So, it's been a while, hasn't it? I'm sure at least a few people have been wondering where Japandemonium has gone, and there are a few reasons for that. First, of course, is that I can be a lazy-butt procrastinator at times, and that was the main reason up until the first week of July. This wasn't helped any by the dearth of RPG news that I could safely say was Japan-specific. But in the early wee hours of July 9th, something much more important took precedence:
Meet Reina Yarimizu Baker, born 2:39 AM, July 9th. In this picture, she is almost exactly fifteen minutes old. Her actual due date was August 28th, so we were understandably surprised, but Non-chan was having some complications that simply could not be ignored without considerable risk to life, and the doctors decided our little one needed to be out sooner rather than later. So every single day for the past five weeks or so, I've spent an hour or so on average at the hospital, talking to her, singing to her, or cuddling her (once she was let out of the incubator).
People who know me on Facebook have been seeing lots of videos as well. My apologies to those who failed their will saves vs. cuteness.
Unfortunately, the long hiatus here underscores some fundamental issues I've been having with the column. Japan-exclusivity on the whole seems to be on the decline in the industry, in part because total output seems to be going down for RPGs — seriously, a new game IP crops up once every few months if at all, as compared to 2009's three-new-games-a-week bonanza — and more developers are moving to the iWhatevers, which tend to have a higher rate of translation anyway. I was already spacing the columns out to monthly updates for lack of material, and the long stretches between them did nothing to help the aforementioned lazy-butt procrastination. With a baby soon to be in the house (as soon as she passes 2300 grams and is feeding regularly without help), I doubt that even that would be sustainable.
It's been almost nine years since I started on this column and this site, and I intend to keep contributing in various ways, but I think Japandemonium itself needs to be retired for a bit. For this last column, however, I'm going to give it my best.
So apparently the Digimon series is getting a reboot. A new anime, Digimon Universe: Appli Monsters is due out on October 1st, 2016, with a heavy focus on smartphones and digital applications. For the record, apuri/appli is the Japanese version of app in English. And in the Digimon universe, an app may just spawn a Digimon out of the blue. Human protagonist Haru and his partner Gatchmon will have to face malicious apps, malignant viruses, and an entity known as Leviathan, which wants to do untold damage to both the real and digital realms. In other words, about what you might expect from this concept. There's also going to be a 3DS game.
Unfortunately, we only seem to have one screen from the game, plus a promo for the anime and a pair of the little digital collectible chip things for the arcade game portion of the marketing blitz. But hey, here's a video!
As of now, there is no confirmed release date, but from the timing of both the anime and collectible chip release dates, it should be expected for later this fall or early winter.
Not too long ago, Level-5 did its usual big presentation, and wow! there was a lot of odd and different things to see on there. The first of these was The Snack World. Now, I am certain that this one has been presented on Japandemonium before, but I cannot seem to find the right column. Originally intended as just an iOS/Android game (to be released April 2017), this IP has been expanded to include a CG animated series and a 3DS version of the game, which is slated for a July 2017 release. Make of the screenshots what you will.
Level-5 enjoys spreading its series across as many media as possible. The Snack World may be going from iOS to 3DS, but Yo-Kai Watch is going the opposite direction. Yo-Kai Watch for Smartphones should be out some time this fall for the iWhatevers.
Also moving to the iWhatevers is Fantasy Life, though in this case it's an actual sequel. Fantasy Life 2 - The Two Moons and the Village of God appears to take place directly after the events of the first game, and it should be no surprise that the story is based heavily on rebuilding the world after the cataclysm that nearly wrecked it the first time around. The exact release date is unclear, but Level-5 promises to have it rolled out some time this year.
