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.

Posted by Casey Baseel

Japan’s Newest and Cheapest Good Luck Charm: Bread Crust

Remember when you were a kid, and your mom would check for monsters under your bed, put band-aids on your scraped knees and elbows, and cut the crusts off your sandwiches? Wouldn’t it be great if someone would still do that for you?

No matter how much you offer them for the service, the employees of Japanese bread and snack producer Yamazaki Bread won’t come to your house and protect you from the Boogey Man, because seriously, have you seen the guy? Way too scary. They do have your bread needs covered though, with their popular series of crust-free Lunch Pack sandwiches.

But despite the lack of crust being a major selling point for Lunch Pack, people in Japan aren’t complaining when one with a bit of brown on the edge slips through, because fans say it’s a sign of good luck. Read More

Manga Critic Calls for Revolution, Wants Japanese Comics to Read from Left to Right


Imagine you’re a comic book fan, browsing for something new to read. Intrigued by what you’ve heard about Japanese manga, you pick one up and open it to the first page. And wow, there’s a dead body in the first panel! What an intense opening. But wait, why is the corpse getting stabbed again, then suddenly standing up and running about? Is the character a zombie or something?

No, you’re just reading the panels out of sequence. Unlike the left-to-right flow of comic panels in the English world, manga are designed to be read from right to left, then top to bottom, starting on the right-hand page before continuing to the left.

Confused? Manga creator and critic Kentaro Takekuma says you shouldn’t have to be, and he has a plan to change all that. Read More

Burn Rubber with Competition-Spec Mario Kart Erasers

As any professional road racer or weekend canyon carver can tell you, nothing gives a bigger boost to a car’s performance than a great set of tires. Taking that idea to its illogical conclusion, toy manufacturer Takara Tomy figured the hottest ride must be an eraser car. And one styled like a Mario kart, no less. Read More

Beta Males Rejoice! 77 Percent of Women Say Geeky <em>Otaku</em> are A-OK

Imagine you’re a young buck at a singles’ party at a swanky Tokyo restaurant. As you regale the ladies with your testosterone-dripping tales of regular shark wrestling, frequent motorcycle racing, and occasional motor-shark racing, you mentally calculate whether or not you have enough protein powder in the kitchen cupboard to make two breakfast shakes, because you know there’s no way you’re going home alone tonight.

Unless, of course, the guy next to you starts talking about his collection of Sword Art Online Blu-rays. Read More

Nine-Patty Evangelion Cheeseburger has a 0.00001% Chance of Failing to Fill You Up (3D Photos)

The most recent theatrical installment of the long-running anime series Evangelion was released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 24. While it’s official English title is Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo, the film has a completely different Japanese title, Evangelion Theatrical Version: Q. Because if there’s one thing creators Studio Gynax hate, it’s giving a definitive answer on anything related to their mega-hit franchise.

But if there’re two things Gynax hates, the second is passing up a merchandising opportunity for Eva (as the fans call it), which is where the Evangelion Q cheese burger comes in with its nine patties.

Did we mention we bought two? Read More

We Get Wet and Wild at Thailand’s Water Festival

Over the years, Thailand has gone by many names. Until 1939 it was Siam, and the country’s friendly citizens have earned it the nickname “The Land of Smiles.”

For a few days each year though, Thailand is also “The Land of the City-Wide Splash Fights.” Read More

You Can (Not) Lose with Sega’s Newest Evangelion Promotion


The UFO catcher, also known in the West as the crane game, is a stalwart of Japanese arcades. The rules are simple: drop in your coin, then operate the mechanical claw to try to pick up your prize, whether it’s a stuffed Pikachu, giant box of Pocky, or a live prawn. No, we are not making that last one up. Of course, this is easier said than done. More often than not the prizes slip out of the claw’s grasp (especially the prawns).

In a way, the UFO catcher is the perfect metaphor for the long-running, psychologically heavy-hitting anime series Evangelion, known to fans simply as Eva. Like Eva’s protagonist Shinji with his giant robot, at first the technology seems fun and exciting. Then, following soul-crushing failure after failure, you find yourself void of the strength to go on, staring at the machine through your tears of frustration, finally understanding that a part of you has hated it all along, even as the realization sinks in that it may house the soul of your dead mother (OK, the last bit is strictly Eva).

But with a new Eva UFO catcher promotion, Sega is making sure no one has to go home empty-handed. Read More

Free Panties and the Scent of Ninja Boobs – Senran Kagura Merchandising Bounces Along


When Nintendo first announced its 3D-capable 3DS handheld system, what kind of in-your-face gaming experience did you imagine? A high-tuned Mario Kart? A new Pilotwings with skydiving so realistic it’d have you looking for a ripcord?

Well if you were video game producer Kenichiro Takaki, you thought of boobs. Takaki, along with lonely gamer lust, is the driving force behind the Senran Kagura franchise. The series follows Asuka, a high school girl who’s also a ninja protecting the citizens of Japan against other, less scrupulous ninja. Joining Asuka in her mission are her classmates and their prodigious busts.

Starting with a 3DS release in 2011, the series expanded to a comic and anime TV series before making its PlayStation Vita debut this February with its third titillating title, Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus. Takaki recently had an idea for a little downloadable extra, but first threw down a lacy gauntlet to the series’ fans to gauge their interest. Read More

New MOS Burgers are 100% Beef, Still 0% Moss


Despite Japan’s image as a country where people mainly eat fish and pickled vegetables, the truth is the country has some serious carnivorous tendencies. Aside from scores of independent hamburger joints, you’ll find branches of McDonald’s and Burger King, along with home-grown chains such as First Kitchen and MOS Burger.

MOS Burger’s name becomes less intimidating, if no less nonsensical, when you find out it stands for “Mountain Ocean Sun” burger. With over 1,000 locations across Japan and a reputation for high-quality ingredients, MOS has legions of fans, so it was big news when the company announced a major change to its burgers. Read More

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