One of Japan’s biggest toy companies, Bandai, teamed up with 45th year anniversary Shonen Jump comics magazine to produce an epic multi-player fighting game, J-Start Victory Vs., featuring some of the most famous comics and anime characters in Japan in set battles. To promote it, they created an installation in front of the PARCO department store in Shibuya, a giant diorama if you will. We are pretty used to anime and manga characters coming alive in statues and life sized figure recently, but this one takes it a step further by working with props and the pavement itself. Very fun and very popular with both adults and kids walking past. You can see the official homepage of the game here. The characters in this unlikely stand off are Dragon Ball Z’s Goku (孫悟空) and One Piece’s Monkey D. Luffy (モンキー・Ｄ・ルフィ). The characters will be duking it out until the 23rd of March, so if you are in Tokyo during the week and the weekend, there’s still time to see this!
If you have been in Japan for more than a few weeks this past decade you are almost bound to have heard of or seen the massively popular adventure TV game, Monster Hunter by the game company Capcom. When I was visiting Tokyo’s seaside Odaiba district the other day I came across a massive pop-up store based on the game, it was almost like a little theme park with a couple of huge and incredibly well done blow up monsters. The monsters were hugely popular with tourists and kids, most of whom I doubt have ever played the game itself! There was even corner inside the store where you can practice roasting the meat of your hunted monsters, every time you roasted it well the little meat roasting tune would sound and you’d get bonus points – a hilarious little detail that you can only understand if you have played the game. I have, for about 3 hours, many years ago. There’s even a video on Youtube with 173,822 hits of some guy playing the meat roasting tune on a recorder!
Even if you aren’t much interested in games it is good to remember at least the title of this game, it is easily one of the most popular games in Japan right now, with quite a cosplay following as well! Click the Monster Hunter tag to get all my posts about Monster Hunter!
At Roppongi Hills you can enjoy a meal or a drink while checking out the tenth installment of the famous Dragon Quest game series. There’s a special menu, cardboard figures on display and even a car decorated in the usual itasha fashion. The handsome waiter didn’t flinch at all when I took his picture and they even had the famous blue slime nikuman for sale! Although not for take out I was informed. I missed them when they went on sale in the convenience stores a few months ago. If you are a fan of the Dragon Quest games you must attend! This whole thing is done in collaboration with the official Dragon Quest bar in Roppongi that I have passed a hundred times but never had the courage to enter. One of these days I will have to make a blog post about it!
If there is one thing I love the Japanese for it is the ability to keep their traditions alive! Here’s something I came across for the first time at the Kappabashi Tanabata festival on last weekend, near Tokyo’s Asakusa district. A man was challenging anyone for a game of Touhachiken (東八拳), a traditional game of reflect, coordination and wits that’s been practiced at least since the Edo period of pre-modern Japan. The table set up is very traditional and absolutely gorgeous – it is so typically Japanese to design and craft something like this for a simple game of gestures! The wooden blocks are score markers and the first one to win three games in a row is the winner. It is similar to the western “Pat-a-cake” game but much more complicated. The man was obviously a pro but even then he lost a couple of times to the little girl! The boys who were watching didn’t dare try it out though. If I ever meet someone who knows this game I will have to take a lesson! Here’s a good video of the game in action with traditional music accompanying them.