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Volume: 03   Number: 02   Date: April 2007
Site News

We've been working hard behind the scenes to bring you new stuff! Did you know that you can get your very own sailmoon.org email address? It's easy, just click Google Email Account Management in your preferences and follow the onscreen instructions.

There are also a couple of new topics to talk about. Serious Discussion is the place to go if you want to talk about, well, serious things. If you're part of military family, you might want to join the team and post in the topic we've created for you.

Some of the more observant users may have noticed a new icon on your stats page. That's right -- Inventory! Keep an eye on that one.

I'd like to recognize the new crop of cosmic heart compacts out there! I look forward to your contributions to the site.

Unfortunately, not all the news is good. I'm sorry to say that Obsailorstar has stepped down from her staff position as head of the FAQs. Thanks for all your hard work, Bridgett. We'll miss you.

Staff Member Spotlight: Be intimidated, it amuses her

Username: lbeth
Team/Position: Venus senshi

Just who is lbeth? If you've been a member of grep sailormoon* very long, you've probably noticed her around. Who is the woman behind the Venus senshi, though? Mother, government employee, and supporter of Sailor Jupiter's hamster revolution – these are some of the roles in her life. "She [Jupiter] says if I betray her, she will eat me." When she's not attending to her Venus duties here at sailormoon.org, this 27 year old from California is at work or spending time with her 9 year old son, Karma. "He doesn't really have much of an opinion about my involvement in the site, he just knows he isn't allowed to read stuff over my shoulder." Lbeth also likes daffodils, bagels, the color orange, the brit-com Little Brittan, and the song Phenomena by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

One of lbeth's most unique features is her outgoingness, and she doesn't really spend a lot of time worrying what people thing about her. "I once stood in the middle of the street holding a sign reading NANTUCKET in big letters and an apartment community in smaller letters under it. It had an arrow on it pointing to a pizza place, and this was during rush hour traffic. I don't know anybody else who did that."

Her original username on the site was luvbeth, but it was shortened to lbeth because, "Kley [Sailor Venus] renames things to suit herself, and we go along with it." She originally applied for a staff position because she thought it would be fun, but she came back to her position after sailormoon.org reopened because she loves her super senshi and the other 2 senshi on her team: venuswillow and matt.

A typical day for her mainly consists of checking the Venus team mailbox and removing users from detention. lbeth handles fake names and parental permission issues, but she says she's never really had an issue related to parental permission. If a user signs up and gives a fake name on their account, the Pluto team will put that user on detention; when the user emails the Venus team with their real name, lbeth is the one to correct it in the database and take the user off detention.

According to lbeth, the best part of being a Venus senshi is the hair bow she gets to wear, and the worst part is having the stupid, talking cat [Artemis] around. Even with that said, being a Venus senshi can be very rewarding: "If I'm going to be honest, the most rewarding part is laughing at the fake names. Seriously, your name is not Usako Moon, and don't tell me it is."

Most likely if you frequent the forums, you've seen lbeth posting in different topics. She's been told that some of the users on the site are scared of her, but she's not exactly sure why, because they shouldn't be. Even so, "It has been brought to my attention that I intimidate users to some extent. This pleases me. Keep fearing, it makes me feel special."

ARIES - THE FIERY PIONEER

In ancient Rome, March was the first month of the year - the time when nature renewed its growth after the cold of winter - and the first sign of the zodiac, Aries (March 21 - April 20), is a reminder of that ancient calendar. Ruled by the planet Mars, namesake of the Romans' esteemed god of war, Aries is a cardinal fire sign whose natives are famous for breaking new ground and taking risks that more cautious people might not take.

THE ARIES SAILOR MARS

In Sailor Moon, Aries is represented by Rei Hino (Sailor Mars), born on April 17. Ironically (in light of their later arguments), Usagi was struck by Rei's graceful beauty when they first met in episode 10 of the anime, and Rei went on to demonstrate that she was just as impressive on the inside as the outside. Armed with ofuda scrolls, Rei is the only inner senshi with a supernatural attack in her non-senshi form, and her psychic insight gave her unique power as well, allowing her, for example, to anticipate the danger of the Death Busters before any of her friends in the S season. Rei also stood apart from her fellow senshi as the only one who attended a private school; her experiences at that private Catholic school and as a Shinto shrine maiden gave her unique appreciation of religion both western and eastern. Assertive, worldly, brave, and adventurous (with hobbies such as skiing and singing), Rei was a natural leader from the very beginning.

