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Annotated Puppetry: Thunderbolt Fantasy episodes 7-12

Sep 29 // Salvador G Rodiles
It’s these real moments that complete the Butcher’s latest concoction as the main cast’s journey isn’t as straight forward as it seemed to be. The gang’s different backgrounds start to contribute to the show’s conflict and Gui Niao’s true colors start to blossom. While the change in the story didn’t result in any ridiculously shocking tragic moments, the constant air of doubt that entered the atmosphere acts as an alternate form entertainment that still stays true to the guy’s style. The unfortunate outcome from this change was dealing with the fact that we had to part ways with the show’s story about a band of characters that would usually not see each other eye to eye team up to go on a quest to stop a powerful person from releasing a powerful sword from its seal. In a way, it’s almost like Thunderbolt Fantasy was teaching us that all good things must come to an end. There was only so much that we could indulge from Huan tolerating most of the party while they reach Hai’s lair since the cast’s destination was meant to set up for the main turning point in the series. Even though the show started off like it could’ve become a series about a group that became closer during the adventure, the staff was likely aiming for a scenario where things don’t always go as planned. Huan ended up doing more of the work in the journey than Niao intended to and the wandering swordsman’s patience almost jeopardized the entire mission. Just like in real life, there’s always a chance that a well-thought out plan won’t go well. One has to learn to adapt and find a way to move forward while making modifications along the way. Sure, it almost made most of the gang’s roles in the trials a bit useless, but the treat was that it gave the Butcher the ammo that he needed to get the ball rolling. It’s this element that opened up the strings of betrayal that went on during the scenes in Hai’s lair. Characters that seemed like they could be heroes ended up showing a new side to them and Niao’s true identity starts to take things up a notch. All in all, this direction works better in piecing together a finale that’ll exceed many folk’s expectations. Hell, Urobuchi’s usual style of killing off a character before things got real was changed up as it ended up being someone who seemed like they could’ve been around until the main battle against the true final adversary. Of course, the show’s extravagant puppetry continues to be the star, with one of the highlights being the large golem. Compare to most of the fights, it was one of the few moments where we saw the puppeteers use the puppets to fight a large creature. Sure, it may have been a quick segment, but the fact that it seemed like Huan was scaling a stone monstrosity shows that the team's skills in moving the marionettes across the large stone creature were very effective. As a fan of practical effects, it’s still a treat to stare at the detail of the sets and creatures that Pili added to the scene. Since the show is nearing its finale, there’s no stopping this team from blowing everyone away. Speaking of breathtaking action scenes, Pili’s use of effects when they showed off Huan’s true skills resulted in various scenes where my jaw dropped from the way how he can manipulate his qi in battle. In a way, they made him seem like an even more ridiculous version of Twilight Suzuka from Outlaw Star, as we see another badass slaughtering people with a wooden weapon. While his backstory might continue to remain a mystery when the show ends, the idea that we don’t know much about Huan background is what makes him intriguing. Nonetheless, it’s his tendency to go with his instinct that made him a fun lead to follow since he does his best to adjust to situations that he’s been put through against his will— even if they make him upset or to follow someone who he sees as a shady individual. As Thunderbolt Fantasy went from being an adventure story to a tale of betrayal, the show has been quite the ride so far. Considering that the truth behind the Tian Xin Jian’s purpose has been revealed, the series might be setting up for the gang to fight a colossal being, which works well in the staff’s favor to end this show with a bang. No matter what happens, the end result might be a tale that teaches folks about accepting reality and using its harsh truth to grow into a stronger person. Someone is likely going to make one last major sacrifice, but that’ll just mean that the person involved has found his/her resolve. Of course, the high-speed lightning action will only make these moments even better.  [Experience Thunderbolt Fantasy’s changes on Crunchyroll]
Thunderbolt Fantasy photo
A Game of Marionettes
It was only a matter of time until Urobuchi would slice Thunderbolt Fantasy with his special knives. While it took a while for his blade to pierce through the show’s main story, the effect is still worthy of his us...

Impressions: Dragon Quest Builders Demo

Sep 28 // Red Veron
Dragon Quest Builders (PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixRelease Date: January 28, 2016 (JP), October 11. 2016 (NA), October 14, 2016 (EU)MSRP: $59.99 (PlayStation 4) You may have heard of Dragon Quest before, it's a role-playing game series that had its start in Japan in the late 80's on the Nintendo Family Computer (the Japanese Nintendo Entertainment System) and has become pretty much an institution in Japanese culture. Japan loves this series so much, you've probably seen references to Dragon Quest in different Japanese media and you probably might have not noticed. Dragon Quest also part of that popular urban legend of video game stores having to release the game on weekends so schoolkids wouldn't skip class to pick up the latest entry in the series. There have been many attempts to bring the series to the US, but the timing has always been not quite right. Now, we have a very unlikely Dragon Quest spinoff and it is borrowing elements from one of the biggest games in the last decade: Minecraft. While the series has had many spinoffs in other genres, this attempt of creating a sandbox exploration and creation adventure game actually does a really good job. Dragon Quest Builders is set in a world that is generations after the first Dragon Quest game, where the hero in original Dragon Quest chooses to rule half the world with the Dragonlord, the final boss in the game. Of course, the Dragonlord being the big bad, betrays the hero and plunges the world into darkness, along with it, robbing humanity the ability build things. So it is now generations later and players will take on the role of the "Builder", who must save the world from the Dragonlord by building stuff and using said stuff to defeat the Dragonlord. The game has a story, which is not really common in the sandbox-creation-exploration genre, progression is tied to the narrative that also tries to teach you how to do things and keeps you on a track with some freedom in between. This demo covers only very little of the game, so we don't get much of an idea as to how much freedom there is compared to the full game. The demo is the first hour and a half of the Dragon Quest Builders, teaching you the different mechanics of the game as your progress with the story. You are slowly given bits of the narrative while learning the basics such crafting, resource gathering, combat, and other parts from early in the game. Base building is also part of the game, players get to build a town (which is more like a base) and this demo shows a little bit of that mechanic. Building up the town attracts people to help build up the town as well as add more ways to item crafting. The other side to base building is also defending it against monsters aligned with the big bad Dragonlord who will attack your town from time to time. Defenses can be built to keep monsters from destroying your base and townsfolk will also help you fight.  Combat in the demo is basic, only two melee weapons are available, a stick and a club. They do fine against most of the enemies you encounter, except for the dragon which takes a while to fight with such weak weapons. Crafting is easy, all made in a menu at crafting stations, just gather the right items and you can make what is needed. Dragon Quest Builders just looks really good, the chibi-styled Dragon Quest characters look very faithful to the series, as well the much more recognized monsters such as the Slime monsters, the series' de facto mascot. Monsters act like they do in the recent games they are from, attacks and sound cues as well. The game shows off more of its Dragon Quest heritage with much of the iconography in the game are ripped straight from the series. Familiar items are abundant, from healing items to even chimera wings, which is a mainstay in the Dragon Quest games and function the same way. Another way this game shows off it's Dragon Quest DNA is through the music. The lovely and soothing orchestral Dragon Quest music is present and just perfect for this new genre where hours fade away. This music is perfect since it was also made for Japanese RPGs that take dozens of hours to complete and it won't drive you crazy from hearing it over and over again. The game's camera can be finicky at times, it zooms in when you're in tight spaces. When you're running through a forest with plenty of trees, it can be hard to see items and enemies under the foliage and will require you to maneuver the camera low for the best view. There is a transparency effect that lets you see through it but it is only wide enough to see a little bit around your character and can make it hard to be able to see enemies near you. These problems with the camera are not a big deal and don't really pop up often. The minor problems are only in the cases I mentioned above, most of the environments are open and controlling the camera isn't difficult. Block placement can be imprecise at times, since the cursor isn't always present and defaults to where your character is facing (which isn't always clearly defined). Placing objects where you don't intend to place them does happen but you don't get penalized for breaking them down (unlike in Minecraft where crafted objects revert to the raw materials) and you only take a very small reduction to the durability of the tool used to break it down. The small slice of the world in the demo might seem large at first but once the demo is over, you may find it small and a bit empty. However, those who choose to explore the island in the demo will be in for a bit of a treat. Getting to the other side of the mountain will let you see a bit more of the game. There is a little bit more to see but it's not much, though it gives you a better idea of the scale of this world. The Dragon Quest Builders demo is short but it left me wanting more places to explore and build, which is what a demo should do. I played for more than two hours of the demo I enjoyed almost every single moment of it. There's a lot of the world to explore and many things to build, and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of the game. After looking at people playing the Japanese version, I realized just how little this demo is compared to the vast amount of content in the full game. [embed]35296:5867:0[/embed]
Dragon Quest Builders photo
Save the world one piece at a time
Last night, I streamed Dragon Quest Builders on Japanator Live, the latest spinoff of  Dragon Quest series that takes a lot of inspiration from the sandbox creation genre (made popular by Minecraft) and infuses...

JapanaSeven: The 7 best boys of Kuroko's Basketball

Sep 27 // Karishma Roy
Which Team Vorpal Swords member would you want to go on a date with?   The bad boy : Daiki Aomine [Image credit : deviantart.com]  THE ACE OF THE GENERATION OF MIRACLES. “The only one who can beat me, is me”. He’s cocky, rebellious and indifferent. Watching Aomine in THE ZONE, handling the ball as if it’s an extended part of his body, gave me the effing chills. Like, hell yeah he is unstoppable! The streetball he plays suits his aggressive and I-don’t-need-nobody attitude. Aomine reads a lot of porn and prefers girls with big boobs. Despite his overwhelming talent for basketball, he fits the good-looking but stupid stereotype in terms of academics and his friends call him "Ahomine". He would excel in bed but don’t expect anything more from him. However, you will probably end up catching the feels ‘cause he’s hot and will inevitably break your heart. That’s exactly why he is the bad boy. All you ladies out there, be wise!  Mr. Perfect: Seijuro Akashi [Image credit : deviantart.com] Alright, this dude is an overachiever. Top at academics, basketball, shogi, you name it… it’s his “duty to win”. He captained the Teiko basketball team – leading that bunch of prideful misfits to consecutive victories and earning them the title “Generation of Miracles” must require mad skills. He continues to be the captain in EXTRA GAME. I much prefer Akashi’s real, more level-headed personality when compared to the scary one where he orders everybody around. Although, it was pretty badass how he commanded Seirin players to get down on their knees when he was in THE ZONE. Unrealistic, but badass. And his heterochromatic eyes give him a dangerous but delicious look. Which Akashi do you guys prefer? His real self would be a caring, considerate and chill boyfriend. Bet you he would treat his girl like an empress!  The cool guy: Taiga Kagami [Image credit : picsart.com] The fiercely ambitious and stubborn deuteragonist of the show. He has a short temper and is adorably scared of dogs and ghosts. All you dog lovers out there, will you sacrifice the chance to own a puppy for Kagami? Soz, not me. But for real, this guy easily rivals the GOM players. He is indeed the “The Miracle who did not become one of the Miracles” and is currently the best in Japan after having defeated all of the GOM players. Watching him fight for his team and entering THE ZONE is so damn inspiring. He is the face of determination, the cool guy that everyone loves and looks up to. Now he may be academically atrocious - "Bakagami"- but his family is rich and he makes a mean curry. He has a huge appetite though so he might eat it all himself. Also, look at that smokin' hot bod! For all his confidence on the court, I imagine he would be petrified on a first date.  The lazy foodie : Atsushi Murasakibara He’s 6’10 and loves to snack, especially on sweet stuff!  Ladies, the way to this guy's heart is through his stomach so sharpen up on those cooking skills. If Team Vorpal Swords had an eating contest, who would win it between Atsushi and Kagami? I want to say Kagami but would Atsushi lose to him again? Not sure... He’s childish and has a mean streak. It’s like he needs someone to look up to – in middle school he obeyed Akashi and in high school, Himuro seems to be filling up that role. I think an older woman who can offer wisdom and guidance in life would suit him best. As a player, he’s better at offense than defence as we found out. I’m looking forward to seeing him play at full strength in the EXTRA GAME. How hot was he when pulled his hair back into a ponytail in the match against Seirin!? Phew, more rage please Atsushi! And let’s not forget that crying scene after Yosen was defeated. It was mostly sad but kind of funny - he goes from daddy on the court to baby off of it. The womaniser: Ryouta Kise [Image credit : tumblr.com] To quote Britney Spears, "Oh you’re a womaniser, baby". Kise’s got a pretty face and he takes advantage of it through modelling and flirting with chicks. I find his carefree personality quite charming. He’s the kind of guy who’d act all cute to make out with multiple girls in a club. But when he finds the right lady, I don't think he'll have a problem in committing and settling down with her. As a player, his “copy-cat” ability is quite interesting. The fact that he was able to copy Aomine’s moves shows that he is just as capable of being an awesome player. He can actually copy every GOM member's signature move and although he can’t sustain it for more than 2 minutes, it’s still freakin’ amazing! He’s got so much potential to tap into. The serious guy: Shintarou Midorima [Image credit : gexing.com] Okay, he’s kind of weird. He fervently believes in horoscopes and carries around lucky items from a stuffed bear to a toy frog named Mr. Ribbit. He meticulously files his nails and tapes his fingers. All of this, according to him, is to ensure he does everything within his power to win at basketball games. I guess there is something admirable about this obsession. He's also very smart and his alternate career choice to basketball would be medicine. But I can’t deal with the fact that he believes in blood type compatibility. It’s curious to note that while the blood type personality theory is not backed up by concrete scientific evidence, Japanese people are very big on it. A number of East Asian online dating websites ask for your blood type (Of course, I only know this through a friend). So ladies, if you’re type B or AB, rejoice for you are most compatible with Midorima’s B blood type. The nice but boring one: Tetsuya Kuroko [Image credit : pintrest.com] Ah, the protagonist of the show. “The Gatekeeper”. I’m sorry if some of you are offended by the boring tag but he kind of is, okay. You might miss him on the first date even though he is standing right in front of you because of his “lack of presence”. But Kuroko is a nice guy. He’ll be the one to bring you flowers, write you songs, rescue a cat stuck on a tree, try to cheer you up by being surprisingly funny… typical boyfriend material. As a player, his supernatural ability to pull off misdirection, ignite pass, vanishing drive, cyclone pass etc… is impressive to watch. Kuroko is a symbol teamwork and friendship in this anime and I admire that.  Which player is your favourite? Who would you want as your bae? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Kuroko's Basketball photo
Which player are you crushing on?
Time to face it: we all have an anime boyfriend or two that we fantasise about. Have you seen a beautiful main character eating lunch by himself at a cafeteria and thought to yourself, “Senpai, I’d have made you a...

Strong Style: Last Stop on the road to WrestleKingdom (I swear!)

