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


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!

Japanator Unboxing: Loot Anime - Squadron

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

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

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

Strong Style: Aw crap, it's Bad Luck Fale

Jul 30 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Hiroshi Tanahashi. It's kinda weird here as he has his hair tied up, but at this angle, it looks like one of those little girl side tails like Bayley wears. IWGP Jr. Tag Titles: ReDragon vs. The Time Splitters These two teams have faced off a bunch of times in 4-way matches, but I don't think they've faced each other in a regular tag match (at least on this show). Dragon is representing ROH here. It's not so much of a feud, but there is history here as Kyle O'Reily and Kushida faced off in the finals of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament final. Time Splitters come out first. Alex Shelley is just coming off a foot injury here. They are starting to get nearer the end of the team as they aren't wearing the same gear and Shelley would start popping up in ROH pretty soon. O Reilly and Fish come out as the champs. The crowd is behind the Splitters, and some scramble early on with Kushida going for a low dive. They grapple around on the mat with some headlocks and wrist locks. They each get up and trade a kick but both miss. Kushida gets the headlock before shooting him into the ropes and going into a wristlock and then a tag to Shelly who comes off the top with a strike. on Kyle's arm. Fish runs in but Shelley just boots him in the gut before hitting him with a double body drop. Back to Kyle and Shelley as Shelley gets in some chops. Kyle sends him into the ropes where Fish clobbers him from the apron. Alex turns around and clobbers him. Fish stands up and sweeps out Shelley's leg from the floor and Kyle delivers a kick and pushes Alex to the floor where Fish sends him into the barrier. Sheeley is sent into the ring and Kyle holds him down and tags in Fish. Fish comes in and lands a shot to the gut. He gets a kick and then leaps to the apron and jumps back in with a senton. He lands another kick before tagging Kyle back into the ring. Kyle goes for the arm with a wristlock and an arm ringer. Alex counters with some punches but Kyle won't let go. Alex is finally able to break the hold with more punches. He goes to the ropes and gets the sunset flip but Kyle does some air punches to regain his balance and quickly gets the arm breaker in. Shelley immediately maneuvers into the ropes. Kyle tags in Fish and Fish lands a bunch of punches into the corner. He turns around to flip off Kushida and doesn't see Shelley nailing Kyle in the corner. When he turns around Alex nails him. Fish knees him in the gut but Shelley grabs hold and slams Fish face first in the turnbuckle. Shelley slowly crawls for the tag but Kyle runs in and catches him in an anklelock. Shelley gets up and nails Kyle with the enziguri and scoots on Kyle to get the tag. Kushida goes bananas and even scores a hand board elbow ala the Great Muta. He hits Kyle with a kick on the ropes and twirls out onto the apron. He scores kicks on both guys and then grabs each guy by the arm and snaps them off the top rope. He comes back in and Fish goes for a sunset flip but Kushida does his own air punches to regain balance and goes right for the hoverboard lock. Kyle comes in now and goes for the front chokehold. As these guys are holding on, Alex comes in the ring and pulls Kyle off and locks him into a move close to an octopus. As this is going on Kyle is using his free arm to smack Kushida across the face! Shelly changes his hold to an armbar-like move but Kyle rolls through and picks Shelley up and drives him down with a suplex. Kyle tries to go after Kushida, but Kushida lands some strikes  and kicks before dropping Kyle with his fastball punch. Kushida then turns his attention to Fish with a wristlock. Fish shoots him to the ropes where Kushida goes for the swinging headscissors. Kyle stops that but before he can do anything Kushida gets in the hoverboard lock. Kyle struggles but is able to strike Kushida and get out of the hold. We return from the break with both guys tagging out. Shelley and Kyle come in but Fish kinda lingers in the ring. Alex takes both of them out and sends Fish out of the ring. He goes for a dragon kick to O'Reily but Kyle catches him and gets a suplex in. Fish comes back in the ring and try for Chasing the dragon but Kushida pulls Fish out and Shelley counters Kyle's suplex. Both Splitters come in and  start teeing off on O'Reily now with elbow strikes. Shelley hits a sliced bread #2 off the ropes but doesn't score the pin. Shelley picks him up in an exploder suplex that is combined with Kushida kicking Kyle in the head. When Shelley goes for the pin Fish sneaks in and pushes Kushida out to break up the pinfall. The Splitters go to work on Fish hitting kicks and punches before hitting the Mutalock and a dropkick combo to send Fish to the outside. Kushida tries a dive on him but Fish moves out of the way. Kushida lands on his feet but Fish steamrolls him right into the barrier. O'Reily and Shelley are in the ring trading moves and doges to those moves before Kyle just runs him over with a clothesline. Kyle locks in an armlock and Fish hits the headbutt from the top but Shelley won't give up. Kushida scores with a moonsault to break the hold. Shelley rolls Kyle up but the pin is broken up. Fish comes in and lands a buckle bomb on Shelly. Kushida gets sent out of the ring and ReDragon double team the crap out of Shelley with suplexes and a version of the decapitator. The pin is only two seconds. They go for Chasing the dragon but Kushida rolls in to break that up. Kyle starts kicking the crap out of Kushida and he goes to the floor. Everyone just kinda collapses and rolls out to the same side of the floor as Dragon sets up Shelley for chasing the dragon on the floor. Kushida gets on the apron and breaks up the attempt with a running dive to Fish's face. Kyle then bulldozes Kushida into the barrier. Everyone lays on the floor before a count of 14 when O'Reily and Shelley roll into the ring. Shelley gets in some offence but Fish and Kushida come into the ring. Shelley goes out and dragon starts in on Kushida with three rolling double arm suplexes leading to the wheelbarrow suplex. Unfortunately, Kushida is not the legal guy. Shelley comes in but he is spent. Dragon double up on him hitting a DDT on him before hitting Chasing the dragon and scoring the win! After the match, the Splitters put the belts around Kyle and Bobby's waists as a sign of respect. Roppongi Vice come out and attack EVERYONE. "It turns out you don't need to be a member of the Bullet Club to be a douchebag in New Japan Pro Wrestling."- Josh Barnett. Vice then cuts a promo saying they will be the next champs. We get some words from Tanahashi in the studio. He says the title shot should not be that easy. He doesn't want to sit there for months while the champ has to defend the title. So he wanted to step up and defend the title as much if not more than the champ. He says Fale is always composed and it is like he has no weaknesses. I wouldn't go that far considering how many matches we've seen him lose. For the WrestleKingdom Title shot: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale: It has been a while so I'll explain this. Tanahashi won the G1 Climax tournament, seen here a few weeks ago. The winner of the tournament receives a shot against the IWGP champion at WrestleKingdom at the Tokyo Dome in January. Before then though Tanahashi has to defend the title shot he won in every singles match he wrestles. He loses, the title shot goes to the guy who beat him. Why anyone would think Fale deserves to main event New Japan's biggest show or even receive a title match is beyond me. Fale makes his entrance first. With his shades and hat, he looks less like an "underboss" and more like a guy who plays standing base at a jazz club. Of course, Tama Tonga is with him. Hiroshi comes out carrying the title briefcase. Wonder where New Japan got the idea  of using a briefcase for a title shot from? JR and Josh compare Tanahashi to John Cena. The show seems to be killing time by not editing the entrance at all and making JR and Josh kinda have to ramble a bit. Hiroshi hands the briefcase to the ref, who actually opens it and shows off the contract inside before putting it back and handing the case to the outside ring announcer. After a brief commercial, we come back as the bell rings. The crowd is behind Tanahashi of course. They lock up and Fale muscles him in the corner. Tanahashi reveres and Fale just pushes him off. Tanahashi gets in a headlock but Fale pulls the hair and Tanahashi breaks. JR butchers Tonga's name BTW. Tanahashi tries a knuckle lock  but Fale switches into a toe lock and then into a headlock. Again, both guys are back up and circle around. Tanahashi tries for a slam but doesn't get it. Fale tries to slam Tanahashi but Tanahashi gets a headscissor to get out and goes outside. Tanahashi scores some hits and gets Fale down to a knee but not for long. Tanahashi tries the bodyslam again but doesn't get it. Tanahashi gets sent to the apron where he gets some elbows, but Fale runs over him like a truck sending Tanahashi to the floor. Tama Tonga starts in with the kicks that leave Tanahashi laying on the apron. Fale comes over and gets the big splash on the apron! Fale comes out and sends him into the barrier twice. He starts getting mad at the ref for starting a count for some reason. Tanahashi gets in at 19 but Fale stands right on top of. Fale just stands there for a bit before he bends down only to get hit in the gut a few times. Fale counters with a bodyslam. He stands on Hiroshi's chest and then picks him up and sends him to the corner. Fale misses a charge and Tanahashi tries to slam him and Fale falls on him for a near fall. Fale gets up and starts in with a nerve hold on the neck. At least it's better than just standing there like he usually does. He then gets a sort of chinlock but by pulling the hair. He goes back to the nerve hold for a bit before he slams Tanahashi down again and goes for the splash but Tanahashi rolls out of the way. They stagger up and Tanahashi hits two flying forearms to get Fale down. He gets a senton on the big guy and goes for the slingblade but Fale shoots him over the rope. He skins the cat but gets attacked by Tonga, only to kick Tonga off. He rolls up and sends Fale over the top rope. Tanahashi then gets back in and goes for the top rope body splash on the big guy on the floor! Back from the break as Tanahashi rolls back into the ring. Fale lumbers up onto the apron. He steps in and Tanahashi gets a dragon screw leg whip. He then goes for the cloverleaf but Fale just muscles out of that. Fale gets the running splash in the corner and then hits the big splash but Tanahashi kicks out. Fale gets the chokehold but Tanahashi gets an uppercut and then goes for a sunset flip. Fale just drops on him but Tanahashi kicks out of the pin. Fale gets up and goes for the bad luck fall but Tanahashi squirms out and hits a massive punch to the face. Tanahashi gets some elbows in to stagger the big guy. Fale counters with the Vader strike. Tanahashi goes to the ropes, but Fale catches him with a Samoan drop. Tanahashi goes for the ropes again but Fale spears him in the worst spear I've seen. Fale picks him up and goes for the razor's edge, but Fale trips over himself and falls over. Not kidding. Tanahashi hits the slingblade but for only two. Tanahashi goes for the high fly flow, but Fale catches him and hits the grenade, but Tanahashi kicks out of the pin. Fale climbs up to the top but Tanahashi jumps up and hits a superplex! Tanahashi finally slams Fale down and gets the high fly flow to score the pinfall. Tanahashi speaks to the crowd challenging Naito  Naito takes his time strolling  out. he sits on the ramp as Tanahashi says Naito doesn't have a choice. fight him. Naito actually gets up and walks to the ring. He then turns right around and walks back up to the entrance. Hiroshi says he will defend the shot until he actually gets to the Tokyo dome. We get some words from Naito. He says the company is centered around Tanahashi. He accepts but doesn't trust NJPW to actually give him the shot when he wins. He wants a popularity poll after he wins to see who is the star. He then announces that he is going to unveil a Spanish speaking tag partner soon. Tanahashi says he wasn't expecting this attitude from Naito. In the studio, he talks about how he is kinda small for a heavyweight. He says big strong guys like Fale are essential in Japan. I tend to disagree. He then says he wanted to get on Naito's nerves. He says Naito is over 30 and hasn't been the champ yet so the pressure is on. Well, the first match was good anyway. Both teams really brought a great match to this show and it as exciting! The "main event" was a typical Fale match of him lumbering around aimlessly getting in a basic move and having someone beat him. Having a big monster like him doesn't work if everyone has already beaten him, some more than once. Like I said, he only get's matches like this to put over guys like Tanahashi or Nakamura and no one really expected him to win, Ao it was a decent show for the tag match only. Next week is THREE brand new shows. It's going to be a long night for me! See you then!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Epic Fale!
Hello again and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we got back to Kobe World Hall and our second look at the Destruction of Kobe event from September 27, 2015. Since...

First Impressions: Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Despair Arc

Jul 27 // Salvador GRodiles
With hope and despair being two things that go hand in hand, Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope Peak’s High School – Despair Arc’s first two episodes work well in making the audience feel relieved after witnessing the intense moments that happened earlier in the week. Hell, the whole thing played out like an over-the-top high school comedy series, as the Ultimate Housekeeper Chisa Yukizome goes out of her way to make sure that the main cast of Danganronpa 2 (except Hajime) uses their school time to create great memories. A majority of the great laughs came from the gang’s exaggerated and wacky personalities, a feature that made them very fun to follow during Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. With the animation being completely original, this lead to some a priceless segments throughout the series, such as Gundham the Ultimate Breeder appearing on top of a bunch of ruins while performing an incantation that might summon a powerful demon, or Nekomaru the Ultimate Team Manager’s deadly farts that are on par with One Punch Man’s Saitama’s punch. So far, it lives up to the game's comedic aspects that occur when no one is getting murdered. When you compare the effort put into the show's crazy scenes alongside Danganronpa 3 – Future Arc’s stuff, it’s possible that a majority of the manpower was placed into Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc; however, these differences are likely a matter of the latter starting off as a comedy than budget management, so there’s a chance that the folks at Lerche are making sure that both sagas have their own distinct style. Overall, this move benefits the series since the audience is getting their taste of hope and despair during the same week. Of course, the best moment from this format is going to be when the tones of the show's two arcs decide to trade places. Even though Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc made sure that Yukizome and the Danganronpa 2 gang’s best quirks were at their highest, the show still reminds us of the later events that’ll set the pieces for the first major tragedy to occur. The interesting part about it is getting to learn about Hajime’s predicament that made him decide to be part of the Ultimate Hope project. In Danganronpa 2 and the light novel known as Danganronpa Zero, I felt that the Hope’s Peak High School Board forced Hajime into this project against his own will. The idea that his desire to remain at Hope’s Peak played a role in being part of the experiment adds a new layer to his character. He saw this opportunity as a hope to overcome the despair of not being able to continue his studies as a reserve course student, yet this choice ruined his future (and the world’s state) until he found his new path at the end of Danganronpa 2. Seeing that the original mastermind is definitely plotting her actions from behind the scenes, the subtle elements of this segment act as the main aspect that goes against the show's current positive vibe. While we’re on the topic of things that’ll lead to absolute despair, the fact that Chiaki was an actual person is one of the most surprising things to come out of Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc. This opens up to a lot of questions in regards to the events in the present; however, there’s still a chance that she might not survive, so this possibility could be thrown out the window. I guess the important question is whether or not something happens to her that results in Yukizome's students becoming the original mastermind's loyal followers. Since both Danganronpa 3 Arcs have a few references to each other, Chiaki’s role as the Ultimate Gamer has the potential to lead to some juicy aspects if she’s a Remnant of Despair that’s still out there in the present. Either way, her inclusion in the series was a nice addition to the “Despair Arc’s” humor, as her passion for games brought everyone together in a fun way. However, once we get past the show's silly segments, I'm certain that her role is likely going to have a large impact on the story later on. Despite the original Danganronpa anime failing to do justice to its source material, Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc was able to overcome this burden and show its audience that it has the potential to become a worthy successor to the previous Danganronpa installments. Since the show’s “Future Arc” accomplished this as well, this proves that a studio that threw a foul ball in the past can step up their game when you have people who care about the series managing the project. If the gang can keep up this up this great record, then they’ll make their audience smile with their complete comic book that’ll present the last piece of evidence that's required to bring Danganronpa’s Hope’s Peak High School story to a triumphant close. In other words, the future is going to be a hopeful one after all. [Fall into despair with Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School – Despair Arc at FUNimation.]
Danganronpa 3 photo
This is not going to end well
Sometimes in life, the greatest things are those that occur out of an unexpected turn of events. These opportunities can give many people the chance to do things that they normally couldn’t do. In my case, Spike Chunsof...

Strong Style: More Destruction!

Jul 23 // Soul Tsukino
We start off the show with some words from Mr. Tranquilo himself, Tetsuya Naito IWGP Intercontinental Title: Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Right off the bat the Japanese producers of the show really screw around. This was actually THE main event of this show, it's event announced as such by the ring announcer. They put this match on first in what appears to be two weeks of coverage. Wonder if New Japan is bitter about Nakamura leaving?Anyway, this match is the fourth that these two have had. Goto has won the last two, where he won the belt and then successfully defended it. Bell rings and they stare each other down. Knuckle lock to start as they muscle each other back and forth. Nakamura gets the armlock but it is reversed. Nakamura rolls through it but Goto holds on. Nakamura tries to counter again but Goto brings him down. Nakamura gets the head scissors, Goto slips out, and they are back up.. Goto with a side headlock and they go into the ropes. Nakamura tries his face/belly rub thing and Goto nails him for it. I like Nakamura but always love it when someone nails him for that. They exchange some strikes before Goto runs over Nakamura with a shoulder block. Nakamura gets up but Goto runs over him with a clothesline to send him out of the ring. We are back after a commercial as Goto goes after the fallen Shinsuke on the floor. Goto lands a kick before picking Nakamura up and draping him on the barrier. He locks in a strangle hold on Nakamura around the barrier briefly before snapping Shinsuke's head back. He picks Nakamura up and tries to whip him into the barrier but Shinsuke reverses it. Nakamura sends him into the barrier again and then goes to try for a third time but Goto shoves him into the barrier.  Goto sends him into the barrier again and gets in the ring. Nakamura stumbles up to the apron and Goto reaches out to grab him and gets a knee to the head. Shinsuke jumps to the apron and nails a knee to Goto's head and then gets the drop guillotine kneedrop on the apron. We skip ahead as both guys are in the ring with Goto down in the corner. Nakamura tries for the running knee but Goto rolls out of the way. Goto charges in but he is met with an elbow. Nakamura scoops up Goto and lays him on the top turnbuckle. He gets a running knee to Goto's gut and catches Goto off the ropes to land a lung blower. Shinsuke lands a reverse powerslam and then goes for the booma ye, but Goto slides out of the way. Nakamura tries to throw a clothesline, but Goto blocks it before going into an armbreaker. Goto really cranks on the arm now and Shinsuke makes it to the ropes with his long legs. Goto up lands a kick right to the bad arm. He gets a wristlock on and snaps the arm down. He gets an Olympic slam on Nakamura but the count is only two. Goto lands a kick to the chest and then kicks him again in the arm! Goto goes for another but Nakamura kicks the back of the knee and lands a knee strike to the back of the head. We skip ahead again. Nakamura lands some kicks before a kick to the back of the head and a booma ye but doesn't get the pin. Nakamura sets him up on the top turnbuckle.  Nakamura tries to get Goto on his shoulders but Goto is fighting it. They start exchanging strikes back and forth before Goto hits a headbutt. Goto then goes over the top and hits a sunset flip slam from the buckle, but doesn't get the pin. Back from commercial with both guys are down and not moving. They pull each other up. Goto goes for the charge and Nakamura goes to the middle rope. He jumps right into Goto's arms and a ushigoroshi. Count only gets two. Goto picks Nakamura up on the ropes and goes up. He gets the avalanche ushigoroshi but Nakamura kicks out! He goes for a brainbuster but Nakamura counters with a knee. Goto drills a headbutt. Nakamura replies with strikes to the face. Goto nails another headbutt. He goes for a clothesline but Nakamura rolls with it and turns it into an armbreaker. Goto slips out and gets an armbreaker but Nakamura is holding on his grip to keep the hold from working. Goto replies with some leg strikes into the face. Nakamura tries to get out and rolls out and nails him with a shin strike to the face! Nakamura goes for the booma ye but Goto catches it. He tries to catch Nakamura but Shinsuke gives him a kick and then hits the booma ye for the pinfall. We have a new champion! Nakamura is presented with the belt as Goto is carried from the ring. Everyone looks to the entrance way as Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows come out. Anderson gets in the ring and tells Nakamura he beat both Nakamura and Goto in the G1 and he wants the IC belt. Nakamura takes the mic and accepts. Backstage Nakamura says the next dice has been cast, but he will be wearing the belt in the end. We come back with some studio words from Naito.  He is wanting to make up for losing to Shibata and Shibata saying he wanted to beat up the brat. We get footage of a six-man tag match not shown on this show of them antagonizing each other at the last show. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tetsuya Naito Since Naito's gone all tranquilo on everyone, I'm surprised he doesn't have a beef with the rest of the roster. You've heard the saying "he who hesitates is lost"? In this match, it just might be "He who hesitates in tranquilo gets choked the hell out". Naito comes out first taking his time. They cut the crap out of the last match, but we get this is full.  JR and Josh go on and on here. Shibata finally comes out in his usual way of no frill and no shits given to whether the other guy lives of dies. We come back from commercial. It has been more than 10 minutes since the last match ended, yup. Time management is a bit of an issue here. Shibata demands he get in the ring and fight and Naito takes time. As Naito is dicking around, Shibata runs right up and kicks him off the apron into the floor. He goes out to choke a bitch but Naito pops up and nails him with a kick to Shibata's head. Naito hits a club to the back of the head and tosses him into the barrier. Naito gets in the ring and lands a sliding dropkick to send Shibata down. He leaves the ring and unhooks the metal gate before tossing Shibata into ringside. Naito lands more hits before tossing Shibata in the ring and lands more kicks to the back. He gets Shibata in the corner and lands a bunch of punches and kicks. He tosses the ref aside and lands a running dropkick. He picks Shibata up and lands a neckbreaker. Shibata goes all murder, death, kill mode and pops right up. He tosses Naito into the corner striking him a few times. Naito gets up and drives Shibata in the corner and follows him in, landing on the apron. Shibata grabs Naito and puts a stranglehold on him in the ropes. He brings him inside in the corner where he facewashes Naito a few times before Naito rolls outside. Shibata follows him out and chucks him into the barrier. He then does this all the way around the ring before landing a kick right to Naito's face. He tosses Naito back in the ring and strikes with an elbow before tieing him up in an abdominal stretch. Shibata lets him out and then kicks him. Naito crawls to the corner where Shibata hits that awesome hanging dropkick. We come back from break with Shibata getting a suplex and a two count. Naito spits on Shibata and gets a bunch of forearm strikes to the head for that. Naito lands an enziguri and a suplex before Shibata runs him over with a clothesline. They fight up, striking each other with forearms. They start going to town on each other before Shibata gets an uppercut. He goes for the enziguri but misses, but he gets Naito in a submission lock anyway. He goes for the rear choke, but Naito gets to the ropes. Shibata kicks Naito right in the throat and then some short kicks as Naito is down. He locks Naito into the rear choke again but Naito grabs the ref and shoves him down in the corner. He throws his leg back and hits the low blow, breaking the hold. Naito sees the ref is still down and gets in another low blow before hitting Destino and scoring the pinfall. After the bell, Shibata rolls to the floor in pain. Naito starts attacking a young boy and chases away the ref before he leaves. He walks up the ramp and then starts attacking the camera guy before Shibata comes flying up the aisle. They chase each other backstage. Backstage Naito asks who the winner was.  He says he learned a tiny bit from Shibata as Shibata brought the fight, but he still won. Someone asks him about Tanahashi wanting to fight him with the title shot on the line. Naito says if he wants to fight, come challenge him. In the studio, Naito says that everyone should thank him for giving Shibata the chance to have a good match. Yeah, a bad editing job on the part of the Japanese producers. The main event is put on first and is cut nearly in half. That match actually went on for 36 minutes, but here they showed on 20. What was shown was good, though. The other match was also a good one and it's fun to watch Naito get his ass kicked now. Join us next week as Tanahashi puts his title shot on the line against... *sigh* Bad Luck Fale...damn. Please join us anyway.
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
This time it's Kobe's turn
Hello again and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we look at the top matches from the Destruction of Kobe show, taking place on September 27, 2015. This takes place four days after the matches we saw last week, and while last week's show was... meh, this week is sure to deliver with two big matches from the show. Let's get to the action!

Strong Style: never say NEVER!

