May 23, 2011-

September 5, 2011

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September 5, 2011-Hey, remember last week when the Brickster said that while he wasn’t much of a gamer, he did like to pop in a Splatterhouse/monster game every once inna while? Well, this week was one’a those times! And not only was it a Splatterhouse game, but it used the film classic “Manos” as its main theme! Now, the Brickster’s written enough about Splatterhouse to assume that you all know what it’s about-Terror Mask finds an appropriate host, bonds with it, blood and senseless violence ensue. But Manos might need a bit of explanation. It was a 1966 film put together by El Paso fertilizer salesman Hal Warren on a bet. It told the story of the Master (Leader of the Cult of Manos), his bevy of hot wives, and his satyr/flunky Torgo. Torgo, y’see, took care of the place while the Master was away…but bein’ perpetually horny, Torgo screwed up and ended up almost gettin’ groped to death by the wives (not so bad!) and then havin’ his hand burned off (sucks). The movie played at a theater in El Paso, made the rounds at some local drive-ins, and was on TV a few times. Then it was consigned to the vault of unseen films. Yeah-that’s right-it was basically an American version of one of my films. It was resurrected by Mystery Science Theater 3K, where it achieved new heights of infamy for its lousy editin’, goofy performances, and nonsensical story. Again, kinda like one’a the Brickster’s classics. With its new cult status, the film caught the attention of ‘Perfesser Rodrigo’. Yeah, we’re witholdin’ his real name fer the same reason porn actors use pseudonyms. Rodrigo mused about what would happen if the Terror Mask from Splatterhouse bonded with Torgo’s dyin’ body to help him get revenge on the Master (and, not uncoincidentally, furtherin’ the agenda of the Mask’s boss, the Evil One). The result was the PC game “MANOS: THE REVENGE OF TORGO”. This instant classic defies description, but ya can tell where the game is headin’ by just readin’ the account of the Terror Mask while settin’ up yer play session: ”It feeds on your desires and your fears, offering immortality and power. But it won't shut up.” Not to mention the ‘pickups’ that Torgo can acquire-woman hair to regain health (told ya he’s horny), extra lives in the form of MANGOS-THE CANS OF FRUIT (a reference ta what the crew of the original film called it behind Warren’s back), and pieces of the tablet of Manos. These two pieces are fiendishly hidden in plain sight in the windin’ labyrinth of the Valley Lodge, which is as big as a van and consists of two rooms and a kitchen. The game’s got it all-action, fightin’, cool monsters, goofy monsters, cultists, chicks, romance, and so much more! Here’s the official press release just in case ya ain’t sold yet:

"It’s shocking! It’s beyond your imagination! It’s 45 years in the making! It’s definitely not worth the wait! It’s finally released!

Torgo, he who took care of the place while The Master was away. He was injustly immolated while he took care of the place while The Master was absent. The Terror Mask, a powerful device whose power is only surpassed by its mystery – and its sheer size of gleefully delivered foul-mouthed swearing lines. Before West Mansion, there was the Lodge of Sins. Before Rick Taylor, there was Torgo.

"MANOS" The Revenge of Torgo is a homebrewn project based on the (in)famous "MANOS" The Hands of Fate cult classic directed by Hal Warren in 1966. After being shown this by a friend I was so awestruck I decided I had to do something. "MANOS" The Revenge of Torgo features a hybrid side-scrolling action style patterned visually after Splatterhouse 3 with elements of all of the games of the original franchise found throughout the stages.

- Play as the ultimate cult horror mishmash: Torgo, the satyr, dons the Terror Mask to exact revenge!

- Unique Achievement system, the breakthrough Lazy To Fix Dynamic Scoring™ wherein stumbling on bugs rewards you with points!

- Three difficulty levels!

- Hidden unlockable bonuses!

- Countless spoofs we’re hoping you find through your journey on the game!

- The Haunting Torgo theme (a LOT of it)!

- Customizable control layout, including arrow keys, WASD and rudimentary joypad support (Hush, the Master doesn’t approve of such devices)!

- Enthusiastic press release with exclamations!"

Now, originally I was just gonna give the game a cursory look and file it away with my other Splatterhouse fangames. But from the openin’ movie (in one scene featurin’ the Terror Mask zoomin’ over the ocean to the ‘Hawaii Five-O’ theme), I was hooked. Then I just planned to play a couple of levels, but I HAD to see what was next, so I figgered I’d just beat it on ‘Slave’ difficulty. But after that, there were promises of MORE, so I had to beat it on ‘Caretaker’ difficulty too. And after that, well, I had the Manos staff so I went all out and beat ‘Master’ difficulty. And I STILL wasn’t done! Perfesser Rodrigo has even accomplished what was thought (and hoped) to be impossible-recreatin’ the mindset of would be film auteur Hal Warren. The final scene on the Master playthrough has utterly confounded everyone who has managed to get there, includin’ yers truly. This and the other cutscenes in the film are the real reward (as well as all of the homages to classic video games and horror movies) fer playin’, and the story changes with the difficulty level. You’ll never know what to expect next, except ya know it’ll have ya laughin’ yer butt off.

MANOS includes a nice amount of unlockables and extra features-ya can gain a retro Terror Mask (in red) or Unmasked Torgo (scarier than the Mask!). Ta help ya with those tougher levels, you can unlock the Holy Grenade Of Manos, the Staff Of Manos, and make ‘em even stronger with unlimited ammo! There’s a Sound Check mode to unlock, a sekrit endin’ screen, and even the coveted Torgophrenic Mode, where yer sanity is put to the test by havin’ the Torgo theme replace the game music EVERY SINGLE TIME Torgo moves a muscle! And you know those glitches that infest many fan made games (not to mention the NES games they’re based on)? Well, MANOS not only acknowledges them, but revels in them! It’s the only game that rewards bugs and glitches with extra points, lives, and in-game achievements! Got an arm growin’ outta yer back? Extra points! Walkin’ in thin air? Achievement! Fall in a pond and almost, but not quite, drown and get stuck anyway? Free life! Have the Terror Mask smart off to ya when ya ask it fer a password? Achievement! Extra life! And even after checkin’ the achievement list in ‘Options’ and thinkin’ ya got ‘em all-well, check again a little bit closer. None’a the bugs cause the game to crash or block your progress in a level-they’re just there for fun. Some of them are really useful, like ‘Breaking The 4th Wall’ to find shortcuts and bonus items. When ya get right down to it, the game is actually really tight-great hit detection, excellent play control, and no ‘real’ glitches. There are unlimited continues, saved data, and a level select function, so there's no need ta start from scratch every playthrough.

