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Dengeki Rankings | Full Spectrum of Spectral News | Tempest Brewing in April | Netherworld Produces Pre-Order Goodies and Merchandise | Devil Summoner Kuzunoha Raidou Pre-Order Goodies | Zelda Celebrates 20th anniversary | Final Fantasy VI Illustrated | Riko Narumi Harvesting Commercial | Culture Corner | Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Valentine's Day February 14, 2006


Konnichiwa

A lot has happened since I last wrote this column. For those of you wondering what happened to Japandemonium last week, I was in the air. I had to return home a couple weeks early in a bit of a family emergency, but everything is OK now. I returned home to America on February 7, and I was just way too worn out to bang out a column. I had someone set up to cover, but he had to drop out at the last second due to injury. But from now on, I'll be back in America, and after I get used to posting from this side of the planet, things should return to a regular schedule. Depending on my hours should I be employed soon, my update day may change in the near future. But we'll see how that goes.

Now that I'm back home for good, I have to say it feels nice to be home. I've missed being able to drive a car when I want to go somewhere, and it's nice to have people drive on the right side of the road again. Also, the weather in New Orleans is slightly warmer than the weather in Niihama, so that's always nice. Food is also MUCH cheaper, so I get to eat like a king for a fraction of the money. Honestly, just about everything is better except for my cell phone. Granted, some would say that simply HAVING a cell phone is better than what I had, but I am a bit spoiled in a way. Phones in Japan are SO much better it's not even funny. Granted, we have some nice phones here too, but they cost 200 dollars or so. A two megapixel phone that does everything including cook rice, wash your dishes, and walk your dog comes free with a one year contract. The free phone in America sends text messages. At least it has a color screen, though it's the size of a quarter. I opted for a slightly more expensive model that doesn't do a whole lot, but it's small and functional. I have a nice Sony camera for my picture and video needs.

In gaming news, I've been working my way through Wild Arms: Alter Code F, and I have to say that I am impressed so far. I greatly enjoyed the original game, and this update is a lot of fun to play. My only gripe is that some of the puzzles border on being annoying, but it's pretty fun overall.

In other gaming news, I picked up Jump Superstars for my traditional in-flight game. The game is something like Smash Melee except instead of using Mario or Samus, you get to use Son Goku or Naruto. Pretty much every single Shonen Jump character is in it. I never figured Prince of Tennis would be in a fighting game, but it's in there along with Slam Dunk and fighting manga like DBZ and Yu Yu Hakusho. The game is pretty solid, but without a good knowledge of Japanese, you might get stuck on the missions. Luckily, there are a handful of walkthroughs available on the net. I can recommend this one to anyone willing to pay for the import. It also supports up to four players on one game pak, so you can duke it out with three friends.

I suppose that's all the news I've got. I'm using a newly retooled template that was crafted by Shawn Bruckner. Some of you may know him by his board/irc nick Nwash or by his column about pen and paper RPGs, Saving Throw. It's pretty good stuff, so give it a read.

I suppose I should start writing again instead of watching my pet hamster. He does so many silly things that I could watch him for hours, but I need to get started, or this monster of a column will never get done. That said, let's get this Valentine party started!




 Dengeki Rankings

There was quite a bit of action on the chart these past couple weeks. Sadly, I don't have last week's chart, but I can see that a few new games have trickled into stores. Some big titles hit shelves just before I came home, most notably Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. I saw a demo video of it in my local game store, and it looks HOT. I am excited about playing it when it comes over.

As for the top spot, it goes to Eigo go Nigatena no DS Training: Eigo Zuke. This one is a dictionary and translator for English and Japanese. I'm not completely familiar with it, but I think it has some drilling games in there as well. It's the newest in the popular Training series, and for those keeping score at home, the second of the Brain Training games claimed the number two spot, but despite the top spots being taken by educational games, RPGs still take a respectable fourteen of the fifty spaces in the chart. That said, let's see those numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
6 Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII Square Enix
7 Eye Shield 21 Max Devil Power! Nintendo
13 Ar Tonelico Banpresto
18 Mario and Luigi RPG 2 Nintendo
20 Pokémon's Mysterious Dungeon Blue Nintendo
22 Pokémon's Mysterious Dungeon Red Nintendo
23 Kingdom Hearts II Square Enix
30 Mother 1 & 2 (Value Selection) Nintendo
31 Rockman EXE 6: Dennoujuu Grega Capcom
33 Tales of the Abyss Namco
35 Rockman EXE 6: Dennoujuu Falzer Capcom
39 Kingdom Hearts Final Mix (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix
42 Final Fantasy IV Advance Square Enix
44 Kingdom Hearts (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix


Source: Dengeki Online


 Full Spectrum of Spectral News
Spectral Force 3: Innocent Rage

Idea Factory has been working overtime to let loose with a torrent of news. Things kicked off with an announcement of the pre-order goodies for the upcoming Spectral Force 3: Innocent Rage. Those that get the game the instant it hits shelves will be treated to a special figure of Hiro that stands about twelve centimeters tall. The figure has a bit of articulation and is being created specially for this bonus.

