Thursday, May 31, 2018

Small Adventure 62

The idea of these small adventures is that they're just text stories, not accompanied by photos. But, I do make exceptions occasionally.

A few weeks ago, I was looking for volume 3 of the 7 Shakespeares sequel, but I wasn't able to get to Maruzan bookstore in Tenmonkan until just before closing at 8:30 PM. I got in the store, went up to the second floor, and started looking around at the section of shelves that 7 Shakespeares had last been in. I couldn't find it, but as I was searching, I heard bird chirping. At the time, I thought it was being piped in as a kind of muzak (a few stores have done that in the past). I ran out of time, and went back home. I had to work the next day, and got out at 8:15. Maruzen was on my way home, so I decided to try again. This time, I discovered that the manga had been moved up to the top shelves, near the high ceiling, so I climbed the ladder to get up to where volume 3 was. I heard the bird chirping again, and I got the distinct feeling it was coming from the air vent in the wall. I tried looking into the vent, but the ladder didn't get that close to it. I gave up, grabbed my manga, then went down the ladder to pay for the book before the store closed.

The next day, I thought about going back and just recording the chirping on my camera. I'd had some free time, and I got to the store at 2 PM. I returned to the second floor and climbed the ladder, but I couldn't hear anything anymore. I walked around the block to see if I could get a look at the vent from the outside, but the back of the building was blocked off by other buildings. From that point on, I haven't heard anything coming from that vent, so maybe whatever was living in there had flown the nest.

A few weeks later, I was walking down one of the smaller side streets leading to Tenmonkan, when a pigeon flew up and disappeared into the left-hand vent on the 4th floor of the above building. It took a few seconds for the sight to register - that I'd actually seen this pigeon fly into the building. About 10 seconds later, a second pigeon flew out of the left-hand vent on the 6th floor. Now, I really have to wonder just how many birds are hiding in those vents...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Osomatsu-kun Code Geass Pop-up Shop

Pop-up shops are becoming more common now, I guess. I haven't been paying that much attention to them. Basically, they're just a temporary arrangement of tables and/or shelves for selling themed goods. Over the last week, there was a combined Osumatsu-san, Code Geass goods pop-up shop in the Amu Plaza department store. Mainly shirts, snacks, and some jewelry.

Osomatsu-san is a sequel of sorts to Fujio Akatsuka's (Tensai Bakabon) Osomatsu-kun series. I don't care for the updated character designs or story at all, so I haven't been following it, but it's really being over-merchandized. And, actually, there's a second joke here, in that the Osomatsu brothers are cosplaying Ultraman (referred to as an "Uru-Matsu collaboration").

Osomatsu manju (snack cakes). This stuff is all overpriced, so I didn't bother buying anything this time.

I'm not sure if this stuff is hard sugar candy, or bath salts. Probably be a bad idea to make a mistake either way.

Osomatsu as gangsters.

Code Geass photo pose board.

Code Geass-inspired jewelry from a company called The Kiss.

The TV was just showing little highlight clips from Code Geass in a loop. Note, the table in the background is set up for promoting JQ Card credit cards. This was really the main purpose for this pop-up shop, to get people to sign up for the JQ card. Very mercenary.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Spider in the Foyer

Japan is a small country that produces a lot of trash. Since they've long run out of landfills to dump it in, the Japanese people have gotten better about separating their trash, and there are specific pick-up days, M-F. Monday mornings are newspapers, magazines, cardboard, and milk and juice cartons. Tues. and Fri. are normal trash. Wed. are plastic, and Thurs. are cans, glass and PET bottles. Once or twice a month, there are special pick-ups for small electronics and broken dishware.

So, Sunday night, I was working late. At 1:30 AM, I was getting ready for bed, and I had to take the trash out first. There wasn't much - a couple magazines, a handful of cartons, and some empty shipping boxes. I took the elevator downstairs, and just as the doors opened, I spotted the above spider sitting on the wall opposite, near the floor. It was maybe 2-3" long tip to tip, and just sitting there. Fortunately, one of the boxes was fairly long and flat, so I tossed everything else in the trash bin, keeping the one sheet, and ran back upstairs to get my camera. I came back down, took a few photos for the blog, and then tried to herd the spider out the automatic door, and then outside. And it decided to go everywhere but out the door. At one point, it got between the auto sliding door and the wall and wouldn't come back out. So, I took the cardboard box outside and threw that away. But, when I returned to the elevator, the spider had come back out from behind the sliding door. So I grabbed the box from the trash and tried again. Eventually, I got it to crawl onto the box, and I managed to carry it outside before it leaped off and into the street, where I lost it in the darkness. I spent over 5 minutes on this.