Rei therefore had a difficult time at first accepting bumbling, cowardly Usagi as the leader of the sailor senshi, and the two squabbled throughout the remainder of the series. And yet, rough spots notwithstanding (such as episode 43, when a practice fight threatened to turn into a real fight between Usagi and Rei), Rei remained not only a devoted member of the senshi team throughout the series, but arguably Usagi's best friend as well. Astrologically, how might one explain that?

Although Aries has a reputation for being self-centered, the bright and cheerful personality of Aries is very good at winning friends, and Aries people are noted for their devotion to people they care about. I would suggest, therefore, that Rei probably gets special satisfaction from the fact that her home (the Hikawa Shrine) is the de facto headquarters of the sailor senshi, and a place where all the diverse personalities of the sailor senshi feel comfortable and welcome. With their confidence and self-assurance, Aries natives are often sought out for advice by their friends, and they enjoy giving that advice and helping to encourage their friends, which was often Rei's role in the series. Admittedly, Aries natives can become bored with friends who are dull or uninteresting, but considering how diverse the senshi are, it is unlikely that Rei would ever become bored with her friends. I would suggest, therefore, that Rei's satisfaction with her role as the foremost supporter and encourager of her friends (and the fact that she has a rich life of her own outside the sailor senshi) probably lessens her need to challenge Usagi's leadership as time goes by.

FORECAST FOR ARIES

Until December 19 of 2007, Jupiter is in the 9th house (governing travel, religion and higher education) for Aries, and its retrograde motion between April 5 and August 5 makes that an especially good time to study a new language or acquire work-related skills. When Jupiter enters the 10th house (of career and ambitions) on December 20, it will then lend its beneficial influence to work-related endeavors.

Pluto, the planet associated with revolutionary change, will also enter the 10th house of Aries on January 25 of 2008, so there may be profound changes related to life goals during that transit (which will actually last until 2023). Viewed in a positive light, Aries natives can see this as a time when one's true passions and ambitions in life will be clarified, and Pluto's current position in the 9th house is a time of preparation for that new phase in life.

Need a little more fun in your life? Why not enter The Caption Contest!
Con-Verse

Well, they brought me back for another issue, so I guess you guys haven't been completely ignoring me. As promised, let's go over the steps you should take to prepare for, and have the best possible time at, your first convention (or any convention, for that matter).

Location, location, location... the first consideration you need to take. Will you be driving to this show? Flying? Walking? What hotel will you be staying in? Is it close to the convention, or a few blocks away? Whatever the case, you need to have an accurate idea of how you're getting there and where you're staying.

Pre-registration and Pre-planning

Virtually every convention in the US has a pre-registration option, where you can mail in a registration form or online to submit one. This is the best way to guarantee a badge at any show, because they can, and do, sell out. Registering up to three months before a show will get you a discounted badge as well, so the earlier you register, the better.

On many convention websites you'll also see a link to forums. This is a message board where you can find out bits of information on who's coming, what's going on, and where some activities that aren't in the program guide will be going on (such as cosplay gatherings, website gatherings, parties, etc.). You don’t necessarily have to sign up, but you can get a good indication of the mood of a show by watching how the people on the forums react to things.

The Trip
Save for the annual migration to either Otakon or AnimeExpo, the vast majority of your trips to conventions will be within driving distance. I've personally made trips anywhere between one and eight hours to go to my shows. For any trip, especially those over two hours, I would recommend having friends come along. I've always considered the trip to be a big part of the convention experience, and having friends along always helps build the excitement.

Most convention websites have pretty detailed directions from most locations within five hours, citing major highways along the way. A solid plan, however, would be to go to Google or Yahoo and print out maps of the immediate area around the convention, and any other areas that may cause confusion. For example, Katsucon's new location in DC can be very tricky to get to, and almost impossible if you just follow the text directions from the website. Close-up maps from a major highway down the back roads to the hotel/convention center will help you even if you get lost. Always have the person riding shotgun act as the navigator so that the driver doesn't have to fumble with maps while dodging pedestrians.

There will almost always be tolls to contend with on the trip, as well as gas expenditures and possibly parking charges for the hotel you're staying at. These expenses should be split evenly amongst the passengers. It may seem like common sense, but some people don't think about chipping in, leaving the poor driver to have to handle an extra $100 or so in travel expenses for the trip.

The Hotel
Any convention with more than 2,000 attendees will likely have hotel blocks in multiple hotels in the vicinity of the show. The convention hotel itself (for conventions held in a hotel and not an expo center) will always be the first to sell out, so if you want to stay there, book early. If it doesn't particularly matter to you, then feel free to do price comparisons at the other hotels in the area. Most of them should have convention rates, so be sure to mention your convention when you call to book the reservation. In addition, the hotel website should have a field to designate a show you will be attending. I've found that AAA rates can sometimes be lower than convention rates, so be sure to weigh all your options before reserving the room.

