Halloween has come and gone once again and, appropriately, the week leading up to it in Tokyo pop culture has been exactly how Japan likes to do the popular holiday: a little scary, a little funny, and a little cute.
Follow Saretara Owari (~“It’s Over Once You Get Followed”) premiered on October 27 on Abema TV, a video streaming website that says their new show will dazzle audiences with its overwhelmingly fast-paced action and heart-racing suspense. It does not. But that’s fine because what it does do is more than enough. The show centers around a group of ex-classmates and a mysterious online account promising its followers a chance to win 1 million yen. Soon, though, things take a turn for the worse and the creepy as devastating rumors spread on the internet, passwords are leaked and people start getting stalked online.
TV Asahi’s Re: Follower also tried its hand at a show about social media but it failed because it used the internet as a framing device for basic, cliched plotlines. Follow Saretara Owari, on the other hand, explores the real, actual power of social media to tell an unnerving story which, frankly, could happen to any of us.
The third installment of the Psycho-Pass anime franchise similarly takes some inspiration for its plot from the real world. Premiering on October 24 on Fuji TV, Psycho-Pass 3 takes place in a dystopian sci-fi world where people’s thoughts are constantly being scanned for signs of criminal thoughts and tendencies. Previous series tackled this issue in various ways, but the third one is interesting as the first episode focused heavily on the issue of immigration and the use of force against downtrodden people. Combined with the issue of technology robbing people of their privacy, and Psycho-Pass 3 seems to position itself to hold up a dark, terrifying mirror to our own reality.
“Are ugly people worthy of love?” is a question that was asked and answered quite clumsily by Fuji TV’s Busu no Hitomi ni Koishiteru (~ “I’m in Love with an Ugly Girl’s Eyes.”) Fortunately, Kansai TV’s Inomata Susumu and 8 Mourning Women is here to do that slightly-insulting premise some justice. “Mourning Women” is a Japanese internet term for women who’ve never gone on a date and are generally unpopular. It is also the topic that ambitious writer Akari (Okazaki Sae) and her editor Inomata Susumu try to tackle, focusing on admittedly not the most beautiful of women, but ones who are mainly being held back from finding love because of a weird personality quirk. This includes things like being too negative, being too much of a perfectionist or being undecisive.
The series (which premiered on October 24), has a lot of Western-Japan-esque energy and humor to it. It knows that it’s handling a delicate topic so it tries to go a little over the top with the delivery, giving us a lot of laughs and some amazing performances from the cast. That’s also the main selling point of the NHK show Kesshite Mane Shinaide Kudasai (~ “Don’t Try This at Home.”)
Premiering on October 26, the series stars Kotaki Nozomu as a science-obsessed student who one day experiences love at first sight when he comes across his school’s cafeteria worker Iijima (Baba Fumika). From then on, he tries to understand the idea of love through science. The premise is admittedly a little weak but the series works thanks to its high-energy jokes and all the effort that Nozomu puts into his performance.
Suffice to say, foreigners visiting Japan for the Rugby World Cup have left something of a mixed impression on the country. On the one end of the spectrum, there were reports of some fans acting inappropriately in public spaces or the Uruguay team causing damages at a Kumamoto nightclub, for which the establishment has filed criminal complaints against the players. But then there are the more positive stories, like the October 26 video posted on Twitter by @yuki_minami, where we see English rugby fans singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” to a baby on the train to help get it to sleep. The video has currently been liked more than 85,000 times.