The next day, it rained again. When I had to go out for work, I looked in front of the elevator, outside around the car park, and in the street. I couldn't find it anywhere, and I have to assume that it found a safer, drier place to live.

Later, I tried using reverse image searches to identify the species, but nothing came up. So, I registered with, and  uploaded the photo. A day later, someone identified it as a subspecies of the Huntsman. Most huntsmen aren't fuzzy like mine, but a couple are. Some of them are native to Asia, but apparently mine might have hopped a ship from Laos, or some place similar, because it's apparently not normally found in Japan.

Monday, May 28, 2018


A couple of places have opened up in Kagoshima that show it's a pretty good place to be for a kid. First is iTeen, a robotics and PC programming school for young teenagers. I haven't been inside, so I don't know the full extent of their workspace, but the photos on the front are for a pair of robots that you can buy in Bic Camera for about $150, $200 USD, and feature stereo vision cameras and pluggable construction modules.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Kumagai + Hello Kitty

There's a construction site just outside Tenmonkan, apparently for a new hotel, being built by the Kumagai Group (kuma = bear). The above poster caught my eye, showing a tie-up between Kumagai and Sanrio (makers of Hello Kitty products). Not sure what the significance of this is.

"We've been in business for 120 years, thanks for you..."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

150th Anniversary Day

Yesterday was the big event day for celebrating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Meiji Restoration (when control of the government was forcibly reversed from the Shogunate (chief warlord's council) to the emperor Meiji. The city of Kagoshima, where two of the main Restoration actors were born, Saigo and Okubo) has been promoting this anniversary for a couple years, and advertising the event day for a month. The event included school children performing live music in an event hall, a performance by the woman that sings the opening theme song for the NHK Segodon TV series, hot air balloon rides, various events at the Kagoshima university baseball stadium that would feature an air show by the Blue Impulse precision aerial team, and a parade from the Saigo statue in Central Park to the Okubo statue near the main train station.

The weather during the week was good, but by Friday the forecasts were predicting rain on Saturday. Friday evening, announcements went out on the radio that the outdoor portions of the event would be cancelled, but that they'd still do the indoor music performances. That meant no parade, no air show, and no balloon rides.

I had classes from 2-4 PM, and 7-8 PM on Saturday, so there was really no way I'd be able to get to the university for the events at the baseball stadium, but I was looking forward to taking photos of the parade, which would have gone right in front of the apartment at 11 AM. And, while the Blue Impulse air show was to have been at 2 PM, I could have conducted that class as a free talk from the roof of the school, where we could have seen the fly-overs.

The rain started early morning, and had picked up around 11 AM. There was still a heavy drizzle when I walked into the school at 1:30, but the sun was coming out at 3 PM, and the sky turned clear shortly after that. It was still pretty windy, so the hot air balloons would have been grounded, but the air show could have been held if it had been pushed back an hour or two. Sunday morning, as I type this up, the weather is absolutely beautiful again.

Apparently, the outdoor activities had been completely cancelled, rather than simply postponed. The city always overreacts when there are predictions of bad weather during big events. Sigh.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Madowanai Hoshi, vol. 3 review

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

Madowanai Hoshi, vol. 3, Masayuki Ishikawa. Grade: A
Recap: It's the future, and humans have trashed the Earth. People live in domes, and in Japan, they are divided into "Insiders" and "Outsiders." Insiders all have coveted jobs making anime that's broadcast in the domes during the day, while the outsiders man the outer domes and scavenge the mountains of trash outside for useful rejects. S-zawa works in one of the domes, and at some point had broadcast a "message of love" to space, which attracted the attention of a handful of beautiful women, who are in fact the human embodiments of the Moon, Earth and the other planets. From this point, the planets try to educate S-zawa and his co-worker Hazuki Oikawa on physics, history and the environment, pretty much to no avail. In the last volume, Hazuki insulted Earth, and caused the outer planet women to return to their obits in disgust.

