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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, 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, 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.


Kenshi Yonezu Releases Latest Music Video 'Flamingo'

October 22, 2018 2:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Earlier this week saw the release of Kenshi Yonezu's long-awaited ninth single, a sadistically playful tune by the name "Flamingo". Accompanied by an all-new music video which debuted on the rapidly-rising talents YouTube channel, "Flamingo" was joined by the announcement of two other songs composing the three-track single release that is set to drop on October 31, 2018. 

Shot in and around the parking lot that plays host to the adorably hidden Chinese restaurant Derika, the music video for "Flamingo" is the perfect match for the tone set by Kenshi Yonezu's lyrics. Getting straight to the point, "Flamingo" is very much a Yonezu song, but that's by no means a problem. Much like previous releases, "Flamingo" is a story expressed not just through song, but also Kenshi Yonezu's expressive movements and off-color music video.

It's totally questionable whether Kenshi Yonezu himself, or music video director Tomokazu Yamada, is an avid follower of Twitter trends, but I found myself immediately grabbing my phone when I noticed the filming location for this video -- it was all too familiar. As it turns out, this exact spot was the center of a recent viral tweet in Japan detailing the restaurant and sharing praise for its off-trail location and cheap prices. Well, either that or he's a diehard fan of Hiroshi Fujiwara, given it was this exact store that inspired him to launch his The Park-ing pop-up store in Ginza following his chance encounter with Derika while returning to his car.

Either way, there remains no doubt to the testament that Kenshi Yonezu is one of the biggest talents in Japan right now, and that's a trend that isn't looking to slow down any time soon. Several months ago the airwaves were filled with "Lemon", Yonezu's eighth single and a major turning point for the artist. Whether it was on television or the streets of Tokyo, your favorite music stores, or even arcades, you couldn't step anywhere without hearing Kenshi Yonezu's infectious life-after-loss ballad.

While it remains to be seen if "Flamingo" will have the same lasting effect, this certainly won't be the first time I've had a song called "Flamingo"  stuck in my head for weeks on end. 


PlayStation Releases Lineup Video ft. Taku Takahashi, YUC'e, hy4_4yh, Kamura Micau

October 22, 2018 1:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

There's no denying it when I say that PlayStation Japan absolutely kills it with their lineup videos each and every time they're uploaded, regardless of what console you have your hands on. Consistently bringing on some of the biggest names in the Japanese music scene, we've seen anybody from banvox to tofubeats, with this latest four-person combo taking things to new heights. Bringing together the respective talents of Taku Takahashi, YUC'e, hy4_4yh, and Kamura Micau all together for a four-and-a-half-minute fever-dream, the video can be checked out below:

Filled to the brim with rave stabs and other high energy elements, we're sped through nineteen upcoming and currently available titles at lightspeed to the flow of rap duo hy4_4yh and Kamura Micau layered over Taku Takahashi and YUC'e's signature sounds. If you're familiar with these trailers, you likely already know what's going on, PlayStation Japan throws their most anticipated upcoming titles at you all at once while you're left bouncing around your room to whatever incredibly produced track they bring forward this time. It's a formula that's still yet to disappoint, though this certainly does raise the bar.

We're of course seeing a number of titles in the lineup that I can't wait to get my hands on, including SEGA's upcoming JUDGE EYES, as well as Square Enix's much-anticipated Dragon Quest Builders 2, so that ends up amplifying the hype by about a million. With such a flavorful mix of both veteran and up-and-coming musicians brought together for this video, it'll definitely be interesting to see how PlayStation Japan one-up's themselves next time. Now we just wait and see who's next.


Kindan no Tasuketsu Release 'Early Years 2012-2016' Compilation Album

October 22, 2018 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Alternative pop music group Kindan no Tasuketsu are a difficult group to digest, and an equally difficult group to understand. Their music is seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time, and it remains truly difficult to really describe their activities with any level of comprehensive understanding. I've attempted a few times in the past to share their music, most of which I listen to a whole lot, but I just genuinely couldn't put words together to describe the group. But here I am once again, giving it a shot, following the release of their latest compilation album "Early Years 2012-2016". 

For a band that's constantly evolving, four years is a massively expansive time to compile; yet across a tracklist spanning twenty-six tracks, Kindan no Tasuketsu piece together a semi-coherent image of their history through sound. I had most definitely not heard every single one of those aforementioned twenty-six tracks, which honestly made the whole listen-through all the more exciting. There are a few tracks that the group obviously want you to direct your attention to, including the fittingly dreamy single "nemui" which originally released in 2012, having received its own music video earlier this week.

It'd be slightly odd for a group to suddenly drop a compilation album like this, were they not teasing a "season 4" of Kindan no Tasuketsu via their various social media accounts. So with an entire "season" of new music on the way from the group, it's cozy being able to divulge in their history via the "Early Years 2012-2016" album. We're sure we'll be seeing more music in the coming months -- if not weeks -- so we'll be sure to keep you updated when it finally drops. Until then, you can check out even more information on the group via their official website.


Latest Pokémon: Let's Go! Trailer Reveals Post-Game Master Trainers

October 19, 2018 2:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

It was just earlier this week that I was sharing some news about the release of a new trailer for Game Freak's upcoming Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! titles on Nintendo Switch, but it doesn't look like The Pokémon Company is ready to stop dropping teasers just yet. Uploaded to The Pokémon Company's official YouTube channel, the latest trailer gives us a look at some of the post-game content we'll be able to enjoy, namely the "Master Trainers" system that's being implemented.

