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Exclusive Interview: LISA Returns, m-flo's latest 'the tripod e.p.2' Tops Charts & More

March 6, 2018 2:00pm
by Eddie Lehecka, Lachlan Johnston

It was only a few short months ago that we learned of the reunion of m-flo; a piece of news that circulated around the globe like wildfire, following the return of original group member LISA after 15 years of absence. With their reunion, the group ushered in a new age of m-flo -- one that looked forward to the future, whilst also clinging to the very moment that brought them together over 20 years ago. 

With two incredible decades of history to their name, the group is back and better than ever with their latest "the tripod e.p.2". Made available both digitally and physically as of today, the release near-instantly shot to the top of the iTunes Japan album chart sitting at #1, showing that the excitement over here in Japan is very, very real. Ahead of this release, however, we sat down with m-flo to discuss their latest works, as well as what they’ve been doing over these past few years. You can find our interview in full below:

OTAQUEST: I saw the video for "No Question" and it was really sick, but there was one thing that really stood out -- something I'm sure stood out for everyone. LISA, you cut your hair for the video. I know the song has this message of not holding yourself to society’s standards and being your own person, was that what influenced your decision to do this for the video?

LISA: Oh yeah, definitely. Because first, they couldn’t ask me to do that directly because they all thought I wasn’t going to be down with that idea. They actually had a model, or a couple models, ready to shave their head and everything. That came later when we were coming back from LA, they said “Yeah, we’re looking for models that are going to go bald for us.” and I was like “WHAT? What is that? No, we write our own songs! To express what we’re writing in that music, I *have* to do it. I’m gonna do it.” And from there it was “Oh, you’re gonna do it? Wow, cool! Let’s do it!”

So you know, it's a message coming from me too. Coming from so many directions that I couldn’t really express it to you, how I really feel about this head that I have right now. Hopefully, people will know that what we’re trying to make here is art, a form of art. Every song is art, every music video is our piece of art.

VERBAL: If I might add, when we were in LA we were already thinking about shooting the video as soon as we got back to Tokyo. But then that got postponed, fortunately. Because of that, we’re able to maneuver to have this whole video situation happen with the storyline. The treatment that we received was, like LISA said, a model, a woman shaving her head as an expression of m-flo kind of evolving, and reforming, and taking new steps. 

As you might remember in "Come Again," back in like 2001, we had this model moving on from her past memories and past boyfriend or whatever. That was the blueprint for this new video, but when we spoke about that, quickly going back to what LISA said, she was like “Why don’t I do this?” That was the big elephant in the room that everyone wanted to ask, but we were like “Yeah, we can’t ask LISA to shave her head. Who’s gonna break that news?” and Taku’s like “I’m not gonna do it!” *laughs*

But yeah, when we had brought it up she was just like “I’ll do it” and that was perfect because that just like consummated, and brought everything together.

LISA: On top of that it’s our stuff so I couldn't have anybody else go bald. It totally had to be me! After all, this is our stuff, c’mon man! So I was really happy to do it, “I’ll do it, I’ll do it, I’ll do it.” *laughs*

OTAQUEST: So you mention it being your stuff, but another thing is that the video has different segments. Everybody kind of has their own thing until you get to the very end of the video. Did you have input on each other’s segments for the video at all? Did you have that kind of creative control or discussion about what everyone was going to be doing over the course of the video?

VERBAL: Well I think generally...

LISA: Me, my whole thing is about going bald so that’s really simple you know? That’s just like my stuff so...

VERBAL: Well yeah, I think that was going to be the main crux of the video, and LISA was going to represent m-flo’s evolution, taking the new steps and such. I think us being in different scenes until we meet at the end, that’s just to symbolize that we were going on different paths over the past 15 years when we weren’t together. And then at the end, you see the part where all of the old video flashbacks, and then she starts shaving her head, so that’s a message. And then at the end, we get back together; the newly reformed m-flo from here on in.

Taku: Yeah, rolling on from what VERBAL said, usually with this kind of thing, LISA lets the two of us decide what we want to do with the video. She fully trusts our direction and vision. When both VERBAL and I sat down with the director we proposed that we wanted something out of the ordinary -- we wanted to catch people off-guard like something by Michel Gondry. 

