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The Dragon Dentist photo
The Dragon Dentist

Rejoice: Animator Expo's Dragon Dentist short gets a TV special


Will it expand on the piece's setting?
Aug 26
// Salvador GRodiles
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...
Steins;Gate 0 photo
Steins;Gate 0

Grab your lab coats: Steins;Gate 0 gets a more affordable limited edition


it's time to open another Dr. Pepper
Aug 23
// Salvador GRodiles
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. While this...
Olympics? photo
Olympics?

Uh, Japan's Prime Minister cosplayed as Mario for the Olympics


Wait, what?
Aug 22
// Josh Tolentino
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 ...

Review: The King of Fighters XIV

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. 
The King of Fighters XIV photo
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...


Review: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

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.
Kingsglaive: FFXV Review photo
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...

Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Turn up the heat with Fortune Summoners


Let's set this place on fire
Aug 20
// Salvador GRodiles
[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...

Strong Style: The Power Struggle is real

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!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
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!

Weekend Japanatainment - Vending Machine Edition

Aug 20 // Red Veron
[embed]35206:5791:0[/embed] YouTube Channel Only in Japan, gives us an informative video all about the Japanese machines.   [embed]35206:5792:0[/embed]  The very kawaii Venus Angelic tries out some vending machine fried chicken and shows us the available fast food items.   [embed]35206:5793:0[/embed] 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.   [embed]35206:5794:0[/embed] 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.   NSFW Warning!  [embed]35206:5795:0[/embed] 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!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
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...

DECO*27 photo
DECO*27

Vocaloid Artist DECO*27's new album comes out next month


Get ready to crave for pizza
Aug 19
// Salvador GRodiles
[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 ...
WTF Fridays photo
WTF Fridays

WTF Fridays: WAKE ME UP


I can't wake up
Aug 19
// Red Veron

First Impressions: Thunderbolt Fantasy

Aug 18 // Salvador GRodiles
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.]
Thunderbolt Fantasy photo
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...

MangaGamer photo
MangaGamer

MangaGamer announces two Rance titles, Sona-Nyl, and more


In which six becomes an awesome number
Aug 18
// Salvador GRodiles
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 ...

Introducing Hei Stories: Inspired by Anime & Manga, Welcome to the Universe of Kaleidoscope

Aug 18 // Yussif Osman
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.
Hei Stories photo
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...

Trails of Cold Steel II photo
Trails of Cold Steel II

Huzzah: Trails of Cold Steel II hits North America next month


It's time to go back to Erebonia
Aug 16
// Salvador GRodiles
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...
Kingsglaive Final Fantasy photo
Kingsglaive Final Fantasy

Here's some Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV to salve your pain


Magic v Magitek
Aug 16
// Josh Tolentino
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...

Japanator goes to AniMaine Bangor 2016

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.
AniMaine Bangor photo
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...

Final Fantasy XV photo
Final Fantasy XV

Despair: Final Fantasy XV delayed to late Fall


A special message from the director
Aug 15
// Josh Tolentino
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...
Turn A Gundam photo
Turn A Gundam

Moonlight Butterfly: Right Stuf to release Turn A Gundam on Blu-ray


DVD owners are in for a sweet deal
Aug 14
// Salvador GRodiles
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...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Destroy the scorching heat with Fortune Summoners' water dungeon


Status ailments are the worse
Aug 13
// Salvador GRodiles
[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...
Power Rangers Ninja Steel photo
Power Rangers Ninja Steel

Power Rangers Ninja Steel shows off its cast


Can you spot the Dino Charge connection?
Aug 13
// Salvador GRodiles
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 ...
Yoshitaka Amano photo
Yoshitaka Amano

Rejoice: Viz Media to release a new Amano art book next week


Summer plus art equals a great time
Aug 10
// Salvador GRodiles
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...

Review: A.W. Phoenix Festa

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.]
A.W. Phoenix Festa photo
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, ...

Suzaku photo
Suzaku

Get fired up for Garage Hero's new tokusatsu short


Olympic Flames!
Aug 08
// Salvador GRodiles
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 ...
Emperor Akihito photo
Emperor Akihito

No, Japan's Emperor isn't stepping down (but he might want to)


The Emperor Speaks
Aug 08
// Josh Tolentino
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...

