Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Here is Columbia Music Entertainment's mascot Koro-chan. As you can see, he is a little boy who wears a cowboy hat and plays the guitar. I don't know when Koro-chan was first used in CME advertisements, but he certainly has that old-time feel about him doesn't he? You can see Koro-chan in digital form on the company's website. He also makes it into album inserts every now and then for that nostalgic feeling. One of my co-workers gave me a Koro-chan keychain. Everyone oohed and aaahed because they evidently stopped making Koro-chan merchandise in 1998 (even though most employees have at least one Koro-chan somewhere on their desk). Quite horribly, Koro-chan took a nosedive off my desk several weeks back, severing his left arm and the neck of his guitar in the process. I guess they don't make Koro-chans like the used to.

A giant Loco Roco from the Sony PSP game of the same name sits in Columbia's front lobby. In Loco Roco, players rotate this giant yellow blob through obstacle courses while avoiding enemies and eating magical fruits. Columbia's anime / game division produced the soundtrack to the game. The CD hits stores tomorrow.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Open your ears…Open your mind (勧め音楽)

I guess this is the obligatory music post from a guy working at Japan’s oldest recording company. All of my friends end every one of their blog posts with a “currently listening to” section that spotlights their favorite tunes. I never thought to do this because I figure that my reader’s don’t really care about what I am listening to.

Remember those Toy Grab contests they used to have on Fox Kids years ago? They were those things where one lucky kid would get to charge through a Toys R’ Us with a shopping cart and stuff it full of as many toys as they could get their hands on in two minutes. Sadly, after the Toy Grab, the family would have to jump states and change their last name, for fear of being attacked by mobs of jealous school children. Substitute toys for CDs and give one an unlimited time limit, and you basically have my job.

Since I have full access to any and all of the company’s albums, and spend a large amount of time listening to piles of CDs at my desk everyday, I figured I would give a few shout-outs. Every now and then, something really good comes along.

The first recommendation is a new rock band called Chocolate Parfait (チョコレートパフェ). Their 10 song self-entitled debut album will hit stores in Japan on 9/20. There versatile rock has a smooth melodic drive similar to Five for Fighting or Ben Folds. There is also plenty of guitar-driven pop rock songs with catchy choruses as well. If you’re looking for hard rock, though, this isn’t the album for you.

Next up is Asami Yamamoto (山本朝海), a young, solo pop vocalist, with her new single “Piece.” What sets Yamamoto apart from the hordes of female pop clones in Japan is her soulful voice, and uncharacteristically complex bluesy melodies that stay interesting during repeated listening. Fear not, her songs all feature the essential hook and sing-along-able pop choruses.

Finally, there is Keitaku (ケイタク), my #1 recommended group. Two young guys from Fukuoka play guitar, drums, bass, and harmonica to create excellent indie music. One part folk and one part blues, Keitaku produces a string of beautiful ballads (sparing on the instruments, except for a guitar and bass) and upbeat blues numbers that make you want to get up and dance. If you like Japanese music, I can’t recommend their work enough. Their new single Shonen (少年) contains three great songs that your ears deserve to be listening to right now!

Happy listening,


P.S. – Though not a Columbia artist, Ulfuls (ウルフルズ) is my all-time favorite Japanese band. They are a group of four guys from Osaka, and throughout their past ten years on the music scene, they have created a string of quirky, hilarious (if you can understand their lyrics), and musically memorable pop-rock hits. The Ulfuls were among the first in the biz to buck the trend of traditional Japanese pop music by using harmonica, spoken comedic monologues, and electronic sound effects in their songs. Great music for any occasion! Pick up Ulfuls today - BANZAI!!!!!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Here is a picture of Shiozawa-san setting up the recording studio. Today I had to work a classical piano recording session for the female pianist Kyoko Tabe. Much like dangling canteens of water in front of a weary desert traveler, there were no less than ten Steinway grand pianos in the hall, but I couldn't so much as touch a single one of them. Sigh.

A super nifty pipe organ in the Ueno Gakuen Memorial Hall where recording took place today. It's a pity I forgot my black cloak and half mask.

Surfs up goof!

On my way home from the recording studio, I suddenly found myself in the loading line for a parade that was going on in front of the Kaminarimon on Asakusa's main drag. Here is the island volcano float as they wheeled it towards the main parade route. I think the parade had something to do with Carnival in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but I couldn't figure out the theme for the life of me. Tikis were seen next to revolving roulette wheels which were seen next to women dancing in top hats.

