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Dengeki Rankings I Kawanushi: Wonderful Journey Info I Vincent Valentine Figure Announced I Tales of Eternia Fans Get a Date I Tales of Phantasia Anime I Tales of Breaker to Hit Mobile Phones this Month I Culture Corner: Ask Sensei I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Back in the USA February 8, 2005


Konnichiwa

By the time I post this week's Japandemonium, I will be back in the good ol' United States of America again, but for now I am sitting 1222 miles outside of Osaka at 24,000 feet. Even though I am going to be in America for a week, I'm doing my best to ensure that everyone gets their weekly dose of Japanese goodness. But I make no promises about next week, so please forgive me if I'm a little on the late side for my Valentine's Day edition.

My plans for the week are pretty much open. I'm just going to spend a week with my fiancee and my family is planning on making the trip to the Big Easy to see me. For those in the know, this week is Mardi Gras, but honestly, I don't really care. I went to fewer and fewer parades each year I lived in New Orleans. I'm only in town because Caroline has a break that week.

While my week is pretty open, the end is pretty much nailed down. I'm flying back to Japan on Sunday. That'll put me back in Japan on Monday night with just enough time to have a nice dinner in Osaka before taking the bus to the ferry terminal to catch the last boat to Niihama. I'll hit Niihama on Tuesday morning around 8 or so. A freaking expensive taxi later, and I'll be back home for a couple hours before going to work. I'll TRY to put JP up in that time, but I can't promise anything. Sorry guys.

So, now I sit it my seat (a different one that I was assigned! I'm such a rebel!) listening to some synth pop as I make my way toward San Francisco at 684 mph.

In other news, I just polished off Final Fantasy 2 on my trusty DS. I also picked up Catch! Touch! Yoshi! for the DS and it's actually really spiffy. It makes really nice use of the touch pad, in fact, the entire game is played on it. I'd recommend that people pick it up in their respective countries.

But enough rambling... It's time to get this airborne party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

This week is the exact opposite of last week. We've got TONS of games on the chart this week, but surprisingly enough, none of them managed to take the top spot. That was taken by another game whose title I cannot remember at all. I'm limited to what I brought with me since I have no internet capabilities up here. Gomen.

This week also brings some fresh titles to the chart including what appears to be a fishing RPG of some sort. The Japanese sure make some strange combinations of games. I never would have suggested that combination, but evidently it was a good one. It sold well enough to snag the 29 spot.

Let's see some numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
2 Radiata Stories Square Enix
4 Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner 2 Atlas
12 Spectral Souls II Idea Factory
18 Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory Hudson
19 Itadaki Street Special Square Enix
25 Megaman.exe 5 Capcom
26 Dragon Quest VIII Square Enix
28 Pokemon Emerald Nintendo
29 Kawanushi: Wonderful Journey Marvelous Interactive
36 Gagharv Trilogy Bandai
40 Tales of Rebirth Namco
44 Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon 3 Namco
45 Venture King: Beet Busters Road Bandai


Source: Dengeki Online



 Kawanushi: Wonderful Journey Info

Once again, after taking a look at the Dengeki page, I've found another title that seemed a little on the odd side. I copied the game's title and ran a quick Google search, and I found the game's main site. From there, I was able to dig up a bit of info and a few pictures.

The story is well... a bit hard to understand from my own ability and Google translator. As the pictures show, it is a fishing RPG. Four people from four different houses band together to travel to become better at fishing. By catching bigger fish, the party acquires 'crown' marks, bringing the the player that much closer to becoming a fishing expert.

As our band of anglers travels, events unfold in each of the towns. One example given on the main site is a murder that the party must solve. So, it seems that our fishing friends become sleuths, as well as gaining a few other skills in their world.

It certainly looks to be something... different. In Japan, such mixtures of genres is not uncommon. The strangest mixture I've heard of is fishing and survival horror, so this one's not that odd. At any rate, enough people bit to net the 29th spot on the charts, and I promise.... no more fishing puns


 Vincent Valentine Figure Announced
Square Enix

To help promote the upcoming release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the good folks at Square Enix are making a line of action figures for the movie. As expected, Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth will be joining the cast, but Vincent is a bit of a surprise. He'll stand a cool 22 cm tall, which is roughly 8.5 inches. His price hasn't been set, but from my experience in this matter, it won't be cheap. But, for the truly hardcore fans, this looks like one that you won't want to miss.

Source: Squarenet




 Tales of Eternia Fans Get a Date
namco

Fans waiting on the PSP port of Tales of Eternia will not have much longer to wait. The game is set to hit Japanese shelves on March 3. The game will feature a nice overhaul on the graphics for the re-release. There is no mention of the PSP version coming to the US at this time, but we did get it for the original Playsation under the title Tales of Destiny II.

