Saturday, February 22, 2020

Wakage no Itari comments


(Image from the Amazon.jp page, used here for review purposes only.)

Wakage no Itari (Folly of Youth) (by Keiichi Tanaka, Kadokawa Press, 2019)
Keiichi is a manga artist who works largely in the style of Osamu Tezuka. His past works include Doctor Chichibuyama, G no Samurai and Chikiu Boueitai Seha Girl. According to his Author page on Manga Updates, he was the General Manager & Solution Sales Division at Web Technology Com, a company attempting to create 3D-based character creation software to allow people who can't draw to make their own manga.

Wakage (subtitled "Youth Days of Game Creators" in English) is a collection of short chapters that attempt to imitate interviews between Tanaka, a random female assistant named Pyouko Miyazaki, and various video game creators that were responsible for what Tanaka considers landmark games from the '90s and early 2000's. The conceit is that these games could only have been made by people who were still too young and brash to know any better. Each chapter follows pretty much the same pattern: Keiichi lays the groundwork for the game from his own personal experiences with it, he introduces the creator and praises the guy a lot, the guy talks about how hard it was to get the game approved by management and/or their coworkers, how he overcame various obstacles, announcements of upcoming games by the same creator, and Keiichi closing with his thoughts on how parts of the game are still with him (or with him and Pyouko, or with society as a whole). Overall, the interviews are pretty shallow, and the obstacles are the kinds of things you'd generally expect from Japanese companies - management wants to move slow or not at all on new projects into unexplored territory, combined with the fact that at the time there were few software tools for game development management on the market, and someone else needed to arrive at the company to make them.

I'm not really a fan of other artists that imitate Tezuka's character designs, so that's off-putting here. But, it is interesting to get a bit of a glimpse at the people responsible for developing some of the games I've played in the past. There are a total of 11 interview chapters. I've played 2 of the games, and I at least know a little about three others. The rest are completely alien to me.

1) Final Fantasy VII - Hironobu Sakaguchi
2) Aquanaut's Holiday - Kazutoshi Iida
3) Mecha Beasts Zoids - Mitsutoshi Tokuyama
4) Ryuu ga Gotoku - Toshihiro Nagoshi
5) MOTHER - Shigesato Itoi
6) Hoshi no Kirby - Masahiro Sakurai
7) Hatsume Miku - Wataru Sasaki
8) Princess Maker - Takami Akai
9) Cyber Troopers Virtual-On - Juurou Watari
10) Doko demo Issho - Kazunori Nanji
11) Puyo Puyo - Masamitsu Niitani

I've played Puyo Puyo and FF VII, and I've seen artwork or samples of Kirby, Miku and Princess Maker. Aquanaut apparently is a creature breeding simulator. Zoids is mechanical animal combat. Ryuu is about the Yakuza underground. Not really sure about MOTHER; the primary point seems to be that the player's name gets included in the end credits for having been part of the overall game experience. Kirby - a Mario clone. Miku - raising a singing idol. Princess Maker - raising a girl to become a princess. Virtual-On - cyborg combat. Doko Demo (Everywhere Together With You) has you raising a virtual cat and giving it treats until it leaves to become human. I expect everyone knows about FF IV, and Puyo Puyo was a Tetris clone designed to reward risk with big paybacks.

Overall, Wakage is an easy read and doesn't contain too much that's surprising. Recommended if you want to know a little more about the people behind the development of the games you've played, assuming that they're included in the above list.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Sukiyaki Sword Art Tie-in




The Sukiyaki beef bowl place on Streetcar Street in Tenmonkan has a new tie-in, this one with Sword Art Online.



"None shall pass."

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Ghana Choco Display




This manga display promoting Ghana chocolate for Valentine's Day went up at Shiroyama supermarket at the last minute.



"Pink Valentine."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Kimetsu no Yaiba Bookmarks




Last week, I ran out of stuff to read, and I had an hour to kill between English lessons, so I picked up a copy of Shonen Jump magazine. Didn't see anything in there that I have interest in reading in the future.



