COPYRIGHTS: Please note all blog posts should be properly accredited with a link © to the post on this site where it came from. Please be courteous and not steal the work of others.
Comment Moderation has been added to this blog due to a high volume of Spam.
Thank you for your cooperation.
A note from me concerning change to upcoming blogs.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Unofficial Sasuke Update Show #2 on Nico Nico!

After the busy month that the Sasuke Director Masato Inui had in November, Inui returns to host the 2nd installment of what he calls the Unofficial Sasuke Update Show on Nico Nico.  The first one was held back in October. This one has short notice as well as it's only a few days away.  Someone else posted the information on it with the link to the broadcast page and then finally Inui posted it on his twitter to confirm that it is indeed the case.
Saturday, December 19, 2015 - 19:30 (7:30 PM - Japan) JST
  5:30 AM (Eastern Daylight Time) (SATURDAY Morning)
2:30 AM (Pacific Daylight Time) (SATURDAY Morning)
(Please note the time for Daylight Saving)
For those who are curious.. what is Nico Nico?  This is the online streaming service that was used during the Sasuke 30 and 31 broadcasts that had commentary on the tournament while it was airing live in Japan. Over the past Sasuke 31 season, it was used often for community updates and additional content.   This particular channel is new as this is a channel started specifically by the Sasuke Director himself. I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating:  I need to reiterate something about the channel.  This is not an official channel for TBS.  This is his own personal channel and the views and impressions on this broadcast/channel are not the official views of TBS.  For those who are unaware, Mr. Inui was hired to direct Sasuke after the collapse and eventual bankruptcy of Monster 9.  He is now creative owner for the televised image of Sasuke and he serves not only as Executive Director but sole Editor of the televised show.  However, he is President of FolCom and considered to be an outside independent contractor hired by TBS.  Remember that while what he discusses about the composition of the show (which he controls), he does not serve as representative of TBS. TBS controls the license of the show and is the only one certified to announce any official plans.  He wanted to make sure everyone knew that up front and there are certain answer he is just unable to give since he has limited control of the show and cannot possibly speak for TBS in an official capacity.
Host - Sasuke (Japan) Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 ©Masato Inui
Kenji Takahashi 高橋賢次 - KONG EXPRESS ©Kenji Takahashi
Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 ©Ryo Matachi

Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広  ©Arsenette Reiter
Shinya Kishimoto 岸本真弥  ©Arsenette Reiter
The hope was for this informal channel is to provide a monthly update on the world of Sasuke from his perspective and provide an opportunity to engage the community live.  Given the format of the first show, he will be talking to Sasuke stars and answer questions from the live chat in real time. He hopes to do this at a pace of about once a month in an informal setting.  While Inui couldn't do one in November, he more than made it up with a dozen Nico Nico videos from Indonesia.  The biggest news coming out of the last Nico Nico was the announcement of Sasuke 32 being green-lit.
First Nico Nico Broadcast - October, 2015 ©Shingo Yamamoto
I'm really excited as we've been trying to find ways to get Sasuke back into the lexicon of the Japanese youth growing up in an age where television consumption is at an all-time low.  We believe that further development of social media will help get Sasuke back out of the slump it is now.  I'm really excited that this broadcast will be monthly so we can keep talking about Sasuke even during the off-season.  I honestly believe that this will only help the situation.  I'll be blogging about the broadcast each month and hope to hopefully provide an English translated update of the topics discussed in a timely manner.  The last time the quality of the video/audio was low and it was difficult to get additional translations of what was said.  Most was obstacle talk and some stories from Sasuke's past. There were also technical problems as it was their first unofficial and first one they ran on their own without help.  It will take me some time to get all of the content translated so I ask everyone for patience for the blog after the broadcast. Again, there are some topics he cannot formally address as it's either out of his hands, political or he just doesn't know the answer.

