Casey Baseel

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Casey Baseel spent his formative years staring in frustration at un-subtitled Japanese TV programming shown on Southern California’s international channel. Taking matters into his own hands, he moved to Tokyo to study the language, then found work in Yokohama a decade ago teaching, translating, and marketing hotels he can’t afford to stay in. When not participating in the eternal cycle of exercising to burn the calories form his love of Japanese food, Casey scours used comic and game shops for forgotten classics, drags his wife around the country in a quest to visit all its castles, sings karaoke not nearly as well as he thinks he does, and counts the days until the summertime bars open on Enoshima Beach.

All Stories by Casey Baseel

Sailor Moon cookie charms look good enough to eat, but they’re for your bag, not your tummy

Like any healthy human beings, our ears perk up at the mention of “a dozen cookies.” But while we were all set to spoil our appetites with the tasty treats, it turns out that these particular sweets aren’t edible.

Ordinarily, we’d be storming off in a huff, but we’re giving these imposters a pass, because they’re a set of 12 cookie-themed Sailor Moon charms.

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Seniors in Osaka less than thrilled at government offer to review their pension spending habits

There are certain privileges that come along with adulthood. For example, if I decide I really want to eat a bag of cookies for dinner or stay up until sunrise playing video games, there’s really not a whole lot any other person can do to stop me (even if my body is likely to eventually break down in protest of the unhealthy lifestyle).

Likewise, one you hit the age where you stop getting an allowance from your parents and start earning a legitimate paycheck, you’re generally considered to have earned the freedom to spend your money however you want. And just like you wouldn’t take kindly to someone trying to reinstate a bed time for you, seniors in Osaka aren’t too crazy about a government offer to check up on how they’re spending their government-administered pensions.

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Strapped for cash, 1,400-year-old Kyoto shrine leasing part of its grounds for condo development

One of the things that makes Japan such a compelling place is the country’s long cultural history. The upkeep of centuries-old buildings can be extremely expensive, however, especially since traditional Japanese architecture is mainly wood, reed, and paper, which aren’t exactly the sturdiest building materials.

As we’ve seen before, sometimes even sites of historical significance can struggle to make ends meet, and Kyoto’s famous Shimogamo Shrine is no exception. That’s why in order to raise the funds it needs, the institution, which was founded some 1,400 years ago, is planning to lease a section of its grounds for the construction of a condominium complex.

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Shipwreck of massive Japanese battleship discovered after more than 70 years 【Video】

No one would blame Paul Allen if, having reached the age of 62, he decided to relax and take life easy. After co-founding Microsoft and becoming one of the wealthiest people on the planet, most of us would feel we’d earned a little break.

Allen, though, continues to take on new projects. Owner in whole or part of three professional sports teams, Allen is also major philanthropist who makes donations to further medicine, science, and ecological conservation.

He also owns the 15th largest yacht in the world, the Octopus. While it’s luxuriously appointed, the ship also takes part in humanitarian and research missions, with its latest accomplishment being the discovery of the sunken Japanese battleship Musashi.

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Godzilla appears in the Tokyo skyline atop new Shinjuku skyscraper! 【Photos】

Each neighborhood of Tokyo has its own unique feel, but it’s hard to top Shinjuku. Located in the heart of downtown, Shinjuku has just about everything you could ask for in a modern metropolis, boasting such attractions as a beautiful garden, extensive shopping options, an uncountable array of restaurants and bars, and the RocketNews24 offices.

And now, there’s one more reason to come to Shinjuku. A big one in fact, as the King of the Monsters, Godzilla himself, is literally watching over the district in the form of a life-size replica of the creature’s head peering down from one of its skyscrapers.

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New game lets you save the world with your vacuum and toaster…who are also beautiful anime girls!

Released a little less than two months ago, smartphone game Touken Ranbu, with a cast of characters made up of famous swords from history transformed into handsome young men, has proven itself to be a solid hit. It’s just the latest success story, though, in the established video game genre of “many attractive people who’re actually anthropomorphized [something].”

Still, samurai swords seem like a pretty good well to draw from in creating heroic video game characters. But can you replicate that kind of enthusiastic response with  household appliances and consumer electronics though? We’re about to find out, with the upcoming title Kaden Shojo, which has you saving the world with a the help of a toaster, washing machine, and refrigerator, all of whom, of course, take the form of cute anime girls.

