Master Blaster

Writer / Translator

Master Blaster is the two-man translating team of Canada’s Steven Le Blanc and Japan’s Masami M, a pair who in addition to writing work are in English education and created the StudyNow app for Japanese students of English.

Together they have written somewhere around 1,500 articles for RocketNews24 covering such diverse topics as Chinese men selling sanitary napkins to each other and a Japanese guy dragging an ear of corn around the Tokyo train system. A few of these were actually good, but don’t take our word for it! Here’s what our beloved readers had to say:

“One isn't always in the mood for bold tastes. But when I'm in the mood for bold flavor I turn to you.”
“Stupid article. Who cares what the Japanese think it's cool. You don't call a monkey, "gorilla".”
“You know, this is about the most cogent explanation of how a turbocharger works that I have ever seen in the non-motorsports world.”
“Thanks for the article peter!”
“It's people like you who make exploitation possible.”
“It looks yummy and the story was great. Thank you for the smile.”

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All Stories by Master Blaster

One-of-a-kind Ultraman violin to be sold this November

Coming to the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Theater Concert Hall on 2 November is the Ultraman Symphony Concert 2015. At this event music from the high-culture tokusatsu masterpieces of Ultraman and related shows will be performed by a full orchestra.

It’s sure to be a luminous evening of sci-fi splendor, but to mark the occasion a single Ultra Violin, the only official Ultraman violin in existence, will be sold to one lucky buyer.

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Gackt lashes out at Cool Japan: “Almost no results of Japanese culture exported overseas”

While visiting friends who were a part of the recent Naruto stage production, Japanese film and music star Gackt was left with a bad feeling. Having watched one of the overseas Naruto performances, the singer couldn’t help but notice the lack of people in the audience.

Gackt doesn’t rule out possible flaws with the play such as too much material crammed into a short time. However, as he wrote in a recent impassioned blog post, he thinks the real culprit may be the Japanese government and their Cool Japan promotional program, which he feels is anything but.

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Senpai Mole answers kids’ questions, but is kind of a jerk about it

Zoos like to put up panels in front of enclosures to help visitors learn more about the animals that they see. However, traditional panels with their dry scientific explanations often go overlooked.

That’s why Tokyo Zoo has, in an effort to teach the masses more effectively, come up with new message panels that pack a little more punch. Get ready to meet Senpai Mole as he teaches kids about his species…by yelling at them.

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Hello Kitty movie slated for 2019 release worldwide

It’s been a bit of a rough year for the kingpins of Japanese cuteness over at Sanrio Co. The mega-hit Frozen has been taking up a sizable share of the merchandising market regularly occupied by their geometric kitties and bunnies causing overseas income to slide by as much as 14.5 percent compared to the previous year.

Hello Kitty fans needn’t worry, however. That’s hardly enough to put the company in jeopardy, but it is causing Miss Kitty to unsheathe her claws and go on the attack. If movies like Frozen are going to cut in on Sanrio’s turf, well then, Sanrio will just have to return the favor.

So get ready, because the Hello Kitty movie is already in the works!

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Video shows how computers can become veritable roach motels

Hey there.

If you’re one of the 2.5 gajillion readers (Mar. 2015 estimate) looking at this article right now on a desktop or laptop, you might want to grab a mobile device and take a walk while reading this time around.

Safely outside? Okay now enjoy this video which shows what might be lurking inside your computer right now.

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Japanese man races his “tortoise and hare,” cuteness ensues

Live-action remakes of established cartoon and comic franchises are favored projects by studios looking for a solid return on their investments. Appealing to our sense of nostalgia they can pull in a good chunk of change even if they turn out crappy, something which, sadly, happens a lot.

However, on video originally posted to Niconico and YouTube by Masaki Hata reminds us that the great remakes need to be fun first and slick big-budget productions second. His version of a classic Aesop fable, which he’s titled Battle of Fate Settled at Last: Tortoise vs Hare in Japan, has won over many with its unique blend of cuteness and surprisingly good production value.

