Saturday, March 31, 2018

Chrono Cross

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

Two of my favorite Playstation games of all time are Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. I played the Nintendo DS port of Trigger, but it's been close to two decades since Cross came out, and there are multiple reasons why I wanted to play it again. One of the main ones is that there was supposed to be a bug in the North American release. With both games, you can fight the main story boss at different times within the story on New+ games, and this gives you access to different endings. Cross has 14 endings, with one or two additional minor variations. The best ending, attained by defeating the Time Devourer right after starting the game, lets you into the "developers' studio", where you can talk to characters that represent the game design staff. There's one room that supposedly held the producer, lead game designer and lead character designer, but there was never any way to open the door to that room. My hope was that I'd be luckier playing the Japanese original version of the game, but: 1) I don't have a PS2; 2) I don't have a TV with analog inputs; 3) all of the copies of the game I found on were over $50 USD.

(Example of the graphics, and kind of a game in-joke. One of the main characters is a girl named "Kid". Project Kid uses her as kind of a time battery.)

Back around September, I found a copy of Chrono Cross in BookOff for $5. I bought that "just in case." In November, I found a used PS2 for $90 at a different BookOff. I grabbed that right away, and the store clerk told me that I had 30 days to test the machine and return it in case it didn't work. I then asked on for recommendations for video capture cards, in the hope I'd be able to play the game through the preview window of the capture software on my laptop. But, the replies I got back were along the lines of "just get an old analog TV off Craig's list" (Japan doesn't have Craig's list). None of the electronics stores in Kagoshima had capture cards in stock anymore, and the ones that they had had were intended for converting VHS and Beta tapes to digital files, not for watching TV. Fortunately, Bic Camera was able to find one USB-based converter in a warehouse somewhere, and I had to wait a week for that to be shipped to Kyushu. After it arrived, I got stuck with 2 big translation clean-up contracts that took 2 months to finish.

(Example of the battle menu. Battles are turn-based. Characters fight based on who has the fastest stamina meter, and can either attack with a weapon, use magic elements, block, or run away.)

I finally had a chance to plug the USB converter into my laptop in the middle of February, and amazingly both the PS2 and the converter worked right away. I loaded disk 1 of Cross into the console, and the game played immediately. I'd bought a memory card years ago for use with PS2 games at internet cafes, so I used that on the machine. I played for 15-20 minutes, then tried saving the game. I got the message "no memory card in slot." I cleaned the card, tried again, got the same message. After many failed attempts, I gave up. The next day, I walked the two miles to the BookOff at the south end of the train station and picked up a second memory card for $3. That card didn't work either. I went back to the same store and bought a second PS2 for $50. Same issues. Fortunately, one of my students is a game fan, and I knew he had a working PS2 setup and a copy of the game. I brought everything in to the school on the day he had lessons, to ask him to take the machines and cards home and see if he could identify the problem. Almost immediately, he said that Cross is a PSOne game, and while it would run on the PS2, you can only save to PSOne memory cards.

(Fighting against Fate, one of the major story bosses.)

So, I took the gear back home, then spent the next two days walking to every used game store in the city to look for used PSOne cards. No luck. In the end, I ordered a card from for $3 plus shipping. That arrived a few days later. I plug it in the console, play the game, and the save function works. Yay. The next day, the game fan student meets me in the school and offers me a second memory card, and a free copy (worth $0.50) of FFIX. That was cool. So now, I have 2 PS2s, 2 PS2 memory cards, 2 PSOne memory cards, and two copies of the Chrono Cross game (I lost disk 2 somehow in all this, and had to go back to BookOff to buy a replacement copy for $5. Sigh). At least, I can claim that I have back-up hardware now.

(In a time monitoring station, watching other parts of the game within the game. Very meta.)

