Archive | Japan

Playing Mario Kart 8 first in Europe?

Starting up Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 was released on May 29th 2014 in Japan. Now you say, but it’s still only May 28th! Correct, in Europe it is still May 28th. But European time 17.00 it turned May 29th in Japan.

I wrapped up my job for the day, took Feierabend and checked if the game was available in the eshop in my Wii U and if I could buy it with my European credit card. It was and I could! Despite Nintendo’s policy of not letting one region play games released in other regions. I’ve heard they check IP addresses, but apparently I was somehow allowed to give them my money.

Mario Kart 8

After purchasing – a bit over 6,000 yen = around 44 euros – I had to wait from 18.10 to 21.50 for the download, over 4 GB. Then some more minutes for the install. And then I was set to play, at 22.00 on May 28th 2014, the date before the release in Japan! (The English version will be released on May 30th in the West.) I might very well be the first person in Europe who plays Mario Kart 8! How cool isn’t that?

The game? It’s fantastic! I love it! It feels extremely powerful and modern, with very high quality – I’ve seen a documentary about the making of the game, so I know that all the music was recorded with real studio musicians. I look forward to racing against my friends.

Playing Mario Kart 8

Maybe you wonder why I’m so infatuated with Mario Kart 8. The reason is that me and Yusuke saw this game in the game centers in Tokyo last December. It was new then and not available for any console. We did some research and found out that it would be released for the Wii U “in spring”. This was good news for me, since I had just bought a Wii U to be able to play Taiko no Tatsujin. We agreed that I would give Yusuke money so that he could send me the game when it was released.

I went back to Europe, spring came, and then Nintendo revealed the release date: 29th May 2014. So my whole year so far has been a long waiting for Mario Kart 8, and during this whole time I wasn’t sure if it was going to work to purchase it in the e-shop and play it on my Japanese Wii U in Europe. Tonight all that worked out. That’s why I’m so happy!

And let me repeat: I love the game! Everyone who sees it will be shocked at how good it looks! (At least on a 60-inch plasma, just had to mention that again, hihi.)

Ok, now I’m going back to the game!

Akihabara crackdown

In the series of how Tokyo might change until the 2020 Olympics, here’s from Tokyo Reporter:

shukan_jitsuwa_apr10“Throughout Tokyo, reports Shukan Jitsuwa (Apr. 10), a purification drive of the city’s red-light areas is expanding, with the latest blow arriving in Chiyoda Ward’s Akihabara area, where law enforcement is attempting to thwart child prostitution.

Starting on April 1, businesses throughout Chiyoda Ward will be prohibited from promoting the service utilized by men known as ‘joshi kosei osanpo,’ or a walking date with a high school girl.”

… “‘During the walk, the customer can then negotiate enjo kosai’ — meaning compensated dating, which is a euphemism for a trip to love hotel.”

I’ll collect little snippets like this one and see what pattern emerges if any. From now on they’re filed under the tag Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Nice magazine design by the way.

Will the TPP kill Japan’s doujinshi scene?

Comic Market 83 at Tokyo Big Sight, December 2012

Comic Market 83 at Tokyo Big Sight, December 2012

1. Summary

TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is a trade agreement currently being negotiated between USA, Japan and some other countries.

There are worries that the US will impose harder copyright laws on Japan, which might threaten subcultural expressions in the copyright grayzone, such as doujinshi and cosplay.

Today in Japan, copyright holders acknowledge these expressions as legitimate. It’s up to the copyright holder to press charges.

This might change.

Depending on how the final version of TPP will look, it might not be possible for copyright holders to accept these expressions – they would be illegal even if the copyright holder doesn’t mind. Even if the copyright holder appreciates and encourages that people make derivative works of his or her characters, it would still be illegal to do so.

If this law change would occur, it would probably kill the doujinshi scene, or force it underground.