Deciding on a hotel room should be based on functionality, not aesthetics. By this I mean that you are going to use this room to rest, store things, sleep, and shower. If money is a sincere concern for you, you should feel free to fit up to five or six people in your room. Two per bed (in a double), and if someone has an air mattress, you can easily put two comfortably on the floor. A hotel cot only sleeps one... trust me on this. I usually never go with more than four, but you can usually put your costs through the floor with five or six. Just make sure you set ground rules for "quiet time", so everyone in the room can get a decent amount of sleep.

If you have a lot of friends coming with you, a suite may be a good option to follow. At Otakon two years ago, I had about nine friends coming along. As a result, we decided to get a two-bedroom suite. It was more than spacious enough for all of us, our luggage, cosplay stuff, etc. There were three bathrooms, four beds, a couch, and a pull-out bed from the wall. Nobody had to sleep on the floor, and it cost us less per-person than two hotel rooms. Always look at every option!

Distance to the convention is also something you need to consider. Baltimore, Chicago, Anaheim, Boston, and Dallas are all major cities, with all the concerns of any major city. If your hotel is more than a block away from the convention, try not to walk between them at night without a group. Larger shows will set aside meeting zones where people from the same hotel can travel together. I think it goes without saying, but don't give out money to beggars (no matter how convincing their story might be), don't tell anyone you don't know where you are staying, don't go exploring back alleys, and just keep an eye on your surroundings. I have yet to hear any horror stories of otaku being accosted on the streets, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened or couldn't happen.

The Convention
Okay, you're at the show, congratulations! When you've registered and received your bag, there will be a program guide and pocket schedule in there. An early version of the schedule will probably be posted on the convention website about a week or three before the show, but things do change, so break out a highlighter, and mark off the things on the schedule that you really want to see or do. The program guide will give full descriptions of every event, so don't forget to reference it. There will probably be at least one or two conflicting events, so it's better to decide which ones you want to go to early on, so you can get on the ever-present lines early enough. I'll go into a lot more detail for the how-tos and the dos & don'ts of conventions in my next installment.

Budgeting
I'd be remiss if I didn't go over this early on, because it is something you'll need to plan. I'll just list out the necessary expenditures and the approximations of what you'll be spending:

Trip: Varies depending on distance, but the usual formula for a round trip is two-four tolls, two tanks of gas, and possibly parking money. It could run you anywhere between $100-$180 for the trip. ~$30 per gas station, ~$40 parking for the weekend, and $10-$25 for tolls. This is another reason you should have people along with you. Splitting the cost is very helpful on convention trips.

Hotel: This one varies wildly between $99-$170 per night, but the $170 is rare and usually for those who like to stay at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, or other upscale hotels in the vicinity of the show. But if you put five people in that room, you’re down to $54-$102 per person, for the whole weekend. Very reasonable, no?

Registration: Never more than $55 for a three-day registration. Smaller shows can be around $35, where Otakon is at $55 right now, and AnimeExpo is $60 for a four-day pass. Again, pre-registration will usually cut anywhere between $10 and $20 off that price.

Food: BRING FOOD WITH YOU! Snacks and breakfasts (unless the hotel has a continental buffet for all guests) are something you should never need to spend money on. Snatch what you can out of the cupboards at home and put them in your suitcase. I'd also bring Gatorade for warmer days. There may be water in the rooms at the convention, but if you're walking outside or thirsty up in your hotel room, a $3 bottle of Gatorade will last you a day, where a $1.75 can of soda will last you about four minutes. Cereal is a good and healthy snack, if you just need something to tide you over until lunch or dinner and don't want a sugar crash. I personally prefer Cheerios, since you can just grab a handful and run without thinking too much about it. Pretzels are also good, depending on the time of year and your particular tastes (salt + 90 degree weather can cause problems for some people). Lunches and dinners in convention areas are usually very reasonable, but you'll find that a hotel restaurant will usually run you about 10%-15% more than the surrounding eateries. It's really only worth it if there are no decent food establishments within a reasonable distance. Remember, though, Chinese and pizza places will always deliver to hotels and are usually open very late in major cities. A good figure for food should be around $80 for a conservative, fast-food, Chinese and pizza weekend, and $120 if you include one nice dinner.