Sep 25 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Tanahashi, looking somewhat normal. CMLL Welterweight Title: Mascara Dorada vs. Bushi Dorada may look familiar as Gran Metalik in the recent WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Bushi debuted on this show a few weeks ago as the newest member of Los Ingobernables with Naito and EVIL. The story here is that Dorada was recruited to join Los Ingobernables, but refused, so Bushi attacked him. A little background on Bushi. He started with All Japan Pro Wrestling in the mid-2000s (before they lost half their roster when Great Muta split with the company). He went on his excursion to Mexico for a few years before coming back to AJPW. He ended up being sent to New Japan on loan for a year but ended up getting injured with a bad neck injury from a diving headbutt. In his debut back he was supposed to be the curtain jerker, but canceled the match and came back with Naito and EVIL instead. Bushi enters the arena by himself. Instead of the black suit, he is just wearing his gear and a T-shirt. He takes off his mask to reveal an all black mask instead. Mascara Dorada enters the ring and suddenly Naito appears in Bushi's corner. Hirooki Goto comes out and now he's in Dorada's corner. A real good spot here as since this is for a Mexican championship, it's a tradition that they get a picture of the ref holding the belt with the two wrestlers and their corner men together. As they pose Naito reaches his hand behind Dorada's head. He turns around and Goto goes after Naito. Bushi takes advantage and starts whaling on Dorada as the ref is getting Goto out of the ring. Bushi beats down Dorada and chokes him with his boot in the corner. Bushi gets him up and sends him into the corner. Bushi tries to whip him into the opposite corner but Dorada reverses. Bushi goes in but when Dorada tries a splash, Bushi lifts him over the ropes and down to the floor. Bushi then springs over the ropes and catches Dorada with a hurracanrana on the floor! We skip ahead as both guys are back in the ring and Dorada is throwing punches. Bushi rakes Dorada's eyes and backs him up into the ropes. Dorada springs off and tries a back elbow but Bushi dodges. Bushi goes for the dropkick and misses as Dorada goes to the second ropes and lands an armdrag to send Bushi from the ring. He goes up to the top turnbuckle and walks the top rope before hitting a splash! We get a weird Lucha Underground mention from Jim Ross as he explains how having two masked men is unusual for Japan. Bushi is rolled back in the ring as Dorada springboards in with a body press into a two count. Dorada sends Bushi into the ropes and plants him right on his black-lipsticked face. We come back from the commercial as Dorada goes in for a charge but Bushi kicks him right in the face. Bushi scales up the ropes and hits a hurracanrana to send Dorada to the outside where Bushi gets a running start and hits the diving headbutt! Bushi gets back in the ring and when Dorada gets through the ropes, Bushi nails him with a high dropkick. For some reason Bushi just kind of walks around for a bit in an awkward point in the match. Bushi tries to whip Dorada in but Dorada reverses. Bushi goes up into the powerbomb position but Bushi goes over the top into a sunset flip for a two count. He goes to the middle rope and tries for an axehandle but Dorada gives him a dropkick in mid-air. Bushi gets to the corner but Dorada hits a running clothesline to send Bushi back to the mat where Dorada hits a VERY weak looking dropkick. He goes up top and walks to the middle of the top rope before hitting a splash. The count gets two. Dorada goes to get Bushi, but Bushi throws a kick that Dorada catches. Bushi spins around and tries for an enziguri but Dorada ducks, only to get kicked from a second try. Dorada goes to the corner but when Bushi charges Dorada kicks him with both feet. Bushi charges again and Dorada gets the sunset flip, but Bushi reverses it and grabs onto Naito's hands! Goto runs over and nails Naito. We have a fight! Both guys are chased to the back while Dorada rolls to the apron. Bushi comes in and gets kicks right in the head, Dorada goes up and hits a HIGH moonsault, but only gets two. He picks Bushi up and sets him on the top rope. Just then EVIL shows up on the apron and distracts the ref as Bushi sprays the green mist in Dorada's eyes! Bushi hits the low blow and scores the reverse roll up to get the three count! Bushi is the new champion! Backstage Bushi talks about being out of action for exactly one year. He saw a lot of confusing things, but everything he worked for has lead to winning this belt. We come back from commercial to get some studio words from Tanahashi. He lists off all the guys he fought during 2015. It's exhausting but he never gets tired and wants to end the year right. Hiroshi Tanahashi/Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazuchika Okada/Tomohiro Ishii One last little teaser before Wrestlekingdom. Since both feuds here are pretty deep, this should be a total mess of a match. Let's see how this goes. Shibata enters first in his no-nonsense style. In a break from tradition, Ishii enters next. Okay. Tanahashi is the next out and Okada comes out with Gedo behind him. Tanahashi and Okada have a brief face off, but nothing comes of that. We come back from commercial with Okada starting with Tanahashi. Big Okada chant. We lock up, trade waist locks before Tanahashi goes for a full nelson. Tanahashi goes for the arm but Okada takes the leg and they grapple back and forth before breaking in the ropes. Knuckle lock into a wristlock by Tanahashi. They go into the rope and clean break. Knuckle lock again into a wristlock by Okada. They back into the ropes and Okada feigns going for the clean break, but screw that and he hits Hiroshi. Okada turns around and tags in Ishii and Hiroshi goes over and tags Shibata. The immediately collide in the center of the ring. Shibata with a headlock is shot off and the pitbull runs him over with a shoulderblock. Ishii gives a few kicks and forearms but Shibata gets right back up. Shibata gives him a kick to send Ishii down. Shibata lands some teasing kicks. Ishii jumps right up and trades a few forearms into the corner, Shibata lands chops and some strikes. Ishii takes it and gives it back by shoving Shibata into the corner and doing the same thing. They exchange chops in the throat! Geez! "Shibata's gonna sound like Honma."- JR. Okada tags in and hits a low dropkick. Swinging neckbreaker on Shibata. Count gets one. Ishii tags back in hits a snapmare and a kick to the back. Headbutt sends Shibata backward but he comes right back with chops and they go at it again before Ishii lands a headbutt into the temple. Okada tags back in and gets the whip and splash into the corner. Okada hits a senton, a bit of a shot to Tanahashi I'm sure. Shibata lands a chop and gets up. They start exchanging blows before Okada is knocked down! We come back from break with both guys down. Okada gets a strike in but Shibata gets the knee to the gut. Tanahashi comes in and fires off elbows to the face. He slams Okada down and hits the middle rope senton. Count only gets two. He tries to whip Okada, but Okada reverses only to get a dropkick in the knee. Tanahashi gets the cloverleaf but Okada gets to the ropes. Ref breaks the hold and Okada gets to his feet. Tanahashi goes for a running attack but Okada lands the flapjack. He then turns around and tags Ishii back in. Ishii starts in with the chops in the corner. Tanahashi tries headbutts on Ishii which is insane! Ishii floors Tanahashi and then starts chopping him on the corner. Tanahashi reverses with some European forearms but that doesn't work. Ishii locks in a sleeperhold but Tanahashi pushes him back into the corner. Tanahashi reverses and locks in a dragon sleeper but Ishii gets out of it. Shibata tags in and nails Okada off the apron before he starts in on Ishii with forearms before hitting his hanging dropkick. He gets the half hatch suplex into a cover then goes right into an armlock into a triangle lock. Ishii tries lifting him up but Shibata extends the lock on the arm even more. He gets Ishii down to the canvas but Ishii is still fighting Tanahashi holds Okada from interference. Ishii finally gets to the ropes but Shibata lays in some kicks. Shibata tries a hold but Okada comes in and breaks it up. Ishii gets up and tags Shibata right in the face and flattens him. Both guys tag and here we go. Okada lands a boot the Tanahashi's face. Tanahashi pops up and starts in with a forearm. Okada reverses a flapjack and they roll right into an Okada neckbreaker. Okada scales the ropes and gets the elbow. He signals for the rainmaker but Tanahashi counters out, Okada goes for a dropkick but Tanahashi counters into a grounded leg whip and into a cloverleaf. Shibata and Ishii come into with an octopus. Both holds are broken up. Tanahashi goes for the slingblade, but Okada counters into the rainmaker, but Tanahashi counters into BACK a slingblade. Tanahashi goes up but Ishii stops him and hits the middle rope suplex. Shibata comes in and lands a big dropkick on Ishii. We come back from break with everyone down. Tanahashi and Okada struggle to stand but can't get there. They start exchanging forearms and heave themselves to a standing position. Okada tries for the tombstone but Tanahashi counters out and hits a punch to Okada's face. Okada tags Ishii and Shibata also gets the tag. They immediately start trading clothesline then exchange back suplexes, Seriously, dueling back suplexes. They get up to their feet and start trading forearms. Shibata lands a dropkick and a kick to the chest and a cover, but nope. He gets a chinlock but Okada breaks it up. Tanahashi comes in and out goes Okada. Ishii ends up in the corner but he nails Tanahashi and tags Shibata with a clothesline. He doesn't get the pin. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Shibata counters and locks in the choke. Ishii is going down, but powers back up. Okada comes in a dropkick Shibata in the back of the head. Shibata kicks Okada outside the ring. he goes for the PK on Ishii but he counters. Shibata lands a dropkick and Tanahashi comes off the top with the flow and then Shibata lands the PK kick and Tanahashi gets the pin! Shibata grabs the mic and thanks the crowd for their support. He hands the mic to Tanahashi. Tanahashi tells Okada that it's too early to leave. Okada turns around and comes back in the ring. Tanahashi tells  him that he doesn't care about his crying or the money, but he wants to take NJPW to the next level and he will be the champion. Okada fakes going out of the ring but turns right around. He says, "NJPW is already at the next level and he won't embarrass himself." Tanahashi says that they will settle it on January 4. It then starts snowing in the arena as Tanahashi poses a bit. In the studio, Tanahashi asks which rivalry was more exciting in this match. He says, "He who wears the belt needs to share his vision with the crowd, no matter what it is." As these two fought each other in the months leading up to this, he felt things reset. No heel or babyface anymore. And with that, we finish this week. Welp, this show did blow me away. Granted, the tag match was good, but the opening match was a dud. It seemed like it was going at half speed and it seemed like the crowd was dead for the whole thing. Next time we FINALLY get to the coverage of Wrestlekingdom 10 card! As a preview of what to expect, here is the preview for the show I did back in January. See you next time from the Tokyo Dome!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
One last show before the big one!
Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we look at a couple of matches from the last show before the Big WrestleKingdom 10 show with "Road To Tokyo Dome." This show takes place on December 19, 2015, at Korakuen Hall and was the last one for the year for New Japan. Let's get to the action!


Weekend Japanatainment - Live Action Anime Edition

Sep 24 // Red Veron
[embed]35283:5858:0[/embed] Rurouni Kenshin: Origins Here's an adaptation from Japan that did a great job with bringing the soul of the source material. While this adaptation truncates the manga's story (in three movies), it does a fine job in presentation and is an overall enjoyable experience. The first movie is definitely something you can show to those unfamiliar to the series.   [embed]35283:5859:0[/embed] Gatchaman (2013) I haven't seen this movie yet but I didn't hear good stuff about it. The costumes and the trailer looks cool though. I'll give it a watch soon.   [embed]35283:5860:0[/embed] Speed Racer (2008) This trailer looks like a lot of fun and I've heard from people that it is a fun time and I think it looks like a good way to modernize the source material. I'll watch it soon too.   [embed]35283:5861:0[/embed] Fist of the North Star (1995) I remember seeing little bits of this movie on different cable movie channels over the years, and looking at the trailer, it looks like they did their best to bring it to the big screen. I think Hollywood should try again, especially with the recent success of Mad Max: Fury Road as a reference.   [embed]35283:5863:0[/embed] Gantz Part 1 (2010) & Gantz Part 2: Perfect Answer (2011) I've seen only the first movie and the loosely adapted anime version of Gantz and the 2010 film was a good time. While not as brutal as the anime or the manga, it still provided that gritty feeling close to the source material.   [embed]35283:5862:0[/embed] Ore Monogatari!! (My Love Story!!) I loved what I saw of the anime adaptation of this show and this trailer seems like my cup of tea. While the lead male actor doesn't quite have the same large proportions of the character he's portraying, he still pulls off a believable look that does justice to the source material.   [embed]35283:5857:0[/embed] Ghost in the Shell (2017) Here is one of the short clips that recently came out of the new Ghost in the Shell adaptation. Check out the rest here for more of the clips.   Is there a live action adaptation of an anime or manga that you love and/or hate? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Anime IRL
Clips of the controversial Hollywood live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell recently came out and the short clips just give us almost a minute of footage of the upcoming movie. Whatever your opinion of the cas...

Here's what to look forward to in AJIN Season 2

Sep 22 // Karishma Roy
IBM and black ghosts Black ghosts are made from invisible black matter (IBM) and can't be seen by the human eye unless they are in a heightened emotional state. We are aware that water disrupts the connection between Ajins and their black ghosts, and we also know about the “Flood” Phenomena. But there is SO much more we need to find out! Why are only a limited number of Ajin able to produce them? What is the deal with memories colliding when these ghosts head-butt each other? Why is Kei’s black ghost so childish and does the exact opposite of what he commands it? Is it hard to control because Kei had produced it as a child and was unaware of it up until he dies in that truck accident? Or could this mean he died as a child first? Is there a limit to how many black ghosts an Ajin can produce? Finally, is it really true that decapitation and the growth of a new head can result in a different personality? That could solve Kei’s antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Ogura Ikuya, please share your knowledge with us. I’ll give you as many cigarettes as you want! P.S. : There is going to be a black ghost with wings! How cool is that? Kei and Kaito's friendship Kaito deserves a standing ovation for being a loyal bro despite the fact that Kei basically ignored him since they were children. When Kei realised he lacked real friends and needed help running away from the police after the Ajin discovery, he seeks Kai out. It was selfish but I’m impressed he remembered Kai’s number since he deleted it years ago. Kai risks his ONLY LIFE without a second thought and we’ll forgive Kei for being a jerk on grounds of his sociopathic nature. But is it just me who thinks Kai may have a place in Kei’s proverbial heart? After the motorcycle crash, remember how Kei begs Tanaka to call an ambulance? There was no rational thinking or detachment, it was purely worry and fear. And Kei also tearfully says that Kai is the only one he “can’t betray” during that torture scene. We can expect Kai to reappear in season 2 to help his friend defeat Satou. He’ll make us humans proud and be a real hero. Also, is anyone hoping for a bit of bromance or romance between Kei and Kaito? #TeamKeito anyone? Or could Eriko have feelings for Kai? She seems to miss him! How does #TeamErito sound? Shinya Nakamura If you watched the OVA then you’ll know that this dude who is responsible for the “Flood” incident is MIA. We can expect to see him back to help #TeamKei defeat Satou. Or…this is much less likely but will he surprise us and join #TeamSatou instead? We don’t know where he has been or what kind of person he has become.Government officials killed his best friend and drastically changed his life so we can be sure that he’ll be involved in the action somehow.  Izumi Shimomura I have a love/hate relationship with her. Hate because she is selfish for saving her own skin while watching other Ajins be tortured. Love because her IBM “Kuro- chan” slays. Kuro single-handedly destroyed all four of Kei’s black ghosts and also defeated Tanaka’s one in the hospital. We can expect to find out why and if she is the only female Ajin in the country? Why are they so rare? Are female IBM properties different from male ones? Hopefully Izumi will woman up a bit more in season 2 and stop being at Tosaka’s beck and call. I want her to join the real fight and stop being scared. Or could it be she is in love with Tosaki!? Gurl, do not go there. Keep kicking ass and be fierce!  P.S. She is very cute at times. Team Satou   It has been a rule from the beginning of time that evil must be defeated. I admit there are no clear good versus bad in this series and there are more than fifty shades of grey. Everyone has their own agenda. Except perhaps Kou. He is one of those simple minded yet very determined guy. But Satou, dude, you can’t be allowed to rule the country. It will be interesting to see if and how he unleashes the second wave of disaster upon Japan. And I am curious about these 15 people conspiring against the Ajin. Who are the Ajin Control Commission and how much do they really know? Will we see them use the supposedly illegal Anti-Ajin force? They may have to! Do you guys think #TeamSatou will accomplish killing all these people? Or will #TeamKei succeed in stopping them? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
AJIN Season 2 photo
Questions and Expectations
It's official, Ajin Season 2 will be returning to our screens on October 7th, 2016. It will continue to air on Netflix so YAY! The third movie titled Ajin : Shogeki will be released on September 23rd 2016....

Weekend Japanatainment - Summer OP 2016 Edition

Sep 17 // Red Veron
[embed]35273:5846:0[/embed] "The LiBERTY" Anime: Handa-kun This is actually one show I've been keeping up with since it's a spinoff of one of my favorite anime, Barakamon. While this show is NOTHING like the original show it spunoff from, its still a good comedy about everyone having misunderstandings about everything and general craziness in a school where everyone is kind of an idiot.   [embed]35273:5847:0[/embed] "Hikari no Hahen" Anime: Orange Here is a show I've seen a little bit of that I will binge soon. It's a shoujo drama with a science fiction twist. The heroine gets a note from the future telling her not to screw up things with a guy and I think she screws up a lot anyway, according to people on twitter.   [embed]35273:5848:0[/embed] "STARTING NOW" Anime: Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! (This Art Club has a problem!) I have read the manga a long while ago, and I enjoyed it a lot. Now it is an anime and looks like totally my jam. Just watch the opening.   [embed]35273:5849:0[/embed] "SAKURA Skip" Anime: New Game! This show is about a complete newbie at a video game development company and according to real developers, much of the things in this show are wildly inaccurate. It's still got funny moments and plenty of waifu material.   [embed]35273:5850:0[/embed] "99" Anime: Mob Psycho 100 The shining star of the season, this is from the same author of the insanely popular One Punch Man, and it is a blast with its crazy whirlwind of colors and animation. I confess I have only seen the first episode but this is top priority for me this season. You should check it out too.   What's your favorite anime from this season? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Summer Season Sendoff
The summer anime season is coming to a close and the hot weather is finally letting up (except in weird places like Australia where it's winter time and dangerous creatures lurk at every corner). So it is the perfect time to ...

