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consumerism ftw!

Avengers face masks photo
Avengers face masks

Avenge your pores with Marvel superhero skin-care masks

Justice just got a new complexion
Aug 21
// Josh Tolentino
The heroes of Japanese anime and manga have it easy. Thanks to the typical art style of the medium, most protagonists never have to worry about facial blemishes or the state of their pores, because they have none! Real people...
JoJo's Hoodies photo
JoJo's Hoodies

Stardust Crusaders hoodies are JoJo's Bizarre Apparel

Wear 'em like arcana
Aug 07
// Josh Tolentino
Have you ever wanted a Stand of your very own? Too bad, they aren't real, but clothing brand BEAMS may have just brought us the next best thing, in the form of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure-themed hoodies, designed to look like St...
PS4 photo

Japan's Frozen PS4 would've looked better in white

Step it up, Nippon!
Jul 13
// Josh Tolentino
Frozen may have pretty much taken over the world, but that won't stop companies trying to cash in on its popularity with tacky, cheap branded merchandise. No, that doesn't make sense, because that's exactly why companies...
Yamaha anime photo
Yamaha anime

Yamaha wants you to be the Master of Torque

But no bike fights, apparently
Jul 09
// Josh Tolentino
We all strive to master something, be that mastering our destiny, mastering a foreign language (odds are it's Japanese if you're reading this), or even just mastering the art of killing time. Now motorcycle and keyboard make...

Family Mart photo
Family Mart

Family Mart cashier's enthusiasm is something to behold

Have pride in what you do
Jun 12
// Hiroko Yamamura
Sometimes you see people doing unexpected things that just brighten your day. Take this cashier who is serving up change and goods in style. The man obviously takes some serious pride in his job, and aims to please his custo...
Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

The Scouting Legion takes on the Bearded Titan

This is going to get hairy
Jun 10
// Josh Tolentino
So what if they want to devour us whole for reasons unknown? The least we can do is make them look good while doing it, right? Apparently, that's Schick's logic for trying to hawk safety razors for the sake of mankind's grea...
JoJo Exquisite photo
JoJo Exquisite

How much money will you drop for all this JoJo bling?

More like 'JoJo's Bling-zarre Adventure'!
Mar 26
// Josh Tolentino
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has always been one of the most fabulous things around. It's no surprise that creator Hirohiko Araki's striking art style has been used to create work for luxury brands and fashion lines like Guc...
Yowapeda photo

Virtuous (Bi)Cycle: Yowapeda inspires lady cyclists

Girl power? More like girl pedal!
Mar 22
// Josh Tolentino
I love Japanese words. That might come as natural, given where I'm writing, but the way Japanese use words - foreign words in particular - is appealingly idiosyncratic. Case in point: "Boom". Where we filthy foreigners might ...
Gunpla photo

Gunpla Banzai: Barnes & Noble selling Gunpla kits

Build Fighters to follow?
Mar 15
// Josh Tolentino
It's actually funny: For as much access as North American anime fans have to Japan's pop culture output these days, there really are some things that are still difficult to find over there. For example, it's easy to get your ...
PS4 photo

Yay Consumer Electronics: PS4 sells 322,083 in Japan

A good start
Feb 26
// Josh Tolentino
In case you didn't know, the PS4 has just launched in Glorious Nippon, three months after its North American and European debuts, and the numbers are in for the new platform's first two days of Japanese sales: The console ha...
K Blu-ray photo
K Blu-ray

Viz to put out K as an A-grade Blu-ray combo pack

Pretty boys and pretty pack-ins
Feb 21
// Josh Tolentino
Much as I've embraced our digital media future, I still have a soft spot in my heart for sweet physical extras. After all, I did once buy a copy of Sakura Taisen that I didn't have a machine for just to get a hilarious-l...
Amazon photo

Yotsuba&! tops Amazon Japan's manga sales for 2013

Evangelion 3.33 ranks as #1 Blu-ray/DVD
Dec 16
// Brad Rice
We've already seen what's been some of the hottest music this year in Japan, now let's turn our attention to everything they're buying. Amazon Japan released its listings of the top sellers of the year in just about ever...

Japanator's 2013 Holiday Shopping Guide: Music and Misc.

