Saturday, February 28, 2009

Relay 2009



The Japan Engineering University (Nihon Kogakuin) Creator's College has a program that teaches a variety of majors, including medicine, technology and sports. During the weekend of Feb. 27 to Mar. 1, 2009, the school put on an exhibition of the works from their graduates from the "creative field". This exhibition included anime, manga, video games, trading card games, board games, clothing, and even a live action music video drama. A number of the pictures had been turned into advertising posters of the school, and many were also turned into freebie postcards.



As is the case with any collection of students, the exhibit is a mixed bag. Some of the works are incredibly well-done and high quality. Others, not so much. The difference, though, is that the high-quality work outstrips that most art and design schools in the U.S. And, the variety of themes and scope of storytelling is what we've come to expect from Japanese artists.



In short, Relay is not just a way of advertising the school, or of students to attract potential employers; it's also a great way for anime, manga and video game fans to witness the possible release of the next generation of talent to come out of Japan. There's also a lot of freebies in the form of small posters, a sampler DVD and a 4-color sampler book.



While all the event was open to the public for all three days, Friday was also a "business" day. One part of the display space was set aside for snacks and beverages (tea and soda).



All in all this was a great event to attend, and I'd expect next year to be just as good, if not better. I especially liked "FoDxoll", a concept for a guitar duo featuring a fox spirit and what seems to be an animatron. The guitars displayed looked to be standard off-the rack electrics with some hand-painted embellishments, but the overall display, including a fox mask, spirit ward, guitars and poster were very well-thought out. And I wouldn't mind playing a couple of the board games.



Not all the photos turned out well, because I wanted to keep the flash turned off to avoid distracting everyone else in the exhibit. As far as I could tell, I was one of the few people actually using a camera at that time.
























Friday, February 27, 2009

Gundam Clock




I discovered this completely by accident while trying to locate some of the older Gakken "Adult Science" kits. Turns out that Gakken is also selling the "Char's Version" of a clock based on the ever-popular Gundam TV show. At 7140 yen ($75 US) it's a little pricey, but maybe you can find one on e-Bay.

The lights flash when the alarm goes off.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 49, Page 13 and 14

Time to wrap up page 13 and move forever forward in our quest to understand conversational Japanese through Tori Miki's Frozen Food Agent manga.


それがマニユアルにある型どおりの応対だなんてその時は知らなかった。 彼女は好意でそう言ってくれてるのだと思いこんで。

それ が マニユアル に ある がた どおり の おうたい だなんてそのときはしらなかった。 かのじょはこういでそういってくれてるのだとおもいこんで。

sore - that
ga - subject marker
manyuaru - manual
ni - towards
aru - exists
gata - type
douri - in accordance with
no - possessive
outai - receiving
da - was
nan te - such as
sono - that
toki - time
wa - topic marker
shiranakatta - negative past tense of "to know"
kanojo - she
wa - topic marker
koui - courtesy
de - from
sou itte kureteru - that said for that reason
no da - is the reason
to - and
omoi konde - under the impression that

that . (subject) . manual . towards . exists . type . in accordance with's . receiving . was . such as . that . time . (topic) . did not know
she . (topic) . courtesy . from . that said for that reason . is the reason . under the impression that

"I did not know at that time that she was using a standard greeting from the manual. She thought she was just being polite."

To shorten this section to fit the balloons, and to be more conversational, I went with "I didn't realize that this was a standard greeting from a manual, and that
she was just being polite."

----------

私はその店に通いつづけました

わたし は その みせ に かよい つづけました

watashi - I
wa - topic marker
sono mise - that shop
kayoi - coming and going
tsuzukemashita - past tense of "continued"

I . (topic) . that shop . coming and going . continued

"I continued to go to that shop."

I went with "I went to that shop all the time."

-------------

I'll add the dialog for page 14 here.

