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Dengeki Rankings I Atelier Iris Eternal Mana Back in Stores I Legendia Pre-order Goodies I Culture Corner: Ask Sensei I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Katamari July 11, 2005


Konnichiwa

It's been almost a week since my last column, and I thought I'd get an early start on writing it. I won't have constant access to internet next week, and I might not have much access at all. I am being sent on a 'mission' for GEOS. A teacher has quit early and has left a large school one teacher short for three weeks. Due to the way my classes are set up, I have an extremely light load of classes for the week, so it was decided that I would do a small substitute teaching job. The good news is I'll have a week to do some shopping and stuff that I can't do in Niihama, the bad news is I won't have my Yahoo BB wireless ADSL. But as my trainer said, Kobe is one of the biggest cities in the world. I should be able to find a wireless hotspot somewhere.

In gaming news, I finally got my copy of We Love Katamari, known as Everyone Loves Katamri, in Japan. I was the first customer when the store opened, and I have been overly happy ever since. Since I first fired up the game, I have since completed it, so now I get to give you all my spoilerless review.

We Love Katamari is an improvement over the original in just about every way imaginable. The story this time around is that the events of the first game have made the King of All Cosmos and the Prince famous, and everyone wants to get in on the action. It also seems that there is still plenty of work to do from the previous game, so the Prince and his cousins are taking requests from people on earth to make a katamari for them. Some want to see a little one, others a huge one, and still others want to see ones made of flowers or candy. So, since Everyone Loves Katamari, it's your turn to make a lot of people and a few animals happy.

As for the gameplay, it's amazing how much better it is. The graphics are much cleaner, and the camera seems to be a little better in this one. And while I'm discussing the camera, We Love Katamari cuts holes in things that block your view so you can always see your katamari and don't get stuck like in the first one. Objects in the game seem more detailed, and it just looks pretty all over.

Another thing that really makes the game shine is that it's a LOT bigger than the first one. There are several environments to roll around in, including an underwater level, a snow field, a school, a campground, and there's even a stage in the sky where you collect clouds. The game also features some cool new twists to the game like a racetrack-themed level where your katamari moves REALLY fast, a level where you roll a sumo wrestler, and a flaming katmari that cannot be allowed to be extinguished. And also, almost every level has two separate stages where one will be get to size X or bigger in a certain time limit, and the other will be how fast can you reach a certain size or roll up a certain number of objects. In some cases, it's how fast can you roll up everything in the level. After all objectives for a level have been completed, you may choose which objective you wish to play on subsequent trips through that stage.

And while I'm talking about size, the levels themselves are HUGE, especially the world stage. In my second attempt at that level, I managed to roll a 1600m katamari in the 17 minutes allowed, and there were still things I wasn't big enough to roll up. Word on the street is that the largest thing requires a katmari of 3000m. I am unsure if there are eternal levels, but it is possible.

And now the part that everyone is waiting for: the music. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's as good as the first one. It doesn't have anything as cute as Lonely Rolling Star, but I think new songs like Everlasting Love can hang with it despite being different. Yu Miyake also gives us a brand new Katamari on the Rocks that is really really awesome. The sound effects are also well done with my personal favorite being exercising boys that yell "I'm flexing my abs!" when you roll them up.

In all, it's a pretty awesome game. To show how awesome it is, I've pre-ordered the US version of the game AND the soundtrack. It's gonna be 30 bucks, and I promise you it'll be the best 30 dollar new game you'll ever buy if you liked the first one. But for full enjoyment, live in Japan so you recognize EVERYTHING in the game first. That makes it so much better.

I suppose after an intro like that, I'd better get to the column. My apologies that the column doesn't have as much news, but it does have that spiffy Katamari review and the largest Culture Corner to date. Everyone should know where the title comes from by now, so let's get our roll on and get this party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

This week, I was happy to see Gundam True Odyssey in the top spot, but sadly, many of the other games on the chart fell so quickly that I fear they will be off the chart next week. I'll have my fingers crossed for them as the week progresses. Three titles already took the plunge, and I had higher expectations for at least one of them. We'll have to see next week.

