2-D partner.

Until now, though, we hadn't heard of a company in Japan providing actual additional benefits to employees who're married to an anime character. But should you be lucky enough to get hired by Akihabara-based tech developer Gatebox, the company will slip a little something into your paycheck each and every month to help give you and your 2-D love a better life.

Of course, the company has to guard against fraudsters who would try to abuse the system when they're merely dating an anime character, so in order to secure the benefits you will have to provide documentation proving your married status. Thankfully, Gatebox itself provides the necessary marriage registration form here on its website, available in four different designs.

The forms ask for a plethora of information, starting with standard items such the name of you and your spouse. Gatebox would also like to know how you and your anime crush became acquainted, how you became a couple, where you proposed, your happiest memory together, and whether the bride will be keeping her maiden name or adopting her husband's surname.

▼ As a company making virtual assistant AI technology, it's no surprise that one of Gatebox's marriage registration forms is futuristic-looking

▼ Although they have a plain form too

Once the form is filled out, it can be submitted either by mail or hand-delivered to Gatebox's office, after which your marriage certificate will be mailed to you. While otaku are welcome to register their marriages with Gatebox as a gesture of their devotion to their favorite character, they can also opt for the wedding registration form to double as a job application, as Gatebox is currently hiring. Applicants who have filled out the wedding registration form, if hired, will receive an additional 5,000 yen (US$45) per month as a stipend to support their married life. They'll also be allowed to take their spouse's birthday off (it's common for anime characters in Japan to have an official birthday), which is a service most companies in workaholic Japan don't even provide for their employees with flesh-and-blood spouses.

▼ Gatebox marriage certificate

Speaking of flesh-and-blood spouses, Gatebox expressly states that these benefits are only available to applicants with non-human spouses (hand-drawn anime, 3-D animation, video game, and costumed characters are all allowable). Furthermore, while the harem genre continues to be one of the most popular in anime, applicants (who must use their real names) are not allowed to submit multiple marriage registration forms with different partners. "We ask that you submit paperwork only for the one individual your heart belongs to," Gatebox says on its website.

On the other hand, the company progressively honor same-sex marriages, as well as inter-species ones, specifically mentioning that it has no objections to humans marrying elves, beast girls, or any other non-human characters. Gatebox also promises that the contents of the marriage registration forms it receives will be kept strictly confidential, and not made available for anyone other than the applicant to see.

While the extra 5,000 yen a month is likely built into the salary Gatebox was prepared to offer applicants anyway, the extra day of vacation really is a nice perk, as tongue-in-cheek rationale aside, it's a cool gesture that the company realizes that everyone could use an extra day off now and again. However, there's a limit to even Gatebox's generosity, so applicants who want to lock in these benefits will need to submit their marriage registration/job application form by December 7.

Source: Gatebox via IT Media
Images: Gatebox

Hakone Beer will celebrate 20th anniversary, give away 1,500 beers at special Tokyo event

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 05:00 PM PST

Free beer on tap! It doesn’t matter what else I write here. Free beer!

Japan is not a country where it’s hard to find somewhere cheap to drink your fill of beer or other alcoholic drink of choice, with nomihodai (“all-you-can-drink”) deals that would seemingly bankrupt businesses if they tried them in my homeland. Free alcohol though, is a rarer beast. Thanks to Hakone Beer, though, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary, you can fill a receptacle of your choice with their delicious beer and munch on some of their snacks, and all gratis.

On Sunday, December 3, Hakone Beer will host a special free-to-participate event where attendees can bring a cup of their choice (which seems open to abuse, and has us dusting off our oversized coffee mugs, spare bathtubs and the like) to fill with their delicious life-giving beer. It does specify though that you shouldn’t take more than you can actually drink.

“Bring your own glass and pour as much as you like!”

You’ll be able to fill up your container yourself using the “Dream Beer Tap” that will be making an appearance, at least as long as you’re aged twenty years or older. There will be three beers on offer: the Hakone Pilsner, the Odawara Ale and the Kazamatsuri Stout. It does warn that the amount of beer the company will have on hand is limited, to about 1,500 glasses’ worth, so it’s a case of first come, first served.

Not only will be you able to drink for free, Hakone Beer will also be preparing Suzuhiro Company-made kamaboko cured surimi fish paste snacks for 1,500 people to nibble on as they gulp down the nectar of the gods.

If a free glass of beer and a snack isn’t enough, there will also be a chance on the day to win a set of three Hakone beers by hashtagging the company on social media.

The event will be held on December 3 in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward at the Futako Tamagawa Rise Galleria from midday to five o’clock in the evening, but with a limited amount of free beer on offer, it’ll be worth getting there early.

