Wednesday, September 30, 2015

One Piece Cookies




One of my English students went on a trip to a town north of Kagoshima, and when she came back she gave me a souvenir - a small tin of One Piece cookies in the shape of a keg barrel. There's only 6 cookies, which are bite-sized and have a chocolate center. Those were good. The tin makes for a good pencil or spare change holder.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Monster Watch Ice Cream Bar Card




This summer had been pretty hot, and I'd taken to eating ice cream bars from 7-11 when I had to go outside for work in the middle of the day. Monster Watch came out with a blue soda ice bar with vanilla ice cream in the center, for about 130 yen. Nothing special, and I'd generally ignore it, except that this one was packaged with a trading card and I was curious what it looked like.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cloudy Day




The weather had been very weird and unpredictable this summer. As I was walking in to the school one Saturday, the sky was very overcast, and I'd thought that the clouds were low enough that they were fully blanketing the volcano. But, I got to the north end of Tenmonkan and I could see Sakurajima through a gap in the buildings - there was a thick band of low clouds about halfway up, which made for a really dramatic sight. Unfortunately, this was one of those "you only get one shot at this" moments.



I had five minutes to get to the school before my first lesson started, meaning I didn't have time to walk down to Dolphin Port to get a better photo. And, if I waited until my break, the weather would change and I'd lose the shot completely (which was true; when I got out an hour later, the volcano was hidden in the clouds and the rain was pouring down). My only choice was to pull out the pocket camera and make the best of what I could get right then. To make matters worse, I was at a major street intersection and the light had just turned red. The only way to get the picture was to get back into the middle of the street in the crosswalk, and that meant waiting for the traffic light to change. As I waited, the cloud kept blowing north, thinning out the band that I wanted to capture. When I got the green light, I ran back into the middle of the crosswalk. I could only get these two pictures before the car making a right hand turn at me started to try to run me down. After that I had to give up. But  at about that time the cloud band was gone anyway.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Life Style




Dance studio. It's a way of life.




When I returned to the boulevard in front of City Hall one Sunday, I encountered some school kids practicing kendo.



It was a nice day for it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Big Issue - No War



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

The Big Issue, #270
The Big Issue is the magazine that hires the homeless to distribute and sell copies in Japan, England and a few other places, as a way for the otherwise unemployed to make money. Cover price is 300 yen (approx. $2.50 USD), but I don't know how much the sellers get to keep. Issues come out on the 1st and 15th of each month, and are sold either in Tenmonkan or Amu Plaza, depending on where the guy decides to try to work. I do want to help the guy out, but I only want to buy issues that appeal to me, which means they need to be anime or manga-related, and that doesn't happen much. I don't want to read more about Tom Cruise, Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga if I can avoid it. There's 4-6 pages on the cover feature, and then everything else is about poverty issues world-wide, information on various NPOs, and interviews with other homeless.



This time, the focus is on the protests against Prime Minister Abe's attempts to rewrite the constitution and get Japan more involved in aggressive military activities, as well as producing weapons. Yoshitomo Nara is a well-known artist in Japan who is very active in the "No War" movement, and some of his artwork is shown here. Actually, someone was selling the Big Issue at the anti-war demonstration near Kotsuki river 2 weekends ago, which is where I got this copy. Several of the protestors were holding up the picture on the back cover as part of the protest.



He's got a new book out called "No War" for 1,900 yen.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Area 51, vol. 3 review


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

Area 51, vol. 3, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A


(Kirimaru tells Kisihrou to kill McCoy.)

H9) You Just Looked Like It.
Kirimaru makes his way around the brothels of Little Tokyo, asking about McCoy and trying to find leads to the fabled sword of the kappa people, Kusanagi. He gets to the Four Legged clinic, and steals the x-rays showing the blade embedded in McCoy's chest. He then returns to Kishirou's place and demands that McCoy's partner kill her when she's got her back turned on him. Kishirou goes into a flashback, remembering how he first came to Area 51 in search of Kusanagi. A few thugs had tried to extort money from him, but they ran away when they saw McCoy drinking coffee nearby. Later, he had to make a phone call back to the village, and the American soldiers cut the turtle shell off his back to sell as "payment" for using their base's phone. Kishirou then took a series of odd jobs to raise money to hire McCoy to kill the soldiers, and slept in the sewers at night while waiting for his wounds to heal. One day, he noticed a water plant growing in the sewer, called a "dangosou".