Here is a shot I snapped as some of the parade's showgirls whizzed past me.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Them’s Good Eats! (馬刺しと鯨)

After walking around for a good twenty minutes, my co-worker Izumi and I finally settled on a small eating and drinking place (I say this because the cuisine can best be described as eclectic).

I was able to scratch one of two rare items off my “must eat” list tonight - “Basashi" or raw horse meat sashimi. The other item I am trying to ingest before leaving Japan is “fugu” or the famous poisonous blowfish (refer to The Simpsons episode if you are rusty on the subject).

Basashi appeared as a thinly sliced red meat with spirals of fat, placed on a bed of daikon radish and served with a pinch of spicy garlic and onion mash on top of each piece. You dunked it in soy sauce and down the hatch it went.

The meat didn’t look or taste particularly horse-like, which helped me to not internalize the fact that I was happily gnawing off bits of Black Beauty. While I found the basashi to be very delicious, I doubt that I could successfully isolate the award winning taste and texture if it were placed next to elegantly prepared squirrel or possum meat.

Izumi and I also resurrected an old favorite - whale meat sashimi. This time the two of us ordered the “Outback Steakhouse Moby Dick Sampler Platter,” featuring four different types of whale meat. There were two sashimi varieties; one was flat and red and tasted like maguro (tuna), while the other appeared to be the ground up pulp of whale guts. The third variety was merely jiggly slabs of whale blubber, and the final type was a firm piece of oily whale meat with a tiny strip of crunchy skin on the top. All in all, the whale was a very interesting and yummy culinary experience.

Izumi felt bad about eating the whale (but not bad enough to stop putting blowhole to face with chopsticks), and would ask me every now and then if I felt bad too between bites. Occasionally she would clasp her hands together and bow her head at the ceramic plate of sashimi in apology. I think this act was more the beer’s doing than an actual expression of her remorse over Willy’s new home in our stomachs.

Happy adventurous eating to all and to all a good night!


P.S. – Wow! Over 3000 hits on the blog and all thanks to “readers like you!” For a donation of 7500 Yen, you will receive a custom White Boy in Japan folding fan with matching chopstick set. If you choose to pledge at the 10,000 Yen level, we are happy to give you the White Boy in Japan audio CDs, as well as the chopsticks and folding fan as a thank you gift.

Here is a picture of my Japanese class friends, Kevin and Evelyn (not pictured - Chris and Lindsay), from our okonomiyaki dinner in Roppongi. Evelyn had a short stay in Tokyo before heading off to the small island of Tsushima to begin her work as a JET assistant English teacher. Best of luck Ev!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I went with an advertising co-worker to the head office of the famous Rockin' On Japanese music magazine. We went to the very tippy-top 18th floor. The building had a gorgeous view of the Shibuya area of Tokyo. I can only imagine how pretty a panoramic shot here would be during a sunset!

Here is a typical snapshot of a floor at Columbia Music Entertainment - all the floors look the same. Here is the cluttered desk next to mine in the advertising department.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse!

This past week I have been working in Columbia’s sales department (営業 - pronounced egg-yoh in Japanese). Don’t worry, I still have more anime themed posts coming, however I wanted to give you all an update on what I’ve been up to. Right from the start, the atmosphere on the sales floor was completely different from my previous enka and anime sections. I arrived at 9:30 sharp in the morning on my first day (and everyday thereafter - long gone were my days of sleeping in) to meet Saito-san, the leader of the Tokyo sales division.

The Tokyo sales division as you might assume sends salesman to record shops of all shapes and sizes throughout the Tokyo area to collect orders for Columbia’s new releases each month. There is also a separate “mega store” sales division that deals directly with large chain stores within the country, such as Tower Records (American), HMV (British), and Yamano Music (Japanese).

On any given day, I shadowed a salesman so as to experience first hand his fast talking and even faster rejection. One salesman was Mr. “couldn’t keep his hands to himself” Ishigaki. Ishigaki-san would touch, stroke, pinch, or prod anything and anyone who came into his reach. He also asked me over lunch what type of Japanese girls I liked, and decided later to integrate my favorite physical qualities in a woman into his sales pitch for a pop singer’s new single.

