Anime Movies Are Finally Getting The U.S. Theatrical Releases They Deserve

Image: Night Is Short Walk On Girl

Just a couple decades ago, anime fans would pore over Japanese dictionaries to hand-translate subtitles for their favorite anime films, which they’d disseminate over IRCs and password-protected forums. Over the last couple of years, those same fans to see marquee displays for “SPIRITED AWAY” and “YOUR NAME” hanging above their local brick-and-mortar movie theater. More and more American theaters are screening new and old anime movies, a welcome change for fans tired of pirating anime on their tiny MacBooks.

It’s true that in 1999, kids lined up outside theaters for the 75-minute feature film Pokemon: The First Movie, a viewing experience my mother cites as the number one most challenging thing she did as a parent next to giving birth. Also, in 2002, Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away—with meagre marketing—was shown at 151 theaters a year after its Japanese release, but grossed $5.5 million. Yet between the big releases, anime films used to be a rare sight to see in a U.S. theater—outside of film hubs like New York or Los Angeles. What we got was almost always accompanied by the words “limited release.”

Things are different now. After the enormous success of anime films like Your Name, which earned $1.7 million its opening weekend in 2017, the floodgates have been opened. Along with the excitement of participating in a cultural moment—the release of a movie to a large audience—fans can experience a lot of these films the way they’re meant to be seen: with booming sound, high-quality video and the cinema atmosphere.

Image: Ponyo

In 2019, we’re getting spoiled. The 2018 love story Mirai, a critical hit, is still showing in theaters across the country, and at its peak was showing in 700 theaters. Dragon Ball Super: Broly earned $7 million at the box office on January 16, the day it was released. Soon, we’re getting I Want To Eat Your Pancreas, Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel II, Okko’s Inn, and Anemone: Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution. 2017 tear-jerker A Silent Voice will screen again late this month. We’ll have yet another year of the Studio Ghibli Fest, a nationwide event that will bring nine Studio Ghibli movies—Ponyo, Pom Poko, Princess Mononoke—to middle America as well as the big cities. (There was a listing for The Cat Returns in The Idaho Statesman last year.)

Fathom is one of the major companies behind the flood of anime movies to theaters and is also spearheading the Studio Ghibli Fest. “We initially premiered several anime titles 6-7 years ago, however in more recent years, we have increased our focus on this type of programming,” said senior director of programming Brian Deulley. “This focus mainly stems from overwhelming fan response and demand, both domestically as well as internationally.” In 2017, the Ghibli fest earn $5.29 million at the box office. In 2018, that number grew to $6.78 million.

“For so long, many titles could only be viewed on imported VHS/ DVD/ Blu rays, or fan sites that people may or may not have stumbled across,” Deulley continued. Theatrical releases allow audiences to “enjoy their favorite characters or relive classic scenes on the big screen in a packed auditorium with other fans.”

It’s not just that there’s a greater hunger for anime movies in theaters. American distributors are also getting the rights to more anime. In 2017, boutique animation distributor GKIDS took over most of Studio Ghibli’s distribution rights from Disney (GKIDS had acquired theatrical rights in 2011). Disney got worldwide distribution rights in 1996, a little before the release of soon-to-be-classics Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. In 2017, GKIDS released half of Hayao Miyazaki’s film output on Blu-Ray.

Image: Nausicaa

GKIDS president David Jesteadt was managing a video store before he began working in GKIDS’ distribution department. At that time, it was a tiny company distributing foreign animated films. Ten years later, at age 33, Jesteadt is helping to head some of the biggest theatrical and home theater anime releases the U.S. has ever seen. Studio Ghibli, he said, trusts GKIDS to do things right. “We started theatrically re-releasing a lot of their films which were previously unavailable,” he explained over the phone. Studio Ghibli values theatrical experiences above all else, he said, because “that’s how the films were made to be seen.” If you’ve ever seen Nausicaa in theaters, you know what the booming techno soundtrack does for its skyglider chase scenes.

