Morning Musume 20th Anniversary Review

I’d been to 4 concerts in the past (not to mention a couple mini-lives or shows they only did a few songs on), but I hadn’t seen Morning Musume all year. In that time, they’d gained three new members: two from the Kenshuusei juniors program and one from the sort-of-disbanding Country Girls. But my second-favorite member – Haruka Kudo – is also graduating after the fall tour, so I want to see her while I still can. 

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This was not a typical show. The normal fall tour actually doesn’t start for a couple weeks. Instead, this was celebrating 20 years of Morning Musume. In 1997, I had only been out of high school a year. Okay, that’s making me feel old so moving on… Continue reading

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Persona 4 Golden: 40 hours in

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Discovering the doorway to another world

I love RPGs, but I’m basically horrible at playing them. A former colleague asked on Facebook the other day what percentage of role-playing games people finish. I’d say under 10% for me. It’s not a matter of difficulty, mind you. So often start them, then just stop around 6, 9, or 20 hours, never to return again. 

There’s myriad excuses why; things just happen when you’re gaming. But as a result, I’ve only beaten 2 of the 10 numbered Final Fantasy games I played (including 13, which is probably the most-hated). I’ve completed 1 Disgaea, 1 Breath of Fire, 1 Fire Emblem, 1 Suikoden, and zero Persona games. I was playing and digging PS2’s Persona 3: FES when my launch-unit Playstation 3 shit the bed, around the 9-hour mark.

But now, I’m playing Persona 4 Golden on my Vita. And I’m loving it. I’m loving it so much, I decided to write about how great it is despite the fact that either people already know or don’t care about it.

Persona 4, like the others in the series, follows a group of high-school students in modern-day Japan. This setting has always appealed to me, and stood out in a genre so stuck on the medieval. Your characters rely on their Personas to do much of the fighting – demons they come to fuse with in one way or another. Not terribly dissimilar to Pokemon though predating it. And more recently, Persona installment stories entail going to a special netherworld – in P4’s case, by entering the TV with the help of a hollow bear named Teddy.  Continue reading

Pony Rides & Freedom’s Cold Reality

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Have you ever been to a carnival? They usually have pony rides. You’ve got a group of little horses strapped to a merry-go-round-like apparatus, and kids get to ride on the ponies for a little while. It’s dawned on me recently: I’m a pony. 

It’s not a bad life. I get fed well enough, even if it is a little bland. I’m soothed by the fact that there will be a place to rest until the next day, if a little meager. It’s a secure, stable existence, being a pony-ride pony.  Continue reading

Top 10 Games I Played in 2016

This is not a list of the best games that came out in 2016. Because I now have a full-time job and live in Japan with a handful of gaming machines, it’s a list of the games I most enjoyed playing this year. Got it? Good! Here we go!

10. Parappa the Rapper 2 (PS4)

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I didn’t quite appreciate this on PS2, especially as a follow-up to the original. While I did buy the soundtrack long ago on a trip to Japan, I gave it a meh 7.5 score when I reviewed it in Game Informer magazine. Playing it again – and completing it multiple times – I see how it was designed to facilitate freestyle gameplay and on-the-fly changeups of lyrics. Kinda cool, even if it makes the songs less catchy as a result. The competitive HORSE-esque component is interesting if poorly implemented.  Continue reading

What Does This Mean?

I finally crawled out of “da Nile,” toweled myself off, and dealt with the fact that this happened. And it made me pretty pissy. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

The “grab her by the pussy” guy won. The “I’ll jail my opponent” guy won. The “mocking a journalist with disabilities” guy won. The “I’m smart cuz I don’t pay taxes” guy won. The “I’d date my daughter” guy won. The “China made up global warming” guy won. The “I’ll punish the media who disagreed with me” guy won. The “Mexican immigrants are rapists” guy won. The “appalled that women menstruate” guy won. The “Putin has some good ideas” guy won. The “Muslims should not be allowed in here and those that are in will have to be labeled for easy identification” guy won. The “most failed businessman in modern times” guy won. The “border wall is my main plan” guy won. The “prisoners of war are losers” guy won. The “attack anyone who isn’t nice to him” guy won. The “endorsed by the KKK” guy won. Continue reading

Country Girls Handshake Event Recap

This was written on 2016.4.30, 19:50

Home from Country Girls handshake event. Never a dull moment. It was held at Cosmo Square, one station over. It’s an entertainment island, last stop on the Chuo Line. Had to take a tram to the ATC shopping center. 

Then, well, it was not easy going. Imagine a mall with a museum and office building attached. And all you know is it’s on the 4th floor. Good thing I left myself plenty of time. I went the complete opposite direction for a while, before I doubled back and saw a sign at the info booth I decided against stopping at earlier. After many long, lonely hallways, I was in the right place. 

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One of the single variants

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Live Plus Idol Concert Report

A little backstory: I am an idol music fan. Morning Musume, BABYMETAL, etc. I like when talented young women are skilled at dancing, singing and looking cute all at the same time. If the tempo is something I can get pumped up by at the gym, all the better. 

A while back, I started a Japanese blog as a way to practice my Japanese and interact with Japanese people. One person I interacted with was Risa, a member of a group called PPP! PiXiON. We exchanged comments from time to time, and then her group happened to be performing in Osaka on my day off. Sweet!

So that’s why I was in a deep basement of an Osaka concert hall on a “Golden Week” Friday, having no clue what I was in for. I had preregistered to maybe save a couple bucks, but was unsure if it worked. Sure enough, at the ticket counter, I said I was here to see PPP! PiXiON, and they knew my name immediately. See, I wrote it in katakana, which is an alphabet used for only foreign words. 

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KissBeeWEST

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