Importing Japanese manga can be a daunting endeavor, with exorbitant shipping fees often costing more than the books themselves. While my last tutorial on importing manga lots from Amazon Japan provides a method for decreasing those costs, the obvious other option would be to cut out shipping all together! By purchasing digital volumes of manga and other Japanese books and magazines for the Kindle, you can get everything for shelf price or less, and never have to worry about shipping again.
In honor of Splatoon‘s release for the Wii U this week, I thought I would live up to the “chic” in Chic Pixel by trying my hand at a nail tutorial! I’m not very talented at doing intricate nail designs, so I hope this easy nail tutorial (that even I can do!) will inspire some of you to try out your own designs!
For supplies, you’ll need the usual top and base coats, a base color (I used white, but black would really make your ink splatters pop!), and a light and slightly darker shade of the same color for the ink. As you can see, I went with purple (orange, green, blue, etc. would also look great!), but I think my dark shade was a few shades too dark. The design would be even better if you can get two shades that are pretty close to one another!
Finally, you’ll need some instrument to make your dots – I used a bobby pin, but a toothpick also works! Of course, if you have a dotting tool, you can also use that.
Amazon Japan can be a little intimidating for importing Japanese products, but it’s also has some of the best deals on books and manga. On top of that, recent decrease in its international shipping costs means that you can get a packaged shipped anywhere in the world faster and cheaper than ever. But did you know that you can get virtually any number of Japanese-language manga shipped for just $10.50? I thought it was too good to be true, but I can confirm that it works. The secret is buying manga lots!
One of the things I struggle most with when coming up with content for Chic Pixel is photos. I’m by no means a pro photographer, but at the very least, my previous apartment was blessed with great lighting that allowed me to pull off relatively decent photos with minimal preparation. My current dungeon of an apartment, however, gets very little light during the day, making it very difficult to pull off anywhere near the quality of photos I was taking before. Combine that with a little nudge from my pal Ayu, and I finally had the push I needed to make my very own light box!
While I no longer live in the United States and thus don’t feel the true power of the looming monstrosity that is Black Friday, thanks to the internet, I can still partake in some the good deals along with the rest of the world! This year, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the deals that look most exciting to me – not an exhaustive list by any means, but if you enjoyed my holiday shopping guide, you might like some of the bargains I’ve rounded up here! Since these deals are hot off the press and very much time-sensitive, let’s get right to it!
Update: Now with some Amazon Cyber Monday deals!
Right Stuf – Right Stuf has some downright amazing deals on anime and manga right now. As of this post, the whole set of three Revolutionary Girl Utena DVD packs is available for only $86.39, which is a whopping 52% off the cover price. Unfortunately, it’s only available for a couple more hours, but keep an eye on their rotating mega deals!
If you missed out on Utena, never fear – the two volume complete The Rose of Versailles anime pack is available for only $46.99. That includes all 40 episodes of the classic shojo series as well as an exclusive art book! This would be a great gift for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of shojo.
Other anime deals that stand out are the Natsuyuki Rendezvous complete DVD collection for $17.49, the Ristorante Paradiso complete series for $15.99, and The Garden of Words Blu-ray for only $12.24. Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a great anime if you don’t mind a little cry, and Ristorante Paradiso is a great food-themed series based on a manga by one of my favorite authors, so both come highly recommended by me. I’ve yet to see The Garden of Words, but the animation looks stunning, and for $12.24, it would make a great stocking stuffer for an anime fan!
Oh, and you’re an Attack on Titan fan, you may be interested in volume one of the Levi spin-off series Attack on Titan: No Regrets manga for only $5.49, which just debuted in English this past June.
Nintendo 3DS eShop (pair any of these with Best Buy’s 15% off eShop cards for even more savings!) – If you’re at all interested in picking up Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Duel Destinies, it’s currently half price for $14.99 until December 2nd, which is the cheapest it’s been yet! Unfortunately 3DS games can’t be gifted individually, so you’ll probably have to just buy this one for yourself. I know I’ll be picking it up (even though I’ve yet to play a single Phoenix Wright game…).
Natsume is also having a sale, which includes Yumi’s Odd Odyssey for 50% off, making it only $10. Both this and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Duel Destinies aren’t available physically outside of Japan, so this is the best/only way to get your hands on them!
Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove and Hometown Story are both also 50% off, and while they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I personally had a lot of fun with Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove.
Honorable Mention: While not an eShop game, Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny is currently $15 on PSN for PlayStation 3 as part of the Natsume sale. It runs until December 1st, so you have some time to mull over your game purchases before committing to them.
The Wonderful 101 (Wii U) – Navigating the Amazon sales is pretty brutal, but one game deal that stood out to me was The Wonderful 101 for $28.99. The game has seen mixed reviews, but it has quite the cult following. It might be a great game pick for a seasoned Wii U owner who has nearly everything! If you want to spend even less, it’s also $20.99 on the US eShop for a limited time!
Long Live the Queen (PC/Mac/Linux) – Another treacherous storefront to navigate is the Steam sales page, but I absolutely have to recommend Long Live the Queen, even though I’ve never played it! I just grabbed it for $5, which is 50% off its usual price, and for a game that’s lauded for its Japanese-inspired simulation gameplay, I’d say that’s a real steal.
Another worthy Steam mention is Hatoful Boyfriend, the infamous pigeon dating sim. It’s only 33% off, but how can you resist wooing pigeons for only $6.69?!
Update: Jlist is also having a storewide promotion for Black Friday/Cyber Monday that has been extended until December 2nd! Save 10% off any orders totalling over $60, and 18% off orders of $160 or more! Might be time to stock up on some of the gift ideas from my previous post…
Well, in the interest of saving both your and my wallets from complete and utter destruction, I’ll leave the Black Friday deals here. If you’ve found a particularly awesome deal worth mentioning, please share it in the comments! Better yet, let us know what bargains you’ve picked up…
The holiday season is nearly upon us, and for many people that means it’s time to update and circulate wish lists and ready the wallet for impending gift purchases. Whether you’re looking for gift suggestions to give to other people or things to buy that special nerd in your life, Chic Pixel is here to give you a few ideas to get you started!
|Amazon, Play Asia|
Nerdy Nendoroids (Jlist, Play Asia, CDJapan, Amazon; prices vary) – If you follow Chic Pixel, you’ll know that over the past year or so, I’ve completely fallen head over heels for little Japanese posable figures called Nendoroids. These cute manifestations of your favorite characters may not be something you’d normally buy for yourself, but they make great presents! For the Nintendo fan, there’s the newly-released Toon Link (pictured above), Luigi (Jlist, Amazon, Play Asia), and even two versions of Isabelle from Animal Crossing.
There are tons of non-Nintendo Nendoroids as well, including a very awesome Monster Hunter Nendoroid line and some harder to find Danganronpa Nendoroids. On the anime front, there are Nendoroid versions of characters from a whole slew of series – the easiest way to find if there’s one of your giftee’s favorite character is by searching for the character’s name plus “Nendoroid” on Google. Jlist and Play Asia both stock official Nendoroids, but be careful if you shop at Amazon, as some resellers try to pawn off bootleg versions as the real thing.
|Sailor Moon S.H Figuarts, $30.63 at CDJapan|
If you prefer to get something a little more “realistically”-proportioned, there’s also figmas or the S.H Figuarts line. While I don’t personally own any figmas, I love my S.H Figuarts Sailor Moon. She’s a ton of fun to pose!
|OyatsuBox sample box|
Japanese snack subscription (Jlist, from $25.45/month; OyatsuBox, $7.99 or $25/month) – Japanese snack subscription services have really come into their stride over the past year, with a variety of options enabling the discerning snack fan to select the perfect box to fit their taste and budget. Both JList and OyatsuBox allow you to cancel your subscription at any time, making it easy to subscribe for just one or two months, get a boatload of exciting candy to try, and resubscribe when your wallet/stomach allows. OyatsuBox’s new $7.99/month option would make the perfect stocking stuffer – just keep in mind that you’ll need to sign up by the end of November in order to get a box in time for Christmas.
PS Vita Slim (Play Asia, $206.99; Amazon, $199.99, includes Borderlands 2) – For someone who has nearly everything, the PS Vita is a great system that has generally been overlooked in favor of home consoles or the 3DS. For the importing game fan, however, the PS Vita has the 3DS beat in the handheld department due to being region-free, and its sleek screen is really impressive. It’s worth noting that if you want the cool colors (read: pink/white, blue/white, or basically anything that isn’t solid white or black), you’ll need to import a Japanese system. Luckily they won’t break the bank when compared to local prices, and you can totally sign into any region PSN account and play non-Japanese games on them!