We quickly pinpointed that nobody had really built upon this time reversal concept introduced to us through the music video for Pharcyde's "Drop," and we thought that could work here. I figured it would help signify us going back to our roots. After we suggested that, the director hit us with the idea of having a model shave her head and go bald in reverse as mentioned earlier. We were all for it but finding someone who would actually do it was a little more difficult than we imagined *laughs*. As it turns out, LISA actually overheard us talking about it one day, and said she'd do it "for the art." The video ended up changing a bit because she took the role, but I was totally behind it given the nature of her lyrics and the powerful new message in the video. 

OTAQUEST: The ending was also really powerful, at least I think, like when you all got together on stage. There’s a moment where LISA comes in and you hug VERBAL, then hug Taku, and it seems super genuine. Almost to the point where it might have just been that the camera was rolling and it happened, and you decided to keep it for the video. Is that how it went?

LISA: *starts laughing*

VERBAL: She didn’t want to do that! *everyone laughs*

LISA: I hated that part! No, I’m just kidding. I just kept laughing and laughing, because that was the director's idea.

VERBAL: The director was like “Can you just hug?”, and it’s kind of like someone going “Oh, you speak Japanese? Yeah, Speak. Japanese.” Uhh, okay. *laughs*

LISA: It just sounded really cheesy to me at first. We took so many shots of that too, like 4 to 5 times because we just kept laughing. The director said “You do this all the time, so it should come naturally.” and I thought “You know what? You’re right. We do hug and greet each other like that every time we see each other, so okay.” The last time was the shot that they used right?

VERBAL: Yeah. We were just cracking up, it was a long day so we were just like joking about everything. It was good times on the set.

Taku: Yeah, LISA absolutely hated the idea of it in the beginning *laughs*. It wasn't until VERBAL reminded her "Hey when you see us in the studio, how do you greet us?," and I guess that's usually what we do, so it made it look a little more natural. 

OTAQUEST: It looked really really genuine. I seriously thought it was like an ad-libbed shot like “Oh they just walked in to shoot for the day and LISA gave the guys a hug!” It looked great.

LISA: Hey, we can just put it like that! *laughs* It sounds good like that!

OTAQUEST: So VERBAL, you've done everything from the "loves series," all the way to the "Square One" period, with each era being filled with new and different sounds. In the new EP, all of the songs contain a blend of classic "tripod era," along with the stuff in-between and a dash of modern music influence. Did the fact that you were tackling a classic sound have an influence on the way you wrote your rap segments in the new songs?

VERBAL: Actually, us getting back together was already a total vibe. It was kind of nostalgic but fresh at the same time because over the years Taku and I had been doing our thing, and LISA was doing her thing. Then, of course, everything in our respective fields we do according to the different kinds of work that we do. When it comes to m-flo, we’ve known each other for a while and we’re just open about everything.

Going back to the question, it really did, but what set me off was when LISA told me was that my rap as of late was kind of “not up to par” and “kinda boring.” She was like “You know you can be crazier than that, how come you’re writing lyrics so conservatively?” I didn’t even think about it that way, I was like “Really? Okay.” So I pulled out my old lyric books, I have pads and pads of lyrics from back in the late 90s and early 2000s -- I would write mad lyrics. So I was just looking back, trying to get that groove back. Getting bits and pieces from the kind of words I used to use, the kind of flow I used to have, so when I hit the studio I was feeling her vibe in the studio watching her sing. It’s been a minute since we got in the studio, you know? And after seeing her sing “No Question” I was like “Okay, I got it.” and I started writing the rap for the song. Then I told LISA “Watch me.” and I went into the studio...

LISA: I was like “YES. NICE.”

VERBAL: So like, we went to international school and naturally we speak English and Japanese, but our Japanese is not so perfect and that’s how it was on our first two albums. It’s Japanese, but it doesn’t really sound Japanese; my grammar was wrong, and it wasn’t intentional, but it created kind of a fun vibe. I think that’s what she referred to as being kind of crazy or fun, so now that I speak Japanese better than before I deliberately kind of use certain words and plug them in so it sounds kind of awkward in a fun way. I sound passive aggressive on my verses. So that was the intention, I think that’s what really triggered the laughter in the studio. Taku loved it too.