This volume starts with the Kuiper Belt planetoids congratulating Pluto on her being recognized as a planet by the humans. She decides to thank everyone by putting a big heart on her surface, and as a greeting for when the New Horizons probe shows up. But then, the humans downgrade her, and Pluto ruins the heart in anger, and New Horizons arrives too late to capture the original design. This is followed by a short, jovial guy named Mimisansan getting fired from his job as an animator, because his bright, cheerful personality has been bothering the other workers. His counselor suggests that he get a job "outside," where he might fit in better. Mimi is quite happy to do this. (Note that Mimi is identified as the son of the distinguished Mimi family that owns Mimi Group Corp., one of the most powerful families in Japan.)

Back at the dome, S-zawa is sending letters into space again, to appease the other planets, and Hazuki spells him to try to send one or two letters herself. S-zawa turns on one of the anime channels, which offends Moon so much that she switches from bunnygirl form to mini-moon form to try to teach S-zawa and Oikawa about multiple dimensions, string theory and black holes. The two humans are unable to understand any of this, no matter how simplified Moon makes it. Eventually, the two humans return to their apartments in the inner dome for the night, and Oikawa decides to show S-zawa a secret gathering spot for outsiders hidden in the blind spots of the insider security camera network. The secret spot is effectively a large bar/restaurant that serves real beer and real food, not the artificial pastes they normally get in the insider cafeterias. As they talk, Mimisansan happens by, to Hazuki's horror, because none of the insiders are supposed to know the place exists. The thing is, S-zawa and Mimi had been classmates in 5th grade, and they recognize each other. Mimi talks loud, calling out S-zawa's name, causing the food server to ask S-zawa to leave. Seems that S-zawa has become famous on the news for having sent his love letters out to space, and his increased popularity with the insiders is a threat to the secret bar.

Mimi announces that he wants to keep drinking, and he invites the other two to join him in Hazuki's apartment for drinks, ignoring the woman's loud protests. They get to the apartment, and as Hazuki cleans the place up and changes clothes, Mimi starts talking about space-time. S-zawa comments that he sounds like Moon, and eventually asks who Mimi really is. Mimi uses his powers to warp space-time to transport them all back to the outer dome, and is revealed to be The Sun in human form ("Me-Me-Sun-Sun" was kind of a giveaway). Mars and Venus are elated to have Sun back, and even Earth recovers from her illness enough to get out of her medi-bed. The outer planets return to planet Earth, complaining about how inconvenient all this traveling is for them. Mimi wonders whether he should stick around, and S-Zawa yells that it's bad enough that all these strange characters are hanging around him, he doesn't need another one to confuse everything even more. He tells Mimi to return to his place in the center of the solar system, which Mimi is more than happy to do.

Hazuki apologizes to Earth for her previous behavior, and promises to try to do something to make Earth more healthy in the future. Unfortunately, Mimi's one suggestion was to do a time reset, returning the planet to a point where the pollution hadn't gotten so bad yet. Hazuki thinks this is a possible option, but it would mean killing off everyone alive now, and because humans are creatures of habit, they'd just pollute the planet all over again. Hazuki asks Earth for suggestions, just as Mimi flies off into space to return home. Earth falls sick as she tries to come up with an answer.

Summary: Lots and lots of science in this series, in with all the gags. I didn't try following the more involved discussions, in part because I already know some of this stuff in English. But, I do like the spin Ishizawa is putting on quantum mechanics and string theory. Fun, but deep. Recommended to anyone that knows the Earth is not flat (which is a very sexist thing to say, so please stop saying it).

