Aug 30 //
Josh Tolentino Japanese Tattoos: History * Culture * Design Published by: Tuttle Publishing Written by: Brian Ashcraft and Hori Benny Release date: July 12, 2016 MSRP: $9.99 (Kindle [Reviewed]), $17.95 (Print) ISBN: 978-4805313510
The value of Japanese Tattoos is immediately apparent given the relative absence of substantial English-language work about the art and design of Japanese tattooing, or "irezumi" (刺青). Generally speaking, irezumi literature in English tends towards overly dry, scholarly analyses, or superficial, aesthetically-occupied picture books and feeds. Ashcraft and Benny position their book between the two extremes, delivering a breezy, easy-to-read explainer that isn't afraid to dive below the surface and uncover hidden nuggets of cultural knowledge and history amid the striking design work being etched right into the human body.Honed by years of writing as an editor for the game website Kotaku, and by previous books like Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential and Arcade Mania!, Ashcraft mixes his light, accessible style with deeply researched cultural references and engaging profiles of famous Japanese tattooists and their clients. Japanese Tattoos isn't to be taken as a piece of academic writing, but instead as an FAQ of sorts, answering key questions and providing interesting insights and background, to help those who aren't yet sure about their interest in irezumi become interested. And in this respect, Ashcraft and Benny have succeeded in spades.
Part of this is thanks to the way the book is laid out. As befitting its role as a cultural primer, Japanese Tattoos starts with a general overview of irezumi, its history, and importantly, what distinguishes it from the tattooing practiced elsewhere. Historical notes link irezumi with older practices of tattooing as a form of punishment for criminals, or as protective symbols "worn" by laborers and tradesmen. The section also traces the longstanding Japanese stigma against tattoos to the 19th and 20th centuries, as the country raced to modernize after centuries in isolation. Ironically for a stigma born of attempts to "align with western morals", it turned out to be those same westerners - particularly the occupying U.S. military following World War II - that played a part in keeping tattooing alive despite the attempts to ban it.
[From Japanese Tattoos by Brian Ashcraft and Hori Benny]
That leads into another important aspect of Japanese Tattoos: It's aware enough that culture isn't a monolithic, static thing, and that even "traditional" irezumi has changed over time. In rejecting the notion that irezumi is tied solely to any one thing (such as tebori, the classical method of inserting the ink into the skin with bamboo needles), the book reaffirms irezumi's uniqueness as an expression of Japanese culture, encompassing more than a specific technique but "an entire history and catalogue of iconography". Interviews with people like Horiyoshi III, Japan's most famous tattooist, reveal this progressive insight. Despite his mastery of tebori and his inspiration in classical woodblock prints, Horiyoshi III regards his work as less "traditional" than "traditionalist" thanks to his use of safer, modern ink, of mechanical tattooing machines, and the new, friendlier (and legal) conditions under which he works. It's an acknowledgement that even the most classical, "timeless" aspects of culture are subject to change and interpretation over time.
That sentiment might seem in opposition to the permanence of the tattoo, but it's worth pointing out that tattoos change as their wearers do, by the virtue of being embedded on their ever-changing physiques. It's an embrace of mutability and the transitive nature of life that speaks to Japan's Buddhist influences. A tattoo may last one's whole life, but even that life ends.
These reflections are woven into the other sections of the book, which cover popular and common motifs and elements in irezumi, with frequent asides and sidebars to deliver factoids that readers will want to recite back to their friends. The asides can sometimes feel a bit distracting from the chronological coherence of the book, but they're too good not to include, and so their somewhat scattershot arrangement is easily forgiven.
[From Japanese Tattoos by Brian Ashcraft and Hori Benny]
From classic kanji script tattoos to the natural images, mythic beasts and figures, and even avante-garde and anime- or manga-themed designs, Ashcraft and Benny look in on the iconography, symbolism, and meaning behind the many classical elements of irezumi in Japan. Other chapters, particularly one covering various examples of the full "bodysuit" design, also focus on the form irezumi can take. Bodysuits and sleeves are the most visible archetypes of Japanese tattooing, and their placement in the book highlights that association. Never again will readers see the awesome back pieces on display in the Yakuza games in the same way.
The book is also chock-full of great pictures of tattoos. Even in my relatively low-resolution review copy, the quality of the art shone through, and keeps the flow feeling as brisk as the prose. It's one thing to read about the peony's place in floral language as used in irezumi, but another to see it incorporated on people's bodies as a form of art and expression.
Japanese Tattoos is a must-read for anyone interested in tattoos and Japanese culture, but its greatest strength is in how easily it can engage readers like yours truly, who have no plans to get a tattoo at all. Being able to engage with all that material despite its near-total irrelevance to my personal experience is the sign of a good book, and this one will serve as an effective crash course in irezumi for many a reader to come.
[This review is based on a copy of the book provided by the publisher.]
Tattoo, not Taboo What comes to mind when one thinks of "tattoos"? Some might imagine the anchor on Popeye's forearm, the pointy tribal band encircling a local gym fiend's bicep, or the crude inkings associated with prison art.Thinking of "Jap...
Are you ready for this? Are you LADY for this? Amazon certainly thinks so, because it's taking The [email protected], Bandai Namco's landmark idol-simulator/DLC factory, is coming to the one place it has never truly been: The real w...
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.]
No matter how rough things get in the world. it's always important to grab a bite to eat when your stomach demands it. While it's very important for Arche to awaken the...
Aug 27 //
Red Veron [embed]35218:5801:0[/embed]
Japanese Synchronized Swimming to Frozen
Synchronized swimming is popular in Japan and even male High School students engage in this sport. There have been movies and TV shows about Synchronized Swimming and it works since it is a team sport that very much emphasizes teamwork and timing. So splash (pun intended) in some drama to a story about a group of people trying to work toward a single goal, and you're gold!
Japanese Pole Vaulter's Pole gets in the way
Slam Dunk anime Opening
One of the best sports anime and manga and was once rated as number one manga in the 2006 Japan Media Arts festival. The manga needs a new adaptation, I don't care if they make them all pretty boys just gimme the anime in modern day animation.
How to make a Sports anime
Sports in anime/manga has been a staple genre that has been around for ages and authors have pretty much figured out the formula (or in this video, the MODERN day formula).
Japanese High School Sports Festival
YouTuber SakuraKisetsu, who went to Japan as an exchange student, made a video about her Japanese school's Sports Festival and it looks very similar to what we see in anime, just no hijinks or anything supernatural or would get anyone in trouble in real life.
Great Baseball Catch
Baseball is very popular in Japan for something referred to as America's pasttime.
Mario at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Because NBC in the US is run by clueless executives who don't know how to maximize views and discovery for their Olympic coverage, I am unable to properly embed the Olympic handoff to Japan. Just please click the video to be linked to YouTube so you can watch the very amusing video where Japan's Prime Minister is secretly an Italian plumber who like mushrooms.
What is your favorite Japanese related Sports thing? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
SUPORTSU The 2016 Olympics are done and the next summer Olympics are in Japan, so every weeb out there will be excited to see the next set of games taking place in the land of the Rising Sun. So this week, I thought it appropriate for...
Aug 27 //
Soul Tsukino We start the show off with Ishii sitting in his chair silently. Real talkative guy.
IWGP Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. "Machine Gun" Karl Anderson
Back at the Destruction of Kobe event, Nakamura won the title back from Hirooki Goto. After he was given the belt Anderson came to the ring saying he beat both those guys in the G1, so he wants a title match. And there we go.
Karl comes out with Cody Hall and the other heavyweight Bullet Club members. I'm already surprised as I would think this match would be on last.
The bell rings and we start with a lock up going right into the ropes where Nakamura does his face rub thing. Anderson actually walks to the middle of the ring with Nakamura still hanging there before Karl take him by the chin and pulls his face up in the "my eyes are right here" kind of vein. Nakamura hits an elbow and Anderson hits a knee in response. Shinsuke and Karl trade quick hold and counter hold with some knees to the guts before Shinsuke goes into the ropes and Anderson fires off some arm drags. Nakamura counters and gets in a leg lock before floating over into a front facelock. Interesting to not here JR and Josh discuss the difference between a front facelock, that is used mostly for control, as apposed to a chancery lock that puts pressure on your opponent. It's stuff like this that give more believability and credibility to a wrestling show.
Nakamura lands a few knee strikes before picking Anderson up into a cravat and snaps him over. He goes for a kneedrop but Karl rolls out of the way. He snaps off the rope and lands a straight kick to Nakamura's face! Nakamura rolls to the apron in pain, but Anderson just walks around for a bit. He finally goes after Shinsuke but Nakamura gives him a quick kick to shrug him off. The other club guys get on the apron and distract the ref as Gallows runs over and starts whaling on Shinsuke. Nakamura goes down to the apron and barely makes it to the apron at 18. Anderson comes in and lands a gun stun right on the ropes. Shinsuke goes down again and Anderson follows up with a dropkick to send him back down to the floor. Anderson ain't done yet as he goes outside and powerbombs Shinsuke right on the apron.
