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Impressions: Love and Lies

Aug 13 // Karishma Roy
Of course, there is someone who seeks to defy the almighty government. An underdog who just wants to follow his heart, despite the penalties he will face for not completing his civic duty as a Japanese citizen. The penalties include a drop in social status (such as losing your job), not being able to enter the university of your choice, and other rewards from working hard. The hero of our series is fifteen-year-old Yukari Nejima, who falls into the trope of the below average dude in academics and sport. Despite the show featuring a lead with a generally dull personality, he managed to attract two hot and popular chicas. Chica number one is Misaka Takasaki, who Yukari has been in love with since he gave her half his eraser in class before they hit puberty. However, he didn’t have another conversation with her for the next five years. On the night he turns sixteen, he plucks up the courage to confess to her. And what do you know? Misaka has loved him for all these years too! Following this, they proceed to have a steamy make-out session with a white string of saliva connecting their mouths. Two things that I love about the characters is that their teenage horniness is emphasized in the very first episode (most romance anime I’ve seen take five seasons have them join pinky fingers) so this is great. Secondly, I find the term “love” is used way too arbitrarily in our world and in this one too. The “love” they profess to each other would be more believable and hold more substance if they actually knew one other better. I’m not denying that observing someone from afar gives you some insight into their personality, but for the sake of the story, it would have been more realistic if they had at least been acquaintances. Chica number two is Ririna Sanada. She is Yukari’s assigned marriage partner and a fascinating character. She has some tsundere qualities but does not completely fall into this trope. Even initially, I don't find Ririna cold or uncaring. She is socially awkward and refreshingly straightforward but through the series we see her make friends and come out of her shell a bit. Yukari and Ririna form a strange friendship that initially centers around a mutual goal to make team Yukari x Misaka work. Yep, Ririna is a sucker for romance stories and since she isn’t in love with Yukari (yet), she is cheering her supposed rival on. All three of them hang out together and have an interesting time (it’s not a threesome, don’t get your hopes up). This will, as you have already guessed, turn into a love triangle that I am very interested in watching. Yukari and Ririna's attachment slowly starts to escape the friend zone territory so right now the endgame is at fifty-fifty. I think both girls are too good for our main boy but I’m on Team Riri at the moment. Misaka, though, has a layer of mystery surrounding her that intrigues me. I don’t want to force too many spoilers but two strange things stick out about her. Before Yukari gets his notice that confirms Ririna is his assigned marriage partner – it is hand delivered by weird government officials who randomly turn up at his location late at night- he receives a text message that reads Misaka will be his future wife. But the message flashes for barely a second before his phone screen goes blank and the government authorities brush it off as a glitch – that sounds shady. Despite having turned sixteen a few months ago, Misaka has not yet received her notice, and her family has some weird connection with the government. Hopefully, as the series progresses, we'll be rewarded with tasty unraveling that features some dark past. The most obvious questions people will have about this societal structure revolves around the marginalized LGBTQ group. The answer will be revealed in the form of Yusuke Nisaka – a hot homosexual dude who also appears to have an interest in Yukari. Seriously, what is it about him!? So far (we’re at episode six) we don’t know too much about Yusuke’s family life or his past but I’m pretty sure he'll be causing some welcomed upheaval – start a revolution, dude! The premise of this story is gripping and it seems like it will be ambitiously tackling some important themes surrounding forced sexuality, the meaning of love, social control, advanced technology and perhaps other things I cannot currently think of. The art would be more appealing if not for the overly emphasized eyes. In terms of sound, I enjoy the ending song “Can’t you say” by Roys. The opening, “Kanashii Ureshii,” by Frederic is alright, and some of the background music does not fit the scenes well. While the characters aren’t anything special, I’m curious to see how their interactions and relationships will develop. Overall, this anime has me hooked enough to see it through to the end. If you’re a sucker for drama and hot action that has a healthy dose of ecchi, then this is for you.
Love and Lies photo
Both Are Forbidden
Love and Lies is set in an alternate reality where Japan has figured out a way to stop their socioeconomic issue of declining birth rates. How, you ask? They forbade love. In this new system, your marriage part...

Impressions: Golden Kamuy Manga Vol. 1

Jun 24 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35706:6207:0[/embed] Golden Kamuy takes place in early 20th century and it introduces us to Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto, a Russo-Japanese War veteran, who has become a miner in Hokkaido to provide for the widow of his dead comrade, Toraji. When he stumbles across a map to a fortune in hidden Ainu gold, he sets off on a journey to find it. As expected, Sugimoto isn’t the only one interested in finding the fortune, and everyone who knows about it is willing to kill to possess it. During his quest, he meets an Ainu girl named Asirpa, who helps him survive the harsh conditions of the northern wilderness, ruthless criminals, and rogue Japanese soldiers. The story starts with a flashback/dream where Sugimoto was still in the Russo-Japanese war and mercilessly attacking his enemies, showing how he earned his nickname as “Immortal Sugimoto.” Then the story fast forward a little bit and we see Sugimoto talking to a man while scraping for gold, with no luck, however, and that’s where he learns about the gold rush that happened back then in every river of Hokkaido. At the same time, there was a group of Ainu secretly gathering funds to build an army so they can fight back the Japanese and ban them from fishing and hunting. They managed to gather a lot of gold, however, a man was able to steal all of it and kill all the Ainu guarding it. Then the police were pursuing the man for quite a while until he's sent to prison and sentenced him to death. Before then, the guards, just like everyone else, were trying to figure out where he hid the gold. But because he couldn't send letters to his friends, the prisoners that shared the same cell with him tattooed the location of gold stash hid into their bodies If he reminds me of someone, it would definitely be Gold D. Roger from One Piece — it's probably why I enjoy it a lot, since aside from the Nakama bond and epic fights, I really enjoy stories revolving around the quest for treasure. Speaking of epic fights, while they are more realistic, they still keep you at the edge of your seat as he's been on the verge of death in a few encounters. He's also battle smart, as expected, so that's fun to see. If you want to explore new series, especially seinen, then Golden Kamuy is a great series to pick up. It offers a suspenseful story that keeps you at the edge of your seat as you flip every page and interesting story. If you enjoy stories about journeys with a resolution to find a fortune, but in a mature setting with badass and interesting characters, then Golden Kamuy is for you.  
Golden Kamuy photo
Call Me Immortal Sugimoto
One of my favorite things as an Otaku is being introduced to series that I had no idea they existed. When receiving my Dragon Ball Super manga volume from Viz Media, I got Golden Kamuy alongside it. J...

Impressions: Dragon Ball Super Manga Vol. 1

Jun 22 // Christian Chiok
Dragon Ball has always been alive in Japan as we always got video games here and there, and a few specials such as Episode of Bardock, Yo! Son Goku and his friends return, and the Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans remake, in addition to the Dragon Ball Heroes manga by Toyotaro. Then in 2013, comes Battle of Gods, which took the Dragon Ball fan base by surprise—we were finally going to get new material. Afterward, it led to 2015’s Resurrection of F movie and finally the announcement of a new series, in both anime and manga forms, which we know as Dragon Ball Super, the latter which is aso being made by Toyotaro. For those who don’t know, Toyotaro was previously known as Toyble, and was known for creating a Dragon Ball AF manga in the 2000s. Though the manga is still behind, I’ve been enjoying it much more than the anime and I’m really liking the touches Toyotaro is adding (or removing) from the story. The first arc was adapted much better as well. There’s also some things that they added that I really like, like giving Vegeta a Super Saiyan God transformation, and things I didn’t like as much, as Goku not having Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken transformation. Overall, I feel like the manga offers a more cohesive structured storytelling, though I recommend keeping up with both regardless. Dragon Ball Super’s manga, just like the anime, starts with an adaption of Battle of Gods, and it’s much better. Not only does it straight to the point, stretching the movie for no reason like the anime did, but the artstyle was much better. I felt like it highlighted the most important points of the movie well, minus the Bingo scene, sadly. A huge difference from the movie is that this arc introduces us to Champa and Vados—siblings of Beerus and Whis respectively. Considering the manga already expects the readers have seen both Battle of Gods and Resurrection of F, we are only given a few panels of the latter before it moves into the Universe 6 arc. If you’re watching the anime and have yet to read the manga, please do so. Even though the manga is behind the anime, and from the surface both the anime and the manga are the same. You’re missing out on an interesting perspective of the series and doing yourself a disservice if you’re not reading the manga.  
Dragon Ball Super photo
Subarashii Ningen!
Dragon Ball has been one of the most popular franchises in Japan during the last three decades, and with good reason, and when it finally ended, it really makes you feel empty, at least it did for me when I finished watc...

