Casey Baseel

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Casey Baseel spent his formative years staring in frustration at un-subtitled Japanese TV programming shown on Southern California’s international channel. Taking matters into his own hands, he moved to Tokyo to study the language, then found work in Yokohama a decade ago teaching, translating, and marketing hotels he can’t afford to stay in. When not participating in the eternal cycle of exercising to burn the calories form his love of Japanese food, Casey scours used comic and game shops for forgotten classics, drags his wife around the country in a quest to visit all its castles, sings karaoke not nearly as well as he thinks he does, and counts the days until the summertime bars open on Enoshima Beach.

All Stories by Casey Baseel

Daughter of Osamu Tezuka, God of Manga, discovers his stash of hand-drawn sexy mouse artwork

Do you think Walt Disney ever scratched his butt in public?

Sure, it may not be the classiest thing to do, but sometimes when you’ve got an itch, it needs to be scratched right away. It doesn’t make him a monster, it just means, like all of us, occasionally his base urges won out against social propriety.

Still, it’s a little hard to reconcile the man responsible for Mickey Mouse having an itchy behind. Just like it’s a little shocking to learn that Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy, kept a stash of sexy mouse drawings locked in his desk.

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Samurai grooming tips that kept Japan’s warriors looking their bushido best

A couple of weeks ago, we shared some historical photos of Japan’s most attractive samurai. Sure, with the arsenal of specialized soaps, lotions, and multi-bladed, razors available these days, it’s not unusual to find handsome models, movies stars, and Internet writers. But how did these guys manage to look so good without all these modern luxuries?

It turns out that along with sword fighting and horseback archery, a strict grooming routine has long been part of the samurai tradition.

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Awesome Korean airsoft park lets you live out your urban combat fantasies 【Video】

We’ve talked before about airsoft, and how the game that allows you to gun down your friends is ironically gaining seeing its ranks grow and grow in Japan. Unlike paintball, airsoft uses solid-state, BB-like ammo, so it’s a great way to unleash your inner remorseless 1980s action hero (or his gritty, 2010 reboot) without getting your fashionable combat fatigues stained with purple and orange splatters.

Most airsoft fields tend to be just that, fields out in the woods. But what if your combat fantasies are more Predator 2 than Predator, and you’d prefer an urban theater of operations? Is there a place where you can hunt the deadliest game: man?

Sure there is, at the Wanju Military Theme Park in Korea.

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How-to: Easy-to-make Capriccio rolls look like roses, make you look like a master chef

My brother, who spent several years working as a seafood cook, is an extremely handy guy in the kitchen. Even still, one of his most popular dishes is the incredibly easy to make Lebanese staple called hushwe. He jokingly refuses to teach his friends how to cook the rice and beef dish, since he’s worried that if they knew how simple it is, they’d lose respect for him as a chef.

The secret’s out, though, on how our Japanese-language correspondent Kon crafts her gorgeous rose-shaped salmon Carpaccio rolls, and today we’re going to share the technique with you.

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Can’t choose between melon bread and ice cream? Have both at once at this Kanazawa bakery

The city of Kanzawa, the capital of Japan’s Ishikawa Prefecture, has long been an important center for traditional arts and aesthetics. Visitors flock to the town’s beautiful Kenroken Garden, as well as its preserved samurai and geisha quarters. Kanazawa has also long been a center for goldsmiths, due to the deposits of the precious metal that can be found in Ishikawa, and to this day produces a variety of objects covered in exquisite gold leaf.

Recently, though, Kanazawa is attracting attention for something just as desirable as gold in some people’s eyes: delicious ice cream-filled melon bread.

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Good news for robot and pop idol fans: new Macross anime series is on the way!

It’s hard to think of an anime franchise that’s had a bigger impact than Macross. Aside from being a huge hit in its native Japan, the military sci-fi saga has provided no fewer than three gigantic boosts to anime’s international popularity. The original Macross, repackaged internationally as Robotech in 1985, provided many English speakers with their first taste of Japanese animation, a feat repeated by its 1994 direct-to-video follow-up, Macross Plus. Macross’ first theatrical feature, 1984’s Do You Remember Love?, is even largely credited with kick-starting the practice of fan-produced anime translations.