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pepe the Clown

I'm relatively shy. I don't like going up to people to ask for permission to take their photos, and in the case of performers I generally don't stick around after their performance to introduce myself (a lot of the performers tend to act really arrogant and stand-offish, too). So, for the first 4-5 years I was in Kagoshima, I'd take lots of event photos for the blog, but most of the musicians and jugglers I watched had no idea who I was. That changed somewhat about 3 years ago, when one of the other fans decided to talk to me. He's an older Japanese guy that is very outgoing and loves to dance right in front of the stage, and heckle the main singers. At one point, he decided that I was his friend, and he wanted to introduce me to his other friend, the lead singer of the SKA band Bon DX. From that point, Bon would wave "hi" to me, or talk a little, whenever I showed up at events he was playing at. Eventually, I'd get introduced to other singers, or I'd work up the courage to introduce myself, and then I'd tell them that I was putting their photos or video on Facebook or youtube. For the most part, these activities still remained fairly low-key.

Until the Kagoshima Music Fest the second weekend of May. I suddenly found myself talking to several musicians a lot more than I normally do, and some of them were actually coming up to me to talk between sets. I started thinking about working a little harder to become an "unofficial photographer of Kagoshima-based performers," and actively try to meet more people this way. This idea was given a bit more impetus when I got 100 likes on my KMF photos of Toshi the Wanderer, especially when one of the likes was by a Japanese stage magician. I like stage magic, and it would be nice to meet more magicians back, or off-, stage. I also thought I recognized this magician from his FB avatar photo, and that maybe I've seen him busking down at Dolphin Port.

So, I went to Dolphin Port during my break at the English school last Saturday. The above performer was setting up on the boardwalk, and I went up to him to ask if he'd been one of the people that liked Toshi the Wanderer's KMF photos. But, he turned out to be a different person from the magician I was expecting. He introduced himself as Pepe the Clown, and we talked for about 15 minutes. He's an incredibly nice guy, but fairly shy as well. Unfortunately, the weather was bad, and there were no tourists that day, so he decided to pack up all his gear and try again at a later day. I came back on Sunday, but the wind had shifted, blowing volcano ash from Sakurajima into Kagoshima, and we started getting drizzle in the afternoon. None of the buskers I've seen at Dolphin Port ever showed up that day.

Finally, I was at the Volunteer Center on Thursday, a stone's throw from Dolphin Port, and the weather was perfect. I swung by the Port, and discovered that Pepe was just starting up his routine. I realized then that I have seen him several times before at events in Tenmonkan, often teamed up with the juggler K@ito. There were a few tourists this time, but most of them were waiting to get into the restaurants for lunch, and didn't stay for the full routine. One German tourist did toss a few hundred yen ($2 USD) into Pepe's hat before continuing on his way, but I made a point of watching the entire act and then reintroducing myself when he was done. He said that this lack of crowds is normal during weekdays, but that he might do 4-5 more sets before the end of the day, and that he does get bigger audiences on the weekends. I hope that's true, because he is a hard worker and very dedicated to his art. I took a few photos and a sample video of his chair balancing act, otherwise I just watched and applauded to provide moral support. I had fun, and that's all that really matters (and, I did give him 500 yen when he passed the hat, too.)

Direct youtube link

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Keirin Truck

Keirin is the Japanese-style gambling system where you bet on professional bicycle racers, rather than horses. There had been a Keirin track in Kanagawa, a few kilometers from my apartment when I was working in Tokyo, but there's no track in Kagoshima, so seeing this truck here was a bit of a surprise (I was passing by on the street car at the time). It's parked in font of some "life activities" center.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pacific Rim promo display

I was up on the 6th floor of the Amu Plaza department store, in front of the Mitte Cineplex, and saw this display advertising the Pacific Rim movie.

I guess the idea is that there are pictures from the movie scattered around Amu Plaza, and if you find them all, you get entered into a drawing for Pacific Rim goods. Since the campaign started a few weeks before I learned about it, I'm not going to bother participating.

It'd be fun to actually own one, but I've never actually understood the appeal of giant robot anime.

But, I'd expect that these babies could make the commute to work in the morning a little more appealing. I do wonder what kind of mileage they get.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Super Soap

This was extremely disappointing. I was at the Aeon department store near the main train station to get paper towels, and I found this display using Dragon Ball Super to promote Kao brand detergents.

"From today, you too can be a cleaning fighter."