Dec 02 // Jeff Chuang
For all the Miku haters in your life... [embed]30581:3143:0[/embed] Mitchie M - The Greatest Idol (album)MSRP: 3000 yen (~$31 USD) A lot of people think little of Miku because, in the end, she's just a highly mixed, computer-generated set of sounds. Maybe it's more a statement on the heavily edited and tuned pop music of today than anything else, but to my ears, Mitchie M's Miku sounds no different than half of Perfume's library--or most high-energy pop female vocalists out there. While there is still a gap for those with a keen ear for the human voice, I wonder how well songs like "Weekender Girl" can do in a blind A/B test? This is all just to say Mitchie M is one of the best at using Miku as not just another instrument in the mix, but crafting a sound that makes the vocaloid capture some of the warmth of a human vocalist. If you spring the extra 900 yen (~$10) for the deluxe version of this album, it comes in a LP form factor, featuring a bigger version of Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's illustration of said greatest idol. Of course, The Greatest Idol is not just good for fooling people about Miku, but it features the best of Mitchie M over the years, including his popular tracks from the Project Diva games. You can check out an abridged sample mix in the video up top, with Miku introducing the tracks herself. For your karaoke friends who like hot blooded, full-metal, screaming encores... [embed]30581:3144:0[/embed] JAM Project - Thumb Rise Again (album)MSRP: 3000 yen (~$31 USD) JAM Project does a lot of theme songs, but in recent years they haven't done a normal, solo album. The anime music power group has taken a lot of the time over the years touring, and while that's a great way to forge a new audience all over the world, they've been doing largely the same playlist. Now, with a new album this autumn, I'm glad they'll have an opportunity to sing some brand new stuff. Thumb Rise Again takes all of what JAM Project stands for, mixes it up and distill it back to its true arena rock essence. I think for anyone who had a great time at a JAM Project concert, this is a no-brainer buy. Just listening to the first track sends chills down my spine, it's so good. JAM Project played a set on Youtube back in October and demoed the PV for the titular track, Thumb Rise Again. Check out the video above to get a taste. For the alternative, fun-loving idol fan... [embed]30581:3145:0[/embed] Momoiro Clover Z - 5th Dimension (album)MSRP: 2667 yen (~$28 USD) Momoiro Clover Z is a relatively new idol act--but in this day and age, it sometimes takes no time for a quality idol group to go from zero to sixty in popularity. I think the group's sophomore album demonstrates the kind of chops that propelled them so far and so quickly; having a couple solid anime music tie-ins also helps, like the ending to Joshiraku and Bodacious Space Pirates. The best thing about Momoiro Clover Z is that they are a group focused on unabashed, full-throttle fun. There's the usual pandering-to-the-lowest-common-denominator going on, but they do it with such panache you're more likely to laugh it off than to find it offensive or awkward. Or maybe it's because the whole thing sounds just a little bit on the ludicrous side of "Oh Japan" that you won't mind too much. This is one idol group that has mass appeal without all of the baggage, and these five ladies sing their hearts out. For those who likes rock music and Psycho-Pass... [embed]30581:3146:0[/embed] Ling Tosite Sigure - i’mperfect (album)MSRP: 2913 yen (~$30 USD) Supercell - Zigaexperientia (album)MSRP: 3000 yen (~$31 USD) Okay, to be honest, for many people who love music, Ling Tosite Sigure may be hit or miss. I think they're definitely a quality alt-rock band who've taken the hard road from indie to major. They have an interesting, if unique, sound, and this album is one way to get a taste of that. What sweetens the deal is all their Psycho-Pass tie-ins. For those who are interested in the always-developing J-rock cycle, i'mperfect is a good start. For those who prefer to stay on the more pop/anime side of things, the new Supercell album is probably what you want. Or both! They both are really good rock music! Supercell's third full album probably doesn't need much of an introduction, but I think the two new vocalists really knocked it out of the park. Just also note that besides the rocking opening number embedded above, Zigaexperientia also features the theme songs to Magi, BRS TV, Nerawareta Gakuen, and Psycho-Pass. For that one disgusting seiyuu otaku in your life... [embed]30581:3147:0[/embed] Kana Hanazawa - claire (album)MSRP: 3000 yen (~$31 USD) Confession: I check out a lot of seiyuu music. Over the years, one constant I found out is that most of it just isn't very good. It's not even because the seiyuu can't sing; quite the contrary (and more and more in recent years), many of them can hold a tune. Rather, more often than not they're just not well-produced. It's not unusual to find a song that doesn't fit the vocal range of the singer, or with poor delivery, or a song that would've sounded much better if it wasn't sung in character. So when I ran into Kana Hanazawa's solo debut, I was definitely surprised by how effective all of those elements came together in order to produce a very listenable product. Granted, this is still all about Kana Hanazawa. Do you like her voice? I think most of us do, given how many popular character she has voiced--although some may be getting a little tired of her, to be honest. But from the addictive vocals of Renai Circulation, there are few better ways sweet nothings can be whispered into one's ears (and not just because it takes a special kind of kimoi otaku to play this with a boombox, in public). If someone forces you with fire and/or poison to pick out a seiyuu album, choose this one. For your friend who never gets tired of "One Winged Angel"... Theatrhythm Compilation AlbumMSRP: 3800 yen (~$40 USD) Some people just cannot get tired of Final Fantasy music. Square-Enix knows this, which is why they came out with Theatrhythm and packaged it with DLC, making a shiny dime on rearranged music from ages ago. Of course, for people who love the music, this means a soundtrack for said Theatrhythm game is now a thing. I've long lost count the number of Final Fantasy compilation-type releases out there (including at least a couple this year), but the Theatrhythm Compilation Album is pretty neat in that it's both a compilation and it has music from a totally new game, as Theatrhythm has its own original compositions. This 5-disc set is also a good value at just a little more than the price of a normal CD album. That's good, because you might be gifting some things a Final Fantasy music nut may already have...not that any of them will mind, from my experience. For those who love bombastic music and Attack on Titan... Attack on Titan SoundtrackMSRP: 3000 yen (~$31 USD) We already know that