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JAPANDEMONIUM
Kirei December 14, 2006
Konnichiwa

Another week has flown by, so it's time to start writing Japandemonium. It's actually been a pretty exciting week with the announcement of Dragon Quest IX on the DS. Honestly, I never saw that coming, but it does make sense. Enix has always released the numbered installments of the series on whichever system is "winning." Way back when, it was the NES. Then the SNES edged out the Genesis, and after that, things shifted to Sony's side. But now, the DS is on pace to outsell even the PS2. That's craziness. I knew it was selling like hotcakes, but I never imagined the installed user base would exceed that of the PS2. Granted, Sony still sells new systems every day, but they sit on shelves across the country. DS Lites barely even hit the shelf before being snatched up and sold. It's amazing, so it's not really that shocking that the next numbered installment would appear on Nintendo's dual-screened wonder.

In gaming news, I've been working my way through Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, but I think I played this game last year when it was called Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. It's fun, but I'm pretty sure about 85% of the enemies are exactly as they are found in the last DS game. Would it be too much to ask Konami if they'd make some new monster sprites for each game? They've even used one of the bosses again. Come on Konami! Give me a new game next time. The only thing that makes the game worth the purchase was the AWESOME pre-order goodies that came with it. But next time, I might hold off on getting a new Castlevania until I look at a bestiary on gamefaqs to see if there are some new things to kill.

In other important news, I have changed my update day due to the addition of MMORPGamer to the mix. I'm always glad to see our other weekly columns back online, so I'll happily give my old update day to him. It gives me an extra day to work on my column anyway.

With that new date in mind, I do not think I'll be able to get a column out the door next week. I will be traveling to Indiana for Christmas, and then we'll be going to Houston for New Year's Day. I will see if I can't whip up something for Christmas day. It'll be a Culture Corner update, and if possible, I'll throw in a picture update. I'll need to get some of my pictures from Japan; none of them are on this computer. It's been far too long since I've done that. Sadly, I don't live in Japan anymore, but I have maybe a thousand pictures. I could post a few here and there and still not run out.

As for this week's title, it means 'clean' or 'pretty' in Japanese. Considering I'm using a brand new template that was whipped up for me by Theo Litowski, possibly better known by some of you as Vigivalgus or as the new author of Currents. At RPGamer, we're always evolving and improving, and I think the new template is quite nice. So thanks again for the best template I've used yet, Vigi.

That said, let's get this party started!

This week was actually a really surprising week. It looked like the chart would be all but empty this time around, but amazingly enough, it's overflowing with RPGs. Another cool fact is that every current system is on there with an RPG except for the GameCube.

Those wondering how the Wii fared, Wii Sports took the silver with Hajimete no Wii earning third place honors. Aside from that, I'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Tales of Destiny Namco Bandai
4 Final Fantasy VI Advance Square Enix
5 The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Nintendo
6 Summon Night 4 Banpresto
7 Pokémon Diamond Nintendo
11 Pokémon Pearl Nintendo
22 Disgaea Portable Nippon Ichi
32 Jeanne d'Arc SCE
35 Digimon Sabers Another Mission Namco Bandai
44 Super Robot Wars XO Namco Bandai
45 Boktai DS Konami
46 Final Fantasy V Advance Square Enix
47 Final Fantasy III Square Enix
Source: Dengeki
Square Enix

With the recent announcement of Dragon Quest IX, another addition to the Dragon Quest family has gone largely unnoticed. Dragon Quest Battle Road will soon be hitting arcades, known as game centers in Japan. The game features 3-on-3 monster teams as they do battle in a coliseum, similar to the one seen in Dragon Quest VIII. To assemble your crack team, players will purchase collectable cards with bar codes that will be scanned in, not unlike Mushi King, a game that has swept the country and is popular with just about every elementary school boy and sizable number of the girls as well. Though the game's mechanics have yet to be announced, there are two buttons on each side that will likely correspond to something akin to the three attack system seen in other card battlers that is based on janken. The size of the actual box has also not been shown, but it is likely to be bigger than the other similar games to accommodate an older audience.

