Monday, October 12, 2015
(Welcome board with a Halloween theme)
This weekend was a bit unusual in that it was 3 days long. Monday was Sports Day, a national holiday when everyone is supposed to go out and exercise. This threw off some of the events held on the three days. On Saturday, the space in front of the 7-11 in Tenmonkan hosted some kind of thing, but I never really did figure out what the organizers had in mind. The sign at the back of the stage says "Tenten no Tanjobi". Tenten is the mascot for Tenmonkan, and October 10th can be read as "ten ten", so it makes sense as a word play as Tenten's birthday. The problem is that the giant inflatable Tenten balloon never fully inflated before it was taken back down. I had to teach an English lesson at noon, and I reached Tenmonkan at 11:30 AM. At that point, the inflatable was set up, but kind of sagging over. My break was at 3 PM, and the thing was not to be seen anymore. There was no schedule at the stage, people were just sitting around waiting for something to happen. At 3 PM, one of the local radio personalities was interviewing a young woman about something, but she just seemed to have been an entrant in a fashion contest or something, and wasn't doing anything interesting. I went back to the school and when I finally got out at 8 PM, the stage was torn down again.
(Nothing to see here folks. Move along now.)
(Some of the crafts booths set up at the same time.)
What made the weekend jumbled was that in the same space, they had the annual Tenmonkan Fair on Sunday and Monday. This was a combination of milk promotion and bone density testing, plus crafts tables.
Past milk events have included a live stage show teaching protection against cavities and bone loss. This time, kids were shaking bottles of cream in an attempt to make butter. There wasn't a whole lot to see, unless you wanted free tea, milk or density testing. Plus things wrapped up early on Monday - when I came back at 4 PM, after visiting Amuplaza, the stage was abandoned and the tables were being torn down.
KBB Minna no Yume
Up at Amuplaza, KBB TV was hosting its "Minna no Yume" (Everyone's Dreams) event on Saturday and Sunday. Since I had to work most of the day on Saturday, I missed the live music then, and I didn't get up to Amuplaza until 3 PM on Sunday, so I only caught the last part of a promotion for travel to Shizuoka, and then the live stage show with Guree-bu (Green Pig) and Proppie (the KBB mascot).
The event was divided into 2 areas in front of the main train station. One section primarily promoted the TV shows airing on KBB, while offering photo ops with props of some of the personalities and anime characters.
Here we have Doreamon.
A couple of the booths also provided visitors the option to pretend to read the news at a prop desk. Here, KBB had a mixer table set up so kids could play at voice acting for a Crayon Shin-Chan TV anime episode.
The main event stage.
An interview with the mascot for Shizuoka.
One of the Shizuoka promoters dressed up as "Fuji-pii", recording the stage show.
The next stage show had someone I think was named "Arorororomedia" as the main villain. He fights Proppie, the KBB TV mascot and steals Proppie's "happy energy". Guree-bu, the Kagoshima mascot, restores Proppie's energy by doing the Guree-bu dance (the lyrics mainly promote the foods and products of Kagoshima). They're joined by Satsuma Kenshin Hayato, one of the other Kagoshima mascots, to defeat Arorororomedia. This is then followed by a video on the big screen advertising Kagoshima. It's all very commercial, but the audience loved it. You can see the youtube videos below.
