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.