Tuesday, July 31, 2007

News From The Other Side Of The Pond: Toru Furuya Edition!

Hey Moonies! For all you Tuxedo Kamen fans, we've got a couple news stories related to the Seiyuu this time around!

Toru Furuya's Character Inspires Bizarre Election Poster?

In Japan, the Upper House Elections recently took place, and there was an interesting tactic implored to get people to vote. Gundam Wing is hugely popular in Japan, especially the character Ray Amuro - who is voiced by Toru Furuya. In Yamagata Prefecture, the electoral commission has put out a poster with a regular guy dressed up as Ray Amuro to encourage people to vote. The characters say "Elections Will Go!" a parody of Ray Amuro's famous catch phrase, "Amuro Will Go!" No word on how this has influenced voters to vote, or how Toru feels about this poster. Having streaming videos online or other outlets to let people know to vote for a candidate just doesn't seem as popular in Japan as it is in North America.

Toru Furuya Walks Inside A Life-Sized Gundam!

Fuji-Q Highland Park is an amusement park in Fujiyoshihda, Japan. It is home to two of the world's fastest roller coasters, and hosts a children's area with a Thomas the Tank Engine theme. It is now the home to Gundam Crisis, a special attraction which opened just last week that features interactive displays and simulators. But wait, it is home to something much bigger and grandiose! The highlight is an 18-meter life-sized Gundam that was built just for the park. To commemorate the opening of this attraction, three special guests were invited to view the Gundam. They were Gundam Creator Yoshiyuki Tomino and Seiyuus Shuuichi Ikeda and Toru Furuya (left). Toru got the chance to sit inside the cockpit (where a short video can be seen) and the creator was quite pleased seeing how accurate the likeness was. He asked Toru to test the Gundam's Power while he was in the cockpit! The attraction costs ¥800 to get in. Fans can watch a video of Toru entering the cockpit here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Have You Seen This Car?

Anime-themed cars have long been an unreachable dream for otaku in the western world. Short of plushies, stickers, and other merchandise fans can scrounge up at a con, they are nothing compared to this Hello Kitty creation from Mitsubishi, or many others that have been created to promote other, popular series. We read a news story out of Wisconsin about a 2003 Mitsubishi that has a caricature of Sailor Moon over the exhaust manifold. Were any of you there? We'd love to see a picture of what this looked like (it must have been neat since it was newsworthy)! Question for everyone though, if your car could be anime themed, which show and which car would you pick and how would you want it designed?

Quick Celebrity Sightings on a Game Show!

Shoko Nakagawa and Neko Hiroshi Appear on The Best House 123!

Last week we were able to find more Japanese programming and thought we’d watch a few game shows. One of the ones we watched was a TV show called The Best House 123! and this particular episode was a two hour special that featured celebrities playing. The premise of this game show is a little bit different. The players each pick their top 3 of anything they want , and prepare a short video presentation on their picks. Then on the show, the hosts at random using a buzzer choose a few of these presentations to be shown on the show. Viewers at home then vote on which player’s presentations they liked best, and the best ones are included in a book called “The Best Encyclopedia”. It’s kind of a neat show and definitely a change from the image of most Japanese game shows that we have seen where players are subjected to strange obstacle courses or get an electric shock when they do something wrong.

As we mentioned above, last week was a two hour celebrity special, and two celebrities that we have reported on in the past were players and also had their presentations chosen. Now we would have loved to upload some clips of the show, however after heeding the warnings on Fuji’s site, we elected to post some screencaps and a summary instead.

Shoko Nakagawa appeared on the show and cosplayed as Haruhi Suzumiya from “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” - a popular anime which we are sure most of you have heard of by now! Shoko was the third to be chosen to present second, and for her topic she picked the Best 3 Dismantling Operations. We were surprised, we totally expected her to do the top 3 best cosplays in the world or something to that effect :p. In third place was a case in China where 16 apartment buildings were demolished simultaneously. This took place in 2005 in Yunong Village, and the engineers had made a computer simulation to map out how best to make the buildings fall as not to destroy other buildings that were nearby. They showed a shot of one building which survived the blast (but all the others around it were destroyed). Her second place pick was the dismantling of a gas tank in Japan that was inspired by a housewife’s apple peeling - spiraling around only once and getting the peel out in one shot. So they cut off the bottom of the tank and worked slowly spiraling around the top of the tank. This method takes about a week compared to an older method that took a month to dismantle the whole tank, and earned the engineers at Bestera a patent. Shoko’s top pick for her topic was the destruction of a B-52 Stratofortress. Here’s some history for you all. In 1991, the US and Russia signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. 365 of these aircraft were flown to Arizona, all the useable parts were salvaged, and then a 13,000 lb blade was dropped from a crane and chopped the planes into several pieces. Shoko seemed really fascinated with this one!

Neko Hiroshi (Real Name: Takizaki Kuniaki) is a popular comedian in Japan who is very short and incorporates his infamous cat motions (a cat paw gesture followed by “nya!”) in his routines. Neko played Kami-Sama in Bishoujo Celeb Panchanne - a series which we have been following very closely on Moon Chase because of it’s similarities to Sailor Moon! Neko chose to talk about the top 3 animals that sound like other animals. In #3 was a species of frog in Japan that sounds like a dog when it croaks/barks. It was discovered in Neba Village in Nagano in 2005. There is a mansion that people can visit just to hear this new species of frog bark! #2 is the cheetah, which has the ability to sound like a chirping bird along with the scary growls that we are all familiar with. #1 went to the giraffe, which can grunt and bleat like a cow. At the end of the show , all the contestants laughed at his entry. Neko Hiroshi can currently be seen in the Live-Action Saiyuki (unrelated to the anime of the same name) movie that was just released in Japanese theaters. He is playing the false Cho Hakkai.

There were other presentations that were made , such as the best glassware, aquariums, haunted houses, cutting devices, poisonous sea animals, and the kicker: the best women who turned into men. As of this writing we are unsure which ones have made it into The Best Book.

