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Vertical translates the best contemporary Japanese books. Vertical selects their popular novels, graphic novels, and quality nonfiction from a rich, variegated stock: Japan's huge and vibrant book market.
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1. Interning At Vertical: Thoughts on NYCC.

While I plan to do a big post detailing my experience of interning for Vertical at New York Comic Con, I thought I should do a small one detailing some of my thoughts and expectations on the subject. I have never worked for a company at a convention before, nor have I ever have been at con volunteer, however, I used to work in conjunction with New York Comic Con (and at the time, New York Anime Festival) at various events around the city. So I’m familiar with interacting with the lovely con masses. This time, I’ll be working as an exhibitor and as a member of the industry. Definitely intriguing, if not a little scary, to think about.

As you probably have heard by now, and should know if you’ve kept up with the blog (please do this, I’d appreciate it :D ) we’re bringing out josei superstar and Sakuran author Moyoco Anno, and I’m really proud to be working with the company that’s doing this. I don’t know if I’ll get to meet her myself, but I’m still very excited for it to be happening! I’m also excited to be working at the booth. I’ve done booth duty for NYCC/NYAF at other events, and I’m really stoked on getting to do it for Vertical. I implore you to come and say hi, and if you feel like it to pick up a new release or two as well! I think it will be a lot of fun meeting and talking with other fans of the titles we put out, maybe get into a debate over which Tezuka title reins supreme, and simply just soak in the experience from a different perspective than I’ve ever done before.

Again, we’re doing a lot at NYCC this year. As always, we’ll be having a panel, Moyoco Anno will be having her own panel and several autograph signings, and we’ll have plenty of books to sell! Come check everything out, at New York Comic-Con.

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2. Menchanko Tei

I’m always on the look out for good ramen, here in New York City. A nice bowl of Ramen is one of the most satisfying things in the word. A nice salty broth, chewy slurp-able noodles, and a few pieces of delicious Cha-shu, I salivate just thinking about it.  Fortunately, authentic Ramen isn’t too hard to find here in the city, but some places are certainly better than others. One such place that has yummy Ramen (and yummy Oden as well) is Menchanko Tei.

 

 

Located on 45th right off Lexington, Menchanko Tei is only steps away from Grand Central, making it an easy place to get to. They get their name from their signature dish, Menchanko, which combines a bowl of Ramen, “men” meaning chinese noodles which is where ramen comes from, with traditional Sumo Wrestler stew (albiet with some added seafood for good measure), Chanko. The Menchanko itself is good, but personally, I prefer their more traditional kinds of ramen. Here, a bowl of Ramen will set you back between $9-$11 depending on what kind it is and what you want in it, a price I totally say is worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are my two favorite kinds of Ramen available at Menchanko Tei. On the right is the Hakata Ramen, with broth made from Pork Bone, and on the left is a bowl of Shoyu Ramen, a traditional Tokyo style ramen with Soy Sauce in the broth. Not complicated dishes, but both of these are delicious are highly recommended. The noodles are filling, the broths are tasty, and the pork and eggs are cooked right.  If you enjoy Ramen and either live or find yourself here in New York City, I recommend getting one of these bowls for yourself. Menchanko Tei also has a daily don (rice bowl) delicious oden, and a nice selection of drinks. I highly recommend it if you’re looking to go get yourself, or maybe a date, a bowl of Ramen.

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3. Onizuka and I

Eikichi Onizuka is a classic Anime and Manga character. In Japan, his live action TV show remains one of the most popular of all time. Being the main character of four different manga over the past twenty years certainly has helped, but ultimately this is because the great teacher himself has been, and is still, a formidable inspiration. From his silly antics, beating up and getting beaten up, and inspirational speeches and gestures, Onizuka has become a modern manga great who has entertained many and has given hope to even more. If you’ve never read any of the GTO series, I highly implore you do, though I bet most of you are at least familiar with it. Like some of you, I have a long history with one Eikichi Onizuka, one that definitely pre-dates our releases of GTO: The Early Years and GTO: 14 Days In Shonan, and I want to talk about it.