Source: Magic Box



 Tales of Phantasia Anime
Namco

In more Tales news, Namco has decided to turn the popular Tales of Phantasia into an animated series. The series ran last year and had 13 episodes that were 30 minutes long. Those interested can also import videos for the series. Volume 1 is already out, and the second will be out this month. The other two are set to release at the end of May and July respectively for 7800-8190 yen each for DVD and 5800-6090 for the VHS version.





 Tales of Breaker to hit Mobile Phones this Month
Namco

In still more Tales news, the series will be gracing DoCoMo FOMA 900i/901i series cell phones soon. Tales of Breaker will be a six-chapter mobile game with a monthly fee of 525 yen each month.

This game will follow the the story of a girl named Mika along with her friends Yuuteki, a scientist; Lulu, a magician; and more. Details are still a bit scarce, but I should be able to get more information as the months go by.

Also, in the picture of the characters, from left to right, they are: Bargah, Lulu, Mika, Yuuteki, Evaline, Zahbar, and the gratuitous cute thing is Popo.

Source: Impress



  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

This week, I've got a good batch of questions. There aren't as many as previous updates, but they are all good. Not that there are 'bad' ones, but these were all questions I enjoyed a lot. I apologize if you sent an email after Sunday 4:30 pm JST, but that was the cutoff for emails this week. Any emails that were sent after that will appear in next week's column, so fear not.



90% Angel... 10% Trouble


Hey Man,

I like what you did with your column and look forward to reading your future entries about your life in Japan.

Something I always wondered about the Japanese is their take on Angels and Demons. I'm pretty sure that only 1% of the Japanese people are Christians and yet we find angels and demons dueling it out in their Anime, Manga, and even video games.

What do they find so interesting in Western religion (Angels and Demons, Heaven and Hell, God and Satan) and why?

When did all this begin?

Why do they seem to like sticking angle wings on everyone (Final Fantasy anyone...)

and since we're on the the subject of the supernatural what do they find so interesting in Western Vampires, werewolves etc. and why?

Now don't get me wrong. I like what they did to this part of our culture and how they portray it, but I'm just curious as to how they managed to take this most important part of our culture and make it their own. Thank you for answering my questions and I apologize if they were hard to answer

Mario S


Sensei

Based on my sources, this all started just after lunch on May 20, 1975 . It was a sunny day... But in all honesty, I can't really tell you when it began. Japan has always had a rich history of supernatural beings. I'm sure most people are familiar with Kappas, if for no other reason than the helpful Imp in Final Fantasy VI that showed us all how to bid at the auction house among other things. There are hundreds of stories of ghosts and spirits in Japanese literature, and some of them have become so famous as to inspire stories to this day.

Also, after Japan became open to the West, they have been incorperating little bits of our culture. Oddly enough, James Dean is still popular here.... Through this fascination with things foreign and the already present love of supernatural things, the Japanese adopted several of the symbols we see so often in America.

Also, I think the Japanese are fascinated with good and evil. Neither Shinto nor Buddhism has anything comparable to the Christian Heaven or Hell, so once again, they latch onto that idea. A paradise for the pure of heart and a pit of eternal punishment for the sinner. These are fascinating to people that do not share similar beliefs. While not a completely fair analogy, take America's interest in ninjas and samurai. What boy, or even some girls, didn't think that being a ninja would be the coolest thing EVER to be when he grows up? It's something that we just don't have, so we are interested in it.

And with devils and angels, it's easy symbolism to understand. Stick a halo or a pair of white wings on something and we already know that it's 'good.' The opposite holds true with a pair of black wings. It's something visual that pretty much anyone will understand. And, you have to admit, wings make a pretty boy even prettier. Japan is NOT above making bishounen even more bishounen to draw in a larger audience and sell merchandise.

I would like to note that this are simply my thoughts on this matter. I didn't really have time to research the matter before leaving Japan, and if I've made any mistakes or left anything important out, feel free to send some letters my way.


Where it all begins


Hi, I have been interested lately in learning Japanese. My problem is where to start. Some people are saying to start with kanji while others say it's not necessary. I really just want to be able to read it for imports. So I was wondering which one to start with: kanji, hiragana or katakana.

Great column and thanks in advance,

Eric


Sensei

Wow... I don't want to burst your bubble, but before I answer this, I want to tell you just how hard of a task you are setting for yourself. I studied Japanese in University for four years and I'm still not able to fully play RPGs in Japanese. The only one I did relative well at was Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door, but that had some pretty simple stuff. Being able to read import games will be a very long and hard road. I'm walking that road myself, so I don't blame you. But I also live in Japan and have access to the same kinds of books that Japanese schoolchildren use to learn kanji.