Another salesman, Mr. “you can find me in the basement porn shop” Suzuki, told me exactly why he liked the summer. “You know, these days, you see all those middle school and high school girls walking around in short dresses because its hot. Sometimes you can even see their underwear. Isn’t that nice? Isn’t that just the best?!” It was all I could do to clench my teeth and nod sympathetically. I figure the two of us can swap kiddie porn over our next sushi dinner.

Salesmen have to travel A LOT! My partner and I would routinely crisscross the city multiple times, using many different train lines to hit three, four, or even five stores in a day.

Once at the store, we would either be escorted to the janitor’s closet-sized office of the store’s manager, to sit on a bucket while pitching our records, or be forced to stand to one side of the front checkout counter and do the exact same thing. Because these marathon sales meetings routinely lasted over an hour, the occasions where we had to stand the entire time could have as well been a physical challenge from a season of Survivor.

The salesman would then pitch their products, moving page by page through a large catalog with descriptions of albums and glossy headshots. The salesmen would mostly say generic things like, “this music is easy to listen to” or “these guys look cool, so the album will sell well.” Occasionally, my guide would produce a sample disk out of his blue Columbia bag and give it to the store manager for a listen. The manager would listen to the first forty five seconds, frown, take the disk out, and finish by saying the equivalent of, “Yep, just as I thought” in Japanese.

More often than not, the store manager would refuse to order any of a given single or album, using the classically Japanese roundabout way of rejecting something. Often did I hear phrases such as, “this is very interesting…but…” or “You know how difficult this month has been for us…” How can this month have been “difficult?” You’re Tower Records, the number one record chain in Japan, not Tiny Tim’s father from A Christmas Carol.

Sometimes a store would order a single “pity disc.” I asked Suzuki-san what the purpose of buying only one disk was, but he couldn’t really give me an answer. He said that maybe they would put the case on display somewhere in the store. I think the display case is most likely a trash bin.

One noticeable difference about going to an event with salesman instead of record producers (as I did in my past two sections) is that you immediately become a peon with no respect and no access. Where before I was dinning and meeting the stars, now, I was relegated to standing behind a poll and listening to out of tune old men, or in the case of the enka concert, sleeping in a chair during down hours.

I had two events that I participated in with my sales coworkers; the first was an in-store event at Shinjuku Tower Records for a rock band named Carnation, and the second was pushing CDs and other assorted products at an enka concert. For both events, like my brothers handing out Kleenex packets on the street corners before me, I engaged in the age old Japanese tradition of the human side of advertising.

Carnation is three older Japanese guys (I’d say in their late 50s) who play light rock music with a guitar, bass, and drums. They also have a fan following comprised entirely of women in their 50s. The live event coordinator at Shinjuku Tower Records, a Japanese kid in his mid twenties, had actually heard of Stanford University, so he proceeded to say we should “be friends” because I am so smart and asked me repeatedly what my IQ was. I kept telling him my IQ was 15 points.

For Carnation, I stood at the top of the escalator that led to the entrance of the store with a stack of leaflets in my hand and proceeded to offer one to everyone who walked past me. During the enka show, I held a large poster in the lobby and yelled phrases in super-polite Japanese such as, “Please humbly use the staircase to the right and descend to the basement where we politely ask that you allow your valuable and honorable eyeballs to peruse or products.”

Most people would find the task of handing out leaflets or yelling the same three phrases over and over until you’re hoarse ridiculously boring, but I couldn’t get enough of it. Most of my enjoyment came from knowing how absurd it must have looked to have a short, fat white guy pushing Japanese products.

It is worth noting that there are those who will automatically take whatever you offer them, be it an explosive or a Pocky pack without so much as looking up. From the rest, however, I received three major reactions. The first reaction was one of disgust at my very presence. Some Japanese people would crunch their faces up into a mass of wrinkles or flutter their mouths open and shut so it looked like they were going to throw up when they saw me. These people would often walk away from my location almost backwards, staring at me as they left.

The second, most common reaction was that of laughter and curiosity. Most Japanese people would look at me, acknowledge that I was not Japanese, and produce a short laugh or giggle while taking my leaflet or looking at my poster. They would then proceed to begin gossiping furiously about me with their closest mate the minute they were out of my ear’s reach.

