Friday, May 31, 2019

Feb.-May articles in the media

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

Japan Times

SDF draws fire for recruitment poster featuring female anime characters in skimpy costumes

Hip-hop's anime crush is beautiful

Hayao Miyazaki: Universally acclaimed weaver of unforgettable anime worlds

'Lone Wolf and Cub' manga creator Kazuo Koike dies at 82

South Korea's booming 'webtoons' put Japan's print manga on notice

Younger animators still struggling amid anime boom

British Museum opens largest manga exhibition outside Japan

'Lupin the IIIrd: Fujiko Mine's Lie': A classic anime franchise goes back to basics

Daily Yomiuri

Do not say mystery review

New ‘Dororo’ anime more eloquent than original

Tezuka character curry sold at hotels in Takarazuka

The Veranda is Impregnable La Franca review

Manga a respite for golden girl Dosho

Kemurikusa anime summary

Osama Ranking review

Ikebukuro rebrand focused on anime

Gundam robots to offer intergalactic support to Tokyo Games

‘Naruto’ author sets off with a samurai

Ride of a lifetime through games, anime - Donna Burke


New ’Fruits Basket’ anime headed for TV in April release

'Ashita no Joe's Chiba becomes new principal of university of art

Doraemon exhibition in Osaka to feature 28 artists’ works

Final ‘Attack on Titan’ exhibition opens in Tokyo’s Roppongi in July

Live action 'Machida-kun' to hit cinemas in June

Killer T Cell the protagonist in new ‘Cells at Work!’ spinoff

Hosoda’s ‘Mirai’ takes top Japan film prize after U.S. nominations

Prized souvenir of an evening spent with manga maestro (Tokiwa-sou)

‘Detective Conan’ nabs grand prize at Tokyo Anime Award fest 2019

Naruto theme park to open in Shanghai department store

Ancient Indian game of tag gets pep in step from inspired manga

97-year-old manga artist Kinya Ueki inspires younger creators

'Lupin the 3rd' Film coming out in winter

‘Vinland Saga’ Viking anime to make TV debut later this year

Marc Webb to direct Hollywood remake of ‘Your Name.’

Escape game based on 'Lupin III' to come back to Tokyo in May

Rival manga magazines team up, offering 160 works for free

April release of ‘Chihayafuru’ 3rd season delayed to fall

Keiichi Hara’s ‘The Wonderland’ to hit theaters on April 26

Monkey Punch Dies

RPG 'Ni no Kuni' heads to cinemas this summer in anime adaptation

Netflix teams up with anime firms to create game adaptations

Kawamori expo marks anime director's 40 years in industry

New ‘Lupin III’ film focusing on Fujiko Mine to hit cinemas May 31

New movie starring Pikachu is just a hokey Pokemon

‘Children of the Sea’ feature film to hit theaters in Japan on June 7

‘O Maidens’ anime series to make TV debut this summer

Extended version of 'In this Corner of the World' hits cinemas Dec. 20

New ‘Hozuki’s Coolheadedness’ episodes come with comics

1st retrospective dedicated to Isao Takahata coming to Tokyo

Anime set for October release to complete ‘Chichibu trilogy’

Expo features models of ‘Sea of Decay,’ giant Ohmu bug

Pikachu, Kitty, Gundam and Mario conquer Hollywood

Gundam figures to offer Tokyo Games shout-out from outer space

Masaaki Yuasa’s ‘Ride Your Wave’ one of draws at Annecy festival

Magazine about 88 anime-related sites nation-wide hits store shelves

Main staff back for ‘Hi Score Girl’ second season to start in October

Magazine pushes mountain allure on anime fans, videogame lovers

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Open Storage

There's a bunch of shops all in one long, old building down by City Hall. One day, I was walking by when I noticed the ladder leading up into the loft above the shops.

