shoutsuki no hatsuka
Akemashite Omedetou!

The year's starting slow for Japandemonium, but mostly because life is so busy in Hi-no-Kuni. This spring I get to go through the semi-regular ordeal that is faced by foreigners in Japan: the visa renewal process.

Honestly, if one knows what to prepare in advance, it's not too messy. A completed application form, one page of which must be filled out by the employer, a copy of a current work contract, and a pair of tax documents requested from the local city, county, or ward office -- that's all one actually needs. A bit of good timing at the immigration office can also do wonders, as the total time spent there this week (for me) was only half an hour.

After everything is sent in, all one can do is wait and hope for the best. While I can request a specific length of extension to my visa, in the end the actual number of years depends on the vagaries of the Japanese bureaucracy.

But for now, happy new year!

Normally this would be where I put all the new year's welcomes from various game companies. This year there were nine full pages of the things in Famitsu. Unfortunately, when my laptop died last October my scanning capacity went with it. I have yet to get my scanner to work with the new laptop, so I'm largely doing without. Oh well, another time.

1/2 ~ 1/8 12/26 ~ 1/1 12/19 ~ 12/25 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
3 2 4 Last seen at 2 Monster Hunter 3G Capcom
4 6 8 Last seen at 4 Inazuma Eleven Go Shine/Dark Level-5
8 5 7 Last seen at 1 Final Fantasy XIII-2 Square Enix
14 15 10 New Arrival! Inazuma Eleven Strikers 2012 Level-5
16 23 12 Last seen at 10 PokéPark 2 - Beyond the World Nintendo
17 25 30 Last seen off-list Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP The Best) Capcom
23 Off-list 25 Last seen off-list The Little Battlers: Boost Level-5
29 17 23 New Arrival! Frontier Gate Konami

Heroes Phantasia arrived in stores this week, but there's still just a little time left to squeeze in new characters, it would seem. In fact, multiple cast members from all series involved seem to have joined in the fun. This time around, we get a look at the rival characters. Let's get started!

From My-HiME come Shizuru Fujino, Alyssa Searrs, and Miyu Greer.

From s-CRY-ed come the Tokonatsu sisters: Banka, Chuka, and Shoka.

From Rune Soldier come Renard, Isabel, Lily, and Jackinson.

From Read or Die come Xuanzang and Gennai Hiraga.

From Keroro Gunsou come First Lieutenant Garuru and Kiruru the super-weapon.

From Blood+ comes Karl Fei-Ong.

From the two Darker than Black series represented, there are November 11 and Genma Shizume.

And finally, from Slayers comes Zuma.

With one or two exceptions, I knew absolutely nothing about these series before this game was announced. What I know now is that several of them should have their English Wikipedia pages heavily edited for spelling, grammar, and content issues. But aside from that, Heroes Phantasia is certainly shaping up to be interesting, to say the least.

Source: Dengeki Online

Mugen Souls for the PS3 is a complicated game in many ways. Its game world is a mishmash of realms built on top of one another like a layer cake. The seven color-coded worldlets are named after the days of the week in Japanese, and we can assume that this name game will continue in the event of an English release. Each has its own specific heroes as well. Last month, we met the heroes of SunWorld. This time, as we've had a little time for the news to percolate between columns, the various heroes of MonWorld, TuesWorld, and WednesWorld are ready to represent.

MonWorld is a twilit oriental realm that is rather heavy on the traditional Japanese decor. Its resident hero is the samurai shrine girl Tsukika (Moon Scent) Izayoi. Hers is a particularly thankless job, as no one in MonWorld seems to know that she is a hero. She's a lot stronger than she looks. Her counterpart in MonWorld is the Demon Lord Shirogane. He's a strong, gruff guy with a secret weakness -- he can't stand up to a crying girl. Tsukika has apparently used this to her advantage in the past.

TuesWorld is a scorching landscape of volcanos and lava, and it's appropriate that the locals all look like Disgaea-style demons. The hero for this realm is Demon Lord and pop diva Aless Laeventein. Alongside her is Elka the "narcissist gentleman," though she might wish otherwise.

For WednesWorld, the wintry and scholarly realm of magic, we only have one hero at the moment. Marina Cananbert, aside from dressing in a way completely inappropriate for her realm's weather, is an explorer who delves into the ruins hidden beneath WednesWorld's ice and snow. She enjoys teasing new principles out of the information she gathers, which often ends in a bang. A really big bang.

Combat in Mugen Souls tries to shake things up in various ways. One of these is the "Blow Away" system, where certain attack skills can knock an enemy off its feet, and then everyone joins in on a fun game of pinball -- with the enemy as the ball. The unfortunate baddie can be rebounded off walls, allies' weapons, or even other enemies. Under the right conditions, other features of the landscape may come into play, dropping all sorts of odd items on the target.

Also appearing on the field of battle are crystals. Crystals may be smashed to provide a variety of effects on the player or the enemy. Smaller crystals may affect only the nearest characters, but big crystals will affect the entire field.

Mugen Souls has one more surprise, however, and that is vehicular combat. Massive airships face off against each other, with Chou-Chou's G-Castle taking all.

Source: Dengeki Online

It was a magical event. It was a single, perfect moment in time. It was the wedding of Princess Toki of Kamuza and the young knight of her dreams. If games and movies have taught us anything, it is that if a story begins with a wedding, then something bad will happen. That's how things seem to be going in Toki to Towa ("Time and Eternity"), a newly announced PS3 title being produced by Bandai-Namco. Before the wedding, a fortune teller apparently predicted that misfortune would occur during the ceremony.