We come back from break as Anderson has the advantage in the corner. He whips Nakamura in and kicks him in the face. Karl then scores a running powerbomb but only gets a 2 count. Karl tries another whip but Nakamura reverses. Karl tries a kick but Shinsuke gets a sleeper on Karl and brings him to the mat. They get up just as Nakamura gets a reverse powerslam. Nakamura tries running off the ropes but Karl catches him in a spinebuster. Karl goofs off for a bit and both guys stand up and trade heavy shots back and forth before trading forearms Nakamura catches his arm and lands an elbow and a reverse kick before a running knee. Count gets 2. Nakamura goes for the booma ye but Karl dodges it and then lands a gun stun!
Nakamura is out on the corner and Karl picks him up and drags him up the buckle. Anderson gets him up in a fireman's carry before slamming him to the mat. Anderson goes for a pin but Nakamura kicks out. Anderson tries for a clothesline but Nakamura hits his arm and scoops him up before hitting a falcon arrow.
Back from another break as both guys struggle to get back up. Karl gets to the apron and flips over the top rope and nails Nakamura with a clothesline. He scoops him up for the rikishi driver but again doesn't get a pin. Karl goes in for another gun stun but Nakamura catches him in an armbar. He locks it in but Karl rolls him up. He breaks the hold to avoid the pin but as they get up Nakamura nails the boome ya! Karl lands a counter uppercut but Nakamura scores with the booma ye again and scores the pin!
As Nakamura is laying on the mat, A.J. Styles walks over and gets in his face. Nakamura isn't backing down. Challenge accepted. Styles grabs the belt from the ref and hands it to Nakamura telling him he is going to take the belt from him.Nakamura says on the mic he was waiting for this. He says that is exciting for them to meet for the first time at the Tokyo Dome. Talk about an understatement.
Backstage CHAOS gives Nakamura kempai over beer. This match was special for him since he and Anderson both trained at the LA dojo for New Japan. He says he's seen a lot of Styles up close whenever he went overseas. Styles has something he lacks, but he will get it at the Tokyo Dome (what is it?... IT!)
NEVER Openweight title: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma
This match was spurred on a few weeks ago when Ishii won the belt from Makabe. Honma came into the ring and challenged him, based off Honma beating Ishii during the G1 and Honma and Makabe being buddies. Ishii said he'd give him one shot and would destroy him in the process. Let's see how that goes.
Honma comes out first as Barnett talks about vampire chickens (a Honma nickname) and what one would look like since he owns chickens. Ishii comes out looking like he's gonna kill a dude. Ishii's knee is wrapped up but that's nothing new. JR already breaks out the "Bowling shoe ugly" analogy.
We return from break with the bell ringing. Strong lock up to start. Honma with a headlock gets shot in the ropes and stalemate into a shoulder block. They start just whaling on each other before Ishii goes down. Honma immediately goes for the falling headbutt and he misses. Ishii chops him up a few times to make him regret it. Ishii backs him in the corner and alternates chops and strikes. Ishii bad mouths Honma and Honma strikes back with a weak hit but lands a stronger chop. Ishii drops him for that before locking in a half crab but Honma gets to the ropes. Kick to the back on Honma, but he pops up and lands more chops on the pitbull. Ishii chops him back. Honma shakes it off and hits the double sledgehammer, but goes for and misses the headbutt again. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Honma counters and lifts Ishii up for a suplex! He lands a strike and then a bulldog out of the corner before finally landing the headbutt. Honma climbs up and lands a blockbuster! Honma goes for a crab of his own but Ishii kicks him right in the face to counter out. Ishii lands some strikes but Honma is firing back!
Ishii ends that with an elbow right to the neck. Ishii gets Honma on the ropes and then picks him up for a big suplex. Cover only gets two. Ishii goes for a clothesline but Honma doesn't budge. Ishii lands a counter strike and goes for the ropes but Honma follows him with a strike and then a DDT! Ishii goes to the apron and Honma goes for a clothesline but Ishii blocks it. Honma then counters with a straight headbutt that sends Ishii down. Honma scrambles up the ropes and lands a super diving headbutt to Ishii on the floor! Honma struggles up and tosses him back in, which JR gives him some flack for since he'd win the title on a count out. He goes to pick Ishii up but Ishii strikes him for it. Honma SMACKS him down and Ishii barely gets up just in time for Honma to run him over with a clothesline for two. Ishii lands a back suplex but he pops right up and lands two battering ram headbutts but cover gets only two. Honma picks Ishii up and lands the brainbuster! He goes for a clothesline but Ishii counters and lands his own headbutt!
We come back from break with both guys down. They get to their knees and smack each other with headbutts. They then duel headbutts! Both guys and knocked loopy. Ishii runs to the corner to meet a Honma boot. He counters with a strike to Honma's chest and he goes down. Ishii lands a powerbomb on Honma and then lands a sliding clothesline but only gets two. They struggle over a suplex but Honma lets him go and lands a ram headbutt again. He lands the headbutt to the shoulder and goes up for the big one. He lands it but Ishii kicks out! Honma goes for a tombstone but Ishii counters but Honma slides out and lands the big headbutt. He goes up and lands the big headbutt again. He can't make the cover. Both guys get up and Honma lands a clothesline and another one but Ishii lands a spinning heel kick and then a big clothesline but can't get the pinQ! Ishii tries for the brainbuster and then a clothesline but Honma counters into a backslide but Ishii gets out. Ishii whips Honma in and goes for the headbutt but Ishii counters with a nasty clothesline. He then hits another one but can't finish it. Ishii then hits the brainbuster and he finally gets the pin!
Ishii gets his belt as Honma is not moving. Ishii gives hm a look as he leaves the ring The crowd gives a big round of applause as Honma is helped from the ring.
Backstage Honma says he tried hard and did well. He says he wants to fight him again. Ishii says that Honma will never win since he has no confidence.
Studio words and Ishii says it was the natural outcome, He laments that even though he won the belt, he feels he never seems to be going forward. Interesting.
This was a good one. All four guys put on a great show but Honma especially deserves credit. He came out and really looked good here, not like the bumbling goof, but like a legit contender and it made for a great match. Fun show all around.
We are getting closer now to Wrestlekingdom. So what else can happen between now and then? We will have to see!
More from Osaka Hello and welcome back to another action packed week of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we go back to Osaka for Power Struggle 2015. We are a little over a month away from WretleKingdom at this point as this card takes place on November 7, 2015. We have two big title matches tonight so let's get to the action.
There's something nice about seeing a project with a lot of potential making a comeback as a bigger piece. The beautiful thing about this occasion is that you'll get to see the medium's creators take their idea to the next st...
If you feel that you won't be able to afford Stein;Gate 0's Amadeus Edition for the PS4 and Vita, the gang at PQube have concocted a new option for folks who want something special with their copy of the game.
No, this is not an article from The Onion. Apparently, it really happened, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did, in fact, emerge from a giant green pipe at the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympic Games, dressed up as ...
Aug 22 //
Christian Chiok [embed]35211:5799:0[/embed]
The King of Fighters XIV (PlayStation 4)Developer: SNKPublisher: Atlus USAReleased: August 23, 2016 (US), August 26, 2016 (EU), August 25, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $59.99
Regardless, I decided to be open-minded and not completely trash the game, so I was still looking forward to it, but with less excitement compared to XII, however. I definitely made the right decision of still giving the game the chance since as the months went by, and as information came in, the game was shaping up to be good, and definitely a lot more robust than one of its competitors when it came to content.
King of Fighters XIV marks the beginning of a new canonical saga for the series. Compared to previous entries, I don’t think the story is that exciting this time around since the story is more streamlined compared to other King of Fighters. The story revolves around a billionaire known as Antonov, who claimed to be the “first champion” of the KOF tournament and bought out all of the rights for the KOF Tournament. His announcement of a new KOF Tournament created unprecedented enthusiasm around the world. From there, this excitement reached many of the veteran participants of the legendary tournament directly in the form of an official invitation.
After finishing up Story Mode, which should be fairly quick, there are other modes you can try out like Versus Mode, Training, Online, Mission and Tutorial. Naturally, Versus Mode is just like previous King of Fighters where it gives you the option to do both Single and Team VS matches. After selecting your character, you got a handful of handicaps you can choose from, such as 50% health, 75% health, an extra bar of power gauge and lastly your power gauge completely filled. After that, you choose your stage and the rest is history.
Practice Mode offers a variety of options that will help you on your training such as changing the position of you and your opponent, change whether they are standing, crouching, jumping, as well as have the AI completely take over. You can also set up so the training dummy guards, counters and recovers. All of this is definitely good if you want to have great training sessions. Additionally, there’s also Tutorial Mode which shows you the ropes. It helps if you’re new to the series or fighting games in general.