Beyond Fan Service: On the messed-up people of Scum's Wish

May 31 // Karishma Roy
  It’s actually refreshing to see an anime showcase sex boldly as opposed to the frequent, unrealistic portrayal of teenagers who orgasm aka “nose-bleed” at the thought of holding hands. Like, no, that does not normally happen. On the other hand, like some of the viewers, I felt that instead of devoting so much time to very awkward (cringey even) sex scenes, there could have been more of a focus on the emotional and mental consequences of the characters’ actions. It definitely lacked balance in this aspect but nevertheless, the series is still worth watching. We are taken through the journey of how Hanabi and Mugi deal with their pain and loneliness (often through sex) and eventually grow and develop into less unlikeable versions of themselves. I’ve seen that some viewers have been quick to label the female characters as “sluts” and “whores” but let’s not forget that the males are just as invested in sleeping around. More importantly, however, the sex here serves a larger purpose than mere shock value or fan service- it does contribute critically to the characters’ development. It’s not a strange idea that people may fill their hollow hearts with physical affection. The concept of friends-with-benefits and one-night stands is common in western culture and Japanese as well. Hanabi suffers from low self-esteem and abandonment issues. It’s no wonder that she gets lost trying to find her way to true love. In fact, a lot of us can relate to some sort of intense, emotionally charged teenage past. This girl is a damaged human being and that manifests (albeit annoyingly) in her focus on primitive desires. In the beginning, dealings between Mugi and Hanabi lack warmth but slowly they start to open up a small part of their hearts to each other. There’s a sense that the two of them start catching feelings for one other (totally did not see that coming) but they choose to ignore it and focus on their unobtainable adult love interests. This web of desire and possibility makes the story riveting. Hanabi gets a chance to assess the kind of person she is and makes decisions on what and who she wants to become. All the characters mentioned play into well-known tropes but their relationships with each other are what drives this show. Everyone, except that creepy cousin, transforms as a result of their interactions. For the most part, it is fascinating to watch although I found Akane’s character transformation unrealistic and very questionable. What the hell was Narumi thinking? Let’s talk about this biatch for a minute – she is by far the most twisted and fascinating one. Akane seems to derive pleasure from being the target of other women's jealousy. She sleeps with men (and underage boys) who are either in relationships or are wanted by someone else. There is a sadistically childish streak about wanting to essentially “steal” what isn’t her’s and Mugi was observant enough to figure her out as quickly as he did. Do people like her actually exist in real life!? In the end, she grows out of this toxic way of thinking which is great but I kind of wished she had an STD or prison sentence to go along with the new mindset. Other than this, I was very happy with the ending (especially Hanabi’s) because it was pleasantly realistic. The art was neat with an appealing soft colour palette and animation was fluid – every emotion was conveyed with exquisite clarity. The feels do punch you right in the gut. The soundtrack, both the opening - "Uso no Hibana" by 96 Neko - and the ending - "Heikosen" by Sayuri - are major hits among the fans. I listen to it on repeat most days! I rate this anime highly despite being unable to relate to or like most of the characters. I think that the idea of needing to empathise with every main character is limiting and one of the main reasons I watch anime, TV-shows or read books is to expand my knowledge on different fronts including religion, sexuality, culture, way of life etc.… so yeah. Should you watch it? Well, it’s a heavy, dark and sexual series where the tags “lust” and “obsession” would be more accurate than romance. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then go for it. My only advice would be to watch it privately with your headphones connected. P.S. I saw that people were comparing this anime to School Days and yes, that was equally messed up but in a different way. Scum’s Wish is purely psychological and emotional – no-one gets hurt physically, and it’s a much better watch.
Scum's Wish photo
What are your sinful desires?
Scum’s Wish is twelve episodes of a mature, romantic and psychological drama set at a Japanese high school. I will emphasise the “psychological” tag because this series is one hell of a m...

Japanator Awards 2016: Soul's picks for the best of the year

Jan 02 // Soul Tsukino
ANIME:   4) Haruchika: Haruta and Chika A series based on light novels, this series was like the scent coming from an air freshener. It wasn't heavy handed, over the top, but it still made you think. The adventures of two old childhood friends who are in a school's band club while solving puzzles is an interesting pitch and it worked well for the few episodes that it had. The series lacked any time to be able to expand on a lot of the characters, but the ones that were shown were funny and made the series really enjoyable. 3) Attack on Titan: Junior High I loved these little toe rags! Since the series finished in January I can include it here. A parody of Attack on titan, this series took what was VERY heavy and made it hilarious. The hardcore fans thought it was a waste of time but I thought it was a fun way to lighten up. A silly series that made me giggle and have a good time. 2) Sailor Moon Crystal I'm sorry but I loved this series! I waded through all the bitching and moaning people did complaining it's not the original series and really liked what was done here. Sure, the art had some issues, but I got into the story just as much with this series as I did when I first saw the original. I'll admit it had its faults but I took a lot more positive out of it than negative. It was a great series to watch and as an old school Sailor Moon fan I got into it. 1) Keijo!!!!!!!! This series should not have been good. This series should have been skewered to death and destroyed. But you know what? I enjoyed it. Other people enjoyed it. This show had me laughing literally every episode with just how insane it really was. This show took fan service and made it an art form with its creativity and not being afraid to be as silly as it could with a concept like this. Under any other circumstances, you'd think this show was have been buried and loathed, but I'll be damned if people aren't enjoying it for what it is. This not only was the biggest surprise for me but the most fun I've had with an anime series in a long time, so damn right I'm making it my top pick! WRESTLING: Match of the Year: Hiroshi Tanahashi v/s Kazuchika Okada WrestleKingdom 10 These guys had a major hill to climb. Not only did they have to the main event the biggest event of the year, but this was a rematch from the year before so they had to do something new. They delivered. The story of Okada never winning in the Tokyo Dome and facing the guy who not only beat him the year before but ALWAYS won in the Tokyo Dome made for a great stage for this contest. They gave it their all and made the match really exciting. Okada finally getting his big win made the story that much sweeter. Junior of the Year: Will Ospreay No one, and I mean NO ONE has made the splash in wrestling this year like Ospreay has. This 23-year-old Englishman shot to superstardom this year and is wanted around the world. He not only became an instant smash in New Japan but also in WCPW in England and Ring of Honor in the United States. Barring injury, this kid will only get bigger and better in 2017. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here. Dud of the Year: Yoshitatsu Poor Yoshi. Spent a year and a half on the sidelines with a broken neck and finally gets to make his comeback to see it go over like a fart in church. He went from teaming with Michael Elgin and Hiroshi Tanahashi to teaming with Captain New Japan and cosplaying as Triple H in record time. If there is someone in desperate need of a change in career trajectory, it's this guy. Tag Team of the Year: The Young Bucks/Jacksons I didn't want to do it. I REALLY wanted to find someone better. I hate these guys with a passion. But there just wasn't anyone else that had the year these guys have had. Multiple tag title reigns in New Japan with the Jr. tag titles as well as runs with the ROH tag belts here in the U.S., these annoying little snots put on some great matches with teams over the last 12 months. So, having to bite down and bear it, these guys are my top team this year. Wrestler of the Year: Tetsuya Naito I thought over this one a lot, with Kenny Omega and Shinsuke Nakamura being possible other choices, but Kenny's got a bigger 2017 ahead of him and Nakamura is in the U.S. full time. Naito was the guy who was never over like Tanahashi, Okada, or Nakamura as a face. He was just an over glorified junior who got main event shots when the champ needed someone to beat. He would get booed out of buildings and while he had great matches, he just couldn't get over that hump with the fans. A radical change in personality and approach later and he has the crowd eating out of the palms of his hands. As the leader of Los Ingobernables, he has become a real threat in New Japan having won both the IWGP World and Intercontinental belts in the last 12 months and while The Bullet Club is teetering on being a bloated parody of itself, Los Ingobernables is primed to take their place. With great matches, big wins, and a style on his own, I give the master of Tranquillo the top spot for the year. OTHER STUFF WTF story of the year: Parents leave kid alone on a mountain Seriously, was there a more f'ed up story than this during the year? Yamato Tanooka's parents try to teach their misbehaving child a lesson by kicking him out of a car on a lonely mountain road, only to find out when they went back for him that the kid has vanished into the bear-infested, cold forest at the base of a volcano? Yamato seemed to be a tough little guy surviving for five days alone before wondering onto a Self Defense Force training base just as it looked like he wouldn't make it. Hopefully, this is a lesson to all the parents out there to NOT DO THIS. Pop Culture fad of the year: PikoTaro I don't think anyone has made so much out of a blend of writing utensils and produce. Dressed like either a pimp or a used car salesman and with dance movies of a drunk uncle at a wedding, this guy arrived out of nowhere to show use what to do with pens and fruit. Now he's on TV,  has many spoofs, and even has a restraint in tribute to his ode to pineapples, apples, and pens.  Gotta love it.   So with that, I bid adeu to 2016. I hope everyone had a happy holiday and may we all find health and good fortune and luck in the next year. See you all in 2017!
Japanator awards photo
Anime,Wrestling, and other stuff
Hey, Gang! It's that time of the year where we look back at the last twelve months and decide what was the best of the best. Since I like to cover more than just animated adventures, I'm putting my stamp on other things Japan related I've been encountered in the last year. So hope on and here is what I think was the best of the best in 2016.

Tell us your holiday wishes and win some sweet swag from MoeNovel!

Dec 23 // Josh Tolentino
MoeNovel Contest photo
Get some divine aid in 2017!
It's almost time for Christmas, and whether you celebrate it or not, we've got a good chance for you to win some sweet swag, courtesy of our fine friends at MoeNovel! MoeNovel, who you may remember from If My Heart Had Wings,...

