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

The running of the otaku! Event staffer learns not to get in fans’ way as gates open【Video】

With some jobs, the risks are obvious. Want to be an F1 racer? Driving cars at unsafe speeds is pretty much the extent of your work responsibilities. Firefighter? Be prepared to get up-close and personal with dangerous flames, because after all, the position isn’t called “fire-mediation-and-peacekeeping-liaison.”

Working the gate at a fan event for a video-sharing website seems like it should be relatively safe, though. That’s not always the case, though, as one man found out when he became a human speed bump standing against a crowd of stampeding fans at the recent Niconico Chokaigi.

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Sailor Shoes and Luna too! Sailor Moon pumps are the latest way for anime fans to get their kicks

You could argue that it’s silly for the heroines of Sailor Moon to wear heels, seeing as how, like clockwork, they’re required to head into battle against dangerous monsters once a week. But while the Sailor Senshi are the defenders of humanity, they’re also five fashionable young girls, so you can see how they (or series creator Naoko Takeuchi) would be reluctant to go with, say, combat boots instead.

If you’re a Sailor Moon fan living in the real world, though, fighting evil probably doesn’t figure into your footwear choices, leaving you free to step out in these heels inspired by the Sailor Senshi, or the sensible flats modeled after their feline mentor Luna.

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Tokyo exhibition on cultural impact of anime and video games adds list of series to be examined

On any given day in a Tokyo summer, you can expect the weather to be hot, rainy, or a sticky mixture of the two. As such, it’s usually a good idea to have a couple of indoor activates in mind in case you need a break from the sweltering heat.

Thankfully, Japan’s capital is filled with museums, and one will be holding a special exhibition on the cultural impact of anime, manga, and video games. We’ve been looking forward to this event for a while, and now there’s even a partial list of titles that are scheduled to be highlighted.

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Like a boss – Anime fans pick the top 30 characters they’d like to work for

It’s well known that many anime fans, in the midst of watching a show, start to develop a crush on their favorite character (and sometimes that crush becomes a fullon obsession). But the admiration fans feel towards a 2-D character isn’t always tied to romantic rumblings. Sometimes, they see an anime icon and instead of “I wish that was my girlfriend/boyfriend,” they find themselves thinking “I wish that was my boss!”

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Now on sale: The Kiki’s Delivery Service Broom, officially licensed by Studio Ghibli

In general, anime merchandise tends to be full of wonder and whimsy. Much like how the medium of animation allows creators to escape the restrictions of reality, many of the trinkets that are pitched to anime fans are supposed to be approximations of items they’re not likely to come across in their daily life, such as a mystical chalice or magic wand.

But hey, if you’re Studio Ghibli, Japan’s most venerated animation house, you can make anything seem magical, even an officially licensed broom.

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Japan’s awesome, eco-friendly, old-school water heaters (and how to use them)

Japan may seem like a futuristic wonderland, what with its high-tech toilets and their array of functions that clean your bottom, heat your cheeks, and even provide sound effects to cover the natural ones that accompany your bathroom business. But technology is constantly evolving at a rapid rate, and each new innovation replaces something that used to be cutting-edge.

Case in point; every spring, thousands of young Japanese people leave home and move into their first, low-rent apartment to start school or a new job, and you can expect at least a couple will be shocked when they go to take a shower, discover this giant contraption next to the tub, and have no idea what it does.

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Foreign tourist in Japan snaps a photo of the sea, his daughter, and maybe a ghost

Kanagawa Prefecture has some of the most popular beaches in Japan, especially along the section of the coast known as Shonan. A magnet for both locals and day trippers from Tokyo, when the sun is shining you’ll find a cross section of Japanese society in and around the water, including surfers, partying college students, couples, and families,

And, some claim, a ghost that was captured in the background of this photo a foreign traveler took of his daughter.

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Those of you who spend much time thinking about sports, international politics, or moaning, naked women might recall the incident a few years ago where Chinese soccer fans held up banners proclaiming “The Senkaku Islands belong to us! Sola Aoi belongs to the world!” The dual proclamation served as a simultaneous declaration of their territorial stance towards the disputed land masses and their egalitarian attitude regarding the Japanese porn star-turned singer and actress who’s amassed a massive fanbase in China.

The Senkaku issue remains a thorny one, in part complicated by the islands stubborn refusal to simply pick a side in the spat between Japan and China and move themselves closer to one country or the other. Sola, on the other hand, is much more mobile, and may be taking the comment about the whole world having the right to bask in her aura to heart as she’s reportedly considering moving her target market from China to Southeast Asia.

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Beautiful hotel on the Shikoku coast will make you feel like you’ve warped from Japan to Greece

Japan is an island nation. That means that wherever you go, you’re never all that far from good seafood, but also that you can’t get to any other countries without hopping on a plane or ocean liner.

So you might find yourself doing a double take when, while driving down the road in Kochi Prefecture, you come across a hotel that looks more like it belongs on the coast of Greece than Japan.

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No doctors or hairdressers! Survey asks Japanese women what professions they don’t want to date

Japan is a country that values fiscal responsibility and economic security, and that can influence how people judge a possible romantic partner. For example, we previously looked at a survey in which an overwhelming number of women said they’d rather date a man who’s ugly but rich than a guy who’s handsome and unemployed.

That doesn’t mean that just any old job will do, though. A new poll asked Japanese women what jobs were deal-breakers for a potential boyfriend, and the resulting list includes some surprisingly high-paying professions.

