Friday, August 17, 2018

Mugen Shinshi, vol. 5 comments


(Image from amazon.co.jp, used for review purposes only.)

Mugen Shinshi (Fantasy Gentleman), vol. 5 (1990-91, Shonen Captain), by Yousuke Takahashi, Grade A (400 pages, 860 yen plus tax)
This is the last of the wide volume collection for the original Mugen series. As mentioned in the review for #4, the stories have devolved largely into slapstick gag one-shots, with Mamiya Mugen getting into silly situations and often just making them worse because he can. There are a couple stand-out chapters, though.

The first is "Mugen Neko Boken, Parts 1 and 2" (Neko Mugen's Adventure). Neko is Mamiya's aunt, an uncontrollable force for evil, head of the Neko Harem, and serial widow. In "Adventure," we get a flashback to see Neko at work, trying to "accidentally" off her new husband (she fails at that while blowing up the cruise ship they were on for their honeymoon). Neko, the deadman walking, and Alucard drift in a lifeboat to an island occupied by a devious smuggler. Neko outsmarts the smuggler and escapes with much of his wealth. To her chagrin, her new husband is still with her. In part 2, she re-encounters the smuggler and eventually kills him, all the while going topless for the entire story.

In "Konya wa Saiko" (this can be both "Tonight is Wonderful" and "Tonight is Psycho"), we get another flashback. This time with Mamiya's mother, Yukie. As a young mother, Yukie decides that she should get a job to support the family (since her husband, Kyoushiro, is so bad at stealing money on his own). However, she's a hopeless klutz and gets fired as a waitress. However, she's approached by a guy with a strange 2-tone face (the left side is white, the right side is darker), named Menda (Mask-Field). He hires Yukie on as a housekeeper to tend to his mansion while his new wife is preparing to move in. Menda goes out of his way to instruct her to not open the door in the basement with the key locked in a safe that has the combination 3261. Yukie proceeds to apply herself to her tasks, while the guy keeps coming back and telling her to stay out of the basement, and correcting her when she gets the combination wrong. That night, as she's getting ready for bed, she's surprised by Neko, who turns out to be the weird guy's new bride. They sneak into the basement, where they find a bunch of young women frozen into statue-like poses. Seems that the guy is in the same serial-widower line Neko is. The two women are then attacked by "Mother," - the weird guy in a dress and gray-haired wig. Yes, this is a Norman Bates-homage. Mother almost knifes Yukie and she calls out Kyoushiro's name for help. He's been hiding in a suit of armor, standing outside the basement room, and he bashes Menda in the head with a mace. Kyoushiro and his priest friend had been planning on stealing money from Menda, and instead Kyoushiro and Yukie take over the mansion for themselves. And to this day, Menda, in his "Mother" outfit, is still living in the basement, rocking away in his chair.

"Otone no Kuni no Mugen Shinshi" (Mugen Shinshi's Maiden Country) starts out bizarrely enough with Detective Edogawa asking Mamiya for help in rescuing his tomboy daughter, Pinko. She's fallen under the spell of Tsukiko Hanajimakaze (Moon-Girl Flower-Island-Wind), a stage actress that specializes in male impersonation and has formed her own harem of young women worshipers. Mamiya cross-dresses to infiltrate the harem to try to get Pinko to come back home. The harem quickly realizes that Mamiya is male and rips his dress to shreds before chasing him away. He and Atsuko try returning to Tsukiko's mansion, and are about to be defeated again when Neko blows a hole through the building. She tells Mamiya that Tsukiko's harem used to be her own servants. The former servants prefer someone that treats them with "love" and refuse to return to her. Tsukiko laughs in victory, and Neko empties her flamethrower at her opponent. We quickly discover that "Tsukiko" is actually a guy that likes to cross-dress. The harem turns on him at learning they've been tricked, and then happily become Neko's faithful minions again. This include Pinko, to her police detective father's dismay. Meanwhile, Kyoushiro and Yukie have taken a vacation trip to 1940's Germany, where they pick on Hitler to the point where he puts them in front of a firing squad.