Anyhoo, far be it for the Brickster to divulge the sekrits that lie within the Valley Lodge. But if ya wanna see Torgo find true love with a face-rippin’ undead Southern Belle (who was totally Uninvited), the gratuitous Make-Out Couple, women spontaneously combustin’ into flamin’ skeletons, a totally unexpected rescue from Eternal Burning Life, cult leaders eaten by jaguars, giant crow-spittin’ snakes, a Predator hunt, legal debate between the Terror Mask and Manos, the fateful day the Terror Mask met Dr. West, ice cream in the fridge, and other examples of good clean fun, download it now. Not only is the game gloriously entertainin’ and fun, but it’s FREE! You can find it at Acido Cinza. You’ll need a program like Win.Zip or Win.Rar ta open it, since it’s a RAR file. And use a joypad/joystick-it makes all the difference. If yer lookin’ fer classic horror and lotsa laughs in yer gamin’, ya need to get MANOS: THE REVENGE OF TORGO. And after yer done playin’, spread the word so that everyone gets a chance to experience the majesty.

August 29th, 2011-Y'know, the Brickster ain't much on playin' games. Occasionally I like to pop in Splatterhouse or somethin' else filled with hellish monsters and gratuitous violence, and I have ta admit I loved the Genji board game (the one I reviewed on the Samurai Archives last year). And the Brickster's IPhone games are lifesavers when he's on public transport, 'specially when there's a women only train car and I wasn't able to sneak onto it. But usually games are nothin' but pointless time-suckers that keep ya from enjoyin' the real world and the things that matter most in life-mainly, romancin' the ladies and drinkin'. But in every generation a genius comes along and produces a game that manages to capture the essence of the real world, bein' relevant and entertainin' at the same time. Such a game is the upcomin' release of the "Sake and Samurai" card game from Albe Pavo! High points of the official press release:

"A few samurai warriors are sitting at a table in a small inn, talking and bragging about swords, women and honour. Sake flows freely, but not even the cellars of Bishamon, the god of War, could quench the thirst of Japan’s greatest swordsmen. Servants run for cover, knowing full well where all this is going. Suddenly an eerie silence fills the common room. On the table, only one full cup remains. Who will get the last drink? Will it be the elder of the group, or shall the greatest warrior have it? Time seems to stretch to infinity, until one hand makes a move towards the cup. Such insolence! This insult shall not be tolerated! The elder goes for his sword... We shall never know whether the bold samurai was taking the cup for himself or only to hand it over to his venerable companion. It does not matter: all warriors take offense and draw their katanas, joining the fight at the call of SAAKEEE!

In SAKE & Samurai you are a fierce and thirsty samurai warrior, willing to do anything to get the last cup of liquor. The winner is the most drunk samurai (in game terms, the player who has collected the most Sake drink counters) at the end of the Sudden Death round...

Those who will succumb to their enemies’ blows won’t be eliminated from the game, but will become Spirits of Enma, the thirsty god of death, and team up with the other spirits to attack the living, aiming to steal their sake. Raise your glasses (and your katanas)! "

Now, I ask you, is there anyone in the world more qualified to review this than the Brickster? Well, Mifune Toshiro, but he ain't actin' much these days, much less playin' games, although I did hear him on the Samurai Archives Podcast a few episodes back. Now, there ain't a darn thing I could do to improve the glorious proceedin's outlined in the press release. Heck, it even has an origami masu (my traditional vessel fer quaffin' sake).
The Brickster KNEW he had to have this game! But, like most worthwhile things, I'll have to be patient-the official release is still about two months away. It just gives me time to invent a drinkin' game to pair up with this, as it just cries out fer one. But you can bet I'll be the first one hittin' the beaches when 'Sake and Samurai" is released, and all you lucky readers can look forward to a full, in-depth review then! Hell, I'll WALK to Italy to get a copy if I have to. I mean, there's all those oceans an all, but the zombies in Day of the Dead didn't find 'em to be a problem, so's I should be able to navigate 'em just fine.

August 22, 2011-The news from the Brickster's camp just keeps gettin' better and better! Not only has "Udon Man" (my unofficial sequel to "Ramen Girl") gotten the green light, but The Studio has even decided to release it as part of an ALL-BRICKSTER double feature! OK, granted, they expect to pay me once fer actin' in both, but with the brutal yen-dollar exchange rate, I figgur I'm comin' out ahead anyway.

So what's this sur
e-to-be-classic gonna be? Well, it's a bit of a departure for the Brtickster-it's based on a famous work of Japanese literature. You've all heard of Sei Shonagon, right? She's that feisty history grrrllll from the tenth and eleventh century who was a Court Lady to Empress Teishi. She wrote the epic "Makura No Soshi", or as it's known in the West, "The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon". It's one of the most important works of the era, givin' historians a look into the daily life and traditions of the Imperial Court, along with the poetry and religious conventions of the day-you know, stuff that nobody really gives a rat's ass about but that sure make you look like you're smart.

Now, for all its fame, that ain't to say that El Brickatore's unique approach can't improve it! You just KNOW that there was all kinds of stuff left out.  After all, no less a personage than Arthur Waley has labeled Sei a 'courtesan'-so you know that bedroom antics woulda been a big part of the original unexpurgated version of Makura No Soshi, not the watered down version that's filtered down to the 21st century (the Brickster bein' a victim of this sorta thing hisself after havin' his promo declared TOO HOT fer the SA Podcast). And the Brickster bein' the history buff that he is, he's acquired an ORIGINAL COPY of this epic-or at least a transcribed verison of the original, which is held by a HIGHLY PLACED MEMBER of the SA whose name I can't divulge. And the original title shows just how different the book originally was-Heian publishers early on changed it to the mundane current "Makura no Soshi" from what Sei Shonagon had originally intended it to be. But our film will be restorin' it-so as you can see from the promo poster, make sure you keep yer eyes open for "Makura no Seishi"! You know that Sei would approve.