(Kishirou remembers when he and Kirimaru tried to pick the delicious dangosou as kids.)

He went into a second flashback 15 years earlier, when he and Kirimaru had gone swimming in Ooi river in Real Tokyo, to fight the strong river current to get some dangosou, which is a kappa delicacy. The dangosou in the sewer is a reminder of those better days, and Kishirou follows the sewer upstream to see where the plant could have come from. Unfortunately, the business tycoon, Ganesha, owns the land nearby, and is planning on rerouting the water from the city's reservoir to create a home for his latest acquisition, a big fish named Bahamut. The rerouting would kill the dangosou, so Kishirou tries begging Ganesha to change his plans. Ganesha refuses and has his bodyguard beat the kappa to a pulp. Kishirou then tries to use his money to hire McCoy to save the dangosou. The chapter ends with Kishirou remembering McCoy facing Ganesha's bodyguard for free, and then snapping out of the reverie to tell Kirimaru that he won't kill his boss. Kirimaru then threatens to shoot his friend in the head. There's a gun shot.

(Note that in the flashback, Kishirou is tempted to use his money to buy Mothman hamburgers, but he wants his revenge too badly. Mothman has the same yellow arches as McDonald's.)


(McCoy shows Kirimaru how she'd been cut in two, and says that Kusanagi is the only thing keeping her alive.)

H10) Did You Shake Hands?
McCoy receives a letter from Kirimaru, demanding she meet him, accompanied by Kishirou's hat, which has a bullet hole in the front. McCoy gets very angry and arrives at the bridge the other kappa had chosen. There's a brief firefight as McCoy demands to know why Kirimaru killed his friend. There's a pause as the kappa says that Kusanagi is important to his tribe, and he shows her the x-ray he'd taken from the Four-Legged clinic proving that it's in her chest. Attached to the x-ray is the monster Ittomen (paper sheet), and it attacks, slicing her hand open. Kirimaru blows up the bridge, sending McCoy into the river, where she's vulnerable to the kappa's water-blood attacks. McCoy gets cut up and reduced to a pulp. Kirimaru drags her back to the remnant of the bridge and drops her next to his car. As he's leaning over her, she opens her hand to reveal Ittomen trapped in her fist. It slices Kirimaru almost in two, and she pulls her jacket back to show the scar where Kusanagi had chopped her in half. The sword is what's keeping her alive as she tries to track down the enemy that did this to her. Kirimaru is dying slowly, so he prepares a final blood attack to take McCoy with him. Kishirou had been locked in the trunk of the car (Kirimaru couldn't bring himself to actually kill his friend) and he breaks out in time to save McCoy, forcing Kirimaru to abort the strike. Kishirou carries Kirimaru to the sewers to show him all of the Dangosou plants living there now, recalling how McCoy had defeated Ganesha's bodyguard for him for free, because it seemed like a fun thing to do. Kirimaru dies in Kishirou's arms, while McCoy sits next to the river by the bridge and thinks.



(McCoy suddenly realizes who her client is.)

