Sunday, September 30, 2018

Kagoshima Marugoto Fair, 180928

I had a little free time last week, so I checked the Amu Plaza website events page to seen if anything interesting was scheduled for the weekend. They had another of the "marugoto" (local products) fairs listed. This one was to be for Kagoshima, the weekend of Sept. 28-30, and then the following week (Oct. 6-8). These things often have live events stages, so I at least wanted to find out what the schedule would be. I had a lot of work on Friday, but I managed to take a break at 4 PM, and walked up to the main train station.

Things were slow. The only stage stuff in the afternoon were comedy bits featuring the manzai duo, Party. They were riffing with one of the event people, but there was almost no one in the audience watching them (3-4 people, maybe). I've seen Party before, and I know they don't like to be interrupted when they're working, so after a couple minutes I turned around and went back home to keep working on the computer.

I had classes on Saturday pretty much all day (there was a short 1-hour break in the middle of the afternoon, but that wasn't enough time to get up to Amu Plaza and then back to the school before the next lesson. However, Typhoon #24 was approaching Kyushu (I was told it would hit on Monday), and we started getting bursts of rain and some wind. My 7 PM student canceled, and the school owner wanted to close up so he could get home before the storm hit. That gave me enough time in the evening so that I wanted to go to New York, NY, the pseudo-American restaurant in Tenmonkan, for dinner. When I got out on the street, it was raining again, and I didn't have my umbrella. When I got to the restaurant, I discovered a sign at the front saying "closed for a party reservation, please try again." Sigh. On the other hand, the rain was picking up a little, and I risked getting drenched if I hung around outside eating.

(Introducing a new mascot - Satellite Dish-kun.)

I stopped at a konbi to pick up a microwave burrito and a spaghetti bento, got home and ate dinner while I got work done. At about 10 PM, I finished my current project, and tackled a cipher solving program I wanted to write. That took 4.5 hours, and when I was done, I had a working filter script for doing dictionary searches on groups of words that appear in crypto-quip type puzzles. That was good. But, I didn't get to bed until 3 AM, and I kept waking up during the night.

The typhoon hit Kagoshima somewhere around 8 AM. Strong wind advisory alarms started going off, and I eventually gave up on trying to sleep after 8:30 AM. We only got light rain for about an hour, but the winds have been shaking the building off and on during the day, and whipping tree branches around down on the streets. I haven't bothered going outside at all, (I'm writing this up on Sunday) because I know from past experience that the city is buttoned up tight. The marugoto fair got canceled, and Amu Plaza would be closed. The only food I have in the apartment are a couple bags of potato chips, and a lot of bottled water. At some point, I'm going to need to go out and check if the nearby konbi is open, and maybe get another bento for dinner. Otherwise, I'm bored. I've done all the contract work I needed to do, I don't have any new manga to read, and I don't have a TV. Sunday radio programming is stupid, and I'm just listening to Can on youtube as I type this up. On my one day off during the week, I'm trapped in the apartment. If the wind would settle down, I'd try taking a nap.

Such is life in Japan.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Yamakataya ad - Pout

The "Tasty" cosmetics ad didn't last very long, and was quickly replaced with "Plenty of Pout."

"Pouty?" Don't bee that woman.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Buzz

Every so often, I have to walk through Tenmonkan at night, and there's this buzzing sound that had been coming from one of the neon signs overhead. I'd been wondering about the source of the buzz, and I finally found it.

May be about time for a rewiring.
(Actually, the following night the neon sign wasn't turned on, so I guess someone else noticed the problem and at least put up a note on the switch, "Leave Off".)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Yamakataya ad - Tasty

Finally, the Yamakataya cosmetics ad returned to the "what were they thinking" realm.
Lipstick that bites.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Almond Milk Latte

The nearby grocery store has The Perfect Iced Coffee Latte with almond milk.
The slogan is "Who says quality coffee needs dairy."

I think the reply is "I do." The coffee was vile, tasting really burned. Almond milk itself is pretty good, but the latte was horrible.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Car Blessing

I was over at the local shrine some weeks ago, and ended up witnessing a Shinto blessing of a new car. I don't know if this improved the gas mileage, but it couldn't have hurt.

