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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sasuke Stars visit the USA

As you guys remember from my previous blog, ANW2 is now officially completed. Please don't ask me what the Final 10 are.. no one knows that. G4TV airs their show in December, 2010 so I'm not even going to bother with that part. All I'm interested in are the Stars from Sasuke who flew all the way from Japan to visit the fans in the United States. Thanks to John Huewe from Convex Photography I was able to fangirl a bit more with photos from the event. The entire collection of the Sasuke Stars can be found on Flicker account. In the coming weeks he will add more pictures from the event itself (Prelims round only).

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Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行, Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 being interviewed during ANW2 ©Convex Photography

Aaaaand.. quite pretty pictures they are... Already passing popcorn at the greatness! ehem... to remind you, the 3 Sasuke stars that came all the way from Japan - Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Sasuke 24), former world class sprinter and perennial favorite Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 and Allstar - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 (Sasuke 17 champion).

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Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 stopping before the Rope Swing ©Convex Photography

John's pictures were during the time that the Sasuke Stars took on the ANW2 course just like everyone else. Below is the individual Youtube run. What's remarkable was how comical he was during his whole run. John takes great pictures for most of his run. It's just cool to see things in slow motion like that :)

Youtube of Okuyama's run ©AnthonyJdeLeon

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Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 at the end of his run ©Convex Photography

I love this pic :) It's so nice to see him smile. Usually he is so reserved that it was quite nice to see him relaxed and playing with the crowd! I hope he continues this trend!

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Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 barely clearing the Rope Swing ©Convex Photography

Poor Yuuji. He has had issues with this obstacle even the day before. I'm sure he was fretting over how he was going to get past this obstacle! As you can see in brutal slow motion.. he squeaked out a victory! (Btw.. take a drink.. Descente clothing.. LOL)

Youtube of Yuuji's run ©AnthonyJdeLeon

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Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 Triumphant ©Convex Photography

I love this picture :) In fact the series of pictures he has of him celebrating at the end. He even does his signature kick end like he does in Sasuke. As scary as his run was.. glad he finished it!

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All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 swandive during ANW2 ©Convex Photography

Meanwhile... Things didn't go exactly well for Nagano who I'm sure is getting flashbacks from his swandive in Sasuke 25.... About the only thing different was that he didn't get a face full of mud from the bottom of the pool.

Youtube of Nagano's run ©AnthonyJdeLeon

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All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 behind a waterfall at the end of his ANW2 run ©Convex Photography

I.. love this photo.. LOL Btw as you can tell from the photos when you go to the Flicker page. You can select what size photo you want to see. John did an awesome job in taking these and you can see them so well when you see them in their original huge format. It's.. purty :)

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All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 with bracelet ©Convex Photography

Oh! There's the bracelet! Friend of mine emailed me about her venture to ANW2 and meeting Nagano. She presented him with a small gift of a bracelet and he told her to put it on him! He has it on! There is it! Go Go Diana!

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Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 and Jason Huewe ©Convex Photography

I'm sure you recognize this picture :) This is Jason Huewe posing with the current champion. He's John's brother. Hey thanks to Jason I got to see John's pics!

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Jason Huewe and All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 ©Convex Photography

Whoot he's got a Nagano picture too :) Mwahahahahha Anywho I hope everyone enjoys the small sample of photos that is on John's site. Looking forward to more photos in the future! If you would like to contact John directly about the photos or even order prints in different formats that are available online please contact John at Convex Photography directly!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sasuke related updates - August Part 2

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 (lookin' awesome) after his run on ANW2 - Preliminary Round ©Eric Baugh

