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Dengeki Ratings I Atlus Personifies New Details and Characters I Disgaea 2 Digital Artbook I Gurumin Dated I Final Fantasy Gets Pinned Again I Magna Carta Portable Smiles for the Camera I Culture Corner I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Harinezumi April 20, 2006


Konnichiwa

The week has flown by, and already it is time to sit down to write a column again. Before I get started, I'd like to thank Alicia Stott for doing an AWESOME job covering my column while I was busy. Last week, I had three back-to-back closing shifts at Best Buy, and there was just no way I could squeeze out a column with that kind of schedule. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy working at Best Buy, but the hours can be a killer. I wish it were more stable like GEOS, but at least it comes with one HECK of a discount. It makes up for working until 12 or 1 every night for a week.

As for gaming, I haven't played anything in I don't even know how long. I'd like to start something, but I was too busy reading Death Note. Now that I've caught up to those on the other side of the planet, I think I'll start some Metroid Prime: Hunters. It looks so good that I can't resist it much longer. Everyone on the staff that has played it seems to think it's really fun. Considering that I've enjoyed every Metroid game I've played so far, I think it'll be worth my money.

As for this week's title, it is Japanese for "hedgehog." It literally means needle mouse, and I suppose that's a fair description of one. The reason I chose that as my title is I now have a hedgehog as a pet. Naturally, his name is Sonic, and he's quite the cool little pet. The only problem is the fact that he spends so much of the day sleeping, but when he wakes up, Sonic is the coolest animal to hit my apartment. Ever. As soon as he learns to spin dash, he'll be the coolest thing on the planet. For those wondering, pictures can be found here, here, and here. Fair warning, those pictures are huge.

That said, let's get this party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

This week's chart has a couple more big movers. In a move possibly prompted by Mother 3, Mother 1 & 2 has skyrocketed up the charts from 51 to 27. Quite an impressive move, but the big winner this week is More Brain Training for the DS. Its steady sales were enough to take the gold once again. Who would have thought they'd be such a smash hit?

Let's take a look at those numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
6 Pokémon Ranger Nintendo
10 Final Fantasy XII Square Enix
25 Seiken Densetsu: Children of Mana Square Enix
27 Mother 1 & 2 Nintendo
41 Doraemon Nobi Futo no Kyouryuu 2006 Epic Company
42 Mario and Luigi RPG 2 Nintendo
45 Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth Square Enix
46 Eye Shield 21 Max Devil Power! Nintendo


Source: Dengeki Online



 Atlus Personifies New Details and Characters
Japandemonium

Atlus has revealed some new details concerning Persona 3's game system. On top of regular party members, the game will also have one character gather information. Then, they'll give you what they've discovered either on the field map or in battle at just the right time. For example, the party might be told how to avoid unnecessary fights, find the shortest way through a dungeon, or even the weakness of an enemy.

Two new characters have also come to light. The first is Akihiko Sanada, the captain of the school boxing team. He uses the Persona "Polideux" and views everything in his life, from schoolwork to hunting shadows, as just another part of his training. He is joined by Mitsuri Kirijo, - the daughter of the CEO of the Kirijo Foundation, the corporation that helped found the school she and Akihiko attend. This highly intelligent girl uses the Persona "Pentecilia." Mitsuri has a strong sense of justice and fairness, and she can also be quite picky about proper manners and etiquette.

Persona 3 is currently set for a July 13 release in Japan. It is up in the air as to whether or not the game will make the trip to North America, but I believe it has a pretty decent chance.






Source: Jeux France



 Disgaea 2 Digital Artbook
Disgaea 2

Fans of Disgaea 2's art will be pleased to hear that Nippon Ichi is making a digital art collection that will go on sale May 12. It will be be in DVD format and will be viewable by PC and Mac users. The disc will include such things as package illustrations, rough sketches, advertisement art, cut scenes, and more. All this can be yours for only 3990 yen.



Source: Game Watch



 Gurumin Dated
Japandemonium

Nihon Falcom is porting its popular RPG Gurumin from the PS2 to the PSP. The game follows a 12-year-old heroine as she tunnels underground the town of Teis with her legendary drill to hunt for Monsters.

Gurumin will be hitting shelves on June 29 for the standard price of 5040 yen. The odds are pretty slim that this one will be making the jump to North America, but stranger things have happened.











Source: Famitsu



 Final Fantasy Gets Pinned Again
Final Fantasy 12

Square Enix is selling a second series of pins for the recently released Final Fantasy XII. Each pin will retail for 315 yen beginning May 31. For those wondering, the first series went on sale in January. Sadly, I was unaware of them and didn't get to buy any.



