Here we are, all recovered from the E3 update insanity, and for the first time in months I've had to skip a weekly update. C'est la vie, shikata nai, etc. So what all happened while Japandemonium was on break? Not much for the most part, except for the 31st. I had a special event to go to on that day. I've seen my fair share of ceremonies in Japan -- store openings and blessings, summer festivals, graduations, lantern festivals, amateur sumo tournaments, a funeral -- but this was something special. It's not often that one gets invited to a wedding.
My coworker, friend, and classroom co-habitant (let's call him Mr. S) had his official wedding celebration two Sundays back. The actual civil marriage was done a while back, but that was mostly dull paperwork. The party afterwards is what it's all about, and that had to wait for all the relatives to arrive.
The first half was very Japanese, with the bride done up in a traditional kimono and make-up. The groom was too, though being about 6'3 or so, Mr. S needed to rent a sumo-sized outfit for the occasion. The dinner began with a traditional kanpai drink, with little drinking boxes of shochu (strong stuff). We were treated to a full-course dinner, with a short pause to allow a group of twenty kindergartners to serenade us. And then the happy couple whacked a fish.
Okay, I think that last part needs some clarification. There's apparently a Japanese tradition to serve tai (sea bream) at weddings. It's based on a bad pun, which I won't go into right now. The fish is packed in a block of salt, which is carved into the shape of a sea bream and then baked. At the dinner, the bride and the groom must take a hammer to the thing in order to break open the salt-shell. Then it's served to all the guests.
I guess you just had to be there....
The characters of Arc Rise Fantasia, in stores last week, certainly seem like a happy bunch. What puts a smile on their faces? It could be the improbably supportive-yet-skimpy apparel some of them sport. Or it could be the booze.
Marvelous Entertainment has yet another oddball promotion up their sleeves. Starting last Thursday and continuing through to next Sunday, one can sample a "Ray Squall", a cocktail inspired by Arc Rise Fantasia, at the Akihabara Dear Stage in Tokyo. The drink's name is a reference to a mystic force found within the game that the main heroine is able to harness. Unfortunately, I won't be able to report first-hand about how it tastes, but I do have pictures of the collectible coasters that come with them.
Nintendo's clock is counting down the minutes until the release of the Gold/Silver remakes, and as per its standard operating procedure, the company has extra goodies in the works. Here's one now:
Yes, Nintendo is bringing back the Pokémon pedometers, with a few upgrades. These things now have the ability to link up with a copy of the new Gold or Silver remake via infrared. The idea is that the player can download the critter of their choice from the DS software, keep it in the pedometer, and it will gain experience as the player walks around.
Considering all the walking I do on a normal day, that actually sounds like it's worth getting...
Usually when one sees personal combat robots in a video game, the machines in question are at least bigger than a breadbox, and more likely bigger than a whole bakery. The namesake toys of Level 5's Cardboard Senki come in nice little boxes, ready for assembly.
Our hero for the day is Ban Yamano, who has recently gotten a basic AX-00 model battle LBX (Little Battle eXperience) figure. Unlike the majority of LBX around, the AX-00 is fully customizable, which makes it a rare commodity, and probably something Ban isn't supposed to have in the first place. The upgrades shown in the scan are for the Achilles V model. Elsewhere in the scan we can find Ban's friends: Ami (with the Kunoichi model) and Kazuya (with the Soldier model). I have no idea what to make of the three weirdos in the animal masks, though.
The video game and horror movie industries have a major thing in common -- they often feel that success demands a sequel, no matter how little the end of the previous title allows things to continue. the nameless game ended on a pretty definite note from what I've heard., but that doesn't seem to have discouraged Square Enix from continuing in the traditions of the genre.
So here we have the new nameless game, with the symbol me (sounds like a short "meh", means "eye") added to the title. Apparently there is enough room in the world for two cursed cell phone games. Not content with just returning to the faux FF/DQ game of the first title, the new nameless game features platforming areas as well. The preponderence of guillotine blades is a nice touch.
Last week Level 5, makers of such innovative titles as Inazuma Eleven and The Another Country, expanded the breadth of their influence and jumped headlong into the mobile phone gaming market. Most console game developers, when presented with a similar feat, have allowed the phone companies to manage most of the distribution side of things, but Level 5 strives to be different.