Biker Gangs photo
Biker Gangs

The biker gangs of Akira may be a thing of the past

Biker Gangs numbers dwindling.
Sep 05
// Soul Tsukino
While Otaku the world over are keeping a wary eye on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo (and what could be buried underneath the stadium) the biker gangs that made Akira, GTO, and other iconic images of modern Japanese culture so awesome may have gone the way of the dodo.

Japanator Eats: Cratz, Mike, and More Edition

Jun 08 // Soul Tsukino
[embed]35083:5683:0[/embed] [Thanks to J-List for the easy ordering experience. (Caution: Site contains NSFW goodies as well)]
Japanator photo
Cratz and Mike on the menu
I've been wanting to order some Japanese snacks for quite a while, and if you are a fan of the site, you probably have thought about it too. Recently I finally buckled down and ordered some goodies from JList. When it arrived I took out the camera and decided to share the results!

Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016

Dec 23 // Josh Tolentino
Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016 As my alarm clock goes off at 6:00 am, I'm abruptly taken away from the dream I was in; attending one of the biggest anime expositions in Japan: Jump Festa. “Today's the first day of Jump Festa! I need to grab the train to Chiba now or I'll be late!” I exclaimed. And so, my journey began. But before I continue, I'll briefly go over what Jump Festa is. Since 1999, Shueisha, the creators of the famous Jump magazines, sponsored the event Jump Festa to focus solely on anime, manga, games, merchandise, and alike. In addition, many manga artists also attend the event and have panels along with Q&A sessions. It's difficult to find data revealing the number of attendees for each year of Jump Festa, however, the latest one reported by Mantan-web revealed attendance figures of 145,000 for 2014 – 11,000 more than in 2013 and a bigger attendance size than AnimeJapan. Assuming the trend continued this year, this year's event could have up to 167,000 fans through the doors. Jump Festa having an admission price of just $0.00 (yes, free), definitely adds to those rapid growth prospects. Now that the introduction is out of the way, we can now move on to Jump Festa 2016. As I sprint out the kitchen with a piece of toast in my mouth (I'm in Japan; I had to!), I catch the JR Yamanote Line at Ueno Station to Tokyo Station, then transfer to the JR Keiyo Line to Kaihin-Makuhari Station. After a two-hour journey (which includes the delays I had on the train), I finally arrive at Makuhari Messe, the venue where Jump Festa has been held for over a decade. [embed]34622:5287:0[/embed] “You've got to be kidding me.” I thought as I looked at the excessive lines (yes, that's plural!) leading to the entrance. A little over an hour later, and somehow being able to guide myself towards the front, I was finally in – but then, there were more lines, and it didn't look like an exhibition hall at all. That's when I realized I actually entered the Jump Festa sale zone, where they sell original goods and limited edition items. The area was huge and attendees were separated by groups. Each group was set for a specific anime or manga series, which included the limited edition goods. However, those groups also had lines. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a glimpse of them due to the overwhelming amount of people. Interestingly enough, none of the items were on display, instead, attendees were given a piece of paper which noted what was offered (photos of the items weren't on the page; some booths in the exhibition hall displayed photos towards the front or back of the line, though). I attempted to tell staff that I simply wanted to see what they offered, and snap a few photos, but they weren't keen on such. Plus, how would I be able to shoot photos? Unless they were going to bring me to where they actually had the inventory. That wasn't going to happen. Nonetheless, I ventured to find the exhibition hall. Thankfully, I saw Naruto Uzumaki & Sakura Haruno roaming the convention; they were kind enough to lead me to the exhibit hall, where we parted off with a “Dattebayo!” Due to the overwhelming volume of people who lined up for special events, panels, and screenings, I wasn't able to attend any of them. However, it wasn't a problem. My favorite part about any convention is the exhibit hall, I believe it's the heart of it all and either makes or breaks the experience. Most of my time was spent in the exhibit hall, booths, and cosplay corners. Attending an anime convention that's 100% Japanese, 0% English is quite the challenge. But it's the challenge that makes the overall experience an adventure. Jump Festa held an atmosphere that no other convention in America, at least, the ones I've been to, have been able to achieve. As you walk pass the Jump gallery and witness the artworks of recognizable manga artists, such as Tite Kubo, Kazue Kato, and Shun Saek, it becomes surreal. As you look around, you hear the Japanese language flowing in every direction, every piece of content written in hiragana and kanji; you realize that the amazing cosplay you've always thought were semi-fake on Facebook are actually legit as you witness great cosplayers roam the halls. At some point, it finally hits you that you're at the heart of all the original stories, artworks, manga and anime that has captivated you from an early age – that's a special experience and not one that can easily be replicated. Wandering around, I found myself in a new area and was thrilled. “Is that Kakashi-sensei? No way, is that Super Saiyan 4 Goku?! I must've entered the anime zone!” I thought, in excitement. To be frank, it was the dedicated cosplay area. While it's true that I've been to quite a few conventions and am used to cosplay, I'm not exactly accustomed to seeing a lot of high-quality ones, nonetheless gathered in one area. The cosplayers did not only resemble the characters but captured their personality as well. For those who didn't exactly resemble said character, it was just as good because the detail put into their cosplay was clearly shown. The highlight my time there - and my personal favorite cosplay -moment was witnessing a senior in a wheelchair. I noticed that he had some sort of outfit and questioned if he was cosplaying. As I approached him, it was clear that he was cosplaying Akainu of One Piece. It was a special thing to see. Even though he's a senior and must use a wheelchair to get around, he didn't allow his circumstances to limit him from having fun, enjoying life, and preparing his cosplay outfit as the days led to Jump Festa. “Sumimasen. Shashin desu ka?” (Excuse me. May I take a photo?) I asked. The young man who was helping the senior looked surprised, as if no one had asked to take a photo. The senior smiled and nodded his head. As he slowly got up from his wheelchair, he adjusted his cosplay jacket and looked straight into the camera, full of character. After the shot, he was all smiles. He definitely has my respect; it's my favorite shot of the entire event because there's a story behind it. As I walked away, it became clear that it wasn't always about taking photos of the “best cosplayers”, but creating memories of the event and showing all the cosplayers who participated that they're appreciated, just as the senior. It can make all the difference. Just a few of those "unrecognized" cosplayers are in the gallery below. One of the main focus points for Jump Festa was the 20th anniversary of Yu-Gi-Oh! along with the movie, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions. But it wasn't just a promotion, it was actually fun. Booths were set up for attendees to have their photo taken and be placed on a Yu-Gi-Oh! card with either Yugi or Kaiba (free of charge). Some areas were dedicated to one-on-one dueling while others pit two teams of five against each other using huge cards as props (similar to the giant chess set). Attendees were also able to get their picture taken, sign their names, and have it displayed in the theatrical version of the movie's ending credits. Large showcases of cards were up for display, along with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon card cosplay. Another cool setup was the special play area for attendees, which included a mini trampoline, a slide, and small ball pool. Many of the booths interacted with the attendees and provided activities, such as Bandai Namco, Square Enix, and PlayStation that let attendees play demo versions of upcoming games, including One Piece: Burning Blood, Dragon Quest Builders, and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Toho animation held an informative booth, explaining the artwork and how they process the animation. Bandai also held a small musical performance. And, of course, a dedicated area was made for all things Street Fighter. However, I must admit, I was surprised by the lack of non-Japanese fans at Jump Festa. The majority were Japanese, with hardly any westerners in sight. Given that Jump Festa is also a free event, I was baffled. Perhaps it's because Jump Festa isn't really promoted overseas, or at least not to the English-speaking audience. Last year when I was in Japan around the same time, I didn't even hear about Jump Festa. I only discovered it because I was actively searching for anime conventions in Japan for the winter season. I appreciated the fact that throughout the event, the same atmosphere, energy, and hype was still felt, all the way to its final hours. As the event came to a close, I smiled, filled with joy, and looked through the photos I took to recapture the moments. As I took the JR back to Ueno Station, I saw dozens of people on the train with Jump bags. Even though we all didn't know each other, it was our common interest in Jump that brought us together to have a great experience, and that was special. Despite the long lines and lack of English, Jump Festa was an incredible event. They really delivered; the exhibition hall and cosplay area was definitely the heart of the event and were great. The atmosphere, energy, appreciation, and the vibe of being in the home country of Japanese pop culture is a unique experience that cannot be experienced elsewhere. If you ever have the chance to make it to Jump Festa, I'd definitely recommend it. If not, see if you can make it to AnimeJapan, which is held annually in March at Tokyo Big Sight. I'm sure it'll be great as well. What are your thoughts on Jump Festa? Did you attend this year's show, or would you like to see it come to your country? Let us know in the comments, along with your own thoughts on Shonen Jump. For my part, even after the event I found myself learning new things: A number of cosplayers there fans of Tokyo Ghoul, and now I've just got to check out what they were jazzed up enough to dress up for! P.S.: Finally, if there are any Japanator readers in the Tokyo area who's interested in some Jump Festa merchandise, let us know, as well. I came upon quite a bit of swag that I'd love to give away, including manga, stickers, cards, buttons, and other promotional items. Here's a photo of it all:   [embed]34622:5287:0[/embed]
Jump Festa 2015 photo
An event for the best of Shonen Jump
Editor's Note: If you're in Japan and a manga fan, Christmas comes early each year, as Jump Festa, Shueisha's celebration of all things Shonen JUMP, takes place shortly before the big day, promoting manga, anime, video g...