そしてある日

オマケしとくね。 お店には内緒だから。
オマケしとくね。 お店にはないしょだから。

こうして私たちはつきあい始めたんです 金がなかったんでデートはいつもどち
らかの部屋でカウチポテト

身勝手なパリ留学に失敗して帰国して時。私はすっかり彼女のことはあきらめていました
みがってなパリりょうがくにしっぱいしてきこくしてとき。私はすっかりかこじょのことはあきらめていました

お帰りなさいお客様 。 私とご一緒にポテトはいかがですか?




To be continued.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Macross at Anime Center, 2009


(Curry)

The Tokyo Anime Center is located on the 4th floor of the UDX building, and was one of the principle participants in putting on the Macross event this year. Some of the things available for sale in the Center are Macross Curry and t-shirts. There were also some advertising banners.


(A t-shirt)


(Advertising)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Macross Bikes, 2009



Also at the Macross event were a pair of high-end bikes customized with Macross decals. One was on the 2nd floor next to the van, the other on the 4th floor in the Tokyo Anime Center.








Monday, February 23, 2009

Macross Van, 2009



Here's the van that was being dressed up at the Macross Ceremony.







Sunday, February 22, 2009

Macross Super-Dimensional Space Launch Ceremony, 2009



Remember what I said just a few days ago regarding the Figma event and long lines at the UDX?



Yesterday was the Macross Launch Ceremony, which in part was to celebrate Macross's 25th anniversary. Apparently, the Tokyo Anime Center had a stamp challenge - pick up a stamp card, then get it filled in with stamps from participating Akihabara retailers and send in the filled card to a specific mailing address to be entered in a drawing for tickets to Sunday's event. Even with the drawing, the line of people to get into the building was about 200 long when I got in for work at 9 AM. Not as if I'd have a chance to get into the event itself during my lunch break.



The launch ceremony apparently included being able to buy rare collector's items, and some stage events. Akiba-Station had some advance info on the full stage line up.



I contented myself with taking what photos I could outside of the event. One of the featured activities was the dressing up of a van with Macross decals as people watched. They also had several sets of lit display cases out front to show off figures. I was especially amused at the little flier model dressed up with decals much like the van had been. Even Macross pilots like to put anime art on their rides.



I wonder what the next event will be? I'm pretty sure that the next one I will be able to attend is the Anime Fest at Big Sight in 2 weeks. Ekura Animal should be there, and I'd like to meet up with them again, if possible.










(List of available car decals for purchase.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Manga review - Rave, Fairy Tail

Silly action time! Mashima Hiro has been at this game for a while. Although only 32, he's had 2 long-running titles and a handful of short stories, including Monster Hunter Orage and Monster Soul. Rave ended at 35 volumes, and Fairy Tail is on-going at 13. Both longer titles are being carried in the U.S. by Del Rey. So far as I can tell, Hiro pretty much recycles his character designs, so while there may be some tweaks or an occasional new design, for the most part each title looks the same as the others. This may be a bad thing if you dislike recycling, but good if you like consistency in your reading. The character designs are generally cartoony, kind of along the lines of One Piece, but not quite as bad. The artwork is very clean, though, with thin smooth lines and highly detailed backgrounds. Even though there is a lot of drama, with people getting slaughtered all over the place, there's a heavy dose of slap stick running through every chapter as well.


(Image from wikipedia, for review purposes only)

Groove Adventure Rave, by Mashima Hiro, Grade: B+

Released in the U.S. as "Rave Master", Groove Master Rave is yet again one of those many titles that I ignored when I first read it in Shonen Magazine. Since I wasn't trying to understand the Japanese, and I only caught one issue out of 10, I had no idea what was going on, and the artwork looked kind of childish to me so I didn't put any effort into following it. Later, I started reading the Del Rey books from the beginning and got hooked. There are a lot of similarities to One Piece, so if you like OP, you'll like Rave.

