The changing of the seasons is a time of death and rebirth. That might seem like a slightly overdramatic way of describing a bunch of TV shows ending and a few new movies coming out this week but that is also precisely what’s been happening in Tokyo pop culture. Details below.
All (Moderately) Good Things Must Come to an End
This week in Japan has been all about one sport: rugby, thanks to the Rugby World Cup. So it was somewhat fitting that the Inazuma Eleven: Orion no Kokuin soccer anime decided to end on September 27 after 49 episodes. Part of the Inazuma Eleven franchise, Orion no Kokuin (~ “Orion’s Seal”) took the best players from previous Inazuma Eleven installments and made them part of Japan’s national soccer team competing with countries from all around the world where calling their beloved sport “soccer” instead of “football” would probably be the last mistake you ever made.
— 48G Kingdom (@48gTalk) September 25, 2019
Speaking of star-studded casts, on September 24 fans had to say goodbye to the long-running AKBingo! variety show. In it, members of the popular pop idol group AKB48 (as well as their affiliated groups like SKE48, NMB48, HKT48, NGT48, STU48, or LOL48, only one of which I made up) participated in all forms of challenges, skits, quizzes and games etc. That may not sound like the recipe for winning television, but AKBingo! managed to stay on the air for 11 years and 560 episodes because you should never underestimate the collective power of four dozen idols in short skirts.
The end of September was generally a bad time for idol fans, as on September 26 they also had to deal with the end of the Aikatsu Friends! idol anime. Luckily for them, the series will be followed by the sequel Aikatsu no Parade on October 5. That’s more than fans of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS got after the ninth YGO card battle anime series ended on September 25 after 120 episodes, since they have no idea when the next one will air. But seeing as the anime DID take place in virtual reality, maybe they can tide themselves over with the recently-released Hello World movie.
Not Much Variety in New Movie Releases
The Hello World anime movie and the Aku no Hana (~ “The Flowers of Evil”) live-action film, which premiered on September 20 and September 27, respectively, might not seem like they have a lot in common. After all, Hello World is essentially The Matrix if it featured maybe-time-travel and trying to get Neo laid, while Aku no Hana is… about something else entirely. Let’s back up a little. The story of Hello World takes place in a computer simulation of Kyoto. It’s there that the computer-generated Naomi comes across his older, real-life counterpart who hacked into the system to help his cyber-self get together with a girl called Ruri. Why? It’s a little complicated. But beautifully so.
Aku no Hana, on the other hand, takes place in the real world but it actually shares a lot of themes with Hello World. For one, both movies are about unusual relationships among teens. AnH is about a girl called Nakamura who witnesses her classmate Kasuga impulsively stealing the gym clothes of a girl he likes. She then blackmails him into a “contract” that basically involves them hanging out together, during which time the two discover that they have a lot in common. Their following story is NOT as sweet as it sounds but just like Hello World it does include themes of the two main characters essentially going against the world and trying to escape their surroundings to find their real selves. Watch the two movies back to back to see if you can spot more similarities.
Mario Kart Takes a Pit Stop
Mario Kart Tour is the newest Nintendo iOS/Android racing game featuring tracks based on real-life cities depending on the user’s location. It’s free to start but getting the most out of it will require some micro transactions, one of the most hated parts of modern gaming. And yet, despite already testing the gamers’ patience, Nintendo kind of dropped the ball from the get-go when Mario Kart Tour went live on September 24… and was then immediately locked due to “maintenance.” Sadly, for all the jobs Mario had over the years, debugger/coder just wasn’t one of them. The game has since been opened and is now available to anyone (with a Nintendo account.)