Japanator supports love!

Jun 27 // Josh Tolentino
Artist credits to: Minako Komahara wwtwj Yoshinaga Masahiro  
Japanator supports love! photo
In a historic decision Friday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state barriers to same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, effectively legalizing the institution for same-sex couples nationwide. Naturally, social me...

Japanator Party photo
Let's party hard!
If you happen to be in Chicago this weekend, make sure you swing by Mitsuwa Marketplace at 1PM CST, as Japanator is hosting a cosplay party, in preparation for Japan Day Chicago next month! We are official sponsors of the eve...

Pottya photo

This plus-sized idol group is literally big in Japan

They ain't heavy, they're my idols!
Jan 22
// Josh Tolentino
Here's one to file under the "Sure, why the hell not?" column: Pottya, (or more accurately, "P♡ttya"), a five-girl idol quintet consisting entirely of plus-sized girls. They made their debut last week, with their first...
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Get free stuff from Right Stuf!
[Update: The contest is over, and congratulations to Japanator Community Member Gnikdrazil! We'll be contacted soon at the email address you used to register to Japanator with more details!] It's January 9th, but sometimes it...

Japanator Awards 2014: Jeff's Top 5

Dec 26 // Jeff Chuang
5. Space Dandy For the most part, Space Dandy is an all-around great show. While I don't really like it that much, but in my heart of hearts, I just can't leave it off my list. I think fundamentally Dandy is such a departure from the ordinary, yet it tries to be another kind of ordinary, like what you can find on Cartoon Network. As a matter of taste, it's pretty much what I don't want in my anime. But as a matter of seeing the talent and animator muscle that went into it, Dandy is excellent. I just can't really force it on anyone, or outright reject it. So it'll stay at number five. 4. Wake Up, Girls! The Movie I think what is surprising about WUG is its forwardness to tackle real issues like the whole idol business aspect and how to make a proper tribute to Tohoku's reconstruction, and these elements help me remember the show. It's not unlike Space Dandy in that there are undeniable aspects to this show that I want to rep, despite some other aspects of the show that leaves me lukewarm. The animation was pretty bad at times, even if they were fixed up for the home video release. But for me, the story for WUG was cheer-at-first-sight. Once I saw the movie, I knew I was a fan. The other really remarkable thing about WUG is how it is the first real marriage between seiyuu idols and their cartoon characters. There have been plenty of anime before where a group of talented voice actors or actresses band together not unlike an idol group. WUG takes that to the next level or two, by starting with entirely fresh faces and giving them a chance to take things as far as they can. It's the AKB48 formula but honed so it works with the animation industry aspect as the center of it. And for me, that's really special. 3. Nagi no Asukara There's another show this season featuring the writing talent of Mari Okada, promoting the WIXOSS trading card game. Fans of that series can try out NagiAsu, the somewhat less emotionally manipulative story where a fairy tale-like setting mixes with modern anime-style dramatic romance paint a strangely moving story that's not too far from The Little Mermaid. Actually, another reason why I want to highlight this show is that due to its span of 26 episodes wrapping around New Years 2014, it didn't get a lot of recognition it deserves since all the good stuff happened on the second half of the series, and a lot of best-of-year lists limit themselves with shows that started in the same year. More importantly, I still remember how watching this show each week means trying to outdo myself in how hard my jaw can drop. It made me scream on the inside, because the twists and turns are framed so well, so dramatically pitched to the audience. If you want a really solid drama, here it is. 2. Ping Pong the Animation. [embed]33393:4370:0[/embed] When animator genius Yuasa takes an adaptation to TV, I always try to catch it. Coincidentally, Ping Pong is also the most mainstream-friendly cartoon that I've tried to show to non-anime fans this year. It pretty much locked my relatives down for 4 episodes in a row when I just casually started watching the first one when they visited. For North Americans, it's all on Youtube (and the usual places), you have no reason to not enjoy the most interesting sports anime I've seen in a long time. If there's a fault, it's probably because Ping Pong, the source manga, is written with a particular spirit of the time and place that might be unfamiliar to the average anime viewer. It also feels a little too hip at times, but I can hardly fault it. 1. Shirobako This is a strange show. By episode 3 I already coined it anime of the year, because it's the kind of love letter written by people who are passionate about anime for people who are passionate about anime. Now, at the half way point, Shirobako only further cemented its place as AOTY. Shirobako is timely. My love for late night Japanese cartoons has never been more tested than this year when an avalanche of responsibilities threatened my anime time. At the same time, throwing down the context of having that creative pursuit in the face of life's grim realities just make the whole thing all the more charming. It's extremely personal, but I feel for a lot of us who have labeled ourselves anime otaku, Shirobako is a moving story about the best things in life. I guess that narrows things down some; PA Works' typical sensibilities and a riveting way to describe anime production makes Aoi's tale all that much easier to buy for me, and hopefully for you too. Honorable Mentions: Locodol, Yama no Suzume, Sega Hard Girls, Log Horizon, Ace of the Diamond, The [email protected] Movie, Tamako Market movie, The Wind Rises, Princess Kaguya, Kill la Kill, Inou Battle, Gundam Build Fighter (and Try), Aldonah Zero, Hanayamata, Chaika, No Game No Life, Witch Craft Works, Expelled from Paradise
Jeff's Best of 2014! photo
Totally did not copy Josh's Top 5
It was a great 2014 in terms of the anime mill--each season offered something pretty special, and a wide variety of interesting titles. Still, a handful of titles rose to the occasion for me, and I didn't have much of a probl...

Thanks! photo

Happy New Year from Japanator

Thanks for a fantastic year!
Dec 28
// Tim Sheehy
This has been a year of ups and downs and though we've gone through quite a few changes around the network, Japanator's future is looking much brighter. I want to thank each and every one of our loyal readers, especially thos...
Meet Ai-Fi photo
The big green robot has a little sister now.
For the longest time, Japanator has been without an official mascot, and while we've had some guests make appearances throughout the years -- most-notably Yotsuba -- we never really had one to call our own. It hasn't been eas...

Japanator photo

Japanator's got a new look; more changes to come

Please pardon our dust
Oct 18
// Tim Sheehy
If you're browsing the site this evening, you may have noticed our shiny new background and fiery-red text. These are just a few of the big changes we have planned for the site in the coming weeks. We still have a few bugs an...
Ad-Free Memberships! photo
Automatic contest entries, discounts, responsive mobile site, and new video shows
We here at ModernMethod are rolling out a membership program across all four sites called HUGE. The program is meant to be a game-changer for the entire network, allowing us to bring you better content than you've ever seen b...

Japan Expo photo
Japan Expo

Getting ready for Japan Expo

Working into the night
Aug 23
// Josh Totman
The night before Japan Expo is upon us. Tim and myself are burning the midnight oil gearing up for the event. Just got done eating some sushi and knocked back some drinks looking forward to what we have planned tomorrow. Stuf...
Japana-Tumblr photo

Introducing Japana-Tumblr, the Japanator sideblog

A companion to the Otaku's companion
Aug 07
// Josh Tolentino
Remember the days when a "Tumbler" was a term for some kind of cup? Well, those still ARE those days, but a similarly-pronounced word, "Tumblr" seems to be the thing among internet folks. As trend-chasers of the highest order...

