juu-ni-gatsu no juu-ni-nichi
Kaede to Ichou

Winter may have arrived in southern Japan, but the trees are still playing catchup. Many are still green-ish, with the leaves just beginning to turn brown. There are two types, at least, who are with the program and ending the year with more decorum: the kaede and the ichou.

The kaede, or Japanese maple, is every bit as colorful as its western cousins, with vibrant reds and oranges. It's much more dainty than other maples, with thin branches and tiny leaves that could be hidden under a silver dollar or 500 yen coin.

The ichou, better known by its Chinese name of gingko, adds a much different color to the winter palette. Its broad, fan-shaped leaves turn a bright yellow. As gingko trees tend to grow up more than out, they're very popular as decoration along city avenues. The way they brighten up the cold months almost makes up for how bad their nuts smell in summer, when they're always being crushed underfoot.

Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
8 Up from 17 Pokémon Platinum Nintendo
9 New! Fallout 3 Bethesda
10 Down from 4 Chrono Trigger Square Enix
26 Down from 16 Patapon 2 SCE
29 Up from 34 Inazuma Eleven Level 5
39 Down from 31 Mega Man Star Force 3 - Black Ace Capcom
48 Down from 21 The Last Remnant Square Enix

Dissidia Final Fantasy is in stores next week, and after the Cloud / Sephiroth showcase two weeks back, I didn't expect to find much new promotional material in Famitsu -- a game guide, perhaps, or a retrospective of previous articles on the game. Then I find this in my latest issue:

It looks like the side of Order or Chaos (not sure which) has one more champion, bringing the number of champions for one side or the other to XI. My first reaction is, "Who the heck is Shantotto?" Obviously, I've never played Final Fantasy XI, nor do I play many games online, for that matter. Fortunately, Square Enix realizes that not all its prospective customers would know who Shantotto is, and so they provided a little information.

This conceited little fellow is one of the three great researchers of magic in the land of Windas -- the self-styled Magus of Destruction. As I said before, I can't tell which side of the conflict he would be on, but his description in the article leads me to imagine him as morally ambiguous. The screenshots show him beating up on Butz, Garland, Zidane, Golbez, and Terra, so that's not much help either. I think he just likes blowing stuff up.

Source: Famitsu Weekly

With the release of a big game like Dissidia, S-E is pretty much obliged to market goods related to it. When the release coincides with the 20th anniversary of the series, then the swag gets really nice. The Dissidia special box takes things to the limit, however. For 25,980 yen (about $240), gamers can not only get the game, but also something to play it on.

That's right, the Dissidia special set comes bundled with a PSP -- and not just any PSP, but an original design model with the Chaos God and Cosmos Goddess imprinted on the back, and S-E's 20th anniversary logo on the front. Is it worth it? To the right person, I guess.

So, we have a game, we have a machine to play it on -- what's next, refreshments?

Why, yes! S-E is once again marketing their special Potion™ soft drink, this time in pretty Dissidia-themed cans. Same as last year, thanks go to the wonderful ladies at Family Mart, who let me take all these pictures. I wasn't able to get them all on camera, unfortunately. I think I'm still missing four.

Source: Famitsu Weekly Family Mart

'Tis the season for premium packs, it seems. Dengeki Academy - Cross of Venus, the crossover game based on light novels, has its own special swag offer for 10,290 yen (about $90). This particular deal nets you the game and cute little figurines of four of the game's more popular characters: Shana, Taiga, Kino, and Index.

If collecting oddly proportioned miniatures is your thing, then Atelier Annie has a few more for your consideration.

Source: Famitsu Weekly

As it turns out, when Atlus names a game something like "Devil Survivor", they're quite serious about the survival part. There's a time limit in effect, and the clock is ticking. If the heroes can't win in seven game days, then it's not just the game that'll be over. I'm assuming each day counts as one chapter of the game, though if you look at the menu screens, you'll notice that the day and time feature prominently. It remains to be seen if the player can actually waste time, but in any case, the pressure is on.