Haru Glory is a young teenager living on an island with his older sister. He quickly gets swept up in a battle with members of an evil organization that uses the Dark Bring - powerful stones that corrupt the user - and their ongoing attempts to rule the world. Haru uses one of the mysterious "rave" stones he finds and discovers that he has the ability to unlock it's great powers, thus learning that he is the Second Rave Master (the first, Shiba, acts as Haru's first teacher). From here, Haru leaves the island on a journey to collect all of the rave stones and to defeat the ultimate leader of the bad guys. Along the way, he meets people on both sides, some who join him and others that don't. He also finds that the world is a *big* place and that there's always somewhere else to go that holds new mysteries.

Rave is good, goofball fun in the vein of the really early Dragonball series. Friends spend a lot of time ganging up against each other and breaking into arguments in the middle of the battle. But, there's a lot of action as well, and the artwork is good enough to make the fight scenes exciting. The characters don't get into the "hey I have a new attack that no one's heard of before" rut that is so common in manga, but you know that there's always going to be another power up just around the corner. A lot of the story revolves around the "quest for the next item", in this case, to find the other rave stones. But, it's still a fun read, and the entire series has been released by Del Rey (One Manga is still trying to catch up, and isn't at vol. 30 yet, or thereabouts. The fan groups had abandoned Rave for over a year and just recently took it back up again.) So, you can read this non-stop and see how it all ends without having to wait months for the next book to come out.

Summary: Rave is a goofball quest adventure along the lines of early Dragonball, with Haru trying to find all of the rave stones in order to beat the bad guys. Recommended if you like fighting and silly mind candy.



(Image from wikipedia for review purposes only.)

Fairy Tail, by Mashima Hiro, Grade: B-

According to the wiki entry, Fairy Tail started out as an experimental short story, then was combined with the concepts from some of Hiro's other shorts to become his second full-length series. It's kind of a disappointing follow-up to Rave, in that I think Rave is the better title. Largely this is due to the characters getting overly boisterous and arrogant. We keep getting people coming in and telling us how great and powerful they are, only to have their butts handed to them after a few chapters. It's the same one pattern repeated endlessly with small variants. And, when a character goes down in a battle, they get back up and keep fighting some more shortly afterwards. There's no such thing as "game over" here. So, you know that the good guy's going to win, the question is just "how long is it going to take and how are they going to pull it off?"

Initially, the series starts with Lucy Heartphilia, a young female magic user who has left home to join the Fairy Tail adventurer's guild. Lucy uses "keys" that lets her summon powerful symbols of the zodiac. She encounters Natsu, a fire magician, possible offspring of a dragon, and one of the members of Fairy Tail. She is soon allowed into the guild, and gets wrapped up in some nasty guild versus guild squabbling that's going on. From here, the story starts following almost everyone else BUT Lucy. There's a huge battle around volume 10 or so, where the series could have ended. But, Hiro threw in some hints saying that there's more going on than we know of, and the story continued almost as if nothing had changed. This is one of the things that I dislike about Fairy Tail - the greatest villain uses the greatest powers to almost destroy the world and is just barely stopped, and then we're told that there's something 100 times worse that hasn't come out yet. This ruins the suspense, since we don't know if Hiro's going to do the same thing again after the new disaster is averted. And this is where we get into the rut of a mindless "battle of the week" series that loses its focus.

Summary: To be fair, Hiro's artwork is as good as ever, and his fight scenes are exciting. It's just that all the bragging everyone does before the fights has gotten old. But, Fairy Tail's slapstick is still funny at times and the fights are good. The story starts with Lucy's attempts to get into the Fairy Tail guild, then turns to Natsu's ongoing interest in being the best fighter on the planet, while also learning whether he's the last "dragon" remaining. Recommended if you still need a "Rave Master" fix.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 48, Page 13

More of page 13.