A special message from our founder

Mar 09 // Josh Tolentino
Relax. We're still friends. Last month, I learned that the primary way we support Destructoid was quickly shrinking due to a browser plug-in: the ad-blocker. On the bright side, it brought some closure on why our ad checks never quite kept up with perky site traffic or growing bandwidth bills. No, I'm not going to chainsaw your face for installing an ad-blocker. Chances are, though, you understand that blocking ads denies us some coffers and you probably feel a little bad about it, but all ads intrinsically annoy you. That's okay. Still, it is enough for me to say that it's a problem facing my site and other sites like it, and a few weeks ago, I started to appeal to readers to whitelist us -- that mostly failed. Is asking for nickels the best way to future-proof a gaming site? "Almost half of your readers block your ads. We don't think we're mistaken." BlockMetrics was easy enough to set up and monitor. At first, it was about 10%, then 20-something. When I dared to blink it just increased faster. Over a few days it never got better, averaging at an ominous 42-46% block rate. I thought their tech might have been flawed, so I performed my own tests and contacted another company who returned a similar result.  This means that we're working twice as hard as other sites to sustain our company, as if keeping a group of game writers fed isn't difficult enough. We see gaming sites shut down or selling out so often these days. Feeling my pain yet? So, what would you do, standing in my one shoe remaining? I took these sobering stats to Twitter, and this is what people close to me said: [embed]28178:2202:0[/embed] Nobody wants ads in the way while they're trying to read something I know there's a fine line a publisher must walk when inviting ads in. We work with a very reputable outside company that respects our readers and is quick to ban ads we don't like. Destructoid does not allow ads that play automatic audio, and also doesn't allow ads that automatically expand without your interaction. If you ever see any of those, please report them. Also, if you stay logged in on our existing free accounts, you'll never see a full-page interstitial advertisement (the skip to continue kind). We've also moved most of our new videos to YouTube, which allows ad skipping in most circumstances. Despite adhering to what I believe are best practices for all parties involved, we're having this conversation. Still, I assume most of you haven't singled out blocking Dtoid for malicious reasons, so I went onward with my appeals.    Would you kindly un-block Destructoid? BlockMetrics' technology allowed me to overlay a special message to those who have Ad-Blocker installed. I didn't mince words: My appeal read something to the effect that ad blockers primarily hurt our writers, and if you are reading our site, we'd like your support. Indeed, our ad rate dropped slightly overnight. I didn't like guilt-tripping our readers, but it seemed like a better option than hijacking the site away from them. Ultimately, the best feedback came from one reader who, despite willingly denying our passive revenue, thought I was being too bold. A frank letter to the editors: Dear Destructiod,  Just a quick feedback. Today I found a message in red on top of my browser window telling me not to block ads on your site. I have an ad blocking software installed my my browser, as many of the more tech savvy users who are often gamers, do. I understand that you need to make money off the site traffic through ads. For a moment, I considered making an exception rule in my ad blocking software. However, there was no way to turn off the intrusive red message until I 'do what I was told'. I was intending to have a quick read of an article you have posted before proceeding to 'support your writers'. This made me uncomfortable, and alienated. Your site was no longer welcoming.  I have therefore decided not to visit your site or any of your affiliates. I can get my gaming news from similar sites that do not 'dictate' my actions, such as Kotaku, Eurogamer, vg247, Gamespot, Joystick, IGN, Giantbomb, Edge-online, Polygon - the list goes on. In this day and age, you might want to rethink the way you make money against the way you treat your readers because your competition is way too varied and strong to pull sustainable readership. I'm sure many others felt the same way as I did and a handful might actually give a damn to give feedback as I have. Just something to consider.  (Name Withheld)  What was most annoying about the letter is that he was right, and I knew it.  When I first read the letter, I felt like I was reading those kinds of hippie stories on the news where the guy comes into your house to rob someone; then when he gets beat up, he wins a lawsuit for aggravated assault. The principles of the matter don't matter -- you're just wrong and you can't punch your way out of it. It didn't help that my appeal was presented in a red floating box, and my tone was all wrong. Dating site OKC had the right idea. (Thanks, Chris) Still, I had to say something to this person that I've offended. Deep breath:  First of all, thanks so much for your candid letter and caring enough to write. May I ask why you use an ad-blocker on Destructoid? I'm also taken back that, despite learning that you had the option to indirectly help us fund the site by doing almost nothing, you found this request to be offensive. Was it what we said, and/or how we said it? I know you have many options in gaming sites, but I urge you to notice that gaming magazines and blogs are increasingly shrinking and ad-blockers are not helping. Every website relies on ad revenue. Sure, some new ones will pop up with funding but once they get running they'll rely on ads, too. While others may be less forthcoming about it we're all in the same boat, and that's not an easy boat to keep afloat. Even IGN, who arguably has the most successful ad-free subscription model, was sold last week. If I can't appeal to people to at least passively support it with ads I'm not convinced you'd be willing to reach into your pocket and help us either, because there are and always will be free options that come and go. Am I correct in that assumption? As a personal note, I love that we give everything away for free. If I can continue to do that without silly things like pay walls or begging for donations then my company will face no uncertain future. That's all we're asking for here. We could offer twice the coverage, a bigger travel budget, better computers, and have more well-fed team running the show if everyone just passively allowed the ads. That's not reality, and I get that. The results so far are not good, but show promise. Since we put up the message only 3% of people have accepted our appeal, so you're correct in stating that others do feel the same way. Since I received your letter I've revised the alert from red to a soft blue so it isn't so jarring. What else might you do if you were in my shoes? Re: "I certainly was not expecting a reply." Thank you for respond to my feedback. I am aware that the competition is tough and downsizing/ bankruptcy is rampant in gaming industry as well as game-related media. Moreover, journalism itself is under immense pressure - I should know because I, myself is in the news business (editorial design, not a reporter). I did not activate ad blocker only on your site - the plugin blocks almost all ads automatically and I can tell it not to block anything on certain sites. So it is only a few clicks away to disable that if anyone really wanted to help out. I think you missed my point on why I was not willing to do it. It is a question of choice. If I was given a choice to unblock the ads out of good will, I would have done it. but the pop up doesn't seem to go away UNTIL I unblock. So there wasn't any choice to keep viewing without having it 'nagging' me all the time whenever I visit your site, and covering search fields etc. I think that is what put me off primarily. Maybe a gentle reminder that runs across the banner (there is plenty of space between the search field and sign up/ login buttons) or even posting an article about all the facts you've sent me will further enlighten the community and even shed light on the innerrworkings of your site might help. I find that 98% of the rolling news and pictures are repeated in most of the gaming sites and I'm sure you are aware there are reposts for exclusives (albeit with a credit and link to the owner) plus twitter etc so the only reason to check a certain site is for reviews and original content. Therefore, when reading itself becomes a hassle, the battle is already lost. I hope somehow this shed some light to the matter. This is of course, an opinion one one person but I have a feeling I'm not the only one that thinks so. As for my support, your sincere reply has made me unblock the ads on the site without a second thought and I will be visiting often.  I wish you and your team well and the best of luck in your future endeavours. If this were a movie, I'd dramatically turn to the camera with puppy eyes and blurt a dramatic call to arms: "Where were you when your favorite gaming site died?" Maybe I've won this battle, but I've lost a war I wasn't even aware I was fighting. I'm not alone -- ArsTechnica once fought back by limiting access to those running the plug-in and saw an immediate backlash. Clearly, fighting your readers head-on is not the right solution.  Ad-blockers have gone mainstream. Actually, it probably hit gaming sites the hardest because gamers are some of the most savvy computer geeks. We're tinkerers and tweekers, so what's a simple browser plug-in? Only 4% of our Internet Explorer users block our ads, which the tech elite have written off years ago. Another citing: When GameSpot's Total Access program ended three months ago, the news was met with the most ghastly of comments. It's one thing to see it on a spreadsheet but when you see your readers bragging about it, it's pretty fucked up: The solution must be weirder, more creative. No wonder Valve is selling hats If left unchecked, small publishers like me may face an ad block rate of 75% or higher with no way to pay my bills. I'm not going to lobby congress to make ad-blocking illegal. That ad block percentage is not really negotiable, and is only going to go up. Other technology trends are also closing in on independent publishers: ad rates are dropping, mobile adoption is booming and dragging old ad models that don't work into them, and (let's be honest) my Internet generation expects everything to be free, cheap, and plentiful. As a pro-consumer site operator, I'll be the first to admit none of that sounds unreasonable, so it's on me to figure it out. Yes, I can raise capital and wait for the market to evolve. I'm not going to do that. Everyone that's raised capital gets sold to someone they will later wish hadn't bought them. To quote a founding editor of a recent downsized publication: "Never lose control." Larger websites with massive inventories with in-house control of their ad supply chain can appeal Ad-Blockers to whitelist them, but unless you're at the massive scale of Reddit I don't see this happening. This isn't feasible for small publishers relying on the wild west of ad networks, whose ads are made by horny Flash designers trying to win design awards. This also seems idealistic: the savvy user will eventually just use a different ad-blocker that blocks all.  I needn't point out to anyone that the videogames press has shrunk at record speed this year. Whether you're a freelancer for an established site or well-fed at a temporarily funded business that relies on ads, this ad-block trend will eventually take a slice from your livelihood. Take stock, do your diligence, and have a quiet conversation with your staff and readers about it. Yes, it is a business issue, but it also a matter of the viability of the independent press.  Destructoid will somehow offer you an awesome membership program this year If you had to choose one single editorial or swag perk, ad-free browsing aside, what would make an annual membership on Destructoid worth your while?  That's the magic question. To offset ad-blocking or advertising altogether some top bloggers are trying the unspeakable: asking their readers to become the customer. Giant Bomb, ScrewAttack, and Penny-Arcade have all famously made this work. From the research I've done, the perks that these programs offer seems like the most respectful alternative to slinging the advertising hustle. We'll follow suit, and aspire to do the right thing. I certainly wouldn't put up the sites you know today behind a paywall. Instead, I'd challenge my teams to justify a network-wide membership with a bunch of bonus stuff, and the money we earn would go towards making even more perks. We're having those conversations internally right now, so we're open to ideas. Speak up. This is an interesting time to arrive at these crossroads, as our company turns seven years old next week. Thanks for sticking with us, blocked ads or not. We'll make it our way.
Don't adblock us please! photo
Insights from the boss
As you may know, Japanator is part of the esteemed ModernMethod network, a group of sites that includes our figure-loving friends at Tomopop, the film buffs at Flixist, and of course, our gaming pals at Destructoid.  Ear...

We're going through changes
You may have noticed that over the past few months Japanator has made a few changes here and there. The lovely folk with the clacky keyboards at Modern Method want to know what the most important people at Japanator want to s...

