Dublin Comic Con Special: Horror in Manga & Japanese Pop Culture – A History.

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Alola, PokéNerds! Welcome to Straight Outta Kanto, your brand new Irish blog for nostalgia, nerd culture, nonsense and… more! Since last October we’ve had the pleasure of touring around as many Irish conventions as would have us hosting our infamous panel on “Horror in Pokémon.” This summer, your dear old Straight Outta Kanto had the honour of all honours and hosted a panel at (drum roll) Dublin Comic Con at the Convention Centre, Dublin on August 10th.

As Dublin Comic Con is kind of a big deal (ya think…!?) we decided to up the ante panel wise and write a talk on… “Horror in manga as the original comic book format and it’s influence today on modern Japanese Pop Culture.” A bit of a mouthful, but boy is it spooky!

Please, lock the doors, lower the lights, grab yer rosary and welcome to… Horror in Manga – A History.

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*Photo courtesy of Vixen Ninetails*

Come little children, come with me, safe and happy you will be, away from home now let us run, with Hypno you’ll have so much fun/Oh little children please don’t cry, Hypno wouldn’t hurt a fly, be free to frolick, free to play, come with me to a cave to stay/Oh little children please don’t squirm, these ropes I know will hold you firm, now look to me the pendant calls, back and forth your eye lids fall/No little children, you cannot leave, for you your families will grieve, minds unravelling at the seams, allowing me to haunt their dreams/Now do not wail and do not weep, it’s time for you to go to sleep, little children you were not clever, now you’ll stay with me… forever… … …”

– Hypno’s Lullaby, anonymous.

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We’re here today at Dublin Comic Con to celebrate all aspects of alternative pop culture. It’s a wonderful and open environment with a community feel; embracing all forms of creativity with comic books as the gateway. I first got into comic books in the early 1990’s through such English publications as the Beano, Dandy, Bunty, Beezer and so on. Although I know for a lot of you present today the worlds of Marvel and D.C. would have been your initial introduction.

Since the dawn of time the human race have used pictures as a way of expressing themselves. From the cave paintings of France 60,000 years all the way through the satirical political comic strips of the Georgian and Victorian era. While not given the same level of prestige as perhaps the great paintings or compositions of the day, the endeavours of the common man to to encapsulate a particular moment in time or give voice to the silent through sticking their hands in some mud and sprawling it across a wall or caricature their political oppressors is just as important to humanity as any art work hanging in a gallery today.

The first formal “comic book” as is widely accepted as being the first (although there is great debate about many predecessors) is the 1930’s “Famous Funnies” starring Superman.

However! (Or, Go Tobann! If you’re Irish.) One of the oldest and most statistically commercially successful comic book markets is Japan, with… manga!

In my research I stumbled across three of the most common theories on the origins of manga:

The earliest Japanese cartoons were construction worker doodles on a ceiling beam in Horyu-Ji Temple in Nara dated back to 700CE. These were raunchy and bawdy scribbles never intended to be seen and were only discovered 1,200 years later in the 1930s.

In the 1100’s (and this is gas craic lads) a Buddhist monk by the name of Toba Sojo drew anthropomorphic animal pictures to illustrate and aid his religious teachings. However these gained such popularity with the masses (pun intended) they were actually sold separately as Toba-e or “Toba’s Pictures”. (I literally cannot imagine Fr. McGrath from my church doing that…)

The origin story that seems to hold most weight and public consensus originates in the famed and mythical Ukiyo-e prints of old Japan. Ukiyo-e means “floating world” and refers to the almost stereotypical ye olde style image of Japan such as Geisha and Samurai, tea ceremonies, delicate sakura and temples. Ukiyo-e come from when Tokyo was called “Edo” and Kyoto was still the capital of Japan. A romantic period of time lost to the ages that Hollywood can try and re-create with such films as The Last Samurai and Memoirs of a Geisha, but never fully replicate.

By the late 1700’s there were ample supply of books spanning many genres such as romance, adventure, horror illustrated in the Ukiyo-e style. A good example of some of these prints are actually in the Chester Beatty museum in Dublin, which I heartily recommend for a visit.

One of the key figures in the Ukiyo-e movement and a gentleman considered the “grandfather” of manga is none other than Katsuhika Hokusai. A diverse and prolific artist of the Edo period alive from 1760-1849. If manga translates to “irresponsible/a million pictures” – then Hokusai certainly lived up to that.

Hokusai was an art fanatic who drew everything imaginable and left a body of work that would make any artist insane with jealousy. His most famous body of work is his “Hokusai’s Manga”. Literally a sketch book of thousands of drawings, doodles and full pieces. This is where the term manga is generally accepted to have been standardised.

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In 1902 the first Japanese manga narrative serial was published in Jiji magazine. In 1946 Osamu Tezuka made his professional manga debut with a four panel comic strip in a local newspaper.

The structure of manga as we know it today was most certainly starting to take shape by this point.

However, one thing I’ve noticed, I don’t know if you’ve noticed is… Japanese manga is just that little bit darker than the comic books of the west. With such a rich and twisted folk lore you can’t really blame Japan for having a darkness underlying in their artistic psyche.