H11) Merry Christmas, Garcia!
A naked geezer shows up at McCoy's office to ask her to help him find his clothes. He can't remember anything, and she suspects an alien abduction. They go to the alien district, where McCoy lays out a tower of canned chili sauce, saying that the original UFO found in New Nevada had been driven by a drunk alien, and was really just a regular (space) traffic accident. The little gray men here are capricious, but go insane when they confront the color red. The aliens pop in, slurp up all the chili sauce, then pop back out, leaving the geezer's bright red suit behind them on the ground. The geezer gets dressed in the car and McCoy realizes in horror that this is Santa. Claus had tried going down the chimney of a house in Area 51 for a guy named Garcia, gotten caught by the U.S. military and arrested. The aliens abducted him later. He wants to hide out for a while, but Pike insists that Santa return to the outside world to continue delivering toys for the kids who are still waiting for him. McCoy then visits some yakuza friends that would rather sell the old man on the organ black market than help him escape out. Until they discover that this is Santa, and start yelling "Why didn't you say so sooner?" Along with Santa, one of the other prisoners in the yakuza camp is the shape-changing sea monster, Krakken, who can't afford to pay off his gambling debts. McCoy comes up with a plan where the U.S. military think that the U.S. ambassador is at risk of being assassinated by her. The Army orders the ambassador to a helicopter to fly him out to an aircraft carrier in open waters, and is surprised to find that the "car" is actually Krakken, and the "ambassador" is Santa (the real ambassador is still at the landing strip, wondering where everyone went.) Santa leaps out of the helicopter and returns to the North Pole, with the voices of little children filling his head (children carrying alien dolls and reading the Necronomicon). Meanwhile, the yakuza boss and McCoy are being chased by angry helicopters firing missiles at them. McCoy yells out, "Merry Christmas, Garcia!"

(Note that when Santa first shows up, McCoy throws her truck keys over to where Kishirou's desk had been, but he's not there anymore.)


(McCoy meets someone that wants to be her next client.)

H12) Complain to Mister Newton
McCoy is reading at her desk on an abandoned subway platform when Pickman, a dead ghoul package deliveryman rides up on a Mongolian Deathworm to give McCoy a letter from some unnamed prisoner at the Herbert West Prison. She goes to visit, and is taken to the highest security wing, where the prisoner says that he wants out. McCoy demands to know why he wrote her, and he comments about knowing where "that guy" (her sworn enemy) is. She rushes the cell, and the ceiling opens up to reveal 20 armed guards prepared to gun her down. She leaves, and finds her "sister", the Japanese goddess Amaterasu, waiting for her in her office. Amaterasu says that the Council of 10 Gods wants her to stay away from the prisoner. There's no other details. McCoy doesn't care, and contacts the machinist Cyclops to do some work for her. She asks Zeus to borrow his lightning bolt weapon and gives it to Cyclops to create two artifacts - a bullet, and a tooth - before having him return the weapon back to Zeus. McCoy then practices a little dance, saying that it's going to take 5 minutes from start to finish. Pike informs her that he's not going to be able to control this bullet - once it's fired, she's on her own. Which is fine by her.

A couple days later, McCoy returns to the prison. She uses Pike to shoot the lightning bullet in the air, then enters the prison. The little dance she'd done before consists of going through security and leaving Pike at the visitor's desk. She's brought to the prisoner, but instead of sitting in the chair like she's ordered to, she walks right up to the prisoner's cage. The ceiling trap opens up, and one of the other guards grabs McCoy and smashes her in the face with his rifle butt, knocking out the lightning tooth. With the ceiling open, the lightning bullet strikes the prisoner in the chest, almost killing him. The combined effects of the two Zeus weapon artifacts, though, is to stop time. McCoy and the prisoner walk out of the room, with McCoy telling the guy that it's his turn to start talking.

(Note that the title is a translation of something McCoy tells the guards as she escapes. "Don't blame me. If you have any complaints about the prisoner getting shot, complain to Mister Newton". (I.e. - blame gravity.)

There's a short story, Who Knows His Type.
Deltro is a Pan-like goat creature that runs McCoy's favorite street-side coffee shop. He narrates the story, where the centaur Keiron (McCoy's doctor) has been stopping by at the same time every Wednesday to order a banana shake. Keiron always sits at the same table to watch the street. A few minutes later, Deltro's second steady customer comes running by - Turbo Baba. She's in training for next year's Little Tokyo marathon, and she orders a banana shake smoothie for energy on her run. Keiron is in love with her, but this is the closest he can bring himself to get to her. On one particular Wednesday, just before Baba arrives, McCoy shows up in the middle of a battle with something that looks like Godzilla. One of her bullets goes stray and shatters the glass Deltro was about to hand to Baba. Turbo collapses in shock, and Keiron is preparing to go into a screaming rage at his patient. Then, Baba steps over, takes the glass from Keiron's table and gulps his banana shake before running off. Keiron stares at the lip prints on the rim of the glass. The next day, McCoy wants to know why Keiron is giving her a free checkup this time.