My first experience with the great teacher that is Onizuka was way back in 2004. What a time 2004 was if you were a manga fan living in either the U.S. or Canada. It was the beginning of the manga boom, where more and more manga was starting to be released stateside, where the art-form and story-form was gaining popularity, where we would start to see big manga sections in Barnes & Nobles and the now and unfortunately defunct Borders.  I was only twelve at the time and I was finally delving into the world of manga past what Shonen Jump was offering. Having read much of the stuff by Clamp, Love Hina, and Kodocha (which still holds up quite well), like others during the time, I had fallen in love with manga and I wanted more. I forget how exactly, though it was most likely through the advertisements found in old Tokyopop books that made up the majority of manga-shelves at the time, but I stumbled upon the existence of GTO and decided to purchase it. Yet, no sooner did I purchase it and tried reading the first few chapters did I decide that I hated the work and literally left the book it in the mall where I had bought it. Literally, I left it behind a potted plant on a ledge and hoped for the best. It was just too much for little twelve year old me.

 

A few years later, at a point where the original GTO was starting to get hard to find, Tokyopop began releasing the title that we are now just about to finish, GTO: The Early Years. I was older (and I’d like to think I was at least a little smarter too) at this point and I had wanted to give the series another shot. In short, I loved it. I found the characters entertaining, the story lines engaging, the fights fun, and the whole badass/yanki attitude of the entire thing very enjoyable. Most of all, I was upset at my 12 year old self for not enjoying the original GTO, because it was now very hard for anyone to find all 25 volumes of the series. If you’ve been following the manga industry since the mid 2000s, you know that a couple years before their demise (semi-demise? I’m not really sure.) Tokyopop stopped publishing all of their comics that they licensed from Kodansha. It would be years before we ever saw the conclusion to Samurai Deeper Kyo and Ravemaster, and other titles like Getbackers disappeared from America completely. GTO: The Early Years was one such manga.

 

If you’re reading this post, you should know that Vertical finally picked up this title and released it, but in the interim in between tokyopop’s release and ours, I was able to get my hands on all of the original GTO. A few years ago, a friend of mine posted a status asking if anyone wanted to buy the manga from him for a discounted price, and I snapped it up. Boy, was that the right choice. I fell in love with that manga. I fell in love with what the manga was doing, the classmates, and most importantly, Onizuka himself.  His excursions of trying to court women had continued, and honestly were as funny as ever, but his stakes were even higher; Instead of just defending his friends, he’s trying to give his classmates someone to look up to and count on.  No matter how tough the situation or how much physical danger he may find himself in, if you’ve read the series, (or it’s prequel or sequel) you know that he succeeds. Smiles and tears the entire ride. Truth be told, I had a picture of the last page of the manga as my phone background for a good year.

 

When Vertical announced that they were picking up the rest of The Early Years and 14 Days Of Shonan, I was ecstatic. This was way before I ever joined this company as an intern, and is actually probably one of the reasons I really started to fall in love with this company. Getting to read 14 Days Of Shonan and seeing Eikichi continue doing what he does best makes me happy every time I pick up a volume. Getting to finish The Early Years, watching Eikichi grow up (well, who knows if he ever really did) to become the greatest teacher that he is, has been wonderful. I’ve been reading manga for a long time, and the entire GTO franchise is one that has been with another, from the beginning, in one way or another. I love Onizuka, and if you don’t, you should tear open a space in your heart and let him settle in. You’ll be glad you did.

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4. Interning at Vertical: Two Weeks In.

I’ve been an intern here at Vertical for two weeks now, and in that time I feel like I have already done a fair amount. I’ve done some write-ups for our manga, relaunched a blog, packed some envelopes, spent several hours of my life discussing manga and the world of the manga industry with Ed Chavez (who’s office I occupy a tiny space in) and have gone to and from the post office more times than I can already count. All in all, being here at Vertical Inc. has already been an interesting experience, and I figure some of you might be interested in hearing a bit about what interning at a manga (and other Japanese works) publishing company is like.

