After we visited DNP, we went to FutureScope, which is a company that distributes services and content for mobile phones. FutureScope is a member of the Fields Corporation Group, which primarily develop and sell pachinko machines. Fields is made up of other companies like Lucent Pictures and Digital Frontier for example. Lucent Pictures is a company that mainly produces animated features, some of which has won the Best Animated Feature Award. One interesting fact about FutureScope is that they actually own the distribution rights for the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, which is like Gundam, another popular series in Japan.
Afterwards, we met the group that worked for Digital Frontier, which is a motion picture company that specializes in full CG (computer generated) animation. Some of their most well know work include the live action versions of Death Note and GANTZ, both of which are very popular in Japan, the most recent animated Resident Evil movie, and they even worked on the animation for Metal Gear Solid 4. Digital Frontier also houses one of Asia’s largest motion capture studio, it would be interesting to see if that’s true or not.
After our visit with FutureScope, our professor took us all out for a yakiniku dinner. Yakiniku is where all of the meat is delivered raw, and we cook it ourselves in a table top grill. Some of the meat was interesting to say the least. While they did have the standard beef, there was also cow shoulder, tongue, and stomach. I think it would be wise for someone to actually do a little bit of research about yakiniku before they decide if they want to try it, just as a forewarning. It was nice to get everyone together before we went our separate ways, I really hope we all can get together again when we return to East Lansing.
During one of our free days, me and a few friends went to Odaiba. Odaiba is a man-made island that has lots to do and see there. There were a few of malls, a giant Ferris wheel, and even a replica of the Statue of Liberty. But that wasn’t the reason why we went. In front of Diver City (one of the malls on the island) was the giant Gundam statue. For those that don’t know about Gundam, the franchise was created by Yoshiyuki Tomino in 1979 with the release of the anime Mobile Suit Gundam. Since then, the Gundam series has become one Japan’s most popular franchises spanning many anime series, video games, and models kits. The statue was built to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the series, and seeing this thing up close is nothing short of amazing.
Diver City itself was pretty amazing as well. The mall was like a combination of Great Lakes Crossing and the Mall of America put together, that’s how huge it was. The mall has seven floors, and there many stores on each of the levels. There was also a floor that had nothing but restaurants, there was even a grocery store on that floor.
On the seventh floor, there was Gundam Front Tokyo, which is a museum dedicated to telling the history of the Gundam franchise. Once we got inside, there was a lot to see. We saw a timeline that gave details about each series in order of release, also we got to see actual storyboards from the original series. There was also some type of kiosk were you can look at character profiles from each of the different shows in the entire metaseries.
One thing that was impressive about this place was the gallery of Gundam models near the entrance. There were big models, small models, and a few models of the spaceships that were used in the multiple shows in the metaseries. It’s interesting to see a franchise like Gundam to have such an impact on a country’s culture, but I find it a little disheartening that there isn’t a franchise that has such significance in the U.S.
And now for your viewing pleasure, here’s the Mobile Suit Gundam opening
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture. Whether if it’s Anime or video games, Japan has always been one place I’ve always wanted to visit. Thanks to this study abroad program, I’m finally get to experience Japanese culture first hand. During the first day of our trip, we went to Tokyo Tower, which gives a person a 360 degree view of the entire city. Although the fog did take away from the experience a little bit, it was interesting to see the entire city from there.
After that, we visited the Akihabara District. Akihabara is basically ‘nerd heaven’, where there are multiple shops that dealt with anything related to games, comics, anime, etc. During our trip in Akiahabara, we went to a maid cafe. Maid cafes are restaurants where the waitresses are dressed up like maids from anime and games, and basically serve your every need. Maid cafes are something that one should experience when they come to Japan, but be prepared for some of the things that will happen.
After that, we went to Yodobashi-Akiba. A way to describe this place would be “Best Buy and Target on steroids”. This place was massive, there were seven floors dedicated to a specific need. For example, there was a floor for appliances, musical instruments, books, and of course games.
My personal favorite part of this place was the section dedicated to Gundam, there models upon models in that particular part of the store, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life! Overall, my first day in Japan was interesting to say the least, but I can’t wait to see some of the other things that this country has to offer.