All posts by Jeanine

Tokyo 11/18: Namja Town and Preparing for Animate Girls Festival

Day 2: Sunshine City and no Wi-Fi.

One of the glitches of the trip came when the mobile Wi-Fi I had ordered from Global Communications had not arrived at the hotel when I checked in. This was not completely unexpected as I had forgotten to confirm it initially, and then after I remembered to put in my payment, noticed it was after the cancellation point. It took my payment though, so I was hoping it would take, but no dice–after I emailed them about it, they just refunded me and I had to place another order for a couple days later. This meant that I had no Wi-Fi but I figured it would be ok since I have free roaming with T-Mobile and would be spending a lot of time in a big mall which would surely have free Wi-Fi. Right? Right?

Wrong. Although it looked like I had a pretty good docomo cell signal, it never registered any data connection. Also, the Sunshine City Mall is not so much for Wi-Fi unless you have a particular app that helps connect you, and it’s hard to download an app without already having Wi-Fi.  Also I couldn’t get my roaming cell service to kick in for anything, until the next day when I suddenly thought of restarting my phone after it updated its connection…things.  In any case, the moral is that you should probably not forget to pay for your mobile Wi-Fi router in a timely fashion.

On the off-chance that there are people out there interested in going to Animate Girls Festival (AGF) I’ll go into a little detail about it, since when I was planning to go I couldn’t find any practical information in English about it at all.  (This information was correct as of 11/2018, when I went, and is, of course, subject to change.) AGF is a yearly event put on by Animate, a huge chain of stores specializing in anime-related merchandise in Japan.  It takes place in Sunshine City, a reasonably large mall connected to a convention center space in Ikebukuro–what’s known as the Akihabara for women, as the stores and cafes there lean more towards properties geared towards girls.

Gacha as far as the eye can see.

AGF is basically a two day merchandising event where a large number of companies who produce anime, video games, visual novels, manga, etc. can buy booth space and sell merch related to their various properties.  Because of its specificity of focus, it attracts a lot of companies who don’t typically make or sell merch, so for the audience that’s really into that one obscure character in that one free-to-play mobile game, this is your big chance to get something with him on it.

Utano-PrinceSama merch at the Animate store in Ikebukuro

As is the case with a lot of things in Japan, the way to buy into something like this is somewhat complicated if you a) don’t live in Japan, and b) don’t speak or read Japanese.  It could be argued that no one in their right mind would want to go to such a thing if they didn’t either live in Japan or speak Japanese, but honestly, people in their right minds miss out on an awful lot.

I basically had to run all the Animate sites through Google Translate which is sometimes more helpful and sometimes less.  From what I could figure out, it seems that there are three types of tickets:  An early entry ticket, an all-day ticket, and an afternoon-only ticket.  The process of getting an early entry or all-day ticket involved entering a lottery that was only held once, for about a week.  After the lottery, winners were notified and could then purchase their tickets–any leftovers were dispensed in a secondary lottery some months later.  The problem I had was that from the erratic translation I had, I gathered that both types of tickets needed to be picked up onsite with a photo ID…and it wasn’t clear to me whether they would accept a passport with information that wasn’t in kana.  What was pretty clear was that if you didn’t have the right ID, they weren’t going to give you the ticket at all.  The afternoon tickets, in contrast, were available as just a straight online purchase so that seemed like a safer bet.

What made even that transaction difficult is that in order to buy anything from the AGF website, it appeared that you had to register for the Animate Club website, and then use that login to purchase the tickets.  Unfortunately, you could only register for the website with a Japan address.  What to do?

Sunshine City has some pretty cute stores.

I imagine there are many different ways to deal with this, however I used a website called Tenso which provides you with a free Japanese mailing address for the purposes of buying stuff.  I believe the way it’s supposed to work is that you buy stuff there, have it shipped domestically to whatever specific Japanese address they give you, and then they take it from there and ship it to you internationally for a service fee.  I have never used it in that fashion–only to register for online things.

