Guest Post:Life in Japan-One Piece

I have been living in Japan for about 4 months now.  I thought I knew what to expect, but when I got here, it was everything I expected and more!

Every anime fan has to know something about One Piece.  Love it or hate it, it’s one of the biggest anime to hit Japan, the United States and well, the world!  Not even a day after arriving in Japan, I saw One Piece merchandise; almost every store in Narita Airport in Tokyo had something with One Piece.  All anime stores, convenience stores and even some restaurants sell one Piece goods .  If you walk into a 7-11 during the lunch time rush, you will see adults reading One Piece and other Jump manga after chowing down on some bento (Japanese pre-made lunches).

Speaking of Japanese foods, One Piece is not only in Jump, toys, and shirts, but it is on all types of foods, drinks and other daily products like body spray.  I have come across Japanese “Cheetos” and “Doritos” with One Piece characters, and if you buy that, it comes with a trading card.  I have also purchased Puccho (Japanese chewy candy with different flavors, similar to Hi-Chew) and with that purchase, you get a One Piece phone charm.  They are all random, so people can’t pick and choose what they want, but those (like me) who are not picky are happy with any of them.

In any department store you will find other One Piece goods, like key holders, pen cases, folders, pencils, magnets, even bath salts!!  Anything you can possibly think of, odds are, there is something with One Piece on it.

Naturally, the main crew is the most popular, but minor characters like Ace, the warlords, and even the Marines are popular.  I have seen many crane games in almost any arcade with One Piece characters.  They even had Halloween themed Chopper figures.  The game machines here are more expensive to play (anywhere 100-200 yen per play) but that makes it more rewarding to get the items.  I hope to write an article on arcades sometime since there is a lot to write about them.

As often as I go to anime stores (and that is very often), there seems to be a never ending line of action figures for sale for a fraction of what any and all anime conventions have sold them for.  There are even capsule machines (you know, the ones that cost a quarter and you get some plastic ball with a cool prize in it) with nice sized action figures and cell phone straps in them.  These cost anywhere from 100-500 yen (phone straps costing about 100-200 and the figures costing about 300-500) and the best thing is, they are not junky toys, they are all official, licensed figures and straps!!  I remember paying about $7-$9 for a phone strap at a convention or anime event, and here I have gotten dozens for maybe $3 or so.

Aside from the food and figures, some anime stores actually play One Piece movies or episodes in their stores.  I have also been in arcades and non-anime stores and heard One Piece opening and ending themes on the radio.  Also, anytime a One Piece movie comes out in theaters, it is a big deal.  There are commercials, even more product advertisements and of course, figures, plushies etc…

There are also One Piece themed stores, and exhibits in museums.  I went to the Toei Museum and there was so much One Piece I thought I was going to pass out!!

Lastly, One Piece gains popularity by being combined with other Japanese pop icons.  Chopper is commonly seen dressed as Hello Kitty or other anime characters.  I have seen a Toriko (another popular Jump manga and anime) and One Piece crossover, there have been figures with Dragon Ball Z characters with One Piece characters as well.  One Piece characters also make appearances on Japanese landmarks.  If you visit any major place like a castle, Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower etc…you will find One Piece characters on phone straps and other merchandise with that landmark on it.

In conclusion, if you come to Japan, expect to see One Piece pretty much everywhere except maybe public restrooms.  It’s amazing how much one anime has intertwined itself into the Japanese culture.  I don’t think I have ever seen so much of one series/movie in the United States.

Note:

Author Bio.:

Rose Rappaport:I am almost 22 and have been watching anime since I was 3.  I have been cosplaying since 2007 and attending conventions since 2006.  I consider myself very passionate about anime, manga, music, Japanese culture etc…  I have been living in Japan for about 5 months now and I will be here until mid December.  Since I have been here, I have soaked up the culture and language and it has been nothing but paradise.My cosplay.com account is mizu_usagi1.

