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Dengeki Ratings I New Dragon Quest Yangus Screens I Tales of the Tempest Gets Another Delay I New Silmeria Screens, Character I Before Crisis Final Chapter Released I New Feature for Code Age Brawls I Culture Corner I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Kawari April 14, 2006


Konnichiwa

If you came here looking for J-Sensei, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until next week. He was absolutely swamped with work this week and just couldn't find the time for the column. Unfortunately, news from the east doesn't run on J's busy schedule, so it had to make its way to this column somehow, and that's how you got me. This is my first time doing a column here on RPGamer, and I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about how this'll go over, but here's to hoping.

Not to deprive you of a little gaming talk, I suppose I can discuss a bit about what I've been into lately. Grandia III has been taking up a good chunk of my free time. While its story isn't the deepest out there, it has its moments, and I think the characters make up for it pretty well. The thing I find most impressive about it is the battle system; it's just fun. Also, I wouldn't buy into all you hear about the game taking a nose dive after the start of the second disc. While I haven't beaten the game yet, I also have yet to encounter this alleged drop in quality.

I have so many unfinished files in so many games right now, it's ridiculous. I'd love to finish up Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga or Shadow of the Colossus sometime in the near future, but that life thing keeps getting in the way. I'd be so much further in DDS if the battle system could hold my attention for more than an hour. You have to level in this game, no way around it, but each battle is so boring it begins to become a painful ritual. The story is well worth it though, so don't let my woes scare you away from this title.

Now then, I chose 'kawari' as this week's title because; well it's the most fitting. It means 'substitute' or 'proxy', which would be the best way to describe my current presence in Japandemonium. I've actually taken a few courses in Japanese and can read/speak it ok, which helped a bit when I was confirming some of information for this week's news. I am, however, no where near fluent and would never pretend to be, so I definitely had a good deal of help on this.

Now then, let's get this started, shall we?



 Dengeki Rankings

This week's charts saw little change in them, at least in the realm of RPGs. Pokemon Ranger saw to it that Final Fantasy XII got taken down a notch or two, but otherwise no notable changes. Most titles just slipped a little bit causing others to fall out of the top 50, such as Suikoden V. Pro Baseball Spirits 3 claims the number 1 spot this week, with what I believe was its debut.

On a little bit of an unrelated note: While I was posting the new numbers for this week, I was curious about which games fell in between, since our list is obviously a little genre biased. Unable to discern all of the characters on the page (but I understood some!) I threw the software list through Google's page translator. Well suffice to say Google doesn't speak Japanese very well, and I was given some pretty interesting renditions of Japan's top titles, especially for those adult learning games they have for the DS. Just something entertaining you might want to try one day.

Anyway, you came here for numbers, not words.

Position Title Publisher Platform
5 Pokémon Ranger Nintendo
7 Final Fantasy XII Square Enix
27 Seiken Densetsu: Children of Mana Square Enix
36 Eye Shield 21 Max Devil Power! Nintendo
42 Mario and Luigi RPG 2 Nintendo
44 Contact Marvelous Interactive
47 Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth Square Enix
48 Mar Heaven ~Demon of Karudea~ Konami


Source: Dengeki Online



 New Dragon Quest Yangus Screens
Dragon Quest: Yangus and the Mysterious Dungeon

Here are a few new screens for you to take a peek at. What we're looking at here is the monster fusion capability you'll apparently be able to use in the game. For what, where and why though, I'm not so sure yet. I'm sure that more details will surface about it eventually though.






Source: Famitsu



 Tales of the Tempest Gets Another Delay
Tales of the Tempest

Namco recently announced that there will be further delay for Tales of the Tempest, the first entry in the series for the Nintendo DS. Instead of making it to shelves in June, the game will now be released 'sometime in 2006'; however you want to take that.

Namco says, as the reason for the continued delay, that they could not improve the game's quality by the previously set release date. Accordingly, the pre-order campaign in effect for the game has been temporarily suspended.


Source: Jeux-France



 New Silmeria Screens, Character
Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria

They say a picture's worth a 1000 words, but I'm not exactly sure what to say about these ones here. I do know that we have a new character here though by the name of Aruze.

From the sounds of things Aruze isn't exactly the most respectful guy but can be very loyal once he decides to be. I'm sure we'll hear more about where he fits into the story as the release date draws closer.






Source: Famitsu



 Before Crisis Final Chapter Released
Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis

Square Enix's epic cell-phone adventure, Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis, recently saw its last chapter release. In this climactic episode, the Turks went on to face off against the Ultimate Summon and draw the story to a close.

