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JAPANDEMONIUM
 
kikuzuki no nijuuhachinichi
Zatsuji
Konnichiwa

So here I sit, a week after the big event. So many things happened in so short a span that my mind is still wobbling. It's time to look back and account for myself. And by that, I mean show off some pictures.













These are all occasional photos. I was not about to stand in line forever in the Cosplayer Preserve just to get photos of a Team Rocket cosplayer (even if she was cute). Some of these people were associated with company booths, some where out and about wandering the floor. The girl from Kami-Para (the new game by NIS) was handing out postcards in front of nearby Kaihin-Makuhari Station. I sort of regret not getting a picture of Moomintroll while I had the chance, though.












Then there's the swag. The little pocket bags from Iran. The silly teddy bear that I was given for no real reason (and which is now a permanent fixture in my classroom). The random CDs, DVDs, fans, brochures, and booklets. The two copies of the Ryu ga Gotoku ni Headline newspaper special. And then there are the five DS/3DS cartridge cases I won from Code Freaks. After I took a survey, I got to do an "all-you-can-grab" thing. The idea is to reach in, fit as much in one hand as possible, and you get whatever you pull out. I have big hands. Thankfully, several companies were also giving out oversized tote bags, perfect for carrying each day's haul of random stuff back to the hotel.

I only bought one thing for myself as a souvenir, and it wasn't even game related. I saw this in one of the apparel shops at TGS, and laughed so hard I knew I just had to get it the next time I came through. Good thing, too. The weather turned cold Saturday night, and this jersey turned out to be just the thing I needed to keep the breeze off.


Le geek, c'est chic.

Here's a title that got announced shortly before TGS: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Magna Gate and the Infinite Dungeon. As per usual with this side-series, some hapless kid has found himself transformed into a Pikachu and deposited in the middle of a world of talking Pokémon. This time, however, it's all in 3D modeling.







Every game Nintendo makes needs a gimmick, and this game's trick involves the 3DS camera function and augmented reality capabilities. Take a picture of anything sufficiently round and the game will use the photo to generate a unique dungeon floorplan. Thus the "infinite" part of the title.




IDIC, pika!

Source: Famitsu Online
9/17 ~ 9/23 9/10 ~ 9/16 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 * New Arrival! Final Fantasy III Square Enix
4 2 New Arrival! Medabots 7 Rocket Company
5 * New Arrival! Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Spike / Chunsoft
9 7 Last seen at 4 Pokémon Black 2 / White 2 The Pokémon Co.
16 11 Last seen at 10 Dragon Quest X Square Enix
17 16 Last seen at 19 Monster Hunter Portable 3G Capcom
24 * New Arrival! Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Spike / Chunsoft
30 13 Last seen at 2 Lost Heroes Bandai-Namco
Off-list 20 Last seen at 6 Lost Heroes Bandai-Namco
Off-list 22 Last seen at 7 Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers Atlus
Off-list 29 Last seen at 28 Little Battlers BAKU BOOST Level-5

Anyone heard of Toriko? It's an action manga that takes elements from Monster Hunter (killing huge critters), Fist of the North Star (super-muscled protagonists), and Iron Chef (cooking up the aforementioned huge critters). There was supposed to have been a showing of the new RPG spinoff title Toriko: Gourmet Monsters at TGS last week, but somehow I never found it. Here's the official trailer:

So you have muscled dudes, huge monsters, and dinner. About what was expected. You also have the ability to tame the megafauna instead of serving it up as hors d'œuvres, which means that this game has monster-collecting elements as well. Hm. I was expecting something a bit more like MonHun here, but it looks like Bandai-Namco's added a soupçon of Pokémon instead.

It's coming out this winter for 3DS, but I think I'll pass on this particular Christmas roast beast.

Source: Famitsu Online

Also just in time for Christmas is One Piece: Romance Dawn, a role-playing cash-in for the PSP. I don't recall this one being anywhere in the lineup for TGS, though it might have been tucked away in a corner somewhere. Anyhoo, here's the trailer.

It's not much, but if I'm reading the accompanying article on Famitsu's site correctly this game is supposed to be a retelling of how Monkey D. Luffy, stretchy protagonist extra-ordinaire, came to meet the madcap bunch of misfits he calls a crew. In other words, it's the story found in the first ten or fifteen volumes of the manga. Just how far it goes into the saga of the Straw-Cap Pirates is unknown, but I'm sure there will be more adverts to follow.

Source: Famitsu Online

We might as well just declare today to be "Show & Tell with Bandai-Namco Day." Seriously. Nestled on page twenty-six of that company's TGS brochure was Magi: Hajimari no Meirou (The First Labyrinth).

I've seen this manga series in stores before without really knowing much about it. It's largely based on the Arabian Nights fictional universe, with vast deserts and powerful Djinn. The Djinn create strange spaces called dungeons to hide away in, and people will risk their lives to explore these spaces and claim power for themselves. Often this comes in the form of strange artifacts like flying carpets, but some people may gain control over the Djinn of the dungeon itself. This is considered a very good way of gaining upward mobility, with many a king starting out as a dungeon diver.