One example of Japanese folklore influencing modern pop culture would be the Tanuki and Kitsune. Just like the man-beast legends of Native Americans, Tanuki (raccoon) and Kitsune (fox) are shape shifting animals who can take the form of humans. Any Studio Ghibli fanatics out there will recognise these guys from the film Pom Poko.

There’s an urban legend in modern Japan of terrifying “Nopperabo” or faceless/egg faced person or persons appearing on dreary, empty night time walks home from the office or on public transport. In essence, Japanese Slenderman, which is most freaky. There’s a theory that the Nopperabo are actual young Tanuki forced out of their woodlands by the forward march of progress and who haven’t quite mastered the art of living among us, hence the humanoid form but featureless expression.

Urban legends such as Kuchisake Onna and Toire no Hanako are further nightmare fuel for the massess. Kuchisake Onna is better known as “The Slit Mouthed Woman” – who appears in front of people while wearing a sanitary face mask wielding a pair of scissors and asking “Am I beautiful?” Say “yes”, you die horribly. Say “no.” you die horribly. Your best method of defence is just legging it…!

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Toire no Hanako or “Hanako of the Toilet” is a relatively benign Japanese equivalent of Moaning Myrtle. She hangs out in the female bathrooms of Japanese schools mildly spooking youngsters with her presence. Unlike the far more malevolent “Blue Cape/Red Cape” toilet ghost. BC/RC will knock on your cubicle door while your pants are round your ankles and ask if you’d like blue bog roll or red bog roll. Answer “Blue” and you’ll be exsanguinated and left a shrivelled blue shell. Answer “Red” and you will also be exsaguinated. But all over the bathroom walls. Just like Kuchisake Onna, there is no right answer, just pray you never need to use a Japanese bathroom alone at night…

Teke Teke, Onibaba, Moku Moku Ren and all manner of Yokai have their origins in Japanese folk lore that then mutate in modern Pop Culture and Urban Legend.

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The figure from Japanese folklore who has, in my opinion, had the most influential impact on Japanese modern horror as we know it today is the Yurei. The Yurei is a vengeful female ghost all in white with long black hair. Sound familiar?

Kayako Saeki from Ju-on (The Grudge), Sadako from Ringu (Ring) and all manner of other long-haired white dress wearing vengeful female ghosts have been terrifying audiences across fright flicks from all across Asia since the mid 1990’s and it’s a trope the west have most certainly picked up on in the 2000s. And why not? When done well it is an incredibly effective scare – especially when coupled with a well made film filled with an engaging storyline and a tension built through-out the movie.

However, as much as the Yurei concept put “J-Horror” on the map, I also feel the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction and now a lot of critics write off a lot of today’s Asian horror movies as just being further Grudge/Ring knock-offs and the genre has lost a certain amount of weight it would have once carried. I don’t blame them entirely. As an Asian horror movie obsessee, I’ve watched an unfathomable amount of lazy, lack lustre movies where the director clearly thought that chucking a long haired white dress wearing ghost at the end of the movie would distract from lack of plot and intelligence. And it doesn’t. That’s a shame, because the Asian horror genre has some absolutely stunning offerings out there for the spooky aficianado.

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It’s not just movies that have been tainted with darkness, look at some of the manga topics themselves. Even titles not out-and-out horror, series such as Death Note, Assassination Classroom, Battle Royale – all popular as hell, all about youngsters killing youngsters! In the west we most likely think twice about producing such envelope pushing topics but in Japan, it’s totes fine babes.

Actual horror manga/anime from Japan worth mentioning is Elfin Lied, Attack on Titan, Vampire Knight, Black Butler, Blood the Last Vampire, Tokyo Ghoul, High School of the Dead, Parasyte. All stellar, all spooky in one way or another, and all very, very dark.

My personal favourite horror manga would be “Ibitsu” by Haruto Ryo (I actually just got the the lead Lolita ghost girl from this series tattooed on my arm literally immediately after my panel), “I am a Hero” by Kengo Hanazawa, “Higurashi” by Ryushi07 and “Octopus Girl” by Toru Yamazaku. And of course. Ab. So. Lute. Ly. ANYTHING by Junji Ito. My Junji Ito top three would be Uzumaki, Tomie and his Dissolving Classroom series.

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Junji Ito would be considered one of the “Big Three” of Japanese horror manga. Kazuo Umezu of The Drifting Classroom fame was a massive influence of Ito himself and considered one of the fathers of Japanese horror manga. All-round badass Hideshi Hino was also another influence of Junji Ito (and now one of mine!) who created works such as Hell Baby, Hino Horrors, Panorama of Hell and directed not one but two of the notorious 80’s Japanese video nasty series “Guinea Pig.”

This is all some seriously dark stuff, especially for someone whose first introduction to Japan was Pokémon. And Pokémon is a kid’s show… right? Right? Wrong… Pokémon is just as disturbing and urban legend filled as the next nightmare fuelled creepypasta. But that’s a panel for another day… There we have it, PokéNerds, we hope you enjoyed reading about a very brief history of manga, horror and pop culture as much as we did writing it. Obviously the panel was way more lively than words on a screen can ever be, so close your eyes and imagine you yourself were there… can you hear the screams?

