Mike

With nothing better to do in his native Ohio, Mike took a leave of absence from all responsibilities in life and came to Japan for the first time in 2006. After several years of what amounted to an extended vacation with occasional Japanese lessons, circumstances led Mike to finally settle down in Tokyo and get serious about life in 2009. He’s worked at magazines, a Japanese ad agency, and currently works in the entertainment industry. He also co-founded and writes for the humorous Japan news website Tokyodesu.com.

All Stories by Mike

In Neo Tokyo this weekend? Check out the bizarre “Bartkira” project exhibition

Think of the two greatest animation achievements in history least likely to go together, and you might come up with an incongruous mishmash of The Simpsons and Akira.

Perhaps precisely because of the way these two animated works (with the exception of “Treehouse of Horror”) couldn’t be further apart from each other in style and execution, the “Bartkira” project – which mixes characters from the series and anime film into each others’ universes and animation styles – has been a huge success.

And it’s coming to Tokyo’s Gallery Hakusen on March 7 and 8; this very weekend at time of writing.

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We visit a reasonably-priced sushi shop so good you’ll forget all about that “Jiro” guy

With a whole documentary devoted to him and a coveted place in the Michelin Guide, the (reportedly) rather ornery owner of renowned sushi shop Sushi Jiro has ruled the sushi world with a nori-wrapped fist for some time now. Jiro’s tiny shop, located in an underground mall in Ginza, commands about US$300 per 30-minute “omakase” meal and reservations need to be made months in advance – which is a pretty huge investment for a meal.

That daunting investment seems downright silly, though, when you realize that you can get incredible, world-class sushi in your maw for around a third of the cost just down the road!

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Super Frieza looks pretty blinged out in newest Dragon Ball Z film

A week or two ago, we brought you news of the character cast list for the newest Dragon Ball Z film, which is set to hit theaters in Japan later this year. The film will be the second personally overseen by series creator Akira Toriyama, which is great news, but the character list reveal might have struck some as kind of lukewarm.

It only listed the good guys, after all, and not a single one of them was an entirely new character – although a handful made first appearances in the last Toriyama film.

Today, though, we have some actual surprising information to share with you about Dragon Ball Z: Fukkatsu no Z: Frieza, the film’s main villain, will be sporting a “Super” version of his own this time out, and it might remind you a lot of the Monkey Idol from Indiana Jones.

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Three-year-old girl perfectly recites martial arts school’s student creed, wields tiny fists of death

Don’t be fooled by this tiny martial artist’s chubby little fists and small stature – she is almost certainly destined to be kicking ass as some kind of martial arts-themed crime fighter (maybe as, “The Taekwon-Do-Gooder”) years from now. We’re guessing she’ll probably get started with all the ass-kicking right around the age of seven.

We’re certain of all of this because we recently saw the girl – who is not named because it would interfere with her keeping a secret identity later on – absolutely destroy her martial arts school’s student creed, reciting it word-for-word in her adorable little gi and punching the air with her tiny fists with the conviction we’re only able to muster when the peanut butter jar is just slightly out of reach and we really want a sandwich.

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Here’s a newly-revealed character list for the 2015 Dragon Ball Z movie to geek out over

Much to the delight of series fans, Dragon Ball Z is still going strong in the form of feature-length animated films released sporadically over the years since the original series ended its run way back when people still wore Hammer pants and JNCOs.

Fans were surely pants-wettingly ecstatic, then, to learn recently that the 19th feature-length film in the series will hit theaters in 2015 and will apparently be only one of the two films personally supervised by series creator and lover of food-themed character names, Akira Toriyama.

Now more details are being released about the film, Dragon Ball Z: Fukkatsu no F, in the form of a detailed character cast sheet.

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Did you know Japan actually provides some of its own supply of this surprising natural resource?

It’s no wonder that nuclear energy has kind of been dominating the news about Japan ever since the March, 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster.

As one of Japan’s proudest domestic resources, Japan has long been an advocate for nuclear energy. Even following the 3/11 disaster, many domestic factions still push for even more nuclear energy in a country that largely imports many of its resources.

But there’s at least one more resource that Japan is capable of producing energy domestically and, in fact, it’s been doing just that for a while.