Today doujinshi and cosplay is a huge subculture phenomenon; the biggest event, Comic Market, attracted 520 000 visitors last year to Tokyo Big Sight, the city’s major fair venue.

The negotiations continue.

2. My comment

This comes as no surprise. The doujinshi scene is under fire both for violating Western copyright laws and for violating Western bans on comics that are categorised as child porn. With Japan needing to present a good image for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there is a risk that they will cave in to Western demands.

3. Further reading

Figure Friday: Gon Freecss

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  • Name: Gon Freecss (ゴン フリークス)
  • Age: 12
  • Anime: Hunter × Hunter

“Gon is the son of the famous Hunter, Ging Freecss, and is on a quest to find his father. He wishes to find out the depths of an occupation that would cause a father to choose the profession over being with his own son.” (cut-paste remixed source)

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“Gon is a young boy with long spiky black green tipped hair and large, hazel brown eyes. His usual outfit is composed of a green jacket with reddish edges covering a black or white tank top underneath, green short shorts, and green, laced boots. In some arcs such as the greed island and chimera ant arcs he takes off the jacket and wears only the tank top.”

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“Gon is an athletic, rustic, and friendly 12-year-old boy who is searching for adventure. Also, he isn’t very good at math. However, having spent a lot of time in the woods as a child, he is very good with animals.”

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“Gon is an Enhancer, who are known for being simple-minded and determined. He has a heightened sense of smell almost like a dog and has very good vision.”

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“Gon’s flaws lie in his temper and impulsive nature. Gon sometimes fails to think things through and such actions lead to him suffering. His will is stronger than most and he can be very level-headed, but this clear mind can also make him very cold at times.”

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“Gon continually strives to obtain greater power, often becoming exceptionally stronger in his anger. But Gon’s anger also leads to extremely reckless tendencies. When his emotions are ignited, Gon becomes irrational and completely oblivious to anything else.”

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Yes, I saved the best for last – good patience, figure fans!

I didn’t know anything about Hunter × Hunter when I found this beautiful figure in Akihabara, but now I’ve already watched 75 episodes of the anime from 2011 – the Greed Island arc has just finished.

It feels strange to compare, but it’s true: Gon is up there with Yabuki Joe as my all-time favourite anime character. It’s because of his larger than life personality, so sharply cut out that it becomes ideal; Gon is a concept rather than a person. He’s The Boy. As perfectly drawn as a simple kanji.

This post wraps up the “Figure Friday” series of action figures I bought in Japan during autumn 2013. But we’re not fully done, next week we’ll end with a group photo!

Figure Friday: Tetsuya Kuroko

Tetsuya Kuroko (黒子 テツヤ, Kuroko Tetsuya) is the main protagonist of the manga and anime Kuroko no Basuke (“Kuroko’s Basket”, or in the unnecessarily complicated official translation: “The Basketball which Kuroko plays”.)

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“Kuroko is actually quite feminine compared to most boys and has a very small build for a basketball player. He has light blue hair that he styles to his left. His eyes are blue, and he has a blank gaze. His skin is fairly pale. He wears the white, black and red Seirin jersey with the number 11. He also sometimes wears black sweatbands. His basketball shoes are white with a blue streak.” (source)

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“Kuroko has a deadpan and straight forward personality. He is very hard working and always tries to satisfy the needs of the team above his own. He is quite gloomy and unnoticeable. He has also displayed much respect towards fellow passionate basketball player and thinks that while senpais have pride, kōhais have respect.”

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“Kuroko has metaphorically referred to himself as a ‘shadow’. With this he means that he is playing for someone else, and that he becomes stronger when the ‘light’ is stronger. With the ‘light’, he means the player he supports during a basketball game.”

I watched Kuroko no Basuke some year ago and enjoyed it. The series is extremely popular in Japan, Kuroko is on the cover of 2 of my 6 Shounen Jump (I buy one for each Japan trip).

I also bought a capsule with Kuroko on my latest trip.

