Tag Archives: pop culture

Pac-Man is 30

24 May

On 1980 May 22, the Japanese video game manufacturer Namco released a new game that was invented by their employee 岩谷徹 (Toru Iwatani).

The game was called 「パックマン」 and was written as “Puckman” in the English alphabet in Japan.
On that day thirty years ago, the game was released at only one video game arcade (ゲームセンター) in 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo).

The game was given the name 「パックマン」 because 「パック」 (“pakku“) or 「パックパック」 (“pakku-pakku“) is the word Japanese use to describe chewing (click here to read a post I wrote that describes this word and other like it in the Japanese language) and the point of the game is to maneuver the yellow Pac-man character around a maze and eat every dot in the maze without running into any of the four ghosts that run around the maze at the same time. There are four strategically-placed “power” dots that temporarily turn the tables and allow Pac-Man to eat the ghosts.

It was probably decided to use the letters “Puckman” to write the game’s name in Japan because “pakku-pakku” sounds similar to “puck-puck“…at least when said with a Japanese accent.

Anyways, this game was an instant success in Japan and caught the attention of “Midway” game manufacturer in America and a deal was struck to bring 「パックマン」 (“Puck-Man“) to the U.S.
But first, Midway decided, the name should be altered before kids in America vandalize the machine to make the “P” in “Puck-man” look like an “F”.

So, “Pac-Man” was introduced to America in the early ’80s and became a part of America’s pop-culture almost instantly.

Just like most kids in America (and probably other countries too) in the early ’80s, I was obsessed with Pac-Man for awhile.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been thirty years since Pac-Man was first introduced to the world!

I heard that Pac-Man was recently added to the “Guiness Book Of World Records” for being the most readily recognized video-game character around the world even today.

Even the Google search engine changed their logo temporarily to honor Pac-Man‘s 30th anniversary.
Click here to try the Pac-Man game on the Google website. Click the “Insert Coin” button the site, a game starts then use your keyboards arrow keys to move Pac-Man around the maze.

Pop culture quotes

22 Sep

Many times lines from movies, TV shows, TV commercials, and songs enter pop culture.

For example, everyone know Arnold Schwarzengger‘s line in the movie “The Terminator“:

I’ll be back!

Let’s play a pop culture quotes game.

To play, in the comment section of this post, correctly name where the quote in the most recent comment is from…and then write a well-known quote from pop culture for the next person to identify.

Like this…if someone writes “I’ll be back“.
The next commenter writes “The Terminator“…Next quote: “Who Shot J.R.?”

So, I’ll start.
Name where this quote came from:
Where’s the beef?

American 80s icons died

26 Jun

A couple of weeks ago, David Carredine, famous from the U.S. TV show “Kung Fu” from the 70s / 80s died.

Then two days ago, Ed McMahon, famous from the “Tonight Show” and “Star Search” died.

Yesterday, Farrah Fawcett from “Charlie’s Angels” died.

And right now, the TV morning variety shows are saying Michael Jackson may have just died.

King Kong vs Godzilla

6 Apr

In 1933, the American movie King Kong was released. It’s about a movie director in Depression-era America who takes a crew to a place called “Skull Island” to film a movie.

They quickly realize that “Skull Island” is no ordinary island. It’s full of giant pre-historic predators.
One night, the native people kidnap the American actress and offer her as a sacrifice to “Kong“, the giant ape.

The rest of the American film crew rescue the actress and the director decides to take Kong back to New York City because a huge ape will make him more money than his movie could.

The movie’s most famous scene is when the misunderstood King Kong is forced to climb the Empire State Building and fight for his life.

The original King Kong

The original King Kong

King Kong was remade twice. The first remake was in 1976. In this version, it’s an oil company that discover Kong, and instead of climbing the Empire State Building, King Kong climbs to the top of the World Trade Center in New York City.

king_kong-1976

Then in 2005, a remake of the original 1933 King Kong story was done.

king_kong-2005

King Kong is an American pop-culture legend.

The Japanese equivalent is ゴジラ (Godzilla).

The first ゴジラ (Godzilla) movie was released in 1954.
ゴジラ (Godzilla) was supposed to be the result of radioactive nuclear testing. The creature was originally a threat to society…but to expand the audience to include families and children, some ゴジラ (Godzilla) films portray him as the hero.

Promo poster from the first 「ゴジラ」 (Godzilla) movie, 1954.

Promo poster from the first 「ゴジラ」 (Godzilla) movie, 1954.

ゴジラ (Godzilla)’s name should technically be spelled as “Gojira” in English because that’s the correct pronunciation of his name.
The name ゴジラ (Gojira (Godzilla)) is a mix of the words 「リラ」 (gorilla) and 「クジラ」 (Kujira (whale)).

There have been many ゴジラ (Godzilla) movies released in Japan. The most recent was on the 50th anniversary of the first ゴジラ (Godzilla) movie…in 2004, 「ゴジラ ファイナル・ウォーズ」 (Godzilla: Final Wars) was released. (It won’t be the “final” ゴジラ (Godzilla) movie though…there is a plan to make a new ゴジラ (Godzilla) movie on the 60th anniversary of the original—in 2014).

「ゴジラ ファイナル・ウォーズ」 (Godzilla: Final Wars) movie poster, 2004.