Commercials Corner #10

Over 30 this week for all your enjoyment! Today's strangest commercial honor goes to this one we found of popular band Kat-Tun endorsing... fruity lip-balm?

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A New Docomo Phone!
Japaanese Del Monte Juice!
Tsutaya Discas (Rental by Mail) Service!
Toshiba HD-DVD!
Ritz Crackers!
Osamu Tezuka's Characters Party for the Tenth Anniversary of the Prius!
Pigling Bland drinks Suntory Dakara!
Japanese Pizza Hut Commercial!
Kat-Tun Commercial for Lotte +X Gum!
Oxy Body Lotion for Men!
Mini Fibre Drink!
A look at the suites in LeoPalace 21!
Japanese Mastercard Commercial - "Priceless Jazz Night" !
Japanese Automobile Federation!
Tales Weaver RPG!
Maple Story RPG!
Pepsi Nex Zero!
Pocari X SMAP Commercial with all the members!
Short Docomo 2.0 Commercial with Tsumabuki and Fukiishi!
Long Docomo 2.0 Commercial with Tsumabuki and Fukiishi!
Long Docomo 2.0 Commercial with Nagase and Asano!
Autobacs GPS Navigator!
Mario Party 8!
Tokyo Disney!
Businessmen go crazy for Regai!
Two Suzuki Commercials!
Daisuke's (Dice-K's) Aquarius Commercial!
Bizarre Intel Centrino Commercial!
Gatsby Hair Care for Men Commercial!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Storm Warning!

BREAKING NEWS! Possibly literally!

Earlier today, Tropical Storm Usagi formed and headed for a remote Japanese island chain, as reported by the Associated Press. While storms are not unusual, they are not often named after Sailor Moon characters! This really isn't a Sailor Moon reference at all, Usagi is simply on a list of names to be used (Western North Pacific List II). Now, who knows if it's on the list because of Sailor Moon...? It's a mystery to be pondered. ;) Usagi is expected to hit the Ogasawara island chain on Monday.

Perhaps if she'd studied more geography, she could have gone straight to Tokyo?

Original article here, props to Bucket for linking us originally!

When American Bands Appear on Japanese TV #3

Yes, we thought we had seen all of Maroon 5's appearances until we ran into a third one today. This one comes from yesterday's Music Japan. The group wasn't interviewed, but appeared on camera to introduce themselves. Lead singer Adam Levine's on-screen antics are priceless!

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An Interesting Article about Otaku Visits to Shrines in Japan

We discovered this news story a few days ago. In Japan, there is a rising trend of “otaku pilgrimages” to shrines and other sites all over Japan that were featured in favorite cartoons. The towns that these shrines are in change radically when the otaku come to visit in their full cosplay garb, and local merchants will tend to carry more anime character merchandise when this season comes around. The otaku are referred to as “Aniwota”, an abbreviation of Anime and Otaku. Aniwota season begins in April, and really picks up after July according to this article.

The article then goes into some examples of shrines where this happens. The first one is the Washimiya Shinto Shrine, in the small town of Washimiya Cho in Saitama, Japan. This is the oldest and holiest shrine in this region, and was once used to pray for good fortune in battle. Beginning in April, many Aniwota have made their way to this shrine, and in the beginning prayed in it. But now that the amount of visitors has rapidly increased , the shrine has become more of a tourist attraction rather than a place of prayer. Fans are only visiting to be closer to their favorite cartoon characters, making the shrine a different kind of sacred place. This shrine is used frequently in the series Lucky Star, which is hugely popular in Japan at this moment - and is cited by most as being the reason for the surge this year. The twin main characters Tsukasa and Kagami Hiiragi live in this shrine. And it is very typical of Aniwota to pose like their favorite characters in full cosplay in front of the shrine - without this the pilgrimage is incomplete!

Local residents have mixed feelings about this. A man who owns a coffee shop across the shrine is happy to see this increase in business, and notes that businesses that sell anime merchandise can capitalize more on this boom. However, others are more suspicious of the tourists in their area and schools. They are not used to having so many Aniwota in full costumed garb around their city and generally feel uneasy. A lot are also disturbed by the fact that Newtype (in Japan, not the North America version) recently published a map in its August issue pointing out all of the sites used in Lucky Star. The image in the article link we showed you above is of Tsukasa and we have video to show you of the mayhem!

Another shrine the article mentions is the famous Hikawa Shrine in Azabu-Juuban, Tokyo. This was the home of Rei Hino in Sailor Moon. When the series became a huge hit in 1993, many fans made the pilgrimage to see Hikawa Shrine. Even Genvid’s Jay Navok led some fans on a tour of this particular shrine too last year! During this time, the residents of Azabu-Juuban were used to the crowds as it is one of the biggest cities in Japan. But the residents of Washimiya which is usually a sleepy town are puzzled and confused by this sudden influx of visitors.

This was a neat and interesting look at some of the differences in cultures between North America in Japan. We haven’t heard of too many fans in North America traveling to cities just because their favorite characters are from there - but perhaps this stems from the cities being fictional in most cases. It makes us wonder though, if Gotham City or Metropolis existed, would you make a pilgrimage to one of those cities to be closer to Batman or Superman (or if you’re not a fan, insert favorite city and character of choice)?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Late Breaking News: Same Song, Different Con.

Tokyopop Is Still Attempting to Negotiate the Rights to the Sailor Moon Manga.

Genvid was one of the first to report of this news story at Baltimore’s Otakon. At Tokyopop’s industry panel, A fan asked Katherine Schilling and Alexis Kirsch if they were interested in re-releasing the Sailor Moon series. Katherine and Alexis are manga editors at Tokyopop and were representing them at Otakon. Here is our transcript of their answer from the video posted at ANN. Fast forward to around 28 minutes to see this part.

