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

Why does Burger King’s black burger turn poo green in the U.S. and the U.K., but not Japan?

If you’ve gone on a few overseas trips, you may be familiar with the phenomenon of travel poo, wherein your stool takes on a different hue for a few days as you adjust to local ingredients. It’s far less common for the opposite to occur, but that’s what seems to be happening with Burger King’s black burgers, which have become a repeating success story in Japan.

Burger King is currently offering its darkly colored sandwich in the U.S. and the U.K., but many are reporting that while the company turned the burger’s bun black, the burger is turning their poo green. But what’s behind this transformation, and why didn’t it happen in Japan?

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Japanese employment site reimagines web developers, accountants, and more as anime RPG heroes

Career arcs in Japan used to be simple. You finished school, got a job, and worked there until it was time to retire. Along the way, you were paid a salary calculated strictly on the basis of how long you’d been with the company.

That’s not necessarily the case anymore, and as more and more Japanese switch employers, and even industries, they need a baseline from which to evaluate the pay of potential posts, which is where Japanese website Kyuryo Bank comes in. Yes, Kyuryo Bank has all the salary-related numerical data and progression charts you’d expect, but it also has something truly unique: awesome anime-style illustrations of professions ranging from public accountant and lawyer to web designer, pro blogger, and yes, even “chicken sexer.”

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Four years after nuclear incident, chilling Fukushima photos show healing is still not complete

In 2008, Polish photographer Arkadiusz Podniesinski travelled to Chernobl for the first time to document the aftermath of the Ukranian nuclear disaster. He would return multiple times, filming two documentaies in the process.

With more than 20 years having passed since the Chernobl incident and Podniesinski’s first trip to the site, the tragedy must have seemed like a relic of the past, but then came the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear crisis. More than four years later, access to much of Fukushima is still restricted due to dangerous amounts of radiation, but Podniesinski recently traveled to the affected area and brought back haunting images that drive home how abruptly the end of life as residents knew it came, and how many sings of the devastation still remain.

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One Piece manga creator’s work schedule is absolutely insane

Man, being a professional manga artist must be a great life, right? For passionate and artistic individuals, it’s hard to imagine a sweeter deal than making a living just by dreaming and drawing, thinking up new worlds and bringing them to life.

And things must be even better if you’re the creator of a hit series, since not only are you bringing joy to thousands, or even millions, of fans, you’re also getting paid handsomely to do it. But even if you’re convinced you’ve got the skills to make it as a manga pro, before you go quitting your desk job you might want to check out the insane schedule of the most successful artist working in the industry today, One Piece’s Eiichiro Oda.

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Working like a dog – Old-timey Japanese invention planned to turn pooch power into butter

Japan’s Meiji period ushered in revolutionary changes to the country. As over 200 years of self-imposed isolation came to an end, centuries of economic, political, and scientific advances came flooding into Japan, and the nation’s thinkers and entrepreneurs began scrambling to modernize. Thanks to their efforts, soon after the Meiji period began in 1868, Japan had its first railways, banks, and apparently a dog-powered butter-making machine.

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Japan’s finest green tea, now available in bottled form at an eye-popping price

Japan may have invented the tea ceremony, but that doesn’t mean that every occasion to drink the beverage is considered a solemn cultural experience. Modern residents of Japan don’t generally have the time for a highly ritualized brewing and sipping of a cup of tea, and are instead far more likely to satisfy their cravings with an inexpensive bottle of green tea bought from a vending machine or convenience store.

But swinging the pendulum back the other way is beverage company Ito En, which is releasing a super-premium bottled green tea made with Japan’s highest quality leaves, and an eye-popping price to match.

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Cat got your pen? It will with these adorable kitty-shaped stationery holders

Even if you’re happy to share your home or workspace with a cat, there are still certain boundaries you want to maintain. In the past we’ve looked at special products designed to keep your feline companion off your chair or keyboard, and to make sure everything stays tidy most people want their desk to stay cat-free as well. However, with this new line of kitty-shaped pencil stands you can have a whole team of organizational felines adorably holding everything in its proper place.

