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03 January 2011 @ 01:52 am
お正月  
softlykarou and I had a few people[1] over for New Years, avoiding our error in previous years by not traveling anywhere. Well, other than to one of the local shrines. I asked Kaminaka-san if he knew of any place doing anything for 初詣 (hatsumōde, the first shrine visit for the new year), and he told us a couple. One of them, the one in Mibu (the same place that has Mibu no Hanadaue in the summer), has a small event for the New Year, so we all watched Firefly until midnight and then went to Mibu-jinja. I slightly misunderstood the directions at first, but after seeing which way everyone else was walking, we managed to find the shrine (and as a bonus, I now know how to say "T intersection" in Japanese).

In addition to the typical hatsumōde events, there was a service going on inside the shrine. We stayed for a moment outside, unsure what to do, but after seeing that people were entering and leaving freely we went inside. There were musicians playing (a bit similar to kagura, actually), and after some chanting, they had everyone come up, take a branch tied with a white ribbon, and offer it at the shrine. We did (I stood up first, the others took a little urging from one of the people nearby), and then we left, along with half the people inside. It makes me wonder if they just ran the same thing over and over in a loop, and people would drift in and out as they came to the shrine. I'm not sure to ask who would know, however.

Unlike any of the previous six months, we're ending this month with more than ¥10,000 in our bank account. First we had the Singapore trip, then car trouble, then a number of other things kept cropping up. We're actually quite lucky that we never needed to request a pay advance to withdraw money using our credit cards or anything, but now we're mostly in the clear. It was a bit harrowing, and somewhat humbling, since I considered myself good at financial planning (our savings rate in America was around 30% of our post-tax income. A rate high enough that if everyone did it it would destroy the economy) but we still kept running into problems. I think I got a bit lazy--I never bothered to save receipts in America, since buying everything with a credit card left a record of our purchases that I could use to determine where our money went. That doesn't happen in a country where everything is done in cash, though, so now I keep records.

I've been playing a game called Winter Voices lately, which is quite an odd little game. The basic plot is that the main character's father has just died, and the game (so far) is about her dealing with his death. All of the RPG-style combat that takes place is a metaphorical representation of her coping with her grief. As such, combat isn't usually about defeating your opponents, since you can't really destroy your own memories. Instead, it's typically about surviving a certain amount of time or reaching a certain spot on the board.

One interesting consequence of this is that success and failure aren't binary. Being "defeated" in most battles just means that you weren't able to deal with the past, so instead of dying you lose a percentage of the xp you'd normally get and have the option to retry if you want.

The story is a little slow (I've played for a couple hours and I don't know much at all, except that while the men in the village my character is in seem to like me just fine, some of the women are cold or dismissive. Mysterious...), but it helps fit the mood. What doesn't really fit the mood is the walking speed, which makes it take forever to get anywhere, and the animations. Memories in combat with you get multiple attacks and have relatively slow animations (and I'm not sure how to speed them up, or if you can), which means large battles can take forever because of all the slow animations taking place. The other minor issue is that the game is by a French company and sometimes there are translation goofs or odd word choices which do a great job of snapping you out of the mood they're trying to create. These are pretty rare, though. It's interesting, but I'm not sure I'll have the patience to play through all of the seven episodes they have planned. I may also have been better off not picking the hard-mode class to play on my first go through, though even so I'm doing pretty well.

This is the most I've writte here in a while that wasn't a story.

[1]: My LJ is hampered here by my policy of avoiding real names, I think. Still, nothing much to be done.
 
 
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