Friday, January 14, 2011

Japanese Late Night TV Update

Late night TV in Japan is always fun. One show I like to catch sometimes is called Arita and MMatsuko and Men and Women, a "talk variety" show in which 50 people from a certain area of society are gathered into a studio to have a discussion about different issues. One week might feature Tokyo University students who tell of the years of sacrifices they had to make to enter Japan's most prestigious university, and another might feature housewives or "cabaret girls" working in hostess clubs, while the rather large and frightening Matsuko throws out questions to be audience and gives advice. Japan has a unique role as "the only country that cares what its foreigners think," and the show sometimes features gaijin living in Japan, who vent about what frustrates them about life here. It's interesting to hear the point-of-view not only from Americans and Canadians and Brits living here, but people from China and Thailand and Africa as well.
For a late-night show hosted by a 250 lb transvestite, it's quite entertaining.

Japanese Not Interested in Sex?

A new report released by the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has found an increasing number of Japanese young people as well as married couples report themselves as being "uninterested" in sex, with fewer people getting physical with other human beings compared to 2004. It's difficult to know what to think of these results. On the one hand, the Japanese media loves to identify and define new trends in society, sometimes creating them to a certain degree, and you could debate whether social trends such as bento danshi ("bento boys" who bring their own bento lunches to work), "parasite singles" (people who live off of their parents into their 20s and 30s, never getting serious about life) or the current trends towards "herbivore men" (men who are less ambitious and don't care about sex) are valid social movements or are merely temporary fashions. On the other hand, people pulling back from healthy, intimate human relationships is a serious problem, as Japan's hypercharged society progresses into the 21st century. Some of this can be attributed to stress, an over-abundance of communication and twitter feeds and the Internet. According to my wife, her married friends who've become "sexless" report a loss of interest in the subject by both parties once children are born, almost like a switch has been flipped. What can be done to keep the Japanese race from dying out?
Oh the humanity, fewer Japanese interested in "H"?

Japanese is a Vague, Nuanced Language

I write a lot about how Japanese is a vague, nuanced language that can create some challenges for Westerners trying to learn it. Subjects are usually left off of sentences, and passive voice is used more than in English, especially in formal business settings since "it has been decided" sounds better than "my boss decided this, it's all his fault." J-List's manga and artbook guy Yasu summed it up by saying, "We like the grey zone." The Japanese are fond of euphemisms, too, like seiri ("biology") for a girl's menstrual cycle or ecchi (the letter H, pronounced with a Japanese accent) for anything related to sex. There are four demonstrative pronouns in English (this, that, these, those), but three in Japanese, which are kore (koh-reh, meaning this, near me), sore (soh-reh, meaning that, near you), and are (ah-reh, or "that over there, far from both you and me"). The word are also functions as a stand-in for any word you can't remember or don't want to specifically mention. Thus it's not difficult to hear conversations like, "Do you remember that thing? Oh yes, I remember it well. Who could forget it?" with the thing in question never being overtly stated.
Japanese can have conversations without specifying subjects.

Valentine's Day 2011 is Coming!

All throughout Japan, people are getting ready for Valentine's Day, a day of love and sweet things to eat. Whether you'll be giving chocolate "Japanese style" (with girls giving chocolate to the men they love, including boyfriends, husbands and fathers) or are going Western-style, we've got some outstanding options for you. A fun suggestion: surprise your co-workers with chocolate this year, it'll make them so happy. Click here to view J-List's entire lineup of delicious chocolate items from Japan!