Perhaps not the most secure way of storing tools and inventory ever created...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Moon Photos

One of my students loves taking photos of trains and street cars, and we'll talk about cameras as part of the free talk warm-up at the beginning of the lesson. We've got similar models of cameras, and he was talking about spot monitoring for aperture setting, and I ended up learning more about how my camera works than I'd had before. One reason for this was that we'd been discussing ways to get good shots of the moon. Immediately after the lesson, I tried testing the new camera setting, but the moon was just a sliver behind some clouds and the camera wouldn't focus. The next night there was no moon, and the next 3 nights we had rain and heavy clouds. Finally, after a week of waiting, the moon came back out. This is what I managed to get minus a tripod.

It's still fuzzy and noisy at full resolution, but not so bad when resized to 1000x800. I'll try again later when I have the tripod out.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Donkey Marvel

The Don Quixote (Donkey) shop has adopted the Marvel character line, but with a decidedly un-Marvelous twist in design.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Hirakawa Zoo, May 26

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I had plans for visiting the zoo down south of the city, about 45 minutes by bus (the fare is normally 440 yen one way, but I think the driver messed up and charged me only 330 yen for the trip to the zoo). I got there a little before 1 PM, and wandered around a bit at the bat enclosure before doubling back and visiting the iris garden. The signs advertised 15,000 plants, 80 varieties.

At the end of the garden, the staff had set up a couple of tents for a tea ceremony. We were given two small pressed powdered sugar candies, and a bowl of bitter powdered green tea (matcha). The tea itself, unsweetened, wasn't quite as bitter as I was expecting, and the matcha flavor kind of hid in the background, just strong enough to be intriguing.

The little purple and white tent was used to host the mistress of the tea ceremony school and a few dignitaries who inspected the teas made by the students before allowing them to be presented to the guests.

The servers consisted of a few school girls, and several women wearing pink t-shirts with the logo for the tea school on the backs. I always enjoy participating in tea ceremonies, but I don't get many opportunities to do so.

Some iris photos.

A meerkat.

A prairie dog.

The red panda cage only had 2 pandas this time, and I couldn't get any really good shots of them. Still, red pandas. And then when I got back to Kagoshima and Central Park at the end of the day, beer. A better weekend than some, recently.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Food Sonic 2019

Suntory brewing decided to have a beer and food event in Central Park over the weekend. It was a lot like similar events up at Amu Plaza, except that the foods weren't as meat and grease-heavy as one would expect. Specifically, King of Meat Man wasn't there with sausage, grilled chicken and steak platters. That, and there was no musical entertainment. The only song at all was Betty Boop's "I want to be loved by you," on infinite loop, at the Suntory beer booth. That must have driven the workers there loopy.

In fact, with no musical guests, there's the question of what the "sonic" part of "food sonic" was supposed to be. Well, there's a 2-city (Tokyo and Osaka) musical concert event in Japan called Summer Sonic, and my guess is that Suntory was trying to trade on a connection to that as a kind of "food concert bonanza."

There were quite a few people out picnicking on both Saturday and Sunday, while Saturday had the clearer skies all day (Sunday started out more overcast, but things cleared up in the afternoon).

(Tempura-fried chicken, edamame, cheese sauce on fries, and chili sour cream chips.)

But sales were spotty at the food booths. I didn't bother counting, but I think there were about 20 tables (selling ramen, fries, shaved ice, yakisoba, and other stuff not really associated with binge-drinking, and some of the booths had NO customers either day while I was there (some of the neighboring tables could at the same time have lines 20-people long). That had to be frustrating.

In addition, the Suntory booth (above) was set up to handle massive lines which again didn't materialize while I was there.

(Yakisoba with black pork and egg, and something I'm not sure of from the sign. Two lines, no waiting.)

I had to work most of Saturday, with a 1-hour break from 5 to 6. I couldn't justify getting beer with two more classes waiting for me from 6 to 8, and all of the foods were in the $8 to $10 range, which was more than I wanted to pay for the serving sizes. Things ended Saturday at 7 PM, well before the end of my last class, so I couldn't get any beer on my way home that night.