I've not got much else to say here, so let's see those numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Gundam True Odyssey Bandai
5 Mushiking: Battle of the Beetles Sega
8 Mar Heaven KNOCKING ON HEAVEN'S DOOR Konami
14 Zill O'll Infinite Koei
16 Drag-On Dragoon 2 Square Enix
25 Metal Saga Success
36 Pokémon Emerald Nintendo
44 SD Gundam G Generation DS Bandai
46 Romancing SaGa Square Enix
47 TearRing Saga Series Berwick Saga Enterbrain


Source: Dengeki Online



 Atelier Iris Eternal Mana Back in Stores
Atelier  Iris ~Eternal Mana~

Gust Interactive has decided to take another shot at selling Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ with a new bargain price and some new content. The Gust Best Price version will feature the English voice track and has some minor tweaks to the balancing of the battle system to make it more fluid.

Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ was originally released in May of 2004 in Japan, and it will be re-released on August 4 for 3990 yen.

Sources: Game Watch




 Legendia Pre-order Goodies
Tales of Legendia

Those with enough foresight to pre-order Tales of Legendia will receive a special "Premium DVD" along with their game. The DVD contains interviews with the voice actors for the main characters and some footage of them recording those voices. There will also be a video of the New Japan Philharmonic recording the soundtrack, a making-of section, and some trailers for the game.

Tales of Legendia is slated for an August 25 release in Japan for 7140 yen.

Source: Gamewatch



 Gundam True Odyssey First Week Sales
Gundam True Odyssey

As was mentioned in the Dengeki chart, the top selling game last week was Gundam True Odyssey. It sold a hefty 85,989 copies and would have sold more if stores hadn't sold out; 97% of all copies shipped sold. Retailers were a bit worried because One Year War had shipped 400,000 copies and only sold 158,959 of those in the first week. To date, it hasn't hit the 400,000 mark. It is untelling how many copies Gundam True Odyssey would have sold if there had been ample supply.

If any more news surfaces, you can rest assured RPGamer will have continuing coverage.

Source: Anime News Network



  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

This week, I have broken my previous record of eight letters with an astounding ten letters. I am thrilled to have so much email. I think number of emails in the Culture Corner probably relates to the total number of people that read my column each week.

As for the Japanese lessons, I've really been enjoying doing them for you. I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I enjoy making them. I haven't had any feedback, but if you keep reading them, you'll probably learn a fair bit of grammar.

That said, let's get started!



TV


Hi Jordan

Good job filling in for QnA and hosting Roundtables. I bet you're the hardest worker on the RPGamer staff now, huh? You know, there may be more Americans who know about Tanabata than you think because of the sixth Pokemon movie, which is based on the holiday. Anyway, my question is more of a personal one. I was wondering how often you watch TV over there. Do you watch a lot of TV? What kind of programs do you watch? Is Japanese that TV different from American TV? Which station do you think Americans should have their satellites receive, if they can?

Alan


Sensei

Thanks for the compliment. I've always wanted to host QnA, and I think I did a pretty good job of it. I've been coming to the site since before it was RPGamer, and I've read the bulk of the QnA columns that have ever been written. I was thrilled to guest host a LONG time ago, and I never even dreamed I'd be doing it solo.

As for the Tanabata thing, yeah, I'm sure there are a fair number of people that know the story, but there are also a fair number of people that don't. In my writing, I try not to leave anything that isn't obvious undefined. I don't like to make people assume they know what I'm talking about, so I just gave the whole story. The same would apply to game reviews I do.

And for your question about TV, I watch almost none. I get a whopping four channels here in Shikoku, and all of them are a little snowy. Kind of funny that I have a 26 inch Sony WEGA LCD HDTV and I don't even watch TV, but I DO have dual PS2s and GCs hooked up to it. It gets plenty of use. If you wanted some Japanese TV, I'd go with TV Asahi or NHK.

Thanks for writing. Dunno if I'm the hardest worker at RPGamer, but I do the best I can. We've got some pretty hard workers, so the competition for that title is pretty stiff. I'm just glad people like what I do.


Wish I could tell you

Hi, for some reason my email doesn't work so please read this instead. that is of course, if you haven't already thought this was a virus and deleted it.

my only real question is...what's going on with working designs?

last I heard they had made the growlansers, but now nothing at all. I also visited their site which gave few clues, they did have an april fools gag up around 3 months ago, but I have no idea what's going on.

after all we all love us some lunar...and strange strategy and shooter games.

thanks a lot,

John from connecticut


Sensei

Unfortunately, you know more about them than I do. I can't help you at all on this one. I'd love them to do another project, but I dunno when that'll be. Sorry, and thanks for writing!