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Guy’s grandpa out-nerds us all, hand-writes insanely comprehensive Dragon Quest 5 game guide

When I was a kid, all I wanted was for my dad to play Mario together with me. I remember nagging him for hours about it until he finally put down his book or whatever it was he was doing, sighed theatrically and begrudgingly played a round or two of that kinda stupid versus mode from the original games. Needless to say, I destroyed him pretty much every time.

But, even as a kid, I had a vague notion that video games were something kids and nerds did and real adults did things like go to work, cook food for kids on demand and make weird, embarrassing noises behind closed doors with other adults. And thus, as much I enjoyed playing games with Dad, if I had ever discovered that my old man had been stashing an insanely detailed set of handwritten notes serving as a strategy guide for his favorite Japanese RPG, I would have been the first to call him a nerd and give him a huge power wedgie and a swirly for being such a poindexter.

But that’s exactly what this Japanese gamer discovered when he stumbled upon his grandpa’s handwritten Dragon Quest 5 strategy notes.

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High-speed photos of waves remind us of certain famous Japanese wood-block print

It’s almost guaranteed to adorn the walls of every study abroad student in Japan, plus the living room of your worldly, “enlightened” friend that minored in East Asian studies.

Of course, we’re talking about “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” – legendary ukiyo-e woodblock painter Hokusai’s most renowned work that depicts a fearsome-looking wave battering old-timey fishing boats off the coast of Kanagawa, Japan.

With its claw-like foam signaling impending doom for the fisherman and other artistic flourishes, one would think that the wave depicted is strictly artistic license, but one French photographer has captured strikingly similar-looking waves in real life.

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From characters to skies, anime tutorial YouTube channel makes an artist out of anyone 【Videos】

Like us, you’ve probably wondered from time to time what life as a badass anime illustrator might be like.

If a life of awesomely detailed backgrounds, fluidly animated characters, chain smoking, and endless cups of instant noodles is something you long for, Japanese anime tutorial YouTube channel, Palmie, is just for you.

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Curiosity doesn’t kill, but certainly surprises, the cat in this adorable video

Cats are dumb. They don’t even know how to interact with basic devices such as televisions, cooking ranges, mirrors, computers, or doors (well, sometimes they figure the last one out).

But not knowing what to do with these everyday items doesn’t stop felines from hopelessly pawing at them and hoping for something to happen, displaying that telltale curiosity cats are well-known for exhibiting… and occasionally dying from.

Take this adorable kitty that gets the surprise of its life after it stupidly paws at an iMac for a few seconds.

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Possibly real viral image shows potential but ridiculous way app developers influence sales stats

If you’re one of the many, many people who downloaded smartphone smash Flappy Bird only to find yourself decidedly underwhelmed and wondering why it was getting quite so much praise and press, you’re not alone. And while the aforementioned game may well have made it to the top of the charts due entirely to word of mouth and its strangely addictive, if simplistic, gameplay, you wouldn’t be considered completely crazy for wondering whether some games got to the top Google Play and the App Store’s popular downloads lists by some other means.

Case in point, this viral image doing the rounds online today, which purportedly shows a Chinese employee of a firm which makes its living boosting apps’ stats.

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“Wotagei” otaku dance style made “cool” with choreographed dance remix of pop song

If you’ve been reading RocketNews24 for a while – or are yourself a mega otaku – you probably already know that “Wotagei” (or sometimes “Otagei”) is a type of dance style performed almost exclusively by “Idol Otaku,” or otaku who are specifically really into girl idol bands.

It’s generally seen as a niche oddity by the Japanese public and even less-hardcore otaku, as evidenced by the fact that even I only understood about half of the above paragraph even as I typed it and I write about this stuff for a living.

But, take heart, all you idol otaku – your time in the limelight may have come, as a cool choreographed Wotagei performance is making the rounds and entrancing the Japanese Interwebs.

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Competitive zen garden-building board game looks awesome, despite conflicting themes

The Zen garden is probably just as important a Japanese cultural export as geisha and sumo. While Zen gardens are certainly less conspicuous than the other two – the whole point of them being to encourage relaxation and personal reflection and all – they’ve arguably had a bigger cultural impact abroad. A lot of major cities, like Chicago, feature carefully curated Zen gardens, after all, but when’s the last time you saw the local sumo club practicing in Central Park?

Westerners appreciate the more subdued, meditative qualities of “old Japan” culture, even though they wish they could find some way to appreciate it while also earning bragging rights by kicking their friends asses’ in a game of wits. That’s why we can’t wait to get our hands on this strange but awesome-looking competitive Zen garden-building board game.

