Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sunday x Magazine Nettou! Dream Nine

Sunday x Magazine Nettou! Dream Nine is a Nintendo DS baseball game in which you can play as some of the Ranma 1/2 characters. To play as Ranma, Ryoga, and Akane win the Championship Tournament with a Shonen Sunday team (they are on the left according to a faq on

While I do not advocate playing pirated games this game, like many others, can be found online. A cursory search found it at the file factory site and at NDS-Romz. A simple Google search can probably find more. A Nintendo DS Emulator is not hard to find - Nintendo DS Emulator came up via a simple Google search and I heard that it is possible to play the games on your DS via a flash cartridge (I have not done this so I don't know if it is or isn't possible).

Ranma Robot Chicken Sketch

At the 2009 Anime Expo, which is an American anime convention, a Robot Chicken preview was shown that had a mention to Ranma ½ (can be seen in the video above). I have never been to an anime/game/comic book/star trek/etc. convention. I don't really know what the experience would be like, considering I really dislike crowded places, I probably would not enjoy it all that much (that and they cost money, which I do not have very much of). While most of them are thousands of miles away, in places like California, there have been some at hotels in my area (less than 10 minute drive) just a few years ago. While I don't know of any that close in the last couple of years, there was an anime convention, at the beginning of June, a little more than an hours drive away.

As for Robot Chicken; I don't really like the show. I like when Ranma is mentioned/referenced in other media though. I also like that they didn't really attack Ranma ½ like they often do other shows.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ranma New OVA preview

The above video is a preview of the newest Ranma 1/2 OVA that I mentioned in an earlier post. Even though I am not a big fan of the Ranma anime, preferring the manga continuity, I still liked this preview and would like a new Ranma season/OVA's/Movies. If for no other reason than to drum interest in Ranma fan fiction, which I have not been reading very much of lately. The image quality on this is much better than the series was and I like that the characters have more fluid movements in this than they were in the TV series. Newer does not always mean better but in this case it was (for example I like the original Slayers Animation - season 1 and 2 - more than the newest ones).

update 2/3/2010 longer preview:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Excel Saga volume 8

I am a rather large fan of the Excel Saga manga, not so much the anime. I have acquired volumes 1-6,9-14 in English and volume 18 in Japanese. Today I went browsing some sites on the internet to get some of the missing volumes (7-8, 15-20) and the price for volume 8 is the most absurd price I have ever seen for a book. Amazon market place wants 999.99 dollars + shipping for it used. That is the lowest price I can find it for (the other sites that list it for somewhat reasonable prices don't actually have it). The highest is nearly 2,500 dollars. First thing I have to wonder is who is going to pay that much for a manga volume? The second thing is why hasn't VIZ released a re-release of Volume 7 and 8 yet, since they are selling later volumes. Most people would like to purchase the volumes in order and I'm sure that quite a few people would not buy any volume after volume 6 when they find out that they would be unable to acquire volumes 7 and 8.

The VIZ store does not have the manga for sale, but the viz store has very few things to sell at all, so few and at so discounted prices (75% off) that it looks like they are phasing out the online store. They do have on the VIZ Media site several manga excerpts, but not Excel Saga. The buy volume buttons do not link to anywhere though (error message). VIZ also has some manga online that is not listed on that list, like the newest work by Rumiko Takahashi, Rin-ne! (which I have not gotten around to reading yet but have known about for quite sometime and do plan on reading).

update 2/3/2010: The price of volume 7 and 8 has gone down considerably. I have acquired volume 7 but have yet to acquire volume 8 since, while no longer as ridiculously high priced, it is still far too expensive (checked today and the cheapest price on is currently 149.96). As for the other volumes I purchased volumes 15-17, and volume 19 as well (combined price for 15-17,19 used including shipping was less than 20 dollars).

addon 7/27/2010: I have finally managed to acquire volume 8 for a much more than reasonable price from a local library.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Five Ranma lists

People seem to like lists so here are a few lists. The first one is inspired by a question I had asked on a forum some time ago, second was seen on a forum rather recently, third, fourth, and fifth were at the request of someone who emailed me asking the questions.

