nagatsuki no muika

For about half the month of August, my wife and I were enjoying the hospitality of friends and family across two states in the US. It was a bit of an adventure getting there and coming back, since we had to go standby in order to make the airfares even approach being possible, but while we were there it was awesome.

It's not easy for Japanese teachers to take a lot of time off, even in the summer. During the approximately six weeks of summer vacation, all student sports teams are still active, and the coaches for these teams often change the practice schedules from an hour a day (six days a week) to the entire day (seven days a week) if they can get away with it. This understandably screws with the schedules of teachers like Nozomi, who are assigned to be sports team sponsors regardless of ability or familiarity with the sport. Thankfully, there were other teachers assigned to the same team, so that was workable.

And then there's summer study, the semi-mandatory not-school classes for students who are falling behind (or simply have fallen off the lower end of the bell curve entirely). Teachers need to stay at school to make sure that the work gets done, or even to ensure that students actually attend (no dedicated truancy officers, unfortunately). Many of her homeroom kids were upset to hear she'd be out of the country.

For that matter, Japanese teachers need special permission to leave Japan for any reason while they're employed by the Dept. of Education. The principal's office could have nixed our travel plans at any time, but they're nice guys.

Suffice to say, she felt obliged to get some souvenirs for her students and her vice principal. We ended up getting about fifty post cards (at a quarter apiece) for the kids, and an OKC Thunder t-shirt for the VP, who's a big NBA fan. These were nice things to do, and it didn't cause us any trouble. The problems started when she had to start thinking about everyone else.

You see, Japan has a major problem with its souvenir tradition. Wherever you go, you're expected to bring back a little something to share with your coworkers and family, and over the years, this has snowballed into epic levels of potlatch, without any of the social benefits. Every airport in the country has local goods stores catering to the social mandate of getting stuff, usually edibles, to share with people back home, and it's not unheard of for someone to drop a couple hundred dollars on cookies and chocolates, the quality of which certainly does not match the price tag. It gets even more stressful when coworkers start making requests, and get snippy if a particular regional treat is forgotten or simply not available.

To illustrate how crazy the souvenir phenomenon has become, one need only seek out a particular little kiosk on the ground floor of Narita International Airport, not far from the check-in counters. It provides a singular service: pre-orders for souvenirs. Wherever you're going, odds are that you don't want to pay extra to cart around all the souvenirs your coworkers and family might be expecting, so for a reasonable markup this service will get representative goods from your destination and have them ready for you when you get back from vacation. This can include items that don't mix well with modern airline travel, such as bottles of wine, or items that are too bulky to carry well.

One thing I have learned, though, is that the Japanese really like macadamia nut chocolates. One shopping magazine we picked up from that kiosk offered macadamia nut chocolate from Hawaii, Florida, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Alaska, Canada, and various Caribbean and South American nations. I think some little island in the Lesser Antilles should just change its name to Macadamia and get in on the craze. There's money to be had there.

The Musou game style, as exemplified by Koei-Tecmo's long-running Dynasty Warriors series et al., has covered a lot of scenarios and settings. From the deep-space conflict of Gundam to the ancient battlefields of the Trojan War, it seems like there's oodles of money to be made pitting high-powered warriors against scores of mooks. The success of Nintendo's recently released Hyrule Warriors is just one notch in a long series of successes for this gaming formula. Now, Square Enix is jumping into the fray with Dragon Quest Heroes (no relation to the slime game).

Interestingly enough, Dragon Quest Heroes: The Dark Dragon and the Castle of Yggdrasil appears to have an original main cast of its own: the monster-hunter Akuto, the fearless amazon Meia, the warrior king Dirk, and the magical inventor Julietta. The exact number of characters from other DQ games is unknown, but I know I saw Terry from DQVI, as well as Alena, Kiryl, and Maya from DQIV. Presumably a lot more people will show up in later trailers.

On the plus side, I think they've got most of the really iconic DQ monsters represented. Who do you all think should be included next?

Presumably this is for the PS4, but there's no word on a release date. This is sure to appear at TGS this year, though, so we'll have more news then.