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Twitching meat in China confuses many, others confused by the confusion

One day in Sishui County, Shandong Province, a woman unwrapped some beef that she had bought and was taken aback by what she saw. After recording her lively piece of meat with her phone’s camera, the video was picked up by CCTV who titled it “Nightmarish: woman finds newly-purchased beef pulsating.”

The news site also places a warning that “the images may not be suitable for some viewers.” I on the other hand, would like to encourage everyone to watch.

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Hong Kong supermarket’s new offering may take crown as “murderer of sushi”

Hong Kong is famous for lots of great food, but it’s also famous for its avant-garde culinary creations like you might find at Akimasa Sushi (Japanese pronunciation). Last year we reported on their menu which included gunkan sushi topped with sweet beans and mayonnaise as well as fruit jelly and wasabi nigiri sushi.

Their creations have only gotten weirder since, and Akimasa Sushi has earned the nicknames “murderer of sushi” and “sushi hell” from locals. However, now the internet in Hong Kong is buzzing over a new sushi variant that some believe might strip Akimasa Sushi of those titles with its own uniqueness.

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Chinese company shines light on air pollution…creepy baby light

It’s well-known that air pollution is a major problem in parts of China. The situation has gone far enough that more and more organizations are beginning to fight back, trying to tackle the problem.

One such company is Xiao Zhu, who, in addition to producing air purifiers, has also taken up awareness-raising efforts. In their video titled “Breathe Again,” the company artistically projects the faces of children in pain onto the billowing white canvas of factory exhaust.

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Government begins study into tattoo bans in public baths

On 23 June the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) announced that it would be conducting a first-of-its-kind study into public bathing facilities such as onsen (hot springs) and sento (bath houses), and their rules regarding tattoos.

Visitors to Japan are often warned that if they want to visit one of Japan’s hundreds of natural springs or meticulously designed baths they can’t be inked up. But how widespread is this rule in Japan really, and is it doing more harm than good in this day and age? These are the things the JTA hopes to learn more about in the weeks to come.

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Osaka International Airport has a sake tasting machine for 100 yen a cup

There are many lovers of nihonshu (often called sake in English) in Japan, but a challenge of a true nihonshu fan is finding that perfect brand to suit their tastes. With the hundreds of different kinds each with their own flavors and ways to serve, you might drink for years without being able to settle on a type to call your favorite.

In addition to time, it can also be a burden on the wallet to go through bottle after bottle searching for that right one. Luckily, Mr. Sato stumbled upon something that might help speed up and cheapen the sake selecting process.

It’s a sake taste testing machine in Osaka International Airport that sells cups from nearly 30 different brands for only 100 yen (US$0.81) each.

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Weapons, drugs and racism among 15 things a minor could buy in Showa Japan

History in Japan is divided into the eras over which certain emperors reign. For example, now we are in the 27th year of the Heisei Era under Emperor Akihito. Before 1989, Japan was in the Showa Era, which began in late 1926.

Japan went through a series of major social changes during this period, which runs right through World War II and the saw the growth of the bubble economy. Fans of history are probably familiar with the political and business aspects of these changes, but not as much is seen of daily life in Japan during this tumultuous time.

So, here’s a little look at what things were like back then in a list of 15 things that a child could purchase during the Showa Period. Cue the Breaking Bad steel guitar riff.

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How a Hibari Misora classic became a cowboy-themed ska song with an Irish flavor

Scientifically speaking, sounds are simply vibrations that spread through the air for anyone’s ears and brain to pick up on and interpret. Sometimes, if those vibrations are just right, they can seem to travel much farther and deeper than anyone could imagine.

In that same way, a song can spread around the world when it hits people just the right way. That’s perhaps why a Japanese folk song by the legendary Hibari Misora from the 50s ended up as a British ska tune in the late 80s. Here’s the evolution of that song based on an explanation by Tsuyoshi Sato of music website Tap the Pop.