「ゴジラ ファイナル・ウォーズ」 (Godzilla: Final Wars) movie poster, 2004.

ゴジラ (Godzilla) is a pop-culture icon even in America. I used to enjoy watching ゴジラ (Godzilla) movies dubbed in English when I was a kid.
In fact, a survey was done in the 1980’s of the general American public to name “famous Japanese people”…ゴジラ (Godzilla) was one of the most common answers! (Another common one was “Bruce Lee”…whose not even Japanese)!

So, it was inevitable that America would release a Hollywood version of ゴジラ (Godzilla).
The trailers for the 1998 U.S. movie looked exciting! But the trailers are all you need to watch…the movie was generally a disappointment.

Poster for the US version of "Godzilla", 1998.

Poster for the US version of "Godzilla", 1998.

Here’s the trailer from the 1998 US movie “Godzilla” from YouTube:

So, it makes sense that these two iconic monsters met in battle.
In 1962, Japan released 「キングコング対ゴジラ」 (“King Kong vs Godzilla“).

Poster for 「キングコング対ゴジラ」 ("King Kong vs Godzilla"), 1962

Poster for 「キングコング対ゴジラ」 ("King Kong vs Godzilla"), 1962

There’s an urban legend that in the Japanese version of this movie Godzilla beats King Kong, and in the English-dubbed version King Kong wins. But it’s not true…the ending is the same in both versions: King Kong is the only monster to emerge from their underwater battle.

Here’s a trailer from the 1962 movie 「キングコング対ゴジラ」 (“King Kong vs Godzilla“):

Ultraman

14 Mar

「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) is a Japanese superhero television show from the 1960’s.

「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman)

「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman)

The story is basically about an organization that protects Earth from giant alien attacks. But they are always overwhelmed by the monster…fortunately, one member of the organization has a “Beta Capsule” that can be used to summon 「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) from the Sun.

「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) can only stay on Earth for a short time before he must return to the Sun…otherwise he’ll die. The 「カラータイマー」 (“Color Timer“) on his chest blinks to indicate that he must return soon.

I used to watch 「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) reruns dubbed in English on TV in the ’70s when I was a child in America.

In America, 「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) is considered low-standard and cheesy.
But here in Japan, 「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) is a pop-culture phenomenon. 「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) is still popular with young boys in Japan today.

In Japan, there have been numerous spin-off shows including 「ウルトラセブン」 (Ultra Seven), 「帰ってきたウルトラマン」 (Return Of Ultraman), 「ウルトラマン・エース」 (Ultraman Ace), etc as well as 「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) movies. And stores in Japan sell 「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) toys, clothes, shoes, lunchbox sets, towels, and all kinds of other merchandise.

Ultraman Alarm Clock

Ultraman Alarm Clock

「ウルトラ・サイダー」 ("Ultra Cider") drink

「ウルトラ・サイダー」 ("Ultra Cider") drink

「ウルトラセブンワインセット」 ("Ultra Seven" 40th anniversary wine set)

「ウルトラセブンワインセット」 ("Ultra Seven" 40th anniversary wine set)

「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman) was supposed to take place in the 1990’s…thirty years in the future from when it was filmed.

Have you ever watched 「ウルトラマン」 (Ultraman)? Do you like the series?

Three Day Weekend

11 Oct

昨日 (Yesterday) was 十月十日 (October 10). Until a few years ago, that day used to be 体育の日 (Sports Day). But, along with a few other 祝日 (holidays), it’s been changed to the closest 月曜日 (Monday).

Therefore, this 月曜日 (Monday) (十月十三日 (October 13)) is 体育の日 (Sports Day). So, 今日 (today) is the first day of a 三連休 (three-day weekend).

(You can see my short FAQ post about 体育の日 (Sports Day) here.)

There are many 秋祭 (Autumn Festivals) around 日本 (Japan) this weekend and next. We plan to go to a couple of them.

Today (土曜日 (Saturday)), though, we’re just staying home because our daughters need to study for exams that they’ll will have at school on 火曜日 (Tuesday).

*****
I’m part of “Generation X” (born in the late 1960s – late ’70s). I was in Elementary school in the 1970s and a teenager in the 1980s.
I can remember (vaguely) the election of the US President Jimmy Carter. More vividly I remember when Rubik’s Cube®, Sony Walkman® (that played cassettes), MTV®, “Nightmare On Elm Street“, and Pac-Man® were big.

Growing up I loved Star Wars, The Incredible Hulk (TV show), Knight Rider (I’ve seen an episode of that old show recently…I can’t believe I liked it as a kid!), Evel Knievel, The Fonz, and heavy metal music (some of my favorites were (and still are): KISS (see my post here), Judas Priest, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, and Scorpions).

Recognize any of those? Some things on that list were from the ’70s (until I was ten years old) and others were from the ’80s (when I was eleven years old til high school).

(BTW, all of the band logos above are copyright© of their respective owners. And I got the images from the Hard Rock Hideout website).

My three kids were born between 1993 and 1996. Their generation doesn’t remember a pre-internet or pre-cell phone world. They were too young to understand the “9/11” attacks when they occurred.


Anyways…what was popular with you when you were growing up? (Write about it in the comments section!)