sangatsu no muika

Today's the second Friday of Lent, and the whole "no meat" thing is a lot harder this year for some reason. My personal and professional lives make it difficult to pop by the sushi restaurant in the evenings, and all the good bento tend to be bought up by the time I get to the store. Historically, it could be worse, I guess. I remember when I first moved to Japan, and my sister was shocked to find out I'd be living within 100 miles of where the 26 Martyrs were massacred in the 16th century.

Being Christian (or specifically, Catholic) in Japan was a capital offense until after the Meiji Restoration. Still, a few pockets of Christianity survived the purge of the mid-17th century, mostly on the smaller islands around Kyushu and the Sea of Japan. One of the largest communities was on Amakusa Island, now part of Kumamoto Prefecture. Amakusa was the site of a major revolt against a tax-obsessed overlord in the 1630s, the Shimabara Rebellion, which was supported in no small part by the underground Catholic community there. Not coincidentally, Amakusa is the only area in Japan that I know of where people sometimes have multiple given names.

There were various reasons for the religious ban, some of them even good ones. The Church of the 16th century was very active when it came to international meddling, and the lords of Japan had enough issues with divided political and sectarian authority as it was. Four or five major clan lords were competing for control of the nation, several Buddhist sects were involved in religious and political disputes, and many of the regional lords took any excuse they could find to rise up in revolt. The fact that a number of Franciscans and Jesuits were out in the streets preaching religious upheaval and rampant iconoclasm wasn't helping.

All I can say is, I'm glad that my biggest religious concern right now is finding a good fish sandwich on Fridays.

Lotte is one of the biggest producers of gum, chocolates, and candy in Japan, so big that it even sponsors its own baseball team. Recently, they've entered into a gaming partnership of a different sort:

Blueberry chewing gum is one of Lotte's major brands these days, and for a short while they're teaming it up with characters from the popular side-scrolling MMORPG, Maple Story. Each pack contains a secret code, which can be redeemed online for a surprise package. What's inside? That's for the player to discover.

Source: Famitsu Weekly
Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
3 Holding at 3 Mario & Luigi RPG 3 Nintendo
5 New Arrival! Retro Game Challenge 2 Bandai-Namco
7 Down from 1 Star Ocean 4 - The Last Hope Square Enix
16 Down from 4 Shining Force Feather Sega
22 Down from 16 Tales of the World - Radiant Mythology 2 Bandai Namco
23 Down from 14 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles - Echoes of Time DS Square Enix
26 Down from 10 Demon's Souls SCE
28 Holding at 28 Inazuma Eleven Level 5
31 Down from 24 Pokémon Platinum Nintendo
37 New Arrival! Mimana Iyar Chronicle Gung-ho Works
40 Down from 7 Sacred Blaze Flight Plan

The Fantasy RPG experience that does not fight!
All ends in opening magic with magic!
An important thing is materials for item generation,
and the compounding not a sword and shield!
The person winning magic wins the world!

So, does that make any sense to you? If not, then no worries, as Item Getter, the latest DS game from 5pb., puts a premium on mystic cryptography. It even contains its own alphabet, which is essential for the proper use of magic within the game, both in battle and in the item creation system. With over 1000 items supposedly available, not counting player-created items, that makes for a lot of possible combinations.

While nothing is mentioned of the story here that was not mentioned before, this article does lay out how the game is split into adventure (talking, interaction) and RPG (fighting) aspects.

The game's direct-to-Engrish blurb does make sense for one aspect of the game, however. Winning is not the point of most battles. Acquiring materials is, often by any means possible. After all, the person winning magic wins the world!

Source: Famitsu Weekly

When Kizuna - The Golden Bonds first appeared in Japandemonium, I wrongly stated that its release date was in September. Whoops, read the wrong page, my apologies, etc. I later found out that it was slated for a December release, and awaited new media to show in the column. None was forthcoming.

As it turns out, Kizuna got stuck in its own little development limbo for a while, and is now given a late May release date. Just to prove their good faith, the folks at Jaleco have given us a game recap:

It doesn't give us any info that wasn't available last September, but just so you all don't have to check that far back, here's a summation: Demon Lord is dead. Minions want to bring him back. King and Prince are missing. Heroine becomes queen at age 16. Hero has chip on his shoulder the size of a Manhattan brownstone. Boss monsters are roughly the size of a Manhattan brownstone. Much action ensues.

Source: Famitsu Weekly
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Valkyria Chronicles - PS3 The Best Sega 3/05/09
Super Robot Taisen Special Disk Bandai-Namco 3/05/09
7th Dragon Sega 3/05/09
Spectral Souls - Resurrection of the Ethereal Empires (IF Collection) Idea Factory 3/12/09
Phantom Brave: We Meet Again Nippon Ichi 3/12/09
Atelier Annie Gust 3/12/09
Ape Quest SCE 3/19/09
Brandish - Dark Revenant Falcom 3/19/09
Dengeki Academy RPG Cross of Venus ASCII Media Works 3/19/09
Super Robot Taisen K Bandai-Namco 3/20/09
Rogue Galaxy - Director's Cut (PS2 the Best SCE 3/26/09
Wild ARMs the Vth Vanguard (PS2 the Best) SCE 3/26/09
Disgaea 2 Portable Nippon Ichi 3/26/09
Dragoneer's Aria (PSP the Best) Nippon Ichi 3/26/09
Source: Dengeki Online

This week's challenge was student reports. I didn't have too many of those to write, thankfully, but there were enough to keep me busy. It's kind of hard to write a dozen variations on the same theme, while keeping it all different enough that the parents won't pick up on it when they inevitably compare notes. But the end of the school year is approaching, and this is how it goes.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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