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

After the tears have dried, where is shamed politician Ryutaro Nonomura now?

You may not remember the name Ryutaro Nonomura but you’ll almost definitely recall the press conference he gave last July, which was later dubbed the “crying conference” here in Japan. The incident, which saw the then provincial politician weeping, cupping his ear cartoonishly, and wailing like a man possessed as he attempted to explain what he’d done with a significant amount of government funds turned him into a pop-culture iconporn parody and all, and ensured that he would go down as one of the most famous figures of 2014, for all the wrong reasons.

So now about half a year later, what has become of the disgraced assemblyman?

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ChocolaTexture offers nine flavors of chocolate… without changing the flavor at all

When it comes to food, I’ve always placed a higher emphasis on texture rather than the actual taste of it. While I love peanut butter or finely chopped almonds, for example, the nuts themselves in their natural form usually make me gag.

So it was with great excitement that I learned about ChocolaTexture, which is a range of nine chocolates all using the exact same recipe but crafted in different shapes and textures. As a result each chocolate is said to have a distinct “taste” despite being made from the exact same ingredients.

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We try beer with whipped cream on top…because we’re fancy

It’s been said that younger generations of drinkers in Japan just aren’t that into beer anymore. With them opting instead for cheaper and sweeter cocktails, good old ale (or ale-flavored stuff) is gradually being pushed aside.

However, our intrepid reporter Meg has found a way to reinvent beer to younger folks appealing to their sweet-tooths. It comes from South Korea where it’s called “Saengkeulim Maegju” or “Cream Beer” and is basically beer with some whipped cream on top. It’s so easy you can make it at home…so we did!

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Cost Performance Specialist Sato shows us how to get high fashion at low, low prices

Like much of the world, Japan is home to dozens of fashion brands like Uniqlo, GAP, and H&M, which offer high-quality clothes at low prices. It has come to the point that some refer to Uniqlo items as the “nation’s uniform” because of their ubiquity.

With all these big-name retailers saturating the market with their similar brands, how is a true individual supposed to express themselves? Of course there are one-of-a-kind boutiques, but those are way out of the average guy’s price range.

This is where our resident money expert Mr. Sato comes in. He’s known as “Cost Performer Sato,” or as he prefers “Cospa Sato,” because it’s a far more efficient name. He’s here to teach us about a secret shop which can be found in any one of your neighbourhoods and offers unique fashions at highly affordable prices, and look fabulous while doing so.

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Struggling with Japanese? Let Tako lend you a hand…or five

Yes, I know octopi have eight tentacles not six, but Tako of Takos Japanese has five. It’s the same cartoon logic that makes the Simpson family all have eight fingers. And yes, I know the name should probably read “Tako’s Japanese.” Really though, let’s not get bogged down in talk of appendages and apostrophes right now.

Today we’re here to look at a new Japanese study app released by Spain-based Giant Soul Interactive. A lot of Japanese study apps found online are either fun but limited in content or deep but boring and stodgy. Learn Japanese with Tako (recently changed from “Takos Japanese”) aims to strike a happy balance of a fun way to learn the language that’s also rich in content. Let’s find out if they succeed.

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Edo era Samurai were pretty gay

Recently a Japanese TV program highlighted an interesting bit of historical trivia: The most common type of revenge killing in the Edo period was between gay lovers. It’s a statistic that shocked many viewers in modern Japan, but there is ample evidence to support that a whole lot of gay sex was going on in the country from between 1400 and 1900.

It was at first a playful fancy of the ruling classes but then grew into a cold yet efficiently run military system of battlefield man-pleasuring. However, as we can see from the previously mentioned little factoid, once guys start letting emotions get involved, the whole thing starts to fall apart.

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RocketNews24 reporting from America…n World shopping complex in Iwate Prefecture

Tired of being called “uncultured” by those around them, our reporters Mr. Sato and Yoshio made a road trip to Iwate Prefecture and all of its historical sites such as the Chusonji Golden Hall and Kenji Miyazawa Fairy Tale Village. It was the perfect place to learn more about Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

However, as they drove along Route 4 heading for the over-900-year-old Morioka Hachiman Shrine, something unusual caught Mr. Sato’s eye. “It’s a big red Ferris wheel!” he shouted, immediately forgetting about the site where Emperor Ojin’s spirit is enshrined.

Grabbing Yoshio’s arm, he forced the car to an off ramp and closer to the Ferris wheel, which they would soon learn was not just any old wheel, it was the American World Ferris wheel!

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Mystery in Shinjuku as woman plunges to death on visiting restroom

A bizarre death occurred in the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku, Tokyo recently as a 22-year-old woman died after falling nine stories during a visit to the restroom. Although suicide hasn’t been entirely ruled out, this appears to be a case of highly unusual building practices as a door opening onto a sheer drop was also present in the room.

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Ginger ale flavored soy milk coming to Japanese stores, buckets sold separately

Sure we all love the great taste of ginger ale. Its sugary and spicy flavor, which also helps ease tummy aches, is second to none. But I know some of you must be wondering: “Why can’t I get that fantastic ginger taste in a milky substance which has no saturated fat or lactose and was not produced in a way that directly exploits animals?”

Your highly specific prayers have been answered! Kikkoman will be bringing Ginger Ale Flavored Soy Milk to stores across Japan in February.