50 年前私は画家になりたくて、この街に出てきたんです。 今考えると笑ってしまうくらい田舎人でね

50 ねん まえ わたし は がか に なりたくて、 このまちにでてきたんです。 いま かんがえる と わらって しまうくらい いなか じん でね

50 nen mae - 50 years before
watashi - I
wa - topic marker
gaka - painter
ni - towards
naritakute - conjunctive form of "want to become"
kono machi - this town
ni - towards
dete kitan - left and came
desu - is
ima - now
kangaeru - to think about
to - and
waratte - laugh
shimaukurai - to the degree that have to do
inaka-jin - country bumpkin
de ne - desu + emphasizer

50 years before . I . (topic) . painter . towards . wanted to become
this . town . towards . left and came . is
now . to think about . and . laugh . have to do . country bumpkin .is . right?

"50 year ago, I wanted to become a painter, so I left home and came here. When I think about it now, I have to laugh. I really was a naive hayseed."

There are two interesting phrases here. The first is "ni naritakute". Take "ni naru" (to become or turn into) and turn it into "ni naritai" (want to become). "te" here is from "sou iu wake de" (for that reason). "ku" softens the entire phrase. "ni naritakute" then gives us "for the reason that I wanted to become".

The second phrase is "warratte shimaukurai" "warau" is "to laugh". "shimau" is "to do". "kurai" is a modifier in this case, used to mean "to the extent that". Therefore "waratte shimaukurai" means "to the extent that I have to laugh (at myself)".

I used "50 years ago, I came here wanting to be an artist. Looking back on it, I have to laugh. I really was a naive bumpkin."

----------

お客様。 ご一緒にポテトはいかがですか?
おきゃくさま。 ごいっしょ に ポテト は いかが です か?

o - honorific prefix
kyaku - customer
sama - honorific suffix
go - honorific prefix
issho ni - together with
poteto - potato
wa - topic marker
ikaga - how about
desu - is
ka - question marker

honored customer . honored together with . potato . (topic) . how about . is . ?

"Sir, how about having potatoes together?"

There are three standard components here that are used to elevate the position of the other person above the speaker. "o-" and "go-" are both prefixes appended to nouns and verbs that have no English equivalents. The standard translation, though, is "honored". Both are used with specific words with no clear rules. Basically, you have to memorize them based on usage. "-sama" is the next step up above "-san", both having the meaning of "Mr." or "Ms."

Usually, shop clerks are trained to use "okyaku-san" (customer) when talking to a customer. "Okyaku-sama" is an extremely polite variant of this.

Normally, the Japanese will just use "issho ni" (to do something together with someone else). But, if you are being very polite, such as with someone of a much higher social status than you, you use "go-issho ni". The English translation is the same in both cases.

Technically, she's referring to "french fries", rather than "potatoes". You see "potato set" on menus in MacDonalds, meaning a small fries and a drink. But, I decided that "potatoes" was more interesting.

I went with "Would you like to have potatoes together?"

To be continued.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Manga review - Gyo, Uzumaki

Gross horror time! Ito Junji has made quite a name for himself as a horror manga artist, although he initially trained as a dental technician (which may say a lot about him). He has several titles to his credit, including Tomie, and Museum of Terror. I'll content myself with two of the titles that Viz has brought to the U.S. market (and released with two different editions) - Uzumaki and Gyo. Ito has a very specific art style that doesn't change much over time, and while he does vary his character designs occasionally, they do tend to resurface in later stories. He likes the creepy, but doesn't hesitate to go for the gross-out (such as when various bodies decay and degrade over time). These are not for those with weak stomachs or strong memories.


(Image from Amazon, used for review purposes only.)

Uzumaki, by Ito Junji, Grade: A
Uzumaki means "spiral" in Japanese, and this three volume set consists of a series of short stories all involving spirals. Kirie Goshima is an attractive young high school girl living in a small village, isolated from the rest of Japan by a range of tall hills. One day, her boyfriend's (Shuichi's) father starts going crazy collecting anything spiral-shaped. Eventually, the father turns himself into a spiral in the wash tub and dies. His body is cremated, and the smoke from the furnace forms a giant spiral in the sky, leading to more weirdness. Eventually, the story climaxes in Kirie's discovery of the secret beneath the village.

