Tag: ‘80s’

Video: WABOT-2 android plays keyboard (1985)

22 Apr 2008

WABOT-2 --

WABOT-2, an intelligent humanoid keyboard player developed by Waseda University in the 1980s, was considered the most advanced robot of its time. In addition to camera eyes that could read musical notation and deft hands that could tap out tunes of average difficulty, WABOT-2 could listen to accompanying singers and adjust its tempo, as well as carry on basic conversation. The android demonstrated its musical skills at Expo '85 in Tsukuba, Japan with a performance of Kitaro's new age classic "Silk Road." (Watch a clip.)

Built in order to develop the basic technology, strength and skills for robots of the 21st century, WABOT-2 was equipped with a hierarchical system of 80 microprocessors modeled after the human nervous system, and its arms and legs had 50 degrees of freedom -- more than any other robot in existence at the time. Waseda University regards WABOT-2 as a landmark achievement in the evolution of personal robots.

[Video: The Computer Chronicles (1985 broadcast) - Parts 1, 2, 3]

Itchy tentacle relief (’80s TV ad)

21 Mar 2008

This 1980s TV commercial touts an effective cure for athlete's tentacle.

H.R. Giger’s creatures in ’80s Pioneer ads

21 Jan 2008

In 1984-1985, Pioneer featured the designs of H.R. Giger in a series of Japanese magazine ads for their Zone home entertainment system.

H.R. Giger Pioneer ad --

H.R. Giger Pioneer ad --

Video: Kokiriko Bushi

12 Dec 2007

Kokiriko Bushi --

Omodaka's 21st-century disco version of Kokiriko Bushi -- an ancient folk song that Gokayama (Toyama prefecture) villagers used to perform for the local Shinto deities -- combines synthesized vocals with a Stevie Wonder-ish bassline and '80s video game chiptune sounds, and the wonderfully quirky and surreal video (animated by Teppei Maki) features a fragile skeleton dancer that shares the floor with lots of disembodied hands and floating eyeball-headed ladies. [Video]

Incidentally, the kokiriko is a type of percussion instrument made from old bamboo used in the roofs of traditional farmhouses. After being all but forgotten, Kokiriko Bushi was revived in the mid-20th century and has become one of Japan's most well-known folk songs.

Teppei Maki also directed the animation for DJ Kentaro's Tasogare Highway High...

...and he has worked on videos for Kaskade (Be Still), the Beat Crusaders (Your Song Is Good) and Fuuri (Nana Song), none of which appear to be available online.

Video: Severed Mouth Woman

27 Jul 2007

Kuchisake-onna -- One of the cooler things about summer in Japan is the centuries-old tradition of swapping ghost stories. Some argue that the fear induced by a spine-chilling story can actually lower one's body temperature, making it a great way to deal with the summer heat. With this in mind as the summer heat sets in, here is "Severed Mouth Woman," a video produced by Buildup as part of their Bizarre Creatures of Japan series.

The video recounts the well-known story of the severed-mouth woman (kuchisake-onna), a malicious blade-wielding lady with a slit mouth (which she keeps hidden behind a surgical mask) who is bent on cutting open the mouths of strangers. Apparently a modern interpretation of an old Heian period legend, this tale sparked a mass panic in Japan in the late '70s and early '80s, as news reports circulated about a slit-mouthed woman terrorizing neighborhoods across the country. In this video, produced more than two decades after the hysteria passed, a former coroner comes forward with details about the severed-mouth woman's identity. Using old skeletal records, her head is reconstructed here.

Enjoy, stay cool and... Brylcreem, Brylcreem, Brylcreem!

Chernobyl Household Nuclear Generator

22 Jun 2007

Chernobyl Household Nuclear Generator --

This spoof advertisement from the mid-1980s shows an imaginary home power system called the Chernobyl Household Nuclear Generator. Here is a loose translation.


A gentle source of unlimited energy for the home

Reduce your monthly electric bill by 80% and enjoy a constant, stable supply of energy free from the fluctuations in supply that affect the oil market.

A single, user-friendly activation switch makes the Chernobyl Household Nuclear Power Generator simple to operate, even for children and the elderly. One small nuclear fuel rod (about 15 cm long) generates enough electricity to support the average household for six months. To dispose of a spent fuel rod, simply insert it into its special shielded case and discard it along with ordinary non-combustible household waste.

Main unit: 1.31 million yen [$5,450*] (plus tax)

Set of 3 fuel rods: 137,000 yen [$570*] (plus tax)
[* Dollar figures based on early '80s exchange rate of 240 yen/dollar.]

When using the power generator with direct current, people near the device may on rare occasions experience dizziness or a tingling sensation in the hands or feet. If you experience such conditions, temporarily discontinue use and consult a physician.

(Coming soon:
Nuclear batteries (Types AA, C and D)
500x longer lifespan than conventional alkali batteries!)

Safe, efficient nuclear power is now readily available for use in your home.

Chernobyl Household Nuclear Power Generator - Type 1
Nichigen Co., Ltd.
Nihon Shogata Genshiryoku Hatsuden, K.K.
("Japan Compact Nuclear Generators, Inc.")


Warhol endorses TDK

23 Jun 2006

Andy Warhol's TDK videotape commercial (1983), on YouTube.

Things in danger of vanishing…

22 Mar 2006

Things in danger of vanishing because of the Electric Appliance and Materials Law

Nanzuka Underground (Shibuya, Tokyo) has put together an exhibit entitled "Things That Are In Danger Of Vanishing Because Of [the] Electric Appliance And Materials Law." The law, which is set to take effect on April 1, has been widely criticized for its expected impact on the secondhand electronics industry, particularly with respect to musical equipment. Though METI appears to have done some backpedaling to ease the restrictions on certain "vintage" electronics, the concerns remain.

Organized to raise consumer awareness about "the crisis we are facing now," the exhibit features a display of products provided by TURBO SONIC (a secondhand electronics store specializing in products from the 70s and 80s), as well as art work made from numerous parts that belong to the store.

From the press release: "If there is anyone who feels even slightly uncomfortable about the law, we want you to visit the exhibition and hear your voice."

The exhibit runs from March 24 to April 9. Admission is free.

Read the in-depth Nanzuka Underground press release (English/Japanese) for more information.