Itsu, Mu, Nana May 06, 2007

Are you ready for round 2? I'm not. Japan had its annual "Golden Week", full of festivals and merriment, leaving little room for gaming news to slip through. Golden Week is chock full of holiday goodness, but I'll tell you more about that down in the Culture Corner. We'll still have some fun with the news though. I'm going to bend the RPG rules a bit and include some tidbits about fun games and events going on in Japan. I'm behind a computer screen, who's gonna stop me!? (Note to RPGamer staff: Please don't stop me. ;_; )

It's nice to see the milking of Final Fantasy has continued unabated. The director of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Motomu Toriyama, is interested in making a sequel to said game. Now we're looking at a sequel to a spin-off of a series, which ties into a sequel of a spin-off of another spin-off of a series of games. Final Fantasy is now officially its own genre. We'll call it Viral-RPG. Not unlike Spiderman's symbiote, the original Final Fantasy rides home with you and chills in your house for a while. Harmless at first, the sequels begin to pile up... II, IV, VI, VII... Before you know it, the series has engulfed you completely with mindless side-stories and CGI action flicks that contain little substance or storyline. And it's too late, Final Fantasy now controls you and commands your dollar (or yen). Moving on...

Dengeki time! And the number one slot goes to, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (I warned you). Super Paper Mario has slipped down to third place this week. The original Final Fantasy fell 8 slots to take thirteenth place.

Wii is still kicking butt as always, taking up half of the top 10 slots all on its own. Who claimed the other half? Nintendo DS! The first non-Nintendo game does not appear until #13 with Final Fantasy. For any Sony fanboys out there, I'm selling tiny violins on EBay. Another surprise was that last week's Persona 3: Fes fell an embarrassing 19 slots from its lofty perch at #3. Poor Fes.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings Square Enix
3 Super Paper Mario Nintendo
13 Final Fantasy Square Enix
17 Monster Hunter Portable 2 Capcom
19 Negima!? Dream Tactics KONAMI
21 Reiton Kyouju to Fushigi no Machi Level Five
22 Persona 3: Fes Atlus
32 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker Square Enix
35 Digimon Sabers Another Mission Namco Bandai
35 Elvandia Story Spike
38 Pokemon Diamond Nintendo
41 Kingdom Hearts II ~Final Mix~ Square Enix
46 Tamagotchi Appure! Niji Adventure Namco Bandai
Source: Dengeki

Every year, on May 6th, the Japanese take some time away their cellphones and sushi to celebrate the birthday of a digital cat. This isn't just any cat though! It's Toro, the star of the popular "Doko demo Issho" series of games.

"Who is Toro," you ask? Well, not only are you not my friend anymore, but you have been missing out on one of Sony's beloved mascots. Toro is a cat that joins you through a variety of learning games. He has had titles across a variety of Sony platforms (see, I like Sony). One that may be of particular interest to readers is "Toro to Kyuujitsu". In this game, you travel with Toro through a quaint Japanese town and learn new words and visit shops and restaurants. It's actually quite fun as a primer for those wishing to visit Japan someday. You can see sights, order ramen and converse with all of Toro's stalker friends that appear in each game. Unfortunately, a scene where you could pinch ladies' butts on the train was removed.

So a fairly large crowd gathered under the rain to celebrate this proud icon's 8th birthday. Cake was served and umbrellas were plentiful. Sony also announced the start of an online service "Mainichi Issho" or "Everyday Together". Whether I should be excited or creeped out remains to be seen, as details are scarce at this time.

By the way, the girls in the last picture were just on the way to the premiere of 28 Weeks Later.

Source: Famitsu
Namco BandaiThis story is too great not to report on. Namco Bandai has released a ton of screens for their upcoming portable version of Taiko Tatsujin. This is the only arcade game I know of where you're allowed to wield two giant sticks freely. I'm still doing community service for the last time I attempted that during a Soul Calibur 3 tournament.

Taiko Tatsujin is a rhythm game where you play the role (see how I worked it in there?) of a drummer on the traditional large, taiko drums. Beats move from left to right, and you bang the drum as they pass. There are normal hits, loud hits, rimshots and drumrolls. The song list is filled with traditional tunes, modern pop, anime, classical and much more. It's one of my favorite arcade games, and the best thing about Japan is, the drumsticks are always there!! No hoodlums break them off for a trophy over there, it'd quite refreshing to see. Anyway, just like in the arcade, the DS version will allow you to play solo or head to head. The title is reported to hit store sometime in 2007.

Source: Famitsu
Square EnixSquare Enix will hold a private show called, "SQUARE-ENIX PARTY 2007" beginning on May 12th to promote its company and make what many hope to be some groundbreaking announcements.

Now, attendees can look forward to a variety of game downloads that they can receive to enhance their current titles. For Chocobo's Mysterious Picture Book, players can get rare, new cards. In Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker you can get rare monster data in the form of "Demon Hound Leopard" and "Retis, Legendary Bird of the Heavens." For the mobile game, Friends of Mana, players can look anticipate a "Saintly Essence" item.