Uzumaki's horror is primarily atmospheric. Strange things happen, and people turn into weird and unusual shapes or creatures. Ito doesn't use surprise very much, instead preferring to just have the dread slowly build up with a dark inevitability. A live-action movie version of "Uzumaki" came out in 2000.

Summary: Uzumaki is a series of short stories that all take place in one village, connected by the presence of Kirie, the main character. Recommended if you like Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.



(Image from Amazon, used for review purposes only.)

Gyo, by Ito Junji, Grade: A
Funny how the titles tell us a lot about what happens next. "Gyo" means "fish". In this two-volume set, Tadashi and his girlfriend, Kaori, encounter a strange little fish with metal legs. Kaori is horrified by the fish's smell but Tadashi thinks she's just over-reacting. Then more of the fish start appearing on land and make their way towards Tokyo, killing everything in their path. Turns out that the metal legs were created as part of a secret WW II bio-weapons research project, and their main fuel is the gas that causes corpses to bloat up. We're never really told how the metal skeletons multiply, but the noxious fumes do seem to have some form of intelligence. Unfortunately, Kaori becomes one of the victims, and this helps make the horror seem more personal. The books end with a final stand-off between the remaining humans in Tokyo, and the swarms of corpse-driven metal skeletons that have taken over.

Not many titles have succeeded in creeping me out, but Gyo managed to do a great job of it. Even 1 year after reading this, I still can't look at sushi without giving a small shudder. And, it's right at the back of my mind when I visit Shinjuku Gyo-en (the Imperial park in Shinjuku).

Summary: Gyo is a 2-book tale of man's indiscretions coming back to haunt him. Bio-weapons research on a remote island in Japan from WW II takes the form 50 years later of self-aware metal skeletons that use bio-mass (humans, fish and animals) for fuel. Recommended if you like Uzumaki.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 47, Page 13

This is the dialog for page 13.

昔話を聞いてくれますか?
むかしばなし を きいてくれますか?

いいだろう。 ここの所轄は署員が到着するレスポンスタイムの遅さには定評がある
いいだろう。 ここのしょかつはしょいんがとうちゃくするレスポンスタイムのおそさにはていひょうがある

昔々ある所にコブシほどのコブのあるじいさんが二人おりました
むかしむかしあるところにコブシほどのコブのあるじいさんがふたりおりました

50 年前私は画家になりたくて。 この街に出てきたんです。 今考えると笑ってし
まうくらい田舎人でね
50 ねんまえわたしはがかになりたくて。 このまちにでてきたんです。 いまかん
がえるとわらってしまうくらいいなかじんでね

お客様。 ご一緒にポテトはいかがですか?
おきゃくさま。 ごいっしょにポテトはいかがですか?

それがマニユアルにある型どおりの応対だなんてその時は知らなかった。 彼女は
好意でそう言ってくれてるのだと思いこんで。
それがマニユアルにあるがたどおりのおうたいだなんてそのときはしらなかった。
かのじょはこういでそういってくれてるのだとおもいこんで。

私はその店に通いつづけました
私はその店にかよいつづけました




-----------

昔話を聞いてくれますか?

むかしばなし を きいてくれます か?

mukashi banashi - old story
wo - object marker
kiite kure masu ka - would you please like to hear?

old story . (object) . would you like to hear?

"Are you willing to hear an old story?"

-----------

いいだろう。 ここの所轄は署員が到着するレスポンスタイムの遅さには定評がある

いいだろう。 ここのしょかつはしょいんがとうちゃくするレスポンスタイムのおそさにはていひょうがある

ii darou - good I guess
koko - this
no - possessive
shokatsu - jurisdiction
wa - topic marker
shoin - staff members
ga - subject marker
touchaku suru - to arrive
resuponsu taimu - response time
no - possessive
chisa - lateness
ni wa - towards + topic marker
teihyou - established opinion
ga - subject marker
aru - exists

good I guess
this's . jurisdiction . (topic) . staff members . (subject) . to arrive . response time's . lateness . towards . (topic) . established opinion . (subject) . exists

"I guess that would be ok. This jurisdiction's staff has a reputation for late response times."

