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Dengeki Rankings I Generation of Chaos V Gets its Wings I Two for One on Capcom Media and Pre-order Goodies I Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis Chapter 15 I Square Enix Re-Releasing Ultimate Hits I Dragon Song Site Opens I Spectral Souls II: Unlimited Side Gets a Date I Disgaea Anime in the Works I Culture Corner: Ask Sensei I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
4th of July July 4, 2005


Konnichiwa

Another week has come and gone, and now it's time to update Japandemonium. Last month was supposedly the rainy season in Japan, but it rained a grand total of three times. It seems Japan is making up for its lack of rain with two weeks of solid rain. It has rained every day for the past few days, and the forecast calls for more until at least the 14th. I am desperately hoping for a lack of rain soon, but I don't think I'm getting it any time soon.

In gaming news, there isn't really any news this week, but this week will see the release of Minna Daisuki Katamari. I am more excited about that game then any other game this year, including some major RPGs. I absolutely cannot wait to get my roll on in just 3 days. Expect a full impression for next week.

In other news, a big thanks goes out to Jerry Swain, better known to some as XeroZohar for creating the Japandemonium Archive that you will now see at the bottom of every column. Thanks again!

As for this week's title, I hope you all have a happy 4th of July for those that celebrate it. I suppose I'll wish my Canadian readers a happy Canada day as well. Today is a bit of a depressing day for me because I'm all by myself here. I'm not lonely, but I miss my family on days like this. Normally I'd be getting ready to go watch the fireworks, but instead, I'm sitting in my apartment sometimes turning on the A/C and typing on my laptop.

It's strange how living in Japan makes you more and less patriotic at the same time. It is clear that I am not Japanese, so clinging to my status as an American is something important. But at the same time, I see America in such a different light from here, and I don't agree with a lot of what is happening. In the end, I think being american is a something nice to identify with, so I'll go with it while I can. I wore the only red white and blue shirt I've got just for the occasion.

So without any further ado, let's set off some fireworks and get this national holiday party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

Sometimes there's a game on the chart that I am not exactly sure what to do with, and this week is one such week. The top spot is taken by Mushiking: Battle of the Beetles, a game that appears to be a fighting game with various types of beetles slugging it out with special moves. I've never actually played the game myself, but I've seen a lot of elementary school boys playing it like it was going out of style at every arcade I've ever been to. The game has finally been ported to the GBA, and Dengeki calls it an RPG. Another site also calls it an RPG, and IGN calls it a simulation. I'd call it a fighter, but you know, I don't think ANYONE knows just what to call this game. But even when it disagrees with RPGamer coverage policy, if Dengeki calls it an RPG in their chart, I call it an RPG in mine. So there you have it.

In non-beetle news, this week has the debut of yet another RPG at the top of the chart. It's been a pretty good week, but a few games slipped from the bottom. Such is the nature of the chart. With games featuring fighting beetles in stores, not every game can cling to the top spots.

Anyways, show me the numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Mushiking: Battle of the Beetles Sega
2 Zill O'll Infinite> Koei
4 Drag-On Dragoon 2 Square Enix
13 Metal Saga Success
23 Romancing SaGa Square Enix
24 TearRing Saga Series Berwick Saga Enterbrain
26 Pokémon Emerald Nintendo
28 SD Gundam G Generation DS Bandai
30 Namco X Capcom Namco
36 Hanjuku Hero 4 Square Enix
46 Gagharv Trilogy 2 Bandai


Source: Dengeki Online



 Generation of Chaos V Gets its Wings

Shinten Makai: Generation of Chaos V's last world has been announced. Joining the previously announced Ground World and Underground World is the Sky World, and it is populated with angels and demons.