Cool Products Friday, January 14, 2011

Here are today's "really cool products" that I've picked out for you, out of the 30+ new items we've added to the J-List and JBOX.com sites today. Note that some products may be "not safe for work" but that all links will allow you to redirect yourself either to the J-List or JBOX.com websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the JBOX.com updated products link.
Newtype Japan Feb 2011
Newtype enters the new year with a bang, with a full feature on the anime plans of Fate/stay night creator Type Moon. They scoop the announcement of a new Fate/zero anime series, and the special extra with this issue is an official Type Moon t-shirt with original art by Takeuchi Takeshi. A must see for fate fans!
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Hitagi Senjyougahara  1/8 Figure *Preorder*
Hitagi Senjougahara 1/8 Figure I am so in love with this figure, the super cute Hitagi from Bakemonogatari, the girl who fights with staplers, scissors, mechanical pencils and so on.
Kirino Kousaka 1/8 Figure
Kirino Kousaka 1/8 Figure From the manga and upcoming anime Ore no Imoto ga Konna Ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute), a figure I like very much.
High School of the Dead Secret Box **Preorder**
High School of the Dead Secret Box The hugely popular HOTD Secret Box sold so fast it ran out of stock, but we were able to get a few more. We recommend you grab it now though.
Gakken Otona no Kagaku vol. 30  Science Projects for Adult -- Theo Jansen's Mini Beast (Animaris Ordis Parvus)
Recreate the amazing kinetic sculpture Strandbeest by Theo Jansen with the kit included in this new issue of the science project magazine for adults, Gakken's Otona no Kagaku. Marvel as it walks on myriad legs after you've assembled this fun curiosity.
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Lucky Star Ryouou Gakuen Outousai Portable
Lucky Star Ryouou Gakuen Outousai Portable Join Konata, Kagami, Tsukasa and Miyuki as they prepare for the school festival in this charming PSP addition to the Lucky Star story.
Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side 3rd Story Official Guide Complete Edition
Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side 3rd Story Guide Whether you've played the hit DS game or just love the Tokimeki Girl's Side series, this book is packed with otome game goodness for you to enjoy!
Poddities iPhone 4 Carabiner Strap  Black Leather
The most high quality, durable iPhone accessory line we sell, these straps and cases will transform your phone's usefulness and functionality.
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Evangelion Rei Ayanami Plugsuits iPhone 4 Case
Evangelion iPhone Cases There's never been a cooler way to shield your iPhone from the Third Impact than with these stylish plug suit cases, Gainax approved.
Print Guard Sensai iPhone4 Evangelion 02 Rei Ayanami **Preorder**
'Sensai' Print Guard iPhone 4 Evangelion Also: we restocked the fun Print Guard Sensai iPhone screen covers, which protect your screen and keep SEELE from reading your screen.
Monster Hunter Airu Stereo Headphone
Monster Hunter Airu Stereo Headphone Get your Monster Hunter groove on with these stylish headphones styled after the cute game mascot cat-creature Airu. Restocked today.
Totoro 2011 Schedule Book
Studio Ghibli 2011 Schedule Books The Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service schedule books are some of the most popular and beloved we sell every year. The last stock of these has come in.
Hello Kitty Wrist Watch -- Pink Polka Dots Velcro Band (807-222)
Hello Kitty Wrist Watches Make the adorable Kitty-chan the center of your attention when you check the time with this cute pink Sanrio-licensed Hello Kitty wristwatch.
Mousse-chan  Fuwa Fuwa Paper Clay Set  Let's Make Original Sweet's House
Mousse-chan Fuwa Fuwa Paper Clay Set See a fun restocking of the Fuwa Fuwa Mousse-chan Paper Clay toys, air-drying clay and molds you can use to make great toys, or anything!
Japanese School Bag  Sports Type
Japanese School Bags Restocked If you watch a little anime, you'll probably see these "sports style" school bags being carried by the K-On! girls and all your favorite anime characters.
DECO Packing Tape  Keep Out
DECO Packing Tape ~ Keep Out Whether you want to put out a cautionary warning or a reverse psychology invitation, this tape sends all the right messages. A fun Japanese meme!
New Movie Evangelion 2.0 Wafers w/Trading Card
