Demon Slayer: Swordsman Accompanying Demon

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — In the sixth episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Tanjiro sets out on his first assignment as an official demon slayer with his demon sister Nezuko.

The episode begins with Tanjiro getting prepared to head off on his first assignment to slay a demon that has been abducting and eating young girls in a village in the northwest.

His trainer Sakonji Urokodaki explains that the uniform provided by the Demon Slayer Corps is made of a special fabric that cannot be destroyed by the fangs and claws of a regular demon. He then presents Tanjiro with a special wooden box so he can carry his sister Nezuko on his journey during the day.

With Nezuko in the box strapped to his back, Tanjiro gets underway.

As he arrives at the village, he sees a man, later introduced as Kazumi, limping down the road. Tanjiro hears whispers and gossip about how Kazumi was with his girlfriend, Satoko, the night she was abducted, and he has been wandering aimlessly since then. He immediately confronts Kazumi with questions.

Kazumi shows Tanjiro the last spot he saw his girlfriend. He begs Tanjiro to believe him, since no one else did. Tanjiro provides assurances that he trusts him.

Tanjiro spends the entire day trying to follow the scent of the demon, but it seemed to be coming from all direction and in waves.

As night falls, he picks up the demon’s scent fused with that of a young girl. He runs in the direction of the aroma. Tanjiro realizes that this demon is using a special Blood Demon Art and is hiding underground.

He stabs the ground and manages to pull the young girl away from the clutches of the demon. He then realizes that this one demon has split into three separate entities and he has to kill all three to defeat it.

After a few moments of battling unsuccessfully, Nezuko bursts out of the box and helps Tanjiro fight the demon.

The episode ends with Nezuko stomping on one of the demon entity’s heads.

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DoorDash Launches in Japan

Akihabara News (Tokyo) – DoorDash, an online food ordering and delivery company based in San Francisco, has just launched in Japan.

The US firm has chosen Japan as its first Asian expansion country with the backing of the SoftBank Group.

Japan is DoorDash’s fourth nation overall as the company has previously launched internationally in Australia and Canada.

DoorDash CEO and Cofounder Tony Xu claims that his firm’s services will help “empower local economies” in Japan.

Founded in 2013, DoorDash is currently the largest food delivery company in the United States, while Japan has become dominated by UberEats in the same sector.

The coronavirus pandemic has helped fuel the growing popularity of online food delivery services.

Using the DoorDash app, consumers can order food directly from participating restaurants and have it delivered to their doorstep, much like UberEats.

These services will initially be limited to the city of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture, but expansion to other regions is expected later in the year.

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Government Backs Alternative Meats

Akihabara News (Tokyo) – This year’s government White Paper on Environment, Recycling Society and Biodiversity has declared in support of alternative meats in order to transition towards a decarbonized society and to tackle the climate crisis.

The white paper is a report edited and reviewed every year based upon the Basic Environment Law, the Basic Law for Establishing a Recycling Society, and the Basic Law on Biodiversity. It provides an in-depth overview of environmental issues to encourage people to participate and cooperate.

In this year’s white paper, the government focuses on the transition to a decarbonized society, including, for the first time, the promotion of alternative meat products. The paper details the negative impacts of the mass production of processed meats for the environment.

According to the paper, production and consumption of meat causes high levels of carbon dioxide emissions during the transportation of feed supplies and the release of methane by livestock. Alternative meats sourced from plant-based products, such as soy, are said to possess a more sustainable footprint.

Since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s declaration that Japan will aim to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, many businesses have started using and offering alternative plant-based meats.

For example, Ikea Japan is currently serving up vegan beef curry as part of its Sustainable Food Fair. This beef is made of soy and is part of its initiative to transition its menus into fully plant-based foods.

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The Full Kimono Experience

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Stasia Matsumoto is a professional licensed kimono stylist in Asakusa, Tokyo, who provides people with the full authentic kimono experience and photoshoots.

Matsumoto owns a business that rents out authentic, vintage, or antique kimonos. However, unlike other kimono rental stores, she offers a full experience of the kimono that includes: personalized styling, hair styling, and a photoshoot.

She started off as a street photographer who was taking kimono classes on the side. The business started when she figured out she could combine both her hobbies into one. Her own interest stems from her admiration of the elegance of a kimono. She says that regardless of the type of kimono, “it is always classy and elegant” to look at.