I will go into a corner and weep for the future of humanity now.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bright Chalk Art Genuine

I get up to Streetcar Street, in the area of the Bright used clothing shop, maybe once every 2-3 weeks. When I'm there, I do consciously try to go by Bright to see if there's new chalk art next to the front door. I don't know how often it changes, I think I've seen new art 3-4 times in the last 6 months, but I may have missed a lot of it. Anyway, I'm guessing that this time we may have a tribute to Tupak Shakur, and that maybe the text reads "Genuine," but it's hard to tell with that scriptface.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Ajin, vol. 12 review

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

Ajin, vol. 12 (Good Afternoon, 2017), by Gamon Sakurai. Grade: A-.

To recap, we have Satou, the main bad guy, claiming that he wants to create Japan as a new country just for Ajin (demi-humans), and he has 4 people working specifically for him towards this goal - Tanaka, two coke heads, and a computer wizard with a limp. Satou betrayed Tanaka, who had tried to set up a parlay with a Japanese cabinet minister to declare a truce. That was a trap, and the cabinet minister had Tanaka tranq darted and hauled off in a car to be taken to prison for further torture and drug development experimentation. On the good guys' side, Tosaki, Kei, Kou and Izumi have finally committed themselves to the last battle, and have split up. Tosaki, the enforcer for the company that had been torturing Ajin, disappears on his own quest and is not seen in volume 12. Izumi, Tosaki's Ajin bodyguard, takes pity on Tanaka and vows to rescue him. Kou, one of the younger Ajin, accompanies Izumi. And Kei, the young brilliant Ajin strategist has his own plan, but stays in contact with the others via smartphone.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Prime Minster had been scheduled to give a talk at a military base, but it was interrupted by something that looked like Satou. The real Satou pretended to be a misunderstood cameraman, and had tricked the base commander into taking him into the most secure part of the compound for protection. The fake Satou turned out to be a black smoke ghost hiding in Satou's discarded skin. The fake threw out 3 satchels into the audience that had been waiting to hear the PM speak, causing everyone to panic and run. A pickup truck raced out to the field to rescue the PM, and the ghost managed to reach the truck and almost touch the PM before dissipating.

So, we have Satou in the basement of the base, his two cokeheads outside the barrier walls, and his computer guy hiding in a command room somewhere. The PM is being whisked to safety, while the cabinet minister and his guards are driving off to deliver Tanaka to some prison. Kou and Izumi are in pursuit of Tanaka, and Kei's whereabouts are unknown. Plus, there are three satchels with X's on them in tape on the ground near where the PM was supposed to have given his speech. The crowds are running off in panic, leaving a bunch of military personnel standing around acting confused. We're now caught up.

Most of the bystanders are running from the field, but there's one guy still standing near one of the satchels. He approaches it, and one of the soldiers yells at him to back off and leave the grounds. The guy ignores the orders, reaches the satchel, bends down and opens it to reveal a bunch of weapons. He pulls a pistol from the satchel and starts shooting at the soldiers. We get a flashback, where the two cokeheads are in the woods with several people just standing round. The computer guy is on the phone to them, saying that he'd set up an website and asked for anyone that wanted to help Satou in his "cause." While over 100 "normals" had left messages on the site, only 12 had shown up at the rendezvous site in the woods. These 12 are told to go to the military base the day of the PM's big speech, and wait for the right moment. When they see the satchels, they are to take the guns out and shoot any soldiers they encounter. The scene returns to the present, and that's what happens. The soldiers hesitate to fire on civilians, which is their mistake. When everything is over, all of the soldiers that had been on the field are dead, while "Satou's minions" only lost 3 of the original 12.

Kou and Izumi jump in a car and race off, but they quickly lose the cabinet minister's cars. Kou has Kei on the phone, and he makes some suggestions for where their prey may be heading. Kou is driving, and he picks up the trail again. He's on a side street, and can see the other cars a block over through the trees. Kou gets ahead of the others and tries to cut them off, but the next alley is too narrow for his car to fit through. Izumi jumps out and runs headlong into the street, where the lead car smashes into her. All three cars stop, and the guards and drivers get out to check the body. Izumi recovers fast enough to start shooting to kill the guards, while Kou comes up and darts whoever he can from behind. Soon, Izumi reaches Tanaka, but he's not willing to help them stop Satou. Izumi gives up and tells Kou they're leaving, but Tanaka recognizes the boy and decides to reveal a secret. Way, way back, when Kou had tried joining up with Satou, there had been a fireman Ajin that had been at the same meet-up. The fireman refused to play along with Satou, and had helped Kou escape. But, Tanaka had managed to catch the fireman, and Satou had had the guy sealed up in a 50 gallon drum. Tanaka now has a change of heart and tells Kou where to find his rescuer. Kou runs off, leaving Tanaka and Izumi with the Cabinet Minister, who is still unharmed. The two decide to leave the minister alone, but he tries to tranq them in the back, so Izumi spins around and puts two bullets in his right arm and blows off his trigger finger. He screams, as Izumi and Tanaka leave (Tanaka seems to be taking on the role of Izumi's bodyguard).

