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Rock band KISS collaborating with Sailor Moon Crystal’s Momoiro Clover Z

The U.S. rock band KISS is no stranger to merchandise collaborations with Japan, but the maskedglam rock band is marking its first time working with a Japanese musical artist with a new single next year. KISS and the Japanese pop idol group Momoiro Clover Z are set to release a new single together on January 28, 2015.

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Street Fighter II creator Yoshiki Okamoto talks games and his new project, Monster Strike 【Interview】

When Street Fighter II creator and retro gaming legend Yoshiki Okamoto announced two years ago that he was leaving console games forever to pursue mobile gaming projects, many probably thought he was joking. A lifelong arcade and console game creator abandoning ship to work in the much loathed and parodied mobile platform? This must be some kind of pre-retirement prank, surely?

As it happens, Okamoto was dead serious, and – far from having retired – has made good on his promise to focus on mobile games, working with a protege to crank out one of the most successful mobile games of all time: Monster Strike.

Monster Strike has reached over 16 million players in Japan and Taiwan, exceeding all expectations and becoming a cultural institution in the game’s native Japan. Sensing it was time to strike out into other territories, Okamoto, game producer Koki Kimura and his team are now working to expand the game into the west and beyond. We caught up with Okamoto and Kimura in San Francisco at Monster Strike’s North American launch party to talk about the game and the industry in general:

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Here’s how the CEO of Sony tweaked ‘The Interview’ after North Korea threatened war

Sony’s film studio, Sony Pictures, was hit by a massive hack that resulted in the leaking online of a huge trove of documents from the company.

Re/code reports that one of the files posted online was the email archive of Amy Pascal, the company’s co-chairman. Her inbox contained emails sent by Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai in which he instructs Sony Pictures staff to make an important change to the ending of coming comedy “The Interview.”

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Christmas cards are too mainstream, get your hands on these awesome anime-inspired cards!

It’s almost that time of the year! The time of the year that people who work for postal services probably dread the most. Tis’ the season for greeting cards, be it for Christmas or for the New Year. While electronic greetings have become a major trend, what with the wide range of social networking platforms we have access to nowadays, handwritten snail-mailed cards just pack that much more warmth and sincerity than mass sending a copy-and-paste kind of generic message to every friend, family member and I-don’t-remember-who-you-are on your contact list.

If you’re a manga or anime fan who likes to send cards with a touch that represents who you are, or if you know someone who would be thrilled to receive an anime-inspired greeting card, these awesome hand-crafted anime/manga-inspired cards would probably be your best bet!

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Apple opening first non-U.S. development center in Yokohama, Japan

To many visitors, both coming from elsewhere in Japan and abroad, Yokohama seems quaint and relaxed. Sure, it’s the second biggest city in the country, but Yokohama is best known for its bayside parks, giant Ferris wheel, and Chinatown (plus its occasional Pikachu outbreaks).

But Yokohama has also been the entry point to Japan for some of its largest cultural and technological influences. It was the site of Japan’s first gas lamps, photography studio, and even brewery as the country opened itself to outside visitors and innovations in the latter half of the 19th century. Viewed from that historical perspective, it’s fitting that technology giant Apple is setting up a new research and development center in Yokohama.

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17-year-old aspiring artist creates amazing Disney and Marvel fan art with colored pencils

When I was 17, I was an aspiring interior designer, but I lacked the passion, determination and talent for it, and never got anywhere in that trade. 17-year-old aspiring artist Mandy Wang, however, is probably going places with her talent and passion for drawing, seeing as she has already captured the hearts of over 70,000 fans on Instagram! Just look at the lovely drawings she creates with colored pencils and watercolor, after the break!

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Hi-Chew is such a hit that the Japanese candy is getting its own factory in North Carolina

Every time I go back to the States to see my family, before hopping on the plane, I swing by the convenience store to pick up some treats for my nieces and nephew. I figure if I can’t do anything about being “Uncle Who Only Visits Once a Year,” then I’m at least going to be “Uncle Who Only Visits Once a Year, but Brings Candy!”

The stuff I get for them isn’t anything particularly fancy. A few pieces of melon bread, whatever the newest mix of matcha green tea and chocolate is, and maybe a few packs of fruity Hi-Chew candy. This year might be my last chance to score some easy points with that last one, though, since in 2015 the makers of Hi-Chew are opening a factory in the U.S. to satisfy America’s sweet tooth with Japanese candy.

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Just in time for 2015! Hoverboard becomes reality, proves Back to the Future was legit

Remember that scene in the classic 80’s movie Back to the Future Part II, where Marty McFly escapes a group of bullies using a floating skateboard known as a hoverboard? If you do, you probably spent your childhood longing for one of those bad boys and wondering when technology would catch up to the 2015 depicted in the film. Well, it looks like we’ve managed to make it a reality, and just before the cut-off date, too! Join us after the jump for video evidence!

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Funky food-themed swaddling cloths let you wrap your baby up like sushi, egg rolls, or tortillas

It always seems a little strange when someone looks at a really cute baby and squeals, “He’s so cute I could just eat him up!” I agree, most babies are pretty adorable, and if you said, “He’s so cute I could take on the social responsibility of providing food, clothing, and shelter for him,” or maybe “He’s so cute I could put up with his moody teen years,” I’d probably be right with you.

But eating him? Why would your mind go there? Unless, of course, the baby is wrapped in a sushi roll-style swaddling cloth.