August 15, 2011-If you've been followin' along with the Brickster on McBurly Monogatari (and if ya ain't, why the heck not?), you'll know that "Gone With Hideyoshi" and "Hideyoshi FREEEEEZE!" are two of his fav'rit smart phone games. These games, which first feature the heroic Taiko blowin' alien flyin' saucers outta the sky as they attempt to abduct the populace of Osaka and later show him turnin' the invaders into popsicles as they infiltrate Osaka Castle detail this little known incident, one of the few involvin' space aliens and Japan the History Channel ain't got its mitts on. Yet. Anyhoo, the newest entry in the series has been released. In this one, the aliens have managed to make it all the way to Hideyoshi's throne room in Osaka Castle. It's time for the final showdown! An' bein' Japanese, there's only one way for Hideyoshi to solve things-and that's by playin' rock, paper, scissors over a nice cup'a cha. Welcome to Hideyoshi Pon! Now, you might think the object of the game is to beat the two aliens and send them runnin' home cryin' to mama. But not so! You need to deliberately lose to the friendlier small alien to make him feel good about hisself, and beat the crap outta the bored, arrogant bigger alien. The aliens, bein' new to this brand of warfare, can always be relied upon to throw down their choice before you do, givin' you several seconds to choose what weapon yer talkin' fist puppet will wield. You just have to be certain that yer winnin' and losin' to the right one, and as they get more used ta things, you'll have less time to make up yer mind before they catch on that yer cheatin'.

Now, what ya might NOT know about the game is that it's a thinly veiled reference to the Bunroku/Keicho no Eki. For thosea youse that ain't the expert on J-history that the Brickster is, those were the Japanese invasions of Korea in the 1590's that Hideyoshi mounted, bringin' in the sorry-ass Ming Chinese on the side of the Koreans. I hear many Westerners who have been influenced by the tripe churned out by Admiral Yi lovin' Korean nationalists call it the Imjin War. In any case, it's obvious Hideyoshi Pon! is meant to simulate the peace talks between the three. Obviously, the shrimpy dumb alien is meant to be Korea-as long as you make him feel good about himself by throwin' the game, he'll be yer pal. The big, disinterested, and even dumber alien that got dragged into the mess by the little one is meant ta be Ming China, or maybe just their evil avatar Kenny Swope. They need ta have the arrogance drained outta them, even if they'll report back to the Wan-li Emperor (or Planet X) that they achieved a glorious victory-never mind the fact the army is missin' and they're back in China instead of Korea. At any rate, with the fate of Japan restin' on ev'ry throw, it's both suspenseful and every bit as accurate as Stephen Turnbull's upcomin' 47 Ronin book. And it's FREE, so get it now.

August 8, 2011
-On the recommendation of SA Film Forum member Sickly Bug, the Brickster checked out the 1990 classic film Zipang. Zipang in the movie means 'City of Gold' and it's also one of the names Japan has been known by over the centuries (well, actually Zipangu, but close enuff). It still is in the movie too but it takes the dumbasses up until the very end to figgur that out. The Bug ain't one to steer a fellow cheese-lovin' connoisseur of fine films down, and he came up with a winner this time. Ever wanted to see Zatoichi, Tange Sazen, Daimajin, the Masters Of Death (from Lone Wolf), D'Artagnan from the 3 Muscatels, the wrestler Golddust, not just one Musashi but two, AND Batman in the same movie? Well, who wouldn't? And they're all here! You even get two guys in an elephant suit, a flyin' midget, a black nosed stutterin' hillbilly who blows things up, and a hero who has his swords numbered and carried around in a medieval golf bag by a caddy! There's Tokugawa Ieyasu! Hattori Hanzo and his horde of ninjer, who have way cool high tech medieval versions of modern gadgets! Hanzo's such a badass he has to rip open his own stomach to retrieve his back up weapon! The bad guys, in a nice touch, are all suited up in armor that makes them look like the haniwa from ancient Japan that were found in kofun. And when ya peel off that armor, what do you find but a hot chick in cornrows and warpaint! Yeah baby! And the sets have to be seen to be believed-in one, they're providin' the old Indiana Jones 'walls closin' in' routine. As the walls move, you can see the panels of 'bricks' on the top half wobblin' back and forth-not that they're made of rubber or anythin' and couldn't afford to do a retake. In others, the city of gold is recreated by wrappin' everythin' up in gold Christmas tree garland. All this and the sexy, sassy 'Teppo Yuri' as well, who gets in a slapfight with aforementioned warpaint gal. Do yerself a favor and seek out this classic. Who needs the lameness that is Seppuku when you can watch this?

August 1, 2011-Looks like the Brickster's Dream Project has finally come to fruition-in more ways than one. You all remember that sappy movie "Ramen Girl"-the one with the chick that went to Tokyo, got dumped, and tried findin' true love through learnin' how ta cook ramen? Well, if ya don't, here's a review Kitsuno did on the Samurai Archives. Yeah, I'm bettin' he really sekritly loved it. Anyway, I've always thought it's a crime that someone didn't produce a sequel told from the point of view of the opposite sex. But now they have! Well, sorta, since I still hafta write the script and do a few other equally minor things. But since it's so ultra-low budget (the only 'special effect' is Mr. Crackers, and my beeg friend don't need no steenkin' CG) and I promised to hire lots of the studio exec's daughters, it's already been green-lit by The Studio fer a late 2011 release. Are you ready for-The Udon Man? Well, no doubt lots of the ladies will be waitin' in line to experience the pleasure of the Brickster's special brand of Bukkake Udon. Now, even though I brought it up awhile back, fer those of ya who ain't quite sure what 'bukkake' means, ya may want ta Google it or go to this link that the Brickster has thoughtfully provided. And if that don't do the trick, the tag line for the film poster (as seen on the right) should spell it out. There will be a few changes made to the proud tradition of bukkake-for example, the Brickster's always been a one man show and that ain't changin'. The ladies frequentin' my Udon restaurant will be comprisin' the 'group' here. Otherwise, it promises to be the 'feel good' movie of the summer, except that it'll be out closer to New Year's, but I'll be feelin' good way before that.