Strong Style: Seriously, this is the finals

Sep 16 // Soul Tsukino
The show starts with a greeting from Honma! Croaking like a frog the whole time. Seriously, this guy is like dragging a bass drum over a gravel road. Hiroshi Tanahashi,Michael Elgin, Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Kazucha Sakuraba) Yeah, this match is going to be a mess. The story here is, of course, Tanahashi and Okada are going to meet in the main event of WrestleKingdom and they needed to face off just one more time. Everyone else is there to cause havoc. Tanahashi's team is already in the ring as CHAOS marches out with Gedo following them all. Okada and Tanahashi face off immediately in the ring. They pause, take off their gear, and go right back to staring each other down. The bell rings and surprisingly they start the match! Lock-up to start and back into the ropes but Okada gives a clean break with a light tap on the chest. Hiroshi doesn't care for that and forearms Okada twice in the face. Okada recovers enough to send Tanahashi into the ropes and boot him in the face. He immediately goes for the tombstone but Hiroshi blocks it. Okada Goes for the tombstone again and Tanahashi blocks it. Tanahashi goes for a dragon suplex but Okada blocks that. He gets Tanahashi over in an armdrag and locks in a leg scissors. Tanahashi gets out but Okada gets in a wristlock. They get up and Ishii tags in. The Stone Pitbull then ignore Tanahashi and says he wants Shibata. Fair enough. Shibata comes in and they ram shoulder to shoulder before Ishii starts in with some nasty forearms. Shibata responds in kind. They dare each other for a hit and just start going back and forth with forearms for what seems like forever before Ishii falters. Shibata bounces off the ropes and hits a big boot, Ishii responds with a forearm off the ropes. Another boot and more forearms. They finally ram into each other and Shibata falls back and tags Goto. Goto tries for a forearm strike but Ishii ducks it and goes over and nails Shibata off the apron then decks Goto too before he goes and tags Yoshi. Yoshi comes in but so does Shibata. Funny moment as Yoshi thinks Shibata is going to hit him and blocks, but Shibata runs right by him and hits Ishii off the apron instead while Yoshi just looks around for a few seconds. Ishii and Shibata are fighting on the floor now as Yoshi goes for a suplex, but Goto slips out. He goes for a clothesline but Yoshi blocks it. Yoshi goes for the ropes but gets caught by Goto who scoops him up and hits an ushigoroshi, which JR calls an airplane spin and slam. Goto then crawls over and tags Elgin. Oh shit. Yoshi, for the love of all that your ancestors have done, tag out. Big Mike immediately goes up and hits a BIG flying shoulderblock. Hashi stumbles to his feet and Mike hits him with a bunch of forearms before landing a big running forearm to the jaw. He slams Yoshi down and goes to the apron and hits the slingshot bodypress. Yoshi rolls to the corner where Elgin calls for the clothesline. Yoshi dodges out of the way but Mike tries to kick him. Yoshi catches the foot but gets drilled with the enziguri from some mighty beefy legs! He grabs Yoshi from behind and nails a German suplex. He keeps hold and hits another one. As he is trying for a third Okada comes in to stop it but Mike just suplexes him. Ishii gets a suplex and then Sakuraba gets one. And you get a suplex, and you get a suplex! The crowd is loving this. He presses Yoshi above his head and brings him down in a powerslam. The count only gets two. We come back from the commercial as Elgin tries to get Yoshi in a powerbomb, but Yoshi slips over the top into a sunset flip. Mike says no to that and picks Yoshi up into another powerbomb, but Yoshi turns it into a codebreaker. Yoshi scrambles over to tag Okada. The Rainmaker runs over and nails Tanahashi and Shibata off the apron. He and Yoshi grab Mike and run him into the turnbuckles, but when Okada comes in for the splash Elgin gives him a boot. Yoshi comes flying in but mike dodges him. Mike picks him up for the suplex when Okada kicks him in the gut and Mike keeps the suplex. Okada comes over and pulls Yoshi down but Mike just hits him. Mike scoops up Okada and then Yoshi and slams them both. Elgin rolls over and tags Tanahashi. Hiroshi is angry as he comes in and unloads on Okada with forearms before Okada has had enough and he starts firing off forearms. They duel back and forth before Tanahashi starts firing off European uppercuts. Okada fires Tanahashi in and tries for a boot but Hiroshi catches him and snaps off a dragon screw leg whip. Okada goes to the corner and Tanahashi comes flying in, but Okada catches him and scoops him in an emerald fusion position and drops him right on his knee. CHAOS comes in now as here we go! As everyone else is fighting outside Okada slams Tanahashi down and climbs up. He lands the Randy Savage elbow and does the Rainmaker pose! Tanahashi STANDS UP! He's right in Okada's face! Okada tries for a punch but Tanahashi grabs him and tries for the rainmaker clothesline. Okada ducks and tries the rainmaker himself. Tanahashi then SLAPS Okada! Ooooooh. Hiroshi goes bouncing off the ropes right into an Okada dropkick., but Tanahashi pops right back up and nails the slingblade! Ishii and Shibata tag in and Ishii runs right into a boot. He goes to the corner where Shibata just lays into him with elbows and forearm strikes before landing his sweet hanging dropkick. Ishii rolls out of the corner as Shibata goes to the ropes and right into a Sakuraba choke! Yoshi comes in and knocks Goto off the apron before he whips Shibata in the corner and nails him with a clothesline. Mind you Yoshi nor Sakuraba are legal. Sakuraba lands a kick and Ishii gets a Saito suplex and goes for the cover. Goto scoots in to break that up. Ishii goes for the piledriver and Goto nails him with a clothesline. Shibata sets Ishii up but Goto accidently nails Shibata with a clothesline! Everyone comes in and nails each other before Elgin presses Tanahashi up and down onto Okada and Yoshi. Ishii sneaks in and nails Elgin with a back suplex. We are back down to Ishii and Shibata as Shibata lands the boot. Ishii lands a big clothesline and goes for a pin but only gets two. Both guys scramble up and Shibata locks in a rear choke. Got runs in and tries something but Ishii kicks him. He tries to fend off both Meiyu but Shibata gets him locked up and he and Goto take Ishii down. Ishii and Shibata stumble up and hit each other before conking heads and messing them both up. Shibata locks in the choke but Ishii flips him over to counter and Shibata kicks Ishii down. He goes for the kick but Ishii grabs his foot. He tries for a clothesline but Shibata ducks under and locks in the choke again! He gets Ishii down, and nails him with a PK and gets the pin! Holy crap! Shibata grabs the NEVER belt and just drapes it over a fallen Ishii. Backstage Ishii is pissed! We come back to the studio with Honma. He ended up getting a technique award right before this and even he doesn't think it is technique as much as he just loves wrestling. This match is happening in his home area. It is a divine message and he has to be the one to decide it, not Makabe. 2015 World Tag League Finals: Global Bash Heel (Togi Makabe/Tomoaki Honma) vs. Los Igobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito/EVIL) Winner gets to fight Gallows and Anderson for the tag team titles at WK. Probably not the cream of the crop in tag team wrestling, but what the hell right? The Goobers enter as JR butchers Togi's name for the umpteenth time. The announcers say that GBH won their tag matches with all King Kong knee drops from Makabe, so that explains it. JR then mistakes King Kong Bundy with Bruiser (King Kong) Brody. *sigh*. A weird close-up of Jay White, the young boy as he opens the ropes for Naito. GBH comes out with Honma leading the way. These two will never be mistaken for the Beuty Pair that's for sure.  We actually get the full introductions here, so we are stretching for time a bit. Honma gets a big reaction from the fans. We come from the commercial and the bell rings. Togi and Naito start out Togi wants to go, but Naito, of course, doesn't. He turns around and tags EVIL. As they go to lock up Naito hits Makabe from behind and EVIL hits Honma. They try to double team on Togi, but he runs right over the both of them. Honma tags in and lays in the kicks on EVIL. Whip into the corner with an elbow and then a clothesline. He tries for the headbutt and misses. Naito comes in and chucks Honma right out. EVIL goes right after Makabe outside with some chairs and Honma gets whipped into the barrier. Naito grabs the table from the broadcasters. That can't be good. He puts Honma on the apron but Honma hits the boot. Honma goes for the slam but Bushi jumps on the apron and kicks Honma. Naito gets a reverse headlock and right down on the table!  The ref checking in on Honma, including checking his pulse! Naito rolls him into the ring as Naito stomps on the fallen Honma as the crowd starts in a chant. Naito tags in EVIL and he goes right for Makabe again, knocking him off the apron. He hits a spinning side slam on Honma. EVIL tags in Naito as he chokes Honma a bit and hits an elbow before getting a baseball slide dropkick. EVIL rakes at Honma eyes as Naito hits Makabe off the apron. EVIL starts biting Honma on the shoulder! He gets an arm lock and then a surfboard on Honma  and then he hits a senton, but gets a two count. RVIL gives the death sign and goes for a suplex but Honma counters and then gets him up and muscles him over! Honma finally tags Makabe in and he runs right over EVIL. Naito comes in and is clotheslined to the apron.  He runs to the other corner and flattens EVIL with 10 punches and a northern lights suplex for a two count. Makabe goes for the clothesline, but EVIL gets a neckbreaker. It doesn't last as Makabe again runs over EVIL and then hits a release German suplex. Makabe rolls over and gets the tag. Honma comes over and gets rid of EVIL and starts in on Naito before hitting the headbutt. He tries for a blockbuster but doesn't get any rotation and actually comes down on his head, but he pops right back up. Naito gets up and counters into a neckbreaker and then a missile dropkick. He gets Honma in the corner and gets in his three-part dropkick. He tries for a German but Honma stops it. Makabe comes in and Honma hits a missile headbutt right to EVIL. GBH hits a double clothesline on Naito. Honma goes up but EVIL trips him up. Makabe goes for Naito but Bushi gives him the green mist, so he is down. EVIL hits the STO on Honma and Naito gets the neckbreaker for two. Back from break Naito grabs Honma and tries for a weird suplex, but Naito lands an enziguri. He puts on a gogoplata on Honma and Honma fights it because he will not quit. Honma tries for the ropes but he is barely moving. Honma finally gets to the ropes and Naito releases. EVIL tags in and kinda stares for a bit before he tries to pick up Honma. Naito comes in and decks Honma. Both guys work over Honma with an atomic drop into a big clothesline for two. EVIL gets a fisherman's buster but Honma kicks out at two. Crowd is insane for Honma and hit a double press for a cover Makabe runs in and breaks it up. They double whips Makabe in but he runs over them with clotheslines. All four guys are down now. EVIL and Honma struggle up and hit clotheslines on each other. Again and again, before Honma hits a forearm. He goes for something but EVIL runs with him and nails him. Honma counters with a shoulder breaker. He goes for the pin but Naito HITS the REF!. Makabe hits Naito and lifts him on his shoulders and Honma hits a doomsday headbutt! Bushi comes in and gets hammered. Honma hits the headbutt on EVIL and the ref counts. Only two! Makabe goes up and lands the King Kong kneedrop. Honma goes up and hits the big headbutt from the ropes and he goes for the cover. 3 counts! Honma got the win! GBH is going for the tag titles! Makabe grabs the mic and says that haven't been able to win this tournament before but now they did because of Honma. Honma's in tears as the crowd cheers for him. This is a big moment. He asks "Who'd have thought I'd score the win?" He has a really strong heart He apologizes for not knowing what to say since he hit his head so much. He says he's happy and the crowd applauds. He knows following Makabe was not wrong. They will have the belts. He gets the crowd into a big cheer of "let's be happy!" This is actually a really touching moment and I'm tearing up a bit. In the studio, Honma says that Naito was all new to him. He found EVIL to be unexpectedly good. He got what he aimed for and he is really grateful to Mr. Makabe for that. What a show! Both matches were not cut (I'm surprised) and really good match. The moment of Honma getting his big win was touching, especially if you've followed his road of loserdom. The commentary was okay, JR just spends too much time acting like a WWE commentator and it just does not work with NJPW action. He STILL can't get Togi's name right and even openly gets mad when fans have corrected him. Really starting to drag down the show, but if you ignore him, this show was amazing. With WrestleKingdom 10 around the corner, see you all next time!  
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Not who you'd expect
Greetings to another week of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are at the finals of the 2015 World Tag league tournament on December 9th, 2015, and the Sendai Sunplaza. The last stop before we get to WrestleKingdom 10.

Japanator Unboxing: Persona 5 20th Anniversary Edition

Sep 15 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35263:5841:0[/embed]
Persona 5 photo
Take Your Heart
Persona 5, one of the most anticipated games of the year, has finally hit Japanese shelves as well as the PlayStation Network. We were blessed with the opportunity to obtain the Persona 5 20th Anniversary Edition which i...

Here, have some Starter Crate DLC for Ghost in the Shell: First Assault Online

Sep 15 // Christian Chiok
EDIT: The giveaway has ended. Winners should expect an email from us soon.  [embed]35260:5840:0[/embed]
Ghost in the Shell photo
Dive Beyond Humanity
Back in December, I had the chance to play Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online when it first launched as closed beta and Early Access via Steam. A few months after that, the game went into open b...

JapanaFive: The best moments from AJIN's first season

Sep 14 // Karishma Roy
The Showdown between Izumi’ and Tanaka’s Black Ghost (IBM) Okay, my eyes were just as wide as Izumi’s when she gets impaled by these massive black claws. I screamed along with Erito because I thought she was a goner. But, DUN DUN DUN, she is an Ajin as well. Our cute, seemingly timid and often blushing Izumi goes all fierce revealing her very own Black Ghost Kuro-Chan #GirlPower. The fight was kickass and we learn that a black ghost can destroy another by delivering a deadly blow to the head. Was Tanaka covering his eyes because it helped him concentrate better when controlling his IBM? Not sure. I was worried for Erito 'cause I was sure Satou would've killed her but I'm glad she's sticking around.  This Torture Scene I put my Oreos aside and tried not to be sick as I watched this. Kei was brutally tortured as part of the experimental process on Ajins. Clinical equipment including a frickin' drill and a surgical saw was used as a machine measured his brain activity in reaction to the excruciating pain being inflicted upon him. Clearly these surgeons need ethics 101: don't cut off someone's arm for no legit reason. The xenophobic nature within this society is obvious in the face of fear driven atrocities such as this. Kei’s muffled screams made me wish I had my own black ghost and could barge in there and save him. Despite everything, he decided not to kill the surgeons because he was afraid to lose his friendship with Kaito. That moved my heart. Bring me more Kaito and Kei please! Do you guys think these experiments have valid reasoning? Who are the real monsters in this situation: humans or Ajins? Satou's rescue mission Satou is a misanthropic badass. His one man show where he destroys all the armed security guards in the lab to save Kei is so much fun to watch. The dude cuts off his own arm and shoots himself before the tranquilising darts take effect. Killing people is a game to him and he is winning. It was interesting to note that memories can be exchanged between IBM's during Kei and Satou’s showdown on the rooftop. The performance that Satou gave in front of the media following this was remarkable – he can cry on cue! Plus it was an incredibly smart move to announce a protest against the Government so publicly to gather more Ajins in the country. Love him or hate him, you got to be impressed with him. Team Satou demolishing Grant Pharmaceuticals This was the most EPIC scene in the whole of season 1. I laughed when I noticed the name “Clean Fox Company”. You are indeed as cunning as a fox, hat man. Satou arranges an explosion in a nearby skyscraper so it falls on the pharmaceutical building and crushes it. His manic laughs as he rode the falling building gave me chills. And it was kind of cool how he loses his hat when going down, but then a drone delivers another one to him as soon as he is ready to move. Kei watches this whole incident on TV while enjoying a chocolate- chip cookie. Remind me, who is meant to be the hero again? Props to the humans for deploying some smart tactics but despite their numbers and combat experience were defeated by the evil genius. Kei and Kou's escape Firstly, a huge shoutout to the Obasan that protected Kei in the village and was ace at pretending to be a hostage. Most old ladies would've had a heart attack. Heck, I would've peed myself! I was surprised that Kei went through the trouble of saving Kou but it makes sense for two people to take on Satou. Or perhaps Kei was just in the mood for a benevolent act. There was yet another cool action scene between IBM’s. Kuro- Chan has got some mad skills to defeat four of Kei’s IBM’s. Is she just incredibly strong or are Kei’s black ghosts weak since he produces so many? The end of this struggle was almost romantic. Sunset painted the sky with brilliant hues of orange and red as both boys tied each other together to avoid separation before jumping off a cliff into the deep waters *Cue "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion* Although that means drowning time and over before washing up somewhere.  I've got more to say about Ajin's second season coming up, but it's safe to say: Do not judge this anime by your first look at it. Yes, the CGI did initially hurt my eyes as well but the show is thrilling, fast-paced, and before too long, you're too invested in the plot to even notice it.
Ajin photo
Let's break down the highlights
Would you want to live forever? Even if it meant that practically the entire human race wanted you imprisoned? I’m talking secret government agencies who want to torture experiment on you, bounty hunters and national pr...

What Would You Do? If you could time travel like in Erased

Sep 11 // Lindo Korchi
If it were me, due to the complex nature of Revival, I'd likely write down everything that happened throughout all the times I experienced Revival. I can then analyze my findings and see if there's a pattern that consistently occurs during each phase. I'd be able to know what to look for and have a higher chance of changing the future for the better when given the chance. But what if most anime's contained this unique ability? If we really look at it, Revival is just another type of time travel -- an ability or tool that can definitely be useful to influence positive outcomes. If the ability was applied to the anime realm as a whole, it'd be real interesting. Imagine these scenarios actually occurring, or having occurred, in each series: Eren of AOT returning back to the day the Titans broke through Wall Maria; he'll finally be able to face the Titan who killed his mother (an intense battle it would be) and have a chance to save his mother. Furthermore, he'll likely engage in a one-on-one showdown with the Armored Titan. Krillin of DBZ receiving yet another chance at life and declining his death rate. Luffy of One Piece having the ultimate showdown with Akainu, right before he killed Ace. If that would happen in the actually series, I can only imagine the feels and tears we'll all have -- and I'm definitely included in that one. Cooler of DBZ getting rid of Goku when he actually had the chance -- would fate intervene to prevent Cooler, again, from doing such? And that poor student from Kill la Kill who stole the Goku One-Star Uniform in episode 1. He'd have the chance to prevent getting a beating from Gamagori. As you can see, the outcomes and possibilities are literally endless and exciting to ponder. It opens up a path to infinite paths. And the beauty of the Revival ability, or any time travel ability, is the fact that the stories wouldn't change. We'll still be familiar with the hardships that all the characters face, except that we'll see what they would do if given the chance to go back. And DBZ delivered on this.DBZ wouldn't be the same if the story never included Goku's death during the Android/Cell saga, the horrific outcome it had, and Trunks being able to go back in time and alter the future. The DBZ we know today is one that was altered due to time-travel. It's not the original outcome; yet we saw the original outcome, which allowed us to truly appreciate the altered version. We experienced two paths within one story and it was great. What if it were like this for all series?The Revival/time travel ability is great for the anime realm and fiction, as it pushes the creative mind. But if it were to ever be applied in the real world, it'll be all over. What do you think?Here's an interesting question, if the majority of on-going anime series decided to include a Revival feature later on in the series, would you opt for it?
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Revival: A Form of Time Travel
[Editor's Note: What Would You Do? Is an ongoing article series examining some of the strange and not-so-strange situations, powers, and scenarios in anime and manga and how they might apply or be applied elsewhere.] Time tra...