So, about the game. Yes, it still stands up as a Japanese RPG. In fact, there were parts of the game that I couldn't remember seeing 15 years ago. It's a big game, with great character designs, character back stories, and artwork. The buttons don't always read right away when I press them, and the constant fighting of battles that become meaningless when your stats cap out got boring. So, yeah, there were parts that I was dissatisfied with, but otherwise I really enjoyed playing it again. I think I put in 80 hours going through all the endings, recording special techs, summons and boss fights to hard disk. I've done everything in the game that I can. Except. That one door in the programmer's ending room still won't open. I tried looking in the Japanese walkthroughs for help, but none of them give details on that specific ending. So, looks like everyone else is correct, that door never opened in the Japanese version to begin with. Sigh.

I don't care. I loved being able to play Chrono Cross again. My two favorite parts are the rescue sequence in the burning orphanage (the music during that part is great) and being able to beat the Time Devourer right after starting the game. Based on what I remember, the North American version of the game was tougher, and looking at the English walkthrough, I think the Japanese bosses have slighter lower HP values. I never really felt like I'd reached a boss that was a real threat at any point, but again, I was using a walkthrough, and had the best equipment in the game all the time. If I'd tried playing without a walkthrough things would have been a lot different. (Even so, I did get killed a few times, earning me the Game Over screen more often than I liked.)

So, yes, I still highly recommend Chrono Cross if you have a PS2 and can find a copy of the game.

Unfortunately, the capture card recorded the video signal at about 640 by 480 resolution, but playback is about double that. The video looks very chunky unless you resize the screen down to a postage stamp. And the files are BIG. I've got maybe 8 gig of captured data. I was thinking about trying to make a compilation video to put on youtube, but it looks like if I used all the techs, summons, and boss defeats I want to use, there'd be something like twenty 15-minute files. So, maybe not... (As a side note, the above stills are screen shots from the captured videos.)

Friday, March 30, 2018


This blog hit 1 million page views back in May of last year. For a while, I was averaging maybe 600 views a day after that. However, in February, I mentioned that I wasn't going to include sample page scans from my manga reviews, and my daily average views pretty much got cut in half after that. Anyway, I've slowly been edging towards 1,111,111 hits, and as of 2:30 AM, as I'm preparing to go to bed, I'm at 1,111,088 (I've been getting about 1 hit every 15 minutes since I started watching the counter more closely last evening). Who knows, maybe I'll wake up and the suspense will be long over.

Edit: Ok, so I end up waking up a couple times during the night, so I check the computer while I'm up. At 4 AM, I was at 1,111,101 views. At around 6:30, I'd rolled over to 1,111,116. I could Photoshop the screen cap to make it look like I'd grabbed it at exactly the right moment, but I'm not that wrapped up in this kind of numerology.

Next milestone - 1,234,567...?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Golf Scramble

Manga-style advertising is pervasive, and getting more-so by the day.
Here, we have Tobu Goru (flying golf), which is billed as a "golf scramble" where amateur players can team up with pro golfers. 28,000 ($260 USD) to participate.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Found this advertisement for 8ppy in front of the Walk-In recording studio.
New kid on the block.
Can't find any info on the band, though.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Makino Stuffed Saigo kits

Makino, the crafts supplies shop in Tenmonkan, has their little stuffed pillow kits available for sale for the character designs of Saigo Takamori and the other people representing the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. About $7 each. Whatever sells.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Cherry Blossom Season

Cherry blossom viewing season has begun in Kagoshima. These are some of the trees up at Kotsuki river, near the main train station.

The weather wasn't bad at the time, cool, a bit windy, but it was cloudy and didn't make for good photos. It's also a bit early, in that maybe only 40% of the buds have bloomed so far.