Until next time..

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

Follow us on Twitter: @KantoOutta.

Disclaimer: All research for this historical talk was done on the internet and through some majorly weeby books in my personal collection. Apart from my own personal opinions about the information presented in this casual, hobbyist blog, I do not claim to have discovered or own any of the historical information nor do I claim it as my own. If anyone has any queries about the bibliography or where I found what, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for clarification. I am by no means an expert or a professional smart person, this panel was hosted as one nerd chatting to a large audience of other nerds and treated as such. Arigato.

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Pokemon Movie Review: The Power of Us (2018) [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Alola, PokeNerds! Welcome to the 27th blog post of Straight Outta Kanto! Straight Outta Kanto, your brand new home-grown Irish blog for nostalgia, nerd culture, nonsense and (on occasion) more!

I hope you’re all gradually recovering from the heart-break that was Wednesday night’s Nintendo Direct conference where we were updated on all the new and shiny up-coming games for Nintendo Switch this 2019… WITH NOT A SINGLE POKEMON GAME MENTIONED!!! 

Now, some reasoned individuals in various Pokemon forums and groups online have asserted that new Pokemon games are never announced during a Nintendo Direct and that a specific Pokemon Direct on say the official Pokemon Day this February 27th is more probable a source of PokeNews or even the E3 gaming conference on June 11th – 13th this summer than Nintendo Direct was ever going to be. (Damn their logic, I was all hyped up into a frenzy…!)

I’m holding out hope for a Pokemon Direct this Spring because if we have to wait until Summer to hear news for winter/spring 2020 games for Pokemon…!? That means we’ll have little to NO Pokemon action this year which is unheard of because there’s usually SOMETHING in Spring/Summer for us PokeNerds!

But anyway, on with the show! I mean, the er uh, review.

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I was tremendously surprised to discover that the brand new Pokemon movie “The Power of Us” is released for home-viewing and relatively easy to procure from local DVD stores. I wandered in to my nearest Tower Records on my way to work Friday morning and picked up a copy of the movie – which I had literally just watched in late November/early December 2018. Speedy turn-around.

I know a lot of fans are wary about giving The Power of Us a shot because of the disaster that was 2017’s I Choose You Pokemon movie but honestly, I find The Power of Us to be a strong, vibrant film which with a bit of tightening up here and there plot-wise could even be considered on par with the original first three Pokemon movies.

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The movie sees Ash and his posse head to the fictional Fula City, City of Wind (pass the beans…!) where he crosses paths with a few too many characters. The over-all plot however involves fighting Zeraora’s Curse to return the magic Lugia flame to the top of Fula City so that Lugia will come and return strong winds to this ecologically wind-powered city – which can then in turn continue to thrive and prosper. However, considering Fula City‘s murky past, should they really continue to prosper…? *Dun dun duuuun!* (Note here in the movie the Ghibli-esque Pom Poko leanings of the plot.)

There’s also a big important science conference in there. And a massive Pokemon Catching Tournament. An annual Pokemon festival. A hyped up TV show presenter. And a sister’s promise to her hospital-ridden brother. And Ash’s mandatory ass-kicking the local lads in a high-tensity Pikachu heavy Pokemon battle.

Other than Ash and Co., this Generation 2 influenced movie centres around the glamorous (but dispirited) sports star Risa, the mayor’s young daughter Margo, a sickly young girl called Kellie and her hilarious, irascible and dodgy-as-heck Uncle Callahan. And an anxiety ridden scientist named Toren who looks like he’s definitely a cousin of King N from Generation 5. Oh. And a grumpy old lady with a dark secret and a heart of gold.

Like I said, a lot of characters and a lot going on in the story that occasionally muddies up the plot – but not in any serious way, the film is still relate-able and relatively easy to follow.

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As this is Generation 2 influenced the film is absolutely littered with cameos from some of Johto‘s finest Pokemon stalwarts, we’ve got Togepi, Teddiursa, Cyndaquil, Totodile, Xatu, Hitmontop, the works and more, all portrayed in the most charming and whimsical fun-loving manner.

As Ash’s Pikachu and Risa’s Eevee are the two lead Pokemon characters in the movie you can bet yer bottom euro looove that some low-level subliminal Pokemon Let’s Go: Eevee/Pikachu advertising was at play here… YVAN EHT NIOJ!

Genuine warmth and humour through out, a positive and up-lifting over-all message about everyone’s inner-Pokemon power and team work yada yada yada, a suitable amount of feelz (oh brace yo’self fo’ da feelz, they are in there…!) and a startlingly amount of peril (you will openly weep during certain scenes, OPENLY!) with a satisfactory resolve.

A bonus point is the feeling that you have just invested 93 minutes of your life in a movie that didn’t actually suck like you thought it would and was, dare we say it, a pretty good attempt at a classic Pokemon movie.

I would give this movie 5 PokeBalls out of 6 – only losing marks for too many characters and storylines going on at once.

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So that’s the review guys I hope you – wait a minute! I’m forgetting something. Or rather… someones…!!!

