Master Blaster

Writer / Translator

Master Blaster is the two-man translating team of Steven Le Blanc and Masami M.

Steven Le Blanc is an English teacher in Osaka but born and raised on a steady diet of Street Fighter and Godzilla movies in Canada. You can often find him translating stories about the impending robot revolution, North Korea, poorly named products, or whatever else satiates the ADHD he diagnosed himself as having via wikipedia. He enjoys spending his free time by pondering deep linguistic questions like what the best way to start a sentence with the word "iPhone" is.

Masami M is a Japanese person born in Osaka but raised in Tokyo. A founder of one of the first Mahjong websites in Japan, Japanese Reach Mahjong for Beginners viewed by millions monthly, he was also responsible for a blog chronicling the fates of two NOVA teachers abandoned by the bankrupt company which was profiled on national TV as well as other media outlets. In addition to translating, writing and running websites he also works in advertising.

All Stories by Master Blaster

East meets West in the Pacific-centered version of the world map

Depending on what part of the world you live in, one of these maps will look right at home while the other might seem kind of off. However, given the overall dominance of the Euro-centric map, the other one is more likely to give an uncomfortable feeling to a greater number of people.

While both are currently in use in different countries, is it possible that one map is more valid than another?

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Three Chinese men arrested in Japan for buying too many diapers

In recent years a scourge has gripped Japan, and it is people buying too many disposable diapers at once – the Merries brand in particular. For this heinous behavior, three Chinese men were arrested by the Hyogo Prefectural Police on 15 October and are expected to be deported back to their country.

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Video of guy giving pandas medicine is insanely cute, unless you’re the guy

Could there be any job better than panda keepers? Sure “chocolate-peanut-butter combination inspector” would be better if that job existed, but sadly it does not. What a dream it would be to spend every day with the world’s cutest animal!

Then again, like anything I suppose you’d get a little desensitized to the puffy black ears and roly-poly physique only to be left with constant bamboo eating, butt-scratching, and all the poop that goes along with such a lifestyle. Just watch as this panda keeper tries to give a couple cubs their medicine. The result is a cuteness-packed two minutes for us and a two-on-one wrestling match for the guy in the video.

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The ultimate in smartphone accessories has hopped into the market

Get ready. Here comes a brand new way to enjoy your smartphone. This revolutionary new case not only supports all types of smartphones with a custom fit, but it comes with an incredible range of features never seen before in other cases.

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Is it safe to dance yet? Uncertainty continues to reign supreme in Japan’s club scene

On 15 October it was reported that Masatoshi Kanemitsu would have to go back to court after being acquitted by the Osaka District Court. His alleged crime: allowing his customers to dance in the Umeda area club he owned called Noon.

This kind of law prohibiting dancing might sound straight out of some fundamentalist theocracy, but it’s alive and well in Japan. Actually, it’s far worse than a draconian “no dancing whatsoever” law that you know where things stand; nightclubs in Japan seem to allow dancing until someone in authority decides otherwise. There’s no way to know until officers start bursting through your doors.

This sword dangling over the heads of the remaining clubs is called the Act on Control and Improvement of Amusement and Entertainment Business or Fueiho for short. So let’s take a quick look at why this law is crushing dancing in Japan, and I’ll do my best to avoid any Footloose references.

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This set of stairs at Kitakata Station really cares

When it comes to going up and down in life, stairs really seem to be the most inconsiderate. Rather than carrying you along like your friends the escalator or elevator, stairs just seem to lay there without moving an inch to help you.

Even in Japan where politeness is a way of life, the stairs still just sit there waiting for us to do all the heavy lifting. All except a few flights of extremely well-mannered stairs located in Kitakata Station in Fukushima Prefecture. While they don’t physically help you to go up, they do still have power… the power to move you.

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Osaka man wipes away millions in owed taxes by deducting losing horse race tickets

It’s often said that nothing in life is certain except for death and taxes, but for one Osaka resident, that maxim was little more than an old wives’ tale.

One day, the taxman came calling to the tune of 816 million yen (US$7.7M) over years of unreported winning horse race bets. However, in a game where the house always wins, this guy managed to flip the script and knock down the money owed to a relatively modest 67 million yen ($635,000).

