TW Pop Culture Weekly: Pandemic Forces Japan Indoors

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For years, it seemed that Japanese animation giants were hoping that this whole streaming thing proves to be a fad. Ghibli in particular was hesitant about putting their catalog online. Ever since the world went on lockdown because of the coronavirus, Ghibli and other anime studios like Kyoto Animation had a change of heart, making a lot of their classic movies and shows available for streaming. With police officers in Kabukicho telling late-night revelers to go home, at least there’s something to watch.

Free Music on the Internet?

Japanese copyright law is… complicated to say the least, and a waking nightmare to say the most. Because of that, a lot of great Japanese music videos are not officially available anywhere online, so it’s a big deal when artists upload their past catalogs to YouTube, etc. The popular rock duo B’z did so recently, titling their online selection B’z LIVE-GYM -At Your Home-. The 23 videos of their live concerts will be available on their YT channel until May 31.

Japanese pop culture icon Kumi Koda has gone the same route, making the recordings of her past live shows available on YT for a limited time for her 20th anniversary. And while you’re on the site, why not check out the teaser for Jin Akanishi’s upcoming best-of album “Our Best”? A successful musician in his own right, Akanishi might also be known to Western audiences from his performance in 47 Ronin. “Our Best” is scheduled to drop on April 22.

Liven Up Work Meetings with Official Ghibli Video Call Wallpaper

There was a brief yet beautiful time during the early days of the pandemic when people started working from home and we found out that, yes, all those work meetings could have been emails all along. But then someone told upper management about video conferences and just like that work meetings became a thing again.

Fortunately, technology is here to help fix the problem it created. A lot of video call software allows you to upload custom backgrounds to make the experience a bit more personal. And for all the Ghibli lovers out there, the company has released eight gorgeous video call wallpapers from such movies as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, or Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Download them for free here.

Maho Yamaguchi’s Attackers Reach Settlement Agreement

Life as a Japanese pop idol might look glamorous until you look into it for even a second and discover stories like that of Minami Minegishi (of AKB48) who shaved her head and was forced to tearfully apologize for the crime of, umm, having a boyfriend. Then there is the saga of Maho Yamaguchi of NGT48, an AKB48-affiliated act. Last year, Yamaguchi revealed that in December 2018, she was assaulted by two men after, she claimed, some of her band members leaked her schedule and address. Her agency, however, initially refused to do anything about it and actually made the victim herself apologize for causing a commotion.

The two attackers finally reached a settlement agreement with the agency this week, agreeing to pay them millions of yen, writing a letter of apology and being banned from NGT48 events. Maho Yamaguchi will not see any of that money because she is no longer the agency’s client.

Upcoming TV and Movie News

Ju-On, the Japanese horror story about a creepy ghost girl with long black hair that isn’t the one from The Ring, is coming to Netflix. The brand-new series, called Ju-On: Origins, will consist of six episodes and, unlike literally every other horror origin story, might actually turn out good based on the casting. The main roles have recently gone to veteran actor YosiYosi Arakawa (Fine, Totally Fine, Idaten etc.) and Yuina Kuroshima, who previously appeared in two Ju-On movies. The series is schedule to premiere in summer 2020.

For something more lighthearted and touching, you can start anticipating One Summer Story (set to premiere on June 26), a coming of age story involving a girl looking for her father with her classmate. Check out the trailer for it below:

Is the Government Starting to Take Coronavirus Seriously?

Japan prefers to govern by societal pressure and shame rather than enforcement. So the police getting actively involved in a problem is usually a sign that things aren’t going all that great. Enter a video posted by Twitter user @sento1025 on April 10, which shows police officers with batons in Kabukicho, trying to pressure people to go back indoors to stop the spread of COVID-19. The video has currently been liked over 115,000 times.

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