||December 26, 2005
The week has flown by again, and already it is time to write my column. Weeks normally fly by, but it had a little help this week. I played more Dragon Quest VIII this week than I have spent in any other week with any other game this year. Ordinarily, I wouldn't think I could squeeze over 60 hours of play into a week, but it seems that I can and have. I still can't believe it.
Speaking of things that I cannot believe, there are less than three weeks until Christmas. The Earth has nearly managed to make yet another trip around the sun, and Santa will soon be making his trip to put shiny new games in our hands. I am quite looking forward to Christmas this year, since it will be the first time I've been home since Christmas last year. Here's hoping that we all have wonderful holidays regardless of which one or ones you choose to celebrate. There are enough holidays in this month for us all to pick one and enjoy.
As for this week's title, it means 'soul' in Japanese. The reason I picked this particular word is that Dragon Quest VIII seems to have stolen mine. Like I said before, I logged in over 60 hours this week. I even rigged up a rubber band so I could make stuff in the alchemy pot while I did other stuff. I've never seen a game take hold of me like this one has, but I don't mind so much. The game is pure gold. Virtually everything about it is good. I say this even though I spent hours trying to beat ONE boss that continually destroyed me. I don't know what everyone else thinks, but I think that's great. I can't remember the last time I got killed in a game. When was the last time you were in a fight and were on the edge of your seat worried that you might get hit before you get to cast your cure spell? Heck, when was the last time you actually had to CURE on a boss at all? This game changes all that, and if you get it, it'll probably steal your soul too.
But enough singing the praises of Dragon Quest. Let's get this party started!
The chart this week is full of new titles. In fact, twenty new games found their way onto the chart. At first, I thought it was because there wasn't a chart last week, but upon closer inspection, this is not the case. Much like in America where every game on the planet came out on one day last month, it seems to have happened in Japan. The net result is that over 320,000 copies of Animal Crossing: Wild World sold across the country to take the top spot. Even though an RPG took the second spot, there was still a significant gap between them. It seems Nintendo has done it again and is showing why it is the current leader in handheld gaming. But despite all the new blood infused into this chart, only seven of the top fifty are RPGs.
At a press conference, Square Enix recently announced the price for the upcoming Final Fantasy XII. The game is expected to hit shelves on March 16 of next year for 8990 yen. The standard price for a game is 7140, so this is a relatively significant hike. For comparison's sake, Dragon Quest VIII retailed for 9240 and went on to sell more than three million copies.
Square Enix also revealed that the game's main theme is being composed by Taro Hakase. This song is titled "Kibou," and that translates as 'hope' in English. Hakase has been working on the piece for two years. The single of the song will appear on Japanese shelves on March 1, and it will come in two varieties. Those only wanting the song can pick it up for a mere 1050 yen, but those wanting a little more can go for the special edition for 1680 yen that will also feature a DVD of clips of the game. For those thinking that 1050 is a bit high for only a single, Ayumi Hamasaki's recent single retailed for a whopping 3000 yen.
One final tidbit was that Square Enix is teaming up with Suntory, Japan's largest soft drink producer, to make a new drink called "Potion." The chief of Suntory's food business division, Kazuhiro Saitou, said that the drink will revitalize drinkers, much like a potion does in the game. The drink will feature herbs like hyssop and lemon balm. Those wanting a taste of the new drink will also have choices to make. There will be a standard drink and a "premium box" that comes with a special bottle and a Final Fantasy XII Art Museum Card.
Atlus pushed back the release date of Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou by almost a month from February 9 of next year to March 2. No reason was given for the delay.
Some of the various uses of the touchpad were shown in a recent scan for Konami's upcoming Iron Feather. Like so many other DS games, it will use the touchpad extensively. One example shows two posts on opposite sides of a canyon. By moving the stylus in a circular shape from one post to another, rope bridges can be made. Another example shows that the stylus can be used to drag objects to switches, which looks much faster than the way statues are usually pushed in other games, and a final example shows that using the touchpad to draw magical crests can unlock certain doors.
Those wishing to find out all the nifty uses for the touchpad can do so for themselves in just over a week. The game hits shelves on December 15.
Sony recently announced Blade Dancer, a new PSP RPG that is slated for a release on March 2 of next year. The game will follow the adventures of a young man named Shane as he travels to a mysterious island called "Fuu" to finish his training. On this island, he dreams of a strange woman in trouble, but he feels that the dream is more than just a figment of his imagination. He decides to try to find and rescue her.
