Kickstart This: GAME GIRLS GO!

15 09 2013

For the first time the next Happy Chicken project will be crowdfunded.  That’s right… we’re on Kicksarter now with a little something called Game Girls Go!, and let me tell you: it is awesome.

 

We have the girls: all professional Japanese idols who have appeared on various TV programs around Japan.

We have the games: Tons of retro games and consoles at our disposal.

We have the permission: It took almost two years, but we finally have the companies behind the games on board to legally use their products.

What we don’t have, is you.

 

That’s right, we have Japanese developers on board.  This news came midway through the campaign, and it is absolutely huge.  It means more than just having rights… it means they listened to what we had to say, saw the demo footage, and thought it was a fun, viable idea.  That means the only “what if” scenario is, what if we don’t get funded.

 

It’s been really difficult to get the word out about Game Girls Go!  Me, I don’t tweet… I only keep a small amount of Facebook friends (99% are actual people I know in real life)… and I’m not a member of any large game community or forum or message board.  It’s like I’m living in the 90’s; but then I really liked the 90’s.

 

As I said above, Game Girls Go! has been in my head for around two years.  These kind of things morph.  You get an idea and have to refine it.  I think Game Girls Go! came from two places: there was an idol photo book here in Japan that featured girls in various states of undress posing with retro game hardware that I thought was a great idea; and I’ve always been fascinated by the crazy things idols were made to do on Japanese variety shows.  Here’s an example:


So I took those two ideas and, just like the man walking with his tub of peanut butter colliding with the woman walking with her chocolate bar, I created a better beast.  No, not the delicious, mouthwatering goodness of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (where’s my money, Hershey’s?) but the greatest show about video games… ever.

 

The concept is simple.  We take a Japanese idol, like these:

These four idols are already booked to appear on the show.

These four idols are already booked to appear on the show.

 

and put her in a room with 3 retro games on 3 different retro systems.  If she’s able to complete a set amount of challenges in a set amount of time, she wins a prize.  If she can’t… well, I’ll refer you to that YouTube clip I posted above.  But the show is so much more than just girls in bikinis playing games.  As you can probably tell by looking around my blog, I love retro games.  So it was important to me that the show have a heavy dose of gaming history thrown in.  I want people who watch the show to learn about games and gaming history.

 

That’s why in Game Girls Go! we feature history and strategy segments for every game that’s played plus we highlight the systems themselves.  As I say in the Kickstarter video, by the time you finish watching Game Girls Go!, you’ll be a gaming genius.

 

So please support us in this endeavor.  I honestly believe that folks are going to like the end result.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT GAME GIRLS GO!





Studio Happy Chicken’s Summer Releases

25 05 2012

Remember when I said I’d take a month off?  Guess I lied.

Here’s the current slate of releases Studio Happy Chicken has coming up through September, 2012.  Hopefully fans will find something they like in it.  The titles and dates are locked in stone, so you needn’t worry about something slipping off the radar.  Now that the stormy seas we’ve been sailing have calmed, expect a steady stream of goodness from Happy Chicken Land.

JUNE

6/19     HAPPY CHICKEN BLUE BOX     $44.99 MSRP

6/19     HAPPY CHICKEN PINK BOX     $44.99 MSRP

           6/19     @HOME IDOL: MOE TAKAHASHI     $19.99 MSRP    

JULY

07/24     STUDIO HAPPY CHICKEN GIRLS  Blu-ray   $19.99 MSRP

 

07/24     @HOME IDOL: MOE TAKAHASHI Blu-ray     $24.99 MSRP

SEPTEMBER

09/25     SAMURAI BOYS 3 WAY Blu-ray     $34.99 MSRP

Another Take on Catherine doesn’t have a firm date yet; but I’ve been in contact with our distributor and they’re working hard to get the DVD and Blu-ray Disks pressed to get them out as soon as possible.





Catherine Completed

18 05 2012

It’s a wrap… finished… completed… and soon to be in the hands of connoisseurs everywhere.

 





Busy, Busy, Busy

23 04 2012

Haven’t had time to update the site lately… I’ve been hard at work getting some titles out the door, including the much hyped Another Take on Catherine.  So take heart in the fact that I haven’t abandoned ‘ol HCKBlog, I’ve just been busy.

In the meantime, here are some rough shots from the upcoming and aforementioned Catherine.