Japanator Doesn't Recommend: Rental Magica

Aug 16 // Brittany Vincent
Rental MagicaStudio: Zexcs Licensed by Nozomi EntertainmentRelease Date: August 7, 2012MSRP: $39.99Amazon The spotty series follows the exploits of one Iba Itsuki, the president of a fledgling mage-for-hire company known only as Astral. Having taken over from his now missing father, Itsuki is only reasonably competent with magic, but his status as a beginner is augmented by the mysterious "Glamsight" power, which in a few words seems like it might be on par with Geass, but is actually more like a powerful brand of foresight that benefits Astral quite well. Each episode finds the team solving a different magical dilemma, much like the student issues seen in Okami-san and Her Seven Companions, only with an unreasonable amount of brooding and angst. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Rental Magica is that the animation is so fabulous, you'd expect something good to come of the plot or at least the cast of characters, who are little more than harem tropes mixed and matched to give us the illusion of variety. With the plot relying on the episodic monster-of-the-day formula and not having the luxury of being a shonen epic, it's absolutely crucial to ensure each and every situation furthers the plot in some way, no matter how minor. Instead, each situation is so painfully similar that it's a disappointment knowing each magical dilemma will be resolved in what seems like the same manner each and every episode: the problem is identified, a lengthy and borderline boring explanation of said issue and how it relates to the principles of magic, and the eventual showdown between Astral and the episode's antagonist. There are a few forced laughs along the way, most of which seem to stem from how one-dimensional the characters really are. Itsuki is nothing like the most popular Itsuki you're probably envisioning (especially since I referenced the very same series earlier) and instead is a shy, can't-make-up-his-mind good guy with basically nothing to redeem himself. So bland you can taste it, he's the center of attention when it comes to the rest of Astral, with the tsundere twins Adilisia and Honami, the cat-lover Nekoyashiki (wholly creepy in many ways) and Mikan following up the rest as the token loli that needs a place to fit in somehow. None of the characters are particularly exciting, and it becomes endlessly irritating finding the same fights and the same attempts at humor breaking out throughout the 24-episode trudge through magic and tsundere beauties: Itsuki is mine! No, he's mine! Rental Magica tries a bit too hard to hide the fact that it's a drawn-out harem anime in disguise. On the surface -- especially the way Itsuki's Glamsight eye looks on the cover and the way it seems to be portrayed in trailers and promotional artwork -- Rental Magica seems like a completely different adventure. In reality, it's glossy, slick animation covering up a plodding attempt at episodic spellcasting resolutions that never seems to pick up. Though it's 24 episodes it's a little long for a weekend watch if you attempt it -- it could have well accomplished what it set out to do in 13, and honestly I'd suggest watching only a few select episodes in chronological order should you still feel the need to stick it out. But this very same premise has been done before, and much better. Skip Rental Magica and head straight for a show like Kaze no Stigma or even Ghost Hound. 5.0 – Average. This one’s just “okay”. It has many flaws, and just couldn’t follow through on its intentions or had ones that were simply too narrow to warrant consideration. Some will still enjoy it, but should temper their expectations, or perhaps just opt to pass. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.  

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya achieved something wonderful with its deliberate swapping of chronological episodes and the order in which each serial was broadcasted. Once viewers pieced together the puzzle it was a joy to...

First Impressions: Nakaimo

Jul 10 // Jeff Chuang
What is Nakaimo? The story is set up pretty clearly by our main character's mother, see below: In the very first episode, we see Shougo Mikadono mourning his father's passing. It seemed that he had a close relationship with him, despite going against the grain of large, rich families and their parent-child relationships. Shougo hears a mysterious voice at the funeral, and this voice claims to be his long-lost sister. It all seems sensible from a set-up perspective until we see Shougo attending his new school. The entire school knows him, and even if it may not be the case, everyone who is interested in Shougo is some kind of girl? Even the innocent bystander that Shougo tried to save (Konoe Tsuruma) secretly wants to get into his pants? The tree-climbing tsundere, after spoiling Konoe's attempt at snuggling up on Shougo, also expresses interest? And then there's the girl in a witch's hat? I guess going by the opening animation, not all the regular casts have been introduced yet. As for now, the main story has to do both with why all the girls want to jump Shougo, and also the clues that leads to both his traumatic past, his potential long-lost sister, and what it all has to do with a toy robot and his scar. There's a fair amount of bait from the first episode to set all the groundwork. Of the ongoing trends in today's anime, adaptation from light novels has to be one of the more exciting things. Unfortunately, a lot of light novels today are, well, questionable. Some of them have some pretty odd names, others have shady titles that befit butts of jokes. But those things often don't indicate quality or how well the adaptations turn out. I'm hoping Nakaimo bucks its big-bro-little-sis title, its harem structure, and the usual trapping of moe pandering trends. At one episode, it's way too early to say; hopefully in three episodes we can make a better call. At this point, I can only pray to God and hope for the best.

You know you're in for a ride when the anime you're about to watch has one of those retarded-long light novel titles involving a sister and way too many words to easily abbreviate. The marketing material calls it Nakaimo...

Final Impressions: Natsuiro Kiseki

Jul 05 // Jeff Chuang
The interesting thing about Natsuiro Kiseki personally was how until the very end, I wasn't really sure where the show was going. When Rinko revealed to us how to terminate their 4-player Groundhog Day, it was only then that I realize the story and the miracles are about simply being friends. Even the fact that all the wishing stones had "relatives" across the country is a bit of a symbolism for how the four girls can stay together despite being far apart. The week-after-week of magical hijinks, though, doesn't do a lot on an individual basis unless it happen to fit your fancy. I had my share of favorite episodes, and my share of lackluster ones. It's easy to see how some people may be turned off by some of the slightly-more-extreme episodes. I mean, time paradox anybody? Or the Yuka-Is-Saki episode? Despite lacking a main plot to drive the narrative, the entire series has an uniform focus--dealing with the fact that Saki is leaving; and on a thematic level, the growing pains of adolescence. The magic plot devices each week served more as distraction to me; at least when it's off. When it's on target, the magic tricks are very good action or comedy vehicles. For Sphere fans it can also be a great way to hear your favorite Sphere members acting out-of or instead of another character. Perhaps the most praiseworthy part of Natsuiro Kiseki is the script. It is put together with care and thought--even the side characters get their share of development, and despite the crazy hijinks and the impossible magic powers, a sense of consistency prevails across time and space--literally. The animation itself is rough on the edges but at times there's a sense of liveliness during some of the key segments, especially in the later episodes. Unfortunately visual consistency was not one of Natsukise's strengths. In the end, Natsuiro Kiseki is actually quite the competent anime. It doesn't have a lot going for it to distinguish it from other similar teen dramas series such as Hanasaku Iroha, True Tears or maybe even Tari Tari, but at the same time Sphere fans (and seiyuu otaku in general) should count their lucky stars that this Natsuiro Kiseki is something worth their while.

Natsuiro Kiseki, ironically, concluded right before the start of July, the customary time all the Japanese kids get out of school. I tend to enjoy anime that has a seasonal theme and airs at the same time of the year. Natsuir...