Weekend Japanatainment - Konbini Edition

Sep 10 // Red Veron
[embed]35249:5830:0[/embed] SharlaInJapan and Mimei shows us their favorites from the konbini and just how different what they offer over in Japan. Each country will have their own "on-the-go" version of their staple foods which is quire interesting.   [embed]35249:5831:0[/embed] TheJapanGuy takes us on a tour of a FamilyMart and just take a look at that variety. This store is abit bigger than most stores and has a pretty decent selection.    [embed]35249:5832:0[/embed] TabiEats shows us how they put a dinner together from items from the convenience store, these aren't the most premium of items but the variety is pretty good.   [embed]35249:5833:0[/embed] Texan in Tokyo show us her lunch from the convenience store, where she got a fried cutlet with egg and rice. Just check out how they adapted the dish into a on-the-go version.   [embed]35249:5834:0[/embed] Ericsurf6 serves up my favorite video where he basically just longboards to and from a konbini to assemble a crispy chicken sandwich.   [embed]35249:5835:0[/embed] Mimei Land shows a bigger konbini that is essentially a mini-super market.    [embed]35249:5836:0[/embed] Dale North, Musician and former Japanator Editor, made an awesome remix of a convenience store jingle of the fictional Tomato convenience store from the video game Shenmue.
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Not an overpriced gas station store
You've probably been to a convenient store before, they have drinks and snacks and other stuff you might need if you're pressed for time and they are useful in a pinch. I worked at one over a summer when I was young and I kin...

Gems of Japan: Short History of Japan's bullet trains

Sep 10 // Lindo Korchi
After the war, the idea of the high-speed rail was pursued and the development of the Shinkansen began to take place. In 1959, the construction of the Tokaido Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka was under development. And shockingly enough, the construction of the Shinkansen cost nearly 400 billion JPY, or 3.4 billion US. By 1964, the Tokaido Shinkansen was ready for public use. With a connected line between Tokyo and Osaka, the two biggest cities in Japan, the style of business and traffic demand quickly rose. Within three years (1967), the Shinkansen reached its 100 million passenger mark, and one billion mark in 1976 -- all within twelve years. The Tokaido Shinkansen instantly became a success. The first Shinkansen train set was called the 0 series, which was built on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, connecting Tokyo to Osaka. It originally ran at a speed of 210 kmh, or 130 mph, and eventually increased through time. The series was also recognized for its "bullet nose" appearance. However, in 2008, the 0 series was discontinued. Now, one of the driving cars can be found in the National Railway Museum in York, England -- donated by JR West in 2001.Today, there are many series trains. The most recent is the N700 series on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen, introduced in 2007 with a speed of 300 kmph, or 185 mph.Due to the Tokaido Shinkansen's success, it's no surprise that another line was made, the Sanyo Shinkansen in 1975, which connects Osaka all the way to Fukuoka (South of Japan). Though, it didn't stop there. The Tohoku Shinkansen was launched in 1982, which connects Tokyo to Aomori (North of Japan, which is right below Hokkaido, Japan's northern island). With a route length of 674 km, or 419 miles, it is Japan's longest Shinkansen line. The Joetsu Shinkansen was also launched in 1982 and is a railway that connects Tokyo to Niigata (Northwest of Japan) via the Tohoku Shinkansen line.The Shinkansen rose in popularity during its first launch and still continues to do so today. As proof for such, development of the Hokkaido Shinkansen has been in construction since 2005 and will connect Aomori and Hokkaido via the undersea Seikan Tunnel. The first section of Aomori to Hokodate (in Hokkaido), which is 4 hours south of Sapporo, is scheduled to open on March 26, 2016. As for Sapporo, that line is scheduled to open in 2030. There are also more in the works. Interestingly enough, the Tokaido Shinkansen began operation in 1964, which made it in the nick of time for the first Tokyo Olympics. Now, I wonder, what will Japan have in store for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? [Credit for photos in this post: Yuya & Fletcher.]
The Bullet Train Cometh photo
The Beginning of the Shinkansen
[Editor's Note: Gems of Japan is an ongoing article series by Lindo Korchi highlighting cool things, facts, and brief asides in Japan.] Let's be honest. When most of us think about traveling Japan as a whole (from Tokyo ...

Strong Style: Tag Team Time!

Sep 10 // Soul Tsukino
We open with Tanahashi, who has his hair down in this and doesn't look like a little girl did his hair. Los Ingobernales (Naito/EVIL) vs. The Bullet Club (Gallows/Anderson) Now THIS is an interesting match! Both teams are well versed in breaking the rules and no giving a damn about the ref. Will Naito just screw around while EVIL does all the work? I'm sure the Club doesn't care. Evil comes out in his reaper gear and then Naito comes out in his Skeletor in a suit look. He doesn't screw around and goes right to the ring, but pulls his mask off and reveals to be Bushi, a masked wrestler who is making his return after a year off from a neck injury. Los Ingobernables has a new member! Naito makes his entrance then as all three stand in the ring, The Bullet Club come out by themselves, which is a surprise. Anderson and Gallows are the champions, but the titles are not on the line, though a victory by Los Ingobernables would go a long way. We come back from a commercial and thankfully they skip over Naito slowly taking off his gear. He just gets his pants off when he and Evil attack the Club! All four guys in the ring and it's a fight. The ref rings the bell, because why not? It is chaos as The Club hit a double shoulderblock on Evil before picking him up in a double Flapjack and then Gallows puts Evil on his shoulder and sets him up for a kick to the head by Anderson. uhh, Naito? Wanna help your compadre any? Evil rolls to the floor but he isn't safe there as both Club Members go outside. Gallows grabs Evil and sends hit right into the barricade before grabbing a chair and whacking him with it. Gallows whips him into the other side of the barrier and then grabs another chair and whacks him with that too. We see that Naito and Anderson and now up in the stands battling it out in the crowd and things are really out of hand. Anderson goes for a powerbomb in the crowd on Naito, but Naito wiggles out. Karl hits him with a stiff chop to the chest and they both go from one side of the arena to the other before Karl grabs him and literally throws him out a side door to the arena. With Naito gone Karl walks back down to help Gallows. They both ram Evil's head into the steel barrier before they roll him in the ring. So now Gallows and Evil are legal. We see Naito enter back into the crowd but guess what, he's in no hurry to get back to the ring. No wonder Evil is always in a bad mood!  Gallows clubs Evil in the face before he tags in Anderson. Meanwhile, in the crowd, Naito is sitting on someone's lap catching his breath. In the ring, Evil tries to stand up but Karl lands a clothesline, a kick to the gut, and then an uppercut. Karl gets ready for another clothesline but Evil counters into a neckbreaker. Evil snaps up and punches Gallows off the apron. He turns around and for some reason tosses Anderson out before following him to the floor. Even Josh questions this idea. Evil beats on Karl a little bit as Naito finally comes to the ring. Evil grabs a chair and puts it around Karl's neck and then drives him right into the ringpost! We skip ahead as Evil and Karl are back in the ring/ Evil has a double armlock, but then sinks in and bites Karl right on the shoulder! The ref breaks it up as Karl Collapses in pain, but Evil drops the senton on him. he looks to be covering him but the ref realizes at the two count that Evil is actually choking the hell out of Anderson and tries to break it up. Evil gives the Ref a glare for his trouble. Back from the break, Evil tries to grab Karl but Anderson elbows evil in the gut. He lands another strike but Evil just knees him in the stomach to end that. He makes the cut throat sign on Karl before rebounding off the ropes, but he gets caught in the Anderson spinebuster! Gallows is tagged in and he flattens everyone with clotheslines before landing a big boot on Evil. He sends Evil into the buckle and squashes him with a big splash before running him over with a clothesline. He runs the ropes and hits a big splash for a 3 count. He picks Evil up and tells him to do something I will not repeat here before running to the ropes. Evil, however, follows him and lands a deep need to Gallows' gut. Evil tags in Naito who strolls into the ring for a bit before landing his combination corner dropkick on Gallows before running over and clobbering Anderson off the apron. Evil comes back in the ring and they whip Gallows into the corner and Evil follows up with a running clothesline. Gallows falls to the mat where Naito hits a low dropkick to Anderson's face. Count only gets two and Naito goes off on the ref. Evil grabs Gallows from behind and Naito smacks him a few times before running for the ropes. Anderson trips him from the outside. Gallows turns around and flattens Evil to the mat. Now with the advantage, the Club send Naito into the corner hard and Anderson hits a flying kick to Naito's face! Tranquilo that asshole! Gallows hits the Baldo bomb on Naito but Evil jumps in and breaks up the count. Anderson throws Evil back out and The Club hits the double reverse neck breaker, but only gets two. They go for the magic killer, but Evil breaks it up and nails Anderson with the STO. Evil then grabs the ref as Gallows goes for another powerbomb. Naito slips out and nails a kick to Gallows head. He stumbles over where Bushi jumps up and spits green mist in his eyes! Gallows can't see. He walks right into destino and Naito and Evil get the pin! Big upset! Backstage Evil is all "Everything is EVIL!" so Naito steps in. He reminds people he has been out for a month and a half with his earlobe injury along with the debut of Bushi to the team. Bushi says that he likes this version of New Japan Pro Wrestling, the world of tranquillo. A word from Tanahashi now in the studio. He talks about Michael Elgin being young, but that he loves to train. As you can expect from Michael Elgin, he has a damn good bench press lift. They've becoming training partners whenever they are together and decided to team up. Originally Tanahashi thought teams should be the same, like The Young bucks, who even have matching gear, but in teaming with Elgin, Tanahashi found they had a chemistry together despite being so different. Block A: Hiroshi Tanahashi/Michael Elgin vs. Kazuchika Okada/YOSHI-HASHI Naturally, this would be on the first night of the tournament to make sure the crowd gets another taste of the WK10 main event. Yoshi and Okada are representing CHAOS while the Elgin/Tanahashi team is a strange one. Elgin and Tanahashi come out together surprisingly. CHAOS comes out together with Gedo in their corner. We get the full entrances of both teams so we are stretching for time a bit. Looking for all four guys, you kinda have a feeling of who is going to do the job on this one. As Okada enters the ring Tanahashi makes sure to hold up the briefcase. Okada gives it a kick and we are instantly nose to nose! After a commercial, we start. Yoshi is starting against Mike. Oh boy. Yoshi immediately gets flung across the ring. Yoshi says a hair pull but no way. Yoshi starts hammering on Mike's neck but it does nothing. Criss cross has Mike catching Yoshi and drilling him down. He shoots Yoshi in with ad gets a high press slam and a clothesline in the corner. He picks Yoshi up for a suplex, doing squats with Yoshi in the air. Okada sneaks in and kicks Mike in the stomach but it does nothing. He does it again and nothing. Mike finally brings Yoshi down. He tags Tanahashi who just whips Yoshi into the corner and calls for Yoshi to tag. Okada comes in and Tanahashi starts firing kicks and punches immediately. Okada tries for a wiastlock but nope, Tanahashi just hits him more. Tanahashi backs off and Okada gets a dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi rolls outside. Okada follows him and whips him into the barrier. They fight into the crowd and Okada drops Hiroshi in the crowd and then goes back for more. The count gets to 15 before Okada rolls him in. Okada lands a baseball slide dropkick before he finally tires of beating on Hiroshi and tags Yoshi in. Hiroshi hits Yoshi but then runs over and knocks Okada off the apron. Yoshi hits Tanahashi as Okada gets back up and holds out the boot and Yoshi rams Hiroshi's face into it. Okada tags right back in as he drops Hiroshi with a slam and then poses with his foot on his near future challenger. Okada picks Hiroshi up and tries to whip him into the ropes and go for the body drop, but Okada kicks him. Okada comes charging in and gets body dropped anyway. Smartly he rolls over and gets the tag. Yoshi comes in as Hiroshi tres to clothesline him but Yoshi ducks and gets a chop into Tanahashi's chest.Yoshi misses a strike and Hiroshi tags in big Mike! Mike slingshots himself over the rope right onto the prone Yoshi. Thank couldn't have felt good. He hits a sideslam on Yoshi but only gets two. He calls for a buckle bomb but Yoshi slips out and counters with a codebreaker, Yoshi rolls over and tags Okada who comes in, but Elgin meets him with some nasty looking elbows. Mike hts the ropes but Okada scoops him up into a flapjack. Okada picks Mike up for an Alabama slam, but Mike goes over the shoulders into a sunset flip, only to try for the scorpion deathlock, but Okada counters out with a few kicks. Mike gets in the corner but Okada goes for him, he catches the foot but Elgin hauls off with a big enziguri that staggers Okada. Elgin flattens him with a big forearm before making the tag to Tanahashi. Tanahashi hits the low dropkick to the knee and goes in and hooks in a cloverleaf but Yoshi comes in a breaks it up. Tanahashi tosses Yoshi out and charges back at Okada who throws a big boot. He whips Tanahashi into the corner and hits him with a charging back splash before drilling Hiroshi with a big DDT. Okada goes for a pin but Elgin breaks it up. Okada goes for the gut-wrench but drops that to punch Elgin, only to turn around and gets hit in the gut by Tanahashi  Tanahashi then turns around and hits the slingblade. Back from commercial with both guys down in the ring. Both roll over and tag their partner as Yoshi tries to whip Elgin in but Mike won't move. Mike whips Yoshi into the ropes and he ducks a clothesline before taking down the big guy with a blockbuster. Mike gets up and Yoshi sends him into the corner where he hits a big chop. He picks Mike up and drapes him on the ropes before hitting a running dropkick right to Mike's back. Okada comes in and they both hit Mike in the corner with elbows before Okada sets up Mike for a Yoshi top rope blockbuster. Count only gets two. Yoshi calls Okada back in the ring and they try the double whip into the corner. Mike kicks Okada in the face and then ducks out of a Yoshi charge. he scoops up Yoshi and then scoops up Okada at the same time! He throws both of them down. Yoshi is down on the apron and Elgin climbs the middle rope and pulls Yoshi up from the apron. He turns the suplex into a falcon arrow! Mike tries for a cover but Okada saves it. Tanahashi drags Okada to the floor as in the ring Elgin picks up Yoshi and tries for a buckle bomb but Yoshi reverses it into a sunset flip for a two count. Elgin goes for a dive into the corner but Yoshi moves out of the way. He tries a suplex on big Mike (good luck with that) but Mike reverses it to pick him up for a powerslam, But Yoshi reverses that into an inverted DDT! He goes up top for a swan dive but completely misses. "Elgin, with that beard, his face looks like it should be on a can of beef stew"- JR. Both guys stagger to their feet and Yoshi is really stupid in trying to trade elbows with Michael Elgin! Somehow he ends up getting the advatage and actually drops mike with a big clothesline but Tanahashi breaks up the count. Okada gets in the ring but Hiroshi hits a dragon screw leg whip and sends him right back out. Yoshi comes after Tanahashi. He tries for a suplex but it in reversed into a neckbreaker. Elhin takes his buddy and picks him up before dropping him on Okada outside the ring! The end is near as Elgin hits an awesome spping backfist on Yoshi before hitting the bucklebomb into a baldobomb and scoring the win! Okada comes back and has a staredown with Tanahashi but decides not to throw, especially with Elgin standing right there. Tanahashi grabs the mic and that tonight isn't bout him but his partner. The crowd chants Elgin. He thanks the crowd and Elgin even says I love you guys in Japanese. In the back Tanahashi thanks Mike. In the studio, Tanahashi says Mike really belongs in Jpan and that it "will be fun to have Mike swing me around". Ooookay. This show was entertaining! The matches were really good and very different. Even if the second match was really predictable it was still a good show. Next week is the finals of the tournament, so stay tuned!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
World Tag League 2015 action!
Hello again Gang! We had a week off last week but here we are once again with Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Things are getting heated now as this is the last stop before the Big WrestleK...

Japanator Unboxing: Loot Anime - Back To School

Sep 08 // Red Veron
Next month's "Demi-Human" Loot Anime box will feature goodies from One Punch Man, Bleach, Tokyo Ghoul, and Twin Star Exorcists. If you are interested in signing up for next month's "Demi-Human" themed box for next month, use the code "JAPANATOR" for $3 off first your order at Loot Anime!
Loot Anime photo
Don't be late!
The latest Loot Anime box just burst through my front door with a piece of toast in its mouth while wearing a sailor-styled school uniform (just kidding, boxes don't have mouths) and this month's theme is "Back to School"! T...