For those looking for some games to go long with a PS Vita system, I highly recommend Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (Play Asia, Amazon) or Project Diva F 2nd (Amazon). For the Japanese romance visual novel fan, DRAMAtical Murder re:code (CDJapan, Play Asia), Binary Star (CDJapan, Play Asia) and Hanasaku manimani (Play Asia) are all great options, though I can give many more suggestions if you’d like to ask in the comments!
If the $200 price tag of the PS Vita is out of your price range, there’s always the PlayStation TV (Play Asia $69.99; Amazon $79.99). Not only is it compatible with nearly all PS Vita game cartridges, but it will play both digital PSone and PSP games via your PSN account on your TV. For those with a PS4, it can also be used to stream to another TV in your house, making it a very convenient little device.
Fujoshi’s Guide to Japanese (Otome’s Way, $29) – Presents don’t have to be just fun and games; they can be educational, too! If you’ve always been telling yourself you’ll learn Japanese to play those cool imports or read the manga that never gets translated, now’s as good a time as any to start. Fujoshi’s Guide to Japanese is a cute, fun way to learn the language and is available in two full color volumes that come with extensive audio content from native Japanese voice actors. If you want to learn more about what to expect from these digital texbooks, check out my review of the second volume.
Anime/Game Calendars (Jlist, CDJapan; prices average $10-$30) – Calendars are often seen as a cop-out gift, but that’s because people don’t know where to find really good calendars. Luckily, sites like Jlist and CDJapan offer a wide variety of Japanese calendars featuring everything from anime and games to Japanese pop stars and cute cats. Generally larger in size than western calendars, Japanese calendars usually feature two months on a single sheet (pictured above), meaning they contain 6 different images. I love cutting off the month part at the bottom and reusing mine as posters!
I really can’t begin to suggest the perfect calendar for you or your giftee, but here are a few that caught my eye: Pokémon (CDJapan, Jlist), Card Captor Sakura (CDJapan, Jlist), Hatsune Miku (CDJapan, Jlist), Free! (CDJapan, Jlist), and Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun (CDJapan, Jlist).
Nintendo FAMICOM MUSIC (CDJapan $19.61; Play Asia, $18.99) – This CD recommendation may seem oddly specific, but that’s because I think it would be perfect for a retro game lover in your life! The 2 CD set contains 26 remastered tracks to celebrate the Famicom’s 30th anniversary last year, and contains classic themes from the likes of Super Mario Bros., Ballon Fight, Kid Icarus, and more. On top of that, the CD comes with some stellar Famicom art on the cover and discs.
Of course, there are countless CDs one could recommend to those who are more musically inclined, but the other I’d like to mention today is Monster Hunter Swing Big Band Jazz Arrange. If there’s anything I like more than my favorite game tunes, it’s re-imagined versions of my favorite game tunes! And Monster Hunter plus swing band jazz? What’s more to love? Or perhaps BlackLute – Monster Hunter Guitar Arrange – is more your style…
I could go on forever, but it’s high time for me to get started on my own shopping! What would you most like to receive as a present this holiday? My Jlist and Amazon wishlists are available for perusal if you’re interested in knowing what I’d like to get this year…
Note: Links in this post are to Chic Pixel affiliate sites. All proceeds earned through affiliate links go towards hosting costs and enable me to purchase items to cover on the site, so please consider doing your shopping using my affiliate links this holiday season. As long as you click a link, any purchases will count towards my affiliate credit. Thank you!
Love is in the air in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn! As expected, February’s seasonal event is a tie-in with Valentine’s Day. In keeping with the game’s tradition of “re-imagining” the names of real-world holidays for the game world, though, they’ve added an “o” to Valentine… I suppose it’s meant to sound exotic?
