Sunday, May 1, 2016

April 28-May 1

Walk-Inn Studio

I mentioned in the entry for the events last weekend that there were several new events scheduled for this weekend. Well, when it rains, it pours.  Literally as well as figuratively. We had rain for the first half of the week, all the way up to Thursday night. It would alternate between a light drizzle and a good solid downpour. Since at least two of the events were music related and were to be outdoors, I expected them to both be canceled. And this depressed me a lot, because, at a minimum I really wanted to see the big annual dance festival, Daihanya.

In any event, I needed to go up to Amu Plaza to do some shopping Thursday evening, and I went during a break in the rain. When I got there, I discovered that some business named "Walk Inn Studio" was hosting a small music event in the plaza, in part to advertise the "Walk Inn Fest" scheduled for later in May. They had tables set up for selling food, t-shirts and CDs. The studio is located a few blocks from the main train station, and is one of two places I know about that rents recording and practice space by the hour (approx. $4). I guess the idea this evening was to give their amateur clients a chance to show off in front of an audience.

I didn't have a lot of free time, so I just took a few photos, finished my shopping and returned home. That night, it rained hard again.

KYT TV Day 1

Friday, the weather was perfect, which pleasantly surprised me. However, I had to work pretty much all day, limiting my options for watching anything in the afternoon. Now, on top of everything else, we're in the middle of one of Japan's week-long national holiday periods, AKA: Golden Week. This is an almost unbroken string of one-day holidays one right after another (the exception being Monday, which isn't a holiday of any kind) going from April 29th to May 5. So, the local Kagoshima KYT TV station had their big promotion advertising their Spring season lineup of shows. The events took place in two locations - Central Park, and the space in front of Lotteria in Tenmonkan.

Some of the posters for the new shows. Nothing here I care about.

They had appearances by Issa-King and the KYT bear mascot. Issa-King is a tie-in to some kind of restaurant or food product, I guess.

The Central Park area had a lot of children's' games, and a live stage in one corner.

I only had a few minutes on Friday before I had to be at the school, so I couldn't stick around to catch any of the music. Then again, there wasn't much that I wanted to watch. There was a lot that was cringe-worthy, though, especially the very young students from one of the dance schools doing a hip hop routine to Nicki Minaj's Anaconda. It may be a good thing none of the parents understood the lyrics. This was almost as surreal as the one time I was walking by an elementary school and the teachers were playing Toni Basel's "Mickey" for the first grade class stretching exercises.

The game here is called "ET Q". Throw balls at the ET to get points.
I got out of work at 6 PM, by which time the KYT stage events were almost finished, and everything at the Lotteria site had ended at 4 PM. My main interest, though, was the Beer Fest at Amu Plaza, mentioned below. I visited that for a few minutes, bought some beer, then went home to work on the computer before going to sleep early.

KYT TV Day 2

I didn't have to go to the school until 4 PM on Saturday, but I still ended up having to do work for an online company that had a deadline at midnight April 30th, so I couldn't get out of the apartment until 3 PM. There wasn't anything happening at the Central Park stage at that time, so I went over to the Lotteria site. Here, KYT was trying to sell merchandise tied to their shows, while also offering more children's activities.

Plus promoting their actors and TV hosts.

Interestingly enough, KYT used the parking lot on the other side of the event space wall as overflow for their second event stage, and sponsor booths. The only performer scheduled for the second stage that I wanted to see was K@ito, a juggler I'd recorded back last August. This time, though, he was just doing balloon animals, so I took a few photos and kept going to the school.


The rest of the event space had the jump room and a more games.

Plus other balloon animal making clowns. After I got out of the school, all the KYT activities were finished and the event wrapped up. So, that was it for KYT for Friday and Saturday. But, as I was getting ready to leave the school, the owner told me that there was some kind of meat festival at Dolphin Port for the weekend and that I should try getting down there for that. As we were talking, one of the local TV stations had a recorded segment on the Dolphin Port event on TV. I'll talk about that below.

