Cola Otaku

Japundit has a post on a Japanese web site devoted entirely to McDonalds Happy Meal toys. Well, I’d like to meet them one fast-food related Otaku web collection and raise them one.

Sailor Moon RC cola
See, aka ‘Cola Whitepaper,’ if not the absolutely the most complete possible web site devoted to all things Cola, certainly making a run for it. From an extremely thorough database of cola varieties, including reviews, to articles on such topics as ‘Cola Dualism,’ which compares the Coke/Pepsi divide with that of Mac/Windows (except of course Pepsi doesn’t have a 3% market share). And who could overlook their analysis of the Pepsi Challenge?

Although unlike the Happy Meal site, WPCola is actively updated, they do have an abandoned English language portion of the site. Although non Japanese readers may not be able to appreciate the full otaku majesty, they can get a pretty decent taste of it. And of course, even if you can’t read the reviews, anyone can appreciate the photos in the very extensive database section.

As a former Coca-Cola addict and still occasional user-erm, I mean drinker, I find this site strangely compelling. I imagine that in a couple of hours I’ll know more than I ever wanted to about all things Cola.

Japan beats NK 2-1 in Extra time!

One more historical event that I missed out on. Damn I wanted to see that!

I don’t see any video of it online yet, but apparently it was a really close game (detailed results can be found here in Japanese). North Korea was much better than expected. The DPRK’s defense was strong, as Coach Zico and others said, and, while Japan dominated possession, they made some crucial mistakes in defense that they had to make up for in the end.

From Japan Today:

SAITAMA — Masashi Oguro scored a last-gasp winner as Japan made a nervy start to the final phase of qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup on Wednesday by squeaking past North Korea 2-1 in their opening Group B match in Saitama.

Mitsuo Ogasawara put Japan in front with a free kick after four minutes but substitute Nam Song Chol scored a goal that will give Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi nightmares for weeks to come just after the hour mark to deservedly pull the North Koreans level.

The game was played amid political tensions between the two countries with public pressure mounting for the Japanese government to slap economic sanctions on the reclusive state in a bid to force it to come clean on its abductions of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s.

As a precaution against possible crowd trouble, more than 3,000 police and private security guards were mobilized but the match passed without incident.

Continue reading Japan beats NK 2-1 in Extra time!

The Coming Battle with North Korea

The Japanese team Prepares for the big showdown.
Tomorrow night Japan will finally face down North Korea… on the soccer field. On Feb. 9th in Saitama (at the illustrious Saitama Stadium). The teams finished their last practices today (the DPRK team only allowed reporters to view 15 minutes of theirs as opposed to the Japanese team letting people in on the whole thing), and they both have expressed confidence that they will trounce the other team.

Sporting events in Asia have historically had a significant effect on postwar politics in the region. The 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and the 1988 Olympics in Seoul were seen as coming-out parties for both countries. And the 2008 Games to be held in Beijing are set to do the same.

Besides such positive effects as international recognition, sporting events can fuel tensions between coutnries as well, as was seen in the booing and roughhousing of Japanese spectators at the 2004 Asia Cup in Beijing.

Emotions in Japan are running high, with people fuming over a number of issues, from the kidnapping of Japanese nationals to the nuclear threat. This game is sure to be historic, as beating the North Korean team will be cathartic for the citizenry, and losing would infuriate many.
Continue reading The Coming Battle with North Korea

Review: Say hello to the new Don 外国人から見た新登場丼

Beef Bowl
Hey guys. As some of you may know, I took a short trip to Japan this New Year’s. As a few more of you may know, I was giddy with anticipation of the new menu items available at the donburi chains. In the two weeks I was there I managed to squeeze in quite a few bowls, so for those of you who are away from the action I will review them here.

But first, some background: donburi (丼) are a dish served in Japan consisting of rice on the bottom and (usually) meat topping on the top. Not sure what the origin of the modern donburi came from, but the most popular one is gyudon (牛丼), or beef bowl. Gyudon are so popular, in fact, that there were about 4 major chains in Japan who sold nothing but: Matsuya, Sukiya, Nakau, and the venerable Yoshinoya, whose logo looks like this:

Now, those of you who haven’t lived in Japan or didn’t venture far outside their gaijin bubble while they were there might not realize just why Yoshinoya and their ilk are so important to Japanese consumer culture. But those of us in the know are fully aware that there are approximately three types of regular customers at Yoshinoya: truck drivers, male college students, and gaijin like me who have no money. What is the draw? It’s CHEAP BEEF! 24 HOURS A DAY! Beef in Japan is fucking expensive, but you could get a good meal at Yoshinoya without buying and preparing it yourself for a mere 250 yen. It’s a good, cheap meal if you are drunk at 3am or are simply too broke and don’t want to eat natto to survive.
Continue reading Review: Say hello to the new Don 外国人から見た新登場丼

Kim Jong Il Profile – from Japanese Manga

KJI Profile English

I just translated this amusing manga profile of Kim Jong Il. It was passed on to me by Curzon, but neither one of us is sure of the original source. If anyone knows what it’s from, please email me or leave a comment. Japanese readers are encouraged to check out the manga Kim Jong Il Introduction (金正日入門), which was itself translated from Korean, but not being a Korean reader I’m unable to provide any information on the original version. Avaliable here at Amazon Japan, and the second volume here.

