After going to school to figure out my classes for this semester, I stopped by Shinjuku Station to get a monthly subway pass. Outside the East Exit they had this big professional stage set up, with this group LaLaLu performing. It’s pretty obvious that they’re a Morning Musume clone, but they did a good job. They’re better singers than MoMusu, for sure. Part of MoMusu’s charm, though, is their crappy singing and really original, dynamic songs. LaLaLu is good, but they just might be _too_ good to be genuine. There were lots of people with big ‘brellas and cameras and such up in front, so out of the thirty(!) photos I took, this is about the only one that come out decently with all eight members visible. Some dudes were yelling really obnoxiously throughout the whole show, and I couldn’t tell if they really _liked_ LaLaLu, or really _hated_ them. Personally, I’m partial to Asuka-san (second from the right). Today was a jackpot for free stuff: in addition to the usual tissue packs that one would expect to get while walking around Tokyo, I also got a nice pen, a clear file, and a little washcloth thingie with cute characters on it. Bonus! I also got two packages today: one from my sister Katy and one from Craig. Katy’s package had actually been trying to get delivered for over a week, but I kept not being there when it showed up. Katy sent over yet another strange and esoteric shirt for my “freak out the Japanese” wardrobe. It’s got the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and his bloody stumps, saying, “It’s just a flesh wound…”. Classic. Craig sent over some Cheez-It and Ovaltine, which is terribly nice to see when you’ve got about an ounce of Cheez-It and four ounces of Ovaltine left. Craig also included some photos from his visit here, so I might scan some up and put them here. Jumbo thanks go out to Katy and Craig both. Who’s your favorite LaLaLu member? Left to right: Ikue, Sayaka, Fuuko, Hinano, Sara, Mae, Asuka, Noa.
Archive for September, 2002
Hiroko flies back and forth between the USA and Japan a lot. She earned enough crazy bonus points to get a bunch of free stuff, and her family asked if there was anything in the All Nippon Airlines catalog I wanted. I said that if they really couldn’t think of anything else they wanted, I wouldn’t mind taking the bike for riding to the station every day. They ordered it, and it came. It is very, very small. Tiny. But it’s a lot of fun. I put Rush’s Presto on the iPod and took it for a ride out to some place I’d never been for a couple of hours. Now I’m riding it around town every day listening to the new [Peter Gabriel] album (his first in over ten years). Having a bike makes Tokyo really fun. : http://www.petergabriel.com
This is all the free stuff I got at the show. I missed out on demo discs, phone straps, and such. Still a hefty amount of loot. IRC people let me know if you want any of this stuff.
There was a really great Tifa by the drink machines. You can’t really see her very well, but I think it’s funny to see other characters getting something to drink.
This chaos was just walking around in the crowd, and she seemed pretty happy that I stopped her to ask for a picture. Her costume is superb, too. She might be my favorite all-around Xeno cosplayer of the day, in terms of costume and attitude.
Someone was brave enough to attempt playing KOS-MOS. It’s a fine effort, but I wish I could show you the other group that we found shortly after taking this photo. I saw them lined up by the wall: Shion, KOS-MOS, and M.O.M.O., with no overlapping cosplayers with the group I’d already gotten. They were all very well done, with the best Xeno costumes I’d seen all day. Just as we went up to get a picture, they were packing up to leave. Lawrence got a picture of them just standing around talking, so we’ll see if that turned out at all. I really, really wish I could have gotten those three posing, though. Well, here’s another KOS-MOS, anyway. The guy in front of me took no less than twenty photos of her. Some players were saying, “three shots each”, and I can really, really understand that. I would only take one, and then another if the first had been blurry.
It took us a minute to figure out why this guy had an exclamation point above his head. If you’ve played MGS, you might recognize this guy as a surprised guard (in the game, when guards notice you, they get an exclamation point above their heads). This was one of our favorite costumes once we figured it out. Brilliant.
I really wish this photo had turned out. I’m hoping Lawrence will have a decent version of it that I can use to replace this one.
When the Zen Black and Ocean Blue PS2s came out, I was a little disappointed. Sony has the best, most popular video game console in the world, and when it was time to make a Special Edition, the best thing they could think of was to make it out of translucent plastic. This is something that, since Apple did it in 1998, has come and gone as a design trend. When Microsoft offered a Special Edition XBox for Japan that was made out of translucent plastic, it was kind of stupid. Translucent plastics were getting old even for staplers at this point, and unlike Apple, nobody else actually designed their product to look _good_ when translucent; they just filled their normal mold with a different kind of plastic that hardens clear. Anyway, It was even dumber to see Sony do this with their PlayStation 2 a year later. I thought a ghostly or iridescent white would have been much, much nicer and more original. Well, here’s a compromise: a translucent white PS2. It looks pretty neat, but the black buttons and cables, and the ugliness of the PS2’s visible guts aren’t helping much. It is my favorite PS2 design so far, though.
