Friday, March 04, 2011

How Kanji Works in Japan

It's interesting, the things you learn to do in Japan. Like writing "air kanji" for someone, or explaining how to write something in kanji over the phone. In written Japanese, kanji characters are used to write the major nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in a sentence, with hiragana characters added for grammatical elements like the markers for subject and object, past tense, and so on. Names are also generally written using kanji, and just as there are alternate spellings for many names in English, there are many choices for writing a name like "Takeshi" (武、健、武史武司 etc). When you learn someone's name, it's important to learn how to write it properly, and it's the height of rudeness to write someone's name with the wrong characters, especially in a business setting. (J-List's Yasu once changed toy suppliers because they wrote his name wrong on an invoice.) Part of becoming functionally literate with kanji characters involves learning to describe them over the phone, referring to other words that are written with that character, describing the radical (the part of a kanji used to organize it in a dictionary), and so on. The part of our city J-List is located it in is called Hashie-cho (Hashie Town, 波志江町), a rather rare place name, and I've had to describe how to write this address so often I've got it down pat. "The 'ha' is 'nami' (wave), 'shi' is 'kokorozasu' (meaning to aim for a goal or take on a challenge), and the 'e' (eh) is the first character from 'Edo' (the old name of Tokyo)."

I'm pretty sure this is a Photoshop: 萌 was never the kanji of the year.

Raising Kids in Japan: Sentai, Magical Girls and Trains Edition

Raising children in Japan has certainly been an interesting experience for me, and I've passed through many different phases along with my kids. As soon as my son was born I realized that I didn't understand Japanese "baby talk," the body of words that adults use with babies and children, and I remember consciously learning how to speak it, which was kind of strange. Japan being Japan, it's common for kids to snap into certain social grooves, and virtually every boy here will watch the current sentai fighting team or Kamen Rider shows, while every girl fawns over whatever the current Sunday-morning magical girl series is. The ubiquity of these shows defines each generation, and my wife grew up in the Candy Candy era, while my son was part of the Rescue Sentai Go Go Five generation. Boys in Japan will also become obsessed with trains around the age of five, and I have fond memories of memorizing the names of every Shinkansen bullet train in the entire country with my son, and riding more than a few.

I enjoyed my son's "train obsession" phase more than his "collect beetles" one.

How Japanese Perceive Gaijin

The most common word for "foreigner" in Japanese is gaijin, a term that's used to describe Westerners who are obviously different from the background of nihonjin. (Non-Japanese from nearby Asian countries are generally referred to by their nationality, e.g. chuugoku-jin for Chinese, kankoku-jin for South Koreans, etc.) Japanese assume certain things about gaijin, such as, any given Caucasian you see will be from America, every Western man is tall, and every Western female is busty and "blonde," even when her hair is jet black. Sunday is anime watching night in our family, and one show I like to watch with my kids is Chibi Maruko, the story of of a lazy-but-cute elementary school student named Maruko set during the 1970s. In one episode, Maruko meets a "blue-eyed person" who was staying at a friend's house, which turns out to be a girl named Pearle, visiting from overseas. Immediately there was mass chaos as Maruko tried to come up with some English to say to the girl, but she didn't know any. Maruko went home and asked her family to teach her some English, but all she got was useless phrases like "this is a pen" and "hello! thank you! goodbye!" When Maruko finally was able to figure out how to say "nice to meet you" to the foreign visitor, she was met with puzzlement -- it turned out that Pearle was from France and didn't speak any English. In addition to assuming that every gaijin has English as their native language, it's assumed that we're all ridiculously cheerful, outgoing people, and increasingly, that we're all otaku.

Gaijin are assumed by Japanese to be outgoing otaku.

Japanese Products for Cat Lovers

Do you love cats? If so, then we've got some kawaii things to show you from Japan. From our popular Lucky Cat traditional display items to the Itazura Neko coin box, with a cat that rises up and steals your money, to cute plush toys and Chi's Sweet Home T-shirts, J-List has some great items for you. Click to see all cat-related products in order of popularity!
School days logoSchool days logo

