Bento News July 2024


Konnichiwa fellow fanatiks. We bring you a fresh new Bento News filled with yummy content. We have a lot of Anime and Manga news, salivating game news as well as news from Japan as well as the world’s view on happenings in Japan. Itadakimasu!! 

Anime News

Anime Sanctuaries: Wolf Children - An Armchair Journey to Wolf Children's Real-Life Anime Locations

In the June Bento News we revealed that NHK WORLD JAPAN started a series on their platform that takes us on journeys to real-life locations featuring in anime. That project is called Anime Sanctuaries. So far they have done an episode on real-life locations from the anime ‘Love Live.’ This month they feature real-live locations from the anime movie ‘Wolf Children’.

Wolf Children’ is a Japanese animated film directed by Mamoru Hosoda. The story follows Hana, a young woman who falls in love with a man who can transform into a wolf. They have two children, Yuki and Ame, who inherit their father’s ability to shapeshift. After the father’s tragic death, Hana moves to the countryside to raise her children away from prying eyes. The film explores the challenges of single motherhood and the children’s struggles to find their place in the world, balancing their human and wolf identities. It’s a heartfelt tale of love, family, and self-discovery.

‘Wolf Children’ features locations inspired by real-life places in Japan: Tokyo, Toyama Prefecture and the Hida region in Gifu Prefecture so give it a watch to see if all these real-life locations feature in the Anime Sanctuaries documentary series. Click below to start your journey into real-life anime magic.

McDonald’s Japan x KiKi’s Delivery Service crossover

35 years ago Studio Gibli bewitched us with the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service about the young witch Kiki and her black cat, Jiji delivering yummy food to townspeople. It was a whimsical cozy movie based on the beautiful children’s fantasy novel by Eiko Kadono. Now Kiki used her bewitching powers to team up with MCDonald’s Japan to create culinary magic. A trailer shows us where Kiki and Jiji ride around on broomsticks delivering a variety of special burgers from various European countries, just as she did in the movie in 1989. The trailer keeps to the vibrant and lively animation-style that made the classic Studio Ghibli special to its fans but the commercial also presents a modern redesign of Kiki, Jiji, and their world.

The video also boast exceptional voice talents as Kiki is voiced by Aoi Yuuki, who played her roll as Maomao in The Apothecary Diaries in a memorable way and Jiji is voiced by Daisuke Sakaguchi, the voice of Shipachi Shimura in the anime comedy Gintama. Now wouldn’t it be nice if Kiki can go to the MCDonald’s down the street from me and pick me up something nice…

Ranma 1/2 gets a reboot

Veteran anime fanatiks might remember this anime gem – Ranma 1/2. It tells the tale of the teenage martial artist boy, Ranma Saotome who, after falling into a mystical spring in China is cursed into transforming into a red-haired woman whenever he gets doused with cold water. Luckily when doused with hot water he change back into a man, well until he gets hit by cold water again, then it’s back to being female. Soon we get blasted with a wacky large cast of rival martial artists and fiancées that turn his life into utter fun-filled chaos. The original anime was hilarious.

The new anime which seem to be a reboot was announced through the YouTube channel of Weekly Shonen Sunday, the manga anthology that carried Ranma 1/2 during its original serialization. The original manga started in 1987 and ran until 1996, ending up in 36 collected volumes. The anime only aired from 1989 to 1992 but did not cover the whole manga series, so the potential for seeing the story continue far beyond the original anime is there.

We wonder if any of the original voice actors will be returning such as Kappei Yamaguchi, Noriko Hidaka, Koichi Yamadera, Kikuko Inoue, Minami Takayama, and Megumi Hayashibara. It may be a nightmare to pull that off in terms of budget and scheduling and sadly Hiromi Tsuru and Ichigo Nagai passed away, so we may look at a new ensemble of voice talents filling the epic shoes of the original cast. More information on the upcoming reboot is said to be revealed in a live-stream on the 17th of July.

