Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Harajuku

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Harajuku

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here

Harajuku

Where to even begin with Harajuku… It is a district in Shibuya known for being a center of Japanese trends and fashion. One of the main attractions of Harajuku is Takeshita street, a shopping district full of fashion boutiques and theme cafes. Even if you’re not into the scene, it’s a trip to immerse yourself in Takeshita street and its culture. Go walk through some of the shops, who knows, maybe you’ll find your new style! At the least you can stop by Harajuku Ice and chow down on a Gudetama ice cream!

If you’re looking for dinner and a show in Harajuku, look no further than the Kawaii Monster Café, which will show you the bizarre side of Japan. I took photos in an attempt to capture the scene, but pictures do no justice for such an experience. The ambiance is a trip, the food is colorful, and the show is indescribable. When people think of Japan as a crazy place, the Kawaii Monster Café should come to mind.

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 244: High Score Girl

High Score Girl

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Video Games

First Aired: Summer 2018, 12 episodes

Summary: The year is 1991. Yaguchi Haruo is a seemingly average 6th grader. He doesn’t have many friends, he’s not doing well in school, and he doesn’t really care. His favorite part of every day is when he is able to go to the local arcade and play video games. He loves every type of game and is always going for the high score. He studies the best strategies by watching the best players and emulating their moves. One day at the arcade he plays Street Fighter II against his classmate Oono Akira, who is a smart, pretty, rich girl you would not expect to see at the arcade. Haruo expects to pick up an easy win but is destroyed by Akira. He then proceeds to lose to her 30 days in a row! He can’t beat her at any game! Through the rigmarole of challenging Akira to video games every day, the two develop a friendship.

The strength of High Score Girl comes through its characters and references to video game culture. The nostalgia ran deep for me as I was watching this series, seeing the games they played and their takes on different game characters and scenarios. The most in-depth game they feature is Street Fighter II, showing actual game footage in the show. Showing Final Fight was another one that brought back memories. The contrasting personalities were fun to watch, with Haruo being an outgoing and loud boy compared to the quiet and calculating Akira.

You might enjoy this if: You grew up playing video games in the 90s or just want to watch a friendship bloom between some geeky youth.

You might not like it if: You live in the present and don’t ever want to look back at the past.

Similar Series: Gamers, I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying, The Master of Killing Time, Ojisan and Marshmallow, D-Frag

Note to the Viewer: In 2014 SNK Playmore claimed an IP violation against Square Enix for the use of some of its characters in the High Score Girl manga. In 2015 the two companies reached a settlement.

AMV – Wonderwall by Planet AMV

 

High School Girl Opening

(If anything, just watch the opening and see how many of the video game references you get)

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

I know what you’re probably thinking, but don’t let the name fool you, this is much more than a simple ramen museum. You’ll enter the upstairs of the building and be able to read about the complex of history of ramen. When you’re finished with that, go into the basement and be transported to the year 1958 in Japan. It’s breathtaking to turn the corner and see the past set before your eyes.

Within the basement are multiple stalls serving regional ramen from all over Japan. I had no idea different areas had such a different way of serving the noodle dish. You can customize your order in so many ways:

  • Noodles: Thin, Thick, Wrinkled, Hirauchi
  • Toppings: Chashu, Bamboo Shoots, Simmered Eggs, Naruto, Corn, Wakame, Butter
  • Broth: Salt, Soy, Miso, Pork, Chicken, Niboshi, Kelp

There’s countless other options, I have only mentioned some of the main ones here. A lot depends on the regional preparation. My tip is to order the small portion from several stalls to try out several ramen bowls. I didn’t know that was an option until I had ordered my second full-size bowl and was totally stuffed.

In between bowls you can sit back and watch the entertainment or walk around the Japan of the past. It’s impressive the amount of detail that was put into the museum. Afterwards make sure to stop by the gift shop and get a fun ramen souvenir… Or not, it’s up to you how to spend your money.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Ueno Park / Ueno Zoo / Ameya Yokocho

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Ueno Park / Ueno Zoo / Ameya Yokocho

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations, you can find them here:

Akihabara

Nakano Broadway

Shrines and Temples

Studio Ghibli Museum

Quick Stops

This recommendation is about the whole Ueno area, but specifically the three areas mentioned above that make up a large portion of Ueno.

