Springtime in Japan is all about new beginnings, and no one has taken this further than Uniqlo and Mos Burger. The former have brought a brand new line of UT t-shirts featuring the latest The Legend of Zelda game, while the latter have oddly enough, started a record label for their staff? To make way for new manga, we review the best performing series of the past year. And last but certainly not least, we look at the latest generation of Beyblade spinning tops and what has enabled this franchise to endure the changing of times.

Uniqlo x The Legend of Zelda Collaboration

Uniqlo’s UT collection has long been known for collaborations with everyone from world renowned art museums to anime and video games. On top of the return of the Metal Gear Solid Collection this year and Capcom’s 40th Anniversary celebration, we now have The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

This fine line-up includes six different designs in four different colors. Our favorite has to be the one that bears the phrase, “please lend him your power,” a reference to a key phrase in the game that is also spoken in the official trailer. The back also shows the key art for Tears of the Kingdom, so you can really let the people around you know where your allegiances lie when it comes to gaming. Longtime fans of The Legend of Zelda shouldn’t miss out on the Korok-themed T-shirt. For the uninitiated, Koroks are small leaf-wearing wooden people, who protect the forest and are watched over by the Great Deku Tree. 

Is your wallet ready to pick up all six tees? Fret not, as these aren’t available just yet, so you have plenty of time to save up. Sales for the Uniqlo UT The Legend of Zelda collaboration start on Friday, April 26, 2024, including online purchases. Start sale dates may differ from store to store, so make sure to call ahead to avoid disappointment. More information on availability in Japan can be found here.

mos burger mos records label

‘Mos Records’ – A New Employee-Only Record Label by Mos Burger

We’re not really sure what to think of this but Japanese fast food chain Mos Burger has just announced a new music record label called Mos Records. This recording branch is said to have been created to “support the dreams of staff working at Mos Burger stores,” and as a result, is only open to Mos Burger employees.

The project is said to consist of a three-phase plan to first discover talented individuals, support them and then go on a co-creation journey with them. Kicking off in April 2024, it will see Mos Burger recruit from its current staffing roster, hold auditions to find the best candidate and then providing everything necessary for an all-star debut including song and music video production.

Winners will then debut on The Kitchen Live, a program by Mos Burger that utilizes the burger shop’s test kitchen. Official Mos Burger social platforms will also support the winners via internet marketing campaigns. The planned schedule should see this project conclude some time after September 2024.

This might seem like a publicity stunt, but Mos Burger says it’s actually about human resources. In recent years, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to secure staff in the restaurant industry. By launching Mos Records, it is hoping to tap into Japan’s younger generation by creating a much more attractive working environment. It also hopes that by being transparent about this music journey, it will see engagement rise across the entire business chain. Interested applicants can find out more information here

Best selling manga volumes

This Year’s Top-Selling Manga by Volume

Manga preferences are as unique as they come. Like all creative art forms, it is highly subjective and truly depends on a person’s specific preferences, which makes it difficult to determine what is the “best.” Tsukuru magazine, however, has devised a method to figure out what the most successful manga is each year. It recently posted three charts that represent Kodansha, Shogakukan and Shueisha. The charts show the number of copies each tankobon had for their first print run, with the data taken between April 2023 and March 2024.

Surprising absolutely no one, One Piece continued to lead the charge as the most popular and successful manga series. There were more than 3.2 million copies of the first print of Volume 108 of Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga. Overall second and third places also belonged to manga behemoth Shueisha, with 1.75 million first print copies of Jujutsu Kaisen Volume 23 and 1.55 million copies of Spy x Family Volume 11. Trailing behind are Kingdom, My Hero Academia and Chainsaw Man, which all achieved prints above 800,000 copies. It shows that the public’s appetite for battle and shonen manga is truly insatiable.

When looking over at the Shogakukan chart, Detective Conan and Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End were pretty close, with 630,000 and 600,000 copies printed respectively. Under the Kodansha umbrella, alternative pick That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Volume 23 had over half a million copies printed, while the Bluelock franchise took second and fifth place.

A first print is not 100% reflective of the number of copies sold as it does not include additional reprints. However it is a strong indication of public demand as the number of copies in a first print is based on a forecast of how many of the tankobon they predict they will sell. Also, these numbers only take into account local Japanese versions and do not include English localizations that may be co-published overseas. You can find out more about these rankings and other aspects of the manga and anime industry in the May issue of Tsukuru.

beyblade 25th anniversary

The History of Beyblade

With the declining birth rate and increased focus on digital and online games, most might assume that physical toys are a thing of the past. However Japan’s most beloved spinning top franchise not only turns 25 years old this year, their latest model has been lauded as anything but outdated. How has Beyblade maintained its cultural significance?

In this translated and summarized article, we review the experience and learnings of Ryo Horikawa and Kyohei Shinonaga, team members of the Global Beyblade Division Marketing Division at Takara Tomy, about the challenges and innovative pivots of Beyblade.

Some key points mentioned include appealing to the next generation while also constantly iterating on a brand new Beyblade. Beyblade X, the 2023 edition and overall 4th generation Beyblade was initially more popular with adult fans. However upon the release of the anime later that year, the company saw that 80% of new Beyblade purchase were for children. The new models also came with an Extreme Dash function which allowed the tops to accelerate more quickly and have more intense collisions with each other.

Shinonaga also talked about the history of spinning tops, citing the excitement of seeing two tops bash and collide with each other as enjoyment that taps into our primal instincts. However the journey wasn’t always smooth sailing as between Beyblade generations, the team had to fight against the changing of trends, developing new models while also facing competition from other more popular toy franchises such as Yokai Watch.

Still the journey has been especially rewarding for the Takara Tomy team, of which some like Hoshikawa and Shinonaga, are fans of the products themselves. Its particularly heartwarming to see a toy that has transcended generations become a way for parents and children to bond. The popularity of Beyblade has also become a worldwide phenomenon with over 520 million units sold overseas and Beyblade competitions popping up more and more frequently. 

Read the full article here.

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