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Nova1977 collection | wishlist Blog Posts: 385
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

JoL: I'M NOT DEAD!!!

Dear lord it's been a long time since I posted. I really must apologize. I rarely get internet access here and when I do, it's not for very long. I expect that I'll have a lot more time to write in-depth recaps of my experiences after I get back in two weeks so look forward to a lot of good stories then.

In the meantime, here's a list of some of the interesting things I've done since I last posted. Again, Each of these deserve their own post which I'll write up when I get back.

-Saw the new Ghibli film the dxay it premiered.
-Went to perhaps the coolest anime/games store on the planet (and bought/found some VERY rare items of interest).
-Met and talked to the mayor of my host family's city.
-Went to another awesome anime/game store where I bought a fantastic figure.
-Went at an underwater restaurant and ate live squid (which is an experience Kiera2 wrote about some time ago, although we had fairly different reactions)
-Bought a large book on nothing but how to draw moe anime.

And there you have it. Yay backlog!

 

Topic:  Anime
Posted: 12:28 am by Nova1977      Rating:  1  0    

Monday, July 12, 2010

JoL: Hey I'm Back! + A Fun Fact

No, not back in the US, but I am back to having internet access. I've been having some good times here in Kyushu, as the image below will attest to.

Not much of importance to write about that would concern any of you, but I do have one fun fact that I learned at a movie theater.

You know that horrible remake of the Karate Kid that's coming out and they're not even in Japan, and certainly not doing Karate? Well it needs a Japanese release, too. And naturally the name is not the same, as no one here would allow such an atrocity to take place. So the name was changed. What to?

Best Kid.

But then I did a little research and found that even when it really was Karate they were doing, it was STILL called Best Kid.

And there's your fun little fact of the day. Hope to write here soon with more interesting stuff to say.

(oh, and the new Ghibli film WILL be coming out in theaters while I'm here and thus I WILL see it before any of you so HAH)

 

Topic:  General
Posted: 11:19 pm by Nova1977      Rating:  1  0    

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

JoL: Moving Locations (On to Fukuoka)

It's been a long, exciting month here in Japan, albeit hot and muggy. I've gotten to try plenty of things I'd never dreamed of getting to do, such as the onsen, the karate lessons, etc, and I'm going to miss my first host family tremendously. But the month is over and it's time to move on to the next round of adventures to be had.

The house I'm moving to this weekend will be in a much more rural area. I will be spending a lot more time with my family than I was, as I was going to classes just about every day and won't be for the next month. What this means is that I'll probably have a much smaller connection to any foreigners, which I've decided is a good thing. I don't like seeing gaijin left and right. It reminds me of how out of place I must look.

Now I have absolutely no idea what the internet situation will be like in my next house. They may have some internet, or maybe none at all (that I could use, at least) so be fair warned, you might not see my posts for a while. But hey, if so, the better for me. I'll get to really immerse myself without this pesky distraction. Anyways, hope you've been enjoying my reports thus far and I also hope you'll continue to read them if possible.

 

Topic:  General
Posted: 8:56 am by Nova1977      Rating:  2  0    

Sunday, July 04, 2010

JoL: The Greatest Dinner Ever

You know what goes great with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

 

Topic:  General
Posted: 3:44 pm by Nova1977      Rating:  3  0    

Thursday, July 01, 2010

JoL: So I Bought Love Plus for DS...

Those of you who read a lot of Video Game news will probably recall an interesting happening in japan a few months ago where a man got a legal marriage to his DS. Well it wasn't exactly his DS he was marrying, but rather the character in a game for his DS. That game was Love Plus, an incredibly intricate and complex dating sim. It's also one I purchased a few days ago.

Why buy such a game? That's certainly a good question and not one that I have a clear answer for. For one, ever since that story about the marriage I began to form opinions about the game. Particularly, I believed it to be a black hole, of sorts, one that doesn't help the nation's great need to increase its birthrate (a decreasing birthrate being a great concern of Japan, currently). Of course the other reason would be absolute curiosity, for better or worse.

