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JAPANDEMONIUM
 
shouman, satsuki no nijuuichi
Tsubame
Konnichiwa

Japan has a plethora of national symbols, taken from the realms of architecture, warfare, fine arts, botany, mariculture, agriculture, and what have you. This time of year, the most prominent national symbol takes flight in a very literal fashion.


The tsubame, or Hirundo rustica guttaralis, is the local subspecies of barn swallow. Like every other version of its species, it is hardly threatened by close contact with humans. It is officially listed under "least concern" on the IUCN Red List, but that doesn't mean much to the Japanese government. Intentionally causing harm to a barn swallow, or damaging one of their nesting sites, is a criminal offence in the land of the rising sun. When swallows set up a new nest, Japanese people will often add little reinforcements like platforms to both protect the nest and limit the amount of bird droppings that fall onto the pavement below.

Tsubame ga hikuku tobu to, ame ga furu (If the swallows fly low, the rain will come) is an old saying in Japanese, and it's not the only way in which these little birds have left their mark on the culture. There's a famous Japanese sword technique named for them -- tsubame-gaeshi -- that was also made the name of a Pokémon technique (translated as Aerial Ace in English). The Kyushu Shinkansen line is called the Tsubame, though the name has been used for various rail lines since 1930. They are even the mascots for a Japanese baseball team.

Not bad for a bunch of opportunistic little bug-eaters, no?

Nippon Ichi has a new way for fans to show their love. For fans of Absolute Hero Makeover, NIS offers a custom outfit for Playstation Home their avatars.





Etranze, assistant and heroine of AHM, has her own sort of style, and she's willing to share. At 100 yen each for the top and skirt, it's an affordable style.

Source: Famitsu Online
Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 Last seen at 1 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Square Enix
7 Last seen at 11 Pokémon Ranger - Path of Light Nintendo
10 Last seen at 18 Pokémon Heart Gold / Soul Silver Nintendo
12 Last seen at 7 NieR Replicant Square Enix
14 Last seen at 17 Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (PSP the Best) Capcom
15 Last seen at 21 Legend of Zelda - Spirit Tracks Nintendo
19 Last seen at 28 Dragon Quest IX - Sentinels of the Starry Skies (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix
24 Last seen at 9 Home-Tutor Hitman Reborn - Fate of Heat III Takara Tomy
25 Last seen at 38 Inazuma Eleven 2 - Fire/Blizzard Level-5
30 Last seen at 31 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (GOTY Edition) Bethesda

If you're going to make a post-apocalyptic RPG series and give it a name reminiscent of a Mel Gibson movie, you're going to need some good wheels to back it up. Characters in Metal Max 3 can specialize in hand-to-hand fighting as much as they like, but outside of the dungeons it's all bikes, tanks, and automobiles. Now, in a normal world dogs chase cars. In a world overrun by murderous machinery and missile-mounted motorcycles, it takes a special breed of cur to curb the violence.







It's a dog's life.

Source: Famitsu Online

In a world that is an archipelago without the ocean, drifting in an unending firmament, there has to be some way to get around. For the heroes of Solarobo, that way is the Asmodeus.


As a means of transporting large robots or sums of loot, it suffices, but when enemy airships approach it's not quite the best thing to have on your side. That's why Dahaka, the protagonist's robotic best bud, comes fully customizable.




Aside from its normal form, Dahaka possesses a Flying Mode for aerial combat and an Angler Mode that lets it go "fishing" for enemy ships (ripping useful parts off of them in the process). It leads one to wonder just what other upgrades lie in store for gamers in this title.







Source: Famitsu Online

There are a few titles that I've learned to ignore as I browse the Japanese news sites. Not because they aren't interesting, but because they're all MMORPGs, and for the most part those titles are very international. I still click on them from time to time out of boredom, and occasionally I get a surprise for my efforts. This is one of those rare occasions.


The Lineage series is one of the longer-running contenders in the MMORPG genre out of South Korea, but the series' gaiden (side-story) title -- while online -- apparently is not multiplayer in the same way as its parent series. Instead, Yun Jinyon and Che Yonhak (spellings approximate), series developers, have made a classic RPG set in the Lineage gameworld.

