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Podcast Plug: Japan Baseball Weekly

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One of the coolest podcasts out there is Japan Baseball Weekly hosted by Japan-based baseball reporter John E. Gibson (Twitter) and author and veteran sportswriter Jim Allen (Twitter).

Since 2011, both men have been reporting on Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and currently release an English podcast discussing the latest in Japanese pro baseball every Sunday (in the U.S.).

You can download their latest episode on iTunes or by clicking on John’s website here.

You can listen to this week’s episode here.

Kis-My-Ft2’s Miyata Toshiya is a huge “Love Live” fan that he had to wotagei for Pile

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In a recent episode of “UTAGE”, Kis-My-Ft2’s Miyata Toshiya showed off how much of a “Love Live” otaku he is.

And when the singer and voice actress for Nishikino Maki of “Love Live” performed on the series, he had to do his wotagei for her.

Photo of the Day: Takeshita Street in Harajuku

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For those who have never went to Tokyo, one of the locations one should visit is Takeshita Street in Harajuku.

Right when you get out of JR East’s Harajuku Station, go across the street and you will see a big alley full of people and shops.

There are a lot of shopping to be done at this location, also plenty of restaurants and cafe as well.

It’s an area where everything goes, so don’t be alarmed to see people who are trendy, people who are counter-culture and people dressed up anyway they want.

When I went to Takeshita-dori, the place has changed a lot since when I last went.  Back then, there was a heavy emphasis of visual kei and J-Pop with a lot of shops catering to music-related shops.  But now, it’s a location where it caters to everyone.  But also, many antenna shops for manufacturers to do their test-marketing.

And once you get to the end, keep walking a few blocks and you will enter the posh Omotesando Hills.

Photo by Dennis A. Amith, J!-ENT

Dennis A. Amith reviews Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko (DVD Review)

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I love the fact that Yokohama DeNA Baystars allowed the cameras to have access in areas where coaches and players usually never let them venture into. And I’m not sure if they or any team will ever allow it again. But this “Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko” mook/DVD release is a rarity and if you are a Yokohama DeNA Baystars fan or fan of Japanese baseball, then I easily recommend checking it out, especially now that you can purchase it for under $15.



TITLE: Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko

DURATION: 1:17:50 (not including special features)

DVD INFORMATION: Color, Dolby Digital, 16:9 LB

COMPANY: Kodansha

RELEASED DATE: November 28, 2014


内容紹介

『プロ野球の新たな魅力が凝縮されたドキュメンタリー「ダグアウトの向こう」で振り返る、中畑ベイスターズ3年間の軌跡』知 られざる野球の一面や魅力を伝えるために、横浜DeNAベイスターズが制作したドキュメンタリー『ダグアウトの向こう』。これまでメディアが足を踏み入れ ることのできなかった“禁断の地”ロッカー内や試合中のベンチ裏、移動バスの中などにカメラが密着したレアな映像から紡ぎだされた本作品は、選手たちが見 せるグラウンドでの華やかに活躍する姿とともに、その裏に隠されたダグアウトの向こう側にある喜びや苦しみのすべてを映し出した珠玉のドキュメンタリーで す。
本書は、『ダグアウトの向こう2014-今を生きるということ。』の完成記念として、『ダグアウトの向こう』を特別編集した映像とともに、中 畑ベイスターズの3年間の軌跡を振り返る、DVD付きマガジンです。DVDには、2012年、2013年に製作された2年分の「ダグアウトの向こう」特別 編集版に加え、中畑監督に2014年シーズンを語っていただいた独占インタビュー、さらにはそのインタビューに合わせた試合映像と密着映像で2014中畑 ベイスターズを振り返ります。その他、セルDVD未収録の映像も特典映像としてDVDに収録。

For Japanese baseball fans, Nakahata Kiyoshi will be remembered for his time as a player for the Yomiuri Giants (1976-1989).

He was also visible as a sports commentator and even dabbled in politics.

But Nakahata would return to baseball to help kick off the new chapter of the Yokohama Baystars as the company was purchased by the mobile portal site DeNA Co., Ltd.

Now called Yokohama DeNA Baystars, sporting a new logo, new mascots and new energy, would Nakahata’s Baystars do well in the Central League rankings?

To help usher in the new era of the Yokohama DeNA Baystars, an unprecedented documentary was created to showcase Nakahata’s team from 2012 through 2014.  Cameras were allowed into the locker room and dug out and fans will get to see what transpired behind-the-scenes with each win or loss.

And now the documentary is released in a mook/DVD titled “Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko” and you can see what happens beyond the dugout.

The mook comes with a case with twelve pages of content which includes an interview and shining moments from the three years with the Baystars.  But the majority of the content can be seen on the near 80-minute DVD.

The documentary kicks off with an interview with manager Nakahata Kiyoshi as he discusses challenges especially during a game against the Yomiuri Giants (note: the documentary shifts from the interview, to footage from the game and the players going into the dugout or to the locker room).

From Hirata Shingo giving up 10 runs in the eighth inning against the Yomiuri Giants when they had a five point lead, discussing the importance of pitching and the success of Yamaguchi Shun and Mikami Tomoya.  How Miura Daisuke would win the MVP and his playing ethic.

After discussing the importance of pitching, Hirata goes into the importance of batting and getting runs.  He discusses the signing of infielder Yulieski Gurriel and the power of Tsutsugo Yoshitomo.  But also discusses the future of the Baystars with bringing in people from the farm team after the team has suffered key injuries.

