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Dengeki Rankings I Far East of Eden: Tengai Makyo III Namida Part II I Marl Kingdom Goes Mobile I Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis Chapter 11 I Ys Oath in Felghana Gets Date I Sudeki Coming to Japan I First Full Metal Alchemist 3 Details I Culture Corner: Ask Sensei I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Golden Week May 02, 2005


Konnichiwa

This week has gone by faster than most because it's been a short week for work. In Japan, there are a few holidays that are so close together that they get lumped into one week called Golden Week. This is the most popular time for Japanese to travel, and most people have work off and enjoy Japan. I am no exception. In fact, when this is posted, I'll be enjoying the sights of Kyoto and Nara, two of Japan's ancient capitals. I suppose this spoils the surprise for next week's special report, but expect it to be pretty cool.

With my trip at hand, I have had to work like a madman to prepare things for the trip. I have cleaned my apartment, secured hotels, and planned out a rough schedule for the trip. None of this was easy, but getting hotels was particularly hard. It seems that everyone and their brother goes to Kyoto for Golden Week. I may have grabbed one of the last hotels in the city, and it's going to be tiny. I'm staying in a "business hotel." That's kind of like a western hotel if you stripped out everything but the basics. The plus is they are cheaper, but they don't feature a lot. Honestly, I don't really care. From the pictures (I'm not actually IN Kyoto yet), it looks like I'll be on the floor when it comes to sleeping. Luckily, I'm rather used to that. Living in Japan does that to a man.

In other news, thank you to those that submitted sig pics. The decision to use one here will NOT be easy. I'll be looking for gashapon in Kyoto to send to people in exchange for their hard work. Thank you everyone!

Since I'm not yet in Kyoto, I guess I'll wrap this up here. I guess I'll have a lot cooler intro next week... So, lets get this holiday party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

The chart was topped by an RPG last week, but this time it's topped by two RPGs! Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song and Fire Emblem: Trial of Blue Flames take the top two spots respectively. Most of the other games manage to hold on, but some are slipping down pretty quickly.

In other chart related news, a new DS game called Nintendogs has managed to take the 4th, 5th, and 7th slots. This is one of the more interesting things Nintendo has created in a while. On the surface, it's a dog sim, but in reality, it's like a virtual pet that you can really play with. They are trying to market it as kind of like a real dog you carry with you in your pocket. From looking at a trailer I saw of it in Tsutaya, the game is pretty durn cool. I'd buy it, but I'm low on time as it is. Even if I DID buy it, which breed to buy? There are tree choices to choose from with more on the way, I believe.

That said, let's see those numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song Square Enix
2 Fire Emblem: Trial of Blue Flames Nintendo
12 Far East of Eden: Tengai Makyo III Namida Hudson Soft
23 Megaman.exe 5: Team of Colonel Capcom
26 Egg Monster Hero Square Enix
28 Pokemon Emerald Nintendo
14 Tales of Eternia Namco
36 Shining Force Neo Sega
37 Wild Arms 4th Detonator Media Play
46 Megaman.exe 5 Team of Pruus Capcom


Source: Dengeki Online



 Far East of Eden: Tengai Makyo III Namida Info Part II
Far East of Eden: Tengai Makyo III Namida

Last week I began coverage of Far East of Eden: Tengai Makyo III Namida, and all information for this game is so long, that it takes two updates to do it all. But for those of you joining me for the first time, here's a recap of last week's story: The hero of the game, Namida, washes up on the shore of a small island town and is discovered by a girl named Ichiyo. He has no memory of his past life, but his current life isn't so bad. Ichiyo's family takes in Namida as a son, and time passes until he turns 17. During a festival of that year, Namida holds a sacred mirror, and it breaks and spews out monsters calling themselves "Ami." The Ami kidnap Ichiyo and plot to take over the world called Tsukusu.

As I reported last week, Namida won't be alone on his quest to rescue Ichiyo and save Tsukusu from the Ami. He will also be joined by the strange Tonkarylin, so mysterious that not even its gender can be easily known. It enjoys bobbing dances and playing the fool, but Tonkarylin surprises people sometimes with its well-timed wisdom. It nearly worships Ichiyo and regards Namida as Ichiyo's servant.