So far, no details of the battle system have been revealed, but the game will feature an item creation system called the "Grafting System." The game will also allow teams of up to four players to work together on special team missions in network play.
Idea Factory announced that they are beginning a sweepstakes contest. People that buy any recent Idea Factory game and fill in the enclosed feedback card will be entered to win one of three thousand Idea Factory Premium DVDs containing trailers and concept art. Included in the disc will be content from upcoming PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game and trailers for the upcoming IF Neverland and IF Type Rel with recorded messages from the voice actors. The contest will end on December 20.
It was a GREAT week for letters. Due to the column being a day late, I got a sixth letter. I like it when I get a nice full Culture Corner.
But since I've got so many letters to get to, I should probably get cracking. Let's get to it!
Welcome back from your amazing week in Kyoto! I went there
on the summer - cool place. (I saw Kiyomizu, Kinkaku, Heian, and
Sanjyusangendo). I haven't got Dragon Quest VIII myself, but I can
understand getting addicted. take your time getting back to the Japanese
I haven't got Mario Kart DS, but I'm gonna get Animal Crossing Wild
World. If you're gonna get that too, maybe you could post your village
or something (don't know if there's a certain way to visit one village
in AC), It'd be cool to visit.
I tried to mail a letter when the E-mail server crashed. Here's the
most important parts:
"I've played Disgaea and La Pucelle, and I'm planning to get Phantom
Brave, and everything else eventually. You've obviously played some of
Nippon Ichi's tactics series; which do you like best? . . . . . . . .
Regarding the decision to make a Disgaea anime, you think it's a bad
idea? Other than Fire Emblem and Wild Arms, most video game animes have
turned out pretty bad (I don't consider FF7:Advent Children an anime)
and the last thing we want is Disgaea ruined! Even if it were to be
good, would you have done Disgaea as opposed to some of the other games?"
I've got questions, hopefully you've got answers.
P.S. Have you ever been to the Toshogu Shrine (in Nikko)? If so,
don't you think it's great!? Almost as good as Kyoto. . . (If you
haven't gone, see if you can get there. It really is cool.)
It's interesting you would mention that shrine. I was just talking about it this weekend with some of my other American friends. I'd love to see it, but sadly, the will be another trip for another day. It'll be some time before I make it out that way, but I'll try to hit it some day.
As for the anime, I think Disgaea will be OK. I'm not too worried about it. Lots of anime are based on games and vice versa. I think Disgaea is a perfect candidate for becoming an anime, so I think they'll do it right. Worst case is that they don't, and we don't watch it.
While we're on the topic, I think others have been good. I enjoyed Xenosaga, and it helped fill in the gaps between Ep 1 and Ep 2. You can't please everyone, so some people will hate it no matter how good it is. Also, some people will love it no matter how bad it is. That's just how these things work. Here's hoping we're one of the ones that likes it.
Thanks for writing!
I'm glad to see that you and your fiancée had a good time in Kyoto. Thank
you for being so kind as to share your pictures and experience with us...
And was that santa Colonel Sanders for me? ;P
Wow, I didn't know the cherry blossom trees where so fragile. Just one
broken branch and the tree goes terminal? Sheesh, considering the fact that
pretty much every plant I ever owned has met a rather unfortunate end
('green thumb'? more like 'black thumb of death'...) those poor trees
wouldn't last a day in my care...
Anyway, since you linked your LJ on your last post, I decided to take a look
around. It seems life in Japan is pretty interesting for you, but in one of
your posts you mentioned that your students know all about their Chinese
Zodiac and they seemed to chat amiably about it. So I was wondering if they
have the same enthusiasm about their western Zodiac as well?
Glad you enjoyed the pictures, and yeah, the Colonel Sanders was kind of for you. But it was also kind of for everyone. It's just something that struck me as being uniquely column-worthy.
As for the sakura, I think some people misunderstood what I said last time. Someone pointed out that there are sakura in D.C. I am aware of that, and I know that there are trees all over the US, especially on the east coast. What I meant to say is that the trees are quite fragile. In order to move them, great care must be taken. Breaking off a branch won't kill the tree, but that branch will never recover. I suppose breaking too many will kill the tree, but I don't know for sure. Also, there are more than one kind of sakura. The ones we are most familiar with are the Yoshino variety. It's not just a single type of tree.
