USA

American casting for Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) TV series receives harsh Japanese criticism

Starting this November, the first episode of a new romantic young adult series, Boys Before Friends, will be released to American audiences. The series is based on Japan’s hit manga, Hana Yori Dango (aka Boys Over Flowers). Already, the series has inspired the creation of anime, novels, and live action television dramas from Japan, Korea, and China. However, what should be a highly anticipated American adaptation of this much appreciated manga is encountering a lot of skepticism, especially from the Eastern side of the globe. It makes sense that some changes have to be made to implement an American setting for this Japanese tale, but how much change can the story endure before the tone of the original is totally lost?

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Japanese dancer wins America’s Got Talent, calling show title into question【Video】

We introduced our readers to the “dance-ish” performer Kenichi Ebina when he first appeared on the popular NBC performance program America’s Got Talent earlier this year and summarized The Matrix in a 90-second dance routine. We knew then that he was something special, but little did we know he would go on to take the top prize, becoming not only the first Japanese but also the first dancer to do so.

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“King of psychics” Ron Bard warns of terrible danger for Japan

US psychic Ron Bard has spoken out once again via his official Twitter account, warning that the world – specifically Japan – is in great peril, prompting chatter online. This new warning comes after Mr. Bard claimed back in mid-July this year to have foreseen a natural disaster that would occur in Japan “in the next two or three months”, urging people in Japan to follow him on Twitter and prepare for difficult times.

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PM Shinzo Abe faces allegations of being a “poser” after mentioning Metallica in speech

On 25 September, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a speech and rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. His aim was to promote US investment as a part of his economic reform plans known as “Abenomics.”

However, the highlight of the speech came towards the end when he mentioned the heavy metal band Metallica and their hit song Enter Sandman while discussing Japan’s future and the Tokyo Olympics. While this may have seemed perfectly innocent at first, this name-drop may have hurt the PM’s standing in the metal community with previous supporters now wondering if Abe is, in fact, a “poser” – someone who only acts like they know about metal.

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Western games may have won the Tokyo Game Show this year

The old saying in Japanese gamer circles used to go “Bei game wa Kuso game” (“Western games are sh&%ty games”), but the tables may have turned in a big way if this year’s Tokyo Game Show turnout is any indication.

Western publishers were out in spades this year. In fact, the very first thing attendees saw when entering the gates of this year’s TGS were a bunch of armed soldiers and (tastefully) military-garbed booth girls promoting the newest entry in the Battlefield series of online multiplayer military shooter games.

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Epic body slam action at US Sumo Open【Video】

One of Japan’s most ancient sports, sumo is both steeped in tradition and considered to be one of the most demanding in the world. Professional sumo wrestlers, or rikishi, must not only commit to a strict regime of physical training and the daily consumption of gargantuan meals in order to maintain their enormous mass, but also obey rules that cover everything from their hairstyles and the clothing they may wear in public to the use of vehicular transportation.

Although sumo’s popularity in Japan is on the wane, the sport is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries, particularly in the United States where groups such as USA Sumo are growing ever larger and receiving more and more media attention with each year that passes. And we’d be willing to bet that after seeing the following video taken at the US Sumo Open 2013 event, even the most sceptical of Western sports fans will start taking sumo a little more seriously.

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Forget makeup or plastic surgery! This product is guaranteed to make you beautiful in an instant

For many women, the act of putting on makeup gives them the opportunity to enhance their natural features and make themselves look more attractive. For anyone short on time, though, busting out the makeup kit before heading to work or out to meet friends can also be rather bothersome. With this in mind, reporter Anji, over at our sister site Pouch, did a bit of research to see if the process could be made any easier. What she found was a product called “Uniface” which is a mask that is designed to look exactly like a woman’s beautifully made-up face. Well, that’s the idea anyway…

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Preserved Hello Kitty fetus helps you explain to the little ones where Hello Kitties come from

Given that the apparently rather promiscuous Hello Kitty will lend her likeness to just about everything, from doughnuts to assault rifles, it’s only a matter of time until the world is plastered in Hello Kitty spawn and our little human children are asking where all these frighteningly cute mouthless kitties come from.

