Project Haruhi
11Oct/091

Past Masters: Daicon III and IV

Posted by Jon

This is the inaugural post of our new Past Masters column. Here, we hope to explore those classic (and not-so-classic) anime productions that are ten years old or older. This will give us a chance to reminisce about the anime we grew up on, and hopefully introduce the newer generations to the series, OVAs and films that helped define modern otaku culture.

To your average otaku, mentioning "Gainax" might bring to mind such iconic series as Evangelion, Gunbuster, FLCL and Gurren Lagann. Without a doubt, Gainax is one of the most recognizable names in the anime industry. But where did this legendary studio get its start? Let's turn back the clock and find out...

The year is 1981. The Nihon SF Taikai convention, a gathering of Japanese science fiction fans, is set to take place in Osaka, under the name of Daicon III. For the opening ceremonies, the organizers of Daicon ask a group of college students from the Osaka University of Arts to create an animated promotional video. Among the students are such future luminaries as Takami Akai, Hiroyuki Yamaga and Hideaki Anno. The 5 1/2 minute-long 8 mm film they create, which came to be known as the Daicon III Opening Animation, was to become the first of Gainax's productions.

Daicon III features a young nameless girl, who is tasked with using a vial of water to a revive a dried-out daikon radish. As she journeys to the radish, she encounters and battles a variety of opponents, including a powered armor suit from Starship Troopers, several kaiju including Godzilla, a Star Destroyer, the space battleship Yamato, the starship Enterprise, an RX-78 Gundam, and many other iconic science fiction-themed enemies.

 

9Oct/090

Google Stormtrooper

Posted by Jon

Danny Choo the dancing stormtrooper was recently spotted at Google Chrome's one-year birthday bash, posing with the Google Girls and plugging Good Smile's latest figurines. I guess he figured if he couldn't join the K-On! band, he'd try for the next best thing... hanging around with 3D girls instead of 2D ones. You're one lucky stormtrooper, Mr. Choo.

7Oct/093

Uncanny Valley, Thy Name Is Miku

Posted by Jon

Have you ever heard of the uncanny valley theory? It states the following:

As a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond which the response quickly becomes that of strong repulsion. However, as the appearance and motion continue to become more distinguishable from a human being, the emotional response becomes positive once more and approaches human-to-human empathy levels. --Wikipedia

Basically, the idea is that we tend to find things that too closely resemble humans, but are clearly not, repulsive. So, for example, a stuffed animal or anime moe girl, due to their stylization, would be considered cute and likeable. A zombie or dollfie, however, would not.

A group of Japanese scientists with the YAMAHA corporation recently debuted their HRP-4C Miimu robot, and decided to dress her up like Hatsune Miku and have her 'dance'. The result, visible in the video below, falls squarely in the lowest part of the uncanny valley.

6Oct/090

Zaku Curry Noodles

Posted by Jon

What better way to show your loyalty to Zeon than snacking on these possibly delicious Char Aznable Spicy Curry Noodles? The noodles mimic Char's cometary qualities with spicy and red peppers, with just a hint of cheddar cheese flavor thrown in for good measure. They even come with their own reusable glass Zaku II cup!

26Sep/090

Microsoft Creates Official Windows 7 OS-tan

Posted by Jon


As stated in the previous post, many of you are probably familiar with the OS-tan meme, which delights in portraying Windows operating systems as cute anime girls. Originally from 2chan, this meme has become extremely popular, spawning thousands of pieces of fanart, as well as flash videos, internet communities, manga, doujinshi, and even its own wiki. The Japanese branch of Microsoft has realized the huge marketing potential of this concept, and decided to create an official OS-tan for Windows 7, by the name of Nanami Madobe. This name is, naturally, a pun: "nana" is Japanese for "seven", and "mado" means "window". Images of Microsoft marketing featuring Nanami can be found below.

25Sep/0946

What If Starships Were Girls?

Posted by Jon

Many of you are probably familiar with the -tan meme, which delights in portraying various inanimate products such as Windows operating systems as anime-inspired moe girls. These -tan girls have been created for a variety of technology-related items, from popular gaming consoles to mobile suits, and usually come in one of two body types: buxom beauty or luscious loli. Recently, blogger Jonathan Wong posed the question "What if starships were anime characters?", and answered it with four pictures depicting various starship-tan girls based on famous ships from the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises. When I saw this, I thought, "Hmm... what a lovely excuse to test out our new lightbox plugin!" Ulterior motives aside, enjoy the images!

First up, we have Enterprise-tan, based on the USS Enterprise design from the new Star Trek film.

23Sep/096

Dragon Ball Kai Pancakes!

Posted by Jon

Dragon Ball Kai has been all the rage lately, with the show consistently holding the #5 spot in the Japanese TV animation rankings, right behind One Piece and several spots ahead of Naruto Shippuden (which ranks at #9). With this success, companies are racing to get a variety of tie-in products on store shelves, hoping to capitalize on the craze. Out of all these products, however, one stands out due to it's sheer uselessness and, by extension, awesomeness. I am talking, of course, about the Dragonball Kai Mini Frypan.

No no no! Not that Pan!

That's more like it.

I'll let Project Haruhi's in-house pitchman, Ghost Billy Mays, tell you why these frypans are so awesome.

22Sep/092

Weird Japanese Ads

Posted by Jon

Japanese television is rife with unusual advertisements for a variety of products. Here are some of the stranger ones from recent months.

First up, we have dancing, singing kiwifruits that want you to eat them.

Want to sell ramen? What better way than with sexy naked ladies, tastefully censored by giant ramen cups?

21Sep/090

Prime Minister Hatoyama Sings!

Posted by Jon

Japan's new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is promising to reform Japanese politics, create economic growth and bring the country into a new age... but did you know he can sing as well?

In 1988, Hatoyama recorded a single called "Take HEART - Fly, Dove of Peace", a tune with distinctly hippie overtones.

15Sep/092

Extreme Japanese Office Chair Racing

Posted by Jon

Imoto and Daisuke Miyagawa were searching for the most intense thrill. They traveled the world, seeking the greatest challenge, a true test of their abilities. They wound up in Germany, where they discovered the ultimate extreme sport... a dizzying blend of strength, skill and pure adrenaline known as office chair racing.

A former champion office chair racer, Patrick, agreed to train them. He put them through a rigorous regimen, teaching them how to control their chairs and dodge obstacles

But is their training enough? Will they be able to win the big race?