|A new pic, a quick doodle. I should
be doing work ^_^;; but then I thought I'd have a quick go at learning
about computer graphics packages and use of colour (of which I have no
experience) (best viewed in 800 x 600)
Umm, not sure at
present when I'll re-start regular updates to this page... Sometime
ANIME AND MANGA NEWS
9 September 2007
- Added another chapter to my Seikai no Senki
IV (Banner of the Stars IV) summary.
Actually, I read this chapter back in July, but didn't bother
to write it up then. I haven't picked up the book since July
- no time. No idea when I'll have the time to update the
15 July 2007
- Attended Phillip
Brophy's presentation of "Tezuka: From Manga to Anime" at
International Film Festival
yesterday. An interesting talk about the background (of
culture etc) in which Tezuka's works developed in the late
of occupied Japan. Shame that Mr Brophy ran out of time -
was a workshop scheduled in the Rev Club after his lecture.
talks like this, there'll always be generalisations which don't ring
true, but I think that's a function of trying to describe any subject
within an hour - there's no way the speaker can go into a great level
of detail. And I sometimes feel with academic dissections of
culture that they try to give a deep reason for every aspect of the
culture. As with GAiNAX and Evangelion, I think that
sometimes they just
because they think it's cool - no deeper reason. But overall,
very interesting talk and gave me things to think about when next
watching anime, particularly one based on Tezuka's work. BTW,
think it's Phil Brophy's birthday around this time.
- From manga and anime to Islam. I've been
reading the book The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight,
about Islamic punk rockers. I'm no expert on Islam.
always thought that Islam prohibited the depiction of humans in art,
but apparently (according to Wikipedia) the prohibition is against
idolatry, not artistic representations of humans in general.
Anyway, there would seem to be little connection between
except that the narrator in the book does mention the incongruity of
the fact that his relatives would buy him Disney movies but then tell
him that it wasn't acceptable for him to draw people himself
^_^ Anyway, The Taqwacores has a lot of Arabic and
terms (and some Urdu etc), so I thought I'd look them up for a deeper
understanding of the references in the book. And I thought
post up that glossary.
another part of my useless projects. Oh, and I watched
Tezuka's movie One Thousand and One Nights today ^_^
- And from Islam to Iraq. A moving report
by The Nation
(apparently a left-leaning/progressive publication in the US) on US soldiers in Iraq.
Makes me feel sorry for both the ordinary Iraqis and the US
soldiers there. No own wins. As with any article
situation Iraq, there will be critics. So read the article,
the critics, and make up your own mind.
12 July 2007
- When I first created this webpage, I intended to post
up only odds and ends of info, not maintain a news page. In
the tradition of posting up useless info, and since I'm pessimistic
about Tokyopop licensing the rest of the series, I've been
IV (Banner of the Stars IV) (or trying to, anyway).
I'll be posting up
a summary here.
I give no guarantee about accuracy ^_^;;
Updates will be irregular. Firstly, I read slowly.
In addition, I'm often juggling several projects, reading or
- Don't know when I'll get around to posting up normal
I'd been hoping to re-start around April, but was still too
Now, because of various things I've got on, I doubt it'll be
possible until next year. Still continue to be out of touch
the news, so even if/when I restart, I don't know what much use it will
- Currently listening to doujin album "Rotate" by Yuiko
(Primary). Try out the samples on the official
6 March 2007
- Yeah, so I went on a trip to Tokyo at the end of
2006, start of 2007. I arrived in Tokyo at the time of Comiket 71,
so the first thing I did after leaving the airport was to catch the
train to my hotel, dump my backpack, then head out to Tokyo Big Sight.
No one wears their cosplay outfits in the train - that'd be
weird. But gothlolis can get away with it, and I saw a few
gothlolis on the train bound for the convention. First, I
headed out to the doujinshi
section of the event. The place was packed with attendees.
(About 160,000 people attended Comiket that day.)
places, it was as cramped as a train in rush hour, and squashed between
everyone else I was obliged to go with the flow of the human traffic.
With 35,000 circles taking part over the three days, there's
way you can visit each and every circle's space. I bought my copy of
the catalogue before my trip, but the 1,400 page tome was too heavy to
bring on my holiday (or even to carry with me the whole day), so I just
detached the maps at the front of the catalogue, marked the location of
the circles I wanted to visit, and brought the maps with me.
people just bring the maps like I did, while others rip the catalogue
apart, re-bind the pages which relate to the particular day, and then
just bring that abridged catalogue along. Even if there
so many circles in attendance at the convention, you wouldn't be able
to visit all the popular circles anyway, due to the long lines at those
booths. Those booths are normally lined along the wall of the
hall, where the lines can stretch outside the building in an orderly
fashion. I got to the end of the line for ABe Yoshitoshi's
Mutekei Romance at about 12.01pm. The line was
wide, but snaked back and forth six times. The person at the
of the line held up the sign to indicate that this was the end of the
Mutekei Romance line. I dutifully took the sign from this
and held it up myself. Not long after, someone else arrived
the back of the line and took the sign off me. After inching
along for 25 minutes, I finally made it back into the building again.
Now the line was three people across. As I
front of the line, I was passed a sample of the doujinshi on sale at
the stall. I had a quick flick through, decided what I wanted
to get, then passed the sample on to
person behind me. At 12.43pm, I finally got to the front of
booth. I told the female booth attendant which doujinshi I
(including the latest volumes, 7 and 8, of ABe's script collections for
Renmei), paid my money, and left for the next booth.
minutes to check out one booth. Each day the convention is on
about 6 to 7 hours only, and apart from the doujin circles, I still had
to check out the commercial hall and the cosplay section.
time to eat lunch (or breakfast, for that matter, since I'd rushed
there from the airport).
It's best to attend Comiket in a group, so that each person
line up for a different circle's booth. I went to the booth
Musashiseki Bombers, the circle of Watabe Keisuke (character designer
for the Crest/Banner
of the Stars
anime series), but they seemed to have sold out of his latest book of
- After visiting the circles I was most interested in,
to the commercial
(actually, photography isn't allowed on convention grounds, except in
the cosplay area, but I forgot ^_^;; ).
Bought a few
items there, including
art for the Kujibiki
Unbalance TV series/Genshiken
OVA series and line art and clear file for Getsumen To Mi-na.
got a free bottle of Suzumiya
Haruhi no Yuutsu water
(just a bottle of water with a Suzumiya Haruhi label
Bought the Pale
Cocoon DVD - yes this anime is a few years old, but at least
the DVD has English subtitles, and I got a
postcard autographed by creator Yoshiura Yasuhiro.
- Then I headed to the rooftop, to take some photos
cosplayers. It can be a bit of a rush trying to
among everyone else, asking for permission and for the layer
your way while lots of other photographers are waiting for their turn,
trying to take your photo before the Comiket volunteer counts down to
zero and asks the pack of photographers to break up, etc. It
already pretty late by the time I got to the cosplay section, so I
stayed there until they wound up cosplay for the day. Then I
headed back to the commercial hall for a short while before wandering
about the two doujin halls.
- The circles were starting to pack
In the dying minutes of the event, when half the circles had
already completely packed away their merchandise, folded up their
tables etc, I bought the CD -ROM of Kanden Chui's
neko mimi dancing movie Funky
A cute little clip, if quite short at three and a half
for the price. After the convention ended, I hung around at
Sight for a
while to watch the packing up, and take a few photos of the building.
And so that the lines
for the buses and trains would decrease. Then it
was back to my hotel to formally check in.
- To celebrate the New Year, the Japanese make their
first visit to a
temple or shrine for the year (hatsumode).
I headed to Meiji
one of the popular shrines for hatsumode. I got to the end of
seconds before midnight, and the line was huge.
were there to keep
the crowd orderly (1.58Mb avi clip), dividing the attendees
groups. We inched along the path to the shrine.
of this trip seemed to be waiting in
lines, and secondarily about food - see later.) A huge screen
set up along the path so that people would have something to watch
while they slowly progressed in line. It wasn't until
that our section of the crowd got to the front of the shrine
(5.27Mb avi clip) and
coins and make our prayers. Instead of allowing us into the
offering hall with its coin box,
and because of the mass of people attending the shrine, we were only
allowed into the foyer of the shrine, the whole of the front portion of
which was cordoned off so that people could toss their coins
Even so they had men with brooms to sweep up the coins that
landed outside the collection area. One person behind me
huge handful on coins- you could see the shower of metal. The
police at the front of the line wore hats with clear
(4.60Mb avi clip) so that they wouldn't be hit by stray coins.