Jul 16 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Togi Makabe wearing a stylish hat and a chain... like an actual dog chain. IWGP Tag titles: Bullet Club vs. TenKoji This match stems from an 8 man elimination match we didn't get to see. I believe Kojima eliminated Karl Anderson. Guess that equates to a title shot. Bell rings with Tenzan and Gallows. Stalemate on the lock up. Doc pushes him into the corner and Doc throws some body shots before hitting an uppercut. Tenzan isnt impressed and he comes out with a charge and they smack like two bulls. They go again for the shoulder and it's a stalemate. Gallows finally wins the battle with a shouldblock but as Doc picks him up, Tenzan nails a headbut to the gut and then lays in with some of his famous Mongolian chops. He gets Doc back in the coner and lays into him with more chops and a headbutt before getting him over in a suplex. Both guys get up and Tenzan goes for a charge but Gallows gets a boot to the face. Gallows then go for a charge but Tenzan nails him with a rolling kick. Tenzan goes for an awkward cover but transitions right into an anaconda vice and sinks it in. Karl Anderson has to jump in and save his partner. Tenzan gets up and headbutts Anderson right in the gut sending him out of the ring. He heads to the top rope but. Karl jumps up and grabs his leg letting Gallows kick him in the face. Tenzan falls to the mat with a splat. Gallows reaches over and gets the tag so Anderson is in legally now. he starts mocking him by hitting him with Mongolian chops. He bonces off the ropes only to get hit with a mountain bomb. Kojima gets tagged in as Karl gets up. Kojima gets him in the corner and goes for his rapid fire chops as Karl screams in pain. He whips Anderson into the opposite corner and nails him with a clothesline. He jmps up top and lands an elbow to Anderson, but it only gets 2. He tries for a leg lariat but misses. Karl and Koji go for a clothesline duel and Karl gets the better. Doc comes in and they go for the magic killer but Tenzan comes in and we have a fight! Gallows and Tenzan fight out of the ring while Anderson goes for the gun stun. Kojima counters it and goes for his Kojicutter but Anderson counters. Tenzan comes back in and they land the TenKoji cutter but Doc comes back in to break up.  He  is set up for the TenKoji cutter but nails Kojima with a booth and then hits his old 12 steps finisher on Tenzan. He goes after Kojima but a solid clothesline drops Gallows to the mat. Kojima gets a brainbuster on Karl but Karl kicks out the pin. Kojima lines him up for a big clothesline, but Anderson kicks the arm to coubnter. Kojima spins around and nails him with the other arm! He ges for another clothesline but Anderson catches him and gets the gun stun. Tenzan comes in and he gets dropped as well. Gallows enters and they ht the magic killer on kojima to get the three count and retain the belts. Backstage they brag about beating Tenkoji. Doc Gallows mentions that the only things they like are fighting and screwing. Even Anderson looks at him funny after that. Dude, you have a wife! IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kushida vs. "The Cleaner" Kenny Omega There is history here. Kushida and Omega have traded the title back and forth, with many of those matches being covered on this show. It also is a sign that the Jr.s division in New Japan is a little thin. Besides these two you had Tageuchi who isn't taken very seriously, Vets like Tiger Mask and Liger, Jr.'s Tag wrestlers like the Bucks, Roppongi Vice, and RedDRagon, or guys brought in from ROH. Omega comes out first and you automatically know something is up because the Bullet Club is with him. Meanwhile a bunch of the Jr heavyweights come out to support Kushida. Matt Sydel is sitting at the commentary table because he gets the next shot evidently. Bell rings and Omega goes for a handshake. and surprisingly it's a clean one! Kushida gets a waistlock that goes into an armbar. They go down for a headlock that turns into a riding session on The Cleaner. Back into the headlock They go the ropes and break clean. Lock up again into a headlock. Shoot off to the ropes where Kushida gets some good leapfrogs before catching Omega in armdrags into an armbar. They get up and Omega grabs the hair and pulls Kushida back into the ropes, only to break and offer another headshake. Kushida goes for it again and Omega spits on him! He gets fired up and starts wailing away on Omega with punches. Bad idea Kenny on that one. Kushida fire of a back hand spring elbow that sends Omega outside the ring. Kushida goes for a dive but Kenny moves and Kushida flips onto the apron. He goes for a diving headscissors but Omega catches him. Kushida tries to escape but oega gets him into a fireman's carry and dropps him in a roll before spiring up onto the barrier where Doc Gallows hands him a trash can and he does the backflip onto Ksuhida with the trashcan. Right in front of the referee. Gallows somehow gets a hold of Alex Shelley and Kushida both but Omega comes over the rope in a cannonball. The Time Splitters both move and Gallows takes the shot. As Omega crawls into the ring, Kushida hits his running dropkick. Kushida hits the moonsault and goes right into the hoverboard lock. Omega squirms and screams but won't quit. Kushida switches to the armbar but Kenny keeps his hands locked together. Kushida really tries to crank back, but Kenny rolls right through it and back up to a standing position where he nails a doctor bomb for a two count. Gallows and Alex Shelly get involved and Kushida gets an armlock but goes for a rebound and Omega lands a hard knee to the face. He goes for one winged angel but Kushida squirms out. Kushida tries for the hoverboard lock but Karl Anderson jumps in and nails the gun stun. Omega hits the one winged angel and wins back the title! Omega grabs the mic and says he is going to clean Sydel up. Backstage Kushida says that Omega should be ashamed of himself. Togi in the studio now. He views this as a bit of a revenge match, since when they met in the G1, he was feeling beat up. He thinks Kota is soft on the outside but is very stoic in his matches. He didn't have respect for Ibushi coming from DDT, but only after did he fight him did he have any respect for him. NEVER Openweight Title: Togi Makabe vs. Kota Ibushi This match stems from the G1 tournament when Ibushi scored a win over Makabe in a match best described as a "clash of styles". Togi was carrying an injury at that time (big surprise) let's see if he has healed any and can put on a better effort. Kota comes out first. Togi comes out looking like he is going to kill a bitch. We get a shot of Kota's face, and he looks about to piss himself. "Togi Makabe looks like someone set his face on fire and tried to put it out with a rake."- JR. We come back from break as the bell rings. Kota starts throwing punches! Togi shuts that down. He starts throwing elbows but Kota comes back with a dropkick and karate kicks. Togi catches one but Kota just jumps on him and throwing punches. They go outside where Togi tosses him into the barrier a few times before Togi gets back in the ring.  Kota rolls back in and Togi starts right in bashing him on the head. He drags Kota into the corner and slugs Ibushi more and more in the body and on the head. Kota tries to come back with some weak chops but Togi drops him again. Togi gets a snapmare into a chinlock but Kota gets to the ropes after a struggle. Togi gets a suplex but a pinfall only gets two. Togi gets in a half boston crab, a move I've not seen him use to often. Ibushi gets the break by again getting to the ropes. Kota isn't getting up as Togi poses a bit. Straight shot to the face, and another one. He tries to whip Kota in the ropes but Kota holds the rope. Kota throws a sweet kick and knocks Togi down. Makabe struggles back up and they start trading elbows. Togi tries for a charge but runs into a kick in the gut. Kota goes for the pin but doesn't get it. Kota tries for something but Togi gets a sweet powerslam. He picks Ibushi up and gets his powerbomb. Makabe doesn't go for the pin though as he picks Kota up! He lands a clothesline in the corner. He goes up the ropes to pound on Kota, but Kota slides out and hits the bicycle kick. Kota goes up and nails Togi a few times before hitting a frankensteiner from the top turnbuckle. Both guys struggle up. Togi goes for a waistlock but doesn't get anywhere. Togi throws a clothesline but Kota ducks it. They nail each other with clotheslines and flatten each other to the mat. We are back from the break. Togi is outside the ring and Kota goes after him. Kota goes to the barrier again and then AGAIN. Maybe outside the ring is not a good place for you Kota. Togi goes outside the barrier and grabs a TABLE. Those damn Japanese tables! He tries a powerbomb but Ibushi flips out of it and nails a kick to the head. Kota leaps up and gets a hurencanrana and sends Togi down. Kota sets up the table and puts Togi on it He heads up top and hits a DOUBLE STOMP on Togi's gut! Table doesn't break. Both guys and crawling back in the ring and Togi gets in at 18. Kota hits some palm strikes and then a stiff kick to the neck. Kota hits a powerbomb but only gets 2. Kota keeps going for the turnbuckle but Togi grabs the legs. Kota goes to the top buckle but Togi hits him. Togi goes for the spider suplex but Ibushi blocks it. Togi bashes Kota's head on the buckle a few times and goes for it, but Kota slips right over. He grabs Togi in a waistlock and gets a suplex, but pin only gets two. Kota climbs up and goes for a phoenix splash but misses! Togi tries for a pin but only gets two. Kota gets up and throws some elbows but Togi tells him to bring it. Togi gets up from a few hits but Kota hits the clothesline. They have a stand off now as they trade clotheslines before just throwing rapid fists at each other. They trade chops to the chest before Togi runs him over with a lariat. Togi goes for the pin but only gets two. Togi throws him into the corner and hits a clothesline to the back of the head. He sets him up for the spider suplex Kota blocks it a few times before Togi hits the full nelseon suplex right on Kota's head before hitting the king kong kneedrop and scoring the win to retain his title. As he celebrates Tomohiro Ishii comes it to the ring and have a staredown. Ishii leaves the ring and Togi gets the mic. He accepts the challenge. Backstage Ishii says he has never won against Togi and he wants to change that. Togi says that Ishii has excellent skills but he will win. Studio words have Togi saying that Kota is a talented wrestler and despite the weight difference, He used the full nelson suplex because after all that happened, he had to. The NEVER title guys don't doge and that is why it is so popular. I'll be honest, not one of the best shows. The Tag Title match was decent for what it was. I can't fault it. The Jr. match was good until you saw the Bullet club running interference and the ref just magically disapear. Omega can do better than this. The Main event was the exact same train wreck of styles that the first match was, but instead Togi more or less steamrolled over Ibushi. Togi works better with guys like Ishii, Tenzan, and Shibata. If you want an awesome exampls of what Kota can do, look up his match this passed week again Sean Maluta from the Cruiserweight Classic. But here, this show is a pass. See you next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Two belts on the line
Hello again! After a break last week, welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV.  With the G1 Climax Tournament finished and Tanahashi standing tall with the trophy and the Title...

Final Impressions: Space Patrol Luluco

Jul 14 // Salvador GRodiles
Perhaps the thing that made the show’s seasonal format work was Luluco’s development as a person who’s in love for the first time, as it remained a recurring thing in each episode. Hell, the payoff from this lead to a ridiculously satisfying final battle that’s on par with Imaishi’s other works, such as Gurren Lagann and KILL la KILL. Honestly, it’s impressive that the team were able to capture this sort of magic in a seven-minute episode. As random and unexpected as Luluco was, the whole thing gave off a feeling that its format was intentional from the very beginning. If there was one thing that would lead to this show being similar to FLCL, it’s that both shows found a way to link these elements together; thus creating a glorious build up when the viewers reach the end of the tunnel. Considering that love can cause many people to feel strange early on, the high-octane moments were likely used to convey the unpredictable nature of the obstacles that can obstruct the feeling of romance. Aside from the show being a ridiculous love story hiding under a whacky space police show, Luluco’s other strengths was in how the main character’s heart flourished throughout the series. Luluco’s brief moments with Nova represented the nourishing phase of her romance and the show’s final seasons showed us her resolve to stick with her true feelings— even if it would drive her to tears. Considering that the program accomplished a ton of things during its short timeframe, it’s impressive that the TRIGGER veterans were able to throw the audience into an emotional state towards the end. While Luluco was placed in an unfortunate scenario against the Blackholian’s leader, her will to face her last opponent on while dealing with her inevitable loss made way for a great moment that gave off a feeling that was similar Simon’s resolve in Gurren Lagann’s final battle. This showed that Imaishi is capable of working well with a series that's made up of shorts, which makes me hope that he can take advantage of this format in any future TRIGGER projects where he wants to go all out. Compare to most of the previous TRIGGER shorts, it was a nice treat to see that the show features the most animation out their previous smaller titles. Other than the crazy perspectives and angles featured in the show’s actions scenes, the idea of having Luluco crossover with the other original TRIGGER projects was an idea that complemented the series’ overall style since it allowed for the gang to attempt to throw our main heroine off her game, such as the priceless scene when Sucy thought that her poison mushrooms would end Luluco's life. One great payoff from this direction was how the show ended up making way for the origin story of the company’s mascot; thus making Luluco the series that links all of the studio’s works together. Going back to TRIGGER’s gutsy move of ending the show during the beginning of its fifth season, the wonderful thing about this action is that they gave us a bit of hope to go off of towards the end. Not only do we get a moment that’s likely a reference to the Super Sentai franchise’s Red Ranger hand-off scenes, we’re given a beacon of hope that might lead to Luluco earning her true happy ending. It’s the combination of these two feelings that leave us really satisfied with the way how Space Patrol Luluco turned out. Of course, the idea of seeing the supporting cast doing better showed that their decision to support Luluco rewarded everyone nicely. I may have been a bit concerned about the length of Luluco’s episodes in the beginning, but Imaishi and the gang showed me their true colors of justice, as they used their short timeframe to give us one hell of a love story that was filled with tons of unexpected moments. Each scene made showed that the team was having a blast as they likely threw logic out of the window while they placed their heart and soul into the piece. If TRIGGER’s veterans continue to maintain this amazing routine like they did with Luluco, then there’s a chance that the Little Witch Academia TV series will end up making Trigger-chan proud. [Give Space Patrol Luluco a big high five at Crunchyroll]
Space Patrol Luluco photo
Love is Justice!
Not many shows have the guts to end during the beginning of a new season. One possible reason is that it would confuse the masses if the title were to end after making a comeback. Despite this move being very risky, this is w...

JapanaTour: A boat ride around Tokyo Bay

Jul 08 // Lindo Korchi
Anyways, let's continue on:   If you're exploring Asakusa (when you're exploring Asakusa, I should say), you'll notice a ship-like torpedo, equipped with panoramic windows, maneuvering along Sumida River -- it is called a water bus. And if you're not familiar with the river, it's the one that separates Sensoji temple and Tokyo Skytree from one another. Keep that in mind.     You can take the water bus from Asakusa to Ryogoku (which is famous for its sumo stadium and chanko restaurants) or from Asakusa to Odaiba (the man-made island in Tokyo; also the headquarters for Fuji TV & the home to Tokyo Big Sight). Prices vary, but an average range is between 300 JPY to 1,600 JPY.   One of the highlights regarding the boat rides is that you have options. While the Asakusa to Odaiba route is quite popular, you can further explore the bay, along with other areas in Japan, by going to different piers. A few include Tsukiji, Yokohama, Harumi, Aomi, Toyosu, Ariake, and furthermore.   Another option worth exploring is by taking a ferry that crosses the Tokyo Bay Aqua-line bridge between Kawasaki and Kisarazu – or simply put, two different cities in entirely separate prefectures. The Tokyo-Wan Ferry crosses the bay between Kurihama (in Kanagawa) and Kanaya (in Chiba). I know, a lot of Japanese cities that you may have never heard of – but that's the point, look at how much you can explore. You'll have a chance to explore Japanese cities that most travelers don't venture out to, so keep that in mind.     If you're interested in experiencing the city of Tokyo in a unique way, while also taking in the scenery without the intrusion of cars, pedestrians, bikes, or buildings in your path, then this is something you may want to consider. If you’re into film and have a go-pro or similar recording device, you can create a time-lapse video of Tokyo by Boat. And that's a memory you won't forget. Of course, be sure to bring in an extra battery pack and memory card if you intend to do such.   If you've explored Tokyo by Boat, what stood out to you most and would you recommend it to others? [Image credits courtesy MyTokyoGuide, Japan Times, Andrusm]
JapanaTour photo
An Extra Adventure
As your plane arrives at Narita airport, your heart begins to race; after all, you'll be walking the streets of Tokyo, hanging out in Shibuya, and getting lost in the labyrinth known as Shinjuku station. However, there's some...

Japanator's Summer 2016 Anime Preview Guide!

Jul 04 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]35116:5717:0[/embed] Berserk Studio: Gemba, Millepensee (Teekyuu, Wake Up, Girls!) Broadcast Date:  July 1, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) An easy candidate for the most effin' metal anime of all time, Berserk has been adapted quite often. The new twist for this latest, TV series-sized attempt is that this will be the first time an animated adaptation has gone beyond the "Golden Age" arc. In all honesty, I couldn't tell you what all that actually means, as I've never seen or read Berserk. Does admitting that mean I have to hand in my otaku membership card? That dude sure does have a big sword, though. The series is airing now, and...well, there'll be more to say about it in our impressions.   [embed]35116:5718:0[/embed] Mob Psycho 100 Studio: BONES (My Hero Academia, Bungo Stray Dogs) Broadcast Date: July 12, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) "From the guy that writes One Punch Man" is probably one of the more effective marketing lines you could ask for these days, but in truth, Mob Psycho 100 seems to be a rather different beast than the saga of Saitama. Shigeo Kageyama (nicknamed "Mob" after the Japanese term for movie extras) is a completely unremarkable high school student, bar the fact that he's got prodigious psychic superpowers. Having superpowers can be a real hassle, though, so he keeps his emotions suppressed to force them into check.  Unfortunately, life usually happens in opposition to well-meaning plans, and things quickly threaten to produce emotional reaction in Mob, leading to the "100" in the title. For when his pent-up feelings reach the breaking point, bad stuff's going to happen. Between the sound of things and the deliberately laid-back aesthetic, Mob Psycho 100 seems to be aiming more a more psychological take on superpowers and action show tropes rather than the "sardonic-but-badass" angle One Punch Man typically explores. I'll be giving Mob Psycho 100 a look once it airs.   [embed]35116:5719:0[/embed] Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak Academy (Side: Future and Side: Despair) Studio: Lerche (School Live!, Monster Musume) Broadcast Date: July 11, 2016 (Future) and July 14, 2016 (Despair) Rejoice, players of Danganronpa, your questions will be answered! Danganronpa 3 arrives not in the form of a game (though an actual new Danganronpa title is in development), but as two simultaneously-broadcast anime series. The first, Side: Future, effectively acts as coda of sorts for Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, recounting the adventures of star Makoto Naegi and his fellow Hope's Peak survivors as they form the Future Foundation, and framed as a trial for Makoto himself in the wake of the events of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.  Side: Despair, on the other hand, promises the secret history of the cast members of Danganronpa 2, and what happened to them before they were thrown into the game. The reason this matters functions as a major spoiler, and both shows seem to presume a familiarity with the games. Both I and fellow Japanator editor Salvador G-Rodiles are big fans of the games. I'll be checking out Future once it hits, and Sal will look at Despair. If you want to catch up, both games are available on PS Vita and on Steam.   [embed]35116:5721:0[/embed] Orange Studio: Telecom Animation Film (Moyashimon, Phantasy Star Online 2) Broadcast Date: July 4, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Time loop anime seem to be the new "superpowered highschoolers" anime in terms of trendiness right now, and Orange is exactly one of those. Like the leads of Steins;Gate, Re:Zero, and Erased, Naho Takamiya is given the chance to change her future, thanks to a letter written by herself, ten years from now, and sent to herself in the present. And it seems like many of future-Naho's regrets are tied to transfer student and love interest Kakeru Naruse. It's cool to see the sci-fi twists usually used on mystery and suspense fantasies applied to the more romantic stylings of shojou manga, and Orange seems to have a strong reputation in that crowd. I'm hoping to see a bit more of the show's high-concept sci-fi twist manifest itself among the feels and personal relationships. [embed]35116:5723:0[/embed] 91 Days Studio: Shuka (Durarara!! x2) Broadcast Date: July 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Who would've thought that a studio whose staffers helped make shows like Durarara!! and Baccano! would go on to make a new show about the weird underground in a bustling, thriving city? I'm being facetious, but there's definitely merit in sticking with what you know. Following the latest seasons of Durarara!! x2, Shuka take on a setting that's new...-ish: Prohibition-era America. In the fictional city of Lorel, a young orphan named Avilo joins up with the local mafia outfit. The twist is that Avilo lost his family years prior in an attack by the same crime ring, so the newly made man is in it for revenge.  With the screenwriter of Joker Game, last season's bit of period fiction, and plenty of experience making multifaceted plots and juggling an ensemble cast, 91 Days looks like it might be a gritty winner.   [embed]35116:5724:0[/embed] ReLife Studio: TMS Entertainment (Actually, I Am..., Zetman) Broadcast Date: July 1, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Ever wish you could go back in time and get a redo for your childhood mistakes? Perhaps relive your high school life knowing what you know now as a weathered adult? Lots of anime shows sure seem to think that's what we're after, but not all are as bald-faced about it as ReLife, where Arata Kaizaki, a beaten-down twenty-something stuck in a career and lifestyle rut gets the opportunity to take a magic pill that ages him down to a fresh-faced seventeen-year-old, to repeat a year of high school and refresh his life. It's a tempting premise mainly for the fact that Arata seems like a relatable sort of lead (at least in the mind of this beaten-down thirty-something), and some of the other twists appear to plant the seed for drama to come. I'm just hoping they don't mine the slightly creepy "adult man hanging out with underage kids" angle too hard.   [embed]35116:5727:0[/embed] Taboo Tattoo Studio: J.C. Staff (Selector Infected Wixoss, Flying Witch) Broadcast Date: July 5, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Taboo Tattoo is about Japanese high school students who have special powers and a penchant for getting into fights with each other.  I am, of course, being hideously reductive, but suffice it to say that it's definitely one of those types of shows (the tattoo motif is particularly reminiscent of last season's Big Order), and while it seems unlikely to change peoples' minds, judgment will have to wait until we see more of it in action. For what it's worth, I'm digging the seeming emphasis on martial arts as opposed to "my power is a gnarly weapon". This might make for some cool action sequences.  There's also the backdrop, which casts the Tattoo powers themselves as developments in an ongoing arms race between America and the fictional nation of Selinistan. This might make for a good world-building opportunity to background the rest of the action, so there's hope for this one, at least.   [embed]35116:5729:0[/embed] Alderamin On The Sky  Studio: Madhouse (One Punch Man, My Love STORY!!) Broadcast Date: July 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) "Alderamin" sounds like the name of a sleeping pill, which makes sense, because the premise sounds like it could be something of a snoozer. Two nations, Katjvarna and Kioka, whose names sound like the noises you make when you're on Alderamin, are at war, and Ikuta, a lackadaisical and passive young recruit who joined the army with no interest in becoming an officer, has become Katjvarna's greatest military commander after a mere few years. The show purports to tell the story of how he got there. That sounds like it could be interesting, and given Madhouse's pedigree, there may be some potential in the visuals and war setting, but otherwise it sounds less like a historical chronicle than another hagiography in the manner of Mahouka. At the very least, I'm hoping this turns out less like that and more like Lord Marksman and Vanadis, a show that was at least enjoyable for its cast, if not for its tedious core principles.    [embed]35116:5730:0[/embed] Qualidea Code Studio: A-1 Pictures (Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, Asterisk War) Broadcast Date: July 9, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) What happens when you lock the authors of light novel sensations Henneko, Date A Live, and My Teen RomCom SNAFU to hash out a multimedia anime project? This thing, apparently, which frankly reads like it could've come from any single one of them. Get this: High-school age kids have superpowers and are now using them to defend the Earth from an unknown threat. Actually, the threat is aliens, which are literally called "UNKNOWN".  Great.    [embed]35116:5728:0[/embed] Sweetness and Lightning Studio: TMS Entertainment (Yowapeda, Bakuon!!) Broadcast Date: July 4, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) If you've been jonesing for another does of anime parenting to gush over, this season's successor to the likes of Bunny Drop, Barakamon, and the Yotsuba&! anime you'll never ever get looks to be Sweetness and Lightning.  That said, the show does seem to distinguish itself in that the father-daughter relationship here is a literal father-daughter one. No weird non-blood connections to pander to incest fetishists with (Lookin' at you, ending of Bunny Drop!).  It even starts off on a tearjerker, with the father, Kouhei, being recently widowed and struggling to raise his adorable kid Tsumugi without any domestic skills. Enter one of his students, Kotori, who's from a broken home and is looking for companionship, to teach her teacher in the art of domesticity. Sounds heartwarming enough to me, though given the dynamics at work there's some risk of Sweetness and Lightning dodging the incest trap and instead falling into the pothole of winter-spring romance.    [embed]35116:5731:0[/embed] Rewrite Studio: 8bit (The Fruit of Grisaia, Infinite Stratos) Broadcast Date: July 2, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) If you had the power to "rewrite" yourself, i.e. change your own story to suit your needs or whims (think "Editing your character sheet in D&D to give yourself all the best stats"), what would you do? The answer, if Rewrite has its way, is "have adventures and romance with saucer-eyed waifs and amnesiacs".  Indeed, 8bit and the team behind The Fruit of Grisaia are tackling the biggest Key visual novel adaptation since Little Busters!. I've never been a big fan of Key or Jun Maeda, but Rewrite sounds like it might be a different sort of beast, seeing as it was written not by Maeda but by Romeo Tanaka, writer of the superb Humanity Has Declined. I'm not sure if that will be enough to hook me into watching it, but it should be a bit different from the usual Key fodder.   [embed]35116:5732:0[/embed] The Morose Mononokean Studio: Pierrot (Naruto, Level E) Broadcast Date: July 3, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) You know what's big in Japan right now? Yokai. The diverse creatures of Japanese folklore have gone mainstream with the likes of Yo-kai Watch and other vehicles, and it's well deserved. I'm of the opinion that having culturally rooted monsters makes for more interesting design and interpretation that trying to come up with new designs from scratch (see how weird Pokemon have been looking lately). But this isn't a Yo-kai Watch preview though, it's one for The Morose Mononokean, which aims to take a daily-life angle on the godly and supernatural shenanigans covered by the likes of Hozuki no Reitetsu and Noragami. The titular Mononokean is a tea room that serves as the headquarters for an exorcist and the high schooler he takes under his wing. As it's based on a webcomic, I doubt we're looking at the next Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun or something similarly good, but it'll have done its job if it manages to entertain and educate about Japan's supernatural bestiary.   [embed]35116:5733:0[/embed] Amanchu! Studio: J.C. Staff (Shana, A Certain Magical Index) Broadcast Date: July 8, 2016 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) Few anime are better known for being utterly chill than Aria. Set in space-Venice, the show followed the peaceful, if uneventful lives of a troupe of cute girl gondoliers. Now the same team and author are bringing things a little closer to home, by setting Amanchu! in the Tokyo of the present day, as a bunch of cute schoolgirls get really into diving underwater. It's basically ABZU, but with more cute girls and anime.   [embed]35116:5734:0[/embed] NEW GAME! Studio: Doga Kobo  (Plastic Memories, Himouto! Umaru-chan!) Broadcast Date: July 4, 2016 As someone who occasionally writes for Destructoid, I generally know more about game development than I do about anime production. Sadly, I can't say that the previews for NEW GAME! which sounds on paper like Shirobako-but-for-video-games seem all that accurate. But there's still hope, as Shirobako was far cuter and more positive than real-life anime production. Then again, NEW GAME! is aggressive about being cute in a way that I worry might undermine its potential to "tell it like it is". After all, Shirobako was cute and positive, but it also hinged on the kinds of personal relationships and procedural detail that made it so fascinating to watch. Is the crew that gave us Plastic Memories up to that? If they are, we could be sitting on this year's anime of the year. If not...well, it might at least be cute. Sequels, Shorts, and Other Notable Releases: My unfair bias against sports anime and male idol shows continues as I entirely forgot shows like B-Project and Tsukiuta exist. DAYS promises to bring an exotic sport called "Football" to the anime stage, while Battery debuts a sport that must surely be some fictional thing: Baseball. Cheer Danshi! follows around a group of male cheerleaders, which might be unusual had my own high school and university not had their own all-male cheer squads (Blue Eagles the king!). Also, Ouendan exists, so I'm good on that front. On the sequel front, the hilarious but ignored Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! gets a sequel, and signifies it by calling the second season Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE LOVE!. The Seven Deadly Sins is also getting a new season, but may end up ignored if the streaming services lock it down until it's done like last time. After disappointing countless fans looking for the latest from the Code Geass guy, Active Raid shambles into a second offering of frustrating bureaucracy and nonsensical characterization. Barakamon, one of the more adult shows of its season, turns the clock back with a prequel, called Handa-kun. I honestly don't see the point of it, since the whole appeal of Barakamon was in its adult focus, but hey, it's anime after 2008, so high school must somehow be involved, or something. Either that or a raging war between two fictional countries and/or alien invaders. Food Wars, the one Shonen Jump titan you just can't dodge these days, is getting a sequel, and Nick Valdez will be leading the coverage of that. Love Live! hits the reboot button by introducing a gaggle of samefaced girls for Love Live! Sunshine!. Show By Rock! continues in its mission of making catgirls the default for idolatry. Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars is this season's original mecha production, and the fact that I'm giving it the afterthought space speaks to how aggressively generic it is. After duds like Argevollen and others, I'm wondering just what it would take to make non-franchise mecha shows as compelling as they used to be. At least Macross Delta is still running, which would give me the chance to write it up for once. While shows like Taboo Tattoo and Qualidea Code seem constructed to marvel at about how awesome things would be if we had superpowers, Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan puts it down for the "mo' powers, mo' problems". Philosophy. The titular character's prodigious abilities are making his daily life miserable, and the director of Cromartie High School is on hand to show everyone just how miserable things can get. I'm definitely down for that. Interestingly, only one overt "boobs anime" made the cut this summer: Masou Gakuen HxH, which doesn't beat around the bush. Its hero literally powers up the fighting girls by getting in close with their chesticles. I imagine a few Hunter x Hunter fans are feeling a bit insulted that this puerile hilarity has taken their beloved acronym while their joy goes on hiatus again. The one sequel I'm angling to watch this season, though, is The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Duststorm Dance. After finally catching up with the show, I already regret not having seen it from the beginning. The animation may have been blah and the quality uneven, but it's as worthy a successor to Legend of the Galactic Heroes as I've found in the last few years. And now this part of the show promises to go to some places of actual consequence. That should do it for our Summer preview. What are you angling to see this season?
Summer 2016 Anime Preview photo
Some like it hot
A happy Monday to you, and a happy July 4th to all our American readers! What better way is there to celebrate American independence than by staying home and watching a buttload of Japanese cartoons? Welcome to Japanator's Su...

