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Posted by Pepsiman

So, for a while, I've been meaning to write a blog detailing what shenanigans I've gotten myself into since returning to Japan for this school year. Despite only being back for about a month, sights have been seen, adventures have been had, and (surprisingly coherent) Japanese conversations aplenty have been conducted. I was originally planning on telling you about how insane TGS was, for example, and how I ended up bumping into Yoshinori Ono, SFxTekken producer and anti-Namco troll extraordinaire. (Nice man and his game seems to be in good shape!) I also meant to tell you about my experiences with Love Plus and Ni no Kuni were going and how they're interesting DS games for completely different reasons. (Although they both do have some of the system's best soundtracks.) I was also probably going to talk at length about my profound love for the surprisingly plentiful mom and pop used game shops and how I've spent an unnecessarily high amount of money in them just because they had some classic I'd always "meant to play" for cheap. (Doesn't hurt that language barriers aren't really an issue.) Maybe I would have even thrown in a few thoughts about the Persona 4 anime that's airing here and over the Internet. (Man, that music mixing sure is terrible, isn't it?) Most of my time in Japan hasn't had anything to do with games whatsoever just by sheer virtue of the completely revamped schedule I've had to adopt, but what I've been up on that end has been interesting and thoroughly fulfilling.

I'm going to save that for another day, though. I'd say a rainy one, but it's been raining a lot here lately despite it being October and I still find myself too lazy to commit to staying on that topic, so I won't quite yet. Instead, it's time for a tangent of sorts, if that's at all possible. I suppose this is actually going to be the main topic of the blog itself and not a tangent, but since it's a tangent to what I originally wanted to discuss, it's like a tangent by proxy, we'll say. Semantics. They're fun, right?

Irregardless of my English and its brazenly diminishing levels of fluency, there's been something of an odd trend I thought I should let you, the reader, in on. It involves your dear friend and mine, at least as a Persona fan, Mara. You know, that guy. The one that absolutely ensures that most every game he appears in garners a solid M rating from the ESRB just by sheer virtue of his physiology. Him. Anyway, a friend of mine who's also living in Japan for the school year passed along some Japanese fan-made comics about him that also serve as a pretty apt parody of the Persona 4 anime adaptation, judging by the use of some very specific imagery. I decided to whip up a quick translation of that because, well, I wanted to maintain my reputation of having great ideas that put my Japanese skills to good use. Part of this is probably true, but I'm not sure what. I've posted them below and I'd credit the original author if I could, but I couldn't track them down. That's probably the least of everyone's worries, though, judging by the content.

I'm sure this will be just as cherished as my work translating actual Persona 4 manga back in the day.
And that's how that story ends.

Of course, one event and a poor decision made as a result of it do not a trend make. Indeed, I was originally planning on just dumping these images somewhere on here nonchalantly, most likely without all of the self-indulgent pretext leading up to its presentation. No, what makes this the start of the trend is the fact that this comic was not the first and only time Mara would enter my life this week. On the contrary, he actually showed up for the second day in a row while I was roaming Osaka's Den Den Town. The area, despite often being likened to Tokyo's world-famous Akihabara because of its similarly numerous anime-related shops and maid cafes, has a bit of a different air to it. There's not nearly as much of a thriving video game culture when it comes to actually shopping there, although there are, at least, arcades with table-flipping anger management sims a plenty because that's how the scene stays alive over there or something. It's a fun place to visit, although it doesn't offer the best sights and sounds that Osaka likely has to offer.

Oh, right, you wanted to know how Mara fit into all of it, right? As it turns out, Mara is not merely a character within a video game, but also a piece of merchandise and I mean official merchandise. I'm not talking about dildos that could be used to easily impersonate Mara nor am I referring to fan-made goods that probably exist and were sold at Comiket. I'm talking about tangible goods that somebody at Atlus and/or its current owner Index thought was a good idea to manufacture and sell, ideally at a profit. To people that like Mara enough to actually buy something in his image, ironically or otherwise. In this instance, the goods came in the form of not one, but two separate figurines/statuettes that were just casually sitting inside a figure store's glass case in Den Den Town. Beings as I know you want proof in your completely pure, still unsullied pudding, I took pictures of them both. The lighting inside that part of the store wasn't great to cope with on my point-and-shoot camera, but I figured it was more important that the photos just existed in some form, rather than they look all nice and pretty. After seeing them, I'm sure you'll agree with me and understand why.