I'd been warned
I may get hit by coins, or pickpockets, but luckily neither eventuated.
Exit to the right, and we then came to the stalls
charms and fortunes, doing a much brisker trade than during the rest of
Having bought an omamori from Meiji Jingu on a previous trip,
settled for just getting a fortune. My fortune spoke of
being in doubt (or something like that). Sounded bad, so I
one of the nearby frames in the hope that I've left the bad fortune
behind. Further down the path to exit the grounds of the
and we came to the food and games stalls set up for hatsumode.
one skewer of yakitori (250 yen) - yum - and a "mocheese" (mochi
stuffed with cheese and other ingredients) for 350 yen. The
yakitori was better. Got back to my hotel at about
- Actually, despite the unlucky fortune I got at the
I was lucky with my accommodation. I'd organised the trip
to Japan at
very short notice, and my first choice for accommodation was booked out
over New Year's when I rang them. So I was obliged to stay at
more expensive hotel in the same area of Ikebukuro. However,
youth hostels and other cheap accommodation tend to have curfews since
they don't have people staff the reception at all hours. If
stayed at my usual ryokan, I probably couldn't have gone out for my
midnight hatsumode. The hotel I ended up staying at was open
hours, so there was no problem with me returning after 3am in the
morning. By the way, the trains normally stop running around
midnight I think, but for New Year's Eve, they kept the running, which
was how I was able to get back to my hotel.
- Speaking of trains, while I was in Tokyo,
above the doors on the Yamanote line trains were running their Berlitz 1
minute English ("Trainglish" ^_^;; )
lessons. The English
phrase featured in the ad this time was "have a cow".
Japanese riding the train were taught to use the phrase in the sentence
"My wife will have a cow if I go drinking." :D
- Shopped at the usual places in Ikebukuro and
Shin Bang and Melon Books.
visited White Canvas
this time. The main White Canvas store in Akihabara was one
of the locations used when filming the Densha
Otoko TV dorama series. I was mainly looking for doujinshi
and character goods, since most DVDs, CDs, books and magazines can be
ordered online nowadays. One annoying thing is that
stores like Toranoana and La Shin Bang organise their
circle name (and genre), whereas stores like Character Queen organise
doujinshi mainly by main author, meaning I had to try to remember twice
as much info when hunting for doujinshi. At Character Queen,
which sells female oriented doujinshi, many
of the all female staff were in cosplay (Bleach characters etc).
- I picked up the Strike Witches
pack of Miyafuji
promotional DVD and a very nice little artbook (particular the colour
pages in the first half of the book).
Available only from Toranoana. Mysterious
attack the world. In the Strike Witches world, there's a huge
gaping hole where the Pilbara region of Western Australia should be.
It's up to magical girls who can merge with mecha to
against the invaders.
Humikane seems to like this theme of girls and airborne fighting mecha,
as seen by his work on Sky Girls
(the latter in conjunction with Kuroboshi Kouhaku), another story about
female pilots in mecha defending the world from mysterious invaders,
although this time set in the future, rather than an alternate 1940s.
- Animate has changed its point card.
don't think they asked for address details. Now they do, so I
worried they wouldn't let me apply for a new card, but they accepted my
traded in my
old card (the points were transferred) but this time didn't get a
to redeem any points. As for Toranoana, this time when I
they let me apply for a card. On past trips, when I asked,
various Toranoana shop staff wouldn't give me one because I lived
overseas. This time, the
sales assistant I asked wasn't sure, checked with another employee, who
said "Why not?", so now I've got a Toranoana point card as well.
Though I didn't get to redeem any points on that card either.
Next time... :P
- Bought volume 1 of the mah jong manga Saki
Ritz, serialised in Young
magazine. Even though I don't know the first thing about mah
I'd like to learn some time, though. School student
Miyanaga Saki is a gifted mah jong player from a family of mah jong
players. However, she only plays to get a plus minus zero
and has doesn't like mah jong. She's sort of bribed to join
school mah jong club and slowly finds herself enjoying the game.
Usual sort of sports/game manga stuff :)
- Outside the Kotobukiya
shop in Akihabara they had their vending machine
selling a maid
cocoa drink and Armoured Trooper Votoms Uoodo original blend coffee.
You can choose to have it either hot or cold.
- Also bought "Test
Roll", the CD collection of
illustrations by Yoshizuki
from 2000 to 2006. Yoshizuki is the artist for Mahou Tsukai
Taisetsu na Koto (Someday's Dreamers), both the manga and the original
for the anime.
A nice CD - I just wish it included a few illustrations
as Photoshop files so that I could study the pics are created.
- Saw an article in a magazine about the Musical
Air Gear, but unfortunately
I left Tokyo the day before the first performance.
Never mind, the DVD of the musical will
be sold through Animate on 1 May 2007.
- Picked up a copy of Yuki Nobuteru's
516 page book of his key
animation art for the Paradise
anime. The first 28 pages have glossy colour
scenes from the anime. Nice.
- While walking through Akihabara one evening, I came
across a Sensei of the taiko drum arcade game Taiko
no Tatsujin 9.
There was quite a crowd gathered around to see this expert perform
(10.9Mb avi clip). Notice that the drum sticks which he's
strings attaching them to the machine. Note that there is
set of drum sticks (with strings) sitting on the console.
Yes, this professional has brought his own drum sticks to
After he had finished the game, the Master was given a
round of applause by his audience. I'm being frivolous, but
the guy was
- I like the yon-koma (4 panel) manga Doujin
Work by Hiroyuki, about a group of
doujinshi artists, each with their own one-person circles. I
enjoyed volume 2, where main character(?) Osana Najimi (who has poor
skills and whose doujinshi don't sell) meets Nidou Kaneru (who has
equally poor skills and whose doujinshi also don't sell). The
girls develop a rivalry during a doujinshi event at Tokyo Big
Sight where their booths are next to each other. Fun.
So when in Tokyo, I got the two doujinshi about
Doujin Work by Jijou
Seijunha (Hiroyuki's own circle). Doujin Work is
serialised in Manga
magazine. Volume 3 is due out on 27 March 2007.
- Bought the trial version of the computer game Mari
Un Zero 2, as
well as the original Mari Un
Zero card game. The original card game was
expensive second hand, since the
product was sold out years ago. The original card game and
original computer game version is basically a form of Uno, but the cards have
illustrations of Maria-sama
ga Miteru characters by over 50 artists including
Ramiya Ryo, and in the computer version (both the original
computer version and Mari Un Zero 2) as you win points, you can buy
manga and new characters to play with. Mari Un Zero 2 has
different rules to the original game, but allows
play over the internet. Not that I've had time to play the
- Enough talking about shopping for anime/manga goods
I bought a lot more ^_^;; ). Since it was
I thought I'd do some
for gifts at the traditional
New Year salesin
Ikebukuro and Shinjuku. A lot of stores had sale
calling out to attract customers to buy their fukubukuro ("lucky bag" -
sometimes a lucky dip, sometimes the contents are fixed and
store will display a
of the items in the bag). There were a lot of women walking
around with bags of fukubukuro on their arms.
I bought a Swarovski
as a gift.
Fukubukuro can be good value in that regular price of the
the bag tends to be significantly more than what you pay for the
fukubukuro, however, in this case the Swarovski fukubukuro was a lucky
dip and unfortunately the jewllery inside
turned out to be very chunky, so I doubt my sister will ever use it...
It took us some time to even work out what one of the pieces
jewllery was supposed to be
^_^;; I bought some (relatively)
cashmere jumpers and a scarf as gifts at casual wear store Uniqlo
(which chain I see is
hoping to break into the US market). Bought some trendy hats
for my other sister,
one from the Takashimaya
department store and the other from Peach Bloom millinery shop in
1 building. And bought some nice sets of chopsticks
for my brother at homeware store Tokyu Hands.
