Thursday, February 23, 2017

Art Fest vol. 1

Mediafire is still screwed up, but there seems to be a workaround. I'd uploaded a bunch of photos on Monday, including the 13 here below. Of these 13, 3 were being treated as bad links. As of right now, those three are still messed up. However, I uploaded another 20 files last night, and all of those transferred just fine. So, I'm thinking that the messed up ones probably won't be resolved no matter how long I wait. On the other hand, if I simply re-upload the bad ones, Mediafire just identifies the new files as copies and repeats the bad links with them. Instead, if I edit the pictures just a bit (by trimming one edge by a couple pixels) and changing the file names, Mediafire treats them as all new files, and they're now transferring just fine, without screwing up the links, and I can delete the bad files to get rid of them. Sigh.



There was an art fest on Sunday. There have been similar events at Terukuni shrine in the past, but this was the first one in Central Park. Basically, it was just a one-day collection of artists trying to find buyers.



Some of the artists continued working on their art during the fest, such as the woman off camera to the right of the shot, who was painting a guy in a rabbit outfit.



Along with the guy acting as her model.



There was also a live stage, featuring the local mascots Hayato-kun, and his fox god opponent. This time, they added two female singers, and Dusking (a play on Duskin, a cleaning equipment rental company, although they also own Mister Donut.)







As usual, Decadentisme was there with her goth stylings.



I like this one - a tiger fighting a dragon, with yokai cheering in the stands. There's lots of detailed stuff in the background.



This booth was promoting itself for illustrations and fashion art.



This guy was painting on-site, dribbling paint on the canvas with a stick, then finger painting with it.



There was one musician in the park doing folk songs. He wasn't all that good, but he did have a small, dedicated audience.



Another booth had fantasy art.



And, there was a booth for the guy that takes pictures of cats around Kagoshima. He has a book out, and had an exhibit of his work in Tenmonkan a year ago.

I didn't buy anything this time - no place to keep it. I only spent half an hour looking around, then went home to do more work on the computer.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ramen Oh, Feb. 17, 2017




KTS TV sponsored another ramen contest at Dolphin Port over the weekend. 700 yen ($6 USD) got you one ticket. On Friday, it also got me a bag of beef stew mix and a breath mint (which were missing on Saturday). The idea being to use the ticket for a bowl of ramen. The staff exchange the ticket for a medallion. After eating, you put the medallion in a box at the judging table for the company you think had the best ramen.



This time, there were only 18 restaurants represented, and the one I went to last time was missing. I learned about the event from one of my students on Friday, and I swung by to take a few photos for the blog after my class at 4 PM. There weren't that many people at that time, and I figured that I might as well get a bowl of something while I was there. They did have an event stage but nothing was scheduled until 5 PM, and that was just the Southern Cross idol group singing and dancing.



The ramen I selected was an Indian-style curry soup that was pretty good.



Then on Saturday, I had a 1-hour break at 6 PM. The stage event was an interview with a couple members of the Kagoshima FC soccer team, but it was pretty lame ("How do you feel about this season, what ramen do you like to eat," etc.) While I was in the area, I opted to try a different ramen suggested by another student - the truffle ramen, which featured slices of pork prepared 3 different ways. The weather had gotten a lot colder since the day before, and the serving staff put plastic wrap over the bowl to keep the heat in until I could get to the tables to start eating. There were a lot more people on the second night, and not that much space at the tables. The ramen was good, but not overly special.


(Kagoshima United FC.)



Still, it was a decent way to kill a little time. I didn't go back on Sunday though because I was busy with translation work online.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Rilakkuma at Rest




The toy store, Drops, puts out different stuffed animals on their sign to attract customers on Streetcar Street. This time, we have Rilakkuma out taking it easy (it's a play on the words "relax" and "kuma = bear"). So, relaxed bear.



Just chillin' on a chilly day.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mini-Oh




Au is a smartphone company, and Mineo is their current brand phone, for 1,310 yen a month without tax (about $12). The text say "Creating the new "normal" for smart phones." The photo is a play on words, with the woman dressed as "Maine-oh," or My neh King. I wonder if their ideas of kings extends to their concepts of smart phones...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Labyrinth Poster




There's a new escape game that came to Kagoshima in mid-Feb. - "Escape from Labyrinth." I'm thinking that Monster Strike is the name of one of the companies that put this game together. Anyway, the kanji right above the game name is Jikuu Oojo (Space-Time Princess). The timing of this is funny because the American comic strip, Brewster Rocket ran a gag series on escape games the same week that I saw this poster. Anyway, I didn't try it, because it's expensive, and I would have a lot of trouble understanding the Japanese clues without outside help. The artwork is very manga-esque, though.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 7 review