Review: Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII

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.]
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Aug 06 // Soul Tsukino
For our first show, we are greeted by Ishii who walks in front of the camera, sits down, and says absolutely nothing. Tomoaki Honma vs. YOSHI-HASHI No real reason to have this match other than to put these guys n the card. Honma is the loveable loser who finally broke his double-digit match losing streak in the G1 by unexpectedly scoring a win over Tomohiro Ishii. Hashi is the low guy on the CHAOS totem poll that originally came in as Okada's infrequent tag partner. He usually is left in the background behind most of the other CHAOS guys, so he's been a bit frustrated. Hashi comes out first with his trademark giant walking cane. Josh talks about how Hashi tried to enter the NJPW dojo three times before they accepted him. Honma comes out as determined as usual. The crowd is in his corner as no one really cares about Hashi, JR and Josh make mention that he gets looked over a lot and he is getting more frustrated. The bell rings, and Hashi goes right into some elbows across Honma's back as he is taped up across his lower back. Hashi grabs a side headlock. Hashi tries to whip Honma in but Honma counters to send Hashi down. Honma goes for the falling headbutt but of course, misses. They go outside where Honma gets his back slammed into the barrier. Hashi grabs his walking cane and takes a shot at Honma with it near the barrier. Hashi drags him on the apron and suplexes him in the ring. He goes for a second but drapes Honma on the top rope. He hits a dropkick to the dangling Honma for a two count. Hashi then hooks the leg and goes for a single leg crab to put more pressure on the back. Honma gets to the ropes and Hashi pulls the tape off. Hashi drives him into the corner with elbows but Honma comes back with some chops and another failed falling headbutt. We come back from break as Yoshi picks him up and tries for a suplex but Honma counters and drops to the mat. Hashi picks him up and tries again but Honma nails the suplex instead. He finally hits the falling headbutt and when Yoshi gets up, Honma hits a DDT. Yoshi is stunned as Honma goes up and hits a blockbuster but can only get a two count. Honma goes for a gutwrench but a shot to the back ends that. Yoshi nails a suplex into a neckbreaker but only gets two. Yoshi goes for a piledriver but Honma counters into the corner. Yoshi charges in but gets an elbow or his troubles. Honma hits the diving headbutt and then another one but gets a two count. Slam and he goes for the big headbutt from the top rope and he misses. Both guys struggle to their feet. They collide with clotheslines but Honma gets the edge on that. He goes for a headbutt and Yoshi gets a clothesline. Yoshi hits a powerbomb into a roll up but Honma kicks out. Yoshi goes up for his move but misses. Honma staggers into the corner and hits a diving headbutt to Yoshi's back. He hits another butt but it only gets two. Honma goes for the tombstone but Yoshi counters into a near fall. Honma gets up and hits a diving headbutt right to Yoshi's chin. Yoshi is down and Honma scrambles up to the top. He hits the big kokeshi headbutt and scores the pinfall! Backstage Honma says that Yoshi was settling in with CHAOS but every day is a tryout for him and he fights his best every night. Yoshi will never beat him ever. Yoshi says he will do whatever it takes to make it up to the fans for this loss. Bullet Club (Anderson/Gallows/Fale) vs. CHAOS (Sakuraba/Yano/Nakamura) What a collection of guys we have here huh? The real focus here is between Karl Anderson and Shinsuke Nakamura stemming from our last show where Anderson laid the challenge for the IC belt of Nakamura. Otherwise, YOSHI-HASHI would be in the match instead and we wouldn't be watching it. The Club comes out first with Gallows wearing a gas mask. The opponents all come out together oddly enough, which is like the world's weird cosplay waiting line with Sakuraba wearing an oni mask, Nakamura dressed in his usual gear, and Yano carrying water and the latest DVD. Nakamura and Karl have a stare down based off our last show and end up starting the match. Lock up quickly has Nakamura getting the upper hand with a whip and kicks. Anderson gets Nakamura down with some arm drags. Lock up into the Club corner where Gallows tags in and hits a headbutt on Nakamura but Nakamura stomps on his foot and tags in Sakuraba. Sakuraba ducks a punch and lays in with some MMA kicks. Gallows catches the leg and flattens Sakuraba with a  big punch. The other club guys come in and with have a brawl! It ends quickly as Gallows drives Sakuraba into the corner and tags in Fale. He just stands on Sakuraba's back and flips off the ref for the warning. Anderson rakes the eyes from the floor. Fale literally sits on Sakuraba and then tags out to Anderson. Anderson comes in all cocky but when he tried to grab Sakuraba. He is locked into an armlock that Gallows has to save him from. Anderson