The next game on the Level-5 watchlist is a little different. Like most of that company's output in recent years, this is intended as a multimedia franchise, with a game, anime, and probably other things already in the works. It also looks to be aimed at an older demographic than stuff like the original Inazuma Eleven, Yo-Kai Watch, or The Snack World. Let's see the video:
The gist is that an alien invasion force, referred to in the latest Famitsu as "the Dractors", announced their presence on Earth by essentially taking a giant cookie cutter to the northeast quadrant of the planetary crust. Only one city in the area has survived, a safe haven whose inhabitants are somehow largely unaware of the absolute destruction outside their domes. The war against the Dractors isn't going well, however, and the defense force needs skilled pilots for the newest Megaton-class fighting robots, codenamed Musashi. All in all, it's a lot darker than what we're used to seeing out of this company.
Over the course of the video I could pick out probable references to the original Gundam, Evangelion, some Tatsunoko anime (not surprising, since Level-5 is also handling the Time Bokan! remake), as well as definite spots for figurine and collectible card merchandising. Actually, around the point where the obvious mercandising elements appear, I had to wonder just who the devs are aiming this at. The older kids, who would like the darker atmosphere more, or the younger kids who're more likely to drive CCG sales? For that matter, since the short video episode just screams "Tatsunoko" to me, especially with some of the background vocals, there might be some nostalgic appeals to the parents' generation as well.
Oh well, we shall see when we shall see. At the moment, all we have to go on is this video, plus the information that there is an RPG version in the works, but with an unknown platform and release date.
In our last bit of Level-5 news, we also see a trend towards a slightly older audience with Inazuma Eleven - Scales of Ares, an alternate branch of the series timeline that takes things in a different direction from pretty much every game after the original. In other words, that alien invasion in the second game? Never happened. The time travel stuff from the Go! games? Purest fantasia. This time around we have a more mature-looking game with more mature-looking themes, like corporate sponsorship.
The junior-high heroes of this timeline have more down-to-earth issues as well. As in, someone has just bulldozed the old school grounds where they play ball most everyday. In a last-ditch bid to play the game they so love, the entire local soccer team from Inakuni Jr. High manages to travel to the impressively rebuilt Denmon Junior High to participate in the Football Frontier soccer tournament. Their sponsor is Island Tours, as can be seen plainly on their jerseys. Every team in this tournament appears to have a sponsor, such as how Seishou Gakuen proudly bears the logo of KiraStar Pharmaceuticals, or how Outei Tsuki-no-Miya Jr. High touts Gekko Electronics. A fourth school, Hakuai Jr. High, is sponsored by Shiro'usagi Dept. Store. With the exception of the heroes' sponsor, all of these companies have an astronomical theme: KiraStar (shining star), Gekko (moonlight), and Shiro'usagi (white rabbit, the sort that lives on the moon).
This game also does not have a lot of definite information about its release, though it's likely that it will be a 3DS release. That has not been confirmed, however, and there is no release date given as yet. We'll be sure to hear more about it soon.
OK, I have tried to figure out the entire backstory of Utawarerumono: Futari no Hakuoru, but I gave up. This is the third game in an increasingly intricate and weirdly detailed chronicle of a far future populated by animal-human hybrids genetically engineered to survive where their creators could not, after a strange, protean entity from the distant past forcibly devolved most of humanity into semi-immortal amoeba-things. Apparently in the previous instalment, Itsuwari no Kamen (The Masks of Falsehood), a solitary human awoke from a deep-sleep chamber with no memory of his previous life. A complete summary of what happened next would take longer than we have for this section, so let it just be said that Futari no Hakuoru appears to be a logical extension of the ending of that game, and features Haku the formerly amnesiac and Anju the princess of Yamato as they try to keep everything together following the death of Yamato's ruler.
Unlike many games in today's column, Futari no Hakuoru has a definite release date. It will arrive on September 21st for PlayStation 3, Playstation 4, and the Vita. Also, in keeping with AquaPlus's usual thematic elements, its CERO rating prevents it from being sold to anyone under the age of 15, so expect cheesecake. Here, have a video to finish things with:
If the column must come to an end, then let it end appropriately with a SaGa article. On July 21st, Square Enix president Akitoshi Kawazu rang in the start of third round of "Romancing Saga", the company's long-running collaboration with the Japanese prefecture that just happens to sound like the game series.
