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Japandemonium R P G A M E R   -   J A P A N D E M O N I U M
Year of the Rooster
1 . 1 0 . 2 0 0 5


Before I begin, I'd like to point out that the name for this week's column comes from the Chinese calendar. 2005 is the year of the Rooster, and as I happen to have been born in the year of the Rooster, I feel the need to mention it. Go Roosters!

It feels like forever since I updated this column. The reason it wasn't updated last week was that I was back home in Indiana spending one week with my family and fiancee after being away for just over six months. Even if I'd wanted to do an update, my computer, Chibi, died just before I left. I didn't even finish the Christmas update. My computer was dead, but I had everything written but the outtro. I dictated an outtro to my good buddy Heath, better known on IRC as Rage, and he put up my column for me. I'm quite thankful to him, but I am NOT thankful to DHL. Due to a tracking error on their part, I did not get my computer back before coming to Japan. Fortunately, my fiancee and I have twin Macintosh computers, so I re-routed mine to her, and she gave me hers until I hopefully see her in February. So for a while, I'll be working on her computer, Chii. Yes, we're both geeky enough to give our machines Japanese names that sound an awful lot alike. After all, she IS my fiancee....

As for my week, it was absolutely wonderful. I cannot tell you how good it felt to be back home for a week. It felt strange to be back in America and to speak English, but I got over that feeling and just enjoyed being home. After being gone for so long, just being able to spend time with your family is absolutely priceless. I got plenty of nifty presents, but being able to hug each and every member of my family was far better than the Nintendo DS I got or the boxed set of Mobile Suit Gundam DVDs. It was the best gift I've had in a long time. I think many of us forget how important our loved ones are sometimes. It's easy to get lost in the shuffle and not have time for them or just get so far away that it's not easy to stay in touch.

That said, I would like to say that my heart goes out to all the people who lost family and friends in the recent tsunamis that hit Asia. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't go home to my family. I had a wonderful week, but hundreds of thousands of people had their lives shattered by something they had absolutely no control over. Please think of these people and, if possible, help them by making a donation. Our money is no substitute for their family, but it will help them to rebuild. At this point, I'm going to ask readers to attempt a moment of silence for those people.

But before I get this column started, I feel the need to tell everyone about my two newest PSP purchases. Vampire Chronicals: The Chaos Tower flat out rocks. It is the most beautiful hand held game I've ever seen. It showed off the differences between the NDS and the PSP quite nicely. Even with Mario 64 DS, arguably the best game for the DS so far, there is no comparison. Vampire Chronicals: The Chaos Tower has it every which way it turns. The graphics are smooth, the action is fast paced, and it's just all over goodness. The ONLY problem is that the load time is a bit of a killer. The first match takes as long as 20 seconds to load, and subsequent matches can take around 10-15 seconds. But that's a small price to pay for such an awesome game. I fully recommend anyone buying a PSP at launch to get this wonderful game.

The other game I picked up was Dynasty Warriors. Fans of the series will be impressed with the graphics, but you don't get the massive levels that you see on the PS2. To make it possible on a handheld system, the levels are broken down into smaller fights that take only a couple minutes and you progress through the levels by taking on these smaller sections one at a time. Of course, things happen in other sectors too, but you have no direct effect on those. The game is fun, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone other than fans of the series. It is a fun game, but I spent the bulk of my time on Vampire Chronicals: The Chaos Tower, and later on Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls. The Soul of Chaos is a fun little addition to Final Fantasy 1.

But now that I've finished my REALLY long intro, let's get this party started.

Dengeki Rankings 

It's been an interesting week on the charts. The number one spot is taken by Itadaki Street Special. Some honorable mentions go to Dragon Quest VIII, which is still hanging on and Pokemon Emerald, which looks to stay on the charts until a new Pokemon game comes along to replace it. I can't believe that there are still copies around to be bought, but the Japanese seem to need yet another copy of this game on a weekly basis. Go figure.

We also see seven PSP games and seven DS games on the charts, but none of them were RPGs. But it's looking like the PSP is doing a fair job of establishing itself in Japan. I'm interested to see if a handheld NOT made by Nintendo can actually survive in this world. So far, the PSP is doing quite well indeed.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Itadaki Street Special Square Enix
4 Dragon Quest VIII Square Enix
8 Rockman.EXE 5 Capcom
9 Pokemon Emerald Nintendo
13 Tales of Rebirth Namco
32 The Legend of Zelda the Minish Cap Nintendo
33 Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Square Enix
37 Croquette: The Great Adventure Konami

Dragon Quest Concert Info 

On January 9, there was a performance of Dragon Quest music in Tokyo by the Tokyo Symphony to a packed-house audience. The symphony hall seats 2300, but many more crammed in to hear the performance. The show sold out on the first day, and fans poured in from all over Japan, including the islands of Shikoku, Hokkaido, and Kyushu. The concert featured 18 songs including the main theme for Dragon Quest VIII and an encore of the ending theme for Dragon Quest II.

Front Mission Online Official Site Opens 

Square Enix Square Enix has opened up an official website for the recently announced Front Mission Mobile that will be appearing on Japanese cell phones this winter.

The game takes place in 2089, one year before the events of the original Front Mission take place. The setting this time is Halfman Island where the series' two rival factions O.C.U. and U.S.N. are beginning their prepartations for war. To speed this process, both sides look to mercenaries to protect their side of the border. The player then becomes one of these mercenaries and has to choose to side with either O.C.U. or U.S.N.

The game will feature tactical RPG battles in giant mecha called Wanzers and features a mercenary camp where players can update their Wanzers with new parts and weapons.

Much like Final Fantasy 7: Before Crisis, the game will be played on the DoCoMo i900 series cellular phones and is yet another reason I need to get one.

Popolocrois Coming to the PSP 

Sony

Fans of the Popolocrois series who can read Japanese and happen to have PSPs will be pleased to hear that the series will be coming to the PSP in February. Popolocrois Monogatari: Prince Pietro's Adventures will be a compilation of Popolocrois and Popolocrois II with some new scenes and events.

Culture Corner: Ask Sensei 

This week, I've got another big batch of questions. It always makes me so happy when I get emails. That's why this section has become my favorite part of Japandemonium. I really enjoy the interaction with my readers it provides, and I will do my best to answer any and all questions I receive. I'll either answer them here or respond to them personally. Even if I may not reply back to everyone saying so, I appreciate each and every letter.

Hi there.

I was reading your column (well, I suppose that's obvious), and I noticed that you said your toilet room was fairly typical save for the water spout used for washing hands. Does that mean the Japanese don't make a large habit of washing their hands? Well, just wondering.

-Trystan

I don't think so. As a whole, the Japanese are probably the cleanest country of people I've ever seen. They take it to an extreme. In fact, the reasoning for separating the toilet off from the bathroom was to make the bathroom cleaner. To allow themselves to not have to dirty their bathrooms, they added the water spout on the toilet. So they DO wash their hands, but so far as I can tell they don't use soap when they do it.

But while we're at it, I'll mention that the many Japanese also wash their hands before eating. If you've ever gone to a Japanese restaurant, you've probably been given a warm washcloth to wash your hands and face. This is also true in Japan. The Japanese are absolutely nuts about being clean all the time, even though they never actually touch their food. As far as I can tell, they'd probably use chop sticks to eat fried chicken and every other food we'd eat with our fingers. Even though it's a bit odd, I've gotten used to it, and my chop stick ability has improved a lot. When in Rome...

Hey Jordan:

While reading your answer on Japanese music, quickly X-Japan came to my mind. Do you think they have really influenced all or most J-Rock bands that play today? I own all their CDs and the DVD released on February on US and they totally rule. Also, how difficult it is to find their original CDs nowadays?

Recently I was learning some katakana, but I noticed that some English words written in katakana have a hyphen between the characters (for example "Sta O-shian"= Star Ocean) Why is that? Finally, why is it that sometimes in katakana or hiragana there are some characters smallers than others? (like the word "CHIyoKOBO"= chocobo) If you could recommend a website or a book or anything that might help me learn katakana/ hiragana I would thank you deeply. =^_^=

Happy Holidays and thanks for writing this awesome column,

Gamer-Otaku

I have not listened to X-Japan, so I can't really answer that question. but I would say it is not too hard to find them if I were to go to a CD store.

As for the other question, I guess I'll just give a small lesson on Japanese. As we all know, Japanese is a very rhythmic language where each kana holds one syllable. But, in some words, a vowel can be elongated to take two syllables. In hiragana, this is done by adding a small u after the vowel you want to be elongated. In katakana, this is done by adding the dash you've seen. Also, in katakana, this is the way you make most 'r' sounds as in my name. Jordan becomes Jyoudan.

Also, some words have a pause in them were you are silent for one syllable. This is written out by doubling the consonant. In Japanese, this is done by adding a small tsu before the kana where the pause lies. So, Byakko would be Bya *pause*ko.

And that brings me to the final part of my lesson, glides. Glides are formed by adding ya, yu, or yo in front of some of the hard consonants. So, by andding ki and yo; you get kyo. Shi and ya nets sha, and ji and yu forms jyu. There are many more, but that's an example of one of each. Going back to my name again, Jordan becomes Jyoudan, which is a combination of ji and a small yo.

I guess I'll throw in another little bit of written Japanese, and that's how to alter sounds. Many of the consonants can be altered by adding two dots or, in the case of ha, hi, fu, he, and ho, you can also add a small circle. Dotted ha is ba, and the one with the circle is pa. Dotted ka is ga, and shi becomes ji. Of course, There are several others. The trend (both dots and circle) continues throughout that line of kana, but I'm just giving a few examples of each.