Sakura-Con 2012: Japanator "To-do" Guide

May 05 // MARC
Early Hours: There's a lot of crap to take care of before going to a convention. Aside from the necessities that you've already (hopefully) taken care of (food, costume, hotel, etc.), here's some things to supplement you're already awesome weekend, as well as things that you'll wonder how you lived without until now: 1) Download the Sakura-Con 2012 Guidebook App This entry is not endorsed or advertised by Sakura-Con in any way... I'm saying this as a man who hopes to help out so many people this year when I say this. Listen to me, people: If you have an iOS, Android, or Blackberry smartphone or device, then you absolutely must download this Guidebook App. I was messing around with this a few days before, and what I can gather from it is that it's the solution to about every complaint I've ever had about Sakura-Con. Never. Again... do I have to pull out that ol' flimsy, 800+ page schedule that takes ages to decipher in order to find out when the next panel for Japanese bondage is. As well as providing the most up-to-date scheduling throughout the con, the app features a map of the convention floor for the newbies, as well as a complete list of guests, panels, times and social networking connectivity. Also, did I mention you can create your own scheduling, complete with custom time reminders and direct updates on how lines are doing? Fucking. Genius. 2) Scope the place out a bit Even if this isn't your first/second time at the Washington State Convention Center, Sakura-Con has a knack of switching and changing locations up a bit year after year. Obviously, I don't mean to be babysitting you on this, but make sure you know where your hotel is in relation to the Center, where to get some good grub in case you and your friends get hungry, yadda yadda yadda. Honestly, if you download the app above, it'll take care of virtually everything. 3) Dude, just check out Seattle while you're there Being a Washington native, I honestly forget that people come from all around the nation to visit Seattle. Looking at Mt. Rainier in the city backdrop, you have to realize that people used to paint pictures of this shit. It's a beautiful city (not always as rainy as people make it out to be), and if you're flying in or planning an awesome road trip... take some time out of your love of anime and check out some places. Pike Place Market is so close to the con location that you can practically smell the fish coming in! Key Events: Let's move on with the big stuff: If you haven't been keeping up with the stuff announced this year, here are the big events you should at least be psyched up for to see this year. FRIDAY Opening Ceremonies10:00 AM-11:00 AM Start the con off right, people! Here's where you can get all hyped up as all shit, and get to listen to the organizers, guests, industry figures and special appearances all in one place! hopefully, we don't get another Van Von Hunter situation...     AMV Contest1:00 PM - 3:00 PM AMV's! If ya love 'em, they're here!   Dragon Age animated movie World Premiere2:00 PM - 4:30 PM The first look at the new Dragon Age anime project, brought to you by FUNimation. Features a behind-the-scenes and Q&A panel immediately afterwards   Stereopony Concert6:30 PM - 7:30 PM   Here it is: this years big musical guests! if you want to rock your ass off, then make sure you grab that priority bracelet and snag a spot in line really early.   Masquerade Ball 20128:00 PM - 10:00 PM Honestly, this was one of my favorite events that Sakura-Con held each year, so if you know how to dance, then make it a point to try and show up this year! No partner required.   Delightful Dream Dance 10:00 PM - 3:00 AM Basically, this is the huge-ass rave that lasts into the early-morning. Glowsticks and Soul Eater cosplays galore. Cool name, though. SATURDAY Cosplay Contest / Skits 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM [Main Stage]    Skits and comedy! There's no humor like anime-related, meme-spouting humor! Funny stuff for friends and family I guess and stuff... If you're big on dressing up, this is pretty much a must.   h.NAOTO Fashion Show 2:30 PM - 3:00 PM [Main Stage] Dresses and shit! This fashion line has a period in the middle of it, so you know it must be hot shit in Japan!   Cosplay Chess (Main) 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM [Sakuradome 6E] Another fan favorite, Cosplay Chess returns, where cosplayers act in a scripted, yet still entertaining, mock-chess game in from of a live audience.   AMV Iron Editor 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM [AMV Theater 6A] Again, if you're big on AMV's, here's a really awesome event going on: watch in real-time as two editors create an AMV live. Siiiiickkkk.   Moi dix Mois / Kanon Wakeshima Concert 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM [Main Stage] Another dose of hardcore rock coming at ya on Saturday night, where the band Moi dix Mois will be opening for Kanon Wakeshima. Both are hearty offering of loud noises and sweaty fans. Awww yeah...   Delightful Dream Dance (Saturday) 10:00 PM - 3:30 AM Holy shit, another one? Well, in case you missed it the night before (because there's no way that you'd have the energy left to go to both dances two nights in a row), check out Saturday's encore outing. SUNDAY Cosplay Chess [Unscripted] 11:30 PM - 2:00 PM [Sakuradome 6E] A more insane, fan-participation-esque version of the popular Cosplay Chess. If you enjoyed it the first time around, this showing will be sure to top that, no thanks to its unpredictable nature.   Charity Auction 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM [Panel 604] Come join and help pitch in for charity by bidding on cool, autographed stuff from all of the guests at this years con. I certainly don't have that much goddamn money on me, but you can go right ahead and try to snag some sick swag.   Closing Ceremonies 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM [Main Stage] This is it! The final event of the weekend! If you aren't leaving early to beat the traffic, check this out and feel all emotional and shit knowing that it's all over. Industry: Now that you have a run down of what's featured this year, check out some of these to get into the cool stuff involving the industry, including company panels, sneak peeks, announcements and so on: First off, the big-boys at the FUNimation panel kick off our FRIDAY batch [12:00 PM - 1:00 PM, Panels 618-620], no doubt talking about new releases and the new Dragon Age film premiere later that night, but stick around for some possible announcements and new titles acquired by them... it's FUNi, so expect something awesome. PREDICTION: FUNi has been pretty silent about their upcoming series Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt... I predict some more info on that... maybe a cast list? Following that, Aniplex of America comes in [2:00 PM - 3:00 PM, Panels 618-620], no doubt riding high on their horse with Puella Magi Madoka Magica recently coming out. More snags for AniAmerica? Absolutely. Even Gen Urobuchi is joining the panel! Holy shit... There'll be giveaways, a Q&A and a lot of translating PREDICTION: A lot of talking about Madoka, given that Urobuchi is there. It's kinda obvious that Aniplex might grab the upcoming Madoka films releasing this year, but that'll probably finally be announced. A man can hope, right? Also, there'll obviously be some touching upon for the Bake/Niseimonogatari series and Fate/Zero, as well. NIS America will also be making a modest appearance [6:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Panel 303] that night. Not much is given in the description, but there's still a lot that this upcoming distributor can prove tonight. Their more robust, extravagent panel will be held the following morning on SATURDAY [11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Panel 615-617], where their official industry panel will hopefully bring the big guns. PREDICTION: You know, I have no idea what could be in store, really. I am expecting an announcement for a newly acquired anime or OVA or something in that regard, but apart from talking about their latest releases and answering some fan questions, I'm really not sure what NIS could be planning. I'm setting my expectations low, but I would absolutely love it if NIS manages to blow me away with an announcement. QUICKIES: Viz Media [1:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Panel 615-617] and Yen Press [5:30 PM - 6:30 PM, Panel 3A] both have panels on SATURDAY, no doubt talking about their respective models for digital manga / releases. FUNimation is holding a workshop for Princess Jellyfish fans [4:00 PM - 5:00 PM, Panel 601], making cute jellyfish and no doubt thanking their fans for the strong demand for a Princess Jellyfish release in the US. Screenings: Alright, so you spend (at most) $60 to come to this convention to meet awesome guests, loud concerts and show off your sick Team Fortress 2 cosplay... but why beat around the bush? We all love anime, and now instead of watching it at home, you can enjoy the comfort of watching world premieres with strangers. Perfectly loud strangers. NOTE: Aside from these select few anime, there will be a ton more anime showing all weekend long. Literally. The three days of the con will feature non-stop anime screenings in 6-7 theaters. Here are only some of the amazing gems hidden within those three days: FRIDAY Kimi ni Todoke [Eps 1-6, Sub] 10:30 AM - 12:48, Theater 4C-3 Okay... seriously? If you haven't watched this yet, march your ass to Theater 4C-3.   Okami-san and her Seven Companions [Eps 1-3, Dub] 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM, FUNimation Theater 4C-4 Screening of the newly released dub by FUNi. Todd Haberkorn should make an appearance in the theater, as well.   Bakemonogatari & Niseimonogatari / Q&A [Sub] 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Panel 6C Features guest appearances by some people from NIS America and guests / people from SHAFT who worked on the series Atsuhiro Iwakami and Katsushi Ota. Pretty cool stuff if you dig the series. SATURDAY GANTZ Live-action film DOUBLE FEATURE [GANTZ + GANTZ II: Perfect Answer] [Sub] 4:30 PM - 6:45 PM, Theater 401 An awesome opportunity to catch BOTH of the awesome live-action film adaptations of the awesome manga series GANTZ.    Redline [Dub] 8:45 PM - 10:30 PM, Theater 4C-2 Madhouse blew it out of the park a few years back when Redline first came out, and now here we are with a screening of the (bound to be ridiculous) dub here tonight. Experience it. With an audience. On the big screen. My mind right now is, like: "Whoa..."   SUNDAY AKB48 Live-action Behind-the-Scenes documentary [Sub] 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM, Theater 401 Hey, if you like your idols, who are we to judge?   Princess Jellyfish [Eps 1-7, Dub] 12:15 PM - 3:00 PM Okay, so I fucking love Princess Jellyfish... but if you haven't gotten the US release yet from FUNimation, you can check out the new dub here!   Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood Movie: The Sacred Star of Milos [Dub] 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM, FUNimation Theater 4C-4 Did you guys know that there was a red carpet opening for this film back a few months ago in Texas? Huh. I guess this movie is.... kinda?.... important to FUNimation...? Panels: Alright, now we get to the good stuff. Aside from the awesome vendors area and getting to meet some voice actors and other guests, panels are where you're bound to spend most of your time. There are just waaaaaayyy too many panels to list, so instead here are my personal picks for some really neat/promising panels throughout the weekend:   Anime that Scarred Me for Life6:45 PM - 7:45 PM, Panel 604 One of the more really entertaining panels, Anime that Scarred Me for Life never fails to have really entertaining stories to tell... I remember one year, a 14-year old boy talked about how he was not only tricked to watch the hentai version of Elfen Lied (cleverly titled Elfen Laid), but then he was actually pressured to finally watch the actual, gory series. Double Whammy.   The Busted Pixel Panel / MOVIE NIGHT (Powered by Friendship)7:15 PM-8:15 PM / 12:30 AM - 2:00 AM, Panel 206 Starting a video game sketch comedy group sounds really lame and cliche nowadays, but The Busted Pixel actually has a lot of hilarious stuff, most of which has been featured on Destructoid and shit. One-part Mega64, two-part Derrick Comedy, the movie night screening is something you're sure to not be disappointed by if you're a late-night type of comedy guy. I mean that literally, because this movie night is at 12:30 in the fucking morning.   Anime Stand-up Comedy9:15 PM-11:15 PM, Panel 303  Destined to either be genuinely funny, or terribly, terribly hilarious, I'm really excited to see both the talented people here, as well as the bombs. SATURDAY Otaku Jeopardy10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Anime trivia. Now it became a useful skill to know what color Ryouko's jeggings were in Tenchi Muyo.   Puella Magi Madoka Magica Panel [Urobuchi/Iwakami] 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, Panel 6C Like it or not, Madoka Magica is huge now. This panel, likewise, is bound to be huge. What surprises await us?   Behind-the-Scenes with FUNimation's DVD & Blu-ray Production1:00 PM - 2:00 PM, Panel 604  Criticism of how translations and distribution work in the anime industry are bound to be put to rest with FUNimation's new outing in giving a look at how their anime come to be.   Cooking Otaku: The Panel2:00 PM - 3:00 PM, Panel 309 Oh my, what could this be... SUNDAY Cute and Kawaii in Japanese Manga and Anime12:45 PM - 1:45 PM, panel 3B  Do you see this?! That is the legitimate name of a panel. The year is 2012. And there is a panel call "Cute and Kawaii in Japanese Manga and Anime". Fuck yeah I'm going to this panel. The worst (best?) part about this huge list? There's still tons and tons and tons more to do, including video games, tournaments, the AMV Showcase, autographs and countless panels all to satisfy anyone coming to the con.  So what about you guys? Anyone else excited about the convention this weekend? Let us know below, and maybe, aside from mine and Josh's scheduled interviews and panel-hosting, we'll see your ass there.

