a website by a Leong

Browsing Posts published in January, 2007

Den-O Logo8AM Sunday morning, the new Kamen Rider show started up here in Japan, since Kabuto finished up last weekend. This year we have Kamen Rider Den-O (仮面ライダー電王) where Den-O translates to ‘Electric King.’ So far it seems like the plot involves a time traveling train, monsters possessing humans, multiple personalities, and dimensional portals. Just like most Japanese kids TV shows! The title character is a guy named Ryotaro, who is a total wuss. Everything about him, including his voice, is just pure submissive loser. Not much of a hero, right? Oh but wait, he is possessed by an “Imagin,” one of the group of monsters/bad guys in the series who are traveling through time to change things in order to make the present and future better for themselves. Ryotaro is apparently the “chosen one,” which means he has some kind of control over the Imagin within, and also he can transform into Den-O with a henshin belt and a special train pass. Yes, his belt theme is based on Suica train passes. He swipes it over the belt and stuff happens.

The Imagin who has possessed Ryotaro doesn’t care about obeying orders or changing the future; he just wants to fight, regardless of the opponent. So, this coincidentally goes along very well with his host, who can transform into a Kamen Rider with all kinds of crazy weapons and stuff. They’ll go ahead and fight Imagin all over the place. When the Imagin takes over Ryotaro’s body, he goes slightly Super Saiyan; his hair style becomes more vertical and gains a red stripe. His voice also changes from ‘prepubescent girl’ to ‘crazy mofo,’ and he gets a lot stronger to boot. According to a short scene in the opening credits and the official website, it looks like Ryotaro will also be possessed by a bunch of other Imagin later on, which will then help him achieve different Rider forms. The standard/normal form (what was in the first episode) is Sword Form, and he should be getting Axe Form, Rod Form, and Gun Form sometime over the next few months. In addition to presumably different monsters and voices for each of these personalities/forms, there will also be different styles of dress, as you can see here. So far, the red Sword Form Imagin will wear a leather jacket. There will also be, I guess, businessman, samurai ruffian, and crazy crackhead covered in spray paint.

guy in the center is a wuss

When Ryotaro first transforms with the magic Suica, he is in a very basic skeleton form:
hot chick on the left

That form, of course sucks, in part because the ‘real’ Kotaro with the girly voice is in control. So to change forms and let the Imagin take over, he presses the red button on his belt and swipes his train pass again. More armor appears, and he is transformed into the red Sword Form. The monster is in charge now, voice and all. This is the ‘standard’ form of the series, so we’ll be seeing this one the most:
Sword Form

This post is already nerdy as it is, so I’m going to go for broke and show you the upcoming Axe and Rod forms:
Axe and Rod forms

The show wasn’t bad; I’ll be keeping up with it throughout the broadcast. The only major complaint I have is the CG for the DenLiner train; it looks absolutely horrible. All the recent Kamen Rider shows have had this problem. The costumes, stunts, etc all looks pretty good, but most of the major CG they use looks awful. Far too cartoony and not realistic enough to fit with the rest of the show (well, not realistic, but you know what I mean). Every time they showed a shot of the DenLiner I had to just shake my head. It was the same with Hibiki when the terrible CG monsters showed up. Ah well.

Kamen Rider Den-O official site (TV Asahi)
Den-O promo and trailer (YouTube)
Den-O opening title sequence (YouTube)

It’s peanut butter jelly time!


I am currently eating the greatest peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever. Seriously. Just thinking about how amazing it is made me lean back in my chair and laugh like an evil maniac. Not that this PBJ is really that different from any other PBJ, it’s just that I haven’t had a real PBJ like this in months. Japanese “peanut butter,” you see, is usually sweet, whipped, and gross. A lot of times they appropriately call it peanut whip or something, but I have been fooled too many times by products wrongfully labeled as “peanut butter” here. You expect the real deal, and end up with this sweet stuff that tastes more like frosting than that classic “stick to the roof of your mouth” goodness*. I have tried a few different brands of Japanese peanut butter/cream/whip, and all of them are awful. Too sweet, too airy, and/or too frosting-like. The only hope I saw before this was back at Costco a few months ago where they indeed had a tub of real American-imported peanut butter. Back then, I didn’t want to spend 2000 yen on a tub of PB the size of my head. If I would have gone this month, I probably would have bought it. Peanut butter withdrawal isn’t something that really nags at you; it’s fairly submissive. You might not even know if you have it. I never thought a PBJ would taste this good. However, if you are a peanut butter-loving American who has been in a foreign country for a few months, I challenge you to sit and think about a good peanut butter sandwich. You’ll probably find yourself in a pile of drool.