Anime News Links

Evangelion singer cancels appearance at anime orchestra concert over use of AI-generated artwork

We must ask ourselves if using AI to create art is not disrespecting the soul of art as art is an expression of an artist’s soul. Is AI generated ‘art’ worthy of being labeled art? That is the question…

Live-Action Cells at Work! Film’s Teaser Unveils Main Cast, December Debut

Cells At Work! has a lot of dark components and it will be interesting to see how this translates in a live-action movie. Could be amazing.

Manga News

Manga Hiatus for the Coolest Reason Ever: Elden Ring

Manga creators often go on hiatus due to illness or personal tragedy, but Nikiichi Tobita has a unique reason. The official Elden Ring manga, Elden Ring: The Road to the Erdtree, is on hold because Tobita is taking time off to play the expansion Shadow of the Erdtree.

Nikiichi Tobita announced on X/Twitter that he will skip the July 19, 2024, release of the series to immerse himself in the game, which launched on June 21. He’s not alone—many Elden Ring fans are likely doing the same. As with FromSoftware’s previous games, accessing the DLC requires completing specific tasks, including defeating an optional boss.

For those preparing for the DLC, IGN offers a guide and an interactive map to help. And don’t miss IGN’s 10/10 review praising Shadow of the Erdtree for its challenging and compact 20-25 hour campaign.

Snow White With the Red Hair Manga Resumes At Last

Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine announced recently that Sorata Akiduki’s Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime) manga will resume in the magazine’s next issue on July 24. The manga wet on hiatus a year ago in June. The manga’s story follows Shirayuki, a young herbalist with unique red hair, which attracts unwanted attention from the prince of her country, Prince Raj. To escape his advances, she cuts her hair and flees to the neighboring kingdom of Clarines. There, she encounters Prince Zen, who helps her and offers her protection. As Shirayuki pursues her dreams of becoming a court herbalist, she develops a close bond with Zen, and the story explores their evolving relationship, personal growth, and the challenges they face in the royal court. The manga blends romance, adventure, and fantasy in a beautifully crafted tale.

Akiduki launched the manga in Hakusensha’s LaLaDX magazine in 2006, and moved it to LaLa in 2011. Hakusensha published the manga’s 26th compiled book volume in July 2023. Viz Media released the 26th volume in English on June 4. The manga inspired two anime seasons and hopefully with the continuation of the manga, the manga will be picked up for a third season.

Twin Star Exorcists Manga Ends in 3 Chapters

The July issue of Shueisha’s Jump SQ. magazine revealed that Yoshiaki Sukeno’s manga, Twin Star Exorcists, will conclude in three chapters, with the final chapter expected in September if there are no delays. Sukeno had announced in October 2020 that the manga was entering its final arc, which he later clarified in October 2021 would be divided into three parts. The first part concluded in November 2021.

Sukeno began the manga in Jump SQ. in November 2013. Shueisha is set to publish the 34th volume on July 4. Viz Media publishes the English version. The manga’s anime adaptation aired in Japan in 2016, with Crunchyroll streaming it and Funimation releasing it on home video. Crunchyroll’s synopsis describes a world where exorcists fight grotesque monsters called Impurities in a parallel realm. The story follows Rokuro Enmado and Benio Adashino, who become the “Twin Star Exorcists” and battle together against the Impurities.

Additionally, Sukeno created a spinoff manga titled Sōsei no Onmyōji Tenen Jakko -Nishoku no Kokkeiga-, based on Hajime Tanaka’s novel, which focuses on characters Seigen and Yukari. This spinoff was serialized on Shueisha’s Shonen Jump+ website from August to December 2018. Tanaka also wrote two other novels in the series, focusing on different characters, published in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Manga News Links

Japan Association of Translators condemns A.I. manga translation

AIs replacing humans at jobs is a scary reality and it is happening more that people think. This article is yet another proof of this happening. Pressing a few buttons is cheaper, sadly, than a person who needs to sleep, and other human needs whereas an AI never sleeps…

Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away All-in-One Comic Collections Are Up for Preorder and on Sale

Ooh… gotta het them all! Studio Ghibli comics must be on most of the planet’s wish lists lol

Nippon News

Japan Unveils New Banknotes: A 20-Year First

Japan is redesigning its paper currency for the first time in 20 years. Three new banknotes will circulate from July 3, prompting industries to update their systems. A finance ministry survey found over 90% of bank ATMs will accept the new notes. However, only 50% of parking lot machines and restaurant ticket machines, and just 20-30% of drink vending machines, will be ready in time.