Source: Kotaku



 Magna Carta Portable Smiles for the Camera
Magna Carta Portable

Banpresto has released some new images of its upcoming PSP port, Magna Carta Portable. The game is a port of Magna Carta: Tears of Blood with a bit of extra content including new costumes for the main characters and a "Gallery Mode" where illustrations and cut scenes can be viewed.

Magna Carta Portable is set for release on May 25 for the standard 5040 yen. As of now, no announcement of the game coming to North America has been made.










Source: Magic Box



  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

As I check my inbox, I am pleased to see quite a few letters once again. Among the 1877 spam emails are five new letters for the Culture Corner. Considering how many emails are in the spam folder, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a letter for me in there, so if I don't answer your letter this week, resend it. It's likely to have gotten put there, and with so many spam emails, I'm kind of afraid to start cleaning it out.

Since I have so many letters, I think I'll just jump to it. Without any further ado, let's see some mail!



Pocky!


Jordan,

Howslife? I hope I'm still on time with this letter... actually, what day do you update? So I know when I'm safe and when not. I guess the times of sending it will be different as you're on the other side of the world. I was about to send the part of the other mail I've written, but all the letters that were written last week made me think of more questions... so before I forget them, here they are!

So what's up with Pocky? I only ate the the chocolate ones, but from what I've heard is that there are quite some flavours, isn't it? Are there nice ones between it (I know you've got strawberry, lemon and other fruits)? I also heard that Pocky or maybe a clone where you need to dip those sticks in chocolate sauce (or whatever flavour) - I don't know if I recall it right - were bad for your health (they don't or didn't sell it here, I don't know what th e current situation here as it's still being sold in Japan). It could give you cancer or something of you eat it a lot, if I recall it correctly. I don't know anymore, but could you confirm if this is or was the case?

About the tourists in Japan, do you think that the rise of anime and videogames has a lot to do with people being interested in Japan? (I might have already said that one time) But what do you think the percentage of tourists is, who actually aren't avid anime watchers or console gamers?

Do a lot of girls play videogames there? Is there any difference between Japan and the West when it's about girls and videogames? I know every girls likes to try those music games (DDR, PnM, Karaoke) and puzzle games, but how about the other type of games. From the pictures I've seen on those launch dates of important games/consoles and movies and such, it's mostly guys. And what do girls/women think of gamers/otaku/or whatever you call them?

Hey, there were two things that made glad in the letters of last week. First of all is that there's also a Puyo Puyo lover here and second there's another person writing from the Netherlands! Is Puyo Puyo still popular there?

Oh, I've got another great link for Japanese-language-learners! I've already send it in before, but the link wasn't working, so here's a working one (it's finally fixed): Japanese for the Western Brain at http://kimallen.sheepdogdesign.net/Japanese/index.html . It's quite an interesting read!

And also a good place to learn Go from is Sensei's Library at http://senseis.xmp.net/ . I've started to learn to play go quite a while ago (a few years), but stopped pretty early because there was no one to play against. I kinda suck, but I actually learned it so I could follow Hikaru no Go better (which I still haven't finished BTW.)! I've heard that Go originated from China from a Chinese friend of mine, who also told me that all the generals (or whatever high-ranking army officers are called in China) had to master Go, because it helped them with tactics.

I think that's it for this week. I got tons of other questions, but save them for another week. Thanks for answering my letter last week and have a nice Easter weekend. Hope you have a day off to relax! I know I do!

Douggie

PS. If you have Tetris DS or Metroid Prime Hunters, would you share your friend codes with us (or maybe the other readers would like to share theirs too?)?

PS2. No, I think nobody who reads this column would ever get sick of your stories!

"We all know that birds fly, but now can you tell me where they are actually flying to??"


Sensei

Sorry you didn't make it in last week's column. It normally goes up on Thursday night, but I wasn't able to do it last week. I forwarded all the emails to Alicia to post for me with my replies. Yours came in just after I'd sent all the replies on Wednesday and gone to bed. By the time I found it on Thursday, it was probably too late to send it. With my crazy schedule, sending your emails by Wednesday night would probably be best.

As for pocky, it is difficult to describe. At first glance, it is just a pretzel stick covered in chocolate, but if you look closely, you can see that it is also dipped in crack. Upon eating one stick, you find it rather bland, and after a second stick, you are intrigued. By the third one, you are completely and hopelessly addicted for life. Then you see that it comes in so many flavors and types that you can't possibly keep up. I generally preferred mousse or fran pocky. These used a cookie stick and had a thicker covering of chocolate. There was also reverse pocky with a cookie shell and chocolate in the middle. So many types of pocky... So many ways to be addicted. I ate pocky almost every day in Japan.

The sticks you dip into frosting are called 'Yan Yans,' but I don't think they'd cause cancer. That's a bit sad. They're quite good, but I prefer pocky since it's easier to eat. You actually have to work to eat Yan Yans.