Cool Products Friday, March 4, 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 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 websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the updated products link.
Nyantype vol. 17
If you love epic posters from your favorite bishoujo anime, check out the latest issue of Nyantype, the Newtype sister spinoff magazine that's all moe all the time! Tons of great posters and extras here for you.
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Dengeki G's Magazine April 2011
Dengeki G's Magazine April 2011 Also, the magazine that brings in depth coverage of great bishoujo anime along with hundreds of pages of exclusive moe manga. Free clock!
Queen's Blade Rebellion  Shigi *preorder*
Awesome Queen's Blade Books If you're a fan of Queen's Blade, we've got some great offerings for you, incl. Branwen and Shigi, both of whom are gorgeous.
To Aru Majutsu no Index  Limited First Edition w/Mikoto Misaka Figma Action Figure
Restocked PSP Games for Otaku If you love anime and the PSP, check out the new items we restocked. Queen's Blade, Index, plus the ultimate Macross/Gundam/Everything mash-up game.
Sakuya Izayoi 1/7 Figure Fighting ver.  Touhou Project *Preorder*
Touhou Figures in Stock Check out our new stock of Komachi Onozuka and Sakuya Izayoi figures, plus other great Touhou goods!
Mari Illustrious Makinami 1/10 Figure by Wave  Evangelion New Movie 'Ha' *Preorder*
Mari Illustrious Makinami Figure In Stock For fans of the gorgeous "fan service" character Mari, enjoy the figure by Wave that has come in. It smells good...smells like LCL.
Toko Amano Nendoroid Figure  Bungaku Shoujo Movie
Gorgeous Nendoroid Figures from Japan We love the awesome Nendoroid figures from Good Smile, like Toko Amano from Bungaku Shojo (Literature Girl). So many ways to display!
Stripe Panty -- Shimapan Mint  size M
Stripe Panties Restocked Level up your anime obsession with the official shimapan of Miku Hatsune, Mio Akiyama and more. Several styles restocked today.
Fruits Mar 2011 NO. 164
Fruits Mar 2011 NO. 164 The ultra cutting-edge trends of Japanese street fashion unfold in no-nonsense bold photography in the pages of Fruits. Great new issue.
One piece and Cardigan set  Purple
One piece and Cardigan set ~ Purple A great fashion item from Japan, check out this cute cardigan + one piece top from Y's Enterprise.
Japanese T-Shirt - BIB  Bitches in Black
A brand new T-shirt for fans of the awesome Panty & Stocking, the anime series from Gainax that's described as a parody of Power Puff Girls with Dirty Pair, drawn in the parody style of Men in Black. Don't mess with these girls.
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Hello Kitty iPhone 4 Cover -- White
Hello Kitty iPhone 4 Cases are Kawaii iPhone cases that will make you say "aww", exhibit 1: this adorable Hello Kitty case with a cute, simple design fully approved by Sanrio.
Nintendo Classic Controller Style iPhone 4 Case **Preorder**
Nintendo Classic Controller We love carrying cool items for iPhone users, and today we've restocked that retro Nintendo controller case.
Character Ippai no OBENTO  Cute Character Bento
Character Ippai no OBENTO ~ Cute Character Bento Create the most adorable bento based on famous Japanese mascot characters with all the directions you need right here in one book!
Totoro China Tea Cup Pair Set
Totoro China Tea Cups, Fox Squirrel Pencil Case The whimsical Totoro makes his way to your home in this high quality set of teacups sure to delight anyone who sets eyes (or lips) on them.
Campus Wide Japanese Learning Word Book
Campus Wide Japanese Learning Word Book  When learning a language, writing words in an organized way is a huge memory aid. These notebooks are designed to help with just that.
PETATZ 60pcs  Double-faced adhesive tape
PETATZ 60pcs ~ Double-faced adhesive tape  A super useful stationery item for putting up posters or papers, 60 convenient sheets of dual-sided adhesive tape for a multitude of uses.
Surari Emulsion Ink Ball Point Pen  Super Smooth Ball Point Pen 0.5 mm Black
Surari Emulsion Ink Ball Point Pen 0.5 mm Japanese writing tools are some of the most advanced in the world, and you'll marvel at the smoothness of writing with this pen.
Deluxe Pentel Fude Brush Pen 2way Type
Restocked Pens from Japan Super awesome pens restocked on the site, incl. "fude" pens for writing Japanese brush calligraphy. We love selling these.