Wow, an awesome Evangelion Chocolate Wafer Cookie w/trading card, plus wafu (traditional Japanese style) Mochi Choco from Bourbon and spicy ramen snacks?
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Lucky Star Chocolate Cornet Cookie
Restocked Japanese Snacks Lucky Star Chocolate Cornet Cookies in gift box, Japan Oreo, Monster Hunter Cookies, K-On! Manju, March of the Koalas Winter Limited (Caramel Au Latte, wut?)!
Sapporo Beer Drops (Hokkaido Limited)  Japanese Food Drops
Restocked 'Food Drops' Today's restocked traditional Japanese "Food Drops" candies include popular flavors such as Sapporo Beer, Hokkaido Potato Chips and more!
Frog Paws 2-tier Bento Box
Frog Paws 2-tier Bento Box Fresh stock of some cute bento boxes from Prime Nakamura, the cute Frog Paws and the adorable Smile Panda.
Totoro Acorn Bento Box Kinchaku Bag
Totoro Acorn Bento Box Kinchaku Bag A super-cute bag built to hold a bento box, featuring everyone's favorite neighbor Totoro. A Ghibli authorized product.
Rilakkuma Face Sweets Plate
Rilakkuma Face Sweets Plate, Rice Bowl You can't help but relax under the influence of San-X's "relax bear" with his calm face gazing out at you from this sturdy dinnerware.
Natural Bamboo SOBA/ Japanese Noodle Dish
Soba Noodle Tray, Bento Accessories If you want to experience some authentic Japanese soba noodles, we're restocking our bamboo trays which allow the noodles to dry and taste extra good.
Microwave Puchi Taiyaki Maker
Uguu! Enjoy fresh, hot taiyaki that you make in your microwave, the most convenient and fun way to make this traditional fish-shaped Japanese pancake-type snack. Think of the variations you can come up with, too!
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Ramen Microwave Bowl
Restocked Items for your Kitchen Also, fresh stock of that handy ramen cooking bowl, which lets you enjoy hot and delicious noodles in the shortest time possible.
Pan Pita  Square  Push Style Sandwich Maker
Restocked Japanese Sandwich Makers, More No more boring sandwiches, with the Pan Pita sandwich shaper we've restocked today. Also enjoy a Nori Cutter and miso soup bowls.
Tokyo Twilight Zone  Sato Shintaro
Enjoy Tokyo photographed at twilight, the popular OTACOOL photobooks celebrating otaku culture, plus Our Bento, a great visual bento idea book.
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DX TOKUGAWA Crest Case
Popular Traditional Items Restocked Room Slippers with Dot Ribbons, Fluffy Long Room Shoes, traditional Japanese mimikaki ear cleaner, awesome sake cups and the Tokugawa Crest Case.
Miku Hatsune Pullip Doll **Preorder**
Vocaloid Pullip Dolls ~ wow! *Preorder* Wow, these are amazing - Pullip dolls based on Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin and Len. Doll fans will be all over these, so preorder soon!
Kirino Kousaka Figma Action Figure  Ore no Imoto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai **Preorder**
Even More Preorder Figures New Saber from Fate! Koyomi from Bakemonogatari! Kirino Figma! Hina figure from Fortune Arterial! ToHeart2 figure!
PIECES 2  Masamune Shirow Premium Gallery Phantom Cats
Restocked Ecchi Artbooks Shirow is our favorite ecchi illustrator, and we've restocked some of his popular artbooks. Also, Korean Kim Hyung-Tae.
Flyable Heart
The gorgeous art of Ito Noizi (Suzumiya Haruhi, Shakugan no Shana) brings alive the story of Shou, a newcomer to an elite academy with not one but two student councils. A charming and ecchi romantic comedy visual novel import Japanese language game!
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Sengoku Rance
Restocked 'H' Games From Japan Also, super restocked import gams, incl. Sengoku Rance, ToHeart 2, Delusion Virtual Character w/T-CAM and Chu x Chu Idol 2.
Dolce -- Airi Hayasaka
The glamorous Airi Hayasaka lends her image in more ways than one to this new novelty stress relief hole. Fully contoured for maximum stimulation, this is an item sure to entertain in the way only a good onahole can. Novelty use only!
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The Dignity of Great 'Maria Ozawa'
Amazing Stress Relief Toys Bring your love of Maria Ozawa to a new level with her deluxe "Dignity" hole toy, plus "secret lotion." Also, Nao Yoshizaki's Double Hole Toy. Wow...
BAND GAL!! -- Anzu  K-On! Parody Toy
BAND GAL! ~ K-On! Parody Stress Toys We've restocked several onahole stress toys too, including K-On's Azunyan, the Sexy Twins deluxe toy, Zhang Xiao Yu's body pillow and more.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fun With Japanese Numbers