These chopsticks are decorated with Japanese paper so they
be used in the dishwasher or microwave, but they look nice anyway.
- The department store Seibu
in Ikebukuro had a troupe perform some traditional
entertainment outside its store to welcome in the New Year.
(2.20Mb avi clip), some music etc.
- On to food.
While in Shinjuku, I passed the Krispy Kreme
shop, which had opened only recently in December 2006. The
stretched outside the store, down the stairs, and snaked around the
building. You'd think they were fans lining up for doujinshi
Comiket, not people wanting to buy fattening doughnuts.
- I visited the Ameyoko (confectionery store
street) market near Ueno
station, where the goods on offer are much cheaper than the
department stores and
boutiques of Shinjuku. Being at Ameyoko, I bought some
confectionery, including a box of Nana
confectionery, which contains one
lolly (strawberry flavour of course) and a can badge,
15 badges to
collect. Yeah. I also bought some Sakuma Shiki
the tin in the old
as featured in Grave
of the Fireflies movie. On the other side of
tin is the same artwork, but with a pic of the girl Setsuko from the
holding the tin.
- I can't afford to eat fresh fugu fish,
but I bought some yakifugu
(dried grilled fugu) from a supermarket in
Ameyoko. Two types. The plain type
cuttlefish. The shichimi
yakifugu is nicer.
Shichimi is a
seasoning made of seven spices which is used in various types of
- I went to the indoor
theme park Namja Town
in the Sunshine
City building in Ikebukuro. I bought the basic
only, not the full ticket that
lets you enjoy all the activities at the amusement complex, which is
aimed at families (and is all in Japanese language only). I
went mainly for the food. Had lunch at
Gyoza (dumpling) Stadium inside the theme park.
Copying the idea of Iron Chef, the various gyoza stalls there
battle it out to make the best gyoza (or other dishes). Each
round, they'll pit one of their menu items against the other stalls.
Customers who eat the particular dish will get a voting slip.
First I had a plate of Matsuzaka
beef gyoza at the Teraoka
Some people say that Matsuzaka beef is better than
beef, but I think it's a bit of a waste to use tender beef in a
dumpling. (This was probably the first time I've ever eaten
Matsuzaka beef, though I've eaten an Australian raised wagyu beef steak
back in Australia - probably the sweetest, most tender steak I've ever
eaten in my life - but expensive, in part because of the accompanying
slivers of black truffle). Anyway, the gyoza was nice
big, if quite pricey.
The Teraoka Shouten's offering for the gyoza battle was the
Matsuzaka beef gyoza that round, but I forgot to vote. Next,
I tried the
gyoza at Antei.
Cheaper, and the stall had a sign up with various newspaper
clippings about the gyoza, but I found the thin skin of the gyoza often
- Still at Namja Town, at
Ice Museum in Ice
where they have over 300 types of ice cream from all over Japan,
I ate some India
Curry Ice Cream. This pale yellowish
cream made by Fugetsudo actually tastes like a sweetish curry.
are weird. But it was nice :) It even
prize in a regional competition. Then in the Tokyo
Dessert Republic section I bought one of Sweet
which comes into a little
pot which you can keep. I spent way
much time at Namja Town, just wondering about. Took some
photos of the Namja
attractions at the
park (besides the activities that the full ticket gives you access to)
are the various fortune tellers and the various massage
parlours (offering different types of massage: Japanese, Chinese, Thai
- I tried Yoshinoya
for the first time.
After the mad cow problems with US beef in the
is only slowly making its way back onto the menu. When I was
there, you could only order gyudon (beef bowl) between about 11am and 2
or 3pm. At other times, pork is substituted (I think the pork
bowl gave me diarrhoea ^_^;; ). Still,
the beef bowl
is enough of their staple dish that when people walk in and order
(a large serve), it's presumed that they mean a large serve of beef
bowl. As of March 2007, I think beef bowl is available until
- One night I bought take away from the local Origin Bento
store and took it back to my hotel room to eat.
You can order from the menu, or just select what you want
from the self-serve
rows of bain maries (or should that be "bains marie"?) filled with
various types of onigiri, croquettes,
salads etc. I ordered a roast pork
and fried prawn bento.
Tasted fine. Why is it even the cheap places in
to taste fine, while it's hard to get good katsu where I live?
- I tried otoro
sushi for the first time.
While in Shinjuku, I went to the basement level of Odakyu
It was late
in the day, so they were selling their remaining food items at a
discount. There were still a couple of boxes of sushi with
in them, so I picked one
up. The sushi came with a little
freeze/ice pack to keep the container cold until I ate (I wish
they did that
Australia). Anyway, the otoro was certainly very tender -
literally melted in my mouth.
- And while shopping at one of the other department
went down to their basement level to eat at one of the restaurants
there. Curry rice with katsu, and various condiments you
Even there I had to line up to get a seat. Lines
- While shopping in Akihabara, I ate at Toranoana's Cafe With
As with other cosplay cafes, there's a time limit on how long
stay. 60 minutes in this case. Along with the usual
photography" sign there was also what seemed like a "no groping" sign
Being around the New Year, they had a special promotion on,
the waitresses were in neko
miko costume for the first three days of the year.
(I think the usual outfits are here
- orange is the usual colour, but the purple top is for patrons who
have accumulated enough "carats" - see below.) I ordered the
rice). For the om-rice, your waitress will write
message of your choice in ketchup on your om-rice when she brings the
dish to your table. When my waitress asked, I couldn't think
wanted, so I left it up to her. She drew a cat face on the
om-rice, then "* with cat" next to the omlette. I asked her
could take a photo of the dish, but she said no
also ordered some kara-age to go with the om-rice, and washed it down
melon soda. During those three days of the neko miko
you got a free photo of a waitress in neko miko costume with each 1,000
you spent. I got one photo
(I've obscured the face for privacy reasons :P
). They also let me have a
although I'm a foreigner. For every 500 yen spent, you get
point (or "carat" of magical power). Collect 3 carats and you
a free cigerette lighter, 10 carats gets you a free drink, 20 a free
cake, 40 for a "grade up" to the different colour outfit,
carat (ie when you're given the card) entitles you to have you name on
your card (as "Master"). I went with "Natsume".
It's the only card I have with my
internet name on it.
- In Akihabara, I also ate at the branch of Negishi,
which grills its beef and pork over a charcoal fire. Its
signature dish seems to be grilled beef tongue. They use
Australian beef tongue for some reason, whereas the rest of the beef
used in the restaurant seems to be from the US. Anyway, I
roast pork set meal, 'cos it was cheaper than beef (hey, I'm
but it was great stuff anyway for 860 yen. The well seasoned
comes with barley rice, a yellowish grated yam (tororo, which you can
your rice) and ox-tail soup. As with a lot of restaurants in
Japan, you get free refills of rice and tea. I recommend this place.
- I never really liked drinking cold tea, particularly
green tea. But this time around, I found it refreshing to sit
down at a restaurant and get a free cup of cold barley tea (with
refills) after a day's walking around Tokyo. During
past Australian summer, I've been making cold barley tea myself during
the particularly hot days.
ceremony at the Hotel
New Otani in Tokyo. Prior to the ceremony, I
strolled through the hotel's very nice 400 year old Japanese
garden. For the tea ceremony at the
room, the lady performing the ceremony was polite, but the
seemed very brief to me. I wonder if she rushed through
because I was a foreigner, and also the only person there are the time.
Normally I don't like maccha green tea as being too bitter,
didn't find it too bitter this time. I guess part of
reason the lady served me a red bean sweet before
performing the ceremony was to offset the bitterness of the tea.
- I visited Yokohama
for the first time.
I went to the Shin Yokohama
which they call a "Ramusement Park". Funny, huh?
part is only a small part of the complex. The rest of the
building (apart from the obligatory shop, and the noodle making area)
devoted to recreating
1958 Japan (3.38Mb avi clip) with eight different ramen
restaurants, 1958 style games and shops. I started off with a
mini bowl of Ryu
Shanghai's karamiso ramen
pork. Ryu Shanghai restaurant was established in 1958 in
Yamagata prefecture (in north eastern Honshu), and its spicy karamiso
ramen - with its thick noodles and rich soup - was created in 1960.
