Japan Envy: Tie-in merchandising

One thing I inexplicably love about Japan its merchandise. I’m sure tons of essays have been written on the subject before, but as I haven’t read any of them, suffice it to say I don’t really know why it is they do merchandise so well. Just that they do. Leave it to Japan to create the cutest products out of the most mundane household goods and combine Hello Kitty with just about anything you can imagine.

Yup, that’s Hello Kitty dressed as an anime character (source)

This latest Japanese tie-in merchandising scheme is close to my heart for a number of reasons: First, it’s combining books and video games, which are undoubtedly two of my favourite things. New Love Plus, the sequel to everyone’s favourite Nintendo DS dating sim that has you interacting with your virtual girlfriend day in and day out, has put a new spin on things. In the game, you will be encouraged to read a book alongside your virtual gal in a series of in-game events, and she’ll even ask you questions about the material as a way to gauge your interest. The three books chosen include Anne of Green Gables and two contemporary Japanese titles. While anyone could go pick up a second hand copy of these titles for next to nothing, Konami and Kodansha have a better idea: they’re marketing limited New Love Plus-themed copies of the books.

Anne of Green Gables featuring one of the New Love Plus ladies (source)

The New Love Plus art will be on a dust jacket, so you will be able to remove it to see the original cover art underneath.

Now, the other reason this is so interesting to me is albeit a personal one: My mom is a big fan of Anne of Green Gables, and often cites it as a reason why she named me Anne (with an “e,” of course!). We even ventured to her house up in Prince Edward Island (or is it the author’s house?) back when I was too little to remember much of anything and spotted a Japanese couple getting married there! If you haven’t noticed, Japan is in love with Anne of Green Gables. I think this must be some sort of sign.

Anyways, I totally dig this sort of cross merchandising, and yet the Japanese seem to consistently be the only ones who get it right. Even though I’m not really interested in New Love Plus, I might have been drawn to purchase said book… I often think it’s a very good thing I don’t live in Japan, as I’d be wallowing in piles of useless stuff.

What do you think – is tie-in merchandise corny, or cool?

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.