Monday, September 24, 2018

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 9 review

(All rights belong to their owners. Cover image from

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 9 (SquareEnix, 2017-18), by Rensuke Oshikiri. Grade: B+.
It's been so long, we need a recap. Harou Yaguchi is a high school student growing up in the 1990's in parallel with the releases of some of the best arcade and console video games of the time. Playing video games is the only thing he's good at, and he's disturbed when the richest girl in his part of Tokyo, Akira Ohno, starts showing up at the arcades he's called home, and beats him at his favorite games. Over time, they form a kind of bond, and end up competing on various games in every arcade they can find. But, they are on two different life tracks, with Akira's parents (who live in Los Angeles) tasking her tutor with grooming her for entry in the top schools in Japan, forcing Haruo to double down on his studies to get into the same schools (he fails). Eventually, we are introduced to Koharu Hidaka, Haruo's classmate. Koharu envies Haruo's easygoing personality (she's a bookworm), and she becomes a game maven in order to get closer to the boy that she falls in love with. We also get Makoto, Akira's older sister. Makoto had run away from home to get away from her parent's plans for her, kind of dooming Akira to be the focus of those plans now.

In volume 8, Makoto makes a deal with Haruo - if he gets his driver's license, she'll give him her scooter, so he can take Akira to more game arcades more easily. Haruo succeeds at this task, but when he rides out to the Ohno estate to show off his new scooter, Akira just looks sad and walks away. At the beginning of volume 9, Haruo finally realizes that he really likes Akira, but he doesn't know what to do about this, because they're from different worlds. Makoto, Haruo's mother, and a couple of his friends try to push him into telling Akira his feelings, and one of his friends points out that there's going to be another Street Fighter II tournament in Osaka at the beginning of July. Makoto tells Haruo to take this opportunity to go head to head with Akira to see who's the best player, and use that chance to tell her how he feels about her. Makoto also gets the tutor and the Ohno chauffeur to let Akira go to Osaka on her own, with Haruo. Surprisingly, the tutor agrees with little argument.

The day before the tournament, Akira and Haruo take the shinkasen from Tokyo to Osaka, and Makoto is in her room, bawling her eyes out. She'd just gotten done talking to her mother in L.A., and had been told that her parents are going to have Akira fly out to L.A. at the end of the month, in preparation for getting her into an arranged married. The chauffeur, the tutor and Akira were the only ones that knew about these plans, all since May. Makoto curses her parents, and herself for pushing Haruo into making a fool of himself, saying that the end of July is too soon for Akira to be leaving.

--- Spoilers ---

Haruo and Akira get to Osaka, and spend the rest of the day visiting the city, playing games, and eating food. That night, they're in neighboring rooms, and Haruo sees his hero and mentor Guile from Street Fighter. (Guile is with the boy wherever he goes.) Guile tells him to not let this opportunity go to waste, so Haruo starts speculating on ghosts in their rooms, and Akira can hear him through the thin wall. A picture frame falls off the wall and shatters on the floor in Akira's room, and she panics. In the end, the two of them get into Haruo's bed, but Akira keeps on scratching him and biting him in the shoulder to keep him from falling asleep (to try to stay with him as long as she can). The next morning, they're both in rough shape, not having gotten much sleep at all. They're at the convention center, preparing to start in the tournament. Akira is in block F, and Haruo is in block C. The games start, and Haruo is desperate to just survive his instant death first rounds against the other three guys in his block. He barely manages this, and goes over to the results board to see how Akira is doing. and the volume ends with a close-up of the board. Ohno had been eliminated in her first match.

Summary: I like this manga. The focus has moved away from the games and more towards a tragic love comedy. Even so, it's still fun, although the characters' overblown reactions get tiresome occasionally. The artwork has improved a lot since the beginning, which is good. And the TV anime is getting popular. So of course, the manga has to end with the next volume. Will Akira really go to L.A. and be forced to marry someone we've never met? Will Makoto try to wreck her parent's plans? How will Haruo react when he learns why Akira has been so sad? And, is anyone going to act surprised when Koharu makes it to the final-two?