July 25, 2011-Say, are you in the mood for a movie with Oda Nobunaga? Sanada Yukimura and his legendary ninja Sasuke? The Maeda clan of Kaga? The Shimabara Rebellion and Amakusa Shiro? Yasuke? The last princess of the Toyotomi? Ninja made out of wasps? Dogfights in outer space and aliens? Demons and cheap CGI? A smelly peasant NOT named Musashi with a sword bigger than he is? Well then, listen up because Taitei no Ken (The Sword Of Alexander) is for you! This 2007 classic from Toei mixes action, comedy, and high drama of the type only Toei can pull off. Set in the Edo period shortly after the Shimabara Rebellion, it follows the antics of odoriferous backwoods swordsman Yorozu Genkuro (Abe Hiroshi) as he attempts to unite the three relics made of the metal orichalcum-the sword of Alexander the Great (which he already has), the Jew's Cross (which Amakusa Shiro had and is now held by the Tokugawa), and Skanda's Vajra (location unknown). Along the way he runs into Princess Mai, last of the Toyotomi, who has been possessed by a crash landin' alien and now suffers from multiple personality disorder which manifests itself by havin' her spit out rocks at skull-crackin' velocities. But wouldn't ya just know it-an evil alien has also crash landed and eventually possesses the leader of a band of Tsuchigumo (you know, the creepy original people of Japan that Nagaeyari never seems to mention on the SA Podcast) ninjer who are also lookin' for the artifacts. Of course, the two groups are destined to clash but not before there's plenty of fightin', blood, lopped off limbs, lowbrow comedy, and zero budget CG-all the things a classic movie is made of. The high level of thought that went into the meticulously crafted screenplay can be seen in character names like Kuromushi (for the ninja made out of bugs) or Himeyasha (another demon ninjer). Or maybe not. But it sure is fun ta watch. The over the top narration routinely breaks the fourth wall. A man changes his race sometime between flashbacks of his youth and adulthood. Amakusa spends the whole movie lookin' fer the relics, suddenly decides he/she isn't the chosen one after all, and casually exits the film. And the Brickster's sudden new object of infatuation, Kuroki Meisa, is smokin' hot as Amakusa Shiro. What's that, you say? Shiro was a boy? Well, he's a boy good lookin' enough to look like a woman who's played by a woman takin' the part of a man. So there. She's gorgeous and well worth the price of admission even if she does keep all her clothes on (which Himeyasha doesn't, but cheats by coverin' up the naughty bits with her hair).

Now, if yer one'a those sweater vest wearin' intallecktuals, this may not be up yer alley, so get the hell out. Everyone else who appreciates the subtle art of cheese (like yers truly and Wicked Lemon) will not only be enthralled and amazed but like the Brickster will no doubt camp out on the Studio's doorstep DEMANDIN' a sequel. The only difference is that they'll be payin' me to do it but not you.

July 18th, 2011-Ya know, you'd think after bein' married to someone for 10 long years you'd pretty much know all there is to know about your mate. Even moreso when it's someone like Koyori, who's about as vanilla and predictable as any other Japanese wife. Well, any Japanese wife that costars with her husband in grade Z movies and whose dad owns the studio. Anyway, there comes a time in any relationship where out of the blue you stumble across somethin' scandalous that shocks the hell out of you and leaves your happy little everday existance shredded to pieces. Somethin' that exposes the double life they've been leadin'. Somethin' that makes you examine your lover from a whole new perspective-and no, I don't mean pickin' another page from the Kama Sutra. 

I was innocently goin' through Ko's lingerie drawer lookin' fer some hidden cash after blowin' alla mine bailin' a certain pal of mine outta hot water at this Nigerian hostess club while I was scoutin' locations in Tokyo. Lemme tell ya, stowin' aboard away the Shinkansen to get back to Kyoto was risky business, and I was just lucky that the gal in charge of the snack cart who discovered me crouched down behind the pile of baggage in the front of one of the cars was a big fan. But anyway, when I got home, Ko wasn't home. But like all women, I knew she had a small fortune stashed away somewhere in the house. And most women hide it in their underwear drawer thinkin' that men won't look in there. So's I begin to paw through it, relivin' wonderful memories with every skimpy T-back and G-string, until I came upon...IT. 

IT bein' the book on the right. I knew it was trouble just from lookin' at the cover, where some bitter American goth chick was tryin' to front as a kunoichi. After flippin' through it I saw it was basically a primer on how to kill men with simple everyday apparel and accessories, and that this was a good thing since it promoted the Sisterhood Of The Ninja. It also encouraged women to go around kickin' men in the jimmies and rip out their eyes. And even worse, Ko caught me red handed readin' the damn thing, and even worse, standin' in a pile of her underwear, some of which had ended up coverin' my head. It was the darndest thing. 

Ko claims she just read the book to prepare for her role in our upcomin' ninja film and also to help her improve her English. I didn't believe this for a minute, but she was twistin' the belt on her robe the whole time into a knotted garrotte and had this smug grin plastered on her kisser so I hadda agree with her or my life woulda been forfeit. Plus she gave me all the money I needed, provin' that at least she musta been puttin' all that ninjer trainin' to good use. From here on out, though, I'm gonna be watchin' my step. With her ninjer trainin', I'll never know when she's watchin'. If I disappear abrutly some day, you'll all know I musta stepped over the line.

July 11th, 2011-As the Brickster revealed a few months back (see the Monogatari entries for November 8, 2010 and May 2, 2011), Mito Komon, beloved star of the long-runnin' jidaigeki series of the same name, not only broke heads and took names of evildoers in Japan but also brought his brand of tough sammyrai love to the good ol' USA-not to mention impartin' a certain finger-lickin' good sekrit recipe while he wuz hangin' out swappin' recipes at Churchill Downs and layin' down some good Tokugawa Ryo on the ponies. And if that ain't a run-on sentence, the Brickster's a Chinese jet pilot. Anyhoo, I was under the impression the old coot was long in his grave, and he only lived on in his various cinematic representations.

But that was until I visited Shibuya last weekend scoutin' locations fer some 'guerrilla filmmakin', since we can't afford to pay fer real location shootin' in Tokyo. And no matter WHAT some asshat or several women of loose morals lookin' fer a payday mighta told Koyori, one of the locations WASN'T Love Hotel Hill, and even if it was, I musta got lost on my way to this masquerade party and was helped out by a street gang of shrine maiden toughs with hearts of gold. Happens alla time. Now, where, was I? Oh yeah-Mito Komon. 