"You've been in Japan too long when you can do arithmetic in oku, cho and kei." My father-in-law loves to sit around in our rural liquor shop reading the paper as he waits for customers to come in, though he's usually waiting a long time since most of our customers are in their 70s, and keep dying. The other day I happened to pick up a newspaper he'd been reading and noticed that the new budget for Japan's fiscal year had been announced, at 92 cho yen. This number was quite meaningless to me, not only because it was very large and in yen, but also because it was expressed in the kanji-based number system used in China and Japan. While the Arabic number system is based on units of 1,000, the Sino-Japanese numeric system uses 10,000 (man, pronounced "mahn") as its main unit. Instead of writing 10,000, you write ichi mahn or 1-10,000, and to express 3 million you'd write 300 mahn or 100 units of 10,000. These numbers aren't too bad, since they're used in everyday life, but for very high numbers, which use seldom-seen kanji like oku (100 million), cho (1 trillion) and kei (10 quadrillion), my brain shuts down pretty quickly.

Torturing Japanese People 101

Last time I discussed the words wabi and sabi, two poetic terms from Zen Buddhism which basically tell us to appreciate the austere simplicity in things that are old or imperfect. Although the words are commonly used in Japan, say to remark on how cool a lonely old train station is, they're pretty difficult to explain to someone, especially if you were doing it in a foreign language. If you ever wanted to torture a Japanese person, then, try asking them to explain what wabi and sabi mean in English, and watch them get a big Sailor Moon-esque sweat drop on their heads. Another concept that would be difficult to explain would be the two Japanese words for "love." The first one is koi, which describes the hot, romantic love of dating or early marriage, and the second is ai, which is the slow-burning deep love you experience over many years, and for your family as a whole. (The compound word ren'ai is written with both characters and encompasses both types of love.) Or you could ask them why the Japanese use the word ao (blue) instead of midori (green) to describe a green traffic light, one of the eternal mysteries among gaijin who come to Japan.

(Naturally it's not nice to torture Japanese people in this way, so to be fair you will be required to explain the American concepts of the Second Amendment and Manifest Destiny to them in Japanese.)

There are two words for 'love' in Japanese: tsun and dere (just kidding).

"Joe Everyman" Main Characters

It can be interesting to analyze the themes used in anime and manga. In many series, the stories are built around generic male "Joe Everyman" main characters who have no outstanding or unique features, the better for Japanese fans to identify with them. The theme is common in eroge / visual novels of the type J-List sells, and some games go even further by not drawing the eyes of the main character, leaving his features obfuscated so players can enter his world vicariously. Another meme that comes up often is the "main character who can't decide what he wants to do with his life," who is usually in trouble with his teacher for not handing in his shinro chosa-hyo or future career survey form in. I guess this is done because much of the target audience of anime in Japan is aimed at fans who haven't yet decided what they want to do in the future.
Main characters in anime are often generic "everyman" types.

Surviving Winter 2011

I don't know about where you are in the world, but it's freezing cold here in Japan, as the cold mountain winds called kara-kaze swoop down from the Japan Alps to chill the Kanto Plain where Tokyo and Gunma are. Some great ways to beat the cold Japan-style include using the long-lasting kairo hand warmers we have on the site, wrapping yourself in one of the fine anime blankets we have in stock, using a traditional yutanpo hot water bottles for warming your bed, or wrapping yourself in a cozy hanten short winter kimono.

