Friday, November 30, 2018

Bright Chalk - Roses

More chalk art from the Bright used clothing store. These are the days of Guys and Roses.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ichibangai Trick Art 2

Ichibangai translates to "Number 1 Shopping Street." It's one of the older shopping complexes in the city (most of the current buildings are maybe only 40-50 years old, though), and it's located right outside of the main train station (which is actually fairly recent. The original Kagoshima City train station is 2 miles farther north.) The problem is that it's not all that popular as a shopping destination; most people would rather go to Tenmonkan, or down south to the big Aeon shopping mall. Tenmonkan is easy to reach by street car, and Aeon is reachable by bus, personal car, or street car (if you're willing to walk half a mile after getting out at the last street car stop). About 1 year ago, Ichibangai tried to attract more shoppers by putting up over 10 trick art posters around the complex, but after no more than a month or so after that, the front of the complex got walled off, and about 1 square block of buildings got torn down. As of the end of November, the construction crews still haven't finished putting in the anti-earthquake foundations for the new buildings. However, new trick art has been placed on some of the walls around the construction zone, and other buildings in the complex. Below are the bigger ones I found (there were some smaller pictures, but they didn't work so well and I didn't bother with them).

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Marugoto Fair, Nov. 25

I tend to like the Marugoto Fairs because they usually have live stages with free musical performances. The fairs themselves are open-air markets featuring foods and produce from specific regions. I really can't tell what the region is this time, but I think I heard the emcee mention Aira at one point (Aira is a town at the southern end of the pennisula across from Kinko Bay). I had to work Saturday and Monday, but I was able to get to Amu Plaza on Sunday at about 1:30 PM.

At the time, the hosts were interviewing the foamhead mascots for the region.

I didn't have any interest in the food, but the brewery that had the beer at the Volunteer Center for the event at the beginning of the month was also here this time. The brewmaster recognized me and we talked a bit, but he was a lot less chatty this time. I got the stout and IPA, which were ok (500 yen each, $4.50 USD, for a 12-ounce cup). That qualified me for one turn of the wheel of a lottery machine. I turned the wheel and a little red marble popped out of the wheel box. That earned me two packages of wet wipes and a hard candy as a reward for spending $9 at the event. Goodie.

At 3 PM, there was a sax player. I didn't catch his name, and it wasn't promoted on the schedule. He did "Fly Me to the Moon" and a couple other jazz standards over a CD that played the rest of the music with him. It was the first time to hear a sax karaoke. He was good, but nothing really worth recording.

Then at 4 PM, we got Giant Stomp. This was a koto, drum and gong music show, accompanied by a giant puppet. That was fun, and I recorded most of that (see below).

This was the best part of the weekend. After getting home, I processed the photos and uploaded the videos to youtube. If you haven't gone back and read the blog entry for the Segodon event last week, then you missed my edit to the blog write-up. Because the high school girl club calligraphy demo used the theme song from the Segodon NHK TV drama series, youtube blocked the video in all 248 countries. That got me angry, and I ended up stripping the audio off the file and reuploading it to youtube a couple days later. I haven't gotten any nasty notices from them since then, but when I uploaded video 2 of Giant Stomp just now, youtube automatically marked it as "private," so that even I couldn't watch it. I went back into the settings to change it to "public," and it took several minutes to locate the correct page (youtube is in the process of switching to a new interface, but only bits of it are implemented yet and the layouts for everything are really confusing). But, the page showed the video as "public" already, and when I tried clicking on the link to copy the URL and embed code stuff into this post, the video ran fine.

If either of the videos are blocked or missing for you, please let me know.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Direct video link 1

Direct video link 2

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sagura Italiano

I walk through Tenmonkan almost every day, and often I'll look at the schedule board on the back wall of the open space in front of Lotteria to check whether there are any events planned for the near future. Last week, I noticed something called "Sagura Italiano" for Sunday only, and I expected that it was going to be some kind of music event. So, on Sunday, before I headed for Amu Plaza for the Marugoto Fair up there, I came to Tenmonkan first.