I went with "Why not. The cops here have a rep for slow response times."

-----------

昔々ある所にコブシほどのコブのあるじいさんが二人おりました

むかしむかし ある ところ に コブシほどのコブのあるじいさんがふたりおりました

mukashi mukashi - long, long ago
aru - exists
tokoro - place
ni - towards
kobu-shi - Bump City
hodo - limits
no - possessive
kobu - bump
no - possessive
aru - exists
jiisan - old man
ga - subject marker
futari - two people
arimashita - existed

long, long ago . exists . place . towards . bump town . limits's . bump's . exists . old man . (subject) . two people . existed

Ok, this structure is kind of interesting.

aru tokoro ni - that is a place that
kobushi hodo no - in the bounds of Bump City
kobu no aru jiisan - old man that has a bump
ga - referring to which
futari arimashita - two people existed

That is, "long, long ago, in the land of Bump City, there were two old men with bumps (on their faces)." The "on their faces" is implied rather than stated, given the photo shown in the panel.

"Kobu-shi" is not a regular place. We have to guess, based on the fact that "-shi" is the suffix for city names, that we're being introduced to a place called "Kobu". And, "kobu" means "bump".

I used, "Long ago, in the land of Bump Town, there were two old men with bumps on their faces..."


To be continued.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gakken kits: 17 and 1

Yes,"Too Much Free Time and Not Enough Cash Man" is back! This time to talk about:


(Antenna cropped to concentrate on body of kit)

Gakken kit #17 - the Theremin. Lev Theremin was a physicist employed by the Russian government to develop a new kind of proximity sensor. His invention, called the Theremin, ended up playing music instead and was so popular that Lenin learned how to play it, and sent Lev on a round-trip demonstration of the machine. Lev arrived in the U.S. in 1928, took out a patent on the device, and licensed it to RCA, which produced it under the name "RCA Thereminvox". It was released right after the market crash of 1929 and did not sell well. But it attracted the attentions of musicians globally. The Outer Limits TV show used the theremin for it's second season title music, and soprano Loulie Norman imitated the sound of the theremin with her voice for the opening theme of the original Star Trek show. Lev himself spent time in a prison under Stalin then returned to the U.S. in 1991, where he lived until his death in 1993 at age 97. The theremin is still being sold by several companies in the U.S., including Moog ($520).

The theremin is a practical application of hetrodyning - the result of two frequencies that are slightly mismatched. You move one hand near the antenna and it causes an oscillator to change frequency. This first oscillator is compared to a second, fixed frequency oscillator, and the difference in frequencies is a sound signal that is amplified and sent to the speaker. Traditionally, the volume is controlled by how close your other hand is to the circuit ground.

Gakken has two theremin kits, the Mini ($25), and the Premium kit ($110). The Mini (#17) consists of about 10 parts, including a small pre-assembled circuit board and connected speaker, a battery holder for 4 AA cells, the antenna and the 2-piece plastic case. You assemble the case, and mount the circuit board, antenna and speaker inside. The black plastic handle is connected to the on-off switch (Off/Low Volume/High Volume). Again, the assembly is pretty straightforward. But, like the Galileo telescope, it's not the plastic parts that make it difficult to build. This time, it's adjusting the two oscillator sensitivity controls to get the theremin to make the right sounds when you move your hands correctly near the antenna. It takes a while to get it just right, and may require attaching aluminum foil to the battery ground post to improve the circuit's response.

