fumitsuki no youka

Yesterday was Tanabata, at least in much of Japan. It's supposed to be the seventh day of the seventh month of the year, but different parts of the country have decided on different calendrical systems to decide the exact date. Obviously, by the Gregorian calendar, 7-7-2011 was yesterday. By the lunisolar calendar, it's sometime mid-August. And some areas just split the difference and have it sometime between the two ends, perhaps to have their Tanabata festival stand out. My school had its Tanabata festivities earlier this week, but it wasn't as nice as in previous years. Mainly, this was because of the weather. To say that it's been inclement lately is to massively understate how nasty the rain has been. It was certainly not a good time to put up a wishing tree.

Wishing trees (sasakazari in Japanese) are tall bamboo stalks with lots of branches. For Tanabata, children have to write out wishes on streamers called tanzaku and hang them on the wishing tree. Traditionally, these are wishes for self-improvement, such as getting better grades, learning to write more beautifully, or simply stating what one wants to become in the future. The kiddos at my school never had a chance to hang them up, though, because it wasn't possible to put up the sasakazari this year. If we'd tried, it would soon have been blown down the street. Anyway, if we'd been able to, it would have looked something like this.

Minus the monkey, of course. Also, there are supposed to be colored streamers and decorations on it. I sort of forgot those when I made this card. The Japanese staff at my school always joked that it looks so lonely for the poor monkey because of this.

Do you like game music? Then Atlus is about to make you really happy this summer. From now until September 7th, the "Atlus Music User Selection Vol. 2" will be available for download on iTunes. Following the popularity of the first volume, Atlus took a survey in February to decide just what tracks would make it into the second. Here's what's been included. Some of the track titles will be approximate translations.

Track Game Title
"Hunting" Digital Devil Saga
"ALIVE" Digital Devil Saga 2
"Epic Battle" Digital Devil Saga 2
"Carving Out Destiny" Caduceus 2
"YO" Catherine
"Battle Theme" Shin Megami Tensei
"Disco" Shin Megami Tensei II
"Battle Theme ~ Amara Meridian" SMT3 Nocturne
"Battle Theme" SMT3 Nocturne
"Majin" SMT3 Nocturne (Maniacs Edition)
"Nemesis (Akira ver.)" Shin Megami Tensei If...
"Godly Fear" SMT Strange Journey
"Staff Roll" SMT Devil Summoner
"Battle with Naomi" Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers
"Haunted Hotel" Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers
"Go, Raidou!" Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army
"Satomi Tadashi Drugstore" Persona
"Myths Awaken" Persona
"Fighting for the Souls of All" Persona 3
"Heartful Cry" Persona 3 FES
"Never More" Persona 4
"Pursuing My True Self" Persona 4
"Fire Brigade" Kuuronyouma Gakuenki
"Kowloon Theme" Kuuronyouma Gakuenki
"Destruction Begets Decay" Etrian Odyssey
"Sakura no Tatehashi" Etrian Odyssey II
"Scene of Carnage" Majin Tensei
"Evolution" Majin Tensei II
"Battle Theme" Last Bible II
"Yarai Ginza Arcade" SMT Devil Summoner
Source: Famitsu Online
Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 New Arrival! Atelier Meruru Gust
4 Last seen at 1 Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time Nintendo
5 Last seen at 2 The Little Battlers Level-5
8 Last seen at 3 Yakuza: Of The End Sega
10 New Arrival! Gloria Union Atlus/Sting
11 Last seen at 6 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Professional Square Enix
12 Last seen at 10 Pokémon Black/White Nintendo
14 New Arrival! Mass Effect 2 Electronic Arts
19 New Arrival! Earth Seeker Kadokawa Games
21 Last seen at 8 Pokémon Typing DS Nintendo
22 Last seen at 15 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd Capcom
30 Last seen at 20 Patapon 3 SCE

Level-5's mobile phone development division has come up with some strange stuff. One of the odder titles was KyabaJoppi, or Cabaret Girl. In it, the player-created young lady in a cabaret club who works her wiles on a variety of male clients. A 3DS version was announced last year at the Level-5 Vision event, but it didn't get a mention on this site mainly because it's a character sim/adventure title. Level-5 would beg to differ, and announced a change of name earlier this week. From now on, this game shall be known as Girls RPG - Cinderella Life, which leaves us with something of a quandary. There are plenty of people who are willing to argue what is or is not an RPG these days, but even the most lenient may have some trouble fitting this game into the genre gestalt.

Girls RPG - Cinderella Life is supposed to be out sometime this year for the 3DS.

Source: Famitsu Online

Nippon Ichi is at it again. Once more, they are porting a title to the PSP. This time, it's Makai Kingdom. Not much seems to have been changed, aside from the obvious technical details. The big addition touted in the Dengeki article has to do with a new scenario, titled "My Daddy's the Strongest Dark Lord." Actually, that title has the symbol -hen attached to the end, so it might actually be a whole new story mode like the Etna version of Disgaea. This is all guessing though, as the details are still unknown, but we do know that this girl's got something to do with it.