Still, people are out to view the trees now. And, if you frame the shot right, it looks like it's snowing.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Izumi School Spring Concert

Izumi is a small city several hours northwest of Kagoshima by car. I first visited there after the big earthquake that caused the Fukushima reactor meltdown, when I left Tokyo and was trying to find a new place to live. A couple years later, I returned to the area to see the red-crested crane nesting grounds there. The place pretty much lives for the nesting season between October and February, when all the tourists arrive to see the cranes. So, when I saw the sign announcing the Izumi High School Spring Concert, I kind of had a small vested interest in going to Tenmonkan to hear them, in part because I didn't think there were enough kids living in Izumi to justify their having a high school.

It was scheduled to start at 2 PM on Wednesday, and I got out the door a bit late, arriving as they were finishing the first song. I didn't have a chance to identify it.

The second song was the Village People's "YMCA," accompanied by 4 cheerleaders. The band played very well, but it's a copyrighted song, and would be blocked by youtube.

The third piece was something of a big-band jazz song that I didn't recognize. I tried recording it, but 1 minute in the battery in the camera died. That was disappointing. I hung around a few minutes more, then returned home. As I say, the band was very tight, and did have a lot of fun with the music. But, being unable to record it made my hanging around to the end a bit unnecessary. The first thing I did when I got back to the apartment was to recharge the battery, mainly because the camera refused to let me copy the files off to the laptop otherwise.

I'd definitely get a backup battery if only it didn't cost such a large percentage of the price of the camera itself.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Curry Don

I wrote about the Segodon Fest 2 weeks ago, where a bunch of shops were selling rice bowls, based on a pun on Saigo Takamori's name. At the time, I was busy and didn't really feel like trying any of the food. But, the idea was at the back of my mind for several days. Finally, I had a free afternoon, and a need to do shopping in the Amu Plaza area last Sunday, the final day of the event. After a lot of dithering, and hoping that more tables would reduce their prices as 5 PM was drawing closer, I finally settled on this runny egg omelet and curry bowl. The egg is intentionally undercooked, and the curry had a very strong beef flavor, all on a bed of rice. 500 yen. The guy doing the cooking hand-prepared the egg starting when I placed the order, and the staff kind of just ignored me after taking my money. They had a wall of prepared curry bowls sitting on the table, and I was wondering if the idea was that I was just supposed to take one and then leave. But finally, the cook finished my egg, poured it into a bowl, and someone else added the curry before giving it to me.

Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Maybe I'll get something else next year.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Bon DX videos

I had a little spare time, so I mixed the videos from the Bon DX show at Wicky's House to make them lower resolution to be easier to upload to youtube (they have limited visibility on Facebook). The image quality isn't that great at the current resolution, but the audio is still ok. I'm posting them in one place here if you don't like using Facebook.

Direct youtube link, Part 1

Direct youtube link, Part 2

Direct youtube link, Part 3

Direct youtube link, Part 4

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wicky's House Monthly Live

I was walking home from the school Tuesday night, and as I was passing by Wicky's House bar and restaurant, I noticed that they were advertising Bon DX playing Wednesday night. Usually, Wednesdays are my busiest weekday nights, but this week I had the night off.

I managed to talk my way out of staying at home after dinner the following night, and I got to the bar a little after 7:30 PM, but it turned out that the first set hadn't started yet.

First up was Sachi, an acoustic guitarist/vocalist, who was accompanied by Wicky on hand drums. She was good, but a bit uncomfortable in front of an audience, and tended to ramble a bit between songs.

Then there was Nishidabashi Moyorigumi (Case of Sawada), with Aiko Maki on bass. Aiko often backs up Bon on bass, but this time she just played for the Nishidabashi band. The lead singer tended to be a bit hammy, but apparently he's managed to become the official announcer for the Kagoshima United soccer team this year. The songs sounded great, and the keyboard player and lead guitarist were especially impressive (as always, I love Aiko's bass work).

Third up was Kenji Yoshidome, doing a solo acoustic guitar set. He was also very good, but a little too slow for my tastes, and he kind of lacked stage presence. After his second song, I hung out on the stairs outside (the bar is in the basement of the Tenmonkan arcade) and listened to the musicians as they chilled before or after their sets (the main reason for escaping the bar was that the cigarette smoke was getting to me).