Mission Mode consists of Trial, Time Attack, and Survival. In Trial, you will attempt a set of challenges for each character. They usually consist of pulling off combos. Time Attack and Survival both are self-explanatory. I personally liked playing through Trial since it helped me out practice some combos for some of the characters that I used.
Now to address the elephant in the room—Online mode. The previous game, King of Fighters XIII, was known for its awful netcode on consoles. While the Steam version heavily improved this, it still wasn’t perfect. It’s really noticeable that they actually worked hard to improve the netcode in this game. I played around 10 matches or so without any lag—I had a smooth experience all around. Additionally, the game offers some features that make the online better as well.
Ranked Match takes you straight into a 3-Man Team Battle, which affects your rank depending whether you win or lose. For advanced players, it gives you the option to play 10 battles and depending in your wins, it sets you into a Rank much faster. Free Match is most robust as it gives you more modes to play such as Team VS, Single VS and Party VS. The first two work just as if you were playing offline with another player in the same room. What I really love is the addition of Party VS, which lets six players instead in a 3-on-3 fight. If you got a group of friends, it’s definitely a lot of fun.
Room settings are the same as any fighting game in general, such as making the room public or private, the number of players, the round time, and the number of rounds. Inside a room, you’re allowed to play multiple set ups, such as Tourney, Elimination and Series. Tourney removes the losing player after the fight, Elimination removes the winning player after the fight while Series allows you to face the same opponent continuously.
There’s also Online Training, which allows you to train with a friend online. This is definitely helpful for those who lack a training partner outside of the Internet. Naturally, there’s also Online Replay, which you can view all the replays submitted by players, whether it’s Team VS or Single VS matches. Spectators can join to watch the match up with an integrated voice and text chat. Additionally, a "Crowd SE" option is available for spectators, which allows them to root, applaud, and boo the match current players.There's also a Live feature, but that's just a shortcut to game's Live from PlayStation menu.
While the game resembles the Maximum Impact series graphically, it still remains on a strictly two-dimensional plane and keeps the same basic mechanics as its predecessors. New features have been added such as a new Max mode system, allowing players to access the EX moves, which can be activated by using one bar of the power gauge. Additionally, using three bars of the power gauge can allow players to unleash Climax supers.
With the game catering to newcomers as well, the added a feature called Rush Mode, which is similar to games like Dengeki Bunko and Persona 4 Arena. Just like those games, it can be activated by repeatedly hitting the light punch button, however, will do lower damage compared to normal combo attacks. While I’m certainly not a fan of these types of things, it doesn’t really hurt the game either.
Overall, I am definitely pleased with King of Fighters XIV. While the story was kind of bland compared to the previous games, and the graphics are a bit disappointing, it still offers a great experience that both King of Fighters fans and fighting game fans can appreciate. There’s just so much content from the get-go, like a game should, that can keep you occupied for a while. It definitely makes up for the game's flaws. You can bet I'll be playing this for months.
Burn To Fight Since I’ve been writing for Japanator for almost a year now, some of you may already know I’m a big King of Fighters fan and it’s one of the first series I ever played as a child. Even since then I haven&rsq...
Aug 21 //
Josh Tolentino [embed]35209:5798:0[/embed]
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XVStudio: Square Enix Visual WorksDirector: Takeshi NozueLicensed by: Sony PicturesPremiere: August 19, 2016 (US, Asia) , July 9, 2016 (Japan)
Have you ever seen a "game movie"? The term refers to a subgenre of game Youtube videos wherein players capture recordings of various video games' cutscenes or story sequences, to be viewed by audiences removed from the context of actually playing the game. Some more ambitious versions try to edit the clips together in a coherent fashion, potentially removing the need for players who can't finish or don't own the game in question to actually play it at all, leaving only the narrative to bring things home.
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV feels like an extremely expensive, fabulously ambitious iteration of that particular trend.
It's not quite the same, of course. Players who pick up Final Fantasy XV in November won't see much of Kingsglaive's actual events onscreen, as the film is a two-hour-long setup and prequel to the events of the game.
The Kingdom of Lucis is in danger. Ruled by the wise King Regis (played by Game of Thrones' Sean Bean), Lucis is the last place unconquered by the Empire of Niflheim. Its defenders are the titular Kingsglaive, a squad of soldiers that wield magic channeled to them by Regis, from a magic crystal that is the source of Lucis' power and the only thing standing between Niflheim's technological prowess and world domination.
Unfortunately, the war is coming to a close, with Regis aging and the crystal's power flagging in the face of "The Nif's" magitek weapons and demonic thralls. It's in this spirit that Regis accepts a peace deal, to marry off his son (and the game's protatgonist) Noctis to Lunafreya (played by Game of Thrones' Lena Heady), princess of the Niflheim-ruled province of Tenebrae. When all is not at it seems on the eve of the treaty signing, it's up to Kingsglaive's star fighter Nyx Ulrich (played by Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul) to save the day and have a hand in kicking off whatever's set to happen in the game proper.
While the plot is barely coherent and its relevance to Final Fantasy XV is largely confined to explaining why Noctis and his buddies are on the other side of the world in the first place, Kingsglaive's most solid achievement is visual. Produced by Square Enix's legendary Visual Works studio, the film succeeds at visualizing the setting of the game, creating the kind of mental space in future players' minds that can reconcile the stylistic absurdities of typical Final Fantasy and the more grounded, modern aesthetic of the real world. The world of Kingsglaive (and by extension, the game) is the kind of place where it makes sense for contemporary office buildings, cellphones, TVs, and product placement stands comfortably alongside the overdesigned costumes, massive creatures, and elaborate magical spells and effects. To its credit, it's the most convincing iteration yet of the series' penchant for techno-fantasy flourish.
Beyond that, though, Kingsglaive is hardly essential. Despite initial misgivings, the core cast do credible work in their roles, elevating the otherwise cheesy and overly self-serious script. Supporting characters, however, come across as a bit too cartoonish, the delivery never quite overcoming the tension between the realistic facial designs and otherwise very "anime" words coming out of the characters' mouths.
The action itself, though, is well-rendered, if a bit difficult to follow. The Kingsglaive members all use some variation of the game's combat, wielding teleporting knives and plenty of flashy effects to burn, shock, and blast the HP off of an assortment of classic Final Fantasy beasts. Unfortunately, some ill-conceived zooms and use of "shaky-cam" effects during some fight scenes make what should be the most pivotal moments of the film an exercise in trying to puzzle out just what's happening. Final Fantasy fans can also expect some clever fan service, sighting cool callbacks to timeless franchise easter eggs, some subtle, and some overt.
In the end, whether Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV will be worthwhile largely depends on one's anticipation for Final Fantasy XV. By its very nature it's skippable, but fans who plan on immersing themselves in the game come November will likely find something to appreciate.
A Clash Royale Let's be honest here: Few people were expecting very much from Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. Not only is it a multimedia tie-in to a game, a JRPG no less, but the long shadow of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within continu...
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here and here.]
Summer tends to be one of the hottest seasons in many regions, which results in people trying to find a way to stay cool while they endure the heat. In the cas...
Aug 20 //
Soul Tsukino We are greeted by Tetsuya Naito. Guess EVIL isn't much for words.
Super Jr. Tag Tournament Finals: Roppongi Vice vs. Matt Sydel/Riccochet
This is the final of an eight-team tournament. Presumably, the winners get a Jr. tag team title shout in Tokyo. The Vice got here by beating Kenny Omega and Chase Owens and the team of RedDRagon while Sydel/Ricochet defeated The Time Splitters and the Young Bucks. Looks like they are trying to add some variety to the Jr. Tag division. I commend them for that since it was getting stale.
The Vice come out first and Josh talks about helping to train Rocky Romero in MMA way back when. The opposing team then come out and Ricochet does a nice one anded vault over the top rope.
We immediately cut ahead in the match with Ricochet and Rocky diving into the ring. It is really obvious they cut out some action but JR and Josh act like the match just started. Who are you trying to fool? Anyway, Ricochet and Beretta trade whips into the corner. Rocky comes charging in with a spear that Ricochet leap frogs over and the Vice collide. Ricochet takes advantage by delivering a zigzag on Romero to send him down again. Rocky gets up and Ricochet goes for a waistlock but Rocky counters around, only to be hit with a northern lights suplex. Ricochet hangs on and hits a second! Pin attempt only gets two.
Ricochet gets Romero up in a fireman's carry but Romero leaps out. He hits a strike and goes for the ropes but Ricochet catches him in a drop toehold as Sydal comes in with a leg drop. Both guys hit tandem moonsaults on Romero, but the pin only gets two. Ricochet drags him to the corner and goes up. He tries for a 450 splash but Rocky moves. Ricochet lands on his feet though and rolls through it. Rocky gets up and hits the ropes and Barretta comes in the ring and they hit Ricochet with a double jumping knee. Rocky goes up in the corner as Barretta hangs Ricochet out to dry on the top rope. Rocky comes off and nails the flying legdrop on the back of the head, sending Ricochet down where he is hit with the running knee from Baretta for a two count.