Strong Style: Wrapping up with the G1's Climax

Jul 02 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted in the first hour by the time splitter himself, Kushida IWGP Jr. heavyweight Tag Titles: The Young Bucks vs. ReDRagon These teams have faced off millions of times and usually make for fast paced action. The Bucks are part of the Bullet Club and defending champions while RedDragon is representing Ring of Honor. O'Riely and Fish come out first. Interesting fact I learned, Bobby Fish is actually 10 years older than Kyle O'Riely. Seriously doesn't look it, but Fish is around 40. The Champs, the Bucks come out with Cody Hall, whose soul existence seem to be as a lacky and being Scott Hall's son. Bell rings with Fish and Nick Jackson in the ring. Criss-cross as Fish goes for an ankle lock and Jackson nearly gets a superkick in. Jackson spits right in Fish's face and then bails and tags his brother. Kyle gets the tag in now. They criss-cross and Kyle ends up in the armlock that Jackson tries to turn into a pin. They get up again and Kyle locks in the guillotine choke early. Jackson throws him off and goes for a superkick, but Kyle catches the foot and goes down with it, locking in a scorpion deathlock!  Nick crawls over to the ropes and Kyle looks to the ref like "I got this." Fish drags him over to the corner where he drives in a headbutt into Matt's side before tagging in Fish.  Fish sinks in a knee and a slam before hitting a springboard senton on Matt.  Fish tags kyle back in and he lands some strikes before Matt whips him into the ropes and Kyle gets a shot from Nick on the apron. This brings in both Jacksons and they send Kyle into the ropes but he blocks both charges before he gets sent into the corner and sends both Jacksons to the apron. Fish comes in and also goes over the top but he takes out on of the Jacksons on the floor. Matt avoids a kick on the apron only to have an armlock put on him from Kyle in the ropes. The ref breaks that up only to get a kick from the outside that sends Matt right down on his face. ReDRagon comes into the ring and do the Bucks goofy pose. Nick tries to come in the ring but trips the middle rope and flops on his face. Dragon both start laying in the kicks on Matt as they double kick him before going for a cover but getting only a one-count. Fish takes over and lands a few elbow strikes to the face and a kick to the ribs. He goes for the ropes but Nick grabs his legs and pulls him outside the ring. Nick catches him in a standing head scissor and Nick comes across the ring onto the apron where he lands a punt to the face on Fish. Nick jumps back up to the apron and Kyle kicks him off. He gets on the apron in a running strike to the Bucks, but is meat with a double Superkick and laid out. They scoop him up on the across and hit him with a hanging press on the floor. Matt jumps in and pulls the ref over while Cody scoops up Kyle and then RUNS AWAY WITH HIM! Even JR is baffled by that one! We come back from the commercial with the Bucks stomping on Fish in the ring. Cody Hall comes back down the aisle alone. Fish tries to fight back. He dodges two superkicks as he trips Matt and locks Nick in an ankle lock but gets kicked in the head for his troubles. Bucks get a neckbreaker on Fish over Matt's knee, but a count only gets two. Fish fights back with elbows and a running strike. He goes for a tag, but no Kyle. Matt hits a knee strike on him and goes for the pin but doesn't get it. Fish keeps fighting back by sending the Bucks to opposite corners and Matt comes running across and ends up knees in his brother's face. Kyle comes flying down to the ring from the other side of the building. He immediately tags in and a goes to town on Matt with knees and strikes before being stopped by a thumb to the eye. Kyle doesn't care as he locks in an armbar and then an ankle lock on one of the Bucks. ReDRagon double team on Matt but a pinfall only gets two. Matt lands a slingshot facebuster on Fish in the ring and bails out with a moonsault on Kyle outside the ring. They double team on Fish in the ring but still can't get the pin. Back from the break, Matt tries for a roll but Kyle gets a choke hold. Matt hits a dragon suplex but hangs on to the choke. Outside the ring as Nick tries to throw powder but Fish kicks it in his face. Dragon double teams on Matt in the ring but can't get the pin. Fish and Nick exchange some hard elbows and strikes. Kyle gets in and gets and armlock but Nick is blocking it until Fish dives on him to complete the move. Fish and Matt have an exchange in the ring and the ref gets shoved out of the ring and immediately Matt gets a low blow. Nick tosses the belt in the ring and Matt smacks Fish in the head with it, but even with that, he can't get the pin. The Bucks land the Meltzer driver slingshot tombstone but Fish still kicks out. He gets up and gets to the ropes where Cody jumps up and grabs him, but the Jacksons throw double superkicks only to hit Cody and knock him to the floor. Fish rolls out of the ring and the Bucks set him up for the Indytaker on the floor but Kyle breaks that up. Fish gets an avalanche falcon arrow but Matt breaks that up. The ReDRagon get chasing the dragon to score the pinfall and win the titles! Backstage the Dragon tell everyone they are the best and that they conquer. They held the belts before and never got the proper rematch for them, so when they finally did they won the belts back. After the commercial, we have some studio words from Kushida. He wanted to steal the show on the final day of the G1. Ricochet hadn't been in New Japan for a while and wanted to see what he had gained since then. Kushida talks about his grappling ability being the strength in this match. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title: Kushida vs. Ricochet These two had a really good match the year before in the finals of the Best of the Super Jr.s tournament where Ricochet got the victory. He came back to the U.S. to do more indy work and also film more matches and Prince Puma for Lucha Underground. He is back and goes for the belt here. We oddly skip Ricochet's entrance but show Kushida's in full. Back from the break as the bell rings. Slow start with a stare down. Kushida goes low but it goes nowhere. Proper lock up as they roll around on the ropes. Josh comments Ricochet is bigger since he last was in NJ, JR says he might be on the sauce... JR's BBQ sauce. They run the ropes and cartwheel around before Kushida gets a rana to the outside the ring. Ricochet runs the ropes but Kushida gets to the apron so Ricochet does several backflips. Kushida says enough of this and launches in with a slingshot dropkick taking Ricochet down in the cloner. Kushida goes over and lands a kick right to Ricochet's arm. Kushida begins to work on the wrist as he locks in a wristlock and strikes the sore arm now.  Ricochet keeps hanging onto the ropes as Kushida keeps going on the attack. He tries to land some punches but Kushida stops that with a wristlock. Finally, Ricochet suckers Kushida in and gets a spinning powerbomb. Kushida rolls out of the ring but Ricochet launches himself over the buckle onto Kushida, but he landed just as much into the metal barrier as he did the champion. Back into the ring Ricochet starts in with the chops and elbows on the champ into the corner before snapping him out and landing a low kick right to Kushida's face. He lands a flying moonsault for two before talking some smack. They exchange some side kicks with Kushida landing a kick to Ricochet's arm. Ricochet gets sent out of the ring with Kushida's rolling kick. Kushida hits a cannonball from the top rope. Ricochet struggles back in the ring and Kushida does his running dropkick. He sends Ricochet down and goes for a moonsault but misses. Ricochet is able to land the zig zag and a standing moonsault but only gets two. Ricochet tries for a suplex but Kushida lands some elbows to stop that. Kushida gets sent into the ropes and flips over to get a hoverboard lock. Ricochet tries to counter but Kushida gets it back on. Ricochet tries to suplex out but Kushida rolls with it and lands a kick right to the arm. Ricochet tries a cross body but ends up locking into an armlock. Ricochet rolls into the move and picks the champ up before dumping him onto the mat. Back from break with both guys down. The get to their knees and smack each other in the face. They get up and trade elbows Kushida gets a kick to the arm to stop that. Ricochet tries for something but Kushida gets in another kick to the arm to send them both down. Kushida tries for a move but Ricochet catches him and gets a northern lights suplex but hangs on and hits it again and hangs on and hits the third! Two count only. Ricochet tries a slingshot 450 but Kushida moves. Ricochet rolls right through it though. Kushida hits his baseball punch and a dragon suplex. He scrambles up for a top rope moonsault but it only gets two. The champ lands a running kick to the arm and he immediately tries for the hoverboard lock but Ricochet fights out of it. He throws a kick but Kushida blocks it and lands a kick to his head.. Ricochet hits a shooting star press but again, only two. Ricochet hits the round kick to the head but Kushida gets to the ropes. Ricochet pulls Kushida into the corner and goes up to the top again. He tries for a summersault press and misses spectacularly. Like, he bounces off the mat. Kushida goes right in and gets the hoverboard lock. Ricochet tries for the ropes but Kushida rolls him into the middle of the ring and gets the submission. As Kushida celebrates, Kushida bows to his opponent and Ricochet reminds him that they are one and one in their matches. Backstage Kushida is glad about the results and that the match tonight closes the gap between the heavies and juniors divisions in NJPW. In the studio with Kushida, he talks about fighting a lot on international guys in such a short period of time. He says that Ricochet had a lot more irregular moves and was high flying more in this match. He is now looking ahead to the Best of the Super Juniors tournament in 2016. The tournament is hard physically and mentally but he will do it. This was a fast one. I couldn't keep up with what was going on! Despite ReDRgaon and the Bucks meeting many times before, they do try to bring something  new, Having Cody kidnap Kyle and take him out of the match was an interesting idea I've not seen too many times. Ricochet and Kushida had a good one and I think it was every bit as good as Kushida wanted it to be. A great first hour! We are greeted in hour 2 by Tanahashi! Tanahashi says that while they both appeared in a lot of G1 finals over the years, they never fought each other there. Nakamura's words after the match with Okada stuck with Tanahashi and that he was looking forward to this match. G1 Climax Finals: Block A winner Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Block B winner Shinsuke Nakamura Winner gets the trophy, the briefcase, and a title shot at WrestleKingdom in January. These two are old rivals going back seven or eight years and many title wins between them. We get Nakamura's entrance first and he is in all red this time around. Tanahashi comes out in his usual garb. Both guys are banged up as Nakamura has his elbow problems and neck injuries and Tanahashi has his neck issues. The crowd goes wild for both guys. Coats come off and we go to break. We are back with the ringing of the bell some posturing and circling at first. tentative knuckle lock goes nowhere. Real lock up now and Tanahashi goes for the waistlock. Nakamura goes for the arm but Tanahashi reverses it and goes for the bad elbow. Lock up again as Tanahashi goes into a ringer on the bad arm. Nakamura cartwheels out of it and they reverse on each other a few times before Tanahashi backs off. Tanahashi goes right for the arm again and then locks in a headlock. He hangs on even after several attempts to escape.  Tanahashi takes Shinsuke's bad arm and locks in a brief leg lock but they instead get back to their feet. Tanahashi locks in a cravat but Nakamura cartwheels out of it and lands some knees to the gut. They go for a scramble lock up but Nakamura slides under and starts to work on the leg. They grapple on the mat before they both get up and stare at each other. Nakamura lands some kicks as Tanahashi is trying to lock up. He grabs Nakamura's leg and chopblocks him right in the knee and starts working on it with some elbows. We come back from break as Tanahashi stomps down on Nakamura's arm and landing some elbows to the arm. Nakamura then gives him a shot in return and they trade elbows. Tanahashi lands a kick to the knee cap and then goes for a cloverleaf but Nakamura gets to the rope.  Tanahashi gets Nakamura in the corner and tries for the good vibrations but stops for some reason. Weird. He set Nakamura up for something but a kick sends Tanahashi down and outside the ring. He gets Tanahashi on the apron and gives him the running knee and a kick in the back of the head. Tanahashi flops on the floor and Nakamura gets back in the ring. Tanahashi crawls in but gets met immediately with some stomps before Nakamura locks in the chinlock. He drops a knee and goes for the goofy pin and doesn't get it.  Nakamura lands a kick and Tanahashi just looks at him. Tanahashi gets to his feet and they go at it! Tanahashi gets leveled with a punch to the gut. Nakamura tosses Tanahashi in the ropes and he gets a flying forearm and lands an elbow before a moonsault and a 2 count. Tanahashi gets a slam in and hits his middle rope senton. They are back up as Nakamura reverses a whip attempt right into a spin kick that sends Tanahashi into the corner. Nakamura gets in good vibrations but Tanahashi grabs the foot and lands a dragon screw leg whip. Nakamura roles outside but met with a flying splash from Tanahashi off the top rope and to the outside. We are back from the commercial with both guys outside. Barnett references Voltron and JR tells us to mark that down. Bonus points for that one. Nakamura back in the ring first and lands a high kick that sends Tanahashi to the floor again. Tanahashi comes in at 18 and Nakamura lays in some elbows before it becomes a slugfest. They go into the corner where Tanahashi misses a bodypress. Nakamura gets the reverse powerslam and Tanahashi landed right on his face. Nakamura goes for the booma ye but Tanahashi lands a dropkick right into the knee. Tanahashi stomps on the knee a few times before Nakamura tries for a kick. Tanahashi catches him and rolls with a screw leg whip. Tanahashi locks in the cloverleaf! Nakamura looks nearly ready to quit but holds on. Nakamura finally gets to the rope to break the hold. Tanahashi scoops him up for the falcon arrow and then goes for the high fly flow but misses. Nakamura lands the booma ye to the back of Tanahashi's head, but he uses his bad knee. Nakamura stumbles up to the middle corner and a booma ye! He signals for another one. He goes for it but Tanahashi gets a waistlock and a roll up. He gets a sliding booma ye to Hiroshi's head but only gets two. Nakamura tries to scoop up Tanahashi, but he counters out and gets a twisting neckbreaker. Yan hits the slingblade and goes up to the top and gets the crossbody and goes up again for the high fly flow but Nakamura kicks out! Tanahashi picks up a limp Nakamura, but Nakamura counters with some slaps to the face and hits a landside but can't make the cover! Back from break both guys are down. Nakamura is the first one up and lands some elbows in on Tanahashi but collapses. They perk up and start exchanging blows back and forth before going into an uppercut duel.  Nakamura gets his him down and lands a bunch of side knees and goes for the choke but can't get it. Nakamura misses a kick but Tanahashi catches it. Nakamura into the ropes nearly gets a flying armbar in but Tanahashi  counters it by hooking his arms. Nakamura gets a triangle choke but Tanahashi gets to his feet and then rips his boot into Nakamura's eyes. Nakamura counters with a standing booma ye then gets a VERY close two count. Nakamura drags Tanahashi up by the neck and gets him up on the top rope. "This is not good"-JR. He scoops Nakamura up but Nakamura recovers enough to counter out with some forearms. Tanahashi starts smacking Nakamura with slaps. He lands a cross body and lands a dragon suplex. He gets Nakamura down and climbs up. Tanahashi lands the high fly flow and than hits another one to get the 3 count ! Tanahashi won the tournament! Nakamura's fans are visibly upset and damn that was a good one! Nakamura gets up and shakes hands after that fight. Nakamura raises the winner's arm and limps out of the ring with his head held high. Back from break with backstage words from Nakamura. Saying he gave everything he had. In the ring Tanahashi is announced as the winner and he thanks the crowd They chant for him. He thanks them for being wrestling fans, supporting the company, and then for everything. Even though the G1 ends, wrestling goes on! I love you! Tanahashi waves a G1 flag around so hard he snaps the pole in two! He just kind of stands there stunned as to what to do. Backstage he says right now he is not sweating the small stuff. At least his heart didn't break and it is a "one of a kind" accident. He says in his career he didn't want to be just someone's rival. Kinda think you proved that a long time ago Tanahashi! Studio words as he says Nakamura was really fired up. He risked everything and gave it his all. He changed the most of the two from this battle. He said the ending meant a lot now since Nakamura was leaving. It was amazing. He is fine with Nakamura leaving because he is perusing his dream. It's all good. He wishes him the best of luck. We end on some words from JR and that's it for the G1 Climax 25! Even though these guys have met before, must like the first match tonight, they were able to do something new. They both expertly played off the legit injuries both men had going into this match and it told a great story. Hell of a way to finish things off for the G1 Climax. It might have been a little predicable during the round robin matches, but the tournament prodivded some good matches and fun action. See you all next time!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Who's going to win G1 Climax 25?
Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we finish off the G1 25 tournament with two doses of action from the finals, Both hours of action take place from the famed Sumo Hall from August 16, 2015. Let's get to the action!

Strong Style: Block B there (or B square)!