Lotte  Koume Umeboshi Gummy
We Must Have More Japanese Snacks Today we've got delicious Blanchul chocolate cookies, cola flavored ramune candy, and delicious ume (pickled plum) gummy -- wow!
Meiji Rich Chocolate -- Green Tea
Restocked Chocolate & More Meiji Green Tea Chocolate, Melty Kiss whips and Tsubu Tsubu Orange Flavor Hi-chews are only some of the reasons why we love Japan. See all the restocked items!
CUSTOM MODE Green Volume 2 tier Bento Box with Chopsticks
CUSTOM MODE Green Volume 2 tier Bento Box with Chopsticks This is another great bento box for men, designed with a slick green and black color and plenty of storage for those with a hefty appetite.
Lucky Rabbit Koban Bento Box Set
Lucky Rabbit Koban Bento Box Set We also have the Lucky Rabbit traditional bento restocked, one of my favorite recent designs.
Easy Boiled-Egg Shaper -- Rabbit   Bear
Random Restocked Items Then see random cute items we restocked today, including cute Boiled Egg Shapes, the Mini Microwave Steamer, Colorful Ribbon Clip and Jelly Mold.
Easy GYOZA / Dumpling Maker
Gyoza Makers, Sushi Shapers Bento Stuff Wonderful bento/kitchen items restocked, including Gyoza Makers, Silicon Bento Cups, a Shamoji rice scoop and sushi rollers!
The Good Schoolgirl Days  Shojo Jidai
The Good Schoolgirl Days ~ Shojo Jidai Enjoy this fascinating look into the days of being a schoolgirl with this excellent photobook.
Tokyo Nobody  Masataka Nakano
Cool Photobooks from Tokyo What if Tokyo had no people in it at all? Find out in the great photobook we've restocked today. Also, lonely but awesome train stations throughout Japan.
13 Secrets for Speaking Fluent Japanese
Restocked Japanese Study Books Enjoy the outstanding 13 Secrets for Speaking Fluent Japanese, and a Dictionary of Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns, both outstanding.
Nippon Hachimaki -- Japan Headband
Fun Traditional Items from Japan Fun traditional items restocked today, including our hachimaki Japanese headbands so you can show your ki-ai plus mini samurai swords and more.
Lucy 1/8 Figure Designed by Shunya Yamashita  Ghost Busters
Lucy Figure Shunya Yamashita ~ Ghost Busters Original character Lucy shows that she ain't afraid of no ghost with this awesome new PVC figure as imagined by Japan's top illustrator Shunya Yamashita.
Taiga Aisaka 1/8 Figure Tiger Costume ver.  Tora Dora **Preorder**
Taiga Aisaka 1/8 Figure Tiga Costume ver. *Preorder* The cute tsundere heroine of Toradora, Aisaka Taiga shows up in cute tiger cosplay in this great preorder figure from Ques Q.
Lingerie The Best vol. 9
Here's the latest issue of Lingerie the best featuring popular AV idols dressed in cosplay and lingerie. Comes with panty omake too!
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Toshihide Sano Illustrations
Toshihide Sano Illustrations Toshihide Sano is the most amazing artist on the planet, as far as we've concerned, and his drool-inspiring artbook is restocked.
Sousou 1/8 Cast off Figure  Shin Koihime Musou  **Preorder**
Sousou 1/8 Cast off Figure Wow, is all I can say to this new figure that captures the slender grace of Souso from the popular eroge Shin Koihime Musou .
Illusion Vibrator P-ERO 5.0 (Pierrot)
Here's another outstanding massager for the ladies from Nippori Gift called the P-ERO, which is loaded with features such as 3 vibration modes, an AC adaptor and battery power option, and a "swing feature".
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Restocked TENGA 'Flip Hole' for Gaijin, More Saori Hara juices and US Tengas make a fantastic combination for fans of Japanese novelty products. Freshly stocked!
LOVE PiECE Vol. 02
Restocked Stress Toys We've gotten in some fun anime-themed stress toys for guys, including Love Piece, the only dolphin polisher One Piece fans need.
Super Strip Fighter IV
Super Strip Fighter IV Strap on your gloves and prepare for some high kicking action with this "H" doujin game parody of the popular fighting game.
Sister AV Debut -- Riku Yamaguchi
Enjoy the AV Debut of Riko Yamaguchi's little sister - Riku Yamaguchi, thanks to the hard working crew at SOD. A super awesome new release for AKB48 fans, and people who love beautiful and pure JAV stars.
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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Suicide Prevention in Japan