According to Matsumoto, her store has kimonos in varying ranges. She has kimonos that are modern and casual, as well as kimonos that are almost a hundred years old.

The experience starts with a lecture in which she stresses the fact that “there is much more to a kimono than people think.” She enjoys educating people and sharing her knowledge about kimonos and how to style them. Prior to the session, she discusses with the clients their personal preferences and does her best to accommodate to their individual requests.

After fitting them in the kimono, Matsumoto also provides hair styling services. Finally, the experience is completed with a photoshoot as a tangible souvenir. The process takes the majority of a day, and Matsumoto says that she can fit “ideally three customers a week.”

Matsumoto notes that she does not want to cater to a specific audience and would like to welcome anyone and everyone to come learn about kimonos and experience wearing them the right way. Whether it is a casual or fancy, Matsumoto tries to meet all reasonable requests.

In response to the Covid pandemic, she has been able to digitize her lectures, and has plans to write a book about kimonos.

“There are no comprehensive sources in English,” she says.

She has also started a website, a Patreon account, and an Instagram account where her work can be found.

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Review: The Way of the Househusband

By Madhuryavalli Karunakaran

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — The Way of the Househusband is a Japanese manga series that has recently been picked up by Netflix and made into its own anime series. The following is an episode by episode breakdown of the series and a personal review.

The show focuses on a former yakuza (Japanese gangster) boss nicknamed “the Immortal Dragon” by his underground peers. Tatsu has been retired from his life of violence is a househusband to his wife Miku. Covered in tattoos and scars, Tatsu looks odd in his little apron as he goes about his domestic duties with the same passion and vigor of a violent gangster.

The series is edited the way any action anime would be edited: With close ups of the eyes, suspense, rapid cuts from scene to scene, and heavy metal music playing in the background. However, the juxtaposition of a hard-faced man packing a cute bento box for his wife is funny to watch.

The episodes are structured in a way that even if a section is missed, it is easy to delve right back in. The underlying story is not so significant to this series. It focuses more on the comical aspects and showing a scary man doing househusband duties. Despite occasional run-ins with his past rivals, Tatsu is fully committed to being the best househusband that he can.

In the first episode, a short introduction of Tatsu and his past life is shown, which then immediately cuts to him making lunch for his wife. His wife is introduced as a very busy designer who does not even have time for breakfast. In this episode, Tatsu runs into Masa, his former employee, when he was the yakuza boss. He then shows Masa how much work it is to be a househusband.

In the second episode, Tatsu takes a yoga class with a housewife from the neighborhood. It is entertaining to watch him in a class full of middle aged women doing yoga poses. He compares a few poses to when he was back in the gang with quotes like, “This is how we tie the body when we want to throw it in the river.”

In the third episode, Tatsu runs into Torajiro, his enemy from when he was a yakuza, running a food truck. They discuss their new domestic lives and have a cook-off to see who is a better cook. This scene is edited in a way that makes it seem as if their lives depended on who was the better cook.

In the fourth episode, Tatsu and his father-in-law bond over a game of catch. Miku’s father reminisces about the first time he met Tatsu and how he was terrified of the gangster. Nothing has changed over the years. He is still terrified of Tatsu. The episode ends with Tatsu pretending to be Santa Claus in a classroom of kids. They also seem scared of him due to his demeanor, but his gifts and his kindness win them over.

The fifth and final episode of the first season is Tatsu’s birthday. Masa and Miku try to clean the house and bake him a cake. When Tatsu returns from his errands, he finds the two of them completely defeated by their tasks. A burnt birthday cake and a messy house proves to be no problem for him as he cleans the abode and salvages the birthday cake in no time.

Throughout the show, Tatsu is constantly feared wherever he goes due to his appearance. The police are routinely suspicious of him carrying out illegal activities, but can never catch him. His past rivals also try to engage him in fights, which he avoids ingeniously. Over the course of the series, stories of his past are sprinkled in. In the second episode, someone mentions that this is the same man who killed ten people with his bare hands, which Tatsu then confirms is true, while riding a shopping bike and wearing an apron.

The combination of the action-style editing and the quirky storyline seemed to work well. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic of the scary househusband and busy designer wife. The dynamics of their relationship were revealed progressively in every episode. Miku does not even seem to care that her husband looks like a gangster. It goes right over her head. At one point, she even helps him kill a cockroach when he was too scared to do it himself.

