Japan

The One With The Yokai Guy

The One With The Yokai Guy
Kaiju Curry House

 
 
00:00 / 66:28
 
1X
 

Episode 12

Hi there UK Kaiju fans, episode 12 is ready for your ears, “The One With The Yokai Guy” is now available for you to download and/or stream.

This (dare I say) is our most interesting episode yet. Matthew Meyer aka The Yokai Guy, who has published 3 books and runs a successful patreon (https://www.patreon.com/osarusan) comes on the show to talk about his passion, Yokai, which are strange and supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore. Some of these share similarities with certain kaiju you might know.

You can see some of the wonderful art work and find out more information about Matthews work over at http://www.yokai.com/

Now sadly Joe and I both had things going on, so we were unable to join in on this episode. However Alex does a stella job of holding the fort and it works well for a tight interview that stays on topic. It also made a nice change for me to listen to an episode with not knowing what to expect. Highlights for myself include spider babies the size of people, and Mario Bros…I won’t say any more!

I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I did!

Further info

As you (may or may not) know we have created this podcast not only because it’s fun for us to talk kaiju, but also because we want to engage with like minded people. So don’t be shy and feel free to get in touch!

If you’re just discovering us, Kaiju Curry House is a new podcast series under the Heroes Podcast Network umbrella.

Comment below or hit us up @UKKaiju on Twitter!

Where to get more

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show now on Spotify and Spreaker! The links are below!

Stop by our Patreon to see what kinds of cool perks you can get for being one of our contributors: patreon.com/HeroesPodcasts

Not ready for that kind of commitment? No problem! Buy us a coffee over at ko-fi.com/heroespodcasts because every dollar truly does help.

Kaiju Curry House Podcast Credits

A Heroes Podcast Network Production

Hosts: Paul Williams | Joe McIntee | Alex James

Executive Producer: Derreck Mayer

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/kaiju-curry-house/id1459048709

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5UvHH6EmPAskdSReJrL1aC

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iv2x4bjhcjonyxmurgea2qm5iky

Spreaker: https://www.spreaker.com/show/3468342

RSS Feed: http://heroespodcasts.com/feed/podcast/kaiju-curry-house

Social Media: @UKKaiju | @HeroesPodcasts

Pokémon GO from Nintendo: Details

Have you heard of Pokémon GO yet? Well, if you haven’t, I’m genuinely surprised. Since its announcement, Pokémon GO has become one of the most anticipated games the franchise has ever produced.  Why is that? Because you are no longer playing in Pallet Town or Lumiose City. You’re playing where you live!

By downloading the game to your smart device, your world will be transformed into a world of Pokémon. Just by taking a walk outside, you’ll encounter wild Pokémon. Your device will alert you to any Pokémon within your range and it will be up to you to catch them! However, just as within the games, it’s up to you to be careful; not all Pokémon are captured easily.

As you travel your neighborhood, your city, your country, your planet, you’ll come across new Pokémon with each new journey. In the previous games, you could only find certain Pokémon in particular regions, which is a feature that carries over to the real-life interactive version as well. For example, would you like to catch some water Pokémon? Try visiting a lake or an ocean. How about some rock type Pokémon? Traveling to a mountain range would be an ideal place to go for those.

Pokemon Go Screen Examples

The game also includes other methods of finding Pokémon. By visiting historical markers, monuments, and art installations, you’ll also be visiting PokeStops.  These locations will provide you with special Pokeballs and Pokémon eggs.  When you find an egg, eventually it will hatch with enough walking. In a similar effort, by capturing multiples of the Pokemon, you’ll be able to evolve one of them.

At some point in your journey, you’ll be asked to join one of three teams. Afterwards, you’ll be able to store your Pokémon at empty Gyms, or Gyms where your teammates have stored their Pokémon. Like Pokestops, Gyms will be actual physical locations and each Gym will only be able to hold one of your Pokémon, which encourages you to work with your teammates during battles. If a Gym has been claimed, you’ll be able to challenge that Gym for control.

Pokemon Go Plus

The app will be enhanced with various challenges to get medals, a separate bluetooth device called the Pokémon GO Plus, and in-app purchases. Currently, the app is available for a limited time in Japan but a global release is planned shortly. We don’t know what the in-app purchases will be yet but my guess is, you can use real money to purchase more and higher quality pokeballs to help you catch more Pokémon.