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Hideous werebeast “attacks” Indonesian palm oil plant workers 【Video】

In what might be the first ever case of one of those viral cryptozoological animal videos actually being real, a bunch of Indonesian palm oil plant workers recently recorded a run-in with some sort of crazy-looking, hairless werebeast that supposedly charged them.

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There’s something a little “off” about the wrestlers in this sumo dating sim

Of all the phrases you might use to describe a sumo wrestler, “chiseled adonis” probably wouldn’t be one of them. Dedicated? Sure. Imposing? Certainly. Ripped six-pack abs? Yeah, not so much.

And while, sure, most of the best sumo wrestlers probably have hot wives as rich, famous athletes everywhere are wont to, most women aren’t exactly clawing for a shot at a date with any of the thousands of lower-ranked and amateur wrestlers of Tokyo’s sumo stables.

Unless, of course, you live in the world of the new Japanese dating sim, Ikemen Senshuraku.

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Someone finally built the massive, room-filling Dragon Ball Z diorama the world deserved

They probably told him it couldn’t be done. They said there wasn’t enough resin in the world. Not enough time in the day. No room big enough. Only a Super Saiyan or someone with all the Dragon Balls could possibly build such a thing in the span of a lifetime.

But Dragon Ball Z fan Juanpe, of the Spanish municipality of Jerez de la Frontera, knew it had to be done. He knew the world deserved a gigantic diorama, the size of an entire bedroom, of all the Dragon Ball Z characters re-enacting one of the series’ most famous animated battles in minute detail. And he knew he was the hero to do it.

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The most annoying people you’ll meet at a Japanese fitness gym, illustrated (badly) 【Pics】

Before we even get into this, there’s something I have to say in the interest of full disclosure: I’m a bit of a gym rat and I have more than a little bit of a bone to pick with Japanese gym etiquette, so apologies if I sound a little harsh or gripe-y, and/or you feel the strong wind of me chucking dumbbells in frustration throughout this article.

Having experienced the joy and wonder of numerous American gyms – often 24 hours, never too crowded, always sprawling and well-equipped, cheap and usually never exceeding more than two elderly men gleefully prancing naked through the locker room at any one time – you can imagine the soul crushing disappointment I felt upon coming to Japan and realizing that even the best gyms routinely exceed US$150 a month to use, rarely stock all the equipment you’ll need, and are generally populated exclusively by old dudes who spend 10 minutes chatting up their buddies while sitting on the only bench in the place, and the rest of their “workout” enthusiastically blow-drying their testicles in the locker room.

The only small consolation I have is that, apparently, one of the gym-frequenting writers at Japanese sister site is similarly miffed by the myriad annoyances of Japanese gyms… and he’s even been kind enough to sit down and badly sketch out all the craziest folks who’re likely to ruin your workout:

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Chinese city mobilizes whole squad of firefighters… to rescue cat’s paw from moustrap

A cat owner’s plea for help removing his pet’s paw from a mousetrap apparently took a turn towards national emergency proportions recently when not one, not two, but five firefighters were to sent rescue the kitty.

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Chinese netizens left reeling after father of slain Japanese hostage apologizes to the public

You’re no doubt aware of the (at time of writing) ongoing hostage crisis that has swept Japan, Jordan and those country’s allies up in a tense political chess match as representatives attempt to negotiate with the fundamentalist Islamic militant group ISIS for the release of a captured Jordanian fighter pilot and a Japanese war journalist Kenji Goto. The crisis has certainly been nerve-wracking and immeasurably scary for those with ties to the hostages.

But, for Chinese netizens, something far scarier happened a few days ago.

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As most of our readers of the male persuasion will no vividly doubt remember, there was a bit of a fashion craze a few months ago for a specific style of sweater which Japanese Netizens simply dubbed, “The Boob Shirt.”

The titular (heh heh) turtleneck featured an oval window exposing the cleavage of the (usually) female wearer. Now, never having needed to expose my ample cleavage to the elements, I’m not exactly an expert on the thermal properties of human breast tissue, but it seems most of the Internet agreed with me that having a big open window in the middle of your turtleneck sort of defeats the purpose of wearing a sweater.

Well, it seems now high fashion has done what it does best and built on the uselessness of The Boob Shirt with the brand new, even more useless, “Side-Boob Shirt“:

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