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Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth

Sunday, August 12, 2018 / No Comments
Hello my little nuggets!

Persona Q2 has been announced for a while now, and I cannot believe I only found out about recently! I have failed myself.. But anyhow! If you haven't read up on the post I did on Persona Q, please go take a peek at that one first!

So what's up with PQ2? The obvious difference here is that PQ2 heavily features the newest in the Persona series: Persona 5. The setting is based in a movie theater, and as per the official website:
The Persona users are trapped in a world of movies. And a girl is the one who holds the key…?
In Mementos, the Morgana Car suddenly goes out of control!? Sucked into a mysterious space, the Phantom Thieves arrived at a mysterious town where unknown enemies wander about.
Barely managing to escape, the Phantom Thieves ended up lost in a movie theater without an exit.
And then Nagi, a black-haired, white-clothed woman they met at the movie theater, and Hikari, a downcast-looking girl, informs them that they just came out of a movie.
Labyrinth-like movie worlds. And in those movies, as if something was guiding them, they encounter those who possess the same powers.
Will the Phantom Thieves be able to escape the movie theater…?

new unique characters!

As it seems, PQ2 focuses mainly on the cast of P5, though you will get the cast of P3 and P4 later on. One surprising thing to me is the appearance of  the P3's female Protagonist. In P3 on the PSP (iirc), you only get to pick the female protag as the MC after completing one round as the male protag.

In PQ2, however, both the male and female P3 protags exists as separate entities, and the female protag will be heavily involved in the plot of PQ2.

You get a total of 28 persona users to mix and match from, although I think that right off the bat you're only allowed to form a team with the P5 cast, then subsequently recruit the other Persona casts. You also get to set a second persona for team members! This is going to be super helpful.

Game system wise, it looks pretty much the same as PQ, with there being different themes for different labyrinths. The map drawing feature stayed, which is great, I really like that portion. There is an auto map feature as well.

I think PQ2 is meant to be a release for the 3DS, but they might also release on the Switch as well, considering the rising popularity for the Switch. I'm all for either; I fully intend on getting a Switch in the near future, but also don't mind putting the Switch on hold till more game releases and playing on the 3DS instead, provided it's not a New3DS only version. We'll see.

Here are the trailers!

For now, nerd out!

Written by: ninetylives

The Evolution of Kimono

Saturday, August 11, 2018 / No Comments
Are you interested in Japanese traditional clothing? Do you consider kimono as Japan's traditional outfit, and would like to try it on at least once in your life?
Well, while most people can easily identify the traditional Japanese outfit as kimono「着物」there are few who actually know that it isn't a garment worn by many until the Heian period, and the name "kimono" for the garment wasn't recognized until the Meiji period!

Also, although it is undeniable that the kimono is a historically significant part of Japan's culture, historical records pointing to Jomon period suggest that the clothing back in this hunter-gatherer era held little resemblance to the kimono. The kimono isn't "traditional" in this sense, but it is a garment that evolved along with the Japanese people through the Jomon period to the modern days.
Restored Incipient Jomon man
(Supervised by Hisao Baba, illustrated by Reiko Ishii)
In the Jomon period, the attire that the hunter-gatherers wore was thought to be made of fur and draped loosely around the bodies of the hunters, enabling them to benefit from the warmth and protection that the furs offered without any impact on mobility.

However, when Japan started switching from hunting-gathering to agriculture, the properties of garments that the civilization needed changed. In the Yayoi period, the outfit that they used was a loose cloth with holes for arms. This gave them a lot more freedom for movement and helped them work on rice fields comfortably. Geta which are commonly and traditionally paired with yukata was said to be developed during this period as well.
When trade flourished in Kofun period, the influence of Chinese and Korean culture came into play. The attire worn by women during this period was heavily inspired by Chinese and Korean robes which were closed at the front and tied at the waist with brightly colored sashes.

It is also noteworthy that there are still differences between the garments during the kofun period and kimono as many women then still wore skirts and trousers under their tops, making it a two-piece garment rather unlike the kimono we know today.