Direct youtube link to stage show part 1
Direct youtube link to stage show part 2
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Saturday, October 10, 2015
(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)
Area 51, vol. 7, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A
(Odin introduces his new snake friends to the Council of 9 Gods)
H25) It's a Waste for Him to be a God
Charming and Pike reach the Restaurant of the Gods, which is attached to the bottom of the Valhalla Tower, but the entrance is blocked from the inside by the World Snake. Amaterasu is in full rage, and blasts through the snake to let Charming in. The battle is going poorly for the gods. Son Goku has lost a leg and retreated to the second floor of the restaurant. Son tells Charming that when Odin killed Hades, he opened a curtain to reveal Saisho no Hebi, and all of the other snake-related deities and warriors that sided with him. There was a shaking in the building as it rose into the air, and the battle started. Since then, the Valkyries kept guarding the snakes, and the gods were slowly whittled down. Meanwhile, at street level, an old, bald man shows up, claiming to be Zeus. None of the other deities and demigods believe him until he summons lighting to blow them out of the way. Zeus uses his control over electricity to set up a communications line to the restaurant through a power outlet in the wall. Son Goku informs him of what's going on, and Zeus gets ready to act. Goku gives his expanding rod to Charming, as Zeus blasts lightning down out of the clouds to dislodge the restaurant from the tower. The expanding rod smashes through the roof of the restaurant into the base of the tower, and Charming watches the building fall below him. Zeus creates a force field, blowing a hole in the bottom of the building, so when it crashes around him he's automatically inside and facing Odin. Pike tells Charming to quit hanging around and climb up to save Tokuko.
(McCoy stabs Hebi with Kusanagi, and then decides they're going to trade memories. The little sketch to the left is something that Masato has been doing at the end of every chapter. He uses the last page to talk about one of the incidental characters in that part of the story, and how he decided to employ them.)
H26) Long Time No See
As the battle rages below them, Hebi confronts McCoy in the prison room. He knows that he can't get the Kusanagi sword by playing directly on McCoy's fears, so instead he projects Charming's progress through Valhalla. Charming enters the main entrance room, which is filled with all of the dead generals that Odin collected over the centuries. Charming may be dedicated, but he's simply outnumbered, and one WW II German general uses his machine gun to manipulate an ally (shooting his elbows and knees) to pin Charming to the wall, knock his sword out of the way, and then hit the Prince in the chest with a round. Hebi presents Charming's head to McCoy, saying "look what you're doing to your friends and allies. Do you want this kind of thing to continue in this way?" The sword breaks partway free through McCoy's chest, but she fires back with "I trust him. He may be stupid, but he's not that easy to beat." Charming pulls his jacket away to show that he's completely swathed in webbing from the spider streetwalker, Sonya, adding that it's good to have friends that are willing to help you. That, and he'd just spent 800 years trapped in endless battles, so he's not completely out of his depth. Charming launches forward and kills the German general. At the same time, Hebi asks, "So, what are you going to do now?" McCoy breaks free of her bonds (which were an illusion and not actually from the material used to bind Fenrir), replying, "This," and stabs Hebi in the chest with Kusanagi. She ends with, "And now you're going to give me all your memories about 'that person'."
(Zeus confronts Odin, his brother's killer.)
(I love this transition piece.)
(Rivaling war gods.)
H27) Oh God, When Can I Hear Your Voice?
Zeus puts on Hade's sunglasses, and the battle between him and Odin begins, with Odin activating a full arsenal of weapons and Zeus pulling out his lightning bolt. The restaurant is destroyed, along with an entire city block of buildings. The other gods and surviving gawkers pull back. In Valhalla, from the outside it looks like McCoy and Hebi are unconscious or dead, but within the realm that is Kusanagi, Hebi has McCoy almost completely surrounded with tentacles of doubt. She fights back, ripping out Hebi's spiritual guts. His memories leak out. Untold ages ago, he was the first creature in the oceans that had become self-aware. Over time, he wondered if he was alone, then humans came along. He learned about "God" and kept asking when this human God would talk to him, and why God had chosen humans to protect instead of him. He came to loath humans, and it's pretty clear he was the snake that tempted Adam and Eve. During WW II, an American bomber fell into the ocean near Hebi. Inside was a soldier that hadn't quite died yet. Hebi possessed him, and finally found himself with a functioning body (although it still looked snake-like). Hebi took the soldier's memories and learned about Area 51. The really shocking part was that there were multiple "Gods" there, from all known cultures, not just the one "God", and that NONE of them had bothered to try contacting him. Hebi decided to go to Area 51 to kill all the gods.
(The war starts to wind down.)