As for the zodiac, they do know about our version, but it's not a big deal from what I can tell. They seem to be more interested in blood type horoscopes than anything. That's why you always see the blood type of any character created in Japan. This stuff has a LOT of meaning. Or at least they think it does. I dunno about it myself. But that's how these things work, I suppose.
Thanks for another letter. Keep 'em coming!
Bah, I still want Namco x Capcom so bad... T_T
Anyways, I've contemplated my last letter and its response. It got me
thinking; you've been to Japan quite a few times, I suppose? Or at least a
couple? That is your column, right? What I thought was this: just how many
games are there that are never brought over to America, or even heard of
here? I'd like to think I could find them all in one place on the internet,
but occasionally, even with all the surfing one may have done, one tends to
find a game which he had yet to discover. I looked at the Japanese web site
for Nippon Ichi and found that, even with the impress localization they've
been doing recently (drool drool Disgaea 2 drool), there are still Nippon
Ichi games of which no word has been given in America. Mehe, I can't
remember the name of what I saw, but there's one I'd yet to hear anything
about, which almost looks like a futuristic gun-wielder.
Well, in all of that, you may have lost what I was saying. What I meant was,
just how many games are there in Japan that never become public in America?
And Carrot Men are still the best, even if Gladiators do have more power.
They're just plain good for ju!
At current count, there are 437 games that came out in Japan that America never heard about. Or to be a little more serious, there are a lot. I can't really say how many, because the number is pretty big. But you know, we get some games in America that Japan doesn't. Few people realize that America and Japan are two separate markets. We Americans get more games first than a lot of people realize, and we get some games that they simply do not get at all. A lot of the games simply wouldn't do well. I don't see pachinko or Go games being very big in the US. Other games don't hop the pond because the investment to do so is too large. Lots of things factor into it. Japanese people like money. If they thought more money would be made by bringing over more games, then they'd do it if they were able to do so. It looks like the costs just overshadow the perceived gains for some of the games.
As for me being here, I've been living in Japan for the past sixteen months, but my stay is ending soon. I leave Japan for good on February 19. Of course, I'll still come back and visit when I can, but I do not see myself living in Japan for any extended stay ever again. That's why I did this now while I was still able to do it. Pretty soon, I'll be back in school and starting a family. At that point, I'll have to start my life and career, as scary as that is. But that's a different talk for a different day.
Thanks for the email, and send me another if you get time.
Hi there, this is my second time writing in to your
scintillating column and I want to say before I get to my
questions that I really enjoy the photos and stories of your
trips, they paint such a fun picture for us. Especially the
video of you going through the hole in the buddhist temple,
I wanted to clap and cheer too;P
Getting down to business though, I have two questions today.
First, I can read kana so I like it when manga have
untranslated sound-effects, but there's one thing I'm not
clear on: I know what a little 'tsu' in the middle of a
word means, but what does it mean if it's at the end of a
word (or sound-effect)? My only guesses are an elongated
vowel sound or a glottal stop, am I even close?
Second, I've been trying to learn Japanese on my own for
almost two years now and I find watching anime helps, but
there are a few things they say that don't always translate
the same. What is the difference between 'ka naa' 'ka mo
shirenai' and 'kashira', is there an approximate meaning
that always applies?
Thanks for your help, I hope these aren't too silly;)
You know, I thought the same thing when I read those small 'tsu' as well, but I asked my manager about them. It turns out this is a relatively new thing in the language, and that they are there for emphasis. Those words written with the small 'tsu' at the end should be read more strongly.
As for the differences in "ka naa," ka mo shirenai," and "kashira," they are essentially all the same thing. They all mean 'I wonder ~' in Japanese, and I seemed to recall one having a stronger probability or certainty. Upon asking my manager, they are all the same in meaning. The difference in usage is that "ka naa" is more casual than
"ka mo shirenai." The difference is roughly equivalent to "da" verses "desu." Kashira is only used by women, particularly the elderly. It is also Kanto Japanese, so it's not used as much in other places were dialects are more common.
Thanks for writing. I enjoy doing grammar questions in Japanese sometimes, too. Sometimes I ask my manager, but when that happens, I learn as much as anyone. It's win-win. If you have any questions, send 'em in. I'll do my best.
Hey Jordan first time writer (Although I am a regular in Matt's Q&A)
Anyway I'm just asking how popular is Mika Nakashima in Japan at the moment. Why? Well one of my friends as a friend in Japan called Mika, and when trying to ring her at her hotel, rang the wrong hotel by mistake, (as I think there Hotels in Japan have similar phone numbers) and asked for Mika. He ended up talking to the said Singer/actress for four hours and they are now quite close friends in both phone and e-mail. She even sended him a signed cd of her latest album.