Linked Horizon is going to perform on Kohaku, so this is a sure way to get a piece of that hot Jaeger popularity and familiar yourself with that catchy line in German before the Dec. 31st TV show. To me, the Attack on Titan soundtrack celebrates not just a popular anime this year, but the body of work of Hiroyuki Sawano. This young composer (only 33 years old!) burst onto the scene and created some really great scores for shows like Blue Exorcist, Psycho Pass, Guilty Crown, Gundam Unicorn, Sengoku Basara, and probably his latest hit, Kill la Kill. I think that alone justifies this gift for anyone who appreciates soundtrack music, even if they don't care too much about that anime with tall walls and giant man-eating monsters. Attack on Titan might be the "biggest" sound that Sawano has produced for an anime, so it's at least sure to amuse. Hopefully it'll be a gateway for people to explore Sawano's other scores, so they'll discover the diversity of his work. Keep in mind, if you know your giftee doesn't love Attack on Titan, the Kill La Kill soundtrack-- also out just in time for Christmas-- makes a great alternative. For the master-grade figure collector... Max Factory 15th Anniversary - Belldandy with Holy Bell (fixed-pose PVC figure)MSRP: 19800 yen (~$200 USD) To celebrate its 25th year, Max Factory decided to release one of their resin kits as a prepainted PVC figure. What you get in the box is a towering 1/10 scale of Belldandy of Ah My Goddess, with Holy Bell coming out of her back. Yeah, Ah My Goddess is not as popular in 2013-2014 as it was back in the day, but for those who appreciate fine craftsmanship, you can't go wrong with Bell. This is simply one of the most amazing fixed-pose PVC figure that you can buy off the shelf, without touch-up, painting and assembly (well, very minor assembly is still required). As of this writing you can actually buy this thing from the usual importers like HLJ, Hobby Search, Amiami, and the like. Each figure of this limited edition release is individually numbered, so when it's gone it is most definitely gone. Sure, it probably won't fit in a Detolf, because it deserves better than that. This is a figure that can anchor or be the centerpiece of a collection, the kind that comes by once every few years, and even among those, few are as classic as this. You can find more pictures and more places to order from via Tomopop. To those well-versed in Tankery... Girls und Panzer StuG III (Team Hippo colors)MSRP: 4775 yen (~$50 USD) You can buy Girls und Panzer on DVD and Blu-ray this Christmas. Great. Now get a tank to go with it. Our own Josh Tolentino recommended it, probably because Team Hippo is great, and frankly a tank with this look is simply the best. By best I mean it will bring your friends and family a lot of laughs, strange stares, and general hysteria (in a good way, surely). That said, this well-modeled StuG III has optional parts you can swap in for a more, shall we say, conventional look. There is even a third option to change the paint job to mirror its later evolution within the anime, once the tankery practitioners realized that tall flags and wild bright colors do poorly in combat. So, yes, the option is there to disguise this very eye-catching conversation piece. On a separate note, if the gift can wait until after Christmas, I would also recommend the ending version of the Team Anglerfish Panzer IV which ships in January. To those who have mastered the digital... Japanese Playstation Network cards, Japanese iTunes cardsMSRP: Varies To some people gifting gift cards may be cold and impersonal, but to some otaku it's a great favor, assuming you give the right cards. Some things are only available as a digital purchase, and some of us prefer to do things the futuristic way-- because the future is, like, now. Last year I recommended the Playstation Store point cards. Confession: I probably spent more than 30,000 yen on [email protected] digital purchases, just on the Playstation Store. And that is just [email protected] This year we're adding Japanese iTunes gift cards to the list, because regardless of what's happening in the industry, iTunes Japan is simply the best one-stop shop for your Japanese music needs. In fact, probably all of the music recommendations on this list will end up on iTunes, if they are not already there. As usual, the issue of setting up a Japanese account is going to be a barrier to entry, either for the Playstation Store or the iTunes store, but there are a lot of guides online to help you with it. Helping someone set up an account can also be a great gift you can give to your friends or family, on top of obtaining these cards for them. Speaking of which, J-List and Play-Asia are just two of many sites that offer these for the holidays. With that new-found purchasing power, you can buy, say, most of Square-Enix's music library. Most major label (and many smaller label) music publishers also go to iTunes as Japan's biggest digital music shop. You can access the growing number of games on the iOS app store as well, if language is not an issue. On both iTunes and Playstation Store, a ton of raw anime (available to rent or purchase), plus the Playstation Store's game library, is just a few button presses away.  For the stationary otaku with the best handwriting... [embed]30581:3148:0[/embed] Hobonichi Planner 2014MSRP: Starting at 2500 yen (~$26 USD) The concept is simple--combine a planner with a journal, and here you have it. The Hobonichi Planner is a planner that opens up with a page a day, with monthly views and a day-by-day view. You're encouraged to doodle or otherwise be creative with the planner and use it every day. Draw in it, use it as a scrapbook, use it as a diary, whatever you want. The first English-language version of the Hobonichi Planner is now available for 2014, so it makes a natural present. Kristina has reviewed the Hobonichi Planner for us. What's kind of neat are the special covers you can buy and customize your planner with--including two very sweet North Face covers. For those interested, you can order the planner (also called a techo) directly from Hobonichi. More importantly, there's a community of stationary-oriented people around the Hobonichi Techo, which may be helpful to get you (or the giftee) up to speed in terms of what you can do with it. Well, there you have it-- that's all of our holiday shopping guides for this year here at Japanator. We hope you have something special picked out for every otaku on your list, and maybe even some non-otaku. If you're currently scratching your head over what to get the remainder of the folks on your list (should any remain), when in doubt, go with chocolate. 
Shopping: Music photo
Jam some bombastic tunes in your stocking
You've already seen our holiday recommendations for anime, manga, and video games; what could possibly be left? Quite a lot, actually. Not only do we have recommendations for music lovers (and we hope that group includes pret...