List of people who saw the Neko-ken in the manga:
Some school people.
Some people on a beach.
Ghost Cat
Tatewaki Kuno
Ryoga (might not have actually seen it but was there in pig form when the phobia was explained)

People of note who didn't see it: Ukyo, Kodachi, Ranma's mom, Mousse, Miss Hinako, the principal, Happosai

List of people who know of Ryoga's curse in the manga:
Pantyhose Taro

People of note who do not:
Akane, Ukyo, Ranma's mom, all Kuno's, Miss Hinako, Gosugunki

List of people who know of Ranma's curse in the manga:
pretty much everyone except Kodachi (only saw it occur once in the manga and might have rationalized that it didn't happen since she has not seen any other magic or seen it repeatedly), Tatewaki Kuno (who has seen it repeatedly and should know but doesn't), and people who are not near Ranma often (for example Mikado)

People who actually saw the senken techniques:
Ryu Kumon

People who should have no knowledge of them: Pretty much every other character in the manga baring Nabiki and Kasumi who might know they exist but did not see them used and therefor do not know the majority of there effects. Ranma's mother might because she used one of the scrolls to make envelopes but nothing in the manga indicates she does.

Top 5 characters which used magic or magic items the most often in the manga:

Did not use magic as often as they are portrayed to do so in fanfics:
Cologne - she has access to magic and gave magic items to Ranma, Shampoo, and Akane to use but she rarely uses it. The above mentioned 5 use it far more often in the manga than she does. The only time she really uses it in the manga, when not as an example of how to use an item, is the noodle of strength and that was to sell terrible noodles she purchased.
Gosugunki - Attempts Japanese voodoo without success and one time purchased magical mind control paper (battle armor was technology based not magic).

Trying to get linux to run on usb

I am mainly a windows user because my pc came with windows. I have tried and used various linux distributions in the past and truthfully I like some aspects of linux more than I do windows (beyond the price). Windows has been pissing me off a lot recently (crashes a lot and even though the machine is not very old it already has something like 350 program crashes and several dozen crashes in which only turning the power off gets it to work again). I remember using linux on my dreamcast which you can't do with windows and the live cds are pretty helpful when you need to fix a problem in windows.

I recently got the idea in my head to put linux onto a usb drive with persistence so that I can use it on multiple machines. The main reason I wanted to do this is so that I can use the program WINE (a program that can run most windows programs). I was going to install a few programs I commonly use onto that, so that I can easily use them on all the machines I have access to. For example, I wanted to put Rosetta stone on to that so that I can use multiple machines instead of only one. Switching to linux really isn't that big a deal for me I already use VLC Player, firefox, open office, all the emulators I use are on linux as well, etc. and the few programs I use that do not have as good linux alternatives work on WINE (according to Winehq compatibility guide) . Sure the occasional windows game I play might not but I wasn't planning on uninstalling Windows.

I hadn't used linux in awhile and the few times I have done so recently was via live cd of Ubuntu 7.04 which worked on the pc I had for nearly 10 years now. I recently acquired a new machine, which that version of ubuntu does not work on. The machine I use most often (the one I am typing this up on) is a new pc without access to anything but dial up. Ubuntu does not really like this machine, I went and got the newest version of Ubuntu and it had problems loading from the live cd. Talked to the people at the ubuntu forum and they told me it was the video card and they helped me get it working.

I then used a usb thumb drive to create a bootable version that hopefully would work on multiple machines. That went well and was very easy. I used my sisters laptop that has access to wireless internet and added the programs I wanted, then updated what was already there (added Wine, restricted extras, microsoft fonts, realplayer, vlc player, some interesting education programs, turn off system beep, etc.). Everything was going well, programs were easy to install, updating was easy, the programs I wanted to add to WINE worked, etc.

Here is where things go bad. As soon as I tried to boot it again on the computer I use most often it would not work. When I tried to boot it again on the laptop it would not work. I did an integrity check and it didn't pass. So I erased it from the thumb drive and tried again. This time I was able to get it to work on both the the desktop and my sisters laptop but had problems with the desktop. First problem was that machine only has access to dial-up and Ubuntu is not set up to work with dial up. I had to download a few programs (wvdial, scan modem, martian full) and with the help of the linmodem support page I was able to get that to work. Needed to install ATI proprietary drives to get it to work. The driver update thing crashed repeatedly and wasn't able to install them. Worse when I then tried to use it on the laptop, it again would not work and then refused to work on either machine. Even when it was working it is slow to boot and had a couple errors while booting (it really doesn't like my graphics card).