First off, I figure I should describe to you a bit of what the office is like. While it’s not a big office, it’s honestly one I really like, and it’s also one that I’m able to walk to three mornings a week, which is nice. As one might possibly imagine, the office is just full of manga. Translated manga, untranslated manga, our releases, Japanese manga-mags, for a manga-lover, this place is a small little heaven in which you can loose yourself in the world of comics from Japan. Because there’s too many books just to fit in the office rooms alone, there’s even a library which has even more manga inside of it. The other two things that there are an abundance of within this office are cardboard boxes, both filled and unfilled, and Vertical bags. The very same bags you yourself could own if you spend $30 or more dollars at our booths at various anime conventions. There’s a pile of them right next to the desk I’m using, actually.

As I stated, I work out of marketing director Ed Chavez’s office, which makes sense because he’s who I directly report to here. If you’ve attended any of our panels, or have bought anything from us at a con, he’s the man you’ve talked to. Working in the same room with him, I end up getting to talk to him (or rather, bugging him) a lot. In my short two weeks here, I’ve already learned a lot about how the american manga industry, and the publishing industry in general, exactly works. I’ll go into this more another time, but, even for a long time manga consumer like me, there’s a lot that I’ve never even considered that comes into play. I get to hear a lot about what sells, what doesn’t, and why, and while I can’t say anything super-specific one way or another, it’s all very interesting to be around. I’ve been a manga buff for sometime, but now working with a long-time industry vet like him, I feel like I’m just a novice who’s barely scratched the surface of the world manga has to offer.

I’m not the only intern here at Vertical at the moment, but right now, I’m the only one who isn’t involved with the production of books. The thing that I’ve done most so far are the write-ups our manga that appear on our website. They’re just three paragraph blurbs on each book to help explain what they are about, but having to figure out how to exactly write each one has been challenging. I have to read said manga, figure out what aspects of it are most prominent and impressive, and then put it all in my own words. I’ve also had the pleasure of compiling the wine list for the new The Drops of God volume, and have done some of the translation notes for GTO: The Early Years, both of which have basically included a lot of googling.

Of course, I’m now also getting to blog as a part of my internship, and I think that’ll end up being really fun over the course of my time here. I’ve only been here for two weeks, but again, it’s been totally fulfilling so far. I’ll post about this subject again, if not before New York Comic Con, soon after . I’ll be doing some booth-work, to be sure. I’m really excited to be working with Vertical at a convention for the first time, opposed to being a regular attendee. While the manga industry isn’t as big over here as it used to be in the mid ’00s, it’s certainly lively, and it’s certainly been great to be interning inside of it.

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5. Throwing some Japanese music your way.

Like some of you may, I listen to a fair amount of Japanese music. In fact, I’ve recently become rather enamored with Kyary-Pamyu Pamyu because dang if her songs are not infectious… Please don’t judge me. I figured I’d do some posts every now and then about Japanese music as it’s relevant to Japanese culture, and a lot of it is rather enjoyable.  I must admit, I don’t keep up with the popular J-Rock bands and, with the exception of Kyary, the popular J-Pop stars. My tastes are somewhat off the beaten path. You won’t see any Viz-Kei here, nor will you see any vocaloid, but maybe, if you give yourself the chance, you’ll end up enjoying some of these songs regardless. At the very least, a listen won’t hurt!… Will it?

