Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki

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

 

Kabuki at Kabuki-za

Kabuki is classical Japanese theatre known for its stylization of drama and elaborate makeup worn by the performers. It is the most popular of the traditional Japanese drama. Some other forms include Rakugo and Bunraku. The stage design is essential to kabuki, from the hanamichi extending from the main stage to the mawari-butai (revolving stage). Three main categories of performances exist: historical, domestic, and dance pieces (jidaimono, sewamono, and shosagoto).

They have made Kabuki foreigner-friendly using audio guides in multiple languages.  The guide provides essential translation of dialogue and lyrics, as well as explanations relating to the stories that may be difficult for non-Japanese visitors to understand. Another foreigner-friendly option is to attend a single act rather than a full play.

Kabuki-za is the main theatre for kabuki. It was originally built in 1889, but was rebuilt in 1911, 1924, 1950, and 2013. Once it was destroyed due to fire, once due to earthquake, once to bombing during World War II, and once as a complete rebuild due to earthquake concerns. Kabuki-za runs plays year-round. If you are going to catch a single act of the play, you have to show up morning of to buy tickets. You can only buy one ticket per person. Show up early to ensure you can get a seat.

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 246: Ojisan and Marshmallow

Ojisan and Marshmallow

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Romance, Marshmallows

First Aired: Winter 2016, 13 short-form episodes

Summary: Hige is a middle-age office worker with an unhealthy obsession for marshmallows. He tries to hide his passion, but the truth always comes to light. Wakabayashi works with Hige and has a huge crush on him. She attempts to get close to Hige by always having a bag of Tabekko marshmallows available when he’s around. The clueless Hige has no idea that Wakabayashi is flirting with him.

Ojisan and Marshmallow is a simple and adorable show about co-worker romance. The episodes are less than four minutes each and tell the day-to-day story of Hige and Wakabayashi’s friendship. There is not a lot of character development, and you don’t get to know anyone besides the main two, but those two characters are enough to carry the short series that has a total run time of less than an hour.

You might enjoy this if: You are an office worker that has seen this type of romance play out before. Sure, it probably did not revolve around marshmallows, but if you have worked in an office long enough you have seen one coworker attempt to charm an oblivious one.

You might not like it if: You want an entrée-type series rather than a dessert.

Similar Series: Aggressive Retsuko, High Score Girl, I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Lovely Complex, My Love Story, Wakako-zake

Note to the Viewer: Make sure to watch until the very end of each episode, where you will learn quick marshmallow recipes for your enjoyment! Also, make sure to watch episode 13. It is completely different than the rest of the episodes and totally bizarre…

Ojisan and Marshmallow clip

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Sanja Matsuri at Asakusa Shrine

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Sanja Matsuri at Asakusa Shrine

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

 

Sanja Matsuri

Sanja Matsuri “Three Shrine Festival” is one of the three great Shinto Festivals in Tokyo. It is held at Asakusa Shrine in honor of Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari, and Hajino Nakatomo, the three men who established and founded the Senso-ji Buddhist temple. Throughout the weekend portable shrines (mikoshi) are paraded to the main shrine to be blessed for the following year. Each mikoshi is carried by locals to their shrine. Every group adds their own flair to marching the mikoshi, from chants to taiko drums. The festival atmosphere is loud, joyous, and energetic. Traditional Japanese attire surrounds you, from kimonos to yukata.

The roads leading up to the temple are full of vendors selling traditional Japanese goods. The temple grounds are also full of vendors selling food and other goods. Some of the vendors have children’s activities set up. I’ll say this, it is so crowded. An estimated 2 million people visit each year. If you don’t like big crowds, don’t go to this festival.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Yebisu Beer Museum

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Yebisu Beer 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

 

Yebisu Beer Museum

I had never heard of Yebisu beer before visiting Japan. I am so glad I have heard of it now! The Beer Museum is located in Yebisu Garden Place, a beautiful and pleasant area to visit. Within the area are restaurants, shopping, a department store, a hotel, and a Michelin 3-star restaurant. The Garden Place is built on the former Yebisu brewery. The beer company gave Ebisu its town name in the 1800s.