But, there was a punch-out sheet of clear bookmarks, if that's the kind of thing you like. Lately, I've only been reading e-books, so physical bookmarks aren't quite as useful anymore.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Exercise Festa, Feb. 15-16




Amu Plaza hosted an exercise and sports event over the weekend. I needed to buy some birthday presents on Saturday, and I made a quick swing-by between lessons in the middle of the afternoon. The place was still just getting set up, and some kid's dance group was practicing on the stage at the back.



The schedule showed a few interviews with athletes, and a manzai comedy duo, but nothing starting until closer to 5 PM Saturday evening. None of the goods shops or food booths were open to customers when I was there. Overall, kind of a non-starter.



I did end up coming back on Sunday as everything was winding down at 4:30 PM. The main activities were posing with a few marathon runners for photos, and a kind of strongman demo, where one of the runners would hold his arms up in a victory pose and let small children hang from his biceps.

If I liked Japanese sports, or if I needed running gear, this event would probably have been more interesting.

Monday, February 17, 2020

4-Master




The weekend was kind of an oddball bust. I picked up a translation clean-up job on Thursday, and had to focus heavily on that for the entire time. But, I also had classes at the English school near city hall Friday and Saturday, and I also needed to do a lot of running around for shopping between my classes on Saturday. Only to have the 5 PM class get canceled on me.



Anyway, I had one class from 1:30 to 2:30, which ended up starting 20 minutes late, meaning it ended 20 minutes late. I was going to return home after that to get a little work done on the translation clean-up, but as I got out the door, I spotted some masts sticking up over the skyline down at Dolphin Port. I'd planned to take the streetcar up to Amu to get a bit of fast shopping done then go home, but I just barely missed the next streetcar. Instead, I figured I might as well go down to the bay and see what was going on.



Thursday and Friday had been beautiful, warm and clear skies, but Saturday and Sunday were rainy and miserable. I shuffled through the rain to get to the loading docks next to the city aquarium, and nearly slipped and fell into the mud several times. There were a couple men on the docks taking pictures of the ship, but I stopped at the entrance gates when I saw the sign "closed to outside people, danger, speeding forklifts." I stood just inside the gates to get a few pictures, and someone came up to me to make sure I didn't get any closer to the ship.





According to the text on the lifeboat, this is the Kaiwo Maru, and is operated by the National Institute for Sea Training.





If I'd had the time, and someone let me, I would have liked to go onboard and look around.



At the same time, I noticed that someone was setting up tents in the waterfront park in front of Dolphin Port. I didn't see any signs, but I'm inclined to think this might be for the Ramen-Oh contest. Can't say anything about that for sure, though.



Does look like a dining area under the big tent to me, anyway. It's just that the timing is wrong. I took the photos on Saturday, and Ramen-Oh is a two-day event. I didn't come back on Sunday so I don't know if they were done setting things up. Or, maybe they were just trying to get ready one week in advance.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Choko Paku 2020




Amu Plaza had their Chocku Paku event for one week, from the 8th to the 14th, to sell overpriced almost-chocolate to women. Generally, I can't get to Amu much during the week, so I only had one shot on Friday for a few minutes when I needed to do some shopping at Aeon department store on the other side of Streetcar Street.



Yeah, small portions in large boxes, and prices where you're mostly paying for air. In other words, products specifically geared towards Japanese women.



In Japan, Feb. 14th is when women are pretty much required to buy chocolate for the men they interact with. At companies or in schools, this takes the form of "giri choco" (obligation chocolate), which is usually the Japanese equivalent of Hershey's bars (Lotto, Ghana or Meiji) for 100 yen each. March 14th, White Day, is when the men are supposed to buy stuff back for the women, but this almost never happens. Apr. 14th is Black Day (introduced from South Korea), for men that don't have romantic partners to buy their own chocolate. However, a growing number of guys have been buying chocolate for themselves for Feb. 14th because, why not?



Or, just get flavored caramel corn.