Everybody’s favourite ever-enterprising and odd-jobbing loveable losers once again make another doomed appearance in The Power of Us. Jesse, James and Meowth actually play an integral part of plot-propulsion and resolution in the movie this time and look both screamingly-hilarious and ridiculous in their latest “disguises.”

I’ll say no more, but there’s a beautifully nostalgic nod to the original Inidgo League incarnation of Team Rocket that would satisfy even the most hardened Gen Wunner. (Eh, also known as me…!)

So, give this new Pokemon movie a shot, at the very least just to say you watched it and to tide you over until you see the new Detective Pikachu movie…

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There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our Pokemon Fanclub Ireland group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

Follow us on Twitter: @KantoOutta.

Thanks for reading!

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Pokemon Review: Let’s Go Eevee! [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Alola PokeNerds! Welcome to the first Straight Outta Kanto blog post of 2019. Straight Outta  Kanto – your brand new number one blog for nerd culture, nostalgia, nonsense and… more!

So, first and foremost, I wish you all a (belated!) wonderful New Year. May 2019 be the year we finally get our Gen 4 remake – it is the tenth anniversary of Pokemon Platinum‘s release after all so fingers crossed…!

Also, exciting news, Straight Outta Kanto has just been recruited by the fantastic Valkyrie Con to host a Pokemon Panel at this year’s Valkyrie Con convention in Dublin, more news on that sooooon!

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Right, down to business. I got Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee for Christmas 2018 and needless to say I crawled into a vat of gooey Switch based nerdness and did not climb out for several days. (I’m receiving Let’s Go: Pikachu for my birthday later this month!)

Let’s Go Eevee is literally a direct re-make of 1998’s Pokemon Yellow. Pokemon Yellow was the Gen 1 game created entirely as a T.V. franchise tie-in but captured the hearts of fans better than a Master Ball primarily due to the upgraded addition of being able to obtain all three starter Pokemon and a heavy dose of Kawaii As Feck-ness smeared all over it by mascot Pikachu. (And the inclusion of Jesse and James… JOY!!!)

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When the news first broke last Spring that the first main Pokemon excursion on the Switch would be a Pokemon Yellow/Pokemon GO mash-up, the feedback was divided. I’ve been championing a Pokemon Yellow remake for years now but don’t play GO myself so was excited but also apprehensive about how skewered a traditional gaming format we were going to get. Thankfully the game was almost completely playable as a standard Pokemon game, the Pokemon GO elements were more light touches and nods than heavily integrated features.

The main things I loved about Let’s Go Eevee are mostly superficial upgrades such as improved and and updated graphics and soundtrack – with each game and console we’re getting a more and more life-like Pokemon gaming experience which I don’t know about you but I am totally okay with. The more immersion in the Pokemon World the better if you ask me.

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Sadly there was little or not plot development beyond the basic Pokemon Yellow story line. Game Freak surpassed themselves in 2014 with the Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire remakes and have set a standard of rebooting that sadly Let’s Go falls far short of meeting. Don’t get me wrong, there are the odd tweaks and turns in the story that make an enjoyable and engaging time for old and new players alike but nothing that deviates too far from the original format.

There were also moments in the plot that felt like wasted opportunities – such as: Lorelei from the Elite 4 swimming down the lake by Rock Tunnel on her Lapras like a BOSS and helping you tackle Team Rocket. I thought that this meant the game was going to draw influence from the original Pokemon manga series (out at the time that Yellow was released) and have the Gym Leaders and Elite 4 members take a more invested interest in wiping out Team Rocket, but alas! Lorelei’s appearance was the one and only time the Elite 4 showed up in the fight against crime. This was a sore disappointment as all signs pointed to an increase in story development.

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Another high-point/disappointment was the fantastic show down in Team Rocket’s Celadon City Game Corner hide-out. There the game play became more like a Pokemon Ranger/Detective Pikachu game where Pokemon Eevee herself becomes more hands-on in the adventure. A really cool function I thought, but sadly this was the only instance in the game of this happening. If Game Freak were just testing this out this time around, I sincerely hope they’ll include it in future games.

Another controversial point was the method of catching Pokemon in Let’s Go. Instead of carefully battling the wild Pokemon you’d mimic GO‘s capture method of lobbing balls at the Pokemon instead. While I did feel a lack of emotional connection to my party Pokemon because I wasn’t grinding them and using moves in battle, I did enjoy this method of capture as it emulates how I primarily capture my own Pokemon in other games. Yes. I’m lazy.

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The complete lack of HMs was a godsend! Eevee learning all the cutsie techniques such as “Chop Down” and “Sky Dash” and “Sea Skim” was a welcome addition and also Kawaii as Feck pottering about the sky in a balloon machine with my Eevee. Eevee travelling with you outside the PokeBall and getting all dressed up in sweet little outfits was an adorable (yet superficial) part of the game. Also having the option to have an extra party Pokemon travel outside the ball with you and in some instance become a method of transport (flying over Kanto on Aerodactyl and leaving cool-as-hell Game of Thrones style dragon shadows over the buildings was an amazing feeling…!)