Studio Ghibli also cares about film format, according to Jesteadt. “They wanted [us] to show the films in 35mm. It was very important for them to have the opportunity for the audience to see those like that on a large screen… They’re a company that deeply respects how things are done, not just being commercially or financially oriented. They want their films treated with care and thought and with a unique appreciation for what makes them special.”

Image: Lu Over The Wall

Jesteadt said that while he has “nothing but respect for Disney and what they were able to do for the Ghibli catalog,” they’re a large studio that has multiple blockbuster films every year. “They have a lot going on. Being able to build from the ground up and say how are we going to get these films seen in theaters has been an interesting challenge for us.”

Ghibli isn’t the only name on the block at GKIDS, but it is the most mainstream. Another of the company’s special projects has been theatrically releasing the films of mastermind director Masaaki Yuasa. Last year, Yuasa made both Lu Over The Wall and Night Is Short Walk On Girl, the latter of which I have described as “the best anime movie in memory.” Both movies had theatrical releases. It was a spectacular thing for fans of the lesser-known but beloved director, especially since his 2004 psychedelic masterpiece Mind Game didn’t get a U.S. theatrical release until last year (again, thanks to GKIDS). Sadly, a lot of these events only last a couple of days.

“It’s a golden age of anime generally and that includes access,” said Jesteadt. His mission now, though, is to pave the way for smaller projects’ theatrical welcomes overseas. “Often, in the past, there were gatekeepers—people maybe like me or a distributor who has to bring over one thing. It’s easier than ever to say, ‘We’re gonna bring over a lot of things and let natural fanbases develop.’ It can be tougher for smaller projects or films that don’t always have that high level of attention and exposure before they release. We want to play a small part in helping to curate and draw attention to titles that may not necessarily be the best known always but have a strong quality thread running through them.”


Anthem: 55 interesting details we’ve gleaned from the tweets of its creators

Anthem is only a month away, with the beta coming up in a few weeks. But like all live games prior to release, there are tons of tiny details that players want to know before they ready themselves for the long winter of grinding to that endgame.

A collection of BioWare developers — lead producers Ben Irving and Mike Gamble, as well as game director Jonathan Warner — have spent the past several months answering fan questions on Twitter. While most of Anthem’s big revelations come in the form of streams and press releases, some of the smallest and most interesting details only come from these tweets.

We’ve rounded up 55 interesting Anthem facts that are worth knowing ahead of release.

1. Individual gear doesn’t level up

Gear in Anthem is static, meaning that once it drops, it’s what you have. However, like Diablo, the goal is to find higher rarity loot with better stats.

2. Using your ultimate makes you immune to damage

Each Javelin has its own ultimate to devastate enemies, but it looks like it’s also a viable tool for defense. Popping your ultimate will make you immune to damage until it runs out.

3. You can start with any of the four classes

This is something we’ve seen conflicting reports on. However, one of the more recent tweets from Warner suggests that the Ranger is no longer the de facto starting Javelin and that players will instead be able to choose their starting suit from the beginning.

4. Story progress is per player, but can be done in a group

Anthem is an open game with a focus on story. So while you can always jump in and play with your friends, you won’t lose any missions because of it.

5. Story is progressed per-player, meaning it can be played in a group without fear

On the flip side of the earlier question, everyone in the group can make progress if they’re all playing through at the same time and on the same mission.

6. Random players can appear in the freeplay game world

In true MMO-lite fashion, random players outside of your team will appear in the open world. However, this only seems true for modes like freeplay, not instanced strongholds.

7. Players will be tethered together in missions so they don’t fall too far behind — in freeplay, teammates can go anywhere

Teammates will be forced to stick together during missions by a tethering system. This seems to be a developer choice, since it isn’t the case in the larger, freeplay mode. Instead, getting too far away from your teammates will teleport you back to the action in more scripted missions.

8. There will be a accessibility option to increase font size

Looking at small text can be grading or impossible for some folks. Anthem will have the option to increase font size.

9. Progress will not be cross-platform at launch

Players will need to choose where they want their progress before they start the game. While Gamble said that cross-platform saves could eventually be a reality, it won’t be there at launch.