Having figured out how to register, I was a little concerned as to whether I would need to have them mail the tickets to the address and get them sent by proxy to me which seemed like a huge hassle, but then realized you could arrange to print them out and pick them up at any 7-11, which are ubiquitous and multi-purpose there.  By this time, the only tickets left were for Sunday afternoon, but I figured without knowing how much of a madhouse it was going to be, that might be all I needed.  From this point it was pretty easy, since they took international credit cards online and the pickup at the 7-11 across the street from my hotel was a breeze thanks to the helpful employees there.

Since I didn’t have a ticket for the first day, I figured I would head over and do a trial run to the mall, scoping it out for the second day.  After walking around all of Ikebukuro cursing my lack of Wi-Fi for about 45 minutes, I finally found it.  Sunshine City is a large mall that seems to be connected to a convention center-like area on one end where AGF was taking place.  By the time I arrived, which was around noon, the huge staircase that leads up to that side’s entrance seemed totally covered with people in line or trading things or trying to muscle their way into the mall between them.  I tried to figure out where the line started so I could get in position fast the next day, when I discovered that there was no English written or spoken in AGF except for the letters “AGF.”  Eventually I wandered around enough where I felt like I knew how the line was going, and actually ended up seeing Hiro and Diana from Cybird in line.

Hiro and Diana at the Cybird panel at Anime Expo 2018

Having found out about as much as I could concerning the line up process (which looked frighteningly long even an hour before the afternoon tickets were supposed to be let in,) I just wandered the mall looking at the cute things and watched one of the few programming events that took place on the mall stage and didn’t require a ticket.  Because this is a bizarro situation where the performances didn’t need a ticket, but buying the merch did.

An appearance by the voice actors of Ikemen Live Koi no Uta o Kimi ni
There were a LOT of people at AGF. I think the people in chairs bought the early/fast entry tickets.
It was a talk-show format, I think, with parts where they did improv and read scripts from the visual novel. It was entertaining even without understanding much of it.

Afterwards, I walked around Ikebukuro and visited the big Animate store where they were having a big K7 Stories display (one of the few current animes I’ve seen.)

Afterwards visited Namja Town–a mini amusement park inside the mall that is part arcade and part themed food court.

Namja Town

The games there looked interesting (additional fee) but most seemed to require a pretty high degree of Japanese to play them, so I contented myself with just walking around and triggering the various effects placed around the themed areas.

Some areas have little windows you can peek into to see scenes, or areas you touch that move or make a noise.
There are of course scary haunted areas because Japanese stories are always mad scary.
They were having some sort of special event on these guys from a game I did not know.

The main reason I was there however, was for the Gyoza Stadium.  In Japan, they frequently advertise things like ramen or takoyaki museums that are really just food courts, and this wasn’t too much more than that, except for the great post-war theming.

It was pretty good gyoza. Not too cheap after awhile, but you’re not going to go every day.
All the different booths had different gyoza from different locations around Japan, presumably renowned for their gyoza.

They were supposed to also be known for having a dessert area where you could get ice cream in a bunch of wacky flavors, but I only saw one place open in that spot and I think it was selling pastries, mostly.

They even played period-appropriate music which I thought was a nice touch.
Most of these corridors opened up into little areas where people could sit and eat their gyoza.

Anyway, after that closed for the night, it was time to find my way back to the hotel and rest up for the next day of actually attending AGF.

The hotel was reasonably close to both the train station and Sunshine City, if you are not terminally lost, as I am.

 

 

Tokyo, 11/18: Flying Over

After managing to put off nailing down mileage flights until the week before, I flew LAX-HND on JAL in F, which is a pretty good way to start off your trip. Unfortunately it used enough miles (80k) to make it prudent for me to return in steerage, but I figured that would be Future!Jeanine’s problem.

The first leg over was on AA in economy which was actually pretty fabulous as I was able to move up to their “slightly less miserable” class of coach and no one sat next to me.

The first meal of the trip.

Next was a 5-6 hour layover at SFO where I figured I’d try out the different One World Lounges. I had heard that the JAL Sakura Lounge wasn’t much and it actually turned out to be less than that, as although the piece of paper taped to the door said it would be open from 11pm to 2:30pm, it was pretty definitely closed. I went to Cathay Pacific’s lounge which was nearby and they said they thought the JAL lounge only opened up shortly before they had flights coming in/out. ‘This turned out to be a blessing because the Cathay Pacific Lounge was pretty nice with plenty of seating and a noodle bar making won ton or dan dan noodles.