(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

High Score Girl Continue, vol. 7 (SquareEnix, 2015-16), by Rensuke Oshikiri. Grade: B+.
And, we're back. These chapters actually ran in 2016, rather than being the older reprints of the earlier volumes. When we last saw our heroes - Yaguchi the slacker gamer, Hina the over-worked rich girl, and Koharu the bookworm smitten with Yaguchi - Yaguchi was still mooning over Hina, Hina had established a certain level of freedom from her tutor, and Koharu had suffered a humiliating loss against Yaguchi in her cage match to win a date with him. It's now 1996 and all three kids are first years in different high schools. Yaguchi's friend, Miyao, is attempting to get him emotionally involved in his own life, but Yaguchi really has no interest in anything beyond playing video games. Miyao guides them to the convenience store that Koharu's parents own, and Koharu initially shows contempt towards Yaguchi, but allows herself to be talked into going to his house with them. Guile tries to block them, but Koharu just blows past him and into the viper's pit. Turns out that Hina and her older sister, Moemi, are in his room playing word games with his mother, which is what Guile was trying to warn Yaguchi about. This leads to an awkward couple of hours as no one talks to each other, and Miyao and Moemi crack under the pressure and run screaming from the room. Hina and Koharu play a duel Street Fighter game against each other and Hina wins easily. Everyone leaves, and Hina and Yaguchi's mother blame him for all the troubles they had.


(Guile is no match against Koharu.)

The next day, Yaguchi is at a game center, when the Mizunokuchi gang (the ones that are training Koharu) show up and kick him out of the arcade. Stewing, Yaguchi takes the train into Shibuya, where he finds himself surrounded by Shibuya Girls (high school students with excessively heavy make-up and bad attitudes) and various street punks. He goes into an arcade, where three boys are unable to defeat the final boss, General, in Kaiser Knuckle. They browbeat him into taking over the game in the expectation that he's going to be easily defeated as well, and when he wins they enlist him in their gamer group. To fit in, Yaguchi starts hanging out in Shibuya, wearing a black stocking cap and a skull t-shirt. This causes his mother and Miyao to get concerned about him, and word gets back to Hina about Yaguchi's sudden weird behavior. Moemi decides to visit Shibuya herself for the first time, and after a day of harassing the boy, comes back to the Ohno estate wearing a black t-shirt of her own, getting the tutor to chase her around the house, yelling all the time. Afterward, the tutor lays the law down about Hina not being allowed to go into Shibuya herself. So of course, the next day, that's what she does.


(Awkward...)

The Mizunokuchi gang shows up in Shibuya to drive the Shibuya gang out of their own turf. This results in a 10-on-10 duel on one of the machines. One of the Shibuya gang girl hangers-on starts flirting with Yaguchi just to mess with him, and Koharu gets so angry that she faces all ten of the Shibuya players, and beats everyone by herself. She uses this victory over Yaguchi to get him into spending the day with her, but just as friends. She makes a point of saying that while he's paying for the both of them, this isn't an official "date".


(Koharu wins, then tells the hanger-on to leave her boyfriend alone.)

They go to an amusement park, and play games in an arcade. Night falls, and Koharu refuses to go home. They're stuck at a train station, as Yaguchi notes that they've missed the last train for the night. It's raining hard, and the boy suggests calling their parents to let them know where they are, and possibly have someone come get them in a car, but Koharu would rather go to a love hotel and cuddle. Yaguchi instead gets her to go to Guest (a parody of Gusto, a family restaurant). She'd bought an umbrella that was intentionally too small for 2 people, and panics when she sees that Yaguchi is holding the umbrella over her so that his shoulder is getting soaked - she doesn't want him to come down with a cold again.


("Hold me.")

At the restaurant, the two talk for a bit, and Koharu gets around to saying that Yaguchi has been really horrible to her. She's been having dreams of him holding her, and she's tired of them just being dreams. When they leave the restaurant, the rain has stopped and the sun is coming up. Koharu suddenly throws her arms around the boy, crying, and pleading with him to hold her just this once. Yaguchi is trying to figure out what to do when he sees Hina standing a little ways to the side, watching them.



Summary: The main focus of High Score Girl is the series of video games that came out in the 90's at the game centers. We not only get to see each of the games, and some samplings of characters, but also what the arcades and small towns around Tokyo looked like at the time. So to that extent this is a nostalgia manga. Woven over this, though, is a story of young love and the trials of the boy stuck in the middle of a triangle he didn't know was forming. The writing and pacing is very good, and it's highly recommended if you like arcade games and don't mind the chunky-face character designs.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Area 51, vol. 14 review


(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Area 51, vol. 14, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A
Whoo boy. I finally get this volume in my hands, and it takes maybe two hours to finish it. But now, it pretty much looks like the series is going to end in volume 15 this Summer. Sigh. I was afraid of that.