Lineage Gaiden - Another Chronicle of Lineage is intended to be a more casual gaming experience, according to the creators' interview on Dengeki. Citing inspiration from such series as Ultima, Wizardry, Ys, and Might and Magic the guys from NCsoft bring us a dungeon-crawling experience set on a boardgame-like level map, with traditional turn-based combat. From what can be seen of the game, about the only inter-player interaction to be had lies in a challenge arena that logs and ranks scores from around the world.













The game's main site is up, but the game itself is under maintenance until May 25th. It's free to register and play, if you can figure out the sign-up system. I have yet to figure out just what I'm doing wrong, that it won't let me finish the process.

Source: Dengeki Online

And to finish things up, we have art and screens for the upcoming Pokémon Black & White. I am very surprised that no one picked this up before today. I know that it was mentioned on the podcast, and the media has been available since last Saturday. Luckily I have some space down here that's just the right size....


Welcome all to the Isshu Region! Most likely an adaptation of the Kyushu region of Japan, Isshu boasts at least one massive city (seen above), as well as impressive bridges, beautiful scenery, and quaint shopping districts. If it really is based on Kyushu, then I'm expecting a massive crater in the middle of the island as well, and maybe a hyperactive volcano at the southern tip. So, who are our intrepid trainers this time around?








These two. The bigger question is, who are they adventuring with? Which three varmints are they presented with to choose as partners? Well, first there's Tsutaja, the "Snake in the Grass" Pokémon:



Then there's Bokabu, the "Fiery Pig" Pokémon.



And finally Mijumaru, the "Sea Otter" Pokémon. I'm not a big fan of this one's design...



Previously, we heard about two other new critters from Pokémon Black & White: Zorroa and Zorroark. To recap, they're apparently so bad that they're getting their own movie. Let's see how bad they can be.




Zoroark - Champion of Illusion obviously involves more than just the title character and its younger cohort. The three "Legendary Hamsters" (old joke) from the Gold and Silver games not only make an appearance in the movie, the appearance carries over into the new game. Right now, gamers across Japan have the chance to get one of the three in "shiny" form via special promotion (rather, they can get a ticket for it now, and get the Pokémon after June 18th). Transferring any of them to Black & White enables a special event battle. Here, see the screens:





The final Poké-promotion of the summer is Celebi. We've already mentioned this one in the past, but here are a few screens of the special game event that accompanies the little green thing:





Y'know, if I'm bored I might just see this one in the theaters...

Source: Dengeki Online
Warning! Engrish!

Hisashiburi Gaijin-tan,

I was looking through a textbook meant to teach Japanese to American High School students, and I noticed a lot of the vocabulary was actually English words but being taught the Japanese pronunciation. For example notebook was "nooto." That got me thinking should American High School students be taught Engrish? That's like me telling a Japanese person "no, it's pronounced kara-tee not kara-tay." If you ever had the job of teaching introductory Japanese what would you do, teach nooto or notebook?

--Tom

Gaijin

Gaijin-tan? What are we, three years old?

Anyhoo, I think you're confusing two different things here: Engrish and loan-words. Engrish is what you get when someone who really doesn't understand English grammar or phonetics tries to write something with the intent of passing it off as English. The end result is often inappropriate, poorly spelled, or incomprehensible. It's also often the result of a poorly paid translation staff.

Loan-words, on the other hand, are bits of vocabulary from other languages which have found their way into everyday Japanese use. As far as the Japanese are concerned, the proper word for a small sheaf of ruled paper on a spiral or pressed binding that is used to jot down information in class or at meetings is called a nooto, and that word is officially Japanese. This is exactly like how in English the proper word for a slice of raw fish served on a handful of pressed and vinegared rice served with soy sauce is called sushi, and not something else. The word may have its origins in another language, but it's been naturalized.

So yes, if I were to teach Japanese 100, I would teach the word nooto, because it is a Japanese word that just happens to have been appropriated from English.

Thanks for writing in!

Three minor bits of personal news this week. First, my classroom is officially weasel-less now. It has been relocated to the pleasant slopes of Mt. Aso. Second, this weekend is the Jr. High Sports Day. Pray for my girlfriend's sanity. Third, as of this evening I have racked up 150,000 steps on my Pokémon pedometer. Since last Tuesday. I walk a lot.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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