Again, the mook is the best part of the kit. There's a biography on Lev, an interview with his daughter, photos of past performers of the instrument, and more (all in Japanese of course). There are also suggestions for customizing the kit, including stuffing it into a plush animal doll, adding a speaker jack to connect it to an external Marshall amp; modifications to the antenna; and adding 3 light sensors (photo resistors) to the side of the kit for volume control. The separate synthesizer kit also shows a mod to run a cable so that the theremin can act as an input device to the synth. Most mods require soldering in wires and I don't have a soldering iron yet.

My Mini makes some very simple noises, from a low-pitched farting up to a high-pitched squeal. Meaning that it's only real use currently is to annoy everyone around me. And that's good enough for me. (Note: Maybe it's just that I still can't tune it right. The Gakken site has a video of someone making some very nice music with one. So far, I can only get mine to fart and squeal.)




Also on the slate this time is Kit #1, the Putt Putt Boat. These kinds of boats have been around for years, and there are a number of vids on Youtube showing how to make your own out of plastic soda bottles or sheets of tin. So, it's not like Gakken is giving us anything really new here in the very first kit from this series. It's also a fairly simple kit, with a one-piece plastic body for the boat, 3 pontoons, a candle tray, holder and 4 candles, and the steam chamber. The science behind this kind of boat is very straight-forward. A small amount of water is placed in one tube of the engine to prime it, and then a candle is lit and placed under the steam chamber. Steam builds up in the chamber and the pressure expels it out the other tube, pushing the boat forward. More water flows into the chamber from the primed tube and the process repeats until the candle burns out. As long as the boat is in the water, it creates a closed circuit for the water flow.

The problem is that this kind of boat isn't designed for being used outdoors. I tried launching it from the nearby river, and the couple-mile-an-hour wind put out the candle, and the 1-2 inch tall waves swamped the boat and soaked the wick. At best, I need a perfectly calm day, or to use an indoor pool or bath tub. The candle is tiny, so it'll only burn for a few minutes, too. Which makes it kind of silly to have a small hole in one fin of the boat for tying a thread to it for hauling the boat back if it gets too far out from shore. It may be possible to use a slightly larger candle, though, to make it run longer (the size of the engine limits how big a candle you can use). The mook suggests taking foil to make a tray, pour in salt, add whiskey and then light the whiskey. But the wind again blew out the flame. I'm wondering what would happen if I used sugar instead of salt... Maybe if I can find a quiet pond to work from...

But, the real value from this kit is in the mook. Published in 2003, it is interesting on multiple levels. First, it's the first of the series, and shows how Gakken initially thought the series would run (mostly by including ideas for cheap DIY science projects). Second, it contains a photographic history of 40 years of science toys for kids, most or all of which had come from Gakken. Third, this mook is a treasure trove of mods for other Gakken Adult Science kits, including the Edison speaker amp, and has a circuit for the 150 block electronics kit to make a theremin. Finally, there's a series of science experiments for performing magic and bar tricks, such as smoke from your fingertips, and how to make a ping pong ball stick to the bottom of a bottle of water. I may try translating the manga at the back, showing a rivalry between Edison and the inventor of the first flat-disk record player

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I need to make a final comment. I've mentioned previously that these kits in the Adult Science mook series range between $20 and $85. That's not correct. The first 10 or so volumes are priced at 1600 to 1800 yen, including the one selling on Amazon for 8500 yen. Most are currently selling for 2500 to 3500 yen because of the collector's value. Volume 1 is now going for 2300 to 3000 yen online, but I found a copy at a bookstore and picked it up for the original 1680 yen, including tax. Volume 2, the fingerprinting kit, is the one least in demand, and sometimes can be found online for 600 yen. Otherwise, all the others have been appreciating in value, assuming that the packaging hasn't been opened and the kit assembled (defeats the purpose of having the kit, unless you get two copies of each). The one most in demand is the steam engine car, priced at 1600 yen and now selling for 8500 yen. I'd really like to find a copy in a bookstore, but the odds of that are low to none, I'm afraid.

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It also turns out that part of the mooks are available online.

Volume 1
Volume 17