(Amaterasu the Nue arrives to stop the fighting.)

H58) Go to Stop That War
McCoy has exhausted her strength, and as she leans against a tree, she bids the giant super chimera, Amaterasu, to go finish the war. At the moment, the full Japanese and Egyptian armies are arrayed in the middle of Area 51, facing each other, waiting for the order to fight. Anubis is overjoyed with how his plan is working out, while Zeus and the other gods stand and watch, ready to punish the first side to take action. Meanwhile, Son Gokuu is being harassed at his bar by some guards, when Amaterasu arrives and scoops him up. She asks him to do something about the fires raging across the city, and he happily obliges, jumping down to the street and first rescuing Kishirou and the monster children the kappa is protecting. Kishirou the kappa runs over to a fire hydrant and opens it, magically directing the water up into the air, where Gokuu catches it in his teapot head (the replacement he's been using since his original head was used to create the chimera). He punches holes in the teapot and sprays the city with the water, quenching the flames.

Amaterasu arrives at the battle field, and is unhappy at being told that her general, Tsukuyomi, had almost gotten the Japanese gods and monsters banished from Area 51. She flattens him into the street, then cajoles Anubis into taking off his protective space suit. The jackal still bears the burn scars from when he was swallowed while unsuccessfully trying to save his beloved goddess from the First Snake. He also has a message burned into his left shoulder where Ra had touched him before dying in their last encounter. Amaterasu and Ra are both sun gods, and all sun gods are familiar with each other's techniques. She shoots a beam of light at Anubis, and his shadow hits the wall behind him, with a burning message in Egyptian visible within the darkness. Sekhmet reads the handwriting - "The one who killed me is Anubis."


(The death of Anubis.)

H59) Draw the "Iwato"
Anubis admits to the murder, turns into a giant, and attacks Amaterasu anyway, saying that he is doing this for Egypt. Sekhmet refuses to have anything to do with the Jackal anymore and orders her troops to retreat without another word to Amaterasu or the 10 gods. Anubis attempts to pummel his hated enemy in the face, but she replies that this is nothing compared to how hard McCoy hit her. Eventually, Anubis is no longer able to maintain his huge form, and his body becomes brittle and breaks apart. Ultimately, he dies. Amaterasu tells Tsukuyomi that the same thing is going to happen to her, and she wants him to take over from her in caring for the Japanese monsters. She gets Zeus to not hold anyone on the Japanese side responsible for the death and destruction so far, and apologizes for the suffering people have had to go through because of her decisions (i.e. - McCoy being killed by the doppelganger and turned into a sheath for Kusanagi.) She apologizes to Gokuu, too, but he's happy with his new head, because he can now make tea with it. Then, before she can fall over and damage more buildings, she turns herself to stone with her medusa tail, and one of the other Japanese gods blows her body to harmless little bits.

In the end, Zeus visits McCoy in her office, and warns her that because she contains Kusanagi, and the sword is capable of destroying the 10 gods, and Area 51 with them, her movements are probably going to be restricted until they can decide what to do with her. There are more than a few people that want her banished or imprisoned. She changes the topic and comments that she's heard that Zeus has had to play "politician" and asks him if he feels lonely (i.e. - without his brother, Hades, by his side). He replies that he does now, then leaves.


(Baba rescues Keiron from the assassin.)

H60) Reward will be given after their "Winning Run" - Honeymoon
This is a short side story. Keiron, McCoy's centaur doctor, has fallen in love with an old crone named Turbo Baba (baba = old woman). Turbo had been struck by the chimera's medusa beam and her leg was turned to stone. Keiron is treating her, and he has succeeded in healing her leg, but the old woman has lost the will to run anymore. He asks McCoy for help. Soon after, Keiron starts receiving phone calls where a spooky voice on the other end says that it's getting closer and closer to him. McCoy had told Turbo about an assassin that had been sent after the doctor, and when the next call comes in saying that the creature is just outside the office, Turbo panics, grabs Keiron and runs out to the streets. Turns out that Baba's problem was that she'd fallen in love with Keiron, and hadn't known how to tell him.


(The creature from the meteor destroys the TV news helicopter before turning its attention on the rest of Earth.)