For those unfamiliar with the game, the game is set in a place called Edith, which is comprised of the three aforementioned worlds. The story kicks off in the Underground World, a land split by two empires of technologically-advanced civilizations. The next world is the Land World, and it looks reminiscent of central Europe with several races in coexistence. It isn't as advanced as the Underground World, and its people ride dragons and use magic as they fight a ten year war. The Sky World is split into Heaven, the land of angels and elves, and Hell, the home of the demons.

Generation of Chaos V features a number of gameplay changes as well. When you begin your adventure, you select from available locations on an overhead world map, with new locations appearing as the game progresses. Once you've selected a location, you move groups of characters, set up as a single general with two knights, about on a field map, which is split into a grid containing buildings, roads, and enemies. Move one of your units into an enemy position, and a battle starts between the two.

And as with all Idea Factory games, Generation of Chaos V will have a limited edition. The standard edition will retail for 6,800 yen, and the limited edition will include a soundtrack CD, a CD featuring background stories of the game's development, nine trading cards, a game map, and a collection of art and development materials will be included for 8,800 yen. Both versions will hit a store near me on July 21. A North American release has not been announced and probably will never happen, but you may as well take a look at some of the pretty character designs from the Sky World.


Darkmahj - 26-year-old crown price of the Demons. His father was killed by Angels, so he has started a war between the races.

Rose - 23-year-old General and leader of the Angels. Her job is protecting the Holy Grail. She is also Darkmahj's former lover.

Valtro - Roses younger brother, he has a penchant for using ancient weapons from the Overworld called "guns."

Zeromity - A subordinate of Darkmahj, he wants to get his hands on the Holy Grail.

Grozen - A fallen angel and trusted servant of Darkmahj.
Sources: IT Media I IGN







 Two for One on Capcom Media and Pre-order Goodies
Capcom

With the PSP release of some of classics of the PS1 era nearing, Capcom has graced us with some screens and the details of the pre-order goodies for the upcoming games. Those that pre-order Breath of Fire III will receive the "Breath of Fire III Speed Strategy Guide," a 48-page booklet with tips on battle and in-depth information about the updated fishing system.

If you crave some robot action, a pre-order of either of the Rockman Dash games will ensure a PSP pouch. Those without the foresight to pre-order may still be in luck. The goodies will be first-come-first-served for all three games.

Should anyone want to see more Breath of Fire III screens, feel free to check out this media update.

Source: Gamewatch I VideogamerX



 Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis Chapter 15
Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis

The latest chapter in the ongoing Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis is now available for download. This newest chapter showcases Shinra's Rocket 26 project and has the first appearance of Cid. Also debuting in this chapter is the Golden Saucer, where players can play mini-games and bet on Chocobo races.

Chapter 15 has been available for download since June 30 and costs the standard 525 yen.


Source: Famitsu



 Square Enix Re-Releasing Ultimate Hits
Square Enix

Square Enix has decided to re-release some of its best-selling PS2 titles at a nice discount. The games will be dubbed "Ultimate Hits," and they will include Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, Kingdom Hearts, and Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix. They will all retail at 2940 yen. There will also be a set containing Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, and it will retail for 5880 yen.




Source: Famitsu



 Dragon Song Site Opens
Lunar Dragon Song

The official Japanese website has opened for Lunar: Dragon Song. Right now, only the character page is up, but the dates of expected updates are printed on the site. RPGamer will continue with coverage as details surface.


Source: Gamefront



 Spectral Souls II: Unlimited Side Gets a Date

In more Idea Factory news, Spectral Souls II: Unlimited Side will be released on September 15th. The game is a port of the original Spectral Souls II with some extra content.


Source: Game Info Line



 Disgaea Anime in the Works
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness

There is an animated series in the works Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Rondo Robe, a division of Geneon Entertainment Japan, announced at the 2005 Rondo Robe event that an anime based on the Disgaea PS2 game is in production. More details regarding the anime are expected to emerge later this summer.

Stay tuned to RPGamer for all the details as they develop.