That's not the end though folks. While the story may be complete with the release of Chapter 24, starting this month a new and improved Battle Square and Golden Saucer will be available for play. So for those of you who were able to somehow get your hands on this title, enjoy the ending and have fun with those new features.


Source: Jeux-France



 New Feature for Code Age Brawls
Code Age Brawls

The cell-phone branch of Square Enix's Code Age series of titles, Code Age Brawls, has added a new feature. It's called the "Battle Arena," and it allows players to form 3-man teams and fight 3-on-3 player battles. Here are a few screens of this new addition in action.






Source: Famitsu



  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

If you wrote in to Culture Corner this past week and were disappointed to find someone else manning the column, fear not! Despite J-Sensei's absence for this week, he did have enough time to go through your emails and answer your questions. Which is a good thing since if I had to do it, I surely would have done the Japanese culture a great many injustices. So without further ado...



Music and PSPs Part 2


Konnichiwa, sensei,

First, I wanted to respond to the reader whose friend's Japanese PSP isn't playing non-Japanese discs correctly. He mentioned "games and UMDs"--well, games aren't region-encoded, but so far as I know, movie UMDs actually are, so I'm afraid he's out of luck there. Regarding the game issue, however, certain games won't run unless it detects the latest version of the firmware on the PSP. Luckily, 99% of PSP games will include the latest version of the firmware, giving you the option on the Home screen's Game menu (true for whatever region game you're playing). I would recommend that if he hasn't tried it, and it doesn't really matter what region game he tries to install the firmware from, Japanese or North American firmware are pretty much identical to my knowledge, and though I think Sony's "official" standpoint is that you should use your home region's firmware, I've never had any difficulties going from NA firmware to JP back to NA. If he's got his WiFi set up, he can also snag the latest firmware from the Network Update setting.

Second, regarding the screenshots you posted from Dragon Quest: Yangus... I'm dying to know why Torneko/Taloon from Dragon Quest IV is making an appearance. Has there been any info in Famitsu or anything regarding that?

And a quickie: what are your thoughts on Persona 3 and the speculation on whether it'll see a North American release or not?

~Ndoto


Sensei

Yeah, I never really thought about the fact that UMDs are region encoded. I have the same problem with my PSP; I can't watch movies in this country. But I suppose that just serves to leave more money in my pockets. That's never a bad thing.

As for the games having the latest patch, I was unaware of that fact. Thank you for passing that along. I've always wondered how a person without Wi-Fi would do that. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle! Go Joe!

As for Torneko, I have seen his pictures, but I haven't seen an explanation yet. Hopefully our translator will see this and be able to look around. She's pretty good about that. You might write in again to remind us.

And finally, we have Persona. I honestly see it coming over. We did get one of the two Persona 2 games, so I think it has a better than decent chance. Also, a lot of games that I never figured even had a CHANCE are making it over. For example, Kawanushi River King is coming over. Since that's making the trip, I'd say a series that is somewhat established has a pretty good chance, and I hope it does. I've never played the games, but those that have say they were fun. And I'm in favor of bringing more games over. I'd say 2:1 it'll make it over.

Thanks for writing in!


No means no...well most of the time


Hiya! Two questions for you, there.

1. I've seen, in... certain subtitled videos, "dame!" translated as "NO!" But I've also seen "iie" translated similarly. What do iie/dame mean, exactly?

2. What is mulch?

Thanks,

Louie


Sensei

Iie' literally means 'no' in Japanese. 'Dame' literally means 'don't.' It is frequently paired with 'zettai' to mean 'absolutely do not.' I heard that more than a few times during my time in Japan. ^_^

As for Mulch, as far as I know, that's the wood chips and stuff you put on your garden. I'm guessing that it has another meaning, but I don't know it. Feel free to use it in an example and write in for next week.

Thanks for writing!


First Timer


Konnichiwa, J-Sensei

I've never written to Culture Corner before, but I've been keeping up with RPGamer and Japanese gaming news (the best I can!) for several years now, so I'm no n00b by any means :D

Anyway, I have a few questions:

1) What do you make of the marketing strategy Squeenix has been implementing in FFXII, Dirge of Cerberus, and (in the past) Kingdom Hearts? What I mean is that, from a musical standpoint, there are a few things that could have influenced sales on these games. The most obvious example would be GACKT's singles and character design in DoC, despite that I haven't heard anything of it selling well (but YOU KNOW there are many a fangirl who had a squeegasm over him). FFXII, however, features Taro Hakase (whom did violin work with Celine Dion in the past) and Angela Aki, IN ADDITION to Nobuo putting in a few things. Hitoshi Sakimoto wasn't hailed upon at all and he's a great composer! And, of course...Kingdom Hearts had Utada Hikaru.

