Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Quick stops

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Quick stops

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit while in Japan.

I wish I could have spent more time in Japan. I would have stayed there for months if I was able. This list includes locations I was only able to make a quick stop at.

Tsukiji Fish Market

 

Takeshita Street

 

Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo

 

 

Hachiko Statue

 

Shibuya Crossing

 

Joypolis

 

Gundam Statue

 

Statue of Liberty Odaiba

Maid Cafe

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 181: My Ordinary Life / Nichijou

My Ordinary Life / Nichijou

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, School, Overall Silliness

First Aired: Spring 2011, 26 episodes

Summary: Naganohara, Yuuko Aioi and Mai Minakami are childhood friends that have been getting into trouble since they were little. Now they’re in high school and the shenanigans continue. Sometimes their stories cross paths with Hakase Shinonome, the child professor, and her human-like robot Nano with a wind up key protruding from of her back. Sakamoto, a talking cat, also lives with Hakase and Nano. Nobody knows what each day will bring. One day will be calm with little to remember except hanging out with friends, while the next involve the principal giving a deer a suplex.

I discovered Nichijou through an AMV contest at Anime Banzai. I was laughing and scratching my head thinking, “what is this anime and how come I’ve never seen it?”. It is over-the-top in the most anime of ways. The show reminds me of a “variety hour” type program with multiple short stories being told in a single episode. If you prefer you can watch the series in eight minute increments with the way the episodes are arranged. It’s fun to watch an episode here and there, especially when you need a break between episodes of a heavy drama like Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. The animation is simple but that’s not why you would watch this anime. The characters are fun and unique. The way they freak out makes the show worth watching. It’s good.

You might enjoy this if: You have a short attention span. You should also check it out if you want a peek into Japanese humor, which is what Nichijou is all about.

You might not like it if: You want to watch something that has more of an “Anime of the Year” type feel. Nichijou alternates between mundane and strange while lacking a continual narrative, meaning it’s not winning awards anytime soon.

Similar Series: Azumanga Daioh, Lucky Star, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Plastic Nee San, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, Osomatsu-san

Note to the Viewer: The Nichijou anime series was written by Jukki Hanada, whose credits include shows such as: No Game No Life, Princess Jellyfish, Sound Euphonium, and Steins;Gate.

AMV – Safety Dance by Shin AMV

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Studio Ghibli Museum

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Studio Ghibli Museum

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit while in Japan.

Studio Ghibli Museum

If you fancy yourself a Ghiblihead…Nevermind, I hate that term. Let’s pretend I never wrote it. If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli and are visiting Japan, you must go to the museum. Opened in 2001, the museum has expanded as the years pass. The museum includes:

  • Cat Bus Room for children age 12 and younger
  • The Reading Room Tri Hawks – Browse through recommended children’s literature and picture books
  • Museum Shop “MAMMA AIUTO!”
  • Where a Film is Born – Enter the world of animators, from initial inspiration through completion of a film
  • Special Exhibit Room – New exhibitions are shown here annually
  • Straw Hat Café and Café Deck Area
  • Screening Room Saturn Theater – Come see the Museum’s original short animation
  • The Beginning of Movement – Experience the fun of “moving images” through various slideshow-style displays

The Studio Ghibli Museum is a magical place to visit. “Where a Film is Born” recreates an animation workshop and has actual Ghibli film drawings on the wall. The screening room always shows a short film seen exclusively at the museum. The movement room is breathtaking. You can get a Ghibli beer at the café! The museum does not allow photos inside, but for good reason. They say they want it to be a special experience for everyone that visits, making sure you’re seeing things for the first time. However, outside and on the roof you can take photos, which include a Laputa robot, the café, some of the beautiful stain glass windows, and the Totoro ticket taker.

Buying tickets can be complicated due to the high demand. Tickets are not available for sale at the museum. I recommend buying them before you travel. The first place to check is the museum’s website: http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/ticket-information/. That will give you information on the two online locations to purchase tickets. They go on sale at different times so check a few months ahead if possible. Keep in mind that you must buy tickets for a specific date and time, so know when you can go before you buy.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Nakano Broadway

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Nakano Broadway

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit while in Japan.