Jun 25 // Soul Tsukino
We start off our first hour going right to the action! Yuji Nagata vs. Hirooki Goto Yuji hasn't had a great showing either, only beating Honma and Kojima. Goto's run has been much better, with losses from Nakamura and Anderson. Unfortunately, that means that he too is eliminated as in the best case, he would tie against one or both of the guys who beat him. Yuji enters the ring  as Josh talks about how Yuji got him into pro wrestling. Goto comes out once again like the wrestling samurai. Bell rings and the crowd is solidly behind Yuji here. They trade waistlocks to starts into a side headlock down to the mat. Knuckle lock They grapple some more before going into a facelock by Yuji that is countered by Goto into a hammerlock. They pop right back up and go into grappling into the corner where Yuji slaps Goto in the face! Show me what you got Junior! Screw that they start in with the forearms and kicks. Goto blocks a Yuji kick and drives an elbow into the knee. Yuji grabs his ribs from the previous injury and rolls outside where Goto follows him and starts in with some kicks. Goto tosses him into the barrier before bringing him in the ring. Goto gets some more shots in before Yuji lands some elbows to Goto's mouth. Goto just tags him in the ribs to send him down. Goto goes for the cover but doesn't get it. He locks in an armlock and then delivers another shot to the ribs. Yuji tries to get up, but a kick to the ribs ends that. Yuji tries to get back up but more kicks stop that. Goto sends Yuji into the corner and Yuji comes out with a kick! He is trying to fight back but Goto isn't taking it. Back from the commercial. Yuji is landing some forearms now and a running kick into the corner. After two HARD kicks, Goto goes down.  Yuji tries for a suplex but Goto slips out. Yuji dodges an attack but Goto runs him over with a clothesline. He lands a rolling kick into the corner and a bulldog. Attempt only gets two. Yuji tries for the armbar but a shot to the ribs ends that. Goto whips him into the corner but Yuji catches him and suplexes him into the buckle. Yuji then hits a running knee to Goto's face, but Goto hits a suplex and sends Yuji down. Goto runs over Yuji again with a clothesline and then the Ushigoroshi but YUJI KICKS OUT! Goto tries for a suplex but Yuji elbows out, but Goto flattens him again. Goto goes for a suplex but Yuji gets the armbar on! Goto tries for the ropes but Yuji pulls him back in the ring. Goto slowly crawls over and gets a foot on the rope. Yuji gets up and just starts kicking Goto's sore arm. He goes for a waistlock but Goto elbows out. Goto goes for the clothesline but Yuji catches him into the Saito suplex. He goes for another one but Goto knees him in the face and then kicks the ribs again. They trade elbows back and forth. Yuji tries the enziguri but Goto blocks. Goto goes for the clothesline but Yuji blocks. Another Saito suplex and gets the pin! the 47-year old just beat the IC Champion! Satoshi Kojima vs. Karl Anderson Kojima's had a bad run in this tournament with only wins over Honma and Elgin under his belt. Although Anderson is at 12 points, he is mathematically eliminated since at best he would tie with Okada, a man who beat him in an earlier match. Karl comes out first and he has Tama Tonga and Luke Gallows with him. Kojima comes out alone. Bell rings and Karl gets a flying dropkick right off the bat. Anderson goes for the gun stun but Kojima gets out. The action goes outside as Kojima gets in a bunch of rapid shots and tosses Karl back in the ring. He gets a variation of the gun stun on the ropes to Kojima. Kojima sent to the outside. Ref distracted as the outside Club guys start in on Kojima. Kojima rolls in the ring but Anderson slides to the apron and snaps his arm on the top rope. He steps on Kojima's arm in the ring and locks in an armlock as JR mentions Karl was trained by Les Thatcher. Anderson snaps the arm on the top rope and then for some reason tosses a chair in the ring. He pulls Kojima up and delivers some forearm shots and Kojima crumples down to the mat again. Out of the break, Karl locks in a facelock into a suplex, but Kojima slides out. Karl sends him into the corner but Karl misses the charge. Satoshi then goes into his rapid-fire chops with the bad arm. He whips him to the other corner.  Satoshi nails an axe bomber and goes for the pin but doesn't get it. Back on their feet, they exchange chops and forearms. Kojima goes for the discus clothesline but Karl lands an uppercut and a boot to the head. He gets in a running powerbomb but only gets 2! They go to the apron where Karl lands some forearms but gets met with a strike to the head and then a DDT to the apron.  They fight on the outside and then scramble in the ring at 18.  Kojima goes for his cutter but Karl blocks it lands a reverse gun stun. He lands a neckbreaker but doesn't get the count. Karl lands another reverse gun stun but again Kojima kicks out of the pin. He tries for another one but Kojima blocks it with a clothesline and lands his Koji Cutter. Karl stumbles up and Kojima lands a clothesline but doesn't get the pin either. Kojima goes for the clothesline but Karl blocks it. Karl goes for the gun stun but Kojima blocks it and then lands another clothesline and gets the pin! Karl is now officially out of the tournament. We get some words from Ishii. He says Elgin fights with heart and any of his moves can be finishers. He is not like other non-Japanese wrestlers. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Michael Elgin This would the textbook definition of a slobber knocker. Elgin's run in the tournament is a little underwhelming as he beat Nagata, Honma, and Takahashi, and got a forfeit win over Nakamura. Ishii on the other hand, beat Kojima, Nagata, Anderson, and Takahashi... and lost to Honma. Both guys are out so this is just to see who is the toughest. Elgin comes out first as the crowd gives him good applause for a foreign guy. Ishii comes out ready to go. Bell rings and they run right into each other and start trading forearm strikes right away. Shoulderblock goes nowhere and they smack into each other. Elgin is the first to go down but a pin doesn't go anywhere. Elgin lands a boot to Ishii's face. He picks the pitbull and MUSCLES him up for a suplex and holds him there with one hand before dropping him. Pinfall doesn't get it. STRAIGHT punch to Ishii's face. Slam near the ropes and Elgin goes out for a springboard splash! "Like a flying refrigerator." - JR. Ishii fights back and Elgin begs him for a fight. Elgin flattens him with a strike but doesn't get the pinfall. Whip into the buckle and then a charge misses with Elgin then landing a buckle bomb and then a top rope senton. Splat. Pinfall gets 2. Elgin goes for the piledriver but Ishii blocks it. He body drops Elgin over and then gets a belly to back suplex. Ishii lands some chops in the corner and then gets a powerslam, only gets 1. Ishii gets Elgin up and hits a big suplex. Ishii hits a massive running clothesline. The both go for another but smack into each other. Ishii blocks a clothesline but Elgin flattens him and lands a strike of his own into a pin attempt. Back from commercial with Elgin on his feet. Throws an elbow to the head and gets Ishii backed into the rope. He swats Ishii in the head and Ishii stands right up. They trade elbows back and forth and Elgin screams "HIT ME!". They trade hits back and forth. Elgin lands a discus forearm and gets Ishii down. He lifts him from a prone position and suplexes him. That dude is a freak of nature. He holds on but Ishii gets the elbow shot in, but Elgin gets in another suplex. Ishii rolls to the apron and Elgin follows him. Elgin goes for a powerbomb but Ishii blocks it. Elgin lands the dvd on the apron! He grabs Ishii on the outside and gives him the buckle bomb to the steel barrier! Elgin picks him up and drags the dead weight into the ring. He climbs to the second rope and pulls Ishii from the outside apron into a falcon arrow! Ishii kicks out of the pin! Elgin hits a buckle bomb but Ishii lands on his feet. He scoops Elgin onto his shoulders and drops him straight down on his head! Both guys get up and exchange elbows right to the face. Ishii lands the enziguri and then picks Elgin up and puts him on the top turnbuckle and lands the avalanche brainbuster but Elgin is right back up! Ishii lands a clothesline and then lands the low clothesline but only gets two! Ishii goes for the suplex but Elgin scoops him into a powerbomb. He tries for another but Ishii elbows out. Ishii lands a headbutt and then a clothesline but Elgin kicks out. Ishii lands the brainbuster and he scores the win! That was a damn fine match! In the locker room, Ishii actually talks about not living up to expectations?!? Elgin gives Ishii credit for being a bad ass but says they will fight again. In the studio, Ishii says he can't remember large parts of the match. After his loss to Nakamura, the tournament went south and that this year's tournament was a disappointment. Despite the fact that these matches didn't mean anything in the tournament, this show was a lot of fun. The action was good in all three matches and the main event was just as good as I had hoped.  I think Elgin makes an even better opponent for Ishii than say Togi Makabe does. While Togi is a straight up brawler, Elgin can actually wrestle and I think that brings out a better match than just a brawling fight. Good show! And here we go with show 2 as we are welcomed by The Champ, Kazuchika Okada! Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma We already went over Honma's one win in this tournament, finally breaking his losing streak in G1 tournaments at 17 losses. Takahashi didn't do much better with wins over the two old farts, Nagata and Kojima. Needless to say, neither guy is a threat for the tournament. Yujiro comes out with Mao Chan, whomever that is. Here comes Honma! They completely ignore Honma's win over Ishii in talking about his run in the G1. The crowd is chanting for Honma as the bell rings and they are exchanging chops. Honma wins that duel but misses the headbutt. Yujiro tries for a suplex but Honma reverses it and gets the suplex instead. Honma lands some chops and whips Yujiro into the corner and then delivers a bulldog and the headbutt on the canvas. Cover only gets 2. Honma charges in and gets dropped on the ring rope. Yujiro scoops him up  on the top rope and scores the belly to belly suplex. Honma kicks out of the pin. Back from the break as Yujiro goes for another suplex, but Honma tries a counter only to get a clothesline. They finally mention Honma has won a match as he is taken over in a body drop. Honma lands a forearm shot and tries for a clothesline but Yujiro picks him up for the Miami shine but Honma squirms out. He hits the headbutt and then a brainbuster but can't get the pin. He tries for the top-rope kokeshi headbutt and misses, of course. Honma is up first but Yujiro rakes the eyes. He whips Honma in but Honma tries for the torpedo headbutt and misses. Yujiro lands the fisherman's buster but doesn't get the pin. He hits a clothesline but Honma gets up. He tries for a powerslam but Yujiro pushes him nearly into the ref and hits the low blow before scoring the Miami shine and the pin. We come back with some studio words from Okada. He was in great shape heading into this match. He has no qualms about fighting his CHAOS teammate but wondered what Nakamura would do after his elbow injury. Winner goes to the finals: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazuchika Okada Block B boils down to this match. Okada's only loss came to Goto. Nakamura entered this tournament with an injured elbow and lost against Anderson and had to forfeit against Elgin. Even though if Nakamura wins he would tie Okada, he would go on since he would have actually beaten him. Okada is also the IWGP champion, but the belt is not on the line. Nakamura  comes out first in black leather for this one. Okada makes his entrance with Gedo. These two have met before in G1's past and are split 1 and 1. We come back from the break and the bell rings. They stay in the corner and look each other over before we get into it. Knuckle lock goes nowhere. A Greco-Roman lock as Nakamura shoots for the single leg but Okada ends up getting the open guard on Nakamura. They both are back up and circle around. Okada with a wasitlock into a Nakamura armbar. Okada reverses it and Nakamura flips and cartwheels out of it. He gets a side headlock and they get up and into the ropes. Okada feigns going for a chop but just gives some pats on the chest for a clean break. Nakamura runs out and they miss kicking each other and Okada nearly gets the rainmaker but misses that. Nakamura throws a kick and we are back to the takedown as Nakamura ties up with an ankle lock into a headlock. Nakamura  gets a waistlock and then transitions into a near sleeper choke. They go outside as Nakamura sends Okada into the barrier but Okada reverses and sends Nakamura into the barrier and Okada lands a dropkick to Nakamura's head sending him over the barrier. Okada then lands the hanging DDT as we are cooking now. Nakamura rolls in and Okada is right on top of him. He hits a neckbreaker and gets a 2 count. He ties Nakamura up with a heavenly lock. Nakamura gets to the ropes with his foot. We come back from the break. Okada sends Nakamura into the corner and Rainmaker lands a number of elbows before kicking Nakamura down and giving him the good vibrations! The crowd boos that. Nakamura fights out with some elbows but Okada gets the shot in before landing a springboard senton. Okada lands a sliding dropkick right into Nakamura's head. Nakamura rolls to the apron and smacks Okada with a kick and sends him out. He drapes Okada on the barrier and hits a running knee. Okada rolls in and Nakamura lands some kicks before he goes for good vibrations. He rolls Okada out and lands several nasty knees to the ribs and head before a shotgun kick to the face. Nakamura only gets two. They get up into a double facelock and Nakamura goes for something but Okada lands a flapjack. He lands a few elbows and then a DDT. Okada hits a slam and then heads up but Nakamura is up. Okada jumps over Nakamura and then he gets hit. Nakamura lifts him laying on the turnbuckle and lands a knee lift. He lands a head kick but Okada lands the reverse neckbreaker. He picks him up and suplexes Nakamura down. Count only gets 2. Okada goes for the tombstone but Nakamura rolls through and lands a lung blower and a scoop slam. Nakamura tries for the booma ye but misses, only to hop on the middle buckle and lands it! The count is two. He goes for another but Okada trips him into a pin attempt only gets two. Nakamura tries to go up but Okada lands his sweet dropkick to send Nakamura to the floor. We come back from the break with Nakamura on the outside. Okada goes after him and tombstone's him on the floor! Okada rolls in first but rolls right back out and brings Nakamura into the ring. He might pay for that one. Slam to the mat as Okada goes up and lands the Randy Savage elbow. Rainmaker pose but Nakamura counters with a kick. Okada counters but Nakamura hits a knee right to Okada's jaw knocking him flat! Both guys are slow to get up. Nakamura hits a forearm first, Okada counters and we go back and forth. Nakamura goes rapid fire and sends Okada down. Okada goes for the uppercuts but Nakamura lands a knee to the gut and a kick to the back of the head. He hits the running knee strike but the pin only gets two. Nakamura picks Okada up and gives him a dvd. Pin only gets two and Nakamura lines up for the booma ye, but Okada hits the dropkick! Okada goes for the Rainmaker, but Nakamura counters right into a backside but he nails Okada. Okada tries for the rainmaker again but Nakamura gets a wristlock. Okada counters into the tombstone but Nakamura counters into an armlock and into a triangle choke! Okada gets on his feet but sinks back down and Okada submits to the armbar! Shinsuke Nakamura wins! Nakamura  stands up and actually bowed to Okada before Okada rolls out of the ring. The crowd cheers as he is announced as the block B winner. He grabs the mic and says that he has one more match to win. YEAH-OH! Backstage Okada says it is frustrating he lost by a tap out. He wants Nakamura to win and they will wrestle again. Nakamura says bring it on. he gave it his all. In the studio, Okada says it was a memorable match and one of the greatest of all time, even if he lost. He was grateful to take part n the tournament. We get our first mention of Nakamura  leaving as Okada says he will miss him. It won't be the same without him, but he wishes him the best (spoilers: He is doing great).   Both shows this week were fun. While the Honma/Takahashi match was...there, the main event was very good, even with the slow start. A fun two hours that got me ready for the final next week! Next week, another double dose as we look at the Finale of the G1 25!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Who is going to the finals?
Welcome everyone to Strong Style, Japanator's coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we have two shows as we decide who goes into the finals of the G1 25 tournament to face Hiroshi Tanahashi next week. Both ...

Here are the otaku games to eye this Steam Summer Sale

Jun 24 // Josh Tolentino
[Note: Pricing and actual percentage discounts can vary based on your region, so check your local Steam page to get the exact numbers.] The Fruit of Grisaia - The well-regarded visual novel series recently got an anime adaptation and was localized by Sekai Project last year. Its sequel, The Labyrinth of Grisaia, is also on sale, as is the Michiru-led comedy spinoff The Leisure of Grisaia. Higurashi When They Cry - The classic and now terribly ugly "sound novel" series was being sold for impulse-buy money even without a discount, and now the whole series, including Umineko, is up for the cut. Also interesting are other MangaGamer offerings like lesbian ghost sim Kindred Spirits on the Roof and Nikola Tesla pretty-boy sim Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning. Bandai Namco felt the touch of the green percentage as well, with all three Dark Souls games facing significant price cuts, as well as Tale of Zestiria, which has an awesome Japanese intro whose lyrics didn't make it into the English version. The Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm games are also on sale, so if you want to catch up with the last quarter of the Naruto manga's plot while also having cool graphics, that's up. Dragon Ball: Xenoverse and One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 also flesh out the roster of Shonen JUMP titans. Square Enix is as well-known these days for publishing western games as much as Japanese ones, but as far as relevance goes, Final Fantasy titles are where it's at. VII, VIII, IX, X, X-2, XIII, XIII-2, Type-0 and Lighting Returns are all on sale. And if the thought of playing all those JRPGs makes you want to strangle someone, they're also selling a handful of cool Hitman games. Capcom also brings a slate of offerings headlined by a much-needed discount on the beleaguered Street Fighter V. By most accounts, the fighting-game core of this unfortunate beast is strong, but the damn thing simply isn't finished yet. Capcom are promising a free "cinematic" story mode soon, as well as some new characters. Fans of Dead Rising can snag a hefty discount off a bundle containing Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, and Dead Rising 3. The PC version of Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is also available, spreading its cult appeal beyond the consoles. Look at Sega's store lineup and you'll find more Total War and Company of Heroes than the games most folks used to associate with the company. That said it would be a "shameful display" if a self-respecting, PC-owning otaku didn't at least try Shogun 2: Total War at the price it's being sold at now. It's the most Japanese game to ever come out of West Sussex, where developer Creative Assembly is quartered. People who do remember what Sega used to mean can drown their sorrows in a hefty collection of retro rereleases, or maybe some Valkyria Chronicles. XSEED, which has in many ways overtaken Atlus as the premier English-language localizer of note, has a number of PC offerings on sale, including the PC versions of Akiba's Trip and Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus. Fans who don't need too much anime boobies in their life can turn to a host of Ys games and The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. Ghostlight, publisher of many a localized game in the UK, has a handful of Agarest titles up for discount, but the real prizes in my mind are Way of the Samurai 3 and 4, the quirkiest open-world games this side of a Yakuza spinoff. They're also basically better, more thought-out takes on what you may have tried in Akiba's Trip, but with more swords and S&M torture and less anime boobies. Speaking of games that were published by Spike Chunsoft at some point (they handled the original versions of Way of the Samurai and Akiba's Trip), you also can't forget Danganronpa 1 and 2, which are arguably two of the best visual novels available in English right now.  In keeping with the fact that Idea Factory International mostly just handles a few games these days, a truly absurd number of Hyperdimension Neptunia games and DLC are on sale, with Fairy Fencer F and the redundantly-titled otome game Amnesia: Memories rounding out the offering. Playism brings a raftload of fairly obscure titles, but the headliners here are Swery's D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, and the Indiana Jones-like metroidvania La-Mulana. NIS America, for its part, only started releasing PC games recently, and its availablity of old PS2-era strategy titles, including Phantom Brave and Disgaea alongside tough games like htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary and Stranger of Sword City  are up for some modest price cuts. Other discounts of interest include the brilliant Stardew Valley, which does Harvest Moon better than its current masters in Japan have managed, and Undertale, a loving and subversive send-up of JRPGs. That's just a smattering of the most notable otaku-oriented offerings this summer. There may be more or larger discounts rolling in as the sale develops, so keep an eye on the storefront if there's something you're hoping to pick up.
Steam Summer Sale photo
And, like, five thousand other games
It's that time again, eager gamers and deal-conscious customers: Valve's yearly Steam Summer Sale has just kicked off, and the prices are a-dropping. That's especially relevant to you, the fan of games from Glorious Nippon, a...

Annotated Anime: Space Patrol Luluco episode 12

Jun 24 // Salvador GRodiles
It’s thanks to this format that Luluco has been a huge roll for a good while. While this episode wasn’t the one where the gang confronted the Blackholian’s leader, the whole thing played off nicely with the concept of how one values their feelings for their first crush. Since M.A.O.’s performance hit the right notes in delivering a powerful yet cute moment during Luluco’s big scene, it shows how everything was pieced together just for this big event. Hell, the team’s idea to give the whole thing a final battle treatment while our heroine sticks to her resolve gave it a dynamic that’s on the same level as the penultimate confrontation in most of Gainax and TRIGGER’s titles. Honestly, the big thing that made this whole thing magical was how everyone decided to set aside their differences to make sure that Luluco wins Nova over, as the whole thing breaks out into an all-out battle against the Blackholians. This whole build-up worked well in conveying the idea of someone who has the support of their close ones while they build up their confidence to confess to the person that they love. Considering that Luluco’s goal was powerful enough to get her parents to help her out, TRIGGER was able to bring us a neat take on the saying “Love conquers all!” Even when Imaishi and the TRIGGER veterans were putting Luluco and the gang through random situations each season, the one thing that always remained consistent was the heroine’s feelings for Nova. To an extent, this tone probably represents the obstacles that one has to deal with, as the insane situations could be a representation of the factors that attempt to ruin one's focus on their main goal. For a show that was presented as a short that was filled with many off-the-wall segments, Space Patrol Luluco managed to present its audience with a memorable love story of the season. This was thanks to TRIGGER’s subtle moments between Luluco and Nova, which served as a great pay off for people when it reached its climax. At the same time, their use of timing and anticipation in these scenes allowed for them to capture the hearts of people during these brief segments. In the end, it’s amazing to see that the show will end on us with a season that’s only one episode. Then again, TRIGGER might pull a fast one with this last segment, so it’ll be interesting to see how the chapter’s title will come into play. One thing for sure, this anime might take the prize as the best five-season series of the year. [Confess to Space Patrol Luluco at Crunchyroll]
Space Patrol Luluco photo
Double Love Xtreme!
For a second, I thought that Luluco’s fourth season was going to be the end the series. Not that I’m against there being a new season, as there are still many things that the show has yet to resolved. If anything,...

Would a Sailor Moon prequel work?

Jun 23 // Soul Tsukino
To answer that question, we should take a look at the series itself. Sailor Moon is a series about a teenage girl named Usagi (also known as Bunny or Serena depending on the source), who, along with her friends, turn out to be reincarnations of royalty that once ruled over the planets and the Solar System in a kingdom that was headquartered on the Moon. This Kingdom, known alternatively as The Moon Kingdom or the Silver Millennium, looked after all the planets with their own guardians under the eye of Queen Serenity. Unfortunately, the Silver Millennium came to an end thanks to a dark evil army of brainwashed or misguided Earthlings and a dark power known as the Dar Kingdom or the Negaverse as it was also known as.  Queen Serenity watches as her daughter, the prince from Earth, and the guardians are all killed during a horrific battle. Serenity uses all her power to send everyone to Earth to be reincarnated in the future and dies alone in the rubble of her own kingdom. In modern times, the Queen's daughter is reborn into a whiny but loving crybaby and her friends are the guardians for the past. Their powers all awaken to fight the evil kingdom that has also come around once again. They not only discover who they are now with super powers but also discover who they were long ago. As you may guess, there is a whole lot of back-story, no matter which version of the story you enjoy. A Moon Kingdom-based Sailor Moon series would open up a new and completely different story. Although only really referenced in passing or in flashbacks, the personalities of the main characters wouldn't be quite the same as they were in their modern forms. In the live action show, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Usagi's Princess form was actually really scary and dark, even trying to destroy the world. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but there would be some differences to the bumbling crybaby that Usagi is known for. The big challenge would be the story itself. What would a bunch of teenage princesses actually do?  Sailor Moon, as great as it is, was a slave to the "monster of the day" formula that it inherited from the sentai shows that inspired it. The first few episodes introduced characters, then each episode afterward had the big villain have someone send out a monster to collect something (energy, pure dreams, so forth), the scouts would defeat them, wash rinse repeat. This wasn't an issue with the manga's story, but for television is was the routine. A Moon Kingdom centered story wouldn't really work with that formula. The story established by the previous media had the conflict largely be between distrustful human and those who lived in the Moon Kingdom. Not really a "monster of the week" kind of show. At least on its surface. So what would the story be then?  I think a cue from the manga would work. In the manga, the Princess Serenity was seen as a flighty princess who would sneak out of the kingdom and go to Earth to visit the prince that she loved, much to the other guardians' frustrations.  She would skip out on her studies and would shirk off responsibility.  Sounds like an interesting character for a slice of life show to me. Maybe not quite as light as say, Azumanga Daioh. A little drama about the worsening condition of the Earth and Moon relations would be a good backdrop. Just enough to keep a good overall story going. The big problem? The ending. Yeah, wholesale slaughter of all your characters is kind of a bummer.  Even if you were to string the ending to the rebirth part, it would really be a dark ending to what could be a really upbeat show. Sailor Moon has never been about that, and this show shouldn't either. The best option I see is to not take the story to that part. End the series before the story reached the point of all out warfare and show the better days of the Silver Millennium. Make the conflict something else, something lighter, something that can have a better resolution than a massacre. So would a prequel to one of the most well-known anime series work? Yeah, I think the concept has some legs to it. Would it be the same series we have been used to for the last 25 years? Probably not. But that doesn't mean it can't be a good show of its own. And that is ultimately what anime could use right now. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
Sailor Moon photo
Would you watch it?
Sailor Moon is one of those shows that just about every anime fan has heard of. Even if you've never seen it, you've heard about it from someone you know. Hell, it was the series that really got me into anime when it was bein...

Review: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Jun 22 // Nick Valdez
[embed]35079:5680:0[/embed] Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U (reviewed))Developer: AtlusPublisher: NintendoReleased: December 26, 2015 (JP), June 24, 2016 (NA and EU)MSRP: $59.99 When shadow monsters known as Mirages invade Tokyo in search of Performa (which is the energy created from singing and acting performances), childhood friends Itsuki and Tsubasa get suddenly thrown into the battle as it changes their lives forever. Uniting their skills with ghosts of characters from the Fire Emblem series (like Chrom and Caeda), the two strive to become pop idols in order to strengthen their bonds with their new friends from Fortuna Entertainment (which is secretly full of other Mirage Masters) and help prevent the world from plunging into darkness. Told entirely through the Japanese VA track, TMS has personality to spare. But those who do not understand the language will miss some of the personality TMS is so proud of. It's not a huge issue, but the characters are always talking to one another during battles and 50 hours in you'll definitely wonder what they're saying.  Complimenting that strong personality are Tokyo Mirage Sessions' equally strong visuals. From the opening title screen to the final battle, it is bursting at the seams with color. The UI is clean and bright (the main menu is graced by a gorgeous spread of all the characters), the character design is typical Atlus fare marrying cuteness with style (enough so that you'll most likely have a favorite cast member), when you clear certain side stories or story chapters the player is rewarded with full cutscene performances animated with the Fire Emblem engine, and there is an overall attention to clean design. Only the battle menu and HUD feel cluttered, but that also alleviates over time the more you play it. The game's design serves to emphasize accessibility, so the over world and dungeons have checkpoints which make it easier to travel back to the home base to craft your weapons and skills and the like. Thanks to the lack of egregious load times, there is no hefty punishment for retreating from a dungeon from time to time which further encourages the player to do so.  Helping with this clean design is Tokyo Mirage Sessions' utilization of the Wii U's gamepad. Acting as Itsuki's cell phone, the gamepad occasionally receives text messages, or "topics," which keep you up to date on the character's reactions to the story (which can be a bit banal, but further build the world's personality), tells you when side missions become available (which are avoidable but help boost a character's stats and skill set), and also serves as the dungeon map. Crawling through the game's laborious dungeons is much easier since you don't have to cut away from the game in order to pull up your map. And when the story forces you to retread through many of its dungeons later in the game, you'll be glad traversal is easy. The dungeons themselves are heavily padded with frustrating "puzzles" which force you to backtrack and do not inspire cleverness. Rather than celebrate when you finally get to the dungeon boss, it's more of a sigh and "finally."  But the major draw of Tokyo Mirage Sessions, is the battle system. This is definitely where all the time and effort was placed. While there is no permadeath from the Fire Emblem series (though the punishment for a game over is having to reload your save), its weapon triangle (a rock, paper, scissors like system where certain weapons deal more damage to others) unites with Shin Megami Tensei's elemental weaknesses (a la Persona or Pokemon) into an obtuse system that takes some time to get used to. But it's a rewarding battle system to learn as there are plenty of options to do damage. Couple that with TMS's Sessions, which are secondary attacks that chain when you hit an enemy's weakness and earn you bonuses, Special Perfomances, which are super skills that deal more damage, Ad-lib Performances, which randomly take effect when you activate a character's skill, and by the end of the game the player can theoretically attack an enemy 19 or 20 times in a single turn. Unfortunately while these attacks are satisfying and stylish the first couple of times you pull them off, eventually the battles will start to feel like they are dragging on rather than engaging.  For example, to compensate for how strong the player can become when they utilize sessions, enemy weakness, weapon crafting, and character switching (which allows you switch your teammate on the fly in exchange for taking their next turn a bit later), TMS suddenly ramps up its difficulty midway through. Enemies suddenly become attack sponges and deal far more damage, so the player not only is forced back through dungeons they have already visited but they are forced to grind for experience in order to stay competitive. It artificially lengthens the game and eventually becomes frustrating since you won't likely be attached to the story enough to push on through. TMS' story just is not compelling enough to keep you entertained for its 40-50 hour length. Like its J-Pop soundtrack, the story is fun but inconsequential until its final set of chapters. Anyone looking for the level of depth seen in both Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei, will find it in its battle system and not much else.  Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is built with a very specific audience in mind. While its casual and accessible appearance may draw you in, only the truly hardcore RPG fans will dig deep enough into its battle system to fully enjoy everything the game has to offer. But on the other hand, if you do put in that work you are rewarded with a battle system full of so many options that no two people will have the same strategy.  It may be more of a game for Shin Megami Tensei fans than Fire Emblem ones as it's not a complete marriage of the two, but to bring it back to the Reeses analogy, if you like the taste of chocolate and peanut butter, then you will like them together. You just won't like it that much. [This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tokyo Mirage Review photo
Like chocolate and peanut butter
When Nintendo first announced a crossover project between their Fire Emblem series and Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei series, no one expected the final project to a videogame where pop idols transform into heroes in order to fight...