It turns out that Mito Komon still patrols the mean streets of New Edo (or as the residents like to call it, Tokyo) and has updated his look to keep in step with the times. That spiky hair, body armor, and big floppy clown shoes (along with that 'Keinikubaketsu' tsuba on his kustom katana) are a sure-fire way to score with all the chicks that swoon over metrosexual anime and manga pretty boys. But with new times come new challenges-Mito Komon's met his biggest challenge yet. I came across this tableau and had the presence of mind to snap a pic with my cell.
That's right-Ronald the Ronin's in town and lookin' to put an end to the last of those mean ol' rotten Tokugawa that made ronin miserable by turnin' 'em outta cushy no-work positions-and-SHUDDER-expectin' 'em to go get real jobs. Although from the looks of the gold fittin's on Ronald's sword, he ain't been doin' so bad-musta cut down village headman Makuchizu and looted the town. Mito Komon looks like he expects to have it his way, though-wonder if he realizes Ronald's got that sizzlin' skewer hidden behind his back. And Ronald-well, he's finally got his chance for revenge and he's LOVIN' IT!
I'd like to tell ya who came out on top, but about that time I spotted a guy that looked like a wiry psycho yakuza loan shark enforcer (or he mighta just been Kitsuno) so I figgered it was a good time to go. I didn't find any useful shootin' locations that day, but I did get a great idea fer my next classic film.

July 4th, 2011-I'm sure you've all watched a scene in a chanbara film where the bad guy (and sometimes even the good guy) will undress a woman with one slick move by pullin' on her obi, spinnin' her around like a top, and then havin' her clothes fall off once the obi's played out. The Brickster does it at least once in every movie, even if it's set in modern day Japan. But did you know that little trick is referred to as "ozashiki-asobi"? Ozashiki-asobi usually refers to a get-together with geiko or maiko and the silly party games they engage in, but can also specifically refer to this particular crowd pleaser.

There's also an underground competition for ozashiki-asobi supremacy among Japanese men, and selected gaijin who have proven worthy of the honor like me. It's kinda like 'Fight Club', except the part of bein' beaten to a pulp is omitted. Instead, you get to liquor up a girl, take a pull at her obi, and see if three cherries come up. Scorin' is based on...well, scorin'. If you can't get the gal nekkid on the first spin, obviously you get a big, fat zero. There's some 'stiff' competition, especially after the gal's clothes fall off, but so far the Brickster's managed to keep a perfect record. This is probably due to my special 'Shogun Tornado' finishin' move, where the gal's obi is pulled so quickly at times they've been known to hit escape velocity and spiral several feet off the ground. Or it might just be that if another guy can beat my best time, his gal almost always leaves with me anyway. In either case, it's good bein' the King.

June 27th, 2011-Anyone who's ever read a book of Japanese ghost stories or watched televised anthologies of 'em on J-TV is probably familiar with the 'dish-breaking ghost', Okiku. The story is called Banchou Sarayashiki, and Okiku's a servant to a samurai lord. The family has a set of ten heirloom dishes, and Okiku's entrusted with them-if any of the plates are lost or broken, the servant responsible is punished with death. Dependin' on the version (and these are just two of many), she either is framed by her lord when he hides a plate to blackmail her into sleepin' with him, or she loves the schmuck and tests his love by deliberately breakin' the plate. In both cases, the pissed off lord ends up pushin' her down the well. That's when the cool part starts. Her vengeful spirit goes climbin' up the well at night, and in a croakin' voice countin' out from one to nine as she climbs. Woe be to anyone caught loiterin' around the top when she gets there-it's worse than tryin' to sneak into my house when I've been out at 3 AM.

But even kewler is that the Brickster just recently discovered Okiku really existed! And yeah, I got the photos ta prove it! The well where she met her demise is inside the grounds of Himeji Castle, right in front (and a level down) of the Honmaru containin' the castle keep. You can see it's clearly marked on the memorial stone in front of the well, and just to keep tourists who don't read Japanese safe, they've put metal bars and fencin' to seal it off. I mean, "DUMBASS FOREIGNER DRAGGED INTO WELL BY ONRYO" might do wonders fer sellin' papers and juicin' TV ratin's, but might upset the tourist industry. Still, you kinda get that feelin' that you do when you watch that drowned chick crawl outta the well in Ringu when you stand next to it. Ko told me she felt the icy hand of death ticklin' her spine when we were there, but that was just me tryin' ta grope her butt after throwin' down a frosty cold one.

June 20, 2011-My pal Tatsu loves the computer game Total War: Shogun 2 more than’s really healthy. So much so that he enters every online contest he sees tryin’ to win promo prizes. He never gets any of these, but he did rack up an impressive supply of copies of the game as consolation prizes. And since we’re practically family, one of those free copies made it into my collection. Now, while everyone else plays this game and glories in the detailed tactical battle mode and satiatin’ their feelin’s of inadequacy by conquerin’ a virtual Sengoku era Japan, the Brickster approached things just a bit diff’rently. I set out simply to make the Sengoku a better place-and what better way than buildin’ temples that produced warrior nuns, big castles run by busty assertive women, a red light district, and the most elaborate sake den possible in each and ev’ry province? A land filled with cute gals and grog is a happy land. It seemed to work, since my daimyo acquired the traits “An Eye For The Ladies” and “Womanizer” after he failed to leave the castle town or engage in battle for several (dozen) seasons, preferin’ to let the grunts do the dirty work. And no, I ain’t makin’ that up-they’re actual titles the game will award you with at some point if ya play yer cards right. I also produced some Warhorse Stud stables to produce some good ponies fer the racetrack along with Gamblin’ Halls ta bet on ‘em, an Arsenal so’s I could get Fire Rocket troops fer nightly fireworks displays, Laquerware Workshops fer the best in drinkin’ utensils, a Smugglin’ Network to score cool stuff from smelly Westerners, a Burakumin Village (since someone has to do some actual work), and a Great Shrine so Koyori and her Shrine Maidens wouldn’t feel left out. And just to watch a truly epic battle, I built a Pirate Fortress and a Ninja Fortress within’ shoutin’ distance of each other. And yeah, these are all real buildin’s in-game. 

That ain’t ta say I never engaged in battle-since everyone knows it’s the navy that always wins wars, I built a huge fleet that doubled as my personal cruise line. We even had a ‘Blackthorne moment’ when we bushwhacked the evil Jesuit’s Black Ship and captured it. Likewise, just so no god-cursed Sodomite Westerners would intrude on my good time, we mercilessly wiped Christianity off the map, used the wood from their churches to build hoorhouses, and fed their wussy missionaries to my hordes of demon-masked ninja.

