||Taste of Relax
||June 21, 2005
It's been another week, so now I sit down to write the column. I hope you all had happy a Father's Day and enjoyed a nice meal with your father. In my case, I live on the other side of the planet, so a phone call was the best I could do.
In other news, I recently ran across this. Someone has built a large bipedal mecha based off of Mobile Suit Gundam. Sadly it lacks arms and a beam saber, but it is pretty spiffy anyway. It is operated by four pedals and can go whopping 1.5 km/h. That's not exactly an impressive speed, but this man has become my hero anyway. I need one so badly, but I seem to lack the 360,000 US it would take to buy it. Maybe Santa can bring me one if I'm a good boy this year. Here's hoping.
In gaming related news, I polished off Disgaea , and I have to say, it was one of the best games I've played in a long time. I'm going to recommend that every single one of you buy this game right now. I can't say enough good things about it.
In non-gaming news, I can safely recommend that people that like Batman go see Batman Begins. The movie had a near simultaneous release in Japan, and it's pretty darn spiffy. It's a LOT darker than some of the other Batman movies, and I feel that it does a good job in showing how Bruce became Batman. It also shows how Batman's greatest weapon is fear. In the end, I just like it because Batman is the only completely human super hero I know. He's just a genius that knows many martial arts and has really cool toys, but that makes him slightly more believable than Superman or Daredevil or any of the others. In the end, it's only so-so as an action movie, but if you're familiar at all with Batman, it's pretty cool.
So, I suppose I should start writing this column while my arms are still good and loose. I've started going to the gym, so it won't be long until the lactic acid in my muscles ferments. That lovely pain will tell me that I am getting stronger, so I don't mind it. I feel happy because I can run not one, but two miles now. Yay me!
But before I begin, for those of you wondering what the title of this week's column means, I'm not exactly sure. I try pretty hard not to make fun of the Engrish here, but I've seen this poster for coffee all over the place with the slogan, "The Taste of Relax." I'm not sure WHAT that means. Does the taste relax you? Is it a relaxed taste as opposed to a strong taste? Maybe you have to relax to drink it? Or did they somehow find some pure relax and extract the taste and put it in coffee? Whatever it is, I'd rather they get someone that actually speaks my language to look at the stuff they slap it on before they do so. The sad thing is that makes TOTAL sense to every Japanese, and it shouldn't. *sigh*
So without any further ado, let's get this Engrish party started!
This week we once again have an RPG topping the charts. That always makes me happy, but it's one that I've not heard of. I wonder if it'll have much staying power. But I still give it props for making the top of the list. That's not an easy thing to do.
As for other games, there are 11 RPGs on the chart this week. That is a very nice number, but I feel that next week's gonna be a bad week. Several games have slipped down to dangerous positions on the chart, and I don't see them coming back up. The chart is like that. Most games have trouble clinging to those higher spots and slide downward at an ever increasing rate. The exception to this rule are portable games made by Nintendo. Pokémon Emerald has been on the chart since I've done this column, and Nintendogs is holding onto three spots quite nicely. Mario 64 DS is doing its best, but sadly, I think it might fall off in a month or two. Most disc based games would be happy to be ON the chart for a month or two....
Anyways, let's see some numbers!
Recently, there's been a lot of news surface about Grandia III. To begin, the pre-order goodies have been announced. Those with the foresight to pre-order will get a History of Grandia OST CD. The tracks include:Grandia Theme - Grandia
Parm Town Theme - Grandia
Battle 1 - Grandia
Granasaber - Grandia II
Kalbo Town Theme - Grandia II
FIGHT!! Ver. 1 - Grandia II
Theme of XTREME - Grandia XTREME
Rocker - Grandia XTREME
COMBAT 1 - Grandia XTREME
Grandia III Theme - Grandia III
Mendy - Grandia III
Attack With Conviction - Grandia III
The collection is nicely boxed and would make a great addition to any Grandia fan's shelf.