If it all makes you feel better about it, there was what looked like a Black Frost statue in there, too, but he was going for 9800 yen, an amount my wallet distinctly did not contain.
There were also Pixie and Ghoul statues, in case they were more up your alley or something.

Why there's a 2000-yen price different between them, I have no idea, but that's not the point. The point is that they exist and that capitalism has allowed this to take place. Think about it. Reflect on that for a while. I don't know what the future has in store for me, but at the very least, I look forward to seeing how Mara will manifest himself tomorrow for a third day in a row. They say all things come in threes or something.

And that was my first blog post on here since getting back to Japan. I have a good sense of what makes for good, reintroductory content.

Posted by Video_Game_King

$98 (ish) for Black Frost? Does he actually shoot ice or whatever it does in Stop Motion Tensei?

Posted by Pepsiman

@Video_Game_King: $98 would be a steal at the current exchange rate. Regardless, when it comes to Japanese figures, statues, and other non-living, immobile objects of ambiguous artistic worth, expecting productivity out of them is a stretch. You are guaranteed to get more utility out of a Gun O'Clock by default than anything like that Black Frost statue would provide.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

If the anime at any point features charlie Yu summoning the penis god on a chariot, then it wins automatically, regardless of any failings it otherwise might encounter. $127ish for that figurine though? After taking irony out of the equation I wouldn't want the looks people would give me if I had that on my desk, even moreso than if I had a figurine of some sort of Anime girl.

Posted by Aegon
@Pepsiman said:
Posted by mutha3
@Pepsiman: I've been wondering where the hell you've been lately. We need to throw long blocks of text at each other about dumb stuff again sometime, its been way too long!
On that note, as someone who knows the history behind the comic being parodied in the op,  I must thank you again for translating these dumb things.
Posted by ahoodedfigure

Other cultures? Not so scared of the penis. Good for them, I say.

Posted by Pepsiman

@ArbitraryWater: The $128 statue was of Black Frost and not Mara. Were Mara to cost that much, no amount of irony could compel me to buy it, even if I was in a state other than being poor while living abroad.

@H2Oyea: I've got too much Japanese crammed in my brain these days, but I at least still know enough English to understand how shameful it would have been of me to use that word were I serious about it.

@mutha3: That's how busy my life has been over here. I have my downtime, but the pace of life here is so different in general and when you couple that with time zone differences, then it's pretty easy to fall off the radar for a while. That'll probably continue to be the case until Christmas break, when I actually have time to sit down and contribute extensively again. At least, that's assuming I just don't go off and travel. We'll see.

@ahoodedfigure: I agree completely. I was just pointing out the odd consistency with which the imagery of it was showing up in my life, both purposeful and otherwise.

Posted by IBurningStar

Thank you for this thread. Just, thank you. I've always found Mara to be the weirdest thing in the SMT universe, and that is saying a lot all things considered. The thing is basically the most blatant phallic symbol ever created and for some reason the entire world loves him and embraces this gigantic green dick on wheels. Wait. Gigantic green dick on wheels. There, that there is why the world loves Mara. Because gigantic green dick on wheels.

Posted by shodan2020

Nice post! I've played tons of SMT but have never synthesized Mara. Umm.... impressive! Must synthesize! :D

Posted by WatanabeKazuma

There is something about the existence of that Maya statue that I find amazing.

@ahoodedfigure said:

Other cultures? Not so scared of the penis. Good for them, I say.

Its probably a little of this.

I'm not really one for collectibles like this, but Black Frost would be pretty hard to resist if it was staring me right in the face.

@ArbitraryWater said:

If the anime at any point features charlie Yu summoning the penis god on a chariot, then it wins automatically, regardless of any failings it otherwise might encounter. $127ish for that figurine though? After taking irony out of the equation I wouldn't want the looks people would give me if I had that on my desk, even moreso than if I had a figurine of some sort of Anime girl.

What about an Anime BOY! Wheres the damn Yosuke figure! I bet there is more Aigis and the other female characters than you shake a stick at that said.

@IBurningStar: I've never heard Maya broken down like that, damn.

@Pepsiman: If I ever need to convince a friend to come along with me on a trip to Japan in the future, I'm just going to show them these pictures. I think they will suffice.