Review: Grand Kingdom

Jun 21 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35113:5710:0[/embed] Grand Kingdom (PS Vita [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: NIS AmericaReleased: November 19th, 2015 (JP), June 17th, 2016 (EU), June 21st, 2016 (NA)MSRP: $49.99 (PS4), $39.99 (PS Vita) Unfortunately, the story is only about 12 story chapters each lasting at least 30 minutes to one hour.  On top of the short story, the game only gets interesting near the end.  It’s unfortunate since some of the characters are likeable as well as the voice acting work. Some of the characters reminded me of the typical ones found in Shonen series so I was really looking forward on seeing more of them. However, all the 36 chapters that were delivered as DLC in Japan are going to be included in the western release, giving you a total of 48 chapters of story from the get-go.  In the DLC chapters, you’ll have the chance to delve yourself in the story of each of the four Great Nations, allowing the player to align themselves with a particular nation and dig deeper into that nation’s motivations and history. Each campaign will introduce you to brand new characters, deeper ties that bind rulers to family and nation, and perhaps even discover something about yourself as you decide which nation tugs at your heart the most. The uniqueness of the gameplay styles with each mission taking place on a large game board in both you and enemies move around in, one turn at a time. Your team will be represented by a silver piece while the enemies’ will be represented by a purple and red piece, the latter being a stronger enemy. Additionally, the game board will have items lying around which can improve your journey. The concept may sound simple from first looks, but there’s a lot more to it. Depending on the mission, there will be a limit of how much you can move your piece, and reaching the limit results in an automatic failure. However, for the most part, you realize that you will have a lot more turns than that mission requires giving you room for mistakes and dawdling. You’ll also encounter invisible enemies in which you can only see their movement every three turns. Once you encounter the enemy, you will be taken to battle in a beautiful and crisp 2D art style similar to the Dragon’s Crown and Odin Sphere. In a way, you can say that the game is similar to Valkyria Chronicles, except in a side-on view with three rows for characters to stand on and move around in. Each turn, you will move your unit to a desired spot until your action gauge is emptied, then you can perform a skill, which can range from melee or ranged attacks as well as heal your comrades.  While on the hub and the quest map, you’re allowed to visit the Party menu in which you can form different formations. The game already has two default ones, however, both Offensive and Defensive in which you can modify.  You can also set shields or even medical boxes, which both are very helpful in battle.  Including DLC, which will be available to western players from the get-go, the game offers over 17 classes including Melee, Ranged, Magic, and Specialist units. You’re only allowed to hire a certain few classes in the beginning of the game but it’s enough to create a competent troop to beat the game. You’re allowed to make up to six troops consist of four units each. When hiring, you can customize your character ranging from their hairstyles, voices, colors, and starting stats. Melee units are characterized by their high attack and defense and specialize in close combat. They also have the ability to Guard, allowing the unit to negate all damage until their guard gauge depletes. Melee units have low magic defense, so it’s best to be careful when facing Magic units. Ranged units can attack from longer distances. With their extended attack range, they can reach enemies at the other side of the map. Unfortunately, Ranged units have low defense, so it's imperative that you place them in places where it’s hard for them engage in close combat or being hit by other Ranged units. Magic units have medium attack range, and use ranged attacks which allow the player to target multiple enemies. Some of their more powerful skills must be charged before they can be used, leaving them vulnerable to an enemy's ranged attack, in which results your attack being disrupted as well. Remember that the game has friendly fire so make sure that your units are out of the way as well. Unlike the Melee, Ranged, and Magic units, Specialist units lack a clearly defined role in battle. These units have individualized abilities that can be a great asset in battle, but their specialized nature affords little room for flexibility. They range from Medics, Challengers and Dragon Mage. Medics heal your units, Challenger places explosives and Dragon Mage allows the player to perform powerful melee attacks. One of my issues when using the Medic is that while angling where you want to throw your potion, it’s never accurate.  There will be times where you accidentally hit your unit with a poisonous potion or accidentally heal the opposing unit. While you’ll eventually adapt to the weird aiming, but this still proves to be a hindrance.   Aside from the story missions which usually consist of going from Point A to Point B, the game also features different side quests with variety of missions such as Stealth Missions and Guarding missions. In Stealth missions, you’ll navigate the world-map in a puzzle-like fashion to avoid encountering any enemies at all. As for the Guarding missions, you’ll be moving around the map to defend certain spots from incoming enemy assaults. Once the enemy reaches the spot, the missions fails. A big letdown with this game is that it doesn’t support cross-save so any progress that you made on the go with your PS Vita won’t be transferable to your PS4. It was a bit bothersome since when I got my hands on the PS4 version, I wanted to continue my journey on a bigger and better screen. At least the game allows cross-play support across both systems, expanding the amount of players you can play with in the online multiplayer modes.  Naturally the PS4 version is the superior version as it runs at 60 frames per second at 1080p. However, that doesn’t mean that the game is less enjoyable on PS Vita as it runs very smooth as well. If you’re looking to expand your Tactical JRPG library on PS Vita, I can definitely recommend Grand Kingdom.  Including the integrated DLC chapters, the game offers many hours of fun with more hours on top if you play the side missions. While the main story is short, it still features likeable characters making the journey worthwhile. With the PS Vita not getting many games lately, you can’t go wrong with Grand Kingdom. It’s an excellent addition on PS4 as well, though. 
Grand Kingdom photo
Fight For Your Grand Nation
Being a fan of the JRPGs, I always look forward to new additions to the genre, especially ones that offer a unique gameplay style that separates itself from other series. While not entirely unique, when first announced, Grand...

Strong Style: Kicking some (block) A!

Jun 18 // Soul Tsukino
We are greeted by Hiroyoshi Tenzan who has a little fun with his intro. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Doc Gallows Shibata did all right in this tournament, getting 4 wins (beating Makabe, Naito, Ibushi, and Fale). Gallows, not so much as he only beat Yano and Naito. Not like Gallows was going to win this thing anyway. Gallows enters the arena by himself, which is always a good sign in a Bullet Club match. Shibata comes out in his usual no-frills style of marching to the ring like no one is around him. Bell rings and Shibata drops right to his back in a guard. Gallows goes for him a bit but backs off. Unintentional tribute to the Inoki vs. Ali fight right there. Shibata gets up and grabs Doc's leg and goes right for the figure four! Doc reverses it and Shibata brings it right around. Doc reverses again and they go into the ropes. Shibata lays in with the kicks and goes right into the face washes in the corner. Doc grabs the foot, stands up and tosses Shibata aside like nothing. Doc throws him from the ring and tosses him into the barrier. The count is on as Doc gets back in the ring. Shibata gets to the apron and then gets kicked right in the face! Doc grabs him and chokeslams right onto the apron with all his body weight! Shibata rolls in at 18. Gallows face washes him for some payback Shibata pops up and glares at Doc as they start exchanging strikes. Shibata gets a half hatch suplex and then a chin lock but Doc backs into the corner for the break. Shibata gets the hold right back on. Doc kicks him in the gut and Doc gets a gutwrench suplex. Gallows goes for the suplex but Shibata gets the chinlock. Shibata releases and gets a kick to Docs knee. He doesn't get the pin. Doc gets up and grabs Shibata and lands a powerbomb. 2 count only. Doc goes for something and Shibata gets a surprise triangle choke! Shibata releases and lands a quick kick for a 2 count. Shibata goes for something and Doc clobbers him for it with a kick. Shibata charges again and gets a kick. Shibata charges for the third time and gets kicked! Gallows latches on and gets a double handed Chokeslam for the pinfall! Wow, surprised with that one. Togi Makabe vs. Kota Ibushi Talk about a clash of styles!  Makabe comes in having beaten Naito, Tenzan, Gallows, and Yano but he also comes into this match with a heavily bandaged right thigh. Ibushi comes into this one having beat Styles, Tenzan, and Gallows. We skip the intros for this one. Staredown right at the bell. Jim Ross makes the mistake of keep calling Togi and Toji. Figure that one out. Togi with some hits to the head right to start. Kota counters with FAST kicks. That dude is like lightening. Togi just clubs him and then throws him into the buckle and runs him over with a shoulderblock. Kota starts in with kicks to Togi's thigh. Kota gets a leglock in on the bad wheel and Togi pulls himself to the ropes to break. He stomps on Toki's leg as it looks like Togi's just getting mad now. He gets up and dares Kota to keep kicking. Kota tries a running move and Togi just clotheslines him into oblivion. Right hands by Togi into a northern lights suplex into a pin attempt. He tries a German suplex but Kota counters. Togi tosses Kota into the corner and begins punching him from the middle buckle. Kota slips out and does a Pele kick that knocks Makabe to the apron. Ibushi doesn't let up as he hits the ropes and nails a sweet dropkick sending Togi to the floor. He then runs up and does the Golden triangle moonsault! Back from break, We get a replay of the moonsault. Ibushi tosses Togi back in the ring and lays in with some karate kicks. Togi once again gets up and dares him again. Togi gets some hits in but Kota counters with a kick and a standing moonsault for a 2 count. Kota tries for a German but no go. Togi reverses it but can't get it either. They exchange some swings but Togi finally lands with a clothesline. Togi lands a powerbomb but Kota kicks out. Kota is whipped into the corner and clotheslines. Togi sets up for the spider suplex but Kota has a death grip on the turnbuckle. Togi gets clubbed in the back and Togi gets the suplex but Kota lands on his feet and dives right in on the hurt leg. With his hurt thigh, he is in agony hanging there before Ibushi lets him flop to the canvas. Kota lands a kick and goes up for the phoenix splash and gets it! This match was alright, but not great. I don't know if it was from Makabe's injury or just being too diverse in style but this could have been better. In the studio with Tenzan now. He felt uneasy about entering the G1 this year, but Naito had said he was old and his career was over so he felt more determined to enter. He wants to crush Naito. He thinks Naito has wasted chances with his new attitude. He thinks Naito is still a good wrestler, though, and actually doesn't like facing him. Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan Naito has had a good run in the tournament. He defeated Tanahashi, Styles, Ibushi, Yano, and Fale. That is nothing to sneeze at. Tenzan only managed to get wins over Shibata and Gallows, disappointing for a former winner, even if he is up there in years at 44. Naito comes out first and takes his time coming out in his Skeletor business attire. It should be noted that JR is actually explaining the concept of the G1 DURING THE SECOND TO LAST DAY!  Naito is really taking his time and actually makes for a nice break for me. Tenzan comes out and JR notes that Tenzan has a nasty cut over his right eye thanks to a headbutt from Yano. Tenzan is the reigning NWA Champion here but the belt is not up for grabs. Another point here is made as Naito was once Tenzan's "young boy" or apprentice back in the day so this is personal. Both men are in the ring and we are ready to go but Naito just stands there not moving an inch. Tenzan is getting miffed. You do not want to get Tenzan miffed. We actually go the break and when we come back and the bell rings and Naito is still in his suit. He takes off his jacket and waves it like a matador cape. Tenzan has had enough and just starts clobbering Naito. Naito tries to bail out of the ring but Tenzan follows him out and tosses him into the ring post. Told you. You don't want to get Tenzan miffed. Naito rolls into the ring but rolls right out the other side. Tenzan goes right after him but gets caught with an eye rake and a kick to the gut. Naito then sends him right into the barrier. Naito finally gets in the ring and gets his gear off. Tenzan is pissed. Naito drives Tenzan back out of the ring and runs the ropes only to lay down in the ring. He gets Tenzan in and attacks the big guy's knee. He gets a headlock into a leg scissors and smacks Tenzan in the head! Tenzan gets to the ropes  Naito breaks the hold and then spits on Tenzan. Naito stands on Tenzan's head and poses a bit. He chokes Tenzan on the ropes and when the ref gives him static, Naito threatens the ref. JR and Josh get into a weird conversation about not being able to pronounce "Los Ingobernables" that ends with JR saying Josh was cool. I wonder if these two taped this one at the end of a long day. Naito with a cravat and Tenzan starts punching away and Naito just asks for more. He then uses Tenzan's own Mongolian chops that he is known for against him. Tenzan whips Naito but holds on and drives a headbutt to Naito that flattens him. DAMN.  Tenzan lays in the Mongolian chops and a series of headbutts. Naito SMILES and asks for more! Kicks by Tenzan now and Naito just kinda stares. Tenzan lands another headbutt and a clothesline. Naito reverses and drops Tenzan spits on him then hits a flying dropkick. Tenzan goes to the corner but Naito is right on him as he lands a kick, another kick, and then a dropkick from the apron that leave Tenzan a heap in the corner. He gets a lame pin and then Naito chases red shoes right out of the ring for not counting three. Red Shoes stands outside looking mad now. Naito goes for a German suplex but Naito gets out of it. Naito hits the ropes but Tenzan catches him and brings him over in a slam. RED SHOES KICKS NAITO! He signals for Tenzan to keep beating him up! Red Shoes finally grew a pair. We come back from break as Tenzan hits more of the Mongolian chops and then a spinning kick right to Naito's mush! He locks in an anaconda vice and cranks on it hard! Naito somehow gets up to his feet and escapes. He gets an enziguri and tries for a German suplex. Naito with the atomic drop and then into the code de blanca submission.  Tenzan grabs Naito's hair and delivers a couple of headbutts to the face. Great counter! They both get up and exchange hits and Naito kicks him in the leg before he spits on Tenzan again! Naito goes for the dragon suplex but Tenzan gets out. He misses one clothesline before hitting from the right side into a 2 count. Tenzan with the cobra clutch. Naito struggles and Tenzan falls into the ropes, breaking the hold. Tenzan gets up and delivers a couple of headbutts and then locks in the clutch again but this time, it's the cobra max! Naito struggles hard but passes out! Tenzan schools his boy by spitting on Naito a few times before kicking him right out of the ring. Backstage Tenzan says Naito has no right to insult him anymore. He calls Naito a fool Naito responds saying Tenzan did a good job. In the studio, Tenzan said he was determined not to lose to Naito. He says it was physically tough to do all the tournament matches. He was determined to make it through the whole tournament, even if he didn't win. Not a bad show. The first match was quick but there just wasn't a lot to work with. The second match tired, but it just didn't click with those two. The Main event was really good, especially with the story and the heat magnet that Naito has become. Really entertaining! Let's jump into show 2! We are greeted by Tanahashi, saying this is the 200th episode of "Pro Wrestling Returns" the source of this show. Bad Luck Fale vs. Toru Yano Oh holy merciful gods, please make this one short. Anyone surprised this match wasn't advertised? Anyway. Fale somehow comes into this match with victories over Tanahashi ,Tenzan, Makabe, Ibushi and Doc Gallows. That's kinda scary. Yano, on the other hand, has wins over Tenzan (low blow), Ibushi (hair pull in less than 1 minute), and Shibata (leg lock into a flash pin). We have to watch this match while Yoshi-Hashi sits out on the sidelines? Fale comes out with Tama Tonga. Yano comes out with his entrance video being a commercial for the CHAOS soundtrack CD. He immediately sprays Fale with water and as Fale climbs through the ropes, Yano kicks them to make for a low blow to Fale. The big guy recovers and grabs hold of Yano and just starts wailing on him. Fale picks him up in a big slam and Yano rolls out of the ring. Fale follows him out and clubs him in the back. He takes the DVD Yano was shilling and smacks him with it before Tonga takes it and destroys the damn thing. Fale strolls back into the ring and Yano barely gets back in at 19. Fale picks him up and kicks him to the gut before whipping him from one corner to the other. Yano actually gets hold of the turnbuckle pad and pulls it off. Fale goes for a splash but lands right into the bare buckle. Of course, he just shakes it off. He clubs on Yano some more and tosses him from the ring where Tonga starts in on him. Fale comes out and whips him into the barricade. He then goes for the bad luck fall, but Yano slides out and punches both Club members in the gut. He low blows both guys and ducks back into the ring as the ref gets to 20 and Fale is counted out! Fale gets PISSED but Yano runs for his life! Well, it was there and it was short! In the studio with Tanahashi as he talks about being real beat up coming into this match. His neck is messed up so he can't bridge very well. The winner goes to the finals as he s determined not to lose. To Determine the A Block winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. A.J. Styles Both guys are top of the bracket obviously. Styles only losses were to Naito and Ibushi while Tanahashi's losses came to Naito and Fale (SHAME). There must be a winner and whoever does goes into the finals. Styles enters first and by himself thankfully. Jim Ross talks about this being a 28-day series, which is wrong, it was only 19 days. Tanahashi enters with the crowd behind him and air guitars! We come back from the break as the bell rings. Circling around before the lock up and they both are pushing around. They hit the ropes and circle around into the corner. Styles backs off clean but with a taunt. Lockup into a side headlock Styles reverses with a headlock into his own. He gets him down and works more on the headlock. Hiroshi powers out but right back down to the headlock. he powers back up into a test of strength now and Hiroshi gets the headlock. They run the ropes and leap frog a few times before both catching the ropes. They start jawing again. Styles charges and gets taken down with an armdrag into an armbar with Hiroshi's knee on Style's face. They whip each other into the ropes with Hiroshi getting a backdrop on Styles. He whips AJ hard into the buckle. Hiroshi charges right into an elbow but Hiroshi goes out of the ring. He trips AJ from the outside and pulls him to the post where he wraps both knees around the steel to for good measure. Hiroshi climbs in and starts kicking the thighs. Back from commercial as Hiroshi stands on Style's injured knee and then drops an elbow on it. He just lays into Styles with kicks to the knee. Styles gets up and chops Hiroshi. Styles throw Hiroshi into the ropes and Hiroshi tries to skin the cat but Styles chucks him to the floor.  He drops Hiroshi on the metal barrier. Hiroshi climbs in and Styles is right on top of him. He puts Hiroshi in the corner and hits his running forearm. Slam on Hiroshi and lands a leaping knee on the face. Hiroshi gets up and lands some punches. Hiroshi goes to the ropes but Styles nails a high dropkick on him. Hiroshi gets up on the ropes and Styles goes for a running charge. Hiroshi gets a leg up and Styles catches it and drives it down to the mat. Styles immediately starts working on Hiroshi's knee now on the ropes. Hiroshi is in pain as he stands up in the corner but he catches Styles with some hits. Styles backs up and goes for a charge but Hiroshi dives and Styles crashes in the corner. Hiroshi lands an elbow on Styles on the mat. To the corner now as Tanahashi drops Styles with a hit. He tries the flip senton but Styles rolls out of the way. He rolls to the apron and goes for his slingshot forearm but Hiroshi pushes him right off the rope. He climbs the buckle and hits a flying crossbody on Styles outside the ring! Back from the break as both guys are in pain. Hiroshi is up first and climbs into the ring. Styles struggles but rolls in at 19. Hiroshi catches him on the apron but Styles gives a snap on the top rope for that. Styles gets his springboard death drop. Styles rolls out to the apron again and goes for the forearm but Hiroshi catches him. Styles gets out and goes for a clothesline but Hiroshi catches him again and hooks him for an arm trap German suplex. Tanahashi goes for the pin but Styles just makes it out before the 3. Styles hits a jawbreaker. He tries for a kick but Hiroshi hits the dragon screw leg whip. Styles tries to get up in the corner and Hiroshi comes flying in with a splash and takes out Styles and the ref! Styles gets in a low blow and then goes for the Styles clash and Hiroshi hits him low! Payback. It hurts! "It's good AJ has three sons, because the rest of the story is he will have no more"- Jim Ross. The ref gets back up as both men exchange forearms. Styles with some kicks to the knees. Both go down to their knees and start hitting each other. They will themselves up and just keep going. Styles goes rapid fire but Hiroshi slaps him in the face to stop that cold. Styles goes to the corner and Hiroshi goes for him but Styles grabs hold and gets the calf killer! Hiroshi is screaming now but won't give up! Hiroshi scrambles and gets to the ropes but he is hurt! Styles keeps trying to get Hiroshi from the ropes and Styles throws the ref around. Hiroshi gets a kick in and then a neckbreaker. Hiroshi goes for a clothesline but Styles counters into a facebuster and nearly gets the pin with it. Styles goes out to the apron again and hits the springboard forearm. He can't get the pin, though.  Styles struggles to get Hiroshi in the clash but Hiroshi blocks it and counters with a knee. He gets the slingblade in and goes for the styles clash?! Dude, that's cold. Styles counters into an ankle lock to break that up. Hiroshi counters that and drives Styles into the buckle. Hiroshi goes for the clash again and hits it! Cover only gets two! Hiroshi goes for the high fly flow but lands on the knees. Styles rolls out to the apron and to the top where he gets the high fly flow of his own! Near fall and hits the Bloody Sunday DDT. Styles picks him up and Hiroshi hits Styles in the knee. Both guys are down now but struggle back up. Hiroshi hits some strikes and AJ goes for the Pele but Hiroshi catches it and whips him down. Hiroshi goes up and hits the high fly flow. He then hits another one before he gets the pin! Hiroshi is going to the finals! Tanahashi gets announced as the winner of the block and the crowd goes wild.  They get to their knees and go for the handshake but Hiroshi flips him off. Well then! We come back with Hiroshi in the ring soaking up the crowd chants. He says he has one more match to win. He wants to win the G1 with the fans and gives them a hearty I love you! We go to the studio where Tanahashi says that this match is his new best match ever. He says that they both had similar visions for the match. He thinks 2015 was an astonishing year for NJPW and that he thinks Styles is a great wrestler. He wants to do it again sometime. A good episode to finish the bracketing stuff off. The matches that needed to be quick were and the spotlight was put on the right matches in both these eps. Jim Ross seemed a little off in both these episodes and I wonder if these were the last eps he had to dub that day. Anyway, decent shows. Next week we finish off Block B with two big episodes! See you then!  
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Wrapping up the A Block
Hello again and welcome of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. We have another double shot of action tonight from the G1 Climax 25 tournament as we wrap up Block A action tonight. We have skip...

Annotated Anime: Space Patrol Luluco episodes 5-11

Jun 12 // Salvador GRodiles
I don’t think the word "fun" is enough to describe the time that Imaishi and his crew are having with Luluco lately. From episode 5 and beyond, the team has been launching the series into greater heights than many folks have imagined. With her mother Lalaco showing great promise, she served as that piece to takes things up on a notch. In other words, the TRIGGER veterans must be having the time of their lives with this project. This might just be a speculation of mine, but I had a feeling that Lalaco being a space pirate was likely connected to one of Mao Ichimichi/M.A.O.’s previous roles. The reason behind this link was that she played as Luka Millfy/Gokai Yellow in the pirate-themed Super Sentai series known as Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, which featured a flying red pirate ship. When you look at Lalaco’s ship, the color scheme almost resembles the Gokai Galleon from the series. For now, this scenario might just be a coincidence; however, I still found this random observation to be something that helped make this arc more entertaining than it was. Most importantly, the big thing was how the series brought back elements from KILL la KILL, as Lalaco’s pirate outfit seemed like it was made from Life Fibers. Whether it is or not, the beauty about it was how it made way for the show’s TRIGGERverse season where Luluco and the group had to reclaim their home that was stolen by Lalaco. While we got to go back to KILL la KILL and Little Witch Academia during this arc, the highlight was the return of Imaishi’s Japan Animator Expo short, “Sex & Violence with Machspeed,” making a comeback. All in all, the clash between our heroine’s full-color palette with the world’s usage of black, yellow and white gave it a distinct style. The cool part was that it retained the Panty & Stocking-like humor that the original short had while maintaining the spirit of Luluco's randomness. Even though the series gave off a feeling that TRIGGER’s goal was just to have a blast and push things to overdrive, you have to hand it to them for inserting the pieces for the show’s climatic arc. From the “Alpha” and “Omega” terms in Nova’s name to Midori’s Black Hole App, the team harnessed these things that many people likely thought were just random and brought us a segment that took us back to the Anti-Spiral from Gurren Lagann— except that the show’s villain's scheme is all about stealing things. The thing that sealed it for me was the ongoing arc about Luluco’s love for Nova as tragedy befell the show’s main heroine. Perhaps the neat part about this scenario was how TRIGGER foreshadowed an element from it during the show’s ending sequence. It’s these little aspects that amplify the major parts of episode 10’s big scene— especially Lalaco’s reaction to the whole thing. Combined with a lecture by a certain iconic TRIGGER character in the episode after it and we have ourselves a wonderful moment that makes us want to root for the anime’s main heroine. When I first started watching Luluco, I wasn’t sure how to react to the show’s short length; however as I kept keeping up with each episode, I started to slowly see the vision that TRIGGER was going for as they threw a ton of unexpected challenges to force Luluco to aim high in her mission to save her father and her hometown, along with nabbing the guy of her dreams. From the looks of it, the show might be shooting for a theme about how one should just take a risk and plunge into whatever obstacle that you’re tackling for the first time, along with holding on to the things you value the most. Whether the team intended for Luluco to be the series that connects every original TRIGGER anime to create a TRIGGER-verse or not will continue to be a thing that’s up to the viewer’s interpretation of the anime; however, it might just be an idea they wanted to mess with for this title as it left us with some priceless scenes, such as the group defeating the Life Fibers with a simple solution. With Space Patrol Luluco Season 2 and 3 being a huge improvement over the first, it looks like the series finale will leave us surprised as something unexpected comes our way. Based on TRIGGER’s work so far, they’ll get to accomplish more things than a majority of anime titles that run for four seasons. Of course, the best part is that they’ll do it with lots of love and “Justice!”
Space Patrol Luluco photo
Is this the birth of the TRIGGER-verse?
You got to hand it to shows that outdo themselves to the point where they can convert any doubtful viewer into a fan. In this case, my concern for Luluco’s episode length was wiped out of my system as Imaishi and t...