Figure Friday: Koyomi Araragi

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Koyomi Araragi (阿良々木 暦) is the main character in the Monogatari Series.

  • Age: 18
  • Height: 165 cm
  • Weight: 55 kg

 

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“Koyomi Araragi is a third year high school student who survived a vampire attack during spring break, and became a vampire himself.”

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“He can see in the dark, his eyes turn red when he gets angry, and he heals incredibly fast.”

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“He’s a poor student, close to failing every class except math. Other characters seem to speculate that Koyomi is a lolicon.”

I usually only buy figures from animes that I’ve watched. But sometimes it’s the other way around: I watched Summer Wars after buying Kazuma Ikezawa, and I’m now watching Hunter x Hunter after finding the fantastic figure of Gon (and now I want Killua as well!). I don’t know if I’m gonna watch Monogatari though, I just liked this figure because I like Japanese seifuku – school uniforms. Who doesn’t. 😛

Finally – last two shipments arrived!

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So I finally got two notices in my mail, asking me to come to Zollamt Schöneberg to pick up my packages – sent from Tokyo on 27 November 2013! This is normal procedure, I’ve been at the Zollamt before when ordering books from Amazon. It usually takes 1-2 hours, and today was no exception.

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When it was my turn, a civil servant asked me to open the already opened and reclosed packages. They contained 10 kg doujinshi. He asked where I had got them, since I didn’t have a receipt. I explained that many of them had been given to me for free directly from the authors. Others I had bought at hobby events where you’re not given a receipt.

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My biggest problem was that it was hard for me to prove that I had lived in Japan. He didn’t ask me for my ID, despite the customs in Niederaula had slapped a note about “Altersnachweis” on the packages. They had also told me when I called them, that I would have to bring a proof of age because of “Jugendschutz”. Well, maybe the guy saw that I had turned 18. 😛

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“VuB” means “Verboten und Beschränkungen”.

Then he took out some of the doujinshi and said that the content was fine, but that he was going to do some internet research to find out their market value. I would have to pay 7 % German VAT on that value. I was ordered back to the waiting room. After another 10-15 minutes I was called back. The same guy said that he estimated the total value to be under 50 euro, which is under the limit for when you have to pay German VAT. So I was free to go.

This shipment’s itinerary:

  • 27 November 2013: Sent with sea mail, registered, from Tokyo
  • 23 January 2014: Arrived customs in Niederaula, Germany
  • 18 February 2014: Sent from customs in Niederaula to customs in Berlin
  • 27 February 2014: I got notices to pick them up in Berlin

Meaning, the shipment took exactly 3 months to reach me!

A glimpse of the content:

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Third shipment arrived

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This one actually arrived on 19 February 2014, but I got a pickup notice in my mail box that I didn’t see until yesterday. It was sent on 16 December 2013 from Tokyo, together with another package which arrived two days earlier.

Both were untrackable and took about two months to reach Berlin with sea mail.

This package passed customs in Niederaula but was not opened by them.

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The content this time: 14 manga volumes and 8 doujinshi, among other stuff.

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The shipment list again – in order of arrival:

  • Shipment 1 (sea mail, trackable): Sent from Tokyo 6 December 2013, arrived to customs in Hamburg 27 January 2014, arrived to me in Berlin 31 January 2014.
  • Shipment 2 (sea mail, printed matter, untrackable): Sent from Tokyo 16 December 2013, arrived in Berlin 17 February 2014 via customs in Niederaula (who might have opened it).
  • Shipment 3 (sea mail, printed matter, untrackable): Sent from Tokyo 16 December 2013, arrived in Berlin 19 February 2014 via customs in Niederaula. Not opened by customs.

It’s a bit ironic that the two untrackable packages arrived quickly and unopened (the inner package in shipment 2 was unopened), whereas the two packages I sent with recommended mail have been at customs for one month now – since 23 January 2014.