Given Japan's love for arcade battle games that use collectable cards and their love for all things Dragon Quest, I predict this to be smash success. Though I never quite understood Mushi King, I actually would have played a very similar game based on Dragon Ball Z had I had the time and money. And if I wouldn't be the only adult playing it. And been a gaijin. I wouldn't feel quite so silly to play this one, and I'd love to see it come to North America, but whether or not it will is unknown. If it does, I'll have to pony up a few quarters and give it a shot.










Source: Magic Box
Blue DragonWith the recent success of Blue Dragon flying off shelves faster than any Xbox 360 game before it, fans will now have yet another thing to buy. There is a three-disc soundtrack available for 3500 yen, a bargain at Japanese music prices. It also features character profiles written in English, so take a look.

Blue Dragon is coming to North America, but not date has been set. Considering the OST is largely in English, it has some possibility of being released here.













Square EnixSquare Enix held a launch party at the Bic Camera main building in the Ginza district of Tokyo for Chocobo and the Magic Picture Book. Though none of the major executives appeared to be at the party, there was a walking Chocobo for loads of picture opportunities.

In a related story, Square Enix also has a plush Chocobo complete with magic picture book for 1800 yen on its online store.








Source: Famitsu
Digital Devil Saga: Avatar TunerAtlus will be expanding the Digital Devil universe with a new cellphone game titled Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner A's TEST Server. The game will be a prologue of sorts to the PS2 game, Shin Megami Tensai: Digital Devil Saga. So far, details such as pricing have yet to be announced, but another game is already in the works.







Source: Famitsu
This week I got a few letters from regulars along with a couple replies to last week's query about the meaning of Sanjuro's name. Since I'm going to be traveling for the next couple weeks, I won't have time to do news. But I will do a Culture Corner update, so make sure to send in a letter or two. If you've been waiting to ask a question, this is a good time to do it. Hope to hear from you all soon, but in the meantime, let's get to those letters!

Long time no see! *Some Xenosaga SPOILERS*

Jordan...

How are you? I can't believe you're back! I always was afraid that you might have to go, but now you're back! I don't know where to start. First of all I'm glad that you bought the ps3 and wii. So which do you think is the better one?

As for me, I'm not that much into games lately. I have to study for school and do lots of stuff. And don't forget: learning Japanese! I became much better then I used to. even though still I'm not that good, I did managed to learn about 400-500 kanjis and I am starting to understand Japanese tv shows and interviews without the need of Japanese subtitles. Cool, huh? You might not remember me anymore...I was the girl (Nour) who lives in Holland and was afraid to use my English :)

Back to games. I'm only playing with my ds every weekend. And yesterday I finished Xenosaga 1 and 2 for the ds the Japanese version. Man, what an awesome game! I love all the characters like Shion, Chaos, Momo, Jr, and Kos-Mos. My heart was broken when SPOILER Jin left Shion in the end, Momo is finally back to her so called mother...I wonder if Jr still really loves Momo now that he knows she is actually a prototype of Sakura...SPOILER There are too many things to talk about. And now, I really want to buy Xenosaga 2 to see all of this in pretty 3d graphics. I hope to god that Xenosaga 3 will reach Europe and that I can finish the story. Did you like Xenosaga 3 by the way?

Well, I have go. I'm in school actually, so...I hope to see Japandemonium on Tuesday.

Love,

Nour

Sensei

I remember just about everyone that sends in a letter, especially if you send more than one. You've been somewhat of a regular, so I was actually pretty happy to see an email from you again. Though my inbox is somewhat cluttered, thanks to gmail's search ability, I can pull up each and every one of your emails. Incidentally, if I count this one, you've sent me six of them.