Dealers Room
Ah yes, the pit of despair known as the Dealers Room... This is the money pit of any convention weekend. You should budget your DR money separately from everything else. Do not pull money from other aspects of the show, because you'll lose it all. I've seen people spend anywhere from $60-$2500+ in a weekend. I've even been around on Sundays where helpless otaku are panicking because they now don't have gas money to get home, or are starving because they spent their food money. Limit yourself here based on every other expenditure at the convention and your personal necessities when you return home. I always save up for my shows, and never add more to that than 70% of a week's paycheck. And if you're doing more than one show per year, limit your DR money at the smaller shows, because the selection will be smaller, and you shouldn't be looking around for an excuse to spend it.

My final warning before I move on to the next section: do not use credit cards in the dealers room! Many dealers are now capable of taking credit cards at their booths, and it's the fastest way to lose track of how much you're spending. Even if you set aside money to pay the DR purchases at the end of the month, a cash payment in the room won't cost you an extra 8%-20% interest on a credit card bill. A credit card should only be brought to a show for your hotel room, possibly gas money, and emergencies.

My Side of the Table:
~Things to Know About Staff, part 2~


There are some misconceptions about staff, like how you're prevented from seeing things you'd want to see at the show, how we don't care enough because we're paid, or how staff can get away with being rude to people because we're staff.

First, let me start off by eliminating one of the most common mistakes in otaku perception: convention staff does not get paid! In fact, no operating member of any convention, even the board of directors, receives any money except reimbursement for business expenses and materials. Only one or two conventions have been started up by companies looking to profit off the event, but those shows have failed within 2-3 years, finally ending at a loss.

We’re all volunteers. Whether we're accountants, operations, events management, or publicity, we plan and run these conventions because we want to. The company that runs the convention is set up as a not-for-profit organization, which gives significant tax breaks and incentives. The money made by a convention in one year through program guide advertising, dealers room table sales, registration sales, convention shirts/pins/etc., and artist alley table sales is applied directly to paying the remaining expenses for that year and using that money for the following year's show. This is why, as a convention does grow, a convention can grow. Anime Boston would never have been able to move to the Hynes Convention Center in its third year unless it hit the unprecedented attendance numbers that it did in its first two years. It took Otakon about seven years to move up from a small, college campus-based show, to hotels, to part of the Convention Center, to finally the whole Convention Center and the First Mariners Arena where it is today.

We run the show for the fans, and we do our jobs because we enjoy them. I wouldn't be working Main Programming for my third year at AnimeNEXT if I didn't love doing it.

We never have to be part of a department we don't want to be in, and we are never forced to do any job. When you first become staff, you choose the department you want to be in, and what section of that department you want to be in: Masquerade, A/V, Video Programming, Game Shows, or any of the other abundant staff positions available. If you don't know something about your department, you are trained in it. For those who have worked in A/V, it's a fantastic learning experience to be able to operate audio boards, microphones, projectors, stage setup, wiring, etc. If you happen to have experience in that department, you're most likely put in a supervisory role, or given your own sections to run. Many things I have done in my convention history have been placed on my resume, and it certainly gives you a lot of credibility to have that degree of volunteer work.

When it comes to seeing things at the event that are of interest to you, normally anyone but a department head has the ability to go to that video, panel, or event they're just dying to see. Most department heads will schedule their staff around what they want to see at the show so they can have fun and do their job at the same time. Of course, there will always be times where your staff duties conflict with certain events going on, but as a staffer, you need to take it all in stride. One of the best solutions to this situation is to try and put yourself in a position where you're actually working the event you want to see, such as being Masquerade staff or A/V staff for that particular video room. Main Programming is great for me because I'm the first person to meet the guests, and I get to see the masquerade rehearsal, the band warm-up, and a lot of other things I've always liked to be around for at other shows.

Lastly: Staff at a convention has no right to be rude to anyone! If you find yourself being yelled at or treated rudely by a staff member, don't hesitate to mention it to another staffer. I've actually booted people off of certain staff positions because they were overly rude to someone. Last year, during the Masquerade rehearsal, the panel for the Fullmetal Alchemist voice actors was going on in the adjacent room. AnimeNEXT is held in an expo center, and we're forced (mostly for money reasons) to separate the rooms with curtains instead of walls. As we were getting the audio cued up for one skit (which happened to be a Fullmetal Alchemist skit), a few of the performers popped their head through the curtain to see the panel. Vic Mignogna (Ed Elric's VA) actually started to banter with the FMA cosplayers who were looking in. There was nothing particularly harmful about it, but the guy who was working the stage (because I was back in the A/V box) started yelling at them for interrupting the panel, and not paying attention to their rehearsal. Unfortunately, since my intercom was off at the time, I could not see this happen. I was approached by the leader of this skit group after the show, and when I heard what happened, my stage-hand was informed that he would not be working masquerade again. I don't stand for rudeness because I was an attendee long before I was staff. I know how attendees want, and deserve, to be treated. Most of us do, but there are always a few bad apples.