 

        • Rin Toshite Shigure is a Japanese rock band from Saitama. They’re known for their impressive and varied guitar riffs, their dueling,wailing, male and female vocals, and high-paced intense musical output. Give their song “Telecastic Fake Show” a listen.
        • Midori was a Japanese punk band with a heavy jazz influence, an interesting combination if I must say.  Led by frantic singer Mariko Goto, this band has high energy and it just pours out song after song. I’ve never heard another band like them. Check out rockin’ live video of their song Yukiko San.
        • School Food Punishment, who unfortunately just broke up, is one of my favorite Japanese bands. They’ve gotten some mainstream success and have had their songs of theirs in some anime, like Eden Of The East, [c], and Ungo. Their music is a perfect blend of electronic and rock, fronted with the beautiful vocals of Yumi Uchimura. You May Crawl has remained a favorite of mine for years.
Okay, that’s enough for now. I figure I shouldn’t load everyone with too much off the bat. Though, I do hope you give these bands and these songs a chance, because they’re pretty great. Let me know if you enjoyed any of this stuff or if you want to see more music related posts in the comments or on the facebook page!
I lied. There’s one more thing I need to post. As I said above, I’m a big fan of Kyary. Her new video got released and, well, if you’ve seen any of her videos before, this one holds up. Watch it. It’s great.

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6. Moyoco Anno is coming to New York Comic Con! Be Excited!

As you may have seen here, we are, in fact, bringing out the lovely Moyoco Anno to New York Comic Con! She’ll be at NYCC doing panels and book signings, so if you’ll be at the con, please come out and see her! One of the reasons we are bringing her out, aside from the fact that she’s a phenomenal artist and writer, is that just a few months ago, we released her absolutely gorgeous manga Sakuran. If you haven’t picked it up yet, now’s the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to this captivating bittersweet josei tale.

Sakuran's Cover

In case you aren’t familiar with Sakuran or Moyoco Anno herself, I figured it would be a good idea to give her some introduction. A Kodansha Manga Award recipient, she’s one of Japan’s top female manga creators, and has had several of her works be turned into Anime, Dramas, and Films. Previous to Sakuran, two of her manga, Happy Mania and Sugar Sugar Rune, have been published here in the U.S. before. In addition to writing manga, Moyoco Anno also dabbles in fashion writing, and her fashion kn0w-how comes through in the gorgeous clothing that appears in her work. While she hasn’t debuted a new series in a while, and isn’t currently running anything, Anno recently announced she’d have a new manga coming out next year! One final tidbit: That last name is not a coincidence, she is married to a certain Hideaki.

 

So, again, if you’re going to be at NYCC, come and see Moyoco Anno! When we get conformation of when the panels and signings will be, we’ll certainly let you know. Until then, stay tuned!

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7. Hello New World

Hello Vertical Readers!

 

As you may or may not have noticed, this blog has been kind of… dead. For a while now. I apologize for that. The good news is, that after a few high risk surgeries with a certain scarred unlicensed doctor, the Vertical Inc. blog has been officially resuscitated! Yes, this is a relaunch of sorts.

 

All kidding aside, Let me introduce myself. My name is Chris. I’m a new intern here at Vertical and I’ve been tasked with blogging my heart out to the lovely manga reading masses. When this blog was running before, it was generally an Asian culture blog that did not focus specifically on one thing or another. You’ll still be seeing these kinds of posts to a certain extent. Though I will also be writing posts that have to do with our properties, Japanese culture (and food. Most likely a lot of food.) in New York City, the life of an intern at a manga publishing company, and whatever else that may be deemed relevant to post. Though, if there’s any sort of thing you (hopeful) readers would like to see post here on this blog (which I promise will be updated frequently) or you have anything you want to ask, post in the comments or leave us a message on our Facebook page and I’ll see what can be done.

 

Phew, Okay. That seems like enough of an introduction. There’ll be new content here *very* soon so check back often! I’m excited to be writing here, and hopefully you’ll find it bearable enough to read every once in a while. See you soon!

-Chris

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8. Earthquake in Japan

Friday afternoon, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake widened Japan, sped up the Earth’s rotation and tilted it’s axis. A massive tsunami then followed, as did hundreds of aftershocks – some as powerful as “normal” tremblors themselves. Several shoreside towns and villages in the Tohoku (north-eastern) region were either heavily flooded or washed away entirely, and power, water and telephone services were disrupted thoughout the region.

