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

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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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2015: My Year in Review

I think a lot of people found a lot of fault in 2015. I empathize with them. However, for me, it was a pretty big year on a lot of levels.

It began in quite a chaotic state. Kate’s job necessitated a move north to San Jose – an area I’m still struggling to appreciate in any meaningful way. The shift wasn’t made easier by my returning from tour less than a month before the shift started to take shape.

I went to Japan in March, by my lonesome. While I can lay out several reasons for the trip, I’m still not sure how to adequately explain the desire to go nor the end result. If anything, it strengthened my desire to be there and immerse myself in the country’s benefits. It became more relevant later in the year. Continue reading

Justin’s Japan Announcement

March 2014: I went with GWAR to Japan. It was their first tour there, and I thought I could be of service. I met up with them in Osaka for the first show, then traveled to Tokyo for show number two (Dave Brockie’s last). Would you like to know more? I wrote a travelogue on the trip.

March 2015: I went to Japan solo. There were many reasons – to reward myself for busting ass on fall tour with GWAR; to practice my Japanese-language skills; attempt to make some contacts that could lead to work; to pay homage to Brockie; to see my favorite Japanese group open their tour. It wasn’t as productive as I hoped but was still very worthwhile.

March 2016: I will be going back to Osaka Japan. And there I will stay for 13 months, as I have been offered (and accepted) a gig as a performer at the Universal Studios Japan theme park.

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A strong American, alone in Osaka. 03.08.2014

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10.13.15 Democratic Debate In Review

I try to stay abreast of politics, even if it is often a source of rage. I think last-year’s me would be upset that I’m so invested so early into the 2016 presidential election hype, but that’s how it is. Here are my thoughts on last night’s debate.

I tuned into some “pre-game” on CNN. Is there any argument that major media outlets are treating Hillary Clinton like the home team on a local network channel’s sports coverage? I don’t think so. This theme remains any time someone from CNN gives their “take” on the debate, or the race as a whole. It is plain that they want Bernie Sanders to go away. And can you blame them? He abhors corporate media, and he says so early and often. He won’t play their games; he just wants to talk about the issues. Not to mention that he’s not being financially supported by giant corporations – who in turn advertise with these corporate media outlets thereby having some semblance of power in their coverage perspective.

Anyway, on to the debate. I will say the Democrats as a whole had a strong showing, and it was an issues-focused discussion that I thoroughly enjoyed. Continue reading

Japan Travel Cheat Sheet

***Hey, folks. Modern-day Justin here. It’s time to update this old girl. After all, I’ve now been living in Japan for 16 months. Most of the info holds up, though, so I’ll only make a few changes and additions.

I’ve been to Japan 10 times now. I’ve studied the language pretty intensely for the last two years (thanks to the awesome app, Human Japanese). Japan has become my happy place, and a lot of others are interested in checking it out as well. I couldn’t recommend it more! To help facilitate travel, I’ve put together a cheat-sheet of (hopefully) valuable information and tips, along with several helpful phrases to get you by. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Enjoy! 楽しんで下さい!

General

  • Don’t forget that you are not only representing yourself, but your nation and your ethnicity. Leave the Japanese people with a good impression of us! Examples: Be wary of speaking too loudly (English to a non-native ear is noise) and be careful of taking pictures that may include/bother those around you. Privacy is treasured.
  • The flight(s) will suck. Things that will make flying to/from Japan suck less: plenty of snacks, good headphones (preferably noise-cancelling), an eye mask, toothbrush/toothpaste in your carry-on.
  • Jet-lag is legit. Try to get on Japan’s schedule ASAP. Don’t nap after noon the first day, and don’t go to bed before 10:30pm.
  • I suggest always having your passport with you. It’s your most important possession.
  • Do as much legwork and research as you can before you go. You can’t be too prepared, though I also love wandering around aimlessly.
  • When a Japanese person makes an X with their arms or looks like they’re swatting a fly, that means “No.” If you see one of those, maybe stop what you’re doing.

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The Worst Anniversary: 70 Years Since Hiroshima

August 6, 1945: America dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. It killed at least 20,000 Japanese soldiers, as well as between 70,000 and 146,000 Japanese civilians – not to mention those whose lives were completely altered by the after-effects.

That was now 70 years ago today.

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