As always, the Lodestone illustration for the event is simply gorgeous. Honestly, I’d probably be happy if Square Enix did away with events all together and just posted a new illustration every month! Okay, that’s definitely an exaggeration, especially if they do more awesome outfits like the one you get for completing the Valentione’s Day quest line!
|Full event details at the Lodestone|
There is absolutely no combat in this event, and it’s quite straightforward, so I’m going to try to make the tutorial as snappy as possible. That means I won’t have screenshots of absolutely everything, but all the info will be here for those who want it!
You’ll first need to speak with Larsonient, who is located at X:11, Y:13 of the Limsa Limonsa Upper Decks. As usual, the seasonal even quests are only level 15, so most people should be able to participate. After speaking with him, you’re immediately directed over to Lisette De Valentione, who gives you the first item in the Valentione clothing set, completing the quest. This unlocks three different quests, “Sweet, Sweet Love,” “Right Here Waiting,” and “Love Is a Battleground,” which require you to spread love to the inhabitants of each of the three main cities. I suggest talking with Lisette to initiate all of the quests before setting out to complete them, as it saves time in the long run. I tackled the Limsa Limonsa quest, “Love Is a Battleground” first, but it doesn’t matter what order you do them in.
The first NPC you’ll need to talk to for Love Is a Battleground, O’kalkaya, is located right near Lisette at X:12, Y:13. The following tasks are extremely straightforward, so just follow the quest icon on your minimap. Completing the quest will net you two bitter heart chocolates if your character is male, or two pure heart chocolates if your character is female. Hold onto these for later!
Next, let’s head over to Ul’dah! Again, the order in which you do these quests doesn’t matter, as long as all three get done. The NPC you need to speak with to initiate the Sweet, Sweet Love quest is Yellow Moon, located at X:14, Y:13 in the Weaver’s Guild. She wants a bunch of odd ingredients for her concoctions, so you’ll need to speak with all of her admirers to acquire the required items. The first pair of admirers are located at X:11, Y:11, and the second pair are at X:10, Y:8. Completing this quest will reward you with two more chocolates.
Finally, it’s off to speak with Nemoh Mainhov at X:12, Y:6 in Gridania for Right Here Waiting. She’s looking for her lost lover, so you’ll need to go talk to three men who look like him around X:9, Y:9. After returning to Nemoh, you’ll then need to head to the North Shroud to Gwayne at X:28, Y:26. After jumping back and forth between Gridania and North Shroud, you’ll finally complete the quest for another two chocolate hearts. Now you can finally return to Lisette De Valentione in Limsa Limonsa!
Your final quest, Never Say Farewell, requires you to turn in one bitter chocolate heart and one pure heart chocolate to Lisette. The only way to do this is to trade with a character of the opposite gender who has also completed the first three Valentione’s quest. If you hang around Lisette, you should find others looking to trade, so be sure to let everyone know in the chat! Since I did the event quests the day they were released, there were plenty of people around looking to trade. Be sure to only trade one of your chocolates for the one you need to complete the quest, though, as you’re going to need the rest to trade for the remaining items in the Valentione’s outfit! Completing the Never Say Farewell quest will get you your Valentione’s top and an achievement for finishing the seasonal event.
Now, the in the areas decorated for the seasonal event in each of the three cities are a House Valentione Butler <Purveyor of Love> and a House Valentione Maid <Purveyor of Love>, but the most convenient ones to access are located right near Lisette in Limsa Limonsa. No matter where you find them, make sure to trade your chocolates to the Butler for the rest of the Valentione’s set and purchase some limited-time items from the Maid! The left and right Prismatic Hearts are very cute for using in screenshots with friends, so I made sure to stock up.
I’m really liking how Square Enix is switching up the formula with each event quest – the last one was very FATE-centric, so it’s a nice change to not have to do any FATEs this time. And look at that outfit! All the running around was certainly worth it to see Chive in such cute garb.
The Valentione’s decorations themselves are nothing special, though they are featured in every city. I don’t think they really compare to the winter holiday decorations, but I suppose you can’t have both a great outfit and great decorations, eh? At least I got to spend some time with other folks in their Valentione’s gear. My only complaint about the event is the fact that it was a requirement to exchange chocolates with someone of the opposite gender in order to complete the quest. Really, Square Enix, it’s 2014!
As I’ve said before, it’s great to see monthly events, but I’m not sure how much longer Square Enix will be able to keep it up… I wonder what the next seasonal event will be?