Fireworks


In regards to your closing for Japandemonium.. "Enjoy your fireworks". I'd just like to comment that it's just not possible since the Fireworks Expo here in Wisconsin last year on 9/11. After seeing what $35,000 worth of fireworks could do, a display lasting over an hour of constant fireworks, our annual fourth-of-july display just seemed like it was in slomo. And if you blinked it was over with already.

So you enjoy your fireworks festival later this month, which will most likely outdo even our greatest shows in the midwest.

Angel0886


Sensei

Aww sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy your fireworks either. I have to work during the fireworks festival in Niihama, but I'll have a pretty good view of them from my classroom. Could be worse.

Thanks for writing, and I hope you get to enjoy a fireworks display like the one on 9/11 again.


I like making them


dear sensei

hello, this' the first time I'm writing to you ^_^ thanks a lot for the japanese lessons you're uploading, and for the time you take to make them. I've really been enjoying them, and learning a lot too. Here in my homeland its somewhat expensive to take actual lessons for me (500-600 us$ per month) so I've been trying hard everyway i can to learn japanese (mostly traveler's tapes/books i can afford T_T), Thanks a million again XD I must say your column is really entertaining and informative...I'm part japanese so I have always been interested in almost everything in japan, mostly traditions, sights, food and of course j-music, manga and anime. I always read japandemonium whenever i can, and i like to keep al the pics you upload as well.

Anyway, Q time +_+ just 2 for now- Is the Xeno-series really not all that popular over there in japan? I have yet to get ep2, but i've been reading that they're not really all that popular in japan (sidenote- I HATE Shion's new look...i miss her specs!) this one is a bit silly but, talking about girls with specs...are they really "something else" in japan? I saw in the anime Fruits Basket (ep20) that they are considered "classy" or "tasteful" since the Showa time...is this really a fact? I'm just a little curious since i happen to go like girls with specs since i was a kid :P

Thanks a lot for your time!

(sorry about the length u_u i can get carried away sometimes)
take care

alex


Sensei

It was suggested that I start doing the Japanese lessons in conjunction with our translator, but I decided to do them on my own. I wanted them to be my general style of teaching. I try to be the opposite of serious in my classes. I think everyone learns more of they're having fun. I'm just glad that people enjoy them.

As for the questions, I don't know much about the sales for the Xeno series here. I do know that I can pick up a copy of Xenosaga II for pretty cheap. That doesn't speak too highly of its sales, but I can understand why people would lose interest in it. I got Xenosaga I when I was a junior in University. That was two years ago, almost three as I recall, and it's just hard to maintain interest when the games are spaced so far apart. At two years each, it'll take 10 years to get the whole series out. That's just too long to complete it.

As for the glasses thing, it really is a big deal. A LOT of boys here go for girls in glasses, and I'll admit that I do too. I remember hearing a story at a cosplay for an anime convention. The MC was talking about a Japanese judge, and there was this girl who was somewhat cute. The judge didn't even pay attention to her until she put on glasses. He suddenly became VERY interested and said 'megane onee-chan', which translates to 'girl with glasses' in Japanese. I don't know what it is about glasses, but my fiancée looks oh so cute in hers. It's just one of those things.

Thanks for writing, and I'm glad you enjoy the lessons! I'll keep 'em coming!


Religion part 1


I was reading the letters on Christianity being an exclusive religion that doesn't include any others. The funny thing is that alot of stuff Christians do now are a result of mixing religions. If you just look at Christmas and read a little history you'd find out that alot of modern practices (such as Christmas trees, exchanging presents, etc.) are a result of mixing pagan and Christian practices. I just thought I'd mention that.

As for a a question......Is it true that alot of anime's get musicals based off od them. I know I've heard of musicals based of Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena, but are there any others? For that matter are there any based off of video games?

Carrie


Sensei

Yeah, Christianity has a lot of practices from other religions that have worked themselves deep into traditions that are practiced today. It's really interesting when you study how much of my religion comes from other religions, but that doesn't really bother me. I'm pretty open about religion, and I try to answer life's questions the best I can. This leads me to have my own personal flavor of Christianity that is similar to some denominations, but not exactly.