Well, I think I've drilled the staff subject to death for now. Next month, I'll start on my event breakdown... beginning with Cosplay.

A Guide to Recycle Shops in Japan

Hello everyone! Today, I will expand on my last article in which I mentioned recycle shops here in Japan. I'm going to tell you more about them, specifically related to Sailor Moon merchandise. Let's get right to it, and don't forget the pictures afterwards!

There are many different recycle shops, such as DokiDoki, but I am going to concentrate on the ones in which I've had the most luck. They're the Eco Town, or "Off", line of stores. I call them this because all of the store names have the word "Off" in them. One physical store can house from one to five or six actual "Off" stores. The ones I have been to are: Hobby Off, Book Off, Off House, and Hard Off. The joke in the last one is, unfortunately, lost on the Japanese. "Hard" refers to hard goods, and not the fact that you're buying used goods and therefore hard off. There are some great items in all of the shops! The items you find are in varying degrees of use... some are near mint, and some have obviously had a previous owner. Nothing is so bad that you wouldn't want to buy it though.

First is Hobby Off. They don't mean "hobby" as in playing sports or using computers. It's more a shop of collectibles. Another hobby over here is building anime kits made of resin. You can find these in Hobby Off. The best time to get to the store is when it first opens, as there are far fewer people there, and you're able to see things better. In Hobby Off I would suggest finding a spot and just sitting down on the floor to look through the items around you. Everything is on shelves or neatly in large bins, but there is so much merchandise it's impossible to see it all if you're just walking past. You could spend an entire day in just the Hobby Off part of a store. I've seen old computers for children with many Sailor Moon cartridges, action figures, posable figures, small PVC figures, cards, and many other Sailor Moon-branded items. This, of course, goes for just about any other anime, manga, etc. you can imagine.

The next store on our trip is going to be Book Off. Don't let the name fool you here, for Book Off has books, manga, used games, CDs, and movies (VHS, DVD, LaserDisc...). Once again, if you arrive early, things will be much easier for you. Once the store starts to fill up, it's very hard to find anything because the aisles are so close together. I have found many Sailor Moon art books, fan books, full season VHS and DVD sets, GameBoy games, and music. I have yet to run across any manga, but there's a huge amount of it, and it's entirely possible that I just haven't seen it. The used games are great, and some can be very cheap. I found Pokemon Green there for about $2 US! (Sorry, not Sailor Moon but a great find!)

Next on our little trip is Hard Off. It makes me laugh just typing that. There you can find used game consoles, musical instruments, computers, software, CD players, etc. I haven't found too many Sailor Moon items there, but you can definitely buy a $5 Game Gear to play that $2 game you just bought! It will probably cost you more to buy the batteries to run it than it did for the system and the game combined. I'll definitely miss this place when I return to the US.

Last on the list is Off House. What in the world can I find in a house goods store that has to do with Sailor Moon, you ask? Well, besides the kimono and look-alike Louis Vuitton purses, they have all sorts of "whatever's left over" goods there. Any random household item that may have had Sailor Moon's face screen printed on the side of it might be here. You can find cups, notebooks, pencil cases, rice makers, space heaters, skiing equipment... the list goes on and on. There seems to be more space in this store to wander around, so it's all right to get to this one later and visit the other stores earlier.

Wow, is anyone else as tired as I am? I could spend days in all of these stores, and what's worse is that every time you go back, there's new stuff to look at! All of the stores I've talked about today I'm lucky enough to have under one roof in the next city over. It's always an adventure as well as a lesson in self-control when I visit Eco Town.

A little off topic, but I've had the odd question or two. If you have a question that you think other people might also want the answer to, please message me, and I can compile them into a future article! My email address is public so you don't have to spend those precious promotion points private messaging (say that three times fast) if you don't want. Arigatou!

Pictures:
Side of the recycle shop
Close up of Hobby Off sign
Strange child's computer
Sailor Moon carts for said computer
Small PVC figures
Small PVC Hotaru figure
Bendy Sailor Jupiter
Chibi dress-up Sailor Mars

Things not related to Sailor Moon, but interesting:
Hello Kitty Dreamcast!
Previously mentioned resin kits
Pocky walkie talkies!

