Hassan Coker

90 Added | 4 Magazines | 4 Likes | 7 Following | 51 Followers | @HassanCoker | Finding hella Apples in the Big Apple. ����✌️ Twitter/Instagram @HMANCOKER

Linkin Park were once angry rockers, now they're rich venture capitalists

Linkin Park used to be known for angry, emo music that had all the feels...except happiness. Now they are pragmatic, hyper-rational, …

ABC OPEN: Animated student film goes Swiftly viral

An animated version of the popular Taylor Swift video clip "Shake It Off" has gone viral thanks to a University of Newcastle student …

Animation

10 Animation Directors Who Moved Into Live Action

This week, two rather different films open: “<b>Tomorrowland</b>” and “<b>Poltergeist</b>.” The first is that rare beast among summer tentpoles —an original …

Gangsta. TV Anime's 'Promo Video 1.5' Streamed

Series starring Kenjiro Tsuda, Junichi Suwabe to premiere in July<p>The official website for the television anime of Kohske's Gangsta. manga began …

Manga

How Level-5 is preparing to take over the world ⊟ Nintendo will release Yo-kai Watch on the 3DS next year in North America, a role-playing game about using a special watch to detect otherwise invisible mythical creatures floating all around Japan. The game is just one part of a coordinated Yo-kai Watch multimedia rollout, with comics and toys joining the 3DS game on store shelves. Yo-kai Watch creator Level-5 is currently best known in the US for the popular Professor Layton series and for developing Dragon Quest VIII and IX with Square Enix. But with Yo-kai Watch, the publisher is aiming for a much rarer, higher tier of success. And over the last few years, it has built the kind of experience, partnerships, and capital required to even have a chance at turning Yo-kai Watch into a household name. Though this is the first time the company is attempting a coordinated push in North America, it’s not the first time Level-5 has created such a multifaceted, successful franchise. Yo-kai Watch is the third of what it calls its “Cross Media Projects,” franchises designed with a variety of media in mind, not only video games. The first, Inazuma Eleven, began as a Nintendo DS role-playing game about a junior high soccer team released in 2008. Though it might sound grounded, that staid premise spins out into anime-style rivalries between superpowered teen athletes, alien invasions – you bet the aliens fight by playing soccer! – and even time travel. A manga series in the magazine CoroCoro Comic accompanied the launch, and an anime series followed. Since then, the video game portion of Inazuma Eleven has had sequels and remakes on Nintendo DS and 3DS, mobile spinoffs, and three Wii games. Level-5 shipped an aggregate 7 million copies of Inazuma games as of last February. The soccer team in Level-5’s hometown, Fukuoka, plays in Level-5 Stadium. Inazuma Eleven has actually expanded beyond Japan. Nintendo has been publishing the games in Europe since 2011, and the anime (which ran for five seasons) ran in Europe as well. Finally, in early 2014, Level-5 released a 3DS version of the original Inazuma Eleven game in North America. Rather than being the linchpin of a giant marketing campaign, Inazuma Eleven was a download-only game released immediately after the Nintendo Direct presentation announcing it. Level-5’s second cross media project is “LBX,” short for “Little Battlers eXperience.” In the world of LBX, tiny, experimental fighting robots accidentally find their way out of a government agency and into the hands of… some kids who have robot battles for fun. Essentially, if Gundam had pocket-size robots instead of giant ones, it would be LBX. Or, more to the point, if the Gundam models people built and collected were the actual Gundams, it would be LBX. The first element of this franchise was a PlayStation Portable game, Danbooru Senki (“Cardboard War”) released in June 2011. The game series is six deep as of now, with entries on the PSP, PS Vita, and 3DS. Three series of anime ran on TV Tokyo from 2011 to 2013, produced by Oriental Light and Magic. An animated theatrical movie even premiered in Japan in late 2012, crossing over the universes of Little Battlers eXperience and Inazuma Eleven. Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino wrote the screenplay. The show just started running in the US on Nicktoons. Model kits of the LBX robots can be found in American toy stores as part of Bandai’s “Sprukits” line, a name that seems optimistic about the number of people who know what a sprue is previous to buying one of these. Level-5’s third cross-media franchise is a full-on obsession among Japanese children right now. Yo-kai Watch began as a Nintendo 3DS game, and now encompasses two sequels (each with two different versions, Pokemon-style), an anime series, manga, and an assortment of smartphone games. Toy versions of the in-game Yo-kai Watch were in high demand and short supply last year, and an arcade machine that dispenses medals of the game’s creatures, for use in the watch, draws long lines. Bandai has sold tens of millions of medals. In Yo-kai Watch, the world is filled with invisible creatures of all shapes and sizes. Only by wearing the watch can you see these creatures, then collect medals in order to befriend them and command them in battle against mischievous apparitions. It’s like Pokemon crossed with the animist beliefs of Japan’s native Shinto religion. It has its own appealing mascot character: Jibanyan, a two-tailed, ghostly cat. To say the Yo-kai Watch series has sold well is to understate its achievement in Japan. Last year, the two versions of Yo-kai Watch 2 outsold Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, seemingly a