(Book “The History of Women’s Costume in Japan.”)
In the Asuka period, civilization has improved and developed advances sewing methods that allowed them to improve on the garb from the Kofun period to become more practical and aesthetically pleasing. Clothing became longer and wider, and were  divided by color into three different groups: formal clothes, court clothes, and uniforms. It is also during this period that males became the ones predominantly wearing trousers while females wore long, flared skirts.
In Nara period, Chinese culture was actively absorbed by Japanese locals as they sent envoys under the Kentoshi system to Tang Dynasty China. It is also in this period that the process of dyeing the kimono was further developed. Most of the kimono from Nara period consisted of only a single color per layer. In addition, Nara period also came out with a Code that required all kimono to be crossed left over right, and this convention that was inspired by Chinese robes stayed with the Japanese until modern times.

The Kentoshi system was subsequently abolished in the Heian period and during this period of transition, the Japanese were able to build their own national culture. Layered and patterned clothing to suit the four seasons became popular and colorful in the Heian period with the further development of dyeing procedures, and these techniques were swiftly employed to create a gorgeous set of robes that unified both the Chinese culture and Japanese aesthetics.
The most commonly known type of kimono in the Heian period is the Jyuni-Hitoe, otherwise known as the twelve-layered kimono which you often see on Hinamatsuri dolls. However, this attire does not consist of clunky twelve layers. In fact, the official name is Itsutsuginu-karaginumo, also known as the five-layered Chinese dress costume, which consists of six different parts in addition to the base Itsusuginu (five-layered robe): Uchiginu (a silk robe), Uwagi (outer robe), Karaginu (a waist length Chinese style jacket), Mo (ancient skirt) and Nagabakama (a long hakama).
In the Edo period, the kimono started becoming much simpler though more merchants started to pursue the emerging world of Japanese fashion and created decadent fashion compiling designs from several famous artists into one kimono and adorned the fabrics with metallic leaf, gold threads, dappled tie-dye (kanoko shibori) and luscious embroidery.

With fashion becoming an outlet to show off wealth, many samurai became extremely displeased with the riches of the merchants and the Shogunate passed many laws regulating the dressing of the lower classes. One of such laws was the forbidding of merchants and other lower classes from using the labor-intensive and expensive  dapple tie-dye technique.

Yuzen dyeing was developed at around the same time, which allowed craftsmen to paint the kanoko pattern directly onto the kimono, allowing for the use of distinctive and vivid colored fabrics with more artistic textiles. Since only the tie-dyeing method was illegal, merchants got away with using yuzen technique.

Three stark difference between the kimono during the Edo period and those before was the number of layers, length of the sleeves and the obi. With the improved dyeing techniques, kimono during this period had became single-layered once again and fashion was focused more on the patterns adorning the fabric rather than the number of layered colors. The sleeves were made longer to amplify the gracefulness of women as they moved, and were commonly seen in unmarried women's kimono. The idea of having longer sleeves for unmarried women are still rooted in Japanese culture with the Tomesode which is a formal kimono worn by married women. On the other hand, the obi sash in this time period became wider and several techniques of tying it were invented and came into fashion.
Japan opened her ports to trade in 1853 and soon after the overthrowing of the Shogun and the restoration of the Meiji Emperor in 1869, the new government realized that they had to transform themselves along the Western line in order to compete with the military and industrial might of the West. One of the by-product of this transformation was fashion. Many of the male elites started to wear business suits to work due to its association with concepts of civilization and modernization that the government was promoting. However, many women still wore kimono most of the time and one avenue that technology was employed was actually to increase the production amount and quality of silk fabrics, making them more affordable.
Industrial development during the Taisho period was heavily stimulated by the First World War. With the domination of urban growth, many people moved to the capital, Tokyo, to find work. Women also started entering the work force and although they still wore kimono, these garments often had Western influences in their designs. For instance, kimono became even more comfortable, vibrant and affordable with the new types of silk, patterning techniques, chemical dyes and industrialized mass production.

Women began wearing hakama as well, to improve their mobility when working and schooling. Also, the motifs on the kimono were typically dramatically enlarged and also diverged from the usual patterns found on traditional kimono. This style was believed to have been inspired by Western styles such as Art Deco, and acted as a visual statement for the independent, urban women of the Taisho and early Showa periods.
After the Second World War, Western-style clothing has became the everyday wear for most Japanese. Kimono became very expensive to own and maintain, and are only worn at a limited number of formal occasions and in festivals, and there are guidelines to what type of kimono should be worn during which occasion.

