This week in Japanese entertainment really has everything. First, is the curse looming over the Hanshin Tigers finally over? We dive into this strange tale involving KFC. Next, the Studio Ghibli celebrations continue with more ways you can watch their films and the coveted Oscar award coming home. Then, we go back in time to the days of nostalgic shounen anime and manga with Bleach. This award-winning soul reapin’ series is now in its 20th anniversary and has a tonne of events and activities to celebrate with. Finally, Summer Sonic announces its lineup for the year, including Japanese and overseas artists that you definitely don’t want to miss. 

kfc colonel statue burned

The Cursed Colonel Sanders Statue is Finally Disposed Of

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Japan’s KFC Holdings announced on March 19, 2024, that it has destroyed a Colonel Sanders statue. This is actually a follow-up to the statue receiving its own burial ceremony earlier this month. So why exactly have they done this, and what does a creepy curse have to do with it? 

The finger lickin’ good mascot was first thrown into the Dotonbori River back in 1985 as part of a victory celebration after the Tigers secured the Central League pennant. Sports festivities in Japan don’t typically rock as hard as they do in the west, but baseball seems to bring a certain quality out of its fans and this is Osaka we’re talking about after all. This act was the start of an urban legend which says that the ghost of Colonel Sanders was angered by their antics and placed a curse on the Kansai-based baseball team. 

While the team did win the Japan Series two weeks later, they had to wait another 38 years before securing their next one. They also had an 18-year pennant drought. Some fans believed that they would never win another Japan Series again until the statue was recovered. There were even those who went as far as attempting to look for it at the bottom of the river by sending divers down to dredge.

The statue was finally recovered in pieces on March 10, 2009, although it was initially mistaken for a human corpse. This didn’t seem to change the fate of the team until last year, when the curse of the colonel was officially broken as the Tigers won Game 7 of the 2023 Japan Series. Their first since 1985. Thankfully, we were able to avoid history repeating itself as no statues were harmed this time. A Colonel Sanders cosplayer was thrown into the river instead as a reference to this weird and somewhat dark past.

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the boy and the heron oscar

The Boy and The Heron by Studio Ghibli Comes to Netflix

Life has been good to Studio Ghibli and its latest film, The Boy and the Heron. Not only did the film take home Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globe Awards 2024 and Best Animated Film at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), it rocked the world film industry when it completed its hat trick victory just weeks ago via its Best Animated Feature Oscar win. Now you too experience the Miyazaki team’s magic, thanks to Netflix.

Thanks to an extended partnership between Netflix and GKIDS (the official North American distribution arm of Studio Ghibli), the former now has a worldwide deal to also distribute the Oscar-winning film plus 22 additional Studio Ghibli films, on its own platform. The official Netflix premiere date is still yet to be confirmed. However other films that will also be available on the streaming platform include Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service and more.

The catch? Unfortunately there is one rather big one. The way regional licensing agreements work means that this will only be available to Netflix regions outside of the US and Japan. If you are in Japan however, Miyazaki is letting you be part of The Boy and the Heron celebration. The celebrated Oscar trophy presented to Studio Ghibli in Los Angeles has made its way to Ghibli Park. Located inside the Grand Warehouse part of the park, the trophy is set to be on display until August 2024. You won’t be able to touch it or imitate receiving the coveted trophy, however fans are free to photograph it and have it be part of their memories. It’s certainly a nice testament from Studio Ghibli to want to share this moment with their community.

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bleach locus of the brave

The Locus of Brave Event Celebrates 20 Years of Bleach

Want to feel old? 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of worldwide manga hit, Bleach. Let the nostalgia hit with all of these cool Bleach events and collaborations to commemorate the fast-paced soul-reaping anime and manga.

From April 26 to May 26, 2024, Bleach fans can head over to Yokohama Landmark Tower for Bleach the Locus of the Brave event. This special event contains exhibits, exclusive new products and extra highlights to be announced later. Outside of the event, original episodes from the anime series from 2004 to 2012 will be airing again on TV Tokyo via cable and also online. These have been carefully selected to include 203 episodes plus the final chapter of the 2022 Bleach Millennium Blood War arc.

Be part of the Bleach Millennium Blood War x EPOS card collaboration and flash one of three brand new designs. The cards are also said to have free membership and application fees for the duration of your card-holding status and some additional perks that are unique only to these Bleach-themed cards. You can apply for one of these cards starting March 29. 

For fans of anime music, the second music video project for Bleach Millennium Blood War continues with a special tie-up with SennaRin, the artist whose song was the ending of the first cour of the new Bleach Millennium Blood War series. Her new song “Reaper” and the video tie-up will be released on March 23. To be one of the first to see the video pop by the Aniplex booth at AnimeJapan 2024 this month.

Most exciting of all are the official Bleach LINE stamps being created with fan input. Visit this page to vote for your favorite scene from the anime. The voting period starts on April 2 and will end on April 16, guidelines about the voting process can be found on the same page.

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Summer Sonic 2024 lineup

Summer Sonic Announces 2024 Lineup

This summer is set to be red-hot and we don’t just mean the weather. Annual music festival, Summer Sonic, will take place on August 17 and 18 in both Chiba and Osaka, Japan. Much like previous years, the 2024 festival features a revolving line-up, with several acts performing one day in Osaka, the next in Chiba and vice versa. Here’s a look at some of the international and local names that will be gracing the various stages.

When it comes to current rockstars, few can compare to Italian rock band Måneskin, who will be headlining in both Chiba and Osaka. Alternative rap fans can also “Flex Up” for Lil Yachty and his verses that transcend the boundaries of hip-hop. Locals will, no doubt, be excited to see Gen Hoshino, who is back after a successful 2023 for this year’s Chiba line-up. The singer-songwriter is most known for his song “Kigeki” (“Comedy”), which was one of the ending themes for the anime, Spy x Family. Over in Kansai, Vaundy will take the stage as one of Japan’s leading young artists, having composed tracks for the likes of Chainsaw Man, One Piece and more. 

You don’t want to miss Bring Me The Horizon and Hoobastank, who will play at both venues. The latter’s performance should be particularly special as it will mark the 20th anniversary of the band’s chart-topping hit “The Reason.” From Japan, the likes of Imase, Creepy Nuts and Atarashii Gakko! are names to look out for. Some are making their debut at the festival. 

The latest lineup can be found here. More names are likely to be added. Purchase tickets directly from the Summer Sonic 2024 website here

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