Well I've had some time with the game, gotten one of the three girls to become my girlfriend, and formed more solid opinions. I can honestly say that the game itself is harmless. What makes the decision to have it create a problem is the player itself. I can imagine that a good number of people would play this game, all the while rolling their eyes and not ever developing any sort of longing for the character built up by the pixels on the screen. I would think that normal adult men would get fed up with the lack of... sexual compensation to accompany the hard work the player must put into maintaining the relationship. This is one of my biggest arguments for why Love Plus is harmless, however. The relationships have a very school innocence to them, and with the exception of how little time it took me in real time to get a girlfriend (58 days in game, however), the relationships and the characters are hardly idealized at all.

However, this is actually a dangerous quality of the game. The game feels shockingly real at some points. The girls' voices are clear and adaptive, and I swear their movements were done with motion capture, probably a first for the DS. There's definite instant gratification to go along with the constant blushing/cute noises the girls make after you start dating, especially when the girl you choose is Rinko, who starts off quiet, short-tempered, and elusive. I could see how the realism crossed with the cuteness of the game could really confuse some people into thinking that real relationships aren't much better, and thus aren;t worth the time/effort/money when they have their virtual girlfriend in their pocket everywhere.

Rinko-chan making a climactic love confession on the roof of the school

Myself... somewhat included. No, I am not falling for this fake character, and I find it more a novelty than anything else. But when Rinko confessed her love to me, I actually felt like that sort of thing was actually happening, well, to an extent. The character you play does almost all the talking for you and even though you name the character (presumably after yourself), you hardly have control over what he says, except for how you choose to respond to emails or make important decisions.

Still, it was a fun way to spend a day sick with a fever, which has luckily gone away now. I can only wonder how long this game'll last until it turns into Nintendogs, a game with a rather similar UI, which sits on my shelf, never to played again, despite how I know there are three starving animals inside. Love Plus. Better than a real girlfriend? I honestly have no idea. Maybe these questions are best left unanswered. Fun experiment, though.

 

Posted: 3:36 pm by Nova1977      Rating:  1  0    

Monday, June 28, 2010

JoL: Odaiba and the Onsen

This weekend was certainly an interesting one, what with the Karate lesson and all. But it was only made more interesting by my trip with my host family to Odaiba. For those of you who don't know, Odaiba is a man made island in Tokyo that was originally built to defend Japan again foreign influences. Ironically it's now a center of internationalism and technology. It's main attraction would probably the Decks Mall, but it's also famous for the Fuji TV Building.

We went to the Decks Mall, which is actually a place I've been before, and had a good time looking around the section of the mall decorated to look like Japan during the 1960's, when it first started to absorb pop culture influences from the West in full force.

We later went to a Sony Science museum, which was pretty much just a place for Sony to show off it's supposedly superior technological abilities. It was alright, but I certainly got a kick out of the experiment stations with the label "Exploratorium, San Francisco" (a science museum in SF i've been to a number of times) on then. We went to some stage show thing in the museum where generic-character cosplayers "battled" with science. When I say "battled" I mean pulled out backyard science experiments and showed them to the audience. Kinda weird, but pretty funny, nonetheless.

Part of the mall called something like "little Hong Kong"

After the fun in the mall, we went over to a touristy Onsen in Odaiba. For those of you who, again, don't already know, an Onsen is a hot spring/public bath. I'd never been to a public bath before (I've been to hotels that had them, just never tried them out), and found that it was a lot less awkward and uncomfortable than I thought it would be. I got to thinking why it is that I would find it so, and couldn't really come up with an answer. So I enjoyed myself and actually had a good time. I more clearly understand the appeal of public bathing now that I've tried it out. The water felt very good and refreshing. But the bathing wasn't the only part of the building, as the main attraction was actually a large room decorated like a festival. Everyone inside was required to where a Yukata. There were festival-style games to play and lots of souvenirs to buy. I would say, that despite there being a large amount of foreigners (although mostly Chinese and Korean) present, the Onsen felt like one of the most Japanese things I've ever done. Maybe it's just because of how big the culture shock was.

