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

One more time! Anime fans choose the series they’d most like to see rerun on TV

One of the really big differences between Japanese and American broadcasting is the relative lack of reruns on Japanese TV. With four, roughly 13-week seasons a year, and not nearly the plethora of channels available in the U.S., Japanese TV series, anime included, tend to chug straight from start to finish, and once they’re done, if you want to see an episode again, usually your only choice is on DVD or Blu-ray.

Once in a while, though, smaller carriers will pick up a series for rebroadcast after it’s finished its initial run. It’s a rare occurrence, though, so a recent poll asked anime fans which series they’d most like to see shown on TV one more time.

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“2D vs. Katana” exhibition shows off recreations of swords from anime and video games in Osaka

Last year, Tokyo’s Ueno Royal Museum held an exhibition of Japanese swords inspired by the mechanical and character designs of landmark anime Evangelion. As cool as some of the pieces looked, though, you won’t find any scenes in the giant robot franchise where someone actually fights using a katana.

On the other hand, right now the Osaka Museum of History is holding an event that goes even further in bridging the gap between fantasy and reality, by displaying recreations of amazing blades seen in anime, manga, and light novel illustrations.

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Ready to tie the anime knot? Company offers marriage certificate for you and your 2D waifu

Over the last few years, it’s become a trend for truly obsessive anime fans to start referring to their favorite female character as their wife, or waifu, thanks to the Japanese language’s almost complete lack of terminal consonants. Honestly, the whole phenomena is crazy, because how can you claim someone’s your spouse with no legal paperwork?

Seeking to make the spousal bond between husband and anime wife just a little more legitimate, one company is now offering marriage packs, complete with marriage certificates, for two popular anime lasses.

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Man parks over sidewalk guide for the blind, gets lesson in manners from Okinawan fourth-grader

There’s still a lot of room for improvement regarding the availability of elevators in Japan’s train stations and other public facilities, but the country doesn’t have a totally sub-par record in helping the disabled retain their mobility. For example, on the sidewalks of most moderately large streets, you’ll find a row of bumps that operate as a guide for blind pedestrians, indicating not only any curves in the walkway but also warning of intersections and steps ahead.

Obviously, good manners dictate keeping the path clear, but in all that empty space one Japanese motorist saw a perfectly-placed parking spot. And while Japanese culture often errs on the side of not sticking your nose in other people’s business, it looks like one elementary school student couldn’t let this go without giving the driver a piece of his mind, even if the inconsiderate owner wasn’t anywhere to be found right then.

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New Evangelion short film now streaming on animation studio’s website

It’s been almost two years since the theatrical release of the third Rebuild of Evangelion movie. The film series is a reboot of the phenomenally successful and influential psychological science-fiction anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. Or maybe it’s a sequel. Actually, knowing series creator Hideaki Anno’s penchant, and talent, for throwing viewers gigantic curve balls, it could be something else entirely.

All we really know is that fans have been waiting since January of 2014 for more Eva, and their patience has been rewarded with a brand-new, highly artistic Evangelion short that’s already streaming online.

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Too busy to wrap Christmas presents? Not if you’ve got 12 seconds, Japanese store shows【Video】

I honestly don’t remember the last time I wrapped a Christmas present. Due to a lack of time during the busy period at the end of the year, plus a lack of manual dexterity during…my life in general…I usually just put everyone’s presents into a gift bag.

However, if you want to give someone the gift of satisfaction that can only come from tearing through some festively patterned paper, and you’re got more aptitude for arts and crafts than me (trust me, you do), there’s no need to let your hectic schedule stop you, as this video shows you how to wrap a present in just 12 seconds.

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Blogger offers four pieces of advice for foreign women looking for love with a Japanese guy

Blogger Madame Riri often writes about her experiences as a Japanese woman in an international relationship who’s spent a considerable amount of time living abroad. Recently, though, she took a look at women in the opposite situation.

Sifting through the writings of Grace Buchele Mineta, a Texas-born expat married to a Japanese man and living in Japan since three years ago, Madame Riri pulled out four pieces of advice for non-Japanese women in or looking for a romantic relationship with a Japanese man in Japan.