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Clever kitchen tool adds paws-itively adorable cat paws to your meal

Japan’s numerous cat cafes are proof positive of the appeal of combing a bite to eat and feline companionship. But no matter how cute those kitties may be, you don’t actually want one walking all over your food, do you?

So instead, this clever kitchen tool will add an adorable pawprint to your meal even as your cat’s feet stay firmly on the floor.

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Yahoo! Japan to make disaster relief donation for every person who searches for 3.11 on March 11

Four years on, the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis that befell Japan’s Tohoku region on March 11, 2011 have very little effect on the day-to-day lives of most people in the country. The rolling blackouts have stopped. Batteries and bottled water are once again readily available. Trains are running, and whole cities aren’t spending hours walking home from work or school.

But while a return to normalcy is a desirable, and ultimately necessary, part of recovery, it’s also important to remember what happened. To stem the forgetfulness that often accompanies the later stages of coping with tragedy, on March 11 Yahoo! Japan will be making a donation to the Tohoku recovery efforts for every person that searches for “3.11” through the company’s search engine.

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Goku vs. Frieza! Dragon Ball Z’s heroes and villains star in epic dance-off/soda commercials

Action movie stars have often commented that performing fight scenes has more in common with dancing than actually trying to knock a dude out. So if live-action on-camera martial arts is all about rhythm, footwork, and cool poses, does that mean that anime’s bareknuckle fighters are also talented dancers?

That’s certainly the conclusion we’ve come to after watching these slick soda ads featuring the cast of Dragon Ball Z.

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Ditch the Batcave and book yourself a night at this Batman hotel room in Taiwan

Isn’t it a little weird that Batman spends so much time in a Batcave? After all, by night he may be fighting crime as the Caped Crusader, but deep down inside, he’s still multi-millionaire Bruce Wayne (ummm…spoiler for the unsuspecting citizens of Gotham who didn’t know that about their local captain of industry).

Wealthy enough to be used to the finer things in life, we imagine that at the very least, he wants more luxuriously appointed accommodations when he travels. Thankfully, the next time Wayne Enterprises has business to attend to in Taiwan, their dashing young CEO can have his assistant book him a night in this Batman hotel room.

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Disney characters cosplay as adorable edible Easter bunnies for cake maker Cozy Corner

If you were fighting the temptation to dig into confectioner Cozy Corner’s selection of cakes inspired by the leading ladies of the Disney animated canon, congratulations. Your struggle is over, since as of March 4, they’re no longer available.

If, on the other hand, you were hoping to try the stylish sweets for yourself but just couldn’t find the time, you have our sincere sympathies. Don’t feel too bad, though, because no sooner has one set of Cozy Corner Disney desserts bowed out than another has appeared on the scene, this time featuring the studio’s beloved characters cosplaying as Easter bunnies.

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Resort in the Philippines decides to stop ripping off Gundam, rip off another robot instead

It’s a fact of life that copyright laws just aren’t as strictly enforced in many other parts of Asia as they are in Japan. So when photos started making the online rounds showing a resort in the Philippines with a statue of anime robot Gundam that’s as huge as it is fake, we responded with a laugh and a shrug of our shoulders.

But maybe having their clear case of intellectual property infringement become laughed at online made the management of Jed’s Island Resort rethink their decision. Recent photos show that the statue has been repainted, and its new color scheme doesn’t look like Gundam’s at all. So, is it an original design?

Of course not! They just found a different famous robot to copy.

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Boys’ turn: The top 10 most common shonen manga scenarios, according to Japanese fans

Last week, we took a look at some of the most common scenarios in shojo manga, Japan’s subset of comics aimed at young female readers. And yes, sometimes it seems like you can pick up just about any shojo manga, flip to a random page, and stand a pretty good chance of finding a scene where a guy with an impossibly tall nose, incredibly thin waist, tearfully tragic backstory, and enviably huge inheritance is moving in next door to the heroine.

But turnabout is fair play, and shonen manga, or boys’ comics, also have a set of storytelling conventions that get used repeatedly, so today we’re looking at the top 10 most instantly recognizable.

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After Obama’s otaku outing, images surface of Love Liver Joe Biden getting cozy with anime idols

Late last month, we got indisputable visual evidence (which is by no means to be confused with humorous photoshopped evidence) of something we’ve been suspecting for the last several years: U.S. President Barack Obama is a huge fan of cute girl anime.