Sunday, I had plans for going out to Hirakawa Zoo, down at the opposite end of Kagoshima. I did get back to Tenmonkan at 5:30 PM when I was done looking at lesser pandas, which gave me just enough time for 1 beer (last call for food was 5:30 PM, and Food Sonic itself shutdown at 6 PM.

Suntory, The Premium Malts, draft, one cup for 400 yen ($3.75 USD). It was actually pretty silky, with just a hint of bitter hops. Pretty good. But after that, I had to go to an oyster restaurant for dinner, and drink more The Premium Malts from a bottle, which wasn't quite as good. Still, lesser pandas.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

No thanks, I'm plushed

I found this plushie doll in a display window of a restaurant near the apartment.
For when you want to show the food servings to scale.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Bright - One Toke

More chalk art from Bright used men's clothing store.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

No Life, No Vege

This sign was in front of a vegetarian restaurant. I'm having trouble deciding if they got the order wrong, or if it's better this way.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bravely Second - End Layer comments

Bravely Second - End Layer, Square Enix, 2015, Grade: B
Normally, I'd run photos of the game screens here, but I'm feeling lazy, and there are already lots of screenshots on online if you want to look at them.

Bravely Second is the sequel to Bravely Default (actually, there were two Defaults - the original Japanese prequel, Flying Fairy, and the remake, For the Sequel), which in turn was originally intended to be the sequel to the Final Fantasy: The Four Heroes of Light (2009) game. Bravely Default got its name from two action buttons on the battle menu - Brave and Default. Each turn takes one Battle Point (1 BP), and the fight generally starts out with each of your characters at 0 BP. As long as you're not at negative BP, you can take an action that turn. If a character is negative, they have to wait until the numbers reach 0, gaining 1 BP per turn. Default acts as "guard", where you take less damage from attacks that turn, and gain 1 BP (for a maximum of 3 BP at any one time). Brave lets you take multiple actions in one turn (up to 4), using 1 BP each. After the turn, if the enemy hasn't been defeated, and if the character is at negative BP now, they are left vulnerable to the enemies' attacks for how many turns it takes to reach 0 BP again (generally, you have 4 members in your party, and if you're aggressive with your fighters, you can be more cautious with your healers...)

Bravely Second uses pretty much the same battle system, with the addition of SP (Spirit Magic). SP is kind of a rule breaker for battles where you may be overwhelmed or you need to overcome the 9,999 damage cap. You gain 1 SP every 8 hours that the game is turned on but the cover is closed (up to 3 SP max). Pressing the Start button during a battle lets you "freeze time" and take an extra turn without otherwise affecting the rest of your actions for 1 SP each action. It also lets you deliver the true amount of damage for special attacks (up to 999,999 hits in one shot). This is called the "Bravely Second" move, and is actually an integral part of the story halfway through the game. Another carryover from the prequel is the "job asterisk." Each humanoid enemy boss character, an "asterisk holder", has a specific job type (Red Mage, White Mage, Black Mage, Fencer, Knight, Pirate). Defeating them gives you their asterisk, allowing you to equip that job if you want it. In Bravely Second, there are 30 different jobs, and really, the point of the game is to obtain all 30 asterisks and level every single job up to the level 11 cap. This involves a LOT of churning.

One kind of new concept is battle chaining. If you defeat an enemy in 1 round, you have the option of taking on a second enemy party by pressing the L button (or, you can quit the chain with the B button). Defeating more enemies within the same 1 round increases the base amount of reward for the battle, along with a multiplier (x1.0, x1.5, x1.8, up to a max of x3.0). So, if you manage to fight 8 or 9 enemy parties in the same 1 round, you can theoretically get something like 70,000 pg (money), 20,000 exp, and a max of 999 jp (job points) total for the battle. Equipping a Gold Egg accessory doubles the amount of pg, for 0 exp and 0 jp; equipping a Growth Egg doubles exp and jp at the expense of 0 pg. Note that it takes something like 28,000 jp to max one job at level 11 for one character, and there are 30 jobs. You hit the 99 exp. level cap LONG, LONG before you get halfway to maxing out all the job levels. After you do max out all of the jobs, you can focus on making money, maybe. The North American version of the game has optional bonus "skins" for the party members, (bunny dresses, China dresses, suits) some of which cost 999,999 pg each from the shops (after chapter 4). In the Japanese version of the game, these skins were promotional giveaways from the Square Enix site, or from ads run in different gaming magazines. They're no longer available in Japan, so I can't get them. Meaning that I can keep playing the game after defeating the optional dungeon bonus bosses, but there's nothing else to spend the money on at that point. Sigh.

