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Origins of ‘Megalo Box’ Revealed in ‘Ashita no Joe’ Exhibition

April 30, 2018 1:00pm
by Jacob Parker-Dalton

Currently airing Ashita no Joe 50th anniversary project Megalo Box is being well received both in Japan and in the West -- but did you know that the project wasn’t originally planned as a futuristic reimagining of the legendary boxing series? I recently attended the Ashita no Joe 50th anniversary exhibition which is currently taking place in Tokyo Solamachi, next to the Tokyo Sky Tree, until May 6.

The exhibition mainly featured original manuscripts used for the Ashita no Joe manga, as well as animation cels and scripts used in the various Ashita no Joe anime series adaptations. Lining the walls of the exhibit, you'll also find messages from Asao Takamori's fellow mangaka, and even professional boxers, congratulating the series on its incredible fifty years. There was even a little something penned by the eminent Go Nagai for the series.

With all that being said, what was perhaps most interesting was the small part of the exhibition dedicated to the new Megalo Box anime series, which as mentioned prior exists to celebrate the Ashita no Joe 50th anniversary. As to be expected from a series exhibit, the script for the first episode along with various reference materials were all there, but most shocking of this all was director Moriyama You’s comments on the origin of the modern series.

According to the comments shared, once Moriyama You began planning an Ashita no Joe 50th anniversary anime project, he and his team had many discussions and came up with many ideas; one of those even consisting of a spinoff series based around Rikiishi Toru, Joe’s fated rival and lifelong friend. I'd take a stab in the dark and suggest this would be set before he and Joe met in juvenile prison, but that’s entirely just speculation on my part. They were actually so into that idea that they did several pieces of frankly awesome concept art, which you can see a couple of below:

When actually talking about the Megalo Box series itself, Moriyama stated that he wanted to create a character like Joe Yabuki, a character who you could understand and cared about beyond simple empathy. I’ve always wondered what the relationship between the series and Ashita no Joe was since they’re so different in both setting and style, but it seems like the only real tie between the two series is their objective - creating a ‘real’ protagonist, who can better touch the hearts of the audience.

Right now only four episodes of the series have been released as of the time of writing, but I’m already in love with it. It follows the story of Junk Dog, as he fights his way up the world of ‘Megalo Boxing,’ a futuristic version of boxing which utilizes exoskeletons. You can check it out on Crunchyroll


tofubeats Shares Latest Single 'RIVER' M/V

August 16, 2018 2:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Kobe-based trackmaker tofubeats never fails to amaze with everything he puts out, and his latest release "RIVER" is by no means an exception. Taken from his forthcoming album "RUN" which is set to release October 3, "RIVER" exists as a gorgeous tofubeats-stylized ballad, as well as the theme song for the upcoming live-action film "Asako I & II" which is set to begin screening in Japan on September 1. Featuring excerpts of the upcoming film as its basis, the music video for "RIVER" can be streamed below:

With both "RUN" and "RIVER" from tofubeats' upcoming album now available for digital streaming, there's definitely a lot of confidence stacking up ahead of its release. While we've still got a couple of months standing between us and the release of "RUN" in Japan, I'm certainly excited to see what else he has up his sleeve in what will be his fourth major album. 

Those interested in checking out even more on tofubeats upcoming release, as well as his live schedule through the second half of 2018, be sure to head over to his official website.


Azur Lane Receives New English Trailer, Launches Open Beta on iOS/Android

August 16, 2018 1:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Announced earlier this week via Azur Lane's official SNS accounts, the massively-popular mobile title has launched in open beta on both iOS and Android today as a free download. Accompanying the release of Azur Lane's open beta, an all-new trailer was uploaded to the title's official YouTube channel and Twitter account, giving players a taste of what's to come before they jump into the game. Highlighting the game's story and characters, the trailer can be streamed below:

Available as of today, Azur Lane's open beta is possibly the best time to dive into this world of ships and carriers, especially with all data from the beta carrying over to the final release. There's a number of milestones that were met in regards to pre-registrations on the Azur Lane website too, meaning early adopters of the game can reap in the rewards of some pretty convenient benefits. 

It feels like every few years Japan's hyper-vibrant doujin scene heads towards an all-new trend to quench their thirst for fresh character designs, clean illustrations, and time-blowing gameplay. Over the years we saw titles such as Touhou and Kantai Collection exist at the forefront of the scene, but there's absolutely no name as big as Azur Lane right now in the doujin arena. With Azur Lane, we see a combination of these two frontrunners, offering slight bullet-hell elements mashed in with the characteristics of a title like Kantai Collection -- except developer Tencent is making strides to allow the game to be as accessible as possible.