The Yebisu Beer Museum is the most immaculate building I have ever seen associated with beer. Giant beer cans adorn the entrance as well as a statue of its founder. You could have your wedding in the grand entrance of the museum, which is astounding. A 40-minute tour with a Yebisu Expert is an option that includes samples. A self-guided tour of the brewery’s history is another option. The tasting salon is an experience of its own. You buy Yebisu coins which are then exchanged for food or drink. The pour on these beers are the best I’ve ever seen. They perform a perfect pour for the first 2/3 of the glass then pull a separate tap that tops of the beer with a delicious head.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan and the Fragglepuss Introduction to Sumo

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan and the Fragglepuss Introduction to Sumo

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

 

Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan

If you are going to schedule your visit to Japan around an event, I recommend the cherry blossoms, the festivals, and the sumo tournaments. A tournament is held every other month and lasts 15 days. The January, May, and September Tournaments are held at the Kokugikan in Tokyo. The March Tournament is held at EDION Arena in Osaka. The July Tournament is held at DOLPHINS ARENA in Nagoya. The November Tournament is held at Fukuoka Kokusai Center in Fukuoka. It will make for a more enjoyable experience if you learn the basic rules of sumo before attending. I started with the basics and went further down the rabbit hole of sumo as I was learning the rules and history. It’s such an intriguing sport with an incredibly rich history.

Introduction to Sumo

Sumo is a full contact wrestling sport where two wrestlers face off, attempting to force one another out of the ring or into touching the ground with anything besides the soles of their feet. The sport originates in Japan with the first professional tournament dating back to 1684. The matches are associated with Shinto ritual, from the shrine roof over the dohyo to the salt thrown for purification purposes.

Common sumo terminology includes:

  • Rikishi – Wrestler
  • Dohyo – Wrestling ring
  • Mawashi – The cloth rikishi wear during a match
  • Banzuke – Listing of sumo rankings published before each tournament
  • Honbasho – Grand sumo tournaments
  • Gyoji – Referee
  • Kimarite – Winning techniques

 

Professional sumo is split into six divisions:

  • Makuuchi
  • Juryo
  • Makushita
  • Sandanme
  • Jonidan
  • Jonokuchi

 

Within the top Makuuchi division are four titles:

  • Yokozuna
  • Ozeki
  • Komusubi
  • Sekiwake

Wrestlers start in the Jonokuchi division and work their way up to the top Makuuchi division through winning tournament records. Generally, a winning record at one of the six yearly tournaments will move the wrestler up a division while a losing record will move them down. The Makuuchi titles are more complicated and take longer than a single tournament to gain. Yokozuna is the top honor a sumo may earn, and few wrestlers receive the prestigious title.

A few additional factoids:

  • Everything has significance in sumo. The referees wear different outfits showing various rank. The outfit a sumo wears before their match denotes their division and title. Even the differences in topknot mean something.
  • While technically forbidden, it is common and expected for spectators to throw their seat cushion into the ring if a Yokozuna is defeated by a lower-ranked wrestler.

If you’re attending a tournament, know that each tournament day begins with the Jonokuchi rank and works up the divisions as the day passes. It’s an option to show up the morning of the tournament and buy a single ticket, but make sure you show up at least an hour before the box office opens and know that you can only buy one ticket per person in line. These tickets are the cheap seats, but they are significantly less expensive than other tickets. The seats are far back, but it’s not that bad. It’s just such a blast to be there taking in the whole experience. The start of the day will be practically empty in the arena since it’s lower division wrestlers, but the stadium will be packed by the end when the Makuuchi are wrestling. I spent the whole day at Kokugikan and could have spent another day there, but if you’re the type that only wants to watch a few matches, you can show up early to buy your ticket then go back in the early evening to catch the top bouts. I’ll say this, the Japanese stadium experience was beyond anything I’ve seen in the United States. The sumo merchandise was amazing, and the food choice was incredible. I bought mochi ice cream, bento boxes, Shochu hi-ball (alcoholic beverage), sake, beer, and several types of noodle dishes.

 

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Anime Banzai 2018

Anime Banzai 2018

Layton, Utah

October 19-21, 2018

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

The 14th annual Anime Banzai took place this weekend at the Davis Conference Center. 2018 guests included: Natalie Hoover, Ben Dunn, David Vincent, Cole Feuchter, Kiba Walker, and Steve Nunez aka Warky T. Chocobo.

Some of the events at this year’s Banzai included a card/tabletop gaming room, an arcade/video game room, the vendor hall, Artist’s Alley, a scavenger hunt, Banzai Village, Kid’s Corner, countless panels, and two viewing rooms that offered anime all day long. The main events included Banzai’s Got Talent, the Opening Ceremony, Cosplay Chess (The Fall of Batman), Banzai Olympics, AMV Contest, Cosplay Contest, and the Beacon Formal Ball.

Anime Banzai’s charity quilting auction returned this year. All proceeds will be donated to charity.

 

The AMV Contest showcased 34 videos this year in the main event room.