Cool Products Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Here are today's "really cool products" that I've picked out for you, out of the 30+ new items we've added to the J-List and JBOX.com sites today. Note that some products may be "not safe for work" but that all links will allow you to redirect yourself either to the J-List or JBOX.com websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the JBOX.com updated products link.
Dragon Age Feb 2011
Is this a zombie?! No, it's the brand new issue of Dragon Age! The magazine that contains manga versions of your favorite novels, anime and more. Packed with a special 98-page all new Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? manga to celebrate the show's anime version, this issue also has more Full Metal Panic, Otaku no Musume-san, and much more. With furigana phonetic characters for easy reading, a must have issue for fans keeping current and collectors. Plus Highschool of the Dead!!
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Dengeki Girl's Style Feb 2011
Dengeki Girl's Style Feb 2011 Stay current with all your favorite otome games and BL games for girls with the definitive resource from Dengeki. With a 2011 Otome calendar!
Kawaii Long Sleeve Rabbit Onepiece  Black
Kawaii Long Sleeve Rabbit, Moco Moco Pants Those super kawaii bunny-eared hoodie and pants sets are back, plus those warm moco moco pants for winter. Restocked today!
Itazura Cat Coin Bank -- Tiger Cat
Itazura Cat Coin Bank Restocked The most popular kawaii item on J-List these days is the Itazura Cat Coin Bank, with a cat who steals your money. So cute!
Black Rock Shooter Blu-Ray  DVD Set First
Black Rock Shooter Blu-Ray, Figures Restocked Restocked today, the gorgeous Dead Master Nendoroid and the deluxe Blu-ray set that comes with a BRS figure. Nice desu!
One Piece Playing Cards
One Piece Playing Cards, Revoltech Restocked New toy items in for you include a deck of fun One Piece playing cards, while we've got more awesome Revoltech action figures in stock too!
Angel Beats! Official Guidebook
Whether you learned about it as a fan of Key/VisualArts' other games like Kanon, Air and Clannad, you saw the anime, or read about it in Dengeki G's, the phenomenon of Jun Maeda's Angel Beats! has become super popular. This guidebook is the definitive ultimate key to it all.
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Chocolate Gouache Limited Edition  CHOCO illustrations
Chocolate Gouache Limited Illustrations An amazing two part artbook from the visual designer of Xenosaga, this is a superb and striking limited addition to any artbook collection.
Otacool 4  Worldwide Illustrators
Gorgeous Artbooks Restocked Check out the universe of international artists in the latest OTACOOL, and learn about the wonders of the world moe style with sexy encyclopedias!
Phone x Phone iPhone Stand w/Handset   Black
Phone x Phone iPhone Stand w/Handset Restocked Dock your iPhone and use a separate handset to make calls while jotting notes on the phone. This popular item, restocked today!
Multi Card Reader  Writer
Multi Card Reader & Writer A stylish cube-style design makes this multi-card reader and writer stand out, the perfect PC accessory from Japanese designers at Elecom.
Sanrio Kiki  Lala iPod Touch 4 Cover **Preorder**
Sanrio iPod Touch 4 Covers *Preorder* Great news! The first Japanese cases for the new iPod Touch have been announced. Super kawaii Hello Kitty and Little Twin Stars.
Chopper Man Stereo Earphones -- Pink **Preorder**
Chopper Man Stereo Earphones *Preorder* Get the cheery One Piece mascot on these earphones for a cute way to show your love of the greatest pirate crew in history!
Mamegoma Soft Pen Case -- Pink
Mamegoma Soft Pen Case The Mamegoma seal mascot character of San-X is here to warm your heart on this durable soft-sided pen case, perfect for holding all your writing tools.
KADO-KESHI Petit Set  Blue  Pink
Amazing Japanese Erasers, Notebooks Never let it be said that the Japanese don't have a lot of awesome erasers. We've restocked several, plus cool Campus notebooks.
Touhou Project  Subterranean Animism
New in stock at J-List, Touhou Project 11 Subterranean Animism is available for you today! Follow the adventures of Reimu and Marisa as they investigate mysterious geysers in this elegant shoot-em-up game with great music and gameplay from Touhou mastermind ZUN. An official Shanghai Alice game release.
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AKB 1/48 Fall in Love with an Idol
AKB 1/48 Fall in Love with an Idol PSP Game Choose the member of super-popular idol group AKB48 of your dreams, go on dates and interact in this great new visual novel - 48 girls to choose from!
