One of the big trends in Japan these days is anime series about idols, and shows like IdolMaster, Love Live! School Idol Project, AKB0048, White Album, and Dog Days all revolve around fictional idols who are often only slightly less “real” then the girls in Japan’s idol groups like AKB48. The newest idol show is the currently running Wake Up Girls! I like the show because of its more realistic (and less moe) character designs, plus, let’s be honest, the pantsu. I also like the show because it’s based in Sendai, the vibrant Japanese city in Japan’s Tohoku region which was the scene of so much sadness after the powerful earthquake and tsunamis of March 11, 2011. The anime is very much intended to “cheer up” the Tohoku region and encourage fans to visit by talking about delicious local foods and showing lots of 聖地 seichi (“holy lands” e.g. real-life locations) that fans might want to visit. The reality of what Tohoku has been through is definitely a part of the show: one of the girls is from Ishinomaki, the coastal city that experienced a desperately high death toll during the tsunamis, and she still lives in the temporary housing that was erected after the disaster. Sendai was founded in 1600 by one of the most famous samurai lords in Japan’s history: Date Masamune, a one-eyed warlord who, among other things, provided the inspiration for Darth Vader.
While the Wake Up Girls! anime may have been made to bring genki (happiness, good cheer) to the Sendai area, I’m thinking they’re feeling pretty genki already, thanks to the spectacular performance by Sendai-native Yuzuru Hanyu, who took the gold for men’s free skate at the Sochi Olympics. Yuzuru-kun, who’s been skating since the age of 4, is quite a colorful character. He’s a huge fan of Winnie the Pooh, and all through his career he’s never failed to bring his favorite plush “Pooh-san” (as the character is known in Japan) to his competitions, which became his trademark. His faithful friend was nowhere to be seen at the Sochi Olympics, however, as he was asked not to bring it because Disney is not an official Olympic sponsor. Among other things, Yuzuru-kun us quite a dashing lad, and he’s got a huge following by fujoshi all around the Internet, including thousands of female Chinese fans who create steamy doujinshi about him.
Some genki and pantsu for Sendai.