gogatsu no tsuitachi
Midori no Hi

Last Wednesday, Japan had another rare public holiday that isn't on a Monday -- Midori no Hi, or Greenery Day. What's so special about the color green? Does it symbolize the earth, or life, or some other philosophical concept? Actually, Greenery Day's position on the calendar was so unpopular that in 2005 they had to move it to next week. For many Japanese, the 29th of April will always be the Day of Showa.

Who's Showa? For most Americans, the name Hirohito may be more familiar, but no one in Japan would ever call him that. In older days, names were very symbolic. A person would have a child name, and then at the age of 14 receive their adult name. Upon elevation to rank in the court, samurai would receive a new, third name which reflected their status. Nowadays, name changes are relevant only to that bastion of unwavering tradition, the Imperial Household. Upon ascension to the throne, the first thing the new emperor must do is choose a reign-name. This is the name by which the entire period of his reign shall be known on the calendars, as well as the name everyone will use for him after his death. During his reign, he'll be more often refered to as Tennou-sama (His Heavenly Highness) than either his real name or his reign-name.

The current Emperor is Akihito, a.k.a. the Heisei Emperor. His birthday is December 22nd. I wonder what they'll try to name that day after he passes away.

I forgot to mention this before now, but when I bought my copy of Atelier Annie, I also received a copy of the game's bonus dramatic CD. It wasn't until just this week that I got around to listening to it. Has anyone in the audience ever listened to a radio play? That's essentially what this is, with five characters from Atelier Annie going through a comedy of errors as they try to put up an appeasing facade to fool a visiting person of some importance.

You'd have to have played the game to understand what's so funny about the characters' appearances in the first scan, so I won't go into details. It's good listening practice, at least.

Okay, something went wrong with the Famitsu Top 20 this week and it hasn't shown up on their site yet. The Top 10 has been up for two days now, so we're bringing you that. I prefer the Top 20, even though the info is actually a week behind, just because it gives more info on more games. There's no sign of where Muramasa went to, but I'm sure it's still up there somewhere. I'm really missing Dengeki's Top 50 list now...

This Week Last Week Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
2 1 New Arrival! Pokémon Dungeon - Sky Explorers Nintendo
7 4 Down from 3 Mario & Luigi RPG 3 Nintendo
Bumped below 10 Down from 6 New Arrival! Home Tutor Hitman - Fate of Heat II Takara Tomy

A bit over a year ago, System Soft Alpha released the fifth installment of their PC series Tir nan Og in Japan. This Wednesday past, that same game received a double re-release, this time on both the PSP and the Playstation 2. So, what do we know about this title?

Well, it looks okay I suppose, though the style still screams PC game to me. Eschewing the typical mythic sources used, abused, or mangled by most console RPGs, Tir nan Og V -- Benevolence of Eternity and its siblings take most of their inspiration from Celtic and Germanic sources. Tir nan Og (Tir na Nog, Tir na nóg, however you wish to spell it) is the Gaelic name for the Isles of the Blessed, a sort of faerieland / afterlife ruled over by the god Aongus Og. When it says fairies, we're talking about the cute Tinkerbell type here. The game's eight major scenarios seem to be influenced by Irish mythic history and maybe parts of the Nibelungenlied. I expect things to get pretty bloody here.

Source: Tir nan Og V HP

'Tis the season for reader surveys. In the latest Famitsu, one can find the results of the 2009 "Most Wanted Sequels" reader polls. The top 50 were listed in the magazine. Not surprisingly, it is very RPG-heavy. Here's the breakdown. Also, for the sake of my sanity, I am not linking any of the titles to game pages.

So, which titles and/or series are most in demand for continuation, re-release, or remakes in Japan? Starting from the bottom and working our way to #1, we have:

Ranking Title Publisher
46 Drag-On Dragoon Square Enix
45 Racing Lagoon Square Enix
43 Arc the Lad Sony
42 Grandia Game Arts / Square Enix
41 Front Mission Square Enix
40 Seiken Densetsu Square Enix
38 White Knight Chronicle Sony
37 Eternal Arcadia Sega
33 Lufia (tied with Another Century's Episode) Taito
32 Golden Sun Nintendo
31 Dew Prism Square Enix
28 Wild ARMs Sony
26 Lost Odyssey & Infinite Undiscovery (tie) Microsoft & Square Enix
25 Baten Kaitos Bandai-Namco
24 Panzer Dragoon Sega
23 Ore no Shikabane wo Koeteyuke** Sony
22 Shadow Hearts Alze
21 The World Ends with You Square Enix
20 Medabots Imagineer
18 Valkyria Chronicles Sega
17 Romancing SaGa (YES!!) Square Enix
16 MOTHER (aka Earthbound) Nintendo
15 Zone of the Enders Konami
14 Chrono Trigger Square Enix
12 Demons' Souls Sony
8 Ogre Battle Square Enix
6 Breath of Fire Capcom
5 Xenogears Monolith / Square Enix
3 Okami Capcom
2 Shen Mue Sega
1 Sakura Taisen Sega

** Ore no Shikibane wo Koeteyuke (poss. translation - "Over my Dead Body") was a 1999 Playstation RPG set in the Heian Period (12th century Japan). It's the only game or series on this list that I have never heard of before. It was re-released on the Playstation Network sometime last year, which could account for this odd surge of support.

Source: Famitsu Weekly

It's spring over here, and for Nintendo that means one thing: it's time to start the ad blitz for the next Pokémon movie.. They've already featured most of the legendary critters from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, so who's next?

This time around it's Aruseus (Arseus, Alseus, whatever). Famitsu did a piece on this guy a few weeks back, and Dengeki had a few screens as well, but I kind of forgot to mention it in the column before now. It sure helps to fill out a slow column, though.

Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Growlanser Atlus 5/14/09
Takt of Magic Nintendo 5/21/09
Mass Effect Microsoft 5/21/09
Record of the Agarest War (Compile Heart Collection) Compile Heart 5/0/09
Utawarerumono Portable Aqua Plus 5/28/09
Yuusha 30 Marvelous 5/28/09
Kizuna - The Golden Bonds Jaleco 5/28/09
Ecolis 2 - Island Floating on the Blue Sea Gungho Works 5/28/09
Tactics Layer - Ritinagard Chronicle D3 Publisher 5/28/09
A Witch's Tale Nippon Ichi 5/28/09
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Square Enix 5/28/09
Source: Dengeki Online

The next 5 days or so are Golden Week, so there may or may not be a column next Friday. I'll do my best, but I figured I'd better give some warning anyway. I'm also well into the third chapter of my Kodansha novel, which is a lot farther than I've ever gotten on this one before, so I'm happy. Also, I've added about a dozen new kanji to my repertoire so far, and I'm not stopping to check the dictionary every three words (though it might help).

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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