2) If it's considered 'ok' for Japanese people to casually buy h-games/doujins/h-anime/whatever, is it considered ok if gaijin do the same? (not that I would...lol)

Thanks, and I have a great time reading your responses!

-darkmage


Sensei

Yay for being a first-time writer. It always makes me happy when someone reads for a long time and finally writes in. It tells me that I'm doing something well.

As for Square Enix, I think what they do is pure genius. They pick those artists for the very reason of selling soundtracks. People buy the games and their soundtracks simply because of that. I actually had a discussion about this in one of my classes. We were talking about advertising and spokespeople. Would I buy a Sharp Aquos because Ayumi Hamasaki did a photo shoot for it? No. But do I remember it? Yes. At least I THINK it was the Aquos... But the point of the matter is, it stuck in my mind. I can still recall the red dress for the ads. The same is true for the stuff Square Enix is doing. On the surface, it looks silly, but the bottom line is they will sell more because of it. Otherwise, they wouldn't have spent the millions to do it.

As for gaijins buying H games, I don't think the Japanese bat an eye when we do it. It's not a taboo at all in their culture, so why would they think it's weird? That's just us applying our standards to their culture again. That said, I'd feel weird too. But then again, I felt weird the first time I took a bath at an onsen. You get over those things in time.

Thanks for writing in, and don't be a stranger!


Language Questions


Hello Jordan, long time no write

From what my teachers tell me, hiragana is used for Japanese words, while katakana is reserved for foreign words. However, in a lot of the anime, manga, ads, RPGamer screenshots and scans (-_^), and other things I read, I see some Japanese words that are actually written in katakana a lot. Here are some words that I see written in katakana rather often (a full list would be MUCH longer than this):

Hikari, boku, anta, kimi, mushi, neko, majyo, tane, kinoko, dame, shounen, tsubasa, Masamune, ramen, koitsu, kabuto, sempai, honoo, Nippon, gomen, namida, and just about every character name

On the flip side, I also see a few words that are definitely gairaigo, but I see them written in hiragana a lot, such as:

Pan, nyuusu, Doremi (a character name), hamustaa, dasshu, inishiaraizu, miista posutoman

When I show my teachers this, they say they have no idea why this occurs. Do you happen to know?

About the word "hane," it more specifically means "feather" than "wing." However, Nour is right. I DO sometimes hear it used as "wing" for describing small wings, like those on small birds. However, for large wings, like those for angels, I always hear "tsubasa." I don't know what the rule is (if there is one), but I still felt like sharing.

On that note, have you ever watched Captain Tsubasa or Tsubasa Chronicle? The former was one of my favorite shows growing up, and the latter is my favorite show right now! (yeah, that was random)

Alan


Sensei

I'd noticed the same thing about the katakana/hiragana, but I do not have a reason to explain it. I never really thought about it, but I'll ask my sensei sometime. It seems like an interesting thing to ask.

Also, thanks for the info on hane/tsubasa. I knew it was something like that, but I couldn't remember hane for the life of me. After seeing that, you are indeed correct.

And while on the topic of Tsubasa, I've read/seen anything like that. I DO read XXX Holic, and that is very similar to Tsubasa from another point of view. They happen at the same time, and there are several references to Tsubasa Chronicles in XXX. It's a good manga, so check it out.

Thanks for the heads up on the hane. I appreciate it.


Japanese Dream


Dear J sensei,

Konnichiwa! I hope all is well now that you are back to the states. I have been a long time reader of your Japandemonium column a this is my first time writing in a question. I myself have been to Japan but it has been far too long and I am dying to go back. Hopefully soon. anyways on to my questions. My first one is about the fashion scene in Japan. How is the fashion over there in Japan? When i was there i just remember all kinds of people walking down the streets with their funky rock and roll inspired outfits to those lolita type goth dresses. It almost reminds me of cosplay. lol. I know there are a lot of different styles to choose from but which styles stood out to you the most and why?

