Friday, September 30, 2016

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu, vol. 19 comments

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

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 19, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+

Karuma is walking down the street when a pair of punks bump into him and try to start a fight. Koro zips up and licks the punks' shoes, apologizing and freaking them out until they leave. Koro tells Karuma that the secret to assassination is to only fight when you're trying to take out a target. Otherwise, you want to pretend to be meek and avoid conflicts so as to not draw undue attention to yourself. Karuma meets up with some of the other kids, and he asks if Itona still wants to fight him to see who is the strongest. Itona answers that had been the tentacles talking, and he accepts that Kuruma is the strongest of them. A few minutes later, they encounter a group of thugs that are harassing Yada. They run up to confront the enemy, but Karuma quickly realizes that all of them are soldiers, and there's a much stronger leader in the background watching the conflict, too. Karuma apologizes to the thugs, and they leave, telling their leader that they'll be able to kill every single kid in the class in 20 seconds. After this, the kids notice another adult looking at them. Seems that Itona's father had been searching for his son all this time, and he's relieved the boy is unharmed, showing to Karuma again that the decision to not buy a fight was a good one.

("His face is black when he's angry.")

Nagisa gets a letter saying that he's been accepted to his high school of choice. And now, the class is getting into the last couple weeks of their last year of junior high, so Koro is preparing individual class yearbooks for everyone, based on the 10,000 photos he'd surreptitiously taken of the students so far. He's in each and every shot, and the kids tear up all the photos he gives them. Then they take cosplay photos (with Irina and Karasuma in wedding clothes), and this is followed by a class trip to 30 different countries in one day for more shared memories. When that's done, everyone is exhausted, including Koro. He tells them to go out and make more of their own memories from here on out. Nagisa goes home, trying to decide what he wants to do in the future. He has to tutor Sakura from the pre-school group, and when she panics at the idea of going to a new school and being bullied all over again, Nagisa uses an "assassination" technique to calm her down. He then commits himself to becoming a teacher. Nagisa is the last student to give his plans to Koro, and Karasuma drops in to the room to see what the assassin is up to. Koro says that he'll stay in the school overnight to make the memory albums, and Karasuma relents and lets Koro make one for him, too. Karasuma goes outside, and calls some general to say that they can attack now. The General pushes a button and, high above the Earth, a floating solar-powered accelerator fires an "Anti-sensei laser beam."

(Koro works to help build life-long school memories.)

The beam hits the school, but Koro escapes outside just barely in time (he did take damage to one or two of his tentacles, but he recovers from that). He then notices that an "anti-sensei barrier" has been erected around the school, keeping him perfectly penned in. Koro is impressed that the government has worked this hard to kill him. The General wastes breath bragging that the laser is dubbed "The Spear of Heaven" and the barrier is "The Shield of Earth," but no one wants to stick around to listen to him. The drawback with the laser is that it takes a full week to recharge, and having it overhead for that much time would have attracted too much attention to it (it would be as bright as the moon), so they'd fired it when it was only at 30%. The military had also spent months building the barrier projectors on the tops of apartment and office buildings. The kids notice the commotion and they gather in the city. An army cordon has been thrown up all around the hill leading to the classroom, and the kids are prevented from getting past it. The government also starts a PR campaign against Koro, calling him a monster who had been terrorizing the innocent kids in 3-E. The monster must be stopped. This triggers a media frenzy, and reporters blanket the area, too. The kids retreat then regroup to try to explore the area and get more information. The General gets frustrated and orders his special forces man to deal with the problem. This guy was the leader of the thugs that harassed Yada at the beginning of the book - The "Holy Soldier," Craig Houjou. Houjou's men round up all the kids and bring them completely bound and harnessed to the combat HQ within a few minutes. The General tries to tell the kids that they don't understand the situation because they're still too young, so they need to be more obedient and let the adults do their jobs. Ryouma kicks him in the face to get him to shut up. A little later, Karasuma arrives at HQ, demanding to see the students, and the General starts getting frustrated that no one lets him introduce himself (we never do learn what his name is).

(The anti-Koro barrier goes up.)