Salvation was found Monday afternoon when I was casually shopping at the grocery store in the nearby Ito Yokado. I was looking at the cereal section, which I didn’t even know existed, and bought some Calbee brand frosted flakes and cocoa flakes. I haven’t yet tried these, but I’ll be sure to do so something soon. I looked at an eye-level shelf, and among the standard peanut whip and peanut cream products, I found the diamond in the rough. SKIPPY peanut butter. That’s right. Real American Skippy freaking peanut butter. I read the label to make sure it wasn’t some kind of peanut cream with the Skippy name on it. Nothing of the sort. I brought it home, opened it and smelled it. It looked and smelled like peanut butter. Well, tonight I finally made a sandwich with it and I am in heaven. Thank you Skippy, for importing your product to Japan.

*I realize that line calls for all sorts of sexual references and jokes, but I don’t care. I love peanut butter too much.

Train Train


This morning from my balcony, in addition to the drunken ramblings of the gang of homeless people that are always out in the adjacent park, I also heard a CHOO CHOO TRAIN! For real, heard the steam whistle and everything. This must be Goi

Molestache’s question was still retarded, though.



Although my job isn’t bad, I would like to take some time to ramble on about how absolutely horrible Saturdays are for me. I suppose not necessarily because of the teaching or working part, but because I have to wake up so freaking early. As a rule of thumb, I generally try to set my alarm clock for 2 hours before I need to be at work. Almost every day, I have to be at work at 1PM, so I set my alarm clock for a healthy 11AM. This usually means I hit the snooze button a few times, and generally wake up “for real” by noon. I then check any AIM messages, e-mail, Facebook, mixi, all in that order. My routine is then to get in the shower by 12:15, out of the shower by 12:25, do post shower things (contacts, deodorant, hair gel) by 12:30, be dressed by 12:40, and out the door shortly after that. It takes approximately 3 minutes for me to get from my apartment to my school, and I am supposed to be at work at least 10 minutes early when students might be waiting, which is almost all the time. As you can see, I have my mornings finely tuned to near-OCD-levels of routine. My body likes this. I like this. I do not like surprises. I go to bed on average at 3AM, meaning I get around 8 hours of sleep every night. So nothing really goes and screws things up quite like…


Since AEON has more students who want to come in on Saturdays, and I guess students are too preoccupied with the Japanese habit of maintaining social relationships (meaning they go out and get plastered) on weekend nights, AEON decided long ago that instead of the comfortable 12-9PM hours they keep every other day of the week, Saturdays are open from 10AM-7. My perfect system of waking up at 11 and snoozing in until almost noon is ruined by this once a week 8AM alarm clock. It seriously feels like death every Saturday morning, especially since after 5 days or more of sleeping at 3AM-ish, it is pretty hard to fall asleep early on Friday nights. And now that the new season of Tadano Hitoshi has started, I’m guaranteed to be up at least until 1ish. It is pretty inevitable that I will get around 5 hours of sleep on Friday nights, then feel like a zombie all Saturday.

I woke up this morning, feeling in pain as usual, but forced myself through my morning routine that is shifted 3 hours earlier than the rest of the week. Instead of the normal news, cooking, or Tamori shows on TV while I’m getting ready, I was greeted by Saturday morning cartoons. There was a crazy Megaman show where his arm talks to him, and then the gayest show I have ever seen, even for Japan. It was called Fairy Musketeers, and had a bunch of little anime kids running around and fighitng with +7 swords and maces and stuff like that. After getting out the door a little bit early, I decided to grab some Matsuya, the gyudon place, for breakfast. They have a 390 yen breakfast set, which has rice, miso soup, seaweed, an egg, a sausage, some cabbage salad, and your choice of a side. Although the natto was tempting because it is so delicious and doesn’t smell like a dead body, I decided to go with a small bowl of pork and onions as my side. Overall, it was a ton of food for way cheap, but I had to scarf it all down in about 5 minutes or so. Then I went to school and taught on a full stomach. I don’t really feel like going much into the actual details of school, but I probably will talk about AEON school in general at some point eventually.

Met up with Mike today, a fellow IES-alum but from the Fall semester after me, since he has recently moved into Goi and will be working at a Nova school up near Chiba somewhere. After work ended at 7, I went with him and Blanchard to JJ Club 100, this arcade/amusement place 2 stations away from Goi that one of my high school students had told me about. It is a pretty big place, with lots of random stuff to do. Kind of like a ghetto arcade/carnival/amusement park all rolled into 1 big building with a character mascot who looks like a cartoon sperm, or the mascot from the old Quisp cereal. You get a membership card, then are charged by the time you are in the facilities. It’s 105 yen per 15 minutes, so about a buck. After that you can pretty much do everything for free. The only things that seemed to cost money were some crane games and vending machines. They had a decent amount of arcade games, although nothing brand new (and some that were right ancient), miniature golf, ping pong, batting cages, billiards, karaoke, darts, slot machines that you don’t win anything on, and other random stuff. It was fun just because you could do a bunch of random activities that you probably wouldn’t do otherwise. For the record, I am the world’s worst batter, possibly equally terrible at DDR, but surprisingly not too bad at the shameful Para-Para Dancing motion sensing game. The horse racing game was also pretty fun, although tiring. I rode that horse hard.