Turned out it was just an excuse for some of the nearby restaurants to get together and promote themselves for all-day eating. I will let you in on a hint - Japanese pizza has nothing to do with Italy...

I didn't want to spend the money, so I just took a few photos and kept going to Amu Plaza. But, from what I could tell, there were maybe 50 people at the time, and most of them liked the food. That still doesn't make it real Italian food, though...

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ocha Ippai no Hi, Nov. 23

The 23rd had a short, one-day event for the release of new green tea from Kirishima (just north of Kagoshima).

The idea was to come to the train station, sit down, and enjoy a nice cup of tea. (And buy many, many more bags to bring home with you.)

No stage shows, but you could play rock-paper-scissors with the Saigo foamhead mascot for packets of tissue and stickers.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Anime Fliers

Alita - Battle Angel

I go to Amu Plaza at least once a week, and often I'll go up to the top floor to see if there are any interesting movie boards. Recently, the movie theater there (Mitte 10) has stopped putting up the movie boards, and has just settled for putting the regular posters in their display cases, and running little trailer videos on the TV hidden near the entrance. This time, though, I was looking over the fliers for upcoming releases, and I found quite a few for anime films. Enough to justify showing them here.

The last time I did this, I ran the scans for one movie per blog entry. I've got a significant enough backlog of blog entries now that I'm just going to put everything into one long post.

Looks like fan service, but I'm not really happy with the choice of faces for Alita. Not convincing.

City Hunter

Old is new again. I may rent this when it comes out on DVD. Then again, I've been so busy that I still haven't gotten around to renting the hard-boiled series of Lupin III mini-movies for Jigen and Fujiko. Sigh.

Dragon Ball Super - Brolly

Yeah, DB has left me behind. I really don't feel any interest the new TV series, movies, or capsule ball toys. Oh well.

Looks pretty, though.

Fate: Stay Night - Heaven's Feel

Love Live Sunshine - School Idol Project

While all of the other scans are from single-sheet fliers, this monster is like a 20-page goods catalog. It doesn't so much tell you that there's a movie, as it tries to overwhelm you with stuff you don't need and can't afford (figures, toys, posters, DVDs).

Sugar Rush

I know this isn't technically an anime movie, but I wanted to show how it's being marketed in Japan.

I don't think anyone actually reads any of this text.

Yokai Watch - Forever Friends

Made for children, and looks like it.


I may rent City Hunter, some day. Not really interested in any of the other movies. But, if I have nothing else to do, I may sit down with Alita, too.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sept.-Nov. articles in the media

Here's the batch of articles to show up in the media from Sept.-Nov., regarding anime, manga and related stuff.

Japan Times

Manga artist Momoko Sakura was also a champion of Japanese music

Masaaki Yuasa - Anime for the discerning fan

'Attack on Titan' manga to become Hollywood live-action movie

A pair of events centered on non-Japanese artists are helping to build bridges into Japan's manga market

Daily Yomiuri

Hajime algorithm review

“Phantom in the Twilight” comments

The Strange Life of Subaru comments

Dr. Stone review

Radiant anime comments

Original Tezuka drawings fetch steep prices at auctions in Japan, abroad

Manga Shonen, Sora o Tobu comments

Hotei’s ‘202X’ inspired by Hokuto no Ken

Film fetes 15th anniversary of ‘Pretty Cure’

Manga artist completes fact-based trilogy on United Red Army

The ‘invisible difference’ of people with Asperger’s

Yukari Ichijo and her outrageous comedy ‘Yukan Club’