(Volume 9 included a cheap-looking xerox of a sketch of Koharu. And, the bookstore gave me a choice of Square-Enix bookmarks when I bought this volume in September. The manga itself had come out in June, but I'd misplaced my copy and ended up buying a second one a week ago.)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

KTS Days, Sept. 22-23, 2018

Yes, the new Fall TV season is upon us, and KTS TV had their big advertising event down at the Volunteer Center this last weekend.

While the posters for the shows change, the rest of the fest remains pretty much the same from year to year. So, I didn't have all that much interest in this event, outside of wanting to know who the bands would be. I had to work most of Saturday, but I did have about 30 minutes free between 3 and 4 PM, and the Center is just a 5-minute walk from the English school (I had to go to a bookstore to get the latest English newspaper for the school, and that was in the opposite direction, which shortened the time I could spend here).

The bus is new, and advertised "Duffy, the Disney Bear." Duffy is the one driving.

It was a nice day (rain in the early morning, and the following night, but nice right now), and people bought festival food from the stalls along the yard perimeter.

Lots of people surrounding the stage to watch the interview with the HKT48 girls. I missed the actual stage show, and most of the interview was taken up by the MC not shutting up, or people from the audience fawning over the girls. Regardless, HKT48 is the sister group for AKB48, based in Hakata (northern part of Kyushu). They're pretty popular down here, and have their own radio show that I sometimes am forced to listen to because I'm not allowed to change channels on the radio.

The MC looks like someone in his family died.

Freeza was over in the food court, advertising some stall that had a tie-in to the DBZ TV series.

He was accompanied by Majin Boo.
I didn't see Gokuu, Vejita or Gohan, so I guess this was a "bad guys rule" day.

You know that someone's going to try to step on that tail.

Waiting for whoever in the audience is talking to hurry up and ask the stupid question...

Inside the Center, more activities were taking place up on the second floor. One consisted of tables where the kids could make cat toys out of yarn.

There was a costume display for one of the TV dramas. No idea which one, because I don't have a TV.

Same show.

Same show. At least the actors dress well.

Nearby was a virtual reality booth where people could experience the monster world of Gegege no Ge Kitaro. The lines both days were over an hour long. But, on Sunday I was able to see a bit of a wide screen monitor that apparently showed what the people with the visors were seeing. Looked unworldly, alright. Be fun to try on a visor, if I don't have to wait so long for it. But, this is NOT your father's Neko Musume...

Also in the same room was the Super Famicom video game featuring the Kagoshima mascot characters fighting ala Street Fighter. I'd written about the game designer before, and I'd seen him at a different event at least a year ago with the same game. Looks like he's finally gotten some recognition, and permission to sell copies of the game.

They need a stronger projector, or to turn the lights off in the room

Back outside. This is Sunday now. I'd taken photos of the schedule boards on either side of the main stage, so I knew who was going to be on stage and when. The problem was, I'd never heard of a couple of the groups before, and didn't know if I cared enough to find out. So, at 2 PM, before the first one was to go on stage, I headed out the door to walk down to the center. This is "Hand Drip" (I assume it comes from the popularity in Japan for single cup hand-made coffee at certain coffee shops). They're kind of a pop boy band, with one of the guys playing acoustic guitar. Nothing worth recording.

The audience loved them, anyway.

While they liked rap-style posturing, they didn't really sound like hip-hop. The guitar and vocals were a bit too melodic for that, but I went into the building to find a quiet corner to sit down and read manga, and I have no idea if they broke into J-rap or not.

Hand Drip was followed by a comedic duo, Miki, that were billed as "guest MCs". They got big laughs by running around the stage to let people take their pictures, then telling everyone to stop that. It doesn't take much to impress people here. After finding out who they were, I went back inside to keep reading.

Finally, at 3:40 PM, White Jam went on stage. They consisted of a male and female singer, and the DJ in the background. The male vocalist spent the first part of the song bragging about the band, then the women came out to keep bragging. It was very much in the rap vein, but the music itself was more love song/pop. Again, nothing I felt like recording. The audience loved it, though.

The last band up was Berry Goodman. I'd seen them last year - they did bad Japanese rap. I left before they went on stage this time. But, there were quite a few people in the audience holding Goodman banners or wearing Goodman t-shirts, so, yeah, the audience loved them.

