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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sasuke related updates - ANW4, Singapore, Malaysia, Maguro Festival

ANW4 also had the Cannonball Run from Viking... er..  Spin Bridge スピンブリッジ (making a return from Sasuke 27) ©Las Vegas Sun

As I mentioned in the last post, the finals to the American Ninja Warrior 4 (ANW4) were completed in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The final was comprised of the 90 competitors that survived a month-long regionals competition that took place in Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami.  Joining them in the finals were 10 more wildcard spots that were awarded to round out the competition (mostly women, costumed people.. that sort of thing).

All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 laughing at the demise of an ANW4 competitor ©Las Vegas Sun

As a guest (not a competitor), All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 watched from the sidelines of the ANW4 final.  Flying in at the last moment, a week before the Maguro Festival in Japan (of which he is part of the organizing committee for the mock Sasuke course they hold every year at that event, Nagano was a welcome sight.  Although he had minimal contact with the audience (unlike ANW2 where he even had a chance to sign autographs) it was still good to see him participate and be visible in the sidelines of ANW4.

Overhead view of the ANW4 course modeled by TBS to represent a tweaked version of Sasuke 27 ©Las Vegas Sun

Standing in the shadow of the Mandalay resort on the Las Vegas strip, the towering  4 stage replica of Midoriyama's Sasuke 27 course was repainted into a red/black/blue (and a cubic boatload of arrows) and lit up as the entire competition took place at night-time.  Sacrificing the authentic one day consecutive taping that Sasuke is famous for, ANW took a different approach by taping on 2 separate nights (breaking up the Stage 1 and Stage 2 events by a full 24 hours) to keep the entire event taped under lights.

ANW4 Correspondent Angela Sun with All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 ©Angela Sun
I spent the few days searching Twitter and whatnot for photos of Nagano for the blog.  My favorite of course is the one from Matt Iseman that I posted on my previous blog (I re-posted below because it's all kinds of awesome-sauce...)
All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and ANW4 Announcer Matt Iseman ©Matt Iseman
(... they are holding a sign saying hello to me! LOL)
All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 with 1998 Olympic Gold Medalist Jonny Moseley (and ANW4 announcer) ©Jonny Moseley

All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Ryoga Vee ©Ryoga Vee

For most of the pics with fans it was obvious that a lot of hunting went on to find and be able to get access to Nagano.  Some of the pics were taken at the hotel if they were lucky to find him while others were in the parking lot just before he got to the cordoned off areas.  Still, I am happy people were able to see him.. but I am thoroughly disappointed at how limited his exposure was to the general audience. I just wish more planning took place in showcasing him.  Then again, from all accounts, this was a very much last minute addition to ANW4. I guess I have to pick my battles.

All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Mike Bernardo ©Mike Bernardo

ANW4 premieres on 2 channels (Cable station G4 and Network station NBC) starting on May 20, 2012.  The entire airing schedule is still listed on a previous blog.

Latest recruitment poster for Sasuke Singapore ©MediaCorp

In awesome news.. Sasuke Singapore is gearing up for their inaugural season!  As I mentioned before, Singapore is the latest country to have their own trials.  Also worth noting that they are very much legitimate and the first country to confirm the existence of Sasuke 28!  ANW4 took place in April, Sasuke Malaysia is taking place in May, 2012, Sasuke Singapore is taking place sometime in June, 2012 and they mention that Sasuke 28 will take place in Japan sometime during the Summer, 2012.

All-Star Toshihiro Takeda 竹田敏浩, All-Star Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟, All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Mister Sasuke All-Star Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己 ©Konpiramal
(Photo from the 2011 Maguro Festival)

Finally, as I mentioned before, this weekend is the 2012 Maguro Festival.  There's a small list of participants already lined up to fly to Kagoshima for this annual event but until I see pics of the event I can't verify exactly who will be there this year as part of the demonstrations.  Check back next week as I hope to have photos of the event!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Nagano is in Las Vegas for ANW4

All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Konpiramaru Restaurant Employee in Fukuoka - April 19, 2012