The game starts out a couple years after the end of Bravely Default, with a young boy, Yew ("you"), fighting a masked villain alongside Agnes (one of your party members in Bravely Default), and two friends, the Fencer Janne, and the priest Nikolai. The villain wipes the floor with Yew and kidnaps Agnes. Yew recovers, and soon discovers that Janne and Nikolai are traitors working for the masked villain. But, he's joined by Edea and Tiz from the first game, and the Moon Princess Magnolia (Magnolia's rocket crashes while she's on a scouting run for the colony back on the Moon). These three, plus Yew, make up your party. The rest of the game is just a matter of collecting job asterisks, leveling up, and trying to stop the villain and his accomplice, Anne the fairy, from destroying the moon and plunging the world into eternal darkness.

There are a number of side games available as well. There are three short bonus dungeons that open up after you beat the main boss. There's a Chomper mini game, where the party makes stuffed plush Chomper dolls. Money made from selling the dolls is used for unlocking the game music for playing in the Chomper jukebox. It can also be converted at a 100 to 1 exchange rate for pg for use in the regular game. There's the rocket repair mini game, where you assign workers to fixing the shops on the ship (these shops are like Norende village in the prequel) in order to unlock special potions, attacks, and "parts" that can be assigned to weapon special attacks. The idea is that you get more workers by playing against friends that also have a copy of the game, or by logging into the Nintendo online site. Unfortunately, I'm stuck with just one worker, and the average times for repairing specific items are around 45 hours (the 3DS has to be left on during this, but the cover can be kept closed). I'm not even going to bother unlocking every single thing in Bravely Second. I'm just going to settle for the strongest bare knuckle special attack, which I expect will take 1 month of real time. Sigh.

As with most Japanese RPGs on the 3DS, 95% of everything is unnecessary windowdressing. I only use 4-5 jobs (Monk, Black Mage, White Mage, Exorcist, and Charioteer); I've only used a fraction of the weapons and armor, almost none of the items (i.e. - eye drops or anti-charms), none of the Catmancer or Patisserie special moves (attacking the enemy with status afflictions), and I've got nothing I need to spend money on now. In fact, I've beaten the game once, along with every optional boss except one (I'm waiting on tackling the toughest optional boss until I unlock that bare knuckle special attack from the moon rocket, 1 month from now).

Over all, the enemy designs are good, although a lot of them are from the first game, as are the NPC designs and the city and dungeon maps. I didn't listen to the game music much, but what little I have heard is good. The battle system is almost identical to that in Bravely Default, but the story and plots are ok. I did put 170+ hours into the game, so it does have a decent play value, although the replay value would be much greater if I knew someone else that also had the game to do one-on-one fights with. Otherwise, it's time to shelve it, occasionally checking on moon rocket repairs to move on to the next section to repair. It will be at least one month from now, real time, that I'll have a special move strong enough to take on that last optional boss. Not being able to get more workers for repairing the rocket shops is probably the one real thing I'm disappointed by in this game, since it's used and no longer "supported" by Square Enix. I got it from Book Off for 880 yen ($8 USD). Recommended only if you can pick it up cheaper than that in the States or elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Movie Fliers, Part 3

Oshiri Tantei

Ok, I know that Japan has a reputation for having a really bizarre love for toilet humor, but this movie pushes the boundaries. It looks to be part of a four-title compilation.