The red ball of karamiso is placed on top of the
when the ramen is served to you. I mixed the karamiso into
soup. Quite spicy, but quite nice.
was longest at this restaurant (approximately a 30 minute wait) but I
think that was mainly because this branch of Ryu Shanghai had only
opened at the museum in the last month or so, so people wanted to try
it out. After that, I had a mini bowl of wonton ramen at the
branch restaurant of Harukiya.
This old restaurant was established in Tokyo in 1949.
the rich flavour of the karamiso ramen, I found this lighter Tokyo
style broth rather plain and ordinary. For dessert,
"bon bon ice", ice cream sold old-style in a balloon. The
is tied up and when you buy the ice cream, the shop keeper cuts open
the nipple at the other end of the balloon - you suck the ice cream
through that hole. You have to be careful to keep the end of
balloon in your mouth, otherwise the ice cream may later explode out of
the balloon when it melts. Also had some ramune, the old
drink in the bottle with the marble. Finally, I tried a ramen
croquette - nothing special.
- At night, seeing as I was in Yokohama, famous for its
Chinatown, I wanted to eat something Chinese, so I ate at S-U-Ro
Saikan (456 Saikan).
Owner chef Son Kan-gi once appeared on Iron Chef
136: as "the Hope of Yokohama's Chinatown", he challenged Iron Chef
Nakamura and lost in a battle of Japanese butterfish.) The
restaurant had a sign outside mentioning this appearance on TV.
ordered the plate of five different types of dim sum. Some
of the dumplings were
fine, others didn't agree with me so much, since I'm a bit (ie a lot)
picky about food (I don't like ginger). As Yokohama is
the birthplace of ramen, I had
intended to eat ramen there. But in the end I only ate
and Tokyo ramen, albeit in Shin Yokohama...
- Almost forgot: while I was in the Queen's Square
section of the Minato
Mirai 21 complex (IIRC) in Yokohama, they had a woman playing the koto
(5.32Mb avi clip) for the New Year.
- I was hoping to have a kaiseki meal while in Japan,
but no time this time. I settled for buying the book "Kaiseki:
the Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto's Kikunoi Restaurant" back
in Australia, which
was published by Kodansha
last year. Wonderful book, about the kaiseki meals prepared
the Kikunoi restaurant. If you love Japanese food and its
presentation, I definitely recommend this book to you. Kikunoi
restaurant looks like a beautiful restaurant and chef Murata Yoshihiro
explains the care that he takes in preparing his meals. He
explains that the taste of the water is an important factor for his
soups etc, so much so that for the Tokyo branch of his restaurant, he
has water transported from a well in Kyoto (where his main restaurant
is). Next time I'm in Japan (whenever that is), I hope to try
either a full kaiseki meal (I've only ever had a mini kaiseki meal) or
a wagyu beef steak (the steak I ate in Australia was great, but the
very best quality meat is exported back to Japan, so we get to eat the
lower grade - but still very good - stuff).
- Movies. During my trip, I watched a couple
of movies, including Nana 2 and Rough. Getting to watch Nana
an ordeal in itself. I didn't travel all the way to Tokyo to
in a cinema, so I decided that if I had time left on the last evening
my return home that I'd watch the movie, which was on its
run. The day before, I'd checked the local post office to see
what time it closed, 'cos with all the stuff I'd bought I knew I'd have
to ship some stuff back.
It wasn't all going to fit in my backpack, and even if it
would've been overweight. So, 7pm, fine. On my last
sure that I got back to my ryokan at about 6pm, then I packed all the
stuff I was going to ship into a number of paper bags, and walked off
post office. It was closed. I checked the sign
business hours again. It was then I noticed that the sign
that the post office's "cash service" (ie ATM) was open until 7pm.
The post office itself had closed hours before. All
post offices were closed by this time, and I had to leave Tokyo early
the next day to catch my flight. Fortunately I remember what
friend had mentioned to me a few years back, that there's a post office
in Shinjuku that's open 24 hours. So I rushed back to my
dumped all the stuff I wanted to ship into my backpack (there was a lot
of stuff) and set off for West Shinjuku. Luckily, that post
office was indeed open. I posted my stuff home and rushed to
No time to drop off my backpack at my ryokan. The
screening of Nana 2 for the day had started 30 minutes earlier
8.25pm. I told the ticket sales girl that I didn't care, paid
1,200 yen, and went to watch the movie with my full size (though now
- As for the movie itself, it seemed a bit slow at
"start" but got better as the movie progressed. It's a shame
many actors changed for this sequel - new Hachi, new Ren, new Shin etc.
It was disconcerting to see Ichikawa Yui as Hachi since I was
used to Miyazaki Aoi in the role, but in the
I thought Ichikawa Yui pulled off the dramatic scenes well.
movie, I hung around the cinema until they opened the goods corner and
bought a program for Nana 2 (they were sold out of the clear file
sets). As for Nakashima
(who plays Osaki Nana in both Nana movies) she seems to be doing all
right for herself, judging by the amount of airplay her songs were
getting while I was in Tokyo.
- The Rough movie is based on
the manga of the same name
Adachi Mitsuru. I liked that movie too, with some good
comedy at the start of the show.
Coincidentally, Ichikawa Yui had a role in that movie as
and it's also directed by Otani Kentaro (who directed the Nana movies).
- While on holiday, I bought the UK
edition of the Densha
"novel" (basically just transcripts of the 2 Channel discussions),
which were published last year by Constable &
Interesting how they classify the book as "fantasy"
Unusual to see
English (as opposed to US) terms, in particular the word "anorak" being
used in anime/manga related material.
Unusual, but I don't have a problem with it. The US
will be published by Del Rey in April 2007. Note that this
Nakano Hitori is said to compile only about 6.4% of the 2 Channel
little bit of adult content in the published material, but none of
explicit ascii art in the original threads appears, like the pics of
masturbation or defecation ^_^;; Nor the
book contain the paizuri movie discussion thread in which Densha Otoko
makes a brief post :P
those parts aren't so romantic :P
for Nakano Hitori's flash,
which was linked in his post made at 17:37 on 9 May 2004 (and which is
mentioned in the book), the flash file was removed with the making of
the movie and TV dorama series (in any event, warning notices had been
issued for use of music in the flash in breach of copyright).
It's basically Japanese text from the discussions.
unsure of hosting the flash file on this website, given that Nakano
Hitori's taken it down from his own website, you can
see a low quality version on Youtube here.
(I'm unsure of hosting the flash file on this website,If any
one knows the name of that song, please let me know.
- I thought it was great that they were able to get Nakatani Miki
to play the role of Hermes in the Densha Otoko movie,
since Densha Otoko had suggested that Hermes looked like Nakatani Miki.
I also liked the links that were created between the Densha
and the TV
dorama series, the way actors from one show had
cameo roles in the
other. As for the Densha Otoko TV series, one thing I liked
the R2 DVDs is that the Japanese subtitles contain some 2 Channel
terms, mainly the jisakujien
("kita" smiley) and the damepo.
18 February 2007
- Updated my cel
gallery. I hope to update the gallery later this
year with just a few more cels. Hope to update this site a
bit this year as well. First, I'll write a bit about my trip
to Japan at the start of the year. If I'm lucky, I might even
start with some babble later today...
21 May 2006
- Back in early April I was updating my Air Gear doujin page (still in
progress) and was entertaining thoughts of re-starting updating my news
page regularly. But then my ISP changed hands, and the new owner
decided to delete my site. And then, just as I was about to deal with
that issue, my computer died. Now that I've got my computer back, and
I've got a new domain natsumemaya.net,
things have gotten really busy at work, which means no time to update
this site properly. (If any links to portions of this site are dead,
let me know.)
- As mentioned, I've got a new domain now. I was hoping
for a .net.au domain, but after looking around, I settled for the
cheapest option. Thanks for kymaera
for the suggestion on where to register my domain and host my site.