The Gym Leaders posed relatively no major competition, the stats of Pokemon grow considerably fast in Let’s Go, thankfully so getting to whup the old gang’s ass in beautifully renovated gyms was a pleasure! The option to re-battle all eight Gym Leaders once a day post Championship is also a new addition that is most welcome. Gary Oak taking over from Giovanni is also a great touch that, correct me if I’m wrong, could also hint at a Let’s Go: Gold & Silver version in the future, which I would dearly welcome.

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Beyond battling a terrifyingly hyper-powered MewTwo in Cerulean Cave, re-battling Gym Leaders and the Elite 4 and fighting with Alolan Fairy Trial Captain Mina every day in Vermillion City there’s not a whole heap of post-game content. Also, the PokeBall Plus console that I paid nearly as much as the game for was a disappointing and malfunctioning waste of money – it was nice to get the free Mew inside it, but oh my Jigglypuffs, what a fiasco, stay away from it!

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Look, as a non-main RPG Pokemon game this was a light and entertaining bit of fluff with really intriguing new elements that I hope they integrate into future Pokemon Switch games. I would give this game 7/10  for lack of plot development but for Eevee based cuteness it gets full marks. Wait till it comes down in price in the January sales and give it at least one decent play through, it’s worth that alone!

There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

Follow us on Twitter: @KantoOutta.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Gary Oak’s 9th and 10th Kanto Gym Badges… Revealed!?

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Alola, PokeNerds! And welcome to the 25th instalment of… Straight Outta Kanto! So now that the spooking season is over (LIES! Every day is Halloween!) and we are literally soooo close to the November 16th release of Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee (Why not buy both!?) I think it’s time to absorb as much Pokemon-fuelled mayhem and excitement as possible, and what better way to do that than with some bullshizzy fan theory post about something that isn’t actually real or even a remote possibility! But for the Jigglypuffs of it, let’s just run with this…

Gary Oak’s Two Mystery Kanto Badges: REVEALED!

(Or not, whatever, this is just for fun 😉 )

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So as we all know that for each Pokemon region in each Pokemon Nintendo game there EIGHT Gym Badges (barring Sun and Moon and their “trials”) that can be earned by hard-working and talented Pokemon Trainers, right? We also all know at this point that the anime takes tremendous artistic licence with their interpretation of the games, right?

However! The greatest artistic licence ever taken in the Anime versus the Nintendo Game wars (other than James Rocket having a fine ass pair of beach titties) was… Gary Oak’s mysterious ninth and tenth gym badge!

Now, anyone that has watched the 90’s Indigo League Pokemon anime series will know that there is an early episode where Ash meets some punk-ass trainer (with a gimped up Sandshrew) who runs his own indie Gym (hipster much?) that isn’t accredited by the official Pokemon League, but still is a challenge all on it’s own for those who wish to test their out their training thus far.

Teeeeechnically speaking Gary’s two extra badges could have come from two un-accredited but no less badge-giving-out indie Gyms and were for him a bragging right to include them with his own original eight official Pokemon League badges.

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HOWEVER!

I’ve got a little plot-hole filled theory that makes no sense that I’d love to share with you all based on two possible extra Kanto Pokemon Gyms based on the original Red and Blue games!

GYM BADGE NUMBER NINE – The Fighting Dojo Gym of Saffron City:

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So we all know that there is a redundant Gym in Saffron City that is home to a fearsome karate dojo with some kung-fu-tastic Fighting Type Pokemon. The Fighting Dojo Gym was originally ousted by Sabrina and her Psychic Type Gym, perhaps as a fun little side story that never got developed or perhaps just as a point to highlight the strength of the Psychic Type advantage over Fighting, maybe we were meant to get a ninth Fighting badge, who knows!

But.

What if in the anime series the Saffron City Fighting Dojo Gym awarded Gary Oak a gym badge!? What if that accounts for one of his badges – alongside the gimpshrew owner’s Gym Badge!?

It’s technically noooot beyond the realms of possibility.

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NOW!

Here’s a bizarre possibility for a Pokemon Gym that Gary could have gotten a Gym Badge from IF the anime creators were in anyway fuck-giving about what actually happens in the Nintendo game! (To be fair they do follow relatively closely as to what happens in the games and any deviation is usually an entertaining expansion on the Pokemon World)

GYM BADGE NUMBER TEN – Safari Zone Flying Type Gym:

This one I’ll admit is a little Farfetch’d, but Bear(tic) with me.

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This theory is based purely on the fact that there is a tremendous abundance of Flying Type Pokemon Trainers en route to Safari Zone, a lack of a Flying Type Gym present in the game as we know it AND the fact that the Safari Zone Secret House is surrounded by Gym Statues.

What if there was meant to be a Flying Type Gym in the Secret House of the Safari Zone!? And that was Gary’s tenth badge!? I know it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense as the Gym Statues are probably just a handy copy/paste design feature as a boundary marker and no real indication of any alleged plans for a Gym, but it bears thinking about in my opinion!

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Yes, I know Fuchsia already has a Posion Type Gym, but perhaps just like Saffron’s Psychic Gym over-powered the Fighting Gym, perhaps Koga took over from some unknown Gym Leader as the town’s top dog for the ass-kicking of the local ten year olds?