My second question is directed about japan as a whole. recently i have come across a lot of people saying that Japan is this great lil happy place where everything they see in anime and other shows they think really happens there. I know that it is not all fun and games. Just like how there is an "American Dream" to come here and make something of yourself with many opportunities, is there such thing as a "Japanese dream" of people wanting to go to Japan for some kind of preconception of what they think Japan will be like? I hope this question makes sense as it did in my head, but any thoughts from you would be great XD.

Again thank you for time, not only in reading this letter, but to your hard work on your column.

Sincerely yours,


Frado

Sensei

I never really liked fashion in Japan. When my wife was in Japan, we'd usually talk about what other people were wearing and make jokes. Here are some of the things I remember most strongly:

Women would wear micro-mini skirts ALL the time. How can they move in such short skirts? I'll never know. Also, they wear trucker hats that look stupid. Ugh. But the real kicker were the boots they'd wear. Boots are HUGE in Japan, and generally they were so bad I felt sorry for them. To make matters worse, they'd show off their boots by wearing them over their jeans. I'll never understand that.

Boys weren't much better, but nothing is coming to mind except for the fact that 80s hair is coming back. Big 80s hair died out in the 80s for a reason. People shouldn't look like David Bowie.

On the flip side, it seems that once you hit 25 or older, your fashion looks AWESOME. Most of the mothers of my students were very fashionably dressed and looked cute. I wish more women here dressed like that, and the men were always in suits. Like here, three-button suits were the fashion of young people. They also tied a really fat knot in their ties that I thought was really cool. I wish I knew how they did it.

As for the Japanese Dream, I think it definitely exists. A lot of people think that Japan will be just like the manga and anime they read/watch, but the truth is that it is different. For me, Japan had been built up in my mind as this paradise, but it's not. Granted, it WAS a lot of fun to live there, but it was just another place. It has its flaws. The only way to truly understand Japan is to go there. It's not the geek dream that some think it is or should be, but I still loved every minute of it. I wouldn't trade my time there for anything.

I hope that answer made sense to you. I think a lot of people think they know what Japan is like, but I'd wager that most of them are very, very wrong. At any rate, thanks for the letter!


Lots More Questions


Hi there sensei,

Thank you so much for the last time, you really helped me out big time. Also sorry about my lots of questions ;)

I have noticed that a lot of people are trying to find a good way to learn japanese. There is one thing that you can do: watch japanese music with japanese subtitles. That way your are reading and listening at the same time. It works for me.

Also there is even a better way if you already know hiragana, katakana, a bit of kanji (like 50-100) and can understand a bit of texts. Reading japanese manga! In my eyes it's the best way, because you don't have to know all the 2000 kanji. Almost all of the mangas contain furigana (hiragana above the kanji). That way you can understand the text and can learn new kanjis every time you read (if you have a dictionary that is). What do you think of this method, sensei?

Also i have one other question. How do japanese people type all the 2000 kanji on their computers? I know that katakana and Hiragana work just like our computer, but 2000 kanji?

Again, thank you so much for your time and your JP. I love to read it every time and i also like culture corner. I'll have more questions next time :)

Love,

Nour


Sensei

Glad I could help! ^_^ I enjoy doing what I can for people. It's no surprise that Culture Corner is my favorite part of the column. Keep asking me questions, and I'll keep trying to help.

As for typing kanji, it's actually quite simple. All you have to do is download an IME. Then, type the word in romaji. When you hit enter, it'll change to the most common kanji for those romaji. If you want another kanji, just pick from the possible list, or you can have it in hiragana or katakana. You can also leave it in romaji if you so please. That way they only need a couple extra keys on their keyboard for things like changing between the US IME and the Japanese IME. It is right next to the shift key, so it was really easy to hit it by accident. Kind of a pain if you did.

Feel free to ask me another question. I'll do my best to take a stab at it. Thanks for another letter!


Short But Sweet


About the DS at least, I accidently bought a brand new Final Fantasy Tactics and it works fine on my DS. The accident is that its a USA version, the greatness is that my DS is PAL (Australian).

Bainick's hands are tired from his guest host appearence


Sensei

It's always good to hear from a PAL country. I'd heard that portables SHOULD work, but it's nice to have a testimonial. Thanks for the heads up!



 Sayonara

And there you have it folks, another week comes to a close and it's time this humble newsie step down to turn this back over to its rightful owner. You can be sure that J-Sensei will be back next week, provided life doesn't give him another swift kick. It's been fun putting this together, and I really hope you all enjoyed.

Have a great weekend everyone! :D

Alicia Stott




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