MONSTER HUNTER PORTABLE 3rd
Restocked PSP Games The explosively popular Monster Hunter Portable 3rd is now back in stock, along with Ikkitousen Battle Vixens PSP games and more!
Hello Kitty Face Square Bag Red X White
Hello Kitty Face Square Bag Red X White A bag in the style of Japanese high school bags, plus the charming Hello Kitty face on the side! An authentic Sanrio product.
Hello Kitty Heart Emblem
Hello Kitty Heart Emblem And more Kitty goodness for you, with this durable Kitty heart-emblem textured decal weatherproofed for any surface. Make your car an epic Hello Kitty car!
Pop-up Hello Kitty Oil Absorb Paper 50 Sheets  Heart
Pop-up Hello Kitty Oil Absorb Paper 50 Sheets The cutest makeup accessory to maintain the cutest skin, press gently to absorb unwanted natural oils and preserve your perfect look. Restocked today.
Lime Green Totoro Key Chain Music Box --  'Gokigen'
Totoro Key Chain Music Boxes Next: J-List stocks many products for fans of Totoroi, and today we're posting fresh stock of our cute keychains that contain music boxes. So small and fun!
Tohato Ninja Snack (Fuwa Maru) -- BBQ Flavor
Today's J-snack round-up includes delicious yakiniku (Korean BBQ) flavored potato "ninja snacks," delicious "Choco Fondu" with cookies and pretzels to dip, plus Xylitol gum from Lotte.
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Moe (Akihabara Limited)  Japanese Food Drops
Restocking of 'Food Drops' Candies Back in stock for you, the true taste of moe in candy form, an "Akihabara limited" product. Also Shirokuma Ice Cream (Kagoshima) and Sweet Corn (Hokkaido).
Nestle Kit Kat Strawberry Short Cake Pack
Restocked Snacks are Restocked Japanese Kit Kat in Strawberry Short Cake flavor, new Meltykiss Whips, yumm Creamy Air Chocolate w/marshmallows, traditional Pure Mist Candy and more.
Rilakkuma 3P Stacking Bento Box  CLOVER
Rilakkuma 3P Stacking Bento Boxes Relax it easy with these super cute and pop Rilakkuma bento options, from the popular San-X bear. Convenient and portable!
950ml Volume Bento Box Set  Genuine Lacquered 2 tier Box  Elastic Band  Kinchaku Bag
Popular Bento Boxes Restocked See popular bento boxes restocked, including the including the large 950ml Lacquered Bento, the HONWAKA Happy World Bento and more.
Electric Coro Coro Mini Takoyaki Maker  Black
Make Takoyaki at Home Our popular takoyaki makers are restocked today, too, for making the popular Osaka-style snack treat.
Samurai Sword Chopsticks Masamune Date ver.
Samurai Sword Chopsticks Masamune Date ver Travel back to the Edo period of Japan with these historical chopsticks that mimic the sword of legendary Samurai Masamune Date. Fun history eating!
JLPT N3  Nihongo Nouryoku Shiken N3 Yosou Mondaishu
JLPT N3 ~ JLPT N3 Yosou Mondaishu If you think that title's a mouthful, you'll love the full course of Japanese test prep that this book offers. Many other Japanese study items, too!
Visit Grave Set  Incense Sticks  Match  Candle
Visit Grave Set ~ Incense, Match & Candle Pay your respects to the deceased in traditional Japanese style with this set of everything you need to adorn the grave with candles and incense.
Happy Message Lucky Owl Strap
Fun Traditional Japanese Items Super cool Lucky Owl Message Straps for your phone, Bamboo Cicada Whistle to make you remember summer, Wagashi Japanese Sweets strap and more.
Golden Poop and Toilet Keychain
Golden Poop and Toilet Keychain Restocked Some things in Japan defy description. This is one of them -- the glorious golden poop good luck charm -- which promises to bring you money-related happiness.
BAKUMAN Trading Figure Full Set of 7 **Preorder**
From the creators of Death Note, Bakuman is the new hot manga to follow about a struggling artist's dreams to become a professional mangaka. Now you can get a full set of seven figures of all the manga's main characters, done up in an adorable style. Preorder today!
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FORTUNE ARTERIAL
From the makers of Yoake Mae Yori Ruri Iro Na and Tsuki wa Higashi ni Hi wa Nishi ni comes a story of love, prestigious school life, and student council vampires(!). One of the hit eroge from the past few years and now an anime, another great Japanese language import visual novel in stock for you today.
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LOVE PiECE Vol. 02
LOVE PIECE One Piece Parody Toys If you're looking to relieve stress with your favorite One Piece characters, look no further than these parody "hole" items built to please.
TENGA WARMER *Preorder*
Tenga Warmer, Other Toys Restocked The epic Tenga Warmer is back, which makes your dolphin polishing experience all the more special, plus U.S. Tenga, Sexy Twins Hole and Meta Groovy.