Seen any good websites, lately? Well, we're looking for them, too. The Crystal Key needs your submissions. Tell us about any great sites you've visited. What are you waiting for? Bring us some links!
Japanese 101

Welcome back, class! You've had a few weeks to memorize the hiragana... how'd you do? They're cute little boogers, aren't they? I should mention quickly that reading and writing the syllabic kana alphabets are separate matters entirely, since each character has a specific stroke order that you must follow (not like with the Roman alphabet, where you can write each letter a good number of ways). We can get into stroke order later, but for now, let's look at the writing systems a little more.

As I outlined last month, there are three writing systems. You've learned about hiragana, and the other kana alphabet, katakana, isn't so different.

Background: Katakana
Katakana follows hiragana pretty closely. Like hiragana, katakana is set up in a fifty-sound chart, and the characters used in katakana are comparable to those used in hiragana in that they employ the same set of syllables. The difference between hiragana and katakana lies in usage. Whereas hiragana is used typically for native Japanese words and conjugation, katakana's primary function is to express foreign words. For example, our beloved word anime is written in katakana (that is, アニメ, a-ni-me), since it's borrowed from the French word for animation.

Because katakana is a separate writing system from hiragana, though the syllables match up in the fifty-sound chart, there are differences in written language. Instead of using えい (e-i) or おう (o-u) to lengthen vowel sounds as hiragana does, katakana is riddled with lengthening strokes that serve the same function as the い or う in the same sounds. For example, "ball" is pronounced and usually romanized as "booru", but it's written ボール (bo-ru), with the lengthening stroke.

Another aspect of katakana is that it uses small characters to create foreign sounds that don't normally exist in Japanese syllabary (and there are several similar twisted sounds, you-on, made using both hiragana and katakana in a similar fashion). Many common sounds are created this way, using a larger katakana character followed by the appropriate smaller vowel character, which include:

ファ (fu + a, to create "fa")
ティ (te + i, to create "ti")
ウィ (u + i, to create "wi")

The formulation of such foreign sounds is fairly systematic, but it may seem complicated if the person trying to write foreign words in katakana doesn't fully understand how to utilize the alphabet.

Culture Note
As I'm sure many of you know, when a Japanese person introduces himself, he will say his surname (family name) before his given name. In English, we call her Usagi Tsukino, but in the original Japanese, her last name, Tsukino, comes first. (It should also be noted that this creates a wonderful pun -- "Tsukino Usagi", broken down into words, is tsuki no usagi, rabbit of the moon.) In Japanese culture, there's an emphasis on the "greater world" that is sometimes lacking in other cultures. As shown, this Japanese emphasis on others, such as the family name that one owes loyalty to, shows up in the language. Through the grammatical construction of the language, it often exists even outside of the "surname first" convention. For instance, where I would say, "San Francisco, California," in Japanese it's カリフォニアしゅうのサンフランシスコ (ka-ri-fo-ni-a-shu-u no sa-n fu-ra-n-shi-su-ko), literally "California state's San Fransisco". The "family" category of sorts, the name of the state, comes before the name of the city.

Useful Phrases
This time the hiragana has some you-on thrown in!

どうもありがとうございます (do-u-mo a-ri-ga-to-u go-za-i-ma-su)
doumo arigatou gozaimasu
"Thank you very much," in a fairly polite form.

どういたしまして (do-u i-ta-shi-ma-shi-te)
dou itashimashite
"You're welcome," also rather polite.

おじゃまします (o-jya-ma shi-ma-su)
ojama shimasu
Typically said when entering a home as a guest. Literally, it's a polite way of saying, "I am intruding."

だれがわたしのねこをたべた (da-re ga wa-ta-shi no ne-ko wo ta-be-ta)
dare ga watashi no neko wo tabeta
"Who ate my cat?"

This month's supplementary notes, including the fifty-sound chart and even more notes on the small characters used in kana, are available here. As always, questions, comments, corrections, and suggestions are welcome, so please send them my way if you have any.

Class dismissed!

Now Playing

Another month, another 3 anime series to cover.

April, however, is a very special month, at least to anime fans. April is when the largest set of new anime seasons start. (October is the other largest period, followed by January. There really isn't a big summer season.) That means April is when we get all the new goodies to talk about!

Unfortunately, the MoonGram comes out too early, so you'll have to wait until next month to hear about the new stuff. But think of it this way: I get more time to sample more stuff, to give you a better glimpse into the new shows!

Anyway, on with this set of reviews!

