review

Critic reviews Attack on Titan movie: “I wished the titans would eat the kids so it would end”

We here at RocketNews24 been waiting for the release of the live-action Attack on Titan movie with cautious optimism. At first it looked great, but as we’ve received more information, it has begun to sound less and less promising.

But now the wait is over: tomorrow is the official release date, and reviews have started coming in from critics given advanced screenings. Unfortunately, the early response isn’t great.In fact, one popular Japanese movie website wrote such a scathing review of the film that even the director felt compelled to respond to it on Twitter.

Read on and see all the drama for yourself!

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Wait, just what exactly have they done with the new Death Note drama? 【Impressions】

We think Death Note is a pretty cool manga and anime series. The delicate artwork is beautiful to look at (you have to admit, the protagonist Light is one fine-looking character, even if he turns out to be, well … seriously psychotic), the Death Gods look creepy in an awesome way and the story expertly combines a fierce battle of the minds with elements of the supernatural to create an engaging and entertaining plot.

Judging from the hit the franchise has become, including two successful live action movies, we’re apparently not the only ones who feel this way, and it’s understandable that  fans were excited when it was announced back in April that Death Note was going to become a TV drama. However, just last week, newly released information about the drama caused concern among fans about what exactly the creators of the TV version were doing with the well-loved series. And so, when the drama’s very first episode aired this past Sunday, we checked it out to see for ourselves whether fans’ worries were unfounded or not.

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“It’s just like Disneyland!” Our Japanese reporter visits the love hotel where dreams are made

If Japan’s love hotels range from cheap ‘n’ cheerful to downright bizarre, Sky Paradise Rakuen must rank as one of the most marvellously ridiculous. While enjoying a discreet tryst with your partner of choice, you can also take a ride on a gondola under a sparkling jewel-encrusted sky and gaze from your balcony out over theme park-style attractions.

Disney don’t do love hotels, but if they did they’d probably look like this!

Naturally, our Japanese reporter couldn’t resist heading down to Sky Paradise to check in and check it out. Just for research, of course.

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Karan Koron Shokudo proves meat-free doesn’t mean taste-free【Veg’n in Tokyo】

Unlike in some countries, where even a steak restaurant will offer at least one vegetarian option, it can be difficult to find meat-free meals in Japan. There are, however, some vegetarian restaurants to be found in the capital, and I’m making it my mission to go around trying them all.

Today I’d like to introduce Karan Koron Shokudo, located right next to Yoyogi Uehara Station.

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Our Japanese reporter gets a heaping helping of American Denny’s

Our Japanese writers are certainly no strangers to American cuisine or at least the lower echelons of it. Whenever in the USA they tend to try places unheard of in Japan or compare easy-to-order fast food fare like McDonald’s.

One place that’s often overlooked on these trips is Denny’s. Already a well-established “family restaurant” (low-priced restaurant with waiting staff) in Japan they just assumed it was more of the same in America too.

However, after his close encounter with an empty gate at Area 51, our reporter Go Hatori was cruising across the vastness of the US and began feeling a little fatigued. He suddenly spotted that familiar yellow sign of a Denny’s and thought it would be a good place to catch a quick little bite.

Little did he know what lay in store…

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We go to Kanazawa to meet Bao, the miniature pig who works in a pork restaurant【Video】

Kanazawa City in central Japan is famous for fresh fish and seafood, kaga yasai (15 types of vegetables, officially ordained as “local”), and delicious rice and sake. But it’s not all fancy shellfish and obscure vegetables. The aptly named restaurant TABOO in Kanazawa has a real live miniature pig as its manager!

“But, surely the pig’s not actually there in the restaurant?” wondered our reporter Yoshio. “If so, he probably just works weekends.” What’s more, isn’t working in a pork restaurant something of a dangerous endeavour for a pig? “What if he’s already been eaten?” There was nothing for it – Yoshio’s mind was made up! He must head to Kanazawa for himself and attempt to secure an interview with this most unusual of restaurant managers.

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We buy a $45 Lucky Bag from posh chocolatiers Godiva so you don’t have to

New Year in Japan means family time, food with very specific meanings, and of course shopping. And one of our favourite things about this time of year is the opportunity to buy Lucky Bags (fukubukuro). As the name implies, these are bags containing a lucky dip of items from your store of choice – so you don’t know what loot you’ve got until after you’ve parted with your cash.

Sometimes, you can hit the jackpot with fukubukuro – last year, for example, our very own Mr. Sato was ecstatic to get his hands on a MacBook Air. But here at RocketNews24 we like our tech to come with a side order of luxury chocolate, so when we heard that upmarket chocolatier Godiva were selling Lucky Bags for 5,400 yen (US$45), we sent our reporter P.K. Sanjun down to buy one. Here’s what he got!