Katherine: It was the first one that Tokyopop did years ago, and it totally, yeah... we deserve to do a good version.
Alexis: We wanna do it but unfortunately there’s licensor issues with...umm.. in Japan between the creator and her company, so we’re just kinda stuck in a black hole there where we -
Fan: But you are working on it right?
Katherine: Oh we are pursuing it as much as we can, but sometimes there are some issues that are out of your hands for now.
Fan: Have you considered about releasing any of her other work?
Alexis: Yes we have-
Katherine:To a degree, to a degree... But there’s other stuff to consider first, and Sailor Moon is still in our hearts.

We sent an email to Tokyopop earlier this week to clarify details about the comments that they made at Otakon, but as of this writing we still haven't heard back from them. These comments that were made really aren't antyhing new from Tokyopop’s end. Since 2004 we have read many reports that they have been trying to get the rights to re-release the manga. As of this writing it is still unconfirmed whether they are trying to get the rights to the old manga releases (the ones from the early 90's) or to the new re-releases with the additions and act redistributions - though we suspect it is the latter. But what really surprised us was finding out that they considered to get some of Naoko’s other works over here - of which most if not all are available only through fan translations. Still, it's nice to know that they still have such positive feelings towards the property, and that they do want to do a better translation. The translation the first time around wasn't well received by everyone with changes in names and attacks, for starters. Despite this, it was one of the first titles in North America to start the "Manga Boom" over a decade ago. And fans would probably have a better chance to acquire the manga now, as manga used to be carried in short stocks in a bookstore's small graphic novels section or on a shelf with any of the cartoons, humor, or comics section. Now manga has become so popular it is hard to find a bookstore that doesn't have its own large section devoted to manga.

This sort of got us wondering what the other two companies involved with the anime were up to. The general trend these days (when a series is brought to other markets), is that both a series' manga and anime are usually picked up at around the same time - give or take a few months. We wouldn't be surprised if another company was pursuing the rights to the anime at the same time that Tokyopop is going after the manga. Over the years, it seems that Geneon has definitely been more vocal than ADV (time and again) about re-acquiring the rights to the series should issues between Toei and Naoko be resolved. We even heard of a rumor from one of our readers, Furu, that Bandai Visual was seeking the rights to distribute PGSM to North America. We have been unable to confirm the validity of that rumor. But barely a peep from ADV, and this is the response we got to an email we sent to them earlier this week.

"At this time we have no information regarding an attempt to renegotiate the rights to Sailor Moon."

Interested fans who want to know how hard ADV tried to get certain pulled episodes to DVD from their releases of the first two seasons should watch the last minute of the third video and the first bit of the fourth video here. The most striking point of the interview with Matt Greenfield (founder of ADV) was when he said "Sailor Moon has not exactly been handled in a logical manner in its release in this country." We have to agree with them - and in looking at the release of the series in the early 2000's, it really seems ADV got the short end of the stick in many ways. We're going to spare you everything that went wrong with the handling of the series in North America, but the major ones that stand out in our minds are distribution (theatrical, home video/DVD and television), marketing, and merchandising.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, we have not heard from Geneon. If we do ever hear from them we will amend this post. But we did hear back from Right Stuf International (they handle Geneon's customer service inquiries):

"We have not heard anything from Geneon about that. Unfortunately, we can’t comment on rumors; we can only comment on solid fact that the manufacturer provides to us."

So all in all fans, while this is exciting news, the only really new thing that's come out of this is that they considered getting Naoko Takeuchi's other works. We have reason to believe that there are still some efforts by other companies to bring back the anime - but we can't really say just which companies we know other than Geneon in the past or present has had some interest in the property (playing it safe). But to anyone involved with the property who may be reading this, we think we speak for all fans when we say...

"Bring her back already!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Flowers, Anyone?

If you're a guy in Japan, and you are dating a gal who is a fan of Sailor Moon, why not give her some Sailor Moon namesake flowers? In Japan there are not one but three strains of flowers that have been named for Sailor Moon. These flowers are very popular and sometimes sell out pretty quickly.

#1 - Happy Valley Sailor Moon Orchid!

This orchid has been mentioned on other fansites before (such as Genvid and The Oracle) under the name "Happy Barry'Barrie" but we learned from quite a few growers' sites that the name is actually "Happy Valley" (which makes more sense than Barrie when you think about it). This hybrid flower comes from the Genus Cymbidium, which has around 50 species of orchids with a distinct form to the base of the orchid's lips (the center of the orchid). This orchid was named for Sailor Moon because its yellow color reminded the scientist (Shigeru Makoto Kono) of her hair. The species was officially registered October 9th, 1997 and like the Sailor Moon licenses won't last forever; the registration will expire in 15 years.

#2 - Sailor Moon Carnations (Orange or Yellow)

In a terribly odd twist of irony, this carnation is naturally yellow, but the orange "mutant" is just as popular. Otaku should recall that Sailor Venus (who had an orange fuku) has on occasion played Sailor Moon's decoy - so it seems only fitting that the mutation is orange! From what we have read this is a very popular carnation - especially when it is given on Mother's Day. The INGU Sailor Moon Carnations were conjured by Inagaki Chotaro and were registered on June 8th, 1998 and will also expire in 15 years from that date. We've seen some growers do some interesting things with these carnations, and our favorite one is this poodle that was made with the orange variety of this carnation. Note: The yellow carnations used were of the LC Candle variety.

#3 - Sailor Moon Sunflower

On July 27th, 2004, a third flower was named for Sailor Moon. The Sailor Moon Sunflower is a hybrid of the Helianthus Genus of sunflowers. We were unable to find any horticultural registry information on this flower. We learned that this flower is grown in a special sunflower field in a park in Japan, and was named after Sailor Moon because of two reasons. The first being that sunflowers are popular among children in Japan, and that if they named the flower after a popular character it would attract more children to come to the park. The second is that the pale colour of the flower reminds the observer of the moon. This is a very popular sunflower in Japan. It is used in a variety of bouquets and it looks like many people travel to the Showa Memorial Park where this is grown (in the Barbecue Sunflower Garden) just to see it. This park says that this sunflower is unusual because of its yellow-green color and the low height makes it lovely.

