Top 3(ish) in Japan

japan prefectures ehime ainan

See that red dot down there in Ehime, aka the Love Princess? I’m not doing a category for top places in Japan overall but if I was, it would definitely make an appearance. Not that I’m biased or anything.

I’ve done plenty of top whatever lists here on Otaku Lounge before – usually anime-related – but particularly when it comes to Japan itself, my posts have mostly remained fairly impersonal. Not that I see writing about the personal on a blog such as this as being in any way a bad thing; experience helps shape everything people write about in one way or another, even when an article is largely factual in nature. Besides, I can only imagine that a blog post limited strictly to cold, hard fact would make for pretty dry reading – reading that people could probably do just as well on Wikipedia. However, for various reasons I tend to shy away from writing anything on here that could be deemed purely personal, and there have been only a couple of exceptions to that over the years.

Given that I recently came back from a 4-year stint in Japan though, and that one of the ways I like to process things is through writing, this would be one of those exceptions.

Needless to say, the following is confined to those things which I’ve seen or done first-hand. It in no way encompasses all of what Japan has to offer (though ticking off 35 out of 47 prefectures is pretty respectable if I do say so myself), and it’s all based completely on my own impressions. It’s not intended as any sort of guide or even as a recommendation list.

It’s a celebration. Continue reading

Watson Watches: Dragon Ball

dragon ball
Welcome to the fifth article of Watson Watches (the Retro Edition). If you’ve only just joined us and have no clue what’s going on, this is the follow-up to a series of interview-style articles published in 2014. The idea was to introduce Watson – who at that point was totally new to anime – to some specific titles and then ask him some fun and interesting questions about them. It’s the same deal this time around but with one key difference: all the anime I’ll be getting Watson to watch were released before 2000. Continue reading

Reverse Culture Shock

japan new zealand
Having come back from Japan after 4 years and giving myself a couple of weeks to settle back down in New Zealand (if only temporarily), I finally get what everyone else was on about when they talked of reverse culture shock. It’s hard, perhaps even impossible, to emotionally prepare yourself for something that you’ve yet to experience, so no matter how much I tried to tell myself that I’d feel these things, actually feeling them is another matter entirely. Continue reading

Anime Taste Testing: Summer 2016 (Part II)

orange anime
Normally I’d be doing this closer to the season halfway point, but as I now have only a few days before moving house/country, I wanted to post this up beforehand. This’ll probably be my final proper post on Otaku Lounge before going dark for a couple weeks, but hopefully I won’t be gone too long. Continue reading

Watson Watches: Ranma ½

ranma 1/2
Welcome to the fourth article of Watson Watches (the Retro Edition). If you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, this is the follow-up series to a bunch of interview-style articles published in 2014. The idea was to introduce Watson – who at that point was completely new to anime – to some specific titles and then ask him some potentially interesting questions. We’re doing the same thing this time around but with one important difference: all the anime I’ll be getting Watson to watch were released before 2000. Continue reading

Anime Taste Testing: Summer 2016

header Mononokean
If we’re going by sheer numbers then this season is already far superior to the last for me – which is actually unfortunate, since I’ll soon have to put all anime and other media to one side for a couple of weeks as the time to move country approaches. That said, I’ve managed to get through all the new anime releases that sounded even remotely interesting, so might as well get at least the first of these posts out while I still can. Just a quick note that all of the following impressions other than for ReLIFE (which was released all at once) is based on the first episode only. Continue reading

Pachinko: Gambling the Legal Way in Japan

It’s the weekend and I’m doing a little aimless window shopping around Matsuyama’s covered arcade (shōtengai) area. There are plenty of people out and about but this is Shikoku, where even the largest city would still be considered fairly quaint and even quite peaceful by Tokyo or Osaka standards; I’m therefore still able to identify the various background tunes coming from nearby stores. That is before a pair of doors to my right slide open at least and the sudden onslaught of sound drowns out everything within a half-mile radius. It washes over me along with a visible cloud of cigarette smoke and – lucky me! – I realize I happen to be standing right next to one of the shōtengai’s several pachinko parlors. Continue reading

Good Japanese Live-Action Films

attack on titan film

Yeah, that’s my face whenever I see most Japanese live-actions films too.

It’s pretty easy to critique the Japanese live-action film industry. While the number of domestic products being made has steadily increased over the past couple of decades, comparatively few of them have made enough money to be deemed mainstream hits while many struggle to even recoup production costs. It’s an industry riddled with earnest but terrible acting (because flavour-of-the-week models, TV personalities, musicians and idol group members are often hired in place of professional actors) and littered with a huge amount of derivative content (since so many films are based on flavour-of-the-week anime and manga franchises aimed squarely at already-established fanbases). In terms of available budgets and overall quality, the Japanese film industry simply cannot be compared to its American counterpart. Continue reading