Another ally in the fight is Oni Ichiban, whose name means 'Number One Ogre.' He takes pride in the meaning of his name, but he's not overbearing about it. He's bound by his honor and detests lies. As his name would suggest, he's a bit on the strong side and can swing huge axes and hammers as if they were feathers.

Still another friend is Tametomo, a once-in-generations prodigy from a long line of talented archers. He's cool and genteel, and he gets as many compliments for his looks as his archery.

One final comrade in arms is the lone wolf, Tobei. He is a master of swords, and he keeps his words and emotions to himself.

As for the Ami, they are almost as numerous as the heroes. One such man is Idaten. He's obsessed with being the fastest man alive. Known for his grandiosity and short temper, he has also kidnapped every girl in Nagasaki and kept them in his castle for some unknown reason.

Two more are the brother and sister pair, Taori and Taojirius. Taori doesn't seem like a "bad guy" on the outside with her love of pretty flowers, but on the inside, she's a merciless manipulator. She takes advantage of her younger brother, Taojirius, making him do her bidding.

Taojirius looks fierce, but he is really simple in reality. He adores his older sister, and he will do anything for her. Unfortunately, his devotion to his sister blinds him to the fact that she's only using him.

One final Ami is Nigi. He is a coldly logical nihilist most of the time, but he can be scary and wild when his temper is ignited. Among his powers are a mastery over lightning and fire.

As reported last week, Far East of Eden: Tengai Makyo III Namida was released on April 14 in Japan for 7800 yen. In the meantime, you can check out some character artwork of all the characters here. You can find screens here.





 Marl Kingdom Goes Mobile
Nippon Ichi

Nippon Ichi has decided to expand the Marl Kingdom series a little further, and this time it's going to be on the DoCoMo i900 series phones. Marl no Oukoku no Ningyou Hime, which translates into Marl Kingdom: Doll Princess, features an old mansion called the "Doll House." In it lived an old doll-maker and his granddaughter. The granddaughter, Cornett, made friends with all the dolls, and they made friends with her. Oddly enough, all these dolls have souls just like a regular person.

Cornett always carried a doll with her around in town. People thought she was odd for doing it, but nobody hated her or shunned her for it as Cornett was so cheerful and friendly.

Every day, Cornett would go looking for food for her dolls, as they apparently need to eat. One one of these trips, she took her very best doll friend, a fairy named Kururu, out in to the forest, and so begins the story of the "Doll Princess."

As for the characters, the heroine is the 16-year-old Cornett Espoir, who has a lot of friends that all happen to be dolls. She's a cheery girl, and she isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She likes singing and playing the trumpet, and she's also quite skilled at cooking.

All heroes and heroines need rivals, and for Cornett, her lifelong rival is Etoile RosenQueen. Also 16 years old, She is the daughter of the richest family in town. She's known for suddenly showing up and lording her wealth over Cornett, but then she'll go away, laughing haughtily. She enjoys fancy clothes, bragging, winning, and money.

Kururu, a living fairy doll, is one of Cornett's friends and is a self-declared caretaker. She is little, but she likes getting involved in incidents that are really too big for her. Kururu likes cherries and taking care of Cornett.

Ferdinand Marl E is the 17-year-old crown prince of Marl. Rather active, he enjoys sneaking out of the castle to go hunting in the forest or to go shopping in the town. His father passed away two years ago, and is mother is acting as regent until he turns 18. He is supposed to find a wife by that time "or else." He enjoys hunting, swordsmanship, and good cooking.

Marjoly is a witch that thinks she is the "greatest beauty in the world." She doesn't let on that she's actually over 100 years old. As a witch, she really is the greatest in the world, but she tends to be a little on the dense side. She likes looking at herself in mirrors, cackling, and pretty young men.

Crowdia is one of Marjoly's servants and is also a witch and a skill swordswoman. She has a set of black wings that allow her to fly. She enjoys reading, talking to birds, and vegetable salad.

Gao is another of Marjoly's servants, and she isn't one for minding details. She's wild and strong enough to wrestle dragons and win! She likes training, eating, and sleeping.

Myao Karukansky is yet another of Marjoly's witch servants. She's easy going, but she's more than a little self-centered. She looks like a child, but she has the power to summon dragons. She enjoys having pets (dragons included), sweet things, and fish.

Marl Kingdom: Doll Princess will be available on January 24th for the low fee of 300 yen per month.




 Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis Chapter 11
Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis

The latest chapter in Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis is available for download for those owning a DoCoMo 900i or 901i series cellular phones. This time around, the Turks get a "paid vacation," but it's spent in the slums. While there, they run into a flower girl named Aeris.

This newest chapter was available for download on 4/25, and it comes at the usual 525 yen.


Sources: Famitsu



 Ys Oath in Felghana Gets Date
Namco X Capcom

Slated as a "companion piece" to Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, Ys: Oath in Felghana, has been given a release date of June 30 by Falcom. The limited edition will contain a lot of goodies. Among them are not one, not two, but eight music CDs that all come in their own special hard case called the Premium Music CD Box. The tracks include arrangements of Ys: Oath in Felghana's music, and the Complete Sound Works of Ys III, a set of seven CDs.


Source: Impress



 Sudeki Coming to Japan
Sudeki

Japanese gamers with X-Box consoles will soon have another RPG to play. Sudeki will see a release on July 14 in Japan. The game was designed with its own special graphics engine, and was famed for its gorgeous visuals. For those unfamiliar with the game, it takes place in a world split between a country of light and one of darkness. Players control four different characters, one at a time, but they can switch at will. Battles feature combo attacks similar to those found in action games and gun action like that of FPSs. Sudeki also features a high degree of customization with players being able to decide weapon/armor upgrades and who gets experience points after battles.

Source: Famitsu




 First Full Metal Alchemist 3 Details
Square Enix

Square Enix has opened a site for the the third title in the Full Metal Alchemist series called Full Metal Alchemist 3: Kami wo Tsugu Shojo. This translates into "The girl who succeeded God."

As for plot, this newest game is a completely original story that is unconnected to the anime, but the creator of the original manga, Hiromu Arakawa, has provided character designs and approved the script. As far as gameplay goes, the biggest new feature will be 2-player mode. It will also be able to switch between Ed and Al, the two protagonists, with the press of a button. The game will also feature videos done by the same team responsible for the anime and upcoming movie.

Source: Famitsu




  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

This week, I've got some letters from staffers. Since this week's kind of special, I thought I'd answer some mail from inside RPGamer, and it seems that a common question involves my bathing habits.... Well... I said I'd answer almost anything, so here goes! Let's get to some letters!

I should also mention that last week's column had a mistake in the Culture Corner. A reader pointed it out, and it was promptly fixed. Thanks for the correction! I was asleep at the wheel when I wrote that bit...



Renting in Japan


J,

What is up with not being able to rent games in Japan? And why can you rent music? It makes my head hurt. Make the pain stop.

--sabin1001


Sensei

Yeah, renting stuff is a bit strange here. I have a membership at Tsutaya. That lets me rent music and movies, but no games. Oddly enough, video game rental is not something you can do in Japan. They never realized how much money can be made from it. I don't get it.

On the other hand, I can go rent the latest album to pop in my CD player. They all have this sticker that says 'kopii gaaddo.' I would assume that it meant 'copy guard,' but I had no problems ripping the tracks to .m4a format to put on my iPod. Usually, I don't pirate stuff, but when I looked at Ayume Hamasaki's new single on sale for 3000 yen (that's like 30 bucks US), I decided 120 yen to rent was a much better deal for two songs.

I can also rent DVDs for a fair price, but I've never done it. I suppose I will someday soon. I've been meaning to for a while, and I DO have a JPS2, so I can watch DVDs here. Maybe someday soon!

At any rate, thanks for writing!


Swords!


How popular is stabbing people with a katana in Japan? Anime would have us believe it happens daily.

Dracos


Sensei

I don't have numbers in front of me, but it happens a LOT more than you'd think. Japan prides itself on its extremely low firearm deathrate, but what they don't usually talk about is the extremely high stabbing deathrate. The Yakuza frequently use stabbing implements in their crimes.

But I noticed you asked by katana. Not shockingly, its a low number. Much like we register guns in the US, the Japanese must register any blade over a certain length, and guns are not allowed in Japan for civilian use. So I guess you shouldn't come to Japan looking to bring back your own samurai sword.... sorry!

But thanks for the question!


Squeaky Clean


Do you have to bath in front of other people in Japan? :x

I've seen those animes that have the bath house things, have you used them? Are they nice?

