Rainy season seems to have finally come to an end over here, and thank goodness. The past two weeks have been really wet, even for the season. I have had to put serious thought into evacuation strategies for my last two Saturday class sessions because of the river behind the school. And then there was the state of Lake Ezu this past Monday.
Lake Ezu is a small body of water in the middle of Kumamoto City that's only a few minutes away from my apartment. Above are three pictures I took with my cell phone last Monday, after three solid days of heavy rain. Below are three pictures I took Wednesday morning, after the rain had stopped for a day and the waters had had a chance to subside. Note that they're taken from the exact same spots as the first three pictures.
As it turns out, there was a jogging path and small water park under all that. Thank goodness I live on the other side of a major levee, and not in one of the houses in those pictures.
It's been two months since our last look at Hiroyuki Maeda's Lovely Lady Lab, and that's just too long.
Our first two ladies have something in common -- their name. At least, their names are identical when spelled in Japanese. Celes is the princess protagonist of Final Promise Story while Ceres is the maiden-fair of Pandora's Tower. Thank goodness they're not in the same game. That would just be confusing.
Our third lady of the day should need no introduction. She has her own series named for her, afer all, and Ocarina of Time was just released this month for the 3DS. Given Maeda's prefered artistic style, I do wonder why he chose to go with adolescent Zelda though, and not the grown-up version of her from the same game.
Random Japanese slang time: arafo. This word is short for "around forty," and is used in a positive sense to support the idea that middle-aged women in Japan can be empowered and do whatever they want. Which is what makes it weird to see it in the context of Atelier Meruru. The Atelier series is generally known for its younger heroines, after all. Gust just wants to point out that some characters in the game aren't in their teens.
First, Gio is looking pretty good for 60. At 39 and 40, respectively, Sterk and Estiy are the young bloods sent to support old man Gio on his tour through the Kingdom of Arls. Anyone who's played Atelier Rorona should easily recognize all three.
However, this is a series that cannot stay away from the teenagers for long. The newest lass to join the cast is Juana Olsys, overworked shop assistant at the Dewdrop Shop and good friend to Meruru.
And finally, we have a new trailer available, just in time for the game's release (yesterday, the 23rd). It gives a good overview of the main cast and setting, a bit of in-game animation, and a really nice soundtrack. I'm still trying to figure out just what language is used in that book in the video. It looks almost half-Italian, half-Gaelic at times.
Man, I really need to pick up Atelier Totori soon, so I can move on to this one eventually. The Famitsu cross-review was in last week's issue, and they gave this game a 35 (9/9/8/9). That's probably the best score ever given to a Gust title in the history of Famitsu's ratings. In the same issue, they gave Mass Effect 2 the same score (10/9/8/8 for the breakdown).
Mid-July is traditionally the time when kids movies hit their peak in Japan, so it's never a surprise when a Pokémon movie opens in that period. What's surprising this time is that there are two such films opening July 15th: Victini & the Black Hero Zekrom and Victini & the White Hero Reshiram. I have no intention of seeing both, though I have a few students who have already gotten special tickets.
The question is, what goodies does Nintendo have in store for the audience this time? With the advent of the DS, it's not unusual for fans to be able to download Pokémon directly from the movie screen, and this time is no different. Depending on which movie they attend, fans may receive a brand-new Zekrom or Reshiram. A level 100 Zekrom or Reshiram, with Dragon Jewels equiped.
As well, Nintendo is making a special home available in the B&W Dream World, with the promise of something interesting happening should a special Zekrom or Reshiram be sent there to rest.
There's one last special offer from the DS wi-fi connection. From June 17th to July 7th (McDS or similar DS station) or from July 8th to September 8th (Nintendo Wi-Fi connection), players may receive either a Golurk (ghost/ground) or a Hydreigon (dark/dragon). Only one may be had per BW cartridge, and it's a 50/50 chance on which one is gotten.
I've been a little hesitant about covering AquaPlus's dungeon-crawling spinoff, ToHeart 2 - Dungeon Travelers. Mainly this was because a lot of the art for this game falls into Rule #34 territory. Yes, even though I have regular updates on Queen's Gate, the material I have found for this game is still more porn-worthy at times. This is mainly because AquaPlus has been showing more cheesecake art shots than actual game footage. This week we have some screens worth showing, though.
Anyhoo, ToHeart2 Dungeon Travelers arrives in stores on June 30th.
Speaking of game titles with questionable art direction, we have Moe-Moe Daisensou Gendai-ban Plus, or World War Moe - Modern Moe. The original WWM titles were set during the Second World War, but this version includes a new campaign centered on the Vietnam War. It was originally released for the PC back in April, and is being ported to the PSP in August.
This new version also includes new CG event sequences. I had to pick and choose a few of these, since (as could be expected given the focus of the title) there were some pictures I wasn't comfortable posting in this column.
Moe-Moe Daisensou Gendai-ban Plus will be in stores August 25th. I still don't have a PSP, but I remember now that SystemSoft Alpha made a DS edition a year or two back. I might track that one down sometime.
I saw your mention of spicy chocolate (and also salty ones)--I highly recommend the Lindt's Noir line of dark chocolate. Chilli and Sea Salt are extremely awesome when you have it with gourmet dark chocolate rather than cheap milk chocolate they normally have in Japan.
I agree. I've had both the high-quality and the cheap pocky versions of both. I do prefer the salt chocolate to the chilli pepper chocolate though.
And since we're on the topic of food, I have a question on the train bento. I have heard that each station has a different bento set of their own, and that these are quite a delicacy. How much do they normally cost, and do you have a personal favorite?
Train bento (eki-ben are usually reserved for the big stations these days, and often showcase regional specialties and products. Kumamoto eki-ben will often have karashi renkon (fried lotus root stuffed with mustard and miso paste) for example. I don't travel between cities that much, but when I went to Kyoto last year the usual price for an eki-ben was between seven and ten dollars, though there were family-size and deluxe eki-ben that went for a lot more.