Annotated Anime: Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Despair Arc episodes 3-8

Sep 07 // Salvador G Rodiles
If there’s one thing that I wasn’t expecting, it was the show taking us down a trip through memory lane as it revisits one of the key aspects of Danganronpa 2’s second trial. In the game, I assumed this was an incident that happened before Fuyuhiko, Mahiru, Hiyoko, Ibuki and Mikan attended Hope’s Peak High School since none of the other cast members were in incident’s setting. Nonetheless, the beauty about this segment was witnessing the major elements that lead to the unfortunate fate of the Ultimate Little Sister. All in all, the strength of this scene was how well the outcome hit everyone. The happy school times were diminishing and the show's real tone was creeping in on us. Even though we’re aware that things were going to take a turn for the worse, Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc’s current strengths lie in how it pieces everything together, along with continuing its trend of placing the main cast in a couple priceless silly moments. Perhaps one of the most priceless moments that occurred recently was how they exaggerate Nagito’s luck. Not only did this guy get a couple people expelled to the point where it resulted in a deadly conflict during Danganronpa 3 – Future Arc, the guy somehow ends up in the most convenient spot during situations where many folks wouldn’t survive. Sure, he pulled off some ridiculous maneuvers in Danganronpa 2, but the timing behind how Lerche animated the scenes brings out a wonderful side of his talent. Other than that, the other thing was getting the chance to learn more about the Ultimate Imposter. Out of all the characters in the cast, he was the only one who we didn’t get to know more about. His connection to Ryota Mitarai the Ultimate Animator shows us his caring side that he exhibited when he wanted to protect everyone during the first chapter of Danganronpa 2. The relationship between the two characters is an example of one of the possible hopes that’ll likely be crushed down the road. One person wants an identity to maintain their great talent and the other wants to create an anime that’ll change the world; thus setting up the foundation for the mastermind to crush their dreams. While Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc was doing its best to maintain its humor when things were starting to get real, the staff’s efforts are finally paying off as the two major Ultimate Despairs make their debut at Hope’s Peak. The wonderful thing about this outcome was that the elements for them to create absolute despair were made before they even attended the school. Hajime already lost his emotions to the Ultimate Hope/Kamakura Project and the school’s trustees have already covered up a tragic event. Even though Junko had a couple things planned, her trump card was exploiting the situations that already unfolded before she came into the scene. It's thanks to this setup that the show's transition to its real tone has been a fun ride so far. Throughout the show’s recent batch of episodes, I was thinking that the best point for Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc to end the series would be after the event that made way for the Danganronpa Zero light novel since the team was likely aiming to tell a story that fans of the franchise haven’t heard yet. Instead, we witnessed the major events that gave birth to the first major incident that put Hope Peak’s High School’s reputation on the line. The fact that we got to see Junko’s manipulation and analytical skills at work well in getting us excited for when she brings the whole world down. Since she paid attention to Ryota’s animation, I have a feeling that she’ll utilize the art of subliminal message to convert everyone towards the path of despair. Honestly, the ridiculousness behind her schemes is what makes this whole series entertaining. At the same time, it reminds us why every game segment that involves her leaves the audience entertained. The catch is that we have to experience the unfortunate feeling from witnessing the seeds that’ll lead to our favorite Danganronpa 2 characters succumb to despair. If Mikan’s situation is anything to go by, Junko might use the same method she learned from Ryota to win everyone over to the despair side. While this was an inevitable situation, it doesn’t change that the fact that it’s going to be sad seeing most of these characters to become an entirely different person. Nonetheless, the staff still found some ways to turn this sad moment into something worthwhile, such as Nagito getting out-lucked by the Ultimate Hope. Honestly, it’s impressive that the team can still throw in some humor when the situation at Hope’s Peak Academy is taking a turn for the worst. Since there are still a few loose ends around, Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc still has some secrets that we have yet to see. With this segment and Future Arc passing their halfway point, there’s a ton of open content that’ll be worthwhile when we learn about the other major mastermind. So far, the show continues to be a great addition to the franchise with its story containing the right elements to please those who kept up with every Danganronpa installment. As the program’s despair levels begin to rise, I’m certain that things will only continue to get even better later on. Of course, I’m waiting to see what the show will do with Chiaki, since it’ll likely be something that’ll hit us very hard. [You can give on hope with Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak Academy – Despair Arc at FUNimation.]
Danganronpa 3 photo
What is hope?
For a second I was expecting Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc to mostly focus on its comedic elements until the saga was halfway done. Lo and behold, things have started leaning towards the grimmer side of things as the seri...

Weekend Japanatainment - School Lunch Edition

Sep 03 // Red Veron
[embed]35225:5814:0[/embed] Japanese Elementary School Lunch Time! Here's a video by CafCu Media showing assigned students' serve their own lunch to their classmates during lunch. This lets kids learn about responsibility and proper sanitary techniques in food prep and service. Good learning experience.   [embed]35225:5815:0[/embed] Junior High Lunches A video slideshow by Noel Curry about the lunches served at a Tokyo Junior High School. Students still serve their classmates when it's their turn much like in elementary school. I love that variety.   [embed]35225:5816:0[/embed] Japanese High School Lunch time! In high school in Japan, students are responsible for their own lunches and they either bring their own food or buy it at their cafeteria. This video by orangetummy has some high school girls just eating their home made bento lunches. The simple but varied lunches are pretty impressive compared to the previously frozen fried stuff that they serve in many US high schools that I just abhorred when I was in school.   [embed]35225:5817:0[/embed] Another High School Lunch Video! Here's another video of high school lunch hanging out by Euodias, who did an exchange student program in Japan. The video also includes the students doing the end of the day cleanup where the students are responsible for cleaning their own classroom. Teaching personal responsibility? CRAZY THING TO TEACH WOW.   .[embed]35225:5818:0[/embed] Japanese Bento Lunch Making We've seen the bento packed lunches in the videos above, but how are they put together? This video by cook cafemaru is about making a delicious and appetizing looking lunch. Though a lot of bento school lunches are leftovers from the dinner from the night before which is also yummy!   Have you ever tried a bento or packed anything like it for lunch? If you made a bento, what would you put in into one? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Not like your usual brown food for lunch
If there is one thing I can point to that I love about Japanese culture that the US can learn is the way they have meals in lunch at school. You gotta fuel yourself properly to absorb all that knowledge and frozen fried stuff...

Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force

Sep 03 // Red Veron
Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force (PlayStation Vita)Developer: Bandai Namco EntertainmentPublisher: Banday Namco EntertainmentReleased: July 12, 2016MSRP: $39.99 Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is the first time that the long running Gundam VS game series from Japan has ever hit the overseas markets. First thing to make clear, Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is not a one of the many third person shooter games that litter the gaming landscape these days nor just a simple action game at first glance. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is more that of a competitive fighting game, and can get technical with each Gundam unit acting as its own unique playable character with its own moves and style of play. Another thing that makes this game different is that the controls are more arcade action game which is no surprise since this game first started out as an arcade game then came to home consoles. This may turn off those wanting to pick up a Gundam game expecting to be a bad ass and start blowing stuff up like in the many previous games in the franchise. The game is split between two types of play: "Versus" type, where you and a partner fight two other opponents at a time in small arenas; and "Force" type, a MOBA-like mode that focuses on different objectives to win the mission. Versus type is a head-to-head duel with an AI partner against one or two opponents, sometimes even more. This mode focuses on solely trying to defeat the enemy force until their bar depletes to zero and they cannot respawn anymore. Force type is a tactical mode wherein two sides fight to take over different points on a battlefield. Captured turret points spawn minions that provide a little bit of resistance to the enemy side but can help contribute to winning missions. Win conditions can vary from destroying all enemies to capturing all the points in the map to escorting allies to points. This mode gets even more tactical with capturing points yields force points that allow power ups that can increase your side's attack power or defense to even using your ally spaceship's large gun to attack the enemy ship. The main campaign mode new to the series in this game, Extreme Force mode, will let you go through a series of Force mode scenario missions with some Versus mode duels sprinkled in the game. The missions in the game can be replayed with mini-goals that increase replay value, these vary from finishing it under a certain time, taking no damage, not losing any units, etc.  This single player mode has a very lean story used as framing device as a way to allow you to replay various story segments primarily from the main Gundam universe, with a few from the alternate Gundam universes, and some original "remix" missions unique to the game. Each mobile suit has a unique style and weapons with most mobile suits handling differently from each other such as certain mobile suits focusing on melee combat while others excel in projectile and ranged combat. The controls do take getting used to and learning each one does take a little bit of time but sometimes new missions will drop you into the cockpit of a new suit that completely controls differently than the last and will not let you switch to any familiar suits until you beat that mission. Though this seems counterproductive to player progression, it does let the player try out the different suits and helps out in finding one that suits your style (no pun intended). The degree of learning and involvement that required to progress with the game may slow down some players, but the option to somewhat brute force your way into the game by trying different tactics or even spending extra points on some a temporary boost can help quite a bit, which I did while trying to learn the different Mobile Suits. One gameplay mechanic that is integral in surviving in the game is dodging enemy fire by using your mobile suit's boosters to dash quickly, which takes some practice to get down and can be a challenge, sometimes it seems like you need to be psychic (or a newtype) to be able to dodge the barrage of enemy fire. The lack of right stick aiming might turn off players but the auto-targeting makes all about timing your shots carefully. I'm not a fighting game fan and I somewhat steer clear of fighting games because of the sheer technicality and depth found in the genre that impresses and intimidates me at the same time because I don't think I will be ever good enough. However, this game has me hooked and has me coming back for more. The aforementioned control system is very much designed for fighting in an open field with one or two enemies, this is perfect for versus mode where this system was designed in mind whereas it might trip you up in Force mode when enemies aren't focusing on just fighting you. The lock-on also becomes a bit of problem when disengaging a lock-on with an enemy that flies past you while you still want to move forward. The whole control system reminds me of those old Gundam games on PlayStation 2, but much more refined and surprisingly works well for establishing a uniform control system for all the mobile suits despite the uniqueness of the suits. Gundam fans will enjoy this game with the lineup of mobile suits from the original series all the way to the latest entry, Iron Bloded Orphans. Gundam fans will enjoy it more than non-fans, knowing the characters and settings adds to the experience but is not really necessary for those wanting some robot action. Visually, the game looks good on the PlayStation Vita's screen while in motion (as well as PlayStation TV), the screenshots in this review do not give it justice. I don't recall any slowdown while playing this game and does keep up well with the intense twitchy action. One thing that the game does lack is an online enabled multiplayer mode with only an ad-hoc mode available for multiplayer. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS Force is not for everyone, but do not let this scare off anyone interested in wanting a game that rewards those willing to learn all the ins and outs without much hand-holding. Nowadays, more and more games are leaning towards that direction and this game came at the right time for those looking for a bit of depth in their giant robot action game.  [embed]35190:5810:0[/embed]
Gundam EXVS Force photo
This is not an anime
The Mobile Suit Gundam franchise is a franchise known worldwide and is often dubbed as Japan's equivalent to Star Wars, this long enduring saga since its debut in 1979 has spawned a multimedia empire with thousands of TV...

Review: Japanese Tattoos: History * Culture * Design

Aug 30 // Josh Tolentino
Japanese Tattoos: History * Culture * Design Published by: Tuttle Publishing Written by: Brian Ashcraft and Hori Benny Release date: July 12, 2016 MSRP: $9.99 (Kindle [Reviewed]), $17.95 (Print) ISBN: 978-4805313510 The value of Japanese Tattoos is immediately apparent given the relative absence of substantial English-language work about the art and design of Japanese tattooing, or "irezumi" (刺青). Generally speaking, irezumi literature in English tends towards overly dry, scholarly analyses, or superficial, aesthetically-occupied picture books and feeds. Ashcraft and Benny position their book between the two extremes, delivering a breezy, easy-to-read explainer that isn't afraid to dive below the surface and uncover hidden nuggets of cultural knowledge and history amid the striking design work being etched right into the human body.Honed by years of writing as an editor for the game website Kotaku, and by previous books like Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential and Arcade Mania!, Ashcraft mixes his light, accessible style with deeply researched cultural references and engaging profiles of famous Japanese tattooists and their clients. Japanese Tattoos isn't to be taken as a piece of academic writing, but instead as an FAQ of sorts, answering key questions and providing interesting insights and background, to help those who aren't yet sure about their interest in irezumi become interested. And in this respect, Ashcraft and Benny have succeeded in spades. Part of this is thanks to the way the book is laid out. As befitting its role as a cultural primer, Japanese Tattoos starts with a general overview of irezumi, its history, and importantly, what distinguishes it from the tattooing practiced elsewhere. Historical notes link irezumi with older practices of tattooing as a form of punishment for criminals, or as protective symbols "worn" by laborers and tradesmen. The section also traces the longstanding Japanese stigma against tattoos to the 19th and 20th centuries, as the country raced to modernize after centuries in isolation. Ironically for a stigma born of attempts to "align with western morals", it turned out to be those same westerners  - particularly the occupying U.S. military following World War II - that played a part in keeping tattooing alive despite the attempts to ban it. [From Japanese Tattoos by Brian Ashcraft and Hori Benny] That leads into another important aspect of Japanese Tattoos: It's aware enough that culture isn't a monolithic, static thing, and that even "traditional" irezumi has changed over time. In rejecting the notion that irezumi is tied solely to any one thing (such as tebori, the classical method of inserting the ink into the skin with bamboo needles), the book reaffirms irezumi's uniqueness as an expression of Japanese culture, encompassing more than a specific technique but "an entire history and catalogue of iconography". Interviews with people like Horiyoshi III, Japan's most famous tattooist, reveal this progressive insight. Despite his mastery of tebori and his inspiration in classical woodblock prints, Horiyoshi III regards his work as less "traditional" than "traditionalist" thanks to his use of safer, modern ink, of mechanical tattooing machines, and the new, friendlier (and legal) conditions under which he works. It's an acknowledgement that even the most classical, "timeless" aspects of culture are subject to change and interpretation over time. That sentiment might seem in opposition to the permanence of the tattoo, but it's worth pointing out that tattoos change as their wearers do, by the virtue of being embedded on their ever-changing physiques. It's an embrace of mutability and the transitive nature of life that speaks to Japan's Buddhist influences. A tattoo may last one's whole life, but even that life ends. These reflections are woven into the other sections of the book, which cover popular and common motifs and elements in irezumi, with frequent asides and sidebars to deliver factoids that readers will want to recite back to their friends. The asides can sometimes feel a bit distracting from the chronological coherence of the book, but they're too good not to include, and so their somewhat scattershot arrangement is easily forgiven. [From Japanese Tattoos by Brian Ashcraft and Hori Benny] From classic kanji script tattoos to the natural images, mythic beasts and figures, and even avante-garde and anime- or manga-themed designs, Ashcraft and Benny look in on the iconography, symbolism, and meaning behind the many classical elements of irezumi in Japan. Other chapters, particularly one covering various examples of the full "bodysuit" design, also focus on the form irezumi can take. Bodysuits and sleeves are the most visible archetypes of Japanese tattooing, and their placement in the book highlights that association. Never again will readers see the awesome back pieces on display in the Yakuza games in the same way. The book is also chock-full of great pictures of tattoos. Even in my relatively low-resolution review copy, the quality of the art shone through, and keeps the flow feeling as brisk as the prose. It's one thing to read about the peony's place in floral language as used in irezumi, but another to see it incorporated on people's bodies as a form of art and expression. Japanese Tattoos is a must-read for anyone interested in tattoos and Japanese culture, but its greatest strength is in how easily it can engage readers like yours truly, who have no plans to get a tattoo at all. Being able to engage with all that material despite its near-total irrelevance to my personal experience is the sign of a good book, and this one will serve as an effective crash course in irezumi for many a reader to come.   [This review is based on a copy of the book provided by the publisher.]  
Japanese Tattoos Review photo
Tattoo, not Taboo
What comes to mind when one thinks of "tattoos"? Some might imagine the anchor on Popeye's forearm, the pointy tribal band encircling a local gym fiend's bicep, or the crude inkings associated with prison art.Thinking of "Jap...

Weekend Japanatainment - Japanese Sports Edition

Aug 27 // Red Veron
[embed]35218:5801:0[/embed] Japanese Synchronized Swimming to Frozen Synchronized swimming is popular in Japan and even male High School students engage in this sport. There have been movies and TV shows about Synchronized Swimming and it works since it is a team sport that very much emphasizes teamwork and timing. So splash (pun intended) in some drama to a story about a group of people trying to work toward a single goal, and you're gold!   [embed]35218:5802:0[/embed] Japanese Pole Vaulter's Pole gets in the way Read title.   [embed]35218:5803:0[/embed] Slam Dunk anime Opening One of the best sports anime and manga and was once rated as number one manga in the 2006 Japan Media Arts festival. The manga needs a new adaptation, I don't care if they make them all pretty boys just gimme the anime in modern day animation.   [embed]35218:5804:0[/embed] How to make a Sports anime Sports in anime/manga has been a staple genre that has been around for ages and authors have pretty much figured out the formula (or in this video, the MODERN day formula).   [embed]35218:5805:0[/embed] Japanese High School Sports Festival YouTuber SakuraKisetsu, who went to Japan as an exchange student, made a video about her Japanese school's Sports Festival and it looks very similar to what we see in anime, just no hijinks or anything supernatural or would get anyone in trouble in real life.   [embed]35218:5807:0[/embed] Great Baseball Catch Baseball is very popular in Japan for something referred to as America's pasttime.   [embed]35218:5806:0[/embed] Mario at the 2016 Rio Olympics Because NBC in the US is run by clueless executives who don't know how to maximize views and discovery for their Olympic coverage, I am unable to properly embed the Olympic handoff to Japan. Just please click the video to be linked to YouTube so you can watch the very amusing video where Japan's Prime Minister is secretly an Italian plumber who like mushrooms.   What is your favorite Japanese related Sports thing? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
SUPORTSU
The 2016 Olympics are done and the next summer Olympics are in Japan, so every weeb out there will be excited to see the next set of games taking place in the land of the Rising Sun. So this week, I thought it appropriate for...