The main headliner was my favorite Japanese SKA band, Bon DX. Normally, I only record a few songs and then take lots of photos. This time, I recorded pretty much the entire night, including the encore songs. On the last one, Go Ska Go, I was standing right in front of the speakers to get a better view of the band, and the camera's overload protection circuit kicked in, cutting the volume by a lot, so the music isn't anywhere near as loud and clear as what I experienced at the time. That annoys me. Still it was a great night, and I enjoyed all of it.

The videos (close to 45 minutes' worth) are over at Facebook.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


A pair of musicians playing for change in Tenmonkan. The trumpet player is good, but not great. The guitarist was ok. No idea what names they're playing under.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Psycho Bunny Pop-Up Shop

When you have a crazy skull rabbit in your pants.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Yokai Trash

It's sad when a celebrity lands in the gutter.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mobi Konbini

The Japanese version of a food truck. Instead of tacos, sandwiches or other premade meals, you get the entire convenience store.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Yamakataya Ad - Lightful

I'm not really sure what the message is supposed to be this time. The woman is obviously bathed in light, so I guess that's the "lightful" part. But she looks like she's either just woken up and hasn't had her coffee yet, or is in pain because the light is giving her a headache. Looking directly at the poster itself, she really seems to be unhappy. The photo here failed to capture that in full detail.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Small Adventure 57

With the numbers of people in Kagoshima, and especially in the area up around the main train station, it's not too surprising to hear sirens several times a day (and in the middle of the night). However, there is a strangely low amount of police activity in the city (I can go months without seeing a patrol car), and the sirens are almost always for ambulances. This is because of the extraordinary number of people 80 years old and over in Japan, and because there are so many hospitals and clinics in the city. A lot of people here have specific hospitals they want to be taken to if there is an emergency, and there always seems to be an emergency of some kind here.

Even so, I do have to say that I wasn't expecting to see someone collapsed on the sidewalk. I'd been walking up to the main train station one day, and I was approaching the street lights along the stretch leading to the big post office. As I turned the corner of the car rental company parking lot there, I saw two guys kneeling next to a third one. The third was maybe in his 60's or 70's, and very thin. It was a hot, clear day and someone had set up a black umbrella on the ground to shield the guy's head from the sun. One of the women from the car rental company was coming up with a bottle of water she'd bought from their vending machine. One of the two kneeling guys kept asking the old man if he was ok, if he was feeling better, where he was coming from and where he was going, etc., while the old man continued to lay motionless on the sidewalk on his back. I couldn't tell if he was homeless and malnourished, or just a Chinese tourist that had pushed himself too hard for the day.

A small crowd formed at the corner as we waited for the light to turn green, and most of us watched the spectacle from a distance 10 feet away. After a couple minutes, the light changed, and the old man started struggling to sit up. The two kneeling guys helped him up, and I crossed street to go to Amu Plaza; there wasn't anything in particular I could have done to be helpful, so I left to remain out of the way. A little later, I came back from Amu Plaza and the old man and the umbrella were gone, and I didn't see an ambulance. I'm assuming the car rental company charged the guy for the bottle of water.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 7-13 Recap

I've still got enough of a backlog of stuff to write about for the blog that it's ok to combine everything into one entry for the last week. First, I've finally gotten my hands on an old PS One console, and have found a copy of one of my favorite Playstation games - Chrono Cross. I also picked up a video capture module so I can run the console while using my laptop monitor as an analog TV replacement. Unfortunately, the game has two DVDs, and I couldn't find disk 2 when it came time to swap disks. So, I took the street car to the Arata Hachiman platform, then walked the mile over to the new Across shopping plaza, which has one of the bigger Book Off stores in the city. I'd been there a few nights earlier when I was searching for PSOne memory cards, and I'd noticed they had two copies of CC on the shelves. I knew those copies would still be there when I wanted to get one so I could keep playing, and as I was walking to Across, I happened by this Toyota service center. The Kagoshima Marathon was on the 4th, and here, a few days later, Toyota had one of their sponsor cars out on the lot, collecting volcano ash (the wind had shifted that day and blown the ash from Sakurajima our way).