Kou goes to an abandoned love hotel, and manages to get the drop on the computer guy (he's running his operations from the staff room). The computer guy does have monitor cameras in the hallways, and motion detectors, so he has a bit of a warning that Kou is arriving. He opens a desk drawer, revealing a pistol and some handheld device. He grabs the handheld, which may be either a calculator or a cell phone, and pulls out the lithium-ion battery just about when Kou reaches the staff room and darts him. Kou finds three large drums in the basement, plus a welding rig. He uses the rig to open the first two drums, revealing two unconscious Ajin. He opens the third and finds the fireman. The guy had been in the drum for weeks, suffocating to death then recovering only to suffocate again. Kou yells at the guy to get a grip on himself, and the fireman snaps awake. Kou drags the guy out of the basement, promising the other two that he will come back for them later.

In the basement of the military base, Satou locates the weapons storeroom, and uses one of the soldier's fingers to get past the fingerprint scanner. Cnl. Kouma, one of the guys that could have teamed up with Tosaki in fighting Satou, tells his men that the reason the SAT forces had lost to Satou at the battle at the Forge Building was that they'd allowed themselves to be afraid of dying. But, the men here now have one job, and one job only - to blow Satou into so many little pieces that he can't regenerate before being subdued. They move out and try to engage the enemy. The problem is that Satou is former special forces, and he's been practicing with his ghost A LOT. The battle wages on for hours, with the building being heavily damaged. In the end, though, Satou wins. Kouma and every other soldier lie dead on the ground. Satou is impressed at how tired they'd made him during all of the fighting. Then he shoots himself in the head and fully recovers again.

The PM's bodyguards take the PM to Iruma, Saitama, north of Tokyo. Deep underground is a secure holding facility. The guards get the PM to the holding room with no problem. There are two bodyguards and a couple soldiers; the two guards stay with the PM, while the soldiers wait outside. They believe that the holding area is secret, and no one will ever be able to locate it. However, the job of the fake Satou black ghost was to put a tracking device in the PM's jacket pocket back when they were in the pickup truck. The PM finds the device just about when Satou's two cokeheads show up and eliminate the soldiers in the hallways. They state that they have no interest in trying to get to the PM, and they just stand around outside the security door, while the PM and his guards inside the room try to figure out what the game is.

Finally, Kei decides that it's time for him to act. He's outside the military compound, and he's blocked by a 20'-tall wall. He finds a bottle and breaks it, then goes through his plan in his mind. Unfortunately, the glass shards aren't big enough. So, if he bites off his fingers and throws them over the wall, his hand will automatically fully regenerate without decomposing those fingers first. Then, if he presses the stumps on his hand against the wall, the black smoke will turn the wall into material for rebuilding his fingers, creating finger holds for him to hold on to. Then, he just has to repeat the process on his other hand, until he reaches the top. It should take 5 rounds to reach the top, and if everything goes right, 5 minutes. Worst case, 10 minutes. Eventually, the camera shows a close up of 7 fingers in the grass inside the wall, and a lot of blood at the top of the wall where the barbwire is pressed down. Kei leaps down from the top of the wall, and uses his phone to tell someone that "he's in."