Finally, there were a select few Japanese people who watched me in awe as though I was an exhibit at the Smithsonian. I received several compliments from Japanese women who would walk away, only to rush back to my position and tell me how great I spoke Japanese or ask me something about the theater. Rather than the compliments, I was happiest when I could direct a Japanese woman to the bathroom or the staircase to the balcony - it was almost like I was a Japanese native.

There are always a few oddballs in any crowd too. At the enka concert, one older Japanese man stood in front of me, stared at the ground, and mumbled to himself for a good twenty seconds before walking away. Another lady came up to me and pointed at my poster of the enka star Funaki Kazuo. “He was my pupil in grade school. I used to teach him in grade school. In grade school, I would teach him,” she kept repeating. She then began rubbing the enlarged face of the enka singer on my poster as her friend behind her looked at me shaking her head. Finally, at Tower Records, one older guy with a long beard, sunglasses, and camouflage hat, stopped at the top of the escalator (blocking the people behind him), posed and said “peace brother” to me in English before walking off.

As I mentioned, I didn’t get to see the enka performance or meet the star performer, Funaki Kazuo. I slept in a chair in the basement of the theater during the performance. At Tower Records, Ishigaki-san stole my backstage pass and gave it to the wife of one of the performers. He then squeezed me in a corner behind a poll to watch Carnation perform. Maybe there was someone at the foot of the escalator handing out shots of sake so that all the middle aged women could actually enjoy the show. I didn’t meet the performers from Carnation, but after their event, I didn’t want to.

It honestly felt like they were making the songs up on the spot. The bassist and drummer were rendered useless in the live setup, and stood offstage for the entire show (only the main vocalist played an acoustic guitar hooked up to an amp and sang). He fingered through inharmonious, seemingly made up chord progressions while chirping at high notes with his face all puffed up like a blueberry. At one point the bassist came on stage to create harmonies with the lead vocalist that sounded about as good as the screeching banshee buzz of the cicadas outside.

The wife, wearing my backstage badge, stood up front, snapping pictures of her overweight husband while a good 150 housewives rocked back and forth, silently mouthing the words to their favorite hits. At that point my throat was really hurting, because my cold was just kicking in (I just have a lingering cough now).

Afterwards, Carnation was escorted to their private room. Ishigaki-san had to wait a good fifteen minutes to enter the room and get my backpack, which I had left in there before the band arrived. I quickly said goodbye and headed home. That was my week in the sales department in a nutshell.


In an unrelated note, I went drinking with a mishmash of coworkers after my trip to the Columbia Digital Media factory on Friday. One of my friends, a 28-yer-old Japanese girl named Izumi, who went to college and grad school in America (so she can speak English almost fluently), told me I looked Japanese after she had drank about half a bottle of sake. So, I guess with enough booze in your belly I begin to look Japanese.


Also, today I started work in my new section for this week; the rock / Jpop advertising section. I should be able to go to some neat live rock events in Tokyo. During my afternoon orientation meeting with advertising section head Tatsuki-san, the man inexplicably disappeared for a few minutes, leaving me in the conference room alone. He returned clutching print-outs of emails he had received in English. He placed them flat on the table and leaned in with a concerned look on his face. “Can you read these?” he said. “Sure,” I responded.

And so, I got to break the happy news to Tatsuki-san that he could save up to 70% if he refinanced his home loan with Sumitomo Bank. “It’s junk,” I said, flipping the page back to him. “Oh,” he replied, still looking conflicted, “And this one?”

I looked it over. “This one says you should take a pill to have better sex.” “Oh,” he replied with a long pause. “So this is junk too?” “Yeah,” I said nodding. “So it is okay to throw them out?”

“Sure, unless you want the pills” I told him.


There's a place by my work that sells regular udon and soba noodles in huge bowls. The place is always jam-packed at lunchtime so I can never get in. I went tonight for dinner when it wasn't too crowded. Here is my kitsune (fried tofu) udon bowl. It was pretty good, but not the best I have had.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Kamakura (鎌倉)

Below are pictures from my day trip today to Kamakura. Kamakura is a little over one hour southeast of Tokyo proper on the train, past Kawasaki and Yokohama. The city is very small, as evidenced by the fact that there is only one private train line that operates within the city itself, to shuttle tourists back and forth. One can also rent a bike for a day or do a walking tour, since most of Kamakura is easily visited with a little foot power.

