Travel Report: Girls Love Festival 16, 17-23 February 2016

My first trip to Japan was largely centered around a single event, Girls Love Festival 16 on 21 February 2016, as well as for personal reasons that I cannot detail here. Planning began in September 2015, and after a train ride from Narita International Airport to Shinjuku and a 15 minute walk, my travel companion and I arrived in Shinjuku Granbell Hotel. Due to the limited duration of our stay, much of the time spent was divided between the interest of myself and my companion.

On the morning of 21 February, I traveled alone by train to Kamata and made my way to Ootaku Sangyou Plaza PiO shortly before the doors opened at 12:00. Courtesy of Kamibukuro Works, I was furnished with an exhibitor pass and a seat at their booth. Kuma Ichigo, a member of Kamibukuro Works, also planned to meet with me, but he was unfortunately unable to attend due to illness. Photography of the event was not permitted, so I do not have any to share.

The festival took place in an exhibition hall on the first floor and consisted of many amateur artists selling self-produced yuri works in various forms, largely doujinshi manga, written works, and artbooks. Roughly three-fourths of the hall was occupied by the festival, and activity was constant throughout that space. Several professional companies held panels at the outward-facing end of the hall, including Carnival, the parent company of St. Michael Girls’ School, though no announcements related to A Kiss For The Petals were made. Even so, Carnival’s presentation was partially drowned out by the adjacent company’s showing, which had access to better audio and video equipment.

Overall, the atmosphere is comparable to that of an American anime convention’s dealer hall, albeit with a very narrow focus on a single genre. Though the attendance was nearly entirely Japanese, there was at least one non-native, an American teacher I spoke with at the booth. There was also the familiar sight of large amounts of attendees along the wall, some of whom were playing on portable game systems, waiting for nothing in particular.

The event ran until 4:00, and in the final minutes, Mi Kara Deta Saba arrived to greet the staff of Kamibukuro Works and me. After the festival, I was invited to join them for an after-event dinner party at a nearby restaurant, joined by another individual who acted as my interpreter. It was truly an honor to meet the producer of A Kiss For The Petals face-to-face, as was hearing his words of gratitude and encouragement for my further works. It would be no exaggeration to say that the significant time and financial investments I made to take this trip were justified on this night.


Girls Love Festival was the most central event of my trip. The remainder was spent largely exploring commercial points of interest in and around Shinjuku, and there are a few other thoughts I’d like to recount here. I may write a second post on other minor events at a later date.

Suggestions to visit Akihabara were a constant as I informed my acquaintances of my travel plans. Though I had only six days total, no less than two of them were spent in the famous district. The first shop I visited there was a seller of electrical components and devices, and simply browsing it gave me a nostalgic feeling. I made only one purchase, a three-to-two prong electrical adapter for my laptop. I took the opportunity to sample fresh taiyaki—a fish-shaped pastry, in my case filled with strawberry cream—and I regret not buying more. There was the expected abundance of second-hand media markets, and a search for older A Kiss For The Petals works missing from my personal collection turned up the first Extras Roundup.

Visiting the game centers was a high priority, as traditional arcades in my area have long since shut down. Shinjuku had several within walking distance of my hotel, two Taito Stations and at least one Sega arcade. The game centers I visited were operated by large video game companies, namely Taito, Sega, and Namco, and all of them were at least three stories tall dividing the machines by type: standard action games, medal pushers, networked games local and nationwide, rhythm games, and UFO catchers, among others. I found my first few visits overwhelming, as it had been many years since I experienced the din of a busy arcade, but after about four visits, the sights and sounds became familiar again.