As for learning how to write, I'm sure there are several websites that are good. You can always google them, and if worst comes to worst, download the Japanese IME from Microsoft and just copy what you see. As for books, I'd recommend the Nakama series pretty highly, and I've also used Japanese for Busy People. I also saw the newest edition of that one at a Barnes and Noble when I was home for the Holidays. Either book should be able to teach you more than just how to write the kana.

Hope that helps!

Hi Jordan.

How's everything going? I hope you're enjoying your trip home for Christmas. I have a few questions that you might be able to answer for me. I was just wondering what image the Japanese have of black North Americans (me being one myself). Do some see us with the unfortunate Mr. T like image (if so I pity the fools!) I have observed in some older Japanese media or are we seen as any other 'soto' in Japan? Also as a young black person how do you think I would fare as an English teacher in Japanese society, would I be considered cool?

By the way keep up the good work!!

PS. happy Kwanza!

Just kidding J, merry Christmas.

-Marcel

I've not had much experience with black people in Japan, but from what little experience I've had, they get treated like every other gaijin: They get stared at a lot. Except for the few Japanese who are racist against all foreigners in general, I don't think you'd receive any sort of bad feelings at all. You'd just be seen as a gaijin which would automatically make you the most interesting thing most Japanese have seen in years. Or at least it looks that when when they stare at you so much. I think you'd do fine as a teacher in Japan if that's what you want to do. I'd fully advise you to apply to the program of your choice, be it JET or an Eikaiwa. Each of the Eikaiwa offer different environments, and JET is different for everyone. But go for it and good luck! Ganbatte!

hi there being in the emulation scene i noticed there are a lot of hamster game and the same can apply true for anime (we have hamtaro and ebisumaru) so i was wondering why japan love hamster so much? thanks in advance for your reply and merry christmas!

pippo pappo

You know, I was just wondering that the other day myself. Japan does seem to have an infatuation with hamsters. Even more puzzling is the fascination Japanese boys have with beetles. There are beetle toys EVERYWHERE, and some of them are huge. I've seen big pleathery looking beetles in claw games where young boys feverishly try to win them. Honestly, I just don't get it. I'm going to chalk this up to one of the quirks of Japan. There is absolutely NO rational explanation for it. At least hamsters are cute....

Hey, I enjoy your Japandemonium article for RPG Gamer. I am finishing up my final year at college and was considering going into a program such as GEOS, but was wondering what the average cost for starting out in Japan (i.e. the first month before you receive a paycheck) comes out to? Is it between $3000-$5000 or less? Thanks.

Mathew Tschirgi

Well, for me it was, but then again, I picked up a 26 inch widescreen Sony WEGA LCD TV after being here for 2 weeks. The cost of living IS high, but it's not that bad. I find that food runs me roughly 10 bucks a day. Electricity will run you as much as 100 bucks a month in the summer if you use your A/C all day every day. I ran mine only at night when I was home, and that chopped it down to around 45. Gas is going to run you a minimum of 20 bucks a month whether you use much or not, and water always seems to be around 20 bucks a month. So, you can count on around 500 between food and utilities, and that's being a bit on the high side.

Basically, what's going to make things expensive is how much you have to buy when you come here. If you go with a teaching program like JET or GEOS, you'll be coming into a furnished apartment. Some will have more than others, but you'll have everything you'll need to live. Then all you have to buy are things like better TVs than your apartment will provide and Japanese gaming systems. Also, you'll want to buy a nice bike if you weren't left one. Yeah, everything adds up, but you shouldn't need to spend more than 1000 bucks that first month unless you buy some really expensive stuff. I spent around 4000 dollars my first month, but I had my TV, a new 5.1 megapixel Sony Cybershot camera, a PS2 with BB unit, a Gamecube, 3 games, an electric razor, and a few other things.

Now that things have more or less settled down, and I'm no longer buying things that cost well over 100 bucks every weekend, I find that my 2,500 a month I get is MORE than enough. My rent is about 450, and I spend around 400 on food and utilities. Then, I spend maybe 300-600 on fun stuff, and I'm able to put between 800-1000 in the bank every month. Of course, I deplete that with plane tickets home and tickets to fly my fiancee in, but that's not your standard fare on cost of living... You'll be fine.

Dear J

Do you own any H Games?

Sincerely

-Phil

No.

The Final Grumble 

Whew! Another column done. News is a little thin right now, so there's not as much news as I'd like, but I think the Culture Corner helps make up for that. I'm glad that people seem to like my version of Japandemonium. I really enjoy writing it, so it makes me happy that you enjoy reading it. And now that I'm back in Japan, it should return to its usual schedule of updating every Monday.

I hope you all had happy holidays and shoot me some emails for the Culture Corner!



Catch you on the flip,

-Jordan "I love Neko, yes I do!" Jackson

You should start your year off with some past columns!

Lovely In-House Translator
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