This is it, folks. I’ve finally fallen into the deep, money-swallowing hole that is scale figures. I don’t know whether I should be relieved that I lasted a whole year since I bought my first Nendoroid, or if I should be disappointed that I only managed to keep myself away from them for so long. Either way, I’m in it now, and there’s no better way to celebrate the occasion than with a review!
For an anime and video game nerds such as myself, there are a near limitless number of themed cafés waiting to be dined at in Japan. Since I usually visit Osaka when I do get the chance to go to the land of the rising sun, I’ve missed out on all of the exciting themed cafés in Tokyo, of which there are many. One such café is the Artnia Square Enix café, which opened at the end of 2012 in Shinjuku. Now, I can finally say I’ve made the pilgrimage every Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest fan yearns to take!
Since Artnia is located in Shinjuku, here’s a street shot I took that evening to set the scene. While the café is actually located closer to the Higashi (east) Shinjuku station, I had some time to kill before my 8:30 meeting time with Tasmanian Twitter friend Rowan (@link6616), so I walked there from the main Shinjuku station. Did you know Shinjuku station is the busiest train station in the world, with over 3.6 million people passing through it every day? And with over 200 exits, it’s notoriously confusing to navigate!
After making my way to the calmer east side of Shinjuku, I finally located the Shinjuku East Side Tower where the Square Enix main office and Artnia café are located. After looping around the perimeter of the building in search of the egg-shaped café, I finally spotted my destination:
Forgive the poor quality photo, but the café was surprisingly difficult to photograph, and it probably didn’t help that I was there at night. Here’s the posh lit sign that greeted me on my way in:
After finally meeting up with Rowan and making our way inside, it was time to order some treats! We both decided that we’d stick to dessert… After all, it’s usually the desserts that are the most creative in themed cafés.
Even though I perused Artnia’s menu on their website, I was surprised to see the special The World Ends With You and Dragon Quest menus in addition to their usual fare. While I desperately wanted to try the chocobo pancakes or buster sword parfait, the Dragon Quest limited-time menu caught my eye, as not only did it offer an adorable crème brûlée dessert, but a special gift, as well!
Actually, Rowan was so taken with this dessert special that he ordered the same thing! I think it’s safe to say that we were both thrilled by our adorable crème brûlées and the take home slime mugs they came in. The waiter even brought over a bag and box for us to use, and as you can see from the above photo, the crème brûlée itself was in a separate bowl so the cup didn’t get dirty.
As you can see, I was quite thrilled to eat the slime-shaped piece of chocolate that adorned the crème brûlée. The whole dessert was very nice, and for only about $15 for the brûlée and cup, I thought it was very reasonable! For those of you who read my recap of the Rilakkuma Café at Tower Records, I was quite unhappy with the quality/quantity of food served, considering how high the price was. While Artnia wasn’t exactly cheap, I think their prices were much more reasonable, and I left feeling very satisfied.
Of course, how could I go to the Square Enix café and not try one of their special coffees? Though you’re not able to choose what picture you get, they did ask whether I would like a Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy design. Why, Final Fantasy, of course! I believe they also do chocobo coffees, but I had no complaints with the moogle design I got. Rowan ordered a juice, and he was treated to his choice of a Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy coaster to take home.
On episode 21 of Chic Pixel Plus, I bring on regular extra Elliot Gay (@ryougasaotome) to talk about the most important game topic of our generation: kusoge. What are kusoge? Are they so bad they’re good, or just plain bad? We talk about all that and more, plus, related news!
Games included in the discussion range from the Drakengard series to Friday the 13th, plus we get in some Seaman, Vangaurd Bandits, Disaster: Day of Crisis, and Dirge of Cerberus: FFVII talk as well.
This podcast was recorded early/mid-June and is going up quite late, much to my dismay, so while I talk about Puzzle Month, we’re actually already in the midst of JRPGJuly! Sorry about that!
Opening ♫ – Life is Beautiful, Deadly Premonition
Closing ♫ – Seaman commercial
I don’t always wear gaming-themed clothing, but when I do, I like to do it in style! I kid, but when it comes to gaming threads, there’s a fine line between “wink nod” game references on trendy clothing and obnoxiously obvious tees that proclaim your love for all things nerdy for the world to see.