Baretta tags in legally where he whips Ricochet into the corner and runs in with a flying elbow. Ricochet staggers in the ring with Barretta about to hit something off the ropes but Sydal pushes his partner out of the way and lands his patented double knees right on Barretta's head. Romero comes in and kicks Sydal right out of the ring. He turns around to hit a clothesline in the corner on Ricochet but gets a kick to the head for the effort. Ricochet rolls out of the corner and jumps up, landing a DDT on Romero and now everyone is down.
Sydal tags in and he tries to get Baretta in a pump handle slam, but Trent squats down on it. Sydal hits him a few more times and tries the move again, but Trent blocks it again. Romero comes in and clobbers Sydal with a clothesline and then winds up for his freight train clotheslines in the corner. He hits Sydal with it three times before Sydal catches him and lifts him up to the corner where Ricochet hits him with a kick from the apron. Sydal climbs up and goes for the super huricanranna but Romero slips out. Sydal lands right in his ass on the top turnbuckle and bounces backwards to the mat. Talk about busting your ass!
Romero bounces off the ropes and goes flying through the ropes to take out Ricochet with a suicide dive while it's still Sydal and Baretta are the legal men in the ring. Barretta hits a running knee that folds Sydal in half but only gets a two count. The Vice set up for the double team dudebomb or whatever they call it with Trent cradling Sydal in the ring, but when Romero tries to come off the ropes with a slingshot, Ricochet leaps in and spears him out of the air! Sydal turns Barretta around in a Canadian destroyer piledriver but he only gets the two count!
Baretta staggers in the corner as the other teams goes for it. Sydal is launched into the corner first but Baretta sends him over the top to the apron. Sydal's leg gives out and he tumbles to the floor but Ricochet scores with the hit. He then runs towards the other corner and hits an amazing shoot star press to Romero outside the ring! Inside Sydal goes up and goes for a shooting star press of his own, but he meets Baretta's knees at the bottom. Baretta goes for the cover but only gets two. He picks up Sydal who goes for a kick but Trent ducks, he goes for another one with the same result. Baretta sets him up and hits the dudebomb but the pin is broken up by Ricochet.
Ricochet and Romero trade punches back and forth. It turns into forearms and kicks. Romero hits a jumping knee and ricochet hits a superman punch. Ricochet gets Romero in a fireman's carry but Baretta pulls him off. Ricochet smacks Barretta with a kick to the face and then Sydal comes up and tries to get a reverse flying headscissors but it doesn't go quite right and ends up in a weird reverse victory roll instead. Romero comes back in and ricochet hits him with the benedryller in the corner. Both guys go up and hit simultaneous shooting star presses and get the pinfall! Sydal and ricochet have won the tournament!
Hiroshi Tanahashi/Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazuchika Okada/Kazushi Sakuraba
Power Struggle is like the WWE's February pay-per-view. Everyone is gearing up for Wrestlemania and want to build up the main event, so we get a match like this to preview things with out having either main eventer look weak. It's a strange match as Tanahashi and Shibata had that rivalry not too far back but seem to get along now. Sakuraba usually teams with Yano, but I don't think he is a member of CHAOS, while the champ Okada is the leader.
After both teams come out we cut right to Sakuraba and Shibata starting out with both men going immediately for armbars and counters before getting back up to their feet. Sakuraba grabs a headlock and Shibata reverses. Sakuraba counters into a leg scissors and clamps down. Shibata turns it around but Sakuraba turns it into a googoplata! Shibata is nearly out! He drags Sakuraba over and gets a foot on the rope. They get back up and Sakuraba hits a kick and sends Shibata to the corner were Okada gets a tag. Okada cuts the ring in half and keeps Shibata away from his corner. Okada gets him down in the corner and kicks him a few times before picking him up and hitting a few forearms. Shibata seems to have woken up and lands a few strikes. He goes to the ropes but Sakuraba catches him and locks in a choke.
Okada comes up and boots Shibata right in the face. He rolls outside and Sakuraba follows him out. In the ring, Okada runs right up and knocks Tanahashi to the floor before going out after him. Both Tanahashi and Shibata eat guardrail. Shibata makes it into the ring where Okada tags Sakuraba back in the match. The Gracie Killer starts landing some kicks on Shibata but he muscles up and strikes back. Sakuraba tags back out and then both guys drop elbows on Shibata. Okada whips him into the buckle and goes for the dropkick but Shibata kicks the champ right in the face. Shibata finally tags out and Tanahashi gets in with the champ. He hits a flying forearm on Okada and slams him in the ring. He tries for the second rope senton but the pool's empty. JR calls it a "seldom used move" by Tanahashi but he uses it in EVERY match, making me wonder if JR gives a damn. Okada picks him up and lands a few slaps before taking over with a clothesline and a whip in the corner into a DDT. Okada gets in an elbow and goes for the pin but Tanahashi kicks out.
We come back from break as Okada trying for the tombstone but Tanahashi counters out and lands a leg whip. Tanahashi goes off the ropes and Okada gets in that sweet dropkick. He then hits Shibata with one as well. Okada goes up and lands a long distance flying elbow! He picks Tanahashi up and goes for the rainmaker but Hiroshi counters into a waistlock before nailing the slingblade! Somehow Okada is able to get over to his corner for the tag.
Sakuraba tags in and lands some kicks in but Tanahashi counters and sends Sakuraba down. Shibata tags in and starts hammering Sakuraba down, but Sakuraba comes back and lands some kicks before going for the front choke! Shibata lands a strike to get out and then hits a cool kick on the seated Sakuraba. Shibata tries for the PK but misses. Sakuraba gets the rear choke while Tanahashi is being held outside the ring. Shibata lands a Saito suplex but Okada breaks up the pin. Tanahashi comes in and sends Okada out. Shibata hits his hang time kick on Sakuraba in the corner. He slams him down as Tanahashi hits the high fly flow. Shibata hits the GTS and scores the pin.
We don't seem to be quite done here. Shibata leaves the ring in his usual "job's done" kind of way and Sakuraba is carried out. Okada and Gedo start to leave as well but Tanahashi grabs the mic and tells Okada to get back in the ring because he is going to teach the champ something. Okada obliges him and comes back in the ring. Hiroshi says that he will be the new champion and that IRGP is just around the corner. not quite sure what he means there. Okada grabs the mic right from Hiroshi's hands but before he can say anything Tanahashi just clobbers him! We have a fight! The young boys come in to break it up but it's not working. Tanahashi clobbers Okada with the case as they just keep going at it. Talk about out of character. They finally get separated as Gedo pulls Okada back.
We cut to the back where Okada and Geo are talking and here comes Tanahashi! The fight's not over yet! Gedo is yelling for Tanahashi to hold it and stay right there as we got to commercial.
We come back to Naito in the studio, ?he says that getting a partner would make spreading the word of Los Ingobernables twice as fast. He looked at all the wrestlers and found EVIL was going to be his partner. We cut to a clip from the last show where Goto says that EVIL was "a mediocre wrester who came back from the U.S. without having done anything." Naito disagrees. He also says that he took this show off due to an "earlobe injury" with a big smile on his face.
Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL
More of that weird match order thing again as this match was the third match into this show, while the tag match we just watched was the semi-main event. Odd. A bit of background on EVIL. He was a young boy who entered New Japan in 2011 and was used for opening matches for a few years while he trained, using his real name Tamaaki Watanabe. He had a brief cup of coffee in Ring of Honor here in the states, largely being in the roll of "that New Japan guy that everyone beats". As we saw last time he made his re-debut in the company, now as Naito's goon, EVIL. During that same he got into it with Goto during and after the match, so here we go with that.
After all that fighting, this seems like a letdown. EVIL comes out dressed like the grim reaper, complete with scythe. Have I ever mentioned that EVIL is a really ugly dude? I mean look at that picture? Bug-eyed ugly mother fu- you get the picture. Goto comes out with his awesome warriorness. EVIL attacks as soon as he gets in the ring!
EVIL gets some shots in before he forearms Goto right in the face. He hits Goto again but when he goes to the ropes Goto kicks him right in the chest. EVIL slide under the ring and when Goto goes to look for him he smacks Goto again. Hey, at least it's not that "tranquilo" horse crap Naito does. He runs right into Goto with a chair. He then puts the chair around Goto's neck and slams him into the post. EVIL gets into the ring as the count is on. Goto rolls in at 17. EVIL gets the front facelock but Goto rolls through it only to get a hit with a neckbreaker. EVIL chokes Goto on the mat. Goto gets up and is met by a chop to the chest by EVIL and another one. Stone faced EVIL sends Goto down and then locks in an arm wrench. He then sinks in and bites Goto right in the side of the neck!
