minazuki no touka

As a wise cartoonist once wrote, "Verbing weirds language." There's no better example of this than English, with its loose rules concerning what can and cannot be used as a verb. In fact, about the only qualification for a word to be a verb in English is contextual -- i.e. it fits the space in the sentence that should be attributed to the verb. Unlike most languages, English lacks a set group of verb endings (aside from the easily tacked-on "s," "ing," and "ed") that would have to be conjugated.

Japanese is not like this. As far as Japanese is concerned, verbs are nearly a perfect closed word class. All verbs that have formed naturally in the language have a syllable ending in -u (-ru, -su, -tsu, -bu, -mu, -u, -ku, -gu, or -nu), from which the entire conjugation set of that verb may be derived. The verb hanasu (talk), for example, conjugates as hanasanai (doesn't talk), hanashimasu (talks, formal case), hanashita (talked), and hanashite (used variously for different grammar structures).

Of a necessity, the Japanese language has developed ways to add verbs to its vocabulary, but the resultant verbs end up in their own distinctive group. The first group option is simply to add -suru (to do) to the end of a sequence of Chinese symbols or (more recently) an English loanword. From this, we get words like kankou suru (to go sightseeing) or kyanseru suru (to cancel). In this way, it's possible to import new concepts and just add "do" to them.

The next method involves agglutinization, or taking two verbs and jamming them together. For example, we have the verb "jump/fly," or tobu in Japanese. Changing it to a combination form (tobi) allows it to be merged with other verbs that imply direction. Tobikomu means "to jump in," while tobidasu means "to jump out." Other examples include tobikudaru (to jump off), tobinoku (to jump back), tobihanereru (to jump out, be noticeable), tobitsuku (to jump at, be attracted to), or tobikeru (to jump-kick). There are many verbs that can be used in the first part of a combination, but only a handful of verbs that can be successfully used as suffixes.

The last method is the least official of the three. I call these the katakana verbs, as they are usually written out in katakana script with the exception of the final symbol, which does all the conjugation. Most katakana verbs are actual verbs in Japanese that have an alternate, slangy meaning that's not considered standard. Writing them mostly in katakana is the best way to show that the slang meaning is intended. Examples include ikeru (lit. "to be good at," slang "to be looking for action / ready for sex") or moteru (lit. "to possess," slang "to be popular with the opposite sex"). Most of the verbs in this set have a rude connotation, but all follow the same rules of conjugation as the mainstream Japanese verbs

The only real oddball here is the verb saboru. It's a katakana verb, but it has no counterpart among the actual verbs in Japanese. It is in fact a contracted form of sabotaaji suru, a word of the first class of invented verbs. It is, as far as I know, the only foreign loanword to successfully jump into the Japanese verb lexicon as a more-or-less traditional verb (at least as far as conjugation goes). What does it mean? The full version was imported as a verb for "to stage a sit-in protest," based on the word sabotage. Nowadays, the shortened version is used to mean "to ditch class" or "to play hookie."

And in a completely unrelated turn, I apologize for missing last week.

Two weeks back, Luida's Bar in downtown Tokyo updated its menu as part of the Dragon Quest 25th Anniversary. This restaurant has now officially reached Level 4. The following items have been removed:

The Treeface Meat-sauce Spaghetti, the Kandar's Hideout (not sure what this is supposed to taste like), and the Dancing Jewels Ice Cream are no longer available. The two drinks, the Dormoa Choco and the Sexy Beam cocktail, are out too.

However, the Snailslime & Killerwave pastry special, the Madhand Curry plate, and the Medicinal Herb Soda are on the menu for all who want to try them.

Source: Famitsu Online
Week of 5/23 ~ 5/29 Week of 5/16 ~ 5/22 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
3 * New Arrival! Pandora's Tower Nintendo
7 3 Last seen at 1 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Professional Square Enix
8 5 Last seen at 5 Patapon 3 SCE
13 * New Arrival! Atelier Totori (PS3 The Best) Gust
15 * New Arrival! Pokémon Typing DS Nintendo
17 * New Arrival! Red Stone DS Game On
19 10 Last seen at 16 Pokémon Black/White Nintendo
20 15 Last seen at 15 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd Capcom
22 4 New Arrival! Gungnir Atlus
Off-list 17 New Arrival Elminage Original Starfish
Off-list 19 Last seen at 11 2nd Super Robot Wars Z - Destruction Chapter Bandai-Namco
Off-list 21 Last seen at 8 Final Promise Story Imageepoch

If it seems like Elminage has popped up a lot as a new arrival on the ratings lists, that's because they keep remaking the same two games over and over for different systems. This would be the third time the first Elminage title has appeared -- once for PS2, once for DS, and now for PSP.

While there's been no official word on the sixth generation Pokémon title (though really, we all know it's a matter of time), Nintendo is willing to let its fans see what a Pokédex would look like in 3D. The Pokémon Standalone Index BW is available for download now. Yes, I know this was mentioned at E3. My info on it dates to a few days before that and I had already written this part, so I decided to keep it in.

Also, starting mid-July, in step with the latest movies, McDonalds will be including Pokémon toys like these in Happy Meals across Japan. If you can't tell, these are supposed to be bath or pool toys.