Source: Dengeki Online
8/25 ~ 8/31 8/18 ~ 8/24 8/11 ~ 8/17 8/4 ~ 8/10 7/28 ~ 8/3 7/21 ~ 7/27 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 * * * * * New Arrival! Toukiden Kiwami Koei-Tecmo Games
3 * * * * * New Arrival! Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra-Suplex Hold Atlus
4 1 1 1 1 1 Last seen at 1 Youkai Watch 2 Ganso/Honke Level-5
5 * * * * * New Arrival! Medabots 8 Rocket Company
7 * * * * * New Arrival! Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Masou Kijin F - Coffin of the End Bandai-Namco
8 * * * * * New Arrival! Toukiden Kiwami Koei-Tecmo Games
12 5 2 * * * New Arrival! Hyrule Warriors Nintendo
15 6 * * * * New Arrival! Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition Square Enix
16 11 10 9 5 9 Last seen at 6 Youkai Watch Level-5
17 4 * * * * New Arrival! Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition Square Enix
18 10 7 8 4 7 Last seen at 7 Taiko no Tatsujin - Don & Katsu's Excellent Adventure Bandai-Namco
19 * * * * * New Arrival! Sacred 3 Spike/Chunsoft
23 15 14 20 15 16 Last seen at 16 Monster Hunter 4 Capcom
28 18 16 17 16 15 Last seen at 13 Pokémon X/Y The Pokémon Co.
30 * * * * * New Arrival! Meikyuu Crossblood Infinity Ultimate 5pb
Off-list 23 19 26 24 27 Last seen at 24 Sword Art Online Bandai-Namco
Off-list 24 17 21 17 13 Last seen at 13 Freedom Wars SCE
Off-list 28 29 Off Off Off Revived! Puzzle & Dragons Z Gung-Ho
Off-list Off 21 22 6 4 Last seen at 2 OreShika: Tainted Bloodlines SCE
Off-list Off 30 13 * * New Arrival! Bravely Default: For the Sequel (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix
Off-list Off Off 15 * * New Arrival! Dragon Quest X (All in One Edition) Square Enix
Off-list Off Off 19 * * New Arrival! Lost Dimension Furyu
Off-list Off Off 28 12 10 Last seen at 3 Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Gust
Off-list Off Off Off 18 5 New Arrival! Tokyo Operation Abyss 5pb.
Off-list Off Off Off 19 * New Arrival! Child of Light (special edition) Ubisoft
Off-list Off Off Off Off 26 Last seen at 22 Persona 4: The Golden Atlus

Last year, Hero Bank was one of the weirder experiences I had at the Tokyo Game Show. It's odd combination of Japanese pop culture, professional wrestling memes, and grade school prizefighting was a minor success this spring, being supported by an anime series and some aggressive marketing in stores. Apparently it worked well enough, because there's a sequel in the works now.

Hero Bank 2 features the same cast of characters, but their online identities have seen some upgrades. Specifically, the main character's avatar, Enter the Gold, has upped the ante to become Enter the Prize. His old rival's avatar, Dominion Dollar, has upgraded to the powerful Justice Dollar form.

With a projected release date of November 27, there's not too much time for the hype machine to mint new interest in this series, so I expect to see it at TGS 2014 for sure. In the meanwhile, we have a video:

Only time will tell if Sega is right to put its money where its mouth is in this way, or if the whole deal is just a bunch of kayfabe.

Source: Famitsu Online

No year in Japandemonium is complete without a ridiculously boobtastic game title to ogle consider. Last year we had Starfrost Amazons and Toushin Toshi, but both of those have been in stores for months. What's next?

Our eye candy for 2014 is High School DxD: New Fight, a Vita game from Marvelous based on the popular series of light novels and anime. Not only is this a definite harem title, taking all the naughty tropes of that genre to a logical extreme, but the action generally results in much shredding of clothing. Fans of the series' actual story should be interested to hear that this game has an all-new plot, but I doubt most will care. They'll be more focused on the graphics.

Now, the official CERO D rating on this game means that it's not supposed to be sold to people under the age of 18, but on the other hand, Marvelous is releasing it as a download-only title with a heavy social gaming mechanic and a transmission date of sometime pretty soon. I have to wonder how many precociously pervy junior high school students will try to take this one out for a whirl. They even made it a free-to-download game, with in-game purchases to, er, "fill out" the experience.

Source: Dengeki Online

A dark and hungry devil arises. Myriad underworlds lie cracked beneath his heels. A millions-strong army is left scattered and broken in his wake. He is Voiddark, and he is supreme. For now. But where there is despair, there is desperation, and those who have nothing left to lose may be the most dangerous heroes of all. It is time for revolution. It is time for revenge. It is time for Disgaea 5.