After a break, we come back to see EVIL pressing a foot on the back of Goto's neck. He gets a brief chinlock and runs the ropes but both guys smack together from clotheslines. EVIL tries a clothesline but Goto blocks. Goto goes to work with some kicks and a back suplex, but only gets two. Goto kicks EVIL right in the arm and tries for a suplex but EVIL counters into a fisherman's buster suplex. EVIL goes to grab Goto but Goto tries to lock in an armbar. EVIL gets out with a kick to the head. Goto gets up but EVIL hits a clothesline, Goto counters back with three of his own. EVIL hits a clothesline off the ropes but Goto counters back. EVIL goes for the STO but Goto counters. They reverse each other until Goto hits the reverse ushi-goroshi. He locks in a leglock submission but Naito strolls down to the ring and just flat out attacks Goto. He hits his destino move right in front of the ref before Tiger Hitori FINALLY calls for the DQ. Well, he's getting older. Reflexes aren't what they used to be. Shibata comes running out and the goobers flee, wanting no part of that guy. I smell a future tag team match.
In the back, Naito talks about how awesome EVIL is and how perfect the match was. He rambles on for a bit before actually saying EVIL has to speak his thoughts. "This is Evil. Everything is Evil." Welp, that sums up the character rather well!
In the studio, Naito talks about if Goto was happy after the match. He says the match was merely to unveil EVILl and no point in putting in 100 percent. Naito interfered to stop EVIL from beating a big name in his debut match. He did Goto a favor and he should be happy.
Odd match order aside, this was a good show. The first match was fun without being a car wreck like the four-team jr tag matches usually are. The second match did its job, even if it was a little shirt. And the main event was different. I wouldn;t say this blew anyone away but it was alright.
Next week we get Honma and Ishii beating the crap out of each other! See you then!
It's time for Power Struggle! Hey gang! It's time once again for Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we move into the month of November as we visit Osaka once again for Power Struggle. This show takes place on November 7, 2015 and it's narrowing in on the big WrestleKingdom show in January. Let's dive in!
Aug 20 //
Red Veron [embed]35206:5791:0[/embed]
YouTube Channel Only in Japan, gives us an informative video all about the Japanese machines.
The very kawaii Venus Angelic tries out some vending machine fried chicken and shows us the available fast food items.
This video from Munchies is all about half-Japanese Ty Demura making a quick post drinking session meal from vending machines on the way home.
Here's another video from Only in Japan where they showcase a vending machine restaurant filled with retro vending machines and a place to sit down and enjoy all the different vending machine food.
Here is a video by timtak1 and how he found a vending machine that claims to sell used women's underwear in a small building filled with vending machines selling adult items.
What do you love about these Japanese vending machines in the video? Which one would you love to have access to on a daily basis? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Coin Operated Convenience You've probably seen Japanese vending machines in various forms of Japanese media before, it's very much part of daily life in Japan with its highly mobile society that where a good chunk of the population use public transpor...
[Update: I added the information about GHOST's other editions.]
Alright, people. It's time for fans of Vocaloid music to rejoice, because DECO*27's fifth album, GHOST, launches on Sept. 28 as a special version for ...
Aug 18 //
If there’s one thing that hinted towards a big change in the story, it’s that the Main Character Shang Bu Huan was placed in an unfortunate situation that made him a part of the group that plans to stop the evil sword collector known as Mie Tian Hai from awakening the Tian Xing Jian, a powerful sacred sword, from its seal. The unfortunate thing about this was that Huan was just a swordsman who just wanted to wander, but he was placed in an unfortunate circumstance where he ended up becoming an enemy of Hai’s evil group, the Xuan Gui Zong.
Since Urobuchi loves to make his characters suffer, the idea of the hero having to give up on his routine to fulfill a specific task works well in this favor. Hell, this format tends to lead to some interesting development with the main characters than one where the lead wants to do something good from the get-go, as it shows that an unexpected journey could help someone grow. In Thunderbolt Fantasy’s case, Huan's growth will likely be related to how he handles the ordeals when the group is close to Hai's castle.
Even though the majority of the show’s story focused on the main cast formulating their party to stop Hai, the mysterious character known as Gui Niao holds the title of being the possible catalyst in changing the way how people view Pili and Urobuchi’s action-packed puppet show. He was the main reason why Huang is part of the campaign to fight the Xuan Gui Zon, and there are a few characters who have problems with the guy. Depending on how the story goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes the spot as the show’s final villain. That, or we might have different factions and Niao will lead one of them. For now, his connection to the story is a factor that could elevate the series to a higher level and the suspicious vibe that he gives off contributes to the program’s entertaining aspects— especially with his persistent tendency to make sure that he has the prerequisites to overcome the trials that lead to Hai’s lair.
While we’re on the topic of characters that could change groups at any time, the addition of a demon and a man who calls himself the Screaming Phoenix Killer contributes to the show’s idea of a group that’s united by a common motive. The idea that the party has their own toxic environment to deal with makes one wonder how things will change when the first major arc comes to a close. These aspects continue to push the audience towards being suspicious of Gui Niao; thus leaving people with the joy of trying to figure out where the story could go.
For a team that could turn on each other, their teamwork somehow works out well, as a few of the show’s characters can give it their all when another comrade instigates them into doing something dangerously. Overall, this concept is what makes Thunderbolt Fantasy’s cast great since they’re all in it for a specific motive. Depending on how the direction the story will go later, I’m hoping that this aspect continues to be a recurring element since the team made these segments fun to listen to.
Speaking of worthwhile things, the puppetry in Thunderbolt Fantasy gives off a breathtaking feeling. The actions scenes feel like an over-the-top Hong Kong film and the special effects (such as the magical flying weapons and powerful shockwaves) make every action scene a marvelous spectacle that never disappoints its audience. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this is that the show’s puppeteers are doing these segments in real time; thus resulting in a puppet show with one hell of a performance.
Aside from the puppet’s impressive movements, the cast’s designs feature some highly detailed clothes and weapons. The craftsmanship in each puppet makes each of them look like a wonderful work of art. Not only that, the fact that the show’s staff uses weather and environmental damage is a solid feat, as the shots and lighting bring life to Thunderbolt Fantasy’s man-made sets. All in all, the team’s combined hard work with the puppetry, special effects and environments work hand-in-hand in creating a stage that grabs the audience's attention. Also, the idea that a majority of the show’s characters are left handed is a nice treat for lefties everywhere.
As a person who never got to witness that many action puppet shows (such as The Thunderbirds) before, Thunderbolt Fantasy’s story and action left me blown away with the effort that went into the sets and action scenes. The violent puppets segments and Urobuchi’s writing serve as the true strings that’ll expose the nature of this series, which has started to unravel with Screaming Phoenix Killer’s actions and motives. With Hai entering the battlefield, it’ll be neat to see how everyone bypasses this trial. From the looks of it, this might be the opportunity that’ll allow for Huan to prove to everyone that he isn’t lying about his backstory. No matter what direction the series will take, Thunderbolt Fantasy will remain as a title that I never imagined as a medium that I needed in my life.
[Get blown away by Thunderbolt Fantasy’s puppet action on Crunchyroll.]
Lefties rule! Ever since Urobuchi was involved with Kamen Rider Gaim, my desire to see him tackle other types of mediums outside of his usual things went up since it would be great to see how his writing style would cut up those stories. S...
I may not have gotten the chance to dive into more traditional visual novel titles, but I still enjoy keeping with the stuff that gets announced for the West. That way, I have an idea on which games to jump on when I get the ...
Aug 18 //
Anyong and Salam! So this piece is important to me, so if I guess if I want it to mean something to you too, I should start by introducing myself. I’m Yussif and more than anything else, I’m passionate about stories and it’s really Japanese culture which got me into storytelling. Growing up, I wanted to tell my own stories, so I did plenty of writing, but it’s only recently that I decided to take the plunge and start an enterprise focused on storytelling and the worlds I created. I’m writing to you, to introduce the startup I founded, Hei Stories, a platform, the tales of which are heavily inspired and influenced by Japanese animation and manga. I hope you’ll stay a while and hear me out, because I think Hei Stories is full of the things which we love above fiction; complex characters and developed world, human themes and stakes we can invest in. And maybe, something new too. I would like to introduce you to Kaleidoscope, to a wholly new and unique universe, which although it is populated by living stars and ghosts made of songs, ruled over by an Eclipse King, protected by superheroines and challenged by explorer revolutionaries scouring the frontiers of starlight, it is a world based on our own, where hope, dreams and compassion are our armour, sword and shield. Welcome to Kaleidoscope, I hope you find something of yours in here too.