Nakano Broadway

A geek emporium, Nakano Broadway provides an endless supply of nerd collectibles with an even wider variety than Akihabara. While Akiba provides items related to manga, anime, and tech, Nakano provides goods for any type of fandom imaginable. There’s a store that sells cels and storyboards, vintage toys, cosplay, baseball memorabilia, dolls, American toys, and even an art gallery.

There are a lot of stores with clear cases for buying and selling collectibles. What happens is someone rents a case and places their stuff in it for sale. They choose the price and everything. There are hundreds of these cases in a store. Then anyone can walk through and purchase from any of the cases. Imagine a physical location of EBay. It makes it so the game is on if you are searching for a particular item. You’ll find it in a case but the price is too high, meaning you must continue the hunt. You keep finding the collectible that will be yours, but the price is still too high. Finally, you find it for the right price in the tenth shop you’ve visited in a corner case, a case looked over by others because of its poor location. You buy your figurine and could not be happier! Satisfaction as the search is complete! Either that, or after visiting 20 shops you realize it was the most inexpensive in the first store you checked so you go back and buy it there… Still satisfying.

Nakano Broadway is a giant mall with hundreds of small shops to browse. Some of the stores even specialize in reselling gatchapon prizes, so if you’re looking to complete a set and can’t get the last prize, check out those stores to complete your collection. Mandarake is a large chain of stores in Nakano, but check out each one since they all contain different goods. The used book Mandarake is amazing. Even if you don’t buy anything, at least go in. You might as well buy a manga or two while you’re there though, considering a manga volume is usually $4 or less!

When you’re hungry there is a great restaurant line as you enter, including some of the freshest rotator sushi you’ll find, and at a good price!

Nakano is a great stop because it provides a geek mecca in addition to Akihabara. If Akiba is a treasure hunt for geek goods, Nakano Broadway is the search for the Holy Grail. Who knows, that might be in there somewhere. There is seriously so much stuff.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Shrines and Temples

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Shrines and Temples

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit while in Japan.

You will not have a difficult time locating religious locations in Japan. What might be difficult as an outsider is differentiating between a Shinto Shrine and a Buddhist Temple. Shintoism is the native religion of Japan. It is based on Japanese myths, has no sacred texts, and no official founder. Spirits and rituals play a significant role. Buddhism came to Japan by way of China in the 6th century but was not widespread initially due to its complex theories.

While you’re in Japan there will be religious locations of all shapes and sizes. You’ll pass them whether you are walking down a random street or a main road. Below is a list of some of my favorites I saw while out there.

Shrines

Shrines are Shinto locations distinguishable by the wooden guard frame, Torii, in front of them. The Torii acts as a gate between our world and the world of the gods. Water at the entrance as a means of purification is a Shinto tradition. It may seem silly to think of this, but a lack of Buddhist statues is another simple indicator that you are at a shrine rather than a temple.

 

Meiji-jingu shrine

This shrine is in the middle of Shibuya, Tokyo, but you wouldn’t know it as you travel inside. It is a large shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Sake barrels are offered every year to the enshrined deities to show deep respect for the souls of the emperor and empress due to their influence on supporting technological advancement and encouraging industry. Wine barrels are consecrated every year to the spirit of world peace and amity. Votive tablets are found at the shrine.  After giving an offering, you write a wish on the wooden plaque then hang it at the shrine for the spirits to receive. If you are at the shrine at the right time, you may witness part of a traditional Japanese wedding.

 

Kanda meojin shrine

Kanda is a beautiful, peaceful shrine that dates back over 1,000 years. Due to its location in Akihabara, it now has several ties to anime culture. Not only is it close to Akiba, but “Love Live!” used it in their anime. The shrine administrators have recognized the anime relevance of the area and adopted the character Nozomi Tojo of “Love Live!” as their official mascot. When you visit take time to look at the votive tablets at this shrine. You’ll notice many of them contain beautiful artwork. Kanda also has O-mikuji, fortunes, that you get by giving an offering. If you receive a bad fortune, you tie it to the wire art with the hope that the back fortune will stay at the shrine, rather than follow you. If you receive a good fortune you can keep it for luck or you can tie it to the wire in hopes of greater effect.