Review: Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus

Jun 12 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35088:5690:0[/embed] Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (PC [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: TamsoftPublisher: Marvelous Entertainment/XSEED GamesReleased: June 1st, 2016 (PC), October 14, 2014 (PS Vita)MSRP: $29.99 This game brings back the Shinobi Battle Royale, an ancient tradition amongst numerous Shinobi schools whereby every 50 years, the five elite students of each school will do battle in which result the winners will have the opportunity to burn down the loser’s school and allow them to continue their training to be a legendary shinobi, The story is your typical Shonen-esque (battle manga) so it can be quite enjoyable if you’re a fan of the battle series. Additionally, each character has their individual story allowing you to witness the hardship as well as their preparation for this ancient tradition. From the four schools, you will be able to choose among five characters and go through their individual story. I recommend playing through their individual stories first as it informs you more on the characters’ personality, albeit it may have a small correlation with the main story. Most of it is satire, but is definitely worth playing through. By the end of each of their stories, your characters will be well leveled-up and ready to breeze through the main story. In Dojo Mode, you and three other friends will be able to battle it out online or through the system’s ad-hoc feature. The mode offers three different types of games or six if you include their “Team” variation. There’s Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Strip Battle, Team Strip Battle, Understorm and Team Understorm. In Deathmatch, you will battle it out with your opponent to get the most points. To win, you must inflict damage to your opponents and reach the set amount of points per match, or at least acquire the most points by the end of the match. Avoid getting hit or dying as that can decrease your points. Random enemies will be wandering around as well, which can help stack some extra points. Strip Battle is just like its name suggest. It shares similarities to Deathmatch, but offers its own little twist. Depending on how much clothing you destroy, the number of points you acquire will vary. The more you destroy, the greater the number of points you’ll get. Lastly, Understorm is quite different than the other two modes. In this mode, players need to collect as many pairs of “Skimpy Undies” as possible as they rain down from above. Additionally, you can mug other players for their lingerie they collected thus far.  Overall, I had a lot of fun playing this mode with friends the most. While not exactly a Musou game, the game has some similarities to the genre, such as beating multiple foes on the field while leveling up your character. You’ll have two attack buttons, normal and strong attacks, which can be used to chain up powerful combos as you level up. You can also block and parry attacks when blocking timely. The more leveled up the character, your arsenal of combo chains increases. Just like many beat-em-up games, this title has a lock-on feature in which you can use to concentrate all of your attacks into an enemy but it comes with its downsides. Locking on really limits your camera control and leaves you vulnerable to the enemy. From my experience, it seems that the camera angles have been improved as well compared to the Vita version where it switched to a first-person like view, putting your own character out of view and leaving you vulnerable. With XSEED porting the game to PC, the game received graphical and performance enhancements. While it doesn’t look as Estival Versus on PS4, you can tell that XSEED took advantage of the capabilities on PC.  Additionally, they improved the frame rate issues the game had on PS Vita, as well as made the game 60 frame per second, making it a lot more enjoyable. Only issue I have is that character animations are awkward when in the hub, almost as it wasn’t meant to be 60 frames per second. You have two transformations at your disposal—a Shinobi Transformation and a Frantic Transformation, both giving enhancements to your character. When using the Shinobi Transformation, it allows you to perform continuous attacks by pressing the various action buttons repeatedly. In addition, both your attack and defense will be increased.  In Frantic Mode, you can execute Weak Attacks and chain them together infinitely. You will also receive a huge boost to your attack power but your defense drops drastically.  You will also gain two Secret Ninja Techniques, which deals a lot of damage to the opponent. To use your Shinobi Transformation, you merely press the L and the R buttons; using Frantic Mode requires a bit more. Your Secret Ninja gauge will need be full first, then you press R and Triangle. That will later prompt you with a close-up of the character’s breast on the touch screen, which you must slide outwards. Granted that’s an easy task on a regular Vita, but playing it on a PlayStation TV requires more work to execute, which leaves you vulnerable to attack. When you take damage, not only will your lose health but your outfit will rip and tear. If you take enough damage, your clothes will fly completely apart.  Outfit damage goes through three different stages: Costume Break, Lingerie and Naked. If you want to fully strip an opponent, you will have to bring her down to “Lingerie” and execute a Secret Ninja Art as a finishing blow.  Normal attacks will destroy their lower body’s clothing while Strong Attacks will destroy the top part of their clothing. As expected from Senran Kagura, it has its shares of perverted moments.  You can customize the characters’ apparel, such as their normal attire and their Shinobi and Frantic Mode attire. The customization extends to equipping extra accessories such as tails, glasses, gloves and more. As expected, the clothing options are exotic and really bring out the character’s outer beauty. When in the Dressing Room, you can fully view the character models from multiple angles, and it includes a “perverted” mini game, if that’s what you can call it. In this mode, you can harass the character in multiple ways using your mouse. Lacking the some of the features the PS Vita has, unfortunately this isn’t as fun as it could be. Even with the in-depth gameplay, like every niche Japanese video game, Senran Kagura is aimed to a selective audience. It has fun gameplay alongside good multiplayer modes that add replay value to the game.  I think that the breast galore and panty shots could be a turn off, but beneath all that, it’s fun title that fans of action games should get.  
Senran Kagura photo
The Shinobi Battle Royale, Now in HD
It’s been almost two years since I had the opportunity to play and review Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus when it finally made its way outside of Japan. With XSEED willing to port most of their games into PC, it was about...

Ali vs. Inoki: A look at the Greatest of All Time's crazy trip to Japan

Jun 12 // Soul Tsukino
In the life of a man known for his zany stories, this one may be the craziest. This story starts in April of 1975. Ali was at a party and happened to be introduced to the head of the Japanese Amateur Wrestling Association, Ichiro Yada. Ali famously said, "Isn't there any Oriental fighter who will challenge me? I'll give him one million dollars if he wins". Almost certainly meant to be another of his bragful boasts, Yada took it more seriously and brought the comment back to Japan with him and to the Japanese media. One person who happened to take notice of the quote was Antonio Inoki. Inoki was one of the biggest name wrestlers in Japan in 1975. He had been a star of the JWA promotion in the 60's and had started his own company, New Japan Pro Wrestling, 3 years earlier where he was the big star. He also had trained with Karl Gotch a famous catch wrestler and grappler. So Inoki wasn't just some goof who made himself the star, he could actually handle himself in a real fight. His combining of Gotch's grappling and martial arts style hand strikes and kicks was what invented "Strong Style" in the first place. When he read about Ali's challenge, he and his investors in New Japan put up $6 million for the fight. It took a while for things to be put together. Ali had fights with American Rob Lyle, Englishman Joe Bugner, The famous "Thrilla in Manilla" fight with joe Frazier that damn near killed him, and Belgian Jean-Pierre Coopman before the fight could be locked down by promoter Bob Arum for June 26, 1976, at the famous Budokan in Tokyo. Between March when the fight was finalized and June, Ali kept himself busy. He had two boxing matches, beating American Jimmy Young and Englishman Richard Dunn. He also got himself involved in some tune-up matches with wrestlers. See, once this mixed match was signed, wrestling promoters all over The United States were tripping over themselves to cash in. The fight would be carried via closed-circuit television (the precursor to Pay-per-view) to arenas around the country. So a number of promoters scheduled their own shows, with the advertised main event being able to see the fight on the giant screen. Vincent J. McMahon's WWWF held the second "Showdown at Shea" card that also featured Andre The Giant vs. Chuck Wepener live there in the arena, and the Georgia territory held an event with both mixed rules matches being shown after a card featuring Jack Brisco vs. Dory Funk jr..  [embed]35089:5686:0[/embed] But I'm getting ahead of myself. Ali had picked up famous wrestling manager "Classy" Freddie Blassie for his wrestling foray and made two stops in Chicago for the promoter (and top star of his own territory) Verne Gagne for two matches. First, he fought jobber wrestler "Sodbuster" Kenny Jay, and then he fought "The Hackensack Mauler" Buddy Wolfe.  [embed]35089:5687:0[/embed] [embed]35089:5688:0[/embed]  He also made a stop in Philadelphia and a taping of WWWF Championship wrestling where he ran across Gorilla Monsoon.  [embed]35089:5689:0[/embed] As you can see, these were all a work. Jay and Wolfe were actually sparring partners for Ali to prepare on how to work a fight. He was having the time of his life. Except no one told Inoki the fight was a work. This is where things get a little tricky. There are two sides of what happened in the 2 weeks or so leading up to the fight. One story has it that the match was going to be a work all along. Supposedly the planned finish was to have Ali accidently knock out the ref. Ali would stand over the ref concerned and Inoki would run up and give him his finisher, the enziguri kick to the back of the head, and knock Ali out. The ref would be revived and count Ali out, giving Inoki the win in his homeland, but having Ali save face since it was an illegal move for the fight and that the ref got knocked down. Supposedly Ali balked at this idea and the fight was made into a shoot. The other story goes that Ali thought the match was going to be a work, but Inoki did not. When Ali and his group went to see Inoki's training and saw him using his deadly kicks and strikes, Ali wanted to know when they were going to go over the finish. When Ali's camp learned the fight was going to be a shoot fight, they panicked and demanded that a bunch of rules was placed on the fight or they would pull out. And according to former world champion Bret Hart who was in Japan at the time, The Black Muslims vowed to kill Inoki if their most visible member got hurt. And although he wasn't linked to them (at the time anyway) the Japanese Yakuza probably had something to say about the fight as well. Whatever the case, Ali's camp wanted several rules to be implemented so that their fighter (and cash cow) wouldn't get killed. The rules included: No grapple/submission holds, No tackles, No kicks unless Inoki had one knee on the mat (eliminating the enziguri), and no dropkicks. No headbutts, No knees below the belt, no kicks above the belt, and no open handed attacks to the eyes. These rules were also not to be made public to protect Ali's image. Basically, they were trying to set up Inoki to stand up and trade punches (and some low kicks I guess) with the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.  Inoki is smarter than that, though. [embed]35089:5691:0[/embed]  As you can see, Inoki literally took the low road and went for the legs with kicks. Ali didn't expect this offense and spent most of the fight avoiding contact.  Ali didn't even throw his first punch until the 7th round. He only threw 6 punches the whole fight. The only bit of excitement for most fans came at the beginning of the 8th round when Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee demanded Inoki tape up his boot because one of the eyelets at the end of his shoelaces had come loose and were digging into Ali's already swollen and bleeding legs. After 15 rounds the match was called a draw. Supposedly Inoki would have won the fight on points but had 3 points deducted after he elbowed Ali in the face during the 6th round. Believe what you will. Fans across the US thought it was a joke and the Japanese fans were pissed (which is an accomplishment considering the usually mellow attitude of Japanese fans). The fallout of the fight was hard on Ali. His legs were massively swollen and he ended up having two blood clots removed from his legs and nearly had to have one amputated when an infection set in. Ali took part in a couple of exhibition boxing matches against doctor's orders and then had his big fight against Ken Norton. He could still punch but his mobility went downhill thanks to this fight and the damage it caused. Inoki on the other had just kept on going. He would have other shoot fights against guys like Willie Williams and even some match that were supposed to be worked matches but ended up going shoot like his infamous fight against The Great Antonio. He would keep on being the big star for NJPW until 1997 and would run the company up until a few years ago. He had a few rounds as an elected politician in the Japanese senate. The fight itself would have its own transformation as well. Considered largely a joke for decades, it wasn't until mixed martial arts became popular that the fight would get another look. Of course,  the details of the rules changes also helped the fight's stature as well. Nowadays MMA experts find the fight to be a huge inspiration fo the sport, and even Inoki's defensive posture during the fight is used a lot nowadays (although most MMA refs would tell the guy to get up after a while). Most importantly Ali and Inoki became friends. All these years later they kept in touch and respected the hell out of each other. Ali was ringside for both Inoki's match with Ric flair in North Korea that drew over 150,000 fans and was at Inoki's retirement match against MMA fighter Don Frye (which really was a work. Frye made a great pro wrestling heel). In the days after Ali's passing Inoki held a press conference to extend his condolences. So while many view this fight as a joke and a lowlight of Ali's magnificent legacy, I'm not completely sold on that. Sure, things came off the rails and the fight itself is hardly any good. But at the same time, he ended up making a lifelong friend and earned the respect of one of the toughest people in the world. How many of use can say that?   Farce? No. It was just another way Muhammad was way ahead of his time. We'll miss you champ.  
Muhammad Ali photo
Mess or Magnificent, you be the judge.
It's now been over a week now since the world lost Muhammad Ali. For a week I've seen all the tributes, all the video packages, and watched the procession through Louisville leading up to the wonderful service where we got to...

Strong Style: Champion vs. Champion

Jun 11 // Soul Tsukino
We are welcomed by Goto, who is wearing a suit! Satoshi Kojima vs. Yujiro Takahashi Both guys are sitting on 2 points so a win is a must need if either guy have a chance. We haven't seen a whole lot of Kojima outside of a tag match or two. He is a veteran who held the IWGP Title twice as was the first person to hold the IWGP and the Triple Crown title at the same time in 2005. Nowadays he  wrestles mostly legends and opening matches with the young boys. Takahashi is the "turncoat" Japanese member of the Bullet Club. He is largely a mid card guy who mostly fills a role when the Bullet Club needs someone to take the fall. We kick things off with Yujiro coming to the ring with a hot blond that looks less organic than a body pillow. Let's just say she really must like lip injections. This large mouth bass in a thong. Also, Cody Hall is with him. Kojima makes his arrival as JR runs down his accomplishments. Ross reminds me that Kojima was an NWA champion at one point. Bell rings and Yujiro asks for a handshake and it's a clean one!?!? That's a surprise. Lock up into a waistlock into an arm-ringer to start. Kojima gets taken down in a headlock leading to a leg scissors. Back up into another lock up and Yujiro gives him a clean break on the ropes. Headlock goes into a shoulder block, and on the second try, Kojima runs him over. He then does it again leading to a chinlock, Kojima lands a shot right to Yujiro's head and throws in a kick for good measure.  Kojima picks Yujiro up and Yujiro gets in an eye rake. Kojima rolls out of the ring and almost immediately Cody Hall gets involved. Really?!? We've gone all these Bullet Club matches thus far with no interference and he jumps in now? Anyway, Yujiro comes out and slams him into the barrier before rolling back in the ring. Yujiro snap mares him over and then gets on top of him with several straight punches. Not cool. Kojima gets up against the ropes and Yujiro gives him a yakuza kick to the face. Pin attempt gets 2. He delivers a running drop kick to Kojima's head. Yujiro goes for another cover and gets nothing. Kojima sent to the corner and Yujiro slaps him a number of times. Oh damn, he is asking for it now. Yujiro goes in for a strike but Kojima moves out of the way and then gives him the patented rapid fire chops in the corner. He runs him over and delivers a top rope elbow for two. Back from the break as they both get up and trade forearms back and forth. Kojima gets the better of this one. Yujiro goes for a kick but misses and then gets knocked on his butt. Kojima picks him up and goes for a suplex but Yujiro blocks and then he gets Kojima over. They both roll to the apron  and Yujiro goes for a cradle suplex on the apron, but Kojima blocks out and gets a DDT on the apron! Yujiro is down! Kojima says the hell with it and gets Yujiro back in the ring. He puts Yujiro on the top turnbuckle and delivers the Kojima Cutter. He goes for the big one but Yujiro grabs him and gets him in a German suplex. A kick to the face and a clothesline but only gets a two. He picks Kojima up in a fireman's carry, but Kojima gets out only to get blasted for it. Yujiro picks him up and tosses Kojima into the corner with a buckle bomb. Ouch!  Yujiro goes for a running clothesline but Kojima counters it with a clothesline to the arm and then gets in a brainbuster, but only gets two! Kojima runs him over with a big clothesline but Cody Hall pulls the ref out of the ring. He then climbs into the ring and starts wailing on Kojima Kojima counters and sends Hall down to the floor. Kojima goes for a clothesline but Yujiro counters into a waistlock that is reversed. Yujiro kicks up for the low blow. He gets him in the Miami shine and scores the win! Backstage, Kojima is not happy but he will not give up and fight until the end! Back from commercial as we have Goto in the studio. He says the tournament was long for him this year, but the schedule had lots of breaks (with blocks alternating days). He wanted to be seen as different this year and he was motivated by facing the champion in this match.   IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hirooki Goto Now THIS is a main event! Okada has 6 points while Goto has 4. The Rainmaker wins and he pulls into the sole lead in Block B, Goto wins and he ties for the lead with Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, and Karl Anderson. We get Goto's awesome entrance. It's like the end of a samurai movie when this guy enters the arena. "The Fierce Warrior" indeed. Here comes the champ! Okada comes out in his usual style and with Gedo with him. JR points out these two have met before in 2013 in the finals of the New Japan Cup tournament. Back from the break as the bell rings. Stare down to begin as we get a shot of both titles on the table. Knuckle lock to start but both back off quickly. Lock up to a waistlock by Okada and goes right into an armbar by Goto. Okada gets a leg lock and a takedown but Goto gets a chinlock. Both scrambling in a grapple on the mat before they pop back up. The crowd seems to favor Okada here. Goto with a headlock and Okada shoots him off but Goto runs him over. Tries it again and they trade hiplock attempts before Goto gets it and a clothesline. Goto gets a neckbreaker and a pin attempt gets 1. Goto locks in a chinlock and delivers an elbow to the top of the head. Another elbow by Goto and a snapmare into a leg scissor on the neck. He gets it up on his hands to crank it. Josh talks about how he used to call this move the "Jitsu Screamer" since BJJ guys usually aren't allowed to do neck holds, so he would use this hold and guys would be in a submission before they knew it.  Okada gets to the ropes before the break. Okada rolls out and Goto follows him and smacks him on the back. He throws Okada into the barrier but Okada ducks a charge. Okada then leaps over the barrier and hits a cross body into the front row! Okada drapes Goto on the barrier and then pulls him out for a hanging DDT! We come back from break with Okada getting back in the ring and Goto in pain. He gets back in the ring as 18. Okada with sliding dropkick and right into a cover to get 2. He gets the heavenly lock (taking both arms and grabbing them over the opposite shoulders) and Goto gets a foot on the rope. Okada picks up Goto but Goto pops up with some slaps to the chest. Okada has none of it and sends Goto down with a thud.  He whips Goto in the corner but misses. Okada goes for a kick, but Goto catches, then Goto has his kick caught and Okada gets a mean clothesline. Both guys struggle up and Goto lands a MEAN Jitsu kick. He whips Okada into the corner and lands a spinning kick before getting a bulldog on the champ. He picks Okada up and nails him with a suplex, but only gets two. Goto goes for the waistlock but Okada counters. He sends Okada in the ropes and delivers the flapjack. Okada gets up and counters with a kick and then another DDT. As Goto gets up Okada gives him a flying uppercut and gets two. Okada slams Goto down and climbs up to the top. Goto pops up and charges but Okada leaps off and summersaults through it. He runs the ropes but Goto follows him and NAILS the clothesline. Goto picks Okada up on his shoulders but Okada squirms out for a rollup. They exchanged pins 6 or 7 times and Goto comes within an inch of getting the three count. Back from the break with Okada picking Goto up and trying to get the tombstone but Goto gets out. They run the ropes and Okada nails Goto with a dropkick. Okada goes up and delivers the randy Savage elbow and then the rainmaker pose. Okada goes for the Rainmaker but Goto counters into the ushigoroshi. Goto picks him up and gets a spinning facebuster on Okada. He goes for a suplex but Okada counters out into the corner and meets a charging Goto with a kick. Goto gets a tired Okada up on the top buckle. He puts Okada up for a super ushigoroshi but Okada counters with some elbows and gets out of that. He grabs on a waistlock and gives Goto a suplex! He holds on to the waistlock and goes for the rainmaker. Goto counters with a headbutt! Goto goes for a suplex but Okada slides out. They trade blows but Goto blocks the rainmaker with a clothesline and a headbutt. Goto counters and hits the Shotenkai and gets the pin! Holy Crap! Goto grabs the mic and says he is going to win the G1 and gets the crowd to cheer! Backstage Gedo says that Okada will win the rest of the g1. Goto says he wants Okada's belt. Studio words from Goto. He talks about beating the man who holds the belt he wants but was disappointed that he couldn't get a champion vs. champion title match in 2015. This was a fair show. The opener certainly wasn't horrible but it wasn't a home run either. The main event was a great match though and proves interesting for the immediate future of NJPW. So with that here is how Block B shapes up coming out of this show: Goto, Okada, Ishii,Anderson: 6 points Nakamura,Elgin, Takahashi: 4 points Kojima,Nagata: 2 points Honma: 0 Points See you all next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
G1 Climax 25 continues!
Hello, and welcome to Strong Style, Japanator's look at new Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we look at the two matches not shown last week from day 8 of the G1 Climax 25 tournament. Since this is a continuation of la...

Japanator Eats: Cratz, Mike, and More Edition

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

Review: One Piece Burning Blood

Jun 07 // Christian Chiok
[embed]35078:5681:0[/embed] One Piece Burning Blood (PS4 (reviewed), PC, PS Vita & Xbox One)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentReleased: April 21, 2016 (JP), May 31, 2016 (NA), June 3, 2016 (EU)MSRP:$59.99 (PS4, PC & Xbox One), $39.99 (PS Vita) When playing Anime fighting games, unless it’s Dragon Ball Z in which I already experienced the story mode so many times, I generally like playing through long hours of story mode. In One Piece Burning Blood, you’ll only play through the Marineford arc from four different perspectives — Luffy’s, Whitebeard’s, Akainu’s and Ace’s. It gave few hours of entertainment, especially since the cutscenes were great looking. I still think we could have gotten more than that, though. Aside from Story Mode, there’s also the Wanted Mode which allows players to hone their skills while taking on a series of wanted posters, earning yourself in-game currency which can be used to buy the remaining of the locked characters. The higher the bounty, the higher the reward you will get. While the mode is generally fun, the serious spikes of difficulty can be off putting. This was also an issue with Story Mode during the end. However after beating a difficulty fight, it definitely feels satisfying and you come out a better player. Like a good anime fighting game should, the game offers a Free Battle mode allowing players to fight against the computer or a friend. There’s also a Training Mode, giving the player various options like Opponent’s action as well as gauge levels. One of my favorite features is that the game lets you choose nine playable characters and three support characters. The only catch is that the game divides it into three teams (3 vs. 3), so once you lose the first round with the first set of three characters, then you’ll be allowed to use the second set of characters. You can also just do 1 vs. 1 battles. You will also be able to take the battle online, allowing you to play the usual Ranked and Player match types. From experience, the network is pretty solid so you’ll be able to play the game flawlessly with friends, the way it’s meant to be played. Although the story mode only covers the Marineford arc, most characters shown in recent arcs as well as popular characters from old arcs appear in the game, totaling over 40 playable characters and 65 support characters. My gripe with the support characters is that a lot of them should have been playable like Rob Lucci or Arlong. In top of that, support characters don’t appear on increase but give you battle effects such as restoring part of your HP or making your attacks a little stronger. In comparison with J-Stars Victory Versus, Spike Chunsoft’s previous anime fighter, I feel like this game is a lot better in terms of gameplay. The square and Triangle buttons are your main basic attacks which can also be used to create combos or even stronger attacks.  There are more in-depth features such as ranged attacks, special moves, guard-breaks, tag moves called Unity Assists and Breaks, and the powerful Awakened state, allowing you to perform your special attack as well. After three One Piece games with only the Original Japanese track, by now it shouldn’t be a surprised that Burning Blood only includes the original Japanese voices. Even with the Naruto English dub (the other languages too) not being caught up with the game, they were still able to get the game fully dubbed. While it’s really a shame, I think it’s something minor and shouldn’t dictate if you should skip the game. With the power of current gen consoles and PC, this game manages to be the most beautiful One Piece game up to date featuring cinematic cutscenes and amazing in-game graphics. My only gripe with the game is that it runs at 30 frames per second, with the upcoming PC version running at 30 fps as well. While the game still runs well at that frame rate, 60 frames per second could have definitely been better. If you’re like me who’s been wishing their One Piece fighting game fix for a while, Burning Blood definitely meets the criteria. While it lacks some essential playable characters, the game still offers a variety of good characters, both who are present in recent arts as well as popular ones.  
One Piece Burning Blood photo
Fighting To Be The Pirate King
Ever since the consistent video game releases of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series by CyberConnect2, the 3D Anime fighting game based on the popular Shonen Jump series Naruto, One Piece fans have been wishing that the series wo...

Weekend Japanatainment - Asian Kung Fu Generation

Jun 05 // Red Veron
[embed]35073:5676:0[/embed] Song: "Rewrite" Album: Sol-fa (2004) Here is the song that put them on the map. This song was one of the later openings to the wildly popular Fullmetal Alchemist and this is one pretty good song to have in your opening. Fast and loud that is just good to get you ready for the more intense parts of the show.   [embed]35073:5677:0[/embed] Song: "Loop & Loop" Album: Sol-fa (2004) Here is a song that shows off their more chill side. Slower than other Ajikan songs that are more apt for anime openings, this is just one of their songs that is good for winding down but still retaining their great melody and other good stuff I cannot articulate since I do not know much about music terminology.   [embed]35073:5679:0[/embed] Song: "After Dark" Album: World World World (2008) A pretty good song that became an opening to the anime Bleach. The Bleach anime already has a lot really good opening visuals but I think this song just made that opening so much better.   [embed]35073:5674:0[/embed] Song: "Easter" Album: Wonder Future (2015) Here is something form their latest album and I've only listened to very little of it but I do like what I've heard so far. I am gonna listen to more on my upcoming trip and I plan to savor every second of it.   [embed]35073:5675:0[/embed] Song: "Re Re" Album: Sol-fa (2004) Anime: ERASED - A town without me When I sat down to watch the first episode of the ERASED anime, I was greeted by this song that sounded really familiar and suited the opening really well. Then I looked it up and realized that it was from one of Ajikan's early albums and that I had already listened to it for dozens of times in the past. I thought it was perfect in choice due to its quality and how it relates to the show's setting.   Is there an Ajikan song that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know! Just paste the URL address in the comments to add the video link if you wanna share the video! Here is a link to some of their full music videos online for y'all to check out since YouTube doesn't them all: [HERE]
Weekend Japanatainment photo
Rockin' Since 1996
If you have been watching any popular anime from the last 15 years, you probably have heard of a song or two from the Japanese rock band Asian Kung-Fu Generation. Known to fans as "Ajikan" for short, Asian Kung Fu Generation ...