Bear with me, but the first things I’d like to talk about are ‘magic’ and ‘love’. Perhaps this will make more sense if I use Miyazaki’s work as the foundation for this discussion. By ‘magic’, I refer to the sense of wonder that is conjured by weaving secrets and fantastical settings that tease and play with our inbuilt desire for adventure and the mysterious. I found a combination of the two when I came across Spirited Away; but in addition to ‘magic’, films like Chihiro’s say something unique about what it means to be human and to live and love and in doing so, are doing something quite intimate. By exploring childhood and life, from films like Only Yesterday to Howl’s Moving Castle, Miyazaki involves us in the story and in doing so, makes the fantastical elements believable, making the entire experience truly magical.
Work in Hei Stories tries to do the same, through a blend of magical realism and Romance. I use my work, Zoe Taylor as an example; a young woman who travels from one world she creates to another, in search of a love she has long forgotten, each world she hopes bringing her closer to home than the last. Or Monsoon, in which Abhu dreams of her big sister; her thoughts and feelings entering the sky, becoming ghosts, gods and asura, connecting her with the person she is looking for. In these stories, it is my hope that I have not only drawn inspiration from the likes of Miyazaki, or Makoto Shinkai, but that the tales set in Kaleidoscope explore themes such as love, hope and pain in unique ways - whether that’s Asem’s ability to draw power from the human heart or the Lovecraft militia, who through pure fury, manifest their pain in terrifying power. It’s my aim to explore what we mean by such ideas as ‘love’, how it is an idea which empowers us, the way Petra sees beyond Asem’s trauma, or how Abhu’s longing for her sister connects them through the sky.
My view of the world has been heavily shaped by the stories I watched and read growing up. Among them, was Dragonball Z. What did I love most about Dragonball Z? Vegeta, plain and simple. Why? Well, he used to be a bad guy- now, that doesn’t just make him a badass, it makes him fascinating. This may have become a common Shonen trope, but think about it. As a kid, I was suddenly introduced to the notion that the world is complicated and that maybe, just maybe, there is goodness in everyone (except maybe Frieza). Sometime later, it happened, Naruto confronted Pain and what did he do? He talked to him. This blew my mind, even if Pain could never justify the things he did, he had reasons, and was himself suffering from sorrow which made him what he was. By talking to him, Naruto liberated them both from the circle of hate and made it possible for their world to move forward. This, which to me, was an impossibly amazing moment, would inspire me to go and study Peace as a discipline at university.
But above all, it made me want to tell this story to others, it made me want to tell people that there was another way, that people are complex and can be reached. I began creating villains I wanted readers to empathise with, villains the heroes could empathise with. Villains who were more than just antagonists. I created Rakshasah, who gives up his freedom to the insurgent leader Asura to save his village, in exchange for being raised on a philosophy of hate; ultimately giving up on himself, seeking to force Neha, whom he loves to see the world the way he does, so he doesn’t have to suffer alone. But even though Neha is accompanied by a rain demon, she would stop Rakshasah not by fighting him, but fighting what had been done to him. Then there is Iconoclast, someone so utterly rejected by the world that she felt the need to conquer it in order to change it. Is she good? Evil? More appropriately, a revolutionary, in the tradition of Lelouch.
One of the aims of Hei Stories became to contribute to social and global commentary, by spreading positive and progressive messages and engaging in a discussion to humanise and spread tolerance, understanding, positive change and empathy. I believe stories have the power to create significant change in the way we view the world and it is our aim to contribute to the discourse of making the world a better place. From LGBT rights to the need for the world to welcome refugees, from peace to overcoming depression and heartbreak, I hope these stories can be there for people around the world overcoming adversity, dreaming and hoping towards better futures. The way Luffy and Naruto were there for me.
And for anyone who is like me, searching for their place in the world, I am writing Centillion Lights episodically on Patreon, a saga about a race across multiple plains of existence, from Flower Kingdoms to Art Empires, to find Earth, a very different place in the heart of each racer, seeking to make the world something of their own. A coming of age story which takes the 'spring of youth' concept found in so much anime and really pushes it with what it means to be young and trying to work out who you are in an unknowable world.
So Hei Stories is seeking to branch into different mediums including spoken word, literature, audio and ultimately animation. It is our aim to begin production on an animated feature/series set in the world of 'Kaleidoscope' in 2017. To this end, I’ve begun crowdfunding on Patreon, initially contributions will fund things like a concept artist (I’ve done the art to date, but I’m not a professional) and comiccon space to spread the word, but combined with funds gathered from public readings we’re doing in London and prospective grants from established institutions, it’s my hope that we’ll be able to fund the animated series. If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on patreon.com/heistories, or you can explore more of the world I’ve created on heistories.wordpress.com/blog or on Youtube @ Hei Stories. In addition, it is our aim to create opportunity for young and emerging artists. The actors who will be performing in 'Asem', the major public reading we’re doing soon, are in the early stages of both their lives and careers and it is our hope to give them exposure and help them grow as well as give them support. Poets and musicians are also involved in this project and it is our sincere wish to help nurture and support the young artistic community and see it thrive, because quite simply, art makes life better. I think that’s one of the reasons that we love anime, because it combines music and visual art, drama and writing in a spectacular collaboration to produce something like Sword of the Stranger or Princess Mononoke.
And exploring genres, produces a literal kaleidoscope of artistic collaboration. In the tradition of Ghost in the Shell, or Darker Than Black, I explore neo-noir and urban horror in Lights and Letters From the Sleepless Wars, trying to push the boundaries of what we understand to be real. Or in the tradition of epic Romance like One Piece, I created the Sunflower Diaries which explores a universe which challenges what we understand the world to be, all from the foundations of a young girl’s dreams. We weave stories around unique countries like the Moon Kingdom, actually inspired by the aesthetics of Klonoa with its solar temples and moonlit palaces. Then there is the whimsy of the bizarre and fun, such as Space Dandy, in stories like our Mighty Mighty Mighty Thunderclap Coalition who aim to spread Earth culture in a post-Earth solar system. And with these stories come a variety of aesthetic, inspired by animators like Yutaka Nakamura as I imagine Bonfire Engines assemble themselves from a will to be, or worlds racing past as a ‘Runner’ sprints through the universe- or a girl turning a flower into a small bird as subtly as when Chihiro tapped her feet to make sure her shoes were on.
I have spent a-lot of time talking about what has inspired Kaleidoscope, but I want take a risk here and dare say that Hei Stories does some things that are new. Sometimes we seem inundated with ‘harems’ and battle adventures and MMO reality swapping stories. But look at the uniqueness of the premise of Erased, D.Gray-Man’s Noah Family, all of Makoto Shinkai’s and Ghibli’s work; the biggest way in which anime and manga has inspired me, is by encouraging me to create something new. From watching the breathtaking, experimental animation of Mob Psycho 100 or experiencing how 5cm Per Second blends the cosmic with the Earthly. These stories have pushed our imaginations, visually and in how we think about storytelling and the world. In particular, I would like to site Bounen no Xam’d and Eureka 7, both works from Bones which are significantly original stories which push how we understand genre and bring human drama to the fantastical with original ideas, whether that’s the sentient ‘Coral’ at the centre of the Earth, which we have to come to terms with co-existing with in Eureka, or the way an Emperor declares war on the world because he has lost his name in Xam’d, set in a world where emotions create immensely beautiful beasts whilst a love story is told, based on a relationship that is never traditionally defined. Or we can look at Sore Demo Sekai wa Utsukushi which pushes the boundaries of how love evolves and what motivates people.
It would feel arrogant to inundate you all the ways I think Hei Stories is original, but here is a short list of examples of how the world we’ve created pushes the boundaries of fiction as inspired by anime, from setting, to story structure: Kaleidoscope is a universe not based on material space, but rather ‘place’ is painted across a landscape of thoughts, emotions and concepts, materialised in starpaint and hyperdimensional oceans. It is my aim to make accessible sensitive issues like extremism and tolerance and trauma through fantastical settings, whilst exploring new character archetypes, with ‘hyperambition’ which blurs good and evil or a revolutionary that is in love with the world. We explore time and story beyond the three act structure, exploring legacies, world histories and ideals, all interconnected by characters and ideas. Watching Gainax push the scale of how we understood stakes, inspired me to push it as well, in both a cosmic and Earthly sense, in terms of relationships, concepts and action.