 

Asakusa Shrine

This shrine is located adjacent to the Senso-ji Buddhist temple, making the distinction between the two slightly confusing if you are not familiar with the two religions. Look for the Torii as well as the other indicators of a shrine to differentiate between the two, which are interconnected in how Akakusa was built to worship the men that founded Senso-ji. Akakusa miraculously survived the air raids of 1945. The area of the shrine and temple is a must-see.

 

Temples

If you see statues of Buddha as well as gravestones, you are on temple grounds, a Buddhist location. Burning of incense at the entrance, using smoke as a method of purification, is another indicator of a temple.

Hasedera temple in Kamakura

Hasadera is known for containing one of the largest wooden statues in Japan, a 30-ft. tall likeness of Kannon. The temple grounds are expansive and include a cave. It is also home to hundreds of Jizo, small statues placed by parents mourning offspring lost to miscarriage. Hasadera is a beautiful and tranquil area. Despite the many visitors there was a calm and peaceful feeling the entire time I was there.

 

Kotoku-in temple in Kamakura

This temple is renowned for its 44-ft. tall Daibutsu, Great Buddha, which is an outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha. The statue possesses a long and trying history, beginning in 1243 when the original indoor wooden statue was completed. In 1248 a storm damaged the indoor Buddha and destroyed the structure surrounding it. The statue was recreated using bronze and the hall was rebuilt to contain it. The hall was destroyed by another storm in 1334, rebuilt, destroyed again in 1369, and once again rebuilt. A tsunami washed away the hall in 1498. Since then the Daibutsu has stood out in the open. An earthquake in 1923 destroyed the statue’s base, which had to be rebuilt. Kotoku-in temple is another peaceful and serene location to visit.

 

Senso-ji temple

Senso-ji is Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, founded in 645 AD. The structures are remarkable, especially the main hall (Hondo). The pagoda was entirely covered due to construction when I visited, but it’s understandable. A sad fact is how Senso-ji was bombed and destroyed during World War II and had to be rebuilt. The temple is adjacent to the Asakusa Shinto Shrine.

 

Sengaku-ji temple

The temple made famous through the Ako incident involving the 47 Ronin in the 18th century. I have been intrigued by this piece of Japanese history for a long time, so visiting this location was unbelievable. I was amazed to see the spots I had read about with my own eyes, imagining how it must have been at the time of the incident. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it is one of the ultimate stories of Japanese loyalty. It is not the most aesthetically pleasing of the Japanese temples, but the history speaks for itself. When you visit, you can watch a video explaining the story, followed by a walk through a gallery of Ronin history. You can then visit the graves, placing an incense on each of the 47. Lastly you can visit a gallery of wooden statues of all 47 Ronin, complete with an explanation as to who they were.

 

 

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Salt Lake Gaming Con 2017

Salt Lake Gaming Con 2017

Salt Lake City, Utah

Friday July 7th – Saturday July 8th 2017

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

The third annual Salt Lake Gaming Con (SLGC) took place this weekend at the South Towne Expo Center! SLGC has always provided a wide variety of entertainment for every type of gamer, whether you prefer PC, tabletop or console gaming. Vendors and exhibitors generally come to mind when talking about geek conventions, and SLGC has a variety of exhibitors. Microsoft and Playstation had full booths with opportunities for VR play. Special guests included several voice actors, including Overwatch’s Anjali Bhimani (Symmetra), Josh Petersdorf (Roadhog), and Feodor Chin (Zenyatta). Ed Fries, the father of Microsoft Gaming, was the keynote speaker.

