Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Divide and Conquer

While we tried to make a date to go in a group to see the new Detective Conan movie, the group kept growing and growing (last count was near the 1o) and everybody had different classes at different times, so in the end we decided to use the good old Scooby-Doo (TM) tactic of "Let's split up, gang!".

We had already held a general repetition last week when too many people crammed into my room to watch last year's Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser, so I was really looking forward to this year's Detective Conan: Lost Ship in the Sky.

Which was... difficult to classify. This time keywords are to be never eaten okonomiyaki, epic falling, skateboards, footballs and bandages and bio-terrorists, but the movie featured no real detecting (not even a murder!) and it was mostly like any hijack movie. It's still leagues ahead of Detective Conan: Jolly Roger in the Deep Azure, but it lacks immensely in the detecting department. Well, I might as well say there is no detecting at all. Which is something you'd expect from a series called Detective Conan.

But Arsene Lupin-expy Kaitou KID also appears in the movie, and that just saves EVERYTHING . I was really all set to hate this movie, but somehow, the interactions of KID with the other character (especially Ran!) saved the movie. And this time there were no weird unsolved threads of plot.

Funny thing was the fact that there was almost nobody in the theater. Differences with last year are two days and the fact we went to the 15:00 viewing, but it was totally different from last year's packed Ikebukero experience. (C.f. with Liar Game - The Final Stage, which I also visited on a weekday, in the afternoon, which was packed). People here don't like Conan?

And damn you, Detective Conan Movie Committee! Now I'll have to come back next year again to catch the 15th movie...

Original Japanese title(s): 『名探偵コナン 天空の難破船(ロスとシップ)』

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Chinese Orange Mystery


Gon... Practice without neglectJie... Don't show or use moves thoughtlessly
Dan... Judge with a clear mindYi... Don't hesitate to do the right thing
The four Wude, "Shenmue 2"
The semester has started! It's off with the kid gloves now, as I won't even get credits anymore for just Japanese language courses! So right now, I have my time schedule mostly filled with required Advanced Japanese 8 courses like Modern Literature and Translating. While I have about two classes less compared to most other JLCC students, the fact I have to squeeze in my research (which is now set on the influence of war on the development of the English and Japanese detective novel) in my own time kinda sets that even.

And of course, I have to take normal faculty courses. Right now, I'm taking three courses, one being Introduction on Modern Japanese Society, which has an insane amount of homework, but for a very short period. Reading and summarizing the newspaper everyday is not making me very happy, but at least it's over after a week. More fun are Introduction Chinese Language and Korean Language (Beginner Level). Yes, because you can never know too much languages. And while I'm working hard to convince people to take that Dutch summer course, I'll think I'll attend the classes for fun too, as it features a teacher from... the Japan-Netherlands Institute. Expectations are high.

Also aiming for the N1 qualification of the Japanese Language Proficieny Test, so it's going to busy the following months. Luckily, Golden Week is just a week of two away.

Foods: Wuhan's Duck Neck is a LOOOOOT tastier than it sounds. In fact, it's really, really good.

Besides school, I don't have much time to do stuff unfortunately. Everybody is quite busy (making picking a date for going to watch Detective Conan a hell) and the first time I saw most of the JLCC was at the welcome party for the two new JLCC students. Which was held at the CREEPIEST building ever, featuring scary dolls and sounds coming out of a toilet and just being a perfect set for a Kindaichi Shounen story. And it was the first time I went to karaoke with only men, but people's choices really change depending whom you with. Suffice to say I have never ever experienced something as epic as this. We might've sung half of the JAM Project discography (*motto motto!*) and I really couldn't talk afterwards. But so worth it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Danse Macabre

"Y'see, this is where you and everyone else give up. You're making the big mistake of sticking to what's likely rather than what's logical."
"Danse Macabre"

In the timespan of one year, there is usually ridiculously little to look forward to for me regarding detectives. Classic mysteries are not written as often as they used to be and in the end I tend to only pick up older books. Even here in Japan, where there orthodox mysteries are still written relatively often, I tend to pick up books over 5 years old (mostly because of prices though~).

The only detective-related thing I every year can look forward to is the Detective Conan annual movie. For which I've already gathered a band of wannabe detectives to go together with. And also for the new Trick movie. For which I have also gathered a band of wannabe psychics to go together with. But this year, I had mostly been looking forward to Easter. Not because of a new Doctor Who series (well, maybe also because of that), but mostly because a new Jonathan Creek special would be shown. Last year's special, The Grinning Man was, ignoring some pacing problems, quite entertaining and in the meantime, I had been watching the original series.

Jonathan Creek tells the story of the titular magic act designer, who is always getting involved in (seemingly) impossible crimes. Locked room murders, disappearing people, appearing dead bodies, the classics of yore. And even though it sounds like a throwback to good old times at this time and age, the show feels surprising refreshing, with its witty writing and often solid plots. Often, but not always though. Writer Renwick seems to have trouble maintaining a standard for the series, especially the later seasons suffer from it and the series stopped in 2004. But with the disguised revival pilot 2009 special The Grinning Man he and Creek seemed back on track.

