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

Eat Ice Cream from All Over Japan Without Using the Bullet Train

Located just across the northern border from Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture is home to over seven million people. With far more affordable housing than the capital, but yet with relatively easy access to it via numerous train lines, several of Saitama’s residents spend most of their day studying or working in Tokyo. Despite its proximity though, Saitama is still outside Tokyo, earning it something of a stigma among Tokyoites, some of whom have saddled it with the unflattering nickname “Dasaitama,” coming from the word dasai, or “uncool.”

For the beginning of May though, Saitama will be filled with something we can all agree is very cool: ice cream. With the opening of the All Japan Ice Cream Collection festival, Saitama’s Koshigaya City is set to make even the snootiest urban socialites eat a little crow, even if that particular flavor is definitely not on the menu. Read More

So Buddha and Jesus Walk into a Real Estate Office in Tokyo…

Since 2007, Hikaru Nakamura’s Saint Young Men manga comic series has followed the daily lives of two young men who just happen to be the revered central figures of Christianity and Buddhism. The divine figures have reincarnated, not so save the souls of humanity, but to spend some time enjoying a low-key lifestyle while sharing an apartment in the comparatively sleepy town of Tachikawa in West Tokyo. The story follows their day-to-day lives, including Buddha’s fascination with the manga based on himself and Jesus’ long locks and wispy beard getting him mistaken for Johnny Depp by schoolgirls at a local convenience store.

To celebrate the upcoming theatrical animated adaptation of Saint Young Men, publisher Kodansha is allowing the free reproduction and use of a portion of the series.

Read More

Mythical Monsters Invade Tokyo’s Train System!

On one of my first days as an exchange student in Tokyo, as a group of us were being shown around the college, someone asked “Where are the parking lots?” Our Japanese guide explained that students in the city don’t commute by car. Neither do the teachers, and even in most companies, the cost of real estate dictates that the few office parking spots available are reserved as perks for the uppermost reaches of the corporate ladder. In Tokyo, everyone takes the train.

Including, apparently, the mythical beasts. Read More

Swimming Anime Green-Lit, International Fan Community Impresses us with Their Enthusiasm, Creeps us Out by Talking About (and to) Their Ovaries

For the past few years, Kyoto Animation has been one of Japan’s hottest anime producers. With hit titles such as K-ON! (a story of cute girls occasionally playing rock music) and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (a story of cute girls occasionally bending the fabric of reality), the studio’s fans have been eagerly waiting to see what Kyoto Animation’s next offering would be.

Earlier this year, Kyoto Animation started a firestorm by producing a short animated teaser focusing on the members of a high school swim team, all male with delicate facial features and ripped abs. Some cried foul that Kyoto Animation would produce even a short clip that didn’t showcase a single cute girl, but others were excited by the prospect of watching a group of guys strip down to Speedos and work their lithe bodies through the water, going so far as to start petitions begging for more.

Kyoto Animation recently answered their prayers by announcing the production of a TV series adaptation of the swimming story, and fans around the world gushed with enough emotion to fill a pool. Read More

Mt. Fuji Moves Towards World Heritage Site Certification

UNESCO’s advisory board has released the results of their analysis of Mt. Fuji’s bid for World Heritage Site status. The mountain and its surrounding area have been deemed “fit for certification,” with the title expected to be officially given in June. Read More

Canned Ice Blasts Let You Literally Stop Cockroaches Cold

Japan is a great place to be in the summer. For the culturally minded, there are festivals at centuries-old shrines, dazzling fireworks displays, and neighborhood folk dances with everyone wearing summer kimonos or yukata. If your thought process is a little baser, the all-you-can-drink beer gardens on the rooftops of department stores, along with much higher socially-accepted hem lines than in many other parts of the world, aren’t half-bad either.

But there’s one thing no one likes about summer here: the hordes of cockroaches.

Read More

How to Succeed at Japanese Business Using Beer

There are a lot of counterintuitive things about working in a Japanese company. When you come in the door, you always say, “Good morning,” even if you’ve been at a conference all day and it’s 4 p.m.. Office romances are accepted, if not expected and encouraged.

And one of the best ways to put yourself on the fast track to promotion is by getting blotto with the boss. Read More

Squid Sperm – One More Reason to Not Eat It

Here at RocketNews24, one of our reporters’ duties is chronicling the intriguing or shocking culinary options we come across. Whether it’s giant cheeseburgers in Japan or gasoline-roasted clams in North Korea, we’re happy to taste test them for the entertainment and edification of you, our readers.

But not this time. Read More

Japan’s Newest and Cheapest Good Luck Charm: Bread Crust

Remember when you were a kid, and your mom would check for monsters under your bed, put band-aids on your scraped knees and elbows, and cut the crusts off your sandwiches? Wouldn’t it be great if someone would still do that for you?

No matter how much you offer them for the service, the employees of Japanese bread and snack producer Yamazaki Bread won’t come to your house and protect you from the Boogey Man, because seriously, have you seen the guy? Way too scary. They do have your bread needs covered though, with their popular series of crust-free Lunch Pack sandwiches.