The Way of the Househusband, although not terribly intricate or fully fleshed out, is still very enjoyable. This show is perfect for the days I do not want to commit to a long serial story but still want a laugh. At fifteen-to-twenty minutes an episode, it is perfect for a quick watch during lunch or dinner. As accurately described by Julia Lee, a writer for Polygon, “It is a nice, silly pick-me-up” show.

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Demon Slayer: My Own Steel

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — In the fifth episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Tanjiro makes it through the final selection process and receives his first assignment as an official demon slayer.

The episode begins with a flashback of his trainer Sakonji Urokodaki fighting a demon, which then turns out to be the morphed demon Tanjiro battled during the final selection process.

Upon killing the demon, Tanjiro sees the souls of the children whom the demon had killed and tells them they can finally rest in peace.

Over the next seven days of the selection process, Tanjiro is constantly having to fight demons to stay alive, but he tries to ask the demons if they know how to change his sister back into a human. He never gets an answer.

After the seven days, he survives the process, and is shocked to discover that he is one of only four to make it out alive. There had been so many of them when the selection started.

The successful four are congratulated and awarded a Kasugai Crow for communication purposes. They are then asked to select a metal ore that will become the basis of their very own Nichirin Blade that will take two weeks to forge.

Tanjiro struggles to get home to Urokodaki as he is fatigued from the selection process. When he finally makes it, he is embraced by his sister Nezuko who is finally awake.

Urokodaki is impressed that Tanjiro has survived the process. He warns him about special Blood Demon Art that provides some demons with enhanced supernatural abilities that are harder to defeat. He also speculates that Nezuko has regained her strength from sleeping.

Fifteen days later, Hotaru Haganezuka, a sword forger in a mask, arrives with Tanjiro’s sword made of scarlet iron sand and scarlet ore. He explains that these materials produce steel that can absorb sunlight.

Haganezuka says Tanjiro is a child of brightness due to his red hair and eyes, which is meant to be a cause for celebration. He predicts that the Nichirin Blade will turn red. However, as Tanjiro draws the sword, it turns pitch black, which Urokodaki says is uncommon.

The episode ends with Tanjiro’s Kasugai crow transmitting his first assignment, which is to hunt down a demon lurking in the northwest who is killing young girls.

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New Museum to Add to the Nintendo Legend

Akihabara News (Tokyo) – Nintendo, Japan’s largest video game company, is set to open its Nintendo Gallery Museum in Kyoto by 2024, the firm has announced.

The gaming giant has revealed its plan to repurpose an old factory in the city of Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, that had been used as a customer service center for Nintendo product repairs. It will become a museum gallery that will exhibit the entire history of its gaming products along with other enjoyable experiences.

The company behind legendary games such as Super Mario and Donkey Kong started in 1889 as a manufacturer of playing cards. In 1977, it launched its first home video game machines.

The Nintendo Entertainment System console was launched in 1983, and just two years later the amazingly successful Super Mario Bros games hit the market.

A more recent addition to its long-term success was the release of the Nintendo Switch gaming system in 2017. As of this month, the Switch has sold more than twenty million consoles, making it one of the most ubiquitous products in the gaming world.

Super Nintendo World, a Mario-themed amusement park, opened in Osaka in March, although the Covid pandemic has disrupted its debut.

With highly anticipated game releases expected to come next year, a new Switch console arriving soon, and the newly-announced gallery in Kyoto, Nintendo fans should have ample opportunities to indulge themselves in the years ahead.

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Luxury Hotel Brands Expand to Kyoto

SNA Travel (Tokyo) – Hotel Okura and the Imperial Hotel have both selected the ancient capital of Kyoto as the next site for their expansion.

Luxury hotel brands Hotel Okura and the Imperial Hotel have separately announced that they will be building new branches under their franchise in this historic western Japanese city.

The first to open, perhaps as soon as next January, will be the Hotel Okura branch situated in Sakyo Ward near renowned sites such as Ginkakuji.

The Hotel Okura Kyoto Okazaki Bettei, as it is named, will be the newest addition to the Okura brand in twenty years since the Okura Chiba Hotel in 2001. It will be developed by Mitsubishi Estate, and the building will have sixty guest rooms, with four floors above ground.