 





On Film: Thai Relax

26 02 2012

Thai Relax was the third Happy Chicken Pink film released in America, and the fourth released in Japan.

If you ever find yourself in Fussa, Japan, take the right hand exit of the train station.  Follow the stairs down and continue straight past the police box, past the statue and the taxis, continuing past the Japanese restaurant and down to the next intersection.  If you look on your right, you’ll find a Thai massage parlor named Thai Relax.  I used to go there when I could.  They had a masseuse name Jai; she was a little Yoda-like granny missing two fingers on one hand.  Her massage technique was insane, and it was there that I came up with the idea of the video named for the store, Thai Relax.

The concept was very simple: an idol relaxes during various sensual massages and relaxing things.  The titillation comes from not seeing anything… you know, that thrill of almost seeing something.  That’s what makes good gravure.  We never approached the owner of the actual Thai Relax about filming there; they were much too busy, and the layout of the store wasn’t very conducive to what we needed to do.  We would have been in the way and probably have scared away potential customers.  Instead, we shot at another Thai massage place in Fussa that’s catty-corner from the Seiyu department store there.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name.  The plan was to shoot two massage scenes there that day, an oil massage (called aroma massage in Japan) and then a traditional Thai stretch massage.  The normal masseuse was good looking enough, and I was a little unhappy to find out that for the actual film day she had been replaced by a shorter, squat older woman who resembled a toad; but beggars can’t be choosers.  They were very concerned that what we wanted the masseuse to do was to give our idol, Ayaka Uchiyama, a sexual massage.  I assured them that just a normal oil massage would be fine.  See, anyone can have sex in front of a camera… it’s much more difficult to pull off sexy without being blatantly sexual.  That’s why I tell the idols not to worry about what happens while we’re filming, everything will look different when it finishes in postproduction.  The key is the editing.


So we shot the oil scene OK.  Our photographer, Jarod Hodge, wasn’t there for that; but we did have someone extra working a second camera, Isaac Needleman.  He was filming me while I was filming the scene… something extra for the DVD.  Only one thing went wrong during this part of filming: for some reason, my camera suddenly stopped using the custom color setting I had programed into it to give the scene the warm look I wanted.  It did this ¾ of the way through the scene, while I was filming.  Since we shot the massage portions in real time with no starting of stopping, I couldn’t very well yell out “cut” while I fixed the problem, so we kept rolling.  I fixed the problem later during postproduction.  You can’t even tell when you look at the video now.

Jarod Hodge, Li Zhao, and Isaac Needleman all shoot the stretch scene.

Next up was the stretch scene.  This didn’t go so well.  Our lights died right at the end of the oil scene (protip: never, ever use cheap lights for filming.  You’ll regret it later) but I was cool with using natural lighting and continuing on.  The only problem was that the sun was setting.  That causes the temperature of the light to rapidly constantly change, thus changing the look of the scene.  Eventually because of the darkness creeping into the room we had to stop.  By that time Jarod had arrived.  He took his pictures, we packed up, and went home for the day; the plan being to return the next day to wrap.  Only, on the way home we received a phone call from the owner of the shop saying that they hadn’t anticipated that we would have lights with us.  They were concerned that our lighting was going to cause a jump in their electric bill, and so they wanted an extra ¥10,000 ($120) when we showed up the next day.  Well, I wasn’t going to have any of that.  I think it was quite obvious they were just trying to milk us for cash, so I told them that we wouldn’t be back.

Now that continuing to film at a massage parlor was off the table, I decided that we’d shoot a relaxing bath and shower scene at a love hotel (love hotels are hotels designed specifically for sexual encounters, and are very popular throughout Japan).  For this scene it was just Ayaka and I.  The look I wanted for the scene was very neon blue… the tub had lights both in it and around it that would illuminate the scene.  Only problem was that the lights were designed for mood lighting and not for film lighting.  No matter how I set the camera or lens, I couldn’t get the look right.  Very frustrating.  But we pushed on, and Ayaka did the scene.  The room had this big massage chair smack dab in the middle of it, and as I was putting up the equipment, Ayaka ask if we had enough time that she could use it.  This is how I learned about the wonders of what happens when you put a girl in a bikini in a vibrating massage chair.

Gravure Idol Ayaka Uchiyama poses before shooting the noodle scene.

