Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Soy Loco Roco, Ese

With the release of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan's Loco Roco, Japan has added one more item to its seemingly endless list of cute contributions to the world. This PSP game, which borrows elements from Garage Games' Gish, puts the player in charge of a character that looks like a tropical fruit, but behaves like a rolling saline breast implant. Using only the L, R, and circle buttons, one must tilt and bump the earth in order to guide the breast implant through each level.

This game, much like Namco's Katamari Damashii is a triumph of audio engineering. Each "species" of Loco Roco sings the game's infectious theme song and background tracks in its own unique language. There is a Roco that sounds French, but is not. There is a Roco that sounds Italian, but is not. I'd be tempted to sing along with the game's goofy Oompa Loompa-sounding tunes if the lyrics weren't gibberish (and therefore very hard to remember).

The game also has "Loco House Mode," which is kind of like an editable video game version of those "liquid lava hourglass" relaxation devices you sometimes see on desks. Only this liquid lava smiles, jumps and sings. And is cute.

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"Tote Tote" Update

In Let's Learn Japanese: Sukkiri! (February 19, 2006) I told the triumphant story of my endeavors to discover the identity of a Bollywood pop song called "Dil Tote Tote Ho Gaya." This week I enjoyed a new level of sukkiri with the discovery of that song's exuberant video clip on YouTube. Enjoy the spoils of my many mouseclicks:

Monday, July 24, 2006

Paging Doctor Fish

At the bath-related theme park Yunessun in Hakone until September 30, 2006 there is a special attraction called the Doctor Fish Bath. Apparently, doctor fish are friendly little algae eaters that clean the dead skin off your feet. I hope they don't accidentally stock the bath with the doctor fish's less famous cousin, the skeletonizer fish.

Don't believe me? You will, Dr. Jones. We will make you a true posting this link to yet another Japanese website touting the advantages of having a pool full of insatiable fishies at your disposal. Plus, that website has this image of a woman encircled by a Saturn's ring of doctor fish. Did you know? If you could find a doctor fish bathtub large enough, Saturn would float in it.

Technorati: , doctor fish, , ドクターフィッシュ

Friday, July 21, 2006

Let's Learn Japanese: Tsuyu

Tsuyu (noun) The rainy season. The kanji used to write tsuyu mean "plum rain."

I wrote about it last year, but the Japanese rainy season is a reliable source of exasperation every June and July. It's like a cruel joke whose punchline is "Ha ha ha, you showed up to work looking like a water balloon attack victim."

This year tsuyu started normally, then fooled us all by giving way to about three days of oppressive heat last week, then came back with a vengeance. Yahoo! Weather has given the forcast of "RAIN" in Tokyo for eleven out of the twelve days from this Monday to next Thursday. And yes, it's raining right now as I type this.

Tokyo residents are unanimously anxious for tsuyu to end so that they can stop complaining about the rain and start complaining about the heat.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Arson is Hot

20-year-old web idol/video blogger Hirata Erika has been trying just a bit too hard to set the world on fire.
She's been connected to a string of serial arsons in Nagano Prefecture. The funny part of the story is that Ms. Hirata, who calls herself Kuma-eri (due to the fact that she has had cosmetic surgery to make herself look like Acom "image girl" Kumada Yoko, with remarkable G-cup* results), had been blogging about all the mysterious fires happening in her neighborhood, without letting on that she was the perpetrator.
In addition to burning up everything in sight, Kuma-eri had been vying for a contract with an idol talent agency until her careless pyromania landed her squarely under arrest; her fingerprints were lifted from one of the plastic molotov cocktails used to light up the six cars that fell victim to her fiery rampage. I can only assume that her blog has already been taken down, but I did find a Japanese news video about the story on YouTube. Just so you know I'm not making this crazy stuff up.
An intersting side note: On an idol talent agency interview form, Kuma-eri cited keisatsu ("police") as one of her favorite words.
* That's a Japanese G-cup. Everything is smaller in Japan.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Portrait of a Badass: Pyramid Head

Character: Pyramid Head*
Actor: Roberto Campanella
Film: Silent Hill (2006)
Badass Moment: Pyramid Head puts an end to Anna and her mopey nonsense.