LISA: I loved it, I just stood up and went “FANTASTIC!” *laughs*

OTAQUEST: So you mentioned the Japanese & English part of it too and it makes me wonder, "No Question" in itself is the kind of phrase that’s common in English. When you write English in your songs do you ever think about how that’s going to translate to Japanese fans or vice versa? Like if you use Japanese phrases or plays on words do you worry about how that’s going to translate to fans in English?

VERBAL: For me personally, our music is just like “m-flo music.” It’s not Japanese or English. So when people in English hear the Japanese parts I feel like they just listen to it for how it sounds. Japanese people out here, when they go to this club in Shibuya called Harlem and listen to like Kendrick Lamar, they don’t know what he’s saying but they’ll be like “Aww, this is cool. I like this song” or whatever. It’s the same thing,  It’s almost like an instrument. LISA’s vocals and my vocals, you know?

So vice versa, in Japan when we sing in English they just think it’s the melody, or it’s the flow. I think in a nutshell m-flo represents a certain unique blend and world of its own. So I don’t think people really care so much, LISA could be singing in Spanish and I don’t think people would really care. And she would too.

LISA: I would. And will do so too. Gotta use that Latina side of me, right?

OTAQUEST: So in a recent interview you had made mention as to how technology has made things easier for everyone to create similar sounding music. Listening to the tracks on the new EP there is a definite feeling of modern music but still very classic m-flo in each of the tracks. Did you use any of the processes of the original m-flo albums to create this feeling, or did you utilize modern technology in any interesting ways to receive the results we can hear in the new songs?

Taku: What I did was I went back to the process I used, or the one we used to use when we were making "Expo Expo." The plan for me was to create something that was like, "What if m-flo made something future bass-ish in the tripod era?" That "-ish" part is super important to me because I totally realize people aren't interested in m-flo creating something exactly like what's being played on Billboard's Top 40 or any other EDM hit. Being "-ish" is what makes us so unique, you know?

OTAQUEST: So during the recording process on the new EP, I know you came to LA and did a bunch of songwriting. Now that you've got some songs out in the wild, how are you feeling about the process for everything and where you’re moving towards with this upcoming album?

LISA: Well I'm just very happy that we’re finally going to be able to release this EP because it feels like it’s been a while that we’ve been working on this. I don’t know what it is? Like 8 months to a year? Trying to get everything together, trying to get us together, getting things set up with the company and getting our staff together. It’s not just the music, it’s everything else that comes around it too. So to me, it’s like “Hey, I’ve been waiting for this.” I'm just truly happy that it’s coming out finally. It felt really long for me until we put this together.

VERBAL: Yeah, so this EP coming together is kind of like for the fans. This kind of diverts from the question but, with all of the logistics we had to take care of, that was nothing for us because we really look forward to bringing this back for the fans who have been telling us on separate occasions “Why don’t you get back together with LISA?” or “When are you gonna do m-flo again?,” “Stop doing these other projects”.

LISA: Me too, people are like “I don’t want to hear your solo, I want to hear you back in m-flo!”

VERBAL: But those are very important and very brave messages that fans would tell us. I could be like “Hey, fuck you, man.” *laughs* I could be a dick about it, but then we actually appreciate all of these comments. Some people have even been saying things since we came out with our first record. They would come to the clubs that we DJ at and be like “Yo man, so when are you gonna come out with the next m-flo record?” and I’m like “Okay, here we go again!” Because they’re also like “Yo VERBAL, you should rap more like this!” or “You should tell LISA to come back!” and I’m like “We’re working on it!”

I kind of consider our getting back together almost like Lauryn Hill getting back together with The Fugees. Not to toot our own horn, but I think it’s something that people thought “Wow, that would be cool if that happens but we don’t think it’s going to really happen.” We’re excited about it, for sure.