Annotated Anime: Haifuri episode 7

Jun 05 // Jeff Chuang
A hallmark of late-night otaku fare, self-awareness in anime is a well-respected and at times powerful tool. Just as much, it can be a barrier for shows to overdo its self-awareness, wringing the story dry of any compelling qualities besides never-ending stream of references. I think Haifuri strikes a natural balance where the ludicrousness of its premise set the anchor to as how much of that fourth wall it chooses to lean on. In other words, the show knows what you're thinking, and does enough to assure you that it also knows, with tongue fully planted into cheek. That said, I nearly lost it when the electronic bidet extended into its full swing, give or take a few seconds for my brain to register what was happening. After all it's not every day you get to see one of these in action, even if you live in Japan. And I mean, is this the kind of toilet humor we want--a young lady unintentionally spraying seawater up her nether region? I think so--it's the most improbable of its kind, and creative to boot, executed tastefully. If there's any fault, it's just the bizarreness of this hypothetical is already one step too far from normal to begin with, now we're one robotic water-sprayer away further from what is sensible. It totally distracted me from perhaps another relapsing episode of the "beach" as the girls are still on a boat. Swimsuits are always game. And this time it's because there's no water?In some ways Haifuri even took that up a notch with Scuba wet suits even, as later on some members of the class went to search for missing passengers inside a sinking ship. In expected Haifuri style, the second half of the episode recovers from your weekly half-dose of a sailor's life and dive into some character development. Here is the other noteworthy tongue-in-cheek highlight: when our vice captain finally addresses her complain about the captain running headfirst into trouble, and heads her first away team. It is in these awkward repetitions where a sensible theme emerges about taking responsibility as captain and as someone who is the most important also have to do the most hands-on, or tries. It is a very positive leadership message in my opinon and they were able to convey it successfully, if a bit clumsy. There's a sense of poetry too, when we discover the lost being was a cat and not a child. In a series where the characters inherit household pet-cat names and cats inherit names of past admirals, I guess it makes sense--it makes Haifuri sense, which is probably a degree apart of the more common variety. In any event, Haifuri was able to keep its serious moments rooted in tension. In her moments of desperation, Shiro-chan felt like a converted woman, at least. It is in these moments where Mike-chan grows somewhat as a believable character and less an average spatz-head protagonist, as we assume the level-headed Shiro's point of view. And yes, even at this point, Haifuri is still dropping hints about more development, although we are taking a breather across the board. As Haifuri's mission changes from a survival-renegade mode into search-and-rescue maybe we'll get back into the fray of naval battles. [Watch Haifuri ion Crunchyroll, Daisuki and Funimation!]
Haifuri photo
No water on a boat
As Harekaze's expedition drags on in the search of her missing fleet, the crew runs low on water. It is then we get these hijinks about what saltwater can do for you, or not. The story carries on despite these distractions as this week, High School Fleet performs a search and rescue of a civilian cruiser.

Strong Style: Double stuffed full of action!

Jun 04 // Soul Tsukino
For our first show, we look at Block A action from the Fifth day of the tournament (day three for the A Block). This takes place at the Hiroshima Green Arena on July 26, 2015. Since we skipped over day three here are the updated point standings going into this card: Hiroshi Tanahashi: 4 points A.J. Styles: 4 points Makabe, Shibata, Naito, Tenzan, Ibushi, Fale: 2 Points Yano, Gallows: 0 points So, with that settled we start off this show with a greeting from Naito. Togi Makabe vs. Katsuyori Shibata: Ooooooh Yeeeaaaaahhh. The expert MMA fighter taking on the expert brawler. Both these guys know how to throw and can take a lot of tough hits, so this is going to be a good one. Start with both guys already in the ring. The bell rings and both guys go for a clothesline but Togi gets the better of that. Shibata goes to the apron and Togi immediately gets a running headbutt that sends Shibata right to the floor. Togi rolls him right back in the ring but when he gets to the apron Shibata jumps right up and hits a forearm to the face. Shibata then charges and gets a running kick right to Togi's face! Shibata returns the favor and rolls Togi back into the ring. We jump ahead as Shibata has Togi in the corner and he goes to town on him with Elbow strikes. Togi pops right up nd asks for more as Shibata gives it to him with kicks to the gut. He kicks Togi down and keeps going before he starts in on the face washes before standing on Togi's shoulder and keeps kicks him in the head. He then hits his running facewash. Shibata then goes for his hanging dropkick but Togi leaps right up again and clotheslines Shibata to stop that quick. Makabe picks Shibata up and hits a fallaway slam and gets a two count, all while Josh Barnett alludes to Makabe being into S&M. Thanks for that mental image. Makabe goes up the top rope but Shibata leaps up and kicks Togi in the face to bring him back down to the mat. They scramble up and start exchanging strikes right to the neck. Togi wants more from Shibata so Shibata gives him a running kick to the face. No effect. He gives him another one to no effect as Togi comes back with a clothesline. They do this  a few times before Shibata goes down from a clothesline right into a pin attempt. Only gets two. Josh makes a point about how Makabe would use a kid in the audience to try a get his opponent down. This is only less disturbing than the image of Togi being a kink freak. Both guys get up and Togi strikes first with a clothesline to the chest, then a clothesline to the back of Shibata's head, and ten another clothesline to the chest to get him down. Pin only gets two. Togi picks him up and gets a powerbomb, but again, only gets two. Togi gets him up in a fallaway slam but Shibata counters with some elbows and locks in the sleeperhold! Togi fights it but he sinks down to the canvas before Shibata leaps up and nails the penalty kick for the win! Kota Ibushi vs. A.J. Styles: The exact opposite of the first match as these guys are both quick high flying guys. This makes for a lot of hang time in the air and some hard hits. These two have met before when Styles was champion and Ibushi pushed him to the limit. Back with both guys in the ring. We skip ahead as both guys exchange strikes and Styles goes into the ropes and right into a back suplex from Kota. Kicks now and he shoots Styles into the ropes and Styles runs right into a kick. More kicks into a moonsault only gets two. Waistlock by Ibushi. Styles reverses but is backed into the corner. Styles onto the apron and hits Kota with a clothesline into a springboard forearm. Styles goes for a pump-handle slam and drops Kota gut first onto the knee. A good way to lose your lunch. Cover only gets two count. Styles goes for the clash but Kota counters. Styles onto the apron again, but Kota with a spin kick to stop anything he had planned. Kota then goes for his over-the-ropes apron suplex but Styles somehow counters into a tombstone position but Kota reverses it into a headscissors to the floor! Kota on the apron and hits a springboard moonsault onto the floor. Ibushi rolls Styles in the ring and Kota goes up, but Styles pushes him and he falls to the apron. Styles climbs up top and grabs Kota, pulling him up to the top. Kota counters out and goes for the headscissors but misses. Styles gets the headscissors but hangs onto the legs and gets Ibushi into the stylesclash position but Ibushi counters with kicks to Styles's head. Kota goes for a kick but A.J. counters with a clothesline and gets him into a piledriver onto the knees! Styles goes up for a 360 splash but lands right onto Kota's knees. Kota nearly gets the pin. Both up as Kota goes insane with strikes. Styles counters and he goes insane with strikes before grabbing Ibushi and taking him up for a suplex but Kota rolls out and whiff the Pele kick. Styles grabs him for a suplex and Kota rolls though but Styles nails the Pele kick and then the bloody Sunday DDT! Pinfall only gets a two count! Styles goes up and takes Kota up with him. Styles goes for a superbomb, but Kota reverses into a headscissors. Kota gets two but immediately gets up, nails a powerbomb on Styles and then the phoenix splash and gets the win!  Kota gets two points! In the studio with Naito as he talks about Mexico and how he was jealous of the guys he saw there. He liked how they didn't confine themselves to one style and he learned to do the same. He has a special place for Tanahashi and while some say this block is a one man show with Tanahashi, he doesn't think that way. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito: This match may prove interesting, especially for Naito. Naito, as we saw last week, is doing his "Tranquillo" attitude thing, but we'll see if his goofing off works against the Ace of new Japan. These two fought in the finals of the 2013 G1 Climax where Naito scored the win of his life, but that was a much different Naito. Naito out first with his black suit and metal skull mask outfit. Jim Ross spells it out that while Naito beat Fale last time, he lost to Shibata in his second match of the Climax. Tanahashi meanwhile beat both his last two opponents and is sitting in the drivers seat as one of the leaders. Naito takes his time getting his gear off, Tanahashi taps on his wrist. We get a Rick Rude mention and Josh cracks out the famous line Rick used to say about fat sweathogs. The bell finally rings and the crowd is right behind Tanahashi. Lock up and Tanahashi brings him down with a side headlock. Hiroshi shot into the ropes but runs over Naito with a shoulderblock and an uppercut. Naito gets him in the corner and they start smacking the crap out of each other! Rapid fire from both guys! Tanahashi whipped into the corner but jumps up and gets a crossbody off the second rope. Naito gets hit and rolls outside, and Tanahashi jumps up for a dive, but Naito moves back and lays down on the floor. He stays out on the floor to a count of 16, but breaks the count and walks back out. He screams at a cameraman and the crowd boos the hell out of him for stalling outside. He rolls back in and Tanahashi stomps right on him. Naito finally jumps up with a few forearms but Tanahashi strikes him for that. Naito to the ropes and gets a headscissors on Tanahashi and pulls him right out of the ring and Tanahashi lands right into the barricade. Naito clears the broadcast tables and Naito brings Tanahashi up on it and gives him a rude awakening neckbreaker on the table! Back from break with Naito taking a break in the ring while Tanahashi struggles to get up. He gets in at 19. Naito stands up with a smile he grabs onto Tanahashi with a chancery (neck crank or cravate as it is called) and Tanahashi gets to the ropes. He is hurt. He talked about hurting his neck last week so this is not good. Naito stands on the fallen Tanahashi and poses as he snaps Tanahashi down and hits a running dropkick right to the head. Cover gets a two count and Naito goes right into a headscissors. Tanahashi is SCREAMING in pain. Tanahashi gets to the ropes to break it, but Naito waits it out. Naito lands another dropkick to the head. He picks Tanahashi up and Tanahashi starts some chops but Naito shuts that down. He gets another neckbreaker but only gets two. Naito shoves the referee right out to the floor and then gets a chinlock on Hiroshi. Referee Red Shoes climbs back in the ring and acts like nothing happened. And you guys thought American refs were bad! Both guys get up and Tanahashi elbows out of the headlock. Naito spits on Tanahashi and Tanahashi hits a spinning forearm. He keeps going with strikes to the head and a slam. Tanahashi climbs up and gets a middle rope flipping senton, but only gets two. Naito spits right into Tanahashi's face and Tanahashi SLAPS him right in the face. This is getting dirty. Tanahashi whips Naito to the other corner and gets a low dropkick sending Naito down and outside the ring. He goes up top and gets a crossbody outside the ring. Tanahashi goes over the barrier and grab Naito's leg and legwhips him over the guard rail. Tanahashi rolls him into the ring and goes for the cloverleaf but Naito gets into the ropes. Tanahashi goes for more attacks on the leg, but Naito counters with a strike and a rolling kick top the head. Back from the break now as Naito runs into the corner charge but Tanahashi gets his feet up, only to counter that into a neckbreaker. Naito grabs Tanahashi and drives him face first into the mat and ties him up with a neckvice with the leg up pressing on Tanahashi's face! Tanahashi is fighting it and finally gets his foot on the rope. Both guys slow to get up as Naito drives Tanahashi down in the corner and goes for a hanging kick but Tanahashi catches his foot and screw attacks the leg again. He then goes again but he tries for the cloverleaf Naito struggles with Tanahashi going HIGH with it, driving things right down on Naito's face. Naito gets to the ropes and Hiroshi gets another dragon screw legwghip. Tanahashi goes up but Naito catches him and goes up as well. Tanahashi smacks him off the ropes but Naito smacks him back. Naito climbs up again and nails the top rope hurricanrana. Naito scrambles to the apron. He jumps to the top and lands the missile dropkick right into the back of Tanahashi's head. He grabs a waistlock into a German suplex but only gets two. Naito goes for some move but Tanahashi counters out. Naito turns around and whiffs a roundhouse punch. Naito goes for the whip but Tanahashi counters into the slingblade! He goes up for the flow, but Naito stands up and Tanahashi hits the crossbody. Tanahashi goes for the flow again and dives right into the knees Both guys on their knees exchanging forearms and strike away on their faces. Standing up, Tanahashi spits at Naito and throws a few strikes. Tanahashi whips into the ropes and Naito tries to avoid it but gets caught right into a German suplex.  Tanahashi goes in for the kill but Naito grabs him and lands the Destino finisher. He gets the three count! Naito then goes insane and clobbers the ref (who needs it) and a young boy, before grabbing the mic saying he is unstoppable and no one can beat him. Backstage Tanahashi is disappointed., Studio words from Naito as he said that match was like his finisher and it was destino. He feels that standing in the ring, he feels more supported than he ever has before. He wants Los Ingobernables to gain more strength, mentioning BUSHI and Death, whom we haven't seen yet on this show. Also in tournament matches not seen on this show: Bad Luck Fale defeated Doc Gallows (good heavens glad that was skipped) and Toru Yano defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Now on to hour 2! Our second hour of action this week takes us to the Bodymaker Collesium. as we once again go Waka Laka for Osaka on August 1, 2015. This show covers the B block and Day 8 from the tournament (Day 4 for the B Block). Since we've skipped all of B block's action up until now, here is how the points lay out going into this show: Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii: 6 Points Hirooki Goto, Karl Anderson: 4 Points Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, Shinsuke Nakamura, Michael Elgin, Yujiro Takahashi: 2 Points Tomoaki Honma: 0 points (surprised?). It should be noted that Shinsuke Nakamura had to forfeit his match against Michael Elgin on day 6 due to an elbow injury. He is back in action, but let's see how that plays into it. So we start things off with a greeting from Shinsuke Nakamura in an ugly grey sweater. Karl Anderson vs. Yuji Nagata: This is an interesting one with the Machine Gun taking on Blue Justice. Yuji is a bit long on years, having been wrestling for 20 years or so, but he can still have good matches against anyone. Anderson is, of course, a member of the Bullet Club. Karl is out first with Tama Tonga.  Out comes Yuji and Josh mentions that he faced Yuji in Josh's first match when Nagata was the IWGP champion. Bell rings and a knuckle lock to start into a Yuji waistlock an Karl reveres it. They go for the arm and Yuji quickly goes right for the armlock. Karl scrambles to the ropes for the break and gets right out of the ring. He climbs back in where Yuji lands some kicks to the thigh and Karl counters with a kick to the gut and tosses Yuji outside the ring. As Karl goes out Yuji jumps right back in. With both guys in the ring Yuji starts going to work with more kicks and a arm ringer. Yuji goes for another kick but Anderson catches it, lands a chop right to yuji's neck and then just clobbers him with a shot to the chest to take Nagata down. Instead of covering, he just drives elbows into Yuji's side right in the ribs. He tosses Yuji out and drives him into the barrier. he goes into the ring and mocks Yuji's salute pose. We skip ahead with both guys up top. Karl is in the sitting position cluns away on Yuji but Nagata keeps getting back up. Yuji scoops Karl up and comes down with an exploder, but Karl kicks out of the pin. Both guys up and start exchanging hard shots. Karl keeps going for the ribs but Yuji grabs Karl and takes him down for his dead-eye armbar. Karl gets his foot on the rope. Karl whips Yuji in and gets the Arn Anderson spinebuster!. Karl goes for the gun stun, but Yuji reverses and gets a waist lock and then nails Karl with his spin kick. Cover only gets two. They get up and Karl hits the gun stun out of a suplex attempt and gets the pin! 2 points for Karl! Backstage Karl said that Yuji is done. He said Yuji should be making his f***ing sumo stew and doing his laundry. Damn man that is harsh! We see Yuji who just grunts in disappointment    Michael Elgin vs. Tomoaki Honma: Dear God, Honma is going to DIE! Njpw's loveable loser is matched up with Ring of Honor's version of a semi-truck. Even though these two have actually teamed up a few times, I don't see this ending well. Nice knowing you Honma. Big Mike comes out first. Honma comes out to the cheers of the crowd. He's at a 13 match losing streak here. Bell rings and Elgin runs right over him. Lock up and Elgin throws him right into the corner but runs right into the elbow. Elgin dares him for a shoulderblock and Honma doesn't have a chance as he hits the canvas. Elgin throws him around but Honma gets an elbow to get him down. Honma goes for a headbutt early and of course misses. Elgin gets his delayed suplex. This guy is as strong as an OX on steroids. Elgin punches Honma right in the mouth! Mike picks him up and Honma gets some hits but Elgin gets in a knee for two. Elgin with the Oklahoma Stampede! He goes down and drives his arm into Honma's face but only gets two. Honma with some chops and then scores a DDT! Honma goes for a headbutt and misses AGAIN. Honma tries for the suplex and muscles big Mike over on that one. That's quite a feat actually. Elgin to the corner where Honma nails him with a running clothesline into a bulldog and FINALLY nails the headbutt! He goes for the cover but only gets two. Back from the break with Honma up and gets Mike up standing. He hits a headbutt and tries for a gutwrech. Mike just shoves him off and smacks a kick into Honma's face before hitting a diving one knee code breaker off the ropes. Elgin hits Honma and Honma goes to the apron where Elgin grabs him and picks him up from the second rope and hits the falcon arrow from the middle rope! Elgin goes for the powerbomb but Honma counters out, only to get a spinning back fist from the big guy. Mike throws Honma to the corner but Honma dives out with the headbutt. He hits a second one and a scoop slam as he for the kokeshi. He of course misses. Up to their knees as they exchange forearms. They rise to their feet as they blast each other back and forth with elbows before Honma hits a palm strike and Mike answers with a clothesline. Honma goes for something off the ropes but Elgin blasts him with a clothesline. Mike goes for the buckle bomb again but Honma escapes. He tries for a running strike but Mike counters and tries for the German suplex. Honma flips right out, but Elgin catches him and slams him with a buckle bomb and then into the powerbomb and the win for two much-needed points. Backstage Mike is glad he is back on track with this win. Honma is obviously disappointed but says the next match will see him smile as the winner. Studio words from Shinsuke. He talks about facing his CHAOS partner and how he needs to be prepared for a long tournament. His elbow is really messed up but he'd get pain shots for it but missed 3 days worth of matches. This was his chance to return. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii: Strong Style rules the ring in this one. Both men are part of CHAOS, but that isn't going to stop them from beating the bloody hell out of each other. With Nakamura's shoulder injury, Ishii has a real shot at winning this one. Ishii comes out first with his knee wrapped. Interesting. "He's a Rubbermaid trashcan of wrestling."- Josh Barnett. Nakamura comes out with a faded red leather general's coat. The crowd cheers for him. Nakamura's elbow is wrapped up as well. Back from the break as the bell rings Nakamura throws some kicks but both guys start throwing kicks,  Waistlock but Ishii as they get into the ropes. Nakamura goes for his belly thing and Ishii doesn't care for it. Ishii gets a knee for his trouble as Nakamura throws some strong kicks but it just makes Ishii mad. Ishii grabs Nakamura's leg and drives an elbow into it before locking in a headlock. Nakamura shoots him off but Ishii runs right over him. Chops by Ishii.  He gets Nakamura into the corner and gets him down with mock kicks to the head. Ishii picks him up and nails with a headbutt. Nakamura gets a chop in but Ishii just clubs him with a forearm. Ishii kicks him in the head and Nakamura jumps right up in his face as they smack each other around. Ishii tries for a whip but Nakamura counters and nails some kicks in to get Ishii down He gets Ishii in the corner and gets the good vibrations face wash. He gets Ishii up and whips him into the ropes landing a high kick. Count only gets two. Shin gets a headlock but Ishii counters and lands a suplex. Ishii gets Nakamura into the corner and lands some chops and a running clothesline. He picks Nakamura up into a suplex and Ishii nearly gets a pin off that.  Ishii goes for the piledriver but Nakamura blocks it and lifts Ishii up over the top. Nose to nose yelling at each other before more elbows traded. Ishii comes running in and runs right into Nakamura's knee. He gets the big guy up on the turnbuckles and lands a kick to the stomach. Nakamura gets Ishii down and nearly gets a pin before going right for knee strikes. He picks Ishii up into a facebuster and goes for a strike but Ishii gets the fallaway slam. Ishii gets up and hits a powerbomb on Nakamura but the pin is only a two count. Ishii picks Nakamura up onto the top turnbuckle and lands a superplex! Ishii goes for the pin but Nakamura kicks out! Ishii goes for a running strike but Shinsuke nails a kick to the face and then a kick to the back of the head! Only gets 2. Back from the break now as they are up and again exchanging elbows and strikes. Nakamura gets a reverse powerslam. He gets a sliding knee strike that gets a two count. Nakamura goes for the Booma ye but Ishii lands a strike to the gut and then gets an enziguri (Wow!) and then a clothesline. The count is two. He lands a sliding clothesline but again only gets two. Ishii goes for the brainbuster but Shinsuke slides out and hits a strike and then a booma ye to the back of the head. Count gets two. Shin goes up and hits a second rope booma ye but the pin only gets two! Nakamura goes for another one but Ishii blocks it and Shin gets a spin kick. Ishii goes for something but Shin counters into the armbar. Ishii gets out with a punch to the head.  Nakamura gets a strike in and gets Ishii in a version of the one-winged-angel. Ishii kicks out but Shin hits the booma ye and gets the pinfall! Nakamura crawls over to check on Ishii before he gets his hand raised to check on his teammate and friend. Backstage Nakamura says Ishii is the real thing and he had to give his all. He feels grateful to wrestle today In the studio as he says Ishii was a special opponent. He didn't go for the elbow because Ishii goes straight-up with you. He had to concentrate in this match to give his all and it was a tough match for him. Oddly enough the two tournament matches not shown on this show will actually be seen next week with Yujiro Takahashi taking on Satoshi Kojima and a Champion vs. Champion match with Hirooki Goto taking on Kazuchika Okada! Tonight's action was very good. The first match of the night was clipped pretty well, but nothing terrible. Tonight though showed the weakness of this show's format. There is no graphics to keep people updated on points and not all the matches are even mentioned, let alone shown. We are being shown day 8 of the tournament and this is the first time the B block matches are being shown. Hell, just to keep up I have 3 different resource websites and a damn excel spreadsheet to keep up!  However, the stuff that is shown is great and an entertaining time! So with that in mind here is the point standings after this week: Block A: Tanahashi, Shibata, Naito, Ibushi, Styles, Fale: 4 Points Makabe, Tenzan, Yano: 2 points Gallows: 0 points Block B: Okada*, Ishii, Anderson: 6 Points Goto*, Nakamura, Elgin: 4 Points Kojima*, Nagata, Takahashi*: 2 Points Honma: 0 Points * have their 4rth matches next week See you next week!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
Twice the action this week!
Hello, gang and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we have 2 scoops of fun as we have two hours of wrestling this week looking at the 25th G1 Climax tournament. We g...

