Sam DeGuzman

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Meow! Welcome to Kitten Bowl, the Super Bowl for Cats

The tournament is adorable as it sounds: cats tumbling and scampering around after little American footballs.<p>Cat flatulence, crooning baseball …

The Tea Lover's Way to Make the Best Cold-Brew Iced Tea

Summer can be tricky season for a tea lover. At a time when tea shops everywhere are hawking their freshly picked spring harvests, it's too damn hot to pull out the kettle and brew any of them. (How people swig hot tea all summer in the swampy heat of Hong Kong and Chennai I do not know.) The …

Tea

How to Make a Meatier, Juicier, Tastier Grilled Mushroom

As much as I love a good steak or spicy chicken wings hot off the barbecue, a meal cooked outside isn't complete without some grilled vegetables. Mushrooms are particularly well-suited to the task (and make a great vegetarian main dish, too), but that doesn't mean there's no wrong way to grill …

A short Sonic the Hedgehog film that explores loneliness, dread and the horrors of youth

<i>This video includes a frank depiction of suicide.</i><p>I'm not sure Sonic the Hedgehog is the right character to use to explore the issue of childhood neglect and a loss of innocence, but that never stopped everyone else who created odd fan-fiction around the character. This is just another attempt to …

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 …

Anime

Meet 'Concerned Kitten': Eight-week-old cat has a permanent look of surprise thanks to his natural 'eyebrow' markings

This tiny, eight-week-old kitten has been dubbed the 'Concerned Kitten' because its small eyebrow shaped markings make him look permanently surprised.<p>…

Manchester

The Best Gin for a Martini

The Surprise Favorite:<p>Ford's Gin<p>What do you want when you drink a martini?<p>I know what I want: A crisp, cold, silky-smooth drink that tastes of juniper and woody herbs and citrus peel. I want subtle hints of spices, in both the aroma and the flavor, and I especially want to taste things like …

How to Make Knife-Cut Noodles

<i>It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.</i><p><i>Today: Betty</i> <i>of le jus d'orange demonstrates how to make fresh, chewy knife-cut noodles like a pro, complete with a stir-fry recipe to use them in.</i><p>There …

21 Muffin Tin Dessert Recipes That Are Quick And Easy

The best things in life come in batches.

A Special Forces Officer Teaches You 5 Secrets to Overcoming Adversity

Life can be really difficult sometimes. We all deal with it. But how do top performers overcome challenges? And what can we learn from them? I …

How to Make the Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen

More<p>The Vegan Experience<p>It's not just great vegan food, it's great food, period.<p>I hope you've all brought your oxygen tanks and crampons, for today we climb Mount Ramen, and the air up there is pretty thin. We've made the ascent to the top a few times in the past. First we took the full-frontal, …

Everything You Need to Know to Start Baking Awesome Bread

Hi everyone, and welcome to our brand new bread column. Think of this as a safe space, committed to talking about—and demystifying—your breads and doughs. It's a vast world with a whole lot of potential for experimentation, but the root of the problem is this: Yeast, mysterious and giving, seems to …

The Vegan Experience: How to Make a Rich and Creamy Loaded Baked Potato Soup

More<p>The Vegan Experience<p>It's not just great vegan food, it's great food, period.<p>Loaded baked potato soup is one of those dishes that has some contradictions built into it. You want it to be clean-tasting, but still over-the-top with flavor. You want it rich, packed with cheese and dairy, but you …

How to Make the Best French Onion Soup

Serious Eats<p>VIDEOS<p>Watch More Videos<p>In my very first test for this French onion soup recipe, I had a realization: There's no good reason why so much bad French onion soup exists in the world. The thought arrived after I had caramelized a variety of onions in butter, then added some homemade chicken …

The Scary Truth About Chicken

Monster chickens are taking over the supermarket. Be very, very afraid …<p>Drive down Byrd Road off Route 113 in Pocomoke City, Maryland, past the transfer station and into the driveway of Carole and Frank Morison's poultry farm, and you'll find two long yellow chicken houses. From 1985 to 2008, those …

North Korea Author On ‘The Interview’: ‘Behind The Butthole Jokes, The Filmmakers Get A Lot Right’

It’s hard to ask a North Korean what they thought of <i>The Interview</i>, because, as you may have heard, North Koreans don’t get out much. But the New Yorker wisely solicited a guest review from the next best thing: Barbara Demick, a veteran “North Korea watcher” and author of <i>Nothing To Envy: Ordinary</i> …

Highly specialized tattoos

Link: the artist is Eric Brunning of Vancouver's Adorned (<i>via JWZ</i>)

Here Are the Only 6 Food Trends You Need to Know for 2015

With all due respect to sports geeks, music freaks, stock jocks, and teenage girls, there is no group more obsessed with The Next Big Thing …

The weirdest/best Pokémon song is now the weirdest/best Nintendo 3DS theme

In August, The Pokémon Company released a reggae-style video featuring the adorably sluggish Pokémon Slowpoke engaging in some very weird behavior. Now (because 2015 is clearly going to be the best year), you can download a theme inspired by that video for your Nintendo 3DS. Here's the full …

Coconut, Spice, and Everything Nice: Learning Old-School Sri Lankan Cooking on Staten Island

Dining at Staten Island's New Asha Sri Lankan Restaurant is a steam table and styrofoam affair. Customers assemble their meals at the front counter through finger-pointing fiat, and then await the arrival of disposable plates laden with curries, <i>daals</i> and <i>sambols</i>.<p>But when you step into the back …

The Secrets to Making Philadelphia's Best Panettone

While it's hard to begrudge any gifts brought to your house around the holidays, your standard boxed panettone can elicit groans similar to the ones you let out as a kid when opening another box of underwear or socks.<p>But most people haven't met great panettone. A matrix of lightly tart, yeasty …

15 Crazy World Records Set In 2014

Do anything incredible this year? If your resolution at the start of 2014 was to become the world's fastest texter or to perform the farthest jump …

Best Space Pictures of 2014: A Year's Delights Courtesy of Starry Nights

Of the 350 breathtaking space photos we published in 2014, here are our picks for the 12 best of the year.

A Cookie a Day: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

More<p>All About Chocolate<p>Everything you want to know about chocolate<p>It was a little over a year ago today that I finished a quest that I started when I ate my first Chips Ahoy! as a little kid. OK, "finished" is a strong word. Like <i>The Lord of the Rings</i>, this was one of those quests that honestly …

How to Cook With...Lava (Our First Lava Recipe Ever!)

Got a car-sized furnace and a few hundred pounds of billion-year-old volcanic rock lying around? Then you'll want to try this, history's first recipe for cooking over man-made lava<p>Earlier this year, Londoner Sam Bompas made news around the world when he enlisted two upstate New York professors to …

85 Homemade Pasta Sauce Recipes That Aren't Marinara

These non-marinara, creative pasta recipes will come in handy when you want to give red sauce a rest.<p>We'll always love marinara, but it's time we started seeing other sauces. From vibrantly green pesto to fiery chili oil, these pasta toppers are perfect for when you need a break from the red sauce.

Cooking

How to Make Apple Crisp with Oat Topping | Apple Recipes | Allrecipes.com

Roasted-Almond Thumbprints

Makes about 4 dozen<p>The great thing about these roasted-almond thumbprint cookies? They can be any shape or size, and the fillings are customizable.<p>December 2013Print<p>Ingredients<p>1½ cups all-purpose flour<p>1½ cups unsalted, roasted almonds<p>1 teaspoon baking powder<p>½ teaspoon kosher salt<p>1 cup (2 sticks) …