Houjou takes his men to the hill to hunt Koro. At the same time, the reporters descend on the rest of the school to grill Asano. The school chairman spends a few minutes with them in "special briefing sessions," turning each of the reporters into his own zombie minions. The kids are put into a big holding cell, under guard, and all they can do is watch the news on TV. When Karasuma arrives, they demand to be released to save Koro. Eventually, Karasuma starts yelling, and slams Nagisa into the floor, saying that he needs them to help him. After he leaves, Nagisa says that this was a code phrase saying that it was time for them to act on their own. Karasuma had just given them a full briefing (360 degree barrier that extends under ground; Houjou and his trained soldiers on the hill; and the laser needs 7 days to recharge to 100% before firing). The kids knuckle down and start drawing up maps, sentry schedules, and exit routes. Meanwhile, Koro stays in the classroom and drinks ink to spray out from his tentacles to make personalized memory albums. The week goes by, and on the last day, the kids are getting desperate for a break. Suddenly, Irina bursts into the room past the guards and gives everyone big kisses. She tells them to stay healthy, and the guards usher her back out. Several of the kids spit out parts that Takebayashi identifies as one of his bombs.

(Koro makes personalized yearbooks for everyone.)

That night, they blow the backdoor out of the HQ compound, and meet Irina waiting outside for them. They continue to their houses to get their combat outfits and weapons. Nagisa's mother catches him there, but rather than being yelled at, Hiromi just tells him to do what he thinks he needs to do. She adds, "Don't do anything too dangerous," and watches in horror as Nagisa jumps off the 6th floor balcony to the roof of the building next door. The kids get to the foot of the hill and work their way up. This has been their training grounds for the last year, so it takes very little for them to subdue all of Houjou's soldiers. (The one thug that had insulted Karuma gets the special "Karuma treatment" of hot sauce up the nose and cockroaches taped to his face. The fact that Karuma hadn't fought them the first time caused the soldiers to under-estimate the kids now.)

(Karuma and Nagisa double-team Houjou.)

Houjou himself claims that his power is "switched on when he takes his glasses off." So far, he's been able to defeat whole squads by himself without needing to take his glasses off. He dropkicks a couple of the kids, but the rest of them follow the assassin's creed of keeping their distance, remaining patient, and waiting for opportunities. Finally, Nagisa gets behind Houjou, pinning him, and Karuma launches down from a tree to nutcracker the soldier in the head. Nagisa and Karuma congratulate themselves on their teamwork, as Houjou prepares to stand back up. So, the rest of the class tasers him for several minutes, while berating the other two for being premature. When they leave, Houjou is completely bound in duct tape. He's satisfied with the outcome because he hadn't taken his glasses off, and therefore hadn't been fighting at 100% when he lost. The kids get to the top of the hill, where Koro is waiting for them. They can get through the barrier easily because it's not designed to hurt humans. Koro says that based on the noise, they'd had a big fight on their hands on the way up, and that they did a good job. The barrier goes down for a second, then back up before anyone notices. Shiro and Shinagami 2 are now on the hill. It's 90 minutes before Koro must die.

The story is getting a little preachy, and Houjou wasn't that much of a threat. But, the artwork is great, and there are still some good comic moments. Highly recommended.

Inside cover quote:
Black means anger.
This is "Koro Gun Metal." But, it's not like that he loses himself in his anger.
Instead, this is educational anger.

Back inside cover quote:
This is a normal time.
This is a yellow tentacle.
Wriggle, wriggle, wrrr-iii-gg-lllle.
Koro-gen Koro-chi

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Zootopia UFO Catcher

This is another one of those situations where I look at the machine and think "I can get that."

This one would be a little trickier, though. The blue plastic plate holding the doll is sitting on the rubber ball just firmly enough that trying to pick one end up with the crane hands would just make the plate rotate a bit without actually falling off its perch.

The best approach would probably be to have the arm come down at an angle, and have the left hand land just barely to the left of the plate, dead center of the ball. The weight of the crane and arm might drag the plate a bit farther to the right on the ball, and if I was lucky, the hand could hook under the plate and drag it more that way.

