Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heihachiro Togo



From the Ando Teru birthplace marker, continue down route 20 about 4 blocks.  This will take you past the Yamamoto markers.  At the next intersection, turn left and walk a little more than halfway along Kagoshima-Chuo school.



From the marker:

"Meet the enemy from the sea on the sea
The birthplace of Heihachiro Togo
... The Anglo-Satsuma War decided the fate of a fifteen year-old boy, Togo Heihachiro...

During the Anglo-Satsuma War, a father and his three sons took the field against the English fleet. There were seven English warships with 101 muzzles of canons aiming at Kagoshima to seek compensation for the Namamugi-incident. In 1863, they went into battle and the people of Satsuma realized their lack of strength. Then one of the sons, Togo Heihachiro, staring at the sea set his heart on the Navy.

Togo Heihachiro, as well as other great men in Satsuma, was from Kajiya goju (a goju is an educational institute in each district of Satsuma). He was born in 1847 and he was called Chuugoro in his boyhood. Since he was small he developed a hard core to his character and he got special affection from Saigo Takamori [sic] brother, Kichijiro. After the Restoration, he studied seamanship in England and sailed all around the world in the Hampshire. After seven years of study, he took part in building Japanese warships at the Greenwich dockyard and returned to Japan.

Since then he dedicated his life to the Navy, and in the Russo-Japanese War he destroyed the Baltic Fleet of Russia to lead the Japanese fleet to victory. His name was known all over the world as the "Nelson of the East"."







Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yamamoto Gonbei and Eisuke

From the Ando Teru monument, just go north 3-4 short blocks. The Yamamoto monuments will be on your left, as part of the barrier wall in front of an apartment building.



From the left marker:
"Yamamoto Eisuke (1876-1962)
Yamamoto Eisuke was the eldest son of Army Captain, Kichizo (elder brother of Yamamoto Gonnohyoue). When Kichizo died at Takeoka, during the Seinan Civil War, Eisuke was only one year old. In 1893, Eisuke entered the Naval Academy and during the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, at the rank of Lieutenant, General Staff, he contributed greatly to victories at the Battle of Ulsan, 1904, and at the Battle of Tsushima, 1905. In 1909, Eisuke became a Naval College instructor, and was later promoted to Principal in 1923. In 1929, Eisuke was appointed Commander in Chief, Combined Fleet, and later, Admiral in 1931."

From the right marker:
"Yamamoto Gonnohyoue (Gonbei) (1852-1933)
Yamamoto Gonnohyoue, participated in the Boshin Civil War at age 16 and entered the Naval Prep-Academy in Tokyo. In 1874, Yamamoto returned to Kagoshima with Saigo Takamori but following Saigo's advice, he entered the Naval Training Academy. Upon graduation, Yamamoto served as Captain on the Warship, Amagi.

In 1898, Yamamoto became the Naval Minister in the second Yamagata cabinet, a top Navy post which Yamamoto held for seven years. During this time, he appointed Togo Heihachiro, Commander in Chief, Combined Fleet, in 1903.

In 1913, Yamamoto became Prime Minister and worked to restructure the administration. He resigned his position though after the Siemens-Vickers Naval Armament Scandal of 1914, a scandal involving naval officers. In 1923, he was again appointed the position of Prime Minister after the Great Kanto Earthquake, and dedicated himself to the rebirth of Tokyo. Assuming responsibility for the Toranomon Incident, an assassination attempt on the prince regent, Yamamoto again resigned. Yamamoto was known for his broad heart, sense of humor, and simple, forthright character."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Poem of the Four Seasons



"Shiki no Uta" translates to "Poem of the Four Seasons". Although the word "uta" generally means "sing", in this case the kanji used is for "poem".



I'm not familiar with the sculptor. This statue is a few blocks east along the Kotsuki river from Statue of Hat, and the intersection of Perth street and route 20.






Sunday, August 28, 2011

Commentary: Monthly Ikki


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

Monthly Ikki (550 yen, 440 pages) is described in the wiki entry as a "seinen" (for young men) publication, but a good half of the volume I read feels like it's aimed at women. In those stories, the artwork is often light and airy, and the themes are along the lines of the daily lives of women, or boys love. A case in point is the cover story - Golondrina, by est em, where a fragile young man seems to be fantasizing over a Spanish bullfighter.