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Japan’s newest Shinkansen is world’s fastest gallery, packed with contemporary art inside and out

From an engineering standpoint, Japan’s famed Shinkansen is already a work of art. Recently, though, the country’s bullet trains have been putting a renewed effort into their appearance, taking inspiration from centuries-old tradition and science-fiction anime.

The latest Shinkansen to be unveiled, though, incorporates design cues more modern than tatami reed floors yet not as futuristic as giant robots. Instead, it’s envisioned as a travelling gallery of contemporary art, allowing for what operator East Japan Railways calls “the world’s fastest art appreciation.”

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Häagen-Dazs’ awesome mochi ice creams with black sugar syrup and sweet miso glaze are coming back

Last February, we had the opportunity to combine our loves for Japanese food and ice cream when Häagen-Dazs released a line of ice cream topped by mochi rice cakes and flavored like traditional Japanese confectionaries. We got our hands on one flavor and were blown away by how amazing it tasted, and so was the rest of Japan.

Before long, the supplies of both flavors of mochi ice cream were exhausted, and the freezer sections of convenience stores and supermarkets across Japan has always looked a little lonelier in their absence. Now, though, Häagen-Dazs has announced that its kinako kuromitsu and mitarashi kurumi mochi ice creams, featuring roasted soybean flour, black sugar syrup, sweet soy glaze, and walnuts, are making a triumphant return.

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Japanese man’s parents present Notice of Expiration of Child-Rearing Services on 20th birthday

Unlike in the U.S., legal adulthood in Japan doesn’t begin until the age of 20. But while that means an extra two years to enjoy the benefits and protection society affords to minors, everyone has to grow up sometime, and for one Japanese Twitter user the transition was especially abrupt.

On his 20th birthday as his parents presented him with a written notice congratulating him on graduating from childhood and celebrating his newfound freedoms, while spelling out exactly what they, and the world, now expected of him as an adult.

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Open stall indicators, fresh flowers, and the superb cleanliness of a Japanese highway restroom

On long car trips in the U.S., I didn’t really find the prospect of using a highway rest stop bathroom significantly more appealing than just holding it until I got to my destination, whether that meant waiting until the next city or the next state. Honestly, given how filthy a lot of the public toilets were, I was generally happier with a deserted stretch of road or a grove of trees I could pull over near.

In Japan, though, it’s a different story, as this video of a rest stop bathroom shows it to be cleaner and classier than the one in many people’s homes.

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Turn your smartphone into a magical girl with two new Sailor Moon iPhone cases

As of last month, the line of Sailor Moon lingerie is back on sale again, helping fans of the series unleash their inner Sailor Senshi with some anime-themed innerwear. Now that you’ve got your intimate apparel needs filled, if you’re troubled by your smartphone being completely naked there’s a similar solution in the form of these Sailor Moon costume iPhone cases!

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“Do you prefer busts or bottoms?” Prison School drama looks to be as lewd as the anime 【Videos】

Last month, we got our first in-costume look at the cast of the upcoming live-action TV adaptation of manga and anime Prison School. But while the production’s casting directors, stylists, and costumers have done a commendable job making the real-life performers look like their 2-D inspirations, fans have been wondering if the live-action Prison School will still feel like its source material.

After all, it’s not uncommon for there to be a major shift in tone when anime goes live-action, and a lot of the outlandishly pervy stuff that goes on in the animated Prison School ostensibly gets a pass from censors because it’s not being done by real people. Still, it doesn’t look like the live-action Prison School is looking to change the formula that worked for both the anime and the manga, as its two preview videos show it’s still perfectly happy to bask in its ludicrous lewdness, as well as repeatedly ask the question “Do you prefer butts or breasts?”

Heads-up! Depending on how accepting your workplace environment is of ludicrous lewdness, you might want to save these videos for after you get home.

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“The sushi is swimming!” Japanese sushi-maker’s koi-shaped nigiri is a work of art

So what’s the quintessential visual representation of fish in Japanese culture? Is it a decorative koi, swimming gracefully in a garden pond? Or is it a delectable piece of sushi sitting atop an elegant piece of tableware?

