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Dengeki Rankings I Massive Gundam True Odyssey Update I Rhapsodia Gets the Lead Out I Dragon Quest Approaching DoCoMo i900 Cell Phones I Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Seeing Some Action I Naruto RPG 2 Touching DS I Culture Corner: Ask Sensei I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Higasa June 27, 2005


Konnichiwa

It's been a busy week for me in Japan. It's no wonder that my weeks seem to go by so quickly when so much goes on. I have recently started hitting a gym on a daily basis, and that alone makes my day go faster, but I have also been pretty busy at work. Since my first year is coming to a close, I have had a bit of paperwork to wade through including the forms I will need to renew my visa for another year. It is that which brings me to my current location. I am sitting in the Matsuyama train station waiting for the next train home. I missed my train by mere seconds, so I've got an hour to kill. It's a pain in the rear that I have to travel an hour by train then another hour by bus just to fill out paperwork that will be completed in a couple weeks meaning that I'll have to return here again. At least GEOS is paying for my train and bus tickets...

In gaming related news, have started work on La Pucelle Tactics, and it is VERY obvious that it came before Disgaea. I am enjoying the game, but the mechanics just aren't as polished as in the games that follow. I suppose if you're a fan of NIS or TRPGs in general, it's worth a look, but I wouldn't recommend it nearly as much as I recommend Disgaea. And on that note, I've received a bit of feedback on my recommendations of games. I know that not everyone will like the same games as I do, but I feel that if a game is good, I'll recommend it. Remember, my recommendations are merely my opinion and in no way reflect RPGamer as a whole. What you get in this column is pure Jordan Jackson in text form for better or for worse.

As for this week's title, it refers to the umbrellas that women carry over here. 'Hi' means 'sun' in Japanese, and 'gasa' is another reading of 'kasa' which means 'umbrella'. The use of these things is something that has boggled my mind since I got here. It seems that the Japanese are deathly afraid of getting a little bit of sun. It is not uncommon to see women wearing a long sleeve shirt, jacket, gloves, big floppy hat, and carry an umbrella to boot. Right now, I'm wearing a Nike running shirt and running shorts, and I'm about to melt. I have NO idea how these women can be dressed for a blizzard when the thermometer reads 33 C. That'd be 91 F for those of you that aren't familiar with Celsius.

The reasoning behind all this sun protection is that for a Japanese, being pale white is considered to be beautiful. Think about any picture of a geisha you've seen. They all wear white makeup. The are absolutely obsessed with beauty and being as pale as they can be that they undergo all that. Me? Heck no. I'm thrilled to be getting a tan, but my students look at me in shock when I show them how proud I am of my darkening skin. My fiancée says that the same thing is true of her family. They think having a tan makes you look like a farmer, but she agrees with me that a little dark skin looks good. We don't lay out in the sun or anything, but we're not scared of a couple UV rays either. Makes me wonder what they do at a beach. It's hard to show off your bikini if you're wearing a parka...

So without any further ado, let's get this UV-protected party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

Another week has gone by, and another new RPG tops the charts. The chart has a bit more meat to its bones than I was expecting. A game did drop off, but we have a new game at the top. And the games on the bottom are clinging for dear life and surviving.

Save for the aforementioned games before, the chart still has the same 11 games. I have to say, it certainly makes the chart easier when all I have to do is change the numbers...

Anyways, let's see those slightly lower numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Drag-On Dragoon 2 Square Enix
5 Metal Saga Success
10 TearRing Saga Series Berwick Saga Enterbrain
14 Namco X Capcom Namco
15 Romancing SaGa Square Enix
17 SD Gundam G Generation DS Bandai
23 Hanjuku Hero 4 Square Enix
25 Pokémon Emerald Nintendo
33 Gagharv Trilogy 2 Bandai
43 Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana 2 Gust
48 Megaman.exe 5: Team of Colonel Capcom


Source: Dengeki Online



 Massive Gundam True Odyssey Update
Gundam True Odyssey

In the past while, the official site for Gundam True Odyssey has been updated with more screens and art than I can shake a beam saber at.