Or maybe Gary’s two extra badges were just a flight-of-fancy nonsense that the animators came up with on a whim to highlight how far advanced Gary Oak was on HIS Pokemon Journey in comparison to Ash’s own meagre efforts and no one was ever meant to write  blog post about it twenty years later!? Who knows! But I for one would enjoy a Safari Zone Gym and took great pleasure as a child kicking the arse of those Fighting Dojo trainers and liberating their Hitmonchan…!

Whether or not you agree with any of what I’ve just suggested, I think we can all agree that Gary Gary is our man and if he can’t do it no one can…! (So there’s hope for us yet, or maybe not!)

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Laters, Loser! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh8DsTP7qe0

There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

Follow us on Twitter: @KantoOutta.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Horror in Pokemon: A Discussion.

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Alola, PokeNerds! Welcome to the latest Straight Outta Kanto blog post! Straight Outta  Kanto – your brand new number one blog nerd culture, nostalgia, nonsense and… more! We’ve been crazy busy lately in the non-Pokemon world AND in the Pokemon World what with the craziness that was both Artist Alleying and panelling at the one and only J Con 2018! If you missed that con then ya-boo-sucks to you – it ROCKED!

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So, the J Con panel Straight Outta Kanto held was all about *tiny drum roll* Horror in the Pokemon World! It was a packed out standing room only talk that was lively, heated and with full audience participation – the roaring round of applause and standing ovation from the back was a nice touch as well 😉

Now, while I freely admit the fact that my talk was tremendously improvised and what little notes I did have were written in smudged ink on my hand (much like Homer Simpson when he’s preparing a break up speech for Mindy) – there was enough core material to write down  as an actual blog post here and share for you guys!

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How many of you PokeFans out there continued playing this game on from childhood through your teenage and adult years? Or, how many of you actually first discovered Pokemon as a teenager or an adult? I for one started at the age of eight and have carried on playing it religiously for the past nineteen years, I will continue to do so – and will most certainly continue to add to my growing Pokemon tattoo gallery on my body. (Let me be ancient, wrinkled and be-decked with ‘mon…!)

A common refrain many, most or all of you older Pokemon Players will be familiar with from the other “adults” in your life will be “Pokemon!? But Pokemon’s a… CHILDREN’S GAME!”

Is it now?

While we seek comfort and solidarity from our fellow nerds in online forums, on social media and at conventions – there is no escaping the fact that the wider world does generally regard Pokemon as purely a “Children’s Game” – but it’s so much more than that.

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While the basic premise of Pokemon may be to entertain the children it’s primarily marketed at, the adults who created this Pokemon built the games on a solid foundation of Japanese cultural influences, references to ye olde folklore and mythology, drawing dark inspiration from the cruel and savage natural world/animal kingdom,  and of course – Japanese Pop Culture. All elements that your typical happy-go-lucky casual child gamer may not initially pick up on until they’re much older.

Like many things, horror is generally taboo – and not something you wouldn’t immediately associate with “a children’s game” such as Pokemon, but hear me out. Horror, whether we know it or not, is everywhere. In everything. Just as there can be no light without dark, there can be no fandom without it’s Creepypasta.

Horror is fascinating because it provokes in a person a series of natural human reactions and emotions just as real, thrilling valid as fanservice or the giddy little thrill that comes from an anime bikini beach summer spin-off episode. (#TentacleFun…) Pulse racing, heart pounding and memories of the event that stay with you long after you’ve switched off and tuned out.

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Japan has a rich, flavoured dark folklore and history that has inspired countless anime, manga (take the work of legend Junji Ito for example), J-Horror movies (Ju-On:The Grudge, Ringu etc) and urban legends (If anyone else has seen the movie made about the Slit Mouthed Woman legend you’ll know why I sleep with a very bright Jigglypuff night light…) Japan Pop Culture, cinema and literature has inspired some of the most shit-scary nightmare fuel that the world can create – they live with these legends and stories (and even just their basic and bloody history – Hiroshima, anyone?)

So, as Pokemon is a Japanese game created by Japanese people in Japan, it was inevitable that as big as it is in the West, there are certainly typically Japanese elements prevalent in all the games and T.V. show. For example: tatami mats and shrines in the NPCs houses, the Kimono girls of Johto, the region locations being inspired by real-world Japanese places, Brock’s “Jelly Filled Donuts” actually being Onigiri Rice Balls. The list goes on.

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Being a Japanese game by Japanese people it’s inevitable then that certain elements of the darker side of Japanese culture sneak insidiously in to the games. A prime example of this  is the Pokemon Indigo League T.V. episode “The Ghost of Maiden’s Peak.”

This spooky story of lost love isn’t especially Japanese specific but the character’s acts of evil prevention and exorcism by way of Spell/Curse Tags (Or “Stickers” – to dumb it own for us Western viewers…) and recruiting the help of a traditional medium to exorcise the Gastly is overtly Japanese. While this would be a perfectly normal spiritual reaction to the supernatural for the Japanese, at the time when I first watched this episode it seemed so exotic an approach to me, more used to the Western ideas of the West as I was.

