Saturday, November 30, 2019

Ajin, vol. 15 review

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

Ajin, vol. 15 (Good Afternoon, 2017), by Gamon Sakurai. Grade: A-.

Kou has dropped Saito's arm into the utility pole stump, and stands there waiting for something to happen. As time goes by, Kei Nagai, our hero, starts realizing something's wrong. He asks how many flights Satou has made so far, and the answer is "who's counting?" Kei lets out a scream of frustration, yelling that Satou's probably gone senile (because his head is constantly being recreated when his body regenerates around his amputated arm, he's been losing his memories every time he blows up himself and his target). It seems Saito simply forgot what he was doing, and decided to fly off somewhere else. Kei falls into despair, and the others try to figure out what to do next.

The scene changes to the prison, where Kei's childhood friend, Kaito, reminisces in a series of flashbacks about how his life has always been one big mess. The problem generally is that he would become attached to someone being bullied, or a criminal, and his sense of loyalty would cause him to defend them at the cost of his own reputation. While Kei never claimed to be friends with him, that sense of loyalty is still very strong. When he escapes from prison with the help of someone else's black smoke ghost, there's only one place he would go (after watching the fiasco at the air base on TV). Back in the present, Saito returns to the air base in his jet, ejects, and smashes the craft into the refueling station a little ways away from Kei. The explosion detonates the weapons and fuel reserves underground, killing the Anti-Ajin forces there, and sending large blocks of debris falling down on Izumi and Tanaka's car. Saito frees himself from the ejector seat harness and discovers Kei in the middle of the resulting crater. He starts talking about how all of this has been fun, but he's bored now and is thinking of going to some other country that's a little less noisy. As he's prattling on, Kei sees the empty sleeve of his jacket, and realizes that his original plan can still work if he can only get Saito to fully die again. As the old man is saying "goodbye," there's an approaching roar, and Kaito leaps out of the oil smoke on a motorcycle in his general direction. Saito pulls out a pistol and tries to shoot the boy, but the bike knocks it out of his hand. Kei hits him with a tranq dart, so Saito presses the trigger of his bomb vest. The blast bowls Kei over, and Saito vanishes.

In the woods near the base, two men find one of Saito's weapons and clothing stashes. Naked, he finds them, kills them, gets dressed and rearmed. Because his body wasn't fully vaporized, he regenerated around his other arm, and now has both arms again. Kei and Kaito say hello after a long time, with Kei still acting as if he's in a drugged, depressed stupor. Suddenly, Saito shoots them both, Kei in the right eye, and Kaito through the back of the neck. Kei loses it, and black smoke billows from his back, generating close to one hundred ghosts in a full-blown Flood. Saito sees this, and decides he wants to do this too. He has one of his ghosts smash its head into one of Kei's, and exclaims that he has the same power now. Unfortunately, the flood ghosts are uncontrolled, and attack Kei, Saito and each other indiscriminately. Kei manages to pull Kaito's limp body into a sewer drain, and the ghosts lose track of him. Kei discovers that Kaito's bullet wound has healed itself for some reason, but that his heart has still not started beating. He spends the next few minutes calling himself an idiot, and trying to perform CPR on his friend. Finally, Kaito takes a small breath and continues breathing shallowly. Kei collapses against the sewer wall, exhausted. Up on the surface, Saito is getting overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and is starting to become concerned, when his primary ghost shows up in a small military helicopter to rescue him. In the sewer again, Kaito is sleeping as Kei tries to talk himself into running away and making a new life for himself elsewhere. But, it doesn't work, and the book ends with him hauling himself up the ladder to the carnage above.

Summary: Lots of action, not much plot, makes for a fast read. Great artwork and action scenes. I'm glad to see Kaito reappear, and I'm fully looking forward to book 16. Highly recommended if you like the series.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Dragon's House Hunting, vol. 5 comments

(Image from Used for review purposes only.)