Seemed. Because if The Grinning Man reminded me of the earlier Creek seasons, The Judas Tree was definitely reminding me of the later seasons. I really wanted to like it. And I admit, the setting was quite good, similar to The Grinning Man with a haunting past and a truly spooky feeling. And then comes the ass pull, which, as the name implies, was totally uncalled for and not fair. Add in an admittely amusing, yet "What did he just say?! in a negative way" solution to a crime in the past and it left a bad, bad aftertaste. That and I really, really don't like Creek's assistent.

Should Creek retire? Maybe. Still, I would want a better special to be the final Creek episode...

Today's song: Camille Saint-Saëns [Arranged by Julian Stewart Lindsay] - Danse Macabre (Theme of Jonathan Creek)

Thursday, April 1, 2010


"Writing it as 'A Man's Dream', you read the kanji as 'fleeting'"

"Ace Attorney Investigation: Miles Edgeworth"

Been a busy week, being the final week of the vacation and people leaving Japan. Last Tuesday (or the week before, because my sense of time has shown no signs of life lately), we went on a trip to Kumamoto. Which actually allows me to use the "kumamoto" tag again. First we visited the Suizenji, a somewhat quaint Japanese garden within Kumamoto-shi, with a large lake with giant carps and a lot of miniature landscapes. This, for example, is supposed to be Fuji-san (no no no, not mr. Fuji).

Afterwards we traveled to Asosan, intending to climb it (again), but due to the bad weather, we had to cancel that and for some reason, we played a drinking game (without the drinking) in the vulcano research center, before we left again. Few things are as scary as riding in car, on a winding mountain road, in a thick layer of fog. Especially if the car-navigation guides you to the wrong place on said mountain.

Finally, we proceeded through countless of mountain roads again (still in the fog, but now with extra darkness) to Kurokawa Onsen, a onsen village hidden away in the mountains. The village really consists only of onsen houses and small restaurants. We visited the Yumerindo, which at least had the most impressive building in the village. After a hour of soaking in the rotenburo, everyone was amazingly relaxed. Especially the drivers looked somewhat worrying too relaxed. Somewhat disappointed in the total lack of murder though. No bodies floating in the rotonburo? No people bludgeoned by death by a frozen towel or piece of ice that has molten in the onsen?

Kumamoto foodtips: if talking about Kumamoto food, what comes up is unmistakenly basashi (sashimi of horse meat). It's tasty, somewhat fatty (not as fatty as whale meat though) and a must-eat if in Kumamoto. In Kurokawa I tried a chidori meshi, which was steamed chicken rice and it was godly. Was it because it was still being steamed due to a set of burners beneath the steam baskets? Was it because I was so relaxed by the onsen everything could've have tasted godly? In any case, unforgettable meal.

Another Kyushu trip was to Nagasaki. As I said to Jimmy, which, in chronological order, was after Nagasaki, but anyway, there is not much to visit or see in Fukuoka. However, Nagasaki appearently has loads of touristic spots and as we only went half a day to Nagasaki, we only picked visited a couple of things. The small China-town was err... small. Especially compared to the Yokohama one. Of course we tried chanpon, which consists almost of the same ingredients as sara-udon, which I prefer personally. Then we walked towards the Glover Garden, while passing through the Oranda Zaka ("Holland Slope") which was indeed a slope. But not much Dutch stuff there. Before we arrived at the Garden, we also visited the famous Ooura Church.

Which.... was a church. Yeah. Then we at last arrived at the Glover Garden, a big park where a British entrepeneur and contributor to the modernization of Japan lived. Being on top of a hill, it also provided a nice view of the city.

Finally, we visited the Nagasaki Peace Park, where the atomic bombing of the city is commemorated.

And skipping to and fro in time, it's time for the sakura to bloom in Japan! The best place for the sakura in Fukuoka is Maizuru Park, where the old Fukuoka Castle used to be.

Other Fukuoka-attractions we visited the last few days, like the Fukuoka Tower or the Hakata Port were not very interesting, besides a small aquarium and a (free, but not very high) lookout tower, but maybe must-see things if you've been living here for a while now. When Jimmy visited, I had much trouble actually finding something worth visiting in Fukuoka. And people usually don't believe me if I say I'm from the Netherlands ("but you're Asian...right?"), but the surprised face of the Japanese who asked us both where we were from was almost worth it. Maybe having two Asians from the Netherlands is just too incredible. Globalization still has a long way to go.

Food tip: when making takoyaki, strawberry-yaki is not a good idea. Really, it isn't.

And finally, yesterday, we had to say goodbye to two members of the JLCC program, as they had started half a year earlier. It's surprising how fast half a year went by. But of course, if you're having fun...