Now, the franchise is poised to bring in yet another crop of new fans, with the announcement that a new Macross TV series is on its way.

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How to get into Tokyo Disney Resort 15 minutes before it opens (without hopping the fence)

As two of the most popular leisure destinations in one of the most crowded countries on the planet, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea can get pretty packed with visitors. The more guests who show up, the longer you’ll spend waiting in line for attractions (so be sure to follow our advice about the best days to visit this year), so in order to get the most out of their day, some people try to arrive as early as possible, so they can get into the parks as soon as they open.

Of course, with so many Disney fans in Japan, even if you show up at that early hour, you’re likely to be sharing the park with a throng of other excited kids of all ages. If only there was some way you could get in even earlier.

Actually, starting April 14, Disney is offering a way to do just that.

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We drink Japan’s spaghetti popsicle (seriously)

Don’t worry everybody, we’re fine. We didn’t suffer a stroke halfway through writing this article’s title, and the RocketNews24 offices haven’t been violently seized by half-literate chimpanzees with a penchant for prose (we make a protection payment of a bunch of bananas each week to the simian mafia to prevent just such a thing).

Spaghetti-flavored popsicles really do exist in Japan, though, and we decided to melt one down to see what would happen.

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The 8 least crowded weekends and holidays at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea

In some spots, a trip to Tokyo Disneyland can feel very much like a visit to the original in Anaheim. Capering costumed characters pose for pictures with kids of all ages. Guests can stroll through Fantasyland and Tomorrow land. You’re never much more than a couple minutes’ walk away from a churro vendor.

But in some ways, Tokyo Disney Resort is incredibly Japanese. Well-behaved children uniformly refrain from kicking Mickey and his pals in the shins. Tokyo DisneySea will just as happily serve you an imported beer as an ice cream sundae. And of course, like any popular destination in Japan, the parks gets incredibly crowded.

Disney fans in the know, however, have a strategy for beating the crowds, and have compiled a list of the eight least crowded weekends and holidays of the year at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. And because we’re nice like that, we’re sharing that list with you today!

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Crimean attorney general responds to the Internet’s attempts to turn her into an anime character

Japan’s infatuation with Natalia Poklonskaya, Crimea’s newly appointed and unusually photogenic attorney general, is still going strong. In the week since we first reported on it, fan art based on Eastern Europe’s comeliest stateswoman has continued to proliferate.

But how do Poklonskaya, and for that matter her anime-loving daughter, feel about the unique sort of attention she’s been getting?

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Need gyoza right now? Great dumpling restaurant is just 20 seconds from Yoyogi Station

Although the juicy pork dumplings called gyoza originated in China, they’re a favorite of both students and expats in Japan. Filling and cheap, they make a great hot meal, and are also a popular way to fortify yourself for a night of drinking, or to satisfy the alcohol-induced bout of the munchies that follows one.

While Japan is filled with gyoza joints, some of the most popular develop an almost cult following, so when we got wind of a tasty pot sticker depository called Sosan no Mise at the next station over from the RocketNews24 office, we decided to check it out.

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Gunma Prefecture’s adorable mascot dances into our hearts and travel plans 【Video】

At first glance, Gunma may not seem to have a whole lot going for it. It’s one of Japan’s few landlocked prefectures, which means less access to Japan’s legendarily fresh seafood. The lack of a coastline also means Gunma doesn’t have a vibrant urban heart like Japan’s largest cities which grew out of its busiest ports, so economic and modern entertainment opportunities are limited compared to Tokyo, Osaka, or Fukuoka.

What Gunma does have is mountains, hot springs, and shrines, though. It’s also got Gunma-chan, its lovable horse mascot who shows off the prefecture’s attractions and some adorable dance moves in this new video.

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Japan now has so many 30-year-old virgins its language needs a new slang term for them

Japan’s birth rate has been dropping for decades now, and while it’s possible the demographic shift is a result of couples just getting that much better at using contraceptives, you have to allow for the possibility that fewer babies is due to fewer couples doing the deed.

Lending further credibility to this explanation is the fact that the proportion of Japanese men in their 30s who still have their virginity has gotten so high that society has coined a new slang term to describe them: yaramiso.