Even if you can’t make it to the event itself, if you live in Japan (or know someone who does, someone you can trust not to drink your winnings) there are still ways to get your hands on some free beers, by entering the prize draw on the Hakone Beer website.

Event information:
Hakone Beer 20th Anniversary Gratitude Festival/20周年記念箱根ビール大感謝祭
Address: Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku, Tamagawa 2-21-1 Futako Tamagawa Rise Galleria
Event date: December 3, 2017
Event hours: Noon-5 p.m.

Source: Hakone Beer via Otakomu
Images: Hakone Beer

Elementary schoolgirl’s Frozen “Let It Go” lip-synch performance is like nothing you’ve ever seen

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 09:30 AM PST

This girl and her friends put on an unforgettable performance that’s making people smile around the world.

Ever since Disney’s Frozen movie made its debut back in 2013, people everywhere haven’t been able to get the show-stopping hit song “Let It Go” out of their head. Performed by the main character of Queen Elsa – voiced by American actress and singer Idina Menzel – the dramatic song comes at a pivotal point in the storyline, when Elsa is hidden away in the mountains, shunned from her kingdom after her magical ability to control snow and ice is discovered by the public.

The song marks the moment in the film when Elsa decides to embrace her skills, breaking free from the restrictions she endured since childhood, and includes dramatic special effects where she manipulates the snow and ice around her.

The moment is so powerful that it captures the hearts and minds of all who see it, and for one little girl and her friends, recreating the moment – complete with some awesome lip-synching – became a goal that was finally realised in this stunning performance, which was shared online recently.

Watch as the trio recreate the scene from the film, replacing expensive CGI with some low-cost effects that are just as powerful!

The girl who plays Elsa in the clip doesn’t shy away from bringing everything to her performance, dramatically walking around the space, using her face and body to express all the emotion of an exiled queen battling with inner turmoil.

The real drama begins at roughly a minute into the video, when her two friends scoot up behind her and add some white spray to her hand movements, perfectly recreating the sprays of snow seen in the movie.

The snow element becomes even more and more dramatic as the clip goes on, with more sprays, followed by silver streamers for that extra wow factor.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any more dramatic, the girls pull off the leading lady’s frock to reveal a beautiful long dress, completing Elsa’s transformation into self-empowered individual.

The performance ends with applause and screams of joy as the little girl flicks her scarf and struts away from the audience in a dramatic exit that has everyone wanting more. In fact, the mystery surrounding the video makes it even more compelling, as the Japanese uploader gives no other information about the clip other than to say that it’s three good friends winning an elementary school “lunch contest”.

Whoever the ten-year-old elementary school student is, she’s certainly well on her way to attracting even more attention from around the world following this inspired performance. If you know who she is or where it was filmed, let us know in the comments section below!

Source: Net Lab
Images: YouTube/ゾーン グレート

Nagoya Castle reconstruction plan draws disabled citizens group complaint over lack of elevator

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:00 AM PST

Desire for historically faithful reconstruction clashes with accessibility for wheelchair users.

As is the case in many cities in Japan, Nagoya Castle is a modern, concrete reconstruction. Originally, Japan's castles were made out of wood, which meant they frequently ended up ravaged by flames when invaded by hostile samurai forces or when lightning fell from the sky during thunderstorms. Add in a post-feudal era decree that each region of the country could retain only one castle, plus some of the remaining castles becoming targets during World War II when they were used as Imperial Japanese Army garrisons and administration buildings (the latter being Nagoya Castle's role during the war), and today few wooden castles remain.

But while concrete reconstructions can look beautiful from the outside, historical purists argue that walking inside the structure to find it outfitted like a modern museum mars the experience. And so last spring Nagoya announced that it will be tearing down its castle's five-story keep and rebuilding it with a wooden one that more closely mirrors its original design. However, that commitment to maintaining historical accuracy has drawn complaints from the Aichi Disability Forum, an organization operating in the prefecture of which Nagoya is the capital.

On November 21, the Nagoya Castle General Office, which oversees management of the building and its grounds, said that it does not intend to install an elevator in the new, wooden keep (the current concrete keep, which was erected in 1959, does have an elevator). "We want to restore the keep very, very faithfully. We are restoring it to how it was in the Edo Period [1603-1868], and want to avoid additional elements to the extent possible," said Nagoya Castle General Office head Katsuyuki Nakano.