Spectral Force 3: Innocent Rage will bring the series to the Xbox 360 for the first time when it hits Japanese shelves sometime in April for the standard 7140 yen.




In other Spectral Force news, the original Spectral Force is going mobile. Those with at least a DoCoMo i900 or Vodaphone V601 will be able to play this game which was originally released on the PlayStation in 1997. Those wishing to go back to the roots of the series can do so for the low price of 315 yen per month.


In still more Spectral news, Idea Factory made a compilation of music from their Spectral Souls series including music from all three games. The set comes on two CDs and has 47 tracks in all. Of those, 29 come from the recently released Spectral Souls III, 15 hail from Spectral Souls II, and the remaining three are from the original Spectral Souls. The collection is called "Spectral Souls Soundtrack The Best," and it hit shelves on February 8 for 2940 yen.



Sources: Game Watch | IT Media


 Tempest Brewing in April
Tales of the Tempest

Namco will be releasing the newest Tales title, Tales of the Tempest, on April 13 for 5040 yen. This is the series debut on the DS, but it will keep up with the Linear Motion Battle System, known as LMBS. Like other games in the series, Tales of the Tempest will throw in a twist--the base system. The new system is called 3on3 LMBS, and it features three characters squaring off against lines of three enemies. To keep up with the theme of three, there are also three battle lines that enemies and players can jump back and forth between.


















Source: Game Watch


 Netherworld Produces Pre-Order Goodies and Merchandise
Disgaea 2

Nippon Ichi has revised the pre-order goodies to come with the upcoming Disgaea 2. It was previously known that those that pre-order the game would get the "Disgaea: Makai Arrange Collection ~Dark Label~," but now the CD will also feature wallpapers and screensavers for their computer as well. As for music, there will be four arranged tracks and three new songs on the disc.

Those that want something without pre-ordering will be happy to know that Nippon Ichi is releasing some goodies for purchase. There will be three different cell phone straps that feature either Adel, Roslinde, or Etna with a Prinny. They will cost 945 yen each. Japanese fans will also get a crack at the Prinny plush that now sits on my TV. The plush is around 17 cm tall, and it will cost interested gamers 2980 yen of their hard-earned money.




Source: IT Media


 Devil Summoner Kuzunoha Raidou Pre-Order Goodies
Devil Summoner Kuzunoha Raidou

Atlus shed some light on the pre-order goodies for their upcoming Devil Summoner Kuzunoha Raidou. Those that pick up the game as soon as it hits shelves will be treated to a special CD called the "Devil Summoner Sound Collection." It will feature ten arranged tracks from three games: the original Devil Summoner, Devil Summoner Soul Hackers, and Devil Summoner Kuzunoha Raidou.

Unlike most pre-order bonuses, this one will not be unique to pre-orders. The first run of the game will come with the CD, and it will be available as long as supplies last. The game is set for release on March 2 for the standard 7140 yen.



Source: Game Watch


 Zelda Celebrates 20th anniversary
The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda turns twenty years old this year, and to celebrate, a company called the King of Games is making a series of dot-s toys. They are peg boards where special plastic pegs are inserted to make the designs. For those interested, there is a demo on the dot-s website that lets you build a figure of Mario.

While these look REALLY spiffy, I doubt these will ever see light of day outside of Japan without the help of an importer.




Source: Kotaku


 Final Fantasy VI Illustrated
Final Fantasy VI

Square Enix teamed up with Shonen GanGan, a monthly manga anthology, and some popular manga artists to create some new promotional illustrations for the upcoming port of Final Fantasy VI for the GBA. Those that participated are Shiro Amano, artist of the Kingdom Hearts manga; Eita Mizuno of Spiral fame; Ichtys, known for Superior; Seishi Kishimoto, artist behind 666 Satan and brother to the creator of Naruto; and Ryunosuke Ichikawa, illustrator of the Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles manga.






Source: Jeux France


 Riko Narumi Harvesting Commercial
Harvest Moon: Innocent Life

Japanese idol Riko Narumi is going to be featured in commercials for the upcoming Harvest Moon: Innocent Life, but this is not her first time promoting the series. She also appeared in promotions for Harvest Moon Corobockle Station for Girls. She was quoted as saying, "I was very happy to be selected as the image character. Since this gig was set, I've often played the game between shoots, and I think it's a cute, heart warming game. It's great that even people who haven't built a farm can do so. After all, you can raise cute animals like cows and sheep."

The commercials will begin airing in early March, and Harvest Moon: Innocent Life will be available all over Japan on April 27.