10. Your pilot levels up and takes that level to whatever Javelin they’re in

Leveling has some unique perks, like unlocking difficulties and skills for your pilot. But Javelins themselves don’t level up, meaning you’ll only need to go through that process once without being punished by switching suits.

11. Loot is sent to you if you forget to pick it up

If you accidentally leave a piece of loot on the ground — or god forbid it falls off a cliff — there will be some way to retrieve it.

However, Ben Irving clarified on a stream that only rarer items will be sent to those that forget them — everything else will be lost.

12. Servers will be dedicated at launch

Dedicated servers are a big deal in multiplayer games, and should reduce some of the lag and inconsistent effects players are prone to feel when they’re connecting to some random player in their party. It also makes the game far more secure against players who would want to do nefarious things to the game.

13. Pilot customization will be limited compared to Javelins — at least at launch

While pilots in Anthem get all the levels, they get none of the beauty. Because pilots will be locked up inside the various Javelins for most of the game, their customization options are fairly limited — at least at launch. Javelins, on the other hand, are extremely customizable.

14. Anthem will have repeatable, difficult quests in the endgame

Contracts are like early game bounties meant to offer advice to new players or guide them on where to go. But in the endgame, the same system evolves to become a bit more involved and rewarding.

These contracts are mildly dynamic, and will move you around the world so it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly doing the same thing.

15. Loot is per-player, not for the group — Anthem will have no trading at launch

Anthem is a game meant to be played with friends, but loot will drop individually per-player rather than for the group. However, trading will not be available at launch. While not entirely uncommon in games like this, no trading is a bit more concerning in Anthem — which seems to share more of a loot philosophy with Diablo than Destiny. In a game all about that grind, using friends to leverage your bad luck can be useful and personally rewarding.

16. Weapon appearances cannot be changed at launch

While each weapon will look different and unique in Anthem, they will not be cosmetically customizable — at least not at launch. However, each weapon should be visually identifiable.

17. Content will be added for free after launch — no season pass for Anthem

Anthem will have post-launch content — although what and when has yet to be revealed. However, it seems that Gamble is suggesting it’ll be free for all players.

18. Players can have multiple pilots to replay the story alone or with friends

While pilots are the ones that level, players will still be able to have multiple accounts and pilots. It seems that most players won’t engage with this system, but it’s an option for those that want to start fresh with new friends.

19. Harder difficulties will be unlocked from the start

For players looking for a challenge or want better chance at good loot from the get-go, Anthem will offer a harder difficulty from the start of the game.

20. The hardest difficulty doesn’t become available until max level

While a harder difficulty is unlocked from the start, the Grandmaster difficulty tier won’t become available until players have reached max level with their pilot.

21. The entire campaign can be played alone

While the game is inherently multiplayer, Anthem will be playable completely solo — at least through the story campaign.

22. New activities will become available after the campaign

New options for play will open for players after the campaign has been completed, elongating the game as it transitions into the endgame.

23. Players can reconnect to the game if they disconnect

Players who disconnect or have internet troubles will be able to reconnect to their friends as long as they can get back in the game within a reasonable amount of time.

24. Enemies can be afflicted by multiple status effects simultaneously

Different elements attach themselves to enemies and do different things (we’ll cover that a little farther down). But for teams that are running multiple elements, enemies can be afflicted by more than one effect at a time.

However, the more powerful the enemy is, the harder it’ll be to hit them with elemental effects.

25. Loot drops for all Javelins, not just the one you’re currently in

While the game will try to drop loot that is useful to players, there is still a chance that loot will drop for a Javelin they aren’t currently using. For example, if a player is playing the Colossus, they may still come across loot for the Interceptor. This can then be equipped on their Interceptor Javelin for the next time they play it.

26. All Javelins travel at the same speed — some handle differently

While traveling with friends, you’ll all be able to go the same max speed — regardless of which Javelin you’re playing. However, different Javelins will handle flying differently. Some will handle slower than others, while the Storm can maneuver itself very quickly.

27. Loot scales, even when playing with friends

Anthem will offer incentive for players to help their lower level friends. Loot will drop relative to your level, not relative to the level of the host. So while your drops may be less frequent due to difficulty, the loot itself will be potentially useful.