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Video of crafty cat’s escape from behind bars shows no simple cage can hold him

Japan’s comparatively cramped housing means there’s not only less room for a home’s human occupants, but for its animal residents as well. Because of this, you may sometimes see pets spending a few hours a day in cages that, in other countries, would ordinarily be able to run free around the house.

But if the sight of a cat behind bars makes you feel a little sad, you’ll be happy to know that at least one Japanese feline can apparently escape whenever he feels like it.

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Cotton Wife and Cotton Husband aren’t huggy pillows, they’re life partners for the lonely!

Novelty goods manufacturer Bibi Lab would like to get one thing straight. Despite appearances, its life-sized, humanoid-shaped stuffed Wata Yome and Wata Danna are not hug pillows. And while the English text in the product logo may refer to them as “body pillows,” really, the company would prefer you to think of them as “partners for lonely people.”

Let’s look at what constitutes the freaky difference.

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Lonely Japanese life hack: Make your empty apartment look like a party (at least in the entryway)

The holidays can be a lonely time if you live alone. Sure, having a little time for yourself is nice and all, but there are only so many nights in a row you can spend silently sipping bourbon and staring out at the falling snow before it starts to become legitimately depressing/arguably alcoholism.

That vacuum of isolation when you step inside, shut the door behind you, and realize you’re totally alone can be a serious downer. So today, we’re sharing an extremely easy life hack to, even if just for a second, make you feel like instead of coming home to an empty apartment, you’ve got a group of friends waiting for you.

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Sushi and tempura stamps will spice up your New Year’s cards, probably still taste like glue

With just two weeks to go until the end of the year, people across Japan are scrambling to finish up writing their New Year’s Cards, or nengajo, as they’re called in Japanese. While traditions have softened and it’s becoming a bit more acceptable to send tidings by email, many still choose to send physical cards, since receiving personal mail is something of a rare treat these days.

That means most people need to make a trip to the post office to pick up some stamps, and Japan Post is happy to oblige with special New Year’s varieties. And though the ones for the upcoming Chinese zodiac animal are undeniably cute, the designs that really caught our attention were the sushi and tempura stamps.

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Dating websites offer advice on how to land a famous Japanese boyfriend (or at least stalk him)

Recently, Japanese media has coined a new term: “pro girlfriend.” While it might sound like a freshly-minted euphemism for women working for Japan’s highly specialized titillation/borderline prostitution providers, it’s actually pretty benign, as pro girlfriends are women who date or marry men from the professional entertainment or sports worlds, without being part of those industries themselves.

One reason they’ve captured the imaginations of celebrity-watchers is because of their ability to turn the heads of high-profile eligible bachelors, such as actors Hidetoshi Niishijima, Tetsuji Tamayama, Ryuta Sato, all of whom recently married their pro girlfriends. Just as compelling a question, though, is how pro girlfriends manage to meet their famous beaus?

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The Holy Grail of Sailor Moon merchandise will help your room smell as nice as Princess Serenity

As cool as the collection of magical items used by Sailor Moon are, you have to admit that most of them wouldn’t exactly be the most practical things in your daily life. For example, a tiara that transforms into a disc of monster-killing energy when you throw it? That’s handy if you’re an anime heroine, but what if you’re just an ordinary fan who’s not running into evil creatures at a pace of literally once a week?

So while your first reaction to the news that merchandiser Bandai’s new Rainbow Moon Chalice replica does not, in fact, transform you into a more powerful version of your preexisting alter ego, in the long run, you’ll probably appreciate the fact that it instead fills your room with a pleasing smell.

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Hate Frozen? Then you’ll love these photos of the Disney hit’s Olaf being murdered in pastry form

If Frozen struck a deep chord with you, it’s been a good year. Even now, months after the film’s home video release, it’s still got a hold on the imagination of animation and musical fans, and this week Japanese convenience store Family Mart started selling steamed buns filled with chocolate and shaped like Olaf, the Disney hit’s comic relief living snowman.

