Posts Tagged ‘TV’


Does an Actroid really need mosquito repellent?

August 18, 2013

Kincho Actroid

Every summer, Kincho (an Osaka-based bug repellent-maker) comes up with a new crop of ads as customers once again look for ways to keep mosquitoes at bay. This summer, they’re re-using one of their ads from a few years back (I believe it first aired in 2011), featuring an Actroid robot demonstrating one of their anti-mosquito skin lotions. While it’s eye-catching, I’m not sure how much need an android has for insect repellent, or whether they need to be worried about skin lotions.

While waving her arms around semi-naturally, she says “Insect repellent PreShower is gentle on your skin” twice before asking “Is that all I say?” and then going right back to her prepared line before her companion can respond.


Amami Yuki Powers Up for Suntory Chu-hai

April 6, 2013


A cool new commercial from Suntory has just hit the air, featuring Amami Yuki outfitted in alcohol-dispensing powered armor. (the link below has the 15-second version, followed by the 30-second version)

The drink is a canned chu-hai called -196C Strong Zero Dry. Chu-hai is a blend of shochu (a Japanese spirit made from grains or sweet potatoes, fairly similar to vodka), blended with fruit juice or other mixers. The concept behind Suntory’s -196C, which has been on the market for several years now, is that the fruit are flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen, then pulverized and blended into the drink mix. It tastes pretty good, but honestly isn’t any different from any of the other brands of chu-hai available. Later variations included -196 Strong, which had  a higher alcohol content (8%, compared to the normal version’s 5%), and -196C Strong Zero, which had the same alcohol content but less sugar. The newest version, Strong Zero Dry, doesn’t have any fruit flavoring, and so is slightly more bitter than the other variations. I’ve tried it, and it’s not too bad. I’d certainly drink more if I knew I’d be served by models in flying power armor suits.


“Love Distance” – Sagami Condom’s Billion-Millimeter Marathon

June 5, 2012

Sagami Condoms claim to fame is that theirs are the world’s thinnest. To help illustrate that claim, creative director and copywriter Naoki Ito of GT Tokyo agency produced this ad video, titled “Love Distance”.

A man and a woman separated by over a thousand kilometers spontaneously decide to bridge the gap between them on foot, as a caption counts down the distance remaining between them in millimeters.

[edit 19 Feb 2013: the vimeo version has been taken down, but I’ve since found it on Youtube]

Submitted to the Cannes Lions Festival for advertising in 2009, it took the Gold award in the Film category.


Tuesday’s Music of the Day: Lady, by Rajas

March 19, 2012

I’m uploading this a day early since tomorrow’s a holiday and my PC at home is on the fritz.

Rajas was (and still is, as the members routinely get together again for weekend club performances) a Kyoto-based hard-rocking hair-metal band that released several albums during the ’80s. Their sound is very similar to Heart, both instrumentally and in the vocals of lead singer Sen-chan (in pink. Non-chan in white played bass). This track, “Lady”, was featured on their 1985 album, Turn it Up.



They made a few TV appearances as well, including this performance of “Liar” (from the same album), complete with annoying VJ voice-over in English.


Bob McGrath – from Showa-dori to Sesame Street

March 10, 2012

Lots of singers and other performers end up in Japan one way or another, and it’s not that uncommon for them to achieve a measure of success here that outweighs what they were able to generate in their home countries. For most of the ones that start out here, “Big in Japan” is as far as they ever get, but some manage to parlay it into a springboard to fame back home and worldwide.

One example I discovered recently was Bob McGrath, an American-born tenor who performed with the Mitch Miller Orchestra in the early 1960s before traveling to Japan as soloist, where he found success singing Irish ballads and other tunes in English and Japanese. In this clip, with stills of his albums and from his performances, he sings Koji no Tsuki (“荒城の月) in Japanese:

If he looks at all familiar, you may recognize him from the TV show he joined in 1969, soon after returning from Japan, and where he is still performing today, over 40 years later:

Yes, that’s the same Bob we grew up watching on Sesame Street. I purchased a set of the early-season DVDs for my own son a little while back, and while thumbing through the booklet that came with it, there was a trivia note saying that Bob had been a “pop star” in Japan before joining the show. My older in-laws didn’t recognize the name, so I did a bit of searching on YouTube and found these:

Bob singing a variation of  “Jingle Bells” in English and Japanese”

Kaze no Yureteru Oka ni (風のゆれてる丘に) / On the Windy Hill

Koi no Sasurai (恋のさすらい) / Love’s Wanderings

During his time in Japan, Bob came back to appear on To Tell The Truth, where the contestants had to guess which of the three panelists was the real Bob McGrath. It doesn’t seem that the other two had done much preparation, since they could hardly answer any of the questions about Japan or Irish ballads. Some of the contestants also seemed to know a fair bit about Tokyo (I’ve been here over 15 years and I don’t know what’s in Kami-Meguro).  They guess correctly, and he rewards them with one of his songs.

They mention in the opening that he’d performed at the Copa Cabana and the Latin Quarter in Tokyo. After reading about some of the things that went on in those clubs in Robert Whiting’s Tokyo Underworld, Bob’s gentle demeanor seems like an odd fit.

He also appeared on I’ve Got a Secret, where the contestants have to guess that Bob has been performing in Japan (they must not have seen the To Tell The Truth episode). I love his rendition of “Home on the Range” in enka style.

Unfortunately, Bob didn’t appear in the 1988  Sesame Street TV movie “Big Bird in Japan”. That would have made an interesting addition to the show.


Music of the Day: Akuma no you na Aitsu, by the Inoue Takayuki Band

March 9, 2012

Another piece of music I found surfing around YouTube, this is from by the Inoue Takayuki Band, from the soundtrack album for the 1975 Japanese TV series, Akuma no You na Aitsu (悪魔のようなあいつ, or, roughly translated, An Evil Guy). The series was based on a manga of the same name, and used the 1968 “300 Million Yen Incident” unsolved crime as a major motif. It starred pop singer and actor Kenji Sawada, and 70s TV idol Seiko Miki.

I don’t have the name of this particular track, but it features jazz piano against a funk-rock backdrop that’s really ear-catching.


Braun Tube Jazz Band Videos

January 19, 2012

I just recently found this video of Ei Wada, of Braun Tube Jazz Band, from a 2010 performance at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. Using old CRT-style TVs, he creates an audio-visual feedback loop that he can play like a giant synthesizer by running his hands across the screens. Toward the end, he brings up a member of the audience to place his hand on one of the screens, and then begins ‘playing’ him.


and a more melodic piece performed in Zurich in 2011: