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

Tokyo’s coin lockers to be out of service for week in effort to prevent terrorism

Tokyo’s coin lockers to be out of service for week in effort to prevent terrorism

Notices like the one above, which was posted on Twitter, have been popping up at major stations around Tokyo such as Shinjuku. It notifies commuters that coin lockers will be unusable from 19 to 25 April as a terrorism counter-measure.

How exactly does shutting down coin lockers prevent terrorism? The answer is quite simple… but a little confusing.

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Cassette tapes making a comeback with youth in Japan, entire generation officially becomes “old”

Cassette tapes making a comeback with youth in Japan, entire generation officially becomes “old”

For those of a certain age, hearing the term “cassette tape” harkens back to a simpler time of making a super special mix-tape for a loved one using a Frankie Goes to Hollywood Greatest Hits with scotch tape over the holes because it was cheaper than a blank cassette.

It’s this kind of feeling that kids today lack with the distant and impersonal music downloading business going on these days. Perhaps that’s why Japanese youths have been taking to the nearly extinct medium of magnetic tape more and more in recent years.

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Overseas reaction to Japanese My Little Pony dub is a little odd to Japanese people

Overseas reaction to Japanese My Little Pony dub is a little odd to Japanese people

The animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has quickly become something of a cultural phenomenon in North America, spawning legions of hardcore fans far removed from its intended demographic of young girls.

In Japan too the show has its share of followers, although they’re not quite as passionate. So when a Japanese dubbed version of the show’s song “This Day Aria” was posted on YouTube and reviews from other countries came in calling it “magnificent” and “incredible beyond words”, Japanese netizen reaction could perhaps be summed up as “Oh? We don’t get it, but thanks.”

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Boot camps and desertion in the mountains among the ways Japanese companies train new recruits

Boot camps and desertion in the mountains among the ways Japanese companies train new recruits

There appears to be a generational shift in the workforce of Japan recently. New additions to companies labelled as “monster recruits” in the media, along with a reported 30% of new employees quitting in three years, are leading organizations to look into new ways to protect their human resource investments. Many of the following training methods have been carried out for decades but have been steadily growing in popularity among Japanese companies.

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We try Thai and Indonesian “Ethnic” Cup Noodles, one of them tastes like spicy Fruit Loops

We try Thai and Indonesian “Ethnic” Cup Noodles, one of them tastes like spicy Fruit Loops

Cup Noodles are an iconic part of the Japanese food landscape and of course they’re no stranger to the Japanese custom of adding unusual new flavors to stuff. This time around their maker Nissin has been inspired by some of their international partners and developed two flavors in the “Ethnic Series” of Cup Noodles based on Thai and Indonesian dishes.

The first one is modeled after the spicy Thai soup tom yum goong, and the other is said to resemble Indonesia’s savory noodles mie goreng. Having just been released on 14 April we went straight to the supermarket and picked them up to bring you the Asianiest taste that only a Chinese food made by a Japanese company based on South East Asian dishes can provide.

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South Korea establishes special task force to combat escalators and elevators

South Korea establishes special task force to combat escalators and elevators

They kill scores of people annually around the world. They have no motive or ideology and can’t be reasoned with, and yet we rely on them every day because stairs are a real pain.

I’m talking of course about escalators and elevators which caused nearly 300 deaths in the USA in the 90s and injured over 700 Koreans in the past five years leaving 50 for dead. Still with all this carnage the human race continues to embrace these death traps simply because they can get us to other floors quickly.

Not any more, says South Korea’s Ministry of Security and Public Administration (MOSPA), which has created the Elevator and Escalator Safety Division.

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How to take a bath for only 0.0000076 yen using ordinary plastic bottles

How to take a bath for only 0.0000076 yen using ordinary plastic bottles

With Japan entering the new month with a higher sales tax, people are beginning to feel the squeeze. In addition, April is the time of year when many people make big changes in their lives such as moving out on their own. This is already an expensive time made even more so by the economic climate.

One such person is Omocoro writer ARuFa. He feels that he has successfully come up with a way to reduce your water bill drastically by taking baths that would only cost 0.0000076 yen (US$0.000000075). This is his story.

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Hiyoriyama newly crowned as Japan’s Shortest Mountain

Hiyoriyama newly crowned as Japan’s Shortest Mountain

Osaka has many sights and attractions to boast about. To name a few, there’s the robot drummer clown, the big robot crabs here and there and of course Tenpozan, Japan’s shortest mountain. Standing at 4.53 meters above sea level, it was a tourist draw leading to the creation of an aquarium shopping complex and giant ferris wheel.

However, now it appears Tenpozan has been relegated to second place following a recent survey by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI). Hiyoriyama in Sendai is now the nation’s lowest summit at a reevaluated height of three meters. Normally, the Osaka resident in me would demand a recount and ask for a discount on it, but considering how Hiyoriyama came to be this way, I’ll humbly congratulate the new record holder and wish them all the best.

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Ten-year-old illustrator getting national attention for his unique style of portraits

Ten-year-old illustrator getting national attention for his unique style of portraits

Up-and-coming artist Mondo draws with a somewhat skewed sense of proportion very much like any other 10-year-old boy. However, from beneath the superficiality of his sometimes jarring contours, the unmistakable sense of his subject can be felt.

The impact his images create has been earning him a lot of respect around his hometown of Fukuoka and recently a growing fan-base around Japan. In addition to his public appearances where he draws visitors’ portraits, he has a blog on which he posts a daily illustration displaying his ever-growing talents. Check out his work after the jump.

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“Dr. Fruit” or “How Japan Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Peel”

“Dr. Fruit” or “How Japan Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Peel”

On more than one occasion, when the family would settle down for a nice bowl of grapes, I would do as usual and pop one in my mouth. Almost assuredly my wife’s face would contort into a grimace that would make you think I just licked a dog’s butt. This would soon be followed by a lecture on how the pesticides used on it seep into the skin and cannot be washed off along with pleas to stop this barbaric act.

However, I figured if I haven’t died or gotten so much as a tummy ache thus far, it’s probably okay. Nevertheless, every once and a while my wife would try to slip me a peeled grape to convert me, only to have my face contort into the shape of having licked a dogs butt.

The whole point of all this dog-butt talk is that my wife is not at all alone among Japanese people who refuse to eat the skins of certain fruits. However, in recent years, this trend has been changing according to a survey by Tropicana Japan and Dr. “Fruit” Motohashi.
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How photos of food look when taken by a professional photographer vs a guy with an iPhone

How photos of food look when taken by a professional photographer vs a guy with an iPhone

Here at RocketNews24 we often cover food whether it’s weird, wonderful, or a waste of money. As such, we often have to take pictures of it. However, since none of us are photographers by trade, we often make do with whatever is lying around, be it iPhone, SLR, or Game Boy Pocket Camera.

We’re not alone either as many a Facebook or Instagram page can be found flooded with images of people’s dinners. However, even though that picture of last night’s pastitsio looks really good to us, how does it actually compare to someone who takes pictures for a living? Has the technology gotten to the point where anyone can make gorgeous food shots, or has it only fueled our own delusions of photographic grandeur? We decided to do a direct comparison using two people and one dish.

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Areas in Japan’s Ibaraki Prefecture working to protect custom of eating crow

Areas in Japan’s Ibaraki Prefecture working to protect custom of eating crow

Although apparently so famously gross it earned its own idiom in English, there are some communities around Japan that have long felt when it comes to fowl, crow is the way to go. For example the crow dish above can be found at Espoir De Maison, a French restaurant in Chino City, Nagano.

Ibaraki residents such as hunter Shinya Senmatsu say that such wild animals which feed on natural vegetation have more pleasant and less smelly meat. It’s uncertain if that really applies to crows who are omnivorous scavengers, but the locals swear by its surprisingly “soft and sweet” taste, to quote a local veterinarian.

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16 Manga Mash-ups including Attack on Crayon and Pooh’s Bizarre Adventure

16 Manga Mash-ups including Attack on Crayon and Pooh’s Bizarre Adventure

Anime and manga tend to have an overall defining style that has evolved (or devolved depending how you look at it) over the ages. However, it’s really a far more diverse collection of artwork ranging from the cartoony fun of Sazae-san and Crayon Shin-chan to the stark yet attractive contrasts of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and eerie atmosphere that opened Attack on Titan.

So what if we took these different styles and smashed them together like so many mud pies at my 10-year high school reunion? Why, these 16 drawings found on Twitter of course.

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Prominent political figures like you’ve never seen them before… FABULOUS!

Prominent political figures like you’ve never seen them before… FABULOUS!

Saint Hoax is a Middle Eastern artist who recently set up a website which combines the kitsch of pop art with cynical political commentary. In their post, Saint Hoax muses on the similarities between drag queens and world figureheads. Thinking that they share unique fashions and stand-out personalities, the only real difference between a drag queen and a king boils down to flashier colors and a whole lot of money.

So Saint Hoax took nine political and religious figures and applied some sequins and foundation – a lot of foundation – to make them queen for a day.  They certainly work – sashay, shantay – but if you happen to have strong political or religious leanings in one direction or another, you’ll probably find yourself offended by these images.

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New hands-free binoculars let you see far, look like something out of One Piece

New hands-free binoculars let you see far, look like something out of One Piece

Don’t you hate it when you’re out birding in Tibet and you spot a Sillem’s Mountain Finch? The find itself is great of course, but immediately upon sighting it you want to light up a cuban cigar in order to celebrate, in accordance with birdwatching tradition. The problem, is you have to put down your binoculars to do so, thus potentially losing sight of the rare bird.

To address this problem that we all must deal with at one point in our lives, a Shanghai wholesaler is offering “Meganegata Sogankyo” or “Glasses-type Binoculars” which allow you to see long distances while retaining the use of both your hands, in the most steampunk way possible.

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Kanna Hashimoto’s rise to fame continues with major commercial appearance

Kanna Hashimoto’s rise to fame continues with major commercial appearance

About a half a year ago, the charming face of a local idol from Fukuoka was plastered all over the internet. Kanna Hashimoto’s genuine charm and cuteness had won over the country literally overnight. Shortly afterwards, we were able to meet the up and coming star and buy a pair of glasses. There we found Hashimoto’s charm wasn’t just a fluke of the original photo that shot her into the spotlight.

Now we’re happy to see that her rise to fame hasn’t slowed down one bit with a recent appearance in the hugely popular SoftBank commercial series featuring the Shirato family. Not only that, she has also thrown the ceremonial first pitch at Opening Day of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 2014 season.

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Enjoy the beauty of Angkor in your underpants thanks again to Google Street View

Enjoy the beauty of Angkor in your underpants thanks again to Google Street View

It seems Google Maps and Google Street View is truly unending in their quest to walk around and take panoramic photos of some of the Earth’s most beautiful locations. So far we’ve witnessed the eerie wonder of Gunkanjima and the spectacular sights of Mt. Fuji’s summit all courtesy of Google. And now we are treated to a place found on many people’s bucket list: Angkor, Cambodia.

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Tsunami survival by the numbers, it doesn’t take much

Tsunami survival by the numbers, it doesn’t take much

It shouldn’t be hard to remember the sheer force that a tsunami can unleash on land. And with the recent quakes in Chile, many parts of the world wonder if another is not too far away.  But there’s an important thing about a tsunami that is not often discussed, and that’s how big it has to be to jeopardize your life.

Recently a Twitter user posted a photo of this safety poster which has caused those who saw it to wish it was seen all over the country. You might be able to understand this graphic which shows the water level versus the probability of death without understanding the Japanese, but let’s look at it a little more closely.

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High-end Japanese farm wear now available for public consumption

High-end Japanese farm wear now available for public consumption

Last year, Osaka-based heavy manufacturer Yanmar unveiled some major changes to their line-up. Hoping to breathe fresh life into the age-old life of farming, they designed a bad-ass tractor and futuristic farming wear.

Since then, the rest of us have had to deal with uppity Japanese farmers walking around town in their high-end fashions with their noses firmly aimed at the sky. They say they’re just avoiding the manure smell, but everyone knows what really stinks.

However, now Yanmar is letting us lowly peasants get a taste of the high life, by releasing a limited number of their cutting-edge farm wear for sale to the general public. As you can imagine, this kind of fashion doesn’t come cheap.

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Pearl River Delta confirms recent risk ranking with severe hail storm

Pearl River Delta confirms recent risk ranking with severe hail storm

No sooner was it announced the third most at-risk area for natural disasters in the world than the Pearl River Delta in China was hit by extremely severe rain storms with giant hail and damaging winds. The region, which is composed of several major urban centers has experienced flooded subways stations, canceled flights, and destroyed shopping centers due to heavy downpours.

Some of these scenes have been recorded and shared online in video form.

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