Taku: Jumping back to the original question real quick, we actually made a lot of tunes during the LA songwriting camp, but we're still not certain when our album is coming out. We might even be releasing another EP. We'll just have to wait and see. The experience at LA was awesome, we tried different things and now we see something that we can do more. I think I'll be able to answer what we're planning to do next time I see you guys.

OTAQUEST: Talking about the EP and the development of the songs, having a newer sound along with the classic style -- was there any difference to how you got together creatively when you’re putting a song together? You kind of already touched on having that resurgence of the way you felt back in the day, but putting stuff together now, especially with technology being so different, has there been anything that’s complicated the process, or made it easier at all? Or anything that has influenced the way everything comes together versus the way it used to be?

VERBAL: Taku was mentioning this, but because of the technological advances everyone can sound exactly like Skrillex if they felt like it. It’s easy, you have all of the presets going and everyone has every type of resource at their fingertips. So he deliberately went back to using specific equipment, stuff that wasn't necessarily efficient, but it kinda brought back that sound. It brought back that vibe. Me too, going back to what I was saying about bringing back my old lyric books, I was kind of going back to the analog vibe rather than researching online and getting ideas. I’m just going back to myself and going back to the roots. And then with LISA, she was really quick with it. Even back in LA when she had the flu, she was pumping out songs and getting mad at me for not working quickly *laughs*

LISA: I was like “Where’s your rap!” Every time I see him I’d ask him!

Taku: When it comes to trends, most think music creativity is about speed; but I think the complete opposite. I think patience is the most important factor when creating music. I build it and break it over and over until I get it done. Sometimes it works, and most of the time it doesn't. I just keep on doing trial and error until I find the right one. Sure, it'd be easy to create something trendy, but what we're creating is totally different -- I can't just put a benchmark to it.

OTAQUEST: Well that’s everything about the EP I wanted to ask about, but I also wanted to talk about the remix album. Did you have input on the artists that were selected and what they worked on? How do you feel about how the remix album came together?

VERBAL: So that’s totally Taku’s department; if he had asked me who I wanna have remix, I would have my people but I was like “Yo, that’s like your lane.” He knows all of the dope producers, he interviews them, works with them at block.fm, and it just makes sense that it’s uniform as part of the m-flo universe. Like the DNA will be more straightforward if he single-handedly selected the producers. I had asked him “Can you just come up with a list of people?” and when he did, we just had nothing to say. We were like “That’s dope.” 

It’s all kind of fresh, it’s not pretentious. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but it’s really honest. He just selected them on the basis of whether they’re dope or not, or whether they’re relevant or not. So we were all in agreement, LISA and I had nothing to say.

OTAQUEST: Building off what VERBAL just shared, we were surprised by some of the remixers you chose, especially with the massive spectrum of genres and music scenes they all stem from. How did you decide which artists you wanted to include on the album?

Taku: It wasn't just me, but my manager actually helped me a lot. She's also the executive of block.fm, so she knows a whole heap of awesome upcoming artists. Some of the artists I met through anime conventions in the US, and I simply loved their performances and sets. Thanks to the Attack the Music boys for that.

OTAQUEST: Were there any remixes that stood out to you as particularly great?

VERBAL: When I heard the Canblaster one, it was cool because you can tell he likes m-flo a lot. Because he asked Taku to send him stems from different songs, he would incorporate that in a remix of a song that had nothing to do with the other songs. It’s like an homage to our other tracks from the past. We felt that love from the other remixers too, because they had put in the time and they’re all kind of sharing their knowledge of our catalog. So that was really nice, not to mention super dope. I can’t wait to play them at clubs or hear other people play them at clubs too.

LISA: The last one that came in that Taku sent, Come Again. There was so much going on when I was listening to it I was like “This one’s fuckin’ PHAT”. I think that was the PKCZ remix. That one I love because it just stopped me. I was like “What is this? Wow.”

Taku: Personally I really loved all of them, they all had such different styles and none sounded like any other. Even the Masayoshi Iimori and Carpainter tracks went totally different directions, even though they're label mates. Oh, and LISA, you mentioned you loved the Masayoshi Iimori remix too, right? *laughs* I'm sure a lot of OTAQUEST readers loved the YUC'e, DJ Shimamura, TeddyLoid, and banvox remixes too. I'd definitely recommend checking out Sweet Williams and WONK too if you've never heard of them.