Summary: Great artwork this time, and a lot of fantastic action (not much story or plot, though). This volume is extremely violent, and there's a massive body count, with no seeming end to the battle. Kei and Satou are in the military base. The PM and the two cokeheads are somewhere in Saitama. Kou, the fireman and the computer guy are at the love hotel, and the computer guy probably set up the lithium-ion battery to explode to kill and reset him before Kou can escape. Tanaka and Izumi are loose somewhere, and Tosaki's a complete unknown. Highly recommended if you like action manga.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Dydo Lupin III Series - Zenigata

Zenigata, like Jigen, is designed to hang from the side of a thin-walled drinking cup. He doesn't do so well with drink bottles.

The folds of the back of his jacket are very convincing.

Hail, hail, the gang's all here!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dydo Lupin III Series - Jigen

When I showed the Lupin III figures to my students, Jigen was the one where everyone said "kako ii!" ("He looks cool!") He's a bit tricky to prop in place, but he does look like he's actually climbing the bottle.

Again, about 3" tall, and very well-made for the $1.30 USD price.

So close, and yet so far.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dydo Lupin III Series - Goemon

Compared to the other figures, Goemon is built like a little 2" tall rock.

He's also the only one that won't fall over if you jiggle the table. Fitting, actually. I love the details on the bottoms of his sandals.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dydo Lupin III Series - Fujiko

A couple weeks after getting Lupin, I broke down and got the remaining 4 characters. Since each one comes separately with a can of coffee, that meant 4 more cans, at $1.30 USD each. Still, the figures are well-made enough to be worth it. (The coffee was still ignorable, though.)

The plastic is molded nicely, but Fujiko's lips don't show up well in the photos (none of the molded facial features of the other characters photograph well). But, her eyes are great.

Not sure why the camera had so much more trouble focusing on her back. Maybe she just wanted it that way.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Kagoshima Music Festa, 2018, Day 2

Saturday started out with perfect weather - clear skies and cool temps, and ended being heavily overcast. At one point during the evening, I'd thought I'd seen lightning in the sky, but I couldn't be sure it wasn't the result of the light show on the main KMF stage. After going to bed, I woke up a couple times during the night, and I could hear rain. There really wasn't anything I wanted to see from the Sunday schedule, so I was content to sleep late. But I finally got out of bed at 11 AM. Which was good because a couple minutes later, the doorbell rang - it was the delivery guy with a package I had to sign for. Sigh. Anyway, I got up, checked email, and prepped the videos from Saturday for uploading to youtube. I didn't get any warnings from youtube about copyrighted content, so that's good, but I expect that I'll get at least one warning for the Toto covers at some point. When I finished all that, I checked the program schedule again, and I had a mild interest in the 1 PM set. At that point, the rain had stopped, and I decided that I had nothing to lose. I'd swing by Central Park, then go up to Amu Plaza to do a bit of shopping and see if they had anything going on (I never did get to Amu Plaza). The clouds were clearing up, and I didn't think there'd be any reason to take the umbrella with me.

The 1 PM set was the "Meiji Restoration 150h Anniversary Stage Band 3153". That consisted of a combined Okinawa-style shamisen duo, and a regular folk band teaming up. They did kind of a rock version of a popular folk song, which was pretty good. The blond guy at the right of the above photo was also one of the MCs for the festa, and I dislike him because he's noisy and overly self-absorbed (that is he insists on taking attention away from the performers).

Again, the arts and crafts stalls were set up off to the side of the grounds, and the woman making the kitsune masks had a strong fan presence. She came out to dance to the folk music, and I took the opportunity to get a photo of her.

Tokunoshima Fireballs did a kind of punk-folk set that was great. The lead guitarist was good, but a little too prone to getting into classic rock god poses at times. Regardless, I now have a new favorite Japanese band.

Takako was billed as an oldies jazz band. They started with "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing," and the lyrics got kind of mangled up. They then did two original pieces penned by the lead singer, Takako, that were very slow love songs. Not my kind of music.

At this point, the line-up got kind of confused. Miwa-Man S.B. had been slated to play at 1:15, but the MCs spent the slot interviewing the owners of the food tables. Instead, they played at 2:15, when some other group was supposed to be up. I guess the second group cancelled at the last minute. Regardless, Miwa-Man did a kind of Latin set that reminded me a little of Santana, mixed in with soft pop. Good background music.