This hotel will possess facilities for banquets, as well as hosting restaurants, a fitness gym, and a lounge.

Imperial Hotel’s new branch will be located in the Gion district, and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2026.

The Imperial Hotel branch will be its first new business in thirty years since an opening in Osaka in 1996. The building it has chosen to renovate is a nationally-registered tangible cultural property, the Yasaka Kaikan. The building is located in the center of the world-famous maiko (girls training to be geiko, or geisha) area of the city.

Hideya Sadayasu, the president of Imperial Hotel, promises that the it will aim to preserve the cultural value of the building to the “maximum degree possible.” The structure will keep its iconic multi-layered roof and the shape of the tower which adds its character to the Kyoto urban landscape.

With seven floors above ground, two below ground, and sixty guest rooms, the new Imperial Hotel in Kyoto will have restaurants, a bar, a spa, and a fitness gym.

Together, these new luxury hotels aim to add to Kyoto’s ability to transmit Japanese traditional culture and create memorable experiences for visitors.

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Demon Slayer: Final Selection

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — In the fourth episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Tanjiro completes his training and heads to the “final selection” process.

At the beginning of the episode, trainer Sakonji Urokodaki tells Tanjiro that he had hoped he would never be able to cleave the boulder because he did not want to lose another child to the final selection process.

Urokodaki cooks Tanjiro a feast to celebrate the end of his training. He mentions that the demons get stronger the more people they consume. Urokodaki then gives Tanjiro a warding mask that he had made himself and put a spell on it to protect him from harm. The mask is in the shape of a fox, the same as his previous students.

The next day, Tanjiro says goodbye to his sister and Urokodaki. As he is leaving, he tells his trainer to thank Sabito and Makomo and runs off to the final selection process. Urokodaki looks stunned. He reveals that Sabito and Makomo have been dead for some time.

Tanjiro arrives at the demon slayer corps final selection where he finds several other students on the same journey. They are told that they have to survive in the mountains for seven days with demons that have been caught alive and imprisoned there by previous demon slayers.

Within a few moments of entering, Tanjiro is attacked by two demons at once, both of which he defeats and kills instantly with the Nichirin Blade that Urokodaki had given him.

Moments later he hears screaming and sees a gigantic morphed demon that eats a demon slayer candidate and is on the verge of killing another. Tanjiro had never seen anything like it, but the demon seemed to recognize his fox mask.

It is revealed that this demon had been captured by Urokodaki 47 years ago and it has been seeking revenge against his students ever since.

After an intense battle, the episode ends with Tanjiro successfully slashing the neck of the enormous demon.

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JAXA to Send Tiny Robot to the Moon

Akihabara News (Tokyo) – Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be teaming up with Japanese companies and a university to send a tiny robot to collect data on the Moon.

JAXA will collaborate with Tomy Company (a toy company), Sony, and Doshisha University in the process of developing a transformable lunar robot that it intends to send to the Moon for data collection–data which will aid in the design of a pressurized rover that can carry a human crew.

ispace, a Tokyo-based commercial lunar exploration company, signed a contract in April with JAXA offering its lunar lander to help the space agency transport the transformable lunar robot to the Moon. The company plans to send its first lunar lander next year as part of its commercial lunar exploration program (Hakuto-R). The contract was won in an open bidding process.

The as yet unnamed lunar robot, which is said to be roughly the size of a baseball, will be integrated into ispace’s lunar lander and deployed upon landing on the Moon. The small robot will then acquire and transfer telemetry and lunar imagery via ispace’s lander back to JAXA, and this data will then be used to design the rover currently under development.

Founder and CEO of ispace Takeshi Hakamada says he is “pleased to make history as the first commercial service provider to a governmental lunar surface mission in Japan.”

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Queensland Green Hydrogen for Japan

Akihabara News (Tokyo) – Queensland state-owned Stanwell Corporation and Iwatani Corporation are working together to supply Japan with green hydrogen in the near future.

Iwatani, Japan’s largest hydrogen supplier, is currently collaborating with Stanwell on a project in Central Queensland that aims to start shipping liquid green hydrogen to Japan by 2026. Several obstacles, including transportation challenges and cost issues, still need to be resolved in order to overcome its disadvantages vis-a-vis fossil fuels.