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Make your wedding a day to remember, by cutting the head off a tuna together

For many people, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event. For many others it’s a twice or three-time occurrence, but still pretty rare in the grand scheme of things. As such, it’s only natural to want it to be something truly memorable for all in attendance.

And now a new business in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture has just the thing to do that. For a rather large sum of money, they will come to your reception with a huge freshly caught fish and proceed to cut it apart in front of everyone. Of course this doesn’t happen until the bride and groom get a romantic picture taken making the first slice together with a meter-long blade.

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We bump into Kuratas, the 120 million-yen robot, at the Tokyo Toy Show

Many of you may recall the three-meter-tall (12.5 feet) ridable Japanese robot known as Kuratas which we have covered many times before. Earlier this year the real-life mecha made waves when it went up for sale on Amazon for the sum of 120 million yen (US$978,000).

For years now, Kuratas has been charming wannabe mech-pilots around the world until its most recent offering in January, but since then things have been quiet on the giant robot front. So you can imagine our Mr. Sato’s surprise when he stumbled upon one by chance during a trip to the 2015 Tokyo Toy Show.

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Natto Boys want to take their smelly beans to Africa, but they need your help

Natto Boys (Natto Danshi) are a group whose sole purpose is to share the ancient and traditional Japanese food natto with the world. However, with its acrid smell and texture of an alien autopsy subject, those are some high hopes.

Already in about half a year, the Natto Boys have established a website featuring over 100 serving suggestions for the fermented soy beans to help promote the food at home. Now, they want to take the next step into the world’s second largest continent, Africa, and to do this they have turned to us for help via crowdfunding.

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The joy of pancakes, and why they might kill you

Although hardly new, Japan has been undergoing something of a boom in pancake consumption in recent years. With several trendy new restaurants opening up around the country, there has also been a significant rise in the popularity of homemade pancakes as well. Yes, with its warm and fluffy texture and mildly sweet flavor it’s certainly hard to turn down a hotcake, isn’t it?

While everyone is having a good time with their pancakes, some researchers and medical professionals would like to remind us all that pancakes and similar flour based foods have the potential to not only make us very ill, but in some cases may lead to death.

But before you go cursing out these wet blankets of science for ruining yet another beloved food with their health warnings, there’s actually an incredibly easy way to not die from eating flapjacks as well.

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Bandai to launch online capsule machines controlled by smartphone

Last week Bandai hinted that they would be announcing something big in their line of Gashapon capsule toy machines. Thinking I’ve seen it all in the capsule toy world I didn’t give it much attention. I figured it was probably just another series of sushi-cat hybrids or sausages shaped like giant isopods, same old same old.

It would seem I was wrong. Actually, Bandai did have something big up their sleeve and will be soon offering their line of capsule toys for random purchase from anywhere you happen to be holding your smartphone. That’s because next month they’ll be doing test runs on the sophisticatedly named Net de Capsule: remote operated Gashapon machines accessible over the internet.

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Video from India shows fast way to load construction equipment…or die, whichever comes first

If you were charged with the task of putting a mini excavator like to one pictured above onto a flatbed truck in under two minutes, what would you do? If you’re like most people you’d probably find a ramp of some sort.

Or, if you have just that right balance of gutsiness and lack of self-preservation instinct, you might do what these guys in India did. Luckily, they recorded it on video for our enjoyment and as evidence preventing any lawsuit against the makers of the excavator.

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Culturally confusing Vietnamese Burger King found selling Japanese food

Recently our Southeast Asia correspondent Kowloon Kurosawa took a trip from his current residence in Cambodia to the neighboring country of Vietnam. Following standard RocketNews24 foreign travel protocol he soon made his way to a Burger King in Ho Chi Minh City.

However, what he found surprised even our cholestorol-hardened reporter. This Burger King has a special combo menu called Rice King. Not only that but it contained a teriyaki tonkatsu combo!

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