As I was walking toward stage 2 to get ready to record the next group, the guy at the extreme right of the above photo came up to me and asked if I had a copy of the schedule. I said that I did (actually, I had two copies, one from Saturday and a second one from Sunday), and he then asked if I like Bon Jovi. I knew that Bon Vori is a Bon Jovi cover band, and that they'd be playing at 3:30. Also, because they cover copyrighted music, I was planning to skip them. Instead, though, I replied that I knew he was talking about Bon Vori. He brightened up and told me that he's the guitarist for the band and he was really hoping I'd be in the audience to listen (I guess he was afraid that no one wanted to listen to them, and I assume I wasn't the only one he'd asked). I said I would, then I asked him why he likes Bon Jovi so much. He said that he really admires Richie Sambora as a guitarist. We talked a bit more, and then I asked if I could take his photo. He brought me over to where the rest of the band was standing around, and they posed for me.

They didn't respond to me later when they got on stage, and I didn't have the opportunity after their set to tell them that they did a great job. Oh well (the band's from Fukuoka, at the north end of Kyushu). Maybe they'll be back down here some time.

At this point, the sky had gotten darker and we started getting drizzle. There wasn't anything I cared about on the schedule, so I walked back home to get my umbrella. That took me about 10 minutes, and when I reached the apartment, the drizzle had stopped. I grabbed my umbrella anyway and went back to the park. Just as I reached the street light in front of the park, the drizzle came back. I was starting to wonder if the rain was only over the park... Then, Go! Go! 0185 got on stage 2 and rocked out with 80's pop covers. A little campy, but very popular with the crowd.

I think this is Apple Jam. The clown outfits mark them as a gimmick act, but they played pretty decent rock.

This is Back Street Club Band, a Hamada Shougo tribute band. The music was good, but I didn't recognize any of it. I don't know if youtube is going to flag it.

Finally, Bon Vori. The lead guitarist, at the far left, is completely unrecognizable now. Fun, fun set. Unfortunately, this was when the rain started getting more serious, and it became a lot harder to take video with the camera in one hand and the umbrella in the other.

Kojou is apparently the band fronted by Makoto Kojou. But, he was a no-show on Sunday, and Wicky Toshi filled in for him on vocals. The program says that they do Showa-era ((1926-1989) music, but it sounded a lot like what Wicky normally plays.

I've seen the Kosha Band a few times before. They do Tatsurou Yamashita covers, which is soft pop rock. I figured this would be a good time to try a nearby restaurant in Tenmonkan. They have a hamburger stack that I was curious about, but when I got there, one of the staff said they wouldn't be open for service until 6 PM. That's when the next band I cared about would be playing, so I went to Mister Donut to get 2 chocolate donuts and a coffee, and read Ajin vol. 12 to kill time.

When I got back, Mercy Band was just finishing up. It was actually a bit embarrassing, in that when I ran into Toshi the Wanderer, and he introduced me to the lead singer of 3set, one of the bands that had played while I was eating donuts. I had to apologize for missing him play, but I had seen them at the KMF last year, which did smooth things over now. Before the guy ran off, Toshi took a selfie with us and posted it on Facebook.

Horizonal Grays is a Dream Theater cover band. I really like Dream Theater after Jordan Rudress joined up on keyboards, so I was wondering how the petite woman doing keyboards would fare. Then it turned out the band was doing some of DT's earlier stuff. A little disappointing, but they still did a good job.

Sunday was Mother's Day, and I had to go back to the apartment for a Mother's Day sushi dinner. Which was ok, because I've already seen the remaining bands - DEP II, Trinity and JJ Soul Band. Overall I had a LOT more fun than I'd expected to. I ran into Aiko, and Kafka's Kazuka Kamada again, and generally enjoyed myself a lot. After dinner, I focused on processing photos (another 260 shots) and videos (2 hours this time, but most of it copyrighted and therefore I can't share it on youtube). It's a shame that the rain ruined things. By the time I left, there were maybe only 40-50 people still hanging around the park. The bands did put on a brave face in covering their disappointment at the lack of a crowd, and they still rocked out away. Good on them.

I don't know of any other events coming up in the next month, so I guess I'll have to settle back into a work routine now. Oh well.

Direct youtube link to sampler 1

Direct youtube link to sampler 2

Direct youtube link to sampler 3