Akemi's Anime World

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Sony’s Dancing Music Player “Rolly”

Sony has just started a buzz-generating campaign for a product that appears to be the mutant spawn of a Walkman and an Aibo (Sony’s now-discontinued robot dog).

The palm-sized, pill-shaped Rolly is a portable music device that will “dance” to the tunes it’s playing by flapping little round “arms” on its ends, rolling to and fro, and flashing various colored lights.

The device measures 6.5cm (2.5″) in diameter, 10.4cm (4″) long, weighs in at about 300g (2/3 lb) and contains 1GB of flash memory, a battery, hardware to analyze the tunes so it can dance along with them, and the motors to make it go. Music-wise, there’s a speaker on each end under the moving wings, and it will play MP3, ATRAC, and AAC (!) files. Data is transferred to it via built-in Bluetooth wireless.

Interestingly, it has no display, but Sony claims the interface is intuitive with a minimum of buttons. When it’s on a table, volume is adjusted by rotating it around in a circle. Alternately, if you hold it in one hand, it will only use the top speaker; twisting the top ring will switch songs, while the bottom ring will adjust volume.

Sony is apparently aiming for some of the same hobbyist crowd as the Aibo—its dance moves can be left to the device, automatically generated by their software running on a PC, or the user can manually program dance moves. There will, of course, be an online place for owners to share their dance programs.

It’s scheduled to go on sale in Japan on the 29th of this month for around 40,000 yen (about US$350). How many people will be willing to pay that much for a lively little pill remains to be seen, but I don’t get the feeling it’ll be outselling any iPods this holiday season. Then again, the Japanese have been known to go wild over some pretty wacky products, so who knows.

Their initial promo video:

Platinum Gundam Making The Rounds

A promotional photo of the Platinum Gundam.

An outrageously expensive solid-platinum Gundam model that was in the news a few months back has hit TBS News (J) again. It’s begun a tour of Ginza Tanaka jewelry stores around Japan—not the sort of place you’d usually expect to see such a classic symbol of Geekdom, the scale Gundam model.

For those who missed it, Bandai decided to have what is likely the most expensive Gundam model in the world made—the “Gundam Fix Platinum.” Solid platinum and studded with a 0.15 carat diamond, the model is composed of 189 pieces, stands 12.5 cm (just shy of 5 inches) tall and weighs in at an amazing 1.4 kg (over 3 pounds)—platinum is dense stuff.

The project was dreamed up by Gundam franchise owner Bandai and produced by Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry, and took two years to craft. According to TBS News, it is valued at 30 million yen (US$260,000), although it’s not for sale. Probably a good thing, to protect Gundam nuts with too much money from themselves.

It also gets credit for what may be the world’s most expensive bad pun; the Japanese abbreviation for “plastic model” is “pura-moderu,” which could also be shorthand for what it is, a “purachina-moderu.”

It is currently on display in Fukuoka, and will be traveling to five of Ginza Tanaka’s other stores around the country.

Cubic Watermelons Ship After Drought-Induced Delay

FNN is reporting that Zentsuuji City, located in Kagawa prefecture, has just begun shipping its world-famous signature agricultural product, the square watermelon.

This spring was unusually dry, which lead to a one-week delay in the melons reaching marketable size. Zentsuuji City is the only place in the country (possibly the world) that produces the boxy produce. On the morning of the 25th, six farms that produce the produce delivered 124 of the melons to JA’s distribution center. From there, most of the melons make their way to the department stores of Tokyo and Osaka, where they sell for about 15,000 yen (US$120) apiece.

To get the unusual shape, the young melons are placed into a 20cm (8 inch) reinforced plastic frame. As they grow, the box forces them into the unusual shape. Whether a square melon would be easier to eat is a question that remains unanswered, however, since the melons aren’t allowed to fully ripen—they’re entirely decorative.

As for who’s spending a small fortune on an inedible watermelon, the report doesn’t say.