Finally, we get "Souyuu wake de" (For that reason). Mamiya and Atsuko prepare to travel to Germany to rescue his parents, while all the previous supporting characters try to get in one last cameo appearance each. Mamiya and his girlfriend get on an oceanliner, which quickly sinks after a crewmember removes the "lucky" seal Kyoushiro's priest friend had put over a hole in the hull. This leaves Atsuko and Mamiya alone in the middle of the ocean in a lifeboat. Atsuko decides to take this opportunity to seduce her boyfriend, and Mamiya is willing to let her. They ignore the attempted interruption of a squadron of fighters flying overhead. Later, Atsuko wakes up to see Mamiya staring out ahead of them. It is 1942, and they've arrived at the destruction of Pearl Harbor. Armed with his pistol, Mamiya leaps into WW II. Time goes by. At some point after 1956, Detective Edogawa and his men, all old and gray-haired now, are starting to wonder if their friend Mamiya is ever going to come back home. Suddenly, a group of hooded gangsters, The Dry Z group (Dorai-Zeto), runs in and kidnaps the mad scientist the police are supposed to be protecting. The scientist invented a kid's science kit for turning people into sludge, and the leader wants to know how to control the sludge monster they've created with the kit. The scientist refuses, and is rescued by a girl in a beret and sunglasses, calling herself "Tokyo Kid, the girl without a name." Kid uses a whip to flog most of Dry Z into the sludge, but the boss tries to escape in a hot air balloon. A stranger hands Kid a Colt Pocket .25 automatic, and she shoots and blows up the balloon. She then notices the stranger, a tall man in a white suit and hat, with a thin mustache, is her father, Mamiya. The girl is named Mako (Magic-child), and her mother, Atsuko, drives up in a Bugatti, smashing it into a utility pole (making this the fifth car they've gone through so far). Atsuko says that the radio has announced a bank robbery nearby, so the family goes running off to deal with the villains.

The last illustrated story is told by the dead maid from book 4. She relates various visitors Mamiya had received at night, including Death, a girl with a dinosaur for a brother, a murderous elf, and a few others. The story ends with an older version of Mamiya arriving and asking his younger self if he wants to go out for a drink. The two walk off into the sunset, accompanied by the bloodied dead maid.

Summary: Oh man, what a ride. Lots of weirdness, dark humor and straight-out slapstick, with parodies or cameos of Gegege no Kitaro, Boris and Natasha, and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey (treated as one in a long line of dominoes). I love the character designs, and the background art is highly-detailed and well-rendered. Book 5 probably was the best place to end the series, while it was still riding on a high note. There's no real graphic violence or sex, but this book especially has a lot of naked breasts. If that bothers you, or if you're underage, I don't recommend Mugen Shinshi. For everyone else, check this out.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Snoopy + Pretz




Pretz is a pseudo pretzel stick snack from Glico. They occasionally have anime tie-ins, and this time they picked Snoopy and Woodstock. There's nothing special in the box, just the illustrations on the front and back of the package.



The text on the back is just ad copy telling customers to download some app from the Glico website.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

One Piece Decal




Saw this decal for Ace on a car back window.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

True Gakken Kit for Adults




New DIY kit going up next door.



Partial construction of the ramp section. Notice that the wall beams aren't anchored on one end yet. This is subassembly A.



All of the other parts have been taken out of the box and sorted prior to assembly.
Estimated time to complete the kit - 90 minutes.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Lotteria Beer Garden




I wrote a few days ago that at the same time we had the two-day Yukata Night, with its beer garden and limited live stage performances, that there was also a smaller beer garden set up in front of the Lotteria burger shop a couple blocks away. This smaller garden was scheduled to run 10 days, with alcohol sales, some snack food, and occasional live stage performances, too. During the week, there were generally 3 sets per day, most of which were lame comedy pieces. I didn't bother dropping by every day. Instead, I'd swing by the Lotteria on my way to the school if I had classes any given night. Often, there was nothing happening then.



Here were have Tomoyo Noda, doing an acoustic set of copyrighted covers.



Saturday, on my way to the school at 12:40 I caught Bijin to Yajuu (Beauty and the Beast). The "beauty" is a female comic who mainly relies on her fright wig to get laughs. The "beast" is the occasional MC that I find annoyingly loud and self-absorbed. The thing about him is that he'll also partner with a female drummer for an Okinawa-style folk song and shamisen duet, and sometimes he's not that bad.



As I wrote for the SDF event, I had a break between lessons at 4 PM, and when I got out, "beauty" had teamed up with someone else to do a folk music piece, under the name "Kyuu-chan and "A-chan" (I'm not sure how to read the kanji, Kyuu might be "Miyu" instead). I think the point was to be funny by showing what happens when you take untrained slackers and have them pretend to be professional musicians. It was pretty painful to listen to, so I didn't hang around after taking my photos.



