I bought my tickets for my Autumn Japan trip. I haven't gone to Japan in Autumn for a while... The last time I went was in 2005 for my grandparents' deaths. My grandmother was hospitalized, and we thought she would go first, but then my grandfather had a stroke and died.
So when we went for the 49 days ceremony for my grandfather, my grandmother died the next day.
Anyway, I'm going for Tokyo Game Show, but I will also stop by Niigata to give my respect to my grandparents. I am actually going to be able to go to Niigata on the anniversary of my grandfather's death. (Called "meinichi" in Japanese).
Then I'm going to Osaka to stay with my best friend. But first we're going to meet up in Nagoya to eat kishimen (flat noodles) and uirou (sweet mochi) and other Nagoya goodies.
Then I'll stay in Osaka while visiting Hiroshima and Kyoto. After my rail pass expires (I'm getting one for a week), I'll hang out in Osaka for about a week before returning to Los Angeles.
I emailed the Osaka expert, Ed from MangaCast, for recommendations where to eat. Mmmm. He gave me a few (with more coming). I am soooo looking forward to the great food! If anyone else has recommendations on specific stores, please email or comment!
So, the second Kindaichi novel is the Cyberlodge Murders.
This is a story that revolves around a group of people who met online. This story was written in...1999 or something. It was out of print for a while until 2004, re-released with a Kodansha Novels imprint. (Before it was released with the Magazine Novels imprint). With the Kodansha Novels brand, it looks less like a "manga-turned novel" and more like a normal mystery novel.
Okay, the story. Hajime and Miyuki go skiing, and they get lost in the mountains. Luckily, they manage to find a lodge where an online group known as the "Cyberlodge" were meeting up for the first time. The group of seven were all "weird" (in Hajime's mind) because they all called each other by their handles.
And of course, someone is killed by a killer goes by the name of "The Trojan Horse."
But everyone in the group have alibis. How did the Trojan Horse kill the group leader, "Soujou?" What is the "incident" that connects the Cyberlodge members?
...sort of thing.
I liked this story the most out of the three I read so far. And I guess this is the favorite among Kindaichi fans too. It's really too bad that it has the lamest title... But oh well.
There is an interesting trick the writer put in the novel that's only meant for the readers.
Some of the other novels are available in English through Kodansha, but they might be out of print. This novel is a little harder to translate because...well, I can't really say because it would be a spoiler.
Anyway, this is my favorite.
The plot is similar to the one in Case Closed #20. But I like the motive in Kindaichi better. The trick is more interesting too. But that's just my opinion.
As a reward for finishing With the Light #6, I read the Kindaichi novel, More Murders at the Opera House.
According to the afterword in the back, this is the very first Kindaichi novel. The editors at Kodansha gave many requests. 1. It had to be content that would satisfy the current Kindaichi readers. So it would be best if it's a sequel to one of the cases in the manga. 2. It also has to be understandable for readers of mystery novels who do not know Kindaichi in the manga. It would be best if this novel could create new fans of Kindaichi.
Wow, that's tough.
I don't know if he accomplished #2, (I think he did more so in the other one I read today, the Cyberlodge Murders, but I'll talk about that another time) but it was an interesting read to me as a Kindaichi fan.
Readers of the Kindaichi manga know that the first case in the series takes place at the Opera House on a remote island. So this is a sequel to that. There are so many similarities though. I would consider this a retelling of the story.
Hajime, Miyuki, and Kenmochi return to the Opera House. They received an invitation from Kurosawa, the owner of the hotel and theater. Kurosawa had rebuilt the theater, and was putting on another version of "Phantom of the Opera."
But what do you know, a dead body is found under the chandelier on the first night. It seems that the killer, "Phantom," is killing his victims just like he does in the classic by Gaston Leroux.
How did the "Phantom" escape from the locked theater? Does this case have anything to do with Mika Kurosawa's suicide 4 years ago?
...is the story.
As always, I guessed the wrong person as the killer, couldn't get the trick of the locked room, etc. I only figured out one thing about the novel, and it was a typical storyline. I would never be a successful detective.