‘Yagate Kimi ni Naru’ finely depicts girls’ feelings


Second of ‘Eureka Seven’ film trilogy to hit cinemas Nov. 10

‘Children of the Sea’ manga gets anime film adaptation

KYOMAF manga, anime fair set for Sept. in Kyoto

Second L.A. film festival to pay tribute to Isao Takahata

Animated film will convey tragedies of U.S. POW in A-bomb attack

Second season of ‘Fist of the Blue Sky: Regenesis’ to start Oct. 8

Panel exhibition dedicated to ‘My Name is Shingo’ held in Niigata

‘Pretty Cure’ featured at Toei Animation Museum

3rd season of ‘A Certain Magical Index’ to start on Oct. 5

‘Golden Kamuy’ second season to premiere Oct. 8 on Tokyo MX

Kyoto manga, anime festival draws more than 40,000 attendees

TIFF events to feature ‘King of Prism,’ honor Isao Takahata

Hayao Miyazaki to receive Career Achievement Award in L.A.

‘Dragon Ball Super’-themed escape game held in 8 cities

Tokyo Comic Con 2018 unveils key visual by Kosuke Yanagisawa

Manga artist draws on history for politically powerful women

Special Skytree event immerses participants in world of Goku

Special two-part 'Detective Conan' episode to air in January

Sequel to 'Tokyo Ghoul' to hit theaters across Japan in 2019

Extra episodes of ‘High Score Girl’ anime to appear in March

‘Monster Hunter’ and ‘Mega Man’ to get Hollywood treatment

RPG-inspired ‘Shoumetsu Toshi’ TV anime to air in 2019

Friday, November 23, 2018

Lucky 777

Lucky 777 is a "beer hall" in the red light district in Tenmonkan.

All you can drink from 777 yen ($7.50 USD). Nothing sells beer better than near-naked cat girls in chaps.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Cangoxina Fair, Nov. 21

I've started checking the Amu Plaza online events calendar more carefully for stuff with live stages. On the 21st, they had an event promoting the coast guard in "Cangoxina." I'd never heard this name before, and originally I thought it had to do with some place in China. However, according to the Samurai wiki, the region in Kagoshima that belonged to the Shimadzu family and supporters back after the late 1300's had appeared on European maps as Cangoxina (maybe in the 1500's). For some reason, the event on the 21st related Kagoshima to the Japanese coast guard, with "lunch time" and evening concerts by the Coast Guard marching brass band, and a girl's school orchestra. (Maybe it was part of the 70th anniversary of the coast guard.)

I couldn't get to Amu Plaza until after 1 PM, after the lunch time concert had finished. There was almost nothing going on then.

The recruiting people had little to do.

But at least they had lots of chairs.

Which they needed that evening. I returned at 6 PM, and the place was packed.

The school students joined the marching band for the big finale. It was pretty good if you like brass band music.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Ajin, vol. 13 review

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

Ajin, vol. 13 (Good Afternoon, 2017), by Gamon Sakurai. Grade: A-.
Satou and his two cokeheads have gotten into the safe room with the Prime Minister and his guards. Satou uses his smartphone to send out a message to the news media that he's been "forced" to take action against the goverment against his will. He's got the Prime Minister in the room with him, and he's going to give the government two hours to capitulate before implementing the next phase of his plan. After turning off the phone's camera, he proceeds to shoot his prisoners in the heads, then goes into the next phase anyway.

Back at the abandoned love hotel, Kou tells the rescued fireman about Satou, and they do a sweep of the building before leaving to rejoin the others. They discover the programmer, Okuyama, sleeping after being hit by the tranq dart. He did rig a lithium battery to explode over his chest. This blows up now, resetting him, and Kou and the fireman jump back and prepare to shoot him again. Okamoto wants out, and offers to hand over his smartphone if the other two let him get away. He says that he'd always thought those two were the weird ones - when faced with overwhelming evil, the "smart" thing to do is team up with it until it's safe to run away. That's what he's doing now. The fireman takes the phone, and he leaves with Kou. Okamoto then deletes every single online record containing information on him, pulls all the hard drives out of the the PCs in the room, douses it all with gasoline, and torches the room. He tells his black smoke ghost that it looks like they're all alone again, (the ghost acts confused) and they leave.