I spent the majority of my time on various rhythm games, and several aspects of them are worth mention. Newer games are equipped with headphone output, but some centers retrofit older machines with headphone output through a splitter box affixed to the side with independent volume control. I found that where available, headphone use improves accuracy. However, some centers showed signs of heavy use of these ports, with all ports on all machines in a single center malfunctioning in extreme cases. In one Club Sega in Akihabara, a Pump It Up Prime – Japanese Edition machine was decorated with a variety of convenience features, such as extension cables from its USB ports, a spray bottle and rag to clean the steps of dust before and after play, and a defibrillator next to the machine. Perhaps not coincidentally, the machine was placed in plain view of a service desk should the defibrillator become necessary, though it was vacant when I played. In the short time I had to explore the country, I was unable to seek out retro arcades to see older games that were not distributed out of Japan; the urban centers I visited had mostly newer and popular games in circulation with some having a floor dedicated to a selection of fighting games.

Shinjuku Granbell Hotel is located adjacent to the commercial district of the city, which is surprisingly tranquil before normal operating hours starting approximately 10:00 AM. Having visited New York City in September 2015, I would preemptively compare the character of this part of Shinjuku to the equivalent sector of Manhattan. After businesses open, foot traffic is constant in all parts of the district. A large department store is in view at almost all times, and there is also an underground shopping mall with entrances near Shinjuku Station with its own selection of small to medium stores. Much of these shopping areas were left unexplored by the end of my trip, and by the end of the trip, I had spent a total of $497 (approximately 55,000 yen) over six days, a fraction of the total amount of cash I brought from home and far less than I expected to spend. I do not have a reliable estimate for the amount of cash I spent in game centers, but I believe it to be in excess of 10,000 yen, and I would gladly do so again for the unique experiences they offer.

Girls Love Festival 17 is scheduled for 5 June, less than four months after the last. I am currently planning to return to Japan solo from 1-15 June, barring any circumstances that force me to cancel.

The Best Parts About Tights

2 November was “Tights Day” (タイツの日), a “holiday” imagined by the Japanese clothing manufacturer M&M Socks Co., Ltd. According to their explanation, Tights Day falls on 2/11 as the number 11 resembles a pair (of tights), as does the number 2. November is also the time when women begin wearing tights in greater frequency, although it can be argued that it is actually much sooner.

I am contrite to admit that I was unaware of this holiday until the closing hours of the 2015 occasion.

A number of artists shared their illustrations of women in tights on Twitter throughout the day using the hashtag “#タイツの日.” One of the most poignant illustrations was a diagram by ぐらんで “Grande” (Twitter: @gggrande, Pixiv) pointing out “the best parts about tights.” Originally published on 19 April 2015, it details, in Grande’s opinion, the most appealing aspects of tights and how they enhance the appearance of the legs, and by extension, the wearer. Ralen was gracious enough to provide a translation. It is republished with permission from the artist.

The Best Parts About Tights by Grande

I have written about what I find appealing in tights in the past, but I have never been able to do so with a purpose-built visual aid such as this. Many of the points above echo what I’ve written in past articles, so I would like to add new findings and amendments to those thoughts here.

Continue reading “The Best Parts About Tights”

A Kiss For The Petals – Remembering How We Met: Editor’s Corner Unabridged

On 25 September 2015, I announced my involvement as overseer of the English localization of A Kiss For The Petals – Remembering How We Met on the MangaGamer staff blog. Prior to that date, I withheld information about my work on the project due to my own belief that my history with the fan translations would have caused a conflict of interest. I used the skills I developed over many years working on fan translations to develop the English-language version in secret. However, I later learned that my presence in fact encouraged St. Michael Girls’ School to move forward with the license. With that assurance, I wrote the above article detailing my views and history with the franchise, and I will be able to discuss them much more openly in the future.

Due to the nature of the partnership between MangaGamer and St. Michael Girls’ School, details on previous releases from Fuguriya and Yurin Yurin, as well as the fan translation efforts, cannot be discussed in an official capacity. This is an unabridged version of my Editor’s Corner post with information on those topics. A complete listing of individuals who worked on the translation patches is located at the bottom of this article.

The following is the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of MangaGamer or any other third party.

