Review: Omamori by Hanson Chien & Yao

Review: Omamori by Hanson Chien & Yao

Continuing with our theme of wood imbued with magical properties (ala our previous review of Holy Wood), we next explore another creative invention by Taiwanese magician Hanson Chien and his team. We’ve all heard the famous saying: With great powers come great responsibility. And it rings true for Omamori / 神御 …You could very possibly start your own religion with this!

Description

A CHARM THAT CAN REVEAL ANY MESSAGE. It took Hanson Chien and Yao three years in development and with the presentation and explanation by a rising-star magician of Taiwan – Sean Chou. Based on the “Omamori” in Japanese culture, it can reveal any message through the light.

BASIC EFFECT

By allowing the light to go through the Omamori, spectator’s message is emerged and revealed! You can allow a message to be changed, or even make it disappear. You decide what you want it to look like: A trick? Or a miracle? Omamori is easy-to-carry and can be attached on your bags or on a key chain. This Omamori will be the every magician’s must have!

FEATURES

No force. No doubt. No kidding. Any time. Any where. Any message.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE

Gimmicked charm/ Regular charm/ Fortune papers/ Goshuin stickers/ Online instructions

Unboxing Omamori by Hanson Chien & Yao

When this trailer first dropped, I thought it was a brilliant idea to incorporate something so Asian. It’s uniquely different, it’s mystical and exotic, and in the right hands it can really play HUGE. Savvy world travellers who have journeyed to culture-rich Japan would have visited a shinto temple at some point, and most shrines offer up unique lucky charms known as omamori. And if for some reason your gaijin audience don’t know anything about this beautiful aspect of traditional Japanese culture, it’s a great time to weave that into your patter and presentation.

As in the above picture, you’ll see the Omamori / 神御 gimmick once you slide open the box. Stacked above it is an ungimmicked copy. Lift the snug foam insert and you’ll gain access to the assortment of accessories; stickers, alcohol wipes, faux fortune slips, and a printed card with the QR code and weblink to the online tutorial.

Manufactured from acrylic with a textured bamboo sticker, the specially produced Omamori / 神御 gimmick (as well as it’s identical ungimmicked twin) really does look and handle like light-weight bamboo. You’ll need to take two minutes to affix the stickers yourself. The characters read along the lines of Bamboo Hall Shinto Shrine… a very clever choice considering the “material” and a generic enough name of a religious place. Although I half suspect the chosen name may actually be an inside joke between the food loving fellas of the Hanson Chien Production Company since it also happens to be the name of a popular chain of hotpot restaurants in Taiwan 😉

Anyway, here’s a picture of my own omamori from the centuries-old Shikichi-jinja Shrine (Wara-tenjin) in Kyoto, famously known for being dedicated to safe child birth (as well as accurately predicting the gender of your child). And in the foreground is the Omamori / 神御 gimmick with the vinyl sticker attached, along with its ungimmicked twin.

I found my gimmick to be well made and handles nicely; you can pass it out to a spectator and they’d never guess there’s a hidden button triggering a secret trap door! The special compartment slides out smoothly and goes back in securely once the deed is done. There’s no reason for people to not believe that this is exactly what you say it is.

To perform this you’ll need to use a black Sharpie. I tried using a non-permanent marker but it didn’t look as good. So be brave and use a regular marker pen. That’s what the included alcohol pads are for. And these days, such wipes aren’t hard to find or bring around. That’s pretty much the only “refills” you’d need.

Will I use the included faux lucky charm papers in my presentation? Most probably not. But it’s nice to have options. The quality of the clear stickers are very decent. I don’t see them curling out at the edges and the adhesive sticks well to the “bamboo” surface. Since bamboo is technically a grass and knocking on it wouldn’t sound anything like solid wood, this nifty acrylic shell easily passes off as the real deal. It’s so simple to operate and use; a clever little masterpiece!

Let’s talk USP (unique selling points)

The Omamori / 神御 tutorial runs just over 40 minutes long and is crammed full of knowledge and information. The introduction and set up is presented by Yao (the same genius who engineered Holy Wood) and the performance parts are taught by Sean Chou, the performer featured in their official trailer above.

Several things are apparent to me. Firstly, Sean has a really good complexion and I’m envious of his “K-beauty glass skin”. He is also extremely eloquent and knowledgable in both mentalism and sleight of hand. Hanson Chien clearly chose the right person for the job because Sean is obviously a real worker and the best teacher in this case. With his expert handling, you can tell Sean has really performed Omamori / 神御 hundreds of times and not just for the sales trailer.

Many things which I’d learnt over the years in terms of mentalism and magic, including the psychological subtleties, are succinctly covered by Sean. So no worries if you’re a relatively new magician because you’re in very good hands. There’s a learning curve for sure, because Omamori / 神御 simply isn’t one of those quick magic tricks that you can bust out for likes on TikTok or Instagram. There’s a profound poetic beauty in this routine when done right.

Sean touches on this aspect towards the end of the video, where you need to decide where you want to take this. Due to the subject’s very nature, I’m not kidding that you may be able to start a religious cult with this incredible utility tool. So be careful how you perform Omamori / 神御 . Never toy with people’s hearts. Please do not become a charlatan!

Oh yes, I do need to mention that the entire tutorial is in Mandarin but you can easily turn the English subtitles on. The video is professionally shot with close-ups where needed, and the audio comes off great. All chapters are also clearly broken down into sections so you can easily go back to re-play what you missed accordingly.

I’ll say this: Performing this routine takes guts. There are covert moves to do and daring sleights to pull off, but it massively pays off. As mentioned, this is a routine with many elegant layers. Move slowly. Let the moment build. Don’t rush it. Channel your inner storyteller. And relish in the afterglow once your adoring audience reacts to the impossibility of their written prediction inside a bamboo omamori seen by backlight (or candlelight if you so prefer).

TLDR: Omamori by Hanson Chien & Yao

A novel concept supported by well crafted gimmicks produced by a creative team of magicians who love what they do, Omamori / 神御 is a worthy investment for the intermediate worker seeking to advance their magic. Especially recommended if you are a mature performer looking to present something different in the realm of mystery entertainment. With great powers come great responsibility, so please use this wisely!

Available from the creators at Hanson Chien Productions.

ning
Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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