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Kiso Town: Stuck between a volcano and a hard place

A few weeks after the sudden and tragic eruption of Mt. Ontake, search-and-rescue teams have gradually become simply “search teams” and many families still await increasingly certain bad news.

Beyond loved ones, disasters like this often have a reverberating effect which reaches far out to places we don’t often see. One such place is Kiso, a highland town located roughly 10km away from Mt. Ontake which suffered no adverse effect to business or life during the eruption.

As a town which relies on tourism, the people of Kiso would like to tell you that their town is perfectly safe and just as beautiful as ever. But with so many still mourning the loss of life at Mt. Ontake, every time the people of Kiso try to make it plain that they’re open for business, people call them “despicable” and “heartless.”

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Come for the toilets, stay for the food and fun at Bangkok’s airport-themed mall “Terminal 21″

Asia is full of wonderful travel destinations. With a mix of rich history and rapid development, it’s far from a boring place to visit. However, the burning question on any traveler’s mind has got to be “Where can I see the greatest toilets of Asia?”

Well, that’s a subjective title but we’d like to submit a shopping center in Thailand’s capital Bangkok as a contender. The huge complex is called Terminal 21 and boasts over six floors of shops and eateries. There’s a lot of fun to be had here but the main attraction has got to be the internationally themed restrooms.

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Trending prank leaves public toilet users down in the dumps

There are a number of little niceties and services that make Japan a very comfortable place to live. Personally, my favorite has always been the folded toilet paper ends that can often be found in public restroom stalls everywhere. I don’t encounter them especially often, but when I do it brightens my day just like having a robin land on my window sill.

However, you can’t experience such joy without leaving yourself vulnerable to extreme disappointment as well. A prank has recently emerged in Japan which, although seemingly mundane and simple, completely shatters this sense of pleasure and leaves the victim a desolate shell of a person, just like having a robin land on your window sill and start projectile vomiting.

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Now, that’s spatial visualization! Indian barber cuts own hair with greatest of ease

I used to cut my own hair before becoming a big-shot RocketNews24 writer who can now go to the local value cuts for a 1,000 yen (US$9) cut every few months. I’m glad those days are behind me, though, because it was a royal pain.

Generally, I’m not a total klutz when it comes to working a pair of scissors. However, every time I got in front of the mirror and raised the blades to my hair, my coordination would suddenly devolve to that of a one-year-old who forgot which way up was.

I’m sure more experience working in a mirror would fix that, and with enough time I might even get as good as this guy from Kerala who is able to give himself a complete lightning-fast haircut. It’s all here in the video Kerala Got Talent; Indian Barbar Cutting His Own Hair recently posted on YouTube.

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Korean activists upset over plans to sew the anuses of river rats shut, make them eat each other

Recently if you were to type the Korean name for a copyu (aka “river rat” or “nutria”) into a search engine it would also likely suggest the Korean word for anus. That’s because of a controversial measure proposed to control the population of these pests which net users are calling “wacky” at best and “needlessly brutal” in the worst terms.

According to a report from South Korea’s Dong-A Ilbo, the new measure begins with sewing the anus of a copyu shut so that it can’t defecate and it really only gets worse from there.

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Biker assaulted by iron bar-wielding Nara innkeeper, not the other way around

The are many pleasant sights and sounds to be found around Japan. One of the most famous is the exaggerated revving of groups of motorbike engines at all hours of the day and night. They’re often referred to as bosozoku which although often translated as “biker gangs” can be misleading as that would imply the use of at least somewhat cool bikes. Bosozoku kids, contrastingly, often ride scooters customized for peak annoyance of all those around, and some of them don’t actually ride their bikes at all.

Despite efforts by law enforcement, this trend continues all over Japan. So it comes as no surprise when people take the law into their own hands. In the case of one Nara resident, “the law” came in the form of an iron bar which he used to break the knee of an allegedly noisy biker.

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Child’s Mobile Cute Gundam entertains parent and moves Japan

When you think of plastic models based on the giant weaponized robots of the Gundam universe, “cute” isn’t a word that often comes to mind. But it’s hard to not give a big, gushy “aww” at one homemade Gundam model gifted to Twitter user Chal by their daughter.

