nigatsu no itsuka

Some of you might recall I had a little test that I took about two months back. Well, I got the results this week, and they were about what I expected. I didn't pass, but I didn't pass by only three points.

Oh well, I already knew I was going to take this again in July. Now I have a better idea of what I need to study for it.

And to continue a running gag, "Man, JLPT..."

This is an item for all those parents out there who hear their kids talking about stuff like Naruto and have no idea what language is being used. It certainly isn't English at times, and some Japanese would make the argument that it's not their language either. The Japan Foundation is out to bridge the generation and culture gap with a new website dedicated to the language, jargon, and expressions specific to manga and anime.

The site's just gone up this past Monday, so it's still a work in progress. Among the upcoming features there are genre-specific games and quizzes pertaining to useful words and kanji. So if you find yourself wondering what the heck kids these days are talking about, here's some help.

Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
2 New Arrival! Valkyria Chronicles 2 - The Gallian Academy Sega
5 Last seen at 1 Kingdom Hearts - Birth by Sleep Square Enix
10 Last seen at 10 Pokémon Heart Gold / Soul Silver Nintendo
12 Last seen at 8 Legend of Zelda - Spirit Tracks Nintendo
13 Last seen at 19 Inazuma Eleven 2 Fire/Blizzard Level Five
16 Last seen at 13 Phantasy Star Portable 2 Sega
20 Last seen at 12 Final Fantasy XIII Square Enix
25 Last seen at 24 Poké-Park Wii -- Pikachu's Big Adventure Nintendo
27 Last seen at 28 Power Pro-kun Pocket 12 Konami

In about a month Sgt. Frog - The Knight, the Warrior, and the Legendary Pirate hits the shelves, and today we get a better idea of why it got its secondary title. The three major realms of the game apparently exist semi-separately in their own realities, with some overlap. To match the title, they are the Japanese-themed Warrior realm, the European-themed Knight realm, and the scurvy Pirate realm. Sgt. Keroro's band of misfits tend to stand out wherever they go, but they still do their best to match the scenery.

It's not just the froggy fivesome getting a makeover, as all the major human characters of the series get their own doppelgangers in the fantasy world. Some of them even get multiples, as one character seems to sport a different name and persona for each of the three realms.

I really am going to have to pick this one up sometime...

Source: Dengeki Online

When we covered the port/remake of Atelier Judie last week, we neglected to mention one important bit -- the swag. Loyal Gust fans who place their order in advance will receive a limited edition microfiber cleaning cloth featuring the game's mysterious new addition, as well as a case to keep it in.


Source: Dengeki Online

It's never news when a gamemaker announces a soundtrack. This sort of thing is rather routine. Special editions or interesting remixes are more worthy of note, but even they are more of a "ho-hum, let's use it if we have the space" item of interest. And then there's the occasional item that's just so outrageous and surprising, it deserves its own space.

Now, normally those are not words that would be used to describe the soundtrack of Final Fantasy XIII. It's not a bad soundtrack, but it's not groundbreaking. The news is not about the music, but about the medium. In this case, vinyl.

And here I thought there would never be a market for record players in Japan anymore. Starting February 26th, S-E will be selling W/F : Music from FINAL FANTASY XIII on the Square e-Store. The 12" vinyl record has eight songs from the game in full orchestral mode, including a special version of the track "Ragnarok - sans pipe organ" which cannot be found anywhere else.

Square is now taking pre-orders at the S-E store's site, so sign up if you're interested!

Nippon Ichi's upcoming Classic Dungeon knows how to make the best of its self-imposed pixelated goodness. What's the point of having such a gratuitous sprite-based look if the players can't play around with it, after all? This week we get a look at some of the possibilities given by the game's sprite editor.

Nippon Ichi just keeps putting these characters in everywhere, no?

Source: Dengeki Online
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Star Ocean 4 The Last Hope Square Enix 2.4.10
World War Moe 2 Systemsoft Alpha 2.4.10
God Eater Bandai Namco 2.4.10
Sacred II Spike 2.10.10
Legendary Hero's Legend - Legendary Saga Kadokawa Publishing 2.18.10
Classic Dungeon Nippon Ichi 2.18.10
Suikoden Tierkreis (Konami the Best) Konami 2.18.10
Demon's Souls (Playstation3 The Best) SCE 2.25.10
Tales of Symphonia - Dawn of the New World (Everyone's Wii Favorites) Bandai-Namco 2.25.10
Arc Rise Fantasia (Everyone's Wii Favorites) Marvelous 2.25.10
Muramasa - The Demon Blade (Everyone's Wii Favorites) Marvelous 2.25.10
WiZmans World Jaleco 2.25.10
Estpolis - The Lands Cursed by the Gods Square Enix 2.25.10
Shiren the Wanderer 4 Spike 2.25.10
Endless Frontier EXCEED - SRT OG Saga Bandai-Namco 2.25.10
Borderlands Microsoft 2.25.10
Source: Dengeki Online
Travel Advice

Gaijin Monogatari–

I regularly enjoy your column, and I think that you are the one that helped me with Obon season travel a couple years ago. So when I saw this week's Culture Corner, I thought that I'd chime in with my experience with the Japan Rail Pass, which I think is a great option if you will be doing a lot of long distance travel around the country. Shinkansens are so awesome! So, if you could, pass this information on to David.

Look into the Japan Rail Pass. The rail pass is only for foreigners and can only be purchased in their own country. The passes are not available once you get to Japan. For Americans, you buy an "exchange order" from an authorized travel agent (offices listed on the above website). When you get to Japan, you must turn in that exchange order at JR office at the airport to get your rail pass. It is good for admission on all shinkansen and trains for the period of time that you chose (7-, 14-, or 21-days). You can get two versions – the low-budget one is for "Ordinary" car travel on the slower shinkansen lines. The pass cannot be used for travel on the superfast NOZOMI trains. You must not lose the pass as it is non-replaceable. Once you get your rail pass, you can make seat reservations if you know where you want to go and when you want to arrive. Or you can just show up at the station (eki) and board, if there is a free seat available. If someone has reserved that seat, though, you'll have to give it up of course and you may end up standing for the duration of the trip. Before entering the station platform, though, you must directly show you pass to the attendant at the turnstiles (behind the glass) before entering. For the shinkansen, you'll have to make sure before boarding which cars are the "Ordinary" cars if that was the Rail Pass you chose, and be sure if you are not a smoker to avoid the smoking cars at all costs!

Definitely watch out for Obon week. Shinkansen and all other forms of transportation seemed to be mostly standing room only and you can't make seat reservations. Also, finding accommodations is a real trial. One last thing about August in Japan, at least from my experience in the southern half of the country, is that it is hot and extremely humid. You'll discover why folding fans and hand towels are the accessory of choice!



Pretty much everything she said. Especially the part about southern Japan being a sweltering hothouse in late summer. Sorry I didn't go into this much detail last week. I'm sure it'll be more than helpful.

Thanks, SRMB!

We're going into full gear for the big Family Show at my school, and things are looking cute. I might even be able to pull off my end of things without any major disasters this year. Here's to hoping...

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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