28. Even freeplay mode has a difficulty setting

When free-roaming alone or with friends, players will be able to select a difficulty — just like with all the other activities in the game.

29. Gear drops are based on your overall level, not what you have equipped

Speaking of drops, gear is relative to your pilot level rather than your Javelin’s gear score. Even if you aren’t wearing your best gear, you’ll still receive the best possible loot.

30. Javelins will likely get new abilities as content is added

Abilities are attached to gear pieces in Anthem. A frost arm cannon on your Storm will cause you to shoot frost bolts, for example. As the developer adds new loot, Irving suggested that they’ll most likely add new abilities as well.

31. Experience will still count toward something after max level

While not entirely clear how, experience gained past max level in Anthem will attribute to some kind of progression. In Destiny 2, for example, level ups post max level grant a cosmetic loot box for players.

32. Crafting materials are gained from salvaging items and collecting from the world

Crafting items come from all over the place in Anthem — including breaking down loot you don’t need and picking up materials in the world. Crafting can be used to supplement gear drops with blueprints for weapons.

33. Anthem won’t have player versus player at launch

Anthem won’t offer any kind of competitive multiplayer at launch. However, it could come later.

34. Snipers will use first-person own scopes, despite being a third-person shooter

When aiming down the scope with a sniper, the game will transition into first-person for precision aiming.

35. Anthem will have fast travel

Anthem is all about getting around fast with flight, but when you need to go a long distance the game will offer a fast travel system.

36. Even failed missions can be rewarding

Sometimes missions are too difficult to complete and you’ll need to back out and give up. In these situations, any loot you’ve earned or XP you’ve gained will remain with you.

37. High-rarity items don’t have an equip limit

Unlike in games like Destiny 2 — where only one Exotic weapon and armor piece can be equipped at a time — Anthem will allow players to equip any and all powerful pieces they get at once. So an ideal Javelin will be equipped with the highest level gear possible, all of the same rarity.

38. Players can save their favorite Javelin loadouts

Builds can get complicated in Anthem, with multiple gear slots on each Javelin. To manage this, players will be able to save a loadout for when they go out into the world.

39. The bigger your group, the harder the game

Anthem offers group scaling for players. A bigger team will give your group more damage due to the sheer amount of weapons on your side of the playing field. However, enemies will scale up based on your group size, making it harder the bigger the group gets.

40. Armor is cosmetic, components carry all the stats

Stats and cosmetics are completely separate in Anthem. Players can customize the look of their Javelins without altering the stats. Similarly, players can change the components — gear pieces that have different effects on them — without changing the look of their Javelin.

41. Players who AFK for long periods of time can rejoin if a slot is still open

Sometimes life gets in the way of thing when trying to play with friends. Having to step away from the game to deal with a child or another emergency won’t be too punishing in Anthem. Even after getting kicked for inactivity by the game, players should be able to rejoin the mission if an empty roster slot is still available.

42. Weapons can be crafted by blueprints if you’re lucky enough to get one

Like in Diablo 3, blueprints for items will be difficult finds. However, players will be able to earn them in currently-unknown ways, allowing them to craft infinite supplies of weapons as long as they have the crafting materials.

43. Combo bonuses only work for the first player who detonates it

Different Javelins have different effects when comboing enemies. When players apply a status effect to an enemy, it can be detonated by a different kind of weapon. Weapons that can prime and detonate are explicitly stated in the menus. But comboing has its benefits. For example, Interceptor Javelins who manage to combo correctly will surround themselves with an elemental field that can prime nearby targets. Unfortunately for teams, only the Javelin that primes the combo first will receive their unique benefit.

44. Bosses don’t drop specific loot

The loot pool in Anthem is universal, meaning all loot can drop from all locations. This means bosses won’t drop anything specific to them when they’re killed. However, adding this post launch isn’t completely out of the question.

45. Playing with low level friends will scale you back

High level players will be scaled back when they join friends, meaning an overpowered Javelin can’t just decimate all the story enemies.