The TV news stations cover the story about Satou, and Kei and the others get into a multi-way on-screen smartphone chat to figure out what Satou can possibly do in just 2 hours. Meanwhile, the remaining government and military leaders are arguing their options, too. Kei has gotten into the air base, and he's pretty sure that Satou plans on using one of the jets there. He races out to the runway, and finds a brochure for the aborted open house and air show. Looking through it, he latches on the presence of an F-15 that was to be used in the show. He doesn't know what F-15s are, and the fireman yells into Kou's phone that it has a dual engine at the tail. During this, Satou has climbed up through an escape vent from the safe room to the surface of the air field, down at the end with the jets. He gets into the nearest F-15, buckles himself in, and taxis to the runway before taking off. Kei, looking for jets with two engines at the tail, sees Satou approaching. He uses a pair of pocket binoculars to look into the cockpit before being overwhelmed by the backwash when the fighter blasts over him. As Kei is on the runway, he's spotted by one of the TV crews, and they broadcast his face to TVs everywhere. In the hospital, Kei's mother and sister see him (his mother calls him "stupid" again), and in a prison elsewhere, one probably-forgotten hothead witnesses his friend on the communal TV. The friend's associate in the prison, an Ajin, notices this.

I may have made a mistake in the volume 12 write-up, in that the base leader that got killed by Satou in the initial invasion was not Kouma. Kouma, who had been part of the Ajin research group with Tosaki, has reached the Army's planning center, where his commanding officer is having all the records shredded to limit his exposure in case Satou finds them. Kouma is disgusted at this show of cowardice, so when he gets a call from Tosaki, he agrees to have his men placed under Tosaki's command. Kouma's boss threatens to shoot him if he doesn't drop the phone right away, and Kouma says, "If you're going to shoot me, shoot." The commander pulls the trigger, but doesn't have the guts to aim the gun at Kouma when it goes off.

It turns out, that with the F-15, Satou can hit Mach 2.6, and reach the Diet Buildings in Tokyo in under 50 seconds. Further, Kei was able to tell, through the binoculars, that Satou's left arm is missing. He's going to pull a variant of the fried chicken trick. Satou had his arm cut off and left on a table in the safe room underneath the base. He's wearing a bomb vest, and aiming the jet at the building that one of the remaining men on his "kill" list is in. The vest explodes, destroying Satou's body, just as the jet slams into the building and wipes out the target and everyone else nearby. With his body vaporised, the only place the black smoke can go is to the arm, where his entire body gets restored. Kei figures that with a 5-minute cycle time, Satou can take out 20 targets within a 3000 km radius in the two-hour limit.

Izumi, Tanaka, the fireman and Kou want to know what Kei's next move is, and as Satou blasts by in a second jet, the boy says "We can't stop him." The others are stunned and wonder if he's given up. Instead, he says that Satou's Achille's heal is his left arm. If they can get to wherever it's being kept, they can try lowering it by a rope into a narrow sewer pipe or something. The next time Satou materializes, he'd be encased in concrete and rock, and there'd be no space for his ghost to get in to rescue him. But, where's the arm? The fireman remember's Okamoto's phone and presses the one icon on the screen. A map pops up with a bunch of google map GPS markers. Six of the markers are close together, and may represent the stooges Satou used to help shoot the soldiers at the air base. Those guys are still clustered together, guarding a group of hostages, but they've spotten Kei and are currently approaching to find out who he is before killing him. That leaves three other markers relatively nearby, which may be where the arm is.