Asking which system I prefer between the Wii and PS3 is a tough question. Since they are such different systems, it's not just an apple to apple comparison. Right now, I prefer the Wii, but that's mainly because the PS3 launch was pretty much worthless. But there are some things coming out for it that I am VERY excited about. Both systems have nearly endless amounts of potential, so it just remains to be seen how they use that potential. The PS3 can blow most anything out of the water graphically, and the Wii's controller is quite revolutionary, even if Sony did kind of steal the idea and tack it on to their console too. In the end, I suspect I'll like both pretty equally, since both have a lot of games lined up that I really want to play. My wife, however, will most definitely prefer the Wii. She likes party games, and Nintendo systems are typically loaded with them.

It's also good to hear that your Japanese skills are improving. I remember when I was first learning and I was finding that I could understand a lot of what I was hearing. This ability got much better when I moved to Japan and I was able to fully understand Japanese at their native speed. More impressive is your number of kanji you can understand. Those are not easy, so pat yourself on the back for that. Ganbatte, ne!

And finally, I'm glad to hear that Xenosaga 1&2 was good. I would have loved to have played it myself, but I just didn't have the time. I hope you get a chance to play Xenosaga 3. I found it to be my favorite since it is chock full of AWESOME Xenogears references. I won't spoil them for you, but when I got to them, I was so excited my wife started giggling at me. Those few things make it my favorite by far.

Keep up with the Japanese, and feel free to send in a seventh letter. Douggie has surpassed the 25 mark, so it's definitely possible to send in letter after letter. Hope to hear from you again soon!

Bullying

Jordan,

Howslife? Everything alright? Sorry I missed the last one, I'm quite busy at the moment and fell asleep real fast for the last couple of weeks, so I guess I was too tired to write an e-mail. It seems that you haven't posted anything yet, so I still have some bit of a time to send you this one.

Thanks for answering my questions last time. I wonder, since you say theft is low, is it like all the J-Dramas and the anime I see (like Beck) that bullying in high schools is a great issue? I know there was some bullying at my school from what I've heard, but it seems quite harsh in the animes I see. So I wonder whether that reflects real life or not. I also heard - well at least here - that bullying also occurs at workplaces (which is quite childish as you're supposed to be a grown-up by then). Heard any stories of that in Japan?

So all the schools look and sound the same? That's quite amazing! So the impressions from all the movies and animes are somewhat accurate! Do all schools also have the wonderful facilities like a track-and-field (how would they ever do cultural festival without it?) and such? I don't know whether that's government regulated or that it just depends on the "richness" of the school.

I haven't much to ask or to tell, but here's a link to the topic of my first AMV-announcement:

http://www.animemusicvideos.org/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=74692

Just click on the picture there, you have to be a member of animemusicvideos.org though to be able to download it, but I don't think that's much of a problem. I'll announce the AMV I've won with around Christmas time.

Talking about Christmas - do you have any plans for it yet? Or New Years celebrations?

That's it.. have fun with your MacBook Pro! (*wishes to have enough money to buy one too*). Means you have been saving up for a MacBook, PS3 and Wii?

Douggie

PS. I have Sanjuro in my DVD-collection and it is (somewhat) a sequel to Yojimbo I heard, but never got around to check it out.

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

Sensei

Don't sweat missing a column. Like I said in the previous letter, you've sent in over 25 of 'em. Hard to believe I've had that many Culture Corners. I wonder how much time we've spent emailing one another. Probably well over a day's worth of time considering how long they tend to be.

Though theft is somewhat low in Japan, sadly bullying is all too common. I never really experienced it firsthand, but from what I've heard from other teachers it happens. I believe it comes from the very rank-centric culture in Japan. Everyone in Japan has a position relative to everyone else. If you are younger than a person, you must speak one way. If someone has been at a company longer than you, you also have to treat them with respect. The net is that everyone finds they are at one level in regards to this person and another level in regards to another person. This sometimes leads to people that are higher in rank bullying those lower than them just because they can. As you mentioned, it happens in both schools and offices despite efforts to curb it. It's not the absolute worst problem in Japan, but it happens far more than anyone would like. Every country has its darker sides, and sadly, that's one of Japan's.