In other Grandia music news, Square Enix has picked a J-Pop image song for the release of Grandia III. The single is titled "In the Sky" and is performed by Miz. Not surprisingly, this song does not appear on the aforementioned pre-order CD. Fans wanting to pick up this musical gem will be able to do so on August 3, one day before Grandia III hits stores near me.
One final bit of news is that the Japanese box art for the game has been released. If you're ever in Japan and looking for it, you'll at least know what it looks like now.
As was stated in a roundabout way, Grandia III is slated for release in Japan on August 4. It will retail for 7890 yen and will come on two DVDs.
Last week I reported on a Breath of Fire III port for the PSP. Well, as I briefly mentioned, the same treatment is being done for Rockman Dash. It also seems that Rockman Dash 2 is going to the PSP as well.
If you're not familiar with the Rockman Dash name, it is possible that you know it as Mega Man Legends. The games were originally released on December 18, 1997 and April 20, 2000 respectively in Japan.
As previously reported, Rockman Dash is coming to a store near me on August 4 for the low price of 3990 yen, and its sequel will arrive on September 8 for the same price.
Last week I covered Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis chapter 13, but already it is time for the 14th chapter. A 10-year-old Yuffie makes her first appearance in this chapter as the Turks plan to blow up an Avalanche base in Wutai. But it seems that there is a leak in the Turks because Avalanche already seems to know about the plans.
Fans wanting to know who the leak is can start on June 16 for the usual cost of 525 yen.
There will soon be a new Gamecube bundle for the upcoming Pokémon XD. This new bundle will feature the game, a platinum Gamecube, and a Memory Card 59 all packaged in a pretty box. The bundle is set to go on sale on August 4 for the low price of 16,800 yen.
Some time ago, I reported on a new variety show being made by Square Enix called Heavy Metal Thunder. A website has just been opened for this property and it has a video of the upcoming game. As for the video, I don't have the words to describe it. Curious people should go check it out for themselves.
Also, as was previously reported, those with a little extra cash to spare will be able to buy a deluxe version of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children when it comes to Japan, and everyone wondering just what those goodies look like need wait no longer. Feast your eyes on what just under 300 dollars US can buy you.
Another week has passed, and I got another good batch of emails. It seems that due to the one day delay, two emails made it in for this week's column bringing it up to eight emails again. I am definitely liking this. Keep up the questions, especially the good ones!
In other news, I will be continuing the Japanese lessons. I didn't get any useful feedback on the last one, so I'll make this one more grammatical in nature. Simple sentence structure. If you have any requests, feel free to send them in!
That said, let's get started!
Hello, my name is Mark. I have been going to RPGamer.com for several
years and saw your Japan section. I am about to become an Japanese
English teacher such as yourself. I was accepted to the JET program and
will be teaching in Yamagata prefecture.
Ok, on to the real question. I was in Japan in January and really liked
their small lightweight laptops. I currently don't own a laptop and would
like to get one. To save space in coming over, and to take advantage of
the small laptops I want to buy one in Tokyo. I was wondering if you know
of any compatibility issues when installing the English Windows XP OS on a
laptop I buy in Japan. I do IT work here in the states so I have had lots
of experience with installing OS software on computers. The only concern
I have is that I wouldn't be able to get the sound or video drivers to
work. When you buy a computer in Japan do they normally give you the
driver disks? For example, when you buy a Dell, it comes with a CD with
all the drivers.
I only shopped at Bic Camera when I was there last. Are there any places
I should look to buy a laptop (or avoid)?
First of all, congrats on getting into JET. I've heard this was a tough year to get in. I hope you enjoy your experience as much as I have enjoyed my first year working with GEOS.
Now for your question, my advice is to buy your computer in America. If you don't want Japanese Windows, you should most definitely buy it there. Computers here are NOT cheaper, and Japanese Windows is NOT compatible with US Windows. You may have problems making device drivers work, although I don't know much about that. If you absolutely must buy one here, I recommend partitioning your hard drive and installing US windows on one of the partitions.
