Manga Reviews

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Volume 1 Review

Middle aged Mikami’s life isn’t nearly as exciting as he’d hoped, stuck in a salaryman’s job with no girlfriend and friends who primarily come around to brag about their good fortune. But that all might be the least of his worries when he’s unexpectedly stabbed to death and reborn in a fantasy world as the lowliest of monsters.



So this is pretty absurd, fairly amusing, and completely and sufficiently described by the title alone. Though nothing’s really been explained yet the setup is easy to follow and the premise interesting. The atmosphere is stereotypical Shounen power fantasy so far with the monster angle being the only real twist.

The pace seems pretty breakneck. I understand the necessity of getting to the point where Mikami can actually do something quickly, but more time spent with him exploring his predicament would have been nice. He’s a monster that seems more harmless than he is and has to learn to use his powers rather than one who has to learn to cope with being powerless and find a way to get stronger. The latter would have been much more interesting, and is more what the book description implies. There’s already a formula starting to develop to his encounters, which is a tad worrisome so early on.

Still, while nothing groundbreaking That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is a decent, quick read. It will be interesting to see if the pace settles down and if the series can find a bit more depth once the main cast and environment are fully established.


Japan Reviews Wrestling

Gatoh Move 12/31/17 & 1/1/18 Live Thoughts

December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan

My third and fourth Gatoh Move shows this trip fell on consecutive days over New Year’s.




As I like to explain to start my Gatoh Move reviews, the Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring and two large windows on one wall which are removed for the shows. The crowd itself is effectively the “rope break” marker and the wrestlers will sometimes use the front row to bounce off of for “running the ropes” and the windowsills to jump off of for high risk maneuvers. The limitations of the venue restrict the action in ways compared to “normal” matches, but also provide opportunities for creative variations on standard wrestling elements.

Pictures are not allowed during the show but can be taken afterward, so my pics here won’t contain anything from the matches and will only be of the roundtable and dancing following the shows (as well as of some souvenirs).


Mitsuru passing out hot tea for the roundtable on a cold day. 




The New Year’s Eve show opened with a contest between CHANGO and Baliyan Akki. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from each previously, and this was decent. Chango was in full on over the top heel mode here though, which was little much and almost seemed out of place. He took advantage of the ref’s (another wrestler) position and won after a cheap shot on Baliyan.

The second match saw Masahiro Takanashi and Cho-un Shiryu go to a draw that was pretty predictable from the pace they were wrestling, beyond even considering the fact that I saw this same pairing with the same result last year. Fine for what it was.


Toru Owashi and Baliyan Akki. 


Doing a six-person tag in such a limited space is undoubtedly difficult, but of course the Gatoh Move roster is extremely familiar with such a challenge and was more than up for it. Emi Sakura, Sayaka Obihiro & Saki vs Riho, Mitsuru Konno, & Toru Owashi was fantastic. Lots of great stuff centered around Emi’s team trying to avoid / deal with the larger Toru, as well as Riho and Mitsuru trying to take the attack to their opponents. I was at the window that’s used as one of the tag corners, and amusingly they spilled out of that one instead of the other for the first time I’ve ever seen during this match. This was exciting, a little different, and flat out fun. Emi continued her habit of pinning Mitsuru to win, something she jokingly teased me about after the show.


Emi and Obi during the roundtable.


Also after the show, I received an unexpected gift from another fan of Riho’s keychain, which completed my collection from last year when I got everyone else’s but hers was sold out before I could get it. I can’t say how much I appreciated the kind gesture and thoughtful gift.


So the undercard might have suffered just a touch with all the core roster members being in the main, but everything was still fine and the main event was incredible. Another easily enjoyable show from GM.







I was back the next day, which started out in fine fashion with me getting to see Mitsuru getting another singles match against a veteran, with it being Takanashi this time. Like Riho vs Mitsuru from the 12/29/17 show, this told an excellent story of the overmatched, determined Mitsuru against a formidable, vastly more experienced opponent. Was really excited for this and it was great.

Baliyan Akki vs Yusuke Kubo was ok but honestly a little bland. Kubo didn’t seem like he could take full advantage of the environment. Still fine overall though, and getting to wrestle a variety of guests can only help the relative rookie Baliyan develop during his stay in Japan. Interestingly, Takanashi came out to watch this one from the doorway.