They also had these ropes hooked up to zip lines, and you fly across a little alley into some padding. Although it looks stupid, it was way fun and I laughed like a little kid. JJ’s did provide some pretty good entertainment for the night, and it was good to do anything of entertainment value after waking up early to teach pretty much straight classes from 10-7. Tomorrow I think I am going to hit up the World Hobby Fair, a free games and stuff convention at Makuhari, and will likely blog about that at some point. I will also then fit in the Tokyo Auto Salon, which was a convention I went to at the Messe last week. It’s convenient that all these shows happen only 30 minutes away from me. I suspect there will be much ranting about nerds, because even at a car show there was a seriously high percentage of nerds taking pictures of booth girls.

The Shakes

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My first blog post from the “new” Blogger, which is out of Beta. I was hesitant, but so far so good. None of the new features really add anything for me, although adding labels/tags to my posts is intriguing. Anyway, nothing got erased and nothing exploded, so in that way I am satisfied with the upgrade. On to tonight’s short story.

I got off the computer last night at almost 2:30AM and layed in bed watching some Arrested Development. I fell asleep at some point, and remember waking up soon after thinking the building was shaking. I couldn’t tell if it was really that, or maybe like a neighbor’s washing machine or something. Either way, I shrugged it off, shut off my TV, and went to sleep for the night. I completely forgot about the incident until today at work when my co-worker Matt asked if I felt an earthquake last night. I first said no, then realized that I probably did, and corrected myself. Matt also barely felt it, and we were happy to find out that neither of us are insane (at least not earthquake insane). So yes, there was an earthquake last night and I barely woke up for it. At least this time I felt it. Since coming here, there have been at least 3 earthquake incidents that I apparently slept though, only finding out about them from students or co-workers the following day. Most of them are very weak, so I guess not feeling them isn’t too bad. I have no idea why they seem to always happen at night though; is there a geological reason for that? But yeah, I guess my first real earthquake experience a few years ago here was a bit more interesting and stronger, but nowadays it’s nothing special.

And now, reading news online after work per my usual routine, I see that the small tremor I felt last night was actually a much stronger earthquake in Shizuoka, then Tokyo, and then I suppose by the time it crossed Tokyo Bay and hit good old Goi, it was much weaker. Here’s a link to the CBS News article on it.



I can’t really think of any American toys that I have been really impressed with since perhaps the glory days of the double-barreled Nerf Ballzooka or the Lite-Brite. I quickly grew up from those toys and into the realm of Japanese robot toys and video games, a stage from which I have not yet managed to fully grow out of. Regardless, I was in Toys R Us at LaLaPort this past weekend, which brings us to today’s blog topic. I saw an American toy import, which, without even looking at the price, was immediately noticeable as ridiculous. No, wait, that’s being a bit too nice. This “toy” is pure crap, and to buy it would mean that either you or your kid is either a moron or just an asshole. Maybe both of you.

Here you go folks; behold:
not toy of the year for innovation
I couldn’t believe it either. This play set is pretty much what it looks like. A bunch of (12) plastic cups that you stack into a pyramid really fast. Oh man! You can tell this kid is doing it really fast because you can see the motion lines! But the fun’s not over yet! Then you get to unstack them!

Isn’t this the kind of game that poor kids play when they’re home alone? Or what hobos do with empty cans of Ice House? Well poor kids and hobos won’t be playing this new NEON and X-TREME (asshole) version of stack-the-cups, because it costs 5000 yen*! That’s right, almost 50 dollars for a bunch of plastic cups that you could get at the grocery store for a fraction of the cost. Oh but wait, you also get the STACK MAT, which is a flat surface on which to do your extreme stacking. It has an extreme timer built into it, so you know how long it takes for you to stack these extreme cups. It’s a really good thing they include this extreme mat, because it would be impossible to stack or time your extreme skillzz without it (cough*table and a watch*cough). You also get a DVD, which shows you how to stack the cups. I’m willing to bet most kids with an IQ of over 10 would be able to figure that out on their own. Then again, kids who are playing with this Speed Stacks set might not necessarily meet that prereq.

I was so intrigued by the idiocy that created and marketed this product that I sought them out on the web. They indeed have a website, and unsurprisingly you are greeted by some extreme music and a video with a bunch of kids stacking up plastic cups really fast. This is also apparently “The all-new sport of speed and skill.” I’m looking forward to seeing this on ESPN, aren’t you?

*To be fair, I checked and in the US this game is apparently only $30. That doesn’t make this any less assholish.

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