There isn't much I really want to talk about this week. But how to fill this space at the top? I guess I'll just write about the first thing that comes to mind-- pencils. Of all the things to have culture clashes over, pencils were the last things I would have expected. Not a week goes by without some sort of struggle with my students over the things, though. Mainly the problem has to do with sharpening them.
Japanese schoolchildren are taught to always keep their pencils freshly sharpened, no matter what. While this makes sense, given the fine lines that have to be used in writing kanji, I've had a devil of a time convincing my kids that this rule does not apply in English class. We've only got a finite amount of time each week to do stuff, yet every time we do a writing activity in class, the first five minutes are wasted re-sharpening pencils with perfectly good tips. They're not even dull pencils, just slightly rounded on the graphite end.
The other thing I worry about is safety issues. The way some of my kids grind away at the pencil sharpener, their HB pencils quickly attain a state of pointiness normally associated only with hypodermic needles. Then, as soon as it's used, the tip of the pencil breaks because it's been over-sharpened. So what do the students do? They decide they need to go back to the sharpener.
This is why I now hide the pencil sharpeners in my room. So what if the pencil isn't in prime condition for vampire slaying? It can still write, and that's the important part.
While normally one wouldn't expect the worlds of theater and gaming to ever intersect, things are just different in Japan. In the past we've mentioned both Sega's long-running musical revue of the Sakura Taisen series and the Takarazuka theater's production of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Well, the latter proved successful enough to warrant an encore.
Once more Japan's premiere all-female ensemble troupe heads to court with more fanfare, more drama, and more cries of "Objection, Your Honor!" than ever before. And showtunes. We mustn't forget the showtunes.
What's a young adventurer to do, when the city life gets too stifling? Head for the frontier, of course! Adventure! Excitement! Wide open spaces! Malevolent man-eating monsters!
Welcome to the great outdoors with It's New Frontier, a hybrid farm simulator-type game from Square Enix made for the I-Mode phone network. Players take on the role of one of five pioneers who are hoping to make a new life in a new land: the slightly arrogant Lior, the down-to-earth Peneloa, the optimistic Claus, the mysterious (and short) Chelusha, and the tough Barokk. Each of the five comes with their own special skill, ranging from increased carrying ability to the power to encourage plant growth.
This particular project's development was headed by Akitoshi Kawazu of SaGa fame. This is a guy who really knows how to create interesting worlds for characters to inhabit, though in the past his implementation has been a little hit or miss. An open-ended (apparently), exploration-oriented frontier experience is the sort of thing that sounds right up his alley. The music sounds good, too.
Here's a title I'd forgotten to mention till now: Super Robo Gakuen, or "Super Robot Academy", which debuted at #7 on the sales ratings for the end of August. Granted, after all the Japanese game news I've read through over the last two years, I tend to zone out whenever super-robot-anything gets mentioned (and you would too, if you had to try and keep up with it!). Because of that, I almost missed out on what's probably the most radical alteration to the series' format ever seen, Endless Frontier excluded on account of being an OG title.
As per series norm, the player is an original character who must interact with, fight, and perhaps even command a wide range of characters from various super robot anime. In the past, that's pretty much always been done on the field of battle in SRPG style. In a major break from the format, this game is a school sim. Ever wondered what Persona 3 might have been like with less dungeon and more giant robots? While that's probably not the best description, it still fits. This particular title's excuse for massive fourth-wall violation is the Academy, an interdimensional institute of higher robot education catering to anyone who's ever had to pilot a machine bigger than their house. I can only identify a few of the people in the screens, but I can recognize enough to realize there's a lot of variety.
Another title I probably should have covered more is Summon Night X - Tears Crown. No excuses here, this is just a game I consistently overlooked. Just this week, I saw the game being advertised in my local games store, and it looked pretty good actually. Apparently it has a lot of voice-acting for a DS game. To make up for the lack, we have a whole bunch of pictures for you all.
Next, we have some pictures of the allies who join the heroes in their journey.
And three of the major villains as well.
I promise I'll keep a better eye on this one as we approach its November release date.
Can't talk, busy playing SaGa 2. Talk to you later.
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,