While I'd like to say that the rainy season is completely done with, and I may have actually said as much (prematurely) in an earlier column, Japan is still getting more than its fair share of rain. It's raining outside as I write this, in fact.
It's good for the rice fields, though. I walk by or through a lot of rice fields on my way to and from work, and it's always fun to take a look in the water and see what's living in there. Recently, it's been full of tadpoles. Otamajakushi. I'm still trying to figure out this word. There are two different kanji combinations for it. The first one is made of two really obscure symbols that both mean "tadpole." The second one is a bit longer (four kanji), and comes out as "honorable ball ladle child." For even more fun, the word serves as a homonym for tadpole, ladle, or musical note. That would explain the occasional froggy musical puzzle in some games I've played...
I can't wait until they're all grown up, though. I've already seen some huge bullfrogs, and I chased a little green frog halfway across a parking lot just last week.
Tales of the Abyss 3D appeared in stores yesterday, and there was a special bonus for those who got their order in early. Namely, there was a dramatic CD starring six of the game's main characters. What I found interesting was the back side of the package.
Those are autographs. Not of the dev team, nor of the actors. Those are the John Hancocks of the game's protagonists. I like how Tear's signature contains a looped smiley.
Square Enix is gearing up for another major anniversary. This past Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden, better known to the rest of us as The Final Fantasy Adventure. To mark the occasion, S-E is releasing a soundtrack collection comprising of the entire series. For the record, that's The Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret-, Sword-, Legend-, Dawn-, Children-, and Heroes of Mana. And Seiken Densetsu III, which will hopefully see a remake one of these days so we can get an official ... of Mana name for it.
Not only will this collection include the original soundtracks from each of the eight games of the series, it will also have arranged soundtracks for The Final Fantasy Adventure and Secret of Mana, and a bonus DVD with interviews and a medley track performed by a full orchestra. The entire collection will be available September 14th.
As mentioned a month or two back, Ore no Shikabane wo Koeteyuke is an odd sort of title. The game's protagonists all age at an incredibly accelerated rate, and cannot have children with normal humans. In an attempt to work a loophole in the curse that causes both problems, the kamigami (divine spirits) of Japan have volunteered to be part of the Oreshika Clan's extended breeding program (that's the name used in the screens, but may be subject to player whim) . Here are the lucky ladies and gentlemen.
Once a member of the Oreshika family reaches marriageable age (from the following screens, that looks to be around the age of 9 months), then the player has the option to arrange a marriage between him/her and one of the clan's allied kamigami. The eventual next generation will have their stats determined by the non-human parent. Apparently the young Oreshika's gender, name, and class are determined at this point as well.
I may not have a PSP, but since this is a PSX remake, I may just have to track down a copy of the original and have a go at this.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived with her parents on the edge of a dark forest. One day, her mother asked her to deliver a basket of goodies to her grandmother, who lived on the other side of the woods. When she arrived, she found that grandma's door had been kicked in, and the octogenarian old bat was nowhere to be found. So she picked up her wolf-bashing club, donned her red hooded cloak (the better to not show the bloodstains), and went off in search of whoever was stupid enough to kidnap old grannie.
Welcome to Elpis, a new action-RPG for the Android. Yes, Little Red Riding Hood is the star of the show. Yes, she's off to rescue grandma. No, I do not know why she seems to be visiting so many distinct time zones and cultures in the process. I do know that in one screen she's apparently trying to collect a bounty on werewolf tails, though.
Elpis is available for COM2US Japan model Android phones through the AU service. If this game is available in English, then I have yet to find any evidence to show that.
Next month, Nora's Studio time-crafts itself onto shelves. I've given up trying to decide whether the title should say "Time" or "Engraving." It works best without either, as far as I'm concerned. Looking at this official trailer for the game, I'm glad I already have my copy reserved. This swansong for the DS is going to be gorgeous.