The problem is, I have no place to keep something this big. So, yeah, I MIGHT be able to get this one in a couple of tries, but I'm not going to bother trying. I'll wait until I see something more worth keeping...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Niku Day

Time to learn Japanese from the ads, again.
This is a poster from Lotteria for their large burgers, although in the past the promo was for 5-patty stacked hamburgers and shrimp patties. This time, we've just got patties that don't fit the buns. Additionally, the specials were only available on the 29th of the month, but this time they're saying it's every month, on the 27th, 28th and 29th.

The joke is that if you read the date "29" as separate numerals, you get "ni" and "kyuu" (or, "kuu"). Pronouncing them aloud, it sounds like the Japanese word for "meat" - "niku". The big text then comes out as "niku niku no hi", or "Meat Meat Day."

Below the big text we get "charenji kyanpe-n," which is the katakana version of "challenge campaign." The "challenge" is that you're not expected to be able to eat the full burger by yourself. Obviously, it wouldn't be a challenge in the U.S.

500 yen for the burger ($5 USD), or 800 yen for the double burger.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wilkinson Dry Cola


Wilkinson is a decent club soda that is available from a few konbini, but it's not that much different from any other club soda on the market. However, I wanted to get a couple bottles cheap as a mixer, and by accident picked up their new flavor "dry cola." I'm assuming that the "dry" part means either "no sugar" or "no cola." Either way, there's just a hint of cola smell, but almost no cola taste. But, when I mixed it with a date-based shochu, the cola flavor stood out more. Not a great mixer idea, or worth drinking on its own. Kind of have to wonder why Asahi bothered.

Monday, September 26, 2016

KTS Day 2016

KTS, the Kagoshima TV station, had their annual KTS Days event again. The main portion was at the Volunteer Center, with a small satellite event in the space in front of Lotteria in Tenmonkan. I had to work all Saturday, and I focused on cleaning up some interviews for Basket Case for the first couple hours on Sunday. However, after work on Saturday, I did swing by the Volunteer Center, and I was able to check the event schedule. There was nothing listed that I had much interest in, so I didn't mind getting to the event until 2:30 PM (it ran from 10 AM to 5 PM on Sunday).

There were a few booths for kid's games, like ball toss and pop gun shooting.

This mascot is advertising kaki tane, which is a kind of small spicy rice cracker with peanuts.

There were quite a few food booths, too. I ended up getting a cup of salted fried chicken wings for $3, and a cup of beer for $5.

Takoyaki, and fried pork on a stick.

This was interesting. You buy a bowl of shaved ice, and then you have your own choice of syrups (cherry, apple, cola, etc.)

At 4 PM, one of the scheduled stage events was the Yokai Watch character show. I didn't stick around for that. In the meantime, the characters were inside the Center, posing for photos with the children.

The main theater hosted a karaoke contest, with a full panel of judges.

These were two of the contestants in the pairs event. They were ok. But, I'm not a big karaoke fan.

The big stage act at 3 PM was the local hip hop trio Berry Goodman. These two guys, and a third singer that kept standing to the side and posing, plus a DJ that stayed in the background. The audience was maybe 200-300 people, and they all seemed to be fans of the group, and were jumping up and down and waving their arms. But again, I'm not a big karaoke fan.

Back inside, the exhibit rooms were used to house activities for kids, including the stupid bird jump room.

Every year, KTS has a stage set up for children to pretend to be newscasters and weather forecasters.

This one was new. The kids drew pictures, which were then scanned into a computer, and projected on the wall to swim in a video of sea coral.

Apparently, there is a "monster battle" program on KTS that the people here could imitate. The three guys to the right are wearing virtual reality headsets, and they're projected up on the wall behind them. What they see approaching on the headsets are a couple dinosaurs. They wave their arms around, and the computer has them shooting fireballs as the dinosaurs try to attack them.

The guy at the upper left of the photo has one of the headsets on.

The room was too brightly lit to really let people see the projected action very clearly.

The last remaining regular stage event (followed by the Yokai Watch character show) was a manzai team (Japanese comedy duo). I got bored pretty quickly and headed to Tenmonkan.

This area was mainly for teaching kids how to deal with emergencies, although they also had toys for the smaller children.

