A few weeks ago I ended the column with a funny little observation. It was a bit of a throwaway line, as I often have trouble thinking of things to say in that space. At least one forum-goer loved it, naming it "Best. Line. Ever." Was it really? Probably not, but it's still funny and true. To save you all a few minutes of archive searching, I'll repeat myself.
I have weasels in my ceiling.
Not my apartment ceiling, thank goodness. The ceiling space at my school has been occupied for at least four months, though. For a long time we weren't even sure what was living in there. We were hoping for weasels, because we didn't want it to be rodents. And from the bumping and noises we'd hear from time to time, they'd have been really big rodents. Two weeks back, as I glanced out the window I happened to make a visual confirmation. A golden brown varmint, like a slinky stuffed in a tube sock, was bouncing through the grass on the opposite side of the creek behind my school. It had a light saddle-back marking and a brown mask. Unfortunately I was too far away to get a good picture with my cell camera, but a moment's check on Google came up with another critter that could have been its twin.
The Japanese Weasel, Mustella itatsi or itachi in Japanese, doesn't normally come far into populated areas. Most reference books say they prefer mountainous or forested areas with good access to water, not farmlands with the occasional kindergarten or golfing range. Because they're really good at controlling rodent populations, local governments have been introducing them to urban centers for several years now, and they seem to be taking to it quite well.
They're definitely cuter than the alternative, at least.
As sure as the sun rises in the east, you know that Nintendo's going to put out a new Pokémon movie each summer. Their latest one is sure to be an even bigger hit than usual, since it will be the world's first look at the next generation of collectible critters. But that's not the only reason to go see it. Nintendo has decided to sweeten the deal by offering a very rare Pokémon to anyone who buys a ticket for the movie. Which Pokémon? Well, in the last twelve months they've given away Jirachis and Mews. There's only one cute and highly collectible one left at this point.
Hmm... I wonder if it's worth it to go see the movie this summer...
"Medabots! Rooooo-battle!" Who remembers this regular line from the anime series Medabots? To be honest, the weird, nigh-omnipresent referee guy is one of the few things that immediately come to mind whenever I think about it (which isn't too often). For anyone in the same boat, here's a reminder of what the series is really about:
Well there's the ref, and along with him a smorgasbord of robot types. True to its roots, the new Medabots DS allows the players to mix and match parts to give their robots the edge in combat. Not to mention turning them into chimeric mishmashes of metal as well. Along the top of the right-hand scan we can also see the robots for the heroes and rivals of the two game versions, and the heroine's own robot, the Katze-Noire.
So, are there still any fans of the series out there? I've been wondering.
Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd.... Oops, wrong sport. Why aren't there any good public-domain songs about soccer? That would sure make it easier for me to transition into news about Inazuma Eleven 3.
Like the second game in the series, IE3 is coming in two flavors -- Spark and Bomber. The two versions sport different recruitable characters and different rival teams. Spark Version pits the heroes of Raimon Jr. High against Team Tenshi-no-Shito, or to put it in English, the Angels. Bomber Version features a team called Makai Gundan Z. There's a few ways that I could translate that one, starting with the most literal version, the Devil's Army. Were I to translate it for a US kids' audience under Nintendo regulations, I'd probably opt for simply calling them Team Legion. I doubt there'll be any confusion over which is which, judging from the team captains in the scan.
Level-5 is introducing a new battle mechanic in this game called "Hissatsu (Special Skill) Tactics." What it amounts to is a sort of multi-character special attack that covers a large area of the playing field. The two shown in the scan are Dual Typhoon, a speed-boosting two-person combo, and Perfect Zone Press, a strong defensive formation involving many team members.
Welcome to the new world! A world filled with little islands, but which has neither sea nor shore. Where everyone travels aboard great airships like something out of a Jules Verne novel or Ghibli film.
Bandai-Namco and CyberConnect 2 (the folks behind the .hack series) are pleased to present Solarobo - From Here to Coda. In a land of kitty-folk and puppy-folk, a young dog named Red Savarin, his little sister Chocolat, and his best friend the DAHAK-AZI03 are hunters, people for whom no job is impossible.
And yes, I just repeated half of Solarobo's last update, but in English.
Ready for some post-apocalyptic, Mad Max style adventure? Last time we learned a little about the hero of Metal Max 3, or at least as much about him as he himself knows. Obviously, a man with no past is at a disadvantage in a dangerous world. Let's see just how dangerous it can be:
With hazards like these wandering around, going solo is not an option. The Hero may not have a friend in the world, but money can buy loyalty. An early scan for this game introduced us to the Mechanic, Hunter, and Soldier classes of mercenary. Here are a few more people who might be enticed to sign up for danger and adventure: the resourceful, if erratic, Artist; the rough-and-tumble Wrestler; and the ever-helpful Nurse.
To say nothing of the dog...
And now for a bit of translation
I didn't know I was so fluent in French!
Yes, now you can tell all your friends that you are a cunning linguist! Or not, as the case may be. In any case, let's show the audience what you really wrote in about two weeks ago.
I was just curious about the seemingly ubiquitous beverage vending machines in Japan. From what I can gleam from video games and anime (always an accurate source), it seems like people use them quite
frequently and must be spending a lot of yen. Are they cheaper than here in the states, about $1.50? Maybe they're just much smaller? Enlighten me please.
Oh yes, vending machines are all over the place here. The going price for a bottle of Coke is about $1.50, but the 500ml cans of soda are often a bit cheaper. What's more interesting is the other stuff they sell out of the machines. This can include snacks like KitKats, more nutritious items like calorie bars, canned ramen or oden, prayer beads (for machines near shrines), and even lingerie in the red-light districts (or so I have heard from largely reliable sources).
And they all seem to do a great deal of business.
Sorry for leaving everyone in the lurch last week, but as of last Thursday (my usual cut-off date) I had only one news item to put in the column -- and I later found out that the game had actually been released stateside back in February, so I didn't even really have that. Rather than give a pointless micro-column, I decided to save up and present you with the full weasel-length update you've just read.
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,