In what is the second edition of our semi-regular compendium (here's the first) of smart ideas, as ever Magpie goes beyond the commercial creative industries and into cutting-edge curators and digital creators, outsider artists and exciting innovators of all kinds.
As folk who share a passion for the bizarre, we have purposefully picked the things that really struck a chord, raised a smile, challenged us to think differently and sparked moments of inspiration over the last few months.
But, before you dive into the full compendium of curated weirdness, here is a taster of five of our favourites.
Some of which you may have seen. Some that may have passed you by. But all worthy of a mention in the hope they spark conversation.
Tokyo's Anti-Procrastination Café
We'd wager that many of you reading this can relate to the impending fear of a looming deadline resulting in almost Olympic level procrastination. When inspiration hits you, you absolutely need to reorder the bookshelf or design the perfect Spotify playlist 24 hours before the presentation you are yet to start is due.
Well, if you, like us, feel the need to seek out some sort of help to focus on the task at hand. And you, unlike us, are based in Tokyo, why not make a beeline to the Manuscript Writing Café, known as the world's first anti-procrastination-based eatery.
This Café in Koenji is solely dedicated to writers working on a deadline. Run by a team of fellow writers, the café imposes its own rules on diners, and once you enter, they will not let you leave until your work is done.
Unlimited self-service refills of tea and coffee, high-speed Wi-Fi, docking ports and tall uncomfortable chairs that ensure you stay on point and fully alert, there is even an option to pay for the manager to hover over your shoulder and throw shade at you to make sure your nose is to the grindstone, and you are churning out the copy.
Intense, but caffeine and focus are your friends when a deadline looms.
Gender Pay Gap Bot
There was some rather intense brand hype around International Women's Day as everyone spent tireless hours showcasing their purpose, position and forward-thinking credentials for the whole world to see.
That is until Metro journalist Francesca Lawson spotted the irony of some companies boasting about their empowerment of women while maintaining gender pay gaps in private.
Thus, the Gender Pay Gap Bot (@PayGapApp) was born.
Using data from the U.K. government's gender pay gap service created in 2017, each time a company listed on the service tweeted about International Women's Day, the bot automatically responded with their median hourly pay gap data in a quote tweet.
The result is a relatively low-lift creative response that unified people across social media by powerfully utilising basic tech.
Within hours the bot had 240k Twitter followers, while companies with the most divisive pay differences were getting hundreds of retweets.
Calling companies out publicly on their pay gap issues not only resonated with the public who seek transparency from the brands they interact with but drove real change for International Women's Day by forcing companies to release statements explaining themselves while giving them a twelve-month warning to 'shape up' before the bot embarrasses them again in 2023.
Spirited Away's Theatrical Reimagining
Studio Ghibli, who last released a film over two years ago, has adapted one of their most iconic properties into a live-action theatrical production for the first time ever.
Initially taking to the stage at the end of March in Tokyo's Imperial Theatre, the extremely ambitious adaptation of Spirited Away has already gained rave reviews and international attention for what is an absolute masterclass in stagecraft.
Mirroring the 2003 Oscar-winning plot and iconic art direction of writer-director Hayao Miyazaki, it tells the supernatural story of a 10-year-old girl's journey into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits.
Currently, on tour across Japan, the magical performance blends traditional Japanese theatrical techniques with hypermodern staging as actors seamlessly interact with mercurial Miyazaki staging.
But the show's stars are the larger-than-life and painstakingly designed puppets. Many skilled puppeteers operate each to effectively portray metaphysical characters inspired by Japanese folklore, including sorcerer Yubaba, the eight-armed boiler man Kamaji, and the transcendental No-Face.
Directed by Tony winner John Caird and produced by Toho Studios in partnership with Studio Ghibli, the theatrical reimagining follows what has been a series of landmark licensing deals from the famously enigmatic filmmakers. Including a Tokyo Museum and Nagoya based Ghibli Theme Park set to be on par with Disneyland and launching this November.
With online chatter at an all-time high, anticipation among the fans suggests that Spirited Away will make its way to the USA and Europe soon and around the time the much anticipated 'How Do You Live?' lands in cinemas in 2023.
Nissan Ramen Counter
Car manufacturer Nissan made a rather ambitious and lateral leap into the restaurant market with the Nissan e-4ORCE Ramen Counter launch.
Showcasing their new twin-motor all-wheel-control tech amongst an audience of fans who knows nothing about cars by bringing its capabilities to the world of fast-casual dining. Launching, as they did, their own ramen bar in which bowls of steaming hot broth were delivered to diners in super quick time on bespoke motorised cars.
Each showcasing the super sleek, speedy and innovative power of a Nissan, the bar guaranteed that every dish would be delivered with no spills in the smoothest ride possible.
Bringing the relatively niche and geeky world of mechanical design to the masses.
One of our absolute favourites comes from a very unlikely place and courtesy of pet food manufacturer Pedigree.
Who launched 'Rescue Doodles', an A.I. tech-powered program that allows kids in the USA to input a drawing of their dream dog and match it with a nearby similar-looking pooch in need of adoption.
Launched in March and created in partnership with Adopt-a-Pet.com, which is on a mission to empower kids to take charge in picking and adopting rescue animals; even the crudest of sketches garner amazing results when sent on texted to 717-670-6675 along with the word 'Doodle'.
Tapping into the pester power of kids, the smart piece of innovation provides a service and highlights the issue that 3.1 million dogs enter shelters every year in the U.S.
A really simple, smart and super user-friendly piece of creativity.
'Magpie' is co-written by Don Ferguson, director and James Keiller, senior creative at Hope&Glory
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