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Popular TV show’s awe-inspiring Mario dance number is geektastically cool

Quick, what is the geekiest thing you can imagine ever possibly happening? Is it four grown adults dressed like Mario characters dancing a Mario-themed, choreographed dance to classic Mario music, on a stage replete with several thousand-dollar Mario-themed props, in front of a crowd that is only passively aware of the Mario franchise at best, plus those guys from Duck Dynasty and some shirtless guy?

Well, if you were thinking of that oddly specific scenario, you are way off base, because one couple on Dancing with the Stars just made Mario-themed dancing about the coolest, most mainstream thing around with a beautifully choreographed routine that is proving a major YouTube hit.

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Floppy drive orchestra performs old-school game music, gives us nostalgia overload 【Video】

We’re constantly amazed by the creative ways people come up with to reuse defunct technology, and here’s another one to blow your mind. One YouTuber has used his programming and music skills to reproduce popular tunes and game music using… floppy disk drives!

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Un-bear-ably cute! Munchkin the Shih-Tzu hits the treadmill in teddy costume【VIDEO】

If you’re feeling a little blue at the start of another work week and need an adorable pick-me up, perhaps we can interest you in a fuzzy doggy waggling her way through an intense gym session while dressed as a teddy bear? Munchkin the Shih-Tzu has been earning “Aww!”s all over the interwebs with this video uploaded to her personal YouTube page. In it, Munchkin struts her stuff whilst wearing an improvised costume created from a gutted teddy bear. Thanks to some magical camera-angle trickery, Munchkin appears to walk upright with the jaunty swagger of a carefree teddy just workin’ out in the gym. Join us for the video and more on Munchkin after the jump!

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An ocean apart, what do Japanese college students think about the US?【Video】

World opinion of the United States goes up and down like a giant see-saw. Sometimes the US is seen as a world leader in economics, science and technology, yet there is no denying the fact that around the globe, there are some groups that harbor negative feelings towards Americans. Post WWII, there has been an incredibly strong bond between the USA and Japan, but has public opinion been swayed in recent years? If this small sampling of college students is representative of how the youth of Japan feel about the US, relations between the two countries will continue to be solid.

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Barack Obama inadvertently galvanizes anti-immigration sentiments in Japan

Confusion broke out online in Japan recently as people weren’t sure what to make of a comment uttered by US President Barack Obama on 25 November. During a speech regarding immigration reform in Chicago he cited Japan as an example of a country which doesn’t “have problems with certain folks being discriminated against.”

In Obama’s mind, the remark must have been an innocuous comment meant to lighten the crowd. Little did he know that it would wind up mentioned in the Japanese press and through a chain of misunderstandings would lead some to comment: “Look at that. So he admits the evils of immigration after all!” It’s as if Aaron Sorkin wrote an episode of Three’s Company.

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Chinese E-cigarettes might be wreaking more havoc on your computer than on your lungs

If you’ve turned to E-cigarettes to reduce the damage of your smoking habit or help you quit, you may want to avoid Chinese brands unless you’re prepared to turn your computer into a smoking, sputtering paperweight as a sacrifice to your improved health.

That’s because there seems to be mounting evidence that some Chinese E-cigarettes can literally infect your computer with viruses and malware.

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Zelda hero Link’s other blade, the Fierce Deity Sword, brought to life in awesome video

While every game in Nintendo’s long-running Zelda franchise stars an elfish boy named Link who goes on a quest to save the world, each installment puts its own signature wrinkle on the formula. Wind Waker is the one with cel-shaded, storybook-like visuals. Twilight Princess is the one where Link can turn into a wolf.

And Majora’s Mask is the weird, dark one that would give little kids nightmares.

That’s not the sole distinction for title, though. Majora’s Mask is also the only place where you can see the awesome Fierce Deity Sword. Well, more accurately, it was the only place, since the awesome blade now exists in real life, too.

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Our Japanese reporter visits an American sushi restaurant in Japan

In this era of increasing globalization we see more and more cases of foods jumping across cultural boundaries and changing in the process. Japan is no different with foods like pizza topped with scallops, curry which tastes sweet as pudding, and ramen burgers.

And of course this culinary door swings both ways such as the United States’ take on sushi in creations like the California roll. However, now we are seeing an interesting twist in the migration of sushi with New Port Sushi located in Okinawa. Here American style sushi can be enjoyed in Japan. After our reporter Nakano was finished vomiting up his glass of root beer, we sent him in to check it out.

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Artist combines terracotta warriors from ancient China with some familiar modern faces

In 1974, some farmers in Xi’an, China, stumbled upon a funerary army buried with the first Qin emperor comprised of more than 8,000 terracotta soldiers. Their fierce, noble faces belied their intent to protect the emperor even in death, while their military dress and kit, all recreated in detail, gave them the means to do so.

Now an artist in San Francisco is herself recreating some of these World Heritage statues, but there’s something just a bit off about the faces…

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Why almost all Japanese people hate root beer

When living in another country it’s only natural to miss some of the tastes of home. In my case, the extreme rarity of root beer has been a source of sadness. Time to time I’ll come across a supermarket or import shop that carries it and am sure to pick up a can despite its often exorbitant price of around 200 yen (US$1.69).

The reason for the absence of the drink on the Japanese market is obvious though. Although root beer has its share of detractors even in its home of America, the sheer number of people who can’t stand the stuff in Japan is huge. What is it that makes root beer so overwhelmingly disgusting to Japanese people?

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Dedicated designer mum’s lunch bag art is way too good to throw away

Brown paper lunch bags don’t have to be boring! One mum’s stunning drawings on her kids’ baggies liven up lunchtime, and are so good that it almost seems a waste to draw them on something that’s designed to be disposable.

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