But I have en even better solution for you. Tell Windows to go where the sun don't shine and go Mac. I love my Mac 10000000 times better than any Windows machine, and I'll never have driver problems anywhere. Mac is universal, and every country uses the same Mac software. Size is not a problem with the 12 inch PowerBook computers, and since you are almost definitely a student, you get a nice discount if you buy online through Mac.com. I was a first time Mac user and I learned plenty fast how to use mine. It's that simple.
Thanks for writing and good luck!
Hey, I'm interested in teaching english in Japan for a while and got a
First off do you know any colleges or universities with good Japanese
courses? I've asked my teacher but she doesn't know very many.
Also, What do you use as a bed? I'm guessing from lack of space a futon
How long can you teach in Japan with GEOS? I hear with JET you can only
stay five years or something like that.
And last are just about some Japan rumors. They say the population is
not only decreasing but aging as well. Is it obvious or just noticeable
because of mass surveys?
I also heard that the Government was considering allowing very limited
immigration. Have you heard anything about this or is it just one of
So many questions, and they're all good! For the first one, I'd recommend using US News and their best universities thing. I know my textbook was written at Purdue University, and there are Japanese courses at most state universities in Indiana. I took Japanese at Tulane, but I think a good web search or a search through the pay service of US News will serve you best.
As for a bed, I do sleep on futons, four of them to be exact. I think we're supposed to throw out the old futons when we leave, but I'm assuming the previous three teachers in this apartment didn't do that. I have their three and my new futon that I was given for a grand total of four. I have all four in my loft stacked one on top of the other for a nice bed, but I know other teachers with proper beds. Just depends on where you live. Personally, I've not slept on a bed in years. I slept on US futons for the last two years of university, and now I sleep on real futons in Japan. Beds are totally overrated.
As for teaching terms, I can stay with GEOS as long as I like, but I think you'll find five years is more than plenty. Very few teachers I know make it past one year. That's just how it is, and the ones that stay stay forever. I'm a bit of a rarity in that I'm only staying for two years, but that's due to some issues that have nothing to do with work. I would assume that the other eikaiwa are similar.
In answer to the aging question, this is a fact. Japan's birthrate is dropping, and the population is shrinking. Couple this with a long lifespan, and you get a lot of elderly people. It seems that Niihama is full of old people, but I guess that's just because all young people are either at school or at work when I'm up and around. But that's not all of it. The truth is the average age of the population is increasing as there are fewer and fewer young people filling in the ranks. In a few years, Japan is going to have some serious hits to its population.
And for your final question, I haven't heard anything to that effect. It doesn't mean that it's not true, it just means that I haven't heard of it. It's possible, but I somehow doubt it. Note that I am NOT a politician in Japan, so my doubting it equates roughly to a hill of beans. I could be very wrong in my doubt.
Thanks for all the questions! It was a blast answering them all!
Jobs for Japanese Speakers?
Do you know what employment opportunities exist for a person who knows
Japanese? I'm a self-study student of Japanese, somewhere around the
novice level. Of course I don't know a lot now, but I'm curious, as my
skills improve, are there any jobs out there for such a skill? I know
there's teaching abroad, but I don't think I'd have the guts or
personality to do that sort of thing.
Sad to say, but I'd say without something on paper that shows that you know something, your odds are slim to none. Almost assuredly, any Japanese you know is eclipsed by the amount of English a Japanese living in America would know. This would give them the upper hand at any sort of translation job you'd want. Teaching is the ONLY thing that you could probably do for pay, and even then you'll need some kind of background that can verify your skills.
Sorry to give such a downer answer, but I'm afraid that's all I've got. Good luck with the Japanese studying though. Don't let not getting paid stop you from keeping up with it.
Thanks for writing and good luck!