Followers of Kindaichi also know that there is a third storyline to the Opera House. This was the biggest reason I wanted to read this novel, so I could at least complete the trilogy (?).
I just wish they chose a better image for the cover. They reused an image that was drawn for the magazine cover when Kindaichi first started.
I bought some of the Kindaichi light novels that are out.
There are about...8 light novels out, I think.
I chose the ones that I don't know the ending to. Unfortunately for some of them I saw the TV series first before reading the novel and I know the tricks and the killer. The same thing happened with the manga too.
So I bought the following for now: "More Murders at the Opera House" "Cyberlodge Murders" "Onibi Island Murders"
The "Cyberlodge" is a smaller size and actually, I like the format better. The text is split up into two horizontally on each page. It feels like there is less page-turning. There are no images in here either, which I prefer with mystery novels.
The "Opera House" and "Onibi" have images, along with a flip book thing on the corner.
Anyway, I haven't had time to read any of it yet. Light novels can be finished within 2 hours, so I'm waiting for a time when I have 2 hours to read it all at once.
I'm trying to decide if I should buy the Japanese version of the DVDs I contributed to.
One I'm wondering about especially is X-Men The Last Stand (renamed to X-Men Final Decision in Japan).
I have X-Men 1 and 2 in English (I bought them to research when I was working on 3), so naturally I want to finish off the series in English if I am going to.
Should I just get both? But I don't like the cover in Japanese...
It looks like this:
Also, I have a question if anyone who reads my blog has the X-Men 3 DVD. Is there a trivia commentary track in there? (It's the content I translated to Japanese). I can't tell from the Amazon pages if it's really in there or not. I hope it's not a feature for the special editions.
I went to Tofu Festival and stayed for the Nebuta "Festival" too. I put the Nebuta "Festival" in quotes because it was a really small version of it.
I went with my friends Dave and Erika N. (All the pictures were taken by Erika N with her expensive camera. I love her camera!)
I bought 10 tickets ($1 each) and decided my budget.
I bought Tofu Tostadas, Hiyayakko (chilled tofu with nori, negi, and sauce), a strawberry slushie, some edamame, and other stuff. I was pretty full by the end of the day. It was funny to see a HUGE line for a sample of some Starbucks drink, because the sample was about 2oz. Is it really worth it???
There was also the Girl Power! shojo manga exhibit. I was surprised to see they brought the actual manga genkou to display. Wow...those are pretty precious.
There was also a cosplay contest, but I didn't watch it much because I couldn't hear what they were saying.
After that was the parade. The parade started at 6pm, but since the Nebuta float is illuminated, it didn't come out until 8pm. (When the sun set) So it was pretty boring until then.
Here are pictures of the parade, taken by Erika. Thanks, Erika!
A girl dancer.
I liked this group the best, because they were very lively.
Wadaiko (Japanese drums).
Haneto dancers, part of the Nebuta Festival.
A close up of the Nebuta float.
You can see how big the float is by comparing it to the people pulling it.
You can find information about the Nebuta Festival here or here.
I visit MangaBlog everyday. Even on weekends when she is mostly too busy with her personal life (I'm assuming) to update. Because I'm hoping that she was kind enough to post...and sometimes I get a treat.
Today was one of those days she updated on a weekend, and it was a HUGE treat. She reviewed E'S #1 & #2.
MangaBlog reviews are one of the best. Her amazing talent shows especially when summarizing a complicated series like E'S. (Her review on KAMUI was superb too).
She picks up important details but is concise. The review is just the right length... Okay, I'm not going to get into detail about how great her writing is. It's already known in the manga blogosphere.
But please please please read it if you haven't picked up E'S yet.
The injustice I do to E'S when I try explaining it on this blog is made up for. Thank you, MangaBlog.
I like how she noticed the extras in the back. (Volume 1 has a "Guide to Gald," and volume 2 has a pamphlet-type propaganda-like text to recruit psychics to join Ashurum). They take a long time to do, perhaps maybe half of the time I spend translating the entire book. And the graphics person, Keiran, would transform my ugly sketches into lovely lovely layouts.