Those interested in checking out further information on the open beta can head over to Azur Lane's official website.


McDonald's Japan is Bringing Back the McNugget Bucket

August 16, 2018 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

One of the best parts of the McDonald's Japan experience is making a grand comeback later this year, with the global fast-food chain announcing the return of their NGT48 collaborative 48-piece McNugget bucket from December 1, 2018, at select locations within Japan. If you've ever been craving a bucket of McNuggets and the substantially smaller 15-piece box doesn't cut it, you're in luck -- if you're anywhere near the idol group's home city of Niigata, that is. Set to launch at some 38 stores throughout the city of Niigata, the NGT48 bucket is about as large as they come.

This certainly isn't the first time McDonald's has teamed up with the Japanese idol group to bring forward the NGT48 bucket, with the first-time collaboration taking place in 2015, but that doesn't make its return any less exciting. Much like the original running, the return of the NGT48 bucket brings with it new trading cards which can only be collected in full should you eat roughly 1,200 chicken nuggets across 25 buckets in total. 

Priced at 1,800 yen per bucket, the collaboration is set to launch in the city of Niigata from December 1, 2018. Those interested in checking out further information can check out McDonald's Japan's official website.

Source: Nerdist


Reformed Chuunibyou Okabe Rintarou Inspires Stylish Menswear

August 15, 2018 2:00pm
by Jacob Parker-Dalton

Japanese designers SuperGroupies have been instrumental in transforming the often uncool and unfashionable realm of anime-inspired clothing into something more, well, acceptable with their anime collaboration collections; but how have they approached the reformed chuunibyou Okabe Rintarou of Steins;Gate 0? Taking inspiration from Okabe’s black shirt with a red pen in the chest pocket that he constantly wears during the events of Steins;Gate 0 (seriously, do you not own any other clothes?), SuperGroupies have created a unique bag as well as more of a straight up replica of his shirt.

The common feature here is the inclusion of a red pen, which while certainly pays homage to Okabe’s outfit. The fact that it is fabric and not a real pen does look a little strange. Particularly when it comes to the shirt, as you could pretty easily just tuck a real pen in a black shirt to get the same effect. Thankfully, only these two items feature the strange fabric pen, and the coat that goes with the shirt and bag looks great as a result. It’s a pretty normal black overcoat until you look at the right arm, which is emblazoned with the logo of the Future Gadget Lab, and the left cuff, which displays a divergence reading.

And while I think that the above three pieces would look best when worn all together, there are some accessories that you could definitely pick up on their own to express your love for Steins;Gate. One of these is a wallet that evokes the red design of Okabe’s smartphone, and once more features the Future Gadget Lab logo as well as an insignia that reads “Lab Member 001” - Okabe’s number.

Finally, the most expensive but probably most impressive piece in the collection is this Amadeus-themed watch. The design is nice and simple yet refined, and also brings to mind the first ending of the series, in which Okabe laughs maniacally while being rotated on top of a gear. Not sure if that was the intention, but it looks great regardless. 

The watch does cost 30,000 yen, however, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of picking this or any of the other pieces up. SuperGroupies’ prices are always on the high side, but the level of quality you get for this money is unmatched. If you're interested in checking out further information on the all-new collaboration, be sure to check out the official website.


MOGRA Announces 9th Anniversary 3-Day Event Lineup

August 15, 2018 1:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

With the ever-apparent presence of Akihabara-based club MOGRA in the Japanese music scene, it's only fitting that their 9th-anniversary event would be jam-packed with talent from a wide spectrum of genres. Taking place over a total of three days, each embodying a different aspect of MOGRA's vibrant culture, the club took to their numerous social media platforms to announce just what talent we'd be seeing when celebrations kick off at the end of the month from August 24.

