shichigatsu juu-nana-nichi

We're going on a bug-hunt, a bug-hunt, a bug-hunt! We're going on a bug-hunt to see what we can find!

Japan really is a country of bugs, especially in the summer. Whether they're crawling through the woodwork, flying through the windows, or buzzing incessantly outside when I'm trying to sleep, there's no escaping the things. But what counts as a bug in Japan? Well, the standard kanji symbol for bug is this:

But that doesn't really mean anything at all when it's by itself. The word mushi is, if anything, even more vague than the regular English usage of the word bug. All sorts of creepy-crawlies can be called bugs, and the symbol itself finds its way into many other kanji. See for yourself! The following pictures aren't for people who hate insects or spiders:

Obviously, not all of these are actually bugs, or can be refered to as mushi on their own, but the symbol mushi appears in the Japanese name for every single one of these. I included the symbols for anyone who wants to see. Starting from the top, we have a mosquito (ka), a higurashi cicada, an ant (ari), a common spider (kumo), fireflies (hotaru), a cute little frog (kaeru), a snake (hebi), a water leach (umabiru, not the blood-sucking type), a lizard (tokage), an octopus (tako), prawns (ebi), and a rainbow (niji). Notice that the kanji symbol mushi is incorporated into every single name symbol. Now, check out a a larger list. I specifically excluded all words that tack mushi at the end of a series of symbols, like kabutomushi (helmet beetle), kemushi (caterpillar), or mizumushi (athlete's foot).

Is it any surprise then that every RPG and fantasy/sci-fi anime ever made seems crammed with bug monsters? I've seen at least one of every critter on this list (and a rainbow or two as well) in the last month. Just like a swarm of little bugs, this column is full of small bits of news. Hope you enjoy!

Item #1

Dragon Quest IX came out last Saturday, as everyone probably knows by now, and I am quite thankful that I got my copy through my local convenience store rather than one of the big chain stores. Just look at some of the coverage from Dengeki. These were taken at 6:50 AM last Saturday, outside of the Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku. At the time the picture was taken, there were 150 people in line.

This is making me really glad I managed to avoid the insanity... Enterbrain had the sales figures out for DQIX out by Tuesday, and guess how many units were sold, just on Saturday and Sunday? Two million, three hundred forty-three thousand, four hundred forty. By Wednesday, it had officially passed the three million mark.

Sasuga DraQue...

Item #2

Square Enix has announced that the first of Dragon Quest IX's downloadable side-quests will be available starting today, July 17th, via the Wi-Fi Trader in the Saintstein Inn. New quests are supposed to be available through Wi-Fi every week or so. I guess I'll be getting fries at McDonalds sometime next week, just to see what this is about...

Item #3

Speaking of McDonalds, there's a specific Dragon Quest event taking place on McD's Wi-Fi connection from July 31st to September 3rd. Once a day, players can experience McDQ... er... Dragon Quest - Travelers to McDonalds, a simple adventure game similar to the original Dragon Quest. Winning five games (at one game a day) gets the player a coupon for a free burger.

Item #4

In other DQ-related news, Square Enix is releasing an updated version of the Battle Road spinoff game for various mobile phone networks. Based on DQVIII's coliseum, this version of Battle Road includes all the new monsters found in Dragon Quest IX.

Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
5 Up from 7 Kingdom Hearts - 365/2 Days Square Enix
7 Down from 4 Class of Heroes 2 Acquire
8 Down from 3 Atelier Rorona ~ Alchemist of Arland Gust
11 Up from 18 Pokémon Platinum Nintendo
13 Up from 22 Infinite Space Sega
14 Down from 9 Valhalla Knights 2 - Battle Stance Marvelous
19 Up from 26 Mario & Luigi RPG 3 - Bowser's Inside Story Nintendo
20 Up from 24 Pokémon Dungeon - Explorers of Sky Nintendo
23 Down from 8 Agarest Senki ZERO Compile Heart
27 Up from 33 Pokémon Diamond/Pearl (altogether) Nintendo

Robots in the original version of SaGa 2 were kind of given short shrift. Humans and espers had male and female versions, and of course there was a plethora of monster forms, but robots were just robots. There were only two types of robot enemies, too, unless one counts one of the tougher bosses later in the game. It's nice to see that they're changing that part this time.