SQEX sale photo
SQEX sale

Final Fantasy games on sale via Square-Enix Online Store

Sales end Cyber Monday
Nov 27
// Jeff Chuang
And it's not just games from the Final Fantasy line, but a lot of titles are on sale at the Square-Enix online store. Many of the titles on sale are going for about 50% off retail, which means you can buy a copy of Kingd...
PS Vita sale photo
PS Vita sale

PSA: PlayStation Vita hardware on sale at Radio Shack

All the portable gaming you can eat!
Nov 11
// Josh Tolentino
Hey, North Americans, I hear you're getting a PlayStation 4 soon! You know what would be a good companion machine for that monster? A PlayStation Vita! At least, Sony and Radio Shack seem to think so. Sony's done its part by ...
Japan PS Vita Sale photo
Japan PS Vita Sale

Japanese games star in the next PS Vita sale

Hook some big savings!
Aug 14
// Josh Tolentino
Hey, you know what's cool? Games from Japan for the PS Vita! You know what else is cool? Not paying a lot for videogames! It just so happens that Sony agrees with me, and has decided that for the next fortnight or so, you won...
Ghibli vinyl photo
Ghibli vinyl

Add Studio Ghibli's best to your vinyl collection

Audiophiles and animephiles unite
Jul 20
// Josh Tolentino
Does music really sound better when you play it off vinyl? I'm too much of a musical philistine to answer that question, but what I can say is that if you're the type to collect records and also happen to be the type who love...
Evangelion Body Spray photo
Evangelion Body Spray

Evangelion body spray is the Essence of Shinji

Irresistible to both ladies and apocalypses
Mar 13
// Josh Tolentino
Add another link to the illustrious, endless chain of Evangelion-themed merchandise, folks. Cosmetics brand Creer Beaute has shacked up with the brand that spawned a million torso-plugsuit water bottles to produce an appropri...
Project Diva F Facebook photo
Project Diva F Facebook

Sega takes to Facebook to ask you to support Miku for PS3

Shall social media be her savior?
Mar 07
// Josh Tolentino
If you're at all familiar with the Hatsune Miku phenomenon, you'll know that her Japanese handlers have long been interested in marketing the virtual idol outside Glorious Nippon. From Toyota commercials to Mikunopolis, to an...
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure photo
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

JoJo All Star Battle gets a release date, fab box art

And an equally fab limited edition, too
Feb 17
// Josh Tolentino
Fans of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Cyberconnect2, or crazy 3D anime fighting games can all start marking their calendars now, because Namco Bandai has confirmed an August 29th release date for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Al...

Accel World AR shirts are as augmented as the show is

The future of clothing is here
Feb 10
// Josh Tolentino
Say what you will about Accel World, but one of the cooler things about it was its kickass vision of a future that's fully integrated with augmented reality (AR) tech. Imagine a world where Google Glasses fully took over, an...

Don't forget to get your shield at 7-Eleven

Dragon Quest items available at this convenience store
Feb 02
// Eric Koziol
Downloadable content. Bonus stuff for your games! For Dragon Quest VII's 3DS release, 7-Eleven stores in Japan will be having a promo where players will be able to go to a 7-Eleven and download a light shield and a shard. The...