Free-play games were available throughout the con. Salt Con provided an extensive tabletop library, including my favorite: Dead of Winter. Love that game. A pinball arcade was available, with tournaments all weekend. Consoles were setup with Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Rocket League, and all manner of games. An extensive retro booth had classic console games available to play. You could try your battle skills in the LARP arena or your shooting skills in a NERF war. Tournaments ranged from PC games like Overwatch to regional events hosted by Fantasy Flight. The tournament finals were played on the main stage, which was more organized than previous years, with broadcasters and everything. I’ll say this though, one of my favorite parts of the con was when Josh Petersdorf, the voice of Roadhog, was playing Overwatch on the main stage and the voice actors for Symmetra and Zenyatta were providing commentary.

Thanks to everyone that attended our panel at this year’s con on Essential Gaming Anime. We covered a variety of topics including: anime about gaming, anime-inspired tabletop games, and video games with roots in anime. Look for the full summary soon.

Overall Salt Lake Gaming Con is an entertaining experience. If you are ready to immerse yourself in gaming and be a part of the gaming community, this is the convention for you.

Photos courtesy of Breanne Evans. Feel free to share photos, but please give credit to Fragglepuss.com.

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 180: Bubblegum Crisis

Bubblegum Crisis

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Action, Adventure, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Future seen from the eyes of the 1980s

First Aired: February 1987 – January 1991, 8 OVA episodes of varying length

Summary: We get started in the year 2032, about seven years after a crushing earthquake destroyed Japan, leaving Tokyo split in twain. MegaTokyo rises as a result, thanks in part to Genom Corp. As is usually the case in this type of scenario, Genom’s biomech creatures go rogue. The creatures, Boomers, prove too tough for the crummy police force so desperation sets in. The police call The Knight Sabers, a group of four women with varied backgrounds that banded together as mercenaries to fight using their powered exoskeletons.

There’s a lot to love about Bubblegum Crisis, beginning with the opening sequence and continuing through every unique song in the soundtrack. I highly recommend checking out the music videos attached to the series. The mech is another enjoyable aspect, especially the four main Bubblegummers and their suits. The vibrant colors and bright view of MegaTokyo was enough to keep me entertained for some time. The story is not that deep, but the series thrives on action and thrills that deliver in pretty much every episode.

You might enjoy this if: You’re ready for an action-packed mech ride full of good times and good tunes!

You might not like it if: You despise 1980s animation and everything it stands for.

Similar Series: Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Metropolis, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Note to the Viewer: Bubblegum Crisis has hit one production pothole after another. The series was planned for 13 episodes, but was cut down to eight. Even with that, the episodes were released over a span of several years. A live-action film was announced in 2009 but nothing came of that as well. On a high note, Bubblegum Crisis 2040 was released in 1998 as a 26-episode series, being a reboot of the original.

Konya Wa Hurricane Music Video

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 179: Azumanga Daioh: The Animation

Azumanga Daioh: The Animation

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, School, Nonsensical

First Aired: Spring 2002, 26 episodes

Summary: Chiyo Mihama is a quirky 10-year-old genius that’s skipped a few grades and is in high school. That may sound strange, but even crazier is she’s not even the biggest oddball in the class! Sakaki is tall, athletic, and the envy of all with her soft-spoken personality and obsession with cats. Best friends Tomo and Koyomi are a spirited and enthusiastic pair, but they’re not so bright. Ayumu is a transfer student from Osaka, bringing an unfamiliar accent mixed with traditions the other girls have never encountered. Even their teacher, Yukari Tanizaki, fits in by unknowingly encouraging their antics. Who knows what this group will be up to next?

Azumanga Daioh is a classic form of school anime in the way its episodes are structured. Except for the rare exception, the setting is always in the school and more specifically the classroom. However, sometimes they venture to the outside of the school for gym and whatnot. It’s fun to watch the shenanigans the girls get into, especially when it comes back to get them. It’s never anything too crazy and truly is a good take on the slice of life genre.

You might enjoy this if: You are ready to look at Japanese culture and more specifically Japanese humor. Some of the jokes and situations are funny while others had me scratching my head thinking, “Are they attempting a joke here?”. Maybe it’s funny and I’m the fool though.

You might not like it if: You want a series with an ongoing plot and deep characters. Not a lot of that going on here.