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Japan weirded out by new range of Disney shower heads

Late last year shower specialists Oxygenics released sets of shower heads featuring the faces of Disney characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse. They were warmly received by moms in America, who immediately saw them as a way to get kids motivated for bath-time and praised their easy water-pressure controls.

People in Japan saw the character shower heads quite differently, however, with some even going as far to call them “demeaning” and saying that “I don’t know if this is appropriate for children.”

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Great deal on “thing that lets you make a USB into a plug,” ask for it by name!

The other day while out shopping for computer parts like that-thing-that-connects-an-old-type-iPod-to-a-PC, one Twitter user stumbled upon a truly great deal. For only 200 yen (US$1.70) you can get…um, you know…one of those “things-that-let-you-make-a-USB-into-a-plug.”

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New video by R3hab & KSHMR paints gritty, realistic image of karate dojos

Dutch house producer R3hab and KSHMR have joined vowel-hating forces to lay down their newest single “Karate.” Its pulsing beats have been well received by house music fans and selling copies fast. But as we can see from the image above, there’s something else about “Karate” that is getting people’s attention and over 5 million views on YouTube.

That’s right! It has a lot to teach us about the world-famous martial art it’s named after. I guarantee even the most experienced karateka will learn something new from this video, so be sure to watch and study every scene very carefully.

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A brief history of shorthand in Japan

The video pictured above was posted on YouTube about five years ago and resulted in several comments wondering what the woman was scribbling onto papers at a furious rate. Some suspected it might have been Arabic or really sloppy Japanese when actually it was a demonstration of Waseda shorthand.

Even with English’s relatively simple letters, shorthand was in big demand before the digital era in order to take down information quickly. It shouldn’t be a big leap to assume Japanese with multiple character sets and kanji would welcome a faster writing system. Thus several styles of Japanese shorthand were developed over the 20th century. Let’s take a look at a few.

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Aw snap yo! JR Kyushu’s really cheap “Gachi Ticket” is in the hizzouse!

Wassup young people, I’m speaking your language today to tell you about to totally tubular deal from JR Kyushu! They’re offering some super-rad discounts of up to 40% off on train fares around the island of Kyushu for a seriously limited time.

It’s called the Gachi Ticket, where “gachi” is a new word the kids in Japan are using that’s hard to translate to English but somewhere along the lines of “for realz!” and “aww psssht it’s on!”

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“Emissary of Hell” Spider-Man and his giant robot appear in American comic for first time!

Some of you may recall us looking back on Japan’s version of Spider-Man from the late 1970s that was so over-the-top it made the old Adam West Batman series look like brooding British melodrama set atop a dew-soaked Northumberland farm.

It kept pretty close to the original storyline of Spider-Man, like how a motorcycle racer got his spider powers from an alien along with a spaceship that transforms into a giant robot to battle the evil Professor Monster, and shouting out, “I’m the emissary of Hell!” in Japanese before doing so.

It’s been a while since those good times but now the Japanese fans that still remember the series are tickled to see Spidey’s old war machine Leopardon has returned in the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man!

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And now, here’s Dragon Ball’s Freeza playing the One Piece theme perfectly on the drums

Tired of RocketNews24 items that are coherent and have some semblance of order? Me too, so here’s a video of Dragon Ball Z villain Freeza playing an excellent rendition of the One Piece theme song “We Are!” on the drums. Well, it’s nearly Friday, isn’t it?

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Small Hokkaido bookshop’s unique service is getting business from all over Japan

Iwata Bookstore is a modest little shop in Sunagawa City way up in the Northeastern part of Hokkaido. It also the site of an unlikely success story as it has recently been receiving orders from all over Japan by people wanting its one-of-a-kind offer of 10,000 yen (US$84) worth of books.

They’re not just any books though; these books are recommended by the shop’s owner Toru Iwata and hand-picked for every customer who orders.

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We play little-known instrument the Udar, which does a killer Final Fantasy Prelude

The world is full of musical instruments with varying degrees of notoriety. Many instruments, like the guitar and piano, have legions of followers, while others like the sheng only get picked up by a select few. The Udar falls into that latter category with Mr. Sato having just become one of the very few people who have ever picked one up.

Join us as we listen to the musical stylings of the Udar as played by its inventor Michinobu Uda and learn a little about how it works.

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Next time you eat an orange, why not make it into an orange caterpillar first?

During the winter months Japanese people often like to relax under their heated tables (kotatsu) and enjoy a nice mikan tangerine. Its juicy sweetness and vitamin C is a great compliment to these chilly nights. But really, anywhere in the world, anytime is a good time to enjoy some variation of orange, isn’t it?

So next time you get ready to peel a mandarin or clementine how about making it into a caterpillar first like many Twitter users in Japan have been doing in recent years? It’s super easy and we’re going to show you how.

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Enjoy a platter of Youkai Sashimi while we explain that cat’s name

As we’ve been constantly reminding you over the past year or so, Youkai Watch is really big in Japan now, and yet some of you out there still don’t seem to believe us. We’ve watched them rip the annual McDonald’s calendar endorsement deal out of the cuddly clutches of Pokemon. We’ve seen fans carve their graven images into pumpkins. We’ve tasted of their milk. Still, there are those who think that it’s just a flash in the pan.

For those people, we present the highest honor a character in Japan can receive: a sashimi platter in their likeness.

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