And a second short story: Hot Cola is Not So Bad, Isn't It?
Old man Zeus (who runs an antique electronics products shop) wants to buy a can of Coke from a vending machine, but he's out of change. After checking that no one else is around, he pulls the electric plug out of the wall and touches a prong with his finger to zap the machine with his lightning. The machine explodes and kicks out cans of soda. Zeus opens one, and the contents are so super-heated that he's showered with boiling pop. He then decides that Hot Cola is actually not that bad.



Summary: Who is "the guy" that McCoy wants to find so badly? What's the real story behind Kusanagi? Will the Council of 10 Gods order McCoy's death for going against their wishes and freeing this prisoner? Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Beer Fest 2015




Amuplaza is hosting their Fall Beer Fest this week, from the 21st to the 27th. They have 4 local breweries  selling 12 ounce cups of beer for 500 yen ($4 USD), plus foods to go along with it, including sausages (300 yen apiece), chicken bits, fries and yaki soba. One brewery is from Fukuoka (the north end of Kyushu), and two are from Kirishima (the north end of Kinko bay). At least two of the breweries are a part of shochu factories, so beer isn't their primary product.



Yakisoba truck. Everything requires buying tickets first, but unlike in the U.S., you can get any number of tickets you want; you're not stuck buying them in batches of $5 and $10. If you want one 100 yen ticket, no problem.



The booth in the back to the right is being manned by a guy from Slovakia, who is in Japan on an exchange program as he's studying in university for a hotel hospitality program. The brewery is Gen and Praha, which has a strong connection to the Czech Republic. When I first came to Kagoshima, I stayed at a hotel that was a 15 minute walk from the Gen factory. They have good beer, especially their pilsner.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Small Adventure 47


A couple days ago, we were outside doing food shopping and I decided that I wanted to get some coffee at the New York Loco Cantine, a U.S.-styled hot dog and pancakes place in the Tenpara cinema building at the west side of Tenmonkan. It's on Omotesando street, which will become relevant in a minute. We had a plate of dessert pancakes and ice coffees, for a total of 1,400 yen ($12 USD). More than I wanted to pay, but about typical for Japan. Then, as I was paying the bill the woman at the counter said something about a lottery because we'd spent over 1,000 yen. It took a bit to realize that she was talking about a big table outside around the corner near the escalators to the theater on the second floor. The table had a large wooden wheel, and two people sitting nearby that asked for the receipt. This is the kind of game where you turn a handle to rotate the wheel until a small plastic ball rolls out of a hole on the rim of the wheel. The color of the ball shows what type of prize you get. Typically, white is either nothing, or a small packet of travel tissue.

There was a tray on the other side of the wheel where they were tracking the balls that had come out. 20-30 were white, 10 were red, 2 were silver and 1 was gold. Since we'd only paid 1,400 yen I was assuming that we'd only get one try at the wheel, so I told my partner to play the game because her luck is better than mine. She got a red ball, which translated to a 500 yen gift certificate, so, yeah, lucky! I was about to walk away when the guy told me to take my turn, too. I couldn't tell if there was a mix-up between the woman taking the receipts and the guy running the wheel, but they looked at each other and the woman didn't say anything. Shrugging, I spun the wheel, and the ball bounced off the table onto the floor. I couldn't tell what color it was right away, but the ball stopped in the middle of the walkway and it was gold. Which was good for 3,000 yen in certificates. Chou lucky!