Now you can have your GACKT and drink it too

Where is he not?
Jan 21
// Hiroko Yamamura
Go anywhere in Japan, and somehow you will run into the phenomena known as GACKT. Wether its music, movies, videos games, or books --the man is everywhere. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that the former Malice...

This Metal Gear bento is the greatest bento

Snake? Snake? Luuunch!!!
Dec 19
// Josh Tolentino
It''s beautiful, like the Mount Rushmore of boxed lunches. Except some stupid mountain doesn't have the faces of two of the world's greatest soldiers (Solid Snake, Big Boss) and one guy whose idea of cool ninja style is...

Japanator's 2012 Holiday Shopping Guide: Goods and Music

Dec 02 // Josh Tolentino
Marcus Speer suggests: For the religious Nujabes / jazz-hop fan: [embed]27301:1865[/embed] Marcus D - Melancholy Hopeful MSRP: $14.99 [USA], $17.99 [International] Aside from having a dope, rad first name, Seattle hip-hop artist Marcus D also makes really awesome beats. Definitely taking inspiration and love from some of Japan's most influential hip-hop artists like Nujabes, Shing02, Uyama Hiroto and Taku Takahashi, Marcus D (who is signed with Nujabes record label, Hydeout Prod.) dropped a bomb this year, his second album Melencholy Hopeful that crosses jazz-hop styles from both the East and West into something fresh and soulful. If you dug the Samurai Champloo OST (which I've been outspoken about in terms of being one of the greatest among anime soundtracks ever made) and find yourself nodding along with the electronic, jazzy beats and soothing piano notes in Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei titles like Persona and the pseudo-SMT game Catherine, then this album is definitely something to look into. It seriously just oozes coolness; there's a flavor to the songs that can get you pumped up for the work day or relaxed for the ride home. I deeply recommend it!   Chris Walden suggests: For the mysterious young girl fan: ClariS - Birthday MSRP: 3059 yen/$35 [USA] This will most likely not be the first time you've heard of ClariS. You may have somehow dodged hearing of them if you've never seen OreImo, Puella Magi Madoka Magica or Nisemonogatari, but the chances are that you will have heard their music. Still, if you've managed to avoid it thus far, congratulations. Now go and give their album a listen, it's pretty good.  All of these songs are on their debut album Birthday, plus a good nine others (or eleven if you find that version with the Nendoroid song plus one other). They don't stray too far from the upbeat and cheerful music they've released before (with perhaps the exception of Connect), but that's far from a bad thing. It is perfect for lifting your spirits, so long as you can get behind some good ol' J-pop.  Plus there's the big mystery about the singers themselves. They've released three popular songs and have done well with an album, and still they've managed to avoid being seen/revealed in public? That certainly takes some skill! Still, it's the voice that matters, so they can take my money and perhaps some of yours too!   For the Kill Bill/catchy rock/curious music fan: [embed]27291:1874[/embed] Tomoyasu Hotei - All Time Super Best Price: $28.99 [USA] I'll have to admit, up until about a month ago my only contact with Tomoyasu Hotei music came from Moero! Nekketsu Rhythm Damashii Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2, more commonly known as the second Japanese Elite Beat Agents. It seems crazy that it isn't more commonly known, but this Japanese rock veteran is responsible for a very well known tune from Kill Bill, namely Battle Without Honor or Humanity.  So what changed? Well, he showed up at Hyper Japan here in the UK to announce his one-off December gig. As the gig-lover I am, I looked into whether it'd be worth turning up by listening to his All Time Super Best album. It may be almost seven years old now, but it's certainly sold me on just how special this upcoming gig will be. But aside from this, his music is definitely going to be a good place to point newcomers to Japanese music. With a big hit like the one from Kill Bill adding to a very solid selection of songs (see the video above), this might be what is stopping your friends from experimenting a little with their music library.    Salvador G-Rodiles suggests: For the Super Sentai and/or Power Rangers fan:  Super Robot Chogokin Daizyujin/original Megazord MSRP: $60.99 $52.40, 3,520 yen If there is one thing that most Sentai And Power Rangers fans have in common, it's that both parties got into both franchises through the exposure to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. For many folks in the west, it was the gateway drug that would eventually spark their journey into the realm of tokusatsu. And what better way to cherish your childhood memories by owning the Super Robot Chogokin figure of the Daizyujin/original Megazord from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Just look at the GLORIO detail placed into the body of this prehistoric combination, which feels like the actual Daizyujin was standing right in front of you. And not only does it look nice, it also comes with the effect pieces that lets you reenact the powerful attacks that lay waste to Bandora/Rita Repulas's monsters. A piece like this doesn't come by very often, so get your Dino Bucklers/Morphers out while you still can.    Jeff Chuang suggests: For your glee club buddies Tari Tari Music Album - Utattari, KanadetariMSRP: 3300 Yen Tari Tari has one of the best selling anime soundtracks in 2012, and it's easy to see why. The show is pretty much a music show, complete with song and dance numbers. It employed a pretty solid voice acting crew to back the image songs and the ending song, and it hired an award-winning high school choir to sing the choir parts. All of this adds up to a very interesting and competently put-together album. Tari Tari Music Album collects, on 2 discs, all the insert vocals and the key background music pieces from the show. If someone you know enjoyed Tari Tari, this is the perfect way to relive it.    For the extremely practical importer Japanese Playstation Network CardMSRP: 500, 1000, 3000, 5000, 10000 Yen  Invariably for anyone hooked on [email protected] 2, or just want to watch Gundam Unicorn right when it comes out, there's not much you can do but to hit up the respective online stores on the console of choice. For most of us, that would be the PS3. Since the Vita is still somewhat region-free, the PSN point card makes a very shrew gift for people unafraid of setting up that Japanese PSN account. It really isn't very hard, and the reward is bountiful even if just in terms of the free demos you can play.   For those people who still remember the name of the swimsuit they saw that day Max Factory's Meiko Honma Swimsuit ver.MSRP: 7500 Yen I'm generally not a fan of swimsuit figures, but sometimes it's just done so well. Max Factory's Menma is just such a thing. This is entirely separate from my emotional attachment to a great character from a total tear-jerker of a story from 2011. Simply put, it's somewhat rare to see a swimsuit figure that isn't all about body lines and shapes, but balances that with some bold design elements, color choices, and having the right accessories. Kristina at Tomopop agrees as much, if you need more convincing. The tragedy here is that for people that actually like Menma and want a figure of the iconic Ano Hana character, there are several less exciting, but more characteristic, figures to choose from. That makes this Menma just a bit less popular of a choice for the average Menma fan. The silver lining is that you can still pick up this fragment of summer at an off-season price. It's definitely a below-the-radar gem.   Josh Tolentino suggests: For the true Sengoku BASARA fan that demands only the best in thematic madness... [embed]27291:1892[/embed] Abingdon Boys School - Teaching Materials (or Abingdon Road if unavailable)MSRP: EU9.99 (via iTunes), or $22.99 for Abingdon Road Now, these two are releases from 2010 and 2009, but I think it counts in this case since the best song on either album, "JAP", was in 2012's release of Sengoku BASARA: The Last Party. Yes, I'll say it now: Abingdon Boys School's best song is "JAP", at least with regard to Sengoku BASARA. Why? Just as lead vocalist Takanori "T.M. Revolution" Nishikawa wanted to return to his rock roots when forming ABS, Sengoku BASARA's a pretty rockin' show. "JAP" perfectly captures the the blend of lady-fan-baiting fabulousness and testosterone-drenched excess that led Capcom's series to usurp Koei's Dynasty Warriors throne. It's a little ironic that the franchise's best musical encapsulation comes from the anime and PSP spinoff and not a theme to the main games. Fans of anime songs with access to the European iTunes store will get more out of picking up Teaching Materials, seeing as that compilation contains most of ABS' best anison, including "JAP" the inferior "Blade Chord" that they did for Sengoku BASARA's 2nd season., "Nephilim" from Folklore, "Innocent Sorrow" from D.Gray Man, "Strength" from Soul Eater, "Kimi no Uta" from Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, and "HOWLING", from Darker Than Black (aka the "now I've lost it" song).  Folks who pick up Abingdon Road will miss out on "HOWLING", but will get a good number of other songs, and either is better value than picking up the single for their actual 2012 song "WE aRE" (sic), for Sengoku BASARA HD Collection.   For the Busou Shinki anime fan that wants to explore the source material "down to the last screwhole"... Busou Shinki Arnval Mk.2 TempestaMSRP: 5,180 Yen I'll readily admit that my enjoyment of the Busou Shinki anime comes not from being a fan of the figurines but from my nerding out over imagining a world where Shinkis are a real thing.  Well, this here is the real real thing that a Shinki is - an action figure made my Konami. That's not inherently a bad thing, and all things considered, it looks pretty damn cool. This Arnval Mk.2 Tempesta's is good for fans of Ann. The colors may not match, but the original white-colored Arnval Mk.2 model (originally a pack-in for the Busou Shinki Battle Masters PSP game) is now super-limited, and is going for up to five or six times the price of the Tempesta.   At prices like that, I'd only buy a Shinki if it actually is as presented on the anime, i.e. a living, sentient six-inch-tall mecha girl that would love me unconditionally and call me "Master!".   For your lucky lottery-winner best friend... [embed]27291:1893[/embed] A KR-01 Kurata piloted robotMSRP: $1.3 million (minimum) Awww yeah. Now this is some GUNVARREL stuff right here. Yes, you're reading it correctly. It's not a hoax, but a real live pilotable mecha. You can move it by mobile phone or motion control, and it comes with a pair of smile-activated BB Gatling Guns. Yes, smile-activated. I want one. And you should to! Sure, for that kind of money you'd be just short of the scratch needed for a Bugatti Veyron, but a Bugatti Veyron is not a 4.4 meter-tall giant robot. Artist Kogoro Kurata and Suidobashi Heavy Industries' hand-built monstrosities certainly have that going for them.
Watching you stuff your stocking this year
The time is now, dear readers, as we come closer and closer to the time of gift-giving, and also to the end of Japanator's shopping guide season! We brought you our gift suggestions for videogames, anime and film, and printed...