The second part of the documentary features the team dynamics and preparing big games against Hiroshima Carp’s Maeda Kenta and key games against the Hanshin Tigers and Yakult Swallows.  But also how the team had to deal with key injuries, especially team captain Ishikawa Takehiro.  But also discussing the challenges the team has faced and not being successful (as the Baystars would be in sixth place in 2012, fifth place in 2013 and 2014 in the Central League).

The third part of the documentary would focus on improvements that had to be made within the organization and feature the team going against the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers and finding success with their pitcher Ota Atori and how the team was starting to do well in the standings for a short while.  And how they would fine solid batting with Sekine Taiki and would end with the retirement of Koike Masaaki and his wonderful final-at-bat moment.

And despite the many ups and downs, the result remained the same and to show how the Baystars would once again end their 2014 year in 5th place.


With the release of “Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko”, there is no doubt that the documentary tries to capture the behind-the-scenes situations of a baseball club, what happens in the dugout and the locker room.

While in the United States, watching this type of footage for various sports is common, in Japan, it’s quite rare.

So, I was drawn to watching this documentary because of its unprecedented access but most of all, knowing that the Baystars has struggled since 2002 (with the exception of better standings in 2005 and 2007).

What I found interesting is how upbeat manager Nakahata Kiyoshi was at the beginning of the “Beyond the Dugout” experiment.  So much footage was on him, interviews was with him but you start to realize how much of that footage started to decrease and the focus became more on the players, what goes behind-the-scenes with key injuries, celebration of wins, agony of multiple loss and not being in sync.

Of course, having three difficult years to cover, to show positive sides of the team, we get to see more of the good than the bad, which is good.  You get to see players when they were hot, making home runs, catching difficult hits outfield and also seeing the older members shining, especially Miura becoming MVP and Koike’s retirement and final home run.

But for some unknown reason, the documentary is cut off at the end.  No closing footage but to show that the Baystars had another fifth place standing in 2014.  The narrator was cutoff and was surprised that it ended abruptly (I suspect they wanted to save more of the footage for the official “Dugout no Mukou” Blu-ray and DVD release).

Fortunately, you do get three special features showcasing extended sequences for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 season.  But also an eight-minute special feature about Shirasaki Hiroyuki and the player behind-the-scenes.

DVD quality for the most part picture quality is good (as one can expect on DVD), dialogue is clear via Dolby Digital with no major hissing.  But with that being said, on December 13th, a Blu-ray version of the documentary featuring longer scenes was released and can be purchased through the Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars official store at the stadium or on their website.

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Overall, aside from the abrupt end of the documentary and the fact that you had more talk towards the beginning of the documentary and more action and behind-the-scenes for the rest of the documentary, the fact is you are watching something that fans never get to see and that is what goes on behind-the-scenes for a Nippon Professional Baseball team.

The access the cameras were given was unprecedented but you realize that despite the Yokohama DeNA Baystars having struggles in those three years in the standing, it was challenging, frustrating but they tried to do the best with the players that they had, key injuries and more.

But I love the fact that Yokohama DeNA Baystars allowed the cameras to have access in areas where coaches and players usually never let them venture into.  And I’m not sure if they or any team will ever allow it again.

It’s important to emphasize that this is the Y1,700 Mook/DVD version that I am reviewing.  The Blu-ray release which costs around Y15,600 includes players audio commentary and even more footage.

But this “Nakahata Bay Star Zu 3 Nenkan No Kiseki Yokohama DeNA Bay Star Zu Koshiki Documentary Dugout No Muko” mook/DVD release is a rarity and if you are a Yokohama DeNA Baystars fan or fan of Japanese baseball, then I easily recommend checking it out, especially now that you can purchase it for under $15.



Photo of the Day: Yokohama from Landmark Tower’s Sky Garden

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One of the coolest places to shoot from in Japan, especially in Yokohama is the Landmark Tower’s Sky Garden.

Located on the top in the 69th floor is the Landmark Tower Yokohama observation deck (Yokohama Sky Promenade) which is 273m high.

The Landmark Tower has the fastest elevator in Japan as you can go 750m per minute and it only takes 40 seconds from the 2nd floor lobby to get on top.

The price is only Y1000 for adults, Y500 for junior high students, Y800 for high school students and seniors and Y200 for children.

Photo by Dennis A. Amith, J!-ENT

Ace Attorney 2 becomes a play!

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“Gyakuten Saiban” which is better known as “Ace Attorney” in the U.S. will be hitting the stage on April 29th through May 10th.  Watanabe Daisuke will play Phoenix Wright and Wada Takuma will be playing the role of Miles Edgeworth.

The play will be performed at the Tokyo Haiyuza Theater in Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo.

Dengeki Hobby to cease publication on May 25th, will focus on video releases

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Dengeki Hobby Magazine by ASCII Media Works (formerly Media Works) has entertained model fans since 1998.

But it was announced on April 24th that Dengeki Hobby Magazine will cease publication officially on May 25th (it’s July issue) and will focus on video which will be released on the official website.

If only Ultimate Fight Final Fantasy XIV was for real….

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If only “Ultimate Fight Final Fantasy XI” was for real but for now, it is a special trailer created by Square Enix to showcase the game engine and character assets for “Final Fantasy XIV”.

But still, an awesome trailer! (check out the video below)

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