So there you have it, men seeking that special flower for that special someone need not always resort to using roses, just like Tuxedo Kamen!

EDIT: We have recently learned through an email that some fans are dismayed or don't believe the translation of "barrie" to valley. Quit calling us silly. Some Japanese words these days are written almost like their english equivalents, such as ハンバーガー (romaji: hanbāgā) which is the japanese word for, hamburger. Katakana is often used to "spell out" foreign words using the letters given in this writing system. These equivalents are pretty much loanwords in the Japanese language. In fact, later this week we hope to upload segments of a game show which feature several loanwords. See how similar they look and sound? Now most typically when one thinks of the word for valley in Japanese, the kanji 谷 (romaji: tani) is used. However in the case of the name of this flower, we're going to break this down character for character and hopefully, this will answer any wondering fan's question (oh yeah, and the next time there is a gripe against one of our articles, do give us a shout out, our email is at the bottom of this page). This is the title written in katakana: ハッピーバリー”セーラームーン". The first three characters read out as happi - which is the word "happy". This character ッ, is a special character called Soukon. This character is the smaller case of the character ツ (tsu), but is never pronounced. Soukon means that you double the following consonant, and the next character is pi, therefore "happi". Now for the second word, バリ. This one spells out ba-ri. It's not the word berry, because that is be-ri, or ベリー. But, ba-ri sounds a lot like valley. And a few people close to the language and in Japan told us バリ is best translated in this case to valley. In fact, many popular online translators translate the characters バリ to valley. But, this can't be the only use of those characters to mean valley now, can it? Why not take a look here, here, or here? There's several more instances where the characters バリ have been used to mean the word valley, but we're not going to list them all. We hope this is enough proof for the dismayed fans who don't believe what those two characters really mean in the name.

Breaking News: Japanese Online DVD Rental Service Expands to VOD

And, The New Service Includes Hits From Toei!

Tsutaya Discas, is a service much like Netflix in the US, or Rogers Video Direct in Canada. Tsutaya Dicas loans out DVDs and CDs in Japan through orders online and home deliveries. Last year the company noticed a problem - many titles old and new were very popular and it was difficult to keep enough stock for their members. So in November, the company announced that they were going to begin a new electronic delivery system (Video on Demand) sometime this Spring. Just a few hours ago, it was announced that TOEI has signed on board with this new service and will be offering older titles such as Fist of the North Star, Cyborg 009, and Sailor Moon. Altogether there will be 1500 releases from TOEI offered on this service. According to the press release, the first episode is free, and others will start from ¥105 - which is just under $1 US.

It seems to us that TOEI is really jumping on this VOD bandwagon, with their own online service and VOD integrated with Windows Media Player in Windows Vista. And from what we have read, it's been successful. Anime VOD services are just starting to take off in North America, especially with some companies making use of new technologies such as Azureus VUZE and Joost(we really love GONG). It's also a lot cheaper for companies to distribute anime online rather than produce a DVD, but we have read recent surveys that suggest while Anime VOD services are popular, many fans still prefer buying DVDs (especially when they come with neat bonuses like gashapon or other merchandise). We would not be surprised if TOEI were to expand their VOD services to North America within the next few years.

The Japanese Tradition

Hey fans - while we are still waiting for a few things with regards to Tokyopop's comment at Otakon, I'm going to bring you some more unrelated news! We recently had a surge in hits to the site and I was celebrating this with our translator, White Tiger King. And he pointed me to this very bizarre and hilarious YouTube video of quite possibly the worst interpretation someone can give another who wants to learn about Sushi! We can't even begin to tell you all of the things that are wrong with this one!

And just for kicks, here's some others about apologetic bowing, and really apologizing if you have done the unthinkable. Or for those wanting some dating advice, here's some for men seeking women in Japan - part 1 and part 2.

Monday, July 23, 2007

When American Bands Appear on Japanese TV #2

As promised, here come the video clips from another one of Maroon 5's appearances on Japanese television. This one comes from Music Station , and is hosted by Mariko Do and comedian Tamori. This particular episode featured many heavyweights in the Japanese Music world, Namie Amuro, Koda Kumi, Gackt, and Kat-Tun to name a few. So it was neat to see Maroon 5 with these big stars!

This first clip shows them being introduced, not quite sure what to say, and not looking at the right camera.

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This next clip shows a short interview with the hosts , and keyboardist Jesse Carmichael reaches out to the band's Japanese fans!

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And this last one shows their performance of Makes Me Wonder. The scary guy to the left of Tamori is popular J-rocker, Gackt.

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To all our fans

We've heard the big news about Tokyopop's impromptu announcement - but we're holding out for something else. We promise we'll tell you more once we know!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Commercials Corner #9

Hey Moonies! Here we are bringing you another dose of Japanese commercials! First off, we came across a shorter version of Keiko Kitagawa's Docomo 2.0 commercial for DCMX id. DCMX id is a service that allows your cell phone to carry your credit card information, so all you have to do is touch it to a special sensor to pay! The last one was a minute long, this one is half that. Enjoy!

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And this milk commercial was so nuts we had to feature it off of our list!

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Best of the Rest:
Another Nissin Freedom Project Commercial!
Japanese Pain Relieving Patch!
Ayumi Hamasaki's Latest Single, Glitter/Fated!
PS3- Everybody's Golf 5!
PS3- Wangan Midnight!
Pocari Sweat featuring a member of popular Idol Group, SMAP!
Fully Furnished Rental Suite!
Itoen Plum Juice!
Sapporo Ichiban Cup Star!
Liese Citron Scented Hair Water!
Another Heartwarming Tokyo Subway Commercial!
Soken Bicha!
Toyota Ractis Commercial!
Karada Meguri-Cha!
Nintendo DS Game Subarashiki Kono Sekai!
Calpis Commercial!