Welcome to Project ROID (short for android), an online cellphone hub and community now available through the DoCoMo network. In particular, it sounds well-fitted to DoCoMo's new summer models, which are practically by definition some of the most advanced cell phones on the planet. Site members get their own little virtual space, access to the software and Famitsu Goods stores, as well as the public forum. Payment takes the form of a course system, where a member subscribes to receive a certain number of points a month. This is more or less how other mobile sites handle payment as well, so nothing new there.
But what games do they have to offer? Level 5 has many popular series going on at the moment, and most of them seem to have a mobile counterpart in the works. There's Inazuma Eleven - Future!, a Cardboard Senki spinoff, and The Another Country: Hotroit Stories at the top of the list, though all three are still "upcoming" and not actually available. More of a surprise is Professor Layton's London Life, which is listed as an RPG as well.
The rest of the starting lineup is rounded out with two more RPG-ish looking titles (Elf the Dragon and Magic Sonar), a port of Level 5's online adventure game Professor Layton and the Belltower of Death, a new adventure series called Sloane and MacHale's Mysterious Tale, a Treasure Island adventure of some sort, and a hostess club simulation game. Truly, they are covering all their bases here.
Last time in Japandemonium, we mentioned the resurrection of Star Ocean - Blue Sphere for Japanese cell phones, but only had a chintzy little scan to show for it. Well, we finally have some screenshots for your viewing pleasure. We're including some reference pics as well.
No one's going to TELL you when you need Clearasil...
Monogatari. Gaijinmonogatari, isn't it?
Alright, time to clear up all the misconceptions about Japanese cursing! Anyone who has watched a fansub most likely knows that there is an enormous variety of ways to translate 'chikusho,', 'kisama,' 'onore,' and 'yaro.' I'm guessing that their meanings vary based upon context and the intensity of their utterance, but can such words ever be justly rendered as the heavy profanity that they sometimes become?
Well, those four you just mentioned are considered fairly uncouth, and they're also probably the roughest of the Japanese cusswords, but even then they don't necessarily have to translate to cuss words, most of the time. Kisama just means "you," with an implied bastard tacked to the end. Chikusho is a strong exclamation but again nothing that would get censored in this country. Onore isn't that bad at all, and can be used as a very humble first-person pronoun as well as a rude second-person pronoun and a general exclamation. -yaro is a suffix to show you don't think much of the person. Most of these gain their strong meanings from context and strength of exclamation alone.
Again, none of these are considered particularly bad, the way English cusswords are. They're just considered in poor taste. The word kuso, despite actually translating into a four-letter word in English, is common use among Japanese school-children. I just looked up a few more choice English words in an online dictionary, and came up with (fu)zakennayo! -- which despite the really strong possible translation into English, is a slightly contracted form of the phrase "Stop fooling around." In fact, the single strongest, rudest phrase I could find in Japanese is actually an English loan-word rhyming with duck.
Does anyone say 'dono' as a suffix nowadays, or is that exclusively used for period pieces?
Like many outmoded bits of Japanese grammar, -dono has found its place in Japanese keigo (polite grammar). It's not commonly seen, but it does seem to show up more often in connection to military matters. Militaristic characters in manga and anime tend to use it pretty often too.
Did the Neo-Geo Pocket Color have anything good that remained Japan-exclusive?
I just read through the entire list of the Neo-Geo Pocket's library, and only found two RPGs. Neither were released in America, though one, Evolution: Eternal Dungeons, was released in Europe. That one was apparently an adapted port of the original Dreamcast title. The other was Ogre Battle Side-Story - The Prince of Zenobia, which was a sort of alternate version of March of the Black Queen with some variations in areas and missions.
In a completely unscientific poll of you alone, what language do you believe is most commonly butchered by Japanese use of it without understanding?
Aside from English? The runner-up would probably be French. The Japanese borrowed a lot of poetic and culinary words from that language, but the incredible differences in phonetics and writing system between the two have made many of the loanwords nearly unidentifiable. More on that next week, perhaps.
Assuming the DPJ does win the election that has to come before the year is out, what are its chances of actually rebooting the economy and/or politics?
I don't have any more questions ready, unless the general subject of North Korea makes you feel like waxing poetic.
This is Japan. Like I said last column, the nation's political system is practically a gerontocracy, and the DPJ's leadership are just as well-preserved as the LDP's. Unfortunately, all the good puns that I can think of about conservatives and aging only work in French.
And on the subject of North Korea, if by "poetic" you mean "profanity," then you get the general feeling of the nation towards that bizarre little country.
Rainy season is upon us! Time to break out my sandals, because there's no way I'm going to be able to keep socks or shoes dry for the next week or two.
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,