The main attraction of Kamakura is the Great Amida Buddha Sculpture (大仏) in the tiny city subdivision known as Hase. Please don’t confuse this Great Buddha with the Great Buddha I posted pictures of earlier from the city of Nara. In addition to the Great Buddha, there are various temples and pagodas that one can see in Kamakura as well, the most famous being the Great Kannon Temple, a short walk from the big guy’s viewing plaza.

Tons of mom & pop food joints and souvenir shops line the tiny streets that lead up to the main tourist attractions. Kamakura seems to have dubbed itself “mountain food capital of Japan.” Thus, I had the “five mountain peaks” buckwheat soba sampler platter at a nearby restaurant. It was very good, if not very overpriced. The table in front of me was populated with three absolutely gorgeous young Japanese girls (they looked to be sisters – at least two of them). They were my age, but each had an accompanying boyfriend. Their parents seemed to be there as well. The parents weren’t exactly what you’d call eye candy, so their beauty must be a genetic anomaly.

Since I was zoning out and staring at the vixen table in front of me, the waitress had to ask me three times if I wanted more water until she finally got my attention. The last time she switched to English because she thought I didn’t understand. Nah, I was just captivated by pure beauty.

The sky was overcast today but it was still at least 90 degrees. I ended my trip to Kamakura with a swing by the famous beach. To my surprise, I was back in Cabo, Mexico. Shirtless Japanese kids and bikini clad Japanese girls danced to thumping techno music with a beer in one hand, and a cigarette in the other, underneath a tent with the words “Maniac Beach” written in blood red English.

The beach seemed like a really fun place (assuming you had the appropriate buds and beers in tow that is). I, however, was by myself at the time and panting like one of those red-furred Japanese fox dogs due to the heat. Maybe next time, when Carson Daly hosts MTV’s Spring Break 2007 live from Kamakura.


The front gate to the Kamakura Great Buddha viewing area. Somehow I expected the gate to be a bit more grandiose.

A pair of white lions guard the entrance gate leading to the Daibutsu.

One of two lotus and lily pad sculptures in front of the Great Buddha.

Healing incense, from the Buddha's heart to your lungs.

Hey, even the big guy needs to eat.

This is the Great Amida Buddha (Daibutsu) of Kamakura, Japan. Built in 1252 AD, the statue is 13.35 meters tall and weighs 121 tons. For comparison, the Dainichi Buddha of Nara was built in 749 and is 15 meters tall (making it the largest Buddha statue in the world). Unlike the Nara Buddha, the Kamakura Daibutsu is completely out in the open, and susceptible to sun, storms, and snow. The Kamakura Daibutsu once had a surrounding temple complex, but the area was completely destroyed by a massive tsunami in 1498.

If this giant Buddha and the giant Buddha in Nara got in a fight, who would you put your money on? I guess Buddhas don't really fight huh?

The Daibutsu was last repaired in 1960-61. During that time, the neck area was strengthened and the base was redesigned to be more tsunami proof (though I think the phrase tsunami proof is an oxymoron).

The Great Buddha from the side.

Here is the Buddha's backside. The giant vents on his back remind me of the old Hamburglar play cage at my local McDonald's that I used to play in when I was really young. They should do the same thing here - let kids climb up inside the Buddha's belly and peer out through the windows!

Lotus flower pedals around the Buddha, complete with mantras.

Here are the Buddha's sandals. These are definitely cool, but I really like the 2006 Air-Buddhas with the built in pump better.

Sorry to end on a whimper, but here is a small building behind the Daibutsu. My guess is that it is a treasure store house, but I don't really know.

The other main attraction in Kamakura is the Great Kannon Temple (a short walk from the Daibutsu). Here is the main gate to the temple, with an annoying Japanese lady who wouldn't leave the frame of my picture. The lantern reads "Hase Kannon," with "Hase" being the area in Kamakura where the shrine is located.

Here is the Great Hase Kannon Hall that houses the giant Kannon image. I thought all the different roofs were neat because they seem to point off in all different directions.

Small statues of Kannon (left) and Jizo (right). These two guys are believed to represent the two moods of one Bodhisattva. Kannon is the stern, but just disciplinarian, while Jizo is the kind and forgiving parent-like figure.