As I posted earlier, American Ninja Warrior 2 (ANW2) took place this past weekend. The preliminaries were Saturday and Sunday, August 7-8, 2010. The semifinals took place on Monday, August 9, 2010. The final isn't until next week (some reality show they are filming /facepalm) but I doubt we will hear anything until the premiere on December 13., 2010. yes.. I said December.. FOUR MONTHS FROM NOW.. /sigh.. I don't know why I bother.. They really need to hire new editors because obviously they are not skilled enough to actually get things in at a reasonable time.. Oh well it's not like I didn't see this coming.. we'll know who the final 10 are in about a month when Sasuke 26 is supposed to be taped/aired) The problem is that I have a fear that they will push airing Ninja Warrior 26 until NEXT YEAR 2011.. and editing out the Americans from it just like they did Sasuke 23 where they faked as if Monster 9 gave them Midoriyama just to tape ANW1.. which also means worldwide no one will see Sasuke 26 until most likely 2012... (no joke.. a lot of countries are at least 5 tournaments behind..) anyway.. since this is a Sasuke blog I'm only interested in what I wrote about earlier... the Sasuke stars visiting the United States. Oh one last thing.. it's not "Mount Midoriyama" since Midoriyama already means Green Mountain.. the extra Mount is totally redundant... (And if you want to know why I'm still crabby about it.. read Ube's great blog entry on it)

ANW2 Competitor Jason Paul and All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 ©Jason Paul

The major positive to ANW2 this year was the fact that it was actually an open set so people were allowed if not encouraged to take pictures, post blogs and share videos about their experiences in ANW2. There was no fee to watch either so it encouraged even the passerby to stop and see wtf was going on. What's fantastic about the Sasuke fans in this country is that many came from all over the country JUST to see the Sasuke Stars even though they themselves were not participating in the open tryouts. While there they all cheered everyone equally for those who were desperately trying to pass the course to get to the next round. I was happy to see such a large crowd welcoming the 3 Sasuke stars that came all the way from Japan - Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Sasuke 24), former world class sprinter and perennial favorite Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 and Allstar - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 (Sasuke 17 champion).

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 ©Jason Paul

The Sasuke Stars (Yuuji, Okuyama and Nagano) arrived on Friday, August 6, 2010 to the Venice Beach ANW2 set in Los Angeles, California. To the surprise and delight of fans who stalked arrived a day earlier all 3 stars were on the ANW2 set testing out the obstacles individually and even helping the grounds crew set the obstacles. I was excited to see pictures of that occasion. Thanks to ANW2 Competitor Jason Paul for sharing not only pictures but videos of the occasion.

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 test out the course a day before ANW2 ©Jason Paul

What's absolutely adorable is the fact that they are really open with their emotions here in the USA. I know Nagano always is.. but it was the first time you see ALL of them totally at ease just goofing around and cheering each other on while trying to defeat this obstacle. I can't stop laughing at Nagano freaking out when he missed the first jump and his desperate flail in the air trying to get back to the starting platform.

Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 ©Jason Paul

Okuyama was cool as well quietly trying to defeat it as well. It's rare that he gets the spotlight so I was happy that he was included in the group here. Later in the video (below) Yuuji comes out to play as well.

Compilation video of Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治, All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 test out the course a day before ANW2 ©Jason Paul

In this compilation video, all 3 stars are trying to get to the other side of the platform. Jason wrote on the G4boards - (Here you go. I just made a compilation of all the videos I took. They made an adjustment midway since nobody could get it except for Okuyama. Once they did they were having a lot more success.) Again.. massive thanks to Jason for posting these. This is exactly the stuff I look for! Sasuke fans unite!

Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治, All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 posing with Amy Robinson and Seen ©Amy Robinson for Fierce and Nerdy

Over the past couple of days I spent time searching the internet for great photos and memories of those who enjoyed the ANW2 experience - as a fan and as a competitor. I found a great blog entry written by Amy Robinson for the blog called Fierce and Nerdy. The blog called Tall drink of Nerd: Warriors , Come out and Play! endorses the Sasuke geek in all of us! Lord knows I've fangirled a lot during this past weekend.. er.. forever.. nevermind.. moving on!

Amy Robinson posing in front of the Autograph area featuring the 3 Sasuke Stars ©Amy Robinson for Fierce and Nerdy

Figuring that G4 is never actually correct with details.. It's practically their calling card.. I cracked up that they mentioned that all 3 that came to the USA were all All-Stars. Sorry.. only Nagano is while Yuuji is listed as a "New" Star and Okuyama is in the Veteran Stars category.. still.. even with the glaring mistakes.. I was happy they showed them equal amount of respect and posting them all in the same place so fans had equal access to all of them. I just get technical with things like this since after all the titles were bestowed by another television network in another country... TBS Japan ;) I do however crack up at people who say they are fans and thought since the first 2 were champions that Okuyama by default was.. poor Kazuhiko Akiyama.. he never gets respect among the casual Ninja Warrior fans..