This panel is not from either of those books, but if you like it then you’ll like them.

Untranslated version is in the full post.
Continue reading Kim Jong Il Profile – from Japanese Manga

Resurrection Burial Tomb

Over the weekend I have a small project translating a patent application from Japanese to English. Quite naturally, I went to the USPTO online database to look up some patents and get a better idea of the appropriate terminology, when I stumbled across this patent. Being extremely long, incoherent and mad I’ll just quote the abstract and a sample from the beginning of the main text.

A Resurrection Burial Tomb includes a means to preserve and revive Human Beings and provide power and power systems for the same, comprising of a container of preservation means, holding the suspended dead person’s body and connected to electrical and energy apparatus systems contained in the Resurrection tomb and robotic machine workers that help maintain and work to revive the suspended Huamn Being; wherein the process provides power and security from death to living Human Beings being useful and novel, producing a less savage empowered child culture and machine parents.

I the Reverend Daniel Robert Izzo, hereby claim the, “A Resurrection Burial Tomb” that is a novel means to revive a dead person’s body from the grave; and providing a 1 little more security from an impending death; will preserve and prevent the human body from decay and will prolong the human life and tissue and return it into a conscious state, together with the means do do the same, and a means to produce energy, to do the same; comprising of: an artificial womb and a container with fluid having a crystal radio crown and antenna that connects to a radio and energy devices; wherein the deceased person is prevented from decay within said container and where energy is obtained from the radio crown that oscillates into the desceased person’s nerves and brain and the entire contianer is within a building and tomb that is weather tight, wherein a nuclear device is used to generate electric energy and heat energy; wherein part of the dead person’s bone is converted into a microprocessor and computer; wherein the computer and energy sources, drive a heart lung machine that keeps the dead person’s remaining cell tissue alive, together with an artificial heart assistor pump; wherein the deceased person’s bone will regain consciousness, using the material of their bone and artificial and organic means cosisting of human bone material; that is convertable into a computer and microprocessor, organically grown body parts; artificailly grown body parts; nerves a muscles

Yes, I cut it off in mid-sentence. Amazingly, this one sentence, constituting the first claim of the patent, is over 4000 words long.

Homemade Les Miserables 2d Fighter

My friend Matt passed on a link to this amateur 2d fighting game based on Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables. The game is being distributed as freeware, so go ahead and download it. It was built using the first edition of a fighting game design program called 2D Fighting School (2D格闘スクール), published by the Japanese media company Enterbrain. The product info page for the newer 2nd edition product is avaliable here.

Since I’ve never seen or read Le Miserables, Matt supplied me with this summary-

Valjean is a former felon, trying to stay out of trouble. Marius and Enjorlas are french revolutionaries, Javert is a police inspector (and Valjean’s former warden), Thenardier is a crook, Cosette is Valjean’s daughter, and Eponine is Thenardier’s daughter.

I’m still trying to figure out how Ponpon the car-driving rabbit and the ki-fireball throwing French policeman fit into the story. I guess I’ll have to read the book.

Continue reading Homemade Les Miserables 2d Fighter

The Japanese Web 2004

It’s a little late for 2004 retrospectives, but I thought you guys might enjoy taking a look at what was hot on the web in Japan for 2004. First, the Google Zeitgeist, Google’s yearly ranking of the top search queries in each field, gives an idea of what was popular way back then. I do wish they’d give more detailed and constant statistics instead of just this little bit at the end of the year.

The #4 search query in Japan was 翻訳 (translation), nowhere to be found in any of the other top 10s that I can see. Are Japanese people more interested in learning about the rest of the world? Or is it that they just suck at English???

In a surprise upset, goth singer gackt beat out Bae Yong Joon (The silent-but-deadly Yong-sama) for most searched for man. And despite being kind of off the cultural radar this year (I think?), folk duo Yuzu popped up at #5. Kind of like how Kurt Cobain is STILL the #10 most sought-after image in America.

Next we have Yahoo!JAPAN‘s Web of the Year 2004. There was an ad in my Yahoo!JAPAN e-mail telling me to vote for it, and when I saw the nominees it was surprising how many websites I had never heard of. The list here should be a useful guide to all the most popular and trusted web sites in Japan.

Yahoo seems to have won a good portion of the awards, so who knows how impartial this thing was. But it’s possible that since it was hosted by Yahoo, the people voting already know about Yahoo and its services.

The top “Zeitgeist award” (話題賞) was 電車男 (Train Man), the romantic novel lifted directly from 2ch message boards. I really want to read this, so I have no idea why I didn’t buy it when I was in the country. Anyone coming to DC from Japan, buy it and I promise I’ll pay you back!

Anyway, I’ll leave the rest of it for you to draw your own conclusions. I’ll be using it to check out the links I wasn’t aware of, and I’ll get back to you with some highlights.