I don't think this car is going to have much market value now...

On the 11th, I was back at Frespo Park (a rival shopping center across the street from Across) for furniture shopping (actually, I was at Sakoda Furniture a few blocks farther away, and had stopped at Frespo for coffee and crepes on my way to the bus stop in front of Frespo to get back home). The big cineplex on the 2nd floor of Frespo is running the new Doraemon movie, and the star of the film was there to greet his fans. He looks much smaller in person.

On the 9th, I visited Amu Plaza just to see if anything interesting would be going on over the weekend. Work had finished for setting up the tables for the Saigo-don food fest, but they wouldn't start service until Saturday. The local Kagoshima dialect has an affectionate nickname for Saigo - Segodon. Now, the word "don" can also have the meaning of "bowl", and "donburi" is a bowl of rice with some kind of topping, so "Saigo-don" is "Saigo's bowls of foods." The event is just restaurants selling their regular dishes.

Nothing happening yet on Friday afternoon.
I had to work on Saturday, and I could already tell that there wasn't going to be an event stage. After work on Saturday, I just went home and played Chrono Cross.

On Sunday, I went to the Sakoda store to look at furniture, then Frespo for coffee and crepes. Afterward, I took the bus back home, and hiked up to Amu Plaza to get White Day chocolate from Kaldi (White Day is Mar. 14th, and is the day men are supposed to give return gifts to the women that bought them something on Valentine's Day. Kaldi has some good chocolates, and I spent about $20 on that.) There were quite a few people eating at the Saigo-Don event then. I wasn't hungry, so I didn't get anything. The event is going to run another week. Maybe I'll get something this weekend.

Like the Ramen King contest a few weeks ago, this one has tokens you use to vote for your favorite rice bowl after you're done eating.

While I'm writing this up...
Shinmoedake is an active volcano up in Kirishima prefecture. It's far enough away from me so that when it erupted a week ago and spewed ash and rock 3 miles into the air, I didn't notice it until reports started showing up on TV and yahoo. When I was at Sakoda, I was only 1 block from the bay, and I went there after shopping to look at the water. In the far distance, I could see two lines of mountains up north, and the back line had a tiny little white plume barely sticking up from one of the peaks. I assume that was Shinmoedake.

Unfortunately, this weekend was supposed to be the Ryoma Sakamoto Honeymoon Walk, with 2 walks on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. I've been wanting to go on the 12 mile hike through the Kirishima mountains for 2-3 years, and this year was the one I'd finally promised myself I'd go. It costs $20 to participate, and maybe another $20 to take the trains up to Kirishima and back, and the cost was the main reason I'd been hesitating. Then, as I'm about to commit myself to the walk, the organizers cancel it because of flying rock warnings from Shinmoedake. Shinmoe is expected to keep spewing rock for maybe another month at least, from what I understand.

Sigh. No idea if the event is going to be rescheduled, or if I have to wait yet another year. As far as I know, nothing else interesting is happening in Kagoshima this weekend, other than the rice bowl thing. I've already seen 5 of the 12 endings for Chrono Cross. I guess I could try watching the remaining seven as well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


You see this box outside a building, with a combination punch lock like this, and you think "wow, someone really has something they want to protect here," right? Actually, it's a trash box. The sign is asking the neighbors to stop leaving their trash in other people's pick up spots. Everything is expensive in Japan, including when you have bulk garbage you have to pay to have taken away.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Kimono Sign Art

I like the artwork.

Women still like wearing kimono in Japan, but the things are expensive. Kimono rental is becoming a more popular alternative.