(Golondrina)

The themes in this magazine do range all over the place, but with an emphasis on fantasy, horror, gags and Edo-period drama. As with most manga, there's good artwork and bad. Because I am generally attracted to the artwork before getting into the story, I can easily say that there is little new in Ikki that immediately grabs me, outside of possibly Afterschool Charisma.


(Random example manga: Boku wa Tsuakon ("I'm Heavenly Tsuakon").)

On the other hand, I really like Dorohedoro despite the muddy 1980's style drawing. I think I'm going to have to go to Book Off and see which of the most recent issues I can get my hands on.

Titles that may be familiar to western readers are:

Natsume Ono's Futa ga shira
Children of the Sea

There's no freebies in this issue, but I'd get it solely for Dorohedoro, if I needed something to read on the train.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Shiho and Ando

Japanese cities grew up around farms and castles over the course of hundreds of years, so it shouldn't be particularly surprising to see that the layout of streets and blocks isn't overly regular or systematic. This makes trying to find a given location difficult at times, so you want to have a good map and follow it closely. The tourist map that I have is pretty good, but not all the time. From Koto junior high, if you go north to the first side street and head west, you get to route 20. Just the other side of 20 is a hospital. According to the map, the next historical marker is in the middle of the driveway leading to the lobby entrance of the hospital. I spent 10 minutes wandering around looking for that marker before deciding to turn north and go back to the apartment. Then, at the end of the block, next to the main employee parking lot, I found it. Again, there's two markers here.



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

"Site of Shiho Gakusha Local School
This is the site of Kenji no sha, 1892-1969, where seniors taught juniors to develop the samurai spirit through the practice of martial arts. The four samurai schools, Furu-shinyashiki, Shin-shinyashiki, Tenokuchi and Umanoribaba would combine to become the Shiho Gakusha School after undergoing various changes such as a Branch of the Shigakko. Prime Minister Kuroda Kiyotaka, sculptor Ando Teru, and many other outstanding people received their educations here. In commemoration of the centennial of the Meiji Restoration, the Gakusha School was relocated to the precinct of the Nanshu Shrine in 1968, where activities resumed. 1976 marked the 100th Anniversary of the Gakusha School."

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

"Birthplace of Ando Teru
Ando Teru, sculptor, was born in the northeastern corner of this area, now Kagoshima City Hospital, in 1892. While attending the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, his work was accepted for the Teiten Imperial Fine Arts Exhibition. Later, Ando was the recipient of a special commendation for his works, "Stream", "Sprouting", "Dancing Composition" and "To the Sky". In fact, "To the Sky" was the first to win the Imperial Fine Arts Prize. Later Ando became a screening committee member for the same prize. Ando was fascinated by the expression of essential form, especially the feeling of massiveness. In 1929, he established Kaijinsha. His representative works include a "Statue of Saigo Takamori" and "Hachiko, the Faithful Dog"."

(Note that the bronze statue of Hachiko (the dog made famous in the U.S. in the Richard Gere movie) that sits in front of Shibuya station in Tokyo was originally made in 1934, and then melted down for the metal during WW II. The one that is there now was commissioned in 1948 by Ando's son, Takeshi.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hashiguchi Goyo Birthplace

Taking Perth Street north towards the Kagoshima-chuo station, just before you get to route 20, you'll encounter Koto Junior High School on your right side. If you take the right turn just as you reach the school and go about halfway along the grounds, you'll get to the marker for Hashiguchi Goyo:



"Birthplace of Hashiguchi Goyo (1880-1922)
Hashiguchi Goyo, whose given name is actually Hashiguchi Kiyoshi, (Goyo also had the nickname, "Utamaru of the Taiso era"), was born here in 1880.

Goyo began his studies learning traditional Kano Japanese painting. Following Kuroda Seiki's advice, Goyo went to Tokyo at the age of 19 to study western paintings. Upon graduation from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1905, he began working as an illustrator and book designer. Later that same year, Goyo was commissioned to do the bookbinding for Natsume Soseki's book, I am a Cat. Goyo was also the designer for books written by Natsume Soseki, Mori Ogai, Izumi Kyoka and many others. He also published the Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, "Woman Bathing," "Woman Applying Powder," and Woman Combing Hair". Through his extraordinarily beautiful prints and exacting standards, Goyo had truly created a new era of Japanese wood-block printing."

