nanakusa, shoutsuki no nanoka
Akemashite Omedetousagi!

Happy New Year! If you're living in the West and generally ignore or are ignorant of the Chinese lunisolar calendar, then for you it is now the Year of the Rabbit. Since the Japanese synced their official calendar with Western time-keeping sometime in the Meiji Period, it's the Year of the Rabbit over here now too. The vast majority of New Year's cards (nengajo) sent in the last month have had some form of lepine imagery on them. Since I was unable to find any game-themed postcards this year, I went with the zaniest thing that I could find. Luckily, it also involved rabbits.

Usavich is a series of animated shorts created in 2006 originally created for the MTV Japan cell phone portal, which has gained a lot of popularity through most other forms of Japanese media. Each episode is only a minute and a half in length and shows a moment in the lives of two prisoners in the bunny-rabbit version of a Soviet gulag. Putin (inmate #541) is a conscientious little prole whose only crime was to miss a day of work due to a vodka-fueled night on the town. For that he was sentenced to three years in a cell with Kirenenko (inmate #04), a shoe-obsessed psychopath and former mafia boss. Whacky hijinks ensue as they endure life in prison (Season 1), life on the lam (Season 2), and the quest for the perfect pair of sneakers (Season 3).

But why talk about it when I could just show you?

Most episodes can be found on Youtube, though they keep getting pulled off (seemingly at random) by the site's content police. The first thirty-one episodes (up to Ep. 5 of Season 3) can be found here, if one doesn't mind frequent advertising in Japanese.

I can't wait to see what happens once Season 4 officially starts in March.

This week's Famitsu won't be on the shelves anytime useful for me (i.e. before the column deadline), but a few companies beat all the rest when it came to sending holiday cheer to their fans. Right around Christmas Gust sent out a Christmas card, as seen here (courtesy of Dengeki). The titular heroine of Atelier Violet is enjoying a little holiday cheer with the three new characters added to the PSP port of the game.

Not to be left behind, Bandai-Namco also made their holiday wishes via Dengeki, with the help of the non-cameo cast of Radiant Mythology 3.

Check back next week, when we're sure to have a lot more holiday wishes from every gaming company imaginable.

Source: Dengeki Online
12/20 ~ 12/26 12/13 ~ 12/19 12/6 ~ 12/12 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 1 1 Last seen at 1 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd Capcom
4 5 4 Last seen at 6 Pokémon Black/White Nintendo
6 New arrival! * * The 3rd Birthday Square Enix
8 3 New arrival! * Inazuma Eleven 3 - The Ogre Level-5
9 9 2 New arrival! Ninokuni - The Mage of Darkness Level-5
13 11 13 Last seen at 13 Super Fossil Fighters Nintendo
30 6 New arrival! * Shining Hearts Sega
Off-list 24 10 Last seen at 2 Tales of Graces F Bandai-Namco
Off-list - 12 New arrival! Shiren the Wanderer 5 - Tower of Fortune, Dice of Fate Chunsoft

Months ago I promised to keep an eye out for new Japanese indie titles. I then staked out a major doujin news site and waited. And waited. After two months of no updates at all, there was a small flurry of news in December, mostly end-of-the-year stuff. Out of it all, I came up with one RPG title: Labyrinthe de Terre.

I don't know what it is with the Japanese and French titles, but at least this one is easily rendered into English. This game is by monochrome monaural (intentionally with no caps), and this appears to be the group's first endeavor (or at least, it's the only title mentioned on their website). The 3.0 trial edition of Labyrinthe de Terre became available mid-December, so here's a peek.

All fans of the maze-RPG genre, rejoice. This game seems to be much in the same vein. The main character appears to be a witchy young lady named Rosetta, she of the yellow hat. Another character named Chris also makes an appearance in battle. Here's the tale: Years ago, Rosetta's father left on an expedition, only to vanish from the face of the world. Recently however, a letter arrived out of the blue. Signed by her dad, it simply says "Come to the caves on the Isle of Terre." With her trusty companion / bodyguard Chris in tow, Rosetta proceeds to do just that. Terre is an island filled with chimeric monstrosities, which attack people from their lairs deep beneath the island. If she's to discover what happened to Dear Old Dad, Rosetta's got to make it to the very depths of Terre.

Anyone wanting to check it out need only go to the game's main page, where the download button is conveniently in English. Enjoy!

Source: Dengeki Online

For our last column in December, we had a couple scans for the upcoming Queen's Gate Spiral Chaos, an SRPG adaptation to the gamebook sequel Queen's Blade (itself remade into an SRPG last year). While the following art and screens don't actually show anything not seen in the scans, they're a bit more accessible, I think. So, to recap, here are the new characters:

The top two are Marron Macaron, patissiere extra-ordinaire, and Aris, amoral treasure-hunter and self-proclaimed genius. They're probably the major plot characters, but don't quote me on that. The next two are the major cameo appearances: Dizzy from Guilty Gear and Mai Shiranui from King of Fighters. More and bigger boobs are sure to follow.

Finally, there are some screenshots to appreciate

Source: Famitsu Online

The game development company Kemco has a long history in the business, but looking over its list of titles shows the company to be hit-or-miss in the quality of titles it's provided Nintendo over the years. The last title by Kemco mentioned in the column was Sorcery Blade, a digital download Wii-make of a cellphone title. Their most recent title shows that even though they've been in business since the mid-80s, the folks at Kemco aren't afraid to jump to a new means of doing business. In other words, this one's a downloadable, too. The name? Symphony of Eternity. The platform? Android.

Source: Famitsu Online
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
SaGa 3 DS - Shadow or Light Square Enix 1.6.11
Mass Effect 2 Microsoft 1.13.11
Kingdom Hearts : Birth By Sleep Final Mix Square Enix 1.20.11
Venus and Braves Bandai-Namco 1.20.11
Wizardry: City of Trapped Souls - Twin Pack Acquire 1.20.11
Dragon Age : Origins Spike 1.20.11
Valkyria Chronicles 3 Sega 1.20.11
Tsukumonogatari Furyuu 1.20.11
The Last Story Nintendo 1.20.11

For the record, I have no idea what Tsukumonogatari is about, and the various screenshots I've been able to find on Dengeki all make it look more like a straight-up adventure title, not an RPG. After several pages of updates (all made within the last month), I've yet to even see combat or stat screens. If I do, I'll put them up next week.

Source: Dengeki Online

What, no New Year's cards in my letter box? Oh well, at least I've got some cards from the cutest little kids in the world. Yay.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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