Japan: Kendrick For Fuji Rock, Johnny & Associates, Animegaphone, Shiki Theater Co.

Fuji Rock Festival Unveils Initial Lineup … Johnny & Associates Changes Image Policy … New Megaphone System To Use Voice Modification … Shiki Theater Co. Plans Subtitle Glasses.

Kendrick Lamar
AP Photo / Kathy Kmonicek
– Kendrick Lamar
Global Citizen Festival, Great Lawn @ Central Park, New York City

On Feb. 9, Smash Corporation announced the first group of artists slated for this summer’s Fuji Rock Festival, which takes place July 27-29 at the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. 

The announcement came a bit earlier than it usually does, probably because the festival’s main competition, Summer Sonic, had already made two announcements of its lineup since the first of the year.

Two of the three headliners for Fuji this year will be Kendrick Lamar and N.E.R.D. Other acts slated so far include Skrillex, Vampire Weekend, Chvrches, Jack Johnson, MGMT, Odesza, Years & Years, Anderson .Paak, Carla Thomas, Greensky Bluegrass, Hothouse Flowers, James Bay, Tune-Yards and

So far, the headliners for Summer Sonic, which will take place August 18-19 in Tokyo and Osaka simultaneously, appear to be Beck and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Also on the current list are Chance The Rapper, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, Nickelback, Queens of the Stone Age, Marshmello, Shawn Mendes, St. Vincent, Alessia Cara, The Charlatans, Friendly Fires, Greta Van Fleet, J Balvin, Kelela, Mastodon, Marmozets,

In addition, the night before Summer Sonic in Tokyo there will be the all-night rave Sonicmania, which this year features Nine Inch Nails, My Bloody Valentine, Flying Lotus, Thundercat and

In a widely covered change of policy, Johnny & Associates, one of Japan’s biggest talent agencies, which handles practically every major boy band in the country, has said it will partially lift restrictions on the use of images of its charges on the Internet.

Previously, images of Johnny’s acts and talent that did not appear in Johnny’s-associated media could only be reproduced in print. The restriction has now been lifted for use of images that have to do with press conferences, interviews and stage greetings. These images can now be shown online.

The media has always followed this restriction to the letter due to Johnny’s power in show business. Sometimes the results have been odd, to say the least.

Johnny’s stars are constantly appearing on magazine covers, but when these covers are reproduced online the figure of the Johnny’s star has to be blanked out, even if there is another non-Johnny’s person in the shot.

Crowd control at concerts and other events isn’t as much of a problem in Japan as it may be in other countries, but that doesn’t mean event professionals in Japan aren’t thinking of new ways to make their jobs easier. 

Last month, four Japanese companies announced a partnership called the Animegaphone Creators Committee to develop and launch a new kind of megaphone system that can convert the speaker’s voice into anyone else’s instantaneously.

Megaphones are a common means of crowd control in Japan but are often ignored because of the rote messages conveyed. Consequently, many concertgoers don’t notice the messages or pay attention to them.

The Animegaphone technology takes anyone’s pre-registered voice and instantly adapts it to that of a different person speaking through the megaphone in order to convey the message the organizers want to make.

That means the voice of a security personnel member can take on the exact tone and sound of the famous person the audience came to see, as if that star were making the announcement himself. The partnership thinks such messages will capture the attention of fans right away.

Japan’s Shiki Theater Co., which operates a number of large-scale theaters throughout Japan that mount original and translated musicals, plans to launch a service that will offer non-Japanese speakers special smart glasses that provide subtitles in five languages, including English, Mandarin and Korean.

The glasses will first be put to use at the company’s Hokkaido venue in northern Japan for its Japanese language presentation of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, the Moverio smart glasses are made by Seiko Epson and utilize a special silicon-based organic light-emitting diode display that make it seem as if the subtitles are floating in front of the viewer’s face. Regardless of how the viewer moves their head, the subtitles are never obstructed by the glasses’ frame.

Use of the glasses will cost about $18, and they can be either reserved beforehand or obtained at the door. Persons with hearing disabilities can use them for free.

Shiki is offering the glasses to take advantage of the huge number of foreign visitors that have come to Japan in recent years.

The idea of testing the new service in Hokkaido sprung from fact that the venue is particularly popular among visitors from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

If the glasses are a hit there, then they will be offered in other theaters. In line with this new policy, Shiki is now offering tickets through foreign companies’ websites that handle travel to Japan. The subtitling service will be advertised on these websites.

Shiki is the exclusive presenter of many popular Broadway and West End musicals in Japan.