tries a cannonball but Sakuraba moves and tags in Nakamura. He reveres the whip and hits a one leg dropkick and then good vibration. Anderson counters with an elbow to the knee but Nakamura counters and puts Karl to the corner and gets the knee lift. Nakamura gets the reverse powerslam and goes for the booma ye but Gallows comes in to end that and we've got mayhem. Guns and Gallows double team on Shinsuke, but Nakamura kicks Gallows and Anderson in the knees. He then hits a jumping knee to put Anderson down again as he tags in Yano. Fale tags in and squashes Yano immediately. He throws him into the corner and squashes him again. He goes for the bad luck fall but Sakuraba comes in a breaks that up. With extra guys in the ring the ref gets distracted. Tama Tonga climbs in the ring for the attempted double team but Yano nails them both low. He scoops up Fale and scores the pin for his team. Backstage Karl says no one gives a shit what Yano did and only care for Nakamura losing his title to Anderson. Nakamura says he will enjoy it and then mocks Karl's machine gun. In the studio now with Ishii, let's hope he's more talkative this time. He wants revenge for Togi beating him for the belt. Despite never beating Togi, it is not like he can't he says. NEVER Openweight Title: Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii Bar the doors and bolt down everything because these guys are gonna fight! There is a lot of history here with Ishii being a former member of Togi's group Global Bash Heel. They have been facing off in recent months with Ishii never getting his decisive win over Makabe and damn well determined to beat the unchained gorilla's face in! This will be fun! Ishii comes out first. No crap, no frills. His left knee is wrapped, but this guy is always hurt. Togi comes in just as determined. Stare down right off. Bell rings with a stiff lock up and the bulls face off. Togi backs to the ropes and a break. Ishii gets the headbutt and a shoulder block. Headbutts to the face but Togi comes off with a shoulder and tosses Ishii outside. Tomo hits the barrier and Togi tries the other side but Tomo counters. The clobber each other some more before deciding to get back in the ring. They meet with some dark clotheslines before Togi gets an edge and Tomo goes down. Togi lays in some kicks and sends Tomo to the buckle before laying in some elbows in the corner. Togi yells at Ishii and Tomo stands right up. Tomo smacks Togi with a clothesline that flattens him. Tomo kicks him a few times in the head to see if he is still alive. Togi gets back up and Tomo smacks him around before getting a suplex. He slaps Togi on the canvas and Togi asks for more! Tomo throws some elbows and Togi takes it like a man! Tomo goes for a strike and Togi scoops him up for a powerslam. After the commercial now with Togi picking Tomo up. Tomo hits back but Togi hits a shoulder block. Tomo goes in the corner and Togi follows in with 10 punches and a laugh in the corner, followed but Northern lights suplex. Tomo gets up and counters back with a chop. Togi lays in the hits to the head and Tomo gets back in it with a chop to the throat. He hits another one. Ishii scores the Saito suplex.  Whip reversed as Togi goes into the corner and Tomo hits him in the head. He positions Togi up on the buckle and goes for a superplex. He hits it! Togi kicks out barely at two. At this point, I should note Jim Ross keeps screwing up Togi's name by calling him "Toji". Remember this later on when he whines about "being corrected by guys who live in their mom's basement." Tomo goes for a clothesline but Togi ducks, counters and hits another northern lights suplex. They meet in the ring with a double clothesline. Togi gets a head shot and then a clothesline but Tomo doesn't go down. It takes two clotheslines to the neck to knock him down! Togi picks him up and then hits the king kong powerbomb but only gets two again. Togi tries to pick him up but Tomo is hurt. Tomo uses the ropes to get back up. Togi tries a suplex and a shot to Togi's back but a clothesline flattens him with another clothesline to the neck. Togi sets him up for the spider suplex. Tomo holds on for dear life and he counters with some elbows. Tomo gets out and turns around on the buckle and Tomo starts wailing away before Togi gets his shots in. Both stand up on the buckle and they exchange shots but Tomo hits a headbutt that sends Togi down to the mat. Tomo dives off with a knee to Togi's head! Wow! Makabe still gets up and they meet with some clotheslines. Togi goes for a suplex and then hits an enziguri. Tomo scores a surprise roll up but only gets two. Togi rolls over Tomo with a big clothesline! After the commercial now with both guys down. Akira Maeda is in the crowd! Both guys back up and just start punching each other in the head before Tomo gets one in the face and falls over. He gets back up only to get a chop to the neck. Togi lands a German suplex, but only gets two. Togi lifts Tomo up and drives his face into the buckle and then levels him with an axhandle. Cover gets two.  