||October 18, 2005
Once again the passage of time has left me wondering where last week went. When I was younger, a week seemed to take at least nine or ten days. Now they seem to go by so quickly I barely notice them. Even a week where my workload is almost one and a half times as great flies by in the blink of an eye. This has led me to do some thinking. I looked at my calendar, and I realized that I will be leaving Japan in only four months. I remember looking at the calendar not long ago and thinking I had six months left. The time for me to leave Japan is rapidly approaching, and while I am really looking forward to coming home to America, it will be a little bittersweet. I'm going to miss my home here, even if it is tiny. I will especially miss the people I've had the luck to meet and teach here in Niihama.
But enough of that. Continuing that train of thought tends to make me sad, something I don't like to be. To counter that, I will now mention the OTHER thing I thought about while looking at the calendar; I have been working for RPGamer for over one year now. According to my bio, I was hired on October 16, 2004. My first year working for this site has been a highly enjoyable one. I've written a fair number of columns, a few news stories, and I've made a lot of friends. I find the fact that I was hired to do a news column to be a little strange. I was hired somewhat sight unseen because I didn't have to send any sample stories in my application. In fact, I didn't even apply for Japandemonium; I was aiming for our lovely in-house translator Adrienne Beck's job. Had I been given that job, I would have surely been fired. I'm far too slow at translating, and Adrienne's knowledge of kanji far surpasses mine. But I found a home here at RPGamer nonetheless, and I have no intentions on leaving it any time soon.
In gaming news, I'm still working on We <3 Katamari and Smash Bros. Melee. I keep trying to get the No Hit Clear award, but I always screw it up at some point. I either walk into a bobomb, miss my smash and get punched or who knows what. It's going to happen sooner or later. I just hope it is before I get my newest game in the mail. Otherwise, it may be some time before I finally get around to doing that.
In other news, I have begun stockpiling perfect grade Gundam model kits. I won't be able to buy them in America nearly as easily as I can here, so I'm going to send one home with Caroline and bring back another at Christmas. That should be all the perfects I plan to build unless a new one comes out in the next four months.
As for the title of this week's update, I'll explain about it a little later in the column. It's about time I have another special report filled with pictures of Japan. Not only will I explain what a taikodai is, I'll show you a picture of them in various states of completion.
That said, let's get this autumn party started!
The chart is almost a rehash and reshuffle of last week's chart. Only three new titles to make the top 50, and one of them is Dragon Ball Z: Sparking, a game that dethroned Mario Bros. 20th Anniversary Edition from its unusual stranglehold of the top of the chart. I'm still surprised that it is selling well enough to best newer games. I'm all for nostalgia, but give me Super Mario All Stars any day. It has made me curious how long it will hang around the chart. One also has to wonder how much money it has made Nintendo. The cost to port it was probably almost none, so it's nothing but pure profit, even if it is only 15 to 20 bucks a pop. Not bad for a game that's almost as old as I am.
In RPG news, the trend towards smaller numbers continues this week. No new games hit the chart, and one fell off with two more looking unstable. Only time will tell, but for now, let's see those numbers!
It has been a while since my last special report, but I've not been able to go out and take any interesting pictures recently. Right now is the Niihama Taikodai Festival, one of the regional autumn festivals that involves carrying wooden structures that weigh between 3000 and 5000 pounds. As for a taikodai, it is essentially a wooden frame surrounding a large taiko drum that is supported by four long wooden poles. There are some really beautiful embellishments on the side, and there is a colored canopy on top to match the hapi (festival outfits) of those carrying it. It's one of the most exciting times of the year, and I really enjoy it, but it does come with its downside. I get woken up by loudspeakers announcing that the taikodai for my neighborhood is about to leave at seven in the morning, and then I have trouble sleeping due to the pounding of drums throughout the day. Plus, they play this one Niihama taiko song over and over and over. I liked it the first 30 times I heard it, but now I find it a little bit annoying. But I still like the festival, even with its downsides. It's neat to see people carrying it for the competitions. It's really different than when they just pull them down the street. Roughly 150-200 men help carry for competitions so they can do things like lift it over their heads. It's quite the sight to behold, and I'm glad I got to see it this year.
The other five pictures were taken Sunday when I went to visit a former student. She invited me to a beautiful beachside BBQ with some of her friends and their Welsh Corgi. We also did some fishing where I caught the "monster" seen below. It's called a 'tai fish' and is considered lucky. It's also rather tasty. The fish that the Japanese gentleman is holding is a fugu, the fish that kill you if eaten.
Just a note, the picture at the bottom is not really a picture. It is video of the drummers. The other pictures aren't really safe for dial-up; they are my usual 5.1 MP shots.