This one is set to come out next spring on the 3DS.

Source: Famitsu Online

And what's one more video between friends, eh? Bandai-Namco is releasing a series of countdown videos leading up to the release of Project X Zone on October 11th. For the first one, we see a whole lot of fighting game characters meeting up for a major monster smackdown. This is referred to as a prologue stage for the game.

There are five movies in the set, with each one to become available on a specific date. The next one, #2, will go live on October 4th. After that, new movies will appear on the 8th, the 9th, and the 10th.

Source: Famitsu Online
Hark, a Letter!

You wanted some questions? I've got some for you.

What's with the charging wild boar cliche? I can't imagine Japan is actually full of them, but their prevalence in Japanese media seems to say otherwise.

Gaijin

The answer is pretty obvious if you fly over Japan. A vast majority of the land in this country is mountainous and forested. Most if not all of the apex predators have been eliminated. This means that there's plenty of cover for wild boar to survive in, and very little to reduce them in numbers. There have been increasing reports of boar encroachment into residential areas, even.

Same thing happens with monkeys.

Next is a pronunciation question. It seems to me that names like Ayumi are pronounced Ai-yumi instead of Ah-yumi like the standard rules would dictate. Is this a special rule or am I completely off on this.

Gaijin

I tried to find the exact term for this, but got lost in the heaping pile of linguistic jargon available on the internet. Suffice to say, if you pronounce each syllable separately, then it should be Ah-yumi. However, whenever someone says two or more vowels sound in quick succession, the sounds become a bit more fluid (which is basically where demi-vowels and vowel digraphs enter the picture). While Japanese orthography no longer allows for potential vowel morphing in written Japanese, it still happens in common speech. In your example, between the A and the Y there appears a short instance of the vowel I that helps bridge the transition between the two sounds. It's not necessary if you say the syllables slowly, but push them out quickly and it sort of happens naturally.

Speaking of names, you work with a lot of young kids. Do the Japanese tend to stick with more traditional names or do they try to be more trendy with them? I work with high school kids in the states and I'm astounded by the number of dumb names I see like "alternate" spellings, and now the names from the Twilight books are becoming popular etc.

Gaijin

While I have seen some names that were on the outlying edge of the curve, most Japanese parents tend to go with whatever names are trending the most, especially for girls. The big changes tend to be in the kanji used. Japanese boys' names have a long history of kanji to use, and it's not uncommon to see someone with a Sengoku Period name. I once knew a young man named Masamune, for example. In many cases, this makes it hard to guess the pronunciation of a boy's name from his kanji, because there are some really arbitrary official readings. For girls, it's a bit simpler. Name kanji for girls were pretty rare until the late Meiji period, so they don't have the long history to make things weird. Instead, most girls' names have kanji that are placed together solely for a phonetic result, with several possibilities for each of the common syllables. Some women, often but not always of an older generation, don't have name kanji at all, but instead use hiragana. Also, the government maintains an official list of kanji that are acceptable for use in naming, so naming variety in Japaneses comes most often from the way the name is written out and which symbols are used, not from a major change in name formation.

Though of course there are always exceptions.

Do older Japanese people ever go to college? US colleges are primarily for the right after high school crowd, but there's always a few 30+ year-old people who are going for the first time or to get a second degree. Would they tend not to go to the more prestigious schools that are known for the tough entrance exams or has that ship just sailed away?

Gaijin

As far as I know, Japanese higher education does not generally extend to senior citizens. It is still the expectation that Japanese men will settle into a chosen profession and stick with it through to retirement, while women may do the same or decide to raise children. These days you may hear about older women returning to the workforce after their children graduate high school (and more often than not rule the office with a matronly fist). For those wishing to educate themselves, NHK does have regular college-level programming. I caught some of it on TV while typing stuff for TGS last weekend. An hour of physics lecture, delivered without edutainment bells and whistles. Just an older professor, a few simple demonstration materials, and a very large blackboard full of basic physics equations.

I'll end with a personal one: Have you ever thought about translating video games/anime? Either as a hobby or career if you tire of teaching?

Love the column,

Tom

Gaijin

I've worked a little with a couple of translation projects over the years. Nothing that really panned out, and I can't say that I tried my hardest at it, unfortunately. If given the opportunity I might try for real, especially since my command of the language has improved greatly since the last time I got involved in a project. To do it professionally, though... that would require me to give up my current job, and I really do love my kiddos too much to just leave them. So here I stay, at least for now.

Thanks for writing in! I had intended to do a Culture Corner special last week, but you're the only one who wrote in, sad to say. Please do so more often (everyone, this means you too)!

Thank goodness for YouTube. There wasn't much media available for most of the games this week, otherwise. I think this covers most of the little stuff i missed at TGS (assuming any of it was actually on show). Now we just have to wait for all the post-TGS revelations.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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