One of the biggest surprises any foreigner living in Japan receives is when he sees his first Japanese right wingers, blasting annoying music from their speaker cars. Japanese right-wing groups are blustery nationalists who drive around cities playing patriotic music from Japan’s wartime past, including the war songs soldiers used to sing on ships. They fly Japan’s wartime “rising sun” flag and make speeches about how great the Emperor is, while passers-by ignore them completely. One of the first anime series I fell in love with as a child was Space Cruiser Yamato, a show which was tinged with more than a few right-wing themes (Earth being bombed by the white Gamilon Desslock was an allegory for what Japan went through during the last years of the war). Sure enough, the theme song from Yamato/Star Blazers is a favorite among Japan’s fascist types, and it’s common to hear it blasting from their annoying loudspeaker cars. Japan’s organized right-wing groups are closely associated with the infamous Japanese mafia, the Yakuza.
Somewhat similar to Japan’s right-wingers are the boso-zoku, the motorcycle gangs that drive loudly through the streets of Japanese cities, making as much noise as they can. An odd segment of young counter-culture, boso-zoku (lit. “tribe of those who run wildly”) are gangs that dress in clothes with right-wing slogans on them and ride on motorcycles modified to be extra loud. Boso-zoku types are known as “yankii,” from the English word “yankee,” perhaps because they dye their hair blonde (or perhaps not). The motorcycle gangs from the Katsuhiro Otomo film Akira are based on the boso-zoku, but the real bike gangs aren’t nearly as interesting: they’re mostly bored delinquents who dropped out of high school because they fell in with the wrong crowd. You could call them “yakuza scouts” because Japan’s mafia usually uses boso-zoku members to run errands for them. While it’s probably dangerous to get on the wrong side of these loud kids, they’re usually nothing more than an annoyance, especially when you’re driving somewhere and get caught in a traffic jam caused by a group of them. To experience the annoyance of the boso-zoku, see this German page: http://www.bosozoku.de/ (fair warning: it’s loud)
Announcing the second half of Japanese calendar season! Every year at J-List we carry the amazing large-format Japanese calendars which are available in Japan for a limited time from October to November or so. If you’ve never seen these Japanese calendars, they’re really amazing — huge poster-sized sheets of thick stock paper, with beautiful printing and wonderful photography and art that will really make your year special. Because we genuinely love Japan and want to bring a little piece of it to everyone, we go the extra mile for you, carrying hundreds of anime, JPOP/JROCK, swimsuit idol, race queen and other calendars, including off-the-wall items which might not be that popular (but which are still very cool). Rolled calendars require a mailing tube, which is $2 and one tube can hold two calendars. As in previous years, if you buy 4 or more calendars you’ll get 15% off, and get your mailing tubes for free!
As usual, it’s fun to look at the ranking of calendars and see whose star has risen or fallen over the past year. Once again, Ayumi Hamasaki has claimed the coveted CL1 spot, reflecting her ongoing status as one of the top JPOP stars and fashion entities in Japan. She’s followed by Aya Ueto, who had a banner year in dramas and film, and the elegant Misaki Ito, the Japanese Audrey Hepburn, who built a successful acting career after making a splash in commercials for plum wine. Many of Japan’s top name swimsuit idols are back this year, like Yuko Ogura, Yinling of Joytoy and Eriko Satoh, as are popular Japanese “talents” like Yuka and the half-British, half-Japanese Becky. Since the opening of “cultural imports” between South Korea and Japan this year, Korean dramas and films have been very popular here — look for some calendars featuring Korean stars like the gorgeous Yoon Sona (her Korean-Japanese accent is so cute). As always, there are dozens of great anime calendars available for preordering, with virtually every anime series represented. Hayao Miyazaki fans will be especially happy to see a fabulous 3D Totoro calendar this year, as well as several other great items for his fans.
As always, we recommend that everyone get their preorders in quickly, so we can order your calendars and get them back for you as speedily as we can. Calendars should start to come in in the month of October, and we ship your calendars out to you right away. The window for ordering these great calendars is unfortunately very short, and we’ll have to close preorders around the middle of October. To avoid the agony of not getting that rare Japanese calendar you want, be sure and preorder early.
In addition to huge volley of 2005 calendars added to the site, we’re happy to announce stock of the gorgeous Shirow Masamune movie Innocence, which tells the continuing story of the characters from Ghost in the Shell. A fabulous animated film directed by Mamoru Oishi, it was a huge hit in Japan and is being distributed around the world. Although this film opens in theatres in the U.S. this weekend, we’ve got it on DVD right now — order your copy today! (We even have the deluxe Staff Box in stock.)
In addition to the above items, look for a huge volley of updated products, including many popular manga volumes, photobooks (Aoi Sora and more), great DVDs in the “Concentration” series, anime toys, fresh stock of “jitte” (the weapon of ninjas), as well as other wacky things from Japan!