I knew what to expect from previous KTS Days over the last few years, and I wasn't really expecting much this time. And that's pretty much what I got. Up at Amu Plaza, they've had Aisu-paku, their promo for over-priced ice cream products, for the last week. I'd rather spend the money on Baskin-Robbins, which is in the food court in the basement of Amu Plaza, so I didn't bother going there this weekend. Overall, a slow two weeks. But, I've got a lot of other things going on to keep me busy, so that's ok. And there will be better stuff coming up as we get closer to Halloween and Christmas.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Food Fight

New York Jankees is a pseudo-U.S. restaurant in Tenmonkan. Fairly upscale, and their dishes tend to be on the over-blown side. I did have one of their ice cream desserts once, for about $14, and was very good, but almost put me into insulin shock.

This time, they're doing their Food Fight Mega Burger - "New York Jankees Burger - American Foodies King of Junk." I'm not sure this means what they think it means.

Friday, September 21, 2018


Tropical zones always produce the biggest bugs.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Bright - Shades

Next in the Bright used clothing store chalk signs. The future's so bright, I have to wear shades.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Jagariko Barcode Fun 3

I admit not getting the joke on this one. The Japanese reads "yuu-ttarako". "Yuu" is "hot bath," or "hot water." "Tarako" is "cod roe," which is fine because the potato sticks are cod roe flavored. But, I'm not sure how to interpret "yuutara" as a regular Japanese expression. I'm assuming the giraffe is simply saying that he's happy being able to soak in the hot water.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Western Masks Capsule Figure

I finally decided to get another capsule toy, and this one interested me because I'd recently finished reading Dan Brown's "Inferno." I'd heard from a few people that Dan is a lousy writer, and I pretty much have to agree. "Inferno" was a slog, and I kept mentally editing all the places where I felt the writing needed fixing. However, there's a significant section of the book that's dedicated to the Black Plague, and it is partly set in Venice. These masks are mentioned a few times in the book.

I really only wanted the full white mask, and the death masks are at the bottom of the list. Naturally, I got the black death mask. It is well-made, anyway.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Tully's Morning Set

For some reason, more coffee shops have started offering morning sets. Tully has hot dog, tuna melt, egg salad, HLT (ham, lettuce and tomato) options, plus coffee, between 520 and 600 yen ($5-$6).

These things never look like the ads. There's nowhere near as much tuna as in the photo. But, the bread slice is actually fairly big, and I wasn't hungry when I finished it. Not bad, but I'm not a big fan of tuna melts. I still prefer the set at Ran across the river. 650 yen, but a wider variety of better food.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Densha de GO

"Densha de GO!!" translates to "Go by train." This is an arcade game machine put out by Taito.

It's a large cabinet that simulates the cab of a Japan Rail company train. The idea is that you have the same controls that a regular driver does, and your task is to follow known commercial train routes, in different weather conditions, to try to be as close to on-time as you can get. No idea if the simulation includes people jumping on the tracks.

I think the reader off to the right of the control panel is a credit card reader, indicating that this game probably can get expensive. I haven't tried playing it, and I won't try until I can see how the controls work. No point in throwing away $10-$20 on something I don't really care about just to figure out the controls by trial and error.

Still, it's pretty cool-looking.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Dragon's House Hunting

(Image from Used for review purposes only.)

Doragon ie wo kau (A Dragon Buys a House), vols. 1-3, by Kawo Tanuki (writing) and Choco Aya (art), Grade B+
Seems that "Dragon" is being released in English by Seven Seas Entertainment. The Japanese manga has the English subtitle as "Dragon's House-Hunting," while the Seven Seas title is "Dragon Goes House-Hunting." Regardless, the concept is the same. Letty is the classic example of a NEET, a young male adult that lives at home and is basically aimless. One day, he's tasked by his Red Dragon father to take care of one of the eggs. Letty fails at this, and the egg is stolen by a pair of hunters that eat it for the power-up. His father is so disgusted by how useless his son is that he kicks the younger red dragon out to fend for himself.