In one of the updates, three more cast members have been announced. One is an ally named Basulee. While not the most civilized of men, he is a really nice guy. Another character is named Marie. Her age and origin is unknown, but she boasts an amazing amount of knowledge, and she serves as an advisor to the team. The final character announced is a complete mystery. All that is known is the character design. To check it out for yourself, head on over to the art page here.

Joining these characters are few of the mobile suits and mobile armors that will be featured in the game. Among the cast will be the RX-78 Gundam, Zaku II, Gauf, Gelgoog, Big Zam, and Psycho Gundam. It's rather interesting that the Psycho Gundam is among that list considering that it is the only suit listed from Zeta Gundam and is the strongest weapon in the Earth Sphere at its time. The others are all from the original Mobile Suit Gundam TV series. While not given as much detail as those suits, many others were listed that include several variations of the GM, Zaku, and Gauf mobile suits. The Zaku I Prototype will make an appearance along with a few other ground weapons like tanks.

As for general game mechanics, some insight to that has been announced as well. The game will feature a three-character modified ATB battle system. When selecting attack, the player will have to pick which of the equipped weapons to use. There will also be Boost Skills, and those are unique to each character. They will range from ultra-damage attacks to healing abilities, and they are learned automatically with leveling. One final way to attack will be by Techniques which will require a separate energy source called "technical points." Those will be replenished with items or by going to an inn. Techniques are also gained by leveling and appear to be the same as Boost Skills with more power. All the attacks use energy, and a Charge ability is available to refill the suit's batteries at the small cost of one turn.

If that wasn't all, the pre-order goodies have been announced as well. Those who are quick to pre-order will receive a Gundam True Odyssey World Guide, a 48 page book which includes not only art, but it will also have the storyboards. There will also be a list of all the items and weapons in the game, and it's rounded off by character sketches with comments by the original designer Akira Anda. It seems to be a nice package, and it is making me debate pre-ordering it.

One final bit of information is that there are several videos on the site that can be found here. And while I'm at it, I'll also link our screens page with a TON of screens from the official site in one nice convenient location.

Gundam True Odyssey is slated for a June 30 release for 7140 yen. Sadly, no word of a North American release has been mentioned.

Source: IT Media







 Rhapsodia Gets the Lead Out
Rhapsodia

Konami has shed some light on the lead character of it's upcoming Suikoden spin-off, Rhapsodia. The game is set in the world of Suikoden IV, and it is hinted that there may be more than the usual 108 characters in this one.

Rhapsodia is currently set for a Fall 2005 release in Japan for the PSP.


Kyril - The official hero of the story, Kyril is an open and honest kid who can't stand to watch people in trouble. A traveller, he and his father have been journeying from place to place since he was a young child.

Andarc - Serious to a fault, Andarc is one of Kyril's father's subordinates and accompanies them on their journeys.

Seneca - Another of Kyril's father's subordinates, Seneca is a big-sister figure for Kyril. Responsible and competent, Seneca can keep the group's mood light even in the middle of nasty situations.




 Dragon Quest Approaching DoCoMo i900 Cell Phones
DoCoMo

Those owning a DoCoMo i900 or i901 series cellular phone are getting a chance to go down memory lane with the announcement of Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest II going mobile. The games feature vastly improved graphics over their original forms in their NES days. No price was mentioned in the article, but I'll bet anything that it's the standard 525 yen.


Source: IT Media



 Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Seeing Some Action
Final Fantasy Advent Children

Some time ago, I reported on some action figures for the upcoming Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and now I have some scans showing just how spiffy they really will be. They will stand between eight and nine inches tall and will retail for the low low price of 3,990 yen. There is no word on whether these figures will grace the coffee tables on North American shores yet, but I'm not holding my breath.



Source: Jeux-France



 Naruto RPG 2 Touching DS
Naruto RPG 2

Naruto fans who have a Nintendo DS have a brand new reason to pick up their stylus and show off their ninja moves in the cleverly titled Naruto RPG 2. The game will follow the storyline of the anime series as players battle to save Sasuke from the four powerful ninja that plan on taking him to their master, Orochimaru. Naruto RPG 2 features Three-Man Cell parties with a full cast of familiar characters from the anime and manga, and it will feature combination attacks with the right characters. Animal companions like Gamakichi and Pakkun will be able summoned to help you when you are in trouble in battle or on the world map. The game will also make full use of the DS's touch pad. For instance, performing certain techniques require patterns to be traced within a limited amount of time.