He picks Tomo up for the spider suplex in the corner again and he hits it! Togi goes for the knee drop and Tomo strikes him with a headbutt! Tomo hits a running clothesline but only gets two! Tomo goes for the brainbuster. Togi tries to counter but Tomo catches him with a dragon suplex and then a sliding clothesline. Ishii tries to cover but Togi kicks out! Tomohiro is not deterred as he grabs Togi and hits the brainbuster! He covers and gets the win! We have a new champion and Ishii has finally defeated Makabe. As both guys are in pain and Makabe is carried from the ring, Honma comes out and jumps in the ring. Ishii asks what his problem is and Honma challenges him for the belt. Ishii says he gets one shot but yeah, let's do it. Honma says he beat Ishii in the G1 so he should get a shot. Ishii says he can finally look ahead and isn't stuck fighting Makabe anymore and got what he wanted. He says with Honma, he is going to beat him up for his one shot and that it's payback time for losing in the G1. In the Studio, Ishii says he wasn't going anywhere as he continually fought Makabe. Now that he has finally beaten him, he can move on. Some would say the match was a true NEVER fight, but he doesn't think so since the match would have been the same, the belt just happened to be there. This was a fun way to start off the night. there probably was some clipping, especially in the six man match, but it wasn't very noticeable. All three matches were fun and had a variety to it to give a little something different to everyone watching. They also did well in putting this together to explain the storylines in the matches and the interviews. Good episode and we aren't even close to done yet! On to Episode 2 as we are greeted by Hiroshi Tanahashi.   IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kenny Omega v/s Matt Sydal This one could either be really good or complete crap depending on Kenny's mood. The backstory here is that after Omega won in his last defence, he noticed Sydel who was at ringside and hadn't even debuted for New Japan yet. Kenny made the challenge since he's beaten everyone and here we are. Sydal enters first as he still does the same hand gestures and poses he's been doing for years. Here comes the Cleaner! Omega comes out with Cody Hall and even grabs a trashcan and plays it as a drum as he sings to his own theme song. We skip ahead just a bit as the bell rings. They glare at each other before we go into the lock up. Both go in the ropes as Kenny screws with Matt a bit teasing a smack but just gives a clean break. Back in the ring for another lock up and Kenny gets the advantage and a headlock. Sydal shoots him off but Omega holds on into the takeover. Sydal goes for a side headlock but Kenny holds on, Matt tries to counter out but Kenny holds on. Sydal lets go and goes for the armdrag but Omega blocks it and lay in the shots. He grabs Sydal and tries to throw him in but Sydal counters and gets a headscissors takeover into the corner. Matt gets the hit and goes for the cover but Omega kicks out. Matt gets a toe hold and goes for the Muta lock! Omega won't give up and just barely gets to the ropes. Matt lands a kick to the knee and sends Kenny over with another kick. He locks in a knee wrench and slams down on it. He does it again and again! Kenny lands a kick but is slow to get up and gets a kick to the knee. Omega hits Matt with a karate kick right to the chest. Kenny lands some chops  and an elbow to the head before standing on him on the apron. Cody gets in a choke from the outside. Kenny gets a drink and spits on Matt. He pulls off some tape from his wrist and throws the ball at him before landing a backbreaker for the two count. He tosses another tape ball at him and hits a strike to the back. Kenny hits an elbow to Matt's back. He goes for another but Matt spins around in a kick, but Sydal gets kicks and another backbreaker to stop that offense. After the break, Kenny has a glare n his eye and whips him hard into the buckle. Kenny tries it again but Sydal counters and hits a hard kick into the legs. He hits the double knees to the face. Matt misses a jumping kick but gets the back kick and a cover but only gets two. He NEARLY gets a pin off another strike. Sydal comes charging into the buckle but gets hit with Kenny's boot, but Sydal counters and nearly gets another pin from it. Matt goes up the buckles but Kenny jumps up and stops him. They fight up and Omega gets kicks off the ropes, but pops right back up, only for Sydal to get the headscissors and the kick. Kenny rolls outside into Cody's arms, but Matt goes up top and launches off in a dive to take both of them out at ringside. Sydal shoots him back in the ring. he goes for the double knees but Kenny catches and holds him (!) before tossing him into the buckle.  