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

As a comment, what the marker is referring to is "shin-hanga", the attempt to revitalize woodblock printing as an art form by adding western concepts of light and shading, primarily aimed at the European market, from 1915 to 1942.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Momohime Torimono Emaki


(Back inner cover flap)

Finding manga in Japan is pretty easy. There are major bookstores almost everywhere, and even the smaller ones will have at least one or two volumes of Bleach, Naruto and One Peace. Tracking down older manga, especially that from the 60's and 70's gets more difficult simply because of the vast volume of books issued every year, and the limited space available for storing it all. Being in a major city like Tokyo or Osaka helps, because you'll have a Mandarake outlet there, and they specialize in old, used manga. On the other hand, finding used books from 1990 on up isn't that hard; even Kagoshima has 3 or 4 Book Off stores within 5 miles of the main Chuo station. And, one of them is a five minute walk from me.


(Inside front cover.)

A few nights ago, I decided that I'd go into Book Off and just start paging through every book they have one at a time to grab stuff that I'd normally ignore otherwise. To keep things manageable, I imposed a couple rules - 1) stick with the 100 yen shelves; 2) don't start a new series if volume 1 and/or 2 are missing; 3) stop after selecting 5 or 6 books; 4) pick things that I'm sure I'll like based on the art or the surface story. There are several thousand books in the boy's manga section, and I'd gotten through 4 shelf cases worth before I hit the motherload. Not bad. Still got 30 cases left to go. Guess I got to pace myself.




The first book from that shopping trip is:

Momohime Torimono Emaki, by Miki Yuasa, Grade: A
Miki is a female writer, and the inner flap photo shows her dressed up as the main character during the Fox Bride Festival sequence in the book. There's very little information on her in Japanese, much less in English. She does have a homepage, which is of course in Japanese, only. The only real mention of her in English is on Baka-Updates, which lists the book title as Hyakumehime Torimono Emaki, and apparently erroneously lists her homepage site name as the name of her artist. Momohime started running in Comic Kai (Comic 怪), in 2007, and there's almost no mention of this magazine online, either.



"Momohime Torimono Emaki" literally translates to "100 Princess Capture Picture Scroll", although the Baka-Updates name is more accurate, with "100-Eye Princess Capture Picture Scroll". The artwork is very clean and and well-defined. It's obvious that Miki has been drawing for a while, but it seems that Momohime may be her first solo work. It's very reminiscent of some of CLAMP's more normal stories, and is on a par with Otoyomegatari. While Momohime does revolve around scary obake, there's also a lot of light humor, and the book never gets gory.


(The artist as Isuzu.)

The story starts out with a traveling artist calling upon a local lord in old Edo and attempting to entertain him with a story. The artist, Garaku, says that he has a picture scroll that had been the prison of a number of monsters, but all that's left on it is Momohime. While the rest of the court scoffs, Garaku frees her from the scroll, setting her task as recapturing the escaped demons. The scene changes to modern-day Japan, and a teenage boy named Hayato, who, with two friends, is visiting a shinto shrine to help clean it up. Actually, the two friends are just at the shrine because it's on a hill overlooking the women's half of a public bath, and they can count on Hayato to do their work for them.



During the cleaning, Hayato discovers an old mirror in one room of the shrine, and suddenly a bunch of monsters burst out of it, blasting past him to disappear. A few seconds later, a young girl with long black hair and wearing a traditional kimono comes out and lands on him. She introduces herself as Isuzu (50 Bells), and tries to track down the nearest creature. Hayato has always loved ghost stories and he becomes interested in helping her out (plus Isuzu resembles a childhood friend who'd died from an illness some years earlier). Isuzu discovers that the world has changed a lot in the last 2-300 years, and she can't tell the difference between a monster and a car. Hayato promises to guide her along, but she senses a monster that has possessed the shrine priest, and all of a sudden eyes open up all over her body. Hayato is disgusted, calling her a monster, too, and she runs away in tears.


(Fox Ranger.)

The priest captures her and tries to crush her inside the shrine, as Hayato stands outside, petrified. Then Garaku steps up next to the boy and asks if maybe he's misunderstanding something. Hayato recalls being ostracized as a child for believing in ghost stories, and only having his one friend standing by him, listening to him talk. Realizing that he's in the wrong, Hayato tries to get into the shrine but the door is barred. He recognizes the monster type that has possessed the priest, and from his books remembers the chant used to suppress it. The monster is weakened enough to allow Isuzu to capture it in one of her eyes, and Garaku comes up and seals the eye as part of the bargain with her (implying that if one hundred spirits are sealed, all of her extra eyes will be closed and invisible to normal people). Hayato apologizes for his behavior and says that he will help her find the other monsters in this strange new world for her.