Here I am trying out Silent Hill 3. It wasn’t so good. We also played the new Contra, which is pretty fun. Capcom had a Devil May Cry 2 playable demo as well, but the line was long so we just watched. That game looks *really* fun.
Nice work by this GGXX group. Baiken, Millia, Axl, Dizzy, I-No, Anji Mito, Chipp, May, Bridget, Jam.
Chii might have been the most respresented single character. She’s very cute and easy to play as, because all you need to do is put on something frilly and a set of ears that can be bought at any geeky shop in the country. I’m not a Chobits fan, but this group of four Chiis was too cute to pass up.
There was a M.O.M.O. posing down at the end of the cosplay courtyard, and just as I got in line, she decided that she needed a break, and cut off the pictures starting with me. I walked away, disappointed, and saw two Shions walk past me going the other away, followed by an Albedo. I trailed them, and found that they’d set up a little Xenosaga group, along with two other characters. So here are Wilhelm, Albedo, Jin Uzuki, Shion, M.O.M.O., and Shion. All my photos of this group have Jam from GGXX posing in the background. XD
Here’s I-No. A lot of these pictures didn’t turn out to well, as my camera is far from pro-quality. Lawrence has agreed to send me copies of his photos, and hopefully they’ll be much better than mine.
GGXX was very well represented among the cosplayers. It was probably the single most common game cosplayed.
Here’s Bridget, my character of choice in Guilty Gear XX. I kicked some butt with her later at the game shop where they had a GGXX machine.
This shot, like many others, was taken discreetly while in line for a different cosplayer. Shhhh.
One of the main reasons I came to TGS2002 was to find a Shion cosplayer. Well, here she is. She was amused by the Shion button I had put on my bag for the occasion.
The best part of the show for me was the cosplay. I only photographed characters I knew, because there were long lines for most of them. Yes, in Japan, you line up to take photos of cosplayers. Some guys have multiple professional cameras and take like twenty photos. Whatever.
A certain ILoveAi from the [GameFAQs] message boards was going to come out here and go to Tokyo Game Show 2002 with me, but as it turned out he couldn’t make it. I didn’t want to go alone, as I’m not even really into games enough to enjoy it without others with whom to hang out. A night before the show started, I got a call from Wyrd (Tom) up in Sendai, another GameFAQs person, who wanted to know if I’d like to go to the show with a group he was getting together. I said, “yeah”. So the next night, we all met at Shakey’s Pizza on Omote Sando. Tom, his friends from school back in the USA, Shannon and Leah, two other JET dudes from Sendai, Aaron and Lawrence, and a random dude who has a mutual friend with them, Kendrick, were all in attendance. We enjoyed pizza and I enjoyed pretty much the first extended social encounter I’ve had in English in quite a while. The next day I came to meet them all at the Game Show in Chiba (not in Tokyo as the name suggests). Here’s a very tiny fraction of the line to get in. In true Japanese fashion, complete order and politeness were preserved without even having stretch barriers set up for much of the line. People just filed back and forth across the designated area. : http://www.gamefaqs.com
I went on a little trip to Akihabara, and on the way back I got this picture of my favorite building in Shinjuku. I also went to a kaiten sushi joint, which is where the sushi comes around on a little conveyor belt and you just grab what you like. Pretty good. I’m kind of getting back into a bad sleeping schedule, which I need to break. I have about ten more days of summer vacation in Tokyo and I’ll be danged if I’m going to sleep them all away. I really wish I actually knew some people here; I go days and days without actually speaking to anyone. I’m kinda surprised there weren’t more geeky people I could have befriended at school and hung out with during the summer. Being by myself all day every day means I get a lot of reading and computer projects done, but blast if it isn’t depressing.
This dude was just sitting there in Shinjuku Station with his little guinea pig all set up next to him; it was neat.
They had some neat music and dance performances down at the shrine all through the evening.
While everyone was watching the mikoshi go by, there was a covert Pokemon trade going on.
Hiroko’s family invited me to come over and check out the matsuri (festival) that was going on in their town. The procession of three mikoshi (the portable golden god-holder thingo) passes right in front of their house twice, so we just stayed in and played Nekketsu Seishun Nikki 2, Vib Ribbon, and SSX Tricky until we heard the ruckus, then came out to watch. The folks carrying the mikoshi were pretty enthusiastic, whooping and freaking out and stuff.
I’m not sure what these guys were on about but they sure did say “America” a lot.