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠, Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治, and Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 taking a break in the autograph "hut" ©Ninja Warrior

The Sasuke Stars were put in a little hut where they had video and pictures showing who they were for the idiots who didn't know who they were in the first place.. Naturally Nagano was by far the most recognized since even casual Ninja Warrior fans know he was the winner from all the way back in Sasuke 17. Yuuji is still "new" to casual fans here in the USA.. Heck, in Japan even Monster 9 hasn't even crowned him on their own page.. /sigh.. anyway.. only Sasuke fans who know every competitor and actually pay attention know who Okuyama is. So needless to say.. I was happy when anyone actually recognized Okuyama!

Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 and Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 posing with ANW2 competitor Ruselis "Blackie Chan" Perry ©Ruselis Perry

Outside of testing the course earlier in the weekend, the stars actually went out to compete during ANW2. They each had a run in the preliminary round much to the delight of the fans. Each took their time and actually hammed it up for the crowd. Given that the course is not timed they didn't have the pressure of having to beat a clock. They took the opportunity to entertain the crowd and show their skills on the course. This really made me happy that they did that.

Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 , Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 and All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 official ANW2 runs - Preliminary Round ©Westfourtwenty

What I found utterly amazing was Okuyama being as comedic and flashy as he was! I thought he'd do a straight run but he stopped a lot to entertain the crowd! Yuuji kept thinking he was going to go off the course or something since he kept holding his heart after every obstacle! Poor thing.. he had a hard time testing the rope the Friday before and he also saw a lot .. and I mean a LOT of bad falls and wipeouts on the bridge (I officially dub the F-bridge (Thanks Juice for your "Fail bridge" comment.. LOL) since you can then substitute your favorite F word.. mine currently is Fuster cluck.. (reverse the letters... yeah.. you get what I mean ;).. anyway.. the biggest surprise was of course Nagano.

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 at the end of his ANW2 run - Preliminary Round ©Eric Baugh

Eric Baugh had gorgeous photos of Nagano being soaked after his run :) I'm passing popcorn ya'll... I was surprised that Nagano fell.. then again.. it was Sasuke 25 all over again. I'm sure he's going to be training hard on both trampolines and springboards to some sort of ring or bar for the next month.. LOL I wonder if the poor guy dreams of this just like Tajima does..

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 ©MadManTyro

Anyway for a full run (different angle of Nagano) there are several videos but I'll pick the HD one to share. This way you get a good look at what the preliminary round looked like (Semi Final Round didn't end at the warped wall). Finals isn't until next week and that's a closed set and to my knowledge not using this course at all (I'm sure it's dismantled by now).

Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治, All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 posing with fans during an autograph signing session ©Ninja Warrior

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and ANW2 competitor Ruselis "Blackie Chan" Perry ©Ruselis Perry

Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 and ANW2 competitor Jason Huewe ©Jason Huewe used with permission from Convex Photography

Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 likes the new shirts ©Ninja Warrior

G4 finally got the with program (3 years late but I digress...) and put official merchandise for sale featuring Ninja Warrior. Personally I like my Sasuke one best.. but I'm digressing again. You now can get your ninja on by ordering yours via their new cafe press website. Should they have done this a long time ago? That's a major.. Duh.. But at least now you don't have to get pirated ones from eBay or pray someone you know went to Japan and got the official Sasuke ones (stupid thing that they don't ship overseas.. they can make a FORTUNE if they did).