(100 points if you recognize this picture without doing a wiki search first.)

From this point on, the book consists of a flashback to Isuzu as a child to explain how she became a 100-eyed monster chaser, and the journeys taken to catch a couple of the loosed spirits. The final page has a young woman in a short dress standing in the distance alongside Garaku, watching Isuzu and stating that she dislikes her.



Summary: Momohime Torimono Emaki is a very well-drawn shojo ghost story romance which stars the "100-Eye Princess" as the primary lead in the quest to track down and reseal the monsters that she had allowed to escape from Garaku's picture scroll. Recommended to anyone that likes XXXHolic.


(Inside back cover.)


(Front color insert page.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shoyu altar



On Terukuni Street, heading south, there's a small store that sells shoyuu (soy sauce). I haven't tried going inside, but it looks like a showroom for a boutique shoyuu maker. Out front in the parking lot is this concrete box. I'm thinking it's a kind of Shinto altar to the shoyuu god to thank it for blessing them with good products. Soy sauce is produced using a fermentation process relatively similar to that for sake (nihon-shu), so there's a certain risk that any given batch won't come out right. It's a good idea to have the proper Shinto god on your side when you're in this business.



He may be small, but he's happy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Strange Torii



Torii, the traditional gate sculpture (originally a kind of door frame made from wood and painted orange, but now often granite or concrete and sometimes painted white), is a fixture of shrines in Japan. If you see one, it's almost always at the front of a shrine building or grounds. Which is why I was so confused recently when I was walking down Terukuni Street near Perth Street, and I found the above torii sitting at the end of a short block right next to an NHK station building. While the broadcasting tower implies that NHK wants the country to worship it (unsurprising given its "priests", who go door to door demanding "voluntary donations" to pay for watching public broadcasts on TV), I'm thinking that this torii pre-dates the tower. It's most likely that there had been a shrine here at one point but it was either torn down or moved to make way for the current building. Whatever name had been on the torii is no longer there, either.




Monday, August 22, 2011

Grave of Gessho



It's amazing what time and a little experience can do to your sense of scale. When I first came to Kagoshima with my tourist map, the places I was visiting seemed to be very wide-ranging and far apart. The area of the city on the other side of Tram street was largely unexplored and felt kind of unworldly. However, a few days ago I was just coming back from the International Exchange building (the Kenmin Kaikan, where I teach some private lessons in the lobby area) and was walking through the Tenmonkan shopping complex when I decided that I'd try getting to the last few places on the south half of the map I hadn't seen yet. All of a sudden, the section south of Tram Street became much smaller and more comfortable. I knew exactly where I was in relation to the rest of the city, and I got to each of the target locations within an hour and a half total. What follows will be a short series of blog entries regarding this one-day trip. There aren't any marked spots on the tourist map that I haven't visited now (except for a few in the northeast corner out at Sengan-en).



Starting from Tenmonkan, get on Terukuni Street (the one running south from Terukuni shrine) and go 3 short blocks past Perth Street. On the east side will be an old stone wall and a wooden gate. This is the entrance to a small temple. Right next to it is a small cemetery. There are two historical markers nearby each other. The first one is for Gessho, a priest that is firmly associated with Takamori Saigo in history (Saigo being the "Last Samurai" that I've written about before).



From the marker:
"The radical buddhist priest
The grave of Buddhist Priest Gessho
... A man of religion dedicated to the overthrow of the Bakufu and the restoration of the Emperor...
At dawn on the 16th of November 1858 Saigo Takamori and his friend, the priest Gessho, jumped Satsuma Bay near Mifune embraced in each other's arms.

After Ii Naosuke's "Ansai Massacre", Saigo and Gessho fled to Kagoshima, but with Lord Nariakira's death the Satsuma clan was now in no position to protect them from the Tokugawa Bakufu regime, and thus they ordered Saigo to "take Gessho to Hyuga", in other words, to dispose of him at the border. Saigo resolved to commit suicide with his friend by drowning, but he survived the suicide attempt alone. Gessho left the following poem.

I do not begrudge anything for the Emperor,
Even drowning in Satsuma Bay."




(This is the shrine that's visible in the above photo at the far end of the parking lot. The sign on the right describes the nature and history of the statue that's inside the shrine.)


(Inside of the shrine as seen through the glass.)

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



From the second marker:
"Historic Cemetery
Famous Graves of Nanrinji
... Site of 135,000 graves ...
The name "Nanrinji" dates from 1556 when the 15th lord, Shimadzu Takahisa, built the seven halls of Shogenzan Nanrinji Temple.