Family Mart did a fine job recreating Olaf’s look, and we’re sure moviegoers who were tickled by his antics are thrilled to have the character seemingly leap off the screen and into the palm of their hands. Plus, in a rare case of simultaneously being able to please a movie’s fans and detractors, the Olaf bun’s uncanny resemblance to its inspiration means it’s the perfect effigy for Frozen haters to unleash their resentment of the film’s success on.

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Evacuation orders issued as town in northern Japan is flooded by rising tidewaters

Residents of Nemuro City, the easternmost point on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, have a close relationship with the sea. Fishing is an important industry for the town, which is known for its salmon, saury, and shellfish, and being located on a long, thin peninsula means at any spot in Nemuro, you’re never far from at least two coastlines.

Unfortunately, this also means Nemuro has more angles from which to be flooded, and huge stretches of it are currently underwater due to rapidly rising tides, as dramatic photos from the city show.

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Can you guess the second Japanese inspiration behind this Polish artist’s beautiful illustration?

As someone who’s been a fan of anime and manga since long before they were as internationally popular as they are today, I’m always kind of happy when I see their visual cues show up in artwork from other countries. Sometimes it comes in high-profile productions, like when The Simpsons gave a tip of their animated hat to Studio Ghibli, but at the same, there are countless less well-known designers and artists whose styles can be traced to Japan’s cartoons and comics.

Take Polish illustrator Magdalena “Meago” Kania, for example, and her drawing of a blond with exquisitely thick, wavy hair who also sports the facial features and proportions commonly associated with anime and manga. But those aren’t the only Japanese inspirations the illustration contains, as we can spot one more when we take a step back and look at the whole picture.

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Smartphone games turns mushrooms into cute anime girls, still gives foreigners wacky accents

There aren’t many foods I hate more than mushrooms. I’ve got issues with both their taste and texture, and, to my eyes, they just look kind of gross, no matter which variety we’re talking about.

But while I don’t think I’ll ever completely come around on the idea of eating fungi, it’s nice to at least have a different visual image for them, thanks to a new smartphone game that’s turned a half-dozen types of mushrooms into cute anime girls.

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We eat the Resident Evil curry, discover it’s very tasty, not at all itchy 【Taste test】

It might be hard to imagine, what the guns-blazing nature of its live-action film adaptations and later video game sequels, but the original PlayStation Biohazard, retitled Resident Evil for its overseas release, was remarkably stingy with its weapons and ammo. Having to make the most of every bullet meant waiting until enemies were as close as possible before deciding whether or not to fire, but being a fraction of a second too late let the game’s powerful zombies tear into your tasty human flesh.

As such, smart players always kept a green healing herb on themselves, to help fill up their life meter. Now, survival horror fans can use green herbs to fill up their stomachs, as Biohazard curry is now on sale in Japan. Curious to know whether a dish based on a game featuring flesh-eating monsters could ever be truly tasty, we grabbed a pack for ourselves.

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Izumo’s Starbucks, a stone’s throw away from the gathering place of Shinto’s eight million gods

Shintoism has such a large pantheon of gods that the religion even has a structured way in which they all keep in touch with each other. Every October, the deities enshrined across the nation are said to gather in Shimane Prefecture’s Izumo Taisha Shrine, where they convene for their annual divine meeting.

We imagine it’s a busy conference, considering that some eight million deities are thought to attend. So we’re sure several of them were happy to find Izumo City now has a Starbucks, with the same tasty beverages the chain serves all over Japan, but with Japanese décor that’s unique to Izumo.

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Sayonara, spuds! McDonald’s Japan halts sales of medium and large orders of French fries

I’m heading back to the U.S. for a couple of days at the end of the year, and as much as I love Japan, it’ll be nice to spend some time doing things I can’t here. Aside from seeing family and friends, I’m looking forward to watching a college bowl game or two, plus soaking up some warm January sunshine, which tends to be much more plentiful in California than Kanagawa Prefecture.

And as long as I’m making a list of things you can’t do in Japan, I should probably add getting a large batch of French fries at McDonald’s, since, for the time being, the chain will only be selling small sizes of spuds in Japan.

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