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Indian restaurant’s unique interior appointment: corpse-containing coffins 【Video】

As with any business venture, the key to running a successful restaurant is to differentiate your establishment from its competitors. Earlier this month, for example, we talked about a pub in Kyushu called Sacrifice that accomplished this by filling its interior with creepy mannequins and props that would be right at home in any horror movie.

But for those of you who take issue with the inauthenticity of Sacrifice’s fake corpses and skeletons, might we offer this alternative: a restaurant in India where diners sit among coffins with centuries-old bodies inside.

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Censored scene shows newest Metal Gear doesn’t pull any punches (except in Japan) 【Video】

Once upon a time, the North American video game market was incredibly squeamish about gory content. The blood and guts present in Japanese releases were painstakingly removed, most hilariously with the North American version of Neo Geo title Samurai Shodown, which retailed for $200 in 1993. Apparently the game’s producers thought their customer base was old enough to have that kind of cash in their pockets, but still too young to handle the sight of a little crimson hemoglobin, so they replaced the fountains of blood that occurred in the game’s swordfights with geysers of what appeared to be highly pressurized milk.

Eventually, everyone saw how silly this was. Gamers as a whole were getting older and more mature, and the youth of Japan, where this kind of content had been allowed for years, weren’t turning into crazed remorseless killing machines. So restrictions were loosened, allowing games like Grand Theft Auto to top North American sales charts.

Now, things have come full circle, as a side by side video comparison of publisher Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes shows less graphic content in its Japanese version.

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Anime fan’s antics show the international shelf life of otaku perviness is measured in years

While in the last month we’ve seen an especially intense burst of promotional tie-ups between public transportation and anime, these kinds of collaborations actually go back a few years. In 2011, for example, Keihan Railways partnered up with the producers of hit slice-of-life/high school rock band anime K-On!, in celebration of the franchise’s then-new theatrical feature.

Despite the anime’s low-key atmosphere, though, some K-On! fans can get surprisingly, even disturbingly, passionate about their favorite members of the cast, to a point that these photos are causing a stir in China even years after they were taken.

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Subway cuts prices for two days, helps out those watching their weight and unable to cook alike

With just days left until Japan’s consumption tax jumps from five to eight percent, we’ve resigned ourselves to having to suddenly pay a little bit more for, well, just about everything. So it’s nice to know that this week brings one last hurrah for budget-based pricing, as for two days Subway is cutting us all a break by knocking the price of two of their most popular sandwiches down to almost half of what they ordinarily go for.

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“Please, tread on me!” beg anime fans

It’s no secret that some of the most obsessive anime fans develop, oh, let’s call them “intense feelings” for certain animated characters. Peer deep enough into their psyches, and you’ll find a (dirty) laundry list of things they’d like to do to, or have done to them by, their favorite anime heroes and heroines.

Usually, these desires are kept private, but when a special even at the recently held anime convention Anime Japan offered an opportunity to make one of these fantasies come true, some fans couldn’t resist the chance to be stepped on by frilly-costumed anime girls.

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252 Pocky lovers gather in Shibuya to set a world record 【Video】

Who hasn’t had a daydream about being the best in the world at something? Unfortunately, most of us have already missed our chance to set the Guinness World Record for youngest professional drummer, yet are still a couple decades away for breaking the mark for oldest competing gymnast.

Thankfully, there are accomplishments that aren’t age sensitive, such as the world record for longest relay of people feeding each other, which is exactly what a group of teamwork-minded snack food enthusiasts got together to attempt in Tokyo.

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We check out Patlabor’s giant robot, plus cosplayers and anime booze galore, at Anime Japan

Last weekend the Tokyo Big Site convention center hosted the inaugural Anime Japan animation exposition, which combines the previously separately held Tokyo International Anime Fair and Anime Contents Expo.

We were drawn to the show by the promise of being able to see the giant Ingram robot being used in the upcoming live-action Patlabor motion picture with our own eyes, so we headed for Big Site and dove headfirst into the crowd of fans and exhibitors, where aside from giant robots we found amazing cosplayers and anime-themed edibles, not to mention hordes of ravenous anime song idol fans.

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