Continue reading “A Kiss For The Petals – Remembering How We Met: Editor’s Corner Unabridged”

Statement on the Visual Novel Translations on Petals’ Garden

The partnership between MangaGamer and St. Michael Girls’ School represents a significant step forward in the business plan of St. Michael Girls’ School. In light of this, I have deemed it necessary to make significant changes to the administration of Petals’ Garden. Effective immediately, Petals’ Garden will no longer host content of questionable legality and will take greater measures to respect the copyrights of Fuguriya, Yurin Yurin, and St. Michael Girls’ School. Only the visual novel translations are affected as they contained images and code copyrighted by at least one of those companies. The light novel translations contain cover images freely available on Fuguriya’s website and entirely original text. The web page and video content are labeled free to redistribute. Other parties may continue translations of the visual novels, but they will not be endorsed by Petals’ Garden.

Update 10 July 2015: Petals’ Garden will also no longer support the translations on Yuri Project, but the translations posted there remain the property of their authors and can be continued at their discretion.

The goal of the visual novel translations was to raise awareness of the series as a whole and demonstrate interest in official Western releases. The partnership between St. Michael Girls’ School and a major Western publisher of visual novels signifies that they have succeeded. However, Petals’ Garden was created strictly to promote A Kiss For The Petals, and the responsibility of visual novel translation and distribution now belongs to MangaGamer, the official partner of St. Michael Girls’ School. As I have written in the past, the creators of A Kiss For The Petals have been aware of the fan translation efforts since their inception, but such efforts are now subject to greater scrutiny by all companies involved. For the reasons above, there is no longer any legal justification to continue to distribute them. I apologize for any inconvenience this causes, but as Petals’ Garden is recognized as a major English news source for A Kiss For The Petals developments, this change is necessary to ensure that the partnership will be a success and maximize the chances of future English licenses. I thank you for your understanding of this decision in this crucial time for these two companies.

NullpoMino on the Raspberry Pi 2

NullpoMino on Ubuntu MATE for Raspberry Pi 2

In 2012, I attempted to run NullpoMino on a Raspberry Pi Model B with 512 MB of RAM. In February 2015, the Raspberry Pi 2 was released and boasted substantially upgraded hardware, with a quad-core 900 MHz processor and 1 GB of RAM at the forefront. Ubuntu is supported through a specially-crafted image of Ubuntu MATE, so I use it for my preference of MATE over LXDE and a desire to try a platform other than the default.

NullpoMino has not been updated since my previous post, so the setup process was identical, save for the use of the Oracle Java 8 runtime instead of OpenJRE for its superior ARM support. I have overclocked my machine to 1067 MHz CPU, 533 MHz core, and 466 MHz SDRAM with an overvoltage setting of 4 and 384 MB of RAM allocated to the GPU.

As before, the SDL and Slick builds do not run as they are only supported on x86 hardware, but the Swing build runs at nearly 60 FPS. The audio issues from before persist here, but the game is fully playable. I will try again with the SDL and Slick builds when Windows 10 is released for the Raspberry Pi 2.

Anonymous asks: Why do you love pantyhose so much?

Ask me a question at ask.fm

This was a surprisingly difficult question for me to answer directly. The following is the most comprehensive answer I can provide at the moment, and I will expand on it in the future for those interested.

It is an augment for a natural attraction to female legs. The skin-tight fabric that constitutes tights and pantyhose changes the appearance of the lower body significantly. The complete coverage waist to toe makes for a kind of perfection–a completion–that is not intended with stockings. While much has been discussed about the zettai ryouiki phenomenon, it is directly at odds with my own preferences. Stockings and thigh-high socks leave the thighs exposed, whereas tights cover the thighs and allow them to enjoy the same benefits as the rest of the leg. In the rare occasion that the waist and hips are exposed as well, the effect is even greater, as the border between the waistband and the exposed upper body can create an effect I would venture is similar to the zettai ryouiki. I am averse to patterns, fishnets, and damage to the fabric, as the perfection is lost with even the smallest aberration in the fabric.