Two nuclear plants near the epicenter of the quake – Fukushima 1 and 2 – are currently in crisis. Another reactor in Tokaimura (of the infamous criticality incident) apparently had some trouble but has since cooled. The Fukushima plants shut down automatically when the first quake hit, but the cooling systems – which need constant power to function – failed after the tsunami flooded the basement where the back-up generators were held. Tepco, which runs the reactors (and has been less than transparent regarding problems with the Fukushima reactors in the past), and the government have attempted to quell public panic over the possibility of radioactive leaks and contamination while giving conflicting signals, first by widening the evacuation zone around the plants and then by passing out iodine tablets to local residents to help fight radiation sickness.

Since the nuclear plants provided a significant portion of electricity in the eastern region of the country, Tepco has ordered scheduled blackouts to preserve power (which are preferable to uncontrolled rolling blackouts.)

The New York Times, BBC, the Yomiuri and Japan Times are being continually updated.

What you can do: Donate to charities working in Japan. Charity Navigator has a dedicated page with a list of charitable organizations with operations in Japan, along with ratings for each charity and links for donations. Japan Subculture has a list of charities in Japan that are accepting donations. If you’re in Japan, the Yomiuri is organizing cash donations for quake victims.

Image via.

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9. QI and the Art of British Satire

British satire is a tricky thing. Since the days of Oscar Wilde, the style has been humor with tongue planted so firmly in cheek as to cause disfigurement, while pointedly exposing truths about society or politics.

Sometimes British humor doesn’t even translate across the pond, as we saw just recently with Ricky Gervais’ sharp roasting of (and instant backlash from) the coddled Hollywood elite (though he did defend himself admirably).

Is it “too soon” for certain subjects to be skewered in a satirical way? Probably. Would the Brits take kindly to a satirical representation of the Blitz? Probably not.
It’s easily still “too soon” for any comedy regarding the Holocaust (although Gervais got very, very close.)
Is it valid to use pointed satire to try and make sense of senseless tragedy? Perhaps, perhaps not.

But the recent kerfluffle over the QI comedy show mentioning Tsutomu Yamaguchi is a case of misplaced outrage. At no point did Stephen Fry or the other panelists make fun of Mr. Yamaguchi – they were marveling at the incredible odds that someone could survive not one but two atomic bombs.

All they had was the Wikipedia version of Tsutomu Yamaguchi’s incredible life story, so how could they even make fun of him? Indeed, Mr. Yamaguchi was simply a catalyst for their humor. The butt of their jokes was in fact the British rail system (and were, in a roundabout way, complimenting the Japanese on having functioning train service right after an atomic bomb wiped out a city. I don’t think that’d be possible anywhere else – and certainly not in the UK.) Satirists satirize what they know, just as writers write what they know. And isn’t it worth something that the viewers in the UK learned about Mr. Yamaguchi’s bizarre fate?

This site (Japanese) has a line-by-line translation and explanation of the relevant dialogue.

So while in fact we may argue one way or another with regards to the limits of satire, decorum, offense, truthiness and the appropriate ways of dealing with the fallout of catastrophic disasters, in this particular case it was a cultural misunderstanding, and something was clearly lost in translation.
Obviously one can’t help but be offended, but why not save the outrage for something that’s truly meant to be offensive? (Like, say, YouTube comments. No, really, don’t read them).

I think the only solution is to start showing Red Dwarf, Little Britain and the second season of Extras on a constant loop in the Press Clubs in Nagatacho.

Let’s end things on a lighter note – here are some funny British animal voice-overs:

(h/t: Our Man in Abiko)

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10. How to Apologize: A Japanese Tutorial

Did you know that apologizing is practically an art form in Japan? This nifty little video illustrates which level of bow to use depending on what kind of apology the situation warrants. They start from a simple “Sorry for bumping into you” mini-bow all the way to “Excuse me while I go commit seppuku” face-in-the-mud bow.