H28) I Can Almost Reach To Your Heart
Hebi had some success, but was eventually subdued and trapped inside the body of a brain dead man that was then hidden away in a top security prison. At this point, McCoy yanks on Hebi's spiritual entrails and demands the rest of his memories. At some point, "that person" visited the brain dead prisoner and talked about Kusanagi no Ken, saying that it could help give Hebi the power he wanted for defeating the gods, and that it was trapped inside McCoy's body. McCoy fights to get a better view of "that person". It's a woman, holding something in her arms. The image becomes clearer - the woman looks just like McCoy, and she's carrying a baby. McCoy realizes that the fetus that had been ripped from her is still alive. She loses her focus and Hebi fills her with more fear and doubt. And, back on the ground, Odin has been torn in half while impaling himself on Zeus's body. Odin shows off one last trick - the patch over his right eye is hiding a laser gun. It shoots Zeus full on in the face. In Valhalla, Hebi is winning, and McCoy is quickly losing control of Kusanagi. But then Charming arrives, wraps her in his arms, and says that the Princess isn't allowed to die.
(Charming happily defeats the despair living within McCoy.)
H29) I'm Depending On You, Detective McCoy
Charming enters the world within Kusanagi and easily glides past Hebi to start ripping the despair out of McCoy's mind. Hebi can't understand why this intruder is impossible to stop, and Charming comments that maybe it's because he's just too dense to have fear. He kisses McCoy, and asks her to promise him that she'll sing when she thinks of him. He then enters her spiritual body and frees her from the last of the despair. McCoy recovers her senses and regains control over her body. She pushes Hebi off of the sword as Pike calls out to her. The gun is lying on Charming's inert body and it seems that he'd stabbed himself with Kusanagi to save her. She grabs the gun. Below, Zeus steps out of the cloud of smoke and ash to show that he'd been protected by his brother's glasses as a kind of shield. The memories of Hades and Charming ask their partners to avenge them, and that's what the two fighters prepare to do.
(There was a little fold-out poster in this volume, about 3"x4".)
(Compare the front cover with the back here.)
Summary: Gods fighting for their lives! Snakes fighting for control of the planet! Swords, generals, bullets flying everywhere! Guts, blood and bloody guts! Highly recommended to those that are not easily offended. Great artwork, great story.
Friday, October 9, 2015
(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)
(Top right: Son Goku, zombie, Chinese zombie maker; Middle from top: Charming, Pike, McCoy;
From top left: Valkyries, Odin, Fenrir)
(Top right: Son Goku, zombie, Chinese zombie maker; Middle from top: Charming, Pike, McCoy;
From top left: Valkyries, Odin, Fenrir)
Area 51, vol. 6, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A
(The Area 51 version of a jackalope. In panel 2, the Chinese idea of a zombie maker.)
H21) Please Sing a Song For Me Tonight, Prince
McCoy drops by Son Goku's estate to give him the treasures she'd taken from Ginkaku and Kinkaku (as per the Journey to the West legend). Goku (who looks more lion-like than monkey-like) enjoys collecting various liquors, but there's one that remains mythical, which supposedly can only be made from a flower that grows from a man that's been killed 6 times. Such a flower had existed once, but he ate it. The talk turns to a request Goku wants to make - seems that something is creating zombie UMA (unidentified mysterious animals, such as the jackalope). Goku's job is destroying these zombies, but he'd like to know where they're coming from. McCoy and Charming ask around, while the Prince keeps offering to sing songs about their quest, and McCoy keeps telling him to stop. Eventually, she learns that there's been a regular human from the outside world, Ryuu, from China, whose wife is ill. To get the medicine she needs, Ryuu came to Area 51, but was almost immediately killed in a street robbery. His spirit hid in the sewers, where he found a recipe for creating life. The ingredients include parts from the jackalope, from the god Achilles, a dragon, from Finn McCool, Ambrosia from the Gods, etc. Unfortunately, being dead, Ryuu got the instructions wrong, and instead had each of those creatures kill him by mistake. In return, though, he converted his victims to zombies. The last missing ingredient is the flower Goku ate. Ryuu shows up, and Goku uses his expanding staff to lay the zombie to rest. However, this mysterious flower springs up over Ryuu's grave some days later. Rather than eat it again, Goku sends it to China, where Ryuu's wife keeps it in a bowl of water, and becomes healthy. Her mother insists that she remarry, but the woman can't keep her dead husband out of her thoughts anymore. The story closes with McCoy asking Charming to sing his song now.