As for the track fields, most, if not all, schools do in fact have such a field. I can't think of any schools that don't have some kind of field around it. Physical education is highly emphasized in Japan, so every school seems to have an adequate place to do it. It's yet another way that anime is quite true to form. Though you didn't mention it, when I started living in an apartment in Japan, I noticed so many small things that pop up all the time in anime like the circular lights. So much of what you see in Japan is dead on the money. It's true.

And yeah, I have been saving for a while, though the MacBook Pro was an early Christmas present from my parents. My wife also got a MacBook, but hers is smaller than mine. She prefers smaller computers to larger, and I thought I'd go one size bigger this time. Once I adjusted to the keyboard, I found that I really like it, but it was awkward at first. I'm so used to the keys being right up along the edge of the computer. This led me to always being one key off of home row when I first started using it. I still sometimes get off of home row, but I'm much better at it.

Thanks for the links to the AMV. Sadly I know neither the anime nor the song, but I'm sure someone in my readership will know it and like it. Due to some issues with my codecs, I can't watch it yet. I need to install my usual codecs on this machine. I'll tell you how I liked it next week.

Thanks for the email, and see you next time!

Sanjurou Part I

Hey, Sensei,

I just thought I would drop in with some information on the "rou" in Sanjurou, as per the question you received the other day. The "rou" in that name is written with the character [kanji that I can't translate into unicode goes here] which means "man" or "male," and is a common suffix in male names like "Tarou" or "Ichirou". When accompanied by a number, as in the case of Ichirou, the name usually denotes the order of birth; i.e. "Ichirou" would mean "eldest son." In Kurosawa's "Sanjuro," though, Mifune's character seems to make up his name on the spot, taking it from the Camellias in front of him and what we are to assume is his age. Thus, he is Tsubaki Sanjuro ([More kanji that I can't translate into unicode goes here]).

-Atolm

Sensei

Thanks for the information. It never dawned on me that the "rou" was the same as Tarou or Ichirou. I wish I could have put in all the kanji you gave me. HTML doesn't like non-unicode stuff, so that had to be snipped, but at least I got the enjoyment out of it.

Thanks for taking the time to send in a letter and shoot me another if you get time.

Sanjurou Part II

Hi J! Just read your column. Excellent as usual. :-)

Anyway, as for "Sanjurou", I don't even need to see the kanji to know what it is. It's the same "rou" as you find at the end of "yarou" (bakayarou!). I forget what the original meaning is, but it shows up in male names a LOT. I think it was actually a fad several decades ago, the same way "ko" is a fad in female Japanese names today. Some other fads include "-maru" and "-emon" and "-bei" for men, and "O-" for women. These are all really old, though, like 100+ years ago.

So the "sanju" part of that name is most definitely "30," but the "rou" part doesn't really add any meaning. If you really want to dig something meaningful out of it, I guess you could say it means "30th guy" or something similar. Actually, if somebody wants to use numbers for a male name, they almost always end it with "rou". Other famous examples of this: Ichiro (1-rou), Jiro (2-rou or "next"-rou), Zaburo (3-rou). Uninventive parents would sometimes use those names for their eldest son, 2nd eldest son and youngest son respectively. You could even do Shiro (4-rou) [no this is not the kanji Masamune Shirow uses :-)] and Goro (5-rou). I've even seen a Juushirou (14-rou) [Bleach]. The bland male name of "Taro" also usually uses that character. It's a pretty ubiquitous kanji in names. :-)

Hope this helps! :-D

Sic

Sensei

It's always nice to hear from you. For those that don't know her, Sic is my Lovely In-House Translator. Week after week, she supplies me with a lot of what goes in my column. Without her, this job would be much, much harder.

Thanks for the extra tidbits on the names. Feel free to email anytime.

So there you have it. Sorry it's a day later than normal. I got some writer's block yesterday, and that merged with my DS to make it impossible to write. I couldn't even force myself to do media and stuff. At any rate, I hope you like the new look. I think it'll be staying for a while. Enjoy your backlog of games!

Catch you on the flip,


Jordan "Nice to meet you. I'm an assassin." Jackson

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