Strong Style: Still (Power) Struggling

Aug 27 // Soul Tsukino
We start the show off with Ishii sitting in his chair silently. Real talkative guy. IWGP Intercontinental Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. "Machine Gun" Karl Anderson Back at the Destruction of Kobe event, Nakamura won the title back from Hirooki Goto. After he was given the belt Anderson came to the ring saying he beat both those guys in the G1, so he wants a title match. And there we go. Karl comes out with Cody Hall and the other heavyweight Bullet Club members. I'm already surprised as I would think this match would be on last. The bell rings and we start with a lock up going right into the ropes where Nakamura does his face rub thing. Anderson actually walks to the middle of the ring with Nakamura still hanging there before Karl take him by the chin and pulls his face up in the "my eyes are right here" kind of vein. Nakamura hits an elbow and Anderson hits a knee in response. Shinsuke and Karl trade quick hold and counter hold with some knees to the guts before Shinsuke goes into the ropes and Anderson fires off some arm drags. Nakamura counters and gets in a leg lock before floating over into a front facelock. Interesting to not here JR and Josh discuss the difference between a front facelock, that is used mostly for control, as apposed to a chancery lock that puts pressure on your opponent. It's stuff like this that give more believability and credibility to a wrestling show. Nakamura lands a few knee strikes before picking Anderson up into a cravat and snaps him over. He goes for a kneedrop but Karl rolls out of the way. He snaps off the rope and lands a straight kick to Nakamura's face! Nakamura rolls to the apron in pain, but Anderson just walks around for a bit. He finally goes after Shinsuke but Nakamura gives him a quick kick to shrug him off. The other club guys get on the apron and distract the ref as Gallows runs over and starts whaling on Shinsuke. Nakamura goes down to the apron and barely makes it to the apron at 18. Anderson comes in and lands a gun stun right on the ropes. Shinsuke goes down again and Anderson follows up with a dropkick to send him back down to the floor. Anderson ain't done yet as he goes outside and powerbombs Shinsuke right on the apron. We come back from break as Anderson has the advantage in the corner. He whips Nakamura in and kicks him in the face. Karl then scores a running powerbomb but only gets a 2 count. Karl tries another whip but Nakamura reverses. Karl tries a kick but Shinsuke gets a sleeper on Karl and brings him to the mat. They get up just as Nakamura gets a reverse powerslam. Nakamura tries running off the ropes but Karl catches him in a spinebuster. Karl goofs off for a bit and both guys stand up and trade heavy shots back and forth before trading forearms Nakamura catches his arm and lands an elbow and a reverse kick before a running knee. Count gets 2. Nakamura goes for the booma ye but Karl dodges it and then lands a gun stun! Nakamura is out on the corner and Karl picks him up and drags him up the buckle. Anderson gets him up in a fireman's carry before slamming him to the mat. Anderson goes for a pin but Nakamura kicks out. Anderson tries for a clothesline but Nakamura hits his arm and scoops him up before hitting a falcon arrow. Back from another break  as both guys struggle to get back up. Karl gets to the apron and flips over the top rope and nails Nakamura with a clothesline. He scoops him up for the rikishi driver but again doesn't get a pin. Karl goes in for another gun stun but Nakamura catches him in an armbar. He locks it in but Karl rolls him up. He breaks the hold to avoid the pin but as they get up Nakamura nails the boome ya! Karl lands a counter uppercut but Nakamura scores with the booma ye again and scores the pin! As Nakamura is laying on the mat, A.J. Styles walks over and gets in his face. Nakamura isn't backing down. Challenge accepted. Styles grabs the belt from the ref and hands it to Nakamura telling him he is going to take the belt from him.Nakamura says on the mic he was waiting for this. He says that is exciting for them to meet for the first time at the Tokyo Dome. Talk about an understatement. Backstage CHAOS gives Nakamura kempai over beer. This match was special for him since he and Anderson both trained at the LA dojo for New Japan. He says he's seen a lot of Styles up close whenever he went overseas. Styles has something he lacks, but he will get it at the Tokyo Dome (what is it?... IT!) NEVER Openweight title: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma This match was spurred on a few weeks ago when Ishii won the belt from Makabe. Honma came into the ring and challenged him, based off Honma beating Ishii during the G1 and Honma and Makabe being buddies. Ishii said he'd give him one shot and would destroy him in the process. Let's see how that goes. Honma comes out first as Barnett talks about vampire chickens (a Honma nickname) and what one would look like since he owns chickens. Ishii comes out looking like he's gonna kill a dude. Ishii's knee is wrapped up but that's nothing new. JR already breaks out the "Bowling shoe ugly" analogy. We return from break with the bell ringing. Strong lock up to start. Honma with a headlock gets shot in the ropes and stalemate into a shoulder block. They start just whaling on each other before Ishii goes down. Honma immediately goes for the falling headbutt and he misses. Ishii chops him up a few times to make him regret it. Ishii backs him in the corner and alternates chops and strikes. Ishii bad mouths Honma and Honma strikes back with a weak hit but lands a stronger chop. Ishii drops him for that before locking in a half crab but Honma gets to the ropes. Kick to the back on Honma, but he pops up and lands more chops on the pitbull. Ishii chops him back. Honma shakes it off and hits the double sledgehammer, but goes for and misses the headbutt again. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Honma counters and lifts Ishii up for a suplex! He lands a strike and then a bulldog out of the corner before finally landing the headbutt. Honma climbs up and lands a blockbuster! Honma goes for a crab of his own but Ishii kicks him right in the face to counter out. Ishii lands some strikes but Honma is firing back! Ishii ends that with an elbow right to the neck. Ishii gets Honma on the ropes and then picks him up for a big suplex. Cover only gets two. Ishii goes for a clothesline but Honma doesn't budge. Ishii lands a counter strike and goes for the ropes but Honma follows him with a strike and then a DDT! Ishii goes to the apron and Honma goes for a clothesline but Ishii blocks it. Honma then counters with a straight headbutt that sends Ishii down. Honma scrambles up the ropes and lands a super diving headbutt to Ishii on the floor! Honma struggles up and tosses him back in, which JR gives him some flack for since he'd win the title on a count out. He goes to pick Ishii up but Ishii strikes him for it. Honma SMACKS him down and Ishii barely gets up just in time for Honma to run him over with a clothesline for two. Ishii lands a back suplex but he pops right up and lands two battering ram headbutts but cover gets only two. Honma picks Ishii up and lands the brainbuster! He goes for a clothesline but Ishii counters and lands his own headbutt! We come back from break with both guys down. They get to their knees and smack each other with headbutts. They then duel headbutts! Both guys and knocked loopy. Ishii runs to the corner to meet a Honma boot. He counters with a strike to Honma's chest and he goes down. Ishii lands a powerbomb on Honma and then lands a sliding clothesline but only gets two. They struggle over a suplex but Honma lets him go and lands a ram headbutt again. He lands the headbutt to the shoulder and goes up for the big one. He lands it but Ishii kicks out! Honma goes for a tombstone but Ishii counters but Honma slides out and lands the big headbutt. He goes up and lands the big headbutt again. He can't make the cover.  Both guys get up and Honma lands a clothesline and another one but Ishii lands a spinning heel kick and then a big clothesline but can't get the pinQ! Ishii tries for the brainbuster and then a clothesline but Honma counters into a backslide but Ishii gets out. Ishii whips Honma in and goes for the headbutt but Ishii counters with a nasty clothesline. He then hits another one but can't finish it. Ishii then hits the brainbuster and he finally gets the pin! Ishii gets his belt as Honma is not moving. Ishii gives hm a look as he leaves the ring The crowd gives a big round of applause as Honma is helped from the ring. Backstage Honma says he tried hard and did well. He says he wants to fight him again. Ishii says that Honma will never win since he has no confidence. Studio words and Ishii says it was the natural outcome, He laments that even though he won the belt, he feels he never seems to be going forward. Interesting. This was a good one. All four guys put on a great show but Honma especially deserves credit. He came out and really looked good here, not like the bumbling goof, but like a legit contender and it made for a great match. Fun show all around. We are getting closer now to Wrestlekingdom. So what else can happen between now and then? We will have to see!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
More from Osaka
Hello and welcome back to another action packed week of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we go back to Osaka for Power Struggle 2015. We are a little over a month away from WretleKingdom at this point as this card takes place on November 7, 2015. We have two big title matches tonight so let's get to the action.

Review: The King of Fighters XIV

Aug 22 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35211:5799:0[/embed] The King of Fighters XIV (PlayStation 4)Developer: SNKPublisher: Atlus USAReleased: August 23, 2016 (US), August 26, 2016 (EU), August 25, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $59.99 Regardless, I decided to be open-minded and not completely trash the game, so I was still looking forward to it, but with less excitement compared to XII, however. I definitely made the right decision of still giving the game the chance since as the months went by, and as information came in, the game was shaping up to be good, and definitely a lot more robust than one of its competitors when it came to content.   King of Fighters XIV marks the beginning of a new canonical saga for the series. Compared to previous entries, I don’t think the story is that exciting this time around since the story is more streamlined compared to other King of Fighters.  The story revolves around a billionaire known as Antonov, who claimed to be the “first champion” of the KOF tournament and bought out all of the rights for the KOF Tournament. His announcement of a new KOF Tournament created unprecedented enthusiasm around the world. From there, this excitement reached many of the veteran participants of the legendary tournament directly in the form of an official invitation. After finishing up Story Mode, which should be fairly quick, there are other modes you can try out like Versus Mode, Training, Online, Mission and Tutorial. Naturally, Versus Mode is just like previous King of Fighters where it gives you the option to do both Single and Team VS matches. After selecting your character, you got a handful of handicaps you can choose from, such as 50% health, 75% health, an extra bar of power gauge and lastly your power gauge completely filled. After that, you choose your stage and the rest is history. Practice Mode offers a variety of options that will help you on your training such as changing the position of you and your opponent, change whether they are standing, crouching, jumping, as well as have the AI completely take over. You can also set up so the training dummy guards, counters and recovers.  All of this is definitely good if you want to have great training sessions. Additionally, there’s also Tutorial Mode which shows you the ropes. It helps if you’re new to the series or fighting games in general. Mission Mode consists of Trial, Time Attack, and Survival. In Trial, you will attempt a set of challenges for each character. They usually consist of pulling off combos.  Time Attack and Survival both are self-explanatory. I personally liked playing through Trial since it helped me out practice some combos for some of the characters that I used. Now to address the elephant in the room—Online mode. The previous game, King of Fighters XIII, was known for its awful netcode on consoles. While the Steam version heavily improved this, it still wasn’t perfect.  It’s really noticeable that they actually worked hard to improve the netcode in this game. I played around 10 matches or so without any lag—I had a smooth experience all around. Additionally, the game offers some features that make the online better as well. Ranked Match takes you straight into a 3-Man Team Battle, which affects your rank depending whether you win or lose. For advanced players, it gives you the option to play 10 battles and depending in your wins, it sets you into a Rank much faster.  Free Match is most robust as it gives you more modes to play such as Team VS, Single VS and Party VS. The first two work just as if you were playing offline with another player in the same room. What I really love is the addition of Party VS, which lets six players instead in a 3-on-3 fight. If you got a group of friends, it’s definitely a lot of fun. Room settings are the same as any fighting game in general, such as making the room public or private, the number of players, the round time, and the number of rounds. Inside a room, you’re allowed to play multiple set ups, such as Tourney, Elimination and Series. Tourney removes the losing player after the fight, Elimination removes the winning player after the fight while Series allows you to face the same opponent continuously. There’s also Online Training, which allows you to train with a friend online. This is definitely helpful for those who lack a training partner outside of the Internet. Naturally, there’s also Online Replay, which you can view all the replays submitted by players, whether it’s Team VS or Single VS matches. Spectators can join to watch the match up with an integrated voice and text chat. Additionally, a "Crowd SE" option is available for spectators, which allows them to root, applaud, and boo the match current players.There's also a Live feature, but that's just a shortcut to game's Live from PlayStation menu. While the game resembles the Maximum Impact series graphically, it still remains on a strictly two-dimensional plane and keeps the same basic mechanics as its predecessors. New features have been added such as a new Max mode system, allowing players to access the EX moves, which can be activated by using one bar of the power gauge. Additionally, using three bars of the power gauge can allow players to unleash Climax supers. With the game catering to newcomers as well, the added a feature called Rush Mode, which is similar to games like Dengeki Bunko and Persona 4 Arena. Just like those games, it can be activated by repeatedly hitting the light punch button, however, will do lower damage compared to normal combo attacks. While I’m certainly not a fan of these types of things, it doesn’t really hurt the game either. Overall, I am definitely pleased with King of Fighters XIV. While the story was kind of bland compared to the previous games, and the graphics are a bit disappointing, it still offers a great experience that both King of Fighters fans and fighting game fans can appreciate. There’s just so much content from the get-go, like a game should, that can keep you occupied for a while. It definitely makes up for the game's flaws. You can bet I'll be playing this for months. 
The King of Fighters XIV photo
Burn To Fight
Since I’ve been writing for Japanator for almost a year now, some of you may already know I’m a big King of Fighters fan and it’s one of the first series I ever played as a child. Even since then I haven&rsq...