(McCoy and Charming versus the troll.)
H22) Donut's Repay... Maybe Not
Odin wants Kusanagi no Ken, the sword buried in McCoy's chest, and he has his Valkyries spying on her to learn more about this foe. They research Pike, the intelligent gun, and McCoy's abilities to use judo while fighting trolls. Meanwhile, Amaterasu knows that Odin is up to something and is using her crows to spy on him. Problem is that there's a full solar eclipse coming up, and all of the sun-based gods are going to lose their powers at that time. To help protect McCoy in secret, Amaterasu tells Charming what's going on, and that Odin wants the sword. The Prince wants to know why such a horrible thing could have happened to his boss, and Amaterasu just smiles evilly at him. The next day, the eclipse begins while McCoy is out in the park, feeding pieces of donuts to the pigeons. Charming notices a figure standing in the shadows of an alley and intercepts it. Turns out the figure is a female kappa looking for revenge for the murder of her brother, Kirimaru. She stabs Charming in the back and runs away. The Valkyries take this opportunity turn from a flock of pigeons into humanoid forms and attack. Pike is currently sleeping, so McCoy tries to use judo on her attackers. But, Odin had cut their arms off and then sewed them back on, so when McCoy tries to throw the Valkyries, their arms pop off and she falls on her face. A lot of the Valkyries are killed, but there are too many of them and McCoy is taken to Odin's castle tower, Valhalla. When Charming staggers to her bench, she's gone, and Pike is left lying on the pavement.
(Hebi does his mind trick on Odin. The apple is probably symbolic.)
H23) Didn't Your Mommy Tell You, You Can't Put Women Under Restraint
Odin's into fetish bondage, and he's used a magical material that can't be broken to hold McCoy in her prison cell. The same material he's using to hold the Fenrir Wolf in a separate prison facility. Odin is terrified of Ragnarok, and his thought is that if he has the power of the Kusanagi sword, he'll be able to kill Fenrir, and stave off the end of the world for a while longer. The question now is how to get at the sword, since it's still attached to McCoy. The solar eclipse ends, and Amaterasu visits Charming in the hospital bed at the Four Legged Clinic. She explains the mix-up with the female kappa, and the fact that things are too far out of control for Charming to be of any use anymore. He goes into a funk. That night, Odin can't sleep, and as he wanders through Valhalla, he runs into The First Snake, Hebi. Being the First snake, he/she has power over all of the other snakes in the realms of the other gods, including Jormungund, the monster snake encircling the world. It's to Hebi's advantage that Ragnarok be postponed, too. Hebi uses its power to bring out people's greatest fears to wrap Odin around its finger as well (Odin thinks that he's too weak, too old, he doesn't have enough generals in his army, or that he has the wrong ones, etc.) Soon, Odin is completely trapped. But, as a gesture of good faith, Hebi reveals that it's killed Fenrir, and is sitting on the wolf's massive dead head as proof. The next day, the Council of 10 Gods meets at the restaurant, with Amaterasu taking her brother's place. Pretty quickly, Odin picks a fight with Hades, and uses a sneak attack to spear Hades in the head, killing him.
(Sky fish, a Japanese delicacy.)
