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JAPANDEMONIUM
 
kisaragi no futsuka
Attakai
Konnichiwa

Every day, I hear more and more about the terrible weather back in America. Massive cold snaps, thunderous blizzards, glare ice that's fit to crash a semi trailer, the list goes on and on. Which is why I'm glad I don't live there right now. Sorry, folks; you have my sympathies, but Kumamoto is living up to its other name of Hi no Kuni (Kingdom of Fire) at the moment. The high for today, Feb. 2nd, is a balmy 68 degrees Fahrenheit. As I type this, the temperature near my parents' house in OKC is hovering around 30, and may only reach 35 once the sun comes up.

The crazy part is, late January and early February are supposed to be the coldest times of year in Kumamoto. Pretty much every snowy day I can remember for the past six years has fallen within this window, and yet here I am, debating whether I should put my coats up in storage for the year. And all the windows in the apartment are open, just so the breeze can clear out a few dust bunnies.

Granted, it's a bit chillier about forty miles thataway, thataway being Aso and the mountainous county where my in-laws live. Even they are getting a record lack of snow this year, however. We are, for all intents and purposes, living in April right now. I'll be checking the sakura trees this week to see if any of them get fooled.

For anyone who's interested, the Japanese term for global warming is chikyuu ondanka, with the dan part being the same symbol as in attakai, the adjectie for "warm" (and also our column title this week). The more you know!

It's almost February, which means that Valentine's Day is almost upon us. Are you ready? Do you have that special something for your special someone? Or is it too hard to find gamer-themed sweets in your neighborhood? Square Enix is ready to help.



The Japanese are very fond of sablé cookies, for some reason. You can buy them almost everywhere, and often in specially themed cans and shapes. So of course they're also available in chocolate slime form. The whole package, can and cookies, costs around $15 when exchange rates are factored in, and S-E has a spot for them on the e-store, just ready for all those V-Day orders. And since the gift-giving extends until White Day in Japan, orders are accepted even as late as March 14th. So if you need something sweet for that special gamer guy or gal, look no further.


Source: Famitsu Online
1/20 - 1/26 1/13 - 1/19 1/6 - 1/12 12/23 - 1/5 Title Publisher Platform
5 3 2 2 Pokémon X/Y The Pokémon Company
6 2 3 1 Puzzle & Dragons Z GungHo Entertainment
9 6 11 21 Youkai Watch Level-5
10 4 4 3 The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Nintendo
14 8 5 9 Monster Hunter 4 Capcom
17 7 6 4 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Square Enix
19 8 10 5 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Twin Pack Square Enix
20 16 17 14 Inazuma Eleven GO Galaxy - Big Bang / Supernova Level-5
Off-list 29 29 ???? God Eater 2 Bandai-Namco
Off-list * * 23 Drakengard 3 Square Enix
Off-list * 25 27 Final Fantasy X HD Square Enix
Off-list * * 28 Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Nintendo

Four months ago, there was one game in particular at TGS that I really adored. Coming after a lackluster PS4 demo, Maple Story: Unmei no Shoujo (Girl of Fate) for the 3DS was a breath of fresh air. It helped that a lack of people in that corner of the show floor meant that I could be left alone to enjoy the game for far longer than a regular demo period would allow. I enjoyed it is so much that after TGS I sought out the game's DS predecessor immediately. The only problem was that I didn't know when I could get my hands on the real deal. Thankfully, Girl of Fate has a street date for Japan: April 24th. This is almost exactly one year after the original Korean release, and I have to wonder what's taking Nexon so long. The copy I played seemed complete, even well into the game's second chapter. Now I regret having to put it down after thirty-to-forty minutes in order to get to a press conference.







Oh well, I can last three more months. I'll be saving my zennies until then.

Source: Dengeki Online

Another game I played at TGS was Ore no Shikabane wo Koeteyuke (Over My Dead Body 2), the sequel to a very odd PlayStation title of yore. It's supposed to come out sometime this summer, but since I do not possess a PS Vita I'm not holding my breath so much for this one. That doesn't keep me from wondering just what is up with this game, though. Here's some art from Famitsu that I found earlier this month.


This is Nueko (kanji: Night-Bird-Child), the woman at the heart of the game's mystery. In the middle of the Heian period, Japan's personal golden age of culture and decadence, a great earthquake signals the start of monstrous attacks upon the capital. A warrior clan stood against the onslaught, but things did not fair too well for them, and every last man, woman, and child was killed. It's at this point in the article's plot précis that I learn a new Japanese word, sarekoube, which loosely translates as "bones scattered by wind and bleached by rain." Time to add one more entry to my list of creepy and useless Japanese phrases. I'm surprised that my cell phone's dictionary even knew it, to be honest. I can't get it to work in Google Translate.