- Today I bought and started reading the science
fiction novel The Traveller by the mysterious
author John Twelve Hawks, who is so secretive he(?) has apparently
never met with his editors and speaks to them over an untraceable,
scrambled telephone connection. (Yes, I know the book's been out for a
while, but things take a long time to reach Australian shores.) The
main female character's name is Maya - a good name :)
- My tip for a manga to be adapted into an anime: Rappi
Rangai by Tanaka Hosana. (Perhaps a bit early at the moment, since only
one volume has been published date, but I'm guessing that an anime will
be announced in due course.)
2 April 2006
- I thought I'd commemorate the impending broadcast of
Gear TV anime by starting a page
on the various Air Gear doujinshi and doujin goods
which are available. This is a work in progress. It's nowhere near
finished yet. Air Gear inspires quite a bit of doujinshi, particularly
female oriented doujinshi.
21 March 2006
- Forgot to mention one thing about my holiday in
January... While in Hong Kong I had a look around in a bookshop. One
series of books in the children's section caught my eye. Seems to be a series
about a group of three young detectives. There are at
least three books in the series. Here's the cover for one
book. Here's the cover for the second
book. And here's the cover
of the third book (it's hard to tell from the small pic, but the guy in
the bottom right hand corner of the cover looks suspiciously like
Suzuhara Touji). I wonder if they paid royalties to GAiNAX... There are
occasional illustrations in the books as well, BTW.
- Perhaps this is old, but try this: 1. Go to the
French version of Google http://www.google.fr 2. Type in
"miserable failure". 3. Use the "J'ai de la chance" option (ie "I'm
- Work is finally reaching a manageable level ^_^ Touch
14 March 2006
- An uncle of mine passed away on Sunday evening. He
was the patriach of my father's side of the family. My paternal
grandfather had a large family of 10 children. However, he died at an
earlier age (long before I was born). My uncle was the eldest son
(second child) and was still in high school at the time, but had to
leave school to run the family business to support the rest of the
family. At one point he fainted while in court or at the government
offices dealing with my grandfather's estate. So my father and my other
uncles and aunts owed a lot to him. RIP. He's survived by his wife,
four sons and daughter (all of whom are very successful) and four
6 March 2006
- Annyeong haseyo \^_^/ Hope everyone is well (if
anyone still reads this page). Actually I've been back home for 3 and a
half weeks now, but firstly I was dealing with food poisoning and a
sore body, then I've been really busy upon my return to work.
- I'm still completely out of touch with things anime
and manga, so I'll start by writing a bit (?) about my trip.
- My holiday started off the same way my last holiday
ended two years ago: checks for being a terrorist. This time, I got
picked for one of those "random" tests to see if there was any
explosives residue in my hand luggage.
- I took this holiday mainly to redeem my frequent
flyer points which were expiring on 31 December 2005, but also because
I've always had an interest in visiting South Korea though I'd never
made it there in the past (save for a few hours in transit at the old
Seoul airport some years back).
- Anyway, first stop was sitting in Singapore's Changi Airport
for a few hours while in transit to Hong Kong. Did you know they have
walking tours of Changi Airport? (Not that I signed up.) And they have
employees who hand-scrub the little pebbles in the fountains :)
- In Hong Kong, they had
Naruto on TV in the morning, but dubbed into Chinese and titled "Hokage
Ninja" (or however you'd say that in Chinese). For lunch I had
McDonald's - a grilled chicken burger (avian flu be damned!) and got a
free set of McDonald's red packets as a bonus (it being near Chinese
New Year). I stayed in a hostel in the Mong Kok district, which meant I
was only a few blocks away from Sino Centre, where there are a lot of
shops selling anime/manga goods. But since I was visiting Tokyo anyway,
I didn't buy much there. I did pick up the DVD of the Hong Kong action
movie Sha Po
Lang (SPL) while I was in Hong Kong - it's got some good
fight scenes. And I also picked up a couple of artbooks by Taiwanese
artists; the Taiwanese seem to be good at realistic art of Asians. I
got the Vila Villa artbook by (Prince?) William.
Good art, except why does the guy put pointy years on everyone...? And
I got another artbook by Der Jen.
- Since I was going to do some skiing in Korea at the
end of my trip, and since I'd done very little exercise in the past two
years, I figured I should try to get in shape prior to the skiing. So
when I visited Lantau Island in Hong Kong I decided to climb up and
down the stairs to the big Buddha statue on the island a few times,
then climb Lantau Peak. The entrance fee to the big Buddha includes a
vegetarian meal at the nearby restaurant. The vegetarian food was
pretty good - until the cockroach scurried across my table a few times.
I lost my apetite then. I bought a Buddhist scripture keyring though,
to complement my Shinto omamori and Taoist amulet from previous
holidays. After lunch I climbed to the top of the mountain, but
unfortunately I hurt my left knee in the process. After that, whenever
I flexed my left knee too much (going up stairs, and especially going
down stairs) my knee really hurt. Great, two days into a month long
holiday, and I'm already injured... And the view from the top of the
mountain was pretty much obscured by clouds or smog...
- Flew to Toyko. I got
picked for "random" extra security search (again) at Hong Kong airport.
The airline didn't seem to have any qualms about seating me next to the
door on the plane and asking me to help in case of an emergency,
though. Which I thought slightly incongruous.
- In Tokyo, I shopped (a lot) at the usual places in
Ikebukuro and Akihabara: Animate,
no Mori, Messe
La Shin Bang, K-Books,
Comic Toranoana was having a sale on old doujinshi, which was great ^_^
I managed to find a Tenjou Tenge doujinshi that I've been looking for
for years ^_^ Also visited a number of other smaller shops. I quickly
picked up the habit of a number of other people there: because the
various shops have varying closing times at night, as each shop closed,
I'd move to the next one (you see the same people at the next store ^_^
- At Ikebukuro there was also the store Character Queen
which I don't think was there when I was last in Tokyo. Character Queen
seems to be related to K-Books, since you can use your K-Books point
card at Character Queen. Ikebukuro has quite a cluster of shops selling
female-oriented doujinshi and goods, such as Character Queen. The Ikebukuro
branch of Gamers was closing on 15 January 2006 so a lot
of stuff was on sale. I had a look around but there wasn't anything
which interested me. One night in Ikebukuro I heard the "yakiimo" call
of the baked sweet potato vendor (in the mall on the way to Sunshine
City). Can't recall if I've heard that before in my past trips.
Nowadays, the vendor just plays a recorded message though.
- I picked up an Animate point card and a Books La Shin
Bang point card this time around. I spent enough at Animate that I was
able to redeem my points ^_^;; Actually, one time in Animate I was so
busy shopping I didn't realise it was closing time. By the time I left,
there were staff on at least four floors waiting for just me to leave
^_^;; But at least I spent a lot there on that occasion and at Animate
in general, including getting a number of Air Gear goods and buying
Conan green tea cookies for Mr and Mrs Bear.
- I bought a lot of doujinshi at Toranoana and tried to
get a Toranoana point card but the staff wouldn't give me one because I
live outside Japan. Among the doujinshi I got was kuroboshi
kouhaku's Granada Level Q,
which is an artbook by the illustrator for the Kino no Tabi (Kino's
Journey) novel series. Actually, I prefer this doujin artbook to the
Kuroboshi Kouhaku Art Collection book released in 2003. Granada Level Q
has less pages (54 pages, of which 42 are full colour and the rest
monochrome), but the pictures in the book are larger in size and use
bolder colours. Granada Level Q has no artwork from Kino no Tabi,
though, if that's what you're looking for.
- Didn't buy much manga, since I can order that online.
But I did pick up Samura (Blade of the Immortal)
Hiroaki's single volume manga Ohikkoshi - Takei Teashi Manga Zenshuu,
about a group of college students. As with any circle of friends,
there's always one (or more) who want the relationship to be more than
just platonic. Recommended.