A running theme of these Ichigaya show reviews from me is how good GM’s main event tag matches tend to be, and Riho & Hikaru Shida vs Emi & Saki was no exception. It was my first time seeing Shida in this environment, and her style fit in well. It’s been really great to see Saki as a regular, and of course Emi and Riho are masters of their craft, particularly in their home base. Emi created some crowd murmurs to open by participating in the pre-match handshake. She explained to us visitors that it indicated a “clean fight,” but of course that didn’t last long once the match got going and her pseudo heel antics emerged. This (somewhat expectedly) went to a draw, staying action packed the whole way.


Completed keychain collection, won signboards, and other GM souvenirs. 🙂


After the show there were rounds of rock, paper, scissors for the opportunity to purchase special autograph boards, and I was lucky enough to win an Obi one draw by Mitsuru.


I always enjoy my time at Gatoh Move, and these provided the usual fun times. 🙂



Japan Reviews Wrestling

Merry Joshi Christmas 2017! Part 4: Marvelous 12/25/17 Live Thoughts

December 25, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan

I was lucky enough to see four shows themed about and/or on Christmas this year. First was an Ice Ribbon dojo show on the 23rd leading to a show of theirs at KFC Hall early on Christmas Eve. After that was Gatoh Move in Ichigaya, and here I’ll be talking about my Christmas Day show at Shin-Kiba First Ring by Marvelous.

Similar to last year this show had a lot of Christmas elements, in this case including some wrestlers in costumes and randomly inserted presents under certain chairs in the venue (such as towels, t-shirts, etc).



There was a heavy focus on teams and stables for this show, with matches often having leadership implications and or teammates facing off. For example in the opener of HENA-CENTRIC (Sakura Hirota & Miki Tanaka) vs Level 5 (Yuu Yamagata & Tomoko Watanabe) it seemed whoever obtained the pin would become the leader of their team, while whoever WASN’T pinned on the opposing team would gain that honor for theirs.

As to be expected with Hirota involved, this was almost all comedy, starting with her generally being as much on other team’s side as her own, and proceeding into things like Watanabe giving her a gift of  diapers for her twins which eventually were fought over and placed over Hirota and Tanaka’s heads. There are parts of Hirota’s humor I don’t care for, but a lot of it here was amusing and I enjoyed the match overall. The absolute highlight of the comedy involved something I usually don’t enjoy: “fourth wall” breaking. Hirota was trapped in a waistlock screaming and struggling to avoid a German suplex when she suddeny stopped and just stared at her partner in the corner for a second. She then apologized to Wantanabe, asked for a moment, calmly opened the latter arms and left her standing in that position. Hirota then walked over to her own corner, slapped Tanaka upside the head for still having the diaper on (a good five minutes after it was put on her), and ripped it off her head. Hirota then went back to Wantanabe, thanked her, and put herself back in the waistlock, complete with resumed screaming. It was absurd, and hilarious.




This was my first time seeing Tanaka, and she was a highlight here. She was decent in the action that happened and great in her role in the comedy, and her truculence at listening to Hirota and dealing with her was perfect, particularly given what it built to. Eventually Hirota and the other team all got in each other’s way, and the rookie no one was paying attention to or cared about jumps on the pile and gets the win on Wantanabe.

Everyone else as stunned and Tanaka’s gleeful jumping around in celebration was AWESOME (amusingly STILL in her snowman costume, even though Hirota had shed her Christmas tree one early on). She immediately lets her newfound power go to her head, bossing Hirota around, making her hold the ropes for Miki, etc. Can’t say it wasn’t deserved. 😉

One last phenomenal touch was Yamagata’s slow realization that things worked out for her. She showed disappointment at the loss, which gradually changed to a look of relief and then glee as she processed that she wasn’t pinned and thus was her team’s new leader. She treats Wantanabe much the same as Tanaka did Hirota as they leave.

The action was fine and the comedy was a mix of hilarious and meh, but the finish and story were fantastic.




While I didn’t understand what was on the line nor the full dynamics of the match pitting Rin Kadokura against Sumire Natsu, the general gist of Rin not having any patience for Sumire and Rin’s Wave Tag Team Championship partner Takumi Iroha somehow being in the middle of things was easy to pick up. Little things like Sumire mimicking Rin’s entrance dance behind her to Rin’s eventual displeasure and Iroha aiding Rin at points seemed like nice touches to the unfolding angle.