changing of the guard for games about catching and training monsters. Because it shares so much conceptually with Pokemon, which continues to sell movies, toys, games, apparel, cards, salaryman mice, lunchboxes, and all manner of other items worldwide, Yo-kai Watch seems to have a chance of expanding to the West well. Level-5 has the advantage over many children’s properties in that it’s already spent two years building relationships with companies who have their own tie-in items ready to go; Hasbro may very well be licensing some of its Yo-kai Watch toys from Bandai, though new toys for America are just as likely. As with Pokemon, the anime has been running for over a year, thus providing a backlog of complete episodes ready for TV (pending localization, of course– and a Western distribution deal, which has yet to be announced.) OLM, the production company behind the Inazuma Eleven, LBX, and Yo-kai Watch anime, have also released a theatrical animated movie, which has already been licensed by Dentsu USA. Essentially, it’s a plug-and-play franchise. All the work of building up an audience, then using that popularity to expand into more and more media, was done in Japan. Here, if kids like the game, comic, anime, or toys at all, they will instantly be able access more Yo-kai Watch material. Even the game’s sequels are already developed and ready to localize. And, like Pokemon, the game lends itself to tie-in materials. There are hundreds of distinctive yo-kai to catch (and therefore buy toys of), and the watch and medal toys that are such a sensation in Japan are reflected in the game as well. If you like the game, and you’re 6, you’ll probably want a “real” Yo-kai Watch. Though it’s hard to predict the success of this particular game, it seems like a good time for games to anchor multimedia franchises as well. Though the Sonic the Hedgehog games are no longer the universal success they once were, the franchise still lives on in comics, TV shows, and toys. The most recent Sonic game, Sonic Boom, was conceived as a combination of TV show, game, and toy line. Minecraft merchandise is absolutely everywhere, and though it remains jarring, it has been commonplace to see Angry Birds fruit snacks on grocery store shelves. Even oddly specific combinations like Angry Birds Star Wars show up on children’s clothing – this game franchise is so big it ate Star Wars. Some kid will go to the costume aisle at Target this October and be paralyzed by the choice between Darth Vader and bulbous, just-a-pig-head Darth Vader. As Yo-kai Watch looms over the West, Level-5 has already announced its next ambitious cross media project: Snack World, a franchise that encompasses a role-playing game for iOS, Android, and Nintendo 3DS, a CGI animated TV series, a manga in CoroCoro Comic magazine, and a theatrical movie. Perhaps most importantly, Level-5 is working with toy company Takara Tomy to produce a line of keychain-size items that can be scanned into the game using near-field communication. By embracing a Skylanders-style toys-to-life model, Level-5 is tightening the integration between the components of its next big franchise. Snack World takes place in a world of high fantasy sprinkled with elements of modern life, like convenience stores, vending machines and smartphones. Though these elements are common worldwide, they specifically call to mind Japanese cities, with their ubiquitous and varied vending options and convenience stores on every corner. All of the Level-5 cross media projects prominently feature aspects of Japanese culture. Inazuma Eleven combines the popular sport of soccer with the Japanese junior high experience. LBX is about giant robots and specifically toys of giant robots. Yo-kai Watch centers around creatures from Japanese mythology, though not all the creatures in Yo-kai Watch are historical youkai – so don’t go looking for any folklore about bipedal vampire cats. To send such culturally specific stories out into the world represents something of a gamble: what if the game about Japanese ghosts and monsters, in Japan, fails to resonate with American kids and the whole franchise crashes in three to four different media simultaneously? The localization team is already toning down the specificity, noting in the press release announcing the North American plans that the game’s Yo-kai “are not ghosts, monsters or creatures. Yo-kai are, quite simply, Yo-kai.“ In other words, “Yo-kai” becomes a brand identifier like Pokemon, nothing more. But on the other hand, embracing Japanese culture in the design of properties like Yo-kai Watch allows the team in Fukuoka to work with what they know, to call upon millennia of stories, characters, tropes, and themes to create a rich world, one that might just be flatter if it were designed from the start to be culturally ambiguous. If they really were “quite simply Yo-kai” from the beginning, there would be no context for Sakasakkasa, a cheap plastic umbrella that turned inside out in the wind and then became animate. It would just be a silly umbrella monster, not a riff on the traditional karakasa creature that integrates the transparent umbrellas ubiquitous in Japan. Though it’s impossible to predict whether Yo-kai Watch will be as big here as it is in Japan, Level-5 seems to think it has a chance. Nintendo believes in it. Hasbro is on board. Millions of Japanese kids think it’s worthwhile. It probably wouldn’t hurt to buy a couple of Japanese toys now and watch the cool-parent cred roll in next year. Original articles like this one are only possible because of the support of our Club Tiny members. If you’d like to help us carve out time to write things, visit our Patreon! BUY Yokai Watch stuff

