Love Plus is coming to your iPhone

LovePluswithSteveJobsLove Plus, the ever-so-popular Nintendo DS dating sim that I wrote about on Boing Boing, is going to be available on the iPhone, according to The iPhone version will have all three virtual girlfriend characters as well as a feature that lets you take couple shots with the girls with the iPhone camera and some yet-to-be-announced GPS-enabled features. Exciting!(?)

In case you missed it, here’s the YouTube video report we did of Sal9000, the guy who married Nene Anegasaki in a real-looking wedding ceremony at Maker Faire Tokyo.


Video: Man married his Nintendo DS girlfriend

On Boing Boing today, I scripted and narrated a BBVideo episode about the man who married his Love Plus girlfriend in an official-looking ceremony on Sunday:

On Sunday, a man named Sal9000 married the love of his life. Her name is Nene Anegasaki, and she lives inside of a Nintendo DS video game called Love Plus. The wedding took place during a Make: Japan meet-up held at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In attendance were a live audience, an MC, the bride’s virtual video game girlfriend — who made a speech — and a real human priest.


Video: Wired staffers dancing the Uma Uma

I don’t know if I ever posted this video on TokyoMango — while readying my Wired Mag article about Hiroyuki Nishimura and Nico Nico Douga for publication in early 2008, a bunch of Wired staffers got together in the office kitchen in San Francisco and danced the Uma Uma. Then, we uploaded the video onto Nico Nico Douga and watched as comments filled the screen. Some people made fun of us for being old, or American, or both; some wondered whether we had real work to do; some just “sang” along.

Watching this makes me happy and nostalgic for my Wired days. By the way, stay tuned for an imminent video story on Boing Boing about showcasing one guy’s latest stunt on Nico Nico Douga.

New maid cafe lets you custom-dress girls and get slapped in the face


A new concept cafe opens in Akihabara on October 4th. It’s called Cute Room, and it promises clients a 2.7-dimensional fantasy world — basically, something in between 2D and 3D, but getting closer and closer to 3D. From what I can tell from the web site, the difference between this and other maid cafes is that you can customize the fantasy by choosing a room to hang out in, a costume for the girl to wear, and the types of activities you want to do with them. Aside from the $1 a minute entrance fee, there’s a long menu of paid services you can get — video game, a hand massage, a slap in the face, a love letter, a gift exchange. 30 lucky customers will get a sneak preview on Oct 3.

[Cute Room main page (Japanese) via DigiMaga] (Thanks, Hitoshi!)

Summary of Joi and Lisa’s session about Japanese obsessions at Foo Camp

IMG_0107On Saturday, August 29th, Joi Ito and I gave an impromptu talk at O’Reilly’s Foo Camp about Japanese otaku culture and how it relates to hacking and Zen Buddhism. The talk wasn’t recorded so we don’t have an exact transcript, but here’s the gist of it:

We started by showing several photos that portray otaku obsessions—rows of figurines on a store shelf, cat cafes, itasha, body pillow covers, a man with his body pillow girlfriend, and a maid cafe bento box with a bunny rabbit drawn on the lid. We also showed some non-otaku photos, like a perfectly designed plate of cooked vegetables at the restaurant Daigo and Yoichiro Kawaguchi’s futuristic sea creatures lined up in front of a Yushima Seido temple. The obsessiveness of otaku culture, we said, can be seen even in more traditional and non-otaku Japanese aesthetic, from food presentation to religious display. And it’s this obsessiveness—which clearly goes beyond economical or functional rationale—that enables the precision manufacturing, cleanliness, punctuality, and politeness that we think of as stereotypically Japanese.