Small and mid-sized businesses face high costs for the transition, with some local governments offering subsidies. The new notes, featuring Shibusawa Eiichi, Tsuda Umeko, and Kitasato Shibasaburo, are designed to be harder to counterfeit.

Gundam to Tower Over Osaka-Kansai Expo 2025

For Gundam enthusiasts, this news is monumental. Just as Taro Okamoto’s “Tower of the Sun” became an iconic symbol of the Osaka Expo ’70, a life-size Gundam will now dominate the 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo. Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. announced on June 26 that a colossal Gundam model will be featured at its Gundam Next Future Pavilion, marking the first display of such a giant Gundam in the Kansai region.

The Gundam will strike a dramatic pose, kneeling on its left knee and raising its right arm high, seemingly pointing towards space or the future. This 16.72-meter, 49.1-ton behemoth will be built using materials from the moving life-size Gundam previously displayed at Yamashita Pier in Yokohama. While the expo Gundam won’t move, its presence aims to connect fans worldwide and inspire thoughts about the future. Bandai Namco promises more details about the pavilion’s displays soon, but the sheer scale and symbolism of the Gundam model already have fans buzzing with excitement.

Cash on Delivery Ending for Amazon Japan

One payment option is disappearing in less than a week. Amazon Japan is ending cash-on-delivery payments on June 5, posing challenges for foreign residents who struggle to get credit cards. Non-permanent residency and irregular income often lead to rejected credit card applications for foreigners in Japan.

However, cash payments are still possible through “convenience store payment.” After placing an order, customers receive a payment number to use at stores like 7-Eleven or Family Mart. This allows them to pay in cash and have their items shipped once payment is confirmed. Alternatively, shoppers can transfer money from their bank accounts, although service fees may apply. Amazon cites efforts to improve the experience for both buyers and sellers as the reason for the change.

Nippon News Links

Mount Fuji begins charging entrance fees as overtourism prevention measure

Charging entrance fees ca be a great opportunity as a lot of financial resources are used to do upkeep at Mount Fuji such as keeping rest areas clean ad fixing broken benches. It is a very fair decision.

Marine in Okinawa arrested over female injured in attempted rape

Hopefully measures will be taken to stop such crimes from happening, especially if your own people commit crime on foreign soil.

International News

Tragic Loss: World-Class Climber Keita Kurakami Passes at 38

Japanese news reported the death of renowned rock climber Keita Kurakami at Mt. Fuji’s 8th station. Kurakami, 38, had a serious heart condition but refused treatment to continue climbing. Born in Gunma in 1985, he excelled in bouldering, trad, multi-pitch, and big wall climbing, opening Japan’s hardest multi-pitch route, Senjitsu no Ruri, in 2015. Despite a cardiac episode in 2021, he resumed climbing, valuing it over longevity. On his final ascent, he collapsed and was later pronounced dead. Kurakami’s legacy in climbing remains, remembered for his passion and kindness. Recently even more deaths were reported at Mount Fuji. The video below tells us more.

Japanese Youth Flock Abroad for Higher Wages on Working Holidays

The weak yen has driven many young Japanese to seek higher-paying jobs abroad on “working holidays.” Around half choose Australia, setting a record high with over 14,000 working-holiday visas issued in the year through June 2023. This number is expected to rise, with 12,000 visas issued in the nine months to March. Australia’s high pay is a major draw; from July, the minimum hourly wage will increase by 3.75% to over 24 Australian dollars (about 16 US dollars), which is 2.5 times Japan’s average. Popular among English-speaking countries, these programs help Australia address labor shortages and offer Japanese youth valuable work experiences.