- One night in Akihabara I came across a
lot of guys (guys only) lined up outside
Akihabara store 14 of Sofmap
(Sofmap sells electronics, including computer games and DVDs). The line
stretched for approximately 72 of my steps ^_^ and extended across a
road and continued on the next block. Sofmap seemed familiar with such
lines extending across a road, since they had a printed sign setting
out rules on how people should line up so as not to block traffic. The
company was promoting the release of the trial versions of a few PC
games and had set up a few tables outside its store. Five girls (in
cosplay) and a guy (not in cosplay) were distributing the promotional
material. There was an official photographer to record the events. How
do I know this? Because the official photographer told me it was
prohibited for me to take photos >_< I decided to join
the line ^_^ (it seemed like a Genshiken kind of thing to do - lining
up at night to get some PC game). The girls handed out 4 CD-ROMs, a few
pamphlets and one or two posters to each person. By the time I got to
the tables, they were out of posters, but I got everything else ^_^
(not that I play computer games). The CD-ROMs contained the trial
versions for the *adult* games Happy
Hiraite, Kono Aozora
ni Yakusoku wo and Imitation
Lover (links contain adult material). Everything was done
efficiently - they started distribution at 8.15pm and had packed up by
8.30pm. After that I had dinner at Mos Burger
where I had a hot maccha (ie green tea) latte, katsu burger and BBQ
focaccia (the focaccia available for a limited time only). The maccha
latte was terrible (then again, I don't really like maccha) and the
focaccia was okay, but it was like no focaccia I've ever seen before.
- I think I saw more maid cosplayers
on the streets of Akihabara this time, advertising not only maid cafes,
but now also other things such as massage. For example, Milky Angel,
a "reflexology salon", opened its doors in Akihabara in
November 2005, I think. There, the staff
dressed in maid outfits offer hand and foot massage, footbaths, etc.
Prices start at 525 yen for a footbath.
- This time I was in Tokyo it was the sumo season, so I
spent a day watching sumo
wrestling at Ryogoku Kokugikan. I got a masu
(cushion seat) C reserve ticket on the ground floor. Even that cost
9,200 yen. There are much cheaper tickets if you want a fixed (Western)
seat on the first floor. My cushion was in a box of six seats, but
since the other ticket holders hadn't turned up yet, I was able to
stretch out my legs over two cushions in the morning. There are sumo
bouts over the whole day, but they start with the unknown wrestlers and
work up to the famous wrestlers at the end of the day, so the arena
slowly fills up over the course of the day. At noon I lined up for a bowl
of chanko at the wrestlers' training area. Chanko is the soup
that the wrestlers eat to bulk up. The soup is full of various
ingredients. It tasted good, except for the liver and egg yolk (I don't
like eggs, or liver, for that matter). In the afternoon you can hire a
radio for an English language commentary of the final
bouts (refundable deposit of 2,000 yen). By this time, the
other five ticket holders in my box had arrived, one couple with their
adult son and a father with his young son. Six people on cushions in
the box can feel pretty cramped, particularly with a dicky knee. By the
time of the final bouts, there was only
an empty seat or two here and there on the ground floor.
Quite a number of empty seats on the first floor, though. Some people
would just watch from the door/corridor of the ground floor. The crowd
saved their biggest cheers for Kotooshu,
the Bulgarian wrestler who just turned 23 in February. He is the first
European to reach the rank of ozeki (champion). In the past, when he
won tournaments, the audience would get off their cushions and throw
them into the ring. It's quite a sight (I saw it on TV one night - they
were having a documentary on the Bulgarian). At the beginning and end
of the final bouts, the yokozuna (grand champion) Asashoryu
would perform the ceremonial dance. Each time he
lifted and brought down his leg, the crowd would shout
"Dosukoi!!" For me this was my first time at the sumo. It was
interesting to see what impressed the crowd. They would cheer at things
which to me seemed relatively minor. For example, in preparing for a
bout, one wrestler lifted his leg so high that it was almost pointing
straight up in the air. Didn't seem to help him though - he lost his
bout. Another wrestler threw his salt into the ring impressively -
another thing which drew cheers from the audience. Another gee'd
himself up aggressively. Although Kotooshu was the crowd favourite (and
was at least able to win his bout that day, having lost on a couple of
occasions that season), Asashouryu showed his class when winning his
own bout in style.
- I visited Meiji
Shrine. Not the first time for me, but on the
path to the Shrine there were ice
carvings, although they were starting to melt by the time I
saw them. At the shrine itself, I was able to witness a couple of wedding
processions. All very slow and dignified (well except for
that one occasion where the priest tripped, stumbled forward and lost
his sandal ^_^ ). The Shrine
itself also featured an exhibition of calligraphy of shonen from all
over Japan (and even a few boys in Singapore and Taiwan).
- I visited Harajuku
again, for more young-people-watching. (And had a crepe there, of
course.) At the start
of Takeshita-dori, just opposite the train station two
women, one with drums, the other with a guitar, were engaged
in performance art. There was a crew filming the performance. The
director had a North American accent and a Japanese translator. I
assume it was performance art rather than simply music, since it
sounded really cacophonous. But just as it seemed the music was going
to get more melodical, a policeman stepped, quite upset, and told the
women to stop. He was not impressed - probably
the most upset Japanese person I saw on my holiday. The women did stop
and slowly started to pack up, but singing "Yamemashou" quietly :P Then
in nearby Shibuya I bought another, stiffer obi for my kimono (I find
my other obi too soft). Finding a cheap tie for my second-hand haori is
hard, though. Once again I was defeated in that quest.
- Back to Akihabara again at night. Near one of the
exits to the train station, Gekidan
Shika Koroshi (the Deer Murder Troupe) was
performing. (This is one of their regular street performance locations
when not performing in theatres). Whenever someone bought one of their
CDs or DVDs (or perhaps made a donation?), the Freddie
Mercury lookalike (Yamamoto Kouji) would shout "I love you!"
(in either English or Japanese) or "Marry me!" (in Japanese). To view a
20 minute Flash video about the troupe, visit this
page and click on the movie projector. It's mainly a tour of
"Shika house" but the first 15 seconds of the video shows a bit of
- I'd visited the Ghibli Museum on a previous trip, so
this time I decided to visit the Bandai
Museum. Personally I didn't find the Bandai
Museum very interesting. I'm not a Gundam fan, so the Gundam
Museum section didn't really interest me, even though I paid
for all the extra activities (the "ride" in the Gundam cockpit - after
which you pay even more if you want the commemorative photo, the ride
up the Gundam
lift to have a photo taken in some Gundam series uniform, the
Zaku machine gun shooting range). And Character
World was mainly a mix of a few life-sized statues of sentai
characters and glass displays of merchandise for those shows.
There was a bit of memorobilia, though, such as a Godzilla foot used in
the shooting of the 1965 movie Kaijuu Dai Sensou and a rubber suit from
Gojira 2000 Millenium. The museum has pretty low traffic and I finished
it pretty quickly. I didn't find anything interesting at the Gbase shop
either, with its emphasis on Gundam and mecha. Unfortunately the Gundam
Cafe had closed the day before I visited >_< After I left
Japan, they opened the replacement - the G-style Cafe, with a new menu.
Throughout the day, one or two sentai or anime characters would walk
through Character World to shake hands with visitors. I
met Cure Black from Futari wa Pretty Cure, shook her
hand, took her photo
and had a photo taken with her. However, neither the photo of me in the
cockpit of a Gundam, nor the photo of me in Gundam uniform nor the
photo of me with Cure Black will see the light of day ^_^ (They're bad
photos of me anyway.)
- On my way back to central Tokyo, the trains between
Matsudo (where the Bandai Museum is) and Ueno were delayed due to an
injury accident. Don't know whether this means real (unintentional)
accident, or whether someone committed suicide by jumping in front of a
train... Geez, you'd think if someone was going to kill themselves
they'd be a bit more considerate and do it some way that doesn't
disrupt thousands of people's travel plans...
- For food in Tokyo on this holiday, I restricted
myself generally to cheap noodle or rice dishes at small shops or
stalls. Finally tried melon pan (melon bread) on this trip. Nice ^_^
And somewhere along the line I bought a bottle of Calpis Soda Fruits
Mix, which contains orange, pineapple and peach juice. I don't think
those flavours added anything - it was a waste of Calpis Soda. Maybe
that's why it no longer appears in the lineup
of Calpis products.