H24) Man Must Be a Sword
Lt. Felix is called out by his men to investigate the disappearance of the Restaurant of the Gods. It's not actually gone, just floating several hundred feet up in the sky, at the bottom of Tower Valhalla. The people outside are wondering what's going on in the Restaurant, including the minions of the Gods still trapped inside. More and more supernatural minions show up, and Felix fears there's going to be a war on his hands soon. Back at the Four-Legged Clinic, Cyclops has recovered from the injuries received from Ginkaku and Kinkaku, and has used his mechanical skills to make himself a new arm, and a new sword for Charming. Charming is still in his funk, so Cyclops says "just do what you can, that's all you can do. Sometimes, a man has to become a sword that someone else wields." Cheered up, Charming goes back to work, and is joined by every single person in Area 51 that calls McCoy their friend, including the yakuza. Tengu had learned of something that Japanese people apparently eat, and had talked the yakuza into getting some big bags of the things. Pike is slung on a rope and hung from Charming's neck, and Tengu flies them up to the tower. The tower is being protected by some kind of robot laser cannon, which has already shot down several military jets, a TV reporter's helicopter, and a few supernatural minions. What Pike and Charming noticed from the TV footage is that the cannon has trouble differentiating certain kinds of targets. When they get closer, Charming opens the bags to release hundreds of Sky Fish (a variant on flying fish, but with more armor). The cannon can't track all of the targets, and Tengu throws Charming and Pike at a window before returning to the ground. With all of the fireworks in the air, the Gods' minions are getting riled up, and Felix is working himself into a real panic. At about the same time, Zeus is in his repair shop watching everything on TV, when he's visited by a familiar small terrier. He sees the spirit of his brother standing next to Cerberus and immediately understands what has happened. He leaves his shop and makes his way to the scene of the carnage.
Short Story: Area 51 e no Michi (To Go the Road of Area 51)
Masato tells a rather strange tale about how he started out as a manga artist in 2003, and had made a promise to protect the heroine from his earlier manga, Jabberwocky. He's imprisoned when Jabberwocky loses popularity in the magazines and is discontinued. But he makes a break for it, and starts up Area 51 in order to compete with all of the other manga on the market. Unfortunately now, his Jabberwocky heroine is a prisoner somewhere and is being tortured and he needs to save her. He stumbles on the secret lair of a new publisher, and that is how Area 51 first sees print in Comic Bunch in 2011.
(Top right corner in red: the three Japanese gods, with Amaterasu in the center; below in red, members of the Council of 10 Gods; Yellow, from top, Felix, Zeus, Hades, Sky Fish, Yakuza, Tengu, Cyclops with his new arm; Left, in gray, Hebi.)
Summary: The etchi factor is getting a bit out of control, and the manga is moving into the Rated R category. Things are still not all that graphic, detailed or gory, but it's no longer "family friendly", either. But, I love the artwork and the introduction of all the various mythological beings here, and Masato's twists on them. I'm having fun with this title and am looking forward to getting the next volume.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
One of the most active pachinko parlors at the south end of Tenmonkan is out of business. I didn't even see it getting cleaned out, so I was surprised to see the building empty.
It used to take up all three floors.
I'm also surprised to see the damaged windows. Don't know if this is a rare display of vandalism, or just the aftermath of a former customer angry at not being able to play here anymore (or, maybe the former parlor operator angry at losing his lease).
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
There's been a fair bit of flurry of building construction in the area. Mostly it's been tearing down office buildings to make room for parking lots, or to put up high-end apartment buildings (mansions). In this case, an old 5-story office building which had housed a judo dojo, came down a few months ago and was replaced by a new single-floor building that had "Day Care Center" in big white letters on the front. Just as it was about to open for business, the name was ripped off the building.
The mounting holes are still visible. The next day, they'd been spackled in and painted over. No idea why.
One of the interesting things about new shop openings is that they are usually accompanied by a large flower arrangement paid for by partners or affiliates of the new owners. The sign here has the name for some kind of sports medicine clinic. It's hard to tell if the Day Service Center has been turned into a sports medicine clinic, or if the clinic is the one that sent the flowers.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
As I've mentioned before, the weather in Kagoshima hasn't been very good for most of this year. Occasionally during the summer one of the approaching typhoons would blow the clouds out, making for clear skies for a day, but then that was followed by a storm afterward. One night, the sky was mostly clear, with a few hazy clouds, and a nearly full moon. I wanted to test the 30x zoom on the new pocket camera, and this was the best I got. There's a lot of shake with the smaller camera, which isn't as much of a problem with the big one. This was a hand-held shot, and maybe I could have gotten a slightly better result if I'd had access to my tripod. But still, it's not too shabby for a pocket camera.