This Week in Tokyo Pop Culture | Dec 27: Reanimated Celebrities & Party Sprouts

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Well, here it is, the end of 2019 and the first decade of the 21st century. What will the new year bring? I can’t say because I don’t have 2020 vision. But what I do know is what’s been happening in Tokyo pop culture this past week. Here are the highlights:

Hibari Misora Gets Reanimated for New Year’s

This year’s edition of the annual NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen song battle TV event will kick off its first venture into the brand-new Reiwa era with a bit of cyber-necromancy. During the show, deceased popular singer Hibari Misora’s likeness will be recreated using hologram and AI technology so that she can perform a song written by Yasushi Akimoto, a successful producer of idol groups such as AKB48. The show will conclude with a performance by the band Radwimps thanks to the international success of the anime movie Weathering with You for which they provided the music.

In Japan, it simply wouldn’t be the new year without Uta Gassen but they are hardly the only music show in town. Since 1986, TV Asahi’s Music Station has been Japan’s main source of new songs and the place where nearly all new performers wanted to make their debut. Like every year, they’re hosting another giant year-end special at the end of December. Kicking off on December 27, the Music Station Ultra Super Live 2019 will bring you 11 straight hours of the most popular Japanese tunes, enough to put most people off music for the next week. Of course, this doesn’t apply to Uta Gassen because it really wouldn’t be New Year’s without it.

The Adventures of Cat Ghost Human

When they first came out, the Yo-kai Watch games about collecting and battling spirits felt like they could take on Pokémon. That obviously didn’t happen and ever since their fairly popular anime series concluded in 2018, the franchise has been looking for a new approach to reignite the Yo-kai mania. The Yo-kai Watch Jam: Yo-kai Academy Y – Encounter with N anime, which premiered on December 27, is their latest attempt to do just that.

A continuation of the Can a Cat be a Hero? movie, the series is set in an alternate reality where some of the most famous ghosts from the games are represented by human characters. It’s basically My Little Pony: Equestria Girls if the original ponies were technically dead. The series itself is thankfully more lighthearted than that, focusing a lot on gag humor but also promising epic battles and a series-spanning mystery. Check it out if you’re a fan of the games or the earlier anime series.

Movies to Look Forward to in 2020

In the upcoming movie Fancy, Moonlit Night’s Star is infatuated with Penguin and decides to visit him one day, though their mailman thinks it’s a bad idea. Let’s back up a little. Moonlit Night’s Star is actually the name with which a female fan signs her letters to the poet known as Penguin, while the mailman is… a mailman. Although maybe not an ordinary one because according to the trailer for Fancy, which was released a few days ago, the character played by Masatoshi Nagase will be instrumental in helping protect Moonlit and Penguin from the yakuza. Well, that was a wild ride, and that’s just the summary. Check the movie out after it comes out on February 7, 2020.

Then there is the movie Extro, premiering in March 2020. In this mockumentary film, we follow the adventures of a 60-year-old professional extra played by Kozo Haginoya as he appears in the backgrounds of various shows and movies. And that’s when a drug dealer and a bunch of undercover cops show up because, apparently, in 2020, movies will no longer be allowed to just be simple stories celebrating the simple things in life.

Sounds Like a Wild Party

Japan doesn’t technically celebrate Christmas but many Japanese people do. Christmas parties are definitely a thing in the country, but they also happen right around the time when stores try to sell off their stock before the long New Year’s break. On December 24, Twitter user @hyp39 managed to snap a picture of the inevitable conclusion of the previous sentence. In a tweet that has since been liked over 110,000 times, @hyp39 posted a picture of a big pile of moyashi bean sprouts being advertised with the slogan “Great for a Christmas party!!” That’s one way to save money on Christmas presents: scaring your friends away with a big sprout feast.

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