Cathay Pacific SFO Lounge
Lots of seating that inexplicably doesn’t have much of a runway view.
Won Ton Noodles

I later went to check in at the JAL lounge when it was open, and wow, it looked shabby in comparison. It had all the charm of a waiting room at the doctor’s, with a little closet (looked like it might have been a smoking room once) set aside for the first class passengers.  There were only about as many chairs in the closet as there are seats in first class, and they were arranged in almost a Tetris-style fashion to make them all fit without people having to sit knee-to-knee. Virtually every seat was full, and I beat it back to the Cathay lounge as soon as possible.

Once on the plane however, everything was gorgeous. The stewards cannot do enough for you and the seating pods are great. They give you complementary Wi-Fi for the flight so I actually didn’t use any of the entertainment, although the offerings looked pretty standard.

First class pod on JAL from LAX-HND.
Ok, maybe not all that standard.

The food was very good—I went with the Western menu—and really, the eating never stops if you play your cards right. At about 7 hours into the flight, I think everyone in our compartment was sleeping except the guy across the aisle and myself, who kept ordering food for snacks throughout the flight.

The menu. There were other snacks on the back for a la carte dining.
Your amuse-bouche. “Very amoosing.”–Chandler Bing
Cold mushroom soup was kind of different. I didn’t taste the foie gras much in the mousse.
Virtually the only time I have caviar is on airplanes.

One thing I loved about this flight is the bathroom which turned out to probably be larger than the one in my hotel room. It came complete with linen hand towels and a platform you lowered to stand on when you changed into their lounge wear so you didn’t have to step directly on the restroom floor.

The worst part actually was the free Wi-Fi that wasn’t fast enough to even load instagram half the time, although I guess that’s a pretty petty complaint when you’re up in the sky eating a filet.

Sadly, the flight had to end sometime, and although I offered to just spend the rest of the trip flying back and forth with them throwing caviar in my mouth like an indolent seal, they made me get off. They did gift me one of their styling coffee mugs that I had admired, so that was some nice parting magic.

After a relatively painless trip through HND customs, I caught the next Airport Limo bus to Ikebukuro. It was supposed to be a quick 5 minute walk from the station to the hotel, however the bus dropped us off at the station’s West entrance and the hotel was by the East entrance, and as anyone who has traveled much in Japan can attest, that can add on roughly six days to your walk. In this case, it ended up being more like 45 minutes as I dragged my suitcases up and down staircases, borking the handle mechanism again, in the process. It would probably have been longer, except a random dude couldn’t take watching me almost fall down the stairs several times and just picked up my bag and carried it down for me. Thank you random dude! My blessings on your house!

The b tokyo ikebukuro is a perfectly pleasant hotel with all the amenities and petite rooms you’d expect of a mid-range hotel in Tokyo. Probably the oddest part of the room was that it seemed to come with AC but no heater. I found this out, after I left the AC blasting the first day (it was hot!) and then a cold snap set in the second evening and all I could do to warm up was turn it off. Weird for a town that typically likes all its indoor temperatures around 90 degrees.

The b tokyo ikebukuro hotel. See that coat hanger on the right hand wall? That’s the closet.

The best part was that it was across the street from a 7-11 where I was able to pick up my Animate Girls Festival ticket that I wasn’t sure I had bought online correctly, given their labyrinthine rules for doing so, and the obligatory melon soda and onigiri. If I lived in Tokyo, that would pretty much be my diet, since I probably wouldn’t be able to afford luxuries like dining out, or a kitchen.

Next time: A Trip to Animate Girls Festival

 

“Liar! Uncover the Truth: Sequel Chapter Four” Playthrough Thoughts

SPOILERS

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—Ok, here we go again. At least we don’t get Kunio this time.

—Yuri is the best. I never get why she’s hanging around someone as lousy as Lady Sachi.

Lady Sachi on Keima’s turnaround, and the only time I’ve ever agreed with her.