In the 21st century however, we are witnessing something resembling a kimono renaissance as they gradually come back into fashion.

The example that we are all familiar with are yukata reappearing in departmental stores in summer, and locals wearing these while touring summer festivals. Moreover, on New Year's, some females also choose to don a thicker winter kimono which is further layered with furs to keep warm while going for their first shrine visit of the year.

However, what you might not know is that fashion gurus have spun off looks involving elegant kimono in beautiful modern fabrics, and this is actually inspiring youths to match kimono fabrics with different items. Some of these youths wear these outfits to events such as graduation, while the bolder ones are trying them for everyday looks.

Fashion brands are riding on this wave to come up with new ideas which combine elements of kimono with other everyday items, designed for those who love the traditional aspects of Japanese fashion but are too afraid of standing out if they were to use them for everyday wear! And so far, the more popular items actually pull their inspiration from Taisho Roman outfits, which are the perfect mix of classy, sweet and cute, as well as elements from the traditional kimono such as geta or obi ensembles!
MOCOLLE's indoor Taisho schoolgirl wear
and the Hanao shoes, inspired by the geta design!
If you're interested in traditional Japanese wear but aren't sure if you wish to invest several hundreds into getting a full set of kimono, there are thousands of other people like you. Build your confidence by starting small with these simpler everyday items!

~ Reina-rin

4 Exam-Type Behaviors ~ Miwa Haruka

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While doing my invigilation duty in school, I observed some of the behaviors exhibited by the students as they sat through the nerve-wrecking two to three hours. Back when I was doing my bachelors, I experienced the roller-coaster feeling of stress and exhilaration. No matter how prepared I was, the last few hours before entering the exam hall was stressful and once the exam was finished, a huge sigh of relief followed. I wondered why did I place myself in such a position of stress but it was worth it when I worn that graduation gown and received my hard-earned degree.

Back to some of the behaviors that I observed, I sketched and had Miwa chan in the thick of the action. There are 4 types of behaviors that I came up with. Of course there may be many but I haven't encounter them. 

I call it Type A - They always wear an extra layer of clothes, sweater or pullover.
Type B - They are super relaxed and they seem to be drawing something rather than taking exam. Time stood still for them (Their heads rest on the table. Gaby told me she had a hard time drawing that as there were no references ^_*)

Type C - The Achievers, the Super Cool (Posture upright, constant pace and not rushing)
 Do you have classmates who seem to grasp any subjects fast and need not study so much and yet score very high marks. These super smart and confident people are Type C!

Type D - These are a rare group of people or the "cute" type. Usually, they are susceptible to running nose and more so during exam (and usually the exam hall are very cold). But they come fully prepared - with a pack of tissue papers. And then some pieces would be stuck into the nose +_+, and used tissue papers scattered around the desk. ^_^

Get these lovely Miwa chan stickers

So which exam-type behaviors do you belong to? Do you know any of your classmates whom belong to any of these types?

Written by Max

Starlight Promises

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 / No Comments
Otherwise known as Yakusoku no Nanaya Matsuri, the premise of the story revolves around the use of a phone application, Starlight Pilgrimage, that collects data of the user upon installation. When someone dear to the user passes away, the data is then used to construct a virtual representation of the dead person, which is then presented to the user when they are invited to and participate in the "Tanabata Seven Night" festival. This usually only applies when the death is within two years of the festival.
Characters 5/10
The main character is Mihara Shouma, a first year male student. He had a close friend, Atsushi, who he hadn't met for three and a half years. He also plays the role of Hikoboshi during the Tanabata festival.
The other main lead is Senozawa Shiori, who regrets losing her elder sister in a traffic accident, especially since her sister had given her life to protect her. She participated in the festival as Orihime.
The other important character to the plot is Kanna. She is the organizer of the festival and is also an AI. However, due to her being an AI and not having a detailed 'past' as data, it interferes with the app and thus results in undesirable interference.