For those of you aware of AR (augmented reality) games, yes, this is one of those. It looks to be a more advanced, at least visually, version of Google’s Ingress, leveraging Geocaching.

Are you interested in Pokémon GO? Will you pick up the Pokémon GO Plus wristband or download the app to your mobile device? Comment below!

More information is available on the officially website here.

Pokémon GO from Nintendo: Details

The Man in the High Castle Review

Overview

The Man in the High Castle is an Alternate History TV Series created by Amazon Studios based on a novel of the same name by Phillip K. Dick.  The Pilot episode for the series was released early back in January, and was Amazon’s most watched pilot ever.  The rest of the first season became available for streaming November 20th.

The core premise of the series stems from the question of what would happen if the Axis won World War II instead of the Allied Forces.  Set in 1962, we follow the stories of several characters living in a conquered Americas.  Following the European Campaign, Germany and Japan both successfully invaded the United States.  Germany now controls everything from the East Coast through the Midwest, Japan controls the West Coast up to the Rockies, and a small neutral buffer between the two vassal states exists along the Rocky Mountains.

What America looks like in this reality in 1962

What America looks like in this reality in 1962

The thing that drives the plot is a series of films of unknown origin.  The first film introduced in the Pilot entitled “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy” is part of a series of videos being collected by someone known as “The Man in the High Castle”.  Hitler, who is still alive, also wants these videos, and a small group of resistance fighters try to do all they can to steal the films, which they deliver to The Man in the High Castle.  He, in exchange, apparently gives them some form of actionable intelligence they use to try and hinder the Nazi and Japanese regimes as best they can.

The story revolves around really three entities:  the Nazi leadership tasked with recovering the films and crushing the Resistance; The Resistance effort whose numbers are constantly diminishing, and the Japanese leadership, focusing on the Kempeitai (State Police) and the Japanese Trade Ministry.  In addition to the struggle for the films, the failing health of Hitler, who apparently has Parkinson’s Disease, sets up the potential for a power vacuum and the threat of war between the Japanese and Germans, who have a strong Cold War dynamic, though Japan lags significantly behind Germany in terms of military strength and technology.  This all creates an amazing tension that simmers through the entire season.

Primary Cast

The Cast of The Man in the High Castle

The Cast of The Man in the High Castle

AlexaDavalosJuliana Crane played by Alexa Davalos

Juliana gets involved with the Resistance following the sudden death of her sister Trudy in the beginning of the pilot episode.  Despite her mother’s hatred for the Japanese, she studies aikido and is friendly with the Japanese people.  Determined to figure out what her sister was caught up in, Juliana takes the film Trudy was carrying and tries to take her place to deliver the film to the Resistance in the Neutral States.

 

 

LukeKleintankJoe Blake played by Luke Kleintank

Joe begins the Pilot as a new recruit for the Resistance, secretly placed there by the SS to give intelligence on the Resistance and recover the films the Resistance possesses.  He quickly meets up with Juliana, and he starts to help her not realizing she may be the person he was sent to find.

 

 

RupertEvansFrank Frink played by Rupert Evans

Frank is Juliana’s live-in boyfriend, and works at a factory that creates pre-war ‘antiques’ prized by Japanese collectors.  His grandfather was Jewish, which makes things particularly dangerous for him when he is arrested following Trudy’s death and Juliana’s disappearance.

 

 

RufusSewellSS Obergruppenführer John Smith played by Rufus Sewell

Obergruppenführer (The second highest rank possible in the SS behind only Himmler) Smith is investigating the Resistance in New York, and is one of the most senior Nazi leaders in America.  His reach is long, his methods are brutally efficient, and it’s through Smith we get most of our insights into how the American Occupation functions in the show.  I would be incredibly surprised if Sewell’s acting doesn’t lead to some sort of award recognition, as he is easily one of the most compelling characters in the show.

 

CaryHiroyukiTanawaNobusuke Tagomi played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Tagomi is the Trade Minister for the Pacific States of America.  He has a close relationship with the Japanese Crown Prince and Princess, and is a man of considerable influence among Japanese Leadership in America.  He serves to provide our insight into the Japanese mindset and culture in this world.

 

 

JoeldelaFuenteChief Inspector Kido played by Joel de la Fuente

Kido is the head of the Kempeitai stationed in San Fransisco.  We are introduced to him as he takes Frank into custody in the Pilot.  He’s probably the closest counterpart to Obergruppenführer Smith among the Japanese, and is emotionless in his role as agent of the state security.