H61) I can be a Superman!
Another side story. Kishirou is feeling useless. He really wants to be able to help McCoy with her personal problems, but he lacks the strength. He'd rescued a genie (Lamp no Mashin) back in volume 11, and he wants to use his second wish to become stronger. Lamp is able to grant this wish, but he warns the kappa that this kind of wish would come back to haunt him. Later, Kishirou finishes his errand (locating a lost pet lion ant - an ant the size of a small dog with a lion head - and returning it to its owner) and he comes back to the office to sleep on the couch. Then, an alien comes to the office and asks McCoy to help him. The night before, a meteor smashed into the ocean nearby, and the American Navy has been trying to find it. The alien claims that the meteor is really a monster that has destroyed his, and a couple other planets, and he wants McCoy to buy a large water pearl from him for $38,000 as payment for defeating the thing before it destroys Earth (McCoy tells him to go away). While, in the next room, Kishirou's dream is interrupted by a ghost that gives him a magic rod that will turn him into a giant that can defeat the threat. Kishirou wakes up, holding the rod in his hand. He races out to the docks, only to discover that the ghost was a victim of the monster, now holding a grudge, and that the rod doesn't do anything. The alien ends up defeating the monster, and is revealed to be another ghost, which dissipates after completing his mission. The story wraps up with Kishirou using his second wish to get the money to buy the water pearl as a gift for McCoy.


(McCoy doesn't like doppelgangers. Shizune is unable to argue with her.)

H62) I also Liked You, Major
McCoy is at the Four Legged Clinic, getting her routine treatments from Keiron to help keep her body together. The centaur says that the latest surgery is the last one he can do for her, and that she's probably going to fall apart soon. She replies that until she destroys the doppelganger that killed her and stole her baby, she can't afford to die. She leaves the clinic, and is stalked by Shizune, the kappa that had tried to kill Prince Charming before. Shizune manages to stab McCoy with a kappa death needle, but loses the papers she's holding before running away. One of McCoy's friends (the spider woman, Sonya) finds her in an alley and gets her back to the clinic. McCoy recovers enough to grab Pike and have him shoot her with a yokai bullet that rips the needle out. Kishirou arrives at the clinic, and identifies the needle as having belonged to his friend, Kirimaru, and that the attacker was Kirimaru's younger sister. McCoy recovers, and looks at the papers she'd grabbed from Shizune. They are the notes Kirimaru had compiled when he was trying to get closer to her. In with the papers is a second needle, the needle of life. McCoy gets Kishirou to track down Shizune. When the female kappa is brought to the clinic, she's infuriated that her brother's killer is still alive, then horrified at seeing all the bullet and sword scars all over McCoy's body. Shizune collapses into a chair and meekly answers McCoy's questions. Apparently, while Kirimaru was following her, he'd encountered someone "that looks exactly like McCoy, but isn't". Additionally, the notes place this "McCoy" somewhere that the real one had never been to before. McCoy takes Shizune out to the edge of the city, while telling Kishirou to stay in the office to wait for her to get back.

McCoy drives to the Nikola no Ori (Prison of Nikola), and tells Shizune that in fact, Area 51 is the prison and this tower here is where all the guards live, along with the original god that created this place. The "guards" are angels, and the tower is off-limits to all other residents of the Area. Which is why it's kind of hard to believe that the doppelganger would be inside. Everyone else knows about this place, except that Kirimaru had been a newcomer and was unaware of the rules when he saw "McCoy" there. Eventually, Major Felix drives up and orders McCoy to back off NOW. Even though Pike is a possessed object (having become sentient after being owned for 99 years), McCoy doesn't think that he could hurt an angel, but Felix doesn't want to take the chance. However, she asks him why a doppelganger would be allowed in the tower, and he says that some years ago, there had been a zombie invasion that killed off 20% of the population (that's when he'd lost an eye). The angels used the doppelganger's ability to control its blood to develop a weapon to use against the zombies. The invasion was repulsed, but just in case there was a second attempt, the angels decided to keep the doppelganger there as "thanks" for its assistance.

McCoy asks if Felix had been in the tower at some point, and he says yes, once. He'd been a regular grunt in the army, but he was killed in battle. He was saved by the angels, and he's now one of them, as a half-breed. She then asks if anyone else, angel or otherwise, knows that the doppelganger has her face right now. He says "no," and McCoy kills him with a bullet from Pike. She then tells Shizune that the reason she's there is to spread the word that McCoy has murdered an angel, with the intent of forcing the doppelganger out of Nikola's Cage. Shizune is shocked that McCoy would risk her life like this.



Summary: Great art, great art, great art. Love the story, love everything about Area 51. Highly, highly recommended.