International News Links

Climbing Mount Fuji can be fatal What to know and how to prepare

It is better to prepare and do research on the terrain and weather conditions. This article is very resourceful.

My Oni Girl Director Asks Viewers To Be Honest With Themselves

A great interview with Tomotaka Shibayama

From The World of Gaming

Get Ready, Gamers: Bleach: Brave Souls Hits Nintendo Switch!

Sharpen your swords and prepare for battle because the Soul Reapers are coming to the Nintendo Switch on July 11 with Bleach: Brave Souls. Originally a mobile game, this free-to-play beat ’em up, based on the popular anime and manga, is now also available on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. Since its 2015 launch, it has garnered over 90 million downloads and is set to gain even more with this Switch port.

Fans can fight through their favorite arcs, from Soul Society to Thousand Year Blood War, and enjoy stories previously unadapted. With dozens of characters, both heroes and villains, it offers plenty of choices. However, being a mobile game at its core, expect microtransactions and a strong online multiplayer focus.

July also sees another of anime’s “Big Three” on Switch with One Piece Odyssey by ILCA. While Brave Souls isn’t the Bleach console game fans might have hoped for, it’s great to see the series join One Piece and Naruto on Japan’s best-selling console. The Shinigami guiding its soul to peace makes the Switch lineup feel complete.

Japan Aims to Quadruple Global Market for Pop Culture

Japan plans to expand its global market for video games, manga, and anime fourfold to $130 billion within a decade, according to the government’s revised “Cool Japan” strategy. Home to iconic franchises like “Dragon Ball,” “Super Mario,” and “Final Fantasy,” Japan views these creative industries as key growth drivers.

In 2022, exports from Japan’s gaming, anime, and manga sectors reached ¥4.7 trillion ($30 billion). The government aims to boost this to ¥20 trillion by 2033, leveraging the global popularity of anime and the rise of virtual YouTubers. The strategy also targets related industries and plans to intensify efforts against piracy, crucial for expanding the global market.

Gaming News Links

Saudi crown prince seeks soft power in game hub Japan

Saudi crown prince Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reported to be a great ‘Call of Duty’ fan!

Only in Japan

SoftBank Unveils AI to Alleviate Call Center Stress

SoftBank Corp. has developed AI voice-conversion technology to transform angry customer voices into calmer tones, aiming to reduce the psychological burden on call center operators. This innovation, led by employees Toshiyuki Nakatani, Toshio Imamura, and Shuhei Takahara, emerged from a study on “emotion canceling” launched three years ago.

The AI, trained on over 10,000 voice samples, alters the pitch and inflection without changing the wording, making harsh tones sound softer. A warning system terminates abusive or excessively long calls. While AI can’t fully replace human empathy, Nakatani hopes it will act as a mental shield for operators. SoftBank plans to market this technology by fiscal 2025.

Be mindful when driving suitcases

Imagine this. Osaka. A woman driving her suitcase in the middle of the sidewalk. The woman, a Chinese international student, learned the hard way that electrical suitcases count as vehicles when she was pulled over by the police in Fukushima Ward for not having a license to ride it on a sidewalk. This case is the first case of its kind in Japan, but it may just be a world first.

The woman was in denial of the charge stating: “I didn’t think that the electric suitcase was a vehicle, so I didn’t think that I had to have a license,”. But the police beg to differ as she is on suspicion of violating the Road Traffic Law. The luggage in question was classified by the police as a motorized bicycle after noticing that it had all the traits of a vehicle. These suitcases are intended only to be ridden in airports and are usually sold in electronic stores. The woman’s suitcase had the maximum speed capacity of 13 kph. As electric suitcases do not meet public safety standards they cannot be ridden on public roads. Therefore aspiring suitcase riders, be mindful of the law when riding your luggage.

Only in Japan Links

‘Humans are no match’ Japan ‘karate master’ who fended off 2 bears advises caution

A while back we reported about a ‘karate master’ taking on two bears and here is an article about his take on what really happened.

Food allergies New hope for egg allergy sufferersーNHK WORLD-JAPAN NEWS

There is hope for people allergic to the humble egg in the future.

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