Japanator's 2012 Holiday Shopping Guide: Manga and Books

Dec 01 // Josh Tolentino
Jeff Chuang suggests: For people who love heavy-looking bookshelf stuffers... Nausicaä Valley of the Wind Box SetMSRP: $60.00 If you know your manga, you probably know that master animator Hayao Miyazaki penned a manga series for Nausicaä, whose first couple volumes reflects the content of the similarly named film that adopted the manga. Miyazaki continued the Nausicaä manga sporadically until it ended in 1994, to a total of 7 volumes. Viz has released a localized version of the manga over the years but that went out of print some time ago. Now, Nausicaä has returned as two really big and heavy collections of the entire series, with an accompanying box. I have it. It literally weights like a brick. And it looks quite impressive on your bookshelves. This collection that Viz released back in early November is selling like hot cakes. If you weren't lucky enough to pick one up before Black Friday, you can still try your luck at various online retailers like RightStuf or among the marketplace vendors for larger storefronts. Be assured that this is one impressive and awesome Christmas present for a lucky manga collector. [Image]   For people who love big and hefty companions... Queen's Blade Perfect Visual CollectionMSRP: $39.95 There's no beating around the bush with this one: it's a heavy, hard cover collection of some of Queen's Blade's most popular visual artwork. In short, this is a book with pretty girls armed with large boobies. Well, it's classier than that--the artbook leads in with a series of tribute artwork from various illustrators, and breaks into promotional artwork for the anime and the franchise in general. The last part of the artbook dives into the characters themselves and is a fairly comprehensive list of all the primary Queen's Blade personas, and it's not unlike what you'll find towards the end of an RPG manual. I never really expected Vertical to release something like this--I guess there's just no limit to the type of things they release. But at the very least, expect Vertical's usual quality on this release; it's 192 pages, full-color on good paper stock, and did I say boobies? There aren't all that many new translated artbooks released in any given year, so that makes this one even more outstanding--as long as Queen's Blade is the thing you're going for.   Josh Tolentino suggests: For the Persona fan who wonders what Teddie could have looked like... Persona 4 Official Design WorksMSRP: $29.99 If there's one thing that's as interesting as playing an awesome videogame, it's learning more about how such an awesome game was made, particularly at that prettiest of phases in a game's gestation, the concept art phase. Persona 4 Official Design Works collects all that visual splendor into a thick, beautiful book, along with designer's notes, marketing and promo material, and an interview with art director Shigenori Soejima, all of it translated into English by Udon Books (who also localized Persona 3 Official Design Works). In the depths of the concept art you'll find all manner of trivia pertaining to Persona 4's visual growth. Things like Yukiko's original hipster haircut, a vision of Chie as Yukiko, Kanji in his original Elvis-impersonator motif, and the nightmare fuel that was Teddie's original character design. Sadly, the book doesn't cover the new artwork from Persona 4 Golden (it was originally published back in '08), but there's definitely enough material to gain insight into the game's inimitable sense of style.   For the true Valkyria Chronicles patriots who joined The Gallian Liberation Front... Valkyria Chronicles 2 World Artworks and Valkyria Chronicles 3 Complete ArtworksMSRP: Valkyria Chronicles 2: $31.49, Valkyria Chronicles 3: $28.11 Even compared with other Japanese game art books, the official art books for the Valkyria Chronicles have always gone above and beyond the call of duty (like true Gallians, one might say!). Always hefty and engrossing from cover to cover, they've been crammed to bursting with content, practically playing a triple role of art book, gameplay guide, and lore bible. In my estimation it's been these books that have shown off how detailed and rich the world of Valkyria Chronicles is best, more than any anime adaptation, side-story OVA, or manga has so far. That was true of the first Valkyria Chronicles art book, and it's true of Udon's localization of World Artworks, the book for Valkyria Chronicles 2, the PSP sequel. It's almost as thick and holds up to the same high standard as the original, packed with sweet artwork from character designer Raita Honjou as well as the game's intricate mechanical designs. Character, gameplay and story notes also abound for the game and its divisive military-high-school take on the Valkyria Chronicles setting. Also worth noting is Udon's upcoming release (set for later in December) of the art book for Valkyria Chronicles 3. Yes, Valkyria Chronicles 3, the game for which the Gallian Liberation Front tried in vain to pull an "Operation Rainfall", only for their cries to fall on Sega's cash-strapped ears. Frankly speaking, this book may be the closest western gamers will ever get to having Valkyria Chronicles 3 in English (barring certain legally gray efforts). That alone makes it worth a look for any proper Gallian.
Fill your library!
The holiday blitz continues, as does Japanator's blitz of holiday shopping advice! After telling you which videogames and anime to buy for you and yours, today we're getting all "old-fashioned" by making recommendations for (...