So what does Hei Stories and the universe of Kaleidoscope come down to? It comes back to where I started, ‘magic’ and ‘love’. To enchant and inspire. It is my hope, to truly bring something positive into the world. Kaleidoscope is a universe crafted on the principle of hope, where the fantastic serves the real and so, to illustrate that, I would like to end with this excerpt, where Hubble, the literal spirit of the Hubble Telescope who watched us for centuries, speaks:
First, there were Chart Makers, they are the stars and ideas which make life possible. Independently, Stargazers were born, life in the material world, humans, animals, the Brave, species from across Kaleidoscope, across the universe. Stargazers and Chart Makers fell in love with one another, the living fell in love with life and life fell in love with the living. And in the space between that love, we, Constellations were born, an expression of every thought and hope and sadness. And for a time, love was law. Until he found you, Naenamh, you know him as the Eclipse King. Even we, Constellations, aren't sure what the Eclipse King is exactly, but he existed before the advent of life, he was alone in the dark. So when light and life began, he saw your joy and was enraged at the reality of his sadness. He came to hate everything. In his grief, he declared war on love and sought to spread his sorrow to the living. He murdered Aset, partner of the Chart Maker, Sirius. Sirius, not knowing how to deal with grief or loss, attacked the world on the Eclipse King's behalf. And so began the wars between Finality and Infinity, grief and love, spanning long into the millennia and deep into the human history. Yet every time, you win. I've watched you conquer over despair, time and time again. When the Eclipse King finally decided to simply destroy you, the only reason the Forge you call Amazing was able to find you and stop him, was because he could hear you through bottomless space. He followed your music and laughter, shouts and speech across an ocean of stars. And from him, Fragments were born, another miracle born of the underbase of love and life, a substance created by human interaction and will. And then Asem. You all created her, your world raised her and taught her to love.
Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it, feel free to get in touch to talk about anything, whether that’s here, one of the links or on [email protected] . Speak soon - live, love, hope and eat oreos. In Kaleidoscope, every child has a memory of the day the sun stood up, it’s my hope to remind us.
“I would like to make a film to tell children it’s good to be alive.” - Miyazaki.
Introducing a storytelling start-up [Editor's Note: Here at Japanator we work on stuff that's not directly related to the site. this thing here is Yussif's new jam.]
– the sun itself, uncurled and stood. Mountain shadows scattered as she rose. She stood a...
To this day, I'm still amazed that we live in a world where the West is almost caught up with The Legend of Heroes Trails series since XSEED and Carpe Fulgur went through some huge ordeals to localize the franchise. Perh...
Final Fantasy XV the game may not be in the cards for another few months, but that won't stop some of the other stuff scheduled to happen. The CGI film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is still on track for a late Augu...
Aug 15 //
Soul Tsukino I've written coverage of my home convention here in Maine, AniMaine, before. It is a very close-knit gathering of friends, both old and new alike. That con takes place in November in South Portland, Maine, about and hour or so south of where I am located. It is a highlight of my year.
The same group, some in different roles, decided to put on another convention this weekend in AniMaine Bangor, a one-day convention located in Bangor, Maine. The "Queen City" as it is called is about two hours north of where I am located. Most of the staff are from the area since it's the location of Husson College in its associated school NESCom where a lot of the staff graduated from, as did I about ten years before they did. It can make me feel old sometimes with them young whippersnappers and their fancy degrees.
The weather on Saturday was not in our favor. The news had called for rain and we sure got it. Luckily there wasn't much scheduled for outdoors (if anything at all) so outside of a trip to your car, you were okay. I went with my usual partner in crime Jeremy "Emerje" Crocker from Tomopop and arrived a little before 9 a.m. This event was being held at the Four Points by Sheraton located right next to Bangor International Airport, a place neither of us had been before. It took a little time to get organized as the con registration was located on the second floor of the entrance. Luckily some familiar faces were there (namely Con chair Diane Lapierre) to point us to the right place.
The layout of the space was small, one panel room, one game room, a small vendors area next to the hotel gym, with some information tables located in a walkway leading to the airport terminal. The vendors' area was open when we arrived and we checked things out there, with about six different vendors including a Henna painting table, a table set up for a couple of local horror themed cons, an artist, and a seller offering up old toys and another offering anime stuff and really good prices.
We checked out the first panel of the day, hosted by longtime AniMaine staffer Michael Churchill about Magic: The Gathering. Not my cup of tea as far as subjects go but it was still interesting. We took some time to check out the con's program and found that the schedule had been updated and changed the night before, without a chance to fix the programs. I was prepared as I noticed the change on the con's website and had printed out my own copies.
We took some time to look around for a short bit before the next panel, What Makes a Video Game Great. The presenter was Adam Crowley who is a Ph.D. looking at games. He was very engaging and would mention things that were popular and why and took a deeper look into the games we love. The next panel was cosplay judging so we explored around some more. There were quite a lot of cosplayers to this con, but we aren't judges and they actually filled the room. I took the time to really get my bearing as to where things were located as relating to a small elevator that really made things easier. We got some lunch at one of the small terminal restaurants and hung out for a while. As I've said of AniMaine in South Portland, this con was very relaxed and had a laid back environment that encouraged conversation with those around you.
Next up on the program was the first of two panels by the headline guest, voice actor, director, and AniMaine veteran guest, Terri Doty. with her first of two panels, Voice Acting 101 with Terri Doty. She always makes for a good panel as she is very entertaining, but at the same time has been working in the industry long enough to speak real wisdom. There were a few young audience members who were looking into the industry and Terri was able to answer their questions with stories and anecdotes like only she could.
The panel that followed was Hey, I'm Walkin' Here hosted by AniMaine's South Portland Chair, Colin Harvey. This was an animation tutorial panel on how to create a simple walking loop using home computer animation programs. Again, a lot of it flew over my head but it still was enlightening. The next panel was planned to be a Karaoke Extravaganza but some wires got crossed so the room was used for a makeshift panel from one of the staffers while we milled around for a while on our own, I stayed at the hotel while Jeremy checked out some of the surrounding stores.
I walked around checking in with some old friends and getting pictures of some of the cosplayers that were there. I met a couple with a very adorable little dog that was the cutest. I returned to the Vendor's area and something cool happened while I was there.
For those of you that have seen my posts at our sister site, Tomopop will find I'm a big collector of '80s/early '90s style GI Joe figures. I got to talking with one of the vendor's selling older toys and he said he had a bin of figures he would sell cheap and I assured him if he brought it in I would buy something. Since he lived only 20 minutes away, he went to get them. I took the meantime and got something to drink and hung around the lobby of the hotel near the front desk and chatted with people as we watching Olympic diving (yes, the one with the green water, ick). He returned and SCORE! I ended up getting 13 Joes, most of the which were only a few dollars. He was happy, I was very happy, all was awesome.
Reconnecting with Jeremy, we took in some of a panel called Making Your Own Games with Unity where the host showed off a small game that he had designed himself. We milled around some more and hung out at an empty table in the game room for an hour or so before the next panel, which was Con Stories with the vendor for the local horror cons I had mentioned earlier. There was only 5 or six of us but it was a lot of fun and silly stories for conventions past, talk of tipping cows, Star Trek actors, and how awesome Billy Dee Willians is.
We finished out the con with Terri Doty's Q and A panel. As said before, she tells wonderful stories about not only her work in voice acting but her life as well. She raffled off a few DVDs, Jeremy ended up winning one of the Hetalia collections. With the panels ended we headed out for the long journey home.
AniMaine is family. Old vets like yours truly were just as apt to have discussions with long time friends as much as people going to their first cons ever. It's a relaxed atmosphere where you can just hang out and chill, play some games, take in some great stories, and reminisce about things that happened in days past. The different location from the South Portland cons didn't affect that. It's like if you have a family tradition of going to the grandmother's house every year for Thanksgiving, but then one of your cousins invites the family to their house for a day. Even if the location is different, a place you have never been before, the AniMaine spirit is still there and welcoming. This more than anything else showed that no matter where we are, we are home with family.
A new location but the same good time. This weekend and era came to a close as Otakon, one of the east coast's biggest conventions, was held in Baltimore for the last time. Since 1999 the convention has been held at the Baltimore Convention Center and had seen its...
One of the most remarkable things about Final Fantasy XV's development isn't its epic length, but how open the process has been over the last couple of years. Since the reins were handed over to director Hajime Tabata (who ha...
Right Stuf has been on a good roll with their plan to release the older Gundam titles on Blu-ray. During their Otakon '16, the company mentioned that Turn A Gundam is getting the Blu-ray treatment next year. For those who bou...
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.]
When people said that Fortune Summoners was a bit challenging, they weren't joking around. While I didn't get a "game over" yet, the game encourages the players to take...
It's a known fact that the coolest ninjas are the one who don't hide. With Power Morphicon '16 happening as we speak, the actors for the 2017 Power Rangers series, Ninja Steel, have revealed their identity in front of a live ...
There's something nice about companies releasing art books that feature an artist's older pieces. Not only do you get the chance to see how the person's work has evolved, but it also gives people the chance to see that creato...
