TW Pop Culture Weekly: Only Coronavirus Can Stop AKB48 Fans

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The coronavirus has now spread to every continent except Antarctica. The fear of a global pandemic is so high that there actually have been talks about postponing or even canceling the Tokyo Olympics. But that’s probably what they’ll remain: just talks. The government has invested too much money into the Games to not let them go through. Smaller events like music shows, though, have decided not to risk it and have been disappearing from calendars faster than face masks from Japanese drugstores.

It’s Going to Be a Quiet Year

Since the coronavirus is transmitted via human contact, it came as no surprise when a few weeks back, bands and acts like AKB48, Hinatazaka46 and SixTONES canceled their handshake events. But that was just the beginning. Popular solo artist and ex KAT-TUN lead vocalist Jin Akanishi has recently pulled out of two planned Tokyo events as did the rock band Man With a Mission.

The biggest blow came from Johnny & Associates, one of the biggest talent agencies in Japan, who represent the likes of KinKi Kids, Arashi, KAT-TUN, Sexy Zone, SixTONES and many more. They’ve announced that all concerts by their clients are on hold from February 27 to March 9. Most have been pushed back to April, but there is real doubt right now that they’ll ever happen unless the government comes up with a brilliant containment and prevention strategy and people stop riding crowded trains even when they feel sick. My point is that you may want to get a refund for any concert tickets you have right now.

Do Virtual Performers Sing of Electric Sheep?

Kalen Anzai music videos look like gyaru remakes of Blade Runner while the singer herself dresses in a style that can only be described as Neon Shibuya. So perhaps it’s not that crazy that some people started wondering: is Kalen Anzai actually human?

There have been rumors in the past that Anzai is actually a virtual idol, a CG construct blending seamlessly into her overproduced, sci-fi-esque videos. Well, if she were, she wouldn’t be the first. Virtual performers and influencers have been a thing in Japan for a while, and in the end, it wouldn’t really matter if Anzai was real as long as her music appealed to people. For the record, it has been confirmed she is a real person after she was interviewed by a Tokyo Sports reporter. Or maybe that’s what they want you to think.

Followers Appeal to the Instagram Generation

Netflix Japan’s new show Followers, which premiered on February 27, focuses on the social media rise of an aspiring actress (Elaiza Ikeda), but that’s the least interesting thing about it. Style and setting wise, the show is almost like an Instagram story highlighting the futuristic, ultra-modern, fashionable parts of Japan’s capital, from teamLab exhibitions to neon-lit clubs and cafés where people look like extras in a Kalen Anzai video. There’s a story there somewhere about the pitfalls of fame and staying grounded but the main appeal of Followers is its fast-paced tour of “glamorous” Japan, and if that’s what you’re into, then you’ll probably like the show fine.

Teaser Trailer Drops for Rurouni Kenshin: The Final

Rurouni Kenshin was the manga and anime that got many Western fans into the fandom. It’s a story about an ex-assassin turned wandering swordsman who took a vow to avoid killing. It’s also one of the few successful live-action anime remakes, the latest (but not the last, which is kind of weird given its title) installment of which will premiere on July 3. In the meantime, enjoy the recently-released trailer for Rurouni Kenshin: The Final.

Maybe This Will Get People Back to Chinatown

With fears of the coronavirus spreading, Yokohama’s Chinatown has seen a steady drop in tourists. Which is a shame because it means a lot of people are missing out on the fried chicken bigger than your face from Yokohama Zajipai, a Taiwan-style karaage restaurant. Recently, Twitter user @loloewololo2 couldn’t stop singing the Chinatown store’s praises in a post that has been liked nearly 66,000 times. Visit Zajipai yourself to discover what it’s like to eat something the size of a plate.

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