 

 

Thoughts on the Series (Spoiler Free)

The setting is clearly one of the stars of the show.  All the good and bad from both cultures is strongly on display here, even though some aspects don’t play out as we might have anticipated them.  For example, we think of Japan as a technological powerhouse, but forget that much of that emerged from the post-War reconstruction effort in Japan.  Since that didn’t take place, the reality of Japan being far behind Germany technologically is not just a reality, but a plot device that works well.  There are lovely subtleties like classic songs from the 50s that now have either Japanese or German lyrics instead.  Instead of the 4th of July, you get VA day (Victory over the Americas), complete with fireworks.

There are also the darker elements from each culture that show up as well, such as the continued pursuit of the eradication of the Jewish people, the euthanizing of the mentally and physically handicapped, casual racism and sexism, and the continued practice of ritual seppuku.  There are obviously swastikas everywhere, and while violence and oppression is a stark theme, the show isn’t all that violent aside from a few jarring moments.  The reality of America as an oppressed nation is conveyed well, and explored in interesting ways.

Get used to seeing a LOT of these...

Get used to seeing a LOT of these…

In terms of pacing, the show is much more of a slow burn.  While I felt engaged the entire time, the writers clearly were in no rush to push the plot forward quickly.  This gives the viewer a nice time to feel the tension between Japan and Germany, and it gives that conflict weight.  My only real complaint is that I wish the world felt a little larger.  Our story primarily takes place in three locations, San Francisco, New York, and Canon City.  Each of those cities has its own feel that works, and all feel believable, but the focus on everything happening between those three cities left me wondering why they kept their world so narrow.  There’s also a fairly pronounced tonal shift between the first four episodes and the last half of the season.  I’m not sure what the reason for this is, and if you binge watch I’m not sure how pronounced that will feel, but it made some of the events from the first half of the season feel a little disconnected from events in the second half.

The acting is of course fantastic.  The standouts of the series to me are Rufus Sewell and Cary-Hiroyuki Tanawa.  Sewell’s character arc is easily the most fascinating, which I won’t spoil here, but he makes easily the most empathetic Nazi I’ve ever seen portrayed on screen.  He’s intelligent, cunning, and committed, but also very human.  Tanawa in contrast lends a real gravity to his role.  He’s wise, and insightful, and committed in his own way.

maninhighcastleheader

As for our young trio of characters, each of them has great stories and chance to shine, though each has moments that can occasionally feel a little unearned or uneven.  Overall, there’s not much room to complain here, even though Joe’s background feels a little vague.  Each of the characters is pressed to make difficult choices or respond to difficult challenges, and their growth over the course of the season is really riveting.

I highly recommend this show.  The performances are great, the concept is fascinating, and unlike many young series, they don’t give away much.  Since the setting is an alternate timeline, and they go to lengths to establish that other timelines exist, I’m not sure yet how strongly they intend to push into the science fiction or fantasy explanations of how that might be, but I’m glad they held off in the way they did, or it might have undercut the premise to begin with.  The season ends with a Lost-worthy cliffhanger that leaves TONS of unanswered questions, and I can’t wait for the next season to come out.

If you’ve already finished the series, feel free to check out some additional SPOILER FILLED thoughts below, or come back once you have and let me know what you think.

Thoughts on the Series (Contains Spoilers)

First, let’s talk about those films.  We’re shown two, and a third is described to us.  The first represents News Reels from our timeline of events showing the Allies winning the war.  The second, which Joe only describes, is a Propaganda video created by Stalin in 1954.  In our timeline, he died in 1953, and in the show timeline he died in 1949.  Then we get the third video that shows San Francisco being nuked, and Joe as a Nazi executing Frank in a potential future outcome.  Then, in the Finale, we see Hitler with rolls and rolls of film, and seemingly possessing keen insights into what’s going on around him.  Is Hitler “The Man in the High Castle”?  If not, who is?  Where do all these films come from?  We don’t find out, not even a little.  That was a little frustrating.