He grabs on and gets a gutwrench into a powerbomb for a 2 count. Wow! Omega gets in a front facelock and tries for the suplex that Sydal counters into a headscissors and nearly a pin! Sydal lands a kick and another but Kenny keeps trying to get back up. Kenny gets a kick now and then a jumping knee. He goes for a second but Sydal counters into a backwards headscissors. Omega is spiked right on his head! Sydal goes up for his air Sydal splash but crashes right into Omega's knees. Kenny gets the full nelson suplex and the running knee, Sydal tries to counter but Kenny gets the one winged angel to score the pin and retain! Good match! In the studio now as Tanahashi talks about Naito always being a looming presence. He wasn't aware of Naito's change and it threw him off in their last match. Tanahashi says Naito knows how to put on a show and he's brought a lot of attention to this match. For the IWGP Title Shot: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs/ Tetsuya Naito This match is, like last week, for the WrestleKingdom title shot that Tanahashi earned from winning the G1 Climax tournament. After retaining the briefcase against Fale, Tanahashi called out Naito, since everyone in the company wants to kick Naito's ass now. Naito was like "*shrug* whatever" and we have a match. Also interesting to note from last week was that Naito said he found a partner and he would debut him here. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN! Naito comes out in his black suit and mask as he strolls to the ring. Another man comes out in the black suit in the mask so Naito has found his partner! The nice thing about Naito's entrance is it easy kills five to ten minutes so I don't have to type anything while JR and Josh talk about whatever. Both masked men stand in the ring to a chorus of boos before Tanahashi's music hits and instant cheers. The ref asks Naito to take the mask off and he finally does as we go to break. We come back and we skip over Naito taking the rest of his gear off. The bell rings with nothing happening. We nearly get a lock up but Naito walks away from it. He does it again as the crowd boos. Naito just kicks Tanahashi and lays into him with some shots and drives him into the buckle. Naito leaves the ring to screw around but Tanahashi gets a baseball slide to send Naito into the barrier. Tanahashi comes out and Naito nails him. Tanahashi sends him into the barrier now. Naito kicks him in the head and tosses him back into the ring where he hooks in a front facelock from the floor and drops him with a hanging DDT. Ouch. He grabs a chair from ringside and sets it up in the corner of the metal barriers. He plops Hiroshi in it and lands a running dropkick. He grabs the chair, bring it into the ring and has some tranquilo time as Tanahashi crawls back in the ring at 19. Naito lays in the kicks before scooping Tanahashi up and hooking him in the tree of woe. He holds the boot to the chin before hitting Hiroshi with a sliding dropkick. Naito locks in a headscissors and cranks on it!  Tanahashi gets into the ropes but Naito turns and kicks the cameraman for some reason . Naito scores a low dropkick and poses like Tanahashi for a bit. Naito spits on Tanahashi and then gets a cover. Tanahashi is bleeding from the mouth and Naito gets in a chinlock. Naito tags the ref who goes outside. No DQ for that by the way. Tanahashi tries to fight back but Naito throws some punches and kicks before spitting on Tanahashi again! Tanahashi gets an uppercut and nails a flying forearm and is holding the back of his head. He gets a hard elbow in followed by a senton and a pin attempt but Naito kicks out. Tanahashi gets in a liver punch and tries to whip Naito in. Naito counters with a flip but gets a dropkick to the knee by Hiroshi. Tanahashi locks in the cloverleaf but Naito gets to the rope and Tanahashi doesn't want to break! Naito to the apron and Tanahashi scores the dragon screw leg whip on the damaged right knee. Naito rolls out but Tanahashi comes off the top with a body splash. However, Tanahashi grabs his arm awkwardly so he is hurt! Naito is rolled in and Tanahashi runs right around the other masked guy and tries for the high fly flow. Naito brings his leg up and counters! Back from the break. Both guys are getting back up Naito runs into Tanahashi in the corner and hits a kick, a trip, and then an over the rope dropkick. He scoops Tanahashi up and lands a frakensteiner. Naito kicks Tanahashi in the head a few times. He hits an elbow to the neck but Tanahashi is getting up. Tanahashi lands an elbow but Naito feels nothing. Naito spits again as they start firing elbows back and forth. Tanahashi lands a uppercut but Naito comes back with a face rake. Naito tries for the dragon suplex but is countered with Tanahashi landing a swinging neckbreaker. They go into the ropes and Naito hits a slingblade but Tanahashi kicks out of the pin! Naito goes for an arm crank but Tanahashi gets sent into the ref who goes down useless putz. The masked guy rolls into the ring and takes off the mask to reveal Watanabe! He takes off his coat and they start in on Tanahashi now. Capt. New Japan comes in but he gets beat up because he is a loser. Watanabe lands a suplex on Tanahashi and Shibata and Goto come out and clear the ring of Naito and Watanabe. The guys help Red Shoes out at ringside. Naito