Doragon ie wo kau (A Dragon Buys a House), vol. 5, by Kawo Tanuki (writing) and Choco Aya (art), Grade B+
More silliness from Tanuki and Aya. The artwork is fantastic and the story is a brilliant parody of Japanese RPGs. Everything is turned around, with the heroes and adventurers being a bunch of arrogant idiots that just go around disrupting the lives of honest, hark-working monsters and non-humans. Letty is a Great Red Dragon in name only. In fact, he's a NEET ('Not in Education, Employment or Training') who would rather sit around the house and watch TV. In disgust, his father kicked him out, and Letty is now in the process of finding his own place to live. He's aided by the Evil Mage Master Elf, and licensed real estate agent, Dearia, and has adopted a frost monster chick named Pii-chan. The story this time starts with Letty vowing to train to become great, like the black dragon in the last book, and nearly breaking his wrist when he punches a wall. His main goal now is to learn how to protect his "son", Pii-chan (doesn't happen). The three are visited in camp by Nell, the spoiled princess they'd "rescued" (she ran from home in protest when her father the King ate the last of the cake in the kitchens) in a previous volume, bursts in to snuggle Pii-chan. She says that her mother told her to be more grateful for the help she got from them, so she's going to aid Letty in his house-hunting quest. Dearia picks this moment to announce that he's going to a one-week industry-specific convention, and he expects Letty, Nell and Pii-chan to be able to fend for themselves while he's gone.

Letty goes into a panic, but it's too late, the elf has left. Nell starts working herself up to "contributing," when the three of them encounter Vampire. Vamp is also a licensed agent, and he's there at Nell's mother's behest to show them around various open houses. Generally, he's a human-sized bat in Dracula-style clothes, with a monocle and cravat, but for three minutes a day he can shape-shift into an extremely handsome man. For the most part, he's a snake oil salesman trying to spin broken-down ruins as "perfect dwelling spaces for Master Red Dragon." The rest of the book is a series of slapstick gags where Letty gets stuck in endless catacombs, castles with fake doors and stairways that go nowhere, and is tormented by ice faeries. When he does get saved, it's either by Nell, or Pii-chan. The volume ends with Vampire preparing to take the group to the top of the sacred mountain where the legendary sword sought by the current batch of heroes lies sleeping.

Summary: Not a real lot of story here this time. Mostly just more parodies of the D&D genre and RPGs in general. Great artwork, though. The last few pages are collections of 4-panel gag strips, and reprints of the chapter splash pages from the Blade Comics magazine. Dragon is carried in English in the U.S., but I can't vouch for the quality of the translations. Recommended if you like RPG parodies and beautiful male vampire bats.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

24 Hour TV Signed Van

Found outside a small car dealership.

How did they drive it around to be signed? The windshield is impossible to see through.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Weekend of Nov. 23rd

The last weekend was kind of eventful, but I missed most to all of it. There was the Hokkaido food fest in Yamakataya department store, which included something of a food court in the plaza in front of Lotteria. I wanted to at least get coffee from one of the food trucks at some point, but my schedule never worked out, and the event ended around Wednesday night. The Dokungo traveling theater, which does "gekiga" (real) absurdist comedy was in Central Park from Saturday to Monday. I've been looking forward to seeing them again for the last 2 years. I knew when they were going to be in Kagoshima, but again, my schedule got in the way (I had to work all Saturday, I struggled to get new software loaded on a new Win 10 laptop all Sunday, and I had to work Monday night (the plays usually run from about 7:30 to 8 or 9 PM). Sigh. There was also kind of a senior care and activities event in the plaza in front of Lotteria on Saturday, which had a live stage set up. I couldn't find a schedule, but the stage had a couple electric guitars sitting on it when I walked by on my way to the English school. Everything was torn down when I got out of the school at 8 PM.