46. Javelins can share weapons that belong to the same pilot

Switching Javelins is an inherent part of playing Anthem. While many gear pieces are Javelin specific, weapons can be transferred between them — making strengthening a weaker Javelin much easier.

47. Players won’t be able to inspect friend’s gear at launch

Players won’t be able to inspect the builds of their friends or random players out in the wild — meaning old fashioned communication or screenshots will be needed to see what a pal is taking into battle. However, this is a feature the team is looking into post-launch.

48. Ammunition drops for specific weapon types

Ammunition blocks are tied to specific weapon types. For example, you can run two of the same kind of weapon if you like. But since they share the same ammo type, you’ll run out far more quickly than normal.

49. There is no timer on respawns

In Anthem, certain areas of the game lock the respawn of allied players. However, the team won’t lose until all players are dead or the area is completed. Allies can be revived in perpetuity.

50. Difficulty setting mainly bolsters health and damage

Difficulty settings can change enemy behaviors, but the most noticeable change from normal to hard is the damage dealt by enemies and the health they have.

51. No content scales above four players

Unlike other games of this type or MMO-likes, four is the maximum group size across all activities — there are no raids that allow six or eight players to work together.

52. All the elements have different effects

Elements can be applied by some weapons and abilities in Anthem. Each has their own interaction with enemies. For example, setting an enemy on fire will cause them to take damage over time, while electrifying enemies will deal damage in a area around them.

53. Loot can’t be swapped mid-mission

Currently, players will be unable to change loot on their Javelin until they return to the hub area. However, the team is watching how this works and it could change in the future.

54. Enemies will fight each other, not just you

Anthem has quite a few different enemy factions, and players may run into more than one at once. Thankfully, enemies will treat all units not part of their faction as enemies. Players should be able to leverage this to their advantage, letting their enemies take each other out and saving them some ammo.

55. And in case you’re worried that all this information will ruin Anthem before it’s even out …

Like many open-world games, Anthem will have secrets hidden outside in the world. However, the team is being fairly tight-lipped on this aspect of the game — for obvious reasons.


Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story 3DS Review Roundup

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey is a remake of sorts of the 2009 DS game, this time for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s out now in North America, though its release date in Europe isn’t until January 25 (January 26 in Australia). The important question, though, is whether the remake is any good.

Critical consensus has been positive, with many praising the new mode, Bowser Jr.’s Journey. “The extra mode certainly sweetens the pot for those who owned Bowser’s Inside Story on DS, but fundamentally, it’s the same game,” wrote Justin Clark in GameSpot’s Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story review. For more opinions on the 3DS version, take a look below or check out GameSpot sister site Metacritic.

  • Game: Mario + Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey
  • Developer / Publisher: AlphaDream, Arzest / Nintendo
  • Platform: Nintendo 3DS
  • Release date: Out now (North America), January 25 (Europe), January 26 (North America)
  • Price: US $40 / £35 / AU $60

GameSpot — 8/10

“The extra mode certainly sweetens the pot for those who owned Bowser’s Inside Story on DS, but fundamentally, it’s the same game. If anything, the real drawback is the game coming off as an unnecessary surprise on the 3DS–which can already play the original game via backward compatibility. But the game itself remains one of Mario’s RPG best, and it’s a cheerful, inventive journey.” — Justin Clark [Full review]

Game Informer — 8.5/10

“The updated visuals are attractive and the new mode is interesting–especially if you want to spend more time in that world–but if you played the 2009 original and consider yourself satisfied with that experience, then the incentive to return is small. If you’ve never played Bowser’s Inside Story, this is a fantastic way to experience what is probably the best of the Mario & Luigi games. As a remake, it doesn’t drastically change the experience or improve on it in a big way, but that’s a testament to the original’s quality more than it is a knock against this version.” — Kyle Hilliard [Full review]

Nintendo Life — 9/10

“Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey stands as a well-made remake of a game that was excellent to begin with, polishing up the original in small ways and adding some extra content that meaningfully establishes its own identity. If you’ve ever been a fan of the Mario & Luigi series (or are looking for a reason to dust off the old 3DS), do yourself a favour and pick this game up. Although Bowser Jr.’s Journey is just an ‘okay’ addition, the inventive battles, great writing and creative gameplay of the main game make this one an easy recommendation.” — Mitch Vogel [Full review]

