“I hope I never have to drink this,” I thought as I filled plastic bottles with tap water. I have nothing against tap water; I drink it every day. I have nothing against plastic bottles, though I guess people tell me they’ll give me cancer, and definitely fuck cancer. But this water I’m bottling? I don’t want to drink it, because that means The Fucking Last of Us is going on outside my window.
Water storage, baby. In case of disaster, I keep plastic bottles of water around — not actual bottled water like your Poland Spring or Dasani, but I mean soda/pop bottles or milk jugs (when I wasn’t in Japan) and the like. If a pipe breaks or something pollutes the water supply, I like to have a few days’ worth of clean drinking water. It’s a good idea and you should probably be doing it, too.
But I have this strange aversion to the idea of drinking, not just because it might mean something bad happened, but because it takes me back to earlier times, when the bottled stuff from six months ago was the only water in your house — times when you saved it up during times when you could afford it, but then had to bottle it up and get ready because “they’re gonna turn the water off tomorrow.”
“They.” When there’s no specific noun to precede “they,” in a conversation, it’s almost always bad isn’t, it? When these “they,” came, I knew what it meant. No more bath time, but instead stopping by the 7-11 every other day and making sure to “wash up real good” in the sink. That’s when you take only the tiniest bit of hand soap, hit a few spots, then splash rinse where you can and hope no one walks in and goes “The hell?” Dunk your head in the sink just a little bit, but don’t get too wet, because you don’t want to make a mess. You don’t want to mess shit up and have the staff tell you not to come back, because this is the only 24-hour convenience store for miles.
Yeah so ah, being poor is fuckin’ terrifying. And unconscious associations are powerful.
So about 30 years later, here I was bottling water, because I might run out. That was this past August in Japan, when my region went weeks without rain. Okinawa might take typhoon rainfall with regularity, but late July and early August were drought central, like California, except this place isn’t built upon 200 years of pretending to not be a desert.
Thankfully, the drought passed without the city having to shut off the water supply as they’ve had to occasionally do in previous summers. So I suppose I’ll hang onto that water, or dump it into a basin to hand wash some laundry.
The summer gaming drought, however, was marginalized in Japan by Yokai Watch Busters and Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Yeah, ya like that 500-word leadup to saying “some 3DS games are really popular right now.”?
The Obon sales spike was more like a sales “bump,” and the general population doesn’t seem to be talking about anything but those two 3DS games. They’re cultural phenomena, especially Yokai watch. It’s all over t-shirts, lunch boxes, school supplies, and now, McDonald’s Happy Sets.
They sold an accessory called the “potato case” (because in Japan, the fries are called “potatoes”), seen below, which is either a way of transporting french fries or the worst addition to Batman’s utility belt, or both. The worst part about the existence of such a product is that it implies McDonald’s fries are okay to eat for more than, like 14 seconds after they’re cooked.
But game-y TV shows also made Japanese news over summer vacation. With a population still 98% born-and-raised native, Japan occasionally bumps into some confusion across cultures. This summer, Fuji TV gave us a hilarious memory as well as a soccer jersey that I simply must own.
In Japanese, “hon ki” (said like “hone key”) means “true” or “sincere” “the real feeling” or any number or similar things. It’s basically like, giving something an honest go, not just faking it. So the Fuji TV crew saw nothing weird about t-shirts that said “Do Honky,” taking a well-meaning phrase and changing the i to a y for, you know, style reasons.
No one got mad, because it’s not really that big of a deal, but it’s a pretty funny slip for a major TV network.
It all makes me wonder about Japan’s aversion to its own language. Why, on a Japanese-language TV show being broadcast only in Japan, would you not just write your message in Japanese?
Japanese is the official language of this country, but good luck finding a Japanese t-shirt that isn’t sold in a tourist shop here. They’re few and far between, especially if we’re not allowing those that are just shirts saying the name of someone’s school and club (and even those might be written in the Roman alphabet). As a result, we actually see the use of kanji going down, especially among youth, and native Japanese words falling out of use in favor of English and French imports. So, sadly, all you gamers struggling to keep your Japanese skills sharp were born just a few decades too soon. Over time, need for the language will gradually disappear.
Apart from new games, I did something I’ve never done this summer: I bought DLC. I had never purchased DLC before and was somewhat proud to say, “I don’t buy DLC.” Can I still say that, or are those days over? As a practice, I feel like I still don’t. In the present progressive tense, I don’t feel like I “do” buy DLC, though I now “have purchased” DLC.
It was a pair of music games that broke me. First, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, when it brought out tracks from SaGa, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, and Nier. Music is something we listen to again and again, and new tracks in rhythm games are similar in that they add lots of extended value, to me. This game definitely wasn’t ripping me off; it had more than 200 songs in it from the start. I already got a good deal, so you know what? I cracked. I went ahead and supported those games and their fantastic soundtracks.
The second time was with Persona 4: Dancing All Night. The anime songs and playable characters Marie, Adachi, and Hatsune Miku were likely kept out from the main product, which made the decision harder. Much as I don’t want to reward that shitty practice, I feel that the additions were worth the yen. So, for the second time in my life, I bought DLC. Are my justifications just feeble attempts to make myself feel better?
Am I an addict now? Do two DLC purchases with no future plans transform me from the old-fashioned retro-type gamer I was into something resembling a newfangled millennial? Can I quit any time I want, or am I going to get the itch and come crawling back? Will I buy so much that I can’t pay my water bill?
BRB I gotta fill up some water bottles….