Monday, December 7, 2015

2016 Rambling Rican Calendar is for sale!

2016 Rambling Rican Calendar Cover ©RamblingRican

As I mentioned before, I'm starting to organize a small set of fundraisers for the another trip next year to Japan.  Just like last year, my first foray into it will be the Calendar.  Thanks to everyone who helped last year, I was able fly to Japan for the 31st tournament!  My hope is to return to Japan (assuming in the Spring as the tournament date has not yet been announced) and interview as many people as I can to include in the book I'm writing on Sasuke's history.  This year I was able to get a lot of information but not enough for what I was doing.  Many changes to the format of the book occurred thanks to the trip experience.  I noticed a glaring problem I had in terms of lack of information. I need to do more interviews and while some of that lack is slowly starting to get taken care of, the main bulk is still yet to happen.  I'd have to overhaul the scale of the trip and do a better job in organizing more interviews.  I guess I call it a rookie mistake. I was quite overwhelmed and not being in a native environment I did a poor job organizing more concrete interviews.  I'm hoping to do better on the next trip in organizing those interviews in advance.

 July, 2016 snapshot ©RamblingRican

Speaking of correcting mistakes, I overhauled how I did the calendar.  I chose larger photos and removed most of the captions.  I found it was a bit cluttered when I did put the captions even if I sacrificed identifying exactly who was in the photo.  Given also that there were a lot more group photos, I had to make a choice and stick to just keeping it as clean as possible. The majority of the photos I took myself during my trip to Japan this year.  The rest come from events and get-togethers that took place in Gunma Prefecture and the Sedai event that is an annual PTA event that the city runs.  I'm happy to say that the Calendar is complete and finally up on the website!  As usual thanks to Philip (from SMF) for designing my logo! I was blessed in having a few photographers who donated their photos (Kung-Cheen Howng 洪 恭芹 (aka "Jin), Tatsuya Tada 多田竜也, Yuusuke Morimoto 森本 裕介 and Sasuke Director Masato Inui 乾 雅人.  I also added more birthdays of those involved and featured some of the Sasuke regulars (like the All-stars/Shin Sedai) to fill out the months.

September 2016 events snapshot ©RamblingRican

Full disclosure on the "fundraising part" of the Calendar Project.  I'm getting about 5-7 dollars per calendar created. All of the prices are up on their website along with a description as to how this works.  I was happy with last year's trial run and decided to use the same site again.  The calendars are only printed when someone orders them as opposed to other companies that require for a certain amount to be ordered up front.  While they also had an option to do a fulfillment drive (like they do in local schools with the sign up sheet) I chose the other route available since the amount most people would get would be much smaller.  The company will be doing the fulfillment so I don't have to be the middle person.  I won't know who orders what from as the website since they take care of that privately between the buyer and them.  So far I've had zero issues other than creative issues on my own.  I appreciated they had no set up fees (some websites can cost 100-200 bucks just to set up) and again, my experience from last year was quite positive.

I also noticed that they added a lot of other things like like photo books, cards, and even T'shirts, etc.) if people are interested in buying some sort of merchandise that will help me as well. So if you want to contribute to the kitty and get the 2016 (it comes in 2 sizes apparently although I formatted it for the smaller one) you can buy it directly on CreatePhotoCalendar's websiteThe website accepts Visa, Master Card, Checks, Money Orders, and Paypal. They ship to the USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Europe, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, India, Thailand, and Australia.  If you are interested in getting a calendar and it is NOT on the list that the company sells to, I am willing to mail out orders. I'd like to limit that as much as possible though as it gets complicated and expensive. All shipping costs would be paid by the person who is ordering them.  However, considering that if your area is not on the list, that means that your shipping could be quite high.  As always I am eternally grateful for your continued support throughout the years.  Hopefully I raise enough to return next year to Japan. Every little bit helps!  Please spread the word and hopefully I can sell more calendars this year!  If anyone is interested, I can create more products to put up on the store to help diversify the portfolio. ♥

Friday, December 4, 2015

Final Stage Podcast Episode 8

Edit: January 10, 2016 - Added the video of the trip to Movement Lab.

Graphic for Episode 8

Thanks to William for adding graphics of a synopsis of the episode content for this month on Final Stage Podcast!  All of our previous podcasts are now officially up on iTunes and on the hosting site of Podbean.