Kotaku — No score

“I’d love to have gotten a brand new Mario & Luigi game this year, or even a remake that was on Switch instead of the 3DS. Still, a remake of Bowser’s Inside Story, one of the best games in the series, is better than none at all. I’m enjoying reliving the high points of the story with the beautiful, upgraded graphics and have found a surprising amount of fun in guiding Bowser Jr. through absurdist misadventures with the rest of Bowser’s minions. The Mario universe has become so much bigger in the years since Inside Story was originally released. It’s nice to be able to spend time with some of the under-explored characters on a smaller scale.” — Ethan Gach [Full review]


The Complex World Of Japanese Business Manners

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

Manners in Japan are tricky, complex and sometimes hard to follow—even for Japanese people.

Over the weekend, I flipped through a book on Japanese manners I purchased here in Osaka. The book is divided into several sections, such as the correct way to perform rituals at Buddhist funerals (as well as Christian and Shinto services), the intricacies of noshigami and seasonal gifts, the proper way to address and write letters, and more. The book is aimed at shakaijin (社会人), which means literally means “a member of society,” but denotes adults and working people.

Full disclosure: The manner book was published by Kodansha, and Kodansha International, which no longer exists, published my first two books. My most recent books, such as Japanese Whisky, were published by Tuttle.

The Manners Encyclopedia has the inevitable bowing and business card sections. There are bits on the right way to sit, how to politely remove and fold your coat and even the proper way to pick things up off the ground (don’t bend over, but kneel down without touching your knees on the ground and pick up the dropped object). There is also an array of information on table manners, some of which is covered here as well as how to correctly and politely use chopsticks and other tableware.

To give an idea of how complex things can get, here is a section on business manners for how people in a company should ride in an elevator, on a train, in a taxi or in a private car. In the drawings, the number 1 indicates the most senior or important person. The other numbers are of descending importance.

So, for elevators, if there are two button panels, person 3 and person 4 stand in front of each panel with persons 1 and 2 in the back. If there is only one button panel, the person 4 stands there.

When riding taxis, person 1 sits behind the driver in the backseat, while person 3 sits in the other back window seat. Person 3 sits in the middle back seat, while person 4 should sit up front with the driver. But if the car is a private automobile for, let’s say golf outing, then person 1 sits up front with the owner of the car, while person 3 sits backseat in the middle.

For trains with four seats together, person 1 sits next to the window in the direction the train is traveling. Person 2 sits across from person 1 in the window seat. If there are two rows of three seats, then person 5 and 6 will sit in the middle. Person 1 will, once again, sit facing the direction the train is traveling.

Complicated! But this is scratching the surface. A couple of the book’s Amazon Japan reviews say the Manners Encyclopedia has just the most basic Japanese manners, which, if you aren’t already a manner master, might make it a good place to start.


Top 10 UK Games Chart: Ace Combat 7 Debuts Above Red Dead Redemption 2

Bandai Namco’s Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown debuts at No.2 in the UK games chart, below only New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, which keeps its place atop the physical chart for the week ending January 19. Ace Combat sells better this week than big hitters such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and FIFA 19, which finish at No.3, No.4, and No.5, respectively.

The remainder of the chart stays largely unchanged in a week lacking many new releases. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate drops one place to No.6, while it’s a good week once again for Activision’s platforming remasters as Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy both manage a top 10 finish.

You can read the full top 10 sales chart below, courtesy of UKIE and sales monitor Chart-Track. Note this table does not include digital sales data, and so should not be considered representative of all UK game sales.

Ace Combat 7 enjoys “the biggest debut in the long running series’ history,” according to Chart-Track. It launched last week to a positive critical reception, including an 8/10 from GameSpot.

“Good aerial combat is important for a game involving jet fighters, but it’s a given quality for Ace Combat,” wrote Edmond Tran in our Ace Combat 7 review. “Skies Unknown boasts a beautiful photorealistic world, entertaining mission variety, and a reason to get excited about clouds. But most importantly, it carries renewed devotion to the history and stories of its fictional universe, and with that, it brings back the human, emotional center that makes it remarkable. Ace Combat 7 is a fantastic return for a series that is at its best when it wears its heart on its wings.”