Ueno Park

Ueno Park is one of Japan’s first public parks, opened in 1873 on land formerly belonging to the temple of Kan’ei-ji. It is a huge park, spanning 133 acres. It contains museums, a zoo, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, baseball fields, and beautiful natural features. I was lucky enough to be staying close to Ueno and spent a portion of several days there. I was lucky to stop by during a local festival weekend and experience the entertainment and food that accompanies the event. I love Japanese festivals! The food and drinks were amazing! They serve a super cold beer that’s topped off with a frozen beer head. It was so refreshing on a hot summer day. I could have spent a whole vacation in Ueno Park, but I guess it’s best to see more of Japan than just one wonderful park.

 

Ueno Zoo

Within the park is the 35-acre Ueno Zoo. Established in 1882, it is the oldest zoo in Japan. I was impressed with a lot of aspects in the zoo. If you’ve ever been to Japan, you know what perfectionists they are. The zoo is no exception. It is as clean as a zoo can be, the animals are fed with fresh ingredients, and it is well organized. I was surprised that admission was only 600 yen for such a nice zoo. The main attraction are the pandas, which Japan takes great pride in. In order to see the pandas you have to wait in line early to get a ticket, which is to limit the number of individuals that can visit the panda each day and prevent overcrowding. If you are anywhere in the Ueno area look around and you will see panda-related items all around you, from specialty Coke cans only sold in Ueno to bread in the bakery in a panda shape. It’s pretty cool how proud they are of their pandas.

 

Ameya Yokocho

Just outside of Ueno Station and adjacent to the park is the Ameya Yokocho shopping district. If you’re leaving the station you can’t miss it, just look for the giant sign welcoming you to the market. It’s a fun place to look for anything and everything Japanese. There’s delicious fruit if you’re looking for a snack, there’s video game arcades 5 stories high, and there’s the more touristy fare of flavorful Kit Kats and other souvenirs. The shopping district is interesting in how it spans for blocks and blocks, never ending.

 

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 243: Cells at Work / Hataraku Saibou

Cells at Work / Hataraku Saibou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Educational, Body

First Aired: Summer 2018, 13 episodes

Summary: This story takes place inside the human body with the trillions of anthropomorphic cells that work tirelessly to ensure the body runs in perfect rhythm. The star of the show is AE3803, a rookie red blood cell that is constantly getting lost with her oxygen deliveries. The white blood cell U-1146 is another important character in the way he fights invading germs and bacteria.

For a series that seems like a silly idea, Cells at Work is surprisingly fun and educational. Each episode focuses on a different event affecting the body, from influenza to food poisoning. I particularly enjoyed the pollen allergy episode. I have all sorts of allergies, so it was fascinating to witness what’s happening inside my body every time I’m around animals. I should really be careful, they are freaking out in there. Histamine everywhere! The show obviously takes liberties in its explanations and depictions of the human body, but it real good overall. The T Cells are a quirky set of characters and the platelets are just flat out adorable.

You might enjoy this if: You used to watch the Magic School Bus and think, “I wonder what this show would be like as an anime”.

You might not like it if: Blood makes you squeamish. This series is full of it!

Similar Series: Silver Spoon, Comical Psychosomatic Medicine, One Punch Man, Moyasimon, New Game

Note to the Viewer: Be prepared to pause the show if you want to learn all about how the human body functions. Every episode is full of descriptions that pop up on the screen explaining what’s happening.

Cells at Work Opening

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 242: Mind Game

Mind Game

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Dementia, Psychological, Romance, Trippy

First Released: August 2004, 104-minute film

Summary: Nishi has loved Myon since they were young. As an adult, he dreams of becoming a manga artist and marrying his childhood sweetheart. The catch is that she’s engaged and thinks Nishi is a wimp. The world changes when Nishi meets the fiancé at Myon’s diner. As he accepts defeat they encounter the Yakuza (Japanese mafia), which ends poorly for Nishi but gives him a new outlook and a second chance at life.