Episode 8 - Direct link

Just a quick update to let you know that the 8th episode for the Final Stage Podcast with William and I is out! It is actually a shorter broadcast (for us LOL)!  We are finally getting more comfortable with doing podcasts. All of our previous podcasts are officially up on iTunes and on the hosting site of Podbean.  The episode went live about an hour ago so it may take a little bit for iTunes to update with the latest episode. It is of course uploaded on Podbean at the same time it goes live on YouTube.

Published on Dec 4, 2015
It’s the last show of the year and we still have plenty to talk about! Arsenette visited the Movement Lab and talked to Chris Wilczewski about the National Ninja League. Afterwards, we talk in detail about both Let’s Go Dream Team expanding into other countries and the construction of Sasuke Ninja Warrior Indonesia.
Also, William reveals the identity of the fifth man on team USA during the X Warrior world event! It’s a good way to end the year, so check it out!

7:55 Interview with Chris Wilczewski
11:14 National Ninja League Talk
20:16 ANW 8 Update
22:55 Katsumi Yamada appeared in a new commercial. It was... interesting.
36:50 China vs USA on X Warrior! Who's the fifth man?!
52:45 Korean obstacle course/variety game show “Let’s Go Dream Team!” expanding to other countries. Could a US version work?
1:13:33 Sasuke Vietnam taping delayed
1:15:28 Ninja Warrior France announced
1:18:47 The construction Sasuke Ninja Warrior Indonesia and behind the scenes videos posted by Inui
1:49:56 Closing

Music Credits:
"Yeti Set Go!"
by: Isaac Wilkins

Note: Video for my trip to Movement lab is finally up (yes.. very late).

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sasuke Ninja Warrior Indonesia 2015

Edit: 11/30/15 - Added Part 7 (Video)
12/1/15 - Posted new Start Line photos
January, 2016 - There are a total of 13 videos (that Inui produced for Nico Nico) that I put up on a playlist on YouTube.

New Startline is up! ©Masato Inui

As I've mentioned before, Indonesia's inaugural Sasuke tournament is almost ready!  This post is a synopsis of all the social media updates from the past week.  Sasuke (Japan) Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 and New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 have been tweeting updates and even created a series of behind the scenes videos that have been uploaded to Nico Nico.  I'm happy to have permission to re-post the videos on YouTube to help those who don't have Nico Nico accounts.
Sasuke (Japan) Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 posing in front of the qualifying stage ©Masato Inui

Last week Inui landed in the island country of Indonesia to oversee the production for the very first 4 stage Sasuke inspired course. This particular production is sanctioned by TBS and is (technically) the third production overseen by Inui and TBS but the second of the 4-stage course layout. 

Showing the qualifying course ©Masato Inui

Indonesia has their official websites up! First is the official website run by the television station RCTI.  They also have official Twitter and Facebook accounts.  They have a detailed listing of taping dates and whatnot.  So if you are in the area you may be able to see the event as it tapes!

Qualifying Course ©Masato Inui

Inui posing these photos of the qualifying course that was already built by the time he arrived. Inui traveled with Ryo. Ryo is used for his obstacle building knowledge and his great tester ability. He can break down the mechanics of an obstacle to a builder to the point of explaining what needs to be fixed in order for the obstacle to be safe for competition. He's a builder's dream.

Main production begins ©Masato Inui

I'm not sure if this was part of the qualifying course or if this was part of the main production of the 4-stage course.  Either way, that hazy sunshine shows how hot Indonesia is...

Production meeting ©Masato Inui

Rare shots of what it's like being part of the production crew.  This is showing the plans of the course out on a white board.

Sasuke (Japan) Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 ©Masato Inui

Inui (in front drawing) on the white board explaining each of the obstacles in detail as the rest of the production staff looks on.

5.5 Earthquake in Java ©EMSC

What I find incredibly ironic is that Inui caused yet another natural disaster.. From now on you can call him The Catastrophe.. For those who remember from earlier this year, Inui was in Vietnam building their inaugural course when a friggin' tornado spawned ON the course and almost wrecked the place! So yeah.. he comes to Indonesia and triggers a friggin' earthquake!