The temple was destroyed in 1869 with the suppression of Buddhism. Later, when Shimadzu Takahisa became chief Shinto god at Matsubara Shrine, it was made available as a public graveyeard [sic]. Being close to the center of town it was soon filled with over 135,000 graves, but as the population expanded burial had to be prohibited. Relatives moved many graves to Somuta and Korimoto, but many corpses remained here at Nanshuji. Several of these were people famous for academic and military achievements. Their graves are carefully looked after to this day."






(Detail of the sign that instructs you to clean up after your dog.)





Sunday, August 21, 2011

August edition of the "related articles in the media"

Here's the batch of articles to show up in the media from August, regarding anime, manga and related stuff.

Generic New News
===============


Japan Times

'Ultra Seven' TV mask stolen

'Cosplay' performers put new spin on old picture play

Venture to push 'anime' in LA


Daily Yomiuri

Maid cafes go beyond otaku culture

Can fansites help industry's digital survival?

Set in 1963, 'Kokuriko-zaka' recalls precious memories

Pop culture expos deserve more attention here

Cultivating the habit of fandom

'Lupin III''s versatile art world


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

Metropolis

Paid advertisement interviewing Jamil, an American that is the singer for the opening song for Fairytail.
American Boy Makes Good


Asahi

Animax to air early works of Hayao Miyazaki on Aug. 6

Tokyo Anime Center draws 'otaku' from around the world

E-book of latest 'Suzumiya Haruhi' due out July 21

Nana Mizuki's new single 'Junketsu Paradox' coming out on Aug. 3

Yokohama offers "Kokurikozaka Kara" guided tours

World Beyblade championship set for Toronto in March

Exploring former home of manga heroes a snap with maps

Tokyo International Anime Festival 2011 set for Sept. 29-30

"Gundam" director Mizushima to take helm of "Un-Go" series

Fans can learn all about how Hello Kitty got her start

'Akiba Tokyo' anime song event headed for Hong Kong debut

"Kokurikozaka Kara"

E-book of latest 'Suzumiya Haruhi' due out July 21

Osamu Tezuka's manga available in English via iPad

Figurine makers shine at Wonder Festival 2011 hobby event

Samuel L. Jackson to produce 'Afro Samurai' adaptation

Manga legend, A-bomb survivor continues anti-nuke activities

'Toaru Hikushi e no Tsuioku' to hit cinemas Oct. 1

Foreign Ministry accepting entries for 5th International Manga Award

Toei opened official YouTube channel to promote tokusatsu TV shows, movies

Hatsune Miku designer to release new anime

Nerima Ward accepting short animated works

Evangelion official portal app released for Android phones

Manga patterns in Saitama rice fields attract visitors

Tochigi high school girls No. 1 in manga contest

Parts of 18-meter Gundam to return to Odaiba

Transformer robots change with the times

Mysterious newcomer Eir Aoi handpicked for ending theme for new anime series "Fate/Zero"

VIZ Media, Autodesk form Art for Hope project to help disaster-stricken Japan

San Francisco to host J-Pop Summit Festival this month

Japan cuddles up to its demons

'Idol Master,' game maker Hino nominated for CEDEC Awards

Japanese manga author finds her destiny in U.S.

Sono's 'Himizu' a contender at Venice Film Festival

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kochi Ryuu



These ads for the new Kochi Kame movie have suddenly sprung up on the neighborhood announcement boards all over the place. Can't say if it's part of a grassroots advertising campaign, or if it's being done by the local police. One note - the Family Mart around the corner has related ads for their product-movie tie-ins.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Hokka Hokka Blood Prison



To promote the new Naruto Blood Prison movie, Hokka Hokka Tei (a take-out bento chain) is offering a tie-in. Buy certain bento dinners and get a sticker, or a scratch card for winning a keychain.


("Eat it! Starts Aug. 4.")

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shochu line-up.

One of my English students works at a shochu factory. So now I can get cheap shochu. This is the most alcohol I've had in one place at one time, ever. These are the big 1800 ml bottles, which are just under half a gallon (0.47 gallons) each, and retail at 2000 yen ($24 a bottle). So, close to 3 gallons worth (average about 50 proof). If I restrain myself, I might be able to make it last until Friday...