What we have here, is the annual Presentation Concur (I don't know how to spell that, it's the Japanese variant of a French word), where school children in Kagoshima show off their skills at making presentation materials. This also ran on Saturday. I've taken pictures of similar posters in the past, so I just made due taking one example shot (below) this time.

One more thing Japanese kids do that I never did when I was in school.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Bird Butt

Look, up in the air! It's...

Hawk butt!

"Who said that!?"

Monday, November 25, 2019


When you're not interested in full replacements, and just want the updates.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Door Spider

One night, when I was taking out the trash, I saw this little guy trying to get a foothold on the wall. It's a smooth tile surface, and it kept slipping off. The pocket camera had a lot of trouble focusing on her, especially because she never stopped moving. She's about 1/2" across.

At the end, I grabbed a big leaf from a nearby plant and used that to carry her to another wall with rougher, easier to grab onto surfaces. Go forth and multiply, little friend.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Broom Props

These straw brooms and tiny people figures are along one wall of the Yakiniku (grilled meat) Nabeshima restaurant in Tenmonkan.

They're so cute when they're small.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Stuffed Toys, Japan-Style

Back in September, the KTS TV station had their KTS Days thing (which was mostly canceled for some reason), with children's activities and a goods shop in the area in front of Lotteria. These are the kinds of stuffed toys aimed at children here. Rirakkuma ("Relax Bear").

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Apple Coke

Pepsi has long released weird flavor mixes in Japan, but it's more rare to see flavored Cokes here. So, when I found Apple Coke in the Konbini for 160 yen ($1.50 USD), I had to try it. I couldn't taste the cola part over the candied green apple flavoring. It's nothing really special, but it makes an okay mixer with cheap bourbon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wicky's Children Time

Wicky's House is generally a bar and night club, but they also serve lunch. Looks like they're now introducing a "children's music time" at noon on Saturday, Sept. 21st. Lots of DJs and VJs on the lineup. Not sure exactly how much this is geared to kids, since it's a 1,500 yen cover ($13.50 USD) with one drink ticket.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Shiro Chalk Art - Mukkai

Hair salon Shiro has a chalk sign out on the street. "Madamada nukka shanpu- hietemasu" (It's still hot. Getting a shampoo will cool you off."

Monday, November 18, 2019

Honganji Bon Odori Poster

Back in August, the Honganji temple had their Bon Odori (Summer Dance Event). At the time, I found this flier advertising the event, and I wanted to scan it for the blog entry because of the artwork showing the temple mascot character banging on the drum. But, I misplaced the flier. I finally found it again, so here it is.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Wicky's House Reception Poster

Artwork for a wedding after reception party. Looks like it could have been fun.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Trombone Chalk Art - Fall

Time for rabbit in the moon viewing.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Jiyuu Sugiru Megami

I've stopped getting capsule ball toys because I have nowhere to put them, and they're generally in the $3 to $5 range. But, I decided that I needed to pick up at least one of the "Too much freedom Lady Liberty."

"Be free from all restraints that bind you. Wreck all of the old ideas that tie you. Even more, be free from the idea of "free" itself. The usual "liberty" is not perfect freedom."

This one is about 2" long, and maybe 1.5" tall.

Check out the joke videos that go with each one.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mini Cafe

Boss can coffee loves Tommy Lee Jones for his exhausted, rugged everyman look. This latest ad campaign makes a little less sense than normal, though.

"When you want to have a short break by yourself."

"Is this the world's smallest "cafe"?" I don't know if they're using "cafe" to mean "coffee" or "coffee shop." Pointing out that the product is tiny compared to the money you're spending may be a bad idea, given that the sales tax here went up from 8% to 10% in October, but people's incomes are still static. Doesn't help that this brand is 110 yen per can, when most of the other low-end cans are 100 yen.

("A cup of coffee for your relaxing moment.")

