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“Pokemon with Guns” Palworld is A Global Success, But What Does Japan Think?

Originally described by fans as “Pokemon with guns,” Palworld is a survival game set in a harsh and dangerous environment where food is scarce and vicious enemies roam at every corner. 

This mishmash of adorable creatures, open world exploration and meme-worthy gameplay has created a buzz in global gaming communities. At the time of writing, Palworld has sold 8 million copies in 6 days with over 1.85 million concurrent players. This puts Palworld at second place for the highest peak in Steam history.

palworld AI problem

The Problem with Palworld

Pokemon-like games and franchises have existed as far back as 1997 with the likes of Digimon, Monster Rancher and other monster tamer type games. However, many are speculating that the likeness with Palworld seems to go much deeper than these established Pokemon competitors. X (formerly Twitter) users are accusing Pocketpair of Pokemon plagiarism, due to strikingly familiar features in Pals that look like they’ve been taken from various Pokemon and mashed together. Supporting this allegation are X statements by Pocketpair’s CEO Takuro Mizobe that appear to be in support of AI-generated art. One of Pocketpair’s previous games, AI: Art Imposter, was also an AI art-based game that even incorporated an AI art generator as part of its core mechanic.

How are Japan’s Netizens Reacting?

While not completely without controversy, Japan’s netizens seem to be taking a more lighthearted approach. Earlier this week, Nintendo’s legal department was a trending term on X, with many joking about the threat of a potential lawsuit. Other posts we’ve seen feature humorous videos of gameplay in Palworld, such as setting your sleeping Pals on fire with no consequences. Well-known Japanese VTubers are also setting up dedicated servers to better engage with their communities. This is a sign that some streamers are still moving forward with playing the game despite the potential backlash.

One Japanese individual who is taking these allegations seriously is Mizobe himself. The CEO has since posted on X, acknowledging that he has seen slanderous comments and death threats against Pocketpair’s artists and is requesting for them to stop. 

Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, there’s no denying that Palworld has started 2024 games off strong with its astronomically higher number of players accrued over a very short period. It’s also worth mentioning that the game is still in early access, meaning more improvements and iterations are to come before it’s officially launched. Whether this proves to be an indie game success story or yet one more battle lost in the war against AI, remains to be seen.

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best new manga to read 2024

Top Hidden Gem Manga You Should Be Reading in 2024

This year’s Manga Taisho nominees have just been announced, which means it’s time to bookmark a few up-and-coming manga titles to add to your 2024 reading list. 

best manga taisho award

The current lineup of 2024’s Manga Taisho nominees (in no particular order)

The Best New Manga You Should Read in 2024

The full list of the 17th Manga Taisho Award nominees are below:

  1. Kanda Gokura-cho Shokunin-banashi by Akihito Sakaue
  2. Kimi to Uchu o Aruku Tame ni by Inuhiko Doronoda
  3. You and I Are Polar Opposites by Kocha Agasawa
  4. Tamaki and Amane by Fumi Yoshinaga
  5. The Days of Diamond by Hirai Ohashi
  6. A Witch’s Life in Mongol by Tomato Soup
  7. Hirayasumi by Keigo Shinzo
  8. Let’s Go to the Family Restaurant by Yama Wayama
  9. Dear Shimazaki in the Peaceful Land by Gouten Hamada and Takeshi Sesimo
  10. Daemons of the Shadow Realm by Hiromu Arakawa

Fans of high school romance should give You and I Are Polar Opposites a try. Written and illustrated by Kocha Agasawa, the plot involves two high school students: the energetic Miyu Suzuki and the quiet Yusuke Tani. The series follows the developing relationship between the two as well as issues surrounding their circle of friends.

For something more action-based, Daemons of the Shadow Realm is recommended. It’s a story about twins born with the ability to rule over powerful entities called Daemons. The author is none other than Hiromu Arakawa, the manga artist best known for the global hit, Fullmetal Alchemist.

If you’re into something completely unique, A Witch’s Life in Mongol by Tomato Soup could be your fix. The series focuses on Fatima, a captive of the Mongol Empire, and her journey through life, firstly as a prisoner and then as a servant of the Imperial Palace. 

manga hidden gems you should be reading

What is Manga Taisho?

Since its inception in 2008, Manga Taisho has been a Japanese graphic novel award that recognizes achievement in manga. The award aims to shed light on relatively unestablished manga by providing a platform to promote these new pieces of work to readers. As a result, the criteria to be nominated includes manga series published in the previous calendar year and titles that have eight volumes or fewer.

The Manga Taisho Executive Committee that selects the manga is a volunteer group made up of 100 self-proclaimed “manga lovers,” many of whom are bookstore workers that manage the in-store manga sections. While the Manga Taisho award does not offer a cash prize, winning titles end up becoming heavily promoted in bookstores across Japan, leading to some very significant sales boosts for the manga involved.

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nier automata household goods

Suit Up Like 2B With Exclusive NieR: Automata Goods

Fans of the Nier franchise as well as cyberpunk fashionistas can now live their android life via the NieR:Automata Ver1.1a collection by Groove Garage Co. Ltd.

Household Items With a Nod to NieR:Automata

The collection features a variety of household items, emphasizing them as practical while still having a sophisticated design with a nod towards the games. Included among them are Narikiri acrylic pass cases, embroidery patches and multi-functional pouches resembling those used in survival games. There is also a smartphone sticker set bearing distinctive Nier symbolism made with high-spec material that allows it to glow in the dark for up to six hours. Why specifically for smartphones? Groove Garage thinks this could be a great aid for times when you’re searching for your phone in your bag or in a dark room.

Other products that really scream functionality are the heavy-duty folding containers and the rubber mats, which can be used as computer desk mats or for card games. We love how the former comes in three different designs (YorHa, 2B, 9S) and that the suggested use is for everything from camping and storing outdoor goods to being a receptacle for your trash. It’s also possible to lock the lid and make this your base for hyper-confidential materials. Lastly, but certainly the most practical, is the YoRHa toolbox. Manufactured by “Japan’s number one custom toolbox store,” Nakamura Seiko, it is durable and can be used to hold car parts and construction machinery. 

Keen to pick any of this up? Make sure to reserve now via the Village Vanguard online store. Pre-order reservations close on January 30.

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Upcoming 3D CG Anime Film for Pui Pui Molcar

This week, Shin-Ei Animation announced that a brand-new 3D CG Pui Pui Molcar movie is coming out this year. A short trailer was released, but details about the movie remain sparse, beyond a quick glimpse of Potato, the main Molcar, rendered in 3D

The movie is being directed by Mankyu, a moviemaker and screenwriter known for previous anime movies such as Migi & Dali and Sumikko Gurashi the Movie: The Unexpected Picture Book and the Secret Child. Hardcore fans need not fret as original series director for Pui Pui Molcar, Tomoki Misato, will still be involved as chief supervisor. Yuuko Kakihara (Cells at Work!, Persona 4: The Animation), who will act as the scriptwriter, has also gone on record to share her love for Pui Pui Molcar. We can only expect good things from such an experienced team that will, no doubt, be treating the production of the movie with real care.

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