Source: IGN


 Culture Corner

This week I've got a couple letters, so I can get back in the swing of things with a nice gentle pace. Although I'd have no qualms about having my inbox swamped in the coming weeks. I may not live in Japan anymore, but I still think I can answer questions of culture for some time yet. Send me some letters to remind me of my home across the sea.


Lost in Translation


Hey,

I've recently been playing (and enjoying) Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. However, I saw a Japanese commercial for this game and I will swear that the announcer said "Fire Emblem: Souen no Kiseki". I had to look up souen, but according to a number of different dictionaries, it means 'mulberry patch'. Could this be right? Is the subtitle of the game in Japan really Miracle of Mulberry Patch? Does this have some colloquial meaning that the dictionaries don't know about?

Thanks,

Nathan


Sensei

It's interesting that you'd ask about Souen. That word came up in a question to me a few months ago from a fellow staffer. Off the top of my head, I couldn't remember what it meant, but I knew where I'd heard it. I went to my Japanese IME and typed it in, and I recognized the kanji. I ran it through my dictionary to confirm it, and it says 'manor'. That's kinda close, but it's more like a kind of garden in usage. The 'en' part denotes garden. I couldn't find a meaning for 'sou' by itself. If you've played Wild Arms in either form, the Pleasing Garden is known as the Illusionary Mansion in Japanese.

Thanks for writing in, and hope that helps!


Juku


Jordan,

Howslife? Okay, so here's the letter one day earlier. I actually have no idea what you mean what you mean with Monday night, but I guess I'm already late now as it is already Monday night here in Europe. I'm sorry if I press you and make it inconvenient, I'll try to send next e-mail in the weekend. Or maybe after I read your column, that would be even better!

Thanks for the pancake tips. This guy wrote in the comments that maple syrup is common. While we do have syrup here in Holland, I guess the syrup is quite different, as it is just concentrated sugar (well, it's made from sugar). The only maple-thing I've tasted is in Ben & Jerry ice cream!When I make my own pancakes I use butter and oil, but from a package I use 50% soda, instead of normal water so it'll rise. I wasn't thinking of oil... Thanks for the tip!

Yeah, I heard about the school system. It's quite too ad, it's like that, childhood should actually be worry-free. So is there a lot of discrimination between the classes? I saw a Singaporean movie once, about this elementary school. They have a class system there and it seemed that both children and parents look down and up each other, depending on which (their children) classes go to. You know where certain people only hang out with people their "own class" - if you know what I mean.

How are those cram schools actually. I once saw that in Love Hina, but I had no idea what time span it is. I mean, is it one whole year, or just for the summer (or any other vacation). And when are those test for schools/universities given - only once a year?

So how is the level of the schools/university actually. I know that the good ones are good (or they must be good), but if you can't get in, how are the other schools/universities. Are they bad, or are even the lowest/cheapest quite good (as they must keep up with certain standards? Here they do)? And are the good ones as good as they say or is it just because they have a status/history?

Sorry, I have no idea about how school's there (so that's why I ask)!

So, next week will be you last? Will you do anything special the last week? Or do you have to work until the end of your stay (that would suck)

. And oh, except for usual games/comics/poster/toys/souvenir-thingies, are there other stuff you're taking with you from Japan? Like ubercool swords or something! What are you going to do with your furniture BTW.?

Well, I guess that it. Thanks for answering my questions again! I've gotta go to sleep... Have a nice week!

Douggie

PS. So, are you going to take a lot of pancake-mixes with you? PS2. Okay, so now I know what you do... I'm sorry if it sounded like I underrated your job...

"We all know that birds fly, but now can
you tell me where they are actually flying to??"


Sensei

Sadly I had no room for pancake mix. I was hoping to bring some home, but one of my students gave me this awesome tea set as a going away present. Don't get me wrong, I DO love the tea set, but who gives big, heavy, fragile presents to people moving to the other side of the planet? At any rate, I'm looking into trying to import some. If not, I'll just go to epicurious and get some pancake recipes and start making my own from scratch. I think I can take a recipe and work with it enough to make my own pancakes that taste as good as Morinaga, if not better.

As for the cram schools, they are known as Juku in Japan, and yeah, I think it is kind of sad. Like I said before, these schools exist only to help students pass entrance exams for various schools. In that way, they are something akin to Princeton Review or Kaplan. But the difference is that while many people buy the books, few people in America pay the 1000 or so bucks to take the class. In Japan, this is not the case. Almost EVERY student is enrolled in a Juku, and they go all year. Most students have something every day. My students came to GEOS on Wednesday and juku on Tuesday and Thursday. On Monday and Friday they had various other lessons like piano or sports or a Japanese art like calligraphy. Pretty much, Japanese kids are booked tight from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. It looks like the most stressful place I've ever been. As much as I loved Japan, I'd take my American childhood over theirs 10000 to one. Maybe they learn more, but I had a lot of fun being a kid. In fact, I still am a kid in many of the ways that count.