Sumire has improved over the last couple of years but is still just ok in the ring and more character than ringwork. The crowd didn’t seem to care much, which minimized that second point and held things back a little in general. On the other hand Rin is great (particularly for her experience level) and was able to fire everyone up when she took over offense, so this evened out to be fine overall.

To Rin’s frustration they wrestled to a time limit draw, and it was established that the victor would be determined by Rock-Paper-Scissors. They proceeded to draw several times, until Sumire demurred and seemed to grant Rin whatever they were fighting over with a self satisfied look and an expression of confusion from her opponent. Obviously there’s more to this than what I caught, but the high points of the story still seemed well conveyed even with my lack of Japanese language comprehension.




The third match saw faction W-Fix fight amongst themselves to determine a leader as DASH Chisako & KAORU faced Chikayo Nagashima & Megumi Yabushita. The referee immediately explained given the tendencies of the people involved she wasn’t going to bother with silly things like rules and this became no DQ.

I’m a huge fan of Dash in general so it’s always a treat to see her, and the remainder of the participants are other veterans capable of magic on the right night. This was certainly it. The match was incredible, with the teammates going all out in a war using all of their trademark heel antics on each other and just flat out trying to win, which had the crowd giving them all big face reactions if just for one night. It totally worked in a way that will let them go right back to being booed as needed on the next show. And any match that ends with Dash’s picture perfect frog splash (the “Hormone Splash”) is even better. 🙂 My match of the night, and one of my favorites of the whole trip.

The pinfall gives Dash leadership of W-Fix, but she immediately cedes it to her partner Kaoru. Karou then presents the team with matching jackets as Christmas presents. In gratitude they swarm her with a group hug declaring “Best Leader!” This whole sequence amused me to no end.





The tag team of Mio Momono and Maruko has expanded into a full faction called the “Outsiders,” and here each teamed with other members in another intra-faction Leadership match, Mio Momono & La Rosa Negra vs Maruko Nagasaki & Kyuri.



I’ve written about Mio and Kyuri as rising stars, and they’ve both become personal favorites of mine. Maruko is also right there with them as a phenomenal quasi-rookie talent. All three are much more skilled than their experience would suggest, and I was really excited for the opportunity to see them square off in various combinations. They delivered, as did the four competitor. Rosa did interject a lot of comedy into things here (mostly based around struggling with Japanese and not quite understanding things), but it worked well and her ring style was a good fit as well. I came out of this really excited about her being a part of this unit and seeing her in more matches alongside the others. Great stuff.



The match ended in the second draw of the evening, and after an extended sequence of getting Rosa to do RPS correctly, everyone throws the same thing… except Kyuri, who becomes the Outsiders’ leader. Hopeful (and force of nature) Mio is NOT pleased, and Kyuri herself seems reluctant. The other three actually pose without their leader, but then decide “maybe okay” and seem to agree to give her a chance. Lots of interesting ways to go with this.



The semi-main event was a men’s match pitting Leo Isaka against TAKU Iwasa. I don’t know if it was nerves or just being green, (at less than a year wrestling) but Leo was a bit off in the early going. Not horrible, but clearly not hitting things cleanly and being a bit off at times. The crowd was much more into him as the home grown talent than his visiting veteran opponent, which was understandable but hurt reactions a bit because the crowd didn’t care when Taku was on offense but because of the differing skill levels the match was actually much better whenever he was. Things did ramp up overall as the match went on though, and as mentioned the crowd was excited for Leo even in defeat.



Takumi Iroha, who I’ve also  wrote about as someone to watch in the past, also main evented last year’s Marvelous show and is clearly being groomed / built as the central star of the promotion. Here she got a one on one non-title opportunity with Sendai Girls’ Champion Chihiro Hashimoto.



This was my first look at Chihiro, and I was definitely impressed. It’s immediately easy to see why she holds Sendai’s title. This was an excellent, hard hitting contest with Takumi and Chihiro just beating the hell out of each other and throwing each other around. Iroha’s blend of power and high flying is just incredible.

