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Dengeki Rankings I Radiata Stories Released I Spectral Force Chronicals Info I Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis Chapter 7 I Phantasy Star Re-Release Delay I Nightmare of Druaga OST I Culture Corner: Ask Sensei I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Maneki Neko January 31, 2005


Konnichiwa

The title of today's column has more than one meaning to me. Many know that 'maneki neko' means 'lucky cat' in Japanese. You've probably seen one in any Asian restaurant you've ever been to. It's typically a statue of a white cat with its left paw raised up to its face. This is to bring good luck and money. It is believed to have dated back to ancient China where a cat touched its face with its left paw in front of a store, and suddenly that store had good luck. Whatever the reason, it's just one of the things about Asia that is unique. Some people, myself included, have a maneki neko in their house with its right paw raised to bring good luck. The left paw is for money, the right paw is for general good luck.

The other meaning for today's column is that January 31 is the anniversary of my first date with my fiancee. My nickname for her is 'Neko.' She is, and always will be, my maneki neko. So, I dedicate this column to her in thanks for the best year of my life.

Other than that, there's nothing too much going on in Niihama right now. My small city is a relatively quiet one, and I like it that way. Not much happens. The only news I have at all is that I recently picked up three practice books for kanji. I hope to be at a third grade level in kanji soon. I realize that only being able to read and write kanji at a sannensei level is somewhat low, but you gotta start somewhere. I can already read 500 kanji and write around 300 of them, but there are many more that I don't know. These books will be helpful to me as I begin to fulfill my new years resolution to be able to read 1000 kanji by the end of 2005.

Wish me luck as we get this anniversary party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

It's been a relatively blah week for RPGs on the charts this week. No actual RPGs made the top 10, but there are quite a few in in the middle. Pokemon Emerald has remained stable in its position, and I'm beginning to think that the day when I do this column and it's not on there might be approaching. There's a new kid on the block this week, but I don't know much about it yet. I'll see if I can dig up some info on it for next week.

It's also a pretty grim week on the charts for Nintendo; they only snagged 15 of the top 50 between their three systems. Sony is controlling the other 35. With the advent of new consoles possibly hitting the market as early as this year I'm curious if I'll ever see an XBox title on the charts. Sony's pretty much got a lock on the Japanese market for now, but it's looking like they're not going to be the first next-generation console on the market. I wonder how this will effect sales of the PS3...

But that said, the numbers are a little on the big side, but let's see 'em anyway.

Position Title Publisher Platform
10 Itadaki Street Special Square Enix
12 Venture King: Beet Busters Road Bandai
15 Dragon Quest VIII Square Enix
20 Tales of Rebirth Namco
21 Pokemon Emerald Nintendo
26 Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon 3 Namco
28 Gagharv Trilogy Bandai


Source: Dengeki Online



 Radiata Stories Released in Japan
Radiata Stories

On January 27, Radiata Stories hit store shelves. Those interested in the game can go to the official site where there are some nice images. There were also four commercials. The commercials were only be up until the end of the month, and that would be today. But I can say that they were quite pretty, so pretty that if I ever work through my backlog of games, I think I'll pick it up. But sadly, I have missed out on the pre-order bonus. Those that pre-ordered the game received the "Tri-Ace Sound Battle Collection" as was previously reported. They also get one of two CD designs that feature either Jack or Riddley. If and when I pick it up, I'll make sure to tell everyone if it's as good as it looks.


 Spectral Force Chronicals Info

Last week, I reported on Spectral Souls II, and now Idea Factory has decided to let loose a little bit of info on the next game in the series on the game's official site.

The story is set in in the same "Neverland" world as the previous two games. This time, it appears the player will be taking the side of the demons because the game begins with the demon king's daughter Hiro. Some other familiar faces will show up as well, and all will be smoothly rendered with polygons.

At this point, little is known about the game other than that the battles will feature an Action Point system where characters can continue to move and attack as long as they still have AP. The only other information at present is that fans who pre-order the limited edition of this game will also receive goodies like the OST, an original trading card, an art book, and a DVD of the animation sequences and art.

Pricing is looking to be the same as Spectral Souls 2 at 7,140 yen and the special edition selling for 9,240 yen.

Source: Impress




 Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis Chapter 7
Square Enix

The ongoing story of Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis gets expanded again with the seventh chapter. This chapter takes place in the snowfields, and much like the original Final Fantasy VII, the players must keep an eye on their body tempterature and keep moving so that they do not freeze.

Those owning DoCoMo FOMA i900 phones can download this for the usual fee of 525 yen to continue with the next chapter of the story that also happens to add a new Turk to the roster.


Source: Impress



 Phantasy Star Re-Release Delay
Sega

Sega recently announced that Phantasy Star Generation 2 will have a one month delay. The game was set to come out on February. 24, but now it will be released in March retailing for 2500 yen. Sega stated that the reason for the delay is so that they can add material from the "Megadrive" version of the game. The game is a remake of the 1989 genesis game and features enhanced graphics and music.


Source: Quiter



 Nightmare of Druaga OST

Akira and Super Sweep have teamed up to produce a soundtrack for the PS2 PRG, The Nightmare of Druaga. The soundtrack is titled "The Nightmare of Druaga OST" and will feature every song from the game and a few songs that were on a special pre-order bonus disc. All in all, there are 40 songs on two CDs. The OST goes on sale today, January 31, but it is only available through Super Sweep's official online site for 2650 yen.

Source: Famitsu



  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

This week, I've got a few questions. This week they kind of trickled in instead of getting a bunch of letters on Tuesday and Wednesday. Either way, I've got enough to make for a decent Culture Corner. Remember, I answer all questions, either here, or personally by email, so feel free to send me a question about anything related to Japan.

That said, let's get started!



Mispelling?


Hey, just passing through your section in rpgamer.com and just wanted to point out it should be konnichiwa instead of konichiwa.

Cheers

Mario S


Sensei

Based on the strict romanization of the word from kana, it should in fact be 'konnichiwa.' The word is derived from the kanji for now, kon; the kanji for day, nichi; and the particle 'wa,' written as the hiragana 'ha.' But English has taken this and has changed it so that the English spelling of the word is only with one 'n.' English has butchered several words from Japanese, so this is not the only one.

I did some google searches and I found 28,000 hits for 'konichiwa' and 87,000 hits for 'konnichiwa.' Upon looking at some of these, it appears that the single 'n' variant is primary used by Americans, whereas the top hits for the double 'n' variant were from other countries.

After giving it some thought, I've decided to go with the majority and use the Japanese spelling over the American one. You win.


Table for 3


Hi. I really want to go to Japan and teach English, and have been looking into various programs for it. There's only one catch; I want to go with two friends. We've been planning on going together since last year, but most programs that I've seen (JET, AEON, NOVA) don't seem to support groups. Do you know of any teaching program in Japan that is more willing to keep three people together? Thanks for your help.

J.Z.


Sensei

You're going to have a bit of a rough time finding a program that can fit three people at once. Your ONLY chance will be to actually go to Japan and seek out one of the smaller schools, but I'm thinking that your odds are slim to none that you'll actually be able to stay together. Your best bet is probably going to be NOVA due to the fact that they hire more teachers. When they hire you, ask for the same region.

Sorry if I can't be more helpful. It's not gonna be easy to stick together....


CC Grads


I know to teach in Japan you need a degree in something, but do they count a college diploma? University was far too expensive so I graduated from a community college (note: it's not a trade school exactly, it's about between that and university.)

Daniel Hill


Sensei

I'm not really sure... If your degree is a bachelors, then you might be OK. You should probably send an email to your nearest Japanese Consulate. This site might will point you in the direction of your nearest Consulate General.

Best of luck to you!


Cost of living


hiya j-

I've been reading rpgamer for years now but haven't actually read your column until recently. I went online and checked out the GEOS program, because I'm thinking that in a year or so when I get my bachelor degree, I'd like to apply for the program. However, money is a main concern for me--I'm sorry if this question has already been asked, but, are you earning/losing/just getting by over there? When I looked online, I saw how much the salary was and how much rent costs, but what I didn't understand was how much, if there was any, cost to living and teaching in Japan as a part of the program?

Right now I am studying in Scotland(I'm from Wisconsin in the U.S.) for the year as a part of a study abroad program, and it's a pretty big finacial drain for me. Is your program pretty much self-sufficent?

Thanks,

Stephanie


Sensei

Despite paying for two trips to America, a Sony WEGA TV, PSP, PS2, and loads of other stuff, I've nearly broken even with the amount of money I brought with me to Japan. I tend to sock back around the equivalent of $1000 each month with my spending style. If you live in a big city, your cost of living will be higher than mine, but not so much that you will not be able to save money. I am more than able to support myself on my salary. Don't worry! You'll have yen to spare.


Honto ni?


Before i start, top marks for the new layout, very nice!!!! Now onto the questions.

While reading, I see you like to watch anime, a particular passion of mine as well. Firstly, what are your particular favourite(s)(if any) anime shows. Also, I've always wondered, is anime that 'big' in japan, or is it just a normal hobby like gaming is in the west? As per usual, have we westerners blown the whole 'obsession' out of proportions?

Cheers,

Jon


Sensei

It's hard to judge just how big anime is since I live in the country where it's hard to come by, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it IS in fact blown out of proportion. My kids watch it, but most of my adults don't watch anime. I think it's kinda like the US in that respect.

As for me, I'm currently watching Gundam SEED Destiny, Mahou Sensei Negima, and Xenosaga. Of the three, Gundam SEED Destiny is my favorite, but that should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me. I'm a pretty big Gundam fanboy with three perfect grade models sitting up in my loft and a stack of DVDs to watch from the original series...

Manga, howerver, is not blown out of proportion at all. The Japanese are nuts about it, and read it like it's going out of style...