And thus begins the adventures of young Letty. He can't fly, even though he has massive wings; he can't fight; and when he tries to breathe flame he burns his own tongue. Fortunately for him, he fairly quickly encounters Dearia, the elf Magic King, who moonlights as a real estate agent. Letty begs Dearia to find a house for him, and the elf immediately replies with "ok." The rest of the series is then a parody of Dungeons and Dragons-style gaming, and/or Japanese Dungeon Quest-like RPGs. Since Letty is a dragon, he's marked as a boss monster, and is occasionally plagued by heroes and dungeon crawers (who are easily dispatched by Dearia). One funny element is that the heroes and hunters all look alike, and all follow the same 2-member or 4-member party patterns, demonstrating just how generic they are. In turn, Dearia keeps showing Letty houses that belong to other scary monsters (harpies, minotaurs, or cereberuses), teaching the dragon that the "bad guys" are really pretty nice people when you get to know them.

The first volume has Letty kicked out of his family's home, encountering Dearia, and eventually receiving an order-made dungeon-mansion built for him. Unfortunately, as the home of a "boss monster," the mansion is staffed with guard monsters and immediately targeted by heroes and hunters looking for treasure (the idea was that Letty would use the loot brought in by the adventures to make the house payments). But, Letty is quickly overwhelmed by the noise and attention and tries to sneak away quietly. Dearia anticipates this, and intercepts the dragon in order to find a new place for him. In volume 2, Dearia tries to sell Letty on an ice mansion, and a tree house in a monster village. In the ice field chapter, Letty finds an abandoned egg, which soon hatches to reveal an Hraesvelgr chick (Hraesvelgr are snow-based monster birds that live in nests of dry ice and eat snowflakes. The chick's main attack is an ear-rending squawk) Letty's first reaction is to try to find the chick's parents, and when that fails, he adopts it as its father, naming it "Pii-chan" for short (the long version is a bit more ridiculous). Meanwhile, Pii-chan had bonded to him on hatching. The goal now is to find a place to raise a family. Letty starts taking on part-time jobs, mainly as a target for magic-users trying to perfect their dragon-killing spells. But, the trio stops at a market town, and when Dearia turns his back on him, Letty and Pii-chan are arrested and thrown into the dungeons to participate in the colosseum games. The other combatants (skeletons, minotaurs, harpies, etc.) are really friendly between matches, and consider this to be an ideal way to make money, as gladiators. Eventually, heroes and hunters invade the space, and Dearia finally appears to save everyone (excluding the heroes and hunters). The gladiators move on with their lives (planning on possibly starting a circus), and Letty, Pii-chan and Dearia resume house hunting.

In volume 3, Letty accidentally rescues a spoiled princess that is running away from home because her father had stolen some desserts she'd wanted to save for herself. Letty is still taking on part-time jobs (deliveries, and hotel front desk work) to keep building his nest egg, while Dearia spreads rumors of the "dread Red Dragon King" to enhance Letty's reputation. They also need to start filing paperwork for building or buying a house in a new country, but Letty can't make up his mind exactly what or where he wants. Pii-chan selects a blueprint at random, which happens to be the castle owned by the Princess' father. The foursome enters the castle town through the sewers, providing more opportunities for dungeoning parodies, before surfacing within the castle at a time when the King and his soldiers are outside the main walls. The King finds himself conducting a siege on his own castle, and Dearia uses this chance to teach Letty about castle defenses. In the end, the King gets into the castle, he and the Princess make up, and the King rescinds his death sentence against Letty. The Princess decides to remain at home now, and as thanks, the King gives Letty a magic potion that allows him to fly for a few hours. Letty swallows the potion, and is ecstatic at being able to soar up in the clouds, while Pii-chan and Dearia ride on him. (Soon after, the Princess is preparing to eat some chocolate cake, and her father takes a slice. She then runs out of the castle in protest again.)

Summary: Dragon's House-Hunting is a very silly parody of Japanese RPGs, and therefore is funny if you like dungeon games. The artwork is very good, the characters are well-drawn, and the backgrounds are fantastic. The only things missing are music, and special attacks. Highly recommended if you like D&D-type gaming. [Announcement: Quest Opened - Find the House-Hunting Dragon now!]