Normally, the games of the Super Robot Wars series are the perfect material for Japandemonium, because they don't have a snowflake's chance in a supernova of getting out of Japan. The Original Generation games are a different story, if only because (as the name would imply) they're made from original material. None of the characters or mecha found therein were taken from a previously established anime series, though they often do come from previous SRW titles. Note that, as "original" as the characters may be in the copyright sense, they're still heavy on the tropes of their genre. Let's see who's new.

First up is the mecha Blanche Neige, which apparently made it's first "original" appearance in Super Robot Wars D. Its pilot is Criana Limskaya, or Lim for short. As perky as she looks, this gal has some issues. She suffers from asymptomatic anime-type multiple personality disorder, and answers to either Cris or Rianna, depending on which personality is active. In battle, she usually goes by Lim, a nickname given her by her brother-in-law Joshua Radcliffe.

Next up is the Ares Geist, and its pilot Duvan Org. Their original appearance was in a Banpresto title called Real Robot Regiment.

And last we have three new (for a given definition of "new") mechs for the OG series. The black model is named Medius Rox, originally from Super Robot Wars MX. The pink one is the Angelg, and is reserved for recurring character Lamia Loveless. And lastly we have the ART-1, which I think has appeared in previous OG games. I really need to consult one of our resident experts on this series for the next time I try to comment on it...

Source: Famitsu Online

It's time for a major Imageepoch update! The company's up to a lot this year, with Final Promise Story out last month, and three more major titles in production. Here's the next one coming up.

Black Rock Shooter is a game that's all about the action. Real-time battles play out once the heroine runs into an enemy sprite. The important part is that, if certain conditions are met in battle, new skills or even special material (presumably gallery art or music tracks) can be unlocked. That's all that Famitsu had to say on this part, so let's look at some screens:

Aside from that, BRS faces a new contender in the following screens. Mazma is identified as the second Disciple, one of the fifteen aliens in control of the invasion of Earth. Eight of these Disciples were destroyed while the planetary defense forces were still in operation, but the ones that are left don't mess around. Mazma is a fire manipulator, as should be pretty obvious from his design and the following screens:

Mazma's also one who carries the word to the others that BSR is awake, apparently. Not the kind of guy whose attention I'd be wanting...

Source: Famitsu Online

For our other bit of Imageepoch material this week, we have 7th Dragon 2020, the surprisingly set sequel to a game that unfortunately never came stateside. Continuing Imageepoch's trend of megadisaster storylines, this one takes place in a near-future Tokyo that has been invaded by dragons from outer space. They are currently in the process of terrorforming the surrounding area into dungeons.

All of the following images have to do with combat. It's certainly pretty, but not too much different from its predecessor or the Etrian games, to judge solely from appearances.

Finally, we have the first official trailer for the game, courtesy of Sega. They probably should have proofed the English subtitles a bit better (those are official, not added by anyone, by the way).

Source: Dengeki Online
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Yakuza Of The End Sega 6.9.11
The Little Battlers Level-5 6.16.11
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Nintendo 6.16.11
Mass Effect 2 Electronic Arts 6.23.11
Gloria Union Sting/Atlus 6.23.11
Atelier Meruru Gust 6.23.11
Hunted: The Demon's Forge Bethesda 6.23.11
Earth Seeker Kadokawa 6.23.11
Valkyria Chronicles (PS3 The Best) Sega 6.30.11
To Heart 2 - Dungeon Travelers AquaPlus 6.30.11
Elminage III Starfish 6.30.11
Tales of the Abyss Bandai-Namco 6.30.11
Source: Dengeki Online
The Final Say

Dear Gaijin,

Only a short one I'm afraid, but I was wondering how the reception to Imageepoch's Final Promise Story has been? I've noticed that it's been fairly high on the sales rankings since its release which seems like a good sign. It was easily the one that most caught my attention when they did their multi-game announcement. Do you think there's hope for a localization in future?

Severin Mira


Just for you, I dug through my back issues of Famitsu to see what the cross-reviews said. The scores were 9 - 8 - 9 - 7, for a total score of 33 -- higher than any other Imageepoch title except for 7th Dragon (also a 33). A lot of mention was made of the game's difficulty and the fact that character SP (i.e. their life points, which are also used to power super moves) cannot be recharged, ever. There was some split over whether or not the highly strategic nature of the combat was good or bad, though.

A different review on had a bit more to say. I'd quote it in its entirety, but it has proven difficult to switch that much colloquial Japanese into English. Enough to say that he lists as good points the amount of strategy needed to take on lesser enemies while holding on to your irreplaceable allies, because the bosses are just nasty. He also admits that it'll be hard on those who don't get the system. On the other hand, he says that when a tactic has been firmly established, things can get boring as the player can just repeat the same actions every battle. I'm not sure if he liked the game's story or writing either, but that's a very difficult area to rate to everyone's approval. As for the difficulty, he's of the opinion that if the player uses his head, it's possible to lessen the game's difficulty considerably, to a point that he sometimes didn't find enjoyable.

The review closes with the sentence "It is not boring. Ever."; just that it's very ambitious, and the parts don't always come together the way that they were intended. Overall, he seemed to enjoy it though.

As to whether or not this will arrive overseas, that's hard to say. Out of the nine games Imageepoch has released in the last four years, only four (Sands of Destruction, Arc Rise Fantasia, and the first two Luminous Arc games) have left Japan. Considering the mixed reception most of these received... Well, let's hope for the best.

Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a ton of rain. No, I'm not feeling particularly poetic, rhythmic, or even Eurhythmic. I'm just feeling wet.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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