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3 unusual gyoza creations from Tochigi Prefecture, the Japanese capital of dumplings 【Taste Test】

Every place in Japan wants to be famous for something or other; to have one specific dish or product that nowhere else has as much of or does quite as well. And while the port city of Yokohama might be known for its vast and varied Chinese cuisine, when it comes to gyoza – those bitesized Chinese dumplings that have been so tweaked by the Japanese that they’re often considered home-grown – Tochigi Prefeture’s Utsunomiya City is undoubtedly the place to be, with its residents proud to call their prefecture the Japanese capital of gyoza.

After taking a trip to the prefecture, we think they might just be right. Along with the dozens of delicious gyoza stalls and restaurants we encountered, we quickly stumbled upon a number of unusual gyoza-infused offerings, three of which we just had to try for ourselves. Join us after the jump for our taste test of Tochigi Prefecutre’s Gyoza Burger, Gyoza Chips and Gyoza Bread!

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Japanese Amazon reviewer tells us why Alien vs Avatar is awesome and Dark Knight sucks

Aside from the fact that they still exist in large numbers, one of the interesting things about video stores in Japan is the range of titles they offer in the new release section. Perusing them, you might find future Oscar candidate or big budget Marvel production sharing the exact same shelf space as the latest made-for-cable offering that would make Sharknado look like Fellini.

However, sometimes films get a little too close to their apparent sources of inspiration which can lead to confusion among Japanese people. One such movie the misleadingly titled Alien vs Avatar. It’s a film title that has led netizens to question “Hey, aren’t they both aliens?” While universally panned by all who have seen it, one online reviewer in Japan thought it was particularly great… copyright issues aside.

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Is the New Nintendo 3DS worth the purchase? Early adopters in Japan share their thoughts

As its super-cutesy ad foretold, Nintendo launched its new and improved version of the 3DS here in Japan on October 11. Boasting features like a bigger, improved 3-D screen and extra buttons, yet retaining much its predecessor’s form factor, the portable appears to be more of an evolution than a revolution, but that didn’t mean people weren’t excited and looking forward to getting their hands on the new hardware.

As owners of the existing models of 3DS and 3DSLL, we aren’t really in the market for the new system quite yet, but were curious to hear what new adopters thought of the upgraded portable. Join us after the jump to find out whether the New Nintendo 3DS will be worth picking up when it launches in your country.

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McDonald’s Japan just released Tofu Nuggets, and they taste… 【Taste Test】

Just days after the taking Chicken McNuggets off its menu in the light of the China food scandal, McDonald’s Japan has unveiled a brand new, rather unusual product: Tofu Shinjo Nuggets and Ginger Sauce, a combination of bean curd, fish and vegetables shaped into bite-size pieces and deep-fried.

Turning to tofu–a food that has long been a favourite in Japan and known for its health benefits–is certainly a wise move, and McDonald’s is undoubtedly in need of something new to entice customers back with, but while we’ve no doubt all craved deep-fried chicken at some point in our lives, we’d hazard a guess that very few have ever longed for a box of tofu nuggets at the end of a night on the town.

Curious cats that we are, we headed over to our local McDonald’s to grab a few boxes of the new nuggets. Join us after the jump to find out how they taste.

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Our take on Studio Ghibli’s newest anime, When Marnie Was There【Impressions】

In one way of looking at things, it’s a great time to be a fan of Studio Ghibli. In the course of its history, the famed anime production house has often taken two years between releases, but the recent debut of When Marnie Was There marked the third Ghibli theatrical premiere in the last 12 months.

At the same time, studio co-founder and acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement from anime films also has plenty of long-time fans on edge. Still, we weren’t about to pass up the premiere of a new Ghibli movie, so we grabbed a ticket and went to see Marnie for ourselves.

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【TBT】Tokyo’s Pico Pico Cafe: Where video games meet coffee

Despite having visited the town of Kichijoji in Tokyo on a near daily basis for over a year, it wasn’t until I sat down with video game developer James Kay and started chatting about our mutual love of pixels and coffee that I learned about Pico Pico Cafe, a cosy corner perched at the top of a eight-storey building just minutes from Kichijoji station.

After dropping the staff a line, RocketNews24 headed over for a coffee and a chat. We hadn’t gone two steps inside, however, before we found ourselves completely enamoured with the unique cafe’s warm, homely interior and – perhaps most of all for this life-long gamer – the subtle dashes of video game culture in every other nook and cranny.