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11. Bananas on the Run

Dole has introduced Japan’s very first banana vending machine. It uses a conveyor system to deliver your tasty tropical treat with minimal bruising. This is great news for all those salarymen and OLs who may still be obsessed with the banana diet.

A PR spokesperson for Dole in Japan says they hope hurried consumers will choose fresh fruit over typical packaged convenience store fare.

So if you find yourself in Shibuya Station near the Hanzomon Line and a monkey with a gun confronts you, asking, “Do you have a banana?” you can say, “Yes, actually. Let me just hop over to this vending machine and get you a whole bunch for just 390 yen. Now, please, put the gun away.”

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12. Well, That Was Fast.

No big surprise here – lovably alien-like fashion plate and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio “Bird” Hatoyama has resigned, due to being atypically wishy-washy and indecisive.

And by “atypically” I mean “totally – almost comically – typical.”

Hatoyama is the fourth consecutive PM to resign within a year of taking office.

(Quick! Can you name the last 3? Ha! Didn’t think so.)

Current Finance Minister Naoto Kan is the favored candidate to become the next PM.

I’m certainly going to miss his UFO-riding, sun-eating, Tom Cruise-lovin’ ex-Takarasienne wife.

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13. Stephen Colbert Learns Japanese

… from that Scary McCreeperson robot voice simulator. He also defends his previous “racist Chinese” accent as simply brain damage.

If this doesn’t make you laugh, something is wrong with you.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Robotic Voice Simulator & Foreign Accent Syndrome
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

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14. Fans in Japan Reinterpret Lady Gaga’s Fashion Statements

I adore Lady Gaga. (Haters to the left! The video for “Telephone” was epic!)

And so do her Japanese fans.

Here’s just a small sampling of several dozen pics of fans as they head to Yokohama Arena for Gaga’s concert over on TokyoFashion.com. I love the Tokyo street fashion sense mixed with Gaga’s crazy stylings.

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-17-056-P7235-600x450

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-18-050-P7414-600x903

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-17-057-P7238-600x903

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-17-076-P7271-600x903

Lady-Gaga-Japanese-Fans-2010-04-18-040-P7388-600x903

Head over to TokyoFashion.com to see the rest.

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15. Tokyo Damage Report: Bombshell Interview about Japanese Music Industry

… well, specifically Visual-kei, but one can extrapolate, non? It’s epically long, but a very fascinating read. Strap on your seatbelts, kids.

An excerpt:


“SATOH-SAN: Keeping the fantasy intact is the biggest priority. If there is no image, no fantasy, the band will never get big.


TDR: You mean, if the guys talk to fans, and let slip that they’re working the midnight shift at 7/11, or living on ramen and pachinko, it’ll be hard for the fans to picture him as a bisexual 17th century British vampire space-man after that?


SATOH-SAN: You understand this phenomenon very well!

visual-kei

(cut)


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16. Rivals Kim Yu-Na, Mao Asada Medal at Vancouver Olympics

So last night was the highly-anticipated showdown between Kim Yu-Na of South Korea and Mao Asada of Japan. After the short program scores, Kim was in the lead, and thanks to a flawless free skate in which she set a world record under the ISU judging system she won the gold medal.

Skate America Figure Skating

Immediately after finishing her free skate program she burst into tears of relief. Probably because she won’t have to deal with enraged “fans” that had previously sent her angry hate-mail for earning less than the gold medal in other competitions. Given the spate of high-profile figures in Korea committing suicide due to public backlash, here’s hoping Kim can take a breather and enjoy the moment. (This should also keep any angry Korean fans from threatening to blow up another embassy.)