When American Bands Appear on Japanese TV

One of the hottest bands in recent years, Maroon 5, made an appearance days ago on Music Fair 21. Music Fair 21 is a Japanese Music show where bands perform and are also interviewed by hosts Kiyouziyu Suzuki
and Akira Keisiyun. Unfortunately, while other artists that were on the show were interviewed more than once, Maroon 5 was only interviewed once. Still though, it's neat to see how they are interested in Japanese food! I have another clip from a few weeks ago I hope to upload soon. But for now, enjoy Maroon 5 talking about Japanese food and performing their latest hit, Makes Me Wonder!

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Ebay Quicklist!

Best Bargains:
Sailor Moon Tokyopop Manga!
Sailor Moon: Songs From the Hit TV Series!

Most Expensive:
A lot of cards and pins!
Sailor Saturn doll!
A cel of Setsuna, Michiru, and Haruka!

Odd Items:

These chopsticks look like they were a bonus for something with the different cartoon characters!
This wand looks fake.
Sailor Moon Manga Saucers!

Best of the Rest:
Original Laserdiscs of the first season!
Light-up figures!
A rare plush of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen sitting on the Moon!
Sailor Jupiter ring!
Sailor Stars Christmas Single!
Sailor Moon Bento!
Sailor Chibi-Moon and Message Board Plush!
Sailor Moon Comforter!
Mini Sailor Moon Case!
Sailor Moon Mailing Labels!
Full Set of Finger Puppets!

VA July Update!

With all this news pouring in from Japan, we're sure some of you are wondering what the English VA's are up to! We've got a few sightings this month and some big, big news for all you Stephanie Beard fans at the end!

Malachite in Gangster Movie!

Set to come out later this year or perhaps next, is a movie called Gangster Exchange. We can't find a thing about this movie, but after (WARNING DO NOT CLICK HERE IF YOU ARE UNDER 18) we saw a few clips on a cinematographer's site , we think it has something to do with an Asian gang. Dennis Akayama (Malachite) plays mobster Takayama in the film.

New Care Bears Movie - But Wait, It's Not From Nelvana!

2007 marks the 25th Anniversary of those cute, colorful, and cuddly Care Bears! In the past few years, we've seen a new 3-D computer animated generation of Care Bears. A new movie out on DVD this fall continues that tradition. But sadly, we will not see this new production come from Nelvana, which has brought the series to children since 1985 - and many future Sailor Moon VA's were featured in the original cartoon and subsequent movies. The new movie, Oopsy Does It! will be produced by SD Entertainment and released by 20th Century Fox. And we're a little scared... the bears don't look like the bears that we grew up with. They look more like people than cuddly bears, and also look a lot younger than they did in previous incarnations. There will also be three new characters introduced, the evil Grizzle, the bilingual Amigo Bear and the hero, Oopsy bear. Grizzle attempts to take over the Bears' amusement park "Funderland" after Oopsy ruins it, and threatens to steal all their belly badges (we grew up knowing them as tummy symbols). It's up to Oopsy to save the bears and the park! The movie will be released in select theaters this August, and will hit DVD sometime this October. It also looks like this movie is going to be part of a series according to SD Entertainment, and we have to wonder if this was the new series that Katie Griffin was talking about when Sailordees met her last year. Tracey Moore will be voicing one of Cheer Badge (pink) or Share Badge (purple). You read right, Badge. We don't know why Badge is a part of some bears' names and not others. "Badge" doesn't quite fit the bears to us. We'll be waiting to see how this film ranks among Big Wish Movie and Journey to Joke-a-Lot.

Some other, smaller, sightings:

☼Bob Summers (Theme Composer) will appear as himself in a documentary about the late, legendary Canadian Jazz Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson.

☼Congratulations to IMDB for setting off a false alarm - Jennifer Gould (Sailor Saturn, Himeko) did not appear in John from Cincinatti last month. They have gotten her confused with Sports Broadcaster Jennifer Gould.

Moon Chase Exclusive: Stephanie Beard Takes on a New Role as Assistant Producer!

Over the last few weeks, fans have been suspicious of whether or not an IMDB credit to Stephanie Beard was true. She is credited as an assistant producer on the upcoming independent film, A Life Less Gone. A Life Less Gone is based on a true story, and explores the lives of two interconnected people affected by drugs. One is a high school student, who finds solace in a friend as she struggles with her identity - but this friend leads them both on the road to addiction. The second is of a narcotics officer whose marriage is on the brink of destruction. He finds love in the comfort of a heroin-addicted exotic dancer. Now given IMDB's tendencies to miscredit actors, we went on a search to confirm this sighting. Last night, we heard back from the Director of the film , Jason Lupish and are able to bring you an exclusive! He told us that Stephanie is very involved in this film, and were it not for troubles with ACTRA, she would have played the lead role of Karen. The film opted for a non-union shoot in light of these troubles and Stephanie helped in whatever way she could. Stephanie had been an integral part of this movie since the inception, and it was only fitting that she was given an associate producer credit. So , there you have it Stephanie Beard fans, look for A Life Less Gone in a theater near you sometime next year.

Other than that, she's been pretty mum on whatever else she's been up to. The only thing we know for sure is that she'll be a magician's assistant on a new magic show in 2008.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

News From the Other Side of the Pond #6

Rika Fukami Narrates Audiological Journey!

Rica Fukami (Sailor Venus) can be heard on iTunes Japan narrating part of a new series aimed at bringing the world to Japan without listeners needing to leave home! The audiobook series that is being brought to iTunes Japan is called Walking of the Earth and is an audio travel book for overseas destinations. Background sounds to really simulate the destination include airport sounds, and sounds of the town. Rika can be heard narrating about Vienna and famous composers such as Schubert, Haydn and Mozart, and also talking about Western Heroines such as Sharon Stone and Jodie Foster. If you wish to purchase this and have access to iTunes Japan, here is the link. On another note, it seems she held a workshop on movement and dance in February and for anyone who wants to read a fan's account of it should click here!