Oh, I should work on planning out the extras in volume 5.
The other day I sent Dai (Sato)-san a love package.
Well, it just had Samurai Champloo calendars, shot glasses, and the FLCL DVDs.
When I told him about the Samurai Champloo calendars, he really wanted one (and another one for the director). I think my graphic designer F did the designs? I forgot.
I sent him the shot glasses just for the heck of it. He doesn't drink, so he probably won't use it. I told him that I use those shot glasses to hold paperclips.
And the FLCL I gave him because I wanted him to see it with dubs. Since he really liked how Stephanie (Sheh) matched Eureka, I wanted to show him how most of the characters in FLCL were matched. (My personal English voices are Kamon and Ninamori).
Anyway, he emailed me to thank me, and he told me that he is coming to the US again. He will be at Anime Fest in Dallas, TX during the labor day weekend with Ergo Proxy director Murase-san.
So if anyone is going, please go see him. Sato-san is very frank about the industry, and he loves talking to US fans. (Well, most Japanese guests love to talk to US fans).
I'm getting to a point where I might need an assistant maybe two times a month.
Right now, I have my mother and my sister do my grunt work (by the way, I'm the youngest in the family).
It's relatively simple stuff, like numbering my manga, cutting my manga, packing and sending out packages, printing out address labels... I especially need someone around Christmas season to help me send out cards.
I have some computer database stuff that's sitting in my "to do" list. My mom is not so good with computers, so I can't ask her. Maybe I should ask my friend Dave to do it.
...I'm really going to be like a manga artist if I'm going have different assistants come in 1-3 times a month to do work.
This is late news, but Company X announced the video game I worked on.
Victorious Boxers: Revolution! It's for the Wii.
As the title suggests, it's a boxing game.
There are many control options you can choose, but the main thing is to use the Wii mote and nunchak to punch, sway, duck, etc.
For someone who's never read Hajime no Ippo, this was hard. So I researched websites, borrowed the DVDs from my friend S from Company G, etc. I didn't know anything about boxing either, so I looked up rules and stuff too. Now every time I see boxing on TV, I watch it for a while, now that I understand the sport.
The video game follows the story of Hajime no Ippo (manga) closely, so fans of the manga should enjoy it. But you don't need to know the manga to enjoy the boxing elements.
It's coming out in Fall of 2007.
I think I like Volg the best. He looks pretty cute in the video game. Cuter than the manga, at least.
I got an email through this blog asking about what happens in Shugo Chara #2.
Just by coincidence, my Shugo Chara #2 samples arrived in the mail today!
So I will introduce it here.
The cover is ultra cute. It's not only because my favorite color is blue, but Amu-chan has a really cute and mischievous smirk on her face.
By the way, please notice the title of the book on the cover. I don't know what it's called, but the title bumps up.
In volume 2, Amu-chan goes through what we call a Character Transformation. This is different from Character Change. Character Transformation is much harder and you are much stronger as a Guardian Character. Amu-chan transforms with Ran to become Amulet Heart, a cutsey cheerleading-type girl who is very athletic.
Hmm. What else?
You'll see more villains from the Easter group who are turning kid's Heart Eggs into X Eggs. It's up to Amu-chan and her friends to stop them!
I'm glad I read volume 4 before re-reading volume 2, because now that I know Nadeshiko's secret, some of the little details in volume 2 make sense.
And my favorite character is Yaya and her Guardian Character Pepe. They're really just there for comic relief, but they are cute and funny.
Shugo Chara #2 is coming out on the 28th, but maybe early bookstores have it already. Please go pick it up!
Anyway, in With the Light #6, there is a tiny reference to koshihikari rice.
Koshihikari rice is the most popular brand of rice in Japan. And it's believed to be the best, although people from other regions may say theirs is the best. I can't say otherwise, because I've only eaten koshihikari and California rice.