As with most ONAs of this length, there isn't much character development. However, as we delve into the past of the main characters and see how they interact with their dead friends and family, we get to see more aspects of their personalities.
Plot and Pacing 7/10
The plot itself is rather predictable but it's nice that the ONA actually took the time to slowly weave in flashbacks to slowly reveal the plot and allow different aspects of the app and the constructed village to become a clearer and more concrete picture.
As expected, the reason Shouma was invited to this village was because his dear friend, Atsushi, passed away. In fact, Atsushi was also the one who asked Shouma to download this app! However, as Atsushi was adamant with hiding his incurable illness, his parting with Shouma was terrible. Thus, when news of Atsushi's death reached Shouma, he was so shocked that he locked all memories pertaining to Atsushi's death away and 'forgot' that his friend was already dead.

When he arrived at the village, he promptly meets the other two characters, Shiori and Kanna, and is invited by Kanna to help out with the festival preparations. After being promised that he'll meet Atsushi if he remains in the village, Shouma finds himself getting roped into this festival that he knows nothing much about.

Apart from being deep in the mountains, there are also castle ruins nearby the village. There is also quite a few "virtual" aspects to their clothing such as see-through garments and raiment (or Spirit Garments). While there are a lot of traditional dimensions to the festival preparations and fashion in the village, it is also clad with a lot of future technology, for instance, holograms and AI. But slowly, Shouma realizes that he doesn't have the time to be awed as he found out the true purpose of the festival.

The festival is a procedure to help those 'left behind' move on. By constructing a virtual representation of their dead loved ones, those who are 'left behind' are then able to convey their last words. While staying in the village and helping to prepare for the festival, Shouma gradually recalls that Atsushi was already dead.

However, he doesn't have much time to ponder over this as there are bugs in the system that the festival is based on. The system that designed the festival, Musuhi, functions by using data from the app to recreate personalities as virtual representations in a virtual space. By finding and correcting inconsistencies between the real person and the representation, Musuhi was able to become much more accurate. However, this ability that Musuhi honed also helped it to use information of historical figures to create a forgery of the samurai inhabiting the castle ruins near the village.

These forgeries slipped through a hole between the virtual and real world to intrude in the festival. The reason for the hole is Kanna, as she is an AI, a virtual representation without a "life log". In fact, she is a trial product that Musuhi created based on historical records.

As these forgeries come with a deep-seated hatred, they are blindly attacking the villagers as they see them as evil. Their preconception comes from historical records as their Lord was betrayed and killed, resulting in their castle being stormed and them being eventually killed. These forgeries see the villagers as the attackers.

Kanna constructs a bow and arrow for Shiori, and a sword for Shouma. These weapons are programs to destroy the original source data the forgeries are based off on. Together, they take down the Princess of the castle (the last boss) and thus are able to continue the festival.

Although Kanna fades away, due to the continuation of the festival, Shouma and Shiori are able to meet their loved ones again.

Possible improvements
As mentioned previously, the virtual representation usually only works if the death is within two years of the festival. Atsushi passed away three years ago, but is clearly still able to be constructed by the app. This is conveniently explained by "Kanna did something about it", which I felt was not a sufficient explanation. As Shouma's case was an outlier, I wished they took the opportunity to expand on it further and gave a more concrete explanation on why Atsushi can still be constructed by the system.

The romance between Shouma and Shiori, if intended, was rather lacklustre and lacked romanticism. More could have been done to consolidate and further their relationship. The plot also liked to play Shiori as the damsel in distress in order to put Shouma in the limelight. Not a very good idea in my opinion.
Overall rating 7/10
I loved how this show is able to combine both futuristic and traditional aspects and bring them both to a new level of dynamism. The predictability of the events and backstory deals a small blow to the show although it doesn't take a lot away.

The main point of this ONA was to have a scenario of "what if you are able to meet someone that died one last time" and I think that they actually pulled that off rather well with their last scene. It's definitely a concept that you would think about at one point in your life.
That being said, this show is not a tearjerker by any means and would simply be borderline warm and fuzzy. It would be nice if we were all able to meet our dead loved ones once more, wouldn't it?

~ Reina-rin