Here are the protagonists. As mentioned above, Toki is the princess of Kamuza. Her fiancé has no official name; being the player's stand-in he can be named whatever one wishes. We have two screens from what appears to be their wedding day, which shows that they at least made it to the altar before something bad happened. Also, it shows that the cinematic sequences are done in a full anime style rather than being generated from within the game's graphics engine.

Otherwise we know very little about this title. Last week's teaser pages in Famitsu showed four female characters, one of them being Toki, but we don't have names or descriptions for them yet. Toki does seem very proficient with firearms for a princess, however.

What caught my eye about this right off the bat is the character designs. I was pretty sure I knew the artist even before I saw his name on the teaser pages -- Vofan. This is the guy who did all the art for the Bakemonogatari series of light novels. One of these days I'm going to have to get back to reading the second volume... But in any case, it looks like the devs at Imageepoch are doing a good job of translating his signature style into game graphics.

No release date has been announced as yet, but it is supposed to be out sometime later this year for the PS3. I am definitely considering this one despite my persistent issues with text sizes in PS3 games. It just looks beautiful.

It's been a while since we saw anything about Nendoroid Generations. The last time (and wow, that was back in April!) we did, it was mainly about the heroes. This makes sense, as it's definitely a cameo-fest of fantastic crossover potential. Much like this week's other crossover RPG, today it's all about the opposition.

The Four Heavenly Kings are a recurring trope in Japanese RPGs, and a game such as this can't help but play up to it, I suppose. So here we have the current incarnation of the four. Papkina is an innocent little girl... or at least likes to present herself as one. Her gas-belching pumpkins would beg to differ. Isekottsu is a master clown who ironically hates other people's smiles. With a large array of circus-themed weaponry, she is ready to do just that. The bandaged Bistory is a bit of a mystery. It is to be assumed that it is female, along with every other cast member known at this point, but that might be debateable. The fourth Heavenly King is Barizogarn, a twisted stuffed animal who never once felt love and now wants to take its (her?) hatred out on the rest of creation.

And then there's Koklay, the official aide-de-camp to the Big Bad behind the Four, Negacry. While we don't have a picture of Negacry herself, she might be the other character in this screenshot.

It's just as likely she's another underling, though.

Nendoroid Generations is due out February 23rd, for the PSP.

Source: Famitsu Online
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Tokyo Monoharashi: Karasunomori Gakuen Kitan (Atlus Best) Atlus 1.12.12
Super Robot Wars OG: Masou Kishin 2 Revelation of Evil God Bandai-Namco 1.12.12
Fate/EXTRA (PSP The Best) Marvelous 1.12.12
Trinity Zill O'll Zero (Koei-Tecmo The Best) Koei-Tecmo Games 1.19.12
Heroes Phantasia Bandai-Namco 1.19.12
Beyond the Labyrinth Konami 1.19.12
Rune Factory Oceans (PS3 The Best) Marvelous 1.19.12
Tales of Innocence R Bandai-Namco 1.26.12
Source: Dengeki Online
Yay, A Letter!

I know it's a little late but you wanted examples of bad translations. On an "unofficial" release of Ys I&II Chronicles soundtrack there is a song titled Palace of Salmon. It didn't occur to me for a long time that they meant Palace of Solomon. Definitely something fishy going on there...


It's never too late for letters!

One frequent issue I have seen, especially in fan-made or otherwise unofficial translations, is that sometimes people make general assumptions about how Japanese words in katakana would be transcribed into English. Things like always assuming that a doubled A is supposed to stand in for an R sound, or how the Japanese R kana should be L's. This usually does not take into account obvious name games that the devs were using, or the possibility that everything was supposed to sound like a language other than English. In a few, thankfully amateur, incidences I have even seen would-be translators who did not know the orthographic rules for doubled consonants in Japanese, for example turning a monster called Nakki into a Natsuki. This only gets worse when the game designers are drawing on mythological or occult references that the translators don't recognize.

An example of that last one would be the four Noble Devils of Romancing SaGa 3. In the unofficial translation they are known as Arakes, Byunei, Forneus, and Aunas. Over the winter break (and fueled by jet-lagged insomnia), I did a bit of internet detective work and determined that all four were probably connected to the Legemeton, a classical listing of the demons of Hell. This would make their names Alloces, Bune, Forneus, and Avnas. This is the sort of thing that even professional translators are likely to mess up, especially those who were working before a lot of mythological databases went online.

On a barely related note, I was wondering what is the most literal translation of "kurai". It's normally said when someone is attacking (in a video game) and is generally translated as "take this!" Which I'm sure is the best translation, but I'm just curious what the actual verb or whatever is even if it won't make much sense.


The word kurai means "dark." What you probably want is the word kure, which is a blunt command form of the verb kureru (to do something for). Even in that form, it's actually meant as a plea instead of a demand, as far as I can tell. It is often appended to other forms to make requests. The game title Conception: Ore no Kodomo wo Undekure! (Please bear my children!) is an example of this bit of grammar.

There was a third thing, but I don't remember what it was. You wanted more letters anyways so I guess it works out for the best!

-- Tom


Feel free to write in whenever you remember that third thing. Letters are always appreciated.

This weekend is Eiken testing, again, for all students who want to take it. Please feel free to cheer them on. Some of the kids at my school are taking the Level 2 test, which is just ridiculous.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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