Last night and today were interesting to say the least.  I've been following up a rumor that started  with this blog.  It showed our favorite Sasuke Fisherman (cough.. with freshly dyed hair that they must sell by the gallon.. cough) visiting one of the Takasui Corp. run restaurants (the one in Fukuoka) that I blogged about the last time.  They are getting ready for their grand opening of another Konpiramaru Restaurant and Nagano came by to pay them a visit.  What's interesting is that in the blog post he mentioned that  Nagano was just stopping by on his way before he left to the airport to fly to Las Vegas.. and so the wheels began to turn.  Spent most of last night and the morning tracking down the rumor.  He wasn't expected to go given how friggin' busy the company schedule is.. so I was surprised that he was even rumored to be going. Happy! But very surprised.. especially given that Maguro Festival is NEXT WEEK and he's part of the organizing committee for Takasui... I mean just this afternoon he was supposed to be in 2 places at once.. LOL

All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and ANW4 Announcer Matt Iseman in Las Vegas for the taping of American Ninja Warrior ©Matt Iseman
(... they are holding a sign saying hello to me! LOL)

I sent a message to Matt Iseman who's been an awesome sport in dealing with me during these past few months leading up to the Final.  Each time I'd convey the message of the fans to please bring a Japanese competitor to ANW4 (just like they did in ANW2) even if they didn't compete at all.  It would be an awesome opportunity for fans to meet him up close and personal.  Even sent him the tweets from Yuuji mentioning that he would love to go and followed ANW's steps along the way from prelims to Regional Finals to this weekend's Finals.  So as the rumor drew stronger I sent Matt messages to look for him for me :) LOL  And then I get the tweet that made me smile all night. He was in Vegas!

ANW4 Course at night (day before taping) ©Matt Iseman

Now, I don't expect Nagano to be featured at all in the broadcast but it's nice to see him getting the opportunity that we all wanted.  To meet the fans. I wish Yuuji had the same opportunity but beggers can't be choosers.  As of last week I was sure ANW wasn't going to have a single Japanese competitor.  Now I'm happy I can say for a fact that there is one! And he is undeniably the most recognizable.  So if you are Vegas and near the ANW set.. look for him and greet him. He genuinely loves fans.  He sacrificed a lot to be here.  Especially during the anniversary of his father's death.

"50th" Konpiramaru - Makoto Nagano's new ship (to be officially launched in May, 2012) ©Takasui Corp.

In closing I forgot to add to the previous blog another view of Nagano's brand new ship (scheduled to be completed and part of the fleet in May, 2012).  Hopefully I'll have more pics of the  All-Stars participating in the Maguro Festival which starts on the 29th of April and of course any fan pics with Nagano from ANW4!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sasuke related updates

It's been a bit since my last post so I'll update you on what we know so far with everything tied to Sasuke and it's competitors. Fair warning this particular post may be a bit long but hopefully addresses some of the questions I've been getting lately. The biggest news of note is Sasuke Singapore (entry deadline May 1). While I'm obviously thrilled to know about a new country taking part in Trials it's even bigger news given the state of Sasuke as we know now. Reading the application and even the short announcement on the page.. it specifically has a line that made me leap out of my chair.

The winner of SASUKE SINGAPORE will get to go to Japan to compete for ultimate victory on the Japanese course.

OMG OMG OMG.. Sasuke 28... Given the lack of news and at least glimmer of hope that Sasuke was still there but in hiatus.. this news made me very happy. That only confirms the original rumors that the company was reforming to continue Sasuke alone. Again.. still rumor on that part but the fact that the official announcement for Sasuke Singapore states JAPAN as the ultimate destination for their winner.. is.. AAAAAWESOME..... You know for a fact that if/when there is more news concerning Sasuke 28 you bet I'll post about it. In the meantime this is a wonderful glimmer of hope!

SASUKE SINGAPORE premieres right after the National Day Parade 2012, on Channel 5!
We will be launching Sasuke Singapore on a special occasion - Singapore’s 47th birthday - on August 9, 2012, from 8.20pm - 9.30pm.
From 15 August onwards, every Wednesday at 8:00pm.

So nice that they are going to show this on television. Color me disappointed that after all that.. Malaysia never aired the first year of Sasuke Malaysia. You'd think with all the press that was there we would have seen something by now. This announcement of airdates already set by the TV station is great news already for Singapore.