Politics being what they are, the vice president tends to follow the president’s lead on major issues such as foreign affairs, economic policy, and what gets watched on the federal property DVD players after all those press conferences are over. So it’s only natural that images, every bit as convincing as those of President Obama, have now surfaced showing Vice President Joe Biden to be passionately infatuated with the teenaged idols of anime Love Live!

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Staggering servings of salmon roe are waiting for you at these four Tokyo restaurants

There are a couple of distinct price tiers to seafood in Japan. Squid and octopus tend to be very budget-friendly, with a step up in price for sashimi-grade tuna and salmon. Among the most premium offerings of all is where you’ll find salmon roe, or ikura as it’s known in Japanese.

Due to its high cost, ikura is usually served in modest quantities, sometimes seeming more like a garnish than a legitimate component of the meal. However, that’s not the case at these four Tokyo restaurants, which dish up such generous portions that their ikura literally overflows the bowl.

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Is Metal Gear Solid V finally getting a release date? Mysterious countdown appears on website

Instant gratification and quick answers aren’t exactly the hallmarks of the Metal Gear video game franchise. Not only does its stealth-based gameplay reward patience over diving head-first into combat, but the events set in motion in 1998’s Metal Gear Solid, most modern gamers entry point into the series, didn’t get any sort of conclusion until the release of Metal Gear Solid 4, a full 10 years later.

There’s been a similarly slowly paced trickle of information about the series’ newest chapter, the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which has been featured in trade show videos for years, and even had its own commercially released, extended-length preview game, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Now, the next tidbit seems to be coming soon, as a mysterious countdown clock has appeared on the official Metal Gear V website.

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Dutch restaurant’s odd ramen with soybeans has one ingredient we didn’t expect, lacks one we did

As the cuisine of one country becomes popular inn others, sometimes it picks up new ingredients and variations of part of its journey around the globe. For example, spaghetti bolognese is incredibly popular in Japan, but so is pasta with mentaiko (spicy cod roe).

The fact that the latter isn’t something you’d ever find in an authentic Italian restaurant doesn’t make it any less delicious. So when our Japanese-language reporter Yuichiro spotted a restaurant in the Netherlands advertising ramen with one very unusual ingredient, he decided to give it a shot. Little did he know, though, that the surprises were just beginning.

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How to double the value of your $10 car: Spend 30 minutes adding racing stripes!

Some of you may remember the fateful day last spring when our Japanese-language reporter Go bought what was probably the cheapest car in Japan by acquiring his current ride for just 980 yen (US $8.30). Nine months later, not only is his 1997 Mitsubishi Minica still firing on all three cylinders under its hood, but it recently passed its mandatory biennial safety inspection, called shaken in Japanese.

In celebration, Go treated the Minica to a wash for the first time since he drove it back to Tokyo from Nagoya. With a fresh coat of wax, it was looking better than ever, but Go still wasn’t 100-percent satisfied with the car’s appearance. See, Go believes the Mini is just an overall cooler car than the Minica, so he set out to transform the latter into the former using the finest vinyl sheets and magic markers he could find.

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How to cook pot stickers in just three seconds: Lots of garlic, lots of craziness 【Video】

I love gyoza, the pork and garlic-packed dumplings that you can find in diners, ramen joints, and grocery stores across Japan. Seriously, when the Japan Gyoza Association released an ad that was just a dude running around with a delirious grin saying, “Aha! Gyoza! Ahaha!” it seemed, to me, like the most natural reaction in the world to the little wrapped bits of deliciousness.

Really, the only complaint I have about gyoza is that I don’t have a freshly cooked batch in front of me right now. With a solution to that problem, here’s a video of how to make gyoza in just three seconds, without using a microwave.

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Cherry blossom beer. Taste test. Need we say more?

After three months of cold weather, I’m ready for spring. Coincidentally, after a long week of work, I’m ready for a beer.

Lucky me, these two desires have dovetailed perfectly in the form of Kanagawa Prefecture microbrewer Sankt Gallen’s newest offering, made with the petals of the harbinger of Japanese spring, cherry blossoms. So strap on your drinking caps, because it’s time for the sakura beer taste test!

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