So today, as many of you know is the last day of April, the 30th. Just your normal, average last day of the month to many people but in Japan, it will be one of many historical dates to come. Today is actually the last day of the Heisei era! And tomorrow, May the 1st, would be Labor day for most of us bu for Japan, they will be ushering it in as the first day of the Reiwa era.
To most of us living outside of Japan the change won’t really affect us at all. For Japan however, it sees the abdication one of Emperor the next. 30 years of reign is coming to an end. I, myself, was born late in the 3rd year of Heisei (you can do the math yourself), so I’m basically Heisei kid. I’ve enjoyed all sorts of Japanese contents during these many years so let me share with you some of the most impactful Heisei era contents in my life so far.
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Everyone has their favourite gaming platform. The first true handheld gaming consoles released in the dawn of the Heisei era. And just two years ago we saw the missing link between handheld gaming and home console gaming: the Nintendo Switch. Isn’t it amazing we can finally bring home-console sized experiences ANYWHERE we go?! But before all of these huge technological advancements and whatnot, there was the One….or to be precise, the Two.
The PlayStation 2 (or PS2) came out on March 4th 2000, just at the turn of the millennium. It came out in the 6th Generation of games, after the switch from the 2D era. Why do I feel that the PS2 was iconic?Even today I still use my PS2! (granted I bought a slim to replace my OG last year)
But really, the PS2 had such a vast variety of games to play, you’d be spoilt for choice. There was your B-Tier and C-Tier games which was still pretty fun regardless of budget cuts and whatnot. And your AAA games? They are still being remastered and re-released years after their original release- I actually just got Final Fantasy X/X-2 on the Switch last week even. It was truly the golden era of Japanese video games. Metal Gear Solid 3, Devil May Cry 3, Okami, Resident Evil 4, Tekken Tag Tournament, and so many. And if you go to Japan now, you can still buy many of these off the shelves!! I really urge you to give them a try if you haven’t.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
So I love the Cyberpunk genre. Which would come to no surprise in saying I love Ghost in the Shell. The original 1995 movie is a classic. We all know the story for that one. It’s help to inspire movies such as The Matrix, Avatar, A.I Artificial Intelligence and so on. But to me, it help to “inspire” a more better, a perfect version of Ghost in the Shell, the Stand Alone Complex (GITS SAC) series.
The themes of the TV series really intrigued me, questions on our society, individuality, existence, it goes on and on. It feels like a GITS fitting for that era of time. Coming off from someone absolutely adores Metal Gear Solid 2, it was a perfect companion piece I feel. It also struck the right balance between it’s philosophical speeches and action scenes.
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Did I mention it even had an episode where it had the Tachikomas, these cute little blue robots you see above, doubting their own existence, thinking they even had a soul in themselves. It was so thought provoking, and it was all spectacularly performed by one voice actress playing multiple Tachikomas I was blown away.
And I haven’t even gotten to the amazing soundtrack. While I am a huge mark of Hiroyuki Sawano’s music, Yoko Kanno is and will always be my favorite composer of this era. And for GITS SAC’s soundtrack it totally doesn’t feel like an action movie. Instead the erractic sounds feels more human, and perfect for the Cyberpunk distopian universe. I must also thank the people here in bringing the Movie, Solid State Society many years back and doing a screening here in Singapore too!
Even until today, I still go back to watch episodes of this show because it really gets you thinking. Which reminds me, I really should go back and watch again.
Smartphone and the Internet
So hear me out on this one. To some of you, the Internet feels like part of your daily lives. So accessible it’s quite literally literally in the palm of your hands. See when I was a kid at the dawn of the millennium, we didn’t have smartphones….yet. But technology was moving so fast in the Heisei era, in the early 2000s internet adoption became so widespread almost every household now has an internet connection, or even three!
Japan was one of the earliest countries to adopt the internet into their phones with features we take for granted nowadays. In the early 2000s, their phones could already watch the TV, play video games such as Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, record audio, play music, watch videos and so much more.
I think many of you can agree that this certainly is one of the things that are- if not the most impactful thing in our lives now that came in the Heisei era. All of us have a smartphone-or even two, we are all connected to the internet. I wouldn’t even be writing this opinion article on Wow Japan to you right now if it wasn’t for it.
Many of us really take this convenience of the internet for granted so I’d like if we all take a moment of just really appreciate what we have here. I personally am one of many who earns his keep thanks to the internet. Being able to connect to you, the reader across the internet, no matter where you are is just amazing. Maybe you’re just nearby in Singapore, maybe you’re somewhere far away in the United States. Perhaps you’re even in Space! Isn’t it just amazing we have technology like this?
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I could go on and on but this is just some of many things I feel was amazing in this years of the Heisei era. So now I ask you, Mr or Miss reader, what was your most impactful thing in the Heisei era? Do fire in the comments below. I’d really like to hear it.