Stanwell aims to take advantage of the vast Australian land and the abundance of sunshine and wind to power the electrolyzers that will split water to make hydrogen without the use of fossil fuels. This method produces the climate-friendly “green hydrogen” that is currently witnessing increased demand as the world battles global warming.

The Australian national government has predicted that this industry could generate from US$8.5 billion to US$20 billion in economic growth by 2050, depending on how brisk global demand proves to be. The goal is to produce 280,000 tons per year by 2030, using 3 gigawatts of electrolyzer capacity.

Stanwell Executive General Manager Stephen Quilter recently told Reuters that the green hydrogen opportunity is “real and closer than we think.”

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Osaka Taps Flying Car Expertise from Skyports

Akihabara News (Tokyo) – Skyports, a UK-based mobility company, has been invited to share its eVTOL (flying car) expertise to assist with the Osaka Prefecture Super City, a project launched in 2020 to pioneer the city life of the future.

Skyports is developing and operating landing infrastructure for the electric air taxi revolution as well as operating cargo drone deliveries. It has been accepted as one of five organizations to provide expertise on flying cars to Osaka Prefecture. Partnering with Kanematsu Corporation, Skyports hopes to play a significant role in the development of Japanese infrastructure and drone delivery services.

The company is gaining momentum as it has also been invited to contribute in Osaka Prefecture’s “Green Table,” a collaborative platform with the purpose of accelerating the commercialization of Japan’s advanced air mobility (AAM) ecosystem.

According to Skyports Chief Executive Officer Duncan Walker, “Our knowledge of locating, designing, building, and operating infrastructure for air taxis and drone deliveries is second to none.” He believes that they have been rightfully selected to work on Osaka’s project.

Osaka Prefecture is aiming to be a model smart city by implementing cutting-edge services and establishing its place as a world leader in advanced technology.

More information will be announced about the Osaka Super City later this year.

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Ikea Serves Up Vegan Beef Curry

Akihabara News (Tokyo) – Ikea Japan has partnered up with Next Meats to serve fully vegan beef curry as part of its Sustainable Food Fair.

Next Meats is a Japanese startup foodtech venture company that specializes in creating staple Japanese dishes with plant-based meats. In this instance, it has replicated a plant-based curry and soy-based meat.

This so-called Next Gyudon “perfectly replicates texture as well as the addictive sweet and savory flavor of the real thing.”

Next Meats has already expanded into the United States, Southeast Asia, and parts of Europe.

Ikea, the Sweden-founded furniture and home appliance giant, contends that it strives for environmentally conscious efforts, of which this is one.

The Sustainable Food Fair is a pop-up store to “encourage people to try plant-based products and understand the dire connection between animal agriculture and environmental destruction.” Ikea says that it considers plant-based products as a center for sustainability, and that it plans to switch over at least 50% of its menu.

The Sustainable Food Fair is being held at nine Ikea outlets in Japan until July 11.

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Panasonic Unveils Renewable Energy Generator

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Panasonic Corporation has announced plans to demonstrate a 100% renewable energy generator called RE100 which it hopes will one day supply electricity to companies.

The demonstration will use a combination of pure hydrogen fuel cell generators and photovoltaic generators. Panasonic claims that this is the “world’s first attempt to create an ‘RE100’ factory through full scale use of hydrogen.”

According to the firm, a growing number of companies have taken interest in the RE100 initiative (and, in fact, 309 companies are said to be involved) due to their awareness that environmental, social, and governance perspectives have become essential.

Until now, there have been two methods of procuring renewable energy: in-house power generation and external procurement. The company states that the most common in-house generation method uses a simple photovoltaic system that has a few drawbacks, including the need for a large installation space and dependence upon the weather.

In response to these challenges, Panasonic aims to offer a solution that combines pure hydrogen fuel cell and photovoltaic generators, together with lithium storage batteries, which can assist in power management during the days when the factory is not in operation.

This demonstration will take place at Panasonic’s Kusatsu site in Shiga Prefecture. The power generated by this system will supply all the manufacturing departments of the facility. The company has also stated that it will “develop and verify technologies related to the optimal power supply and demand management based on integrated control of power generations and storage battery system.”

After the demonstration period, Panasonic aims to commercialize its RE100 solution.

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Demon Slayer: Sabito and Makomo

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — In the third episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Tanjiro continues his training to become a demon slayer and meets a mysterious pair of helpers.