Shooting through glass windows never turns out right. The kimonos look much better in real life.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Snoopy Car

I'm assuming that the owner bought some stickers and personalized his car this way, and that it's not a case of the manufacturer making a line of Snoopy cars. Still, it's a pretty professional-looking job.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Loop Shoes Girl

Loop Shoes has new chalk artwork. Not sure if the character is based on a manga or not. The text says "mou owaruru you" ("The sale is almost over"). The sale is almost always over...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mantis Sign

Companies come and go pretty often, now. There used to be a travel agency office in this building just outside of Tenmonkan. This branch closed towards the end of last summer, and the space had been empty for months. Recently, it was remodeled and turned into a restaurant. This is their new logo. Be careful if your date asks you to take her there.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Nobunagan, vol. 5

(All rights belong to their owners. Image from Amazon for review purposes only.)

Nobunaga, vol. 5, Masato Hisa. Grade: A-
After having her helmet knocked off, Shio has to undergo quarantine procedures. When she's released, Adam (Ripper) tries to talk sense into her, but she's so consumed with rage that she threatens anyone that gets between her and her killing every last one of the EIOs - the spirit of Nobunaga burns in the shadows behind her. Meanwhile, the dinosaur-like EIOs have conquered San Francisco, and moved down into San Jose. Team 3 (with Dai Zong, Rasputin and Hackenschmidt) attempt to keep them contained in the Valley, but it's rough going. Dai Zong has the mecha legs, and Hackenschmidt has mecha arms, so they team up to make one tall mecha guy and beat up monsters that way, trying to protect the line of tanks backing them up, but they're not really slowing the EIOs much. Nobuna-gun swoops down on the city in a wing suit, and her magazine, which is now 30-40 feet long, lays down a new line that she challenges the monsters to try to cross. They do, and the magazine sprouts spikes that impale them. As Shio kills stuff, Rasputin recoils in horror at just how much self-inflicted damage the girl is receiving.

Rasputin tries to heal Nobuna-gun, but Shio refuses to let her get close. We get a flashback to when Shio learned that a 5-eyed Salamander had struck the neighborhood that Asao had been in, and then Shio runs off to find more stuff to kill. She suddenly finds herself face to face with 5-eyes, and it self-destructs. Shio realizes that she's about to die, and that terrifies her. However, Ripper catches up to her and cuts a hole in the ground so they can fall into a subway tunnel, safe from the blast. At the same time, Gandhi and Newton had seen 5-eyes approaching San Jose, and Gandhi told Newton to warn the tank operators about the threat, while he would fly a bit farther forward to throw up a protective barrier (Newton tells him to stop ordering her around). Newton gets to the tanks and tells them to drop back, but Rasputin draws her attention to the fact that an aerial group of winged dinosaur-types have ambushed Gandhi in the air. It's starting to look like the monsters have specifically targeted Gandhi to prevent him from using his barrier when 5-eyes detonates. Newton gets Dai Zong/Hackenschmidt to side-kick the base of a nearby building, and she uses her boots in Zero-G mode to lift the building and throw it down in the path of the blast. 5-eyes blows up, and the building won't hold, so Rasputin uses her powers to repair the structure about as fast as it gets destroyed. When everything is over, 5-eyes and a bunch of smaller EIOs are gone, as is most of the building. But, Newton, Rasputin, Dai Zong, Hackenschmidt, the tanks, and the soldiers are ok.

In the subway tunnel, Shio is suffering from a breakdown, and now with Asao gone, she decides that she doesn't want to live, either. Ripper tries to get through to her, but a strange E-gene that doesn't look like Nobunaga (anymore) decides that if she doesn't want her body, then he'll take it over. We get a flashback to 1783 London, with Godoo encountering the original John Hunter. They discuss genetics, with Dogoo trying to find a way to keep all his blood samples from going bad. They talk about using people to pass the E-genes from generation to generation, but there's the danger of the genes going haywire at some point. Dogoo mentions having a  "stopper" in case something goes wrong with someone's E-gene, and Hunter asks what happens if the "stopper" fails. Dogoo doesn't have an answer for that.