Chocolate Covered ICBMs


geez, what's up with the xenosaga animation? it's bringing tears to my eyes the way none of the games could. when i saw ziggy on the elsa, i let go of my last bit of hope for the series.

i suppose i could forgive the sub-par animation since it's just a bunch of fly by night companies involved. you know... namco, toei, tv asahi... who are these people?

i'm not too hot on C1Anime's translation either. not that i know, but i've watched enough subbed stuff to know when things aren't quite right. anyway, i thought i would weigh in on the direction you have been taking the section, and i think it's a nice change on just news.

since pocky is the hot topic here (well, behind JET and others); i was leaving japan last year (just visiting) and i picked up a couple boxes of these huge chocolate ones. have you seen these weapons grade snacks and do they get sold outside of airport terminals? just curious since i didn't see anyone mention them (i think).

cheers

Nash Hensley


Sensei

As for the Xenosaga anime, I actually like it. I generally download the version with the most seeds because I don't get TV Asahi. It's sad, I live IN Japan and I still have to download fansubs....

Yeah, some parts of the story are being left out, and other parts are being changed to make it line up a bit better with Ep 2. I think it's an interesting idea, and I'm gonna keep watching it. As for the translation, it's not that far off. I understand a fair bit of the spoken Japanese in anime now, and the fansubs are often closer than I'd have gotten on my own. I wouldn't let it get to you. Japanese doesn't really translate to English very well anyway...

As for the Giant Pocky, I have in fact seen it. My ex gave me some a couple years ago when she was briefly in Japan. Upon a second thought though, she was only in Narita Airport...

I've never actually seen Giant Pocky for sale anywhere in Japan, but an Asian market in New Orleans used to have Giant Pocky and Giant Strawberry Pocky. It's interesting stuff if for no other reason than its size. Calling them weapons grade is not that far off....

Then, if you go out, I'm sure you can meet plenty of people just by going places. We gaijin tend to stick out like sore thumbs, so people talk to us just because we're gaijin. As for me, I spend a lot of my time in my apartment doing voice or video chat with my fiancee, so my going out has dropped off dramatically since I got internet. But I still go out every now and again.


English Teacher? But I'm a chemist!


Hello my name is Zach. I was wondering (that is if I got the right e-mail) if you the person is the Jet programme. IF so Is an English major or degree required. What is required?

So to take up your time if your not the person whom I seek. Thank you.


Sensei

Any degree will work. My majors were Chemistry and Asian Studies with a strong focus on Japanese since Tulane doesn't offer an actual Japanese Major. Any major is fine, so long as it is a degree. The jury is still out on whether it needs to be a university degree or not.

Hope this helps, and thanks for writing!


Another letter JUST in time


Your column in RPGamer is cool! I like Japan and living there would be cool! I think..........

The problemfor me is that I'm black and I get the impression that black people aren't looked on that, err, well in Japan. Sure Barret's in Final Fantasy VII but has there been a black guy in a FF since?

OK, that went off the point. What I'm trying to say is that I feel as though balck people are like frowned upon by Japanese people. You never see any in anime's and the black peeps in Dragonball hve big lips and beedy eyes. I mean look at Popo. That is sooo racist!!

I just wanna know if you had seen any black peeps other there who are holding it down for there race. Basically, are there black people in Japan and do Japanese people look down on the race. I'm sure the kids and teen won't but something tells me the adults and eldery people will.........

Thanks in advance!

Galvin Okoye


Sensei

You DO raise some good points. Mr. Popo is... well... yeah. But from what I can gather, all gaijin are gaijin. This means that they're gonna look at you funny and watch everything you do like you some kinda walking talking circus. This also means that Japanese women will be afraid of you because you are big and don't look like everyone else in this country.

As negative as that sounds, I don't think you'll receive any ill treatment. One of the people in pre-departure training for GEOS was black, and she asked the same question. The trainer's answer is that she'll be fine. Being a gaijin is like a get out of jail free card for just about everything. The Japanese will overlook just about any fault you could ever make, and I don't think they'll treat you badly at all. You'll get some that will be prejudiced, but then again, they're prejudiced against me too. Gaijin are gaijin, and we're all in pretty much the same boat.

As for seeing any black people, I've seen a few in Osaka and Okayama. I've never seen any in Niihama, but we're a bit on the small side. So, you've got some representation. You might want to take a look at this. I read it, and it's pretty funny. You'll see that some of the stereotypes aren't that bad....

Good luck getting to Japan, and I hope you find it as fun as I have.



 Sayonara

There you have it. Another Japandemonium column is finally at its close. Once again, I'd like to thank Caroline for the best year of my life. I love her more than anything. Next week, I'll be updating from America of all places. I'm going back home for another week to see her. The Febraury 7 column should go up on time, but I make no promises for Valentine's day... I'll do my best to slap together a column, but it might be late. I apologize in advance for this, but I hope you'll understand.

Catch you on the flip
-Jordan "One year down, a lifetime to go!" Jackson




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