Mind Game is directed by Masaaki Yuasa, director of such mind-bending shows as Devilman Crybaby and Ping Pong the Animation. He has directed a lot of trippy segments on other shows, such as the “Food Chain” episode of Adventure Time and the “Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Baby” episode of Space Dandy. He is also the director of recent films “Lu Over the Garden Wall” and “Night is Short, Walk on Girl”. I remember my first time watching the “Food Chain” episode of Adventure Time and thinking it was a total trip because of how different it was than any other episode I had seen. It was a visual treat. Mind Game is so visually different than any anime I’ve seen. The animation often changes from scene to scene, which never lets you get comfortable with what you’re watching. Some scenes have a resemblance of realism while others are entirely abstract and surreal. I love the way the film keeps you on your toes and maintains your interest.

On the surface this film does not make a lot of sense after the initial scene in the diner. However, a lot is revealed when you focus on the story and watch it more than once. It uses the medium to showcase the potential of how complex and diverse anime can be.

You might enjoy this if: You want a departure from the usual story. Mind Game will take you on a ride through something you’ve never experienced in anime.

You might not like it if: You want a linear story with a standard style. The animation in Mind Game will turn some people away for sure.

Similar Shows: Perfect Blue, Tekkon Kinkreet, Paprika, Ping Pong the Animation, Devilman Crybaby, Akira

Note to the Viewer: Describing Mind Game Yuasa stated, “Instead of telling it serious and straight, I went for a look that was a bit wild and patchy. I think that Japanese animation fans today don’t necessarily demand something that’s so polished. You can throw different styles at them and they can still usually enjoy it”.

Mind Game Trailer

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 241: Ikki Tousen

Ikki Tousen

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Martial Arts, School, Superpower, Ecchi, Turf War

First Aired: Summer 2003, 13 episodes

Summary: A war is raging between seven famous high schools (Rakuyo High School, Nanyo Academy, Kyosho Academy, Youshu Private School, Yoshu Academy, Seito Private School, Ryoushu High School) in the Kanto region of Japan. Each school is struggling to take supremacy over the others and take over the entire territory. A few select students possess sacred beads that harbor the souls of warriors who fought during the Three Kingdoms Era of Chinese history. Hakufu Sonsaku is a dim-witted transfer student that just arrived at Nanyo Academy. She might be a ditz, but she possesses a special sacred bead.

Ikki Tousen may sound like a fighting anime, but you will quickly learn it’s more fan service than anything. It’s full of the classic anime panty shots and boob bounces. There is more to it than that, but from the opening scene you will see it is very ecchi. If you are able to make it past the frequent underwear shots, you will see how Ikki Tousen attempts to show the relationships between the characters. The story is fine, and the artwork is nothing special, but the characters and their interactions between one another is where this series shines. The action sequences are usually pretty good as well.

You might enjoy this if: You are a Chinese literature enthusiast and always in the search of new interpretations of classic stories.

You might not like it if: Fan service makes you uncomfortable. If you think it’s funny when fan service is completely unnecessary and out of place, Ikki Tousen is for you.

Similar Series: Actually I Am, Ben-To, Brave Witches, Date A Live, Fist of the North Star, Highschool of the Dead, Monster Musume, Prison School, Rosario + VampireShimoneta,

Note to the Viewer: Ikki Tousen is based on “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, a famous Chinese novel. The sacred beads contain souls drawn from historical figures, but some elements have been changed for dramatic license.