OTAQUEST: So earlier you mentioned that you had your own solo stuff in the past, and LISA you’ve obviously had your solo albums and songwriting over the years. How is that impacting the development of everything going on, from like the creative side, the songwriting side, etc? Has there been any major change in how you do anything as a result of your experience?

LISA: What’s kind of clear is that what I make for m-flo, it sounds like it’s just for m-flo. It’s so weird because it’s the same me making this and making that, but when I make it with them it’s just some magic that comes in. I don’t know what it is, it’s just fit and customized for m-flo. To me, it’s just a mystery where it comes from, but when I do stuff for myself versus doing stuff with them there’s just something very different about it. And what’s for them is just for them, I wouldn’t even want to take it back and sing it myself. It’s like “Take it, and if you don’t take it then I dunno, let it sit.”

VERBAL: For me just working on different projects made me realize that I like being in groups rather than my own solo thing. I had done that before a couple times with the underground projects like L Universe or my other solo projects. And it was because people were like “You should do your solo thing.” and I’m like “Okay, I’ll try it.” But it didn’t really last long because that’s that and it’s cool, and there are people who enjoy that, but I just like working in groups. I get inspired, you know? Like LISA said, when I work with m-flo it’s totally m-flo and I’m like that guy who gives the killer pass, I’m not the striker. LISA is definitely the striker in the group. 

I like getting the projects up and running and just producing the content around it. The more I work on different projects, the more I know what I’m good at and what lane I’m good staying in, so when it came time to doing m-flo I knew exactly what to do. It took a long time to explain to LISA why I come in at the very end *laughs*, because I wanted to make sure everything’s up and running and she’s got the vocals laid down. I like to make sure I’m supporting the whole song through the rap or whatever I do. That’s why I come in at the end, it’s not because I’m lazy *laughs*

Taku: *laughs* Well, one thing for sure is I re-discovered myself through meeting people in the US.  It is so cool to actually interact with people who liked what I was doing back then. Five years ago was about myself creating perfect dance/electronic music, but now I'm into creating perfect m-flo music.

OTAQUEST: I have one last question to wrap things up, I don’t know if you’ve really paid attention to the fan response to everything so far. I'm talking about things like the teaser, the announcement, everything surrounding that. How do you feel about the fan response so far and do you have any messages for your fans?

LISA: I’m just very happy that they’re happy, and we’re very happy that they’re happy. I can’t wait to do the concerts and have them come and see us, have a good time with us, and sing our songs together with us. Because you know, we don’t just perform, we like to have our fans make the whole stage with us. I really just can’t wait until we do our tour, or concerts, or whatever it might be. We gotta get out there fast for them.

Overall I’m just really happy about everything. I thank the lord every day that he gave me the chance to come back in this group and that our staff is still supporting us. It’s the same people that did m-flo originally, they’re still here with us so this is not just an everyday kind of thing that happens. I truly believe it’s a miracle. 

VERBAL: I would say the same thing, I’m just happy. You don’t understand, when we broke the news about m-flo so many people, random people from random fields, wrote me that hour when the news broke. Like Becky wrote to me, the CEO of YG Entertainment Japan wrote me and was like “I always loved m-flo!”, real estate moguls, artists wrote me. J Soul Brothers Omi wrote me and was like “I was always a fan, can I do something with you guys?” This really random set of people, and not just from Japan but even people from the states. I didn’t even know they knew m-flo so it was really nice. And fans online too, the stuff they write is really encouraging and it’s a testament that this is right thing we’re doing. We’re really excited to make more songs, for them.

Taku: The cool thing I realized in the Youtube comments was that there are both Japanese and English reactions to it. So many positive and encouraging comments from all around the world. It really means a lot to us and we are seriously trying to go around the world to meet you guys. Thank you so much for your support.

