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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sasuke ASEAN Open Cup 2013 Announcement


Big news came out within the past 24 hours.  As has been expected but long been in the making (Lord knows this takes a long time to organize) the long awaited expansion of Sasuke into South-East Asia has officially begun!  Earlier today I saw some tweets from Sasuke Director Masato Inui posting about him finding 2 articles (here and here) about an announced new tournament.

Seems that Sasuke Malaysia's hard work behind the scenes the past couple of years has managed to actually accomplish what I thought was a pretty lofty goal.. a huge Sasuke tournament with 10 countries!  Over the rest of the day more articles (mostly Japanese) popped up saying about the same thing.  TBS finally put out a bilingual press release with the details from their end.  The English press release is here.  The Malaysian Ministry of Sports also had a press release on their website.

Quite a few things were announced.  First off.. I had a history/geography lesson about the tournament name.  I mistakenly called it Asian when it's actually ASEAN.  ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian NationsAs my history lesson (and wiki) continues, ASEAN is a geo-political and economic organization of ten countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed on August, 1967.  The members are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

As far as Sasuke history is concerned, we know Malaysia has already done one major event (Sasuke Malaysia 2011) with 2 smaller events (Monsoon Cup 2011 and Hari Belia 2012).  Singapore managed one event Sasuke Singapore 2012.  Both countries managed competitors in Sasuke Japan (Malaysia with 1 competitor in both Sasuke 27 and Sasuke (28) Rising while Singapore debuted with 2 competitors in Sasuke Rising). What is amazing with the news is that we now have 8 more countries actively being introduced into the Sasuke family.

The formal announcement was done in huge fashion as it is a big deal done between the Malaysian Ministry of Sports, ASEAN organization, TBS and Sasuke Malaysia representatives.  This event was been officially endorsed by the ASEAN Secretariat and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan as part of the celebration of the 40th year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

According to the TBS press release, the large-scale competition is to be held at Stadium Kelana Jaya in Malaysia (at least it's the proposed site) in late November 2013. The SASUKE ASEAN OPEN CUP 2013 competition is timed to coincide with the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Sports also to be held in the Malaysian capital during the same period.  This will mark the first time Sasuke will actually be held inside a 25,000 capacity stadium!

I'm excited about this event!  Just like Ninja Warrior Europe including a bunch of countries and spreading the Sasuke gospel to a larger audience, this will be a cool addition to the Sasuke family.  With strong ties to TBS and the original Sasuke Japan (which is my favorite) I'm happy to see the legacy of Sasuke continuing into the future. I hope the United States takes note and rejoins the Sasuke family by actually caring about the Japanese parent show Sasuke.  One can hope with the addition of 2 huge international tournaments all tied to Sasuke, that the USA will actually rethink their strategy and current position in Sasuke history.

In the end I am happy with the expansion of Sasuke further into South East Asia and I'm really looking forward to more information, details, associated competitions, etc. as they are organized and announced.  I'm sure there is a LOT of work ahead but with their passion and caring for the original Sasuke Japan firmly in their own history (unlike ANW) I'm more at ease knowing they will make us die-hard Sasuke fans proud.  As I get more information I'll post as usual.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sasuke related news - Nagano Baby Watch 2013

Secret project of Inui lately ©Masato Inui

It's been a while since the airing of Sasuke 28 in Japan, however that doesn't mean that there is no more Sasuke news.  Sasuke Director Masato Inui posted this gem of a snapshot on his twitter page the other day.  It shows Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己 seemingly doing a speech during that (horrid) celebrity room during Sasuke Rising's Japan airing.  Seems Inui is editing something together that's coming up soon™.  I asked him what and when (and so did everyone else LOL) and it seems it's coming up but no date has been set for airing. You know if I find out I'll let you know!  We are still awaiting confirmation (and subsequent announcement) of a new Sasuke 29 that is being discussed, however in the meantime..