Speaking of alternate realities, Trade Minister Tagomi meditating himself into an alternate reality (that look close to our own, if not actually our own), was probably the most shocking outcome of the finale.  So many questions…

Then, isn’t Rufus Sewell’s performance amazing?  His acting when they first inform him of his son’s health problems is certainly award-worthy, and sets up the potential for some interesting growth.  His character has an almost George R. R. Martin-type arc, where he begins the series as a villain, but by the end of the series, you’re really rooting for him.  He, too, ends the season left at quite a crossroads.

man-in-the-high-castle-nazi_article_story_large

I didn’t really care for the Resistance-heavy arcs as much (though Burn Gorman’s turn as the Marshall was amazing and terrifying at the same time).  From our three young protagonists, Frank’s arc was easily the most difficult, but the most consistent.  Juliana’s character oscillates too much between devastated and fearless, though I certainly liked her character.  I’m not sure, though, what the though was behind introducing the not-a-family that Joe has back in New York.  Since they only show up for part of an episode, and he’s mostly rude to them, the only thing I can conclude is they’ll be more important in a future season, possibly?

There are of course numerous side characters who play interesting roles.  Carsten Norgaard gives a great performance as Baynes/Wegener, and his farewell to him family is heartbreaking.  I have no idea what the point was for the Antiques dealer.  Aside from helping to provide money to Frank at one point, he got an awful lot of screen time that seemed totally irrelevant.  Franks friend Ed (played by DJ Qualls) felt very one dimensional, and seemed to only serve to be Frank’s conscience.  Frank’s willingness to spare him at the end seemed a little out of place for me, and of course, we will also have to wait for next season to see how that arc plays out.

It may sound like I’m being pretty critical, but I did really enjoy the show.  I truly have no idea what direction the show will take in the second season, but I love the setting, and there are certainly a lot of interesting places they could take the story.

Final Rating:  4.5 / 5 UFOs

The Grid Rating Saucer 4.5

So that’s it for my review of The Man in the High Castle.  Have you seen it yet?  What were your thoughts?  Let me know down in the comments below.

The Man in the High Castle Review

Ju-On: The Grudge Reviewed

Due to my increased interest in certain types of horror, I took a chance and watched Ju-On: The Grudge, the infamous Japanese film that is often credited as being one of the scariest films of all time. However, this is plainly not the case.

For brevity and clarity’s sake, this will only be an overview type of review without too many specifics.

Jo-On: The Grudge Review: With Spoilers

Ju-On: The Grudge

Ju-On: The Grudge follows a set of Japanese people that are all affected by a curse known as The Grudge that, once it has touched a person’s life, will follow them and eventually kill them. The Grudge curse was supposedly created when a man killed his wife and child after learning of her infidelity which then led to his death when his wife’s ghost returns to seek vengeance. While this basic premise may seem like a good grounded concept for a horror movie, and it is, the execution simply led to a bland product devoid of scares or even a decent storyline.

Once The Grudge’s origin is shown at the very beginning of the film, the rest of Ju-On follows several people all of whom are, in some way, touched by the ghostly presence that resides in the house where the curse originated. However, the film presents several different segments that do not follow a strict chronology with each segment following a different character. The beginnings of each segment usually show the character living their life normally until they come into contact with The Grudge that eventually leads to their deaths at the hands of one of the three main ghosts. In the later segments, other ghosts of those who died in previous segments also make appearances although their existences are essentially without much consequence. While the segmented storyline with its overlapping timelines could have worked to show how deep this curse has woven itself into the house and those around it, its style simply did not work as well as it should and the result ended up simply rather confusing.

Since much of the film essentially repeats itself over and over with the different characters, I shall digress to discussing the ending. The ending of Ju-On: The Grudge was one that had enough potential to work as a twist ending but upon further analysis, ended up just as bland as the rest. The final character to have a segment in this film eventually finds herself in the ghost-infested house being encroached upon by the wife ghost and then a curious scene happens. A series of flashbacks show the wife ghost, curiously missing her ghastly appearance and looking more like a normal woman and mother, as she has been stalking this final victim. To me, this scene suggested that perhaps the wife ghost has not been killing anyone but rather had been attempting to warn people from the rage of the husband ghost who had not been seen since his murders at the beginning. Had this been the case, I would credit Ju-On with having a delightful twist that, while not having many substantial scares, that would have made the film worth it. However, upon remembering the rest of the film, it is clear that the wife ghost had been killing several people and that theory simply didn’t hold water. This was also substantiated by the intense research I put into this film upon finishing.

———–Spoilers End———

Overall, the concept of the film had promise and could have delivered a unique spin on films that deal with haunted houses and the like but ultimately, the film simply dredged on and had nothing special that made it worth watching.

Do you remember Jo-On: The Grudge? Did you like it? Hate it? Comment below with your thoughts.

Ju-On: The Grudge Reviewed