As for the links you posted, I appreciate them, and I think others will, too. The Japanese link is especially helpful. Many people are interested in learning Japanese, so I hope it can help them. The Go link was also pretty cool, but I wonder who this character is that is stealing my name.

Now for the part of this email that I was really excited about. In Japan, there are a fair amount of girl gamers, but it seems they are outnumbered by males. Also, you have to consider that they play games that many men do not. Just like in America, there are games targeted at the female audience, but unlike here, they're actually decent. But girl gamers are on the rise. More and more children are being given game systems and being allowed to play. I think in 20 or 30 years, there will be far fewer stereotypes; there will just be gamers.

As for tourists, right now I think the percentage of those that go to Japan and were influenced by anime or video games is low. But that is changing. Basically, to get to Japan, it takes anywhere from 700 to 2300 US dollars for just the ticket. Considering the gamer/otaku market is late 20s and under, few people in that demographic have the cash to make the trip. But as we get older, we'll have more money to afford the trip, so soon, I think a lot of the tourists will go because of these things. But for every person that goes to Japan, there are many, many, many more that want to go but are unable to do so, and I believe the increase in interest in Japan and its culture is largely due to anime and video games. The world will begin to take a MAJOR change as our generation become the ones with money and in power. I expect tourism to increase a lot for Japan in the near future.

Thanks for the awesome letter. I hope my answer makes sense. There are a LOT of people that want to go to Japan, they just might not be able to yet. Oh, and I almost forgot. Puyo Puyo is still quite popular, and I don't have a friend code yet for Metroid or Tetris. I DID just buy Metroid though, so I'll have one soon. I haven't had a chance to unwrap it yet. I also picked up Mario Party 7, so I've been playing that with my wife. I'll post my friend code soon.

Thanks for the email, and I hope you also had a great Easter weekend. Mine was pretty awesome. See you next week!


*Sigh*


" 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"

Both these styles got fairly popular over here ( Chicago suburb) in the last year as well, so teenage girls look either like truckers or ranchhands. meh.


Sensei

Yeah. It seems fashion in New Orleans isn't much better. It makes me a sad sensei. :(

Thanks for the email, and good luck with the fashion there. It can be rough.


*Sparkle* *Sparkle*


Ohisashiburi, Sensei! I humbly ask your forgiveness for not writing more frequently, but my mind simply could not generate a question worthy of your wonderful column. However, today I have some for you. Ah, please enlighten me with your most sparkly tales of experience, Sensei!

1. I believe this was asked before, but... What is the actual Japanese phrase behind "please regard me kindly"? And under what context is it used?

2. As another soul who would like to one day take over the world with plushies (I would be honored to join you in your quest to do so, Sensei), I must know. How easy is it to acquire plushies of your favorite games/animes in Japan? Obviously trying to find some moogles and chocobos wouldn't be too hard, but what about the lesser known characters (such as Pretear's Sasame, or Dragon Knights' Rune)? Will I ultimately be able to realize my dream of boarding the plane home with a huge, green furoshiki filled with plushies slung over my shoulder? I must know, Sensei! I just must!

3. Could you please give me the connotation of the word 'oha' (as in wings)? I placed it in a poem, but wanted to make sure I hadn't used it wrong...

A thousand 'thank you's for taking the time to educate this humble student.

Always delighted to see your sparkles,

Kyrie

P.S.: A belated congratulations on your wedding. I folded you a thousand paper cranes and tried to fly them to you (along with the promised clicker-trainer and harisen for your wife), but they fell into the mud when I threw them off the roof... Blasted non-flying cranes...


Sensei

It's always fun to get an email from you. It always brightens my day. While my wife and I are sad to hear of the fate of those cranes and harisen, we appreciate the thought anyway. Maybe next time.

As for your questions, 'Please regard me kindly' would be 'Doozo yuroshiku,' and that is used in a formal introduction. If you leave off the please (doozo), it is a much more common introduction of sorts, and it can be made even more formal by making it 'yuroshiku onegaishimasu.' Other than meeting people for the first time, I never heard it in Japan.

As for plushies, it was not as easy as one would assume to get them in Niihama. I could find a lot of them in a local kids' store, but the selection was limited to a few series. The real place to get them is in the UFO Catcher games, and that means you have to be good at them. Me? I suck at them, but there are some Japanese that are EXTREMELY skilled. They get a new plushie with almost every try. I can only marvel at their mad skills. Stores only carry stuff that's going to appeal to a very broad audience like Ghibili, Pokémon, Hello Kitty, and things like that. There were more, but that's a pretty good idea of the kind of stuff I mean.