But despite the lack of crust being a major selling point for Lunch Pack, people in Japan aren’t complaining when one with a bit of brown on the edge slips through, because fans say it’s a sign of good luck. Read More

Manga Critic Calls for Revolution, Wants Japanese Comics to Read from Left to Right


Imagine you’re a comic book fan, browsing for something new to read. Intrigued by what you’ve heard about Japanese manga, you pick one up and open it to the first page. And wow, there’s a dead body in the first panel! What an intense opening. But wait, why is the corpse getting stabbed again, then suddenly standing up and running about? Is the character a zombie or something?

No, you’re just reading the panels out of sequence. Unlike the left-to-right flow of comic panels in the English world, manga are designed to be read from right to left, then top to bottom, starting on the right-hand page before continuing to the left.

Confused? Manga creator and critic Kentaro Takekuma says you shouldn’t have to be, and he has a plan to change all that. Read More

Burn Rubber with Competition-Spec Mario Kart Erasers

As any professional road racer or weekend canyon carver can tell you, nothing gives a bigger boost to a car’s performance than a great set of tires. Taking that idea to its illogical conclusion, toy manufacturer Takara Tomy figured the hottest ride must be an eraser car. And one styled like a Mario kart, no less. Read More

Beta Males Rejoice! 77 Percent of Women Say Geeky <em>Otaku</em> are A-OK

Imagine you’re a young buck at a singles’ party at a swanky Tokyo restaurant. As you regale the ladies with your testosterone-dripping tales of regular shark wrestling, frequent motorcycle racing, and occasional motor-shark racing, you mentally calculate whether or not you have enough protein powder in the kitchen cupboard to make two breakfast shakes, because you know there’s no way you’re going home alone tonight.

Unless, of course, the guy next to you starts talking about his collection of Sword Art Online Blu-rays. Read More

Nine-Patty Evangelion Cheeseburger has a 0.00001% Chance of Failing to Fill You Up (3D Photos)

The most recent theatrical installment of the long-running anime series Evangelion was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 24. While it’s official English title is Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo, the film has a completely different Japanese title, Evangelion Theatrical Version: Q. Because if there’s one thing creators Studio Gynax hate, it’s giving a definitive answer on anything related to their mega-hit franchise.

But if there’re two things Gynax hates, the second is passing up a merchandising opportunity for Eva (as the fans call it), which is where the Evangelion Q cheese burger comes in with its nine patties.

Did we mention we bought two? Read More

We Get Wet and Wild at Thailand’s Water Festival

Over the years, Thailand has gone by many names. Until 1939 it was Siam, and the country’s friendly citizens have earned it the nickname “The Land of Smiles.”

For a few days each year though, Thailand is also “The Land of the City-Wide Splash Fights.” Read More

You Can (Not) Lose with Sega’s Newest Evangelion Promotion


The UFO catcher, also known in the West as the crane game, is a stalwart of Japanese arcades. The rules are simple: drop in your coin, then operate the mechanical claw to try to pick up your prize, whether it’s a stuffed Pikachu, giant box of Pocky, or a live prawn. No, we are not making that last one up. Of course, this is easier said than done. More often than not the prizes slip out of the claw’s grasp (especially the prawns).

In a way, the UFO catcher is the perfect metaphor for the long-running, psychologically heavy-hitting anime series Evangelion, known to fans simply as Eva. Like Eva’s protagonist Shinji with his giant robot, at first the technology seems fun and exciting. Then, following soul-crushing failure after failure, you find yourself void of the strength to go on, staring at the machine through your tears of frustration, finally understanding that a part of you has hated it all along, even as the realization sinks in that it may house the soul of your dead mother (OK, the last bit is strictly Eva).

But with a new Eva UFO catcher promotion, Sega is making sure no one has to go home empty-handed. Read More

Free Panties and the Scent of Ninja Boobs – Senran Kagura Merchandising Bounces Along


When Nintendo first announced its 3D-capable 3DS handheld system, what kind of in-your-face gaming experience did you imagine? A high-tuned Mario Kart? A new Pilotwings with skydiving so realistic it’d have you looking for a ripcord?

Well if you were video game producer Kenichi Takaki, you thought of boobs. Takaki, along with lonely gamer lust, is the driving force behind the Senran Kagura franchise. The series follows Asuka, a high school girl who’s also a ninja protecting the citizens of Japan against other, less scrupulous ninja. Joining Asuka in her mission are her classmates and their prodigious busts.

Starting with a 3DS release in 2011, the series expanded to a comic and anime TV series before making its PlayStation Vita debut this February with its third titillating title, Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus. Takaki recently had an idea for a little downloadable extra, but first threw down a lacy gauntlet to the series’ fans to gauge their interest. Read More

New MOS Burgers are 100% Beef, Still 0% Moss


Despite Japan’s image as a country where people mainly eat fish and pickled vegetables, the truth is the country has some serious carnivorous tendencies. Aside from scores of independent hamburger joints, you’ll find branches of McDonald’s and Burger King, along with home-grown chains such as First Kitchen and MOS Burger.

MOS Burger’s name becomes less intimidating, if no less nonsensical, when you find out it stands for “Mountain Ocean Sun” burger. With over 1,000 locations across Japan and a reputation for high-quality ingredients, MOS has legions of fans, so it was big news when the company announced a major change to its burgers. Read More

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