Makai Kingdom PSP is scheduled to be in stores on September 22nd, and will include reprints of the official art book and soundtrack with all reserved copies.

Source: Dengeki Online

In the world of collectible card games, the Pokémon TCG is a long-standing contendor. I don't even play, but I still have at least a hundred cards of my own. Of course, I buy them because the monster cards have proven so useful in grammar exercises involving descriptions, comparisons, or the various conjugations of "to be." The reason I'm mentioning them right now has to do with the following bit of software.

This is Pokémon Card Game Asobikata DS, that Japanese word meaning "How to Play." It comes bundled with the Black/White starter deck, instead of the instructional DVD that used to be included with similar boxes (or so I gather).

Unlike the TCG games for the Game Boy Color, there doesn't seem to be any point to this software besides teaching the fundamentals of play. Judging from the character portraits, it wasn't made by the regular Pokémon staff either. A peek through the copyright information reveals that it was developed by a group called Zener Works on behalf of Creatures Inc.

Source: Famitsu Online

Twenty years ago, Data East and Crea-Tech released Metal Max upon the world. In a market full of fantasy settings, this game's desolate, post-apocalyptic vision of the future stood out. Unfortunately, at this point the series has seen more remakes than actual games. There have been three Metal Max games in all, the third one released just last year by Kadokawa Publishing. It was apparently very well received, as someone gave the green light to having the second game in the series remade a second time.

Metal Max 2 was originally for the SNES, then ported to the GBA as Metal Max 2 Kai (the kai means "remade"). Now, it's coming out for the Nintendo DS as Metal Max 2 Reloaded. In this installment, the bad guys are a criminal cabal known as the Grapplers who are kidnapping civilians for unknown but nefarious reasons.

While the player can choose between male or female protagonists, the party roster is largely fixed, with specific roles for Hunter, Mechanic, and Soldier. And of course there's always Pochi, the series mascot. He's a cute little Shiba-ken dog with heavy artillery built in.

I'd be more interested in this if I didn't already have the GBA remake sitting on a shelf somewhere in my apartment. I should dig it up sometime... Anyhoo, Metal Max 2: Reloaded will be arriving on the DS later this year.

Source: Famitsu Online

Japanese cell game companies have a wonderful habit of occasionally making one or more of their products heavily discounted (or even free) for a limited time. From July 5th to July 15th, Kemco is offering five cut-price titles for download on iPhones across Japan. Three of them are RPGs.

First up is Alphadia, a fantasy RPG with the description "Caught in the cogs of Fate." It's been available on the iPhone since January, and normally costs 800 yen. This week, it's 115 yen. We've covered the fourth game in this series previously, but this looks like it might be a remake of the first game of the series.

The next title available is Eve of the Genesis, an RPG that promises fierce battles against an army of ancient machines that has been revived for unknown purposes. Originally priced at 600 yen, it too is only 115 yen until July 15th.

The last RPG on the list is one that we've seen before in Japandemonium. Ayakashigatari. While I can't find a price quote for it right now, it's probably about on par with the other two games mentioned above. It's also 115 yen for a limited time only.

Source: Famitsu Online
From the Forums!

I had a really weird question that came to my mind because my girlfriend happens to be extremely interested in weather patterns and natural disasters...What is the strangest thing that was found on land after the tsunami? There must've been some weird thing or two from the depths of the oceanic abyss that made some people look twice, right?



Well, I've poked around a bit, but the only leads I could find for this either ended in obvious hoaxes, reused images of bizarre deep sea critters, or in very depressing body counts. I haven't found anything halfway official looking on the bizarre, not-human-corpses front.

Thanks for asking, though. I'll keep my eyes open for anything weird.

Here Comes the Rain Again

I was reading an article on another site about why Japanese use umbrellas far more than Americans do, and a recurring answer was the fear that rain would make you go bald. I'm sure not all of Japan believes that, and we Americans believe some pretty crazy stuff ourselves, but I was wondering what other absurd things like that have you run into--where a good chunk of them believed something, and just made you go "what!?"



I've heard some pretty weird stuff concerning Japanese school bylaws, and the level of authority some Japanese place in them. For example, most schools on all levels will issue statements on "acceptable behavior" for students that limit the amount of TV they should watch in a week, the amount of time spent with video games (or even banning them from playing said games), banning them from visiting convenience stores or game centers, etc. The severity of the rules can vary widely from district to district or even school to school, and a lot of parents just ignore it all anyway. I have talked to some parents, however, who really did believe that (for example) it was illegal for their junior high school son to step foot inside a game center, and nothing would dissuade them from this. I think part of the problem is that it's kind of hard to separate the concept of "shouldn't" from that of "is not allowed," to the point that school missives take on the force of law.

For something a little sillier, I found out yesterday that putting a 10 yen coin in your sneakers apparently keeps them from getting smelly. I have no idea how or why this would work.

Thanks for the letter!

Not much to say right now except that I wish the weather would make up its mind. Rainy season or hot season. It's a simple choice. We should not be having rainy season storms this far into the month of July over here. Shikata nai tsutai.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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