Beer Fest

Amu Plaza had their beer fest from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. On Friday, after finishing work, I came here to check the event schedule and to see which beers were on sale. Shiroyama Hotel makes their own beers, and they had a pale ale, a lager, a pilsner and a stout, for 500 yen ($4.50) each. I got the stout and the pale ale (the stout was watery, but the ale was good and hoppy). There was nothing on stage worth recording, so I just looked at the food booths (sausages, curry, ice cream) for a while, then went home for dinner. What annoyed me was that the event schedules only covered one day at a time and there was nothing listed on the Amu Plaza internet home page. The only way to get the schedules for Saturday and Sunday was to physically visit Amu Plaza on those days.

At 7 PM Friday evening, there was a taiko group performing, but the dining space was so packed that I couldn't get close to take video, even if I'd wanted to. Plus, this group wasn't that special.

Then again, they also had the dragon wandering the aisles. There seemed to be something of a tradition for people to stick their heads in the dragon's mouth for good luck, and a lot of people were doing that.

I think his name is "Puff". He's a friendly dragon.

I came back to Amu Plaza on Saturday after work, and the place was absolutely packed. I'd already gotten the beers I'd wanted on Friday, and didn't want to spend a whole lot more money after that, so I just looked around a bit, went into the basement of Amu Plaza for free sample coffee at Kaldi, and returned home. Most of the stage events were things like J-pop, J-folk, taiko drums, gospel, and advertising for the local restaurants. Occasionally the event organizers would come out and lead a round of a German beer drinking song. The main purpose for this was to raise money for the earthquake victims in Kumamoto. The signs people are holding say that 50 yen from each beer sale will go to quake relief.

I did come back up again on Sunday, after the flea market (see below), and got a sausage and ham platter from one of the food booths for 1,500 yen. Lots of sausage and very filling, but a bit too greasy. I had been wanting to get the platter anyway, so I was happy about that. The rest of Sunday was spent processing video for youtube, and practicing music.

NHK Flea Market

(The sign on the left advertizes the "Kagoshima manmosu furima" = Kagoshima Mammoth Flea Market.)

On Saturday, the owner of the English school said that there was some kind of meat fair going on at Dolphin Port, with restaurants competing against each other, or something. When the local reporters came on TV to cover the event, I noticed that most of it seemed to be a flea market (called a motenai fair in Japanese). Since Dolphin Port is only a few blocks from the school, I went that direction after getting done with work.

Unfortunately, on Saturday everything ended at 4 PM, and I didn't get out until 6 PM. The place looks so lonely now...

I made a point of going back to Dolphin Port on Sunday, but because of domestic requirements, I couldn't get out until 1:30 PM. I couldn't find anything related to a "meat cook-off", and mostly the booths were just people selling stuff they didn't want to keep anymore. There were a few food stalls, and car dealerships, but that was kind of limited.

Not really sure who is advertising the latest Conan movie, but the idea is to stand in front of the display and have your picture taken.

One stall just sold chicken wings.

(Saigo Takamori as the NHK dog.)

The flea market was tied in with NHK TV (the Japanese version of PBS). The NHK studio is just across the street from Dolphin Port. They had an event stage, food stalls, and an open house within the studio building. Mostly, the stage events were activities for children, and advertising for the shows. (The flea market had its own event stage, but with the same stuff as the NHK main stage.)

The studio offered a walk-through tour of the transmitter truck for children.)

And another bounce room. I didn't see much that was of any interest, so I went up to Amu Plaza again to eat sausage at the beer fest.


At the start of all this, I mentioned that I was afraid the Daihanya dance fest would be canceled due to rain. Turns out that it was indeed postponed, but that was because of the Kumamoto earthquake last month. A number of dance teams in the event are from the Kumamoto region, and the Kagoshima organizers decided to move the fest to the first week of June, and I didn't learn about that until someone told me on Saturday. On Sunday, after visiting the flea market at Dolphin Port, I returned to Amu Plaza in time to catch a couple of the yosakoi (cheer leading) groups performing in the arcade in front of the department store. The groups will be in Daihanya, but they wanted to practice this week as well. I recorded the below video of the Satsuma-Sendai group, then walked over to the beer fest and bought the sausage plate for 1,500 yen. I ate that as all of the dancers tried to get the audience to participate in a dance. Afterward, I returned home.

Not exactly as bad as I was expecting things to turn out, but not as good as I'd hoped, either. I am happy that I could get a little video, and now I really do want to see Daihanya in June. On the other hand, I have no idea what I'm going to do with the rest of the Golden Week holiday, which runs until the end of this Thursday...