AMV –Young by James Alter

(Warning, there’s fan service in the AMV)

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The Latest and Greatest in Anime. Presented at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018

The Latest and Greatest in Anime. Presented at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018

 

Panelists: John Fragglepuss Evans, Breanne Evans, Brittany Evans, Lindsay Starke, Alec Unsicker

The following is a list of the anime we reviewed for our Latest and Greatest in Anime panel at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention. In the panel we reviewed anime that started airing its first season in the past year. There are a significant number of new anime, 50 or more each season, so it is not possible to review everything that has started airing. We appreciate everybody that came to our panel and thanks to FanX for having us. Here is a short summary of each anime so that you can read through and get some ideas on new anime to watch.

 

High Score Girl

It’s 1991. A 6th grader prides himself on video game skills until he gets clobbered at Street Fighter II

 

Cells at Work!

Learn all about how the human body works, anime style!

 

How to Keep a Mummy

A student’s father sends him an oversized package containing the most adorable mummy on the planet!

 

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles

Koizumi is constantly on the search for the perfect bowl of ramen

 

Devilman Crybaby

Demons will reclaim the world from the humans unless something stops them

 

Two Car

The thrilling world of motorcycle sidecar racing!

 

Pop Team Epic

Two high school girls with short attention spans find themselves in the most ridiculous situations

 

Harukana Receive

Two cousins (one tall, one short) join forces to start a beach volleyball team in Okinawa

 

Hanebado!

Just as badminton prodigy Ayano had sworn off playing again, she is sucked back in her 1st year of high school

 

Back Street Girls

A story about three yakuza men’s punishment to change gender and become a female idol group.

 

Megalo Box

A nod to 90’s feel anime, Joe’s rise from no-name underground boxer to world-class contender for a world championship title.

 

Wotakuni Koi Wa Muzukashi, Love is hard for an Otaku

Two co-workers secretly hide their love for gaming and try to figure out how to date. Maybe each other?

 

Citrus

Yuzu discovers that she is starting to develop romantic feelings for her new step-sister

 

Children of the Whales

Marked youth with magical powers float on a exiled “Mud Whale” over the sea of sand

 

Holmes of Kyoto

Holmes, a young man whose family runs an antique shop in Kyoto, has the unique ability to read people and instantly distinguish genuine and high value antiques.

 

 

Chio’s School Road

Chio just wants to get through her school life without standing out too much, but for some reason, all kinds of obstacles await her along the path she takes to school.

 

 

Garo: Vanishing Line

While people enjoy its prosperity in the town, there is a huge conspiracy secretly going on which will shake the world.

 

 

School Babysitters

Ryuichi and Kotaro are brothers who lost their parents in an airplane crash. They’re taken in by the chairman of Morinomiya Academy, who lost her son and daughter-in-law in the same crash, on one condition: Ryuichi has to babysit the kids at the daycare room in the school!

 

 

Gegege No Kitarou

People have forgotten the existence of youkai. Suddenly, unexplainable phenomena plague adults of the human world with confusion and chaos!

 

Kokkoku: Moment by Moment

Having failed 19 job interviews in one day, Juri Yukawa’s dreams of moving out of her parents’ home are utterly dashed. However, everything is about to change!

 

 

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World

A story about Kino, who travels around the world with nothing but guns for protection and the talking motorcycle Hermes.

 

 

Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits

Aoi has always been able to see spirits. Little does she know this trait will lead her into a world of them. And the future bride of one as well.

 

Junji Ito Collection

The works of one of the most famous Japanese horror manga artists, Junji Ito, finally gets animated.

 

Phantom in the Twilight

In a world where the fears and anxieties of people give birth to inhuman shadows. A foreign student fights her destiny and the “Shadow Guardians.

 

The Ancient Magus Bride

Chise has lived a sad of anything resembling love. When all hope seems lost, she meets a magus who makes a bold statement: Chise will become his apprentice–and his bride!

 

Libra of Nil Admirari

Tsugumi agrees to be married to save her family from decline. Before this can happen the book “Maremono”, changes everything forever.

 

A Place Further Than the Universe

Shirase, a girl who has been saving up to travel to Antarctica where her mother disappeared three years ago is joined by two other girls on an expedition headed towards the Antarctic

 

Angels of Death

When Rachel wakes up in the basement of an unfamiliar building, she finds herself lost all her memory. Here she meets Zack, a scythe-carrying serial killer and the journey of life and death begins.