Similar Series: Nichijou, Lucky☆Star, WWW.Wagnaria, Comical Psychosomatic Medicine, D-Frag!

Note to the Viewer: You’re not alone in wondering the significance of the name “Azumanga Daioh”. Azumanga is a combination of the creator’s name “Azuma” and “manga”. Daioh comes from the original source that published the series, “Dengeki Daioh”.

AMV – Shake It by Boneman2001

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 178: Flip Flappers

Flip Flappers

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comedy, Mystery, Magical Girl

First Aired: Fall 2016, 13 episodes

Summary: Cocona is a seemingly normal middle school girl. She’s an honor student, grounded in the way she proceeds and exercises caution in her choices. Papika is a loose cannon. She’s wild and eccentric, giving little thought to the future. The two cross paths with Papika deciding to take the two of them to the strange world of Pure Illusion, a land hardly tethered to reality. The two travel Pure Illusion in search of mystery fragments that are rumored to grant wishes. Of course this bizarre new world holds dark secrets the girls would never expect.

Flip Flappers had more substance than I imagined it would. The story begins on a fairly light note but gets dark near the end of the series as the plot unfolds and the characters develop. Cocona and Papika are both flawed individuals but help each other be the best they can be…for the most part. The two visit various lands of Pure Illusion, with some of them being trippy and one being straight up terrifying. The animation caught my attention from the beginning, especially when the girls were traveling between worlds.

You might enjoy this if: You’re into multi-dimensional travel, alternate realities and all that good stuff.

You might not like it if: You don’t much care for anime.

Similar Series: Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Humanity Has Declined, Rolling Girls, Paprika

Note to the Viewer: If you’re into horror, check out episode five. Nightmare fuel.

AMV – Feel the Fire by Abunai Anime

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Akihabara

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Akihabara

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I finally made it to Japan! It was even better than I could have imagined. To provide recommendations for those traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun, I present this series of places to visit.

Akihabara, or Akiba as it is locally known

Simply put, Akiba is the anime capital of the world. It has anything you can imagine in terms of anime, manga, and Japanese-geek culture. Full buildings covered in anime advertisements. Songs of popular anime playing in the background of everywhere you go. There’s no way to prepare for the feeling of leaving the Akihabara train station and being immediately surrounded by everything anime!

When you’re shopping in Akiba, be sure to visit all the levels of each building. A lot of the buildings contain a different store on each level, so you never know what you’ll find. It feels like the nerdiest treasure hunt you’ll ever be a part of. It will be tempting to spend your entire trip searching the buildings of Akiba for the best goods, but I remind you there is much to do in Japan. You can’t spend ALL your time in one location.

Gatchapon are capsule machines that cost between 100-400 yen and contain various trinkets. You can find them for almost any fandom; whether you are searching for an anime, an animal, or even underwear for your water bottle. The name Gatchapon comes from the sound made when turning the dial to get your prize.

Crane games are next level in Akiba, with prizes ranging from stuffed toys to a six pack of Red Bull. Some buildings contain levels that are entirely comprised of crane games.

Video games are all over, from a SEGA building full of playable games to a store hidden down an alley dedicated to old video games, which had a copy of Wild Guns for Super Famicom on sale for $800! The arcades are more impressive than anything I have ever seen, with high tech fishing games and technology-infused card gaming. Dancing arcades are peppered throughout the area as well as the classic taiko arcade.

When you need a break from the geek, I recommend visiting the Kanda Shrine, a close by Shinto shrine. It is a beautiful, peaceful area to visit and has several ties to anime culture. Not only is it close to Akiba, but “Love Live!” used it in their anime. The shrine administrators have recognized the anime relevance of the area and adopted the character Nozomi Tojo of “Love Live!” as their official mascot. When you visit take some time to look at the votive tablets at this shrine. You’ll notice many of them contain beautiful artwork.

If you are an otaku, Akiba is a must-see location. Even if you do not enjoy anime, it is worth a visit to experience this large part of Japanese culture. While you’re there, stop by Mister Donut. Any donut will be delicious, especially accompanied by a melon soda.

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