To repeat some information from the two “Apparel For The Petals” posts on Cray’s Notes (part 1, part 2), the color and denier (thread density) can create a wide range of effects that other garments cannot, all of which heighten the femininity of the curves of the legs–in particular, the color gradient (preferably not skin tone), reflectivity, and the ability of the tights to cover imperfections in the skin. Examples include white tights creating an image of purity, opaque black tights showing the wearer as proper and formal, and other colors having all manner of other effects depending on color warmth, none of which are possible to the same extent with bare legs or partial coverings. In addition, I use the term “tights” as it specifically refers to opaque fabrics and deliberate colros, while “pantyhose” most often refers to sheer fabrics close to skin tone. However, black and brown pantyhose that results in dark colors dissimilar from the natural color of the legs are equivalent to tights for the above purposes.

All of this being said, it is the feet that are affected greatest by the wearing of tights and pantyhose. While the foot fetish is the most common worldwide, I have a particular fondness for feet in tights, pantyhose, and similar coverings, and do not care for bare feet except in allegorical contexts. All of the above applies doubly for the feet. It is uncommon to see characters wear tights or pantyhose without shoes, but these cases are the most ideal in showcasing the above points. Depending on the position and prominence of the feet in the image, they can have highly contrasting imagery. When visible and not the focus of the image, tights-covered feet can imply innocence, but when they are presented forward with the sole, they paint the subject as aggressive or seductive. While bare feet do the same, the covering from tights largely eliminates sanitary concerns.

In addition, it is becoming increasingly common for animated works to feature ensembles with at least one character in tights. In animated works, skin-tight coverings of different material can appear to be the same depending on their opacity and how they are depicted to reflect light. However, if it is clear that the material is not nylon or anything similar to real world materials used in the manufacturer of tights and pantyhose, the effect is greatly lessened.

Anzu Hana Live Broadcast 22 December 2014 (Updated 31 December 2014)

Update 31 December 2014: A recording of the broadcast has been uploaded. Please see this post on Petals’ Garden for the response.

At 8:00 P.M. Japan time (6:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time) on 22 December 2014, Anzu Hana hosted a live broadcast on Niconico via St. Michael Girls’ School’s account. Although it was announced several days in advance by Anzu Hana on Twitter, I heard about it only hours before it was to take place, and the only information I had learned about it was that listener messages would be accepted to a special e-mail address to potentially be read on the show. I had not even gathered what the schedule was for that show. Before I slept that night, I wrote this letter to inform other listeners about the international following for A Kiss For The Petals and to thank Anzu Hana for the CDs she had autographed for me. It was translated by Kuma Ichigo.

ごきげんよう、杏花さん! クレイグ・ドンソンです。
あなたがこれを読む頃、私は眠っているでしょう。

世界中のあなたのファンを代表して、聖ミカエル女学園の発足と全ての新しいカップルやストーリーに、おめでとうございます!

ご存じのように、私は世界中の情熱的な翻訳者の助けを借りて、ファンにその花のニュースを一生懸命広めています。玲緒王国は確実に惑星を巻き込んで広がっていて、私、あなたの忠実なしもべは、地球の果てまでそれを見ています。どうか、国際的なファンの情熱を過小評価しないでください。

私はまた、Girls Love Festivalに参加した私の友人を通じてあなたにサインしていただいたCDについて、感謝したいと思います。CDが手許に届くのを待ちきれません。

ええと。生放送についてこれ以上いうことを思いつきません: がんばれください!(原文ママ)

署名
クレイグ・ドンソン

—-

Hello, Anzu Hana-san! It’s Craig Donson, here to say that I am asleep as you are reading this.

On the behalf of your fans throughout the world, congratulations on the launch of St. Michael Girls’ School and all the new couples and stories! As you know, I have been hard at work spreading the news to fans with the help of passionate translators from all over the world. The Kingdom of Reo will surely engulf the planet, and I, your humble servant, will personally see it through to the ends of the earth. Do not underestimate the passion of international fans!

I would also like to thank you for the CDs you signed for me through my friend who attended Girls Love Festival. He is currently flying back to America. I cannot wait to have the CDs in my hands at last.