Nintendo will release <i>Yo-kai Watch</i> on the 3DS next year in North America, a role-playing game about using a special watch to detect otherwise …

Japan's prime minister just made a seemingly impossible promise

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Japan

'Gundam: The Origin' Tops The New York Times Manga Best Seller List

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Anime

The Chicago Film Critics Festival, the rest of our new movie reviews, and this week's notable screenings

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Star Wars Day: The Force is still strong in comics | Hero Complex – movies, comics, pop culture – Los Angeles Times

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Zoë Kravitz and Miley Cyrus Party in a Hotel Room in Lolawolf's Video for "Bitch"

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Miley Cyrus

Toro y Moi gets funky in a supermarket for “Lilly” video — watch

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While We re Young - Movie Review

'While We're Young', the new film starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts confirms one thing – director Noah Baumbach is hands down, the best …

De La Soul Raises $600,000 On Kickstarter For New Album

After launching a Kickstarter campaign in March to fund their upcoming album, De La Soul have officially raised the second highest amount of money …

Kanye West Changes The Title Of His New Album & He's Looking For Nothing But Net!

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[Premiere] Glass Ghost's New Music Video Is Half-Virtual Reality, Half-Suburban Wasteland

Today, Glass Ghosts breaks down the boundaries between real and virtual with their new music video "Home for the Holidays."<p>The "bittersweet homecoming" motif gets a digital facelift in Glass Ghost's new music video for "Home for the Holidays," off new album, <i>LYFE</i> (Western Vinyl), which premieres …

Virtual Reality

Miguel’s New Album Wildheart Is On The Way

Out this summer.<p>Last February, president of urban music at RCA and CEO of ByStorm Entertainment Mark Pitts let slip that Miguel was "90 percent" done …

Of Monsters and Men on their 'darker' and 'heavier' new album, Beneath the Skin

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Indie Music

Kanye West Was Nearly Speechless When He Heard Yasiin Bey's New Music

Yasiin Bey (formerly know as Mos Def) has been spending most of his time outside of the States in recent years, but during a rare appearance on U.S. …

New Music

Premiere: DΔWN Drops Her New Song "Genocide"

<b>Dawn Richard</b> <b></b>is now “DΔWN”—and after recently releasing a futuristic video for her <i>BlackHeart</i> single “Calypso,” she drops a new loosie today in …

New Singles

Self Defense Family announces new album, releases new video

In early 2014 Self Defense Family released <i>Try Me</i>, the band’s first proper full-length after existing in various states and under different names for …

Indie Music

Movie Review: ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck’ Is a Haunted-House Ride Through the Nirvana Frontman’s Psyche

director Brett Morgen has said that the structure of his ­documentary was inspired by , Bob Fosse's 1974 biopic about comic Lenny Bruce, another …

New to Streaming: ‘Still Alice,’ ‘Mommy,’ ‘Closed Curtain,’ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ and More

<b>Reality (Quentin Dupieux)</b><p>This is what it’s like to go insane. Writer/director <b>Quentin Dupieux</b> loves the surreal and absurd, but <i>Réalité [Reality]</i> takes …

Stanley Film Festival Review: GOODNIGHT MOMMY

<b>Goodnight Mommy</b> appears to be one thing and eventually reveals itself to be something else entirely, and that makes it a very difficult movie to …

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

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The Best Part About the New Avengers Movie? THE VISION

The reaction to Avengers: Age of Ultron has been a little less rapturous than the reaction to the original Avengers, and no wonder - it's a more …

Movie Review: The Water Diviner - Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

I’ve always had a fascination with World War I, partially because we barely spent any time on it in school- there was Franz Ferdinand, and trenches, …

Noragami Season 2 Gets 90-Second Teaser Video

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DISCUSSION: What Anime or Manga Has Changed Your Life

You are what you watch or read.<p>And let’s be honest, anime and manga has an advantage over live action when it comes to covering tough social …