Sasuke (Japan) Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 on the qualifying course ©Masato Inui

So fair warning inviting this guy to your country.. another natural disaster may be looming!

Sasuke (Japan) Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 and New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 with production staff ©Masato Inui

This is a pretty cool photo of the production crew in front of the Cannonball Run from Viking... er..  Spin Bridge スピンブリッジ  Inui even posted a cool video of one of the women clearing it.

70% complete! ©Masato Inui

Awesome overhead view of the 4-Stage course of Sasuke Ninja Warrior Indonesia 2015!  According to Inui's post, the construction is 70% complete!

Sasuke (Japan) Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 ended up doing a small series of Behind the Scenes videos of the Indonesian course as it was being built! I did a few screencaps of what each video had.  Inui posted these on his Twitter linking to very short (no more than 2-3 minutes long) Nico Nico videos that unless you had an account and log in, you'd have trouble seeing them. I re-uploaded them on YouTube so everyone can see them.

Part 1 of the video (here on YouTube) was the introduction of the series hosted by Inui (with the help of Ryo every now and then).  They did a quick view of the obstacles being tested and I had to laugh when I saw this picture (more on that later).

A spectacular fall on the Cannonball Run from Viking... er..  Spin Bridge スピンブリッジ

And another fall victim but this time on the Unstable Bridge アンステーブルブリッジ

Sextuple Steps (Rokudantobi 六段跳び)

Rolling Log (Rolling Maruta ローリング丸太)

Inui is now joined by New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 as the video officially starts.
In Part 2 of the video series (here on YouTube) Inui and Ryo introduce the The Pole Jump (ポールジャンプ), known as the "Super Vault" in English broadcasts. We haven't seen this since Sasuke 4!

Inui describing how to jump using his cigarette as the pole as Ryo snickers next to him. LOL Only Inui can pull off using cigarettes as an example. LOL

Spider Walk (スパイダーウォーク)

Inui slapping Ryo around while discussing the Spider Walk portion of the course.  The men behind them are washing the Plexiglas walls.

Another look at the The Pole Jump (ポールジャンプ)

Part 3 in the series they move on to Stage 2 (Here on YouTube).  Here they discuss something I had to laugh at.  So for those who are new to my site, I need to explain a couple of things. (also explains the reason why Inui brought up Nagano in the video)

Sasuke All-Star Makoto Nagano 長野誠 defeating the Ultimate Plank (アルティメットプランク) in Viking
THIS is the Ultimate Plank.  I .. LOVE this obstacle.  Inui HATES it.  We feel passionately about our positions. LOL  We are 180 degrees in opposite views on this obstacle from Viking.  For those who remember this obstacle, only one man ever defeated it.  That's Makoto Nagano from way back in 2006.
I've been petitioning to have a version of this on Sasuke (Japan). (Actually.. I would LOVE a SASUKE sign...)  Knowing that Inui hates this obstacle, this is my entry for a modified Pegboard that I submitted for the Sasuke 31 obstacle contest. It's not as obnoxiously huge as a sign, but it was still a modified pegboard.

Inui showing the thickness of the peg used in this obstacle which differs from the American Ninja Warrior version.  According to Ryo (who came up with this idea), he "borrowed" the version you see behind him including ANW's name of "Monkey Peg". Btw this is the 3rd obstacle in the Second Stage.

American Ninja Warrior's "Monkey Peg" obstacle

It's really a hybrid of the thick peg from Viking's Ultimate Plank with the look, placement and name of American Ninja Warrior's obstacle called the Monkey Peg. So while I'm still waiting for my SASUKE sign.. this is still a cool addition of a pegboard on a Sasuke spin off.

The ending of the video had one of the testers balking halfway through the Monkey Peg. LOL  Pegboards no matter how they are configured can be a very difficult obstacle despite it's simple design.