Aug 10 //
Christian Chiok [embed]35189:5778:0[/embed]
A.W Phoenix Festa (PlayStation Vita)Developer: APLUSPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: July 26, 2016 (US), July 26, 2016 (EU), January 28, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $39.99
When launching the game, you can either choose to play as Ayato Amagiri or an original character, which you can name whatever you wish. While the game doesn’t specifically state it, it is implied that playing as Ayato is easy mode since your stats are already high enough and ready for the Phoenix Festa as opposed to the original character who starts with lower stats, thus making the game more challenging, but you are given more time to prepare before the Phoenix Festa.
What I didn’t like about Ayato’s storyline is that you need to find a partner for the Phoenix Festa before the deadline, which is 2 weeks after the game starts. While that may sound like a lot, time really flies fast in the game. While it’s doable to choose the partner that you want, those two weeks could push you to make a rash decision since if you don’t find a partner in due time, the game will end prematurely. While I personally do like Saya, at the same time, it as a rushed choice since I only had one day to find a partner.
With the original character however, you are given two months before the Phoenix Festa thus giving you plenty of time to build up your character as well as his relationship with the rest of the cast. I felt a lot more comfortable doing his path since it gave me time to think work on who I wanted as a partner as well as build up my stats the way I desired. Though it was somewhat harder compared to Ayato’s playthrough, I definitely recommend playing his story first since it’s a lot more flexible and gives you more room for enjoyment.
Like a lot of Dating Sims, the game is time dependent. You are giving a calendar in which you can set up appointments, train, go shopping, upgrade your equipment and even take on a job. There are two time slots for each day —AM and PM, and which gets fill up depending on what activity you choose to do. Setting up appointments allows you to either duel or take the person on a date. Though I would recommend on challenging them on a duel first since it not only boosts up your stats but it also raises your affinity with that character as well. However, the battles aren’t really enjoyable, which I’ll get into later on.
Training allows you to boost up a stat individually such as Life, Attack, Defense, Insight, etc. However, in return, training takes a toll on your health and body condition, which reflects on your battles, so it’s imperative not to overdo it, or heal up before proceeding to battle. Job requests are like side quests in which nets you extra money that can be used to buy weapon upgrades in the laboratory, or buy medicine or even presents to raise your affinity with the girl characters in the Shop.
All in all, if you enjoyed the anime’s story, then you’ll most likely enjoy the dialogue in this one as well. However there were times where the game got too repetitive with the dialogue and kind of boring. There were times where I took Saya to a date multiple times, but unfortunately they were the same scenario most of the time, though that’s because though affinity cap isn’t really that high either.
Most anime games don’t offer too much depth in their combat system, and that should be expected, however, the combat system is this game is so bland that it makes the game not so fun to play. You only have two attacks, mapped to the square and tringle button as well as a special attack which is used by pressing L1 and Triangle. While the special attack is spammable as long as you go stamina, it’s blockable, though it can make battles pretty annoying. At least since each character wields different weapons, it somewhat offers different play styles for each character.
Whether we’re gaming or working on a project, we know how imperative it is to save your progress. While I appreciate that the game auto-saves your progress, I feel that as a Visual Novel, it does it excessively. There was times where I lost matches or made the wrong choices, so I wanted to revert to a previous point but realized it was too late. Naturally there’s always the option to quit the game before the game saves your progress but that still feels like too much of a hassle, even when the game doesn’t take much to load.
Considering I somewhat enjoyed the series, I really wanted this game to be enjoyable as well since it looked enjoyable from first impressions. I wasn’t expecting for too much, but something I can turn to for some quick fun on the go and don’t have to invest too much time in. Even if for some reason you really enjoyed the series, it’s hard to recommend this game, even when it hits a sale. I wanted to enjoy this game but every aspect of it it’s really weak.
[This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Bland Stories & Battles In this gaming generation, especially with both the PS Vita and the 3DS, it’s pretty common for Bandai Namco to make a quick cashgrab of anime series currently airing in Japan. It happened to Kuroko’s Basketball, ...
As the summer season continues to get hotter, the folks at Garage Hero are turning up the heat with their new hero known as Suzaku. Of course, this fiery warrior happens to be a hot-blooded individual.
So far, I'm loving the ...
In a rare national TV address, Akihito, the current Emperor of Japan, spoke frankly about his declining health and hinted that he may want to stand down from the Chrysanthemum Throne someday. This came after weeks of rum...
Aug 07 //
Christian Chiok [embed]35186:5776:0[/embed]
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PC)Developer: Koei TecmoPublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: July 5, 2016 (US), July 8, 2016 (EU), January 28, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $59.99
Right off the bat I could tell how deep the game is, and I was going to have a hard time learning the many features the game offered, as it easily one of the deepest game in the PS4 library. As a matter of fact, the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining many of the features to new players, so trying to play through the first few hours were really overwhelming.
When booting the game, you get a message that it’s recommended to play through Hero Mode, otherwise known as the game’s Tutorial Mode, to get a good grasps of the game. Immediately as the game showed the introduction, it captivated me and couldn’t wait to progress through the game. At first, the game holds your hand a little bit, pointing out what you need to do and such, as well as explaining the game features. After that though, I couldn’t help to feel a little lost on the mechanics.
I spent a few hours fooling around with the game so I can get a good grasp of it. With help, I was able to manage and get a decent understanding of the game, so I proceeded to the main mode, in which traditionally offers a different scenarios to play. The main goal of the game is to stabilize your territory, gain more officers, conquer more territory, and ultimately unify the land, under the flag of Han, Wei, Wu, Shu, Zhong, Jin, or another force.
To accomplish this, players will be using the several options and sub-options to increase your territory domestically, which you can do so by appointing yourself or one of your men to the tasks such as Commerce, Farming and Culture. Commerce gives gold, which you can use to pay your officers. Farming feeds your men. Culture attracts people. You can also improve your territory militarily, which is done by hiring new officers.
The battle system in Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII is similar to the previous games, where you encounters an enemy force and takes control of the battle. Otherwise, the AI will decide the outcome. When taking control of the battle, you will leave the world map and enter a more detailed battle map. How it looks depends on where you encounter your opponent, so it can be on the ourskirts, near a city, in a forest.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms shares the same epic cinematics found in the Dynasty Warriors series, though not as dynamic and animated. Instead, the cutscenes are still images with little animation. However, it still has that epic feel thanks to the voice acting and the effects added to them. Though I would have proffered if the game had fully animated cutscenes. The soundtrack is also as amazing as in the Dynasty Warriors games as well.
As hard as it was to get into at first, I did enjoy my time with the game, such as plotting my dominion over China as well as growing my civilization through the basics of successful commerce, culture, farming and military training. However, after investing my time into it, I don’t think it’s my type of game either.
I personally think that Romance of the Three Kingdoms is far from a bad game for what it offers, and I can really appreciate a game that offers a lot of depth. However, as a newcomer to the series, it was really difficult and frustrating for me to get into it at first. According to friends familiar with the series, this was probably a bad entry to start with, and I should play ROTTK10 instead to get into the series, and if you want to get in to the series, I would advise to do so as well. Otherwise, it’s probably a good game for veterans of the series.
[This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Expand Your Empire Being interested in Japanese culture, learning about the Sengoku era came with the territory. While learning about the history about the era as well as its historical figures, I stumbled upon Samurai Warriors back in late 200...
DeScruff Sypran Hello I guess I'm new. I came in because of the Va-11 Hall-A stream last night.
When I get back home I'll explore this site a bit!animenekogirl Hi I'm new and well I love anime...kevinperdue Sometimes it just hard waiting for the pre-order. You know? But then there is other anime :).Red Veron Hey, readers! I love you<3Rin Haruka Oh my gosh i just finished clannad after story for the second time and i need at least 5 more tissue boxes sniff sniff Hiroko Yamamura hikevinperdue Yeah! I ordered three things all at different times and they all came in at the same time. Thanks name withheld ordering company!Salvador GRodiles Since my condition hasn't improved that much from yesterday, my Jtor Live segment won't be happening tonight. If anything, it should be back this Saturday.Salvador GRodiles Since I'm feeling under the weather right now (curse you, spring season), this week's Jtor Live shall be pushed to Sunday.Anthony Redgrave Hearts over Hanekawa! <3Salvador GRodiles As a heads-up, this week's Jtor Live is being pushed back to Sunday. Anthony Redgrave Someone's got a new desktop background :DAnthony Redgrave I don't know what this is, but it's tres Adorbs!OverlordZetta I am choosing to believe Umaru randomly decided to make this reference and no one can stop me.Anthony Redgrave Just going to leave this hereAnthony Redgrave "In the name of the moon I will punish you!" with a posed lookAnthony Redgrave Double the Onodera. Double the festive fun!OverlordZetta I swear it looks like the Red one just wants to jump out and kill whoever is looking at the picture.Anthony Redgrave WoahOverlordZetta Hi everybody! I posted a blog about Symphogear today, but for some reason it decided to go up on the day I started it, rather than today. URL is here: http://www.japanator.com/blogs/OverlordZetta/symphogear-we-need-to-talk-34502.phtml