shimotsuki no juuhachinichi

There are some weeks when I have no idea what to write about in this space right here. If I'd been able to put together a column in time last week, it would've been easy. 11/11/11 has been given many silly names to celebrate its odd numerology (my favorite is the Day of Corduroy), but in Japan, a lot of people were calling it Pocky Day. To celebrate this day (if belatedly), here are some fun facts about Pocky.

Pokkin is the sorta crunchy, sorta snappy sound that is made when one bites a Pocky stick and breaks it off. It's also used to describe the sound of cracking knuckles, among other things.

For its first five years of existence, the only flavor available for Pocky was chocolate. Almond was added as a flavor in 1971, and strawberry Pocky appeared in 1977. Nowadays, the number of Pocky flavors can only be dwarfed by the number of Kit-Kat flavors.

In Malaysia, Pocky has been renamed Rocky in order to make it sound less like "pork," which the majority Muslim population had objected to.

There is an honest-to-goodness crime drama associated with Pocky. Back in 1984, a criminal gang tried to hold Glico, the company that produces Pocky, hostage. The group's leader, the Monster with 21 Faces (a Japanese literary allusion), masterminded the kidnapping of the Glico president, Katsuhisa Ezaki. After Ezaki's escape, the group mailed letters to the company claiming that a certain number of Pocky packages had been adulterated with cyanide. About 21 million dollars' worth of Pocky was pulled off the shelves. Eventually the Monster seemed to have forgiven Glico, and his group went on to pull similar extortion scams on other food companies across Japan.

Quite a complicated history for such a simple little snack, no?

So you're an otaku nerd. The last girl to actually enter your apartment ran screaming once she saw your collection of anatomically accurate catgirl figurines. You even custom-ordered a rug with your favorite dating-sim character emblazoned upon it. Well, at least now you can get curtains to match.

Gust has never been a company to shy from providing for its more discerning of followers, and now proves itself willing to venture even into the realm of interior design with these beautiful curtains showing Rorona, Totori, and Meruru, not to mention a few other girls from Arland.

The curtains can be ordered from Curtain-Damashii, and vary in price depending on the size and type. The first three pictures are for split curtains, which can run from 9,490 yen ($123.07) for 135 cm in length all the way to 12,490 yen ($161.97) for 220 cm in length. Thicker, light-shading curtains are about 1200 yen more all-around. The latter two curtains come in only one size, and are 13,980 ($181.30) for regular curtains or 15,220 ($197.38) for light-shading curtains. Curtain-Damashii is apparently taking orders through to the end of January, though I don't know if they'll ship overseas.

For that extra bit of otaku-chic, you can also purchase matching curtain ties for 1050 ($13.60) each.

Source: Dengeki Online
10/31 ~ 11/6 10/24 ~ 10/30 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
4 1 New Arrival! Final Fantasy Type-0 Square Enix
6 * New Arrival! Dragon Quest Heroes 3: Of Pirates and Plob Square Enix
20 20 Last seen at 14 Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time Nintendo
23 24 Last seen at 19 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP The Best) Capcom
24 12 Last seen at 5 Dead Island Spike
Off-list 7 New Arrival! Disgaea 4 - Fuuka & Desco's Story Nippon Ichi
Off-list 8 New Arrival! Ragnarok - Emperess of Light and Darkness Gung-ho
Off-list 22 New Arrival! Brave Company Bandai-Namco
23 24 Last seen at 19 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP The Best) Capcom
Off-list 27 Last seen at 20 Dragon Quest I-II-III 25th Anniversary Edition Square Enix
Off-list 28 Last seen at 16 Dark Souls From Software
Off-list 30 Last seen at 27 Super Pokémon Scramble Nintendo

We've covered the basics of Heroes Fantasia in the past, so let's get down to business. There are a lot of interesting characters in the series included in this game, and we can confirm the following will be available to the player. For the sake of my sanity, I'm cherry-picking three screens per character.

From s-CRY-ed, Straight Cougar.

From R.O.D. - Read or Die, Drake Anderson.

From Sgt. Frog, Private Tamama.

From Rune Soldier, Melissa.

From My-HiME, Mikoto Minagi.

And from Slayers, Zelgades Greywords.

Any or all of these characters may appear in event scenes, though with a cast as crowded as this, these scenes may or may not be more modular in nature. Here are a few screens from these.

And of course there are the new characters as well. On the left is Michie (call me Mitch!) Sawada, personal assistant to the main character. She also apparently has an incredibly good gift of recall. On the right is Suun Selishe, princess of Yapp Na. "Suun" is her family's surname, and no, she does not go around dressed like that all the time. She might hold a few clues as to what's causing the dimensional crossover, though.

To round things out, let's look at some of the location art for this game. It's looking very pretty, at least.

Source: Dengeki Online

It's been a while since Project EGG was last mentioned in Japandemonium. Two years, in fact. I admit that I haven't really been keeping up with what this PC-download service has available in terms of games, but when its newest retrolease gets featured on the Dengeki site, I take notice.

Popful Mail was originally for the PC-88 and PC-98. This version is a port of the Super Famicom edition, apparently for the improved tempo (that being the reason cited in the Dengeki article). From what I can tell it also differs significantly from the Sega CD version. The SFC port was handled in-house by Nihon Falcom instead of being farmed out, which is probably a plus in its favor.

Tuesday of last week, Popful Mail became available to download for all Project EGG subscribers. While the normal price for a game on EGG seems to be around 840 yen, to celebrate the company's ninth anniversary this game can be purchased at a discount for 525 yen.

Here's another old game getting a revival, though in the opposite direction. Little Witch Parfait: Tale of the Black Cat Magic Shop was a PC title originally published in 1999. This game is being remade for the PSP. It falls into the "meister" genre, which includes the Atelier series, and from these screens there certainly seems to be a resemblance.

The story is pretty similar as well. Parfait is a young teenager who has just lost her mother. All that she has to remember her by is the Black Cat Magic Shop and a one-million-gold debt to pay off. To get the creditors off her back, she and her mother's familiar have to work their tails off to produce and sell items for the store. From these screenshots, it's hard to tell if this game has battles or other RPG elements beyond the basics of the meister genre, but it's a possibility.

Source: Famitsu Online

Last week was busy and interesting, in ways in which I shall keep private for now. It did eat up far too much of my free time though. This week, Ninokuni has begun the eating up. Hopefully I'll be able to get my act together next week.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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