This article is submitted by our friend Rose Rappaport ,and Miccostumes.com will provide $15 gift card to Rose. And we hope more friends will share own articles related to anime,cosplay,convention live news,Japan culture etc to us :)

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Fullmetal Alchemist – Where Metal meets the Body

Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA for short) is a great series and one my wife really enjoys as well. Like all Japanese anime, it has a lesson to be learned. In this one however, it is an extremely hard lesson with some extreme consequences.

Welcome to the world where alchemy is a reality. However there are some things that should not be tried. After the death of their mother, Edward and Alphonse Elric try to bring her back using the art of alchemy. In their attempt however, Ed losses some of his limbs while his brother’s soul is transferred into a armored knight. Thus we learn about the Law of Equivalent Exchange.

Now they are on the search for the exclusive Philosopher’s Stone. A magical red stone that they hope will be able to correct their current situation. In trying to do this, Ed decides to become a State Alchemist. This is an alchemist employed by the State Military of Amestris. In a way, Ed hopes that by joining, he will be able to find more information on the stone for him and his brother.

Along the way they meet many new friends and of course enemies (Homunculi). It seems that there are others trying to manipulate life – for the sake of power. There are many twists to this series that always leave you guessing where it will go. This is one of the draws to this series besides the characters. Just when you think you know who is the good or bad guy, everything flips.

If you are into cosplay and have a group of friends, this is one that you may want to do. You can easily do several characters from this series and be a hit at the conventions.

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Sailing to the Moon

Gave you a little hint last month on my Pirate’s blog on what we will be reviewing today. If you couldn’t figure it out, we will be talking about Sailor Moon.

Not really one of the shows I watched regularly as it was more for girls. I did however catch it as it came on with my other ‘cartoons’ in the old days. This has some romance, but there was only one main male character. Luckily however, it is not a harem show as it dealt with the girls and their issues.

Our main character, Serena Tsukino, ends up meeting a cat. Not just any cat, but a talking cat named Luna (go figure). She ends up telling her that she is this great fighter of justice and she is needed to help fight against the Dark Kingdom. What we actually find out is that she was sent into the future by the Moon Princess to protect the Earth. Along with other Sailor Senshi (as well as our Male lead Tuxedo Mask) to help in the battle against these villains.

Besides the Sailor Moon, you also have the ‘Sailor Scouts’ which are named after each of the other planets – Sailor Mercury, Venus, Mars, Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter and Pluto. This was before Pluto was classified not a planet anymore – but I digress. Now they don’t all come out together, but some are brought in as the show proceeds.

Now out of all these girls, there is only one other hero who just happens to be a male character. I guess you need a ‘masked magician’ to come to your rescue if you are in need. It is funny as he throws a red rose down to mark his entrance. Very romantic and mysterious – wooooo. You get the sense that there is a relation brewing and it does.

Now we switch over to the ‘Dark Side’ and look at the villains of the Dark Kingdom. They happen to be lead by Queen Beryl. They actually destroyed the old Moon Kingdom and want to insure they don’t come back. What they actually want to do is bring life back to Metalia. In order to do this, they need to suck the life out of humans using monsters that are summoned by one of her 4 Shitennou. Of course, Sailor Moon and company are here to stop them and save Humanity and Earth.

Even in the US, this has been a huge hit and merchandised well, but not as much as others. It is funny that I was walking in an Antique / Consignment store and actually found some of their merchandise. Even though this has pretty much ended, it is continually being revisited. There has been games and live action movies which keep this anime alive. I think it really was a great show that made girls feel empowered to be more than they were no matter the obstacles.

This group of characters has been heavily cosplayed for years and for good reason. Everyone wanted to be Sailor Moon as she was the lead. What made this great though, was that f you had a small group of friends, then you could as the team. This really got you some attention at any convention.

As for my next blog, lets just say it is a very famous singer that started only as artwork and a figure.

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There be Pirates Afoot

We had a bunch of fun with the Ninjas the last time we posted. We are now on to the PIRATES!

Avast Ye Maties and climb aboard for a water filled adventure. We are of course going to talk about the sensation known as One Piece. Everything in this series is over the top. The characters, scenery, wildlife, just plan all of it. I think this is what adds to the fun of the series. Similar to Naruto, we will have a male character that is pushing the envelope on all levels. Alas however, I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s start at the beginning.

