In addition to a certain new series about traditional Japanese candy, there’s another show that’s getting a lot of attention this season: Kyoani’s Musaigen Phantom World. After a virus causes changes in peoples’ brains, enabling them to perceive and interact with supernatural phantoms, main character Haruhiko and his
harem demon-fighting club consisting of busty Mai, fiery Koito and best girl Reina must fight phantoms that cause trouble for humans. It’s quite a fun show, though it has a lot more of the “Gainax bounce” and sexy shots than most of their past works, which might turn off some viewers. Can the company balance the desire of serious fans to enjoy a good fantasy-adventure anime story without making things too sexy? Kyoani finds a way.
I sometimes like to toss out questions to the readers on J-List’s Facebook page and Twitter feed to see what Japan-related topics they’d like me to write about, and recently someone asked about arranged marriages. Japan doesn’t really have arranged marriages, but a kind of formal meeting between marriage-minded people arranged by a third party, called お見合い omiai. My wife actually did this before she met me, dressing up in a kimono and meeting the son of a local sake distributor to discuss the possibility of marriage…though fortunately for me he was scared off by her English ability and international mindset. These days, the old system of omiai has changed, morphing into matchmaking services operated by companies with smartphone apps, or sometimes directly by cities desperate to try anything to raise the country’s birthrate. There’s also a TV program called Super Omiai Attack! that that aims to bring happiness to men living in extremely rural parts of Japan where there are no women, like Sugadiara, Nagano, population 1131. A dozen or so young women are brought in via bus from Tokyo, then interact with the town’s single men in a series of structured activities while the cameras follow the action. By the end of the show, three happy couples had formed!
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