Having a fever may prompt some strange things to appear courtesy of my keyboard, but I haven't given you any Culture Corner queries in awhile, so let's see what happens. The title, incidentally, stems from some old commercial, but MST3K found many opportunities to apply it. Just utter that line whenever you see something appropriate, and its utility will become apparent.
I foresee this leading to many awkward moments in the future.
Several months on, the results of March's earthquake have seemingly stopped being headline-grabbers elsewhere in the world. What about for the people who are still living with the effects?
Well, it's headline news every morning for me, though not always negatively. The news is always trying to balance the really depressing and scary bits with some hopeful stuff, like the new World Heritage Site not too far from Fukushima.
There's a certain fish (fugu, I believe?) which requires years of chef training to properly prepare, and the penalty for improper preparation is usually death from its poisonous parts. Have you ever tried it?
No, I haven't, though mainly because I'm not that interested. Most fugu is farm-raised these days, and has a significantly lower level of neurotoxin in its system. The potentially dangerous ones are too expensive for me to try, and the farm-raised ones don't really taste better than any other fish out there, so I just don't bother. I'll stick with my tai.
When it comes to the topic of the kaiju movie, apparently the mere idea of mocking these things (even in something like this) is verboten. Can you verify this attitude?
Um, not sure where you'd get that idea. I can think of several manga that have a lot of fun parodying kaijuu in various ways. Care to name a source for this attitude?.
The number of WWII veterans still alive shrinks every day, but I'm curious how they're treated in Japan. Is there an equivalent to Tom Brokaw & company's "Greatest Generation" stuff, or is the public perception more muted?
Rather more muted, I would say. There's occasionally a piece on local veterans, especially around O-Bon time, but nothing like the "Greatest Generation" series.
Popping pills to try to deal with the infection makes me wonder about over the counter medications. If I wanted to buy aspirin or ... Sudafed, or ... BeneHist (just semi-random examples), would it be a painless process?
There are plenty of aspirin-like medicines over here, but I'm not sure if any of them actually contain aspirin. Definitely, dosages are smaller in Japanese medications, so you might be better off bringing stuff from home. Just be careful of anything containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine — these drugs are illegal in Japan.
It's not that easy to be your own doctor in this country, to be honest. I have actually had an older gentleman refuse to sell me over-the-counter cold medicine before, because he thought I should see a doctor instead. Nevermind that I had no fever, and only wanted something to stop my persistent sneezing and runny nose. Or that I had to be at work in 30 minutes. I just had to do without until I got to school and bummed a decongestant off one of my coworkers.
What kind of interest do the Ainu attract in recent years? I gather the few remaining Ainu stick to Hokkaido and don't go south, but they still might garner attention somehow.
I might have more questions, but sleep is a very beguiling prospect right now. This batch will have to do.
The story of the Ainu is a sad one. Certainly not as sad as some (the Tasmanian Aborigines or the Nez Perce come to mind), but the modern history of the Ainu is one of assimilation. The main populations have historically been in Hokkaido, northern Tohoku, Sakhalin, and the Kurile Islands. Officially, the only Ainu community left is the one in Hokkaido (including a few families who migrated south to Tokyo), and its numbers are hard to estimate due to the strong push by the government to absorb them into the Japanese people. There are purebred Ainu around, but the majority look like Japanese, have Japanese names, and don't really talk about their ancestry with others. Ever since Hokkaido was colonized in the late 19th century, the Japanese government simply did not refer to them as a group. They were not recognized as an indigenous ethnic group until a landmark court decision in the late 1990's, and then by an act of government that was passed in 2008.
Still, it's possible to see a lot of Ainu influences in manga, anime, and games. Various bits of mythology, like the koropokkuru and the term kamui, pop up now and again, and the entire setting for Utawarerumono was supposed to be based on Ainu culture as well. There are sites and museums in Hokkaido dedicated to the Ainu as well.
On second thought, I'm not going to complain about the rain anymore. It's the only thing keeping the temperatures in the mid-80s, and not spiraling up to 100 or more. My mid-day walks are tough enough as it is.