Toru Furuya Promotes New Intel Processors!

Intel has recently come out with some new processors, the E2000 series in Japan. These are dual core processors that run at 800 MHz and come in either 1.6 or 1.8 GHz speeds. On June 30th, Intel held an event in Akiba Square, in Tokyo's famous Akihabara district. Toru Furuya (Tuxedo Mask) is well known to be a bit of a technophile, as he has programmed some election simulators on his site, and is big on playing video games. Fans can catch him playing an upcoming Gundam game for the Wii here and here. Toru (in the middle) appeared at this event to promote these new processors, and was well received by the audience. These processors are the cheapest dual cores around, and are aimed for consumers with a lower budget.

Masako Katsuki in New Anime Series!

Zero no Tsukaima is a new anime whose second season started to air last week. It's a comedic fantasy about Louise, who fails at all magic, except for one, Void. And it just so happens that Void is a rare and powerful element, and it's terribly ironic she fails at magic involving other, more common, elements. Masako Katsuki (Sailor Neptune) plays Sheffield, a mysterious (and villainous) black-haired woman whose face is always hidden with food. Masako in an interview stated that she likes this element of mystery with her character and loves to laugh as this character.

Commercials Corner #8

Hey Moonies...here come 22 Commercials! We've even got some special commercials uploaded because some of us at Moon Chase! are very devastated over the breakup of Ayumi Hamasaki and Tomoya Nagase *sniffle*. Poor Ayu looked like she was ready to burst into tears when she performed her latest single Fated on Music Fighter last week. And there's an older Keiko Kitagawa commercial near the end. Without further ado...

Another Axe Commercial , this time on a bus with plastic armymen!
Japanese Music Service, serving Ayu's new single.
Docomo 2.0 Commercial featuring Tomoya Nagase and Tadanobu Asano!
Koda Kumi endorses Kose Visee!
This auto shop commercial reminded us of the Mario Brothers!
Why buy real limes when you can buy lime mints?
Nissan Serena!
Coffee Blendy!
A commercial for the animated film, Renaissance.
Turmeric Energy Drink!
Softbank Agent loses her voice!
Japanese girls swoon over dish washer!
A commercial for the upcoming movie, Piano no Mori!
Got Athlete's Foot? Try this!
Did these guys buy enough tea?
Minute Maid juice commercial springs bouncy moods and flowers!
Lemon Cooler Commercial!
Introducing the whole cast of the Docomo 2.0 campaign (includes Keiko Kitagawa)
Cell Phone pays for toilet paper!
Tomoya Nagase and Anna Tsuchiya bump into each other at a restaurant!
The most boring commercial we've ever seen - a water heater recall.
** We originally weren't going to feature this commercial, but after we read of his tumultuous life story and heard a few tunes, we don't think he's half bad! Fans into R&B should give this guy a listen!**

Sunday, July 15, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: John Rambo Trailer Released!

Hey Moonies, a while ago we told you that Kevin Lund (Neflite) has done a complete flip-flop in his career, moving from acting to writing. Fans will see his name in the credits of John Rambo when it hits theaters next year. We just noticed the trailer for John Rambo has popped up on the internet, and it is not for the faint of heart. If you get squeamish seeing blood and gore, do not click below. This trailer is rated R.

Hot off the internet, the new trailer for John Rambo:

Breaking News: New Kamen Rider-Crayon Shin-Chan Crossover Special!

We Bring it to You First!

A few hours ago, a news story broke in Japan, and we are probably the first English site to bring this to you all. Crayon Shin-Chan is a popular, long-running, anime which has made its way over to North America in recent years. The animation style is very primitive and looks like it has been drawn with crayons - hence the name. Shin-Chan is Shinosuke Nohara, a pesky 5 year old who lives his life very unusually, with his inappropriate behaviours and misuse of language. Sailor Moon fans if they watched episode 104 of the S series might have noticed Chibi-Usa picking up a Crayon Shin-chan mini-UFO doll (pictured). Sailor Moon was probably the only external production to feature Shin-chan, even though it was so small. It seems that the producers of Kamen Rider are going to make some kind of hour-long, animated crossover special with Crayon Shin-chan. The release will coincide with the release of the Kamen Rider Den-Omovie which will be released in Japanese Theaters August 4th. The feature will be called Den-O vs. Shin-chan King Storm Special!, and marks Kamen Rider’s first foray into televised anime in it’s 36 year history! The special will air on TV Asahi on August 3rd at 7 PM. They don’t go a lot into the plot (except for mentioning Shin-chan's snot attack) , but featured a comment from Rina Akiyama who will play a Queen in the movie. She simply said, that Shin-chan’s transformation "looks good". Since we could barely find any Japanese sites on this special, we are unaware of who will be in it. In the past though, several stars of Sailor Moon have been involved in both series. Shibue Jyoji (PGSM Tuxedo Mask) appeared in Kamen Rider Hibiki as Iori Izumi, and Masaya Kikawada (PGSM Motoki) plays Takeshi Hongo in the new movies. And many seiyuu from the anime appeared in Crayon Shin-chan over the years: Michie Tomizawa (Sailor Mars) as Matsuzaka-sensei, Aya Hisakawa (Sailor Mercury) as Sailor Iyaan, Emi Shinohara (Sailor Jupiter) as Sailor Bakaan, Kae Araki (Sailor Chibi-Moon) as Sailor Muffoon, Kazuyuki Sogabe (Nephrite) as James, Mitsuishi Kotono (Sailor Moon) as Ageo-Sensei, Megumi Hayashibara (Himeko) as Chris Evert, and Megumi Ogata (Sailor Uranus) as Yoko!