*I know he's called The Red Pyramid in the movie, but I've been calling him Pyramid Head ever since he scared me out of playing all the way through Silent Hill 2.

The film Silent Hill was released in Japan on Saturday, so after work today I hightailed it to the theater complex in Shinjuku Kabukicho to buy myself ¥1800 worth of big-screen trepidation. As a sometime lover of Konami's Silent Hill games ("lover" may not be the best word...our relationship was complicated), I was sceptical about its cinematic adaptation. I had decided that, in a best-case scenario, the movie would either be A) really scary, or B) faithful to the games. Imagine my delight/horror when it turned out to be C) both A and B.

The appearance of the sword-dragging, mannequin-humping executioner called Pyramid Head was only one of many sources of glee/terror to impress/startle me during the course of this spooky/freaky movie. It is, after all, hard to ignore crucial Silent Hill elements like the rusty chainlink locales, faceless nurses, killer children and, of course, Akira Yamaoka's Portishead-meets-Trent-Reznor's-washing-machine soundtrack. But Pyramid Head is one of the great video game villains, now standing among the likes of Gannon (The Legend of Zelda), Nemesis (Resident Evil 3) and Evil Otto (Berserk).

When his ugly mug (which, despite being a pyramid, is still somehow ugly) shows up on the big screen, a Silent Hill veteran like me can scarcely contain his enthusiasm/revulsion.

Pyramid Head, you are a geometrical badass. We salute/abhor you.

Friday, July 07, 2006

This is Really Stoopid

Article: Push For Simpler Spelling Persists

On the one hand, I'm excited about taking steps to make English less cerebral and more accessible to foreign speakers. On the other hand, get a load of this foolishness:

Eether wae, the consept has yet to capcher th publix imajinaeshun.

Yeah, my "imajinaeshun" has yet to be "capcherd." I take particular issue with the fact that this "simplification" seems taylored only to accommodate the pronunciation patterns of North American English which, contrary to what the worst spellers in the English speaking world would have you think, is not the world's most prevalent form of English. Therefore, any "simplification" that does not simultaneously address all earthly forms of spoken English is no simplification at all. It's like blowing up the garage to get the lawn mower outside.

It's ideas like this that make me think Americans want to be known as the idiots of the world.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

King of Iron Thumbs Tournament

Tekken: Dark Resurrection for PSP came out today in Japan and my masochistic tendencies pooled their money together to buy a copy for me. Nice bunch, my masochistic tendencies. Only my masochistic tendencies would chip in so generously to buy me a game that allows me to get my ass kicked by Tekken virtuosi from all corners of the earth.

Crap as I am at the game, it's super-fun and super-thumb-pain-inducing. Whether you're in it to climb the online ranks, learn all the ten-hit combos or just save up enough in-game money to buy the dumbest possible combination of costume accessories for your characters of choice, Tekken: Dark Resurrection is candy for the proverbial kid that is every gamer's masochistic tendencies. Watch out for my Lei Wu-Long ghost...he attacks with a relentless repetition of my patented "LP+LK; charging shoulder block" combo that works so well against the AI opponents.

Monday, July 03, 2006

I'm a Bad Blogger

You know what would make this blog nicer? Some actual blogging.

The bottom half of June slipped through my fingers with little to talk about other than Yamagata, my vendetta against Doom 3 for Xbox and my race against time to finish an entry for an illustration contest which I saw advertised on a placemat at First Kitchen. Well, Yamagata's doing fine, the Cyberdemon is trying my patience and my contest entry is finished, so I guess it's time to post some posts, huh.

Okay. Soon.