rolls back in Tanahashi tries for a kick but Naito catches it and goes for the low blow. He nearly scores the pin when Red Shoes comes in but only gets two. Naito shoves the ref again but Naito tries for Destino. Hiroshi counters with the sling blade. He goes up and nails the high fly flow and scores the three count! Goto jumps in and starts whaling on Watanabe but Watanabe lands the STO on Goto to lay him out. Goto is helped from the ring as Tanahashi stands tall! Backstage Goto is pissed! He vows to teach Watanabe a lesson. Naito says he doesn't care about the match and just wanted to show his partner off His new partner speaks Spanish (I wonder about that) and his name is EVIL! Tanahashi is confused as to Naito's way He says NJPW has too many stars and they only need one, him. Wow, even Cena wasn't that self-centered. In the studio, Tanahashi talks about Naito being different but it was a great match despite the interruption. He says Goto and Shibata were uneasy on interrupting, but they were glad Tanahashi won. Both of these matches were really good! This was one of Kenny's good nights it seems as Cody didn't interfere a whole lot. The main event of this hour was a great battle between these two with a story developing with EVIL showing up. How can we top that? With the main event of course! Here comes hour three as we are greeted with The Rainmaker Okada. Studio words from the champ as he says he couldn't wait to defend the title. He wasn't overlooking Styles ahead of the Tokyo Dome show, but that he got distracted in a tag match during the final show of the G1 and got beat. His eyes are solely on Styles right now, IWGP Title: Kazuchika Okada v/s A.J. Styles The leader of CHAOS taking on the leader of The Bullet Club. These guys have met plenty of times with Styles beating Okada for the title in his very first NJPW match in 2014 and Okada beating Styles for the belt three months prior to this. With WrestleKingdom so close, this very well could decide who gets to defend the title at NJPW's biggest event. Styles comes out first and he isn't alone. Gallows, Anderson, and Tama Tongs are right behind him. Okada comes out with Gedo in his corner. JR mentions the winner of this is the champ for WrestleKingdom 10 so there ya go with that. We are getting full entrances for both as we got plenty of time here. We get the full introductions as some people cheer for Styles but it's mostly "boos" for the Club. Okada gets introduced to the cheers of the crowd. We return from the break as the bell rings and here we go.  Immediate Okada chant. They circle around but don't lock up right off. am A.J. Styles chant starts up and Styles starts bitching to the crown like: "I know who I am. Let me do what I'm best at and shut the hell up!" Styles locks up and Okada immediately reverses and gets in an armlock. He gets the hammerlock in but Styles reverse into an armlock and backs into the ropes. They break as Styles bitches some more. Styles gets a headlock and the go down to the canvas into a pin attempt. They scramble and Styles gets a rollup for another near fall before they both nip up into a staredown.  Lock up again as Styles is back in the ropes Okada goes for a chop but fakes Styles out for a clean break. Okada then turns around and smacks him anyway. Okada gets an Irish whip into a reverse splash and a neckbreaker. He gets distracted by the Club and Styles takes advantage and rakes Okada on the ropes. Okada gets the slingshot suplex over the ropes as Gallows gets on the apron. Okada is pulled out of the ring and beaten up by Tama Tonga. Ref distracted again as Gallows drops Okada on the apron with a powerbomb. Okada rolls in and Styles goes for a pin but he kicks out. Styles sets him up in the corner and he hits a high splash in the corner before putting a foot on Okada and posing. Okada counters with some elbows and gets shot in the ropes where Styles nails him with his awesome dropkick. We come back from another break as Styles picks Okada up and gets in a snap suplex. Okada gets tossed out again. Styles comes out but Okada sends him into the barrier. Styles gets up and sends Okada into the barrier before rolling back in the ring as the count starts. Okada gets in quick and hits a snapmare into a chinlock. As another aside not only does JR bring up Vader so he can bitch about internet fans, but he starts going into memories of NWA wrestling at 6:05 on Saturday nights. Okada gets back up and lays in some elbows before uncorking an uppercut. Styles goes into the corner and Okada nearly gets the boots, but Okada catches and sends Styles to the other buckle where he connects with another uppercut. Okada lands a running forearm and then a DDT on Styles. Styles gets back to the corner where Okada misses a charge. Styles tries to climb the buckle but Okada nails HIS sweet dropkick sending Styles crashing to the floor. Okada goes out but gets sent to the ring apron. Styles tries to whip Okada into the barrier but he reverses, Styles leaps over the barrier but goes for a slingshot clothesline and gets nailed but Okada and