As part of the fun, the Romancing Saga 3 website includes an avatar maker, complete with stats and preferences for specifically Saga (Prefecture) foods and souvenirs. This avatar can then be taken on a virtual stamp rally on the site, picking up new tidbits of information along the way. Also, from the end of July to September 4th, the Saga Prefectural Museum of Art's Fourth Gallery will be hosting an exhibition of SaGa-related art and character designs, courtesy of Tomomi Kobayashi. Various memorabilia will be available through the main website and at specific event locations.
Lastly, Square Enix is branching out a bit, including games from outside the Romancing SaGa trio for the first time. This last piece of promotion is for the hot springs baths of Saga Prefecture, or Saga-furo. Because of how written Japanese works, this makes a wonderful pun on SaGa Frontier, and the marketers were quick to run with it.
The Saga-SaGa festivities will continue at various venues in the prefecture for the next few weeks. For more information, check out the homepage.
People in Japan seem to be really liking the FF15 movie Kingsglaive.
That's not really a question, dood.
(four weeks later)
Question- I don't know if you played Final Fantasy XII in Japanese or not, but I'm curious as to how the story and text were delivered in the Japanese version. The English script had a very Shakespeare-inspired dialog, compared to plain English with most FF games. Did the Japanese text feature an different style Japanese, or was it just basic talk?
Y'know, I've always meant to try FFXII one of these days, perhaps the Zodiac Job System version. In any case, my guess would be no, they did not bring out the Genji Monogatari Japanese for this one, because very few schoolchildren would be able to parse it (even if the writers were up to the task), and the entire point of a game is to sell copies. Ancient literary Japanese can be remarkably far removed from the language as it is now. As antiquated linguistically as his opus may seem, Shakespeare is still Modern English. He even helped create part of what made English modern.
Standardized Japanese doesn't really have anything similarly old-sounding that doesn't end up being its own dialect that may not be easily legible, though there are some linguistic tricks that are common in the anime and manga industries to help a character get that feudal-era feel. For example, they can swap all the regular negative endings (-nai) with -nu, or replace the current copular form desu (equivalent to "to be") with the older (but still legitimately used) de gozaru.
Anime, manga, and video games make heavy use of Japanese pronouns, though, and this is where your question most intersects with the way games are written in Japanese. There are, at the least, twenty first-person pronouns in Japanese, and about as many second-person pronouns. This is because pronouns in this language evolved from status-marking epithets that were used to denote relative rank between two people in a discussion (which is partly why third-person pronouns are not nearly as plentiful). The vast majority of Japanese speakers stick to one of three first-person pronouns — watashi, boku, or oré — as the rest are generally relegated to older layers of social standing that are no longer pertinent to modern life, or mark one clearly as having just arrived on the last goat cart in from the boondocks. Most of these unused pronouns end up seeing the most use in video games, where a king may refer to himself as yo, a general as wagahai, or a ninja as sessha.
Likewise for the second-person pronouns, most are only used in various media to provide social or psychological context for a character. Angels, for example, frequently use the pronoun nanji to refer to others. It's supposed to be used by someone of exceptional social stature when speaking to someone of greatly inferior stature, and in practice is the accepted translation of the Biblical thou.
Actually, there's a good place to link it all together. Remember in Final Fantasy VI (assuming you've played it), there's a funny bit of misunderstanding during a conversation between Sabin, Cyan, and Gau the wild boy? Without even touching the Japanese text, I can safely say that Cyan used one of the rarer pronouns when speaking to Sabin. Given his style and background (pseudo-European knight/samurai), it was probably onushi. Gau, having little command of any language, fails to recognize it as a pronoun and assumes that it's actually Sabin's name, so the boy is constantly referring to him as "Mr. Thou."
Um... but getting back to your original question, again no. The fact that Final Fantasy XII had a more Shakespearean flair in English is almost certainly due to decisions made by the translation and localization teams, and not anything to do with the original state of the text. The same can certainly be said for Dragon Quest VIII as well.