Are you a collector of dolls? Then perhaps, you have heard of Danny Choo and his smart dolls. Or maybe you like to learn about Japanese culture, then you must have come across his TV show Culture Japan at least once. Danny Choo is a pop culture blogger and the head of his own company, Mirai Inc. He blogs about his life experiences in Japan, creates smart dolls, and has a range of creative products for all peoples. Despite being Malaysian Chinese, he has had some relatively great success in Japan.
I first heard about Danny Choo when I was reading up on getting a VISA to Japan (Don’t judge!), but after reading about his attempts to create the smart doll in Japan, I thought he had quite an interesting story to tell. I happened to see his smart dolls at the Anime Expo being displayed in the main exhibition hall. They were relatively amazing looking dolls, but I didn’t understand what made them so special. My ignorance was what probably made me want to see him speak so much. Luckily, he had a speech when I went to Anime Expo, so I made sure to get my butt in there!
First off, you will want to hear about the news, right? So what is in the works for Mirai Inc.? Well, Mirai has a new video game in the works! Of course, it is very simple at the moment and merely works using an old Nintendo game controller, but the company does plan on advancing it with more funding to produce a better game. Regardless, the game does look fun so far! Mirai is the main character and she can battle enemies. The gameplay reminds me a lot of old 8 bit games, and who does not love those?
Mirai Inc. also has a set of Japanese learning flash cards on their product line, like My Kanji which is a set of flash cards that you can use to learn kanji. What is new on their product line that they will be releasing is Moe Tango, which uses characters to help you learn new words. How, you ask? The characters will display different traits and you must identify what they might be in Japanese! If the character is cold, they might be hugging their sides and shivering. Turn the card over and the word is written in Japanese and English. You can place the flashcards around your home for some fun while practicing! Place the cold flashcard in the freezer or the hungry flashcard in your pantry. It is a new yet fun way to practice your Japanese.
Danny Choo’s company is primarily based in Tokyo, Japan, though he does travel around the world to different expositions and conventions to market his product. Mirai Inc. was first started in Choo’s own home where the smart dolls were primarily produced. However, since then, they have relocated to a larger area to produce the smart dolls.
The company began because Danny Choo was inspired by the Japanese culture on his first visit to Japan. He wanted to create a doll that was different from the niche market. His idea was for a doll that utilized traditional and modern molding methods to create a fashionable doll that did not fit in in the niche market. According to his website, the SM in “smart” stands for social media while “art” emphasizes the doll as an art form. Danny Choo wanted to create a doll that was able to connect many users together that could not be possible otherwise.
Mirai, which was the first doll created by Danny Choo, is the mascot for Culture Japan. Each doll is about 60 cm tall and comes with her own set of clothes, but other doll clothes should be able to fit, although many people are fans of creating their own fashions for the smart dolls. The dolls are able to stand on their own two feet and pivot as desired. They are designed in a way to make them very humanlike in their posture and movements, yet with their large eyes, I can’t help but to think of the bishoujo I see so often in anime. It’s like having your own bishoujo by your side!
Although at first, no one wanted to manufacture the Mirai smart doll, Danny Choo was able to find a way to manufacture the doll himself and market it. Since her creation, Mirai has since become a mascot for Japanese tourism, as well as Malaysian tourism. The smart dolls have grown in success and popularity compared to when they were first attempting to create the product. Miai has also collaborated with many video game companies and anime. Now, would you not call that success? Mirai has since made a few friends since her creation in various different skin tones making the product line more diverse than many.
Around the world, Mirai and her friends have grown in popularity. Mirai Inc. is currently creating a male smart doll to add to their product line. I am sure it will not be long before the first male smart doll is out on the market. Look forward to it!
Although Danny Choo spoke mainly about his show Culture Japan and the smart dolls for his company, he still managed to instill the idea that you can accomplish your dreams through hard work and diligence. Despite being the son of Jimmy Choo, he was able to find his own success in life without relying on his father. He worked out of his home for a long time and continues to work hard manufacturing his smart dolls by hand each and every day, but that still doesn’t deter him from wanting to do more with his company.
Danny Choo has faced a lot of difficulties in Japan, including being denied rental opportunities because he is a foreigner and not having enough funding, but he continues to work hard for his dream. Choo did not focus on the difficulties he had. He may have faced difficulty for being a foreigner in Japan, but he does not let the negatives hold back his desire to stay in Tokyo and start up his own company.
He emphasized that even when your family and peers discourage you, inspiration is the only thing that continues to drive you, so you have to rely on yourself and your motives. Even though Danny Choo spoke mainly of his work with Mirai Inc. and his smart dolls, he still had good advice to give to those aspiring to live for their dreams.
What I took away from his lecture was that hard work and determination can truly lead to your dreams coming true.