As for your question, I haven't heard anything about those, but it doesn't surprise me. I haven't heard of anything, but I'll keep my eyes open for things now. It's amazing some of the things people make....

Thanks for writing!


Very good point!

what's Up?

I have written to you before and I have 1 point to make and 1 question to ask.

First, I understand how you feel about feeling more American because I have never felt more American until I moved to S. Korea. I guess it is the anti-U.S. feeling over here in Korea that did it for me. The only thing I ask of them is not to protest while wearing a N.Y. Yankees baseball cap. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? But as I say, everyone has the right to an opinion whether I agree with it or not.

My question is where was that giant Gundam head you saw in Kyoto? I will be heading to Osaka/Kyoto in mid-August and I wanted to go check that out along with the thousands of temples in the area. Just a quick point in the right direction will help. Thanks.

Peace,

Eric "who you lookin at?" D.


Sensei

You know, that IS a good point. I wonder how many people do those sorts of things. I'll remember that if I ever protest a country's actions. *Not to self: Don't wear a hat that is highly representative of that country!*

As for the Gundam head, it's easy to find. Assuming it's still there, it's right at Kyoto Station close to the buses. Walk around outside and you'll find it. If you're going, make sure you hit Nara. It's a SUPER cheap train ticket away, and the Daibutsu is something you do NOT want to miss. One of the best things I saw hands down.

Hope it's still there, and thanks for writing!


Religion part 2


Hi,

As far as other religions in Japan go, it might also be interesting to mention that Japan also has a modest-sized Jewish population (around 2,000 - about the same as some European countries). There are also a few Jewish cemeteries and synagogues that date back to the late 1800's.

Regards,

Michael Nathan


Sensei

I was completely unaware of that. I never would have known, because I've never seen anything related to Judaism here. Thanks for pointing it out!


Pants


dear j sensei ^_^

since you said that you wear 2 pair of pants in the winter, i was wondering: how cold is it in the winter? is it cooler than canadian winter?

also... what is the kind of pants you like to wear? like i prefer jogging pants all the time over anything else since they are so comfortable and warm....

Mishotaki


Sensei

It doesn't get THAT cold, only down around freezing. We had some snow, but not much, but the problem is not exactly temperature. It's that there is NO insulation in my apartment. My apartment gets so cold in winter, and my heater is worthless. I'd rather just bundle up then pay a fortune for nothing, so I roughed it. Incidentally, this is the second time I've gone though a winter with no heat. My apartment my junior year had NO heat whatsoever. Evidently the landlords missed that fact when they rented me the apartment and were shocked when I told them about that. That was in New Orleans, and the weather was comparable to here. But much further north and I doubt I'd been able to handle it.

As for the pants, I mainly wore jeans with a pair of pajama pants under them for warmth. I don't have any sweatpants, but I wish I did.

Thanks for writing!


Pantsu


This question may seem odd but i like wearing boxers.Which do you prefer boxers or briefs?

Yukiohfan1986


Sensei

You know, you answer ONE silly question, and you get someone doing the same joke. But I'll humor you just this once. I wear boxers from Abercrombie with mooses on them. Mooses rock!


Buzzer Beater


Another quick question for you... When teaching in Japan, do you get any vacation time and/or a chance to come home during the year?

-Daniel


Sensei

Actually, yes I do. I get a week off just after Christmas, a week off for Golden Week, and I get 10 days off of my choosing so long as it doesn't hinder my students' learning. I should be careful of too many lesson cancelations on any given day of the week. But due to this little mission I'm taking, I got a week off in August approved, my birthday approved, and Christmas approved. I can't get anything else off this year, but I've still got a week left before I quit in May.

Thanks for yet another email!



 Sayonara

Another week, another column finished. Next week's probably going to be late. I'll do the best I can to get a column up in a timely fashion, but I'm not going to have internet next week due to my mission. At least I was able to trade this favor for some holiday time that I might not have gotten otherwise. I drove a hard bargain, but it was approved. So, now I'm off.

Catch you on the flip,


Jordan "On a scale of 1 to Awesome, I'm Super Great!" Jackson




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