gogatsu no youka
Souji shimasu

Well, Golden Week is over and done with, and what do I have to show for it? A marginally cleaner apartment. No, I did not go traveling this year, partly from expenses, partly because one of the government's economic stimulus plans backfired a little. It seems the Diet wanted to encourage people to travel more, so for Golden Week all road tolls were reduced to 1000 yen (about $10) regardless of destination. The end result was some of the worst traffic ever recorded in some parts of the country.

Oh well, there's always summer vacation. On with the column!

As there isn't anything really going on in the news lately (or wasn't, until Macstorm sent some items my way), I thought I might share some art with you all. It's no real secret that people who do concept art for manga or video games in Japan often attract their own fanbase. Long-time professionals like Akira Toriyama or Yoshitaka Amano often get name recognition far beyond their work in the video game or manga industry. Bigger cities in Japan will often host small gallery showings by various artists. Unfortunately, work prevented me from going to the Amano gallery in Hakata a few years back, but I did get to attend a showing for a different artist.

Kohime Ohse isn't well known outside Japan since none of the projects she's worked on ever jumped the Pacific. She's got credits for several manga and novel illustration projects, as well as concept art for three video games: Atelier Marie, Abarenbou Princess, and Κουκλοθεατρο ("Puppet Theater," and yes, the title's supposed to be in Greek).

This list actually predates last week's sales list, but it's also more complete. Due to Golden Week, Famitsu postponed their Top 30 list for about six days. I still prefer the Top 30, so here you go.

Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 New Arrival! Pokémon Dungeon - Sky Explorers Nintendo
4 Down from 3 Mario & Luigi RPG 3 Nintendo
6 New Arrival! Home Tutor Hitman - Fate of Heat II Takara Tomy
17 Down from 2 Muramasa - The Demon Blade Marvelous
19 Up from 30 Valkyria Chronicles (PS3 the Best) Sega
20 Down from 14 Disgaea 2 - Dark Hero Days Nippon Ichi
27 Down from 15 Super Robot Taisen K Bandai-Namco
30 Up from 33 Pokémon Platinum Nintendo

News is slow during Golden Week. In fact, I could count the number of news articles on both Famitsu and Dengeki with both hands, and have a few fingers left over. Out of that handful, there was one RPG to mention.

Linebarrels of Iron is one of the more recent anime on the market in Japan. I've never read the comics or seen the show, and after looking through the wiki I have no real desire to do so. It sounds like a pretty generic giant robot show. Apparently it has proved popular enough to warrant its own PSP spinoff game, predictably a strategy RPG.

Just from the screens, I can't tell if the gameplay is as generic as the source material, but I am not holding my breath either.

Source: Dengeki Online

It seems Gust and Nippon Ichi have learned something from last year's experimental crossover RPG Cross Edge. Namely, that crossover games can sell. With that in mind, the two gaming companies have joined forces with Idea Factory to bring the world another one.

Trinity Universe for the PS3 is a bit different from most Gust and Nippon Ichi titles in that it's actually in 3D, though conversations look to be done in the character-portrait style common to both companies. Battles are pure 3D, however, with the action split into Attack and Defense turns. During a character's attack turn, he or she can hit until the time limit is reached or AP reaches zero, using the usual fast strike, hard strike, or magic choices of action. As could be expected of a title associated with Nippon Ichi, the damage totals can get very high.

Of the main cast, I've only identified the game of origin for four so far, two from the Disgaea series, and two from Atelier. The one that everyone will recognize is of course Etna, or to use her full title, "Beautiful Galactic Space Pirate Captain Etna." With her is "Space Witch Galaxy Flonne," who was apparently born to spread love and happiness across the cosmos in this incarnation. The other two characters are Violet, titular heroine of Atelier Violet, and Pamela, originally of Atelier Judie with cameos in Atelier Violet and at least one of the Atelier Iris games.

The game's story is told through two different scenarios -- the "Goddess scenario" (which seems to be associated with Gust) and the "Overlord" scenario (definitely associated with Nippon Ichi). The Goddess protagonist is Liseriel, protectress of peace and harmony in Space Makai. Her opposite number is Kanata the Dog Overlord, who's hellbent on removing the little accent mark on the first kanji of his title (thus changing the meaning from "dog" to "great"). As Overlords go, he's pretty nice. How these two plotlines interact remains to be seen. Rounding out the cast, we have the Dark Hero Lukius and the Ghost Fox Tsubaki.

Hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more of this one before its release date in August.

Source: Wii @ Everyday

Somebody needs to hang a "Ain't Dead Yet" sign on the PS2. Yet another strategy RPG has been announced for the console, due out on July 30th.

Idea Factory presents NuGa-Cel, short for "Nurture Garment Celebrate". Set in present-day Tokyo, the story centers on five high school girls with the magic powers of cosplay. The blurbs go on a bit about how unique the system is, but really, D3 beat them to the punch. The different cosplay outfits (including Cowgirl, Nurse, and one other whose name I can't make out due to poor scan quality) can level up, changing appearance and powers in the process.

I'm not sure about this one. It just looks a little iffy to me. But then again, we can't even see the entire page on either of these scans. I'll be keeping an eye out for more info on this one.

Source: Wii @ Everyday

And that's it for this week. I really didn't think I was going to make it, with only one news item and a collection of postcards, but then the day was saved, courtesy of some serendipitous scans. Sure, one set could have been more complete, but that just gives me material for next week, assuming I can find it. Until then, I'm just going to relax a bit.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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