Oh, do you have to bathe on a stool? I've seen that in anime too...

--sabin1001


Sensei

I've been waiting for this question since I got here. Looks like today's the day. I live next to an onsen, which is Japanese for 'hot spring.' To be more accurate, it's actually a 'sentou', 'public bath'. As the name suggests, I DO bathe in front of other men. You put your clothes in a locker then walk to the main bathing area.

The bathing area is a line of mirrors with movable shower heads and bath bowls. There's also a little stool in front of each that you sit on. You're supposed to shower off and be clean before entering the bath. Bathwater is kept immaculately clean and many people share the same water.

After you have cleaned your body, you are allowed to enter the bath. The water is piping hot, and there's a regular and "Jet bath." I tend to go for the jet bath, which is kind of like a big jacuzzi. There are stations with three powerful air jets that can give you one heck of a back massage.

After the jet bath, I dunk myself in an ice cold bath before hitting the sauna. I tend to spend 7-12 minutes in the sauna in a session, and I always hit the sauna at least twice. The sauna's in Japan are pretty hot. It's usually 101 C in there. That's more than enough to boil water.

After the sauna, I hit the cold bath again, and then I'm off to the outdoor bath. The water in this one is green due to the onsen powder they put in the water. It smells of fern, and it's very relaxing to soak in. The bath is completely outside, and there are some nice rocks to lean against while you're soaking. Next to the sauna, this is my favorite part.

Then, it's usually cold tub --> sauna --> cold tub --> jet bath --> cold tub --> home. Sometimes I'll throw in an extra sauna session, but that's pretty rare. 17-18 minutes is usually all the sauna I want, but I've gone 25 minutes before.

I know that was a rather extensive account of my trips to the bath house. I'll note that I also have my own shower that I use, so my weekly trips to onsen are NOT the only bath I'll get all week. I'll also note that the baths are separated by gender, and I do my best to keep my eyes to myself, thank you very much.

Thanks for writing again!


Neko!


Hey J!

A few weeks ago you mentioned going to the "onsen." You also referred to it later as "the bath house." What is it exactly?

I heard that cats are seen as symbols of luck in Asia. I've seen statues of cats with one paw raised in Asian businesses, such as restaurants. I've also heard that Asians believe that if you meet a cat, and it raises one paw while looking at you, it means you will have good luck. I don't believe in good or bad luck or charms or anything, but I still think this is cool. Western culture sometimes demonizes cats; they used to be associated with witches and curses, and in Elizabethan England, they were placed into hanging bags and used for target practice by archers. ;_; As a cat lover, I'm curious: how popular and respected are cats in Japanese culture? How widespread is the use of cat imagery?

Cortney Stone
a.k.a. Alethea
Head of New Updates


Sensei

You ask two really good questions. I've already gotten to one, but the cat one is very interesting.

I'd never really thought about the opposite way of thinking about cats in Japan. In America, we really have demonized the cat, but here, cats are good luck. I have a 'maneki neko' on my kotatsu right now. They're everywhere, especially in homes and businesses.

As for how everyone came to think of maneki neko as lucky, well, I've heard two stories. The first one was about a cat at the entrance of a store. It raises its paw to touch its face, and then that store had good luck. The second story was of a man in a thunderstorm. He took refuge under a tree, and he saw a cat raise its paw to beckon him away. The tree was struck by lightning just moments after he left the tree. He considered the cat lucky, and the story spread.

Whatever the reason, it does appear that cats are cast in a positive light. But I do see some other forms of cats here. Most people that enjoy cats will have some kind of art of cats curled up and looking cute. I've seen a few images of sleeping cats in Niihama, and most people seem to agree that they're pretty.

Thanks for the letter! I'm a cat lover too, but I can't pet cats. I'm terribly allergic to them, and if I come into physical contact with a cat, bad things happen. But I have noticed that I can pet a cat briefly if I wear gloves. I guess I'll have to take what I can.

Thanks for writing!



 Sayonara

Another week comes to a close. I know that Golden Week is not a holiday in America, but I'll wish you all a Happy Golden Week anyway. Hopefully at the time of posting, I'll be enjoying Kyoto with my family.

Send me some letters while I'm away!

Catch you on the flip,
Jordan "Sleep is for the weaaaaaaaak!" Jackson




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