Would I be allowed to ask a question?
A mention has been made about what the japanese think of the koreans, so I
must ask, what do the japanese think of the chinese? I worked as an english
teacher in china and I can say anti-japanese feelings run quite high there,
some people mearly say there are differences between the two countries, some
believe the japanese are downright evil. Are the feelings mutual?
Sorry for the strange title for this email. I took it from the signature gmail listed. As for your question, I think there is a bit of resentment toward the Chinese, but not as much as the Chinese feel toward the Japanese. I think a great many Japanese are trying to put things behind them and be friendly, but there are some that hate the Chinese. I think a lot of that is the way that the Chinese treat the Japanese when they are there. I think it's very similar to my distaste of the French for how they treated my family and me when I traveled there. Random French said things to us for no reason, and I've disliked them ever since. One of my students says she hates going to China but she has to every so often for business. Most of my other students seem more indifferent but not really happy. I realize this is not a good cross section of Japan, but I think it's enough to know that there may be some resentment but no where nearly as much as goes their way.
Thanks for the interesting question!
First of all, thank you for your column. It provides an educational
glance at a world many of us hope to visit one day. Also, the pictures
are great, if a tad shaky. I find it helps if I press the shutter
button slowly when taking a picture, so as not to jar the camera.
Maybe it's just the size that we're seeing them at.
Anyway, on to my point. I hope to teach English in Japan as you are
someday. I've taken three quarters of Japanese at college, but barely
managed to pass. I didn't really get a lot of opportunity to speak
the language outside of class, which I think would've helped me a lot.
Did you have a particular method of learning the language that worked
for you? I figure once I'm actually in Japan I'll be able to pick up
the language easier, since I have most of the basics down. Should I
even worry about it?
Good luck on becoming a teacher over here! That's a very noble aspiration. I hope you are able to do so.
As for learning Japanese, the only way to do it in America is to hit the books and maybe watch anime. But honestly, don't sweat it. As a textbook teacher, I can tell you that regardless of what you are learning, the bulk of it is useless. No one speaks textbook Japanese here, and no one speaks the textbook English I teach. You'll have the basics down, and that WILL help, but you'll still have to learn a lot. Doesn't matter how much you think you know, you'll be amazed at what you WILL know after a year living here.
As far as the camera bit goes, I thought they looked pretty good myself. It could be the size. They look just fine on my screen, and they look even better when I print them. I try to keep my hand as steady as possible. Guess I'll try harder. Thanks for the input.
Good luck on becoming a teacher and thanks for writing.
Learning Hiragana in a Flash
I'm a frequent reader of your Japandemonium column at RPGamer.com, and I've
got a question (apologies in advance if it's been answered before):
How many hours would it take to just master hiragana and katakana alone for
someone who has forgotten most of their Japanese? I used to take Japanese
lessons as a child (had to stop when my folks moved house and transportation
costs got too high), and with the exception of a few words and phrases, I've
forgotten most of my Japanese. I'm now relearning it via
teach-yourself-Japanese software, but I just want your take on this matter.
Honestly, I can't tell you how long it's going to take you. It will depend entirely on the person. My university teaches the hiragana in one month and the katana in another. That's with a few times a week for an hour a day. If you really buckled down, you could get it in a day or two, or it could take years if you don't work on it. I'd say for me, it took maybe 15 hours each? It's been a long time. It'll probably be easier for you since you learned a bit as a child. Shouldn't be too hard. Just keep at it!
Good luck on learning them and thanks for writing!
About that Japanese lesson in the last Japandemonium, I learned that "Kore o
misete kudasai" is better translated as "Please show me this" rather than
"Please show me that," because "kore" is supposed to indicate objects that
are near you, just like "this." It's not a big diffenece, but I just wanted
to point out to anyone traveling to Japan that if you want a store clerk to
show you something that is closer to him/her than to you, you should point
to that object and say "Sore o misete kudasi."
