Just before Christmas I had the questionable pleasure of experiencing the joys of Japanese bureaucracy firsthand. I even did so willingly this time. For my girlfriend's sake I took the test to get my learner's permit in Japan.
Driving isn't something I'd normally consider doing in Japan, at least not in any city as big or bigger than Kumamoto. Public transportation is too convenient and traffic can be atrocious. My girlfriend has to drive for her job, however, and insists on taking the car everywhere even though she really hates driving.
So, after a particularly bad night's sleep, I somehow made it to the official testing site in possession of all necessary documents, only to be blockaded by a well-meaning clerk who assumed I spoke no Japanese and directed me to the wrong line. Then I got to meet a real humbug of an official who insisted that I could not fill out the forms unless I brought a Japanese friend to help. This was despite the fact that I could clearly understand every word coming out of his mouth, though it did take me a moment to get used to his accent.
Thankfully an Aussie friend of mine was there that morning too, and gave me enough moral support that I didn't break down from all the headbutting with authority. As I said, I hadn't had that good a night.
Once I got through the application, which took longer largely because of the "thoughtful" staff, there was the pre-test ordeal to sit through: the explanations. It took the officials just over 35 minutes to explain how to fill out all of the test information, such as one's name, birthdate, and a few number codes to show what sort of license one was trying for. An extra 10 minutes went towards explaining reasons why one might be ineligible to sit the test, as well as making sure that everyone was able to shut their eyes on command for when the test was being handed out. Approximately 5 minutes went towards explaining just how to answer the test, and that was the part I really needed to know. From the answer sheet, it looked like a normal True/False test, but apparently there were times where I should have either filled in both True and False, or left them both blank. Unfortunately, after 45 minutes of trying to pay attention to the droning bureaucrat, I sort of zoned out and missed the subtle nuances of the answering system.
Long story short, no permit for this gaijin. Better luck next time.
Famitsu Weekly and the lovely ladies of Idolm@ster would like to wish you all a merry Christmas.
Also, the following companies would like to wish you a Happy New Year.
Page 1: Arc System Works, Idea Factory (Compile Heart), Irem Software, Aqua+, Acquire, and Atlus.
Page 2: Alchemist, AG Interactive, SNK Playmore, MTO, Enterbrain, and Gust (with Lina!).
Page 3: Capcom, GAE, Cave, Koei-Tecmo Holdings, CodeMasters, and Konami.
Page 4: Success, GEnterprise, Jaleco, Square Enix, Spike, and Sega.
Page 5: SCE, Taito, Takara-Tomy, D3 Publisher, Nippon Ichi, and Falcom.
Page 6: Bandai Namco Games, 5pb., From Software, Broccoli, Bethesda Softworks, and the Pokémon Company.
Page 7: Marvelous Entertainment, Microsoft, UBISoft, Level 5, Rocket Company (makers of Medabots), and a few kind words from EA, Kadokawa Publishing, THQ Japan, and Hudson.
Happy New Year everybody!
Over the holidays, Sega once again proved that the show must go on, with their annual musical revue of the Sakura Taisen series. This year the show was based around the events of Sakura Taisen 3 ~Has Paris Burned?~. On Dec. 26th, the ladies of the Flower Troupe of gay Paree went on stage before an appreciative audience of fans. Here are some of the highlights:
Anyone who wishes to see the entire selection of photos need only look here.
It looks like Studio Ghibli has been up to more than just its collaboration on Ninokuni. Over the holidays, I had my first look at promotional material for their next feature film, Arietty's Song.
The Japanese title, Karigurashi Arietti, translates as "Arietty the Borrower", which prompted me to revisit a certain work of children's literature. Not surprisingly, it appears to be a direct adaptation of the novel. It's set to be in Japanese theaters this summer.
Phantasy Star Portable 2 certainly is not cameo-shy. In the months prior to release it was shown to contain, among other things, the Sony mascot cats and Pizza Hut as DLC. Not long after it hit the shelves, Sega revealed yet another bit of downloadable content for those who like to customize:
It is now possible to dress PSP2 characters as Shinji and Asuka from the series Evangelion. For fans of the show (and goodness knows there are enough of them over here) this should prove quite popular.
'Twas the night before Samhain,
And all through the lair,
Not a devil was stirring,
Not even a hair.
The weapons were all polished,
Each blade, spike, and horn,
In hopes that great violence
Soon would be borne.
Miss Etna was snuggled
All warm in her bed,
While visions of splodin' doodz
Danced in her head.
And the long-suffering Prinnies,
Piled up in a heap,
Had settled their brains
For a well-earnèd sleep.
When from the front gates
There arose such a crash, I'll
Bet that it shook
The entire castle!
An intruder had made
His way in like a flash,
And now made his exit
With a very loud smash!
Light of the red moon,
Over volcanic soot,
Made it hard to find out
Just what was afoot.
When what to the Prinnies'
Eyes did appear,
But a mysterious thief,
All dressed in spy gear!