Source: Anime News Network



  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

Another week, and I've got a nice small batch of letter again. It seems that a couple readers have had thoughts about the Christianity in Japan letter, and thoughtful replies to letters are ALWAYS welcome. I appreciate the extra input on the topic. It would be interesting to form little topics going if people want to comment, especially if they can ask a new question while they are doing it.

As for the Japanese lessons, I've really been enjoying doing them for you. I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I enjoy making them. I haven't had any feedback, but if you keep reading them, you'll probably learn a fair bit of grammar.

That said, let's get started!



My first Regular!


You've already put many of my questions in your column, so I wouldn't mind if this one didn't make it... Anyway, one anime fan to another, I have a Gundam question. I watched Gundam Wing a long time ago, and lately I've been thinking of picking up another one. Great twisty plots mixed in with action that has reason. Which series would you recommend next if I enjoyed that one, especially for its deep political plot and twists?

-Daniel


Sensei

Yay! A Gundam question! As anyone that knows me can tell you, I can talk for hours about Gundam. I see that you have started off with a pretty good one with Wing. It's a personal favorite of mine as well, and I don't think it's just because it was the first one I saw. But I will admit there's a bit of nostalgia to it. Even I'll admit that the Gundams and Gundam Pilots are just too strong in that series. I don't see how Hiro can jump in a busted MS and pilot it as if it were a new suit...

As for different series, none are quite as political as Wing, but they're all pretty political. My top two recommendations are going to be SEED and Zeta Gundam in that order. SEED is a really solid Gundam series with plenty of cool plot twists. It takes the 'Newtype' story in a totally different direction with Kira and Athrun. The visuals are also pretty good, and the suits are really impressive. I have a Master Grade Freedom in my loft. It also has a really solid sound track, and I really like the opening and closing songs. If you like it, you can follow it with Destiny, which is kind of like the UC century in one 50-ep series. There are SOOOO many throwbacks to the old series that it's really cool if you can catch each and every reference, and unless they are referencing Turn A or V Gundam, I'm catching just about everything. Those are the only Gundams I've not seen yet.

As for Zeta, it's really really really good, but to make sense of it all, you need to watch MS Gundam first. And that's not an easy task. MS Gundam was really advanced for its time, but the plot moves in kind of a jerky fashion. You get a lot of plot, then no plot, then suddenly you're back into plot with the explanation of how it happened left to narration. Instead of showing battles, you just have the narrator tell you that they happened. Plus, the show is old. It's only for hardcore fans, but there's good stuff in it if you can stand it.

If you CAN stand it, it is directly followed by Zeta Gundam which is one of the best Gundams out there. The plot has a LOT of twists, and the suits are interesting. None are as good as the cool ones in SEED, but the plot is better in my opinion. You also have the direct sequel of ZZ Gundam that is so-so, but does add to the plot. There's also Gundam 0083 which comes between MS Gundam and Zeta, and it's pretty good. I'd recommend you watch it too if you go for the MS Gundam and Zeta Combo. Watch them in order of the UC century, not actual release date.

I suppose I'll also throw in Gundam X as an afterthought. It's not bad. I enjoyed it, but it's pretty different too. It's another of the alternate universes like Wing, and it doesn't tie into any other series. (Not counting Turn A that ties them all together in one scene...)

Honestly, it's hard to go wrong with Gundams. Even G Gundam's not awful. I think it'd be a LOT better in Japanese without the terrible US translation. It makes a lot more sense when you realize that G Gundam stands for God Gundam. I knew something was up because no gundam had a G in its name. Naming convention states that at least ONE gundam needs to be the G Gundam. Cartoon Network should remember that when they translate the next one.

Hope this was helpful. Send me another if you want!


Good and Evil

konnichiwa! I hope I sent this to the right place. I read in your column about the whole christianity thing and was wondering... if the Japanese are roughly 1% Christian as you say, did you notice that a lot of entertainment(games,music,movies,anime,etc.) always portrays Christian Religion(including God, I hear "Kami-sama" alot too) and they have this thing about angel wings... anyway don't the japanese ever wonder where these things ever came from in the first place? They should be at least 25% christian after seeing all these things.

another question is, do you play your games japanese version? can you really enjoy a game you don't understand?