There are two more characters to help the hero, at least. Keisuke Takagi is an old friend of the hero, and the "quiet kid" at his high school (and you know what they say about the quiet ones...). Midori Komaki is 15, and a self-styled "Cosplay Queen." Both of them have a demon-compatible COMP unit, but that's hardly surprising as every other character in the game seems to have one as well.

In Devil Survivor, each character heads a battle unit consisting of a human summoner and two allied demons. When an enemy unit is engaged on the field, a single turn of battle is fought out, which resembles a classic MegaTen game. To make things more interesting, may new abilities are available for use.

Source: Reuters
Suddenly I Have a Refreshing Mint Flavor

Sirrah, we correspond again. I have more linguistic queries you may be able to answer, so let us begin.

What precisely do the various means of saying 'I' in Japanese correspond to? 'Watashi,' 'watakushi,' 'ore,' 'boku,' 'atashi,' and possibly 'uchi' (though that seems to be a Kansai dialect) puzzle me somewhat, and I I would like to know what one is imparting to the listener by saying any one of these.


OK, short list here. Watashi is standard usage, no problems. Watakushi is the keigo version of watashi, which means it's formal language, and usually only used in conjunction with other keigo language. Anyone who uses it casually is pretentious. Boku and atashi are standard informal pronouns, male and female respectively. Women who use boku are typecast as tomboys or residents of Osaka (i.e. pushy and rude), while men who use atashi are usually gay. Ore is often used by street punks, tough guys, or little kids who get it from watching too much TV. It usually implies a certain level of macho conceit and idiocy, in manga. Laharl from the Disgaea series uses it alot, often with some extended suffixes to make him sound even more arrogant. Finally, uchi is an odd one. Outside of Kansai, it's used almost exclusively in the possessive, especially when talking about family members, but not to refer to oneself -- even to the point where a different first-person pronoun is used in the same sentence. For example, in Japanese Kim Possible always uses atashi, except when refering to her little brothers, who she calls uchi no futago. Yes, I have seen Kim Possible in Japanese. It comes with the job.

In your experience, how do the Japanese deal with any words (probably from English) that require use of 'l' and 'v?' On a related note, do you ever waffle on how to translate something from katakana thanks to the absence of those letters from Japanese?


"L" is pretty much always written as "R" in Japanese. In many common words, like vanilla, "V" is written as "B", but sometimes people will use a "U" with an extra accent mark. That last one isn't always considered proper use, though, and not all games will allow you to even use it in a character's name.

I gather that 'sayonara' is not a casual goodbye, but I'm curious about 'sarabada.' Under what circumstances should that one be used instead of 'mata ne?'


Well, saraba can mean "farewell" or "in that case." The "da" part would be a simple copular ending, I guess. Personally, I've never heard this used to mean goodbye, though.

'Ken' gets translated often as 'sword,' but I gather it also means something more vague along the lines of 'fighting style.' Just how many ways can 'ken' be used?


Ken is a syllable attached to a lot of different kanji. For the meaning you're talking about, it's probably the kanji for "fist".

What is the Japanese attitude towards unemployment, both from the government and from laypersons? And for a really silly but persistently annoying thing - in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia there are some owls as enemies. These owls screech like hawks. Are there any owls in Japan that sound like hunting birds of the daytime, or did the developers just get lazy?



Well, it's considered better all around if you have a job. I don't think that changes much from place to place. There's been a lot of concern over younger people who actively choose to live a part-time work lifestyle, though.

And as for your silly question, I don't know if there are any owls left in this country. Certainly not enough to make a reference like that plausible. Most likely, the programmers got lazy.

Thanks again for the letter!

It's almost Christmas-time in Japan, so if you have any holiday-themed questions on your mind, feel free to write in! In Japan, the Christmas season is over almost before it starts, so time's a-wasting.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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