The rest of the scenes were filmed in the same place we filmed Ayaka is Your Angel, save for the opening title sequence and the food eating scene.  That was filmed at a place in Fussa called “Bar Road” (or Bar Row, as the Yanks call it) and then at the Red Dragon restaurant that was across from Yokota Air Base.  Our production manager Li was friends with the proprietors, so we could film there for free.

I think you could say that Thai Relax was an exercise in using the “long take” and in more relaxed editing methods than I had used previously in Sundae Girl and Ayaka is Your Angel.  Because the massage scenes had been filmed in real time, they had to be cut down quite a bit to not really bore the snot out of the viewer.  If you watch Thai Relax, pay special attention to the look of each scene.  I gave each one a special feel and color temperature to set them apart from each other.

Originally, Ayaka was supposed to provide an alternate audio track to some scenes that viewers could switch to and hear her sexy “thoughts”; but that just didn’t work out.  Some of the audio from those recording sessions was mixed into the music of the massage scenes.

Thai Relax was our first release to open at the number 1 position on Amazon.com’s Hot 100 Asian Films list.  It sold well in America and even better in Japan.  I think it’s safe to say that I’ve seen Thai Relax at more stores in Japan than any of our other titles.  Incidentally, there are two different covers for Thai Relax.  Our Japanese distributor hated the cover I originally made for it, so Jarod did some reshoots and the result was the bathtub cover that can be found on the initial Japanese DVD, the American re-issue, and the international Blu-ray.





Happy Chicken in 2012 and Beyond

18 01 2012

2011 was a very challenging year for Happy Chicken Group and Studio Happy Chicken.  Actually, to say challenge is being very kind and political of me… it was a rough year, and saying rough is being nice.  Even as you read this the landscape of how entertainment is being consumed and delivered is changing worldwide, although nowhere is it changing as fast as it is in America, one of our major markets.  One of our big challenges is straddling the divide between Asia, where media is still widely viewed on DVD (Blu-Ray is starting to come into its own) and North America where the DVD market is almost dead, Blu-Ray is king as far as physical media is concerned, and more and more consumers are choosing to stream or download their entertainment.  Many companies are going to go belly up during this time of tribulation, and I’m working hard to make sure Happy Chicken isn’t one of them.  In order to safeguard the future of the studio, some things are going to have to change.

Our biggest challenge in the North American market is the misunderstanding of what gravure is.  Many people think, our distributor included, that Happy Chicken Pink makes XXX pornographic films; but we do not.  It’s true that some of our titles, such as Ayaka is Your Angel and Les Gamins, contain some nudity, but it is presented tastefully and is never explicit.  The idea that something can be sexy without going all the way into full-blown pornography is such a new and strange idea in the American marketplace that it makes it difficult to market.  One of our major accomplishments of the last year was that our titles were picked up by such family-friendly retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Sears.  If gravure is to find a lasting hold in the North American market, it must do so by distancing itself as far away from pornography as possible.

 

CoCo from Another Take on Catherine

The most difficult decision I’ve had to make is shelving one of our most anticipated films, Another Take on Catherine.  It’s with an extremely heavy heart that I announce this, as Catherine has brought us the most press and garnered Happy Chicken Pink many new fans.  At this time, it just isn’t feasibly possible to get Catherine out the door.  Will it see the light of day in the future?  Maybe.  I wish it could have been released when it was originally slated, but that date slipped and then slipped again.  As for the fans, for now I can only offer up my condolences and this clip that gives a little taste of what Another Take on Catherine would have been like.  It’s meant to be watched at a resolution of 720p.


It’s actually very difficult to get an idea to transform into reality, and at this time I would like to personally thank Rei Mase, Jarod Hodge, and CoCo for all the hard work and time they put into this project.

 

One of the things coming from us in 2012 that I’m personally most excited about is a series called Game Girls Go!  It’s my hope that Game Girls will help ease some of the sting caused by the cancellation of Another Take on Catherine.  I don’t want to give away too much too soon, but we’ve got some big names behind it, and Game Girls Go! should feed the cravings of both video game fans as well as fans of sexy Asian girls quite nicely.  It’s the ultimate fusing of games and girls.  My hope is that Game Girls Go! will bring gravure into the American mainstream and away from the place in curiosity it now holds.

2012 looks to be an exciting year for Studio Happy Chicken!