Before the ill-fated clan can reach that state of decay, a servant of heaven named Kitsuto intervenes. He's the guy with the red hair and pink robes. He asks one question: "Do you wish to have your revenge?" Of course, there's only one way to answer that. I'm not sure if the clan in this game is meant to be the same one as in the first OreShika game, but in any case it is resurrected under the same double curse, that of accelerated aging and no child by woman born. With the help of Kitsuto and his weasel-girl sidekick, Kou, the Twice-Cursed Clan must travel the empire and defeat the evils that possess it before any may return to the capital with honor intact.



I mentioned a lot of this in impression four months ago, but I might as well repeat myself a bit. The player can create a personal avatar using the Vita's camera, but he or she will be far from the only members of the clan fighting. Because of the first half of the family curse, everyone ages at an accelerate rate, with most entering their fighting prime at the ripe old age of a month or so. Old age kicks in by age two, I think. I really should play the original sometime to be sure of this. Anyway, one of the pillars of the game is the marriage system, wherein experienced members of the clan are wedded to Japanese spirits in a lovely ceremony, and the children of this union gain bonuses and abilities depending on the nature of the supernatural parent. The game is even helpful enough to provide a family tree to make things less complicated, if no less bizarre.




From what I remember of the play demo, the game is divided into monthly segments, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's an end date to the game's calendar as well. Alfa System's other famous original title, Linda3 had a similar date with destiny, but wasn't at all difficult to finish within the time limit. I don't doubt that OreShika 2 is equally manageable.

I'm actually a little sad that I won't be playing this one, but I already have enough things eating up my time that adding a Vita to the mix would not be a good idea. I do think I'll grab the PSX OreShika the next time I see it in a store, though.

Oh, and the article never does get around to saying just why Nueko is so important. She definitely makes an entrance, though.

Source: Famitsu Weekly

Our last game for this column did not appear at TGS 2013, though I wish it had. It's about the only iWhatever title I've been interested in for a long time, though that's mainly because of the setting and the pedigree. CyberConnect 2 has officially returned to the world of Little Tail Bronx with this new game, Little Tail Story/



In case you don't know, Little Tail Bronx is a multimedia series as well as the world in which that series is set. So far it includes one action game (Tail Concerto), one action RPG (Solatorobo), and a collection of informative pamphlets and manga commissioned by the Fukuoka Prefectural Office of Emergency Services (Mamoru-kun). This newest addition appears to be slightly more traditional an RPG in format, or at least as traditional as is normally seen on the iWhatevers. Battles are turn-based, at least. Of the eight members of the party, only three are on the front line at any time, and this formation rotates over the course of battle, allowing the player to switch up attack elements or heal back-row players according to the battle plan. This actually isn't too different from what I've played in Seven or Venus & Braves, though the resemblance pretty much stops there. There are four character classes shown — Fighters, Knights, Guards, and Magicians — and multiple ranks to attain in each class. And of course, there's the obligatory mix-and-match nature of the equipment lists, designed to encourage the obsessive-compulsive collectors into shilling out tons in micro-transactions, but that's to be expected. Among the listed limited edition items there are costumes related to Solatorobo and //.hack, which isn't surprising either.

Little Tail Story will be available sometime this spring. While I could wish for a LTB game on an actual console, I guess this is the best we'll be seeing for the foreseeable future. I think it's worth mentioning in the column, but I won't be playing. No iPhone, and no desire to get one (see comments above as to my free time and lack thereof).

Source: Famitsu Weekly
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Super Heroine Chronicle Bandai-Namco 2.6.14
Dragon Quest Monsters 2 Square Enix 2.6.14
Fable Anniversary Nihon Microsoft 2.6.14
MAGI: The New World Bandai-Namco 2.13.14
Super Robot Wars Z 2- World Destruction (PSP The Best) Bandai-Namco 2.20.14
Super Robot Wars Z 2- World Resurrection (PSP The Best) Bandai-Namco 2.20.14
Yakuza Ishin Sega 2.22.14
New Little King's Story (Konami The Best) Konami 2.27.14
Fossil Fighters: Infinite Gear Nintendo 2.27.14
Valhalla Knights 3 GOLD Marvelous AQL 2.27.14
Source: Dengeki Online
An Explanation!

The whole business of old 'new' mech shows in SRW is this: the franchise has hit peak robots. The only series they haven't used already are either truly forgotten relics of the 70's and 80's, ones where the original creators are too protective of to allow for crossovers (rare cases), or too new for the no spoilers for two years rule. At least they try to do something different story-wise. The shows are in heavy rotation every time they're introduced to a new sub-series, but yeah I'm really sick of the Seed Destiny units' combat animations.

--Fowl Sorcerous

Gaijin

I'm just giggling at the fact that "peak robot" can actually be a thing.