One of the perks of producin’ the most elaborate Sake Den (the infamous Mizu Shobai district) also gives birth to that most notorious of Shogun agents-the Geisha. Now, the Brickster had visions of this paragon of Japanese womanhood takin’ good care of his junior daimyo, if ya know what I mean.

But what I got instead wuz nothin’ short of the female version of the Terminator. This chick is RUTHLESS! She never cracks a smile or utters a single word. For a novice Geisha, any general or enemy agent she decides to attack is a dead man-it’s as simple as that. And once she’s leveled to max, she’s an unstoppable killin’ machine that will slaughter any enemy agent that tries to take her down. My Geisha daintily shuffled into Odawara Castle, took out the Hojo’s max ranked daimyo, and killed six of the seven ninja, monks, and metsuke the Hojo immediately sent out to assassinate her. The other one was simply wounded and taken out of play for a year. Much like it takes a Terminator to kill a Terminator, it appears the only way to take down a Geisha is to use one of yer own. Whoever put together the movie ‘Robogeisha’ musta had this game in mind. It’s a good thing that unlike the original game, you can only recruit one of these babes at a time and she can be attacked by any enemy agent dumb enough to try. But in the unlikely event she’s destroyed, just like the Terminator, you can send out another…and another…and another.

I’m jus’ hopin’ that she doesn’t decide to go all Skynet on me and turn her wrath homewards. Normally that kind of approach is triggered in cybernetic women by computer malfunctions or flings with bar hostesses, neither of which existed in Sengoku Japan, so I oughta be safe. Just don’t dare tell her that a Geisha’s an anachronism in the Sengoku. It’ll get ugly.

June 13, 2011-As much as I hate to admit it, part of Abarenbo Gaijin’s success ain’t due to my own dazzlin’ performances, actin’ skillz, wholesome good looks, and personal magnetism. Nope, some of the credit has to go to my co-stars Shrine Maiden Koyori (played by the fetchin’ Koyori McBurly) and time displaced Onmyoji Abe no Seimei. Koyori, of course, helps provide the eye candy for guys (and some of the male wannabes amongst the chick population). She’s also the capable, if borin’ and unimaginative, deus ex machina that hauls the Brickster’s chestnuts out of whatever tight spot he’s blundered into that episode. Ko’s the perfect male-protectin’, tough, no-nonsense, bitchy and bossy female role model for the girls and future wives in the audience (which will help them develop into model Japanese brides). Seimei is the goofy clown perfect for comedy relief (since SOMEONE has to be a bigger idiot than the Brickster), and he also appeals to the hopeless nerds in the sword and sorcery crowd who eat up that Harry Potter crap. He’s a lot like that old coot ‘Fuzzy’ that used to appear in Westerns with Bob Steele, or Jack Benny’s ‘Rochester’. Seimei’s also based on a historical figure-Abe no Seimei (duh) who was a fabled Onmyoji in the service of the Emperor durin' the tenth and eleventh century. 

Chanbara series have always been big on adaptin’ historical characters fer their sidekicks (not to mention stars). ‘Abarenbo Shogun’ is one of the best examples. Fun Fact #1-the owner of a certain godawful sammyrai film forum who fancies that ‘lights, camera, action’ shines out of his butt spells ‘Abarenbo’ as ‘Abarendo’. But since he can’t speak Japanese and don’t even know what the word means, but thinks it sure sounds kewl, what would you expect? Anyway, the title of my show is a homage to that series. ‘Homage’ is a French word that means ‘Yes, we stole the idea from you, oui oui, but you can’t sue us’. We film part of our show on the same sets-the Megumi fire house is still standin’ here at The Studio. The show’s star, Matsudaira Ken (who my Japanese language teacher from years ago gushed over like a giddy schoolgirl), played Tokugawa Yoshimune, the famous Shogun who was a man of the people and that was rumored to walk among them in disguise (which he does on the show in the person of his sekrit identity, Tokuda Shinnosuke). Shin-san’s prime sidekick was Boss Tatsugoro, the leader of the Megumi Fire Brigade in Edo. He was also a famous historical figure several times over, but we’ll get to that later. Tatsu was kind of a cross between the ‘badass’ sidekick like Kato (from the Green Hornet, not the Japanese tiger-killin' asshat) and the ‘goofy’ sidekick…a tough guy and a brawler with a heart of gold. At the same time, he couldn’t handle anythin’ on his own and his wife was that rarest of creatures-a fat Japanese woman. The guys at Megumi never seemed to actually fight any fires, but spent all their time drinkin’, gettin’ into fights they never won, wanderin’ around the entertainment district goofin’ off, or stickin’ their noses into other people’s bidness. Except fer that last part, they were a lot like the Brickster. Shin-san knew if he felt like rightin’ some wrongs that day, all he had to do was stop by Megumi. The place was basically a weirdness magnet that every problem in Edo came into contact with. Fun Fact #2-the Brickster’s been told a certain hard-core feminist writer of godawful Japanese-themed fiction thinks that ‘Abarenbo Shogun’ sucked because they DARED to present the Shogun in a positive light. Everyone knows the Tokugawa were mean ol' dictators who lived only to repress the people and that only a noble, wanderin’ ronin (you know, those guys that comprised a big segment of the criminal element) can truly be a hero, right? Color her naïve, clueless, and give her a big fat ZERO in Japanese history. But speakin’ of havin’ yer chestnuts in a tight spot-I guess havin’ the Edo period version of that hag Kirstie Alley for a wife made Tatsugoro pine for some’a the good stuff, as you can see in these frames from ‘The Geisha’s Sex Trap’ episode. He’s all flustered because some hatamoto beat him to the ‘tang:

By the way, his name is Tatsugoro, ‘case you was wonderin’. Now on to Tatsugoro’s historical heritage. The Megumi fire brigade was one of Edo’s most famous group of firefighters, but usually for the wrong reasons. Instead of helpin’ to keep law and order like the TV version, the historical version was more apt to BE the problem, and the name of Tatsugoro was usually passed down from one chief to another durin’ the Edo period. The most famous of these was Shinmon Tatsugoro, who was chief durin’ the wanin’ days of the Bakufu. He was a yakuza thug who used the fire brigade to further his interests from what I hear. This woulda been around 150 years after the Tatsugoro on the TV show. But the most famous Tatsugoro of all was the one that instigated one of the biggest brawls in Edo history in 1804. They recently talked about it on the Samurai Archives, so I’m gonna cut the paste the account from there:

"The Megumi Kenka started at Shiba Daijingû and was between Edo's famous Megumi fire brigade (headed up by Boss Tatsugoro) and a group of sumo wrestlers (with the main instigator seeming to be a certain Kuryu-zan). Edo firefighters unofficially were not expected to pay admission to sumo matches, but Megumi brought along someone who was a non-member and the wrestlers demanded he pay. Although a shouting match went on (with the wrestlers being supported by their samurai sponsors and the Megumi by their townsfolk peeps), Tatsugoro paid up to keep the peace-which lasted until later when the firemen went to a kabuki play. By chance Kuryu-zan was also attending and began to insult the Megumi, leading to a fight that escalated and drew in other fire brigades and sumo stables from across Edo. Tatsugoro ended up being banished from Edo but became a folk hero."

Damn! Now those boys knew how to work their PR. These days, bein’ a belligerent drunk, tryin’ to sneak into somewhere without payin’, insultin’ a spoiled, pampered pro athlete, and touchin’ off a riot that engulfed most of the city would at best get yer name on ‘Nancy Grace’ and years of bein’ sodomized by Big Bubba. Instead, the Megumi boys became folk heroes to millions and had blockbuster kabuki plays written about them. They even had one of Japan’s hottest gravure idols named after them. Even the Megumi couldn’t put out the fire that this Megumi lights in the Brickster’s pan…uhhhhhh, heart. For anyone who says you can’t learn anythin’ useful from history, well, here’s solid proof you can.

June 6, 2011-Ever get tired of Ninjer video games that feature all sorts of magic, hellish fantasy creatures, ghosts, demons, and flyin’ invincible ninja? Well, me neither, but don’t let that keep ya from playin’ “Castle Kagoshima”, a free downloadable game from the talented Mike Macdee (who’s also created several cool Splatterhouse fan games). Castle Kagoshima features Mata the Fox, a ninja who’s been tasked by the Tokugawa Shogunate with gatherin’ proof of the Lord of Satsuma’s traitorous plans. Mike eschewed the fantasy ninja approach and kept things on a more realistic basis. This is spelled out right from the beginnin’, as Mata has been discovered and dumped in the dungeon to rot. Mata depends largely on his disguise and mimicry skills, along with stealth and usin’ his limited supplies wisely. Avoidin’ fights and ingratiatin’ yerself with the different denizens of the castle is the key to victory. Swordfightin’ can be used in a pinch-assumin’ you can find a sword-but is largely useless when bein’ swarmed by multiple guards. A good player will never have to do this-they’ll be fine usin’ the special advantages each of Mata’s four disguises gives him and understandin’ the psychology of the castle’s guards, servants, geisha, and shrine maidens. Find the scroll holdin’ the sekrits of Satsuma’s evil plans and make it out the front gate to win. It’s an old school, easy to play but tough to master game that’s very addictive. Some of you veteran gamers will recognize that it’s basically a tribute to the original ‘Castle Wolfenstein’ game.

But even better, ya know who the historical consultant for the game was? C’mon, guess. No, try again. Never mind-it’s none other than yers truly, the Brickster! With the vast, wide-reachin’ historical resources of my super brain bein’ put to the task, you just KNOW the game is gonna be the last word in historical accuracy. I bet Mikael Adolphson and heavy mouth breather Willy Wayne Farris play this baby between teachin’ classes, creepily hoverin’ over conference goers, and rippin’ on Matsudaira Ken’s actin’ abilities. My agent Obenjo plays it, but keeps havin’ his ass handed to him-I guess stealth just ain’t one of his stronger points, unless it involves Catholic nuns and Yobai. My only regret is that while Mike filled the game with Shrine Maidens and Geisha, the player doesn’t have the option to engage in a little…oh, shall we say, pumpin’ ‘em for information. That would make it much more historically accurate and a lot more like one of my films ta boot. Then again, I’ve always had my suspicions that most Ninjer are battin’ fer the other team anyway. At any rate, “Castle Kagoshima” is a fun and addictive game. You can download the game HERE, along with three other ninjer games-Fleet Of 300 Phantoms, Shogun's Ransom, and Triangle Of Death. Go ahead, do it. You’ll thank me.

May 30, 2011-The Brickster wuz checkin’ out the action on eBay the other day, and in the course of one of his searches the item on the right came up. Now, at first glance this looks like somethin’ a Chinese hooker might wear in San Francisco to play up to the tourist trade. Not that I’d know anythin’ about that. But no-it’s actually a kid’s costume from the 1960’s TV Series “The Samurai”, which was to Australia what the Batman TV show was to the United States. While the Brickster was born right at the end of Bat-mania, my pal Tatsu gushes about his fond memories of livin’ through it as a child-so “The Samurai” musta been somethin’ pretty special down under. But just take a look at this outfit-how many poor boys from Oz decked themselves out like Asian women of easy virtue and took to the streets in search of ninja who would laugh themselves to death after gettin’ a look at their outfit? And ya gotta love that historically accurate patch on the breast pocket-“Shintaro, Master Swordsman of the Samurai”. I suppose it makes sense-after all, there ain’t much time fer introductions durin’ a swordfight and it’s always nice to know who’s carvin’ you up. It probably saved on havin’ business cards printed up, too. And check out that cardboard effigy of Shintaro that’s fillin’ it out-as a kid, I’da had nightmares about this thing hangin’ in my closet and comin’ to life when the lights were turned out. I bet there were even kids who cut eyeholes in Shintaro’s cardboard face, stuffed it down the front of the outfit, and went for the ultimate in realism. Or the kids that preferred Ninjer cosplay mighta used Cardboard Shintaro for target practice with the throwin' stars they cut outta tin cans. But what’s most amazin’ is the price on this thing-over $400 bucks American! For a cheap Halloween costume? Sheesh! So what made the Shintaro series so special that it commands this kind of jack years later?