Event sequence:
 Walk-Inn Studio (Amu Plaza)

 KYT Fair (Central Park)
 Beer Fest (Amu Plaza)

 KYT Fair (Lotteria)
 Flea Market (Dolphin Port)
 Beer Fest (Amu Plaza)

 Flea Market (Dolphin Port)
 Yosakoi Event (Amu Plaza)
 Beer Fest (Amu Plaza)

Direct youtube link

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Attack on Titan, vol. 9 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Attack on Titan, vol. 9, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
(Note that we finally get a name for Christa's bodyguard - Ymir. Same name that the one talking wild giant said back in volume 5. She also slips up and demonstrates that she can read some written language that Reiner can't identify. This implies that there's something special about both her and Christa.)

The tower house is under siege by wandering wild giants, so the older regiment members get ready to defend the building, ordering the recruits to prepare their horses to ride for an escape. Mike, the leader that relies heavily on his nose, reports that he scents 9 giants (although, there were more than that in volume 8, and there are only 8 shown on this page). The assumption is that a new hole has been kicked into Wall Rose. The group is to break up into 4 units, one going to the main city to ask for help, and the others circling to the south to locate the breach in the wall. Mike asks if anyone knows the lands to the south, and Sasha holds her hand up. Connie is too wrapped up in his own thoughts to respond, because his family's farm is directly on the route the giants took to get this far. Reiner and Bertolt decide to go with Connie to make sure the farm is ok. The approaching giants show a surprising burst of speed, so Mike acts as a diversion to let the others escape. He returns to the roof of the tower building, where he kills 4 giants. He spies a huge simian rogue giant, who locates his horse and throws it to knock Mike off the roof. A smaller surviving giant tries to eat Mike, and the simian tells it to stop. It doesn't, so the simian squeezes the smaller one until it pops, then it asks Mike about how humans are able to travel around so fast. The guy is terrified, and stunned that giants can talk, so he doesn't say anything. As he curls up in a ball, the simian spots his jetpack, and takes it from him. The simian turns to leave, saying that it's ok for the others to eat the human now. Mike screams out that he doesn't want to die, and the simian replies, "Oh, you CAN talk after all," and walks off.

(Did you know that horses can be used as projectile weapons? Mike learns this the hard way.)

One of the riders gets to Erumiha sector, where he bursts into Commander Pixis' office to report the wall breach. Elsewhere, Sasha and her group get to a village, beyond which, in the woods, is Sasha's home town. She flashes back to when she was a headstrong brat, fighting her father for food. He wanted to save some for the rest of the village, and she wanted it all because she was hungry. He'd lectured her on the principle of working for the welfare of the group, and she hasn't been back for the last 3 years after that. The flashback ends and Sasha, alone, reaches an isolated group of farm houses. There's a big footprint on the ground, and it looks like at least one giant had bypassed the tower building and headed straight for Erumiha. Inside one of the village buildings, a giant is trying to eat the leg of a crippled old woman, while her child sits crouched on the floor near a corner. Sasha grabs the child to drag her out of the building, and snatches up a nearby bow and arrows along the way. The giant chases them, and Sasha turns to stand her ground, yelling at the kid to run to safety. The kid does, eventually, and Sasha discovers that she's a really lousy shot with the bow. She resorts to going hand-to-hand, stabbing the giant in the eyes with the remaining arrows. She runs away at this point, and sees her father carrying the child on the horse with him. When he realizes that the "hero" the kid talked about is his daughter, he comments that she's finally grown up. Sasha replies, "I'm home."

(Sasha eats because this is the world she was born into.)

Elsewhere, a wagon carries Eren, Levi, Armin, Hange, Mikasa and Nick down from Stonehesse to Erumiha. Hange keeps playing with a hardened piece of crystal taken from the giant husk when Annie was captured. It's not dissipating, like giant bodies normally do after the giant dies, implying that something new is at work here. (And, maybe, this new stuff was used to build the Wall.) The rest of the group tries to convince Nick to talk and explain what's going on with the giants embedded in the wall, and he insists on staying silent. But, it's looking like the next part of the plan is to take Eren down to Wall Rose and have him turn into a rock to block up the new hole in the wall; something he's not keen on doing. They get to Erumiha, and Levi forces Nick to witness the crowds of refugees packing the streets, trying to escape the giants. Nick is shocked, but still refuses to break his vows of secrecy to help save anyone else. Instead, he confesses that there is one person they could talk to, although the readers don't get to see her name directly. By implication, we're left to guess that Nick says "Christa Lenz," and we're told that Christa's bodyguard is named "Ymir." The scene switches, and Ymir is trying to talk her leader into letting her and Christa change directions to avoid running into danger, and the leader says, "no." Christa is afraid that Ymir thinks she's too weak, and there's an argument over whether Ymir faked her test results to let Christa come in 10th during the 104th regiment recruitment, when Ymir came in 11th. Ymir claims that Christa scored better on her own merits, and Christa pretends to be relieved about that.