Kicking things off on day one, we see a heavy focus on the anime aspect of the club; easily the roots of the clubs long life in the Akihabara district of Tokyo. It's a long list of club veterans, most of whom have been with the club for quite an extended period dropping some of the most iconic anime themes within the club's confined walls. Taking place on August 24, information on day one can be found below:

● Entry
Door ¥3,500 (1 Drink)

IOSYS [D.watt feat. miko SET]
Taku Inoue
DJ 汐りんご
DJ kaw*kaw


Taking things to another level, the second day of celebrations looks to turn the basement floor of MOGRA and turn it into a moshpit offering a lineup of DJs and talent worthy of some of the craziest raves. We see hardcore legends such as DJ Shimamura collide with dancefloor heaters such as Carpainter all within the span of nine hours. Taking place on August 25, information on day two can be found below:

● Entry
Door ¥3,500 (1 Drink)

DJ Shimamura
eelica & DJ機器

ctrl+A (LED&VJ)

Finally, concluding the three days of madness we see MOGRA in a whole new light with some of the biggest talents in the Japanese club scene rolling through. From legendary producers such as kz (livetune) and Pa's Lam System, all the way to hard-hitting DJs such as DJ WILDPARTY, the third day is set to be something incredible. Even club MOGRA owner D-YAMA is coming through for the fun with a set of his own on the final day.  Taking place on August 26, information on day three can be found below:

● Entry
Door ¥3,500 (1 Drink)

Pa's Lam System

ctrl+A (LED&VJ)

With nine years of legacy to MOGRA's name, it's never been a secret that MOGRA is my favorite spot in all of Japan. Such a diverse melting pot of various musical cultures, I can't wait to see what the next few years hold for the club as it approaches its 10th birthday. Set to take place over three jam-packed days, further information on the upcoming celebrations can be found via MOGRA's official website.


Comiket 94 Hosts 530,000 Participants Over 3-Day Event

August 15, 2018 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

With the growing awareness towards Comic Market not just within Japan, but internationally too, it comes as no surprise that Comiket 94 was one of the biggest years since the doujin market began in 1975. With over 40 years of experience under Comiket's belt, however, it appears even the legendary event can still struggle under the weight of over 530,000 attendees from around the world. So with less than three years until Comiket hits the three-digit counter, just how much bigger can the community-driven event get?

For those unfamiliar with the history of Comiket in Japan, the long-running event has acted as the perfect breeding ground for both established and amateur artists alike to get their names out there since its original conception. Offering a bi-annual marketplace event where creatives can sell their original and fan-made works, there's perhaps no event more responsible for developing fan communities in Japan than Comic Market. Whether its Touhou, Vocaloid, or even more recent trends like Azure Lane, there's never a shortage of content at Comiket.

It's not uncommon for Summer Comiket to host fewer individuals than its more fairly weathered Winter Comiket counterpart, but Comiket 94 certainly did a fair job of bringing in the numbers. With over 32,000 circles selling creations, there was most definitely something for just about everybody of the 530,000 who attended. While the highest attendance count for a Comiket event took place during 2013 at Comiket 84, hosting a total of 590,000 attendees, one can only wonder how long it'll be before we crack the 600,000 mark.


Kevin Penkin to Return to Anime with ‘The Rising of the Shield Hero’

August 14, 2018 4:00pm
by Jacob Parker-Dalton

I've had a keen eye on London-born composer Kevin Penkin for quite some time now, with his work originally coming onto my radar following his incredible work on the Kickstarter-funded Under the Dog, with his later work on the critically acclaimed Made in Abyss only adding to his repertoire. It's only natural then that I'd be excited to see announcements that he's fresh off the press for the upcoming Made in Abyss films, and already getting on Twitter to announce his involvement as a composer on the upcoming The Rising of the Shield Hero animated series.

Kevin Penkin’s contributions to the Made in Abyss anime adaptation were instrumental in elevating the most poignant scenes and filling the world with a mystical wonder that wasn’t present in the original manga, and his soundtrack for Under the Dog was easily the best part of the project, so no matter the source material, I’d always be excited to hear new music from him.

But even more than that, Penkin’s rare position as a foreigner working in anime makes him worth keeping an eye on. After all, limiting anime staff to only those living and working in Japan denies future anime of talented individuals that would greatly improve the project. Another name that springs to mind is Austrian animator Bahi JD, who’s animation cuts have always stood out and improved the overall project, whether it be his first job on Kids on the Slope or his latest work on FLCL: Progressive. In this sense, Penkin and others’ efforts are helping to improve anime in the long term, so I couldn’t be happier that he is continuing to work in the industry.

Only adding to this, Penkin’s genius towards dark and somber soundtracks seems like a perfect fit when it comes to the dark tone of the Shield Hero series, which is often praised as a dark isekai story in the same vein as Re;Zero. While I can’t say that that particular subgenre is my cup of tea, if it allows Penkin to continue to do what he does best, then I can’t complain. I’ll just be waiting to see what kind of magic he can work this time.

Penkin joins director Takao Abo and others at Kinema Citrus for The Rising of the Shield Hero, which is set to premiere it’s first episode at Crunchyroll Expo this September.