Since watching anime is literally my job, I decided to check out the new Pandora in the Crimson Shell so I could report on it to you. The show caught my attention because it was created by Masamune Shirow, who made the legendary Ghost in the Shell before moving on to ridiculously sexy artbooks, and Excel Saga creator Koshi Rikudou. Set in the future, it’s the story of a human girl with a robot body named Nene who meets the manipulative inventor Uzal and her cyborg catgirl Clarion, whereupon various hijinks ensue. While goofy and ecchi at times — to activate Clarion, Nene needs to touch her “down there” — the show has a lot of charm, and Uzal being voiced by the Major from GitS gives the world an authenticity that fans should appreciate. One reason I like animation is that anything that can be conceived of by an artist can be animated, which really makes it possible to tell stories about technologies that might someday actually be a part of our lives.

One funny aspect of the Japanese is how many of the foods they eat every day aren’t Japanese at all. Sure, people here eat plenty of soba and udon noodles, sushi and sashimi, or donburi (“big bowl”) dishes like oyakodon, the “parent and child rice bowl” consisting of chicken and scrambled eggs served over rice, but many Western foods are actually more popular. The Japanese have internalized foods from many other countries, including Italian spaghetti, French croquettes (which go well with a certain Japanese Tonkatsu sauce) or curry rice, which was imported from Britain during the Meiji Era. Another favorite is “hamburg steak” (steak made from ground beef), which provides the deliciousness of meat while costing a lot less than true steak. To Japan’s logic, a “hamburg” is a hamburger without bread, and a “frankfurt” is a frankfurter (hot dog) served without a bun. If you’re curious about Japanese food, J-List some great cookbooks and bento books you might want to see.

Peter Payne has been living in Gunma, Japan since 1991 and blogging about Japan and anime since 1998. He’s the owner of J-List (http://jlist.com), the first anime shop to be based in Japan.