At the beginning of the episode, trainer Sakonji Urokodaki explains to Tanjiro that the demon slayer corps is ancient in its origins, numbers “in the hundreds” of members, and is not recognized in any official capacity by the government.

Tanjiro’s training is intense and painful, but gradually he grows in strength and skill.

It is only after a year that Urokodaki tells Tanjiro that his training period is complete. He leads him to a large boulder and says that if Tanjiro can cut it in two, then he will allow him to enter the “final selection” process whereby Tanjiro might be accepted as a demon slayer.

After six months of futile efforts to cleave the boulder with his sword, Tanjiro receives a visit from the cat-masked Sabito and Makomo, previous students of Urokodaki, who continue his training.

It takes another six months–two years of training in total–before Tanjiro is finally able to split the stone, and Sabito and Makomo disappear into the mist.

There is not much advance in the plot of the story in this episode. It’s point is establish just how long and hard Tanjiro had to train in order to gain his opportunity to become a member of the demon slayer corps.

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Rakuten Mobile Coverage Reaches 80%

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Rakuten Mobile has revealed that its 4G network now covers more than 80% of Japan’s population, and most of the remaining areas will gain service within the coming months.

“Rakuten Mobile continues to offer more attractive services for all customers and is working to further expand its customer base. At the same time, we are rapidly expanding our own network area so that users can experience the benefits of unlimited data usage,” stated Rakuten Mobile President Yoshihisa Yamada in a call with investors.

Rakuten now completes with the big three NTT Docomo, KDDI, and SoftBank networks, which were established much earlier.

As for its 5G service, Rakuten Mobile now has over 4.1 million applications for service, which is growing slowly. Rakuten’s 5G services are mainly limited to parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hokkaido, Osaka, and Hyogo prefectures.

Rakuten plans to expand its 5G network as well, and it secured approval from Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in April to deploy in the 1.7 GHz band.

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Demon Slayer: Trainer Sakonji Urokodaki

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — In the second episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Tanjiro follows the guidance of demon slayer Giyu Tomioka, beginning his journey into his new life.

The story picks up as Tanjiro and Nezuko are on the road to Mt. Sagiri.

Tanjiro makes a large covered basket, mounted like a backpack, that the demon Nezuko can ride in during the daytime, without being exposed to sunlight.

While traveling by night, with Nezuko now walking at Tanjiro’s side, the pair come across a temple and their first demon (other than Nezuko, of course). They discover that demons are remarkably quick, very strong, and their wounds begin regenerating within seconds. The siblings prevail in the fight against the demon with great difficulty.

The trainer Sakonji Urokodaki makes his appearance at this time, wearing a tengu mask. He immediately has doubts that Tanjiro is truly demon slayer material because of the boy’s kind spirit and empathy, even towards demons. Tanjiro is spared having to kill the defeated demon, as the sun rises and immediately burns it into ashes.

Urokodaki is soon revealed to be quite a hard character, telling Tanjiro that if he insists on sparing his demon sister Nezuko and she one day eats a human, then it will be his duty to kill his sister and then, in penance, kill himself.

Despite his doubts, Urokodaki begins Tanjiro’s training. With a letter from Tomioka advocating on behalf of the siblings and the boy’s passing of initial endurance tests, Urokodaki accepts Tanjiro as a demon slayer candidate student.

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Demon Slayer: Cruelty

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — In the first episode of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, we are introduced to our central hero, Tanjiro Kamado, and the basic premises of the adventure.

Tanjiro is presented as an ideal son, devoted to his family in their mountain cabin home. He carries on his back a basket filled to the brim with coal, which he sells in the nearby town to help feed his younger brothers and sisters.

From the beginning, we hear Tanjiro’s monologue, but as he walks down the mountain the breaks the fourth wall, addressing the viewer as well: “We don’t exactly have an easy life, but we’re happy,” he explains.

The town in which Tanjiro sells the coal is not identified, but it appears to be in Japan’s snow country in the winter season. The mode of dress is traditional, as is the architecture, but telegraph or telephone lines can be seen strung above the buildings.

During his visit to the town, we also get hints of Tanjiro’s nearly superhuman power, which is his uncanny sense of smell.