—Man, what is the deal with putting your bffs that are all comatose drunk into cabs by themselves and hoping for the best? Particularly after one of you almost got abducted and raped that way?

—The landlord roping them into running the booth for free rent sounds implausible until I remember the time in school the ceiling of our rental house caved in, and the landlord got us to clean it all up for a month’s rent.

—MC is stone cold, making dates right in front of two guys who like her.

—Wow, harsh that MC picked up the special Nanyami doll even though she didn’t give a crap about it compared to everyone else.

—Oh nice of MC to totally lie to Itaru about Toya being a nutcase so she doesn’t have to be indebted to him for saving her…LIKE HE DID.

Itaru speaks for me.

—Basically MC can forgive and forget anything you’ve done to her unless your name rhymes with “bitaru.”

—GDI, I cant believe I screwed up the data hunt AGAIN.

—Ok, at this point, I might just go ahead and bag getting the early clear bonuses and just try to redo it the next time there’s a data hunt for me to botch.

Itaru’s expression at having the fortune teller glom onto him kills me.

—Well Joe is a nutcase, but at least the Nanyami doll went to someone who really appreciates it.

Or maybe he’d just think you have shockingly bad judgement LIKE THE REST OF US.

—Awesome that she’s now going around pulling cold hot dogs out of people’s hands so she can get the special love fortune.

—Oh Well, Kota was kind of grumpy anyway. I bet he’ll get a route someday.

—Ok, on to the specific routes. As usual, we’ll start with our least favorite and work up.

Oh honey, you are about eight short.

—Holy mackerel, she stole Sotaro’s breakfast! MC is like your nightmare roommate.

—Now she’s giving Sotaro’s breakfast to Keima and I just can’t anymore.

BUT HE…AND YOU…HUMAN TRAFFICKING…oh, forget it.

Oh good. Off to Germany with Keima and Lady Sachi. What could possibly go wrong.

—Ok, the fact that MC is letting this dude who probably stole her wallet front her money for gambling his so bad.

—The fact that he now wants her to sex off her debts to him is a surprise to only MC.

If there was any justice, MC’s first female slap would be now.

—Wow, I took so long with this, they actually started up another data hunt already.

—Ugh, can’t decide whether I like Joe or Toya least.

—Joe in whatever backwater village MC is from feels like it should turn out like Eva Gabor’s character in “Green Acres.”

—Well he acquitted himself like a normal person, but now he just seems like a totally different guy, since Joe’s always been marked by weirdly extravagant speech and actions.

—On to Toya. Maybe it’s just me, but if you JUST got frightened by a guy thinking that he was so mad he might let loose and beat you, maybe you don’t go along with it when he says he won’t let you go home and now you have to live with him.

—I always wonder if this is an actual Japanese thing or just a mechanism of fiction that people can decide to go stay at someone’s house or a hotel that same night with no preparation or anything.

—Like, I can’t stay somewhere overnight without about two hours of packing and a 30” duffel bag.

—Again, It seems like she went with him almost 30% because she really likes cake.

—I like that her big confession to him is “I love you…r cakes.”

—Wow, just read that getting the early clear data for both halves requires like 48 extra tickets, which I don’t have.

—Guess we’re letting this data hunt slide by as well.

—Back with Haruichi and his perpetual Yakuza girlfriend-threatening rivals.

—I feel like MC is, in the hysteria of the moment, overlooking the part where Haruichi said he had his henchmen investigate and report back on her living situation.

—Now he wants her to not go to work and just stay and sleep in his room for some indeterminate amount of time while he hunts down some threatening guys she hasn’t seen for herself yet, and now it’s sounding like HE’s kidnapped her.

—Asako has just told MC that she’s been living with the Mamiyas for forty years now, and I’m expecting her to say she was just staying until they hunted down their rivals too.

—Ok, I get that Haruichi is used to faction fighting within his own clan, but he seems pretty blasé about the fact that his MOM practically put a hit out on him.

—Ok Itaru. Try not to make me sad about MC’s treatment of you this time.

—Wow, she got all mad at him and I don’t even know why. Because the server dropped a glass? And he was nice about it?