Well, luckily, one of the Brickster’s Australian fans (a right pert Sheila if ever there was one) sent him the entire ten (!) volumes of Shintaro episodes so’s I could find out for myself, along with the documentary “Shintaro: The Samurai Sensation That Swept The Nation”. And

the reports of Shintaro’s popularity weren’t exaggerated-Australian promoters booked star Ose Koichi to do a tour of Australia along with several large stage shows. Everywhere he went, he was met with huge mobs that rivaled those that the Beatles were gettin’. All of the Sydney stage shows sold out at 6000 plus per show and they hadda book a bunch more in Melbourne to meet the demand. But lookin’ at the show, it ain’t immediately obvious what the big attraction was. It’s pretty standard jidaigeki TV fare-Shintaro’s an “Omitsu Kenshi” (Spy Swordsman, which also happened to be the Japanese title) who travels the land lookin’ to help out his half brother the Shogun and defend the Shogun’s valued minister, Lord Sadanobu. In Season one, he travels up to Ezo to spy on the countryside for the Shogunate. The other nine seasons feature ninja free for alls, as Shintaro and his ninja pals take on a variety of enemy Ninjer clans. It’s a low budget kid’s show, is poorly dubbed in English, the plots are ridiculous, the logic is paper thin, and the special effects are a laugh riot.

But ya know what? It’s entertainin’ as hell. Every episode has a huge body count, evil never prospers, Shintaro is the champeen of women and the common man (just like yers truly), and he never hesitates to kick the ass of anyone and everyone who gets in his way (unless it’s a chick, in which case he delivers a verbal spankin’-not a real one, unfortunately- and turns them to his side). If that ain’t good entertainment, I don’t know what is.

But the real attraction is the Ninjer! Every episode after season one is loaded with ‘em, and there must be a Ninjer Farm since even when one side loses every single one of their men in one episode, five minutes later in the next episode they’re fully staffed again. Usually each season features a different enemy ninja clan (the last season features ALL of them), and actor Amatsu Bin plays almost every one of the different clan chiefs. Must be a strong streak of incest in ninja clans. The ‘hero’ ninja all have special magik powers that are a riot, and EVRY SINGLE TIME they use them they’ll scream out what they’re doin’ at the top of their lungs. “Iga Ninja Fire Trick!” “Koga Ninja Spider Trick!” “Puppet Ninja Face-Stealing Trick!” “Phantom Ninja Blinding Snow Trick!” “Fuma Ninja Mirror Trick!” “Hayes Ninja Fraudulent Book Trick!” And these are the most arrogant. Ninja. EVAR. If you want to play a Shintaro drinkin’ game, just down a shot every time you hear a ninja say “Now I’ll show you what an Iga/Wolf/Koga/Spider/Fuma/Puppet/Phantom/Etc Ninja can REALLY do!!!!!!”. You’ll be drunk outta your mind before the next episode. These guys spend so much time posturin’, braggin’, raggin’ on the enemy, and struttin’ around gloatin’ that when their chance to kill Shintaro comes up, they obliviously let it pass by. But it’s the Iga ninja that really take the cake. These guys are the Shogun’s bodyguard and Shintaro’s allies. It’s hard to see why because they’re killed by the hundreds while inflictin’ no casualties on their opponents, and they’re completely clueless how to proceed in any given situation. When they want to show you what they can REALLY do, this translates into “watch me die”. Their leader is Shintaro’s lackey, Tonbei the Mist, and he’s the last word in ineptitude. Tonbei’s a big time asshat who always has a stupid smile plastered on his face. He’s the Bullwinkle to Shintaro’s Rocky. I love this character! Shintaro probably just keeps him around to act as ninja bait to draw his enemies into the open, since Tonbei screws up every single plan he’s entrusted with, usually endin’ with him bein’ captured and havin’ to be bailed out by Shintaro. Even better are the times when seven year old Shusaku (Shintaro’s ‘Robin’) pulls his hash outta the fire. Still, not only does Tonbei survive all nine seasons, but the actor playin’ him was even in the color relaunch of the series in the 70’s as another ninja. Which just goes to show it’s better to be lucky than good, and the Brickster’s livin’ proof of that.

May 23, 2011-Recently dumbass samurai cat Hikonyan got all miffed because his sekrit origin (which you can see by clickin’ on the ‘Hikonyan’ tab located on the bar above-hey, it ain’t my fault, my wife made me put it there) was heisted by a Western publication. Not only did they steal his story, but they changed it so it didn’t have anythin’ to do with the little white tub a’goo. Instead, they claimed that it’s the legend behind the “Maneki Neko”-the Lucky Cat statue you see everywhere in Japan, ‘specially around restaurants. Now, while that’s funny enough, what really elevates it to high comedy is the name of the book that did it. I mean, if you get plagiarized by Time, Newsweek, the National Enquirer, or Stephen Turnbull, it’s to be expected and kind of an honor. But Hikonyan got burned by “Uncle John’s Unstoppable Bathroom Reader”-no, I ain’t kiddin’. How apropos is that? Hah! Hikonyan’s story is only good enough for readin’ while perched on the throne, and he wasn’t even deemed worthy of bein’ included IN HIS OWN STORY. And if this wasn’t enough humiliation for Hikonyan, that same day he got royally ripped by the Samurai Archives’ resident naysayer and grouch, LtDomer98, fer his lack of knowledge on the Sakuma Letter. What’s the Sakuma Letter? Well, what the hell ya lookin’ at me for? Go ask Conlan or somethin’. I’d say it’s safe to say that no one will be confusin’ Hikonyan with a ‘lucky cat’ after the week he had. It’s probably a good thing, because if they based those statues on Hikonyan, that raised paw would probably have an extended middle finger. But just in case yer havin’ a tough time tellin’ anyway, at the top of this entry the Brickster has considerately provided you with an easy “Visual Guide To Identifyin’ Lucky Cats”. It can come in handy since the Hairball of Hikone has been known to impersonate Maneki Neko statues in an effort to relieve unwary diners of their meals-I mean, just take a look at the size of his gut. He’d probably be swipin’ tip money, too, except that you don’t have to tip anyone in Japan. I suppose we should be thankful that Hikonyan is only tryin’ to impersonate “Lucky Cats” and not “Tanuki”, because from what I heard from the ladies at the last “Brick McBurly Valentines Day Hot Tub Party”, he ain’t got the balls for it.


August 23, 2010-May 16, 2011

January 4, 2010-August 16, 2010

June 22, 2009-December 28, 2009

October 27, 2008-June 15, 2009

August 4, 2008-October 20, 2008

July 2008

November 26, 2007-June 30, 2008