Guys, Seattle is going to be crawling with cosplayers tomorrow. Some really good, some kinda terrible. The thing with conventions like Sakura-Con 2012, which I sure all attendees know officially begins tomorrow morning, is th...


Got a spare five bucks? as your attorney I advise you to go take advantage of this awesome sale: Japanator and Tomopop T-shirts, for both ladies and gents, are currently on clearance at the Splitreason shop. T-shirts fro...

Go West! Week Thirteen: A look at Japanese game stores

Apr 21 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of April 15-21: Fire Emblem: Awakening (Nintendo 3DS)Publisher: NintendoOnline Price: 4,600 yen ($55.90) The first completely new Fire Emblem in a few years, Awakening is also the popular franchise's debut on the Nintendo 3DS. Having put approximately five hours into the main campaign so far, I can say with full confidence that this one's a doozy. I've never actually played a Fire Emblem game before this week, so maybe I'm not entirely qualified to talk about the strengths of the game, but as an outsider I'm extremely impressed. The production values are rock solid (that battle animation!), the music is great and the actual battles fun and fast. You have the option of choosing between causal and classic mode when you start the game. Casual mode brings back dead characters after battles are finished, whereas classic mode sees that dead warriors stay dead.  Awakening is actually the first Nintendo published game to feature paid DLC content. These extra downloadables take the form of classic Fire Emblem characters who join your ranks after you complete the mission included. If the Marth DLC is any indication, expect a lot of FE fanservice. If you're thinking of importing, I'd recommend waiting until E3. If Fire Emblem: Awakening is getting a localized release, that's where you're going to find out. Code of Princess (Nintendo 3DS)Publisher: AgatsumaOnline Price: 5,750 yen ($69.90) This is going to be a game that surprises people. Despite the ridiculously dressed main character, there's little in the way of blatant fanservice in Code of Princess. As a matter of fact, characters often make fun of how ridiculous she looks within the story mode itself. The gameplay? If you've ever touched Guardian Heroes, you'll know exactly what you're getting in to. The fact that the game makes a command list available to you on the bottom screen should say everything it needs to about the robust combo system within. Using a combination of air and ground attacks, you'll be stringing together crazy combos in the game before long. Even better is the fact that you unlock dozens upon dozens of playable characters as you progress through the story. Where exactly can you use said characters? In the online vs mode of course! Code of Princess has both online coop and vs play, making for one helluva complete package. The visuals are sometimes a little bit choppy, but they work just fine when you're cutting down man and beast alike. The music, handled by the same folks who graced us with Xenoblade's epic soundtrack, complements the action excellently.  Code of Princess is a great game and I'd be disappointed and surprised if a western publisher didn't snatch up the rights. A lot of people have been waiting for a deep, fun beat-em-up for a while now. Let's not keep them waiting any longer eh? If you plan on importing, make sure you're ready to memorize certain menus so you can adjust equipment and stats accordingly. Miyako Awayuki no Utage  (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Idea FactoryOnline Price: 6,000 yen ($72.90) This wouldn't be Go West! if we didn't have some Idea Factory representation up in here! This week sees a new otome game that... well... I'm not really sure what this is about or how it differentiates itself from the hundreds of other titles on the market. It really puts a game like Hakuoki into perspective. Hakuoki is a massive franchise here in Japan, instantly recognizable for its art style and story. Comparably, I have a hard time distinguishing between Miyako Awayuki and the dozens of other generic games. Funny how that works. Admittedly, this is also an issue with galge. You have the really interesting, popular franchises that are beloved for a reason. On the flip side are the generic haremfests you see released every week.  If you're planning on importing, have a solid command of Japanese. Seinaru Kana: Orihalcum no Na no Moto ni  (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Cyber FrontOnline Price: 5,750 yen ($69.90) In all seriousness, I think Idea Factory and Cyber Front have become a necessary component of Go West!. Without them it just wouldn't feel real. This week though it looks like CF wins out with the slightly less generic looking Seinaru Kana, a port of a PC Eroge RPG. What does that mean? Between woo'ing the ladies, you'll be leveling up your characters and engaging in battles to save the world or something to that effect. Oftentimes these eroge/RPG hybrids are well loved by fans. has anyone out there ever played the PC version of Seinaru Kana? is it actually any good? Import only if you have good Japanese. Taking a look at Japanese game retailers: I talk a lot of crap about Japanese video game prices and rightfully so; they're super over-inflated and make absolutely no sense. Just one look at the new release shelf of any game store here is likely to send a chill running up your spine and send your wallet into a spiral of madness and fear. Yet despite all of that, I love Japanese game retailers. I enjoy clothing shopping and hunting for new albums, but going to the video game store is still my favorite shopping activity. Why exactly is that?  The first thing you're greeted with when you walk into any sensible game store here in Japan is shouting. People will scream "Welcome!" at you in rapid fire succession. Immediately afterward, you'll most likely be overwhelmed by the crazy video game sounds that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere. These stores are loud. You'd be hard pressed to get a conversation going with another person when you have Super Mario jingles going on in the background and countless game trailers playing on dozens of TV screens. If you think this sounds like it might drive a person crazy, you're not totally far off.  Yet it's not just that flurry of noise that makes the Japanese video game store an entirely unique experience; these places are colorful and flashy. Turn a corner and you'll find a screen playing a video of some gameplay. Unlike the average Gamestop in America, stores here oftentimes try to be as appealing in their aesthetic as they are in their prices. Take the below Persona 2 setup for example. It would have been enough to simply have a screen with the game's trailer on loop. Instead, they printed out color images, cut them out and pasted them along the side of the TV. It might not seem like much, but it makes the whole thing pop and drawing customer's attention to it.  It's not just the crazy party-like atmosphere that makes video game stores in Japan so much fun to peruse. As someone who loves retro video games, these places are like a classic heaven. There is not a single dedicated game store you can visit in Japan that won't have a section just for older games ranging from the Famicom era to the Playstation or Sega Saturn. Better yet? Often times you'll have no problem getting your hands on fully packaged, mint condition copies of games for next to nothing. Hell, just take a look at the image below. But for all the respect that Japanese game stores seem to pay to older games, there's one console that can't seem to catch a break. The Xbox 360 has been doing very poorly in Japan since it first launched. Any game store here will reflect that fact in one very simple way; the size of the game shelf. For example, take a look at the image below. That's all there is at my local Famicom House. One tiny, isolated shelf standing in the middle of nowhere. I know. It makes me a little bit sad too. Games aren't the only things you're going to find at these shops. While this isn't true 100% of the time, very frequently game stores will also stock art books, guides and sometimes even figures. Provided they're at least somewhat related to video games, there's a solid chance you'll be able to find what you're looking for when you enter any given store. It's nice to have a single place you can hit up when you're looking for a variety of things.  But the big thing for me is that even if I don't plan on making a purchase, I find window shopping to be a lot of fun. Depending on the store you go to, you might find a super rare game or book. It might be expensive as all hell, but I find it fascinating to be able to take a peak at gaming history.  Now if only they'd fix their ridiculous prices.

Welcome once again ladies and gentlemen, to your one stop for info on the Japanese game releases for the week, Go West!.  This week sees the release of a few high profile Nintendo titles that are bound to get some you ex...


Cooking Otaku: Brownies (of love)

Feb 14
// Josh Totman
The magical day is upon us. It will be the night dreams are made of. Or nightmares because you forgot to make or get anything for your guy/girl friend. Never fear. Your friendly neighborhood Cooking Otaku is here to...

Buy Japanator shirts on the cheap, before they're gone!

Jan 17
// Brad Rice
No, seriously. Buy buy buy. This is a great time to get yourself some Japanator t-shirts on the cheap. Take a hop over to our SplitReason store, where they're only $5 a piece for guys and dolls' t-shirts. And you know you wan...

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