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 checking out the new G4 merchandise ©Ninja Warrior

I'm sure Nagano is looking for the smallest size possible.. dude likes his shirts spray painted to his body.. as we found out the hard way 2 years ago.. LOL Anyway.. I'm sure he and the others got quite a few freebies ;) Maybe there's a kid section.. okay okay.. I'm done :p

Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治, Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 and All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 ©Ninja Warrior

Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 and ANW2 competitor Christopher Christensen ©Chris Christensen

LMFAO Chris.. you are a GIANT (6'4" right? That's about 196 cm for those using metric).. poor Yuuji looks like he's totally self conscious.. I'm sure they were going wtf with all the giants in this country ;) Still they looked like they were having a ball interacting with all the fans here in this country. I'm sure everyone here was shocked at how short the Sasuke stars are in real life ;)

All-star - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and ANW2 competitor Ryoga Vee ©Ryoga Vee

Current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 and Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 having fun at the mini course set up for the attendees ©westfourtwenty

Finally to finish off the fan experience G4 had set up a small "mini course" for the attendees watching ANW2. What's funny is that Yuuji and Okuyama apparently spent the time there as well during their breaks from their autograph sessions and of course watching the show being taped. This is definitely one of my favorite videos. What's also funny is that a lot of the ANW2 competitors used this course to test their shoes on the Spider walk Plexiglas ;)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sasuke related updates

3rd Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Sasuke 24 blog)

After what seems a lifetime.. G4 has finally announced on their Facebook the Sasuke stars that are coming to ANW2. As I mentioned in my previous blog from last week, Allstar - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 is making a return trip to the United States. G4 FINALLY announced it (a little late for a lot of people to actually go since they left it to the last minute.. but I digress... ).

For the very first time 3 Ninja Warrior stars will make their way to the US and head to Venice Beach this Saturday and Sunday for the taping of American Ninja Warrior. Make sure to be on hand to meet these 3 incredible Ninja Warrior stars as they sign autographs for all their adoring fans. This truly i...s a once in a lifetime opportunity. (check back for the each star's specific
signing times)


Sasuke's 3rd Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 posing for friends and showing off a gift shirt created for him during a friends gathering in April, 2010 ©Ryo Matachi 又地諒 (from the State of Sasuke Blog)

For those who are unfamiliar with a couple of these people (especially those who are far behind in tournaments) let me refamiliarize you with who they are. First is our current Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治. He's from Tokyo and his occupation is a shoe salesman. For those of us who have seen him for a bit longer (and ignored the blatant G4 errors in his biography...) he's been doing Sasuke Trials for quite a number of years. His first tournament was Sasuke 21 where he qualified for Sasuke by defeating all of the All-Stars (and everyone else) in a festival called BUG IN MIKI back in 2008. In Sasuke 21 he was stopped by the Flying Chute. He then had to go back to re-qualify in Sasuke Trials where he won another trip back to Sasuke in Sasuke 22. There he became finalist. In fact in his short Sasuke tournament career he's a two-time finalist (Sasuke 22 and of course his win in Sasuke 24). He is a proud member of a small group of Sasuke Trial Specialist called UNCLI (Unlimited Cliffer). He is Cliffer #3.

Former World Sprinter Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 (Sasuke 22 blog)

The next person is actually a track star from the 1990's Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行. Although he never made the Olympic Team (despite what G4 has told you) he's competed for Japan in the World Championships specializing in the 200 meter distance. Sasuke-wise he's proven to be one of the most consistent competitors. He's competed 7 times and is already a Sasuke Finalist (Sasuke 24). Despite his age (now 40) he's been consistently to the 2nd and 3rd stages of Sasuke. He's been outperforming people almost twice his age and even though the course has changed a few times he still is an expected Stage 2-3 competitor.

Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行 - (Sasuke 25)

ANW2 which starts Saturday, August 7th and runs to Monday, August 9th (though exact details on the reality TV inspired final are not clear). At this time it is unclear how long any of them will be staying here in the USA. G4 is announcing so far just Saturday and Sunday though the semifinals are on Monday. We'll have to find out what they have in store for these 3. Hopefully not at the last minute.

Allstar - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 posing in West Palm Beach, Florida - September, 2008 ©Pittsburgher

I shouldn't have to explain who Allstar - Makoto Nagano 長野誠 is so I'll spare you his biography :) If you need one.. YOU DON'T WATCH THIS SHOW :) Ehem..

So for you guys planning on going to watch American Ninja Warrior 2 in Los Angeles, PLEASE say hi and welcome ALL THREE of them to the United States.. and SEND ME PICS so I can post them :) You know me and pictures! :D mwahahahahahah So sucks being poor and not being able to travel... /sigh I hope their trip is a pleasant one!