My mother is from Niigata, where they make koshihikari. So obviously she grew up on koshihikari, and is actually quite judgemental about any other type of rice.
I eat koshihikari every time I visit my relatives there. And because they send my mom freshly made koshihikari every year, my mom has a stock too. So I can eat koshihikari occasionally at my mother's place.
My sister and I were just talking today that maybe our mother is not good at making fried rice because our mother grew up with koshihikari. They must always have fresh rice at every meal.
Since my mom is picky with rice, she throws away old rice constantly. Fried rice is made using old rice (a day old or so), and maybe they never kept around old rice in Niigata.
I would never make fried rice with koshihikari though. It's expensive, and I would think it's a waste. Or as the Japanese would say, "bachi ga ataru." ("You'd be punished by the gods")
By the way, I wrote this in the translation note too, but koshihikari really does "shine" when you cook it. It's really pretty.
Shugo Chara #4 and Yozakura Quartet #2 came in the mail today.
I was curious to find out what happens next in Shugo Chara, so I read it immediately. (Even though the deadline for Yozakura Quartet is earlier...)
It's quite interesting. It's spring in the Shugo Chara world, and in Japan that means graduation and a new school year. People say goodbye to their senpai, people say hello to their new classmates.
So there are a lot of changes.
And there were many revelations in this volume. Like Ikuto and Utau are XXXX, Ikuto and Tadase are XXXX, and Nadeshiko is really a XXXX.
It makes me want to go back and read the previous 3 volumes... But that's hard because mine are all cut up.
The obi comes with the Shugo Chara anime starting in Japan this fall. I went to the Shugo Chara anime website and found out that I know none of the anime staff and voice actors. I am familiar with the group that will be singing the opening song.
They really made it otaku-oriented, is all I can say... Well, and for little girls too, I guess.
I'm not a big fan of the character designs for the anime, but if you are interested please check it out.
Today I went to see a client, and they were really nice to lend me the Magical Circle Guru Guru DVD set.
I love love love love love the manga. Among comedy manga, I like Guru Guru and Pyu to Fuku Jaguar. And Slam Dunk...but I think that's more of a sports manga than comedy manga.
I saw some of the Guru Guru anime when it was running in Japan.
I remember I hated Kukuri's voice, but I got used to it after a few episodes.
Guru Guru is funny because of the Dragon Quest parody. Maybe that's why it hasn't been licensed for the US.
But it's cute even if you don't know Dragon Quest...
Anyway, it was sad while watching the anime I could recite the lines. I read the manga that many times...
The story is about a boy named Nike (pronounced KNEE-kay) and a girl named Kukuri who must travel to defeat the evil king Giri. Nike is a yuusha (hero warrior?) and Kukuri is a magic user who uses a special type of magic called Guru Guru. Kukuri is the last of the Migu Migu clan who can use Guru Guru, and must use Guru Guru to seal Giri.
One of my favorite characters is Gippuru, a fairy who wears a fundoshi under his cape. (So every time a wind blows, he grosses people out). He also comes and says, "Kusa! Kussa!" when someone (usually Nike) says something corny and embarrassing.
There are 45 episodes in the anime, and 16 volumes for the manga. There's also a movie, and there are 38 episodes in the sequel, "Doki Doki Legend Magical Circle Guru Guru."
Since I'm thinking of going to Japan during Tokyo Game Show (of course, this is for work!), I'm starting to make a list of things to buy.
Like...Itadaki Street on DS! Gyakuten Saiban 4!
Especially with Itadaki Street...there are huge ads on every single Square Enix magazine, so I can't stop thinking about it. Please stop torturing me!!!
I still haven't played Itadaki Street on PS2 yet. Because I can't find my PS2. Plus, the memory card slot is broken.
It's really too bad, because I have a lot of time now. Well, that'll probably end tomorrow when I get my 2 new books from Company DR. So in addition to With the Light #6, I would have Shugo Chara #4 and Yozakura Quartet #2 on my plate.
And I'm also waiting on a new series from Company T.