His wits were so sharp,
His eyes were so merry,
And his nose was a-quiver,
Like a mouse drunk on sherry.
He smiled as he fled,
And did a little dance,
And held o'er his head
Miss Etna's underpants!
The Mistress was frumious,
And then made a promise,
In her style so eclectic.
"Prinny slaves!" she declared,
As he ran out of sight,
"Get those pants back right now,
"Or you'll all die tonight!"
Two things here are self-evident. First, I had too much free time on my hands last week. Second, the folks at Nippon Ichi have never been ones to pass up the chance for a sequel. Prinny 2 - Tokkouyuugi! Akatsuki no Pantsu Daisakusen (or as I like to call it, "The Underwear Under-war Has Begun!") arrives in stores on March 25th, and promises more of the madcap, super-hard action of its predecessor. The story, allowing for a little creative elaboration, is as stated in the poem -- a thieving demon has stolen Miss Etna's panties right off the washline, and it's up to her cohort of Prinny slaves to get them back at all costs.
Best of luck, doodz.
Here's a rare update courtesy of Dengeki: a Japanese PC game that is neither Massively Multiplayer nor pornographic.
Killzwald - The Last Human Being is the seventh game in the Vazial Saga, and is set in a far future world covered in ice and devoid of life. The last survivors had long since fled to the moon, and through science rendered themselves immortal. These beings, the God-Kings, built up personal kingdoms on the lunar surface, and populated them with artificial life-forms.
This game is apparently the first tactical title in the series. I can't be too sure what the story is like, largely because while the game's homepage gives a lot of scenario background, it doesn't say what gets it all going this time around. All I know is, the player's character is the last true human being in existence, and a lot of entities want him dead. On his side he has twelve Lunarians, homunculi created by the God-Kings, who take their identities from the western zodiac.
The game is now available for download from their site, as are demos for those who want to get a taste of the action before committing.
We now bring you a short update on Fate/EXTRA, the RPG adaptation of the popular adventure game slash animated series. This time, we have a new character to introduce. At least, I haven't seen this one in any of the previous game footage.
Perhaps someone better versed in the series lore could identify this one. Or maybe she's a new character just for this game? In any case, the Official Art section of the game page has been updated.
Even though I didn't go for the special pack for Atelier Lina, that doesn't mean I didn't get any goodies with my purchase. As with Atelier Annie, Gust provided a bonus dramatic CD with every copy of the game.
The title translates as "The Trials of the Great Detective Lina!"
And in other news, Gust has invited us all to play detective with their official New Year's card, sent to everyone on their Japanese mailing list. I really want to know how to get on that...
But at least we have a copy of the card, courtesy of Famitsu Online. So who is this young woman? That's anyone's guess, because all we know for sure is that she is the main character of an as-yet unannounced title of theirs. Presumably it's the next Atelier title, since it's by the same person who has done the artwork for most of that series. At the same time, the style seems to be a little off for an Atelier heroine, at least for me. Perhaps the next Mana Khemia game? Time will tell, and hopefully soon.
Lost in Translation
I was recently playing a game with Japanese voices and English text, and saw a translation that confused me.
One of the characters said "Kirei desu ne", which I thought meant "It's pretty isn't it". However, the English text read "It's spectacular!". Spectacular seems a lot stronger a description than pretty, does "kirei" have this stronger meaning, or is it just a case of an off translation?
On a related note, what are some terrible or funny Japanese to English (or visa versa) translations you have seen?
My pick would be from an anime film I saw recently (I think it was Ponyo, by Studio Ghibli) where "Gochisosama deshita" was translated as "That really hit the spot!".
Oh, I love the Japandemonium column by the way!
Hm, you're right, that does seem to be a pretty strong translation for a word like kirei (which translates as "pretty" in that sort of context, but can also mean "clean" or "neat"). The voice tone usually associated with it is softer than what you'd use for "spectacular" as well. The words sugoi or suteki would be a better match, if the translation were going from English to Japanese.
We're going to have to disagree on gochisousama deshita, though. As a set phrase, its meaning does not really match the actual words. My old college Japanese professor jokingly said that you could translate it as "I was Mr. Feast", and still be accurate. So any expression of gustatory satisfaction would probably suffice as a translation for that line, provided that it jived with the character who was saying it. My personal example of misplaced translation in a Ghibli work would be from Totoro, at the end of the first scene with the Cat-Bus. As the Totoro rides off, the girl's reaction is "Was that Daddy's umbrella he took?" While grammatically accurate, it doesn't fit at all with the scene. "Hey, that was Daddy's umbrella!" would have worked much better.
Thanks for enjoying the column!
As promised, this was one of the biggest updates Japandemonium has seen in quite a while. Who knows what else 2010 has in store! Write in if you feel like pondering the future with us. Sorry it was a little late going up, but FTP trouble on a Friday evening will do that to a column.
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,