Tons of cool photos after the jump.

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We try the new 7-Eleven premium popcorn that everyone in Japan is going wild about

Earlier this week, netizens in Japan started going nuts about a new range of popcorn on sale at 7-Eleven. Unlike in some countries, 7-Eleven Japan takes great pride in regularly launching new, limited-edition snacks, and more often than not they’re surprisingly tasty. The response its latest product garnered, however, was ludicrously enthusiastic.

When netizens got wind of the “amazingly delicious” new caramel and (curiously) cheddar cheese flavoured popcorn on sale at their local Sebun, people apparently started bulk-buying, resulting hundreds of tweets going out bemoaning a lack of stock and pestering 7-Eleven – who then added fuel to the fire by acknowledging that the snack was indeed hard to come by – and demanding to know where they could get it.

Curious to find out what all the fuss was about, we procured a couple of bags and sat down to conduct a little taste test. I can tell you right off the bat, though, that the super-amazing mecha-delicious popcorn pretty much everyone in Japan – including our own Japanese staff – is raving about really isn’t worth all the hype.

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A tale of two tonkatsu burgers – We pit McDonald’s pork cutlet sandwich against Mos Burger’s

Here at RocketNews24, we’re all about forming stronger connections between Japan and the rest of the world. Incidentally, we’re also all about burgers and fried foods.

Sometimes, the planets align just right, and we get to check all three boxes at once, like we did today with our taste-test of McDonald’s new pork cutlet burger, a Westernized version of Japanese dish inspired by Western cuisine. And since the only thing better than a fried pork sandwich is two fried pork sandwiches, we’ll be comparing it to the nearly identical menu item from hometown hero Mos Burger.

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REVIEW: Sony’s new tablet is thinner and lighter than the iPad Air, and Android fans will love it

After receiving rave reviews for last year’s model, the Xperia Tablet Z, Sony has refreshed its flagship with a sleek waterproof design that’s just a hair thinner than the last.

It’s even just slightly thinner and lighter than the iPad Air.

Packed with a high-resolution screen and great battery life, the Z2 Tablet is among the best Android tablets you can buy today, although it doesn’t feel quite as premium as the iPad.

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REVIEW: Samsung’s new fitness gadget makes a sleek smartwatch

After releasing a critical dud last fall with its first major smartwatch release, the Galaxy Gear, Samsung surprised a lot of folks in the industry when it announced an attractive new entrant into the wearable computing category, the Gear Fit, just a few months later.

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I used the giant Samsung phone that Apple wants to kill — and I’m never going back to a tiny screen again

When I first started using Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, almost everything about its enormous size annoyed me. I couldn’t text with one hand. It barely fit in my pocket, or didn’t at all. I felt silly holding it up to my ear to talk on the phone. It was the least subtle or elegant phone I’d ever seen.

Even my friends were horrified. I’d plop the Note onto a table or I’d whip it out to take a picture, and anyone I was hanging out with would double-take.

“What is that thing?!” they’d gasp.

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Yes, Mountain Dew flavoured corn chips are a thing in Japan – and they taste…

We see a lot of weird stuff on the internet, but corn snacks made to taste – and fizz, no less – like the carbonated soft drink Mountain Dew are undoubtedly the oddest thing to happen since millions of adults across the globe simultaneously lied to their children about a bearded man sneaking into their home and leaving gifts for having refrained from murdering anyone or punching an otter since the previous December.

Nevertheless, as the internet chatter suggests, Mountain Dew corn snacks really do exist here in Japan, and so despite imagining that they’d taste about as good as minty orange juice, we tracked some down and, along with a can of actual Mountain Dew (or “Mtn Dew” as it’s now being branded in the US, because who has time fr vwls?) for comparison, conducted a little taste test of our own.

Full impressions after the jump.

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Does Xbox One’s new Kinect camera work in a tiny Tokyo apartment?

With its new home console, Microsoft is hoping to make Kinect – the motion-sensing camera that comes bundled in the box – one of the main features of the Xbox One experience. Far superior to the original Kinect camera released in 2010, the new unit is noticeably more accurate and can be used in almost complete darkness, also boasting a field of vision 60 percent wider than the original.

But for many Japanese gamers, Kinect simply isn’t a device that works for them. Compared to Western residences, Japanese homes are much smaller, in closer proximity to others, and in some cases with walls so thin that you might wonder whether you could punch through them during moments of nerd rage.

Can Kinect for Xbox One offer the same exciting, controller-free experience in Japan that it does in America and Europe? Our man went hands-on.

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