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Utaimashou!

A funny thing happened to me earlier this week. I was in a favorite patisserie of mine, filling out the form for a gold-level point card. There was the obligatory Christmas music playing in the background — in this case, a gospel rendition of "Joy to the World." Suddenly and without warning the choir transitioned from the final refrain of "Joy to the World" to the refrain of "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog." There may have been some alterations done to the actual lyrics. The guy behind the counter didn't know how to react when I burst out laughing.

But that's how background music can be in Japan — random and surprising. The Japanese association of the English language with coolness, combined with a general inability to understand any sort of thick accent in that language, means that all sorts of things get play time on store speakers. Thankfully it seems like gangsta rap's popularity is on the decline, as I haven't been treated to any profanity-laden shouting singing in the convenience stores lately. Or maybe I'm just not shopping in in the right spots these days.

Of course, game music also sometimes makes an appearance. This shouldn't be too surprising, given how many game theme songs have voiced lyrics these days, and how many of those theme songs are actually J-pop tunes shoe-horned into someone's game (Square Enix being a major perpetrator here). Still, I remember vividly one moment back in 2005 when I was in a corner convenience store and heard Masayoshi Yamazaki's "Minuet" (from Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song) on the radio.

Man, only in Japan....

Just down the street from my school is a very busy convenience store. I've been getting my pre-lesson drinks there for years now, and the staff there have gotten to know me and my interests pretty well. So when I walked into the store on Tuesday and four different people immediately pointed me to the hot foods section by the register, I knew something was up.



Technically, this is a nikuman — a steamed bun filled with minced pork. It's not quite as tasty as it is cute, but it was still a nice after-class snack.

11/14 ~ 11/20 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
3 New Arrival! Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Level-5
9 Last seen at 6 Final Fantasy Type-0 Square Enix
11 Last seen at 3 Ore no Shikabane wo Koeteyuke SCE
13 Last seen at 8 PokéPark 2 - Beyond the World Nintendo
23 Last seen at 12 Dragon Quest Heroes 3: Of Pirates and Plob Square Enix
27 New Arrival! Maple Story DS Nexon
28 Last seen at 24 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP The Best) Capcom

Surprise, surprise, we have more "new" characters for Heroes Phantasia. The last two times I did this, it took up way too much space and the HTML took much too long to put together. This time, I'm just going to put up six screenshots that show faces the best, then make introductions.







From left to right, top and bottom, we have Midori Sugiura (from My-HiME), Sgt. Major Kululu and Lance Corporal Dororo (both from Keroro Gunsou), Merrill and Genie (both from Rune Soldier), and finally there's Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun (from Slayers Revolution). There, that was a lot shorter. Anyone who wants to see more can just look here.

But enough about the heroes, what about the villains? You can't have a game without a villain, right?




While bad guys from various series have already popped up in screenshots, these three are the real deal. The first guy, Arvin, is the ringleader. He's the Grand Magus of Yapp Na, and took over management of the country ten years ago when a strange red mist killed the entire royal family save the princess, Suun Selishe. He is served by his magic knight, Red, and his apprentice, Aptorio. It's not exactly made clear how they work within the story. To be honest, their villainry can be inferred more from their appearance and the way they look on-screen.







Seriously, these are not pictures of nice people.

Source: Dengeki Online

I need to own up to a mistake now. In the Oct. 28th column, I said that Lost Heroes was the first RPG in the Konpachi Heroes series. In a local game store, however, I came across a much older Konpachi RPG called Hero Senki Project Olympus. I guess the mistake is understandable, considering we have Project Olympus listed as an SRT title.

Anyway, we have two new characters added to the 3D Konpachi RPG, Lost Heroes: Ultraman Moebius and Kamen Rider Den-Oh.















Source: Dengeki Online

Back in early October I mentioned a blurb I'd seen in Famitsu Weekly about a game called Attou-teki Yuugi Mugen Souls, or "Overwhelming Game Infinite Souls." I promised to keep an eye out for more material, but I sorta dropped the ball. Now I have quite a bit of backlog to deal with concerning this game, so let's get right to it!





On the upper left is Shu-Shu (or Chou-Chou, if we want to get Frenchy) Infinite. She is a self-styled Absolute Deity (zettaigami) with plot-induced amnesia and all the social graces of the pre-adolescent girl she appears to be. On the upper right is Altis, a former demon who was somehow reborn as an archangel. While she's usually a calming influence on Chou-Chou, she retains a mischievous streak from her impish years. On the lower left is Lute. At some point early on he got himself press-ganged into Chou-Chou's service and is now counted as Slave #1. He isn't complaining, oddly enough. Finally, there's the mascot-ish Shamploo, who is Chou-Chou Slave #2. He's not much of a talker.




This is where the action takes place. The Nanayoukai (World of the Seven Shinings, or Rainbow World) is a succession of seven distinct worldlets all in a row. I'm going to just make up names for these that fit the days-of-the-week theme found in the Japanese name scheme. Sunworld is a vaguely medieval sword-and-sorcery realm where humans and monsters vie for control. Moonworld is an oriental kingdom full of samurai and youkai. Marworld is a scorched-earth scenario where little grows and demons may roam. Mercworld is a snowy realm where magic and science blend freely. Thurworld is a much more natural world, full of gigantic plant life. By comparison, Friworld is a fully automated future world. Finally, there's the mysterious Seventh World, which is left unnamed and undescribed, but in the art it appears to be dark and connected to something that looks like a black hole.