They battled all the way to the third time limit draw of the evening, which wasn’t terribly surprising given the participants. I know there might be some criticism about half the matches ending that way (one I’d normally share), but each match it happened in unfolded differently, and logically, with varying post match implications and significance. So I was actually totally fine with it all myself.



Strong overall show from Marvelous, probably the best I’ve seen from them yet. Even the stuff that wasn’t quite to my tastes wasn’t bad, and the highlights were fantastic. This one’s an easy recommendation.

Japan Reviews Wrestling

Gatoh Move 12/29/17 Live Thoughts

December 29, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan

My second Gatoh Move at Ichigaya Chocolate Square of my most recent trip was a particular blast for a multitude of reasons.


As I like to explain to start my Gatoh Move reviews, the Ichigaya events are held in a small room with no ring and two large windows on one wall which are removed for the shows. The crowd itself is effectively the “rope break” marker and the wrestlers will sometimes use the front row to bounce off of for “running the ropes” and the windowsills to jump off of for high risk maneuvers. The limitations of the venue restrict the action in ways compared to “normal” matches, but also provide opportunities for creative variations on standard wrestling elements. I’ve greatly enjoyed the previous events I’ve seen seen there.

Pictures are not allowed during the show but can be taken afterward, so my pics here won’t contain anything from the matches and will only be of the roundtable and dancing following the shows (as well as of some souvenirs).


As usual for Gatoh Move all the shows opened and closed with a song/dance performed by the core roster, in this case Emi, Riho, Mitsuru, and Obi. Aasa was sick and missed all of the GM shows I saw this time. Hope she feels better soon.

For this show I was right outside the window the wrestlers usually use for “high risk maneuvers” and sometimes fight right out of, leading to a need to be ready to scramble out of the way at a moment’s notice. Of note for this show, there a was a couple with a baby seated right next to me. This will become highly relevant. 😉 During the opening dance and introduction the wrestlers were all (rightfully) infatuated with the baby and waving to her.




Mitsuru Konno is my favorite Gatoh Move wrestler (among an incredibly talented roster in the first place) so I was extremely excited to see her get a singles opportunity against Gatoh Move’s Ace, the reigning Super Asia champion Riho. Riho is a 12 year veteran at age 20, and her smoothness in everything she does and general instincts properly reflect her experience and skills. This was fantastic, with both making full use of the environment and telling a strong story of Mitsuru getting aggressive in trying to prove herself but coming up a bit short against GM’s superstar. A lot of this happened near (or through) my window, which was a particularly fun bonus for me. Mitsuru’s spot where she spills out of the window then later propels herself back in to attack her opponent using an audience stool to launch from appears to be a regular part of her matches now, and is always awesome.




A flashback to last year for me saw Antonio Honda vs Sayaka Obihiro vs Jaki Numazawa in a comedy skit match. Whenever someone got a 2 count they were allowed to take a prop from a provided basket and make a joke. The referee would then decide if a point was scored (based on whether it was funny, usually indicated by audience laughter). Most points at the end of the time limit wins. The previously mentioned baby’s presence had a big impact here, as Honda stopped a couple of times to reassure her when they were fighting, and during the comedy portions her booming, delighted laughter was absolutely contagious.

Overall this was probably my favorite comedy match ever in Gatoh Move so far, as the gist was usually easy to pick up despite not understanding the spoken portions of the jokes, as were other themes like Obi’s attempts generally not going over well (to the point where she stopped mid-joke once frustratingly declaring “it’s not funny!” and just went back on the attack). Fun stuff.



The main event was another great tag match from the Asia Dream Tag Team Champions Emi Sakura & Masahiro Takanashi, with opponents Kazuhiro Tamura & Baliyan Akki who were totally up for the challenge. My first look at Akki was a really good one here, as he fit in well with his much more experienced compatriots and is adapting nicely to GM’s home venue’s unique environment and its constraints and strengths. Overall this was simply a well worked, highly enjoyable main event. Of special note was Emi amusingly reaching out to try to tag the baby when in a submission hold, as well as directly leading me in (successfully) trying to start a “Sa-ku-ra” chant at one point.


One of the best Ichigaya events I’ve seen here, with just enough that felt different from GM’s (admittedly awesome) usual formula, in addition to my personal experience being elevated by my lucky seat position and the antics around me.