Saturday, May 01, 2010

Long time no see

Well, looks like this may be the end of this blog, at least in its current form. I'm looking into alternatives, but I haven't been looking very hard, alas.

It's been a long, strange trip. It'll probably continue to be a long, strange trip. And, I'll probably continue to chronicle both the future and the some way.

Best wishes to the regular readers, and hopefully it won't be too long...


Monday, March 08, 2010

Uh oh...

Big changes are coming to Blogger. Not sure what I'm going to do about it.

FTP publishing will no longer be available after May 1, 2010

You currently have blogs that are published using FTP. You must migrate your blogs to a new custom domain URL or a blogspot URL.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I've gotten into buying manga again. Oh dear.

I spent a lot of money on manga before I went to Japan. Back then, the manga I was buying was usually between $12-$15 a volume. I ended up selling a bunch of those to the used books dept. at Barnes & Noble before I left...and most of the rest during my first visit home.

Ranma 1/2, Gunsmith Cats, Maison Ikkoku, Blade of the Immortal, Vagabond, You're Under Arrest, Battle Angel Alita, Inu Yasha, Fushigi Yuugi, Video Girl Ai, Urusei Yatsura...and probably more that I'm forgetting. I guess these are the ones I wish I didn't have to sell.

Nowadays, manga are a bit cheaper than they were. (That never happens, does it?) Perhaps it's because manga and anime are more popular, so they print more copies; it could also be because localizing manga is a lot easier than it was. They no longer flip the artwork to make it read left to right, for example, and that alleviates the need for a lot of retouching. So...I've started buying manga again, but in a more limited fashion. Hikaru no Go, Oh My Goddess! (which I was buying before), and one other, mentioned below.

Also, the development of high-speed internet has greatly affected how quickly manga gets here from Japan. Before, getting the latest chapters of manga took months after its initial Japanese publication. This led to the rise of "scanlation" groups who would buy manga as it came out in Japan, scan them into graphics files, and insert their own translation via Photoshop.

Now, in addition to trying to shut down these sites (which isn't really working), some companies are trying it themselves.

Rumiko Takahashi, of Ranma and Maison Ikkoku fame, started a new manga, Rin-ne, at just about the same time that I left Japan (April of last year). Back in the day, I would've had to wait until, oh, now, to be able to read it. But Viz Media, the American division of Japanese publisher Shogakukan, has been releasing their own digital translation online pretty much simultaneously with the chapters' original publication in Shonen Sunday. The collected editions are also released the same day that the books come out in Japan.

Rin-ne (or 境界のりんね, if you will) is pretty good, but kind of similar to some of Takahashi's previous work. It could be described as a more lighthearted take on the early parts of Inu-Yasha. You've got the high school girl, Mamiya Sakura, who falls in with the mysterious other person, and they find themselves working together to deal with problems stemming from the supernatural world. In this case, the other person is Rokudo Rinne, a classmate of the protagonist, who is forced by circumstance to work as a shinigami, guiding spirits to their final resting place (sometimes forcibly). Often short of resources, he sometimes has to be very creative in doing his job, and Sakura helps out as much as she can.

One of the things that surprised me the first time that I read Rin-ne was that I can pick out several cultural references that somehow were not noticed by the translators...or at least, they didn't see fit to include them in the notes in back.

For example, Sakura makes mention of how Rinne is using a weather station in back of the school like "Kitaro's Demon Post", which is a reference to Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro, a manga drawn by a native of Sakaiminato, the last place in Japan that I lived. In another chapter, one of the devices that Rinne uses in his job says "Zoooooom...IN!" repeatedly. This is a trademark line of the NTV morning show "Zoom In Super!"

...maybe I did live in Japan for too long...

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Random Japan memories

Every morning, I would walk to work at the town hall in Higashiichiki. One railroad crossing, one stoplight-controlled intersection, one small shop owned by an old lady who laughed (at me) a lot. It took maybe 15 minutes to get to work, provided I wasn't distracted by wildflowers, small shiny lizards, or freakin' huge spiders, to name a few things.

There were no sidewalks on the road for most of that walk, but that usually wasn't a problem. Drivers knew to watch for pedestrians, especially on the narrow roads in the area. (I was told that many of the narrow winding roads started out as horse paths way back in the day.) During the one week that snow was on the ground, though, I feared for my life. Kagoshima drivers knew NOTHING about true winter driving...

By the time I had lived there for a couple of years, I grew very familiar with that daily walk. I had even learned exactly how long it took for the light at the one intersection to change. Once, while waiting at the light with a bunch of junior-high students, I took an anticipatory step across, and the kids all went, "OoooOOOOOOOOoooh!" (We teachers were supposed to be only the finest examples of morals and behavior...) I just looked at them, grinned, and snapped my fingers...and the light changed.


(It occurs to me that I have probably blogged about this before. Oh, well.)


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yet another sign that I'm older than dirt.

Conversation at work tonight:

"Rob, what is that song you're singing?" (Sometimes, when it's late and I'm tired, I start singing quietly to keep myself awake. There is no logical connection there, but hey.)

"It's a very very old song."

"Bruce Springsteen? I really like Springsteen..."


"Bob Dylan?"



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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Random geeky toy photos 5/some of the only things I've ever gotten from eBay

A few 下敷(pencil boards):

First: Belldandy.

Second: Skuld.
(only one side)

And finally, some UFO catcher dolls...

Click pictures for enlarged versions...if you dare.

It's probably a good thing that I don't have easy access to anime toys memorabilia anymore.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Woo hoo!

That money from the Japan National Pension Fund arrived a few days ago. I actually debated the merits of paying off my credit card in one fell swoop for about thirty seconds or so.

"Well, if I pay off half now, or a third now, I could buy -- AAAAGH! STUPID!! PAY IT ALL OFF NOW NOW NOW NOW!"

So, as of today, I am DEBT-FREE for the first time since, oh, college. Wow.


Monday, January 18, 2010


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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Apropos of Nothing redux

Calvin & Hobbes, the Norwegian version


I'm hungry

Know what I could go for right now?


No, not this:

I want ramen.

No, DEFINITELY not this:

I want ramen.

You know...



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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Things are looking up for once

I get my money from the Japanese pension fund in the near future. Yaaaay!