("Hi, Connie. Welcome home.")

Farther south, Connie's group gets to his farm, and all the buildings are destroyed. The farmers are missing, but their horses are in the stables. There's one giant trapped on its back in the ruins of one house, but because it's not a threat the group keeps riding and leaves it alone. Reiner thinks the situation is suspicious, and is afraid Connie is going to draw the wrong conclusions, so he wants the boy to be thinking about other things. Then the giant mutters a slurred version of "welcome home" and Connie starts asking if somehow his mother had turned into this giant (the creature's arms and legs are twigs compared to its body, so there's no way it could have walked here from the wall under its own power). Reiner tells the boy he's over-thinking things. They keep riding.

(The simian rogue watches the ruins of Utgard Castle from the top of the wall.)

Time passes and different groups fight different giants. Night falls, and Connie's group reaches the wall from the southeast, and follows the perimeter to the west, looking for the breach that the giants are entering through. They encounter Ymir's group coming from the southwest, and it turns out there's no breach. This adds to Connie's suspicion that the wild giants currently wandering around are villagers and farmers that got transformed somehow. Reiner still denies this is possible. The scouts spot the ruins of a castle nearby (ruins that they'd hadn't known about) and everyone retreats there to camp for the night. Later, Ymir scavenges through the crates in a storeroom, and finds a tin of pickled herring. Reiner asks what she's doing, and she hands the tin to him, which is a mistake because the writing on the label is in a language he doesn't recognize, implying that Ymir knows more about the castle than she's letting on. Before he can confront her over this, a sentry runs down from the roof yelling that more giants are approaching. This shouldn't be possible because giants supposedly draw energy from sunlight, and go comatose at night. They look like the same ones that had attacked them earlier at the tower building, and had killed Mike. The monster Simian is with them, but he keeps walking down to Wall Rose and then climbs the wall to get to the top to watch the battle from a distance. Simultaneously, Eren's group is riding horses to what Hange says is an old, abandoned castle named Utgard.

Summary: The number of rogue giants (or "titans") keeps growing, and they continue to exhibit strange powers, including conscious thought and speech. The real questions are "which rogues work together, for whom, and why?" We already know that Annie had infiltrated the 104th regiment, and had access to the jetpacks, but the simian rogue acted as if the harness he'd taken from Mike was something completely new to them. And the possibility of Connie's mother becoming a giant somehow could explain why there are so many wild giants (not all the victims of past battles had been devoured; some might have been turned ala what happens with vampires). But it doesn't tell us why the turned giants are usually mindless eating machines, and not rogues like Eren and Annie. This just leaves us with more Carnage.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Attack on Titan, vol. 8 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Attack on Titan, vol. 8, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
We're introduced to Nick, a member of the Church of the Wall, a supposed cleric group convinced that praying to the wall will protect them against breaches by the giants. This is followed by Annie Leonhart being assigned to a military squad in Stohess town. The squad leader seems to be the typical lazy drunk, and he tells his squad that they have to go on escort duty. The guy tasked with leading the escort gripes a lot, then they move out to do the mission. As they walk by one alley, Armin gets Annie's attention, and asks her to help him and Mikasa to get Eren out of the city and to freedom (he'd escaped from the vehicle that Annie was to escort). There's a tunnel nearby that runs under the town and Armin wants to use that to get Eren to the wall perimeter. Annie hesitates and Armin pushes her to show her loyalties to the group. She agrees, then balks at going into the tunnel with Eren, Armin and Mikasa. She comments that this part of the town has suddenly become abandoned (except for all the soldiers waiting unseen on the other side of the buildings).