Part 4 of the video series (here on YouTube) continues on the Second Stage.  This is the 4th obstacle in the stage.  Many will recognize this from both Sasuke and American Ninja Warrior.  It's actually known by a few names but I like to call it the Balance Bridge (バランスブリッジ) while it's other name is Yureru Hashi (揺れる橋).

Showing both the water and extra padding to avoid any horrific injuries that has previously occurred on this obstacle in the past.

More funny bits at the end of the video with him tasting something he REALLY didn't like.

In Part 5 of the series (here on YouTube) Inui and Ryo discuss the 5th and 6th obstacles of the Second Stage.

Just behind them is the Unstable Bridge (アンステーブルブリッジ)

and after that is the Rope Ladder (ロープラダー)

Here they show earlier on in the stage (of which were covered in previous videos)

Balance Bridge from reverse angle

And way on the other side is the Rolling Log (Rolling Maruta ローリング丸太)

Death by Unstable Bridge

Part 6 of the video series (here on YouTube) is Stage 3 discussion along with an overhead view of the whole course as it's being built.

Inui is having fun at the expense of his Ryo Stand-in (an Indonesian man who doesn't speak Japanese)

Devil Steps (デビルステップス)

These have been in both American Ninja Warrior and got it's start in Sasuke way back in the Shin-Sasuke era.  Inui posted a small video on his twitter showing Ryo demonstrating the obstacle.

The 2nd obstacle in the Third Stage is the obstacle Inui is calling the "Curtain Grip".  Seems also inspired from American Ninja Warrior's Curtain Slide and Sasuke's Curtain Swing (カーテンスイング).

As the poor Indonesian guy is standing there not knowing wtf Inui is talking about. LOL

Third obstacle is from American Ninja Warrior (again.. blame Ryo on this btw).  This is is the "Ring Toss".

This is Kacy demonstrating the obstacle for those who haven't seen the obstacle if you haven't previously watched American Ninja Warrior.

New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 ©Sasuke Ninja Warrior Indonesia

As I was writing this blog the Twitter feed for the show was mentioning that a press conference was on the way.  Seems Mr. Shiro Otsuru (Development Global Producer) and Ryo were being interviewed as part of the press for the upcoming tournament.

New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 ©Sasuke Ninja Warrior Indonesia

Commercials already for the upcoming show have been showing on social media.  If there are bigger updates (or more videos), I'll do one more big post on it.  In the meantime I expect Inui and Ryo to be returning to Japan this week as the production crew for Indonesia take over to film their first Sasuke tournament!

Edit: Part 7 (Here on YouTube) Inui added another video before going to sleep.  This is the rest of Stage 3.  This is actually the rigging for an obstacle that is currently being built on the ground.

And again, Inui continues to have his stand-in while Ryo is doing interviews and press conferences.

This of course is The Cliffhanger (クリフハンガー) and by the looks of it, the Shin-Cliffhanger (version 4).

Here he's teasing the Indonesian guy since he can't understand wtf he's saying to him.. while the camera-man is laughing so hard that the camera is shaking.
Edit:  The man who is behind the camera is art producer Mr. Omino (Who's been with Sasuke since the very beginning in Sasuke 1 and is an old friend of Inui). Knowing that makes his cackling even funnier.

They are discussing the differences in thickness from the USA built obstacles to the TBS versions.  Seems that they are doing closer to TBS/Sasuke specs if I understood correctly.

The middle part where it angles denoting the "Shin-Cliffhanger" era style.

And Inui talking about the distance in the jump to the last ledge (again to a guy that can't understand him).

Next up is the rigging for The Salmon Ladder (サーモンラダー) which is not yet built (so I can't tell you which version it is). Oh yeah.. Ryo is back!

A quick glimpse of Third Stage

The 6th and final obstacle in the Third Stage is The Pipe Slider (パイプスライダー).

And we come to an end to this last added video. Should he post more I may just update this blog post with it since the only thing left really is the final.

Sasuke (Japan) Director Inui posing with the logos for the event ©Masato Inui

Edit: Photos for the new start line and press areas are now up!