- For a change from noodles, I decided to try a maid
cafe for the first time. I visited the Cure Maid Cafe
in Akihabara. As usual, no photos of the staff allowed. Ordered the
karaage curry with mini-salad (800 yen) and Cure Maid original cocktail
(500 yen, contains a sweet red wine). The karaage was nice but the beef
curry was a pretty small portion, with just three pieces of beef. I had
expected a maid cafe to have just male otaku as patrons, but the
customers seemed pretty normal to me, and in fact there were more women
there than men. I didn't bother to get a point card although the maid
there asked if I wanted one.
- For my day trip from Tokyo this time, I decided to
visit Hakone - never been there before
(except once to visit an onsen with a friend). Unfortunately it was
cloudy the whole day, so I never got a glimpse of Fuji-san. Worse, at
springs at Owakudani, hail started to fall, and later rain
for the rest of the day. I ate one of the black eggs (boiled in the
sulfur springs) despite my dislike of eggs. Eating one is supposed to
add seven years to your life. Which means that I'll live to be at least
107, since some years ago I climbed Tai-shan in China, and it's said
those who climb that mountain will live to be 100. I visited the Hakone Open Air Museum,
but unfortunately didn't have enough time to explore the whole place
before the closing time. Still, it was an interesting place, and even
my limited time and the drizzle didn't detract from that. It was nice
to rest my tired feet and sore left knee at the foot bath on the museum
- On the United Airlines flight from Tokyo back to Hong
Kong, I watched some Kasoh
Taishow (Masquerade). Contestants perform
skits to try to win 2 million yen. You've probably seen at least
snippets from Kasoh Taishow before, such as the Ping
Pong skit from 2003. You can view other skits on this
page. I wish NTV would release a DVD of the show, though.
- Back in Hong Kong, I
attended some free cultural classes: Chinese tea
appreciation and feng shui (geomancy). Both were
interesting. Since these classes are given freely by business in Hong
Kong, I was expecting the classes to be a mix of lecture and sales. Yet
feng shui master Alex Yu
not only didn't try to sell us anything, but told us we didn't need to
buy anything specific for feng shui at all. I can tell you that this
year (the feng shui year starts on 4 February each year), the number 8
(the north direction) is the best number (direction) while the number 5
(west) is the worst number (direction). Avoid all H5N? strains of the
bird flu. I did buy a feng shui compass later at the markets, though.
Actually, the number 8 will be the best number until 2023, although the
direction will change each year. BTW, where I work there's someone who
practises feng shui.
- As for the tea appreciation,
normally when I drink tea, I don't really notice any difference between
the various types. But at the class, you could really taste the
different flavours in the tea that had been properly brewed. And they
taught us the Cantonese (or was it Hong Kong?) "kung fu" style of tea
drinking (different meaning to the "kung fu" martial arts). I came back
with a set of directions on how long to brew various types of tea, and
what temperature the water should be. You shouldn't use boiling water
except for some red and black teas - such hot water brings out the
bitterness in other tea leaves. Green tea in particular should be
brewed using water between 40 and 75 degree Celcius, and only for a few
seconds (up to 30 seconds for later infusions).
- For dinner I was tired of trying to deal with the
Chinese speaking staff in the small local restaurants in Hong Kong, so
I went to KFC. I decided to order the current special menu item there:
the D'Lite Pisa Calzone. The girl serving me didn't understand English,
and so asked a senior staff member to serve me. I pointed at the
picture of the meal and said I wanted a "calzone". This staff member
looked at me, and with a straight face and heavily accented English
asked, "Do you speak English?" I said "... Yes... " -_- while the first
girl unsuccessfully stifled a laugh behind her >_< BTW,
the calzone (when they finally understood my order) was okay, but small.
- No real problems with airport security this time,
except they wouldn't allow me to walk onto the plane with my keyring.
On a previous trip, they had been concerned about my You're Under
Arrest miniature hand-cuff (big enough to "lock" one thumb if lucky,
and it didn't even lock). This time, they were concerned about the
mini-screwdriver attached to my keyring. What were they afraid of this
time? That I'd somehow force my way into the pilot's cabin and threaten
to dismantle his spectacles?! (It was interesting though that only half
the airports I went through found the mini-screwdriver; Australian
security found it but sensibly - IMO - allowed it on.)
- Then onto Singapore for
the next part of my frequent flyer point redeemed flight. I visited Sentosa Island.
I went early to the theatre
at the musical fountain in order to get a good seat for the
light show at 7.40pm. Managed to get a front row seat. Shortly before
7.40pm there was an announcement that the first two rows of the
audience may get wet during the fountain performance. By then the
theatre was too full to find another seat. Then there was another
announcement that the show was about to start, and as if by clockwork
the Singapore rain started. At first it was a trickle of raindrops, but
then it became a more continuous, heavier deluge, which then turned
into a stream of people leaving the open air theatre. I covered my head
with a map of Sentosa island but remained in my seat. Being in the
front row I was likely to get wet anyway, and this way it was kind of
fairer that everyone would get wet :P
- Finally, the Korean leg of my holiday,
with my brother and aunts' families. With the Korean Wave of culture
(particularly due to TV dramas and movies and particularly in Asia) in
recent years, many places you visit actively promote that they were the
location for filming of those dramas etc. And you can buy TV drama
goods most places you go.
- From Seoul we visited the Dae
Jang Geum Theme Park - called a theme park, but basically a
studio built to film the historical TV drama Dae
Jang Geum about the titular character, the first woman to
become royal physician in Korea. Although it's just a film studio, it
was well constructed IMO. And you can take your photo with life sized
cardboard cutouts of the main characters :P I've watched about 3
episodes of the 70 or so in the series... More for the backlog.
- Then we visited Nami Island, one of the sites of the
filming the hugely popular TV drama Winter
Sonata, which had middle aged women in Japan yearning for
their "Yonsama". The influence of the TV drama on the island is
noticeable: the tandem
bike used by the loving couple in the show has been nailed to
a wooden frame, there's a statue
of the lovers near the centre of the island etc. Of course,
you can take your photo with life sized cardboard cutouts of the main
- Later, we went to Pheonix
Park for some skiing. This is where the TV drama Autumn Fairy Tale
(official English title Autumn
in My Heart) was filmed. My brother and I have skiied before,
but my aunts' families hadn't. So we basically spent the two days
teaching the rest of the group how to ski and helping them get up after
their falls. And of course you can take your photo with life sized
cardboard cutouts of the main characters from Autumn Fairy Tale.
- A couple of days later, the tour ended for my aunts'
families. My brother and I stayed on, however, for a couple more days
in Seoul and four days skiing at Yongpyong.
Yongpyong lost out to Whistler in Canada by one vote for the right to
host the 2010 Winter Games, but is running again for the 2014 Games,
judging by the promo that continually plays on one of the channels on
hotel TV. The snow was good, although it got pretty cold (down to about
negative 17 degrees Celcius) and pretty windy and snowy. However,
neither the mountains at Pheonix Park or Yongpyong were as big as
somewhere like Whistler. Yongpyong is another filming location for
Winter Sonata, so you can take your photo with life sized cardboard etc
(you know the drill). In addition, they had removed the gondala car
which the characters sat in during the show and put it on
display at the main resort centre Dragon Plaza ("the place
where Yoojin refused Sangyuk's proposal and accept Minhyong's love").
Plus, you can pick up a walking tour map of sites from the TV series.
Each morning my brother and I ate at Restaurant "Chalet" in the hotel.
This is where "Minhyong and Yoojin had a cup of hot chocolate"(!) And
judging from the photos placed along the windowsill of the restaurant,
one morning my brother even sat where the hero sat in one scene! The
tour map even has tips like how to wear your scarf in the same way as
the hero of the show!! And one of the hotel TV channels continuously
cycles through a few programs, one of which is the top five scenes from
the series. (Personally, my brother and I thought the kiddy soccer was
much more interesting - some variety show featured kiddy soccer where
the kids were about 6 years old or something. What made it interesting
was that some of the kids had good skills, while some were
uncoordinated. And they'd picked up the characteristics of adults, like
flashy celebrations when they scored.) I'm now up to about episode 5 or
6 of Winter Sonata, BTW.