This is being made by the same guys who did the Neptunia games, and the battle system seems to be similar. The amount of battle damage dealt is frankly insane.

Moving on, a more recent update on this game revealed four more slaves for Chou-Chou, though these are a little stranger.





Meet Chou-Chou, Chou-Chou, Chou-Chou, and Chou-Chou. Being an Absolute Deity apparently includes the ability to spawn avatars with variant personalities. On the top row, we have Tsundere and Relaxed, while on the bottom row we have Energetic and Demure Chou-Chous.





The swag wagon is already rolling on this game, as the Nendoroid versions of various characters have already been announced.






And to repeat, Kenji Inafune is playing a large part in the development as well, which is something that Compile Heart isn't letting anyone forget.


Source: Dengeki Online
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Dragon Age: Origins (PS3 the Best / XBox Platinum Spike 12.1.11
Yakuza 3 (PS3 the Best) Sega 12.1.11
Yakuza 4 (PS3 the Best) Sega 12.1.11
Ryuu ga Gotoku Kenzan (PS3 the Best)* Sega 12.1.11
Yakuza New Story: Black Panther (PSP the Best) Sega 12.1.11
Wizardry: Perfect Pack Acquire 12.8.11
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Bethesda 12.8.11
Metal Max 2 Reloaded Kadokawa Games 12.8.11
Monster Hunter 3G Capcom 12.10.11
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Square Enix 12.15.11
Japan Game Awards Commemorative Double Pack Zero no Kiseki & Ao no Kiseki Falcom 12.15.11
World War Moe Gendaiban 3D SystemSoft Alpha 12.15.11
Inazuma Eleven Go Shine/Dark Level-5 12.15.11
RPG Maker DS+ Kadokawa Games 12.15.11
Shiren the Wanderer 5 (ChunSelection) ChunSoft 12.15.11
Lord of Apocalypse Square Enix 12.17.11
Disgaea 3 Return Nippon Ichi 12.17.11
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance Ubisoft 12.17.11
Frontier Gate Konami 12.22.11
The Third Birthday (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix 12.22.11
Tactics Ogre: Wheel of Fortune (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix 12.22.11
Shining Hearts (PSP the Best) Sega 12.22.11
Inazuma Eleven Strikers 2012 Extreme Level-5 12.22.11
Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga Cyberfront 12.22.11
Source: Dengeki Online
From the Forum!

Hey G.M., did you buy Ninokuni? If yes, how are the battles?

Gaijin

Yes I did! The battles are nothing like they were in the DS game, which threw me off a little at first. The role of the Imajinns has been tweaked a lot, making them a lot less Pokémonish in application. Technically, it's the human characters who do the fighting, and they can project Imajinn to stand in their place for varying amounts of time, depending on that critter's CP counter. All HP and MP totals are based on the human character, but the Imajinn has its own stats for everything else. Imajinn start with a basic attack, one special, and one support skill (Guard, Charge, or Counter), but can learn more skills and open more skill slots as they progress in level. They can also be evolved into stronger forms, which sets them back to level 1. However, since HP and MP are determined by the human controlling them this isn't too dangerous to the player. It also helps that even in mid-game it's easy to raise a level 1 Imajinn to level 8 in just one or two battles.

The battlefield has been made over into a more action-oriented space, with the player-controlled character being allowed to run freely while the other two follow AI commands. It's possible to switch between human characters and Imajinns at will any time during combat, and after a certain point in the game it's possible to send all-group commands like Defend to avoid major boss attacks. Successfully defending a big attack or landing a critical hit will cause "souls" to be shed off of enemies. Green ones restore a bit of HP. Blue ones do the same, but with MP. Gold souls, the rarest, fully restore HP and allow whichever character picks it up to do a super-attack (though this may be canceled by poor timing with another major attack).

Too Busy for Philosophy

It's not the most appropriate topic for a column about Japanese videogames, but I was hoping you could tell us about Japanese business philosophies. In particular I'd like to learn about:

Kaizen, the philosophy of continuous improvement,

Kanban, the inventory management philosophy,

Hourensou, or contacting, reporting and consulting,

Nemawari, or laying the groundwork,

Anything else on the topic you think is noteworthy or your personal experiences.

Sincerely,

flamethrower

Gaijin

Well, I wish I could do more than just link these words to their Wikipedia entries, but the eikaiwa business doesn't deal much with this sort of business philosophy. The public education system could probably use an overhaul at least, but whether or not Toyota's way of dealing with issues could be well applied in this instance is something I do not know. My only contacts with Japanese business philosophy were resoundingly negative (for me), so...

Nemawari was the only one I couldn't find a Wiki link for, and the only one that does not immediately pop business references on Google Japan.

Again, wish I could be more informative.

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is this Sunday. Everyone wish me luck! Man, JLPT....

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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