Some of my favorites were:

Bananya Cat Cuteness Overload by Studio Le Croc

 

aLongHotSummer by AngelMaeVictory

 

Shiny Teeth by Glitzer

 

Bullets Rain by Rider4Z

 

Wild Boy by Taniya Mills

 

Imagination by Taniya Mills

 

A Thousand Words by Mysunsai

 

Counter by UnluckyArtist

 

Thanks to everybody that attended our What’s New in Anime 2018 panel. We were short a panel member this year. Unfortunately, Alec Unisicker passed away last month due to cancer. We dedicated this panel to his memory. Our panel crew will always feel his presence with us even though he has passed on. The rest of our panel crew included Breanne Evans, Brittany Evans, Lindsay Starke, and myself.

There’s so much anime that comes out every year so it’s difficult to funnel it down to so few. The anime we covered in the panel include:

  • Harukana Receive
  • Hanebado!
  • Megalo Box
  • Love is Hard for and Otaku
  • Citrus
  • Children of the Whales
  • That time I got Reincarnated as a Slime
  • Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits
  • Junji Ito Collection
  • Phantom in the Twilight
  • Ancient Magus Bride
  • Libra of Nil Admirari
  • A Place Further Than the Universe
  • Garo: Vanishing Line
  • Angels of Death
  • Holmes of Kyoto
  • Chio’s School Road
  • GeGeGe no Kitaro
  • School Babysitters
  • Kokkoku: Moment by Moment
  • Kino’s Journey: This Beautiful World
  • High Score Girl
  • Cells at Work
  • How to Keep a Mummy
  • Goblin Slayer
  • Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san
  • Pop Team Epic
  • Zombieland Saga

Thanks to everyone that attended our Visiting Japan panel, presented by Lindsay Starke, Breanne Evans, and myself. We have traveled to Japan the past few years and wanted to share some of our recommendations for others traveling out that way. If you want a recap of the locations we covered, you can check out my post series on recommendations while visiting Japan:

Visiting Japan

 

Anime Banzai is always well run and organized. I appreciate how the organizers of Banzai strive to make it an interactive convention with something for everyone. There’s a variety of panel topics, various main events, all sorts of games, and even a courtyard for dancing at any time of day!

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 245: Love is like a Cocktail / Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara

Love is like a Cocktail / Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life, Drinks

First Aired: Fall 2017, 13 short-form episodes

Summary: Chisato Mizusawa is an office manager that maintains a professional demeanor at work. After long stressful days at the office she unwinds when her husband Sora mixes her a drink. Sora is a former bartender that has a drink for every occasion. When paired with a delicious meal, the married couple has the perfect recipe for relaxation.

Love is like a Cocktail is short, sweet, and simple. Each episode is the perfect length at only three minutes a piece. You get to know a little about Chisato and Sora, you learn about a drink and meal combination to fit the occasion, and you finish with Lemon-san teaching you how to mix the drink of the episode. The drinks of the series include:

  • Plum Splet
  • Irish Coffee
  • Orange Breeze
  • Cinderella
  • Spritzer
  • Bellini
  • Egg Sake
  • Zoom
  • Shandygaff
  • Frozen Mango Cocktail

You might enjoy this if: You are looking increase your drink knowledge while having fun at the same time.

You might not like it if: You are not a drinker.

Similar Series: Wakako-zake, Restaurant to Another World, BAR Kiraware Yasai, Bartender, Himouto Umaru-chan, I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying

Note to the Viewer: The Love is like a Cocktail manga series has been printed since 2015 and has seven volumes published.

Love is like a Cocktail Official Crunchyroll Trailer

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Tokyo Imperial Palace

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Tokyo Imperial Palace

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

Tokyo Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. The park-like area contains buildings of the main palace, the private residences of the Imperial Family, an archive, museums, and administrative offices. The total area of the palace grounds is 1.15 square kilometers. It was fascinating to walk the palace grounds and see the historical area. I was surprised how often natural disasters had destroyed various parts of the palace. If it wasn’t an earthquake, it was a tsunami or fire.

The Imperial Gardens are breathtaking. I visited when the azalea was in full bloom and it was truly a sight to see. One thing that’s great about Japan though is that most of the year you can visit and something beautiful will be in bloom, from the cherry to the plum blossoms. There is a lot of ground to cover at the Imperial Palace, so make sure to have a decent amount of time to spend. When you get on the palace grounds you can sign in to the Wi-Fi and take a tour using your phone. We did it on our visit and I recommend it to everyone. You travel the palace grounds and it will give you a description and history of the areas you are passing.

     

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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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