Shin Sedai (新世代) literally "New Generation"
(some call them the "New Stars" deriving from the Allstars)
  Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒, Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 Kouji Hashimoto 橋本亘司 and  2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) ©Hitoshi Kanno

While we are on hiatus it's fun to catch up with the world of the Sasuke competitors!  During the same week of the Katsumi photo we had a few twitter conversations and photos of a get together with the New Generation.  Inui posted another variation of that photo that is featured above. (I liked Kanno's version better :p although Ryo has a great one too! )  Anyway it seems that Inui met with them for something they were taping for TBS. Possibly tied to the Katsumi screenshot?  Who knows at this point.  What I DO like .. is that it seems Kouji is being featured along with the rest of the New Generation that he was originally a part of. Hopefully he's no longer demoted!  Only time will tell. As far as I'm concerned he is still part of that group! Oh and as far as location that is the same one that Ryo posted back in December when he built the Crazy Cliffhanger クレイジークリフハンガー and tested it out on video.

New Generation star Kazuma Asa 朝一眞 (in blue - bottom row center) meeting up with Sasuke fans ©aokinagano

In the absence of Asa on twitter, I was happy to see a picture of him meeting up with Sasuke fans. Long-time Sasuke Fan aokinagano whom I follow on twitter posted this photo of him meeting Asa along with a few other fans.  It's nice to see get a together like this! I hope that's a trend for the future.
New baby Nagano! ©Asami Nagano
Meanwhile I can't believe I didn't mention this earlier.. We are getting a new addition to the Sasuke All-Star Family! Sasuke Legend Makoto Nagano 長野誠 's wife Asami 阿紗 美 posted on her Facebook back in January that she is expecting another child!  As you know the couple have a 3 year old son named Kaiou 塊王.  We don't know the sex of the child yet (at least it hasn't been posted) although we have a preliminary due date of July 6, 2013!  Prayers for a safe term and delivery!  We are anxious to meet the new chibi-Nagano! ( ^ . ^ )

Shingo's wife Eiko 英子, Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟, Makoto Nagano 長野誠 (center) and Asami 阿紗 美 (far right) along with friends at a Miyazaki City restaurant sending Shingo and Eiko back to Tokyo ©Shingo Yamamoto

Meanwhile I decided to dedicate this last section to Sasuke All-Star Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 and his prolific use of Facebook.. LOL  Okay.. long story short is that he posts a LOT of photos. What's funny is that I'm not even a fan of Facebook, nor do I have an account.. however I'm very happy for the Sasuke community for keeping me apprised of all things Sasuke including Shingo's ever growing library of photos!  Since Shingo's retirement from the gasoline industry back in November (or was it October?) he's been doing traveling (something he never had a chance to do with the long hours at the gas stations he ran).  During the past couple of months he's visited many other Sasuke competitors including the Nagano's in Miyazaki Prefecture. So by this point we knew Asami was pregnant so what do they do in their spare time with pregnant wife and toddler in tow?  Why.. race boats through a steep canyon of course! LOL  Of course Shingo's lack of coordination almost mowed down a family of ducks and almost rammed into a rock-face.. and another boat... but hey it's all in fun!

Shingo's New Gym! ©Shingo Yamamoto

Oh yeah.. before I forget.  The big question of what will Shingo do now that he's retired at the ripe age of 38?  Why open a gym of course!  Shingo announced his project of opening a gym in Tokyo (I think it's in Tokyo.. have to confirm that at a later date).  Above is the concept photo of the whole thing while another concept picture of what it will look like inside.  Projected completion of the project is sometime between August-October, 2013.  I'm so happy for him!  Looking forward to more updates on that brand new venture!

Sasuke All-Stars Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 and Toshihiro Takeda 竹田敏浩 ©Toshihiro Takeda

Yeah.. okay.. uhm.. remember that Shingo is prolific with Facebook? Seems Takeda is getting into the action lately (his account is only a couple months old).  Well.. difficult to explain but seems they have waaaaaaaaaay too much fun when they get together judging by the latest photos (and comments of other .. er.. photos).. seems Takeda is into posting NSFW photos of himself on Facebook.. okay.. just one.. but nekkid is still nekkid.  Either way the tame one is above of Shingo and Takeda chilling at an onsen just last week in Gifu Prefecture.  Shingo posted a few of his own.. oh you just have to see it later.. I'm not posting them here. If you are interested in keeping up with the ever changing world of the All-stars the links to the Facebook pages are on each of the copyrights.

Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口 朋広,  Masashi Hioki 日置 将士, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) and Sasuke All-Star Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 ©Shingo Yamamoto

Meanwhile Shingo's tour of Sasuke across Japan continues in Chiba Prefecture as these long-time friends go golfing.. oh yeah.. Shingo is an avid golfer.. I'd say more than half of his photos involve golf in some way.. just saying... Anyway Shingo posing pics with Sasuke competitors is a constant theme. Oh yeah and for those who don't remember Masashi Hioki 日置 将士 we know him as the lucky bastard that got Bunpei at his wedding. And of course Kawaguchi is another STQ'er!

Sasuke All-Star Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 and New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 ©Shingo Yamamoto

And just recently he posted this photo with Kanno. He meets up with his crew a few times during the year since they all live in neighboring prefectures.  I love how fellow Final Stage competitors meet up on their own. Sasuke has really become one large family!  That's why I love Sasuke!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

American Ninja Warrior 5 Announcement

After the inexplicable absence of American Ninja Warrior from Sasuke Rising (Sasuke 28) that taped in November and aired in December, 2012 on TBS Japan, it is time again for NBC to announce the new American spin off competition.  For those of us counting at home.. ANC9 folks.. but for these purposes this is now American Ninja Warrior 5.

(Application Deadline March 15, 2013)

After a minor snafu a couple of days ago with the wrong website having the wrong information and dates.. it seems this one is the legit one.  The application process is now open and will remain open to March 15, 2013.  Sometimes it's extended but be warned as every year the competition gets more popular so expect a much higher influx of applicants. Remember this is a casting process so do your best and get your stuff in early and in a professional manner.  As was reported earlier (and discussed on SMF) the air dates are set for NBC this summer.
EDIT: During the ANW4 broadcast the application above was confirmed to be correct.

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

What we know so far

Seems they will be having regionals again.  No cities have been mentioned on the application and at this early time we don't know yet of any specifics other than taping for Regionals will take place from April-May, 2013.

Finals will again be in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The only thing different is that instead of 2 days.. they will take a friggin' week to play out if the application information is correct.  Dates for Finals are June 10-17, 2013. I'm assuming taping for it will actually be during the weekend but who knows at this point.  The application is there to make sure you are available at that time and if you aren't available then don't bother applying.  If I find out more concrete information I'll post about it. This is by far the earliest we know of an actual taping for the finals so that's good news.  We don't know about any format though given last year's success on NBC I doubt much will starkly change in terms of format.  Again, if I find out I'll post more.

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)

My biggest concern is, as always (and the focus of this blog), Sasuke Japan.  We don't know if this is at all tied to the Japanese Sasuke or not.  The application has not specified if it is sending any athletes to Japan.  Heck we don't know what the prize is (outside of the title of American Ninja Warrior which no one has ever received).  Given NBC just about boycotted Sasuke Rising, it's obvious to everyone watching that NBC is not at all interested in Japan's competition.  With the death of G4 the United States no longer has a home for Sasuke Japan (or the main show Ninja Warrior).  Time will tell if that burned bridge gets rebuilt.

_MG_1001 as Smart Object-1
Sasuke Finalist Yoshiyuki Okuyama 奥山義行, Sasuke All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 and Current 2-Time Sasuke Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 being interviewed during ANW2 ©Convex Photography
Sasuke Stars USA Visit blog
Also, it is also unknown at this time if any Japanese competitors will be sent to Las Vegas as guests. Last year a very last minute showing of Sasuke Champion Makoto Nagano was made, however it is still undecided if that will repeat.  With his wife Asami Nagano expecting her 2nd child with him around that time of year it is possible he may not make himself available. (She's technically due in early July).  It is my hope that 2-Time Champion and newly anointed Sasuke King Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) gets an invitation as a guest. It's about time he gets the international exposure as the current Sasuke Ambassador.