  1. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
  2. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
  3. Red Dead Redemption 2
  4. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  5. FIFA 19
  6. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  7. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  8. Grand Theft Auto V
  9. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  10. Spyro Reignited Trilogy


How To Make Ace Combat VR Even More Immersive

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

This is Taka. He’s really into fighter planes and has figured out how to up the immersion factor in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown.

Taka turned his PS Vita headset into a Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System and mounted it on a helmet.


According to Taka, he spent around 200,000 yen ($1,825) ordering the gear from the U.S. with the mask, costing around 90,000 yen ($821), being the most expensive part.

It might have been a bit too immersive because Taka said he threw up while playing Ace Combat 7 in VR mode.

Gran Turismo, however, was more enjoyable for him in VR!

For more, you can follow Taka on Twitter.


Detective Pikachu Trailer Just Dealt A Fart Joke 

Since 1996, when Pokémon debuted, I have not once wondered whether or not a Pikachu can fart. Then I watched the latest Detective Pikachu trailer.

The film is the first live-action Hollywood adaptation of the world of Pokémon, fart jokes and all. Is this movie canon?

I’m not anti-fart joke! Not at all.

This trailer ain’t George Carlin, sure, but at least we now know Pokémon can fart. I guess!


How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wound up on a Donkey Kong 64 Twitch charity stream

H.Bomberguy, aka Harry Brewis, has been streaming Nintendo 64 game Donkey Kong 64 on and off for the past 50-plus hours. He’s doing so to raise money for U.K.-based charity Mermaids, an organization that offers support for transgender children, teenagers, and their families. What started off as an endeavor to “spite” an Irish comedian who opposes the charity organization has turned into a wild, surprising success; Brewis has raised more than $280,000 so far, and his stream has featured cameo appearances from Doom co-creator John Romero, activist Chelsea Manning, and U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Brewis started his stream on Twitch on Jan. 18. In a YouTube video announcing the stream, he said he’d never beaten Donkey Kong 64 as a kid. His old save file purportedly shows 59-plus hours of playtime, but just 69 percent completion. Brewis’ goal for the charity stream was to beat the N64 game 100 percent.

“I want to destroy Donkey Kong 64,” he said.

His other target of destruction was writer-director-comedian Graham Linehan, whose work includes the sitcoms Father Ted and The IT Crowd. In a since-deleted message board post, Linehan promoted an email campaign questioning Mermaids’ funding by the National Lottery. Brewis explained that Linehan was the catalyst for his fundraising effort.

“All the proceeds from this stream will go to Mermaids, a charity which works to provide resources and support to young people with gender dysphoria,” Brewis said. “I chose to support this charity, because as a person living in Britain, I find the media discussion surrounding this issue in my country, especially in its tabloids to be woefully misinformed. And I’d like to do my bit to help support the people who do the hard work of contributing to peoples’ thinking on an important issue.

“I chose Mermaids in specific because when they were designated some funding by the National Lottery, Graham Linehan, a comedy writer who did some work on a good show, uh, 20 years ago who happens to be very normal man who’s just just very angry about trans people all day nowadays went on Mumsnet and told them to email a lady from the National Lottery en masse and now the funding is under review. So well done, Graham! You have a massive audience and the power to choose to fight for progress in all the many forms we need in the world right now and you used it to make sure some children won’t have access to helpful resources.”

Brewis’ stream had already raised more than $50,000 in its first 24 hours, speedily heading toward an ever-increasing fundraising goal. People like John Romero, Jim Sterling, and Chelsea Manning popped onto the stream, apparently via Brewis’ Discord channel, but it was the appearance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district and who is very good at Twitter, that drew the most attention.

So how did she wind up there? We can thank Aaron Sorkin, creator of television series The West Wing and The Newsroom.