As far as kids and parents looking down on each other, I didn't really get that impression in Niihama, but that's a relatively rural area. It is pretty well known that schools are competitive, and in order to get good jobs, you have to have a good education. It's kind of the domino theory. If you get into the right grade school, the next step just falls right into place, and you end up in the right job. Then you'll work overtime for that job while you smoke 1000 cigarettes a day until it's time for retirement. While I do exaggerate a bit, it's kind of true in a way. Japan really is a kind of stressful place.

In one lesson we had, we had to compare nations to other things. America was compared to football. When we need to, we come together in a huddle to solve a problem, then we scatter and do each of our specific jobs. I compared Japan to a bee hive. With their group mentality, they work as pieces of a whole to keep everyone afloat. They also labor tirelessly without putting themselves ahead of the others. The other students agreed that I had a pretty good metaphor for Japan in that.

And since I had to rush to get home, my plans for a final picture finale kind of got shot. In fact, I had to work the day before I flew home. I logged in almost a full day on my normal day off. It kind of sucked to have to do paperwork, but I wanted to do it. When I moved in, I had NOTHING to help me. The last teacher didn't do a thing to help me transition, so I wanted the next teacher to have it better than I did. Maybe a bit of the mentality rubbed off on me, but mainly it's just that I care about those students. I want this next teacher to be able to take care of them in my stead. They were and are valued friends.

Thanks for the letter. Since I'm back in this half of the world, my update schedule might change. I recommend you send your letter in early so as not to miss a week. Keep 'em coming!


Nippon Ichi


Hey again, J Sensei! Still trucking, right? The column's still going, isn't it? Personally, I could not be more excited as a Nippon Ichi fan right now. We Nippon Ichi fans are getting Disgaea 2, Atelier Iris 2, and Generation of Chaos! All this year even! Not to mention the exciting news that the amazing looking Disgaea anime is going to cross over. That should be enough to tie any Nippon Ichi fan over for a while.

Anyways, thinking back to Disgaea, they got through translation amazingly in tact. I mean, most games aren't butchered or anything, but Disgaea managed to produce many Americanized jokes which were by no means the sort of lame cheap shots on video games you might see in other games. Anyways, I imagine you know something about Japanese dialogue in video games, so I was wondering: what are the Japanese jokes like? I know that they include things outside of American culture (ramen, sake.... ramen), but what I'm wondering is, do they actually serve the same kind of purposes as American ones? Are they more mature humor? Do entire scenes of dialogue get changed in translation?

Mehe, that's a whole lot of questions, but I guess anything you have to say on the subject of Japanese to English translation is good. I've got to learn to get to the point faster with these e-mails.

-AimManEXE


Sensei

Don't worry about Japandemonium going anywhere anytime soon. As long as I can manage it on this side of the world, it should be pretty regular. I know some of the other columns have taken a bit of a hiatus, but I'm not going to let that happen to me. God willing, I'll have a new column every week for you all to read.

As for Nippon Ichi, they do a really good job of translating things, but a lot of things do have to get changed. Some jokes are cultural, and they just wouldn't make sense. To make an example, if I made a joke that was specifically about Morinaga pancake mix, no one but Japanese people would understand it. Another example would be language puns. Consider this one.

Q: What is the most delicious ogre of them all?

A: A Riceball!

.

I know that has you all rolling in laughter, but that comes from 'ogre' being 'oni', and 'riceball' being 'onigiri'. In instances where the joke just cannot be translated without prior knowledge of the language or reference material, the localization team has to make a new joke in the same vein as the original. As long as it's done in the same spirit as the Japanese joke and as little is changed as possible, I believe it's ok. Nippon Ichi does a WONDEFUL job, and I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that the Monty Python parody from Makai Kingdom didn't exist in Japan. They simply wouldn't get it, but I giggled for hours on end. What joke did they use? I couldn't tell you, but I can only hope it was as good as ours.

As far as other Nippon Ichi stuff goes, it should be a good year. I am VERY excited about Disgaea 2 and the anime. I cannot wait for either of them. It'll be a very fun Netherworldly 2006, I think.

Thanks for writing!



Sayonara

There you have it. This is the first column I have ever written in its entirety in the US of A. It feels a bit odd to not have my "extra" day to write it, but I think I'll adjust to the new time zone pretty well. Also, I won't spend all my time chatting on iChat with my wife because I'm able to actually talk to her with no strings attached. Life is pretty good.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day. I know it's kind of a Hallmark holiday, but I don't turn down an excuse to have a nice meal and celebrate with my wife. I'm a celebrational sensei.

Catch you on the flip,



Jordan "It will be good to be home tonight" Jackson



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