I was getting fed up with it at that point. So I decided to try another distribution. I chose opensuse 11.1 with gnome. That worked very well on the laptop (might be better than ubuntu but I haven't tried it enough to really say -it supposedly can detect modems) but like ubuntu did not want to work on the desktop. Tries to load gnome repeatedly then gives up. I think I'm going to temporarily give up for a few days at least and then try a different desktop environment. I could try the beta for Ubuntu, but I think the problem is with gnome. I'm not sure which desktop environment to try next KDE or Xfce. It is a new pc with plenty of memory (500 gigabyte hard drive, 2.4 ghz, 3gb ram, a video card that can play fallout 3, etc.). Had I just wanted to install linux to my sisters laptop there wouldn't be a problem, but at least the current releases do not like the desktop computer. I could probably play with it and eventually get it to work as a dual boot or using wubi run in windows but I want it to run off usb on multiple pcs, not on just one, and so far I haven't been able to get it to do that.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Senko-Hanabi - Sparkler

There are quite a few different types of sparklers. The type most commonly seen in the United States is made with wire coated with something that slowly burns down. There is a type I used to play with when I was smaller, I don't know what their real name is but they were called Chinese sparklers. They had a wooden stick and were made mostly from paper and card board and would sparkle in multi-colors. I have looked for this type recently but have not found any place that has them.

In Japan, the most common firework is a sparkler called Senko-hanabi (incense fire flower). It is not made of either wood or wire, instead it is made from either a twisted paper or string and paper. It just dangles from your hand, you have to be careful to hold it in the correct place to avoid being burned. The above poor quality picture has Akane from the Ranma manga playing with one of these.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hanabi - Fireworks

Since Independence day is coming up and I have received several firework catalogs (how I got on their lists is a mystery), I have been thinking about fireworks. In Japan fireworks are called Hanabi. The literal translation is flower (hana) fire (bi). Personally I think fire flowers sounds better than fireworks does.

Summer time in Japan is season for seeing fireworks, there is a firework show somewhere in Japan every single day of the summer, though fireworks are used year round. Almost every town has its own festivals including fireworks. Fireworks are much easier to get in Japan than they are to get here where I live in the United States. Particularly the smaller ones. Sparklers and smoke bombs are not hard to find where I live, though many places do not carry even them because you have to buy a license to sell them. In Japan, it is easy to find stores that carry a large number of small, hand-held fireworks, such as sparklers, torches, firecrackers, and rockets.

The festivals consist of large fireworks shows, the largest of which use between 100,000 and 120,000 rounds (Tondabayashi, Osaka), and can attract more than 800,000 spectators. Street vendors set up stalls to sell various drinks and food (such as Yakisoba, Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, kakigori(shaved ice)), and traditionally held festival games, such as Kingyo-sukui, or Goldfish-catching.

Both men and women don Yukata, summer Kimono, or Jinbei (men only) and attend these events, collecting in large social circles of family or friends to sit picnic-like, eating and drinking, while watching the show.

Even though the Chinese were using fireworks since at least the 12th century, the Japanese didn't use them until the 15th century when firearms were introduced by the Portuguese (though gunpowder was known to them since at least the 13th century when China attacked Japan and it is believed ninja used gunpowder for noroshi signal flares and land mine type explosives). How old fireworks and gunpowder is under some debate. Some people think it is over 2000 years old, thought that the first firecracker was discovered by accident by a Chinese cook working in a field kitchen who happened to mix charcoal, sulphur and saltpeter, which were commonly found in kitchens at that time.

The first firework displays in Japan where for the shogun and feudal leaders, later they became common entertainment for the populace at large. Firework displays were particularly popular in Edo during the eighteenth century (though there was the occasional ban, it being a fire threat and the building material was very flammable). The most notable fireworks event during that time was an annual festival at the banks of the Sumida River. Professional fireworks manufacturers would have a competition against one another at that festival.

The Japanese became experts at firework displays. There expertise in fireworks production is sought after all over the world and fireworks makers are frequently invited to display their skills at festivals in other countries. Until the mid-1980's the Japanese were major exporters of fireworks at one time the Japanese represented 80% of the worlds fireworks production (decline was mainly due to the Chinese selling fireworks much cheaper). They were the first country to manufacture fireworks that change colors twice or even three times during a single launch. One common type, the 360-degree blossoms, originated in Japan and has become a global standard for the firework displays.

A good site for a bit more information on Japanese fireworks is: JAPANESE FIREWORKS HOMEPAGE