Turns out that the shopkeepers on Omotesando street, about 30 of them, had banded together to hold an "Omotesando Street Matsuri" for a couple days in September, and just by accident we happened to stop at one of the participating shops on the right day. The certs are only worth half-price at the theater and about half the shops on the list (including Loco Cantine), and there are restrictions on using them at some of the other shops. Fortunately, Maruzen bookstore is one of the participating shops, there's no restrictions for them, and the certs are worth full face value. Meaning, 3,500 yen worth of free manga! (Deadline for using the certs. (no cash value) is the end of November.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Peppers




I'd read that in Spain, hot peppers are grown mainly as decorative flowers, and not for eating. On the other hand, the Japanese don't really like hot spicy food, so it's extremely rare to see peppers grown anywhere at all.



I was walking along the main drag in front of Dolphin Port when I saw these plants next to a beauty salon. They're most likely just for decoration. I'd be tempted to take them to eat, but the close proximity to the heavy traffic on the street makes me think that they might not be all that safe...

Monday, September 21, 2015

KTS Days, 2015




KTS, the local TV station, has their annual "KTS Days" in September. This year it was on the 19th and 20th. They returned to the International Volunteer Center, where they had the bulk of the activities. The space in front of Lotteria in Tenmonkan was kind of an overflow area with kids' stuff.



And the opportunity to have their photos taken on a police motorcycle.



I had an early English lesson on Saturday, and went past Lotteria at 11:20 AM. The place was still mostly deserted at that point. (It did get busier later in the day.) The booths in the back sold shaved ice and some Chinese style foods.



Not really sure what "Chronos" is in this context. It looks like these are props from an SF-style TV program, but nothing is coming up on a google search. Anyway, the props are roped off, so people can't play with them.



Except for the ramp ball maze game. That was popular with the kids.



The main entrance to the main event at the Volunteer Center.



I think the few mascots I saw here this time were advertising the food booths.





"Fried Manjuu Squares". The "buns" are Chinese style steam buns, but treated more like hamburger buns with a square of fried something in the middle. The signs don't say what the something is. It was very soft, and could have been sliced pork. I got one for 300 yen. It was pretty good.



Big crowd for the stage show. I'd gotten here during my break and I only had 15 minutes before I had to run to the grocery store to get milk for the week, drop that off at the apartment and then return to work (the store closest to my apartment has a 20 yen discount on 1 liter cartons of milk on Saturdays, and since I get 5 or 6 cartons a week, it's almost "buy 5 get one free".) Anyway, my point is that I didn't have time to watch much of the stage shows on Saturday.



However, all they had at the time was pop idol wannabe groups dancing around. Not sure which group this one is.



In the Volunteer Center, KTS had their mobile TV studio set up again to let kids pretend to be weather forecasters and news readers.



There was also a small science demonstration. I'd seen these two teachers before at the event in Central Park last Spring.



This is actually a kind of "whack-a-mole" video game. The guy is pre-recorded on DVD, and his reactions depend on how well the kids hit big plastic buttons with foam mallets.



The required KTS "stupid bird" logo jump room.



These characters are from Kameusagi Rope. The lantern in back of the set says "Rope Jinga" (Rope Shrine).



There were a few games of skill, and long lines waiting for them.



"Everybody's News, Kagoshima."



On Sunday, I had a lot of chores I had to finish before I could get out of the apartment. I didn't reach the Volunteer Center until 4:30 PM, and the event was set to end at 5:30. The only thing left on the stage at that point was the Yokai Watch Live Show. I tried recording about 15 minutes of it, but I'm having a really hard time figuring out where horizontal is with the new pocket camera. I've always had this problem, and I'd fix it in photos using the rotation tool in Gimp. But this time most of the videos looked like everyone was standing on a really steep hill. So I archived the files I chose not to use, and just uploaded the one below one with the closing theme dance.

Youtube is complaining that the Yokai Watch video "matches third party content". The video plays fine for me, so I don't know if they're blocking it in some countries, or turning off the sound in the middle for some viewers. Please comment below to let me know if anything's going on with the video.