That's officially the theme for this game, by the way. Revolution and revenge, not necessarily in that order. Voiddark certainly does not lack for enemies, that's for sure. There are ten in the promotional art, just for starters. We only have details on these three, however:

First we have Kiria. He's one of the few survivors of the Lost Army, that aforementioned millions-strong group of warriors that tried to destroy Voiddark sometime in the past. Now Kiria roams the land, looking for like-minded rebels and vengeance-seekers who are crazy, desperate, or stupid enough to reform the Lost Army and make a second attempt on the Supreme Dark Lord's life.

Next is Seraphine, the pneumatic princess of the Underworld of Luxury and Splendour (Kenran Makai). Even though she's a Dark Lord and thus destined to rule her realm, she's still subject to her parents, it would seem. She's currently on the lam to avoid a particular odious arranged marriage.

Finally, we have Usalia, the last scion of the Bunny-Bunny Underworld (apparently the infernal zoning board was running out of theme ideas). She's not the strongest of demons, which is why she lets her oversized orange Prinny do most of the hard work. Unfortunately, she also labors under a strange and mysterious curse. If not regularly fed her favorite curry, she will go on terrible rampages, and suddenly that spoon of hers doesn't seem like such a silly weapon.

Disgaea 5 has a few new systems to play with, though we're only getting teasers right now. One item is the ability to invoke feelings of rage and revenge in your allies, which presumably boosts offensive power. Another is an as-yet unexplained option on the command bar: MaOhgi, or Devil King Techniques. These are separate from the usual specials, but the details are still unknown.

According to Nippon Ichi, Disgaea 5 will be out sometime next year. It will be for the PS4.

Source: Famitsu Weekly

Popolocrois. Anyone out there heard of this one? It was a cute little series on the PSX and PS2 back in the day, but I'd figured it was long since abandoned as an IP. Guess I was wrong.

The Popolocrois series is getting both a revival and a crossover event at the same time, as its recurring hero Prince Pietro works to solve the mystery of the Black Beasts attacking his kingdom. To do this, he travels through a mystic portal to the neighboring world of Gallaliland for tons of adventure and... farming?

Yes, this is a Harvest Moon crossover game. The crisis is apparently not so time-critical after all, as Prince Pietro will be doing a lot of the slow-life thing in between bouts of adventuring and monster-bashing. At his side are his friends, the White Knight and Narsia the wood-witch, and even his old nemesis Lord Gami-Gami gets roped in after initially trying to cash in on the craziness.

This game will pop up on the 3DS eventually, but Marvelous has yet to give us a definite date, or even an indefinite season to aim for. More will be forthcoming at TGS, hopefully.

Source: Famitsu Online

To answer the headline, Princess Arianna of Kaledonia certainly does, in order to survive in the land of High Lagaard and reach the mysterious ruin known as Ginnunga. What she gets is the titular hero of Etrian Odyssey II Untold: The Knight of Fafnir.

The Knight of Fafnir, name to be determined by the player, is a bit of a cypher, having been raised his entire life in the great library of Mizgarz. An orphan, his past is a mystery, and his future a wall of darkness. The most frightening part is his other side, a dire transformation that comes over him from time to time. While he is understandably strong, turning into a blade-handed demon is never a good sign.

Hopefully these three can help Arianna keep her knight in check. Flavio the Ranger is an old friend of the Knight, and while he's a bit of a joker, he's got a serious side as well. He may know more about his friend's nature than he lets on. Beltran the Paladin and Chloe the Doctor-Magus are an odd-couple pair who decide to tag along with Arianna's party. Maybe it's just from curiosity, or maybe they have ulterior motives. Who can say?

Whatever happens, fans of the Etrian series know what they're getting into with this title. Hopefully the story in this remake will be up to the standard set in Millennium Girl. The game is due out on the 3DS sometime this winter, so hopefully gamers in North America will have a chance to find out for themselves soon enough.

Source: 4Gamer
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Summon Night 3 (PSP the Best) Bandai-Namco 9.4.14
Summon Night 4 (PSP the Best) Bandai-Namco 9.4.14
Summon Night 5 (PSP the Best) Bandai-Namco 9.4.14
Dragon Quest X Online Square Enix 9.4.14
Chain Chronicle V Sega Networks 9.11.14
Criminal Girls Invitation (Best Price) Nippon Ichi 9.11.14
The Awakened Fate Ultimatum Nippon Ichi 9.25.14
Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki II Falcom 9.25.14
Dungeon Travelers 2 AquaPlus 9.25.14
Source: Dengeki Online

That's all for your monthly JP, which should have been last week, but oh well. Next time you all hear from me, I should be at the Tokyo Game Show, so you'll be hearing a lot from me most likely. Until then!

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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