We start off with the execution of Gold Roger aka The King of Pirates. He makes it know that he has a treasure called ‘One Piece’ that is out at the Grand Line. This treasure, with this death, is now up for grabs and starts what is known as the ‘Great Pirate Era’.

Lets now introduce you to a young boy (Monkey D. Luffy) who is sitting in a bar/restaurant listing to pirate tales by ‘Red-Haired Shanks’. What Shanks doesn’t realize however is that Luffy is ‘eating’ his treasure, a Devil Fruit (like all boys, he has a bottomless stomach). As it turns out, this is the Gum Gum Fruit and Luffy’s body is now as bendable as rubber. Sounds great huh, but the ill side effect is that anyone who eats these fruits, can’t swim. Must be great being a pirate with amazing powers, but can’t swim – oops.  After a battle in town, Shanks gives Luffy his hat and thus is born ‘Straw Hat Luffy’.

With each adventure, a new shipmate (friend) is found. His original crew starts off  with (in order met) Zoro (3-Blade Sword man), Nami (sexy Thief and Navigator), Usopp (tells tall tales, but great with a slingshot), Sanji (their chef who is a skirt chaser) and to round out the crew Chopper (a anthropomorphic Reindeer Doctor). If you think this is a rag-tag team, wait until you meet the rest of the crew. It is always a fun adventure full of hi-jinks and danger, but they manage to get through it. I swear that Luffy dies like 50 times in this series with all the crap that is thrown at him.

Now let’s expand on the Devil Fruit and the other Pirates of the show. This may be a mixed bag however as most of the Pirates have eaten the Devil Fruit. There are actually 3 types of fruit. These fruits types are Paramecia Fruit (alters the body in some fashion), Zoan Fruit (allows you to change into an animal) or Logia Fruit (you can actually become an element). I am not sure if the fruit is labeled what it does before you eat it, but I am not sure I would be able to take the chance on eating one.

Some of my favorite Pirates are Buggy, Ace and Hody Jones. Buggy is a clown pirate that ate the Chop Chop Fruit. He can literally chop his body into pieces and each part acts as an extension of his body. Now Ace (who is Luffy’s older brother) ate the Flare Flare Fruit. He has the ability to make and control fire with his body. As for Hody Jones, well he is just a plain old Fishman – with a really big mouth and razor sharp teeth. Just as unique as each pirate is, there ships and flags also reflect their personalities. Some are just the size of rafts that the Blackbeard Pirated use to ones that are huge like Moby Dick which the Whitebeards Pirates use that can swim under water.

By the way, who is policing these guys? That would be the World Government and their Navy. These guys are more like the Keystone Cops than anything else, but do have a few heavy weights like Smoker (ate the Smoke Smoke Fruit). They popup here and there to cause issues, but end up just being an annoyance more than anything.

This is an extremely fun read or show to watch for anyone who has a funny bone. My son has been enjoying both and even drew a One Piece scene on his Math Test (boat and crew). For a fun time and an extremely wild adventure to boot, this is one series that you have to catch up on. Not wanting to take my work on this, well for the record, the Manga series has been breaking publication records in Japan. Volume 57 of the series sold 2,305,594 copies alone.

One Piece also has a great variety of merchandise that is as vast as the seas. There is so much that you will fill your Treasure Chest to the brink of exploding. If you want to get you and your crew setup in the pirate gear, then check out the fine selection at Miccostumes.

Here is a hint of our next post: We see several Sailors who are happy playing with the Planets.

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Animé Los Angeles 2012

Title: Animé Los Angeles 2012
Location: Los Angeles Airport Marriott


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Description:

Animé Los Angeles is a medium-sized fan-friendly convention in the winter, “on the other side of the year.” By medium-sized, we mean that all of the other anime conventions in California are either smaller than 2000 members, or have more than 10,000 members. We’re the only one in the middle.

Official site: http://www.animelosangeles.org
Start Date: 2012-01-06
End Date: 2012-01-08

Note: Right now we are looking for authors to cover cons live worldwide, so if you can attend different cons in your country or worldwide, please contact us for partnership and sponsorship
.

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