 

Topic:  General
Posted: 4:38 pm by Nova1977      Rating:  2  0    

Saturday, June 26, 2010

JoL: The Karate Dojo

So I've never in my life done Karate. I did Tai Quan Do for about two weeks when I was in Kindergarten but that's it. Regardless of how bad my track record is, I seem to have befriended a local Karate instructor who speaks a terrific amount of English and has allowed me to join his class free of charge, for whatever reason. He's a good friend of my host parents so I can only guess that's the reason why.

Anyways, yesterday I went to his Dojo for the first time to take part in his Karate lesson, which felt rather strange, being the tallest one there and wearing the lowest level belt, accompanied by about five 4 year olds who were the same level. I guess you either start really young or really old in Japan, as the beginners in the class were very young, and a few of the middle-area students were older than 50. That's not to say everyone in the class was only either beginner or moderate. A friendly tip. Never surround yourself with 10 year old black belts. It's awful scary.

Yeah, I stuck out big time. But I thought I did alright, and it was certainly a work out. My host parents apparently asked the instructor to take pictures of me with my camera while I worked with the group, as he did, in the middle of the practice. I couldn't help but feel like I was.. intruding. I wouldn't have asked him to take pictures. Him doing so just made me feel like a tourist, a feeling I really hate, especially when it comes at the cost of the other students' time which they've worked hard to get to and pay a lot for.

In the end it was fun. A bit tiring, but fun. And apparently I'm going every friday from now on, at least until the end of my first month.

 

Topic:  General
Posted: 5:14 am by Nova1977      Rating:  2  0    

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

JoL: You Know You're in Japan When...

...You find this at your local suburban train station.

It's warning to all... handsy businessmen everywhere. I like how this sign shows just how infused anime is into Japanese culture. Even the signs prohibiting perverted behavior use anime. Man I love Japan.

 

Topic:  Anime
Posted: 3:23 pm by Nova1977      Rating:  2  0    

Monday, June 21, 2010

JoL: The First Week of Japan

A few days ago marked the one week anniversary of me coming to this country on this homesay trip. Seven more to go. For christ's sake I'm going to be here for a long time. But it will most certainly be enjoyable. And really, really, hot. Especially in Fukuoka, and especially in July. Lucky me, I go to Fukuoka for all of July. It's going to be absolutely boiling.

Not that I'm complaining. I'm thrilled to be here, as you can well imagine. Anyways, I'm writing to give a brief wrap up of what this last week's been like, including some of the observations I've made and the changed I've gone through. And all that cliche jazz.

In the last week alone I've been to Akihabara twice (once Friday, again today), the Ghibli Museum, Japan's largest mall, a movie theater, and several other random spots around Tokyo. I've been arranging with Kiera2 a time and place to meet up for lunch and have made plans with my Japanese teacher from back home to go to Akihabara a third time, this time to check out the maid cafes with someone who actually has experience (so it's not too awkward. I've also received a very friendly email from a mister Don Hertzfeldt, the genius behind the Oscar-nominated animated short, The Rejected Cartoons, regarding my dinky little animation that I finished a little while ago. That was incredibly unexpected, especially seeing as he told me how my stuff looks better than his did during high school. I find that hard to believe, but I'm flattered nonetheless.

Today's trip to Akihabara was with a group of people from my class. In fact, going to Akihabara was today's class. I tried not to spend as much money so I just bought a few games at Super Potato again and another gift for a friend and spent the rest of the time perusing the goods. I found Love+ for DS at a game store for incredibly cheap and am still having an internal struggle over whether or not to get it (for the laughs, mind you... I think), as I decided long ago that the day I buy the game some lonely soul actually married would be the day I go too far. We'll see how this plays out.

I also mentioned that I went to the movies this last week. I actually went with a local High School girl of the same age named Miho and an English teacher from the same program I'm taking Japanese classes from. We ended up seeing a film named Kokuhaku, which was incredibly atmospheric, beautifully edited, and incredibly immersive. However, I still haven't made the decision of whether not I actually liked it or not because I really couldn't understand what was going on. Here's a trailer, but know that it totally doesn't do the film justice at all. It's on my top ten list for the atmosphere and editing alone, no matter what the story contains. After watching the film I tried to look up a summary online but had no luck. There wasn't even a page the Japanese wikipedia, which I found shocking, as this is clearly one of the best films to come out this year so far in Japan. Why more people haven't heard of it is beyond me. Hopefully it will get more attention so it can get an American release. I really hope this happens.