Joi noted that the caste system of Japan probably plays a role in this obsessiveness. For generations, people have been taught to be happy perfecting their role in society, without necessarily viewing social or financial gain as a measurement of their success—it’s the shokunin culture in which focusing on one job allows one to obsess with abandon until they reach perfection on a very local level. As examples, we mentioned waiters working for no tip and the guy at Narita airport whose only job is to tell people that their checked-in bags are on the revolving belt. As an example of obsession reaching a perfected end, Joi mentioned ukiyo-e, a type of woodblock printing that was popular during the Edo period. According to Professor Mitsuhiro Takemura, a media design scholar at Sapporo City University, the art form was essentially made more simple and abstract through rapid iterations until it reached obsessive perfection, and that was where innovation in this genre ended. (The actual end of ukiyo-e is attributed to the Meiji Restoration.)

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Otaku Encyclopedia, a book that teaches you everything about otaku culture

Picture 1Great news for those of you who have always wanted to know everything there is to ever know about the otaku world! A new book called The Otaku Encyclopedia: An Insider’s Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan, written by Patrick Galbraith, is now available on Amazon. I have a copy, and was impressed by the thoroughness of his research &mdash he is doing his PhD at Todai, after all. Ever wonder what “moe” really means? Want to know more about Shokotan, itasha, or maid cafes? It’s all here.

The super awesome Fred Schodt wrote the foreword.

The Otaku Encyclopedia by Patrick Galbraith

Dancing Hatsune Miku robot with iPhone 3GS for a head

From my BBG post:

The face displayed on the 3GS screen is actually that of Hatsune Miku, the anime girl depiction of a vocaloid software created by Yamaha that continues to be a huge hit among Japanese web geeks. The music she’s singing is Levan Polkka, a Finnish folk song. Videos of Hatsune Miku singing Levan Polkka became a huge meme on the web video site Nico Nico Douga, which I wrote an article about in Wired Magazine last year. The scallion-twirling, someone explained to me, is a symbol of dumbness — only a really brainless person would stand there and twirl scallions all day.

via BBG via Pink Tentacle

Maid-themed lap pillow for pervs who like frilly skirts


In Akihabara, they have these establishments where men can walk in and get their ears cleaned and scratched by girls dressed in maid outfits. Otaku love it because they get to put their head on the maids’ laps. So it naturally follows that a product like this maid lap pillow exists. The lap pillow has been around for awhile, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen the maid-themed one.

Product page via Japanator

RuPaul’s new music vid has NND-syle mash-up porn (NSFW, maybe)

In his new music video for the song Jealous of my Boogie, famed drag queen RuPaul takes inspiration from the otaku community’s obsession with American porn star Billy Herrington. The video sharing site Nico Nico Douga has tons of mash-ups of Herrington’s old porn flicks; RuPaul tapped into this and made his own. I’m sure it will be huge in Japan.

By the way, someone just told me that RuPaul’s new America’s-Next-Top-Model-for-drag-queens reality show is really good. The first season just ended, so I’m going to splurge on reruns.

Video: Otagei = a new dance form for Akiba geeks only

Otagei is a unique dance form that originated in the backstreets of Akihabara. It literally means “otaku tricks,” and entails a series of strange moves, or tricks, that geeks do to send energy to anime singers and maid idols on stage. I had the unique opportunity to see otagei up close while reporting a story about maid cafes for Afar, and learned some of the moves myself. You can, too. Just follow the steps of the guys in the video. We’ll be touching on the topic at ETech, too. A much more close-up look at the art form after the jump.

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High school girl forced to wear maid costume by teacher

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An 51-year old male teacher in Akita Prefecture was caught forcing one of his students to dress up in a maid costume. The student was blackmailed into it; he told her that she wouldn’t get class credits if she didn’t do it. He claims it was a joke; the school tried to keep it on the down-low by simply suspending the teacher, but the girl’s family called the cops on Tuesday. The costumes were props for an art club project that he was administering; the girl refused to wear the maid costume because her parents were against it. That’s interesting, that her parents were against it. Perhaps they have a negative perception of maid cafes and cosplay. I wonder if that’s common?

BTW, this pic is of my caramel macchiato at a maid cafe. It has a kitty drawn on it with caramel. Soooo much better than Starbucks.


Related stories:
I became a maid cafe maid for 30 minutes
The 10 commandments of a maid cafe

Brian’s virgin maid cafe experience