"Butt Detective - Sniffing out crime so you don't have to. Eww, what did I step in? Oh, sorry, that's me. My bad."


According to the wiki article, Promare is a film brought to you by the guys that produced "Gurren Lagann."

The description reads "Galo and the Burning Rescue Fire Department face off against BURNISH, a group of mutants who are able to control and wield flames, and the fire disaster they have unleashed on Earth."

Ok. Hot testosterone action here, I guess.

Crayon Shin-shan Honeymoon Hurricane

Honeymoon Hurricane - The Lost Hiroshi. This is the movie that's been advertised heavily outside the theaters for months. The plot is that Shin-chan's parents have never been on a honeymoon to a foreign country, so they find a cheap travel plan to Australia, where Shin-chan's father, Hiroshi, gets kidnapped and used as a key to a secret treasure. Shin-chan, Hiroshi's wife, and everyone else has to save Hiroshi before it's too late.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Dydo DBZ Vegeta

I've had poor luck with vending machine can coffee toys lately. There was one set of Dragonball toys that were packaged with can coffee cans at the beginning of the year, but they were dispensed randomly, and I never managed to get one of the cans that had the capsule cap with the toy, after spending something like $20 on coffees over a one-month period. Then, in February, there was a "Cup no Fuchiko" series in Coca Cola vending machines, with Georgia coffees. Again, after spending over $20 over the course of a month on can coffees, I still failed to get lucky with one of the random cans with the figure with it. I'm only buying the coffees when I'm really tired and need to wake up while walking along the streets to or from classes, but I don't normally spend money on can coffee now if there isn't a toy, even if I am tired.

But, in late March, 7-11 started carrying Dydo coffees packaged with the Dragon Ball Z figures (I think this is a tie-in to the latest DBZ movie). Since I could see the figure with the can, I was guaranteed to get the one I wanted on the first try. These are more in the "office supplies figures" series, where each toy is designed to hold paper clips, or prop up smartphones. Vegeta here is used for holding a pencil or pen.

Vegeta is about 2 inches tall. The coffee is 130 yen before tax (about $1.20 USD). The coffee itself is ignorable, but the figures look good for the price (I didn't like any of the others, and only wanted to get Vegeta).

It's a little hard to tell, with the way the color came out on the camera, but that thing wrapped around his waist is a monkey tail. It's a blast.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Mario Odyssey Figures, Part 3

In the end, I finally bought a few more Mario chocolate eggs, giving me 9 of the 16 total figures (with 2 duplicates - Cappy, and Day of the Dead. I gave one of the Cappies to one of my students.)

If you like the game, I think you'd really like the figures. They're very well-made for the price.

Although, some of them may be more popular with the fans than others...

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Mario Odyssey Figures, Part 2

After writing up my adventures with the one Mario chocolate egg box, I was preparing to have an English class with a video game fanatic. I decided that it might be interesting to buy 5 more eggs, and do a capsule opening event during the lesson (plus, I wanted more of the chocolate). So, I swung by Donkey on my way to the school, got the eggs, and ate the chocolate on my way in.

Unfortunately, it turned out that neither he, nor the other student sitting in the class have played the game the figures are from. The fanatic doesn't like Mario, and the other student doesn't collect figures. The entire thing turned out to be a bust, but I got chocolate out of the deal, and I'm not complaining.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Tram Accident

Like most Japanese cities, Kagoshima has a train system that connects different parts of the city to the rest of Kyushu. Unlike most cities, we don't have a subway system, because the city is at sea level. Instead, there's the street car system, which consists of two lines. The first, Taniyama, runs from the old Kagoshima station at the north end of the city, south past City Hall, then a bit southwest through Tenmonkan to Takamibaba Street, before making a sharp left turn to go back south through Korimoto, South Kagoshima, and finally to the other end of the line at Taniyama Station. The second line, Korimoto, also starts at the old Kagoshima Station and uses the same tracks through Tenmonkan to Takamibaba, but then continues straight to the new main Kagoshima Train Station, before turning south, and then east to terminate at Korimoto and then backtrack to the old Kagoshima Station. In effect, the two lines form a rectangle with stringy bits running out from the corners at Takamibaba and Korimoto.