- If you're looking to try a Korean drama yourself, I'd
point out that the English subtitles on the Singaporean DVDs for Dae
Jang Geum (English title "Jewel in the Palace") can be very hard to
understand (at a guess, it was translated by someone without a good
grasp of English), whereas the English subtitles on the Malaysian DVDs
for Winter Sonata are poorly timed (any fansubber would be ashamed to
put their name to such timing). It seems like the timer had not even
the slightest comprehension of Korean language.
- Anyway, with four days at Yongpyong, I decided to
spend two days skiing and two days learning to snowboard.
I've never tried snowboarding before. The skiing was fine. I even went
down double black diamond runs for the first time (although I do think
the grading of the runs in Korea wasn't as hard as for somewhere like
Whistler). It was with the snowboarding where I ran into trouble.
Snowboarding is completely different to skiing, so I hard to start off
as a complete beginner again, which meant a lot of falling. Plus, when
I learned skiing, I at least got a half day professional lesson on my
first day. This time, the English language lessons at Yongpyong were
too expensive, so my brother just taught me how to skid/brake and how
to do a heel turn and toe turn. And then I was wearing ski gear, not
snowboard gear. Every time I fell on my butt or sat down to undo the
straps on my boots, snow would collect (unnoticed) on the lip of the
back pocket of my ski pants and turn into ice. With the result that
every time I fell on my butt on the hard ice, it was like falling on
rocks where my pocket was. After a while I got the hang of controlled
falling with my gloved hands cushioning my butt :P But I also fell
fowards, generally when trying to execute a toe turn. On one occasion,
I winded myself falling on my chest. After two days of snowboarding, my
body was really sore (sore lower ribs and sore butt). That soreness
lasted for about two to three weeks (see the start of this post).
Perhaps partly due to my getting winded, partly due to the fact that
I'm out of shape and have always been inflexible (all that bending down
to do up and undo the boot straps couldn't have helped), partly due to
the fact that when I first skiied I was 12 years younger.
- Back at Seoul, we went up Seoul Tower
to view the sprawling city of 10 million (fifth largest city in the
world). The tower
also has impressive toilets :P I visited the Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine
and Museum, where the museum claims to have a piece of the
wood from the cross of Jesus (and a rock from his tomb). I couldn't
actually see the piece of wood, though, because of the elaborate
container that had been built to house it. No photos allowed. The
museum has a photo of the area in the 1960s. Back then seems it was at
the edge of Seoul, with only farmland all around. Now if you visit the
museum, you'll see its firmly in the middle of a concrete jungle and
still fairly central in terms of Seoul's public transport system.
- I was seconds away from making it onto this
TV show (sorry, I was hoping to learn to read
Hangul before my trip, but sadly didn't have the time). Basically, I
was at Bandi's
& Luni's Bookstore at the COEX Shopping
Mall (the largest underground shopping mall in Asia) and was
heading for a cashier to pay for a couple of CDs when one of the staff
stopped me and asked me to head to other cashier. I pointed to the one
I was heading for anyway, but she insisted that I head to the other
one. Basically there were two guys from the TV show there, working
behind the counter, and a camera crew interviewing the guys and
customers. (I think the show's about life experiences or something).
Anyway, I guess the shop staff were worried that there weren't enough
customers at that cashier to keep the event interesting. But after a
minute or two, the shop assistant who'd first stopped me, seemed to
have second thoughts and took me back to the cashier I'd been heading
to in the first place. I can only assume she was concerned it would be
even worse to have a customer who couldn't speak Korean on TV than to
have no customers on screen :) Anyway, if you're interested, the show
is broadcast on KBS channel 1TV at 9:00am on Sundays, and the episode
that I would've been on was broadcast on 5 February 2006. You view the
episode on this
page (episode 255) but need to register with KBS for video on
demand first :) Well, that was my brush with fame.
- Before I left for my holiday, someone at work
expressed surprise that I'd chosen to visit Korea. To him, the place
had a reputation as an "industrial hellhole". But I found it
interesting. Like Japan, South Korea is a developed modern nation but
Asian in nature. Well, not as developed as Japan, but still with
cutting edge technology. Myeong
Dong Cathedral in Seoul has six flat screen TVs down the side
aisles (so that people seated in those pews can see the priest at the
altar). How many other churches in the world have flat screen TVs?
Ancient culture with an affluent modern society. But why do so many
people in East Asia (Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea) like Louis Vuitton
bags to much? The food was good, though eating one water snail was
enough for me - water snails a lot bigger than French escargot - and I
didn't have the courage to try silkworm larvae. By the time we left
Korea, there was still stuff around and near Seoul I'd still like to
visit, as well as other parts of Korea. I hope to go back some time.
- On the way back to Australia, I stayed with Mr Bear
and Mrs Bear, and this time met Baby Bear (who's very cute).
Unfortunately, I was still sore from snowboarding. And I'd also picked
up some food poisoning, probably something I ate on the day I left
Korea. Mr and Mrs Bear gracefully and helpfully put up with my
problems. I'm sorry I wasn't a good guest... m(_ _)m And they arranged
a dinner with LL (whom I haven't seen in years) as well, though I
unfortunately couldn't eat much of the chilli crab due to my food
- I could write a lot more about my trip, but the rest
would be even less related to manga, anime or Japan :P
- So now I'm back in Australia. In
Pacific is starting to release
anime DVDs. In its lineup are Daphne in
the Brilliant Blue and New Getter Robo,
volumes 1 of which will be released in about a fortnight's time. Madman
in Australia has been good to anime fans, but I guess some competition
can't be bad (although I hope the Magna Pacific releases are good
2005 came and went in December 2005. Another successful
con. Congratulations to the outgoing committee. I tried to support the
con in its first two years by donating prizes. Probably won't do that
this year, but I'm currently thinking of another way to support the con
this year. Best wishes to this year's committee.
- I attended Swancon
2006 this weekend. This is the first time I've attended
Swancon. Anime and manga are only incidental to Swancon, and Swancon
has attendances probably only about a third that of Wai-con (despite
the former's long established history) but nevertheless the panel
topics on anime and manga at Swancon seemed more interesting to me than
the panel topics Wai-con has organised in the past. Perhaps it's
because Swancon seems to attract a more mature attendee and therefore
has more mature panel topics. In any event, conentions, whether Swancon
or Wai-con, aren't really the thing for me (I'm not a convention
person). Basically I only went to see mangaka/cosplayer/entertainer Ippongi
Bang in concert
language website is more up to date), whose attendance as
guest of the convention was sponsored (I think) by local anime club JAFWA. She was shorter
than I thought she'd be :P She did forget a few lines for some of the
anime songs she was singing, but made up for that with the enthusiasm
of her delivery. Shame it was a short set of songs too. Here are a few
and one short QT video
clip. I'm sure the crowd would've liked a longer concert. I
didn't realise she'd be selling some of her doujinshi and manga at the
convention. Bought some of those and got them signed \^_^/
- I heard that the Seikai
series novels have been licensed. I don't know whether that
includes all the Seikai no Danshou short stories, but in the meantime I
won't bother continuing with my (much delayed) translation of Seikai no
Danshou. The Seikai no Senki 4 radio drama
is to be broadcast on fm
osaka from April 2006. I wonder if this will be a precursor
to an anime...?
- I heard that Oh! great's manga Air Gear
has been licensed as well, by Del Rey. Good move, and good company.
BTW, Yujin will be releasing Air Gear gashapon
in June 2006. There'll be five figures: Ringo, Simca, Ikki, Sukumizu
Kamen and Agito.
All rights (copyright and otherwise) reserved. Ath
courtesy of FX's Crest
of the Stars: Abh Language Site (though I modified some of
the script). Baronh courtesy of Sidryac Borgh=Racair Mauch and others' Dadh Baronh
- Universe of Baronh. I hope I didn't stuff things up ^_^;;
Any errors are purely my own and should not reflect negatively on the
two websites. Forex data is for general information purposes only and
has been taken from Oanda.com
and the Australian Financial
Review. - I am not a licensed financial adviser in any
jurisdiction ^_^ nor am I attempting to give financial advice by this
website - nor should you rely on the currency information on this
website as such. If you plan to make any financial decisions, I
recommend you seek competent (and licensed) independent financial