Izumi and Tanaka reach the outer air base wall, where they spot the ladder the two coke heads used to get inside. A few minutes later, Kou and the fireman get to the same spot. Then, the stooges get close enough to Kei to start taking shots at him. One shot blows off his right index finger and destroys the phone he'd been holding. Satou flies his jet into another building. Kei shoots one stooge in the head, but is outnumbered as the others encircle him. Before they can do anything further, though, someone snipes them from above. Kei looks up to see a troop carrier chopper. A couple of extremely well-armed and armored soldiers rappel out and tranq him. One of the soldiers has a wrist-mounted face recognition system aimed at Kei. The system identifies the boy as "a friendly." The soldier kills Kei to reset him, and when he recovers, he's surrounded by 5 men wearing "Anti-Ajin Forces" signs on their backs, all pointing out away from him. One of the soldiers asks him for orders, and he tells them about the remaining map markers. The soldiers side with him, and they advance to Kei's target.

In the prison, the one Ajin prisoner tells Kai to make his break for it when the time is right after they get to the exercise yard; just run for the wall and don't look back. At the same time, the cokeheads are cutting off Satou's arm for the next jet attack. Elsewhere in the base, Kou and the fireman discover their target - an emotionless guy on the third floor of a nearby building who starts shooting at them. They get into the building, but are separated by the guy's ghost when it attacks them. The fireman reaches the room, and learns that the guy is prepared - he's poured gas everywhere, which he ignites. This triggers the sprinkler system, which makes it harder for both of them to control their ghosts. However, he also has a tranq gun aimed at the fireman, and is sure he can't miss at this range. Tanaka and Izumi run into a ghost that speaks to them, and it identifies Tanaka. When the ghost runs forward, Tanaka tells Izumi to leave and find the Ajin operator, just as a second ghost arrives and throws Izumi through a warehouse window. Up above them, the operator of both ghosts is crouching on the roof of another building, and he goes into a rant indicating that he has issues with his father. Tanaka and his ghost rush forward to fight the operator's two ghosts. And finally, Kai is in the prison courtyard. He stands up, catches the eye of his associate, and runs for the wall. Something he can't see grabs him and takes him soaring up into the air. It's a big winged ghost, and it tells him that before they can reach the air base, it will probably break up in mid-air and the boy will have to fend for himself after that. Kai is ok with this.

Summary: Oh yeah, things have come a long way from volume 1. The art has really improved, and the pacing is heart-stopping. I'm really looking forward to the next volume (this was a very fast read, although there was a lot of more-difficult military-related kanji that I don't know). Highly recommended if you like violent action manga.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taiwan Travel Fair, Nov. 19

On Monday, I was sitting at the computer, listening to the radio, when the "personality" started talking to someone from the open area in front of Amu Plaza. They talked about a travel fair promoting trips to Taiwan, and how the ongoing event had some kind of a stage. I had a bit of free time, and I needed to go to the Aeon department store across the street anyway, so at 2 PM I headed out the door and up to Amu. In part, one of the reasons for going was that I have an English student from Taiwan, and I kind of expected that maybe she'd be hired as an interpreter between some of the advertisers and the Japanese visitors.

Mostly, the event just consisted of about 5 travel agencies, for tours to China, Taiwan, and South Korea, plus a booth for trying on Taiwanese costumes. It ran both Monday and Tuesday, but when I was up there it was pretty much deserted.

While they did have a stage, most of the scheduled events consisted of the emcee going around the booths and interviewing the workers. There was one performance by a bunch of young kids from one of the dance schools, but that was fairly chaotic, as should be expected. Otherwise, there wasn't much that I had any interest in, and I didn't see my student there anywhere (that was a long-shot, anyway).

The most popular attraction for the housewives there were the two clowns making balloon animals for their children. After I did my shopping at Aeon, I went into Amu to sit at Seattle's Best Coffee and finish reading Ajin #13. After that, I had a few classes to teach at night, and some online work to do. I picked up another online contract with a short deadline on Tuesday, and that kept me holed up in front of the computer for the full day. The Taiwan travel fest wasn't a complete bust, at least it gave me something to do for a while.