This wall shows how to call 119 (Japan's version of 911) to summon an ambulance, how to do CPR, and how to use scrap paper or plastic bags to make soup bowls if your apartment is destroyed in an earthquake.

At 4 PM, I went up to Amu Plaza, where they had booths selling beer from small lot breweries in Kyushu. $5 for a small cup. Expensive, but it was good beer.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Niku Gatsu Dou

Apparently, for the next month, the Terukuni jinja shrine is going to be hosting a bunch of food shops (niku=meat, gatsu=month, dou=light). It's kind of a play of Rokugatsudou, the annual tribute to the feudal lord Nariakira Shimadzu.

Lots of food stalls. Unfortunately, the prices were in the $5-$6 range for individual items, and a small cup of beer was $5. Since there was a different event going on at the Volunteer Center a few blocks away, I decided to save my money, and get something to eat there. I satisfied myself with just taking a few photos before heading out.

They did have a live stage, but most of the events were just advertising speeches for the different food stalls. At one point, a school cheerleading squad gave a cheer-dance promoting the event, to the song, "Who Let the Dogs Out." Copyrighted music, so I didn't try recording it.

Still, it started out as a nice day (the sky clouded up later) and there was a good turn-out.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu, vol. 18 comments

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

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 18, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+

The capsule reaches the ISS, and the other crew members goad astronaut Mizui into unpacking the payload, since the rocket came from his country. He notices that the dummy suits are empty, then gets taken hostage, as Karuma and Nagisa bluff their way in with a fake knife, and a package of youkan (red bean paste) marked up to look like a bomb. Initially, the crew acts like they're going to fight back, then they cave in and allow Ritsu to copy the tentacle anti-self destruct research via her virus hack. The crew leader says "sure, why not," but requires the two kids to help around the capsule as payment. When the copy is finished, Nagisa and Karuma return to the capsule, and wait to return to Earth. Ritsu plots the return vector, and Koro helps straighten out a parachute problem. The capsule is guided to land near the school building, where Karasuma learns of the class's plans for the first time, and he prepares to get very angry, until Koro hands all of their data over to him in exchange for JAXA letting them use the capsule. Manami Okuda, the poisons expert, looks at the notes from the anti-self-destruct project. The ISS team had injected various creatures with the tentacle seed, and then ejected the lab containers out to space to explode more-or-less harmlessly. What they discovered was that the smaller the creature, the greater the chance of an explosion at the end of 1 year. The researchers had found a formula that loosens the atomic bonds of stiffer materials, which further cuts the risk of an explosion by half. For something Koro's size, after receiving the formula, the odds of a self-destruct are less than 1%. And, it seems that one of the poisons Okuda had tried on Koro already pretty much matches the anti-stiffener formula (it caused Koro to turn into a big blob).


The class tells Karasuma what they've found, and he gives them one month to show that Koro is not going to self-destruct, and then the rest of the time before graduating must be spent on assassination training just in case. During February, Koro enacts various holidays because he'd missed them while his students were on winter vacation. This includes Christmas and Setsubun, and lots of additional assassination attempts.  After this, they have to start planning on their future career paths, since there's only 38 days left to graduation. A few of the students have ideas of what they're going to do in the next year, including Karuma, who will stay in the city and go to the same school as Asano. Nagisa is in a funk because he doesn't have plans, and pre-school student Sakura yells at him for not focusing on tutoring her. She suggests that he should become a teacher, and he doesn't know how to respond to that. The next day, Nagisa is on his way to one of the high schools he's applied for, and there's a whole line of Koro-senseis waiting there to cheer him on (they leave to cheer on some of the remaining 3-E students, too). The day after, Nagisa gets a letter saying that he's been put on a waiting list for that school. Takebayashi failed to get into his school, so he's fallen into a depression. Koro tries to prevent the other students from using words like "drop-out" and "failure" to keep the boy from getting worse, and things just escalate from there until Takebayashi tries to shoot Koro with a machine gun, and ends up cheering himself up as a result.

("He's checking his list...")