Miho-chan

And now to talk about the experiences in a more general sense. I've been here for a good long time, and I feel like I'm adapting to life here. There's something incredibly humbling and... exhausting about being in such a homogenous country. I stick out. Big time. Especially living in non-touristy suburb. I'm actually happy about where I'm living though, as I feel like I get to see and experience what most foreigners never get to. I get to experience life in Japan, not just tour big name temples and stay in Western-style hotels. I'm meeting people who've never had more than passing glances with foreigners, and thus have an opportunity to shape they're perception of the West. While in this position, I like to think myself as a minister of peace. I've studied Japanese for so long, it feels good to finally be able to use the ability for a positive gain.

Yet I always get a horribly uncomfortable feeling when I encounter fellow Westerners. I think part of what I dislike about them is that they remind me of just how much I stick out. And being a rabid culturist who wants nothing more than total immersion, that's not fun to be reminded of. Still, I think I've been good about keeping my profile as low as possible. This can make large group excursions difficult as not everyone else is in Japan with a similar mindset. I guess I just have the experiences under my belt to teach me how to behave respectfully in another country, while there are a number of students who had never even been on a plane before this trip. There was a girl who told me when we got here that she's be happy if she didn't have to eat any seafood and if her host family had and xbox 360. I can't help but feel like she came to the wrong place.

Speaking of which the classes so far have been... disappointingly easy. I'm in the highest level class and it's still stuff I learned 2 to 3 years ago. It's not all bad, though, as the Kanji class remains challenging and new. Granted I came here more for the total language immersion than the classes themselves (in which the teachers never speak English, which makes me rather happy). And in two months, I most certainly will be getting a lot of language immersion.

See all of you next time!

 

Topic:  General
Posted: 3:34 pm by Nova1977      Rating:  3  0    

Friday, June 18, 2010

JoL: Akihabara: It's Everything We Like

After my class ended yesterday, some other students and I took different trains than usual. We were not returning home like everyone else. No, we were heading to the fanboy's paradise, Akihabara, land of video games, anime figures, and lots and lots of maids.

For those of you who are ill informed, Akihabara is to many the biggest electronics area of Tokyo. But anyone who's actually been there could tell you that's just a small piece. The area is laden with Anime shops and video game dealers, and most of the gods are far cheaper than they are at American conventions. That didn't stop me from a lot, but it just meant I could get more for the money I had with me.

This was my third time going to Akihabara and the first for the other three who were with me. That automatically put me in the leader position as I knew where specific stores that would be good shopping were. First we went to my personal favorite store, Super Potato. Super Potato has gained international fame for being an awesome retro game store. The walls are lined with dozens of old consoles, anywhere from working Famicoms (Japanese-version NES) to Sega Dreamcasts to Commodore 64s. And it's all relatively cheap. An N64 with controller cost about $25. A Game Boy Original cost around $20. The Game Boy Pocket I bought cost me only $15. You can bet there will be more trip to this store in the future.

Inside Super Potato

Them Famicom Games

Then we wandered around, looking through the shops of anime goods, some a bit... NSFW. But we had a good time exploring. There was a shop that was literally five stories of figures and nothing else, not bad. Not bad at all.

We spent nearly four hours there but it felt so short, and the time ran out rather quickly. We saw a good amount of the area, but there was still more I would have liked to see. I have still yet to go to the enormous Yodobashi Camera (electronic store chain), or the store that appears to be Touhou goods and Touhou goods only.

The pickins. Nothing here cost more that $21.

Akiba is a destination for us all, a place everyone who's ever liked games or anime needs to make a pilgrimage to at least once. The atmosphere is just perfectly set up for our interests, too. As the maids standing every few yards advertised their respetive maid cafes, which were EVERYWHERE (but we unfortunately had no time to go to one), the lit up billboards advertising the latest in Moe Anime made us (or at least me) feel as though we were in a welcoming place for people like us.

Too bad it was raining the whole time.

 

Topic:  AnimeGaming
Posted: 5:27 pm by Nova1977      Rating:  2  0    

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