Kim’s main rival was the Japanese champion Mao Asada. Mao ended up in second place due to a couple of slip-ups on the ice. However, she became the first female skater to successfully perform two triple-axel jumps in the same ISU program. Which is impressive in it’s own right. I mean, could you do anything that cool that at 19 years old? Yeah, me neither.

mao-free

Mao still packed a sad at the medal ceremony and later told reporters that she regretted her mistakes during her free skate program. Hey, cheer up, Mao. At least you have your very own hina doll. Maybe Mao can commiserate with Evgeni Plushenko, then secretly have both their medals dipped in platinum.

So on the medal podium, there was Kim crying from relief, Mao looking like she was ready to cry then cut a bitch, and poor Joannie Rochette crying because now she can finally mourn her mother. God, what an emotional event.

joannie

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17. How do you say “cosplaying geek” in French?

It doesn’t matter, ’cause the French can make something as ridiculous as dressing up like a comic book character look chic and uber cool.

500x_4375578135_c714cb8fb3_b_01

More pics of French people generally being fabulous in costumes that rock over at io9.

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18. Tokyo Drawn from Memory

Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire can draw a fully detailed panorama of a city from memory, even after viewing it just once.

Here’s his amazing rendition of the Tokyo skyline:

tokyo-wiltshire

Full panorama is here. (Note: it takes a while to load, so grab a snack or something. But it’s totally worth the wait.)

Via Gawker.

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19. Dog with Mega Eyebrows

A dog in Fukuoka has “eyebrows.” 

eyebrow-dog

Apparently the black spots were just around his eyes before (emo dog?) but they migrated to give him a comical “Wassup, dawg?” look. (At least that’s what I picture him saying. There’s also this nifty gadget that “translates” dog-speak into human-speak.)

He was featured on “Nanikore Chin Hakken”:

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20. Belly-Button Festival

Residents of Furano, Hokkaido, held their annual “heso matsuri” (belly-button festival) a few days ago.

heso-matsuri

Check out the jiggling “face” early on in this video:

I guess if you had a six-pack it would ruin the effect…

More videos over at Japan Probe.

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21. Election Season!

In just over a week voters will take to the polls in Japan in what is shaping up to be an interesting election. For the first time in well over a decade, the LDP’s iron grip on the government seems to be faltering. Will the voters side with the main rival, the DPJ? (A great in-depth series over at Mutantfrog Travelogue).

Or will they choose the shiny new Happiness Realization Party, the political wing of the shiny new religion Happy Science? Their impressively batshit-crazy promotional video might convince those voters who might not be won over by the usual suspects.

Screencaps:

the-end-of-japan

Here’s a list of the highlights, for those not willing to waste 6 minutes on watching the video:

* Salarymen sit in an office watching news bulletins about North Korea launching missiles.

* Large explosions are being reported in Osaka and Nagoya.

* Missiles are headed for the Kanto region. Patriot missile batteries have failed to shoot them down.

* Panic grips the office, but it is too late. The flash of a nuclear explosion covers the screen and Tokyo is reduced to a radioactive wasteland.

* Viewers are then urged to consider the facts. North Korea has a lot of missiles with the range to hit Japan, and its only a matter of time before they can mount nukes on them. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that Kim Jong-il isn’t preparing to launch them at Japan!

* And don’t forget China! They’ve got a huge military and they are supporting North Korea, and they’ve got missiles too!

* By 2020, China could possess more military power than the United States. (As the shot zooms in on the deck of an aircraft carrier, we discover that it is Chinese!) If this happens, it is possible that China could advance on Taiwan and Okinawa.

* After the seizure of Taiwan, it is likely the Chinese fleets could block the vital sea lanes that supply Japan with its food and fuel. The current Japanese government has no concrete plan in place to deal with such a situation.

* If nothing is done to stop this, Japan will become a colony of China/North Korea!

* What can you do to prevent the utter and complete destruction of the Japanese nation? Vote for the Happiness Realization Party. They want to drop the pacifist clause from the Japanese constitution, build up Japan’s defenses, and strengthen Japan’s alliance with the United States.

(lifted from Japan Probe)

Oh look, here’s their happy science happy Manifesto in happy realized English!