Instead, the plan is to install chair-like apparatuses that would transport mobility-challenged visitors up and down the staircases connecting the levels of the keep, from the basement to the fifth, uppermost floor. However, the potential lack of an elevator drew concern from Aichi Disability Forum Executive Director Naoya Tsuji. In speaking with Nagoya Castle General Office representative Shinichi Nishino, Tsuji pressed the castle management on the issue, expressing doubt that the stairway apparatuses are a viable alternative. "Have you looked into whether or not all wheelchair users will be able to use them?" he asked, following up with his assertion that the machines are not universally usable and adding "You knew there would be people who would be opposed to this, didn't you?"

Demolition of the current keep is not expected to begin until the fall of 2019 at the earliest, and so the debate comes at seemingly an early enough point for modifications to be made to the elevator-less plans. The Aichi Disability Forum has asked the Nagoya Castle General Office to reconsider its stance, and Nagoya mayor Takashi Kawamura has expressed his intention to work with private enterprises and educational research institutions in developing a way for disabled visitors to navigate the stairs comfortable and with ease.

Source: CBC News via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/名古屋太郎

Japanese photographer’s sage advice highlights the hidden dangers female cosplayers face

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 07:00 AM PST

Be very careful when it’s just you and the photographer in a solo photo shoot.

Cosplay photography at large events like Comiket can be really difficult, given the general lack of space and throngs of people, which is made worse by the chaos caused by famous cosplayers. Everyone wants to get a nice shot, but there's simply too much going on to snap a good picture.

So some cosplayers get bombarded with requests for solo photo shoots — just the cosplayer and the photographer — at a different venue, away from all the annoying human obstacles. It's a great opportunity for both sides, but therein lies a danger.

▼ It’s only the two of you.

Twitter user @EinTrumpf is a Japanese professional photographer who has some good advice for female cosplayers who decide to go along with solo photo shoots:

"If you attend a drinking session after the shoot, do not leave your drink unattended; I've heard stories of people getting drugged on the first day they meet with someone. Once photos of you are unwillingly taken, blackmailing only becomes easier and it'll be a living hell."

Drinking sessions are sometimes used to foster better communication and relations, but not every photographer has pure intentions, as unscrupulous ones may try to slip something into a female cosplayer's drink.

▼ In general, avoid anyone trying to snap upskirt pictures,
unless you’re into that kind of thing.

"If you feel unwell, do not go to the toilet, but instead head to a hospital's emergency room and get yourself examined while you're still under the drug's influence. Blood and urine analyses can then be used as evidence and charges laid. Take precautions like these to avoid a lifetime of misery."

"Pay close attention to the photographer's hands, and if it looks like he's holding onto something, chances are it's a syringe. These kinds of humans prefer their subjects not to resist, thus resorting to sedatives. Male cosplayers should proceed to beat the crap out of them if they discover it."

Japanese netizens were horrified at the scenario in @EinTrumpf's tweets (which have since been deleted):

"Having to watch your drink everywhere you go is also a living hell."
"This doesn't apply to only cosplayers. I knew a person who actually spiked someone's drink, and he fooled everyone with his good looks and kind personality."
"Wow this happens in real life too? Big cities are really scary."
"Why do people put themselves into such situations?"
"I think this guy's read too many comics."

While @EinTrumpf's advice seem to be borderline paranoid, one can never be too careful when taking part in one-on-one photo shoots, particularly when it involves drinking. Still worried? Rest assured you can eliminate the need of a photographer and take photos yourself at a huge cosplay complex instead.

Source: My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)

Stars of Japan’s longest-running anime get gorgeous modern makeover in new video【Video】

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 06:00 AM PST

Cup Noodle's continuing reimagining of classic anime has fans hungry for more.

While Pokémon and Dragon Ball have been on Japanese TV for decades, the title of longest-airing animated series, not just in Japan but in the whole wide world, goes to Sazae-san. Since its premiere in 1969, a new episode of Sazae-san has been ready for viewers to enjoy each and every week.

Through the years, the series has stayed committed to its core concept of heartwarming tales of middle-class family life. It's also stuck with some decidedly dated character designs.

▼ Main character Sazae, wearing a bright yellow blouse, with her bespectacled husband Masao standing behind her in a lavender pullover

But after years of seeing the famous couple as they appear above, Nissin, maker of Cup Noodles, has given them a gorgeous modern makeover with the newest installment of its Hungry Days short anime series.

In the Sazae-san anime, Sazae and Masao are very much the image of mature adult life. But Hungry Days, in keeping with its themes of youthful passion and desire, time skips back to their high school days, reimagining them as high school classmates.

▼ Character designs are once again by Katsuya Kondo, accompanied by rock band Bump of Chicken's "Kinen Satsuei."

In the original Sazae-san continuity, Sazae and Masao's romance begins with an omiai, or arranged marriage meeting. With such arrangements rapidly becoming a thing of the past in Japan, though, their Hungry Days versions' relationship develops more organically, with their feelings for each other growing over the course of the school year.