Direct link to the Yokai Watch video

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Caps




Trying to get artsy, with discarded bottle caps and capsule ball containers.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Area 51, vol. 2 review


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



Area 51, vol. 2, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A
The chapter titles are in English, and there's generally 4 chapters per book, a separator page that contains a sketch and short description of one of the monsters in the previous chapter, and ends with a 4-page section called Hyakutou Saitan, where Masato talks about various creatures in more detail. The overall artwork is fairly simplified, with large blocks of white and black space, but with very detailed backgrounds when needed, and a wonderful sense of movement in the action scenes. There's a very wide variety of character designs, making it easy to tell people apart, with a mix of good-looking, and unattractive people throughout. Part of Little Tokyo contains the Area's red light district, so there tends to be some talk of sex at times, but it's never graphic or outright hardcore. There's some violence, so I guess this manga would rate maybe PG-17 in the U.S. It's definitely not for anyone that's easily offended.


(McCoy versus Homunculus.)

H5) Take Some Sleep
Word that McCoy has shot Big Foot and Fire Salamander gets back to the rival gang's new boss, Poshy Homunculus. Homunculus is a fairly attractive woman with big empty eyes, who had been created for the sex trade. While still young, she found refuge in the nearby ramen shop, where the owner took pity on her and gave her free food. Her favorite seat was at the counter where she could lean against the wall (the heating pipe ran along the wall on the other side). One day, she had enough of being mistreated by her customers, and she stole the shopkeeper's revolver - it was over 100 years old and had also turned into a tsukumogami. Poshy challenges McCoy to a duel, but first she wants to spend an hour revisiting the old ramen shop. We get her backstory, and then she faces down Tokuko in the middle of the street. Pike wants to keep things fair, so Tokuko has to eject 2 rounds from her clip so both sides have the same number of bullets. They start shooting, and at first they're evenly matched, with the bullets intercepting each other in mid-air. But, one of Poshy's rounds gets through, and McCoy fires an extra round to protect herself. Poshy rushes in to shoot McCoy point blank, only to have Pike capture the bullet and shoot it back at her. Poshy gets shot in the head, and manages to stagger back to the ramen shop, where she wheezes that she's always loved being able to sleep leaning against the warm wall.


(McCoy versus Mothman.)

H6) I Was Getting Rid of Coffee & Donut
Little Tokyo is hosting its annual high speed marathon race, with 5 entrants this time. We have Unicorn from Greece, Mothman from America, Velna the Witch from Germany, Basilisk from Libya, and Turbo Baba (Old Woman Turbo) from Japan. As the runners (witch is the only one riding a pumpkin chariot pulled by demon horses) are lining up, McCoy gets a phone call from Kishirou. She comments that he'd told her he was going to stay home and eat donuts with coffee, but the phone changes hands. The new voice on the line belongs to a thug gambler that has broken into the kappa's home and threatens to beat him to death with a baseball bat unless McCoy can figure a way to ensure that Turbo Baba wins the marathon. The race starts, and Pike is wondering what McCoy is going to do. As they drive past the crowds lining the race course, Tokuko sees a gremlin spectator. She shoots Pike, who controls the bullet to turn it into a hook. The bullet grabs the gremlin and carries him into the city's clock tower, which suddenly malfunctions and rings midnight. This causes Velna's chariot to turn into a pumpkin and the horses into mice. McCoy then notices an old weather vane which is on the verge of going sentient. Pike shoots that and pumps out his energy to turn the weather vane into a real rooster. It crows, frightening off the basilisk. As they get near the VIP viewing stands, McCoy realizes that one of the girls there is the daughter of the Greek ambassador. Pike's bullet tears off her clothes, which causes Unicorn to attempt to seduce her. This leaves Baba and Mothman. Mothman has no known weaknesses, and Baba is losing stamina. McCoy is getting desperate when they catch up to the radio announcer's car. The kidnappers are listening to the radio at Kishirou's place, and they're happy when they hear the announcer say that Baba won. They go to the betting room to collect their winnings only to learn that Mothman is accepting the 1st place trophy, and the penalty for losing is that Death gets to claim them. McCoy gets to Kishirou's apartment and unties him. She offers to accept coffee and donuts as a reward, but the kappa asks who won the race. He holds up the ticket he bought for Mothman to win, so McCoy ups the ante to include dinner.