—Maybe MC has been around so many of these nutbars, she forgot what a reasonable response was.

—Oh good. Now she got him maimed because she ran out into traffic upset for reasons unknown to either Itaru or me.

—Oh my God, he got amnesia, which is really the only way any of this can end happily for Itaru.

—If Yuri got divorced and then married Itaru, I would feel like they had a chance for a good life.

—Now I have no idea why she’s moping around so much. When she was all he thought about, she found him repulsive, and now that he doesn’t remember her, she’s bummed.

—Maybe make up your mind next time, MC.

—Notice that at no time does she tell him or anyone else that he got hit by the car because SHE darted in front of it like a dummy.

—No thank you or anything, plus she acts all sullen at him like it’s his fault he got brain damage saving her. He really is better off this way.

—Now she is so concerned about him, she’s letting Sotaro buy her cake, like she’s the one who got hit by a car.

DING DING DING DING
We have a wiiiiinner…

—Oh so now after she lied to him about him ever caring about her, he has decided to accept his memory loss and live a fruitful life. Clearly, she can’t tolerate that and is going to run after him like a banshee to ruin his life some more.

—Oh my God, she gave him ANOTHER concussion.

—Dude is going to die before she figures out what she wants.

—So it ends with her having beaten Itaru’s obsessive love for her (and probably a subdural hematoma) back into him again, so she can be happy wielding complete power over him while continuing to deny him the slightest signs of affection.

—In the life of MC, we call this “Tuesday.”

Hakuoki Festival Edo Blossoms 2018

Attended the Hakuoki Festival last week—it was pretty fun, although a little weird to go to a festival about a game I haven’t played yet. (I was waiting until the second half came out!) It was taking place pretty close to where I live and had free parking tho, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

It was pretty fun! They had some games that ran the gamut from easy (Plinko) to hard (rubber band shooting) to impossible-for-me (game trivia.)

Besides that, there was a cosplay contest and photo ops with character stand ups that were auctioned off at the end.

Along with that, they provided respectable refreshments like crackers and cheese and hummus and cookies which was nice since their location wasn’t around any eating places. Merch was also available for purchase—I didn’t get any of the single character charms/pins/badges since I didn’t know their in-game specifics and didn’t want to be the person getting all the Hans merchandise during intermission for “Frozen.”

Voting for Best Boy was held (Saito won) and a Wall for people to draw cartoons or write messages was provided. People are both talented and relatable.

The thing I thought was the most entertaining was probably trying to collect all the different coasters you could win from the various games. It was tricky since, having not played the game yet, I couldn’t do the trivia and I proved to totes suck at rubber band guns, but people were super nice and traded/gave me some and I finally succeeded.

In all it was a fun day and certainly helped increase my anticipation for playing Hakuoki!

Teen Wolf, S6E16: “triggers”

Are you watching this show? Do you wish someone would watch along with you because everyone else you know thinks it’s dumb?  Here is what I was saying while I was watching it–I WILL WATCH WITH YOU.

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Wow, just when you thought it couldn’t get worse to go to Beacon Hills High.
  • Ugggh.  Spiders again.
  • Nolan, beginning to wonder if he backed the wrong horse.
  • One thing about Beacon Hills students, everyone but Scott and Stiles drives pretty decent cars.
  • Nolan, not so good at the tailing.
  • Nolan apparently stopped off at the hairdressers on the way over?
  • Theo loves punching Liam.
  • Lydia is never ok.
  • (Ron Howard voice over) “Scott did not have a plan.”
  • If Counselor Girl doesn’t know by now that Gerard doesn’t care who gets killed besides him, she has not been paying attention.
  • This plan is not going to go well at all.
  • Scott, you goober.
  • Liam seems to be having some problems.
  • This Scott-Malia scene is getting a little cringeworthy.
  • (Ron Howard voice over) “Malia did not got this.”
  • Hm.  Wondering if maybe this might not be the end of Argent.
  • Theo is making a hobby of saving Liam.
  • I’m not totally sure why the Anuk-Ite only affects Liam.
  • Lol that Counselor girl thinks that Gerard wouldn’t break her neck as look at her.
  • Honey, after Gerard kills all the supernatural people, you know he’s going after the minorities.
  • It’s not like a hunter stops hunting.
  • I don’t know if I totally buy Scott and Malia.  It just seems too fast.
  • I think this commercial break would have been more suspenseful if all the trailers hadn’t shown Melissa in the hospital.
  • GIDEON EMERY.