That said, learning a bit won't hurt you even if you can't read but an itty bit of your imports. The place to begin is with the hiragana. Even games with a lot of kanji still use hiragana, and if you're lucky, there will also be furigana above the kanji. Those are kana above the kanji so that even if you can't read it, you can still get the yomi, or reading. There are only 46 hiragana compared to litterally thousands of kanji. The next step is to learn katakana. There happen to be 46 of those too, and sometimes they look like their respective hiragana. THEN you can start learning kanji. Kanji are really important, but you have to begin at the beginning.

Good luck my friend. You've got a long yet rewarding journey ahead of you.


Teacher +1


what are the chances that a married fellow like me could go to japan to teach english and also go with my wife who could teach english? Also what are the chances that we would be close enough to live together?

Todd Ross


Sensei

Hrm... it's hard to say, but there IS a shot that it'll be possible. I would think that if you can both make the cut, most programs would be sympathetic to your situation. Being married is something that they can possibly work with. You'll probably have to be in a big city though. I hope you don't mind that. To give you some hope, a fellow GEOS teacher got placed in the city of his fiancee. They are now married.

Best of luck to both of you!


More teacher teacher lovin'


Hey there, Sir Jordan.

I, like tons of other people reading your column, have taken interest in your job. I've wanted to teach English in Japan for a number of years, and it shouldn't be hard at all for me to fulfill my dream, considering the way school has gone for me as of late. Yes, getting there should be no problem at all. I'll be able to live and teach there as I've always wanted to...

However...

As you no doubt know, things can be more complicated than that. My fiancee is quite interested in Japan as well, but isn't quite as interested in teaching. There's nothing I'd like more than to have her come live with me there, but I really don't know how she could. What other jobs are available to Americans over there? She's artsy, smart, and loves games as much as I do. How can I get this poor girl over there? Leaving her here is out of the question; I can barely go a day without being with her.

We could really use the advice. From a previous letter, I learned that even if she did teach in the same program, we'd have a hard time getting to the same place. I just want this all to work out.

So please, help me out. I'm sure you're dealing with the same issue.

-Xander


Sensei

As mentioned in my previous letter, you too have a shot at getting a hook-up. Companies might not be able to help out friends, but a fiancee stands a better chance. Give it a shot.

But that's where the good news ends. There's little else that a gaijin can do here but teach English, especially a first year gaijin. If she doesn't teach, she might have to be a housewife. If she studies hard and has some marketable skills, she might be able to get a job in the translation or English consultant business, but those are not easy to get. But they are not impossible to get. I have heard plenty of stories of gaijin coming to Japan as teachers and then jumping ship to another industry. Just be aware if you go this route, it's not a walk in the park.

If you people can't tell, I'm a romantic, so I wish you both the best of luck. Long distance is hard, but if you absolutely MUST do it, I recommend Macs and Yahoo BB. iChat AV is a really nice program that Caroline and I have used extensively.


Yikes! He knows my secret identity...


Hey sensei~

I read your answer to one of the quesitons on rpgamer where you mentioned tulane. Did you go to school there? I graduated in 1999 from tulane and actually took 4 semesters of nihongo there myself. Was Noriko Faust your professor? Anyway I thought I'd ask. I still hope to live over there someday for awhile. Visited once thanks to the consulate in new o. Long live RPG's .

PS - what are people expecting from the romancing saga remake? That is my all time fav. RPG. Well that and xenogears haha.

Peace,

Matt


Sensei

Yup. I graduated from Tulane in May of 2004 with a BS in chemistry and a BA in Asian Studies. I also had Faust-sensei along with a new instructor that was hired in the Fall of 2000. Her name is Jensen-sensei, and she is a cool lady. Actually, they're BOTH cool ladies.

As for Romancing Saga, I... uh... don't know anything about it. Sorry. I never played them, but I expect it to um... rock. I'm an optimist, so I think it'll be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or at least you might think so. But I DO agree with you on the Xenogears bit. I absolutely LOVE that game. *swoon*



 Sayonara

Sorry that the column is a bit late... I like my Monday night updates, but my battery died on the plane. Once I hit New Orleans, I spent Sunday night with my fiancee, and we promised each other not to do any work on Monday because we were celebrating Valentine's Day a week early. Hopefully, I'll be able to scrape together an update to post once I get back to Niihama. I'm sorry if my update schedule is off... Gomen! ><;;

Catch you on the flip
-Jordan "Happy Mardi Gras!" Jackson




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