Well, thanks to the curious mind of Moistproductions.com‘s Jason Freeny, you can now get your hands on a helpful tool to explain!

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Why it’s so important for Japanese celebrities to star in commercials

Even if you can’t understand what’s being said on Japanese TV, it’s difficult to miss the fact that nearly every TV spot and, for that matter, a good chunk of print ads, feature Japanese celebrities shucking various products.

To the Western eye, this can be a little baffling. Sure, sometimes commercials in English-speaking countries will fall back on (mostly) has-been stars to lend credibility to this or that used car dealership or diet product, but most of the time Western commercials star everyday folks. Most surmise this is so the consumer – his/herself most likely an everyman/woman – feels an emotional connection with the ad.

On the other hand, Japanese ad agencies hire TV and movie stars much, if not most, of the time. So prevalent is the practice that Western stars aren’t above traveling to Japan Lost in Translation-style for a week or so of juggling live human beings and shouting broken-English catchphrases for a round of Japanese ads ending in a big payday.

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Japanese mother compares child-rearing techniques in the US and Japan, finds mixed results

Raising children is always difficult, regardless of the country you live in. Whether it’s changing diapers or dealing with the “terrible twos,” it can sometimes seem like children exist solely to make their parents’ lives difficult.

But certain cultural and social factors can have a big impact on the whole process, as one Japanese mother explains after moving back to her home country after many years in the US.

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Were Syria’s use of chemical weapons and the dropping of the A-bomb the same violation of international law?

On August 21, it was confirmed that chemical weapons were used on civilians in Syria, and it is speculated that the country’s own president, Bashar al Assad, is behind the attacks. The news has sent shockwaves around the world, with US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf commenting, “I think that it’s clear that Syria violated international law here. They used chemical weapons in an indiscriminate manner with respect to civilians.”

Many agree with Ms. Harf’s words, but it is a question that was posed by a Reuters journalist, likening Syria’s actions to that of the United States’ use of atomic weapons during WWII, that has many people in Japan talking.

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Bon Jovi guitarist surprises fans with appearance on Japanese home shopping channel

Japan can be a surprising place sometimes. You can be just minding your own business when – Bam! – an American rock star pops out of nowhere. First we had Steven Tyler roaming the streets and discount shops of Osaka by himself taking pictures with delighted fans, and now, in a somewhat more disturbing appearance, Bon Jovi lead guitarist Riche Sambora suddenly appeared on Shop Channel!

Yes, following in the footsteps of fellow rock legends Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli, Riche was out there selling his line of blouses to the women of Japan.

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Nintendo’s favorite plumbers doing parkour gets big praise in Japan 【Video】

For those who don’t know, parkour is a non-competitive sport where people propel themselves through their environment by running, climbing, and flipping their way across city structures like a giant jungle gym. A couple of days ago, Nintendo of America released a documentary-style video called “Finding Luigi: Legend of Parkour,” likening the amazing jumps and flips that the character can perform to the real-world practice of parkour.

Around the same time, fans of Nintendo put together their own parkour video, “Mario Bros Parkour,” wherein two sporty guys play the parts of the famous plumbing brothers as they flip their way through a 3-D enhanced world.  Read on for a peek at both of these awesome videos!

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Japanese vs. Western-style toilets: Squatty Potty stool gives us the best of both!

There are many highly touted health benefits associated with Japanese-style toilets. But who would want to get down to business with a glorified hole in the ground when they have the option of a wonderful Washlet, complete with heated seats and a butt-cleaning water spray?!

Thanks to a new American company that cares a lot about colons, there’s no need to choose the health benefits of one over the comfort and familiarity of the other. This very special team has created a stool to ease the release of your stool and give you perfect poo from atop your porcelain throne. They call their product the Squatty Potty.

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Sony launching major offensive at PAX Prime show, bringing 39 playable games, freebies

The PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) Prime 2013 video game trade show kicks off at Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center this weekend, with all the big names in gaming (yes, even Nintendo!) turning up to flaunt their wares and give gamers the chance to play upcoming titles as well as get some hands-on time with their newest hardware. Sony, however, appears to be taking this opportunity to throw its weight around and recently published the absolutely enormous list of games they’re taking to the show, which goes some way to explaining why the company is commandeering most of the south-west corner of the show floor.