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Teen Wolf, S6E15: “pressure test”

Are you watching this show? Do you wish someone would watch along with you because everyone else you know thinks it’s dumb?  Here is what I was saying while I was watching it–I WILL WATCH WITH YOU.

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Oh man, Theo’s memory is better than mine.  I didn’t even remember this dude from Eichen House.
  • Everybody comes home to Scott McCall.
  • Oh, our favorite veterinarian!
  • Why in God’s Name would you want to stay even 3 seconds in the presence of Mr. Fear?
  • Malia, queen of the inappropriate laughter.
  • “If there’s a problem…”  Oh look Sheriff–I think there’s a problem.
  • There is a lot of information for Scott to process right now.
  • Lol that at this point in the series, no one wants to get into makeup more than their fingernails.
  • Poor Theo still getting beat up for being the Witch vs. the World.
  • “You think any of them are more innocent than us?”  Well, if they didn’t actually kill people, then YES.
  • There’s kind of getting to be a lot of deputy attrition here.
  • Apparently America is infested with Anuk-ite.
  • Oh wow.  Look who’s coming to dinner.
  • I’m not sure how this deal worked.  Like, why would that whole mob just let everyone walk away?  Dad McCall didn’t look like he came with enough firepower to intimidate them.
  • These two are not going to make it.
  • Like no one noticed that everyone only drove as far as the animal clinic?

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Teen Wolf, S6E14: “face to faceless”

Are you watching this show? Do you wish someone would watch along with you because everyone else you know thinks it’s dumb?  Here is what I was saying while I was watching it–I WILL WATCH WITH YOU.

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Oh nooooooo
  • Nothing worse than a flayed body except a spider-absorbing flayed body.
  • Oh good, it’s the deputy that wanted to shoot Scott.  This will go well.
  • Whatever happened to Liam’s parents?  Why does Scott gotta come to his house to get him out of bed and into school?
  • Well it is true that they’d probably be alive if you had listened to Scott, Liam.
  • It is, of course, true to life that no one hates anyone so much as someone who’s done them a huge service.
  • Yes Argent, it is your fault.  You needed to lock that dude down.
  • Oh My God, the pack has become basically everything non-functional about today’s society.
  • “These people want to kill us.  I think everything would be solved if we just peacefully met with them and tried to figure out what they want.”
  • You KNOW what they want.  THEY WANT YOU DEAD.
  • If you peacefully meet with them, that will help them achieve that goal real fast.
  • Argent, you know your dad would kill you in a heartbeat.  And not even your heartbeat.
  • Coach has maybe taken his medication today.
  • Wow, between Nolan and the Counselor, Liam is just full of bad options today.
  • The Counselor won’t condone bullying.  Murder is okey dokey, tho.
  • Scott, if finding out the ID of one new hunter suddenly solves everything, I’m not seeing it.
  • This seems like a bad idea, Scott.
  • Oh hey, Scott.  Turns out it was a bad idea.
  • Maybe Scott should remind her that he was one of her kind of people?
  • I don’t know.  I think if Counselor was with it enough to know that Scott and the Deputy were there at the Beast attack, she was with it enough to see that they were trying to save people from it.
  • Liam maybe needs to learn how to dodge.
  • Gerard is all “you’re going to die if you don’t fight.”  Then when Malia starts fighting “she’s going to get you killed.”
  • This might be when people should start suspecting that Gerard isn’t all that trustworthy.
  • Beacon Hills High has the worst teacher supervision ever.  Half the student body takes over a classroom to beat a dude to death and no one notices.
  • Wow, that Chemistry teacher is actually the worst ever.
  • Coach turns out to be the actual hero of Beacon Hills.
  • Deputy Deus Ex Machina in the nick of time again.
  • …And we’ve suddenly turned into every X-Men plot ever.

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