The little bottle is a special grade of soy sauce. Soy sauce is prepared in a similar manner as sake, and this one was packaged along with one of the shochu bottles. Kyushu residents like foods sweeter than they do in Tokyo or Osaka, so this is a fairly sweet style of soy sauce.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kill sound your TV

Here's a good use of your Japanino/Arduino. Someone has used it to kill the audio of their TV whenever the words "Kim Kardashian" or "Charlie Sheen" shows up in the closed captioning text of the show you're watching. I expect that the Arduino sketch is pretty simple to alter to add new kill words. The add-on circuit looks to be just a pre-built TV card, which is good news for you electronics beginners.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

999 Pachinko Machines



Nearby pachinko parlor is announcing the new machines they've just got in. This time for Leiji Matsumoto's Galaxy Express 999.





Monday, August 15, 2011

Mini-rhino - we're driven

One of the interesting things about the Gakken Otona no Kagaku "beest" kits is that with the Strandebeest, which is normally wind-driven, one of the suggested mods is to add a Japanino-driven motor to make it remote-controlled. While with the Rhinoceros, which is man-powered, the Gakken version uses a fan and there's no suggestion in the attached mook for adding a motor. When I had my mini-Strandebeest, I tried adding a motor, but the movement of the legs was so stiff that the motor wouldn't spin and the wires overheated. So, I was a little hesitant to buy the mini-rhino. Fortunately, the legs are geared down so much that the fan propels it with just a moderate breeze. Naturally, the next step was to figure out how to automate it.



I was able to find a small electric fan for 100 yen ($1.20 USD), which runs on 2 AA batteries. After a little experimenting, I came up with a mounting for it that consists of 4 thin sheets of cardboard glued together. If I was still in Akihabara I'd just get a sheet of perf board, but the cardboard, at least, is free. Also at the 100 Yen shop, I got a small package of nuts and bolts, and some tie-wraps. I hand-bored holes in the body of the kit for mounting the cardboard panel, and just tie-wrapped the fan battery casing and the motor in place. Luckily, the little white gear on the squirrel cage fan spindle turns out to fit on the motor spindle perfectly. One reason for mounting the motor on the panel, instead of hot gluing everything to the kit body is that it lets me switch between the motor and the squirrel fan as I like.

Initially, I wanted to mount the panel so that it brought both arms of the kit together a bit for added structural integrity, but this caused the gear threads to pull apart from each other and disengage. Seems that the kit was designed for the arms to be pushed apart instead. But, at that point I'd already drilled the holes on one side of the panel too close to the edge and the corners tore off. If I were to do this again, I'd go with the perf board and just slot the two far-end holes to make adjusting the arm tension (and gear spacing) easier. Another issue was that even with the gearing ratio as it is, the motor ran so fast that the legs thrashed about extremely hard and threatened to self-destruct. Because I don't have access to a 1-battery holder, a soldering iron, or a potentiometer right now, I pulled out a good battery and replaced it with one that was nearly dead. Coupled with the extra workload associated with having to carry the motor, plastic case and batteries, the resulting walking speed is much more sedate and acceptable.

Link to Youtube video


In summary, I give myself a B for the final product. It make not look all that great, but it works as well as I could hope for. If I had my Japanino, I'd get a second motor, split the mini-rhino in two, and turn it into a proper self-sufficient programmable robot. Maybe another day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Shonen Champion, part 2


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

Now, for Monthly Shonen Champion (540 yen, 640 pages). Actually, wikipedia doesn't have a separate page for Monthly, and a number of Monthly titles are included in the Weekly wiki listing (i.e. - "Worst"). I'm not really sure I can say that Monthly is aimed at an older audience, especially since there's an overlap in some of the themes, but there are some titles that are more overtly sexual in nature (such as the S&M in "Kimi Iro Focus"). However, the majority of the titles are either about street fighting, or high school girls. Most of the characters in the street fighting stories are drawn as older adults, which younger readers probably don't care for.


("Drop")

Most of the titles are well-drawn, but tend to the cartoony, or caricature side. As a street fighting story, Hiroshi Shinagawa's Drop is pretty funny (the gangs take a break to share some Christmas cake and play video games together), but still really bloody.

The one title that western readers may recognize:
Worst

The one title that seems promising just based on the name:


"Rocka Feller Skank" (weird punk band)




While there's no manga that I normally read, Monthly does has a specific appeal to me - the freebie this month is a pretty high-quality bottle cooler. It looks Mylar-lined inside, and is designed for regular-sized soda bottles. It doesn't look like it would fall apart quickly, and I like the artwork. Not a bad deal. Still no interest in getting the magazine all the time, though.