Alfonso Caballero


Sensei

As is pointed out in the next letter, I think a lot of this symbolism is mainly due to an interest in it something akin to the way Americans are interested in ninja and samurai. They're just cool. I think they look at these things as something interesting and don't really care for the full background behind them. They know where they come from, but that's all they care about.

As for playing games in Japanese, it depends on the game. I was able to play Paper Mario 2 in Japanese and understand most of it. I'd say if I played it again, my Japanese is even better, and I'd understand even more. There's also translations available online that can help. But you also have to consider games like Lumines. That's simple enough in ANY language. The same applies to fighters and games like DDR.

But there have been a few games that have burnt me. Xenosaga II was over my head, and so was Metal Gear Ac!d. It mainly depends on the vocabulary and the amount of furigana they put over kanji. I can make my way through if there's furigana.

So yeah, it just depends on the game. Thanks for writing!


A Valid Point


You stated in your reply to Lyall:
"Honestly, I don't see a lot about religions like Buddhism that conflict with Christianity."

One of my classes here at Meiji Gakuin discussed religion, and there's one important factor that practically ensures that Christianity is never going to become a big thing here - the fact that it's exclusive. Christianity calls itself the one true faith and demands that converts abandon other religions. That has been hard to accept in a culture where it is thought quite healthy to turn to different religions for different purposes, like Shinto rites for purification and Buddhist rituals for things having to do with death. The Japanese love Christian weddings because they're trendy and fun, but they don't actually believe in Christianity when they do these weddings. My professor said that a good part time job for foreigners here would be to conduct these weddings, even without being a real priest.

I hate to sound all gloomy and negative, but Lyall would probably have a much easier time of things and would definitely have more of an impact in another country. With the way Japanese religion is, I don't see the current situation changing anytime soon.

Further references: /Packaged Japaneseness: Weddings, Business, and Brides/ by Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni, /Religion in Japanese Culture: Where Living Traditions Meet a Changing World/, ed. Noriyoshi Tamaru and David Reid

~Kiwi


Sensei

You bring up a very valid point. Christianity is exclusive in most cases. When I answered that question, I was thinking of my situation. My fiancee is Buddhist, and she's going to halfway convert to Christianity, and I'm going to halfway convert to Buddhism. If you're open-minded about religion, it's possible to have both, or at least I think so. It depends a lot on the person.

As for whether or not he should go, it's up to him. If he feels led to go, then by all means, he should go. It won't be easy, but if he has even one success, then I think it was worth it. I don't think people change religions easily. If he makes a person convert, it's because they want to. There is a thriving Christian community here, I've just not had much contact with it. Some people will truly enjoy the Bible and wish to follow it. That'll be true most anywhere.

Thank you for the interesting point though. Readers are ALWAYS welcome to write letters such as this.


Umm...


This may sound odd, but it is very important...

I like wearing pants.. Do you also like pants?

- Louie.


Sensei

Umm... since you say it's important, I'll take a stab at this. It depends on the weather as to whether or not I like pants. Right now, I hate them. It's too hot for my Nike running shorts, and I think pants would be unbearable. In winter, I wear pants two pairs at a time. It totally depends. Despite my dislike of pants, I don't go around naked though.

Thanks for the interesting question.



 Sayonara

Another week, another column finished. What an interesting way to finish a column. Hope you all have a good week and stay dry. The rainy season has hit Japan, and it's raining every day. I wouldn't mind so much if I had a car. Bikes suck in the rain. Enjoy your fireworks. I'll get my dose of pyrotechnics at Hanabi Matsuri, litterally 'Fireworks Festival' later this month.

Catch you on the flip,


Jordan "I don't care, just get him some pants!" Jackson




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