Sorkin appeared on CNN this week and spoke to host Fareed Zakaria, saying that he likes “the new crop of young people who were just elected to Congress” but that they “now need to stop acting like young people.” (At 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to serve in Congress.) Sorkin said that Democrats have “an opportunity to be the non-stupid party,” adding, “it’s not just about transgender bathrooms — that’s a Republican talking point they’re trying to distract you with.”

Ocasio-Cortez criticized Sorkin’s comments in a Twitter thread and concluded with a retweet from Mermaids that was promoting the Donkey Kong 64 stream. Shortly after — and after numerous requests on Twitter for Ocasio-Cortez to appear on stream — she joined Discord and had a chat with H.Bomberguy to help raise money. Ocasio-Cortez said that while she never owned a Nintendo 64 herself, her cousin did, and thanks to games like Super Mario 64 and Pokémon Snap, she considers it “probably the best system out of all of them.”

Apparently, Ocasio-Cortez has had games on the brain this weekend, based on another pair of tweets in which she name-dropped Dance Dance Revolution and brought the classic Zero Wing meme “All your base are belong to us” out of internet storage.

If you’d like to watch H.Bomberguy do his thing (and donate), he’s still streaming.


Here’s Overwatch’s First New Skins From Year Of The Pig

Overwatch has begun teasing its next in-game event, 2019’s Lunar New Year. The annual event focuses on Chinese culture and often introduces new skins based on Chinese historical figures or folklore. Blizzard has revealed its first three skins for the upcoming Year of the Pig, with fresh looks for Reaper, Hanzo, and Reinhardt.

The skins were rolled out on the official Twitter account. Reaper gets a new look as Lu Bu Reaper. Hanzo grows a mighty beard as Huang Zhong Hanzo. Finally, Reinhardt loses the helmet for Guan Yu Reinhardt. All three are modeled after generals who lived during the Han dynasty, so there’s a definite theme to the inclusions so far.

Year of the Pig will begin on January 24 and last through February 8. New skins are being debuted daily through Twitter and Facebook. That leaves a few more days for more skin reveals. Some possible contenders include Brigitte, Wrecking Ball, and Ashe, all of which were released after the last Lunar New Year event.

Last year’s Lunar New Year event was the Year of the Dog, which debuted a host of new skins and a capture-the-flag mode. The most recent Overwatch event focused on Ana and paired with a free skin for the character, right on the heels of the annual Winter Wonderland event.





AOC Breaks the Internet by Dropping in on Charity Twitch Stream for Trans Kids 

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty

It’s logical to fear that any politician with a semblance of humanity will eventually disappoint us. But somehow, in defiance of our low expectations, freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just keeps getting cooler. This evening she became perhaps the first Congressperson to ever appear on a Twitch stream, and certainly the first Congressperson to guest on a charity Twitch stream supporting trans rights.

To the collective internet’s shock and joy, AOC joined Youtuber H.bomberguy to discuss trans rights during his epic, 50-hours-and-counting Donkey Kong 64 stream. The money raised during his stream will go to support Mermaids, a UK charity for trans children that has been the subject of a moral panic.

Ocasio-Cortez initially tweeted about the stream, before joining it herself.

The look on H.bomberguy’s face when he realizes he’s speaking to Ocasio-Cortez is genuinely heartwarming. A streamer captured the moment:

She also spoke about why N64 is the best gaming platform, and how discrimination hurts trans people’s ability to remain financially stable.

“[Discrimination] makes these issues much more acute in their crises… it’s important that we talk about these issues in an economic frame, but not let go of the fact that discrimination is a core reason for economic hardship,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

The stream was initially inspired by Irish writer and comedian Graham Linehan, who wrote popular sitcom The IT Crowd. He regularly criticizes the charity and trans people in general. Linehan is one of several prominent UK entertainment figures who are critical of gender dysphoria treatment for young people, which can include delaying puberty. He was previously warned by the police following harassment of a trans woman on Twitter.

It sure looks like the joke’s on Lineham, because H.bomberguy’s quest to play Donkey Kong 64 to 101% completion has now raised more than $250,000 for Mermaids. And the stream isn’t over yet.

Shout out to AOC, the only good politician.


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