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Mama Cards! All the social trickiness of Japanese business cards with none of the economic gains

Japan has a lengthy protocol for the proper way to exchange business cards. There are rules of etiquette that govern how to hand to over your own card, how to respectfully read your counterpart’s, and even how long to wait before putting it away.

Outside of the business world, you might think you’re safe from this troublesome trapping of corporate culture. Recently, though, some mothers in Japan have started making personal name and contact cards to give to other moms they meet through their kids’ school and extracurricular activities, and are discovering that being outside the office doesn’t make things any simpler.

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Manga goes 2.5-D with artist’s awesomely clever paper cutout photography 【Photos】

These days, we’re seeing more and more manga and anime being adapted into live-action movie, stage, and musical versions. In other words, Japanese animation and comics are going from the 2-D world to the 3-D one.

But it turns out there’s an intermediary step that we’ve been forgetting. Here with a reminder is one talented comic artist who’s using illustrated cutouts of his characters, settings, and even sound effects to create an amazing 2.5-D manga.

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All-you-can-drink sake in the park as 23 brewers come to Tokyo for the Shibuya Sake Festival

Late spring is one of the few universally pleasant times to spend outdoors in Japan. The cold of winter and the heavy pollen counts of early spring are gone, and the heat and humidity of summer are yet to make their appearance.

Of course, some would say that no matter how nice the weather is outdoors, it’s even more comfortable to have a drink in hand. Next month, you’ll be able to scratch both those itches at once with the Shibuya Sake Festival in Tokyo’s Miyashita Park, where you can spend a day drinking as much as you’d like of more than 100 different kinds of sake.

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Anna Sui’s new manga accessory collection includes anime eye pouches and torso bags

March 31 was the last day to pick up something from Anna Sui’s line of Sailor Moon purses and accessories. The American designer hasn’t exhausted all of her Japanese animation and comic inspirations, though.

Next month Anna Sui pop-up stores are scheduled to open at six locations in Japan, where fashion fans can find exclusive bags, wallets, and pouches that take cues from some of Japan’s most famous manga creators, including Osamu Tezuka, Ryoko Ikeda, and Rumiko Takahashi.

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Get in the Gundam robot! Event lets fans sit in giant Zeta Gundam replica cockpit

While the 1:1-scale Gundam statue in Tokyo is, with good reason, a mecca for mecha lovers, it’s not the only extra-large recreation of combat hardware from anime’s most prolific robot franchise. Clear on the other side of Japan’s island of Honshu, Okayama Prefecture has its own statue, modeled after the MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam.

On one hand, Okayama’s mobile suit isn’t life-size, but it still stands an impressive seven meters (23 feet) tall. Even better, this weekend fans will get to climb into its cockpit.

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Master glass craftsmen creating 500 handmade Spears of Longinus for Evangelion giveaway

With its crowdfunding project falling short of its goal, Evangelion’s Spear of Longinus won’t be hitching a ride to the moon after all. That doesn’t mean the iconic weapon isn’t still going places, though.

As part of the influential anime’s 20th anniversary celebration, 500 lucky fans will be receiving handmade glass replicas of the spear, just the right size for equipping their Eva models with. The talented craftsman responsible for the high-class anime goodies recently spoke about the experience of making them, and one of them could be yours as long as you remember that you mustn’t run away from your daily glass of vegetable juice.

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Origami at the dinner table! How to make cranes and doggies out of your chopstick sheath

Ramen joints and other cheap restaurants in Japan often just leave a container of chopsticks out on the table for customers to grab a pair from. Classier dining establishments, however, set the table with a pair of chopsticks for each guest tucked inside of a paper chopstick sheath, called a hashibukuro in Japanese.

But what do you do once you’ve pulled your chopsticks out of the cover? You could leave the empty sheath lying on the table, or, seeing as how you’re sitting in a Japanese restaurant with a piece of paper, you could use it to make some cool origami art.

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Three Shiba Inu puppies, one head of Chinese cabbage, tons of smiles 【Video】

In describing the Japanese countryside, you could say it’s tranquil, peaceful, beautiful, or traditional. “Exciting,” though, probably isn’t what you’d call Japan’s farmland, where life pretty much consists of field work during the day and sleep not long after the sun goes down.

Of course, that’s going by human standards. If you’re a dog, rural Japan can be filled with thrills. For example, while most of us would look at the setting of this video and see a vegetable patch, to these three adorable pups it’s an awesome Chinese cabbage buffet!

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Buddhist temple singles parties: The enlightened way to find a romantic partner

Buddhism and Shintoism share space pretty peacefully in Japan, partially thanks to a division of duties. Shinto shrines, for example, handle weddings, while Buddhist temples are the locations of funerals and graveyards.

These days, though, a few Buddhist temples are helping singles find someone to marry at one of those Shinto weddings, though, as one sect of Buddhism in east Japan has branched out into organizing matchmaking parties.

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Pikachu outbreak to happen again in Yokohama this summer, this time with dance fever!

Half-way through April, all of the cherry blossoms are gone from the Tokyo area, and while it’s good to know that they’ll be back in 12 months’ time, it’s always kind of a bummer to see them go.

Thankfully, though, there’s plenty to look forward to as the weather starts to heat up. For example, traditional festivals and amazing fireworks displays take place all across Japan during July and August. Plus, it looks like there’s a new annual summer event now, as the city of Yokohama is going to once again be overrun by Pikachus this year, and this time it sounds like all 1,000-plus of the unbearably cute Pocket Monsters have come down with dance fever!

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