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Even darker than this, the games themselves are filled with grim an ghoulish segments, such as: Lavender Town, Ghost Type Pokemon, the Celadon Mansion horror story, the mystery of Unown, the story of Cubone’s mother, the Kalos Ghost Girl, Sailor Eldritch’s son, the majority of the storylines for the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon franchise, the list goes on! We discussed a lot of these already on the Straight Outta Kanto blog: https://straightouttakanto.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/pokemon-the-spooky-side-a-top-thirteen-of-terror-straight-outta-kanto/

So, a game filled with juicy tidbits of horror and strangeness is bound to whet the appetites of those already inclined towards Creepypasta and other dark ways of utilising the internet to destroy your happy childhood memories…!

It was at this point here during my panel talk that the audience really came in to their providing me with examples and anecdotes about their own personal favourite Creepypasta stories and general spooky fan theories.

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Some of the most famous Pokemon Creepypasta/fan theories as discussed at the panel were: The Lavender Town Syndrome, Lost Silver, Cubone, Buried Alive, Strangled Red, Missingno’s true identity, Pokemon forced to evolve, Pokemon experimented on, are Pokemon aliens, Pokemon BrVr, AZ’s story, are Grimer and Muk Team Rocket’s attempt at making ghost Pokemon, the strange and warped relationships between Pokemon-People-Animals, traditional Japanese Yokai making their way into the backgrounds of the games…  Drifloon, Hypno’s Lullaby, The Pokedex Entries

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As we touched on lightly earlier, some Pokemon are roughly based on real animals in the natural world, however the natural world is a vicious kingdom of Survival of the Fittest. Some of the Pokedex entries are cruel, savage and ‘mon eat ‘mon. For example:

*Dexter Voice* CACTURNE:

“If a traveler is going through a desert in the thick of night, Cacturne will follow in a ragtag group. The Pokémon are biding their time, waiting for the traveler to tire and become incapable of moving.”

And then there’s the more sinister…

*Dexter Voice* FROSLASS:

“The soul of a woman lost on a snowy mountain possessed an icicle, becoming this Pokémon. The food it most relishes is the souls of men.”

Lovely.

Froslass’s is particularly interesting as I’ve read/seen countless old Japanese short stories and old movies about a spectral woman in the mountains leading lost men to their doom… Taken from traditional Japanese folklore? Maybe… (#PiplupPhotobomb)

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HOWEVER.

The undisputed King of Pokedex Entries? This muddafuqqa:

Hypno: The Peddafeel ‘Mon.

Jesus. That alone is enough to counter any argument from your mom when she’s in full swing about “Why are you still living at home in your 30’s playing a children’s game all day!?” Just show her Hypno. How did Hypno or any of the other dubious and questionable Pokemon make it legitimately into any of these games!?

This is darker than you could ever imagine. Hypno, Darkrai, Drifloon, Drowzee, Banette, Mimkyu, the theories, the child suicides – look them up online! The list is endless. THIS IS NOT A CHILDREN’S GAME! It is a game that children happen to play, but it’s so much more… So much darker… The nightmare fuel is real… thank you for the childhood, Satoshi Tajiri, thank you for the sleepless nights…

So, this was Straight Outta Kanto’s first ever panel talk and hopefully the first of many. We will expanding and elaborating on this article and bringing you stranger and more in-depth insights into the weirdness that is Pokemon.

Sweet screams… 😉

There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Straight Outta Kanto Interviews: J Con Ireland – Ireland’s Newest Biggest Nerd Convention!

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Greetings Nerdalingers! Welcome back to Straight Outta Kanto – Ireland’s newest and weirdest Pokemon blog about nostalgia, nerd culture, nonsense… and more! We hope you enjoyed the summer break (we certainly did!) but now that it’s Back to School Season is upon us, it’s Back to Blogging for us!

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We are thrilled today to be interviewing one of the most promising conventions I’ve been to in recent years… J Con!

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Held for the first time November 2017 at Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium for one day, yours truly was gracing the Artist Alley with her Pokemon Creepypasta prints, and also mingling with cosplayers and fellow nerds, browsing the browsables, purchasing some saucy nerd goods and soaking up the over-all Otakurific atmosphere of the event.

This year I will be back in the Artist Alley (do please stop by my table and pester me with your Pokemon-problems, fan theories, Pocky sharing abilities and hugs – I accept all ❤ ) and I heartily beseech you guys to come along for the bigger and better J Con – it’s two days now! However, if you need more convincing than my puny efforts there… Let’s meet… J Con!

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[SOK:] Firstly, please tell me who you are in relation to J Con, what your role is and how long you’ve been a part of the team:

My name is Joe, I am the Director of J Con. (It seems I am also becoming known as “That J Con Guy”. So I have been part of it since the start! I have done some interpretation for Japanese guests at Akumakon, and organised a lot of different events. But this would be my first experience with really organising a con.

[SOK:] Were you apart of the J Con crew last year? How are you finding this year’s prep in comparison to last year’s? Is it crazier? A little less crazy? Just as crazy?