I love Gackt. I imagine a lot of people who got into Japanese culture in the late 90s and thought themselves to be somewhat alternative love Gackt. But, you know, my love with the somewhat-infamous singer isn’t the kind of all-encompassing love a lot of young girls express for their male idols, it’s an ironic kind of love. Yes, I love(d?) his music, but after seeing him on Japanese television and watching the film he wrote and starred in with fellow singer Hyde (Moon Child), as well as his international debut in Bunraku (with Josh Hartnett), I can conclude he is completely nuts. And I kind of love him for it.
In fact, the guy who once proclaimed he was an immortal vampire is turning 41 tomorrow, so happy birthday, Gackt! But that’s not what I’m here to celebrate today… Instead, I want to talk about the new Let’s Play series Gackt has launched in collaboration with Nestlé Japan. Every day for a whole year, videos of Gackt playing various retro video games will be posted to Nestlé Japan’s YouTube channel in what might be the strangest collaboration I’ve heard of in quite a while!
Does Gackt even like video games? What does this have to do with Nestlé? Well, they’re giving away some Nescafé coffee machines signed by Gackt, so there’s that… What we do know about this new series is that the episodes will be posted every day at 7 pm Japan time and will last between 5 to 10 minutes. He’ll also be playing between 5 and 10 different titles a month. So far he’s played Mega Man 2 and Super Dodge Ball and… he’s not very good at it. Nor does he look all that amused. Ah, Gackt, you’ve finally started to age… There’s something oddly charming about his nonchalant manner and the fact that he doesn’t ever take his sunglasses off despite all the weird mood lighting going on in the room they have him playing these games in.
Unfortunately the series is currently only available in Japanese, but some zealous fan might subtitle them à la Game Center CX. Still, I think it’s amusing enough to watch even if you don’t know what’s being said. I’m cheering you on, Gackt!
Have you ever wondered, “How can I be as kawaii as Ben Bateman?” Well, today’s your lucky day, as the man himself (@benspants) agreed to join me on this little podcast shindig to answer that very question! We even talk about game localization and what it means to be a localization editor, along with Ben’s experiences working at Aksys Games, too. In addition to revealing his origins in film (gasp!), Ben agrees to go under the magnifying glass for an onslaught of Twitter questions. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like being in the game localization business, you don’t want to miss this one!
After a podcast-length discussion on all things Ben, we then turn to what anime we’ve been watching (it’s a 2.5 hour recording, folks!). Shows discussed include Hunter x Hunter, Chihayafuru, Kill La Kill, and Space Dandy, and Ben also weighs in on Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises for good measure.
Note: My audio goes a bit weird around the 50 min mark. Luckily, I was able to fix it, so if it really bothers you just skip a couple of minutes ahead! Sorry about that!
Opening ♫ – Sōkyū no Hikari – Faylan
Closing ♫ – Karuta reading
In honour of Hatsune Miku Project Diva f 2nd coming out in English later this year, my Nichiest Podcast Ever co-host, prolific games writer, and pro podcaster shidoshi joins me to discuss all things Vocaloid! Okay, we recorded this episode way before Sega dropped the Project Diva f 2nd bombshell this week, but it’s perfect timing, wouldn’t you say?
First, however, we have to go over some news, and we manage to delve into a rather lengthy discussion of otome games because it wouldn’t be an episode of Chic Pixel Plus without at least a little otoge talk! But if you’ve always wanted to know what the big deal is about Vocaloids, you’ve come to the right place! We cover everything from their origins to live concerts in LA, so be sure to stick around after the news if you want to learn more about the Vocaloid phenomenon.
shidoshi’s best of Megurine Luka playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-6MIC0cgNRztTwBAY9KV6Nu6Lu-mM-dV
my favorite Vocaloid songs playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuUfAMsT1dl3bCjd26WCWDHV5bJcO2Y_A
Opening ♫ – levan Polkka Hatsune Miku cover ver. – Otomania
Closing ♫ – ???