(Sphinx and Bastet.)

H7) Hum... You Look Like A Cat Lover
McCoy and Kishirou are hired by Ra to track down and return his daughter's stolen puppy. His daughter, the cat goddess Bastet, tries to talk to them, but Ra sends her to her room. The dog thief is some guy named (Jack) Nicholson, and he's already dead when they get to his address. They find the puppy, but a huge monster named Black Dog shows up and tries to kill them. Pike refuses to shoot a dog so they run to McCoy's "sister's" house (it's really the home of the video game-loving Japanese goddess Amaterasu, who may or may not be directly related to our hero). Amaterasu is a sun goddess, so her room is in broad daylight, while outside there's a full moon. This unusual situation causes the puppy to turn into a kitten, and the group realizes that Nicholson, who was a werewolf, had had an affair with Bastet and their baby is a werecatwolf. Ra doesn't want the scandal to go public and has sent his bodyguard killer robot, Sphinx, to kill both Nicholson and the baby. Kishirou thinks this is a horrible thing for a grandfather to do to his grandson, which causes Amaterasu to go insane (her own father had cast her into the ocean to die as an infant). But, before she can start her killing spree, Sphinx shows up and cuts the house in two with a laser to get at the baby. McCoy destroys Sphinx, but it self-destructs in an attempt to wipe out the neighborhood. Bastet rushes in to protect her baby, and is killed. Ra states that with his daughter dead, he doesn't care what happens to his grandson. McCoy burns the check for the first half of her payment, and she and Kishirou return home, pretty sure that they'll be able to find someone that either likes dogs, or cats.

(One amusing point is that when Ra gives McCoy the check for the first half of the job, it's paid to the order of "Tokuko Magot".)


(The carp grabs a snack and goes for a swim. McCoy says, "That's why I love this port.")

H8) That's Why I Love This Port
Lieutenant is one of the U.S. military types that keeps the peace around the Area 51 docks. He's hired McCoy to come in as backup in case the latest shipments to the city get out of hand. The first UMA (Unidentified Mysterious Animal) is another kappa, named Kirimaru. Kirimaru immediately recognizes Kishirou, and there's a bit of a reunion, while the new guy tries sweet-talking McCoy. The second monster is a giant carp that belongs to a professor Jisouji. The carp gets loose, eating one of the fishermen on the docks before jumping into the bay. Jisouji's assistant refuses to let Lieutenant's men kill the beast, so McCoy asks for permission to try her hand at recapturing it. McCoy and the two kappa take a boat out, and McCoy and Pike are useless against the fish. Kirimaru and Kishirou team up to use their water powers against the monster, which is then purified and attains its final growth stage as a golden dragon. The dragon is happy to be taken to the professor, while everyone else decides to go home. The two kappa retire to a bar to drink, but things get ugly fast. Kirimaru wants to know why Kishirou has failed in his assignment to track down their race's most treasured artifact, the great sword Kusanagi. He's been sent by their village to locate Kusanagi and kill whoever has it. Meanwhile, McCoy is at the Four-Legged clinic, where her doctor, the Centaur Keiron, is examining some x-rays. They show that the blade for Kusanagi is embedded deep within McCoy's chest, and its mystical powers are the only thing that's still keeping her alive. Which is fine by her, as long as she can track down the one who did this to her and get her revenge.


(On the front cover: From right: Poshy and her gun, McCoy and Pike, and the golden dragon in the background. On the back cover: From right: Golden dragon, Bastet, the Greek Ambassador's daughter, Amaterasu, Sonya the spiderwoman, Cthulhu and Turbo Baba.)

Summary: Basilisks! Cat Goddesses! Bullet eating guns that fall asleep at the wrong time! Mothmen! Dead protagonists and donut-eating kappa! What's not to love! Area 51 - come for the intrigue, stay for the laughs. Exactly my kind of vacation spot. Highly recommended to anyone not easily offended, and thinks that the Necronomicon was written as a bedtime story.


(Keiron: "Something's showing up on the x-rays that I don't like the look of. I'm going to order more tests.")