Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2017

This year’s list is a little lighter than in 2016, when I listened to 18 Japanese studio albums total (in comparison to 13 this time around). However, I think that’s more of a reflection on my own time constraints as opposed to any particular dip in the Japanese music industry, and I managed to find a handful of albums that really stood out to me regardless. As always, the following list, arranged in order of release date, is comprised solely of full and original studio albums by a single artist or band – no covers, compilations, collaborations, EPs, or live albums. Continue reading

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Kawaii Minus Gender: Genderless Kei


It’s been a long time since I last posted anything on Japanese street fashion, and of all the fashion-focused articles I have posted here on Otaku Lounge, all but one of them have been concerned primarily with women. After all, the vast majority of Japanese street fashions and subcultures have traditionally been dominated by female-centric styles: lolita, gyaru, mori girl, and plenty of others. Genderless kei – whose male participants have been gaining the lion’s share of media and fan attention – is changing that landscape. Continue reading

Best J-Pop/J-Rock Albums of 2016

It’s been a whirlwind year in the Japanese music industry. Influential singer/songwriter Utada Hikaru released her first album in eight years; Boom Boom Satellites released their final (gorgeous) record before the passing away of vocalist Kawashima Michiyuki; iconic boy band SMAP disbanded after a run of nearly three decades; and BABYMETAL took one step closer to world domination when they opened for Red Hot Chili Peppers on their UK tour. To nobody’s surprise, fan-favourite idol groups such as Arashi and AKB48 continued to top many of the charts, but they were far from the only fare on offer in 2016. Continue reading

Pachinko: Gambling the Legal Way in Japan

pachinko
It’s the weekend and I’m doing a little aimless window shopping around Matsuyama’s covered arcade (shōtengai) area. There are plenty of people out and about but this is Shikoku, where even the largest city would still be considered fairly quaint and even quite peaceful by Tokyo or Osaka standards; I’m therefore still able to identify the various background tunes coming from nearby stores. That is before a pair of doors to my right slide open at least and the sudden onslaught of sound drowns out everything within a half-mile radius. It washes over me along with a visible cloud of cigarette smoke and – lucky me! – I realize I happen to be standing right next to one of the shōtengai’s several pachinko parlors. Continue reading

Good Japanese Live-Action Films

attack on titan film

Yeah, that’s my face whenever I see most Japanese live-actions films too.

It’s pretty easy to critique the Japanese live-action film industry. While the number of domestic products being made has steadily increased over the past couple of decades, comparatively few of them have made enough money to be deemed mainstream hits while many struggle to even recoup production costs. It’s an industry riddled with earnest but terrible acting (because flavour-of-the-week models, TV personalities, musicians and idol group members are often hired in place of professional actors) and littered with a huge amount of derivative content (since so many films are based on flavour-of-the-week anime and manga franchises aimed squarely at already-established fanbases). In terms of available budgets and overall quality, the Japanese film industry simply cannot be compared to its American counterpart. Continue reading

A History of Anime: The Super Abbreviated Version – part 3 of 4 (1990-1999)

hideaki anno ultraman
Where we last left off in the previous exciting episode of this (mini)series, the anime industry was actually dying (as opposed to, you know, whatever people are saying about anime now), and Japan as a whole sure wasn’t look too healthy either. Anime needed a hero. A hero fresh from the fight… Continue reading

A History of Anime: The Super Abbreviated Version – part 2 of 4 (1970s-1989)

miyazaki hayao, oshii mamoru

Welcome back to the second ultra-exciting installment of the super abbreviated history of anime! I’d make a recap, but as far as I’m concerned this whole article series is the recap – so if you missed part one, go read it, it barely grazes 1000 words. Continue reading

A History of Anime: The Super Abbreviated Version – part 1 of 4 (1907-1970s)

tezuka osamu
There’s a bit of a story behind this article series. See, longer ago than I now care to admit, I finished up my PhD, and a couple years before that, there was a really rambling draft of a PhD that had way too many chapters – one of which was a history of anime. Said chapter was one of the first to be kicked out, because although writing it was definitely beneficial to my thought process, it was pretty useless as a finished product and did the overall PhD absolutely no favours. I enjoyed writing it though and didn’t want to just get rid of it, so the document just sort of hibernated for a few years somewhere in the darkest recesses of my computer, in a folder literally labelled ‘UNUSED WRITING’.

Until this year that is, when I was doing a computer clean-out and going through all my old crap to see what had been hiding in there. I then decided that my poor, long-winded chapter deserved a bit of fresh air, and who better to be subjected to it than a bunch of randoms on an anime blog? Fear not however, for the chapter has been severely edited for style and size. In fact, not only did I challenge myself to finally let the thing see the light of day, but I also challenged myself to cut it more or less in half. I was going to write a full history of anime in no more than 5000 words.

This is the end result.

Continue reading