Feeling more refreshed than perhaps ever before, it really does feel like 2018 is going to be the year of m-flo. Sitting on top of the iTunes charts at #1 with the release of ‘the tripod e.p.2, topping the YouTube Japan trending charts with the music video for “No Question,” and crafting the soundtrack for the upcoming “Last Winter, We Parted” film, we can’t wait to see where the tripod go next.

If you’re interested in checking out “the tripod e.p.2,’ it’s available for streaming and purchase here.

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Animator Kojo Tanno is Crafting Mysterious and Dreamy Shorts

May 22, 2018 3:00pm
by Lizzy Zhang

Do you enjoy the kind of abstract, dialogue-less, post-or-near-apocalyptic, heavy impending-doom-vibe type of story that hits all of the right spots? Did you enjoy ‎Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, Minetarō Mochizuki’s Dragon Head, or all the mysterious hallways and special abilities in Kazuma Kondou’s Deadman Wonderland? Independent animator Kojo Tanno is creating brief clips that capture such aesthetic with a thick air of mystery, all from his home in Nagasaki.

I really don’t feel as if I can properly put his works into words that will do them justice, so check out this short video:
 


A Google search for Tanno will yields mostly ambiguous results, including long-since archived articles by sites such as Crunchyroll and Anime News Network covering his video “VIEW” from 2012. There are quite large gaps between his uploads, with his first Youtube upload, “SAYONARA, WATASHI...” being from well over 9 years ago to date. Since then, however, Kojo Tanno has uploaded a total of 14 videos to his YouTube channel, his most popular being “JOSHI ni tsuite (Regarding Girls) that holds its ground at nearly a million views:
 

With all that being said, however, it's his recent video “QUARANTINE” that has been making its rounds on Twitter as of late. Since its initial posting this past February, I've been digging deeper and deeper into his works, leading me to his recently launched Patreon. Contributors are granted the ability to see his filmmaking progress, ask questions, and buy exclusive merch that he makes available only to patrons. With his Patreon, Tanno aims to gain funds to produce his own film, something that longtime fans have probably been waiting for almost 10 years now. 

Kojo Tanno’s works often have non-conclusive endings that leave your mind to fill in the rest of the story. The symbolism in each video is left to the viewer to contemplate. He’s definitely a mysterious guy, and I’m personally really excited to see where he takes the rest of “QUARANTINE”. If you’d like to follow along as well, be sure to check out Kojo Tanno’s Twitter for updates and occasional livestreams. If you’d like to contribute a little bit every month to his filmmaking, you can find his official Patreon, here

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New ‘Hunter x Hunter’ Collaboration Earring Unveiled

May 22, 2018 2:00pm
by Jacob Parker-Dalton

Togashi Yoshihiro’s Hunter x Hunter isn’t the sort of series that gets a lot of merchandise, but that just means that it’s always a special time when some does come out - even when it hits a little too close to home.

Contains spoilers for Hunter x Hunter.

A new collaboration piercing was unveiled today, and it’s not what you’d expect, like a replica of Chrollo Lucifer’s earrings, or even Kurapika’s for that matter. Instead, the iconic and heartbreaking adult form of Gon Freecss - playfully called ‘Gon-san - which he transforms into after giving into his rage and trauma following the revelation that Kite cannot be brought back following despite Neferpitou’s healing powers, is now available to hang on your earlobes.

Coming in at around 3000 yen for the normal version and 10,000 yen for the ‘high-end model,’ the earring highlights Gon’s extremely long hair in this form - making the piercing very long, around 90mm in fact. Depending on how your ears are pierced and your personal preference, you can also choose between an earring and piercing design for the part that attaches to the earlobe. Wearing just one of the unique ear pieces looks great, as shown below, but you can also buy a pair of them. Pre-orders will be open until August 5 on Premium Bandai’s website.



Seeing such a heartbreaking and iconic part of the series turned into an accessory was surprising to hear at first, but after seeing images of the design, I must admit that it definitely makes for a rather unique accessory. That being said, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen Gon’s adult form turned into apparel, as he also made an appearance on one of the Jump 50th Anniversary Uniqlo collaboration shirts. These shirts have quickly made themselves at home in my closet, so I suppose wearing an earring of Gon-san isn’t a step that much further removed - even if it is a little bit close to home.