Um. I can’t think of anything more to say for the show, so: がんばれください!

Signed,
Craig Donson

I sent this message immediately before going to sleep, and the morning after, I had realized that in my haste to prepare this letter, I had entirely neglected to inform any of my readers about the opportunity to write to the show and to take measures to record the show to hear the response. I learned that my letter was read, but the response to it was not recorded. I had wrongly assumed that all Niconico live streams are archived for later viewing. This was not the case with this particular showing. The reply to my letter is now lost to me.

I apologize to my readers who would have liked to write in, and I will make a greater effort to follow through on correspondence for future live shows.

Anonymous asks: What have you been playing recently?

Ask me a question at ask.fm

The most recent games I’ve played are Geometry Wars 3 and Nuclear Throne, two arena shooter games that have similar controls but contrasting design. Both games are similar in that they are very challenging to the point that the average length of single gameplay sessions are about the same. I feel that where they differ most is in their progression.

Geometry Wars challenges the player by constantly changing the playfield with enemy waves of variable density and speed. Although there is some degree of randomness, the player’s abilities change very slowly and the layout of the levels are static. The player can set for themselves a helper drone and a limited super ability before the level begins, and the only upgrades available for firepower change the firing rate and direction. As a result, the player is encouraged to constantly shoot at everything without fear of depleting ammunition or self-destructing and focus on positioning against and dodging enemies with erratic movement patterns that generally do not fire back. There are a number of gameplay formats that engage the player’s limited options in a variety of ways (some of which restrict them), which present in order in the Adventure mode and in the Classic modes at the player’s demand.

By contrast, Nuclear Throne‘s procedural generation systems instead have the player character constantly change with many different types of weapons and upgrades, and the challenge comes partly from improvisation with the randomly selected options given to the player in each session. As of this writing, there are 12 characters with unique special abilities, rather than a single ship that depends on combinations of modules to enhance its odds of survival. The levels are linear and have randomly generated layouts and enemy placement. With limited ammo available to the player and enemies with more sophisticated AI, the focus shifts from careful movement to careful planning of attacks. Because most enemies do not have to be near the player to become a threat to them, dodging incoming enemy fire now shares importance with dodging the enemies themselves. As a counterpart to Geometry Wars, there is only a single gameplay mode with the ultimate goal of reaching the ending rather than the high score.

Apparel For The Petals, Part 2

Notice: This post is solely the opinion of the author and includes images that are not safe for work.

When I shared a set of explicit scenes of A Kiss For The Petals recolored to appear that the girls were wearing tights, I was unsure of the reaction it would get. I tailored them to appeal to my preferences, which I doubted any of my readers shared. To my surprise, it not only got feedback both on and off the site, but it was all positive. This was a fortunate turn of events for me, knowing that the popularity of tights has been increasing in recent years, most notably in anime series with ensembles that include at least one female character in tights. I expressed hope in my previous post that this will extend to later installments of A Kiss For The Petals, and with the introduction of The New Generation, Manami and Rina reintroduces them to the cast. I now hope, somewhat unrealistically, that this will also extend to the new love scenes as well. As seen in the image from Beloved Photograph above, even images with a small area to recolor can be affected significantly.

Before I continue, I feel that I should clarify exactly what I mean by “tights” for the purpose of these posts. I refer only to waist-to-toe unbroken nylon legwear of a single color, not fishnets or otherwise patterned. The sheer colors referred to as pantyhose also qualify, but I use the term “tights” to specifically refer to more opaque legwear and to also include colors other than brown, white, and black. The more of the leg is shown, the greater the appeal. Other skin-tight clothing, such as latex bodysuits and spandex, do not necessarily qualify, as they are often footless. Tights affect the feet the greatest, so it’s natural that feet are seldom seen in tights. Any damage to the tights negates all effects they have.

With these images, I’ve expanded the range to experiment with more colors and thread densities (denier). The below links are not safe for work.

Continue reading “Apparel For The Petals, Part 2”