From the Forum, About the Forum

I like these articles, but have you considered making a culture corner thread on the forums? I can ask things, but I don't go through the, uh, "hassle" of emails and what not. That is to say, I'm lazy. The Q&A thread has generated a bit more for questions.

Here's a Q though: is there anything you would recommend for trying to teach yourself to read Japanese? Like, maybe text books or something? Speaking and understanding spoken Japanese would be cool, but I would be pretty content to just read stuff. If these recommendations could include things one might be able to find online, that would be super.

Gaijin

Well, you need a few things to really get started. I'd suggest a phrase book to begin with. There are a lot of these, many of them tailored to specific interests like business (various titles), flirting (Making Out In Japanese), or culture (Hello Kitty's Guide to Japan is very popular with my niece, but she is in first grade...). You can use one of those to get a feel for what the language looks and sounds like, and probably pick up the two sets of kana and some kanji in the process. From there, you can try a grammar primer, like Yookoso! (my first textbook in college), An Intermediate Guide to Japanese (my second), or the Japan Times' Dictionary of Japanese Grammar (comes in multiple skill levels). Kanji are a little easier to work with, mainly because there are online resources like Kanji-A-Day for you to work with. If you want books, there's Daisuke Kusuya's Kanji Starter series. Personally, I use a Japanese elementary school kanji dictionary for my basic practice, even though a lot of the stuff I regularly use comes from video games (which have an eccentric vocabulary at times). And of course, you could also start a new game in Pokémon X/Y and choose the Japanese language option, if you want some practice.

Another Q: Are Japanese people typically friendly when they encounter someone looking for info in broken Japanese? Do you find that certain ethnicities are by and large avoided? Living in an area with a University and College I find myself encountering a lot of people who don't speak much more than the English they need to get by, so I wondered if it would be much the same experience over yonder?

Gaijin

It can vary a lot. I've had Japanese people (young and old) wave me away apologetically even when I was speaking to them in halfway decent Japanese because in their heads they'd already come to the conclusion that they couldn't possibly understand me. On the other hand, I've also met little old grandmas who were more than happy to switch to broken English to explain that I didn't really need to take a bus to that destination because it was really close and the weather was perfect for walking. It all comes down to luck and individual personality.

See, I can come up with all sorts of stuff while browsing the forum that I'm way too lazy to actually email or whatever. Consider the thread idea!

-- lolwhoops

Gaijin

Consider the fact that you typed this on a message thread, much the same as every message thread I've attached to every column I've done, and that I have in the past used stuff from the forums when the opportunity arose. Like this week. Hmmm... I really feel like putting a smiley or wink or something in here, but I don't let that sort of thing into the column proper. Darn.

Quarterly Reportage

I just realized I have really fallen behind on all the news here. It has been a good long while since I even get to read Japandemonium. Thankfully the situation has been reconciled.

Just out of curiosity, what's hot on the Japanese anime/manga scene right now? I am still finishing up my stash from 2010, but I think it's high time I start getting some new ones.

Also, I'm wondering what the Japanese keyboard looks like. Can you like, post a pic? I can't quite imagine how people chat in the game. Or do Japanese use voice chats?

Also, they have canned potions now? Crazy. I prefer the old bottle though. Those are purty.

--xocolatl

Gaijin

Hmm... let's see.

#1 - I have no idea. I don't stay on top of the anime or manga scene too much. The only series I'm currently reading are Tonari no Seki-kun and Gekkou Jourei.

#2 - It looks like this. You can use the keys for direct kana entry, but I've never figure out how. Instead, there are three keys (one next to the 1 button, the other two surrounding the space bar) that switch the keyboard to romaji entry, which means that whatever Japanese words you spell out in the Latin alphabet get automatically switched to kana or kanji. Before you get used to it, it's really easy to tap one of those keys when you mean to use the space bar, and whenever I hear faint non-Japanese cussing in an internet cafe or international center, I know exactly what's going on. The placement of punctuation marks is all different from US-standard keyboards as well, like having the quote marks at SHIFT-2. The placement of the @ mark right next to the P button is nice, though. Much more convenient. To be honest, I've been using Japanese keyboards for so long that on the rare occasion I'm back in the States I have more trouble adjusting back to my parents' computer.

#3 - What do you mean, now? My profile picture came from my very first JP column back in 2007, and I never bothered to change it. I've seen multiple series of artwork come and go for the Potion™ cans, and I'm kind of surprised that S-E didn't bring it back for Lightning Returns. Instead, we got ice cream.

Thanks for stopping by with your quarterly questions. It's always good to hear from you.

Oops, almost forgot to answer Slayer's question from the forums. The answer is, it's going just fine, and thank you for asking.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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