I actually have a Gundam question. I'm watching Hidou Senshi Gundam Seed
Destiny right now, and I have had this nagging question for a while. What is
it with all those Haro? The Haro are those ball-like toys that have eyes and
can sprout ears and fly around. The girl with the pink hair (keep forgetting
her name) has one with her all the time, and there's even a character in SD
Gundam Force than is essentially a guy with a Haro for a head. It's okay if
you don't you, I just wanted to get that out of my system.
Ordinarily, I'd have given a much different reply on the nitpickiness of that first part, but you asked about Gundam, so I'll spare you my ire. The short version of what was in my head is that yes, I DO know the differences between kore/sore/are, but to be honest, if you want to sound more Japanese, use kore for anything tangible. I ran this by our translator, and she agreed. The Japanese use kore for just about any place where sore or are would be technically correct. Given the choice in making us sound even more like gaijins or sounding more natural, I went with the option that the Japanese go with.
As for your saving grace, it seems that you haven't seen the UC century. This is something you should fix right away. Haro was a toy built by Amuro in the original MS Gundam. They later appear in Zeta and ZZ Gundam. I can't say much about V Gundam, I've not taken the time to watch it yet. Some day soon probably. I Gundamed myself out after watching MS, Zeta, and ZZ in about one month all while watching Gundam SEED Destiny.
As for why they appear in Gundam SEED with Lacus, the SEED universe is making a LOT of throwbacks to the original timeline. Coordinators are sort of the Newtypes of the UC century, and Athrun builds it much like Amuro did. Other throwbacks include *spoilers ahead* the colony drop in Destiny, the Zaku and Gouf mobile suits, the fact that Impulse consists of multiple fliers like the ZZ, and the Gundam Destroy is a COMPLETE parallel to Four Murasame in the Psycho Gundam Mk II. SEED is retelling the story of the UC timeline in a more modern sense and in half the number of episodes. In the end, I think they're just trying to see how many throwbacks to the originals they can make for longtime fans.
Hope that helps.
You know how in the west there's the otaku scene, basically people who love all things eastern and obscure just because it's from japan, often regardless of the price ,quality and being writen in a language they can't even understand,games, manga,capsule toys, dating sims, hentai etc. well i was wondering if there was a similar scene in japan, but reversed, people obsesing over western culture, being cool and niche because they're playing halo on the X box, or need for speed underground instead of a generic mecha game, RPG or something with a wildly uneccacery and overpriced periphial, are there people that would rather be reading fantastic four instead of .hack and watching the only 3 american cartoons that they put on TV religiously? Just wondering, because in the city where i live there seems to have been a massive surge of otakuism, and it gets me thinking that there must be a parralel in japan as it's media gets spread out globaly and is becoming a thing of the norm in the west.
That's an interesting question. I would have to assume that it is possible, but first I thought I'd mention that the 'term' otaku is different over here. In America, it refers to someone that loves anime. Here the term just means someone that spends too much time on something. There are guitar otaku, car otaku, manga otaku, music otaku, and just about any other thing you can be obsessed with otaku also. Can't say that I've seen one infatuated like you suggest in your email, but knowing how the Japanese like anything Western, I'd say the odds are pretty good that at least one exists.
Thanks for the interesting letter!
So there you have it. Sorry about the column going up a day late. Some real life issues came into play that prevented the column from going up at its usual time.
Keep the letters coming in, and I'll take this space to plug my new section. I've been selected to revive the Roundtables of RPGamer lore. I plan to put my all into that section to make it as good as I think Japandemonium currently is. I'm changing the way it's done now, and I think it will help readers be more involved. If you'd like to be a part of the first one, send me an email explaining why you should be picked. It'll be awesome getting to chat with someone directly tied to the industry.
A big thanks goes out to Heartly_unangel for the new sig pic. Thanks again!
Catch you on the flip,
Jordan "Lookie! I've got another sig pic" Jackson