Strong Style: The Power Struggle is real

Aug 20 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Tetsuya Naito. Guess EVIL isn't much for words. Super Jr. Tag Tournament Finals: Roppongi Vice vs. Matt Sydel/Riccochet This is the final of an eight-team tournament. Presumably, the winners get a Jr. tag team title shout in Tokyo. The Vice got here by beating Kenny Omega and Chase Owens and the team of RedDRagon while Sydel/Ricochet defeated The Time Splitters and the Young Bucks. Looks like they are trying to add some variety to the Jr. Tag division. I commend them for that since it was getting stale. The Vice come out first and Josh talks about helping to train Rocky Romero in MMA way back when. The opposing team then come out and Ricochet does a nice one anded vault over the top rope. We immediately cut ahead in the match with Ricochet and Rocky diving into the ring. It is really obvious they cut out some action but JR and Josh act like the match just started. Who are you trying to fool? Anyway, Ricochet and Beretta trade whips into the corner. Rocky comes charging in with a spear that Ricochet leap frogs over and the Vice collide. Ricochet takes advantage by delivering a zigzag on Romero to send him down again. Rocky gets up and Ricochet goes for a waistlock but Rocky counters around, only to be hit with a northern lights suplex. Ricochet hangs on and hits a second! Pin attempt only gets two. Ricochet gets Romero up in a fireman's carry but Romero leaps out. He hits a strike and goes for the ropes but Ricochet catches him in a drop toehold as Sydal comes in with a leg drop. Both guys hit tandem moonsaults on Romero, but the pin only gets two. Ricochet drags him to the corner and goes up. He tries for a 450 splash but Rocky moves. Ricochet lands on his feet though and rolls through it. Rocky gets up and hits the ropes and Barretta comes in the ring and they hit Ricochet with a double jumping knee. Rocky goes up in the corner as Barretta hangs Ricochet out to dry on the top rope. Rocky comes off and nails the flying legdrop on the back of the head, sending Ricochet down where he is hit with the running knee from Baretta for a two count. Baretta tags in legally where he whips Ricochet into the corner and runs in with a flying elbow. Ricochet staggers in the ring with Barretta about to hit something off the ropes but Sydal pushes his partner out of the way and lands his patented double knees right on Barretta's head. Romero comes in and kicks Sydal right out of the ring. He turns around to hit a clothesline in the corner on Ricochet but gets a kick to the head for the effort. Ricochet rolls out of the corner and jumps up, landing a DDT on Romero and now everyone is down. Sydal tags in and he tries to get Baretta in a pump handle slam, but Trent squats down on it. Sydal hits him a few more times and tries the move again, but Trent blocks it again. Romero comes in and clobbers Sydal with a clothesline and then winds up for his freight train clotheslines in the corner. He hits Sydal with it three times before Sydal catches him and lifts him up to the corner where Ricochet hits him with a kick from the apron. Sydal climbs up and goes for the super huricanranna but Romero slips out. Sydal lands right in his ass on the top turnbuckle and bounces backwards to the mat. Talk about busting your ass! Romero bounces off the ropes and goes flying through the ropes to take out Ricochet with a suicide dive while it's still Sydal and Baretta are the legal men in the ring. Barretta hits a running knee that folds Sydal in half but only gets a two count. The Vice set up for the double team dudebomb or whatever they call it with Trent cradling Sydal in the ring, but when Romero tries to come off the ropes with a slingshot, Ricochet leaps in and spears him out of the air! Sydal turns Barretta around in a Canadian destroyer piledriver but he only gets the two count! Baretta staggers in the corner as the other teams goes for it. Sydal is launched into the corner first but Baretta sends him over the top to the apron. Sydal's leg gives out and he tumbles to the floor but Ricochet scores with the hit. He then runs towards the other corner and hits an amazing shoot star press to Romero outside the ring! Inside Sydal goes up and goes for a shooting star press of his own, but he meets Baretta's knees at the bottom. Baretta goes for the cover but only gets two. He picks up Sydal who goes for a kick but Trent ducks, he goes for another one with the same result. Baretta sets him up and hits the dudebomb but the pin is broken up by Ricochet. Ricochet and Romero trade punches back and forth. It turns into forearms and kicks. Romero hits a jumping knee and ricochet hits a superman punch. Ricochet gets Romero in a fireman's carry but Baretta pulls him off. Ricochet smacks Barretta with a kick to the face and then Sydal comes up and tries to get a reverse flying headscissors but it doesn't go quite right and ends up in a weird reverse victory roll instead. Romero comes back in and ricochet hits him with the benedryller in the corner. Both guys go up and hit simultaneous shooting star presses and get the pinfall! Sydal and ricochet have won the tournament! Hiroshi Tanahashi/Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazuchika Okada/Kazushi Sakuraba Power Struggle is like the WWE's February pay-per-view. Everyone is gearing up for Wrestlemania and want to build up the main event, so we get a match like this to preview things with out having either main eventer look weak. It's a strange match as Tanahashi and Shibata had that rivalry not too far back but seem to get along now. Sakuraba usually teams with Yano, but I don't think he is a member of CHAOS, while the champ Okada is the leader. After both teams come out we cut right to Sakuraba and Shibata starting out with both men going immediately for armbars and counters before getting back up to their feet. Sakuraba grabs a headlock and Shibata reverses. Sakuraba counters into a leg scissors and clamps down. Shibata turns it around but Sakuraba turns it into a googoplata! Shibata is nearly out! He drags Sakuraba over and gets a foot on the rope. They get back up and Sakuraba hits a kick and sends Shibata to the corner were Okada gets a tag. Okada cuts the ring in half and keeps Shibata away from his corner. Okada gets him down in the corner and kicks him a few times before picking him up and hitting a few forearms. Shibata seems to have woken up and lands a few strikes. He goes to the ropes but Sakuraba catches him and locks in a choke. Okada comes up and boots Shibata right in the face. He rolls outside and Sakuraba follows him out. In the ring, Okada runs right up and knocks Tanahashi to the floor before going out after him.  Both Tanahashi and Shibata eat guardrail. Shibata makes it into the ring where Okada tags Sakuraba back in the match. The Gracie Killer starts landing some kicks on Shibata but he muscles up and strikes back. Sakuraba tags back out and then both guys drop elbows on Shibata. Okada whips him into the buckle and goes for the dropkick but Shibata kicks the champ right in the face. Shibata finally tags out and Tanahashi gets in with the champ. He hits a flying forearm on Okada and slams him in the ring. He tries for the second rope senton but the pool's empty. JR calls it a "seldom used move" by Tanahashi but he uses it in EVERY match, making me wonder if JR gives a damn. Okada picks him up and lands a few slaps before taking over with a clothesline and a whip in the corner into a DDT. Okada gets in an elbow and goes for the pin but Tanahashi kicks out. We come back from break as Okada trying for the tombstone but Tanahashi counters out and lands a leg whip. Tanahashi  goes off the ropes and Okada gets in that sweet dropkick. He then hits Shibata with one as well. Okada goes up and lands a long distance flying elbow! He picks Tanahashi up and goes for the rainmaker but Hiroshi counters into a waistlock before nailing the slingblade! Somehow Okada is able to get over to his corner for the tag. Sakuraba tags in and lands some kicks in but Tanahashi  counters and sends Sakuraba down. Shibata tags in and starts hammering Sakuraba down, but Sakuraba comes back and lands some kicks before going for the front choke! Shibata lands a strike to get out and then hits a cool kick on the seated Sakuraba. Shibata tries for the PK but misses. Sakuraba gets the rear choke while Tanahashi is being held outside the ring. Shibata lands a Saito suplex but Okada breaks up the pin. Tanahashi comes in and sends Okada out. Shibata hits his hang time kick on Sakuraba in the corner. He slams him down as Tanahashi hits the high fly flow. Shibata hits the GTS and scores the pin. We don't seem to be quite done here. Shibata leaves the ring in his usual "job's done" kind of way and Sakuraba is carried out. Okada and Gedo start to leave as well but Tanahashi grabs the mic and tells Okada to get back in the ring because he is going to teach the champ something. Okada obliges him and comes back in the ring. Hiroshi says that he will be the new champion and that IRGP is just around the corner. not quite sure what he means there. Okada grabs the mic right from Hiroshi's hands but before he can say anything Tanahashi just clobbers him! We have a fight! The young boys come in to break it up but it's not working. Tanahashi clobbers Okada with the case as they just keep going at it. Talk about out of character. They finally get separated as Gedo pulls Okada back. We cut to the back where Okada and Geo are talking and here comes Tanahashi! The fight's not over yet! Gedo is yelling for Tanahashi to hold it and stay right there as we got to commercial. We come back to Naito in the studio, ?he says that getting a partner would make spreading the word of Los Ingobernables twice as fast. He looked at all the wrestlers and found EVIL was going to be his partner. We cut to a clip from the last show where Goto says that EVIL was "a mediocre wrester who came back from the U.S. without having done anything." Naito disagrees. He also says that he took this show off due to an "earlobe injury" with a big smile on his face. Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL More of that weird match order thing again as this match was the third match into this show, while the tag match we just watched was the semi-main event. Odd. A bit of background on EVIL. He was a young boy who entered New Japan in 2011 and was used for opening matches for a few years while he trained, using his real name Tamaaki Watanabe. He had a brief cup of coffee in Ring of Honor here in the states, largely being in the roll of "that New Japan guy that everyone beats". As we saw last time he made his re-debut in the company, now as Naito's goon, EVIL. During that same he got into it with Goto during and after the match, so here we go with that. After all that fighting, this seems like a letdown. EVIL comes out dressed like the grim reaper, complete with scythe. Have I ever mentioned that EVIL is a really ugly dude? I mean look at that picture? Bug-eyed ugly mother fu- you get the picture. Goto comes out with his awesome warriorness. EVIL attacks as soon as he gets in the ring! EVIL gets some shots in before he forearms Goto right in the face. He hits Goto again but when he goes to the ropes Goto kicks him right in the chest. EVIL slide under the ring and when Goto goes to look for him he smacks Goto again. Hey, at least it's not that "tranquilo" horse crap Naito does. He runs right into Goto with a chair. He then puts the chair around Goto's neck and slams him into the post. EVIL gets into the ring as the count is on. Goto rolls in at 17. EVIL gets the front facelock but Goto rolls through it only to get a hit with a neckbreaker. EVIL chokes Goto on the mat. Goto gets up and is met by a chop to the chest by EVIL and another one. Stone faced EVIL sends Goto down and then locks in an arm wrench. He then sinks in and bites Goto right in the side of the neck! After a break, we come back to see EVIL pressing a foot on the back of Goto's neck. He gets a brief chinlock and runs the ropes but both guys smack together from clotheslines. EVIL tries a clothesline but Goto blocks. Goto goes to work with some kicks and a back suplex, but only gets two. Goto kicks EVIL right in the arm and tries for a suplex but EVIL counters into a fisherman's buster suplex. EVIL goes to grab Goto but Goto tries to lock in an armbar. EVIL gets out with a kick to the head. Goto gets up but EVIL hits a clothesline, Goto counters back with three of his own. EVIL hits a clothesline off the ropes but Goto counters back. EVIL goes for the STO but Goto counters. They reverse each other until Goto hits the reverse ushi-goroshi. He locks in a leglock submission but Naito strolls down to the ring and just flat out attacks Goto. He hits his destino move right in front of the ref before Tiger Hitori FINALLY calls for the DQ. Well, he's getting older. Reflexes aren't what they used to be. Shibata comes running out and the goobers flee, wanting no part of that guy. I smell a future tag team match. In the back, Naito talks about how awesome EVIL is and how perfect the match was. He rambles on for a bit before actually saying EVIL has to speak his thoughts. "This is Evil. Everything is Evil." Welp, that sums up the character rather well! In the studio, Naito talks about if Goto was happy after the match. He says the match was merely to unveil EVILl and no point in putting in 100 percent. Naito interfered to stop EVIL from beating a big name in his debut match. He did Goto a favor and he should be happy. Odd match order aside, this was a good show. The first match was fun without being a car wreck like the four-team jr tag matches usually are. The second match did its job, even if it was a little shirt. And the main event was different. I wouldn;t say this blew anyone away but it was alright. Next week we get Honma and Ishii beating the crap out of each other! See you then!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
It's time for Power Struggle!
Hey gang! It's time once again for Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we move into the month of November as we visit Osaka once again for Power Struggle. This show takes place on November 7, 2015 and it's narrowing in on the big WrestleKingdom show in January. Let's dive in!

Weekend Japanatainment - Vending Machine Edition

Aug 20 // Red Veron
[embed]35206:5791:0[/embed] YouTube Channel Only in Japan, gives us an informative video all about the Japanese machines.   [embed]35206:5792:0[/embed]  The very kawaii Venus Angelic tries out some vending machine fried chicken and shows us the available fast food items.   [embed]35206:5793:0[/embed] This video from Munchies is all about half-Japanese Ty Demura making a quick post drinking session meal from vending machines on the way home.   [embed]35206:5794:0[/embed] Here's another video from Only in Japan where they showcase a vending machine restaurant filled with retro vending machines and a place to sit down and enjoy all the different vending machine food.   NSFW Warning!  [embed]35206:5795:0[/embed] Here is a video by timtak1 and how he found a vending machine that claims to sell used women's underwear in a small building filled with vending machines selling adult items.   What do you love about these Japanese vending machines in the video? Which one would you love to have access to on a daily basis? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Coin Operated Convenience
You've probably seen Japanese vending machines in various forms of Japanese media before, it's very much part of daily life in Japan with its highly mobile society that where a good chunk of the population use public transpor...

First Impressions: Thunderbolt Fantasy

Aug 18 // Salvador G Rodiles
If there’s one thing that hinted towards a big change in the story, it’s that the Main Character Shang Bu Huan was placed in an unfortunate situation that made him a part of the group that plans to stop the evil sword collector known as Mie Tian Hai from awakening the Tian Xing Jian, a powerful sacred sword, from its seal. The unfortunate thing about this was that Huan was just a swordsman who just wanted to wander, but he was placed in an unfortunate circumstance where he ended up becoming an enemy of Hai’s evil group, the Xuan Gui Zong. Since Urobuchi loves to make his characters suffer, the idea of the hero having to give up on his routine to fulfill a specific task works well in this favor. Hell, this format tends to lead to some interesting development with the main characters than one where the lead wants to do something good from the get-go, as it shows that an unexpected journey could help someone grow. In Thunderbolt Fantasy’s case, Huan's growth will likely be related to how he handles the ordeals when the group is close to Hai's castle. Even though the majority of the show’s story focused on the main cast formulating their party to stop Hai, the mysterious character known as Gui Niao holds the title of being the possible catalyst in changing the way how people view Pili and Urobuchi’s action-packed puppet show. He was the main reason why Huang is part of the campaign to fight the Xuan Gui Zon, and there are a few characters who have problems with the guy. Depending on how the story goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes the spot as the show’s final villain. That, or we might have different factions and Niao will lead one of them. For now, his connection to the story is a factor that could elevate the series to a higher level and the suspicious vibe that he gives off contributes to the program’s entertaining aspects— especially with his persistent tendency to make sure that he has the prerequisites to overcome the trials that lead to Hai’s lair. While we’re on the topic of characters that could change groups at any time, the addition of a demon and a man who calls himself the Screaming Phoenix Killer contributes to the show’s idea of a group that’s united by a common motive. The idea that the party has their own toxic environment to deal with makes one wonder how things will change when the first major arc comes to a close. These aspects continue to push the audience towards being suspicious of Gui Niao; thus leaving people with the joy of trying to figure out where the story could go. For a team that could turn on each other, their teamwork somehow works out well, as a few of the show’s characters can give it their all when another comrade instigates them into doing something dangerously. Overall, this concept is what makes Thunderbolt Fantasy’s cast great since they’re all in it for a specific motive. Depending on how the direction the story will go later, I’m hoping that this aspect continues to be a recurring element since the team made these segments fun to listen to. Speaking of worthwhile things, the puppetry in Thunderbolt Fantasy gives off a breathtaking feeling. The actions scenes feel like an over-the-top Hong Kong film and the special effects (such as the magical flying weapons and powerful shockwaves) make every action scene a marvelous spectacle that never disappoints its audience. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this is that the show’s puppeteers are doing these segments in real time; thus resulting in a puppet show with one hell of a performance. Aside from the puppet’s impressive movements, the cast’s designs feature some highly detailed clothes and weapons. The craftsmanship in each puppet makes each of them look like a wonderful work of art. Not only that, the fact that the show’s staff uses weather and environmental damage is a solid feat, as the shots and lighting bring life to Thunderbolt Fantasy’s man-made sets. All in all, the team’s combined hard work with the puppetry, special effects and environments work hand-in-hand in creating a stage that grabs the audience's attention. Also, the idea that a majority of the show’s characters are left handed is a nice treat for lefties everywhere. As a person who never got to witness that many action puppet shows (such as The Thunderbirds) before, Thunderbolt Fantasy’s story and action left me blown away with the effort that went into the sets and action scenes. The violent puppets segments and Urobuchi’s writing serve as the true strings that’ll expose the nature of this series, which has started to unravel with Screaming Phoenix Killer’s actions and motives. With Hai entering the battlefield, it’ll be neat to see how everyone bypasses this trial. From the looks of it, this might be the opportunity that’ll allow for Huan to prove to everyone that he isn’t lying about his backstory. No matter what direction the series will take, Thunderbolt Fantasy will remain as a title that I never imagined as a medium that I needed in my life. [Get blown away by Thunderbolt Fantasy’s puppet action on Crunchyroll.]
Thunderbolt Fantasy photo
Lefties rule!
Ever since Urobuchi was involved with Kamen Rider Gaim, my desire to see him tackle other types of mediums outside of his usual things went up since it would be great to see how his writing style would cut up those stories. S...