A few days after writing the above text, I was feeling bored, and I decided to buy a can in the hopes that it might have tiny stickers of coffee cups on it or something. But no, it was just a regular can of coffee, which tasted bland and unremarkable. Not worth the markup.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Untitled Story

Also at the Volunteer Center on Sunday was a "Teens Art Festival" thing in the big hall on the ground floor. But, the doors were locked shut when I arrived at 3:30 PM. "Untitled Story" seems to be a fairly common title these days.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Abandoned Pool

Old building in Tenmonkan. I think part of it was a vending machine parking tower, before it got torn out.

Care for a swim?

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Weekend of Nov. 10

Igisen Fes

I had to work at the English school Friday afternoon, and as I cut by Central Park, I spotted some tents going up. There weren't any banner gates at the entrances to the park, but there was the one schedule sign. There's no real explanation for what "Igisen" is, but I kind of remember the same event 1 or 2 years ago run by some university students as a recruiting or talent show or something. It was only on Saturday, from 9 AM to 3:20 PM, and I had to work from 1:30 to 7 PM. I was kind of thinking of getting out the door a little early on Saturday and trying to catch a bit of the event, but things went against me and I got out late, and wasn't able to get to the park at all.

Not a lot of tents, though. Just a few places that look like they'd sell food, and a small live stage.

Ash Fest

After I finished my Friday class, I went up to Amu Plaza as well, and had just enough time to swing by the open space and take a couple more photos. This is the Volcano Ash Fest, where people try to sell products made from Sakurajima ash, such as figurines you can hand paint, or jewelry and stuff. This one was also only on Saturday, so I missed this, too.

The schedule shows a talk show, some promotional stuff, a comedy duo, some dancing from a local studio, and some live jazz. Nothing I mind missing very much. One thing to mention is that Kagoshima has a "Geo Park" office down near City Hall, and their job is to emphasize the nature aspects of the region, such as the volcano itself, the bay, animal reserve areas, etc. Geo Park sponsored this event, and the 4 people in the middle left of the schedule are part of the Geo Park Talk Show.

Hello Geo World stage.

Craftsmen Fair

I had the day off Sunday, but I had some family stuff scheduled at 2 PM. We took a taxi down past the Volunteer Center, and I noticed the tents in the front lawn as we went by. I did get some free time at 3 PM, so when we returned to the apartment, I walked the 20 minutes to the center, where I discovered they were doing another crafts work fair. They had this last year, too, and I had a lot of fun at that one. This time, the event was scheduled to shut down at 4:30 PM, and some of the displays were already closing.

Most of the booths had the same things as the previous year. This one is new, though. It looks like glaze work or something. The people here are laying down coats of what looks like a thick gel, and then shaping it with special knives. After that, I guess you hang it as artwork on the wall.

Trying to show a close-up of the work on a Japanese crane picture.

Glazed tile work.

Some of the other tables, including gardening, copper sheet work, roofing tiles, wood joint crafting, and leather punch work.

There was a scaffolding display as well, but I missed exactly what it was they were using it for.

Inside the Center, in the auditorium rooms on the second floor, they had a lot of other stuff going on, too. Here, we've got a glazed floor tile display. Mesmerizing.

These tables had interactive cloth art making. The woman seems to be making what looks like a small picture frame.

The woodwork here looks exactly like the little wooden coaster I made, but on a bigger scale. Same pattern.

This could be part of a fence, or a room divider.

One of the other areas had wooden games and 3D puzzles. I got roped into trying to put together one of the puzzles. I've had that type before, but I couldn't remember how to get started. Eventually, one of the wood workers came by and showed me the solution. That was a little embarrassing, but it was still fun playing with the toys.

Overall, I enjoyed my 30 minutes at the crafts fair on Sunday, which made up for missing everything else on Saturday. Next year, I'll try to find out when the event is in advance, so I can play there longer.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Ii Tomo no Hi

The beauty salon near Tenmonkan that puts date-related signs outside their front door announced that 11/9 was "Good Friend Day." According to the explanation, this day is when you're supposed to give a good friend a present of music, according to some radio show.