Seven members of AKB48 form Team U in “Ultraman Saga” movie

Seven members of the idol group AKB48 will make an appearance in the upcoming “Ultraman Saga” movie. They will play a special Earth Defense Force known as “Team U,” consisting of Akimoto Sayaka, Miyazawa Sae, Shimada Haruka, Masuda Yuka, Umeda Ayaka, Kobayashi Kana, and Sato Sumire.

It was announced about two weeks ago that DAIGO is playing the main character Ultraman Zero, who is trying to save Earth from a mysterious alien invader. Along with Ultraman Dyna and Ultraman Cosmos, he joins forces with Earth’s Team U to fight against the invader.

This is the first time in the series that there has been an all-female Earth Defense Force. Akimoto will play the leader Anna, while Miyazawa will play the special attack unit captain Sawa. The other characters are vice-leader Misato (Umeda), maintenance team members Nonko (Masuda) and Maomi (Kobayashi), medical chief Riisa (Sato), and communication chief Hina (Shimada).

“Ultraman Saga” opens in theaters on March 24, 2012.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Can This Idol Save J-Pop

A recurring theme in the Strange Boutique column has been the question of what has gone wrong with pop music in Japan. Amid discussions of the pernicious influence of advertising agencies, record industry conservatism in the face of declining sales, and the faceless, self-replicating Eurobeat monstrosity from out of Akihabara, there was one fundamental thing that Japanese pop seemed to have lost: The ability to make you go, "Wha…?"

For many, however, a pinprick of light emerged from the shade of not-quite-as-influential-as-it-was Tokyo fashion hub of Harajuku this July with the release of "Ponponpon," a song by fashion model-cum-singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (her label, Warner Music Japan, refuses to confirm her real name). Largely passing underneath the mainstream media’s radar at first, it was a viral smash hit that annoyed people who deserved to be annoyed but delighted teenage girls, Belgians (where, along with Finland, it topped the iTunes electronic charts) and bemused netsurfers everywhere with the Technicolor blizzard of candy canes and eyeballs that made up its video, and its idiotically catchy "pon pon wei wei wei" chorus, courtesy of capsule/Perfume producer Yasutaka Nakata.

Read the rest of the story: The cute ‘n’ kooky world of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Japan’s newest pop idol.

Actress Komukai arrested upon arrival in Japan

Japanese actress Minako Komukai, wanted for alleged possession of methamphetamines, is set to be arrested upon arrival in Japan from Manila later Friday, police said.

Komukai, 25, also a swimsuit model, left Manila on Friday on a flight bound for Narita airport and is facing charges for buying methamphetamines from an Iranian dealer in Tokyo.She emerged as a suspected buyer after the police cracked down on a group of Japanese and Iranian drug dealers in October last year and looked into the communications records of seized cellphones, they said.

Komukai arrived in Manila on Jan. 21, before the Japanese police obtained an arrest warrant for her. She was sentenced in February 2009 to an 18-month prison term for methamphetamine use, suspended for three years.