crashes in a heap. Okada tosses him into the ring and goes for the pin but Styles grabs the ropes. Styles counters a corner charge by leaping to the apron. He runs Okada's head into the buckle and lands the slingshot forearm. Styles lands a pumphandle gutbuster and goes for the pin but Okada kicks out. Styles sets him up for his next move but Okada counters. Styles goes into the ropes but gets met with a flapjack on the mat for his trouble. Out of another break with Styles catching Okada into a buckle suplex. Styles rolls to the apron. He goes up top and leaps over a charging Okada. He tries it again and catches Styles and brought him down into a reverse drop neckbreaker. Okada goes for the Tombstone but Styles escapes into a wristlock. Styles picks Okada up and dumps him on his face for a 2 count.  Styles goes for a piledriver but Okada counters and they counter again. Okada tries to counter but Styles dumps him on his head awkwardly. Ouch. He tries a pin but Okada kicks out. Styles goes outside and tries for the springboard but he misses and splats on the mat. Okada crawls over and climbs up the ropes and hits a missile dropkick that drills Styles right in the face. They crawl up and Okada nails some elbows to the face, Styles counters in kind. They just trade shots back and forth. Elbows back and forth right to the face. Styles gets a snapmare and a kick to the back. Okada gets up but Styles lands an enziguri. Okada then surprises Styles with a dropkick, then hooks onto Styles landing a German suplex but holds on into the rainmaker! Okada nearly gets the pin but Anderson pulls the ref outside. Okada gets mad and goes outside where he sends both Gallows and Anderson right into the post and puts them down. He comes back in but then does a dive to take out all three guys on the outside for good. Okada comes back in and starts up the turnbuckle. He grabs Okada and scores with a superplex that makes Okada bounce off the mat like a rubber ball! Styles goes for the pin but Okada kicks out! We come back from another commercial and both guys are down. Styles slowly picks Okada up and goes for the styles clash but drops Okada. He tries it again but Okada counters out so A.J. rolls him into the calf killer. Okada tries and rolls through with it but as he stands up, Styles wraps him in another one! He is in major pain as he struggles and finally gets to the rope for a break. Styles goes for the leg again and tries the calf killer again but Okada rolls through and hits the tombstone! Okada is badly hurt and can't make the cover. Okada hits a weak forearm and Styles hits one back as they can barely move. They struggle back up. Okada goes for the rainmaker but gets into a backslide. Okada gets out and hits a legscissors, but Styles hits the Pele kick to counter. Styles goes for the styles clash into an exploder position into a tombstone position. Styles gets out on the apron and sends Okada into the buckle again. Styles goes up but get an uppercut right to the head. Okada goes up and goes for a fireman's carry. Styles tries for the super stash on him but they crumple. Okada falls back and Styles gets down only to get clotheslined twice! Okada hits the rainmaker and scores the win! Okada is going to WrestleKingdom! Styles has to be carried back down the hallway with Anderson and Gallows telling him he is still the best in the world. We come back from commercial with Gedo and Okada in the ring. Okada says that Styles increased the shine on the belt and they should have a rematch. As he talks about WrestleKingdom Tanahashi slides in the ring. Okada turns right around and says that you are next Mr. Tanahashi. Hiroshi says this brings back memories. he says the Ace should be the champion. The pose face to face for a bit before Tanahashi leaves. Gedo talks saying that Hiroshi won't win against the rainmaker. Backstage Tanahashi says he wants to bring the rivalry to an end. Okada says he has good memories of every arena except the Tokyo Dome. He wants to make a good memory. He brushes off Tanahashi and said he will give it his all. In the studio, Okada says that Styles is a great and creative wrestler. He says he is a foreign version of Tanahashi He is someone wrestlers around the world pay attention to. If asked if he was dismayed he would have to face Tanahashi again, Okada said it has to be Tanahashi to get his revenge. That was a hell of a main event! These guys really brought out their A-game and had an incredible match! Aside from Jim Ross having something up his craw, it was a great way to end this night of wrestling. I had a lot of fun all the way through! Tune in next time for more wrestling action!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
No point system here!
Hello again, and welcome to another edition of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are jammed packed with THREE big hours of wrestling. All three of tonight's episodes are coverage of the King of Pro Wrestling show from October 12, 2015. We are at the famous Sumo Hall in Tokyo for this big night of action So let's get underway!