As for oha, I can't remember its meaning. I've heard it before, but I don't know how to use it. Sorry. At least two out of three ain't bad, or so they say.

Thanks for the email! Keep sending 'em in, and I'll keep *sparkling* for you. It's the least I can do. *sparkle* *sparkle*


Translating


Hi there sensei,

Wow, you amaze me every time with your help, keep it up! Oke, so i have a few questions again:

Œ(kimi no tame ni dekiru koto) How can you translate this sentence? The most thing killing me about this sentence is the verb dekiru koto, what does it mean? Is it the same as koto ga dekiru but in a different way or something else? kimi-you tame-for ni-in dekirukoto-?

You once said that you have tickets for the E3 2006. Is this your first time there? If not, how is it there? Is it truly great? Also when you were in Japan, have you ever went to the tokyo game show? Did you like it there?

And my last question for now, is it true that the Xbox 360 is region free? I heard it from a lot of people, but i don't believe it. If true, i would import [EN]chentarm ( i know, i wrote it wrong) from Japan, since there is still no release date here in Europe for this game.

Time to help Alan a bit, since he helped me out (thanks!). One of the words you listed is neko (cat). Neko is an animal name. Katakana isn't only used for foreign words, but also for animal and plant names/words. Although these animal and plant names all have kanji, they are hardly used lately. As for Japanese names (like tsubasa), it's not a hard rule to use kanji on Japanese names. People write their names as they see fit. for instance if a boy is named Tsubasa, he could use this kanji —ƒ, but if he rather like to write his name in katakana (or hiragana), then it's fine as well. That's why most Japanese people give cards when they meet new people, to show them how to write and read your name. As for words like anata, kimi etc. I don't have a clue. However, i once read a manga. There was one sentence using kimi twice, one in kanji and the other in katakana. So there must be a rule we don't know about.

Hope you are there next week, sensei. And yes, as you have noticed i can write in kana! I'm so happy, and it's all thanks to you.

Love, Nour


Sensei

Sadly, I had to remove the kana because it gets garbled by the encoding I use for my column, but I can still translate anyway. I would translate that to "I can do it with you." The second way you tried to translate it would be something like "have you ever done it with me." This sounds a lot like a song lyric, and those are hard. Also, when translating Japanese, you have to remember that things don't always translate the way we think. They also speak in a very casual way that is very different from the strict grammar we learn in our classes. Translations have to be very loose, or you might get stuck. It's best to take the entire sentence as a whole instead of each word. I suppose that just takes practice, but it's something akin to reading entire words in katakana English as opposed to reading each syllable. It'll come with time.

As for E3, this is going to be my first time there. It's been a dream of mine for YEARS to go, and I'll finally get to do it, but I'll have to miss the final day. It's OK though. I'm still going to get to do a lot of the fun stuff. There will be a lot of stuff in my live journal when I get back from LA, so feel free to read it. You'll get to see it through my eyes as best I can describe it. I wish I could give more, but that's the best I can do.

The 360 is somewhat region free. There are quite a few games that are not region encoded, so you can probably import them. I think the only ones that are locked are Microsoft games. At any rate, each company gets the option to lock the games they choose, but most third party games are easily importable. Feel free to bring it over, but tell me how you like it. I'd love a hand-on impression. Check gamefaqs to see what they're saying on the boards. That'd be a good place to look to double check to see if it really is OK to import. Newer systems are making things MUCH easier on us for bringing stuff over. And for that, I'm quite glad.

Thanks for the email, and yes, that is a lot of the reason people use cards in japan. There are several ways to write each person's name in Japan, so a business card is a very helpful tool for people. Popular names also frequently have multiple 'spellings' in kanji, so that makes it even harder.

Feel free to write another letter soon. You're becoming quite the regular, and that always makes me feel good. Take care!


Good Practice


Dear J-sensei,

I've found that link to learning Japanese a great resource, and now have it bookmarked.

I've begun importing a few games, but I want to know what would be a good game/s to practice reading hiragana/katakana? I've been thinking of Mother 1+2 and Mother 3 when it comes out.

Joanna


Sensei

Nintendo games are pretty good choices when looking for easy games to play. If you had a Japanese Game Cube, I'd recommend Paper Mario 2, but that might be harder for you if you don't. Under the circumstances, any Pokémon game or Mother SHOULD work for you. When in doubt, go for first-party Nintendo games.

Thanks for writing!



 Sayonara

I apologize for the slight delay this week. I got sidetracked with a little bit of Mario Party 7 with my wife. I'll hopefully tear into Metroid Prime Hunters soon, and I'll post my friend code next week. Email me your friend codes, and I'll be happy to play online with some of you.

Catch you on the flip,


Jordan "I wonder if I can get little red shoes for Sonic..." Jackson




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