M-novels, M-soap operas and a musician who goes on world tour from his living room – Kirsty Allison reports from Tokyo in this special CR film on Japan’s mobile culture
More on what Kirsty saw:
M-FILM: the Pocket Films Festival
“These screens are portable, digital and easy to edit and distribute from. It’s culture in your pocket,” says Professor Masaki Fujihata of the Tokyo University of Arts, and director of the Tokyo Pocket Films Festival. He sees the medium as the message, with M-films currently serving as sketchpads for ideas where an ideal duration is under five minutes, although he predicts that future M-films “will go on to win Oscars”.
M-SOAP OPERAS: Voltage
Production company Voltage specialises in M-games and M-soap operas. Shooting for half an hour a week, Voltage breaks weekly stories down to five-minute chunks which get downloaded by young girls largely in search of romantic titillation. It claims hits of up to 10K per episode. CEO Tsuya Yuuzi likens the current era to the early gaming industry.
M-STREET ART: HP France Gallery
Shibuya’s hub of hip is this basement gallery where street artists such as Sense, Baku, Kanosue Shunsuke and Takeru Nakabayashi meet with software developers to design comedy mobile interfaces that add a little more wasabi heat to regular mobile menus. These collaborations lead to animations such as sushi belts which speed up and slow down according to levels of mobile reception. Mao Sakaguchi, curator of HP France began customising screensavers with artists several years ago, 3 is the first British company to adopt similar tactics to reach the social networking, data-loving generation, and has recently commissioned artists to create screensavers for its INQ handset.
M-LIVE: Merce Death
The name for this one man band derives from the Japanese pronunciation of Mercedes. Art director and home lover, Shingo Oono goes on world tour from his living room studio in the suburbs of Tokyo, thanks to the wonders of modern technology (mainly streaming site, Ustream.com); he layers guitars with bass and drums, broadcasting direct from home. Watch online, on phone, or join in with the World Online Jam.
The Keitai Shousetsu phenomenon is particularly popular with the young, and is encouraging them to get back into books. Written and delivered on mobiles (authors Honjo Sae and Tadashi Izumi, above), with associated paperbacks, merchandise, anime and TV, this is true cross-platform culture. M-books follow viral patterns, with initial chapters often being free. Bestselling Tokyo Real has 32m hits, and paperback sales of 3m plus.
Kirsty Allison travelled to Tokyo as part of the 3snapshots.com project