Weekend Japanatainment photo
Weekend Japanatainment

Weekend Japanatainment - US Fast Food in Japan Edition


Supersized Selection!
Aug 06
// Red Veron
Here's another helping of Weekend Japanatainment! This time it's about US fast food in Japan and how something so familiar can be so different. If you've never been outside the US, American fast food places have spread across...

Japanator Unboxing: Loot Anime - Squadron

Aug 04 // Red Veron
If you are interested in signing up for the "Back to School" themed box for next month, use the code "JAPANATOR" for $3 off your order at Loot Anime! Next month will feature items from Assassination Classroom, Digimon Adventure tri, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Persona 3, Danganronpa and Fruits Basket!
Unboxing photo
Anime Squadron Goals
The latest Loot Anime box arrived at my doorstep and I am here to show y'all the awesome goodies inside the box. This month's theme for the monthly subscription box Loot Anime is "SQUADRON", and this new box of anime and man...

Japanator Eats: What's Japan's best rice?

Aug 02 // Lindo Korchi
Hakumai (white rice) is the staple of Japanese cooking and most popular. While genmai (brown rice) is healthier and more nutritious than white rice, it isn't considered as delicious as hakumai. Japanese rice is also sticky when cooked, though not mushy. However, mochigome (glutinous rice) tends to be stickier than regular Japanese rice and is mostly used to form rice cakes. Beyond the traditional format of how we view and consume rice, there's a unique form that the Japanese have taken upon, and that's mochi (rice cakes) – rice on a whole new level. It's made by pounding the mochigome into a paste and molding it into whatever shape desired. Typically, it tastes extremely bland and chewy; it's a traditional food widely consumed and served in soups during the week of New Years in Japan. Thankfully, mochi is also available year round in a variety of ways, including sweets. If you've ever had mitarashi dango, a popular Japanese sweet sold in many convenient stores, grocery shops, and popular hot spots, then you may have eaten rice without even knowing it. With the continuing rise of mass production, many Japanese continue to opt for fresh ingredients. If the rice was harvested, processed, and packaged beyond that same year, then it cannot be sold and labeled as shinmai (new harvest rice). But what's the difference between shinmai and komai (old rice)? The grains of shinmai contains more moisture than komai, resulting in an immediate difference in taste. It's like comparing moist chicken to dry chicken; though both well, it's quite a noticeable difference. While a larger percentage of the Japanese enjoy shinmai, many do prefer komai as it's dry and not as sticky. When it comes to fresh rice, moist rice is the freshest form. The purest way to try shinmai, or any form of rice, is to have a plain bowl of it. However, I typically enjoy adding something to it, may it be nori (seaweed), furikake (dry Japanese seasoning), or salmon. Because of its nature, shinmai is more expensive than other forms of rice that you can purchase in a shop. This would also apply to various forms of dishes that are made using shinmai, such as onigiri (rice balls). You'll notice that homemade, shinmai onigiri are more expensive than the “same” onigiri found in the convenient store. The best way to try shinmai and komai for yourself is to point to a rice product (either a pack of rice, onigiri, pre-made rice, mochi, etc.) and ask “Kore wa, shinmai desu ka?”, which translates to “Is this new harvest rice?” Or, have a Japanese friend who can recommend you places that serve either shinmai or komai. As you can see, there are a variety of styles of rice, including mochi, and they're all pretty good. Currently, one of my personal favorites is onigiri made of komai. It's not too sticky, it's pretty firm, and the nori isn't moist. A common dish is tamago kake gohan (a bowl of rice mixed with a raw egg). It gives the rice a creamy texture and is quite a treat. What type of rice do you prefer, along with your personal favorite rich dishes? [Photos provided by Myself]
Japanator Eats photo
Gohan no Showdown
Interested in the tasting the best rice of Japan? Well, you may be disappointed. Unfortunately, the word “best” is an undefined word that people continue to try to define. It can't be defined because it relies ...


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