Some of the battle details for Atlus's upcoming Devil Summoner Kuzunoha Raidou have surfaced. The game is changing from its traditional turn-based system to a more modern action-oriented one. Raidou, the title character, will be skilled with both swords for close-range attacking and guns for attacking from a distance. By changing the bullets for the gun, Raidou can use various elemental attacks, and every enemy has a particular weakness. In previous games, hitting an enemy with their weakness gave the player an extra half-turn, but now the monster will be stunned and rendered immobile for a short time. During that time, massive damage can be dealt on the enemy if the player pounds it with its elemental weakness.
There is currently no mention of bringing Devil Summoner Kuzunoha Raidou to North American shores. In the meantime, enjoy these two scans showing pictures of this news in action.
Square Enix just announced the goodies up for grabs for people that want Front Mission 5 ~Scars of the War~ the very instant it hits store shelves. Those people will receive a limited edition color "Front Mission Trading Arts+ Stage 2" posable figure. The game also comes with a pre-addressed post card that can be filled out and sent in to claim one of the figures.
Front Mission 5 ~Scars of the War~ has been announced for a North American release, but there are no details about whether or not these figures will ever see the other side of the world. Stay tuned to RPGamer for more information as it comes in.
Capcom is bringing the fishing minigame from the popular Breath of Fire series is coming to EZWeb and BREW capable mobile phones. The game is titled Ryuu no Tsurishi, which translates into Dragon Fishing. It will feature 34 types of fish, and all are promised to put up a good fight.
The game went live on October 13 along with mobile version of the classic platformer Megaman II for a one-shot download fee of 210 yen each.
It was recently reported that Square Enix was releasing a faceplate for the GameBoy Micro featuring Amano art from Final Fantasy IV. The faceplate will be a pre-order bonus for the game for the Japanese release. There is no word of a North American release of the bonus, but the North American gamers will get to play the game a couple days before their Japanese counterparts.
Square Enix recently released the sales figures for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children at the three-week mark. A combined 700,000 copies of the movie sold between the DVD and UMD formats. The 29,500 yen Ultra Box Set sold out in the pre-order stage, and the Limited Edition DVD sold out on the first day.
Currently, there are plans to bring Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children to North America, but no date has been formally set. As soon as it is, be sure to check RPGamer to find out when to expect the movie on store shelves.
This week I got two more emails, and they are both really long ones. I am always happy when people spend the time to send long emails to me. It means that people really care that I do what I do. I'm glad, because this really is for the readers. That's not to say that I don't get a fair amount of fun out of it; I certainly do. But I'm glad that others enjoy it as much as I do.
Also I'm bringing back the Japanese lessons this week again. I've been reading up on the most-loved man in videogaming, and he has inspired me to make a phrase we'll all be able to use when talking to Japanese people. Even though it'll be in their language, they probably won't understand, but that's OK. You'll still know that you said your piece.
That said, let's get started!
I don't know what's happening, i wanted to drop you a line, and... it seems i am actually on a good way to succeed ! [no laughs allowed thank you].
Some weeks ago, I was about to send something about the jobs people from western countries can get in Japan, and the kinda bad experiences some of them get, but finally, I didn't, and the discussion passed on to something else. Well, it's better this way.
I have been reading your column for months, and i'm definitely a fan. Not really for the gaming side itself (I do not follow gaming news as much as I did before), but for all these little things you live with while in Japan. I would miss the culture corner for nothing, that's one of my rarest sweet easy times in a week.
So why didn't I send you mail before ? because i'm laaaaaaazyyyyyyyyy... *low voice*
You have to know I *ahem* tend to read your writings usually in the night, sometimes very late. And, well, i was surprised to read you were getting to bed kinda late, too, or not going at all. Do not see this question as too intrusive, but do you sleep enough each night ? [no laughs allowed thank you !!] Do japanese people sleep enough anyway ? I mean, it seems japanese people do not from what I have seen or read (TV reports ; or even mangakas telling their day-to-day life in some extras ; it's just making me remind about Hagiwara extras ! ; stories of children falling asleep during class in the morning ; salary-men sleeping in train stations...). Is it not a problem for them, speaking on the long term ?
As for your japanese lessons, i got some ideas (!).
The very first idea I had was from a letter you answered quite a while ago, where someone explained young children learn some words based on simpler ones learned before (kanjis for tree/forest for example). Why don't you put up some words like these, instead of a full sentence ? Yeah, I know, I could have sent it earlier.
A second way could simply be with sentences coming directly from games (RPG). When you play an Rpg, you may see a sentence that could make it. Well, that's just an idea [doesn't sound that good written like this...]. And well, while writing this, i just thought : why not make it with Gundam ? You could find even a short explicating sentence taken from a manga or anime to translate. Seeing from outside, it seems almost anything could be worth the translation.