▼ Blink and you'll miss Sazae's contraband in-class snack of Cup Noodle, the only appearance of the product in the video.

▼ This sequence, with its moving background, is worth watching over and over.

"How long does youth last?" Masao wonders, as his yearning to join hearts with Sazae grows. With their senior-year school festival coming up, he decides it's time to let Sazae know, in no uncertain terms, how he feels about her, asking her to become his girlfriend.

Even with a runtime of just 30 seconds, the short packs a powerful punch, especially since the glistening visuals and atmosphere dripping with emotion are so far removed from the familiar dryness of Sazae-san's normal look and feel. In the end, it's yet another breathtaking entry in Hungry Days (which previously saluted Kiki's Deliver Service and Heidi of the Alps), and we can't wait to see which classic anime joins the series next.

Source: IT Media
Images: YouTube/日清食品グループ公式チャンネル

Japanese Emperor’s abdication date to be decided next month, expected later than initial reports

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 05:00 AM PST

Emperor Akihito will likely be sitting on the Chrysanthemum Throne a little longer than most expected.

Earlier this year, 83-year-old Emperor Akihito made known his intention to abdicate, stepping down from the largely ceremonial position he has held since 1989. Akihito will become the first emperor to abdicate the throne since Emperor Kokaku, who did so in in 1817, making him also the first Japanese monarch to abdicate since Japan's feudal era ended.

Previously, there was no legal framework for such a transition (Akihito become emperor upon the death of his father, Hirohito), and the unprecedented-in-modern-times move required the drafting of new legislation governing the handover. Until recently, it was thought that Akihito would step down on April 1, 2019, which would coincide with the beginning of the Japanese fiscal year. However, it now seems like the emperor's abdication will be pushed back.

The April 1 date falls close to scheduled nationwide local political elections, and some, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, feel it would be unseemly to mark the beginning of a new emperor's era with the likely discord and disruptions that accompany and often linger after political contests. Because of that, an alternate abdication date of May 1, 2019 has been proposed.

The Imperial Council Household has announced plans to meet on the morning of December 1 for a conference in which it will decide between the April 1 and May 1 dates, though most political observers are predicting that the latter date will be chosen. In either case, though, it looks certain that Akihito's successor, his son Naruhito, will ascend to the throne before the summer of 2019, thus officially bringing and end to the Heisei imperial era 30 years after its beginning.

Sources: Nihon Keizai Shimbun via Jin, Sankei News
Top image: Wikimedia Commons/William Ng

Yaoi fans rejoice as Shinto shrine seems to open part-time positions for male shrine maidens

Posted: 21 Nov 2017 09:00 PM PST

This could have been a fangirl’s dream come true.

A Shinto shrine caused a stir on Twitter when a passerby happened to notice a sign that appeared to be advertising a job opening for a….male shrine maiden???

Shrines often hire part-time sales assistants and groundskeepers for the New Year’s season, since most people in Japan visit in the first few days of the new year to wish for good luck and buy good luck charms. It’s not so typical, however, to hire male shrine maidens!

That’s why Twitter user @BclassPpai had to share it when they found the announcement at Koura Grand Shrine in Fukuoka, Kyushu. Printed on a large poster on the shrine grounds was an advertisement that caused the hearts of Yaoi and otoko no ko (cross-dressing) fangirls everywhere to explode with squees:

“Koura Grand Shrine
is now recruiting
seasonal part-time shrine maiden(s)
male staff”

With the way the sign is worded and the distinct lack of clarifying punctuation, many readers assumed the shrine is looking for a cross-dressing male shrine maidens (“shrine lads”? “shrine boys”?). What with shrines indulging anime fans with moe-style shrine maiden phone accessories, it’s not so far-fetched to think this could be the logical next step.

Some netizens were perplexed while others were excited:

“What would a man look like in shrine maiden clothes?”
“Where is this? I wanna go!”
“…I totally thought they were looking for cross-dressers….”

Of course, some of the more logical members of the internet (who are always ruining everyone’s fun) were quick to point out that the ad was likely searching for shrine maidens AND male part-time workers, and another netizen even went so far as to find the official post on the shrine’s webpage, which advertises for two separate positions.

Otoko no ko fans are disappointed that they won’t be seeing any guys dressed up in miko clothes this year, but they now have the idea in their heads, so they’ll be looking forward to future developments. In any case, those who would’ve liked to try it out can at least see how they would look in the priestess garb with this comfy priestess room-wear, and if you’re REALLY serious about it you can try out this lovely shrine maiden-inspired bathing suit as well.

Source: Hachima Kiko
Image source: Japan National Tourism Organization