Fans looking to pick up Naruto RPG 2 can do so at a store near me, but there is no word of it ever appearing in North American stores.





  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

Another week has passed, and I got another good batch of emails. I got some REALLY good questions in this batch, so I'm really psyched about answering them. I love questions that don't fit the usual mold. They are a lot more fun to answer.

As for the Japanese lessons, they're going to keep on keeping on. I hope you like them. I'll try to teach Japanese the way I teach English and make it fun. I'm not the most serious of teachers, but I am serious about learning. I see to it that people have a good time while they're learning new things. I think it's the best way. So, without any further ado, take a look at this week's useful phrase.

That said, let's get started!



Glad to Asnwer Them!


As someone who's living in Japan, the fact that you've answered my questions so far is very valuable to my studies. That being said, here's another question for you about Japanese. How are Japanese students in Japan taught kanji? I've seen many different methods being sold as 'the best,' for foreign students learning the language, but I'm very curious as to how kanji is taught in Japanese schools.

-Daniel


Sensei

You know, I'm not exactly sure, but I can take an educated guess. I've got a few shogakusei kanji books, and they learn things based on making more complex kanji from simpler ones. They smaller parts that make up kanji are called radicals. Then it's just a matter of learning the readings and meanings. Kind of like if you know tree, you know shrub and forest because it's just the same kanji repeated two and three times respectively. To further back this up, one of my former students was a teacher herself. The first two kanji she taught were big and then dog since it's only one stroke different than big.

Thanks for the question! Keep sending them and I'll keep answering them!


$$$

Hi J,

I was curious how you would compare the cost of life in Japan to that of life in Canada (or USA if you are more familiar)? I've been told many times that life in Japan is much more expensive. I guess right now my largest expenses are rent, gas and hydro, although the cost of food, entertainment like movies, arts and games are all pretty significant too. I also have a friend who is teaching in Taiwan and he's spoken with me about heading to teach there... if the cost of life would be significantly less there than in Japan I might start weighing my options abit more.

Thanks!

Marshall


Sensei

I'll be honest. Japan is not cheap, but it's not so bad. I just paid my bills yesterday, so things are still fresh in my mind. My water bill is generally my cheapest bill. It runs me around 1700 yen per month. Gas is usually pretty cheap too, but they've increased the monthly fee to have gas, so it was nearly 3000 yen. 2700 of this was just to have gas in general. Electricity runs anywhere from 1000 yen in the winter (no heating at all and no TV) to 7000 yen in the summer with lots of TV and A/C. My internet/phone is 80 bucks a month, but I've got 45MB wireless DSL.

As for food, I eat about 1000 yen of food a day. I weigh about 190 pounds, so that should give you an idea of how much you'll eat. That's with me being in the country. Food WILL cost more in a city. Actually, everything will probably cost more in the city, so keep that in mind.

In the end, I find that I'm paid more than enough to live here. I save around 100,000 yen a month, and I've got more money in my bank now than I had when I came over here. That's not too bad considering some of the purchases I've made including airfare and and an LCD TV. I don't know how much you get paid to teach in other countries, but you make a nice living here. Don't be afraid to live in Japan.

Thanks for the question! Good luck becoming a teacher over here!


Get Your digital Kick On


Do soccer and baseball video games still sell big like I think they used to?

XeroZohar


Sensei

Before I answer this, let me give you a hearty welcome to the staff.

As for your answer, yeah they do. It was already mentioned that Winning Eleven sells through the roof, and I saw a new baseball game at a store last night. It was on one of the sides of a row of shelves where it has the best visibility. They give that treatment to the games that will sell the best. Also, many of my kids only have a couple games, and they are sports games. And if you go to an arcade, the arcade soccer games are massive with a space for every single player to join and a screen that's a couple meters wide. So I'd say that they sell pretty durn well here.

Thanks for leaving the question in the forum and once again, welcome to the staff!


Arr!