Staying in the region (since Singapore is Malaysia's neighbor), Sasuke Malaysia is almost set for their 2nd Season! As it was with Season 1 last year, the competition is tied to a large one run by the Malaysian Government. It's called Hari Belia (which I'm told means "Teenager" or "Youth" Day) and this year it takes place the week of May 23 - May 27, 2012 in Putrajaya in Malaysia. The event is dubbed the 1 million youth gathering. The dates for Sasuke Malaysia specifically are May 25-May 27 (the weekend of the Hari Belia weeklong event.) All information including an application (Deadline May 4) can be found on their page for Sasuke Malaysia.

Now, Finals. The ANW4 Finals comprising of the 90 competitors that survived Regionals (and 10 wildcards) will be competing on a 4 stage course will occur on the weekend of April 21-22, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The ANW4 Final itself will be a Sasuke-grade 4 stage course created by TBS the broadcasting company of Sasuke for the past 14 years. (There is a rumor that has been floating around that the course was going to be designed after the Sasuke 27 course in Japan from last July) Winner of the Vegas event will gain the ANW title and a cash prize of $500,000 US. I presume that unlike Wipeout they would have to complete all 4 stages (just like Sasuke). I am however disappointed that the Final will not be filmed in one go.. there seems to be a time gap between stages.... Also, I'm still disappointed though that unlike Sasuke.. the Japanese stars will not be invited to their course.. even as guests. /sigh

Complete airdate schedule for both G4 and NBC's airing of ANW4 is as follows:

Sunday, May 20: 9 p.m.-11pm ET on G4
Monday, May 21: 9 p.m.-11p.m. ET on NBC
Sunday, May 27 9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET on G4
Monday, May 28: 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET on NBC
Sunday, June 3: 9 p.m.-11p.m. ET on G4
Monday, June 4: 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET on NBC
Sunday, June 10: 9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET on G4
Monday, June 11: 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET on NBC
Sunday, June 17: 9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET on G4
Monday, June 18: 9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET on NBC
Sunday, June 24: 9 p.m.-11 p.m. ET on G4
Monday, June 25: 10 p.m. -11p.m. ET on NBC *Please note different airtime for this night only
Sunday, July 8: 9 p.m. -12 a.m. ET on G4
Monday, July 9: 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET on NBC
Monday, July 16 9 p.m. -10 p.m. ET on NBC
Monday, July 23 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET on NBC

All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 - April 6, 2012 ©Konpiramaru Restaurant

And because you all know I can't write a post without updating you on how he's doing.. LOL here we go! First and foremost this is a ridiculously busy time for both Makoto Nagano and his employer Takasui Corp. Over the past couple of months he has been busy with certifications (and in some instances re-certifications) for a brand new ship that will be given to him sometime in May, 2012.

First picture of the brand new "50th" Konpiramaru - Makoto Nagano's new ship (to be officially launched in May, 2012) - ©Captain Taizo

This is it. This is the brand new 50th Konpiramaru. This is the new ship Makoto Nagano will be a Captain of! What I learned was that the 28th belonged to a previous Captain (and he assumed it after him) but this one is made specifically for Nagano. I'm so happy for him! Seems the ship is in the final stages of preparation before it is part of the main fleet in May, 2012. Congratulations Captain Nagano!

Konpiramaru Restaurant Poster in Fukuoka ©mukaimary

The other reason why he's been ridiculously busy is that Takasui Corp is expanding their restaurant locations throughout Island of Kyushu. This poster is in Fukuoka. One of the 4 other restaurants that are opening within the next month! The other locations as posted by Konpiramaru's website are Yatsushiro in Kumamoto Prefecture and Hayato in Kagoshima Prefecture. This of course is complimenting the flagship restaurant also in Kagoshima Prefecture that Nagano did a commercial for a couple years ago.

Maguro Festival 2012 Poster ©ichiki-kushikino city

The 21st Annual Maguro Festival 第21回串木野まぐろフェスティバル will take place the end of this month in Kagoshima Prefecture on Sunday April 29 and Monday April 30, 2012 in the city of Ichiki-Kushikino. This of course happens during Golden Week in Japan. This is a local Tuna event for the port city of Kushikino. It's pretty much a county fair including games for kids, music, food and other activities for the whole family. The past few years the company Nagano works for, Takasui Corp. has participated in the event (since they also use this fishing port) and they have Nagano design and build a Sasuke set where he could demonstrate his skills along with a few of his friends to the local crowd. More information can be found at the city website.