Special thanks once again to our special Toku Correspondent UltraMatt for all his help!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Oricon Polls 1000 in Search of Popular Female Cartoon Characters

Our Hero Ties for Third!

Oricon is a Japanese Company much like Billboard in America. They provide Japan with music charts and music industry-related information. Oricon Group is a company under this umbrella, which surveys for other things that are not necessarily music related. 1000 people were asked to rank their favorite female cartoon characters, and they recently published the top 10. This survey was conducted on the internet, and had evenly distributed groups among the genders of University students, High School students, and members of society in their 20's or 30's. One member of Oricon's research panel was in her 40's. We now present to you those top ten, followed by a composite image with vintage dates of the original manga!

1- Fujiko Mine (Lupin the 3rd)
2- Minami Asakura (Touch)
3- Nana Osaki (NANA), Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
5- Maetel (Galaxy Express 999)
6- Reika Ryuzaki (Ace Wo Nerae)
7- Oscar François de Jarjayes (Rose of Versailles)
8- Lum Invader (Urusei Yatsura)
9- Ran Mori (Detective Conan)
10- Nami (One Piece)

The article went further to explain why the top 3 characters were picked by the people who were surveyed. Fujiko Mine was the epitome to them of the perfect woman in society and was beautiful. One surveyor said that she wanted to be wonderful just like her! Minami Asakura was an idol to some for she was beautiful, youthful and gentle. We especially liked what a university student said with regards to Sailor Moon , "After all, it is Sailor Senshi"! She also said that as a child she looked up to her and wanted to be just like her when she grew up. University students in Japan admired the real-lifeness of Nana Osaki and were captivated by her beauty from the first manga.

On the side of that main list, you will notice two short lists. The top one is the top 5 among female voters, and the bottom one is the top 5 among male voters. They found that the women were more likely to vote for beauty , and the men were more likely to vote on their "first love" (anime girl crush?). It was also found that most people tended to vote for characters that they watched during their childhoods. Keep in mind a lot of these anime on the list are very old! The top 5 are:

Female Voters:

1- Fujiko Mine (Lupin the 3rd)
2- Nana Osaki (NANA)
3- Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
4- Reika Ryuzaki (Ace o Nerae)
5- Oscar François de Jarjayes (Rose of Versailles)

Male Voters:

1- Minami Asakura (Touch)
2- Fujiko Mine (Lupin the 3rd)
3- Maetel (Galaxy Express 999)
4- Lum Invader (Urusei Yatsura)** (is this one any surprise?!)
4- Nami (One Piece)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Our Technical Woes Are Over!

Hi Moonies, we have fixed the links! So hopefully the ones for our older readers only are the only ones that are displaying the link that says Click Here To Read If You're Ready! Now, given Blogger's API and sometimes not loading all of our scripts when you, the reader, loads this page (and we still don't know why Blogger does this), here's what to look for. If we warn users, or you see the "For Older Readers Only" tag, and you don't see a link that takes you to the post, refresh the page. If this does not work, click the Permalink at the bottom (on this blog, you just click the time posted at the bottom of the entry) and it should take you to the post's page.

Special thanks to The Me for all his hard work on making this page run! We really sincerely appreciate all the hard work you do in helping to keep this blogsite running!

Sailor Moon Cosplay Gone Wrong in a Movie!

And Completely in the Wrong Context!

The following article contains material best suited for a mature audience.

Ubisoft's Fantasia Film Festival began in Montreal on July 5th, and runs until the 22nd. The film festival showcases the best in international genre cinema. Highlights of this film festival include two live-action Death Note movies (1 & 2), Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society, and two documentaries, one about Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, and the other about Otaku. We'd like to see if that's better than the pitiful Otaku Unite! Side note - if you are okay with Otaku being portrayed as manic obsessive, then OU! is for you, otherwise don't waste your time! Back to the subject at hand, while we were doing our newsrounds, we found a very odd Sailor Sighting with respect to a film at this festival.

The Korean film, Dasepo Sonyo (Dasepo Naughty Girls)is a terribly bizarre, teen sex musical comedy. One reviewer said that he enjoyed it over most teen movies he had seen , but we get a little queasy reading about the details from his review. It is based on the popular webcomic of the same name, and takes place in a high school. The Sailor Sighting in this movie concerns the character "Poverty Girl", who pays off her mother's debts by joining a gangster and dressing up like Sailor Moon (it's her prostitute uniform =O). Every teenager has sex on the brain and the bizarre colors and songs in this movie have made it a hit among a very specific audience. There's more but we're not really sure about seeing this movie (but are letting the fans know nonetheless should any of you want to watch). If you want to watch some trailers, click here with caution. Don't say we didn't warn you!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Introducing Japanese Idol Shoko Nakagawa!

Shoko Nakagawa, is a Japanese Idol who has gained notoriety for her love of cosplay and anime. So much so, that when she appears at events and poses like her favorite anime superheroes, she is frequently mocked by the press - and we think it’s demeaning to her character and completely unfair! She frequently imitates Sailor Moon, and we feature whatever sightings we come across on Moon Chase! But we’ve never actually let our readers know exactly who she is, except for little hints here and there. So we present, a rather belated introduction to Ms. Shoko Nakagawa.