~*~*~*~*~

Show #1 for this month actually started last April, and it just wrapped up a couple weeks ago. The name of the show is KIBA. Note that this is not to be confused with the characters named Kiba in Wolf's Rain, Naruto, or anything else. The kanji "kiba" used as the show's title/logo means "tusk" or "fang," and I have no clue what it has to do with the show. None whatsoever.

KIBA is the story of Zed, a troublemaker in the city/country/world of Calm. Zed's mother is in a mental institute, staring blankly all day, and in the windless city, Zed longs for freedom. He keeps seeing visions of a strange, winged spirit and looks for a way to escape to find what it means. However, destiny finds him itself, as he's attacked one day by a man with strange abilities, and he is saved by none other than his own mother, completely aware and a dangerous fighting machine. Zed escapes and sees the same spirit from his vision fly through a portal, which he jumps through.

Zed finds himself in the country of Tempura, in a much different world. He finds out that he is a Shard Caster, one who is able to use magical spheres called shards, and that the spirit he has seen is his own spirit, named Amil Gaoul. Here begin Zed's adventures, to both become a Shard Caster and to potentially save the world.

KIBA is an awesome series, and honestly I have no clue why it hasn't been licensed yet. It's not based off of a manga, or anything else that I can see. Obviously, an original series running for more than one season is something to be noted in and of itself, but if there WAS a manga of KIBA, it would likely be running in Shounen Jump. That right there marks it as a likely candidate for licensing.

KIBA is a great series, and it's one of my favorites. It's got a little bit of something for everyone: action & adventure, swords & sorcery, mystery, twists & turns at many corners, good character development... Really, what more could someone ask for in a series? ((Maybe cute guys, but that's just me. Although, there is Noa...)) I highly recommend it to anyone.

KIBA
First Airing: April 2nd, 2006
Air Date/Time: Sundays at 8:30
Final Episode: Kaze Fuku Basho e (To the Place Where the Wind Blows), March 25, 2007
Official Website (Japanese only)

~*~*~*~*~

Since I already mentioned it above, let's go right into Naruto: Shippuuden. Shippuuden? What's that? And why do we need more Naruto, I bet you're asking. Well, this is more Naruto, and it's not more Naruto. You see, after nearly two years of filler, the creators of the Naruto anime finally decided that the manga was far enough ahead of them, and they decided to go back to the real story. But they'd been off of it for so long, that they decided to instead restart the series under a new title, to "start fresh," if you will. Compare it to Dragonball and Dragonball Z. It's the same manga, and it's continuous, but the anime changed names to show a change in the show's direction.

Shippuuden (which means, "Hurricane Chronicles"), picks up where the canon anime left off. Well, for the most part. You see, in Japan, it's expected that most, if not all, of the viewers of the anime read the manga. And so while the canon anime left off at chapter 244, viewers in Japan (and probably many in the US who follow the Japanese manga and anime) wanted to see Sasuke in action. So Shippuuden starts with a "preview" scene of the reunion of Sasuke and Naruto (the majority of the events from chapters 306 and 307), and then goes back to chapter 245, leaving you hanging as to what actually happened after that point (and who the two new characters in the scene were).

Naruto: Shippuuden is a lot like the earlier (canon) Naruto anime. So there's really not a lot to review for it. The series has seemed to mature a bit, along with its characters (and audience), but it's the same basic show it was before. Viewers who gave up on the filler arcs should have no problems getting into Shippuuden, and new viewers, as soon as they get accustomed to the characters, should have no problems following the series.

Naruto: Shippuuden
First Airing: February 15, 2007
Air Date/Time: Thursdays at 7:30pm
Current Episode: NORUMA KURIAA (Mission Cleared) and Hashire Kankurou (Dash, Kankurou), March 29, 2007
Official Site (Japanese only)

~*~*~*~*~

This month's final series is Deltora Quest. Deltora Quest is a bit of a rarity among television anime, since it's neither an original work, nor a work based off of a manga or Japanese novel(s). Instead, it's actually based off of the children's book series by an Australian author named Emily Rodda. There are 8 books in the original Deltora Quest series, which was followed by two more series: the 3-book Deltora Shadowlands series, and the 4-book Dragons of Deltora series. The anime actually got me interested in reading the books, and while they are short and simple (they are children's books after all), they aren't a bad read. (In a couple weeks, I got through all 8 books.)