Here is a holy image of the benevolent Bodhisattva Kannon. This small image is NOT the main attraction that makes the temple a giant tourist attraction. The main Kannon statue is 10 meters tall and decorated in gold leaf just like this one. Sadly, pictures were prohibited in the main Hase Kannon Hall, so you're stuck with the little guy.

Another view of the Kannon image.

The scenic pond at the Great Kannon Temple in Kamakura. Temple sites in Japan strive for the beauty in their surrounding gardens to be as breathtaking as the actual religious image enshrined.

Another view of the lily pad speckled pond with the baby koi underneath.

Small baby koi fish swimming around in the pond.

Each one of these suckers would net $150 on Ebay. All I need is a net!

What would a Kannon Temple be without a giant bell? No Kannon Temple you'd ever find me at, that's what.

Here is a small shrine for the rice god Inari and his white fox helpers. I thought the red streamers were very pretty alongside the green trees.

The entrance to a cave at the Kannon Temple. Now you can visit a religious site and pretend you're entering a dungeon in The Legend of Zelda at the same time!

Me walking through one of the cave's dark, damp tunnels. You can't really tell in the picture, but you had to hunch over while walking in the cave so as to not hit your head.

Here is a small room inside the cave with tons of tiny figures of the god Kannon. They look like those old muscleman toys don't they?

Here is a view of Kamakura city and the beach area from the top of the Kannon Temple hill. It was a little overcast, but at least it didn't rain.

Here is the spot where I arrived at the Kamakura beach.

Here's a shot of the Kamakura beach with people. This was taken right in front of the "Maniac Beach" party tent that was blasting techno music for the many shirtless guys and bikini-clad girls and serving up expensive beers. It was like MTV SPRING BREAK!!! Except during the summer...and in Japan...and not associated with a TV station....and

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Victory is mine!

For the first time in my adult life, I actually won something in one of those claw machines (and it only took me two tries)! Here is my newest plush Docomo-dake. This brings my total count up to four Docomo-dakes (one on my cell, one on my backpack, one on my Columbia ID badge strap, and my latest acquisition - this little guy). Now, if I can only win the HUGE Docomo-dake I see some places, I will be a happy, happy man.

Here is a designated smoking area outside of Kichijoji Station with the clever bird-shaped ashtray with a cigarette for a beak. This made me think that Nintendo should create a Pokemon series for adults with characters like this. "Cigaroo I choose you!"

Here is the outside of Columbia Digital Media (CDM) in the city of Kawasaki (near Yokohama). CDM is Columbia's production plant where they print, package, and ship all the DVDs, CDs, and tapes that the company sells (records are produced at a different site). I went on a tour of this factory yesterday. While there were many machines that could print, label, or wrap hundreds of disks a minute, there were still human workers who had to put the disks in boxes and see that the boxes were shipped off correctly.

Friday, August 18, 2006

One Month Left!

Yesterday marked the beginning of my last month in Japan. I will be heading back to the U.S. on September 18th.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bandai Museum Part 1: Superheroes

Here is the Bandai Superhero museum in Chiba. This museum has exhibits on Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Ultraman, Godzilla and others. The museum also had lots of life-size manikins and displays that you could take pictures of. I was very grateful for the two weeks I spent interning in the anime division of Columbia Music. Thanks to my time spent with the anime folks, I am now quite knowledgeable about the history and evolution (not to mention theme music) of the Super Sentai Rangers, Masked Rider, and Ultraman series in Japan. This allowed me to enjoy the museum fully.

All of the video and music materials sold in the gift shop were products of my recently departed Columbia Music anime section (they were selling Psychic Lover’s album as well).

The pictures down below do a much better job of explaining stuff than I can in writing, so what are you waiting for?

Have a look!


The Bandai Museum from the outside. You can't really see, but there are characters on the front of the building as well.

Here is a blue claw thingy that moves around the ceiling of the museum automatically. This must be from some series, but all it reminded me of are those claw games in the arcade. Ooooooooh the claaaaaaaaw!

Here are the first five rangers from the original Japanese show which first aired 30 years ago this year. The show was called "Secret Squadron Go Rangers" in Japan (秘密戦隊ゴレンジャー). Since this show was a spin off concept in the same universe as Kamen Rider, the rangers originally rode around on motorcycles just like their beetle masked friend. They sure have changed a lot in 30 years!