Maybe it’s both, like these koi-shaped sushi morsels that combine five staples of the popular dish into a beautiful piece of edible art.

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Eat your eyeballs! Japanese traditional confectioner offers line of eye-grabbing Halloween sweets

With Japan’s growing love of Halloween, and it’s long-held affection for seasonal sweets, the country now gets a bumper crop of special desserts for the year’s spookiest holiday. So far, most of these have been Japanese brands of Western-style candies and cookies with a Halloween-themed package, or maybe with a limited-time pumpkin flavor, but one traditional Kawasaki-based confectionary chain is looking to change that with a lineup of edible eyeballs, zombie fingers, and other Japanese sweets that look bone-chilling and sound mouth-watering.

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Stacked One Piece figure for grown-ups costs a stack of cash, has nice…face 【Photos】

The success of One Piece really is amazing. Not only does it remain a perpetual favorite among its target demographic of young boys, the manga and anime franchise has managed to retain a surprisingly large amount of its original fanbase some 18 years after its first issue was published.

Since One Piece has held the attention of fans for so long after drawing them in as children, there must be something to creator Eiichiro Oda’s pirate tale that appeals to adult men as strongly, or maybe even more strongly, than to children. Maybe it’s the series’ core theme of long-term friendship, which grown-ups can more acutely understand. Maybe the way the stakes keeps getting higher for Luffy and his crew strikes a chord with fans who see it as a parallel to the way life throws more responsibilities and pressures at you as you get older.

Or maybe guys just like Oda’s penchant for drawing ridiculously stacked female characters which are then immortalized in plastic, as with this new Boa Hancock figure.

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Fans replace Dragon Ball Z’s animation with finger puppets, keep the awesome fighting 【Video】

Many Japanese animation fans, after having their hopes dashed and their hearts broken one too many times, come to accept the truism that it’s just not possible to make a good live-action version of their favorite anime. Right now, it’s Attack on Titan’s turn in the hot seat, as its two recently released movies have been roundly roasted by fans of the original work and critics alike, and years ago Dragonball Evolution had far more people groaning than cheering as their left theaters.

But maybe it’s not so much that anime has to stay hand-drawn, but just that it can’t be replicated by human actors. We’ve seen Attack on Titan look cool in stop-motion and sheep sub for the cast of Dragon Ball. As a matter of fact, maybe you can even show part of a human actor, just not the whole person, like in this epic and funny battle between two of Dragon Ball’s mightiest martial artists…as played by a pair of finger puppets.

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Japanese cat-shaped curtain rail decorations tie your interior together with feline awesomeness

There comes a time in your life when you realize it’s time to upgrade from the plastic trash bags, newspapers, or dirty T-shirts you’re too lazy to wash that you’ve taped over your windows to block out excess sunlight. Buying some actual curtains is a big step, but it can really help improve the look of your living space, plus marks you as a proper and full-fledged member of drapery-owning adult society.

And while you’re up there hanging those drapes, why not add a set of these adorable napping kitty curtain rail decorations?

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Cute cat’s curiosity kills the Japanese sliding paper door 【Video】

If you’ve ever seen shoji, the sliding wood-framed paper doors that are a common element of traditional Japanese architecture, you’ve probably been overcome by two strong emotions. First, a sense of admiration for the timeless beauty of the elegantly simple aesthetic. Second, a burning desire to know just how hard you can poke that translucent paper before you puncture it.

Poking holes in the shoji paper is a major faux pas, however, and even young kids in Japan know they’re supposed to resist the temptation. It doesn’t look like this kitty got the message, though, as it unleashes its adorably destructive hunting instincts on a defenseless shoji in this video.

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Adidas’ Attack on Titan fitness wear is perfect for exercise, fighting giants

Compared to most other action anime, the cast of Attack on Titan has a pretty low-survival rate. This could be because their opponents are remorseless man-eating giants, but is another key factor that fact that the Survey Corps’ uniforms are poorly suited for the duties the heroes perform? Sure, those cloaks look dramatically stylish, but they’re also bulky and movement-limiting, so maybe it’s about time Eren and his pals changed into some official Attack on Titan exercise wear from Adidas.

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