 

Hinamatsuri

Hina, who has superhuman abilities, drops from the sky into Nitta’s (young bachelor and a yakuza) home.

 

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FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018

FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018

Salt Lake City, Utah

Thursday September 6th – Saturday September 8th, 2018

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

The FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention (SLCC) was held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Some of the guests included: Jeff Goldblum, Evangeline Lilly, Jason Momoa, Lucy Lawless, Jennifer Morrison, Tim Curry, Chuck Norris, David Tennant, John DiMaggio, E.G. Daily, Jess Harnell, Greg Cipes, and Chase Masterson.

SLCC 2018 features included: Magic the Gathering Artist Pavilion, Azog statue, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang full scale replica, Gaming lounge, Salt Lake Comic Con cars, TARDIS, Delorean time machine, Action figure life-size box, Mandalorian Mercs, Han Solo in carbonite, Supernatural Chevy Impala, Batman full-size statue, 501st Alpine Garrison, Gandalf life-size, Captain America Harley, Iron Throne, Kids Heroes Foundation, R2 Droid Builders Show, Rocket Raccoon statue, Star Commands Seventh Fleet, USS White Buffalo, Jurassic Jeep, Kids TARDIS, Gollum full-size, Umbrella Corp, Life-size Troll statues, Wonder Woman Harley, Rebel Legion, Harley Quinn full-size, REACH, Silver Surfer, Deadpool, Walking Dead Honda, Slimer, Utah Browncoats, Star Wars Harley, Quest Givers, Sparrow, Heroic, Arcade, and Anarchy Girls.

Thanks to everyone that attended out panel this year. Breanne Evans, Brittany Evans, Lindsay Starke, Alec Unsicker, and myself presented our usual Latest and Greatest in Anime panel, where we always have fun. It’s such a blast to talk about our favorite anime of the past year. I’ll be posting the entirety of anime we mentioned on the site shortly.

This year’s Salt Lake Comic Con was a lot of fun. Good panels, expansive vendor selection, and breathtaking cosplay. The convention has modified its layout every year and you can tell how it has improved through the years.

        

Photos courtesy of Breanne Evans. Feel free to use, but please give credit to Fragglepuss.com for taking the photo.

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 240: Two Car

Two Car

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Sports, Sidecar Racing

First Aired: Fall 2017, 12 episodes

Summary: Two Car follows high schoolers Yuri Miyata and Megumi Meguro as they battle six other rival pairs in the sport of motorcycle sidecar racing. The series begins with all seven racing teams arriving to prepare for a special event that will send the winner to an international race in Europe. The teams will battle not only the other racers, but their partners as well, as they train with more intensity than ever to prepare for the important race.

Two Car blends a scoop of drama with a hearty helping of sports to create an anime with a lot of intrigue. If you are familiar with sports anime, you know that they love to give you a background of every team that is being faced, leaving you with conflicted feelings about which team you want to win. Two Car does this to the max. The series begins as you are introduced to each side car team, driver and passenger. Each episode focuses on a different pair as you learn the difficulties they have faced leading up to the race and the difficulties they are currently facing as well. By the end of the series I was familiar with every team and was biting my nails when the race finally happened. It wasn’t cut and dry who I wanted to win and travel to Europe. Another bonus to the show was how much I learned about side car racing, a true test of a quality sports anime. It was lucky for me the announcers were keen to explaining the rules and strategies to all of us novice side car fans.

You might enjoy this if: You like the traditional style of sports anime with getting to know the teams and learning a lot about the sport.

You might not like it if: You are a sport traditionalist and side car racing is too out-of-the-box for you.

Similar Series: All Out, Baby Steps, Free, Haikyuu, Initial D, Redline

Note to the Viewer: Two Car is somewhat unique in that it is an original anime, meaning the anime was created before the manga. It was created by the studio Silver Link as their 10th year anniversary project.

Two Car Trailer

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