I have a class Friday mornings at 10 AM down at South Kagoshima, and I usually take the 9:35 Taniyama line. One morning, I got to the Takamibaba intersection only to find that one of the cars had been knocked off the tracks. Given the lack of broken glass, it had either been hit by a big truck, or the driver just really wanted to get through the intersection before the light changed. There was no way that another car would be able to squeeze past to go down to Taniyama, but the next car coming up was for Korimoto and I just had enough time to run for the other platform to jump on the Korimoto car before it headed to the main train station.

At this point, the fork truck was just being maneuvered in for lifting the front of the errant car to put it back on the tracks. The Korimoto route is much longer than the Taniyama route to get to the shared platforms at Korimoto, and I got to the platform right at 10 AM. I was rifling through my papers, only to realize that I didn't have the student's number written down anywhere to let them know I was on my way, but would be late. We had to wait for the traffic light to change, so the car could go through and turn to the left to the Korimoto platform. There was a Taniyama car at the platform, waiting for the light to change in its direction. As we pulled into the platform, the Taniyama car pulled out and left several of us stranded by just a few seconds. Sigh. I'd gotten a transfer ticket, which now seemed useless. I looked down the tracks to see if I'd get lucky with one last car that had managed to get through Takamibaba before the accident. I didn't see anything, so I climbed the stairs to the crossover bridge to get across the tracks to the sidewalk. At the top, I looked back, and spotted a car marked "Old Kagoshima Station" changing lines and pulling up to the platform I'd just left. Hoping against hope that this car was being repurposed to take stranded people to Taniyama, I ran back down the steps and asked the driver when the next car might arrive for Taniyama. He just shrugged, apologized, said there was an accident at Takamibaba, and he didn't know if there'd be another car to Taniyama or not. Then, he drove off to Takamibaba.

I went back up the stairs, crossed over to the sidewalk side, then had to climb a different set of stairs to cross over the big street to get past the intersection and keep going south to South Kagoshima, which was at least half a mile away. Taking a taxi kind of crossed my mind, but there weren't any nearby, and I didn't want to pay the money for one. I ran half the way, and walked fast the other half. When I got to South Kagoshima, I had to trudge up the stairs for another crossover bridge over another big intersection. Finally, I got close the school, and I checked my phone - I'd just gotten a call from the student, asking if I was ok, but it would be faster at that point to climb the 2 flights of stairs to the class room and just enter the building than it would be to return the call. Fortunately, the student had seen the report of the tram accident on her smartphone, and expected that that's why I was late (I got in at 10:20). Unfortunately, the weather has turned hot in the last few days, and it took me most of the class time to catch my breath and stop sweating.

After the class ended, I took the Old Kagoshima line tram to return home. At 12 PM, we got about 6 blocks short of Takamibaba when the driver came on the PA to announce that there'd been an accident up ahead, and if we wanted to continue to Takamibaba or Tenmonkan, that we'd need to get out here and walk. Sigh. Fortunately, there was a 7-11 right across the street from where I got out, so I quickly got myself a bottle of water, and started walking.

At Takamibaba, some official, surrounded by a bunch of reporters, was loudly giving some kind of a speech in front of the derailed car, which was now back on the tracks, but on the wrong set of rails (for Tenmonkan, not Taniyama). A second car latched onto the first one and started pulling it in the direction of Tanimaya (the main streetcar yards are about a mile south of the main train station, and I think the idea was to pull the damaged car down to Korimoto, turn west, and get to the yards through a backdoor).

But, things could have been worst. It could have been raining.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Unicorn Donut

Tully's coffee shop had a "white unicorn donut." It's plain sugar frosting on top of a cranberry-flavored pancake batter donut. About 280 yen ($2.75 USD). Interesting branding concept that doesn't quite work...