I'm not really sure how cool I am with post-game content just being shown like this, I actually like a bit of surprise, but none-the-less it's pretty neat to see in action. The new "Master Trainers" system effectively introduces a master for each of the original 151 different Pokémon, a trainer that specializes in that Pokémon exclusively, who you can battle with that same Pokémon to earn the title of "Master Trainer". It's a really interesting system, though I really hope that the game doesn't provide you with the particular Pokémon for the battle and leaves trainers catching and training their own. 

Set to release exclusively on Nintendo Switch on November 16, further information on both ​Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! can be found via the games' official website. Those interested in getting their hands on the upcoming games, as well as a limited-edition Pokémon: Let's Go! Nintendo Switch, be sure to check out our ongoing giveaway, here.


NASA Announces Designated 'Godzilla' Constellation

October 19, 2018 1:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

One of the more interesting pieces of information to cap off the working week, NASA has officially announced an all-new constellation that you can spend your time looking for in the sky -- the King of Monsters itself, Godzilla. The pop cultural icon joins numerous other characters in the sky, bringing just a little more light to our night alongside Hulk, The Little Prince, Mt. Fuji, and mythological legends Hercules, Perseus, and more. I've never been too good with constellations, but a full visualization of the new Godzilla constellation can be seen below:

Made up of numerous likely blazar, a definite blazar, a starburst galaxy, a gamma-ray pulsar, and an unknown entity, the lining is much like other constellations in the fact that you'll definitely have much of your imagination do the work. NASA states on their official website to describe how the constellation came to be " Godzilla's trademark weapon is its "heat ray," a fiery jet. This bears at least a passing resemblance to gamma-ray jets associated with black holes and neutron stars."

Obviously there are a lot more technicalities to the Godzilla constellation that I'm not even going to bother trying to wrap my head around, but for those who are interested in checking it out, NASA has created a page to detail it all on their official website.


Funimation Annoucnes End of Licensing Agreement with Crunchyroll

October 19, 2018 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

In a somewhat shocking turn of events, it was announced today that Funimation will be ceasing operations with Crunchyroll beginning next month from November 9, 2018. The announcement comes just a year after the acquisition of the anime distributor by Sony Pictures Television, to which Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga shared that the acquisition directly correlates with the decision to stop collaborative efforts between the two companies. Originally announced in 2016, the partnership brought together the catalogs of both anime giants and allowed customers to reap the rewards of both services in numerous ways.

While subscribers to both platforms are likely to feel a little bit of a hit, it was shared by Funimation's Gen Fukunaga that FunimationNow subscribers will have access to several hundred subbed series, but are going to be losing a handful of dubbed series. In addition to this, some content licensed during the partnership will remain on both platforms for now, with currently simulcasting series such as My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan remaining on both platforms. Both platforms have shared that they will disclose what content will be removed at a later date.

While this is quite a substantial loss for Crunchyroll, it's been reported that the breakup was executed on good terms between both companies. In addition to this, it's been detailed that Crunchyroll's sister company VRV will be replacing FunimationNow on their streaming platform with content from anime streaming service HIDIVE in the next few weeks. While the timing for this new HIDIVE partnership seems like far too much of a coincidence, Forbes reports that insiders have stated it was unrelated.

It'll be interesting to see over the next few months how Sony plans to proceed following their withdrawal of Funimation from the Crunchyroll/VRV partnership. It wouldn't surprise me if this withdrawal is Sony's way of showing that they mean serious business when it comes to taking Funimation to the top, and that is something that will certainly prove interesting from an industry standpoint. Until we find out, however, you'll be able to keep up with everything Funimation on Crunchyroll until ​November 9, 2018. We'll be sure to keep you updated as further information is revealed. 

Source: Forbes, Funimation


‘Kaiji’ VR Game Heads to Smartphones

October 18, 2018 2:00pm
by Jacob Parker-Dalton

While fearing for my life isn’t usually my idea of fun, when it comes to Nobuyuki Fukumoto’s gambling series Kaiji, I can just about stomach some immobilizing dread. Indeed, nothing allows you to do so more than the Kaiji VR game, which has been a constant staple in Japan’s many “VR attraction” venues in recent years. Now, that attraction is making it’s way to smartphones - giving even more people the chance to experience Kaiji’s dread first hand.

Titled Kaiji VR: The Nightmare Bridge, the game seeks to replicate Kaiji’s experience crossing a bridge suspended between two buildings, as was one of the ‘gambles’ featured in the second part of the series. Simply reading or watching the arc was nerve-wracking enough, and I can promise you that it’s even more terrifying in VR, having had the opportunity to test it out for myself last year.

It’s worth noting that the VR game has already seen two ports for PlayStation VR as well as Nintendo Switch last year, but the game’s port to smartphones means greater accessibility, especially for those who can’t simply go and experience it in the VR attraction venues. And what a perfect time to do so, with Kaiji spinoff Tonegawa currently airing, and the manga having just entered a new arc.

The difference between the various ports over the years are interesting, as although the PSVR version of the game was more or less exactly the same as the original version since the Switch doesn’t support VR, the version available on the console uses a third person camera in some instances as well as gyro controls. I sincerely doubt that the non-VR version on Switch can capture the same dread you’re able to feel when playing the game in VR, so it’s great to see that version available on smartphones is the VR version - for which you’ll, of course, need some sort of VR goggles/phone strap.

The recent activity in properties related to Kaiji is curious, with both spinoff manga Tonegawa and Hancho receiving an anime adaptation, and now with this surprise smartphone port of the VR game. I can only hope that this is to gauge interest for a third season, so if you haven’t checked out the VR game yet, then I’d recommend you do - if only to tell MADHOUSE that we want a third season already. Kaiji VR: The Nightmare Bridge is available now on the App Store and Google Play for 360 yen.