It is unclear what exactly all of this bonus data will do for your gameplay experience, but I can say with certainty that they're all worth selling on EBay.

Source: Dengeki
Square EnixAs part of the upcoming celebration, Square Enix is released a new album of video game music. Titled, "Square Enix Battle Tracks Vol. 1" the compilation will include battle-themed music from the 80s and 90s. The album spans across popular series such as Final Fantasy and Saga. The Battle Tracks collection will cost 2,100 yen.

In an act of foresight not seen since Nostradamus, Square Enix continues the hype for Final Fantasy XIII with a new collection of songs by the game's muscial producer, Masashi Hamauzu. The compilation is called, VIELEN DANK-Masashi Hamauzu. And just as unclear as the title is the type of music it contains. Square Enix has reported it will have 28 songs produced by Hamauzu and retail for 2,800 yen.

Source: Dengeki
I only got one e-mail all week long, but it contained like 80 questions so it worked out. Before I get into that, let me explain Golden Week. I'm sure it may have been explained last year around this time in Japandemonium, but a year's worth of Internet use has probably rendered that portion of your brain useless. No, you can't click on the archives. Pay attention!

Golden Week was born from the inordinate amount of national holidays that fall near the beginning of May. According to legends, Holadius, god of drinking beer and watching TV, was placing holy days across the calendar wherein people could find repreive from work. When he came upon May, he tripped over an Easter egg and from his magical sack doth spilt a multitude of these holy days. Looking upon the disaster he had wrought, Holadius spake, "Ah, screw it." and combined them into a single Golden Week.

This week now begins with Showa no Hi, a day to commemorate the Showa emperor. Next, comes Kenpou Kinenbi, the day Japan gained its Constitution in 1947. Midori no Hi is the equivalent of our Earth Day, except its not a joke. Lastly, but not leastly, is Kodomo no Hi a celebration for young boys across Japan.

First e-mail for Japandemonium


Howslife? Welcome to Japandemonium! It seems that Jordan's too busy to update the column (too bad), so I'm glad Japandemonium is back up once again. So you've been teaching in Japan.. for how long? Is it the same program as Jordan did? It's great that you can do something Japanese-related as a job - translating for Tokyopop (so guess your Japanese is fluent?), what manga did you do? And are there any that you recommend (I'm not a huge manga-reader, but I'm currently busy with Hot Gimmick).


I taught in Japan for a year. I did the NOVA program, which is different from Jordan's. It's like a private company that has stores all over Japan where you can come take lessons in a small classroom setting. My Japanese is fluent, but I'm learning new kanji everyday. That's my favorite thing about translating though, I'm always learning along the way. Cactus Leaf Translations Oops, my elbow slipped and I seem to have accidently plugged my website. I use it to keep a log of all my professional and personal translation projects.


Since it seems that you know your around Japanese manga/books, I got a question which made me always wonder: why are some books in Japanese from left-to-right and other from right-to-left? It seems that manga is always the latter, but when I was on a flee market with a lot of Japanese people selling books this week I noticed there were also a lot of books the "Western-style". Is there any logic to this?

And do you know anything about why come countries have the right-to-left as a standard? I always wondered whether there are more left-handed people in those countries (left-handed doesn't necessarily means you write with your left-hand) than right-handed people. Even though demographics show that not even a quarter of the people are left-handed, Wikipedia ( says "Also people of South Asian, Eastern European, Southeast Asian descent are more left-handed than any other ethnic groups in the world,[10] while people of Western European, Northern European, and African descent are less left-handed.", so I don't know on what groups those demographics are based. Any ideas on this subject?

Well, good luck on your next column!


PS. That bowl of Ramen in your photo gallery looks yummy!


As far as the Japanese writing style goes, we can gain some insight by looking into the history of China. China is a big country in South-East Asia where Japan used to get all its culture from before America existed.

OK, time to be serious. The ancient Chinese would write along bamboo strips and rolls them up into scrolls. When you unfurl a document, the strips will invariably be aligned vertically. So the best way to keep phrases together was to write them on the same portion of the scroll, which led to the up->down style. Now, as the right hand was occupied with painting all those pretty kanji, the left hand was rolling the scroll open to reveal more space for writing. Up-down, right-left was naturally born from this practice.

Although, you claim to have seen many "Western-style" books during your journey through the flea market. This is because Japan and China have been influenced by the West during the last century. There are many aspects of business, science and technology that demand the usage of a horizontal, left to right writing style. Due to this, you'll see horizontal writing in many modern publications. Vertical writing is still used though for books and newspapers and comics... things that have been traditionally written that way for ages.

Of course there's no set rules for what gets written which way, but usually if it's easier to write Western-style, that's how they'll do it.



Forgotten to ask one thing: when is the deadline for writing in for your columns? It's just that I'd like to be just on time!



I would say early Saturday. I chose Sunday as my update day, but here I am responding to your e-mail on Sunday night. But if Fantastic Four can get a sequel, then I suppose anything is possible. There may be a week where I finish on time. So to be safe, send mail by midday Saturday.

The End. Remember, keep your ears open for Square Enix news this week!

Mata ne,

Bret "CactusLeaf" Mayer

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