The story as outlined by Chal on their Twitter account and retweeted thousands of times begins with a mysterious paper package with something written on it in crude Japanese. Mini… Gasodam? Mini Garidamu? No. This was a “Mini Gundam” and Chal, an experienced model hobbyist, was up for the challenge.

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What? Pokémon Breeder Girl is evolving! Congratulations! She has evolved into a…

Since the release of Pokémon X and Y a year ago, players in Japan were enamored by the comely pokémon breeder Tsuzumi. Her sparkling brown eyes, bright smile, and huge bucket of what appears to be crap had melted the hearts of many an aspiring pokémon master.

However, in an appearance in the anime version of Pokémon: XY Tsuzumi seems to have undergone an evolution of sorts. If the Twitter users who pointed this out are correct I’d have to tip my hat to the producers for adding a gritty touch of reality to an otherwise out-there plot.

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Stay right on top of Typhoon 19 with beautiful and highly useful online weather services

As of this writing Typhoon 19 is just about right on top of Okinawa. Classified as a “Super Typhoon” by NASA it is far greater in size and power than last week’s storm. The typhoon also goes by the name Vongfong, which we assume is Chinese for “killjoy” because of its incredibly bad timing.

If Typhoon 19 veers East and moves across most of Japan, it will do so right over the long weekend. With all the destruction and at very least wet nuisances brought by typhoons, the one sliver of light had always been that they often brought days off work and school with them too. Not this weekend, however, and many wait to see whether the weather will dash their holiday plans or not.

Luckily there is a plethora of online weather services for us to watch Typhoon 19 in near-real-time that are all both very informative and gorgeous enough to make you want to refer to them even after the storm has passed.

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Hard Ku**mon is here to put lazy mascots out of work with his creepy latex hugs

Over the years the mascot industry in Japan has swelled considerably. An uncountable number of people in big-headed costumes currently represent the nation’s prefectures, cities, government offices and private companies. Then on top of all that we have independent mascots running around too like Funasshi and Teruhiko.

However, the editors at RocketNews24 feel they have come up with something that will bring the entire mascot world down to its knees. His name is Hard Ku**mon and he is prepared to do something that no other mascot has done before: actual labor.

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Protest song featuring Hatsune Miku gets love from Hong Kong

Nearly two weeks into the Occupy Central protests and things have hit a bit of a malaise. The Hong Kong government has cancelled previously promised talks and protester numbers have been on the decline. Organizers are hoping for a surge in support soon to maintain the demonstration.

Meanwhile, a song produced by Toshiharu Mineoka has helped to energize people featuring the vocaloid stylings of Hatsune Miku. Titled “Umbrella Revolution,” it has been generally well-received in Hong Kong and Taiwan since its posting on 1 October. The video’s YouTube page has been inundated with messages of thanks from people in Hong Kong such as “I cried when I first heard the song (and I don’t even know Japanese).”

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One fry to rule them all, and it can be yours for $93 via Yahoo! Japan Auctions

For a while it seemed that things had quieted down over at Japan’s largest online auction site, Yahoo! Japan Auctions. Back in the day one used to be able to buy anything from idols to 1,000 NES systems (at once) to the planet Earth.

However, recently there has just been a bunch of stuff like clothes and furniture to be had, and what fun is that? Thankfully, someone has brought the crazy back by auctioning off a truly rare item.

It’s a McDonald’s french fry in the shape of the number one and bidding starts at 10,000 yen (US$93).

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Number of tourists visiting the Great Wall of China last weekend more of a sight than the wall itself

The crowded image above might appear to be another pro-democracy rally like we’ve been seeing a lot of in Hong Kong recently, but actually it’s just business as usual for a historic landmark on a long holiday.

With 1 October being National Day in China, people are taking advantage of their one week off to head on down to one of the most famous World Heritage Sites around. However, since a considerable amount of people share the same holiday plans, for one week this testament to mankind’s engineering prowess is eclipsed by a testament to mankind’s determination for sightseeing.

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