Akebono has had many fine achievements during his forty years on earth: becoming the first foreign sumo wrestler to achieve the rank of yokozuna, winning eleven top division titles, and, err… managing to win one fight out of twelve in his career as a K-1 fighter.
Okay, so things may have gone a bit downhill after sumo, but when you’ve reached the highest echelons of one of the most famous sports in the world it’s always going to be hard to go one better. But recently the big man has roared back into the limelight thanks to a series of adverts for Fox’s latest smash hit comedy/drama thingy, Glee.
Words can’t really do the adverts justice. All you need to know is that they involve a lot of Akebono singing and dancing. The song? ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey – nothing could be more appropriate.
Check it out for yourself:
You can catch the rest of Akebono’s adverts on YouTube or one of the many Fox-related channels on Japan’s satellite TV network, Sky PerfecTV.
Imagine if the BBC created a programme called ‘Cool Britain’, in which a group of foreigners discussed the most mundane aspects of British culture, such as rambling, Sunday Lunch, making a ‘proper’ cup of tea and Shrove Tuesday. The discussion would be occasionally interrupted by snippets of one of the foreigners ‘experiencing’ that week’s cultural item: plodding through the Yorkshire Dales in drizzle wearing an impossibly-coloured Berghaus anorak and occasionally screaming ‘Oooh, isn’t this lovely!’, for example. Presenter Richard Hammond would then throw out thought-provoking questions to the multicultural horde, questions like: “So, Ordinance Survey maps, a classic British navigation tool. Are they cool?”.
At the end of the show, and after much smug, self-congratulatory back-slapping by ‘Hammy’, June Sarpong and a random cultural ‘expert’, the day’s topic would be either voted cool, or not, and… well, that’s it.
Oh, and all the foreigners speak French.
Dying to see such inventive programming? I bet you are, and luckily for you a Japanese version, ingeniously titled ‘Cool Japan’, is aired on NHK’s BShi channel every Tuesday from 10pm. Here’s a clip:
Now, what really makes Japan cool? Kurara Chibana:
Daitokai (大都会 – or ‘Big City’ in English) has to be the best cops-and-robbers programme, ever.
Starsky and Hutch may have had its fair share of action, but the producers of Daitokai went absolutely, stark-raving bonkers with cheesy – but awesome – shoot-outs, car chases and explosions. And let’s not forget the ultra-cool cast, which included Tetsuya Watari (centre) and Japan’s very own Steve McQueen, Yusaku Matsuda (bottom left), at the height of his powers. Matsuda would go on to star alongside Michael Douglas in 1989′s ‘Black Rain’, shortly before dying of cancer.
For those of you in Japan with access to Nitereplus (日テレプラス. Channel CS300 on SkyPerfecTV) you can catch the third series of Daitokai every Friday night from 9pm. As for the rest of you, well, you’ll have to make do with the following snippets:
Well, that might be overstating it somewhat, but I was interested to see that design agency Atkins has revamped Oxford Circus with a very Shibuya-esque spin. Now all that’s needed is people. Lots of people:
Three months is a long time between posts, especially when you’ve got no excuse for not writing anything. So, as I still don’t have much to write about at the moment, please direct your moist little eyeballs in the direction of the following video:
Resurrecting long-dead film stars for TV adverts is a far from new idea, and being a bit of McQueen fan I couldn’t help but notice this recent TAG Heuer campaign featuring the man himself and Lewis Hamilton. It’s certainly eye-catching, but for all the wrong reasons:
What on earth were they thinking? I’ve seen dead tortoises with better acting skills than Lewis Hamilton; Steve McQueen’s voice is utterly, utterly wrong; the lip-synching is dreadful; and the whole Lewis-McQueen dialogue scene has a distinctly 2D cardboardy quality about it.
Golden rules: stay away from dialogue, keep the CGI simple and have a Lalo Schiffrin theme-tune up your sleeve:
Japanese stand-up show Enta no Kamisama has produced its fair share of superstar comedians. One of the most popular at present is Kameko Nobuo, who bounces around stage in a ridiculously tight spandex shirt waving gold pom-poms in the air before telling the audience some decidedly kimoi (disgusting or gross) things.
I haven’t been able to add Japanese subtitles to any of Kameko’s YouTube videos (anyone know if it’s possible?), but even if you don’t know what he’s saying I think the general kimoiness of his character shines through in this clip:
I didn’t realise Wii Music was out in Japan until I saw an advert for it on the train the other day. As our Wii has remained untouched for the past two months I thought I might as well buy it and see what it had to offer.
First thing I tried was conducting an orchestra:
As you can see, it involves lots of waving your hand around like a complete tool in the hope of getting the rhythm correct. I thought I’d done quite well but my score was pitiful.
I also gave flute playing a whirl:
This one was more of a bang-the-buttons-for-dear-life affair. More practise needed, methinks.
If you’ve got a Wii Fit balance board then you have the option of playing a full drum kit, which looks something like this:
The Verdict: Too early to say at the moment. There seems to be an awful lot to learn before you can become any good at it, which will either be very rewarding or more frustrating than trying to push a badger through a keyhole.