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MONDO GROSSO Shares New Music Video for 'One Temperature'

May 22, 2018 1:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Following up from the March 21, 2018, release of MONDO GROSSO's seventh studio album, "Attune / Detune," the legendary producer is back with their latest collaborative music video alongside Big-O, "One Temperature". Shared via the official avex YouTube channel earlier today, the music video utilizes a number of 90s filmography techniques to create the perfect throwback sound to accompany the song's hip-hop lyrical basis. Let's take a look at the music video below:
 


Released within the nine-track album "Attune / Detune" that released earlier this year, "One Temperature" takes MONDO GROSSO's signature sound to fresh places, something that rung especially true across the whole album. I couldn't picture the track with vocals from anyone else, either, as Big-O lets the lyrics flow in a manner only he can execute so well. There's little room for error on this track, as well as the rest of the album, and this one is definitely going to be bopping for days on end. 

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Puma x Sega Sonic & Dr. Eggman Sneakers to Release June 5

May 22, 2018 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

It was just a short period of time ago during the month of March that the world was first teased with initial images of SEGA and Puma's collaborative Sonic the Hedgehog sneakers. The initial pixelated imagery left a lot to the imagination, but it wasn't until earlier today that we finally got our first real look at the RS-0 Sonic and RS-0 Dr. Eggman sneakers, as well as their release date and price point. Set to hit the streets on June 5, 2018, at a total cost of $130 USD, the sneakers are a mostly subtle throwback to a couple of gamings most iconic characters. 
 


Initial impressions of the sneakers are scattered and mixed, with some in love with the inspired designs and colorways, while others are finding faults in the "high price point" and material choices. While I sit on the positive side of the fence when it comes to this one, I will admit I'm not exactly jumping at the initial images of the materials, though that could change when I actually get to see a pair of these sneakers in person. I can't picture everyone picking these up as everyday pieces, but I'm sure any fan of the series could incorporate them quite well.

Set to be made available worldwide from June 5 at a price point of $130 USD, you'll likely want to jump on these early before they sell out. Those interested in picking up a pair can make their way to the official website for further information.

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‘Steins;Gate 0’ Takes Over Akihabara With Collaboration Events

May 21, 2018 4:00pm
by Jacob Parker-Dalton

Akihabara is featured in many anime, but I think it’s safe to say that none of them have been as effective at advertising the otaku hub as the science-fiction adventure series Steins;Gate.

The way that Okabe, Mayuri, Daru et al. are situated so well in the locale has gone a long way in making the area an integral part of the series. This, along with the excellent storytelling and character writing, has been an excellent advertisement for the otaku hub since the original game’s release to critical praise in 2009. For me as well, experiencing the same locale as the characters of Steins;Gate and being able to feel the spirit of the series in the area is a key part of why I love it so much.

That being said, with the new Steins;Gate 0 anime beginning it’s broadcast this season, it seems only fitting that the whole city mobilizes to advertise it. And so it has - not just with billboards on the Sofmap and Sega buildings, but with a multitude of collaboration events and goods also.

Running until May 31, the first major collaboration is with the AR app “Butai Meguri,” which will be using Akihabara as it’s playing field for a new Steins;Gate themed adventure titled “OPERATION;HEPHAISTOS.” This is actually the second time the app has crossed over with the series, previously running an event in Saitama. By using the app and visiting iconic Akihabara locations such as Chuo-Dori and Animate, players will receive a free badge set featuring Kurisu and Maho. There are only eight locations to visit, and anyone familiar with the area will probably be able to do it in no time, so it definitely seems worth giving a go.

During the time of this event, there are also plenty of food-related events scheduled. Firstly, Cafe Mailish is holding a special event to in honor of the “Supa Hacka” himself, Daru. It will feature a special themed menu as well as a gallery for the loveable otaku himself. An odd choice perhaps, but not when you realize that Daru’s birthday was actually on May 19 - so I’d like to think that we’re throwing the often unappreciated Daru a birthday party.