Do you read mangas by the way ? (outside of Gundam)(sorry if this question was asked before...)
'hope you can keep up with your good work on Japandemonium, and big hopes for the return of japanese lessons.
ta-chan, wanderer online going to bed
PS : Now I understand why you take so much time to write your column...
PPS : Well, ' forgot something. I wouldn't say I love spiders, but well, I find them interesting at least. ^o^ Would you take some pictures of those spiders, let's say, just to see how big they are ?
Glad to hear that you love the column. A lot of work goes into it, and I'm a huge fan of the Culture Corner. It's my favorite part.
Funny that you should mention sleep. I think it's overrated, but I get enough to get by. I could always go for a little more, but I'm not hurting for it. Even when I go on just three little hours, I get by. I'm good at sucking it up and going about my day whether I've slept eight hours or not. I generally get between six and eight hours though. My hours are both a blessing and a curse. I work 1-10 p.m, so I get to sleep in to noon if I need.
As for manga, I do read a fair bit. Let's see.... I've read Azumanaga Daioh, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, His and Hers Circumstances, Love Hina, and I'm currently reading Negima and XXX Holic. Oddly enough, I have never read Gundam manga. I just watch as much as I can and build the models.
Now that I re-read your email to make sure I'm not forgetting to answer questions as I get sleepy, I noticed the question about spiders. I'd take a picture of one if I had a camera, but imagine one with a body that is about two inches long and a legspan the size of your open hand. The things move really fast and are a bit scary to see. They take down two inch cockroaches, so that should tell you how big they are.
Thanks for writing and sending in an idea. I'll keep it in mind!
How's everything going? Hope I'm not too late for this week's column.
Thanks for answering my questions! So it you're collecting plush dolls and
gashappon, maybe you can make a picture of your room sometime? I mean, you
did make pictures of Japan earlier, so why not of your room also? Do you
ever trade gashappon with other people (like your students), as most of
the time they're random. Well, if you want a whole set complete, that is.
I find it quite irritating that most of online shops who sell those
things, make it random too!
That question about names kind of make me wonder: how do Japanese parents
choose the name of their kids? Because from what I've understand most
names have a meaning. I know there are some popular names like Yuki (or
combinations of those), but do parents really look at the meaning of name
or search for a name with a certain meaning?
It's kind of wierd for people who live in the West, as most names never
have real meanings (in their own language that is). Well, at least here in
Holland, a lot of the last names have certain meanings, but first names
don't. I've heard in China all names have meanings - wonder if it isn't
confusing if names are everyday words. Or isn't it any problem at all?
Well thanks again for answering my questions, I guess I haven't have any
Japanese words or sentences I want you translate. Maybe some characters
that will help us go through Japanese games (for those who like to play
import games, but don't understand jack of it), like "Do you like to save
on your memory card?", "Start game" or something like that? (even though,
most of the time it's obvious because of the standard structure)
PS. What's a sparkle?
PS.2 I've never noticed anyone's fingerprints...
"We all know that birds fly, but now can
you tell me where they are actually flying to??"
You just made it in time to be in this week's column. As for your questions, I have plans to show my room soon. Right now it's so cluttered, but I WILL clean it soon. Then it shall be it's own Special Report.
And yes, getting gashapon can be a pain. I found some really neat 300 yen Gundam ones, so I got one. It was the lamest of the bunch, so I tried again. I got the same one. I was so sad. I really wanted to get a Rick Dom, but fate was not on my side. But I did get all five Advent Children ones in only nine tries. When I have extras, I usually give them to students that might like them. I had several Angel 16s from Eva. I tried to get the whole set, and I failed miserably. I got four of one, three of another, two, of one, and then a lone good one. So sad.
When it comes to names, the Japanese really do consider the meaning a lot. There are MANY MANY ways to 'spell' the same name, so the kanji that are used can widely differ. Surnames are generally the same, but given names are usually different. I've had several girls named Manami, and all have had different name kanji. I even helped a student pick out a name for her baby. She wanted one kanji, and she wanted another kanji to go with it to give it a good meaning. It's REALLY important to find good kanji.
And since I touched upon the topic of anime in the last letter, you need to watch more shoujou anime. If you did, you'd know exactly what a *sparkle* is. *sparkle* *sparkle* It's something that I do from time to time, and many bishounen do it as well. Watch some Fushigi Yuugi, and you'll know what I mean.
As for the fingerprints, you need to watch more Simpsons. That is a classic Chief Wiggums quote.
Thanks for yet another email and suggestion for the Culture Corner!
And so ends another column. I've somehow managed to finish my column on time despite being very unmotivated recently. I don't know what it is, but I've been having trouble concentrating. I guess I have a lot on my mind. At any rate, I'm just glad that my column gets done.
Catch you on the flip,