Storming the Sunshine State: A look at MegaCon 2016

Jun 04 // Salvador GRodiles
Even though MegaCon’s big anime related events were mostly related to FUNimation’s voice actors, each panel had its hosts express their points in a way that brought inspiration and joy to the audience. Since the convention’s main content seems to focus on mainstream stuff, this choice benefited the con’s themes nicely. One new thing that the convention did this year was that they got Ryo Horikawa (Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger’s Akumaro) to attend the con. During the first Horikawa panel, I got to ask him about his challenges that he faces in voice acting and acting, along with the differences between voice acting in anime, voice acting in tokusatsu, and acting in live-action shows. “Acting and voice acting require the same type of motivation,” said Horikawa. “Having the same level of expectation for myself is the challenge I face in voice acting and acting.” One of the most entertaining things about the panel was when he said Vegeta’s line from Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods when Beerus slaps Bulma as a request to one of his fans. Overall, it was priceless to hear him shout “What the fuck are you doing to my Bulma” in his Vegeta voice in English. Unfortunately, the folks at MegaCon couldn’t afford to have Horikawa do a concert at the event; however, they’re hoping to make that happen if they get him to come back. Either way, it was nice to sit through his panel while he answered his fan’s questions, along with talking about some of his future plans. Among these plans is his goal to open branches of his voice acting school in America and other parts of the world. He also promoted the third season of the Rainy Cocoa anime, which they’re hoping to release this fall. To top it off, Horikawa talked about a Rainy Cocoa café that’ll open in Hawaii, and some of the title’s voice actors will appear at the place when it opens. I may’ve not watched Rainy Cocoa or read the digital manga, but it was neat to see the folks behind the series doing their best to do neat things with the brand for folks overseas. Aside from Horikawa’s panel, there was a Dragon Ball Z Mega Panel and a segment called “Viva Vegeta.” The DBZ segment had Horikawa alongside Sean Schemmel (Dragon Ball Z’s Goku and King Kai), Eric Vale (Dragon Ball Z’s Trunks) and Monica Rial (Dragon Ball Z’s Bulma) of FUNimation, which mostly focused on them answering a couple fan questions. A neat part of this panel was hearing Schemmel talk about his transition from Americanizing anime to creating a localization that does justice to the show’s original Japanese track. “American kids don’t get anime— I don’t believe in that,” said Schemmel. Another neat moment from the panel included everyone admitting that Goku is a terrible father, with the best parent award going to Piccolo and Vegeta. Then the Viva Vegeta segment had Horikawa hosting a segment with Chris Sabat (Dragon Ball Z’s Vegeta, YuYu Hakusho’s Kuwabara), which resulted in such neat exchanges, such as Horikawa being impressed at Sabat for voicing four or more characters since Ryo mentioned that he could barely do two roles at once in one title. The other interesting part was when Horikawa talked about how it takes four hours to record a 30-minute anime, which lead to Sabat telling the audience that in the U.S. the recording time is 25 hours. This part gave the audience an idea on some of the differences between the Japanese and English voice acting process in anime. Just like the previous panels, it was interesting to hear about the various stories and experience that the voice actors went through in life. As a person who finds these kinds of things interesting, I ended up having a blast with the con’s segments with Horikawa and FUNi’s folks. While MegaCon ’16 didn’t that many performance-themed events like Metrocon, I was able to see a show that was done by Noise Complaint, a tap dancing group that does performances themed around anime and video games while cosplaying the characters that correspond with the motif. Instead of dancing to the entire soundtrack from the medium their show is based on, they actually take the time to find well-known songs that’ll match the topic’s theme. For example, their Sailor Moon-themed show featured tunes that went well with the concept of girl power. Overall, the group did a great job with matching their footsteps to each song that was playing during the show. The most impressive part about Noise Complaint's performance was when the group's Lead Dancer Jenne was changing her dancing stances while maintaining the rhythm that the rest of the performers were holding. Even though I didn’t get to explore a lot of the dealer’s room at the con, the three places I got to check out resulted in some great times. One of my encounters was when I came across a booth for Ranger Stop, a Power Rangers-themed convention that’s usually held in the fall in Orlando, Fla. The person who was at the booth happens to be Jon, who’s also part of the group Toy Bounty Hunters, which had a segment about Marvel’s connection to the Super Sentai franchise. As a person who kept up with his videos, it was amazing to get to talk to him about tokusatsu and the con, such as the benefits of MegaCon's growth on the sellers. I also got to meet Careless of the Video Game Music Group Careless Juja and former member of the Video Game Music Band Random Encounter. He talked about Liberty Deception, an indie comic book that takes place in a colony that was the result of a terraforming project gone wrong, along with how he got to go to Europe with the Video Games Live group, a video game music-themed concert that occurs in various parts of the world. Since I got to see Careless perform at Video Games Live, in Miami with Random Encounters, it was a joyous moment seeing the guy in person. The last place I got to drop by was Illustrator Travis Earls’ booth. While he wasn’t at his booth, I got to see his manager known as Donut talk about the guy’s latest comic book, Power. Based on what he told me about its first issue, Earls’ book is a horror take on the elements found in the Power Rangers and Super Sentai franchise. Seeing that Earls is one of Ranger Stop’s featured artists, his armored suit designs for his heroes work well with the dark tone of his story. In terms of the cosplays encountered throughout the con, it was neat to see a few folks who went as characters from the Danganronpa series. Among these cosplayers was a group that went as Yashuhiro, Nagito, Chiaki and Ibuki. On top of that, I came across a person that was wearing a Monokuma suit. Let’s just say that we made a deal to bring everyone on Japanator into a state of despair. Surprisingly, I found some people who wore the Rathalos and Zinogre armors from the Monster Hunter series, along with a cosplayer who went as Haseo from the .hack//G.U. trilogy. Hell, I was even able to find someone going as Kamen Rider Stronger and Power Pool, a fusion between Deadpool and the Green Ranger; thus fulfilling my usual convention-related goal to find folks who’re cosplaying characters from tokusatsu titles. Last but not least, I found a group that went as Captain Gundam and Shute from SD Gundam Force. This lead to me obtaining a meal called Captain Punch, which is the process of pouring Hawaiian Punch into a bowl of Captain Crunch. Overall, the combination gives the cereal a sweet fruity flavor that puts Crunch Berry to shame. Of course, it packed quite a punch. As fun as my fourth MegaCon trip was, the event was far from perfect. Just like Former Japanator Editor in Chief Tim Sheehy’s experience with Sakura-Con ’14, the convention’s format hindered the folks of the press. Since the staff didn’t let the folks with the Press Passes enter the events before everyone else, this made it difficult for me to properly cover MegaCon ’16’s offering since I had to head to the panels before the lines got too big. While the badge did allow me to sit in the areas where folks with VIP tickets could sit, this only worked for me in one panel, as the con’s staff didn’t grant me this privilege in the other events. Another problem was that there were panels that were happening at MegaCon that weren’t even listed on the schedule pamphlet that attendees pick up at the door. Sure, their time and locations were listed in the con’s Website, but it’s still inconvenient that these things aren’t listed in the event’s program book. For example, there was a panel about the growth of Florida’s anime community that was happening on Thursday; however, I couldn’t find it in the booklet for the con. Seeing that this is the first time that MegaCon was a four-day event, I’m going to guess that this likely one of the sources of the convention's problems. That, and Fan Expo HQ, the current owners of MegaCon, were still trying to get used to the Orange County Conventions layout. While it’s understandable that most events could face some issues when the management changes, it’s unfortunate when they hinder the folks with press passes who’re trying to cover the event as much as they can, so they can provide coverage to their readers who couldn’t go to it. Despite MegaCon ’16’s problems with how they managed the Press Pass holders’ privileges, I still had a blast with the convention’s panels and offerings. With Fan Expo HQ having a few conventions under their belt, they were able to bring in some solid guests (such as Ryo Horikawa, Stan Lee, Joe Madureira and David Hayter). To an extent, these segments warranted the $90 to $100 price tag for the events tickets— as long as you’re going for the full con experience. Also, it was neat to see Cosplayer PikaBelleChu's Pikachu Bug at the convention. Even though my time with the con’s anime panels was mostly with the FUNimation ones, there is also a good chunk of events that covered other topics, such as the panel about How Watching Anime Might Lead To Better Grades and one that introduces folks to healing anime titles. Due to MegaCon’s large size, I wasn’t able to catch the other panels that focused on different aspects of the anime community. However, judging from their synopsis, they all seemed fun and intriguing. At the end of the day, my fourth time with MegaCon ended up being better than I expected. While the con didn’t have that many performance-related events like Metrocon, the panels made up for it. Since the anime stuff was mostly catered to the mainstream audience and folks looking to expand their horizon what titles to check out, MegaCon’s anime offerings might not appeal to people who’re very familiar with the medium— unless if they’re a fan of FUNi’s voice actors and are interested in the anime panels that feature analysis on certain things. However, the convention’s large focus on Western films, TV shows and comic books might act as an extra layer to improve the experience.
MegaCon '16 photo
Fourth time is definitely a charm
Before I started my journey to this year's MegaCon, my previous visits to the event in Orlando, Florida. were alright. However, this was due to my friends and me spending most of our time inside of the event's dealer’s ...

Review: Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

Jun 01 // Josh Tolentino
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (PS4 (reviewed), PS3, PS Vita)Developer: VanillawarePublisher: AtlusReleased: January 14, 2016 (JP), June 7, 2016 (NA), June 24, 2016 (EU)MSRP: $39.99 (PS Vita), $49.99 (PS3), $59.99 (PS4) As cliche as the idea of an HD remaster is these days, it's worth pointing out that Odin Sphere Leifthrasir** goes further than the usual performance or resolution upgrades, at least on the PS4 version. Besides running at a consistent, smooth framerate (a far cry from the chugging boss battles of the PS2 original), Leifthrasir tweaks the artwork to look sharper at HD resolutions. And sharp it does look, bringing to mind just how revelatory the game looked back in 2007. Then, as then, Vanillaware seemed to be operating out of a weird alternate dimension, one where 2D graphics only got better and better instead of being supplanted by the 3D polygonal gold rush of the time. The update also adds more depth and breadth to Odin Sphere's various secondary mechanics. The story, though, is unchanged, and remains the strongest aspect of the game. Set on Erion, a fantasy world inspired by Norse myth, Leifthrasir's plot begins simply enough. Gwendolyn, Valkyrie princess of the kingdom of Ragnanival, flies through the battlefield, attempting to retrieve a magical device called the Cauldron, in the hopes of offering it to her father, the Demon Lord Odin. The tale quickly expands, though, growing to cover not only Gwendolyn's tale but that of four other major characters, each with their own hours-long campaign. Oswald is the Shadow Knight, a warrior bearing a cursed power and a crush on Gwendolyn. Velvet is a forest witch with ties to both Odin and Valentine, a kingdom Odin vanquished in the past. Cornelius was once a prince but is now a Pooka, a rabbit-like creature, and seeks a cure for his condition. Mercedes is the young queen of the Fairies, and wants to do right by her people, whatever the cost.  Though framed as a series of storybooks being read by an adorable little girl in her attic, the story is actually more operatic in scope. Characters' plotlines wrap around each other and intersect in places, and the protagonist of one campaign may be the boss battle of another. Each of the five campaigns - with a sixth unlocked at the end to ties it all together and a seventh reserved for true completionists - takes place in the limited perspective of their leads, and shines light on their respective motivations, personalities, and causes. There are few outright heroes and villains among the cast, but rather people working at cross purposes, sometimes to tragic results.  If nothing else, it's the densest narrative Vanillaware has wrought, and stands easily alongside the best JRPGs, a handy feat for what is otherwise a fairly simple 2D brawler. Though possessed of five substantially different combat styles in the form of each character,  the game remains somewhat conventional, mechanically. Players will jump, move, attack, and slaughter mooks by the dozen as they move through various rooms and hoover up cash and loot. Enemies and bosses are plentiful, but don't quite carry enough variety to justify the bevy of additional spells and abilities added by the Leifthrasir update. The new skills are definitely fun to use and master, but never really feel necessary, at least not at the normal difficulty setting. [embed]35050:5667:0[/embed] Vanillaware also doubles down on its food fixation, expanding the game's alchemy and cooking systems to encompass a range of new ingredients and recipes. Smart players will quickly get acquainted with the world's various restaurants and Maury, the traveling Pooka chef. This is because eating delicious, exquisitely illustrated cartoon food is the only way to level up and increase one's maximum health pool. Gathering ingredients and growing additional items to mix into potions also allows for a wide range of beneficial effects. Once again, the relative simplicity of combat doesn't quite make these systems feel as essential as they should be, but their expansion definitely takes the edge off the repetition, a feeling that grew more and more pronounced as one progressed through the original game. Some grinding and revisiting of previous areas to gather ingredients is still necessary, but there's enough to do now that it doesn't feel nearly as tedious as before. With that, Leifthrasir blunts one of Odin Sphere's biggest faults, though players not hooked by the combat may still feel the design is weighed down by that. The interface, though also improved, also isn't quite up to the task of efficiently streamlining the expanded experience. Tabbed windows and shortcuts now make it easier to mix and level up potions, but players will still eventually find themselves pausing every so often to do some inventory management. Still, these flaws are fairly minor in the face of how much Odin Sphere's quality is allowed to shine, thanks to the improvements added by Leifthrasir. It's enough to say that Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is the definitive edition of Vanillaware's best game, and elevates a great-but-flawed title to the classic status it originally deserved. [This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.] **It's pronounced "Leef-thrahs-eer", but don't look up what it means if you want to avoid spoilers. *GrimGrimoire might have been first, depending on where you were in 2007.
Odin Sphere Review photo
Old Story, Good As New
Vanillaware may have been making games for close to a decade now, but for my money, nothing they've made has quite surpassed their first game*, Odin Sphere.  Not to say that their other games are bad. On the contrary, as...

Weekend Japanatainment - Opening Parody Edition

May 29 // Red Veron
[embed]35054:5657:0[/embed] Anime: SLAM DUNK There are many attempts at parodies of this anime's opening and some may wonder why many choose this show. This show happens to be one of most popular anime and manga in Japan and also a favorite in many countries around the world. There was another older parody video of this anime but I cannot find it and it happens to be one of the earliest ones around the internet. Just settle for this newer one.   [embed]35054:5658:0[/embed] Anime: Sailor Moon This is a great example of good editing and costume design as well as adding in comedic elements such as having a person dress up as a character while bearing no resemblance to the character while still in a accurate costume.    [embed]35054:5659:0[/embed] TV Show: Kamen Rider Black (Original Above, Parody Below) This is a great opening sung by the actor who plays the eponymous Kamen Rider Black, and the opening is 99% motorcycle riding. The parody below is pretty spot on with the riding the bike.   [embed]35054:5660:0[/embed] TV Show Parody: Kamen Rider Black Literally shot in someone's neighborhood with cobbled together cosplay. I love it.   [embed]35054:5661:0[/embed] Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion Another nicely made opening parody with good costumes with possibly just one person dressing up as most of the characters. There may be more actors but the quick snappy editing matches the original so well that it's hard to tell.   [embed]35054:5662:0[/embed] Anime: Lucky Star (Full Parody Below for your viewing pleasure) Oh God, why.   [embed]35054:5663:0[/embed] Anime Parody Video: Lucky Star WHY GOD?! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?   [embed]35054:5664:0[/embed] Anime Parody: Nichijou This is an odd one since this is not from fans but from a real company that makes video of a mature nature for people over the age of 18. This is very much a shot for shot remake of the original opening and is very well done. They spent a lot of real money on the production and I am very much impressed. Also, there is like one male actor in this opening who plays all the male roles in the opening.   Are there any opening or ending parodies that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!  Just paste the URL of the Youtube video into the comment!
Weekend Japanatainment photo
IRL Anime Homemade Openings
The word 'Parody" is defined as "an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect" and this week's Japanatainment is all about parodies of openings from anime an...

Strong Style: G1 is here!

May 28 // Soul Tsukino
We start off with a greeting from Hiroshi Tanahashi! Tetsuya Naito vs. Bad Luck Fale: Fale's expression in that picture matches mines perfectly when I saw this on AXS TV's schedule. At least this year they didn't hot shot a belt on him to make him look like a bigger threat than he really is. Naito is in a weird "Tranquilo" phase here where he is a lazy, unmotivated tweener who only does anything if he decides he wants to. He is already talking about Los Ingobernobles here, but so far it's just him. Fale comes down the aisle alone surprisingly. I guess with all the other Bullet Club heavyweights involved in the tournament as well  this would make sense. Naito comes out in a black suit and a silver skull mask. Jim and Josh talk about Naito's attitude change. In short he was getting booed in places like Tokyo and Osaka, so he went for a short excursion in Mexico and when he came back he labeled himself as one of the Ungovernables and talked about "tranquilo" and would stall and walk out of matches if the going got tough. Naito takes his time getting his gear off and the bell rings. Lock up into the ropes and Naito ducks Fale's strike and starts chopping the crap out of Fale. Fale just runs him over. Naito bails and starts strolling around the ring before Fale goes after him and tosses him around the ringside seats for a while. We skip ahead, thankfully. Both men are back in the ring as Fale goes for Naito, but Naito lands a dropkick right to the big man's knee. As Fale is on one knee, Naito comes up and slaps him on the head. He goes back for another attack but Fale catches him and dumps him in a Samoan drop and a two-count. Both get up and Fale goes for the charge but Naito hits a dropkick. With the big guy teetering, Naito grabs onto a toehold to send him down and work on the leg more. Fale has enough and kicks him off before blasting him right to the mat. Fale hits the big splash and gets a two-count. Big guy picks Naito up and goes for the bad luck fall (razor's edge). Naito smartly wiggles out, only for Fale to clobber him with a clothesline. Fale sets him up for the fall again, but Naito again wiggles out into a roll-up and the pin. Wait really? The official time was nearly 11 minutes. Not even half of that was shown here. Guess this one really sucked! Naito backstage gives the press crap making sure they can pronounce tranquillo. Katsuyori Shibata vs. A.J. Styles: *drooool* These two have never met before so this is one of those matches fans are really looking forward to. No real storyline here and there really doesn't need to be. Styles is the leader of The Bullet Club but that doesn't play into things much. This will hopefully be better. Styles comes out first alone. Yay! Instantly this match got a whole lot better. Shibata enters with his usual no-frills power walk. Bell rings with both men circling ready to go. Shibata goes for a high kick, but Styles back out. Shibata with a side headlock as Josh notices Shibata's right elbow is taped up. Shibata holds on the headlock despite several whip attempts before Styles sends him to the ropes that lead to a few kick attempts from both guys but no hits. Knuckle lock leads to Styles getting a lock on Shibata's other arm. Styles with a surfboard now. Shibata rolls through and back around right into an abdominal stretch! Awesome work there! Shibata gets a waist lock and Styles scrambles to the ropes but Shibata gives a clean break. "Shibata looks like a deadly human being"- Jim Ross. Truer words have never been spoken. Both guys start open slaps to each other before Styles goes down in the corner. Shibata darts across the ring to set up his hanging low dropkick but Styles leaps right up and follows him and hits a clothesline. Shibata goes to the outside and Styles follows him. Shibata gets the edge and high kicks him right over the metal barrier. Shibata goes back to the ring and Styles follows him but rolls right out. Shibata follows him out and Styles gets to the ringpost. Shibata goes for the kick and Styles ducks! The CLINK of his foot hitting the post is sickeningly loud. Back from the commercial with Styles over Shibata in the corner with some elbows. Shibata wills himself to stand up and hits Styles down into the corner. Shibata runs across and nails the hanging dropkick, kinda forgetting that he JUST KICKED A RINGPOST. He suplexes Styles down for a two-count. Styles hits a strike but it doesn't do anything as Shibata grabs on for another suplex attempt, however, it is Styles who gets him over. Styles goes for the stylesclash but Shibata scrambles out of it. Shibata stands up right into an enziguri. He tries for the stylesclash again but Shibata again escapes, only to end up in the calf killer leglock. Shibata gets to the ropes to break the hold. When Shibata gets up Styles hits some strikes on him but Shibata grabs him and dumps him with a death valley driver! Shibata then locks him in a sleeper and Styles keeps trying for the ropes but Shibata pulls him back. Styles goes for the injured arm with some elbows and momentarily releases the hold. However, Shibata locks in a chinlock with his good arm and bites his own hand to hold on! Styles breaks the contact and then hits the Pele kick. Bloody Sunday DDT! Styles gets the pinfall and 2 points! Studio words from Tanahashi. He has put away his issue with Yano from last year's tournament and is ready for his comeback. He respects Ibushi and remembers Kota taking Okada to the limit when they met not too long ago. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi: This was supposed to be one of the dream matches from last year's tournament but Ibushi ended up with an injury and had to withdraw from the tournament. So this is another dream match. Both guys get good reactions coming to the ring. We come back with the ring of the bell and we get this one underway. Circling around leads into a lock up and a clean break in the ropes. Knuckle lock leads into a grapple into the ropes and Tanahashi gives a small shove. Waistock by Tanahashi but Kota reverses into a knuckle lock and then into an armbar. Hiroshi gets the headlock into a takeover and a quick attempt at a pin before getting up. Hiroshi gets a crowd chant. They circle around again tentatively. Hiroshi gets a headlock and grinds down before Ibushi shoots him off and Hiroshi runs him over. Kota gets up and shoots the ropes, leapfrogs over Hiroshi then dropkicks him. Kota lays in with some hard kicks. He strikes Hiroshi down and tries for a kick but Hiroshi ducks, and rolls away from a moonsault. Kota's got some knee issues from hitting the mat and Hiroshi goes right for it. Hiroshi keeps up with kicks to Ibushi's knee and quad muscles. Hiroshi gets a leg lock on Kota's injured knee. Kota is SCREAMING but he gets to the ropes. Kota gets up and surprises Hiroshi with a stiff kick. He tries another but Hiroshi blocks it and drives the elbow into the injured leg. Kota sends Hiroshi into the buckle but gets an elbow for his effort. Hiroshi goes to the ropes, but Kota catches him with a dropkick and ends the ace outside the ring. Kota lines things up and executes his golden triangle moonsault to the outside! Kota is up and shakes out the injured knee as he rolls Tanahashi into the ring. Kota climbs to the ring apron and when Hiroshi looks up he gets hit with a HIGH springboard dropkick from Ibushi. Serious airtime for that! Both guys get up and start in with the duel of elbows and palm strikes. Kota lands some sidekicks before launching a standing dropkick. Kota gets back up and Hiroshi just nails him in the knee. Kota turns in pain and Tanahashi chop blocks him! Damn dude, you are the good guy! Kota rolls out of the ring but Tanahashi goes up and lands a cross body outside the ring! Hiroshi gets in and as Kota gets caught in the ropes, Hiroshi whips his bad leg three times on the ropes in a row! Hiroshi lands another dropkick to Kota's bad leg but when Hiroshi bounces off the ropes for a strike he runs right into an Ibushi side kick! Out of commercial both guys are slow to get up. Trading strikes now. Not quite the hits someone like Ishii or Makabe would throw, but they are going for it. Tanahashi ends that duel with a kick to the bad knee  Kota counters with a bunch of kicks before Hiroshi hits another screw leg whip. He then locks in a cloverleaf leglock. Kota gets into the ropes and stands up right into a waistlock and German suplex from Hiroshi. Hiroshi goes for the slingblade but gets a kick for his trouble. Undeterred he tries again and actually hits the slingblade into a two count. He tries for the high fly flow, but Kota gets up and gets a cross body for that. Hiroshi goes up again and flys right into  Ibushi's two knees. Both up as Kota hits rapid fire strikes and kicks into a frankenstiener and then Kota launches him right into the corner face first. That couldn't have felt good. Hiroshi rolls to the apron. Kota comes over and grabs Tanahashi over the top rope for a suplex attempt and actually gets him up and over! Wow, that was impressive. Kota goes for the pin but only gets two! Kota tries for a powerbomb but Hiroshi counters. He goes for a punch but Hiroshi ducks it but Kota hits another strike sending Tanahashi to the mat. Kota goes up and tries for a phoenix splash but Hiroshi moves and Kota lands right on his knees. Hiroshi goes up for the flow but Kota jumps up with a kick. Kota nails the frankensteiner off the top rope but Hiroshi kicks out! Kota drags Hiroshi up for the powerbomb again but Hiroshi flips out and nails the neckbreaker. Kota tries for a kick but Hiroshi catches his leg into another leg whip. They exchange strikes back and forth before Hiroshi hits the dragon suplex for two. Hiroshi scrambles up top and hits the high fly flow and gets the pin and 2 points! Kota struggles up and bows to Tanahashi out of respect before rolling out of the ring. Hiroshi grabs the mic. He thanks the crowd and says he's going to win the G1 climax. Backstage Kota says it was an unforgettable match and he accepts the loss. Hiroshi says that as long as Ibushi is there, the future of wrestling is bright. Studio Tanahashi words now and he admits that the header into the turnbuckle still gives him problems in his neck but that he would fight Ibushi again. Opening match aside, this was a fun way to kick off the tournament. The latter two matches were really good and set things up well for the rest of the tournament to come. In Block A matches we didn't see from this show: Hiroshi Tenzan beat Luke Gallows and Togi Makabe beat Toru Yano. So our points standing in block A have Tanahashi,Naito, Styles, Tenzan, and Makabe at 2 points with the others goose egg. But this is only the first day.  Next week we have two episodes of tournament coverage for you! We will see you then!
New Japan Pro Wrestling photo
The tournament kicks off!
Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Welp, after a month-long break we are back with the big G1 Climax tournament. If you read my primer last week then you know what i...

Week Ender - Super Sentai Edition

May 28 // Red Veron
[embed]35052:5653:0[/embed] Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (2011) This is the 35th anniversary entry in the long-running Super Sentai series, with the rangers having the special ability of transforming into past rangers and using the past rangers' special abilities in fighting evil. This season was also used to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Power Rangers.   [embed]35052:5654:0[/embed] Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (2009) I loved this season since it was more serious and not as goofy as the other seasons. The theme was all about Samurai, the sword wielding loyal warrior servants from olden Japan, and the samurai in the show portrayed with reverence.   [embed]35052:5655:0[/embed] Hikari Sentai Maskman (1987) Sorry, I couldn't find the original Japanese version which have disappeared since the last time I checked. This ending is the version I grew up watching in the Philippines every Sunday afternoon and I always enjoyed the ending since it was still action packed like the opening.   [embed]35052:5656:0[/embed] Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger (1992) This is the strangest and most fun ending here from the show that was the basis for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Enjoy the song.   Is there a Super Sentai show that you love? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! I wanna know!
Week Ender photo
Fighting Evil Beasts in the East
There is nothing more 70's than Super Sentai and to this day, it still feels like a product of its time. You still have brightly colored heroes performing acrobatics and a lot theatrics fighting rubber suit monsters but ...

5 Days A Hitchhiker: An Abridged Tour of Japan

May 27 // Lindo Korchi
Here are some tips to keep in mind when hitchhiking in Japan (or anywhere else): - While it's true that there have been a number of hitchhikers who've said that hitchhiking in Japan is easy, along with a short wait time, don't expect it. It may be quick, but it's best to prepare for the worst, which are long wait times. My shortest wait time was 15 minutes in Aga, and longest was 12 hours trying to get out of Niigata. It's really unpredictable. - If you're considering urban camping, I suggest testing it out for a few nights before your initial journey. Also, decide how you want to urban camp. Some people bring tents to be more comfortable; I cared more about my backpack being light and just brought a sleeping bag, which I'm sure is less comfortable, so it depends on you. - If you urban camp with just a sleeping bag, as I did, you'll definitely capture a glimpse of how it is to be a homeless person. Those two nights, one in the grass and the other in front of a cemetery, gave me a glimpse of their lives. I developed more compassion and understanding towards them due to being placed in their shoes, briefly. Valuable insight. (Resting spot in Niigata) - As a sign of appreciation, I recommend giving your driver a gift. I purchased a pack of cookies to give to each one of the awesome drivers who chose to pick me up and make my journey possible. - A very important point is to remember that no one is obligated to pick you up. It doesn't matter if you've been waiting for 15 hours in one spot. It can be frustrating at times, trust me, I know. But remember that you chose to take part in this journey, and sometimes waiting a ridiculously long time is part of it. Embrace it and enjoy; besides, it usually all works out for the best. - Another important thing to keep in mind: if you realize you don't like hitchhiking, nor want to continue, then you don't have to keep doing it. You can always wrap it up. Just as the drivers aren't obligated to pick you up, you also aren't obligated to continue on a journey that you realize isn't fit for you. In the end, hitchhiking and urban camping will take you out of your comfort zone and challenge you. You'll also develop a thicker skin the more you do it. And this is valuable. You'll constantly get rejected as cars blatantly ignore you. And it's up to you to persist or not. Will you shy away or persist in the face of rejection? In the beginning, I was uncomfortable. But by the 5th day, I was more confident in myself since I knew I could survive. It didn't matter that I was in some unknown town in Japan, I knew I'd find a way to sleep, eat, and get from one location to another. And it's because I was pushed to be more creative and think. And that's extremely valuable. All in all, be prepared to be challenged, pushed out of your comfort zone, wait long periods of time, meet great people, and have an unforgettable experience. If you're also interested in hitchhiking around Japan, then here is my full 5-day hitchhiking journey so you can see how it's like (and yes, timestamps are provided): [embed]35048:5652:0[/embed]
Hitchhiking in Japan photo
Here's to the Crazy Ones
The thought of hitchhiking as a form of travel sounds crazy; the implementation of actually doing it in Japan sounds impossible. Well, here's to the crazy ones who want to hitchhike in Japan. In short, I hitchhiked from the e...


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