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NVIDIA’s Shield portable console – Cool, sleek and technically illegal in Japan

Powered by the world’s fastest mobile processor and billed by its maker as “the ultimate gaming and entertainment portable” the Nvidia Shield is in many way the realisation of thousands of tech fans’ nerdiest dreams: a genuinely powerful portable built around a home console-quality controller with a potentially vast software library. Offering gamers the chance to play games like Borderlands 2 and Skyrim anywhere from their bedroom to the toilet, the Shield at once steals both Nintendo’s “play with the TV off” Wii U thunder and makes Sony’s plans to have all forthcoming PlayStation 4 titles also playable on Vita seem like a copycat move, so it’s little wonder that the console has received a ton of attention the world over.

Currently only available in the US and Canada, lovers of all things sleek and shiny here in Japan who couldn’t wait any longer for an official release have laid down their cash (and with the portable retailing for US$299 that’s nothing to be sneezed at) and imported a Shield for themselves.

Little do they know, however, that simply by powering the thing up within the Land of the Rising Sun they’ll be breaking the law.

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Ichiro’s 4,000th hit ball and Munenori Kawasaki remind us what baseball’s all about

Like many a baseball player in Japan, Munenori Kawasaki looks up to Japanese baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki. But Kawsasaki has been especially well known for his unflinching support of the future Hall of Famer. Even during his younger days of playing the sport in Kagoshima his style was compared to that of Ichiro.

Years later, on 21 August it would seem the stars aligned just right for Kawasaki as he found himself on the field just as Ichiro made his 4,000th professional hit in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. But Kawasaki’s pure enthusiasm that night might have even eclipsed his hero’s milestone.

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Clever naming has New York diners raving about Japanese-style cod roe and pigs’ feet

Among the many colorful expressions in Japanese you’ll find kuwazu girai, which is used to describe a knee-jerk dislike to something unfamiliar before you’ve given it a fair shot. Kuwazu girai literally translates to “hating it without having eaten it,” and it was exactly the problem restaurateur Himi Okajima was having at his eatery, called Hakata Tonton, in New York’s Manhattan.

Okajima is a native of Fukuoka in southern Japan, and orders weren’t exactly pouring in from American customers for two of his hometown’s favorite dishes that were on the menu: pigs’ feet and cod roe.

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How would America react if Japan suddenly attacked South Korea?

Here at RocketNews24 we have a major soft spot for Japanese culture and its quirks. But there’s no denying that the country has a nasty habit of glossing over controversial moments in its history. This has led to some long-lasting tension between Japan and its neighbors, namely China and South Korea.

This week Japan celebrates the end of World War II. At the same time, Korea takes a different angle on the times and celebrates the end of Japan’s colonization and subjugation of their country. This anti-Japan sentiment remains rooted in many aspects of Koreans’ psyche, and led to the creation of a certain documentary which aired on the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) last Sunday, August 11. The program was titled The Archipelago’s Perilous Night and posed the questions, “What would America do if Japan suddenly attacked South Korea? Who would they aid?” Korean Internet users were quick to respond with their own speculations.

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New York-style Japanese ramen! We try Totto Ramen in Midtown Manhattan

So, you’re a loyal RocketNews24 reader. You’ve seen us posting about ramen, possibly the greatest food ever, and always wanted a nice big bowl of your own to scarf down. But an international flight to Japan is both expensive and exhausting, so it’s remained little more than a dream for you. You lie awake at night, tossing and turning, as thoughts of hot noodles, thick, delicious broth, and perfectly sliced pork dash through your head. Well, now you can finally put an end to your torture! If you live in New York that is. Otherwise, you’ll have to keep saving for that flight.

A few months back, one of our esteemed Japanese writers found himself in New York and decided to check out one of the city’s finest ramen shops: Totto Ramen. Here’s his thoughts on the Japanese restaurant! Does it measure up??

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