Back in the present, Team One, with Suuho, Geronimo and Gaudi, are pinned down in the ruins 2 km outside of San Jose. As Geronimo radios in to Iyo regarding their current status, monsters start flying through the air, eventually followed by a really messed-up Shio. The Nobuna-gun has gone haywire, fusing with Shio's body to make a kind of Eiffel Tower monster - part human, mostly twisted metal and E-gene gun magazine. The gun forms into a super massive cannon, which blows away a wall of the EIOs. Ripper is close behind, and he tries to stop Nobuna-gun, but it's clear that the E-gene is out of control, and tearing Shio apart with every blast. Iyo orders the D.O.G.O.O. control room operators to remotely shut down the E-ball, but that fails. The EIOs begin falling back, so Nobuna-gun tries to shoot after them, but he's starting to backfire as Shio slowly dies. Gaudi uses his earth-shaping skills to contain Nobuna-gun, but only manages to rip up part of the gun's barrel, further hurting Shio. Nobuna-gun takes aim at Gaudi, and Suuho has to rush in on her bike to save the boy. Nobuna-gun aims at Geronimo instead, and Ripper races forward to block the blast with Nightingale, taking a lot of damage himself. Ripper keeps hoping that all of this will stop, but Nightingale's analytic skill pinpoints a "target" in Shio's chest, marking her for death. He asks why he's seeing the target now, and Nightingale tells him that he knows what he needs to do. Nobuna-gun accidentally rips Shio's arm off, then glues it back on again. Ripper leaps forward and stabs Shio through the heart with his blade.

Summary: Yeah, things got dark fast in volume 4, and went downhill from there. It's pretty hard to see how Hisa is going to wrap up all of this cleanly in volume 6. Speaking of which, none of the bookstores in Kagoshima have the last book in the series, so now I have to see if I can find it on Amazon. As things stand, there's nothing stopping the EIOs from taking over the planet. The remaining E-gene Holders aren't strong enough to win on their own, and D.O.G.O.O. is useless without them. With Shio down, they also lose their best tactician. I do want to get vol. 6 at some point, but I'm still thinking that Area 51 is still Hisa's best title to date. Recommended if you can find it.

E-gene Holder updates
Grigorii Efimovich Rasputin (operator: unknown, v5, medic type): If you don't know about Rasputin, check out the wiki article. The E-gene takes the shape of a kind of phallic backward-facing skull extension, and is capable of repairing damage to the other E-gene holders. His operator is a very timid, pretty woman.

Georg Karl Julius Hackenschmidt (operator: unknown, v5, offensive type): Hackenschmidt (1887-1968) was a Baltic German strongman credited as professional wrestling's first heavy-weight champion. The E-gene manifests as a pair of large, overbuilt arms. The operator is a young man. Hackeschmidt is the leader of Team 3, which includes Rasputin and Dai Zong (from vol. 2).

Note: On the cover are Newton and Gandhi.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Fureai Folk Art Exhibit, Mar. 1, 2018

Finally, on March 1st I was at the Volunteer Center, and I found another of the Fureai art collections on display on the second floor. Basically, these are arts and crafts handmade by the people living in Kagoshima (either school children, or senior citizens). Most of them are pretty much what you'd expect from amateurs, but a few pieces were worth taking photos of.

There were special sections for quilts and hanging banners.

Grilled fish.

Examples of the kid's wall.

Plus tables with little figures and dolls.

Hina Dolls hanging banner.

Over on my science and math blog, I'd written a comment on one chapter of a Martin Gardner math book, where he pretended that these leather straps were the creation of a magician working through the fourth dimension to make otherwise impossible folds. In fact, these have been used as lanyards by Boy Scouts in England for close to 100 years. Here, they're made as bracelets.