Japanator's 2012 Holiday Shopping Guide: Anime and Film

Nov 29 // Josh Tolentino
Brad Rice suggests: For the Creepy Weeaboo in your circle of friends... House of Five Leaves Box Set MSRP:$40 There's always one. You just know he has an extra hard-drive or three of salacious material, and he always shuts down when the conversation doesn't focus on all things Japan. God forbid you talk about sports -- he may as well up and leave at that point. They probably don't spend enough time watching the really good stuff, so it's up to you to educate them. Give them House of Five Leaves, a stunningly beautiful series set in the classic samurai era. It pulls heavily from Natsume Ono's drawing style, and really sets itself apart from most other samurai-era titles. They won't be disappointed once they actually watch it.   For the Editor-in-Chief as Significant Other... AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa MSRP: $319 Let's say you're dating someone who runs a site dedicated to Japanese pop culture. The person's really into all things Japan, and really loves Japanese cinema. Sure, they have some films by Akira Kurosawa on their shelf, but they don't have this entire box set. It has all the important films that he's been too lazy to collect, and will keep him busy for hours and hours! But seriously, this is a great gift for the Japanophile who seems to have it all.   Salvador G-Rodiles suggests:  For the tokusatsu fan that wishes to own a toku series in its uncut form... Ultra Seven: The Complete Series (DVD)MSRP: $49.97 $34.99 Now here's an opportunity that you won't find too often, since you are getting the entire Ultra Seven series in one uncut package. Running at 48 episodes (Episode 12 is excluded from the set.), this is one deal that will quench your love for guys that like to pummel giant monsters with throw-able headgear, hand-to-hand combat, and giant beams that are available in all shapes and colors.  If you are looking into starting a tokusatsu collection, then Ultra Seven is there to help you protect your shelf from evil space invaders. And to those who own Ultraman, Ultra Seven will help you turn your toku collection into an Ultra Combo.    Josh Totman suggests: For the old-school otaku that needs an upgraded edition... Tenchi Muyo!: OVA Series (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) MSRP: $69.98 $43.08 Tenchi Muyo!: Movie Collection (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) MSRP: $69.98 $32.99 If you are any older otaku, or at least old enough to remember this series on Toonami, you will love that Funimation is now bringing back one of the classics to Blu-ray. If you have never heard of this show shame on you! I'll be taking your otaku membership card back and the Letterman jacket! Seriously thou, if you ever wanted to catch up on some classic anime these are the sets for you. The OVA collection that started the whole Tenchi universe(not to be confused with the series). It takes you through all the introduction to the whimsical harem that Tenchi is now stuck with. Along with that, you can also get the movie collection. Three Tenchi movies all rolled up together in a nice neat package. Each of the movies in this set stands alone when it comes to it's take on the universe. Especially the third movie.   And for the old-school otaku for whom anime is serious business... Serial Experiments Lain: Complete Series (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) MSRP: $89.98 $53.99 Another classic that has been brought back to life by our good friends at Funimation is the love it/hate it/what-the-hell-did-I-just-watch Serial Experiments Lain. This show is still on peoples minds on exactly what was going on in that strange wired world. The art style of Yoshitoshi Abe is absolutely stunning in this show. It's hard not to be a fan of his work really. Oh, and let's not forget about the music of Reichi Nakaido. This series did also give birth to everyone at that time calling their computer Navi. If you are any sort of collector of anime on discs, you need to have this one in your collection if you don't have the original Pioneer ones already. Also to note, they did remaster the series for the Blu-ray release. Not upscale, remastered from the original master copy so this thing is going to look beautiful.    Jeff Chuang suggests: For the armchair film critic... Children Who Chase Lost Voices (DVD or Blu-ray)MSRP: 29.98 DVD, 39.98 Blu-ray Makoto Shinkai's latest film, honestly, have a range of reviews both positive and negative. What none can deny, however, is that it looks gorgeous, sounds great, and the film presents your eyes with fascinating visuals. The story is long and a little laborious; the message of the film is earnest if to a fault. But my biggest peeve was how it took me at least three tries to really "get" what the movie was about. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but for people who love films that are tough to digest and want to get every single nugget out of something, and also are into anime, this is a must-watch. Children Who Chase Lost Voices is worth your time not only as a way to keep tabs on one very promising young animator in the industry. The convenience of having it to watch on your own leisure should make this film a lot more interesting than the usual spectacle one expects when watching it at a screening or at a con.    Pedro Cortes suggests: For the lover of all things hot blooded... Gurren Lagann: Childhood's End & Gurren Lagann: The Lights in the Sky are Stars  MSRP: Part 1: $29.99, Part 2: $29.99 Compilation films have a pretty spotty record. Films like the original Mobile Suit Gundam trilogy were able to take the source material, present it in a new way and even add to the overall mythos of their franchises. However, for every one of those, you have stuff like the 0083 movie, which was a horribly edited mess.  A lot of people had some reservations about GAINAX going right back to the Gurren well so soon after the show finished, but what we got were a pair of films that took some of the best moments of the show and turned them up several notches. The first half of the first film is a quickly recapped version of the show's first eight episodes. After that, the rest of the first film and important sections of the second film break off into new territory, culminating in a slightly different ending that I felt was better overall. Oh, and more freaking huge robots. That's always a good thing.   Elliot Gay suggests: For the people who have money to spare... Fate/Zero Blu-ray Box 1&2 MSRP: Vol. 1: $369.98 ,Vol. 2: $329.98 Look, as far as I'm concerned, Fate/Zero is one of the best action series to come along in years. Ufotable's lavish production featured sky high production values, an excellent cast, and the musical talents of Yuki Kajiura. As somebody who's never been super fond of the original Fate/Stay night, it speaks to Fate/Zero's strengths that I fell in love with it as hard as I did. That being said, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I purchased both of the ridiculously expensive BD box sets, and I regret nothing. These are beautiful collections, with a nice variety of extra features, production booklets and other odds and ends.  None of that changes the fact that you'd be paying more than half a grand to pick these babies up, so unless your gift receiver really loves Fate/Zero (and you really love them), I would suggest thinking long and hard about whether or not this purchase is worth it. If nothing else, I can certainly vouch for its super high quality.   Josh Tolentino suggests: For your young scientist friend that secretly nurses a budding seed of madness and paranoia...  Steins;Gate Blu-ray/DVD Hybrid Collection 1 & 2 MSRP: Vol. 1: $41.99, Vol. 2: $38.99 Legions of generic harem romances and high-school love comedies have given the term "visual novel adaptations" a sour ring to it, but White Fox's work animating Steins;Gate is one of the few exceptions. The result is unique tale of madness, paranoia, time travel, and nerd humor, carried by charming cast led by the easily one of the most charismatic anime characters in recent memory: Rintaro "Okarin" Okabe also known as the mad scientist Kyoma Hououin. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA! Voice actor Mamoru Miyano turns in a career-defining performance as Okarin, and snappy writing and an intriguing premise based on ascribing strangely sinister motives to ostensibly benevolent real-life scientific organizations keeps the show tense throughout its run, making it a worthy purchase for anyone hoping for a break from anime's high-school rut.   For that female friend of yours who's got both supernatural personal issues and an abiding love of school supplies...  Bakemonogatari Blu-ray Complete Limited Edition MSRP: $149.99 Even four years and a whole sequel later, Bakemonogatari remains one of my favorite anime of all time, and is one of those shows that proves you can structure an anime around conversations and dialog without incurring the stigma associated with the likes of Lucky Star and its ilk. Operating at a near-absurd level of verbosity, the show embeds its character development into its voluminous conversations, but rather than relying on snore-inducing exposition, still couches its greatest twists into obscure turns of phrase, throwaway lines, puns and other subtleties, and all backed up by SHAFT's gorgeous sense of style. While on the pricey side, Aniplex's Blu-ray set is notable for managing something I never expected any potential licensor of Bakemonogatari to go for back when I begged for the show to be brought to English: They translated and subtitled the commentary audio tracks! That's frankly incredible, because those commentary tracks are done not by the usual director-and-crew, but by the voice cast, acting in-character. Basically, Koyomi Arararagi, Hitagi Senjougahara, Tsubasa Hanekawa and all the rest comment on their own actions as they watch them, almost Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. It's pretty great, especially if you've always wanted someone to call someone else "Ms. Panties".
Brought to you by Santaskander Claus
Hello again, and welcome to the next part of Japanator's 2012 Holiday Shopping Guide! The other day we gave you our recommendations for the best videogames, but now it's time to take a look at the latest batch of stuff to pil...