Anyway goodnight from Australia Bainick
This one kind of came as a surprise. I've never heard of her personally, but there are a LOT of people I've never heard of. I'm no expert by any means. The 'Known By Jordan Jackson Test ©' isn't exactly the best indicator of success in Japan.
Since I wasn't exactly sure, I asked my manager if she'd heard of her, and she has. It also seems that she is starring in a live-action adaptation of the manga series "Nana." I've never read it, but I've seen it before; I don't read much by the way of girls' comics.
For a little extra info, I googled her name, and I got over 277,000 hits, so I'd say she's pretty popular indeed.
Thanks for writing! Feel free to become a regular here, too!
Howslifeminesokay? I hope I'm in time for this week. I didn't send a mail
last week because the mailserver was down, and didn't see on time that I
just could send in a letter. But here's one!
I didn't know you had a Live Journal, I shall check it out then! It seems
that you had quite a good time, the picture look awesome. I wish we had
places that look that good!I've got a question, if you go to those places,
like temples or something, how do you know what the stories are (like
drinking from the streams)? Is it all explained or do can you buy books or
do you already know it in general? Because I guess every temple and little
place in the East have their own stories... Are there any fun or wierd
stories (I don't know, in the like of ghosts or something) you can share
It's quite unbelievable your almost exactly 2 months (minus 1 day) older
than me. I'll be 24 in January and it with people like you in the same
age, I've got the feeling I've accomplished so little (still a student). Do
you feel like you've accomplished a lot? I mean you have a nice job in
another country you like, live by yourself and are engaged (and probably
more) - that's more than a lot of (or at lease, that is what I see around
me) the people of our age!
As usual I need to ask something about Japan too and as my previous wasn't
answered by Aethelred (because he probably didn't know, I'm just going to
paste it here: I had a question in my head about Japanese music charts,
what's popular and not, because it seems that most (or all) on the
Oricon-chart (it's the right name, right?) seem to be Japanese artists (or
is it a Japanese-artist chart only?). So what's up with that? Any
Western/Chinese or whatever artists popular there? Oh.. and do singles
that are from anime or videogames (I remember FFVIII "Eyes on Me" being
released on single) score good on the charts?
I'm going to leave you with this... Tell Aethelred thanks for me for
answering my questions!
PS. Do you mean this with "Cor Blimey":
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=cor%20blimey ? Is that an
expression that is often used?
"We all know that birds fly, but now can
you tell me where they are actually flying to??"
Due to Japandemonium being a day late, you just BARELY made it on time. As for the temples and their stories, I suppose I've learned part of it by going to the temples and reading things there, part by reading travel guides, and part just by watching anime/reading manga/being interested in the culture in general. I don't really have any stories off the top of my head, but I'm sure some exist.
As for the music charts, as I stated in a previous letter, I'm no expert on music, but enough of my students DO listen to Korean Pop, so I'm willing to believe that K-Pop makes it on the charts from time to time. I don't hear much about Chinese, though. And a lot of anime stuff is pretty much geared TO sell singles these days. It used to be that certain pop stars did most of the anime stuff, and that's probably true to an extent now. But anime with big budgets go after the most popular artists around for music. Just to give an example, I've heard opening songs for Gundam SEED on the radio, in pachinko parlors, in department stores, and even instrumental versions in the grocery store. I was kind of shocked by that one last week, but I happily hummed along while shopping for tomato sauce. It seems to work well for both the musicians and the people making the shows. Everyone recognizes the theme song, and people that watch the show then go out and buy the single. Videogame stuff is pretty similar, but I don't recognize as much. I have heard a little Hikaru Utada, though. She's been known to do grace a few games' OSTs. Kingdom Hearts stands out in particular.
Finally, 'Cor Blimey!' IS kinda from that which you linked. Specifically, I was referencing Yangus from DQ VIII. It seems King Trode has this habit of sneaking up on him from behind, and it's a recurring gag in the game.
Thanks for the email. Same time next week?
There you have it. Sorry this ended up being a bit late again. Real life is a way of kicking me in the shins sometimes. But everything is A-OK now, so I'm not particularly worried. I hope a nice meaty column will make up for the lateness and the smaller size of last week's column.
Catch you on the flip,