Elsewhere, there's a condemned building about to be demolished. Shinagami 2 is inside, waiting for the command to start. Outside, a general is talking to Shiro/Yanagisawa about the need to stop Koro any way possible to prevent the 1% chance of a self-destruct. Shiro flashes back to when he was a promising up-and-coming researcher that had gotten a free pass on his anti-matter energy research proposal. He'd noticed the very cheerful Agura Yukimura, and vowed to destroy her just on principal. But, all his plans went up in smoke when his Guinea Pig escaped. He wants revenge. In the building, Shinagami 2 remembers when he first saw the assassin who'd killed his father so beautifully that he'd vowed to become just as good. At first, the kid had enjoyed learning to be an assassin and getting all kinds of praise and attention, but eventually it seemed that nothing he did was good enough for "the God of Death," and he'd decided to betray his teacher and take over from him as the new God of Death. Now, Koro is simply "the enemy." Shiro gives the signal, and Guinea Pig 2 destroys the building in a matter of seconds. The next step is to face Koro himself.

(Koro greets Nagisa at the high school he's trying to apply to.)

We then get a silly side story where two of the kids have a misunderstanding during Valentine's Day, and some of the other girls try to give chocolates to the boys they like. Karuma and Nakamura rag on Kayano for being too embarrassed to give her present to Nagisa. Kayano is an actress, and has kissed boys on stage, but that's nothing compared to the "kiss of death" she'd gotten from Nagisa in the previous book. As she working up the nerve, Nagisa sees Koro in a tree looking closely at a photo. The boy is about to take a shot at him, then gives up because this looks to be too easy. Seeing the boy in action as an assassin, Kayano settles down, gives him the box of chocolate, and leaves. Then, we learn that she'd also given a present to Koro, which is what he'd been so fixated on - a photo of her sister, Agura, in a bikini on the beach, and a box of chocolates.

(The General, the anti-Koro barrier, and Craig.)

In the last chapter, Irina and Karasuma go to a restaurant for dinner, and Irina gives him some "obligation" chocolate before resigning herself to talking about work. He wants Irina to quit working as a hired killer and move in with him. It takes her time to realize that he's serious, and she apparently agrees to the offer. Elsewhere, some guy is supervising the construction of a big black machine, and then he's joined by a soldier in a black trench coat (Craig Houjou). Also, Gakuhou shows up at the classroom to take a swing at Koro, then the two of them sit down to enjoy sweets over cups of tea, while talking about Koro's plans after the end of the school year in March, and how difficult it is to be a father. The narration ends by saying that even teachers have it hard trying to find their ways through life.

Summary: Only 3 books left. The climax is drawing near. What is the General's weapon going to do? And who is this new guy, Houjou? Will Guinea Pig 2 and Shiro be happy? Highly recommended.

Inside cover quote:
This is a new pattern from Koro-sensei.
The falling cherry blossoms are "Koro Storm,"
and are very peaceful and Japanese-like.
I want to share this excellent idea in public, too.

Back inside cover quote:
This is one small step for man,
One giant tentacle for mankind.
- Captain Koro

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu, vol. 17 comments

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

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 17, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+

The class splits pretty much in two, with one group wanting to do what they can to find a cure to Koro's anti-matter juice, while the other gives various excuses for why they still want to kill him. (First, the world's top scientists haven't found a cure in the last year, how can they expect to do any better themselves?; second, what's the point of learning assassination if you don't assassinate someone?) Karuma is the most abusive of the second group, and he snaps as he pushes Nagisa around. Nagisa in turn gets angry and comes close to subduing Karuma. Koro steps in and says that if junior high students are going to fight amongst themselves, they have to do it in an assassination-style paintball match. So, the next day, the kids go out to the hillside for a game of capture the flag, with Karasuma acting as referee. Winner decides what the class as a whole will do next. Everyone gets ready, and the game starts, with Yuuma Isogai leading Nagisa's team, and telling Nagisa to hide and wait for the right moment to strike. Karuma leads his own team, and sets up traps and defenses that seem unbeatable. Karuma has most of the male students on his side, and 70% of the most highly-skilled specialists. But, Isogai is good, too, and both sides slowly whittle each other down. At the end, Karuma sends Ryouma and his team of 3 supporters after the enemy flag. Suddenly, Nagisa appears out of thin air and eliminates all four in one knife strike. Actually, he'd been standing with his back against Karasuma during the entire match, and no one had noticed at all.