Shoko Nakagawa was born May 5th, 1985. She is the daughter of Kazuhiko Nakagawa, who was a star back in his day. Kazuhiko was a famous rock star and actor, and was known as the Japanese David Bowie. Not a whole lot is known about her mother, but we have read that Kazuhiko got hitched to her quietly when she found out she was pregnant with Shoko. When she was young, her father gave her lots of horror manga to read because he believed she would never become a true adult without reading her. He also influenced her with music, anime and video games of the 80's, and she is now considered a nerd because she loves all that old school media, and is very knowledgeable about Otaku culture! It was also because of this influence she got into watching Sentai, and wanted to be a gravure (cosplay) idol just like Mika Katsumura of Mirai Sentai Timeranger. She studied all of Mika’s idol movies and photobooks in preparation for her career. Sadly, Kazuhiko passed away when she was only 9 years old, and from then on was raised by her mother. On her ninth birthday, her father gave her a handmade birthday card from his hospital bed, but she threw it away after he died - there were rumors of a scandal. Her mother retrieved the card and gave it back to her. In 2002, she won the Grand Prix award at the Popolo Girl Audition, and thus began her debut in the entertainment industry. She was initially managed by the Jackie Chan talent agency, but is now managed by Watanabe Entertainment. She has since released Idol DVDs and Photobooks, and appeared as a Seiyuu in Eyeshield 21. She appears on many variety shows in Japan due to her idol status. She has also ventured into the music industry over the last year, and has released four singles and a mini-album.

Shoko is a multitalented idol. She cosplays frequently along with her friends, which include Chieco Kawabe - who played Naru Osaka in PGSM and played Sailor Mercury in many Sera Myu! Her cosplay is very popular and her fans are always looking forward to her cosplay shoots. She also likes to watch Kung-fu movies, and is a big fan of Bruce Lee. She also learned Cantonese a long time ago (but doesn’t speak it much anymore) and along with her mother would travel to Hong Kong frequently. She met Jackie Chan on one of these visits and drew a picture of him which now hangs in his office. She is also good at cartooning and illustrating and wants to be a Mangaka (comic artist/manga author), and in the clip we have provided, you’ll be able to see her Sand Dollar Man who reminds us a little bit of Ultraman! Shoko has also been crowned the Queen of Blogs in Japan as she blogs more frequently than any Japanese celebrity (Chieco can't keep up with her).

We hope we’ve helped you get to know Shoko a little better with this article, and now we are going to present a clip. Shoko appeared on Music Japan on June 23rd to sing her latest single , Sorairo Days (Sky Blue Days) and sat down with the host for a quick chat. Sorairo Days is currently the theme song of the current popular mecha anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Enjoy!

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Commercials Corner #7!

Several this time around for you all to enjoy!

First though, for all you Keiko Kitagawa (PGSM Sailor Mars) fans, we have a new commercial! This comes from the Docomo 2.0 cell phone series, and features Keiko going to a club called Pinky Punky, along with two men dressed in pink!

Online Videos by Veoh.com

And the 21 others we came across were...

A Japanese 7-11 Commercial!
Suntory AWA's Drink with Ai Kato!
A Japanese Axe Commercial which puts a woman in the mood...
and later, wanting to punish him with her belt!
Another Cameron Diaz Cell Phone Commercial!
A phone that detects you boxing!
Flaming Cooks for a Job Magazine!
A Flaming Shoe Seller for the same Job Magazine!
Japanese Water Removal/Cleanup Commercial!
Hair Care Counselling Line for Men!
Hitachi Cell Phone Commercial!
JAA service to Taiwan!
Koda Kumi sings We Will Rock You and endorses new lemon drink!
This coffee drink reminds us of Kool Aid Bursts!
Japanese Salad Mac from McDonald's!
Another Softbank talking dog commercial!
Take the train to the Angry Demon River!
Japanese Sprite Zero Commercial!
Suzuki Cervo!
Toyota Vitz!
Volvic Japan and Unicef program to help bring clean water to Mali!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

News From the Other Side of the Pond #5!


Moonies aged 16 years and older in Springfield, Virginia are in for a treat come August 11th! AkibaFest is sort of a mini anime con that for one night will feature a dealers room, contests, and a dance... oh and a CONCERT! This year’s guest is Yoko Ishida , who sang the popular Sailor Moon R ending theme Otome no Policy (A Maiden’s Policy). Yoko has also had some of her music released by Geneon in North America. Also hosting the event will be Akihabara visual performance duo , FICE! This should be a really neat event to attend and if any of our readers are attending, we would love to hear how it went!

Motoki Continues as Masked Rider!

Motoki Furuhata (played by Masaya Kikawada) was always a riot in PGSM , from his obsession with turtles to his relationship with Makoto. After PGSM ended, he was seen in a few movies, including the popular Battle Royale II, and more recently, Dear Friends with PGSM’s Sailor Mars, Keiko Kitagawa. He hasn’t left the superhero genre! Instead of playing second fiddle to the senshi, he is known to legions of Kamen Rider fans around the world as Takeshi Hongo, Kamen Rider 1! He first appeared as this superhero in the hit, Kamen Rider: The First (which is available on DVD in North America). The movie is going to have a sequel, called Kamen Rider: The Next, and it will be hitting theaters in Japan this Fall! Masaya will return in his starring role, to fight against the evil terrorist group Shocker. This movie will probably be dark, and is set to be a hit among Kamen Rider fans! Special thanks to Moon Chase! reader UltraMatt for alerting us to this sighting - he also mentioned to us that Kamen Rider’s body attack from the old V3 series is very similar to Sailor Moon’s Sailor Body Attack!

Emi Shinohara Has a Cameo in Hayate no Gotoku!

Hayate no Gotoku (Combat Butler Hayate) is a series we recommend all our readers check out - it’s a great, comedic anime about the humble butler Hayate Ayasaki, who serves the whimsical heiress, Nagi Sanzenin. Unfortunately, life has never been easy for Hayate, who is often dealt many bad cards! We’re not going to spoil this series much more , but regular viewers of the series might have heard a familiar voice in episode 14! Emi Shinohara (Sailor Jupiter) appeared as the mother of sisters Hinagiku and Yuukiji Katsura. Unfortunately, the elder Yuukiji was not happy to see her as she was having a crisis, and pushed her away to go bring her some milk tea instead of telling her how she was doing. Sadly, we never saw her again in the episode. Though the role was small, it was nice to hear Emi in this wonderful series (which has already parodied Sailor Moon)! We hope to hear from her again in later episodes!