Ace Combat's going PC, but where are my Idolmaster skins?

No rejoicing until I get them!
Nov 28
// Josh Tolentino
Don't get me wrong! It's cool and all that Namco Bandai's paying more attention to the PC. They've started porting superb titles like Dark Souls - albeit imperfectly - and with the latest announcement that they're gracin...

Japanator's 2012 Holiday Shopping Guide: Games

Nov 27 // Josh Tolentino
Marcus Speer suggests: For the unacceptably slow, but curious dating sim customer... Katawa Shoujo (PC) Price: FREE  The first in the long line of "games that you need to play and have no excuse not to" category for the year 2012 is maybe the very first one that blew up: Katawa Shoujo. I mean, it was all that a lot of our editors could help but talk about for the whole month of January, so if our word (along with the rest of the anime fandom) is a testament to the sort of quality you expect to see in the products that come out, then you know that this is a must to try. Not to say the product is without its share of problems... thankfully, Elliot has a whole review to help you decide without my pushy input. Look: all I'm trying to point out is that, given that it has a fresh, Western-spin on the more traditionally Japanese storytelling, as well as its interesting background history, is enough to give this notable title a shot. Should it be mentioned that it's free?! Because it totally is.   Salvador G-Rodiles suggests:  For the friend that loves to explore huge places... Xenoblade Chronicles (Nintendo Wii)MSRP: $49.99 It's not too often that we get a game by Monolith Soft, since Nintendo has yet to localize any of the other titles that they developed. One of Xenoblade's great joys is that you are exploring a breathtaking world that's on the body of a giant colossus known as the Bionis, which is one of the reasons why this RPG is huge. While fans of Monolith's other titles might be disappointed by the change in the battle system, Xenoblade's combat system that revolves around the Monado sword reward players with an engaging system that will keep them on their toes.  But most importantly, the soundtrack creates sweet music to your ears, as you explore every nook and cranny of what the game has to offer. And that's not all, Xenoblade can also be used as a drinking game, which involves taking a shot after you hear the Monado get mentioned. Still not sold on Xenoblade? Well, it's not everyday that you come across a game that rewards you for jumping off a cliff that leads to the inescapable ocean. Sure, there's jumping off a colossus in Shadow of the Colossus, but those guys are ants in the eyes of the great Bionis.    For the friend that wishes for a new season of Durarara... Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 (Nintendo DS)MSRP: $29.99 $19.99 Devil Survivor 2 was indeed a big improvement over the first game. The Persona-like social link elements open up a new depth of gameplay that the first Devil Survivor was missing. And who could say no to Suzuhito Yasuda's character designs?  With a team of customizable demons, and different story routes at your disposal, Devil Survivor 2 will keep you hooked for many playthroughs to come. Don't let the two in Devil Surivor 2 fool you, because newcomers can jump in without any prior knowledge of the previous game. And if you still don't believe me, then you can check out my review on the game itself.    For the Touhou fan that loves to get their bullet hell on...  The eXceed Collection (PC)MSRP: $9.99 When you look at it, three games for $9.99 is a pretty good deal. Especially when you get three bullet hell games that play differently. What more can you ask for? Oh wait there's one thing, and I think eXceed has you covered, since you are playing as cute girls that shoot up other cute girls.  If there was one teeny little problem with The eXceed Collection, it's that eXceed - Gun Bullet Children feels like an incomplete game. Before you decide to dodge my bullets, the other two games do justice to the whole package. In fact, you can face the rest of my bullets in my review of the Collection -- Moe Moe Zukyun!   Jeff Chuang suggests: For all the idol producers in your life... THE [email protected] Shiny Festa (PSP)MSRP: 5380 Yen [Groovy Tune, Honey Sound, and Funky Note versions] It's hard to recommend Japanese imports to buy for anyone out west, but among all the games that are likely to be imported, rhythm games are the easiest to go with as they often require just the minimum know-how of Japanese to fully enjoy. And while it's hard to gift a game to a hardcore fan--they would have it already--this 3-prong marketing scheme from Namco-Bandai means the average poor sod/producer would have to buy the same-but-different games three times to get all the content. And most likely, most of them don't have all three yet. On the same note, the three Shiny Festa games are a great way for curious first-time producers to get into the franchise, as it uses a lot of animation and clips from the TV anime while introducing the gist of the franchise, from a gamer's perspective. It's less dull and more game-y than the half-visual-novels the other PSP games were. There are three [email protected] Shiny Festa games: Groovy Tune, Honey Sound, and Funky Note. Each game comes with about 15-20 different tracks and 5-6 shared tracks, so it is worth it to have all three, if any single one doesn't quite satisfy. The 5380 yen MRSP is how much it costs on Japan's PSN store, which might be difficult to set up at first but is by far the easiest way to get and play these games, on Vita or not. For those who want the physical packaging, Amiami has them at 4170 yen a piece, although you'll have to pay shipping. Most likely your lucky producer will know what they need already, and all you should supply are the means.   Josh Tolentino suggests: For that friend of yours who cares at all about playing great videogames, especially JRPGs... Persona 4 Golden (PS Vita)MSRP: $39.99 After claiming that Atlus brought Persona 4 Golden "near the point of utter flawlessness", I could hardly not recommend that you pick this gem of gems up. Heck, as of right now it's the biggest reason to buy - or keep - Sony's beleaguered handheld. Taken piecemeal, Golden's new Social Links, mini-mechanics, difficulty settings, cutscenes, extras and online connectivity are not particularly radical changes in and of themselves. Taken as a whole, though, and they make up a significant new addition, as well as bearing the advantage of being perfectly integrated into the main game, never feeling out of place or tacked-on and filling in gaps that players of the original may never know existed in the first place.  Persona 4 Golden is a true "gold edition" game, and may well be as perfect as the Persona formula may ever get in its current form. It still feels fresh and smooth enough that it could have come out for the first time this year, rather than five years ago, and still handily held its own against today's latest releases. That's reason enough for old players or new to give it a try.   For the Persona player that's already jonesing for a Persona 5... Persona 4 Arena (PS3, Xbox 360)MSRP: $59.99 $29.99 Despite the fact that Persona 4 Arena resides in an entirely different genre than any other Persona game - it's a 2D fighting game, not an RPG - it may as well be regarded, canonically, as Persona 4.5, as it continues the story of Persona 4, introducing characters new and old (plus a nobody named "Yu Narukami" who for some reason looks exactly like Persona 4's lead), as well as setting up some narrative hooks that could lead to interesting developments in Persona 5, should Atlus decide to take their planned-but-unrevealed sequel in that direction. Fans of the fighting genre - and non-fans, in fact - shouldn't worry, either, as Arena happens to be a perfectly competent fighter in its own right. Atlus did the smart thing, handing the mechanical side of the equation to the veterans at Arc System Works, they of BlazBlue and Guilty Gear fame. The result is a reasonably deep (yet accessible), utterly gorgeous 2D fighter with all the right Persona hooks. To be frank, seeing Persona-users battle it out in this genre's context somehow makes the turn-based combat in Persona 4 Golden seem all the more exciting. Also, there is a new android girl in the game, Labrys. Like her cousin Aegis, she also has crazy legs, and happens to wield a jet-powered battleaxe that doubles as a pair of wings. What's not to fall in love with?   For the samurai fanatic that's got swords on the brain, and a good sense of silliness besides... Way of the Samurai 4 (PS3)MSRP: $39.99 [PSN download only] This one comes as a more cautious recommendation, in part because my review was also a somewhat cautious recommendation. Pretty much any game made by Acquire is, to be honest. Way of the Samurai 4 is homely, rough-hewn, stubbornly anachronistic, and a bit touched in the head, but for the open-minded gamer, or simply the one disappointed by contemporary gaming's utter lack of decent samurai games, it offers an experience unlike any other. Whether chopping up (or saving) foreigners in period Japan or secretly sneaking into women's homes (also in period Japan), Way of the Samurai 4 offers all the uniqueness Japan sometimes seems to eager to abandon in its mad rush to appeal to the global market, while leaving aside the more perverse tendencies it embraces in its equally mad rush to pander to the otaku base. It's a game - and a series - between worlds, and folks willing to look past some not-inconsiderable flaw will find some of the best of both in there.  
Electronical entertainments for your magitechnickal machines!
The holidays are upon us, dear readers, and where that usually means celebrating togetherness and occasionally the birth of a major religious figure, it also means having to shell out tons of monies for gifts to dis...


Get your shopping on with pre-Black Friday sales

Nov 21
// Brad Rice
Looking to spend all that holiday gift money on your friends yourself? Well, here's a chance to blow everything you've got left after that Criterion sale earlier this month. Right now, there are three big sales going on: FUNi...

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