Kanazawa-style curry chain GOGO Curry will also be serving up a special collaboration curry and clear file in their Chuo-Dori store. The curry utilizes fried chicken - an ode to Mayuri’s own love for “Juicy Karaage Number One” - which is in turn drizzled with a yellow sauce, named “Gelsauce” after the “gelbananas” of the first series. I was able to sample the dish, and as usual, the curry was excellent, but what made it even better was the clear file that came with it. The humorous design features Okabe holding some GOGO curry and Kurisu with one of their signature forks. This collaboration curry will set you back 1200 yen, a little expensive but definitely worth it.

Even if you’re just walking around Akihabara, not aiming to participate in any of the above events, it seems almost impossible to escape the series at the minute - many of the vending machines have been adorned with Steins;Gate characters, Dr. Pepper is doing a crossover with the series, and even without any explicit reference to the series, it seems as though Steins;Gate has once more entered into the soul of Akihabara. As it should be.

For more details on collaboration events, check out the official website

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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is Coming to Nintendo Switch... Via Streaming

May 21, 2018 3:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

In a weird turn of events, Capcom announced earlier today that they're bringing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard to Nintendo Switch in Japan on May 24, 2018, but only a version of the game that has to be streamed via their cloud servers. If that wasn't odd enough, beyond the fact that you're streaming the game, at no point will you actually "own" the title, with Capcom requiring players buy 180 day passes at the price of 2,000 yen every half-a-year. 
 


Those interested in playing the game will be able to simply go to the JP Nintendo eShop and download the 45mb Resident Evil cloud application, beginning the initial 15-minute trial before deciding if they want to purchase the full game pass. Included in the cloud version of the game, players will have access to all available DLC including Banned Footage Vol. 1 & 2, End of Zoe, and Not A Hero. Players are recommended to either have a 5ghz router or be using ethernet to enjoy a stable experience, though internet speeds will definitely be a major factor.

While it isn't particularly a standard in the West, nor in most of the world just yet, cloud streamed games have unfortunately been gaining more and more traction over here in Japan. Just recently we saw the launch of Phantasy Star Online 2 for the Nintendo Switch running on a similar cloud streaming platform. In my personal experience with that title, in particular, the game was riddled with lag and delays which effectively rendered it unplayable for the better part. We'll definitely have to see how Resident Evil 7 performs, especially if it is following that same path. 

While there's currently no official word of a Western release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard on Nintendo Switch in the West, and we quite strongly doubt there ever will be in this format, we'll be sure to keep you up to date if any information does arise. Until then, we'll be giving the Japanese eShop version a try. Those interested in checking out further information can find it via the official website.

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FLCL Progressive Receives New Trailer Ahead of June Premiere

May 21, 2018 2:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

The countdown has begun and we're officially less than two weeks away from the June 2 premiere of Toonami's FLCL Progressive. In preparation for the story that's about to unfold before our very eyes, Adult Swim has begun streaming the first English dubbed trailer for the series. The first entry into two brand new FLCL stories, FLCL Progressive follows 14-year-old schoolgirl Hidomi as her life takes a turn for the weird as we're taken through the wild ride that is adolescence. Let's take a look at the new trailer below:
 


Set to premiere on Adult Swim's Toonami block on June 2nd, 12:00 am (Eastern Time), FLCL Progressive will consist of a total of six episodes. Viewers in Japan will have it a little differently, however, with the show set to release as a single film that will actually come out after the other story, FLCL Alternative. Reasoning and structure behind this are currently unknown, but that could make for an interesting twist amongst international discussion. Toonami describes the series below:

FLCL Progressive tells the story of 14-year-old Hidomi, her classmate Ide, and two otherworldly beings, "Jinyu" and "Haruha Raharu," who are determined to unlock their hidden potential. Mixed up in this is an all-powerful force known as "ATOMSK," a gorgeous vintage car... and a certain Vespa Scooter.

For many international anime fans, the original FLCL acted as a cornerstone in their developmental years alongside the anime medium. Now over 18-years since the original series aired on television, we're given the opportunity to expose an entirely new audience to such an important series in fresh and exciting ways. With less than two weeks to wait until the series finally premieres, we'll be sure to keep you updated as further information is revealed. Until then, be sure to check out the official website.

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