Deltora Quest is fairly clichéd, and honestly could be the start of any basic RPG storyline. A thousand years ago, the land of Deltora was split amongst 7 tribes, each of which held a powerful gem. However, the tribes were separate, and could not fight against the evil Shadow Lord that came from the Shadowlands. However, one blacksmith named Adin had a dream, and in the dream he was told to make a belt. The belt had seven metal plates strung together, and Adin went to each of the tribes and gathered their gems, placing them on the belt. When the gems were united in the belt, their power was great, and Adin was able to drive back the Shadow Lord and unite the tribes as one kingdom where he became king.

As the years passed, each generation slowly forgot about the power of the belt, until the belt became regarded as ceremonial only, and was kept safely stored, never worn. This allowed the Shadow Lord to return, and he took the belt, scattering the seven gems to seven dangerous places in Deltora, where none would hope to find them. The king disappeared, and the people lost hope. Sixteen years passed.

Insert Lief. Lief has just turned 16, and his father, a blacksmith, tells him the story of the Belt of Deltora. The belt just happens to be in his father's possession after he repaired it (without gems). It now becomes Lief's quest to travel Deltora and find the missing gems and unite tem on the Belt of Deltora so that the king's missing heir can be found, and the Shadow Lord can be stopped for good.

I told you it was clichéd. But clichéd doesn't mean bad. The series is fun to watch (even if I know what will happen, having read the books), and the animation is pretty good. Some of the animation is done in 3D, which looks a bit out of place, but the creatures animated this way are all unnatural creatures, so it's not that bad. And Maria and Rhythem provide the OP and ED, so the music's good too.

Deltora Quest
First Airing: January 6, 2007
Air Date/Time: Saturdays, 8am
Current Episode: Ubawareta Hoseki (The Gems Stolen), April 7, 2007
Official Website (Japanese Only)

Japanese Proverbs

You can tell a people's character from that people's proverbs. Therefore any friend of the Japanese will know already what he will find here: a sentimentality about flowers and a cynicism about people; a confidence in the eternal and a distrust of the immediate, a seriousness about shrines and a jocularity about priests.

This combination of spirituality and worldliness is not unique to the Japanese, but they show it perhaps more sharply than any other people.

In any collection of proverbs you can always find another kind of contradiction: a yes to each no on any question, and a black to every white. This collection is no exception. National traits are not involved by such contradictions: they are simply mirrors of human pessimism and optimism, bad experience and good. We hope your experience here will be all good?

--Japanese Proverbs & Traditional Phrases © 1962 Peter Pauper Press

Plan Your Life
At New Year's
Your Day At Dawn

Open Your Umbrella
Before You Get Wet

You Can't Sip Soup
With A Knife

Spare Me Your
Sparrow's Tears

Monthly Fun

~Sailor Moon Birthdays
April 17: Hino Rei / Sailor Mars

~ Horoscopes
Aries (March 21-April 20)
Keep an eye open for lucky pennies.

Taurus (April 21-May 20)
Always read the instructions first!

Gemini (May 21-June 21)
You will meet a mysterious stranger.

Cancer (June 22-July 22)
Measure twice. Cut once.

Leo (July 23-Aug 22)
Your lucky number will be 8 this month.

Virgo (Aug 23-Sep 22)
When was the last time you emptied the trash bin?

Libra (Sep 23-Oct 24)
You will forget to buy something you need and will have to make a second trip to the store.

Scorpio (Oct 24-Nov 22)
Stay away from purple cows.

Sagittarius (Nov 23-Dec 21)
Press 1 for English. Para Español, prima el numero dos.

Capricorn (Dec 22-Jan 20)
Don't take any wooden nickels.

Aquarius (Jan 21-Feb 18)
There's no shame in asking for help when you need it.

Pisces (Feb 19-March 20)
Soylent Green is people!

March's Caption Contest Winner

SailorMoon and SailorMars mak funny faces
"No Luna! Use the litter box!"

Editors-in-Chief: Jen, Lisa
Writers: amiwakawaiidesu, Dessa, LTGMars, sailorpsychosis, Scot, SilenceGlaive, tux
Editors: Cloudburst, LTGMars

To contact the MoonGram Staff: send email to MoonGram@sailormoon.org
Would you like to write for the MoonGram? Why not Apply?
All articles are the property of their respective authors. No part of this document can be duplicated without the written consent of its owner. We make all reasonable attempts to assure the validity of the information presented in the MoonGram. However, we are not responsible for omissions or errors caused by faulty third-party information. Horoscope content is just for fun and is not meant to be taken seriously.



MoonGram and grep sailormoon * are © 1998 - 2007 by Scot Bontrager and Jennifer Maher-Bontrager. All Rights Reserved. The MoonGram is the newsletter of grep SailorMoon * (sailormoon.org).
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