I am so getting the robot with kitty ears in my party.

The rest of our SaGa 2 coverage this week goes over more changes to combat. Basically, they're including Limit Breaks. There's not much more to say about it.

Source: Famitsu Online

Capcom's always been one for reviving or extending its series beyond what might be considered reasonable. This week, they announced that a DS remake of the Mega Man Battle Network series was in the works. Subtitled Operate Shooting Star, it's been stated that there will be some sort of cross connection between this remake and the more recent Mega Man Star Force sub-series. Just how they're going to pull that off is anyone's guess, but I'm sure we're bound to find out more in the future.

Source: Dengeki Online

Level 5 is back with more news of Inazuma Eleven 2, and this time around, it's double the fun. Or at least, double the cartridges. Inazuma has succumbed to one of the major trends of gaming on Nintendo handhelds -- multiple versions. Inazuma Eleven 2 is now coming in two climes: Fire and Blizzard. The major difference between the two seems to lie in who your main rivals are. In the Fire version, the rival team is called Prominence, while in Blizzard, the team's name is Diamond Dust. As well, various football techniques and characters will be unique to each version.

Source: Dengeki Online

It's time for Famitsu's official halftime report, chronicling the top 100 games of the first half of 2009 in terms of units sold. Of the 100, 26 were RPGs. It's worth noting that in the last week, Dragon Quest IX outsold at least three-fourths of this list combined.

Position Title Publisher Platform # Sold
1 Mario & Luigi 3 - Bowser's Inside Story Nintendo 647,844
6 Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Square Enix 462,453
9 Pokémon Dungeon - Explorers of Sky Nintendo 357,271
12 Tales of the World - Radiant Mythology 2 Bandai-Namco 317,413
18 Pokémon Platinum Nintendo 240,288*
20 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles - Echoes of Time Square Enix 232,801
22 Dissidia Final Fantasy Square Enix 229, 258
26 Star Ocean 4 - The Last Hope Square Enix 208,438
27 Super Robot Taisen K Bandai-Namco 207,079
30 Dragonball Kai Bandai-Namco 184,056
35 Magician's Quest - Magical Times Konami 165,919
46 Seventh Dragon Sega 136,104
48 Demon's Souls SCE 134,585
49 White Knight Chronicles SCE 134,491
50 Inazuma Eleven Nintendo 131,053*
51 Persona Atlus 128,709
56 Phantasy Star ZERO Sega 116,734
61 Devil Survivor Atlus 106,779
71 Tales of Hearts (both versions) Bandai-Namco 82,474
72 Disgaea 2 Portable Nippon Ichi 80,927
78 Retro Game Challenge 2 Bandai-Namco 75,212
89 Harvest Moon - Welcome to the Wind Bazaar! Marvelous 67,662
92 Suikoden Tierkreis Konami 65,798
93 Shining Force Feather Sega 62,907
98 Valkyria Chronicles (PS3 the Best) Sega 57,842
99 Zill O'll Infinite Plus Koei 57,652

* Pokémon Platinum and Inazuma Eleven were both 2008 releases which have carried over to this year. Platinum's total sales come to 2,427,625 units sold, and Inazuma's total comes to 360,069.

Source: Famitsu Weekly

Anyone out there in need of more prinny love? The folks at Nippon Ichi have just the thing for folks like you. There's a new prinny cushion out in stores now. At 35 cm wide and 15 cm thick, this is just the thing on which to rest your head after too many excursions into the Item World.

Source: Dengeki Online
Time for a Show

Thought I'd ask something that intrigued me. I finally gave in and watched the first season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which I found to be much overhyped, though still nice in some ways. One thing that interested me was the "Cultural Festival" which figures prominently in one episode. It appears to be a sort of mix between a talent show and a carnival put on by high schools. Is this done everywhere? Does your school do it? Is it as wacky as it looks? Any funny stories to share?



Yup, it's done pretty much everywhere, though the proportion of carnival to talent show varies from school to school. My school has a big "family show" every year in February. And yes, it can be quite whacky. Two years back, we did a 50-kid ripoff of Pirates of the Caribbean. Quite cute.

This evening is my school's summer staff party, which means the next month or so is summer vacation season in Japan. Updates may get a little erratic for the month of August. Just letting you know in advance!

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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