It is on his return up the mountain that both Tanjiro and the viewer learns from Old Man Saburo, a widower who lives alone, that this world is inhabited by “man-eating demons” who come out after dark. Saburo also mentions “demon slayers” who protect the people. At first, Tanjiro is inclined to dismiss such talk as the ramblings of a lonely old man, though he recalls similar stories told by his grandmother.

When Tanjiro returns home, he is greeted by the horrific sight and smell of his entire family having been slaughtered, their blood spattered upon the walls of the cabin. Only his eldest sister Nezuko appears to have survived, though terribly wounded. He throws her over his shoulder and rushes down the mountain to find help.

While still on the way, Nezuko wakes up as a demon and briefly attacks Tanjiro, who is saved by Giyu Tomioka, a sword-wielding demon slayer.

However, it is soon Tanjiro who saves Nezuko, begging Tomioka not to slaughter his only remaining sibling. Tanjiro explains that even if she has become a demon, it was not Nezuko who had killed their family. He had perceived the scent of someone else at the cabin who must have been the culprit.

Tanjiro declares that he will both get revenge and find a way to make his sister human again.

In turn, Tomioka explains that Nezuko’s wounds were exposed to demon blood, and this is what caused her transformation. He does not believe that Nezuko can be saved.

However, Tomioka soon becomes impressed by the way in which both Tanjiro and demon Nezuko protect each other, and he concludes that something may indeed be different about this pair. After fighting and easily knocking out both of them, Tomioka decides to not to kill Nezuko, but instead ties a bamboo stick to her mouth as a muzzle.

Tomioka tells Tanjiro to travel to Mt. Sagiri and look for an old man named Sakonji Urokodaki, and he also warns that Nezuko cannot be exposed to sunlight.

Hand-in-hand the siblings, one human and one demon, begin their journey…

Although not much longer than twenty minutes, this first episode of the 26-part first season covers a lot of ground in a very economical fashion. Essentially, the entire premise of Demon Slayer is already established. It is truly the episode that starts it all.

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6.3% Fewer Pachinko Halls at End of 2020

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — According to the statistics published this week by the National Police Agency, the total number of pachinko parlors around Japan declined by 6.3% over the course of the year 2020.

The total number of halls remaining at the end of December was 9,035, a figure that fell 604 from the previous year. It’s reasonable to assume that the number of pachinko halls today has fallen under 9,000.

At the industry’s peak in the mid-1990s, there were more than 18,000 pachinko parlors in Japan, so the past quarter century has witnessed the industry fall by over half its size.

Japan’s shrinking population and shift toward online forms of entertainment are key reasons for the longterm decline, but the industry was also battered by tighter regulation and the Covid pandemic in 2020.

About 90% of today’s pachinko parlors offer both pachinko and pachislot machines, while the remainder are pachislot specialty stores.

Police figures show that there are about 2.4 million pachinko machines in operation across the nation and over 1.5 million pachislot machines.

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Subaru Announces Solterra Electric Vehicle

Subaru (Tokyo) — Subaru Corporation announces that Subaru’s all-new global battery electric SUV will be named “Solterra,” and it is scheduled to go on sale in 2022.

“Solterra” is Subaru’s all-new, all-electric C-segment-class SUV and it will be the first Subaru vehicle to be built on the battery electric vehicle (BEV) dedicated e-Subaru Global Platform.

The e-Subaru Global platform, which has been jointly developed by Subaru and Toyota, enables the rollout of various types of EVs efficiently by combining multiple modules and components, such as the front, center, and rear of a vehicle. While the two companies have brought together their knowledge to create a completely new platform, Subaru has aimed to realize superior passive safety and vehicle stability.

Not only the platform, the SUV “Solterra” has also has been jointly developed by Subaru and Toyota through a wide range of collaboration that includes product planning, design, and performance evaluation. In this development, the two companies have combined their respective strengths, such as Subaru’s long-accumulated all-wheel-drive technology and Toyota’s outstanding vehicle electrification technology, to create a new SUV with attributes that only an all-electric vehicle can offer.

The name “Solterra” was created by joining the word “Sol” and “Terra,” the Latin words for the “Sun” and the “Earth” respectively. Subaru gave this name to the EV in appreciation of mother nature.

“Solterra” will be joining the line of Subaru SUVs, Ascent, Outback, Forester, and Subaru XV, and will go on sale by the middle of 2022 in markets including Japan, the United States, Canada, Europe, and China.

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