(General MacArthur Koro breaks up the fight between Karasu and Nagisa, offering a paintball battle instead.)

This just leaves Karuma and Nagisa, and Karuma demands that the other boy come out and fight hand-to-hand - knives only. Nagisa still has his rifle and could easily snipe him, but he comes out of hiding anyway. There's a flashback to when Nagisa first started at Kunugigaoka. Karuma was a really smart kid who was equally at home street fighting against bigger groups of bullies. The only person that would eat with him at lunch was Nagisa. Then, Karuma left the school and Nagisa found himself on his own again. The two really like each other, but Nagisa is envious of Karuma's brains and physical skills, while Karuma is terrified of Nagisa's assassination skills. Now, it's a question of whether Karuma can overcome his jealousy of Nagisa and reclaim his spot as "best in the class." They fight, and Karuma keeps bashing Nagisa around. But, the class notices something that Koro elaborates on - Karuma is a great battlefield killer. He's strong, fast and clear-headed. But, while he concentrates on each attack, Nagisa is planning his next two or three attacks in the future. Karuma KO's Nagisa, then turns around to claim victory in front of Koro. But, he senses something behind him and spins around just in time for Nagisa to sumo clap him in the face. He bites his own tongue, which overrides part of the paralysis, but Nagisa feints with his knife, grabs Karuma in a judo sleeper hold and pins him to the ground. Karuma is close to passing out when he finds his knife again and considers stabbing Nagisa in the back. But, he was the one to make this a mano-a-mano battle, and he forfeits, admitting that Nagisa is the better assassin. (It takes a while for Nagisa to figure out the fight is over, though.)

(Hayami takes a sniper shot for the "kill Koro side".)

The class agrees to try to save Koro, and everyone feels a bit closer to everyone else as a result of the civil war. Karasuma allows this change in plans, with one caveat - the class only gets one month to find a cure. After that, they have to go back to their assassination studies and their initial goal of killing Koro. Koro is happy either way. Soon, Ritsu, the super computer, collects all of the tentacle research information available on the net. Most of the work is within research lab intranets that she can't access, but she can get project names, at least. Only one team is working on curing the tentacle self-destruct, and it's located on the International Space Station. However, there's a way to get their data - by using an experimental Japanese spacecraft to fly to the ISS during a supplies restocking flight. The class spends the days leading up to the launch studying the rocket and the ISS craft. On launch day, they infiltrate the rocket site, put a USB thumb drive in one of the JAXA computers so Ritsu can hijack the system, and then make their way to the rocket. Most of the kids want to volunteer for the mission, except the rocket is still unproven, meaning that Karuma and Nagisa get pushed into the job instead. The capsule has two dummies wired with feedback sensors. The dummies are removed and Karuma and Nagisa take their place in the payload. The rocket launches, and Koro follows along, talking through the capsule wall as if he's finally afraid that the kids won't find a cure for him. Nagisa reassures him that no matter what happens, they won't forget what he's taught them. Koro is happy with that, then the second stage boosters trigger and the rocket hits mach 24 to reach escape velocity, leaving Koro behind (it's the first time anything has ever gone faster than Koro can). Koro is ecstatic.

(Nagisa tries the sumo slap technique, and Karuma bites his tongue to counter it.)

Summary: We get a little of the history behind Karuma and Nagisa's relationship, and we see Nagisa at full power - like a snake that can not be stopped. The race to space is a bit silly, but the artwork is good. Highly recommended.

(Koro wishes the rocket "farewell".)

Inside cover quote:
He uses this half-way expression when he doesn't know if something is good
or not. When he falls into an unconscious state, he calls this his ""&"#$&$ yellow."
It is very cryptic.

Back inside cover quote:
When you take out a card loan or use a cashing window, you may overpay by
a tentacle. After you pay it back, you may over-extend yourself by a tentacle, too.
And, there are credit limits, too... What?...。
- Koro Prison Law