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

Aug 18 // Yussif Osman
Anyong and Salam! So this piece is important to me, so if I guess if I want it to mean something to you too, I should start by introducing myself.  I’m Yussif and more than anything else, I’m passionate about stories and it’s really Japanese culture which got me into storytelling.  Growing up, I wanted to tell my own stories, so I did plenty of writing, but it’s only recently that I decided to take the plunge and start an enterprise focused on storytelling and the worlds I created.  I’m writing to you, to introduce the startup I founded, Hei Stories, a platform, the tales of which are heavily inspired and influenced by Japanese animation and manga.  I hope you’ll stay a while and hear me out, because I think Hei Stories is full of the things which we love above fiction; complex characters and developed world, human themes and stakes we can invest in.  And maybe, something new too.  I would like to introduce you to Kaleidoscope, to a wholly new and unique universe, which although it is populated by living stars and ghosts made of songs, ruled over by an Eclipse King, protected by superheroines and challenged by explorer revolutionaries scouring the frontiers of starlight, it is a world based on our own, where hope, dreams and compassion are our armour, sword and shield.  Welcome to Kaleidoscope, I hope you find something of yours in here too. Bear with me, but the first things I’d like to talk about are ‘magic’ and ‘love’.  Perhaps this will make more sense if I use Miyazaki’s work as the foundation for this discussion.  By ‘magic’, I refer to the sense of wonder that is conjured by weaving secrets and fantastical settings that tease and play with our inbuilt desire for adventure and the mysterious.  I found a combination of the two when I came across Spirited Away; but in addition to ‘magic’, films like Chihiro’s say something unique about what it means to be human and to live and love and in doing so, are doing something quite intimate.  By exploring childhood and life, from films like Only Yesterday to Howl’s Moving Castle, Miyazaki involves us in the story and in doing so, makes the fantastical elements believable, making the entire experience truly magical.   Work in Hei Stories tries to do the same, through a blend of magical realism and Romance.  I use my work, Zoe Taylor as an example; a young woman who travels from one world she creates to another, in search of a love she has long forgotten, each world she hopes bringing her closer to home than the last.  Or Monsoon, in which Abhu dreams of her big sister; her thoughts and feelings entering the sky, becoming ghosts, gods and asura, connecting her with the person she is looking for.  In these stories, it is my hope that I have not only drawn inspiration from the likes of Miyazaki, or Makoto Shinkai, but that the tales set in Kaleidoscope explore themes such as love, hope and pain in unique ways - whether that’s Asem’s ability to draw power from the human heart or the Lovecraft militia, who through pure fury, manifest their pain in terrifying power.  It’s my aim to explore what we mean by such ideas as ‘love’, how it is an idea which empowers us, the way Petra sees beyond Asem’s trauma, or how Abhu’s longing for her sister connects them through the sky. My view of the world has been heavily shaped by the stories I watched and read growing up.  Among them, was Dragonball Z.  What did I love most about Dragonball Z? Vegeta, plain and simple.  Why? Well, he used to be a bad guy- now, that doesn’t just make him a badass, it makes him fascinating. This may have become a common Shonen trope, but think about it.  As a kid, I was suddenly introduced to the notion that the world is complicated and that maybe, just maybe, there is goodness in everyone (except maybe Frieza).  Sometime later, it happened, Naruto confronted Pain and what did he do? He talked to him. This blew my mind, even if Pain could never justify the things he did, he had reasons, and was himself suffering from sorrow which made him what he was.  By talking to him, Naruto liberated them both from the circle of hate and made it possible for their world to move forward.  This, which to me, was an impossibly amazing moment, would inspire me to go and study Peace as a discipline at university.   But above all, it made me want to tell this story to others, it made me want to tell people that there was another way, that people are complex and can be reached.  I began creating villains I wanted readers to empathise with, villains the heroes could empathise with.  Villains who were more than just antagonists.  I created Rakshasah, who gives up his freedom to the insurgent leader Asura to save his village, in exchange for being raised on a philosophy of hate; ultimately giving up on himself, seeking to force Neha, whom he loves to see the world the way he does, so he doesn’t have to suffer alone.  But even though Neha is accompanied by a rain demon, she would stop Rakshasah not by fighting him, but fighting what had been done to him.  Then there is Iconoclast, someone so utterly rejected by the world that she felt the need to conquer it in order to change it.  Is she good? Evil? More appropriately, a revolutionary, in the tradition of Lelouch.     One of the aims of Hei Stories became to contribute to social and global commentary, by spreading positive and progressive messages and engaging in a discussion to humanise and spread tolerance, understanding, positive change and empathy. I believe stories have the power to create significant change in the way we view the world and it is our aim to contribute to the discourse of making the world a better place. From LGBT rights to the need for the world to welcome refugees, from peace to overcoming depression and heartbreak, I hope these stories can be there for people around the world overcoming adversity, dreaming and hoping towards better futures.  The way Luffy and Naruto were there for me. And for anyone who is like me, searching for their place in the world, I am writing Centillion Lights episodically on Patreon, a saga about a race across multiple plains of existence, from Flower Kingdoms to Art Empires, to find Earth, a very different place in the heart of each racer, seeking to make the world something of their own. A coming of age story which takes the 'spring of youth' concept found in so much anime and really pushes it with what it means to be young and trying to work out who you are in an unknowable world. So Hei Stories is seeking to branch into different mediums including spoken word, literature, audio and ultimately animation. It is our aim to begin production on an animated feature/series set in the world of 'Kaleidoscope' in 2017. To this end, I’ve begun crowdfunding on Patreon, initially contributions will fund things like a concept artist (I’ve done the art to date, but I’m not a professional) and comiccon space to spread the word, but combined with funds gathered from public readings we’re doing in London and prospective grants from established institutions, it’s my hope that we’ll be able to fund the animated series. If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on patreon.com/heistories, or you can explore more of the world I’ve created on heistories.wordpress.com/blog or on Youtube @ Hei Stories.  In addition, it is our aim to create opportunity for young and emerging artists.  The actors who will be performing in 'Asem', the major public reading we’re doing soon, are in the early stages of both their lives and careers and it is our hope to give them exposure and help them grow as well as give them support.  Poets and musicians are also involved in this project and it is our sincere wish to help nurture and support the young artistic community and see it thrive, because quite simply, art makes life better. I think that’s one of the reasons that we love anime, because it combines music and visual art, drama and writing in a spectacular collaboration to produce something like Sword of the Stranger or Princess Mononoke. And exploring genres, produces a literal kaleidoscope of artistic collaboration. In the tradition of Ghost in the Shell, or Darker Than Black, I explore neo-noir and urban horror in Lights and Letters From the Sleepless Wars, trying to push the boundaries of what we understand to be real.  Or in the tradition of epic Romance like One Piece, I created the Sunflower Diaries which explores a universe which challenges what we understand the world to be, all from the foundations of a young girl’s dreams.  We weave stories around unique countries like the Moon Kingdom, actually inspired by the aesthetics of Klonoa with its solar temples and moonlit palaces.  Then there is the whimsy of the bizarre and fun, such as Space Dandy, in stories like our Mighty Mighty Mighty Thunderclap Coalition who aim to spread Earth culture in a post-Earth solar system. And with these stories come a variety of aesthetic, inspired by animators like Yutaka Nakamura as I imagine Bonfire Engines assemble themselves from a will to be, or worlds racing past as a ‘Runner’ sprints through the universe- or a girl turning a flower into a small bird as subtly as when Chihiro tapped her feet to make sure her shoes were on. I have spent a-lot of time talking about what has inspired Kaleidoscope, but I want take a risk here and dare say that Hei Stories does some things that are new.  Sometimes we seem inundated with ‘harems’ and battle adventures and MMO reality swapping stories.  But look at the uniqueness of the premise of Erased, D.Gray-Man’s Noah Family, all of Makoto Shinkai’s and Ghibli’s work; the biggest way in which anime and manga has inspired me, is by encouraging me to create something new.  From watching the breathtaking, experimental animation of Mob Psycho 100 or experiencing how 5cm Per Second blends the cosmic with the Earthly.  These stories have pushed our imaginations, visually and in how we think about storytelling and the world.  In particular, I would like to site Bounen no Xam’d and Eureka 7, both works from Bones which are significantly original stories which push how we understand genre and bring human drama to the fantastical with original ideas, whether that’s the sentient ‘Coral’ at the centre of the Earth, which we have to come to terms with co-existing with in Eureka, or the way an Emperor declares war on the world because he has lost his name in Xam’d, set in a world where emotions create immensely beautiful beasts whilst a love story is told, based on a relationship that is never traditionally defined.  Or we can look at Sore Demo Sekai wa Utsukushi which pushes the boundaries of how love evolves and what motivates people.   It would feel arrogant to inundate you all the ways I think Hei Stories is original, but here is a short list of examples of how the world we’ve created pushes the boundaries of fiction as inspired by anime, from setting, to story structure: Kaleidoscope is a universe not based on material space, but rather ‘place’ is painted across a landscape of thoughts, emotions and concepts, materialised in starpaint and hyperdimensional oceans.  It is my aim  to make accessible sensitive issues like extremism and tolerance and trauma through fantastical settings, whilst exploring new character archetypes, with ‘hyperambition’ which blurs good and evil or a revolutionary that is in love with the world.  We explore time and story beyond the three act structure, exploring legacies, world histories and ideals, all interconnected by characters and ideas.   Watching Gainax push the scale of how we understood stakes, inspired me to push it as well, in both a cosmic and Earthly sense, in terms of relationships, concepts and action. So what does Hei Stories and the universe of Kaleidoscope come down to? It comes back to where I started, ‘magic’ and ‘love’.  To enchant and inspire.  It is my hope, to truly bring something positive into the world.  Kaleidoscope is a universe crafted on the principle of hope, where the fantastic serves the real and so, to illustrate that, I would like to end with this excerpt, where Hubble, the literal spirit of the Hubble Telescope who watched us for centuries, speaks: First, there were Chart Makers, they are the stars and ideas which make life possible. Independently, Stargazers were born, life in the material world, humans, animals, the Brave, species from across Kaleidoscope, across the universe. Stargazers and Chart Makers fell in love with one another, the living fell in love with life and life fell in love with the living. And in the space between that love, we, Constellations were born, an expression of every thought and hope and sadness. And for a time, love was law. Until he found you, Naenamh, you know him as the Eclipse King. Even we, Constellations, aren't sure what the Eclipse King is exactly, but he existed before the advent of life, he was alone in the dark. So when light and life began, he saw your joy and was enraged at the reality of his sadness. He came to hate everything. In his grief, he declared war on love and sought to spread his sorrow to the living. He murdered Aset, partner of the Chart Maker, Sirius. Sirius, not knowing how to deal with grief or loss, attacked the world on the Eclipse King's behalf. And so began the wars between Finality and Infinity, grief and love, spanning long into the millennia and deep into the human history. Yet every time, you win. I've watched you conquer over despair, time and time again. When the Eclipse King finally decided to simply destroy you, the only reason the Forge you call Amazing was able to find you and stop him, was because he could hear you through bottomless space. He followed your music and laughter, shouts and speech across an ocean of stars. And from him, Fragments were born, another miracle born of the underbase of love and life, a substance created by human interaction and will. And then Asem. You all created her, your world raised her and taught her to love. Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it, feel free to get in touch to talk about anything, whether that’s here, one of the links or on [email protected] . Speak soon - live, love, hope and eat oreos. In Kaleidoscope, every child has a memory of the day the sun stood up, it’s my hope to remind us. “I would like to make a film to tell children it’s good to be alive.” - Miyazaki.
Hei Stories photo
Introducing a storytelling start-up
[Editor's Note: Here at Japanator we work on stuff that's not directly related to the site. this thing here is Yussif's new jam.] – the sun itself, uncurled and stood. Mountain shadows scattered as she rose. She stood a...

Japanator goes to AniMaine Bangor 2016

Aug 15 // Soul Tsukino
I've written coverage of my home convention here in Maine, AniMaine, before. It is a very close-knit gathering of friends, both old and new alike. That con takes place in November in South Portland, Maine, about and hour or so south of where I am located. It is a highlight of my year. The same group, some in different roles, decided to put on another convention this weekend in AniMaine Bangor, a one-day convention located in Bangor, Maine. The "Queen City" as it is called is about two hours north of where I am located. Most of the staff are from the area since it's the location of Husson College in its associated school NESCom where a lot of the staff graduated from, as did I about ten years before they did. It can make me feel old sometimes with them young whippersnappers and their fancy degrees. The weather on Saturday was not in our favor. The news had called for rain and we sure got it. Luckily there wasn't much scheduled for outdoors (if anything at all) so outside of a trip to your car, you were okay. I went with my usual partner in crime Jeremy "Emerje" Crocker from Tomopop and arrived a little before 9 a.m. This event was being held at the Four Points by Sheraton located right next to Bangor International Airport, a place neither of us had been before. It took a little time to get organized as the con registration was located on the second floor of the entrance. Luckily some familiar faces were there (namely Con chair  Diane Lapierre) to point us to the right place. The layout of the space was small, one panel room, one game room, a small vendors area next to the hotel gym, with some information tables located in a walkway leading to the airport terminal. The vendors' area was open when we arrived and we checked things out there, with about six different vendors including a Henna painting table, a table set up for a couple of local horror themed cons, an artist, and a seller offering up old toys and another offering anime stuff and really good prices. We checked out the first panel of the day, hosted by longtime AniMaine staffer Michael Churchill about Magic: The Gathering. Not my cup of tea as far as subjects go but it was still interesting. We took some time to check out the con's program and found that the schedule had been updated and changed the night before, without a chance to fix the programs. I was prepared as I noticed the change on the con's website and had printed out my own copies. We took some time to look around for a short bit before the next panel, What Makes a Video Game Great. The presenter was Adam Crowley who is a Ph.D. looking at games. He was very engaging and would mention things that were popular and why and took a deeper look into the games we love.  The next panel was cosplay judging so we explored around some more. There were quite a lot of cosplayers to this con, but we aren't judges and they actually filled the room. I took the time to really get my bearing as to where things were located as relating to a small elevator that really made things easier. We got some lunch at one of the small terminal restaurants and hung out for a while. As I've said of AniMaine in South Portland, this con was very relaxed and had a laid back environment that encouraged conversation with those around you. Next up on the program was the first of two panels by the headline guest, voice actor, director, and AniMaine veteran guest, Terri Doty. with her first of two panels, Voice Acting 101 with Terri Doty. She always makes for a good panel as she is very entertaining, but at the same time has been working in the industry long enough to speak real wisdom. There were a few young audience members who were looking into the industry and Terri was able to answer their questions with stories and anecdotes like only she could. The panel that followed was Hey, I'm Walkin' Here hosted by AniMaine's South Portland Chair, Colin Harvey. This was an animation tutorial panel on how to create a simple walking loop using home computer animation programs. Again, a lot of it flew over my head but it still was enlightening. The next panel was planned to be a Karaoke Extravaganza but some wires got crossed so the room was used for a makeshift panel from one of the staffers while we milled around for a while on our own, I stayed at the hotel while Jeremy checked out some of the surrounding stores. I walked around checking in with some old friends and getting pictures of some of the cosplayers that were there. I met a couple with a very adorable little dog that was the cutest. I returned to the Vendor's area and something cool happened while I was there. For those of you that have seen my posts at our sister site, Tomopop will find I'm a big collector of '80s/early '90s style GI Joe figures. I got to talking with one of the vendor's selling older toys and he said he had a bin of figures he would sell cheap and I assured him if he brought it in I would buy something. Since he lived only 20 minutes away, he went to get them. I took the meantime and got something to drink and hung around the lobby of the hotel near the front desk and chatted with people as we watching Olympic diving (yes, the one with the green water, ick). He returned and SCORE! I ended up getting 13 Joes, most of the which were only a few dollars. He was happy, I was very happy, all was awesome. Reconnecting with Jeremy, we took in some of a panel called Making Your Own Games with Unity where the host showed off a small game that he had designed himself. We milled around some more and hung out at an empty table in the game room for an hour or so before the next panel, which was Con Stories with the vendor for the local horror cons I had mentioned earlier. There was only 5 or six of us but it was a lot of fun and silly stories for conventions past, talk of tipping cows, Star Trek actors, and how awesome Billy Dee Willians is. We finished out the con with Terri Doty's Q and A panel. As said before, she tells wonderful stories about not only her work in voice acting but her life as well. She raffled off a few DVDs, Jeremy ended up winning one of the Hetalia collections. With the panels ended we headed out for the long journey home. AniMaine is family. Old vets like yours truly were just as apt to have discussions with long time friends as much as people going to their first cons ever. It's a relaxed atmosphere where you can just hang out and chill, play some games, take in some great stories, and reminisce about things that happened in days past. The different location from the South Portland cons didn't affect that. It's like if you have a family tradition of going to the grandmother's house every year for Thanksgiving, but then one of your cousins invites the family to their house for a day. Even if the location is different, a place you have never been before, the AniMaine spirit is still there and welcoming. This more than anything else showed that no matter where we are, we are home with family.
AniMaine Bangor photo
A new location but the same good time.
This weekend and era came to a close as Otakon, one of the east coast's biggest conventions, was held in Baltimore for the last time. Since 1999 the convention has been held at the Baltimore Convention Center and had seen its...

Review: A.W. Phoenix Festa

Aug 10 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35189:5778:0[/embed] A.W Phoenix Festa (PlayStation Vita)Developer: APLUSPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: July 26, 2016 (US), July 26, 2016 (EU), January 28, 2016 (JP)MSRP: $39.99 When launching the game, you can either choose to play as Ayato Amagiri or an original character, which you can name whatever you wish. While the game doesn’t specifically state it, it is implied that playing as Ayato is easy mode since your stats are already high enough and ready for the Phoenix Festa as opposed to the original character who starts with lower stats, thus making the game more challenging, but you are given more time to prepare before the Phoenix Festa. What I didn’t like about Ayato’s storyline is that you need to find a partner for the Phoenix Festa before the deadline, which is 2 weeks after the game starts. While that may sound like a lot, time really flies fast in the game. While it’s doable to choose the partner that you want, those two weeks could push you to make a rash decision since if you don’t find a partner in due time, the game will end prematurely. While I personally do like Saya, at the same time, it as a rushed choice since I only had one day to find a partner. With the original character however, you are given two months before the Phoenix Festa thus giving you plenty of time to build up your character as well as his relationship with the rest of the cast. I felt a lot more comfortable doing his path since it gave me time to think work on who I wanted as a partner as well as build up my stats the way I desired. Though it was somewhat harder compared to Ayato’s playthrough, I definitely recommend playing his story first since it’s a lot more flexible and gives you more room for enjoyment. Like a lot of Dating Sims, the game is time dependent. You are giving a calendar in which you can set up appointments, train, go shopping, upgrade your equipment and even take on a job. There are two time slots for each day —AM and PM, and which gets fill up depending on what activity you choose to do. Setting up appointments allows you to either duel or take the person on a date.  Though I would recommend on challenging them on a duel first since it not only boosts up your stats but it also raises your affinity with that character as well. However, the battles aren’t really enjoyable, which I’ll get into later on. Training allows you to boost up a stat individually such as Life, Attack, Defense, Insight, etc. However, in return, training takes a toll on your health and body condition, which reflects on your battles, so it’s imperative not to overdo it, or heal up before proceeding to battle. Job requests are like side quests in which nets you extra money that can be used to buy weapon upgrades in the laboratory, or buy medicine or even presents to raise your affinity with the girl characters in the Shop. All in all, if you enjoyed the anime’s story, then you’ll most likely enjoy the dialogue in this one as well. However there were times where the game got too repetitive with the dialogue and kind of boring. There were times where I took Saya to a date multiple times, but unfortunately they were the same scenario most of the time, though that’s because though affinity cap isn’t really that high either. Most anime games don’t offer too much depth in their combat system, and that should be expected, however, the combat system is this game is so bland that it makes the game not so fun to play. You only have two attacks, mapped to the square and tringle button as well as a special attack which is used by pressing L1 and Triangle. While the special attack is spammable as long as you go stamina, it’s blockable, though it can make battles pretty annoying. At least since each character wields different weapons, it somewhat offers different play styles for each character. Whether we’re gaming or working on a project, we know how imperative it is to save your progress. While I appreciate that the game auto-saves your progress, I feel that as a Visual Novel, it does it excessively.  There was times where I lost matches or made the wrong choices, so I wanted to revert to a previous point but realized it was too late. Naturally there’s always the option to quit the game before the game saves your progress but that still feels like too much of a hassle, even when the game doesn’t take much to load. Considering I somewhat enjoyed the series, I really wanted this game to be enjoyable as well since it looked enjoyable from first impressions. I wasn’t expecting for too much, but something I can turn to for some quick fun on the go and don’t have to invest too much time in. Even if for some reason you really enjoyed the series, it’s hard to recommend this game, even when it hits a sale. I wanted to enjoy this game but every aspect of it it’s really weak.  [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
A.W. Phoenix Festa photo
Bland Stories & Battles
In this gaming generation, especially with both the PS Vita and the 3DS, it’s pretty common for Bandai Namco to make a quick cashgrab of anime series currently airing in Japan. It happened to Kuroko’s Basketball, ...

Strong Style: Olympi- who?!?

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


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