Konnichiwa, Jyoudan-sensei,

I was wondering about piracy in Japan. Piracy in music, videogames, movies, etc. How bad is it? How is it handled? Due to the changes in price from store to store, some prices being outrageous, and the rarity of some games, I think there should be at least SOME piracy in Japan. Thanks and keep coming the Japanese lessons.

Yane,

rocker-otaku


Sensei

I honestly don't know much about the pirated game market because I have never heard of copies over here. People generally tend to shell out for the games from what I've seen in the country, but music piracy is HUGE here. The price of music is even more outrageous than games or movies here. A new single by a pop megastar can set you back 3000 yen for two songs. It just doesn't seem worth it when you can pay 100 yen to join the rental club and then rent the CD for another 120 yen. It says 'koppi gaado' which I assume means 'copy guard', but I know a Mac doesn't have any troubles whatsoever ripping the music to m4a. Not that I'd know ANYTHING about that...

Anyway... uh how about that weather?

Arr! Thanks for writing!


God Speed!


Salutations Jordan,

I read your excellent column practically every week and I applaud your effort.

My question is a little different. How popular is Christianity in Japan? Do you feel evangelism would be welcomed? Is it difficult to get the Japanese to trust gaijin? I understand most of the Christians there are Roman Catholics due to Spanish and Portuguese influence but I am looking to win the lost sheep to Protestantism. Christianity will never take off there as long as Catholicism remains dominant. Today's Japanese youth are mostly agnostic so I see no conflicting hostility from Buddhism and Shinto.

I know I would hardly be the first missionary to ever set foot on Japanese soil but I feel it is my calling. It is my great interest in life. Do you know anyone I might be able to contact there who would also provide accommodation? A type of monastery perhaps? Imagine what Japan could be like if it were a Christian nation! Why, the entire world would be changed.

I would really just love to stay in some quiet village there. Do you know how it might be possible to do that?

Lyall


Sensei

Wow! What an awesome question. I applaud you for your calling. It is not an easy one.

As for your question, I think about 1% of Japan is Christian. That's an old number, but I'd say it hasn't moved much. Japan has had a sort of negative view of it since the first Catholics tried to come over long ago. It was seen as something that they didn't need, but times are changing. There is a lot of curiosity about Christianity, and many people choose to have Christian weddings. This, combined with other factors is causing people to come to know God, and I think that's something special.

I agree with you in that I don't think you'd get much opposition. Honestly, I don't see a lot about religions like Buddhism that conflict with Christianity. I think the two religions can go hand in hand very easily.

As for getting here, I'm not sure. I'm sure someone in your Church can tell you. There is a world missions board for the Nazarene Church, and I'd assume that every other denomination has one too. If not, just look into it. If the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses can get over here, I'm sure you can too. I've been approached by missionaries from both of those groups, and I don't really want to join either.... I'd be nice to find a person with more similar beliefs. So, I wish you luck. You'll need a lot of training, so you might look into a seminary.

I wish you luck. You're doing something that I cannot. I never was much of an evangelist. I have no problems sharing my faith with someone who has none, but I can't bring myself to try to convert people that are perfectly happy in their lives. There's just something about saying that a person's religion is wrong that I just can't do. The way I see it, they have just as much chance of being right in the end as I do. I don't know how you'll handle that bit of being a missionary, but good luck with it. If it's your calling, then you'll probably be better equipped to handle that problem than I.

Thanks for the question! It was a really interesting one.



 Sayonara

So there you have it. Another full column. It was not so easy due to the massive Gundam story, but if I'm going to get bogged down with a story, I'd rather it be Gundam. I hope you all have a good week!

My apologies for this going up a LITTLE later than usual. Everything that could go wrong in one day happened. I discovered that I was using a broken template, I had a couple grammar mistakes, and I had to change some of the code I stole from Martyr's column. This led to me getting my column finished, but left me with no time to update. Then, when I got to work, I realized in my haste to get to work on time that I had forgotten to get a clean undershirt and socks. In a pinch, I can wear a dark shirt and get by without a t-shirt, but I kinda have to wear socks. So, I rode home as fast as was humanly possible to find a matching pair of dress socks and a clean shirt. It's just been one of those days...

Catch you on the flip,


Jordan "And all was laid to burnination" Jackson




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