(Toothy bursts from the underground tunnel to fight the female rogue once more, this time knowing that the enemy is his sparring partner, Annie.)

Armin realizes that Annie has seen through his plans, and Mikasa loses her patience and challenges Annie to a fight. Armin fires a smoke signal as Annie uses a hidden blade in her ring to cut her hand to shapeshift into the female rogue. The rogue kills all of the regular soldiers that descend on her, and tries to capture Eren. Eren is hesitating over what to do next, still wanting to give his martial arts sparring partner the benefit of the doubt, and is also torn over the deaths of his Special Corp teammates. He flashes back to a conversation with Levi, who says that you can't predict how a particular plan is going to turn out. You can only do what you think is right and hope for the best. Additionally, Erwin mentioned that Annie was the main suspect for killing Sonny and Bean, having stolen Marco Bodt's harness pack to use along with her own. The main clue was that the rogue fought the same way Annie does. The flashback ends, and Armin and Mikasa rush to opposite ends of the tunnel to distract the rogue. Mikasa leaves, saying that she fights "because this is the world I was born into." Eren agrees and turns into Toothy.

(Mikasa discovers that there's a rogue giant encased within the city walls. The implication is that the walls are FILLED with such giants.)

During the battle between the rogue giants, Nick is leading his congregation in a prayer for the wall will protect them from giants. Annie comes flying in through the air and smashes through the building, killing all the congregants. The fight continues, with Annie reaching a clearing in town, where the soldiers have nothing to grapple to in order to pursue her. She hardens her fingers and toes to punch holds into the wall and starts climbing up it. Mikasa gets to the wall too, and slices Annie's fingers off, ordering her to fall. As she does, Annie flashes back to a scene with her father, who had taught her how to fight. He says that it's ok if the rest of the world becomes her enemy; he will always remain her one trusted ally. All he wants is for her to promise that she'll return to him. With these words, the flashback ends and Annie, in tears, hardens the liquid around her to create an unbreakable shell. Eren pulls her out of the husk of the rogue, but now it's like she's encased in amber. At about this time, Mikasa, still hanging from the wall, notices a large crack in the plaster, behind which is a massive sleeping rogue giant.

(Annie, encased and imprisoned, lower right. Erwin demanding answers from the "church of the wall," lower left.)

Nick orders that the giant be left untouched, and Zoe Hange goes ballistic, demanding to know what's going on. He threatens to drop Nick off the top of the wall, but the cleric would rather accept death than give away any secrets. Erwin confronts the Church of the Wall, but they won't talk, either. He tells the city leaders that Annie has been chained underground, where she will continue to sleep until they can figure out how to remove the shell. In the meantime, Armin speculates that the entire wall, miles and miles of it, contains rogue giants. Then, a sentry runs into the meeting room and announces that Wall Rose has been breached and giants are entering the lands to the south. Members of the 104th are dispatched to a tower outpost to the south, but the new recruits (Reiner, Bertolt, Sasha, Christa and her bodyguard) haven't been allowed to suit up. They have neither jetpacks nor weapons. Reiner considers this suspicious, but can't explain what the reasoning would be. Sasha props her head on a table, then jerks up yelling that she hears approaching footsteps. Then, one of the older army members shouts that a bunch of giants are coming up to the tower from the south.

Summary: Things are starting to get crazy. We know that there's an opposing force of humans siding with the wild giants, although the wild ones often attack the rogues, too, but we don't know why, how many there are (three so far) or what their motivations are. We also don't know what the Church of the Wall is doing or why there are more rogues embedded in the walls. Things are going to get worse in the next volume, bringing with it Carnage.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reading Alien

Aliens are among us.

And they're reading our tweets.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Street Fighter Can Coffee Figure

Mediafire is messing up again. Sigh.

Dydo teamed up with Capcom to present a set of 5 Street Fighter V figures. The advantage of getting these figures with the cans of coffee is that you can see which one you're buying. The disadvantages are that the figures are smaller (1" to 1.5") and Dydo isn't that great a brand of coffee. But, if you like Street Fighter, you'll like these toys. They are designed to hang along the edge of the coffee can, so you'll want to have at least on unopened can on your desk to show them off at their best.

I decided to get Cammy, since I like her design better than with Chun-li's tree-trunk thighs.

I like the details on her eyes and the cheek scar.