Can you imagine if Scientology formed a political party? This is probably what it would resemble.

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22. Hitler: Now in Manga Format!

Japanese publisher East Press has sold 45,000 copies of a manga adaptation of Hitler’s infamous manifesto Mein Kampf (in Japanese: waga tousou). The original German version has ben banned in Germany since the end of WWII.

mein-kampf-manga

Anime News Network reports:

“Since the German state of Bavaria inherited the printing rights upon Hitler’s suicide towards the end of World War II, the copyright holder (which is currently the Bavarian Finance Ministry) can prevent others from publishing the book in Germany. However, since the copyrights are set to expire in 2015 (the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s death), some government and Jewish figures have called for publication under controlled conditions.

German Jewish author Rafael Seligmann called for its publication as early as 2004. In June, the Bavarian minister of science and research advocated a “decently prepared and well-grounded critical edition” to counter “charlatans and neo-Nazis” who “could seize this disgraceful work when Bavaria’s rights run out.” Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany endorsed the possibility of an annotated edition on August 5 “to prevent neo-Nazis from profiting from it” and to “remove many of its false, persistent myths.”

On the separate matter of the manga version, the ministry told the Asahi Shimbun paper, “We have trouble considering manga as an appropriate medium for critically presenting this problematic material.”

meinkampf2

Other manga adaptations of controversial or difficult works include Marx’s Das Kapital (Amazon Japan recommends buying Das Kapital along with Mein Kampf! Strange bedfellows, methinks!), Dante’s Divine Comedy, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and others.

It’s not a mega-bestseller as far as manga titles go, but the numbers are interesting. I’m wondering why people are buying, and what the public’s reaction is, despite the brush-off from the Bavarian Finance Ministry.

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23. Chopstick Manners

If you’re a foreigner (or just foreign looking) and have ever dined with Japanese expats in your country or with Japanese acquaintances in Japan, you’ve probably been damned with the faint praise, “Wow, you can use chopsticks!” One can respond with false modesty or make up a story about the trials and tribulations of years and years spent learning Zen and the Art of Chopstick-Use, but before you get too cocky, there are a few (actually, quite a few) etiquette issues regarding chopsticks that every gaijin should be aware of. This list has a rather thorough run-down, in survey format, listing bad chopstick habits and their ranking in levels of offensiveness. Here’s the top ten:

Rank
Explanation Score
1 watashi bashi: Resting chopsticks sideways across the top of dishes 100
2 saguri bashi: Stirring soup trying to find that last chunk of tofu, etc 83.1
3 tsuki bashisashi bashi: Spearing food then eating it 79.1
4 choku bashi: Not using the serving chopsticks, but your own sticks to get food from shared plates 71.2
5 mogi bashi: Sucking off grains of rice, etc, stuck to the chopsticks 65.4
6 kasane bashi: Eating just one dish continuously 61.9
7 mochi bashi: Grabbing a dish, glass, etc whilst holding chopsticks in the same hand 61.6
8 mayoi bashi: Hovering chopsticks over the dishes while humming and hawing about what to eat 54.4
9 uke bashi: Holding chopsticks when asking for more rice 44.8
10 kaki bashi: Holding a bowl to your mouth and shovelling food in 43.0

Read here for more. (from What Japan Thinks)

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24. Dr. Romanelli Vs. Hello Kitty

When I think of Hello Kitty, I think:

hello_kitty_angel

Or sometimes:

hello_kitty_castle

Or even:

hellokittydarthvader

But some things take the Hello Hitty image too far. Like this new “anatomy” figurine below.

It just makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry. Why, Dr. Romanelli?! WHY!?

dr-romanelli-hello-kitty-toys-front

Do. Not. Want.

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25. This Wednesday on South Park…

Stan celebrates his birthday at the Denver Aquarium… when suddenly the Japanese arrive and attack the dolphins!

Stan then makes it his mission to save the dolphins from the Japanese.
(In case you haven’t heard of The Cove, check this out.)

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