Then on Sunday, I got out of the apartment at 3 PM to see if there was anything interesting going on up at Amu Plaza as well as at Tenmonkan. Amu didn't have much, but the Southern Cross idols were performing at the Beer Garden.  In the past I've kind of been dismissive of the girls because they dance and do karaoke over CDs of copyrighted AKB-48 songs. However, they went into AKB-48's Aitakatta, with two of the members staying on the stage and the other two running out to work the audience. The one on the right above was much better at interacting with the kids sitting at the tables than the second girl was. The active one went around high-fiving people while singing "Aitakatta, Aitakatta, Aitakatta - yay - kimi ni" (I wanted to meet you). The next thing I know she's worked her way over to me, singing directly at me and getting ready for another high-five. I didn't have much of a choice so I returned the five, and found myself singing a full chorus with her. Then she moved on to someone else. I have to admit that that had been fun, and she was good at what she does.



Afterward, I headed back home to get out of the heat for a while, and write up this blog entry. I was tempted to get some beer, but I really wasn't feeling up for it that early in the afternoon, and at 500 yen ($5 USD) a cup, it's more pricey than I like. Plus, I'd bought my share of beer at Yukata Night the week before.

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I wrote there wasn't much happening at Amu Plaza. There wasn't, but what was happening was the celebrations for school kids that had completed the 16th Kagoshima 100 km Walk. Basically, the event just consisted of some city officials congratulating kids from different schools for their participation in the walk. No idea what the route was.



G-O-A-L!

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Ok, while I was at the beer garden, I checked out the schedule to see who else was supposed to play in the afternoon. The only people on the list I had any interest in were Wicky Toshi (owner of Wicky's House live bar) and his wife, Kana, at 7 PM.



So, I went back for that. Wicky often does Southern All-Stars covers, but this time he did his own music, including the theme song he wrote for the Kagoshima United soccer team - Kick to the Future. At the end, the audience (about 50-60 people) called out for an encore, so the entire set ran a little under an hour. Despite my whining about the prices, I ended up getting a cup of stout for 500 yen, a curly fry for 200 yen, and a cup of shochu and soda for 300 yen. Along the way, I ended up talking to the Southern Cross dancer I mentioned earlier, the sax player for Bon DX (he was there with his daughter because she likes Southern Cross), and one half of the manzai group Party. Plus a couple others. I didn't try talking to Wicky or Kana because they were busy at the end selling CDs of their music. I've recorded a lot of Wicky's performances before, so I just shot Kick to the Future (below) and took some photos, but mainly just grooved to the music. Towards the end, one woman standing nearby started talking to me, and eventually she mentioned that her husband was running one of the food tables, and that he has a restaurant in Tenmonkan. When the music ended, we kept talking, and she gave me a free glass of cider.



Things started wrapping up at 8 PM, and the announcer yelled out "last call."



I taught the woman some English phrases she wanted to learn, and thanked her for the cider, and she went back to help her husband pack up. Then, I finished my drink and returned home for dinner. Overall, I had a lot more fun than I'd been expecting. Not a bad way to start the Obon holiday week.

Direct youtube link

Sunday, August 12, 2018

SDF Day, Aug. 11




The Japan Self Defense Force had its presence at Tenmonkan on Saturday, in part as a recruitment tool, and in part as a way of introducing itself to the neighbors. They do this about once a year, when students are preparing to return to school after a short summer vacation.





The event mainly consisted of showing off 3 vehicles, some gear, a bunch of photos, and providing a dress-up op.



Also present was the Tori-kun (tiger) mascot.



Here, we have some of their heavy metal. Kagoshima's streets are well-known to have serious potholes. You need one of these if you expect to get around the city quickly.



Take a peep at the jeep.



The costume rack. You can mix and match caps, if you like.

I had to work most of the day, but I did have a bit of a break between classes from 4 to 6, so I was able to get out and take a few photos. After that, though, I hung out in a coffee shop, drank ice coffee, and read manga. It was too hot to stay outside for long.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Snoopy no Hi




In Japan, Snoopy's birthday is Aug. 10th, which is officially known as "Snoopy no Hi" (Snoopy Day). This sign is in front of a hair salon, and reads, "August 10, Snoopy Day. Snoopy's birthday. Did you know he has 6 brothers and sisters?"

Happy birthday, Snoopy. You're only as young as you feel. Need a perm and new nail color? Ask inside for details.