This is the fun internationals-message-board at the international supermarket. I heard from a certain Ayako that there’s an international supermarket in Hiroo. There aren’t a lot of food items that I absolutely must have; in fact I’m pretty proud of how well I’m doing without most of my typical USAmerican luxuries, but Cheez-It is another story. I’m sure I could exist without it (in contrast to, say, Ovaltine), but I don’t want to imagine what that would be like. My It reserves had run more or less empty, and I took a little trip to Hiroo to test fate herself and see whether It existed there. I found the snack section, found the cracker section within the snack section, and scanned the shelves. No friendly red box, there. It was sad, but what could one expect? The cheese cracker is something of a niche market even in its native culture. At least they didn’t stock some lame knock-off like Cheese Nips. Gimme a break. As I moved away from the snack section, defeated, there it was: a special section all its own near the checkout lanes, with featured snack products. Right there on the middle shelf where three glimmering red boxes of It. I bought them all. This photo is actually from my second trip to Hiroo, after finishing the original three boxes. I picked up three more boxes, along with some Wild Cherry Pepsi, Pepsi Twist, Campbell’s Soup, Orangina (named Exploding Potion by my Diablo-II-playing brother-in-law Thom), and Johnsonville Bratwurst. That’s my USA-products stockpile for the next few weeks. Don’t worry; I’m eating sushi and stuff, too. I also picked up three more volumes of Hitsuji no Uta on the way home; it’s this pretty obscure manga about vampires. I just realized the other night that I’ve read through like a dozen whole manga volumes in Japanese. I don’t know just when it happened, but somewhere between the night I thought to myself “hey, it would be fun to learn Japanese” and now, I’ve actually gotten to the point where I can understand a whole dang manga book. It’s blowing my mind.
This is my street. Right now I’m working on moving the [UCM] over to its own subdomain, and while all the huge numbers of files are [flying through thin air] and my ceiling is doing its leaking thing, I went outside to get a Pepsi. Outside my building there’s a shirtless young guy talking cheerfully into a phone, and as I walked by I noticed that right now our environs smell a lot like 611 Marsh Street, the house wherein a large number of fond memories were created during my freshman year at [St. Norbert College]. Ryou from Japan, Philipp from Germany, Benoit from France, and, ah, a Spanish guy all lived at 611, and we used to have huge international-parties at which over a dozen nationalities would often be represented. I was known for always having a Pepsi in hand rather than partaking in the abundant reserve of beer. Tets and I also used to go over there every Friday night to play mah-jongg with Ryou and Eri, and that was pretty much my first exposure to real Japanese culture. We’d play for hours straight, and I’d do my best to decipher the weird foreign language I’d never really heard much of before. We’d make Japanese meals and I’d try to brave all the weird foreign food I’d never tried before. One night this girl Hiroko showed up, but that is an entirely different story. *^_^* So those memories, the laughing guy on the phone, and the perfect weather all came together in about one instant and just felt really dang good. I’m in Japan, it’s summer, everything’s cool. My biggest immediate worries are how I’m going to move all of my sites over to CSS and have them conform to HTML 4.0, and how I’ll find enough time to read all my manga and play all my video games. I’m doin’ all right. : http://ucm.metalbat.com : http://www.apple.com/airport/ : http://www.snc.edu
Right next to the game that encourages you to “TAKE IT ALL OFF!” and then reconciles itself with “THIS GAME ISN’T TOTALLY PERVERTED!”, is the entrance to the bathroom. For some reason the “men” icon is this well-dressed monster.
This sculpture was above the staircase leading down into a questionable establishment. Near this establishment, we ran into another JET on her way out of “Shaft”, a popular bar. A conversation about which bar to attend next ensued: _Girl:_ Do you want to go over to “Hide And Seek”? _Me:_ Actually, we were thinking about going to an arcade… _Girl:_ Oh, “Arcade”? Where’s that? _Tom:_ No, you see, we’re nerds…
I’m into the game [Xenosaga]. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Well, I was looking for the now very rare Xenosaga LE box, and an acquaintance of mine over at the [GameFAQs] message board mentioned that he had seen one at a used game shop in Sendai, where he lives. He offered to pick it up for me, and I saw it as an opportunity to make a little something more of my summer vacation. We made some arrangements and I went up to Sendai for the weekend. Tom turned out to be a neat guy; just the kind of stranger who you’d want to pick up rare, expensive video games on your behalf and whose apartment you’d want to crash on short notice. We had fun, spending a good amount of time in Sendai’s fine arcades. While Tom, some of his JET (Japanese English Teacher) friends, and I were trying to get into a supposedly excellent pizza place whose staff would rather fix a ceiling for two whole days in a row than serve eager customers like us, we came across this mural on a wall. The reflective sign at the bottom says, “DANGER”. : http://jetfuel.metalbat.com/madness.html : http://www.gamefaqs.com