This year… is going okay! It is less crazy in the sense that we have the ball rolling from last year. But more crazy because we decided to expand to two days! So there are a lot more moving parts this year.

[SOK:] You guys are hosting J Con for two days this year as opposed to last year’s one day event – were you surprised at the turn out of last year’s con? The feedback as a trader/attendee my end was nothing but positive, how did you guys yourself find the feedback? Is that what prompted you to turn it into a bigger event?

We were delighted and surprised that so many people came along! And it seems like everyone enjoyed the day, and that is all we were aiming and hoping for. So now we are back being nervous wondering whether enough people will come along to make it all work. But we just want to organise a fun weekend for everyone! [SOK: And I’m sure it will be!]

[SOK:] What events/guests are you most psyched about having at this year’s con?

Everything! We are delighted to have a special guest voice actor, Kyle Hebert. His credits list is incredible, and he seems like an awesome dude. So we are excited to have him over.

Our cosplay guests, Nadia SK from Italy, and Cos Chloo and Shadow Sionnach from here, are wicked too, so we are absolutely psyched for the cosplay this year!

And then we will be having the amazing chef Yoshimi from Wa Café back again, YouTubers Super Eyepatch Wolf and CdawgVA, “Ireland’s Japanese Cuisine Queen” Fiona Uyema, there are too many things! [SOK: Dude, you’re making me hungry… this sounds amazing!]

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[SOK:] For future cons if you had a magic wishlist, what event/guest would you like to see grace the programme of events at J Con? Who would be your dream special guest? 

Hayao Miyazaki. And a real pokemon. [SOK: I. Can’t. Concur. Hard. ENOUGH!!!]

[SOK:] There’s been a lot of turbulence over the last couple of years with various conventions in Ireland either ending permanently or going on hiatus or new, smaller cons rising to the forefront and so forth, how do you think this “up in the air-ness” of the convention has effected the convention going fanbase? Has it at all? Are the fans still there but finding new cons? Where does J Con fit into all this? 

Yes, there has been a lot of changes and lots of happenings in the con scene! And it has definitely affected things. I suppose the biggest thing that affected us was the Gamer Con fiasco. People are just wary of new cons because of it. So we were like, “hold on a sec we have nothing to do with that! Judge us on us! We just want to organise a fun day?!” And starting out, especially for gaming cons, has become more difficult because of that.

In terms of cons coming and going… again it makes it difficult for people to go along to a new con, they aren’t sure whether they can trust a new event. Just like going to a new coffee shop, a new pub, or a new anything. I think part of the reason cons struggle to survive is because of the moolah. Fans might think Cons are cashing in all over the place… but it is quite the opposite! Eeeek! In reality, it is super difficult to organise a big event for €20 per person.

As for where J Con fits in… we have no idea, yet! We are in the same space as Eirtakon. But we don’t want people to expect the same thing, or think we are the same. We are a different con, ya know? A huge motivation for me with J Con, is to let people experience not only anime and manga and cosplay, but lots of traditional Japanese culture too. Speaking Japanese, calligraphy, trying Sake (if you’re over 18!), origami, etc etc. Hence the name, Japan Convention!! [SOK: Oh my giddy aunt, I think I’m going to digivolve my dragon balls with excitement here…!]

And at the end of the day, I probably repeat it too often but we just want people to come along, get good value for money and have lots of craic!

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[SOK:] What’s been your personal favourite convention experience/memory and do you feel that’s something you’d like to bring to J Con or is J Con and your own personal Con experiences totally separate? Or is a mix of all the cons incorporated somehow organically into convention planning?

Walking into Dublin Comic Con when it’s in mid flow, so many people in such a good mood, you can almost taste the craic in the air. It’s great! I also did a coffee stand and a Sake tasting at Akumakon, and that was really special!

[SOK:] Do you have any hilarious or embarrassing convention stories about J Con from last year that you wouldn’t be too humiliated to share? (We promise we won’t laugh… too hard!)

We could tell you, but we’d have to… [SOK: Oh, you saucy tease! That’s what they all say…!]

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[SOK:] As Pokemon is the name of the game here at Straight Outta Kanto, can you divulge to us any Pokemon related plans for this year’s J Con? Do you feel it’s a fandom that does or doesn’t need to represented too intensely at conventions by the organisers? Is there a place/market for hosting the Pokemon TCG/VCG events at conventions? 

There have been multiple sightings of wild Pikachu in the last few months… we sense there might be some kind of coming together of Pikachu?! Just a rumour so far though

Pokemon is great! It’s probably the single biggest gateway to Japan/anime/cons/being a nerd, so it will always have a place at cons. [SOK: It was certainly MY gateway Nerd Drug…!]

[SOK:] Ok. You’ve got a choice between Bulbasaur, Squirtle or Charmander as your starter ‘Mon… Who do you pick!?

Bulbasaur! 

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Thank you sooooo much to J Con for taking time out of their crazy busy schedule to come play with us for a while – I genuinely cannot wait for this year’s convention and I hope you guys are now convinced to come give it a whirl! Ah g’wan… Leave yer mammy’s basement for a while and go minlge with some non-digital humanoids…! 😉

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There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/  

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

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