I caught an interesting commercial the other day, which showed a series of concerned people looking into the camera's point-of-view, saying compassionate things like, "You seem tired these days, are you okay?" At the end was a message: "Your noticing the pain of others can save a life. Please pay attention to the people around you and help them know they're not alone." It was a commercial for suicide prevention, part of a recent campaign by the Japanese government to help reduce the tragically high number of Japanese who opt to catch the (neko) bus, and I think it's great to have the problem being handled directly. Two decades of economic hardship coupled with social stigmas against taking medicine regularly and way too much stress have brought the suicide rate in Japan to a very high level, the 5th highest in the world per capita.
Here's a video link. By the way, you're not alone!

Warning: consuming too much Touhou culture online can lead to lonliness.

Jaredo: The Way of the Dajare Pun

When you live in another country for many years, you naturally pick up the values of the people around you. That's part of why I've come to respect the concept of kinben (diligence and hard work) a lot, and why I probably obsess more about cleanliness than I might have before I came to live here. I've also picked up another habit: making bad jokes in Japanese called dajare, which are common among middle-aged guys over the age of 35 or so. The other day I ate at a restaurant that featured all-you-can-eat freshly baked bread (pan in Japanese), and afterwards I was compelled to say onaka pan-pan ("pan pan" being the sound of a person slapping their bursting stomach indicating they're full). Or my observation that the Pyramids in Egypt are giza giza, which means "zig-zag" in Japanese, funny (?) because of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Or when my wife said she couldn't drive my standard transmission car (referred to with the English word "mission"), so I observed she was "Mission: Impossible." These jokes seem to waft up from my subconscious brain without any awareness on my part. You should hear my family groan.

I make bad jokes in Japanese, like "mission: impossible."

International Marriage in Japan Update

Kokusai kekkon (international marriage) is a popular option for Japanese who want to marry someone from outside their home country, and currently about 7% of registered marriages in Japan are between Japanese and foreigners. While most of the statistics come from Japanese men marrying women from places like China or South Korea, there are plenty of Japanese females marrying foreigners from the West. Japanese females often have a rose-colored view of what it must be like to be married to an American, and my wife's friends often speak enviously of her for marrying an American, saying things like, "I'll bet your husband does the dishes every night." I'm also assumed to hold doors and chairs, cook an occasional romantic meal, and say "I love you" as I head out the door to work every morning, unlike Japanese men who (it is generally thought) never express their feelings. Children produced by such a marriage must surely be kawaii, just like having your own living Licca-chan doll. Licca is a popular fashion doll in Japan -- way more popular than Barbie here -- who is half-Japanese, half-French, probably considered by most Japanese to be the "ideal" child. Of course, there are benefits for Japanese who marry gaijin, but challenges too (just ask my wife). As always, your milage may vary.

International marriage is increasingly popular in Japan.

Insert 'Nice Boat' Joke Here: School Days HQ is Coming!

It's only March, and it's already been a great year for fans of eroge visual novels from Japan, with the impending shipping of Demonbane and Da Capo plus the announcement of great new games like My Girlfriend is the President and Aselia the Eternal. We've got one more announcement and that is...we'll be releasing School Days HQ in English! One of the most epic games ever, this fully animated game redefined the genre, and we're happy to announce this great title for future release. You can get update notes on the JAST USA eroge blog or see the official site at (full site coming soon).
School days logo

Cool Products Wednesday, March 2, 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 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 websites. To see all the J-List products, check out J-List or the updated products link.
Megami Magazine April 2011 vol. 131
The original and classic standard when it comes to bishoujo moe poster magazines is back in a brand new issue for spring! With extra-large foldout posters for Madoka Magika, Nanoha, Index, K-On!, Soraoto, and much more, epic Megami is at it again.
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Comic REX Feb 2011
Comic REX Feb 2011 Get your Idol Master, Kannagi, and Girls Work action on with the February issue of Comic Rex, tons of great bishoujo manga packed into one volume.
Sci-fi Revoltech No.024 Mark VI (Iron Man) **Preorder**
Sci-fi Revoltech No.024 Mark VI (Iron Man) *Preorder* Wow, this one was an awesome surprise - Kaiyodo's Revoltech action figure lineup does Iron Man, and he's looking amazing! Preorder now available.
Japanese T-Shirt 'Yandere Girl Tribute' (Standard Men's)
J-List's 'Yandere' T-Shirt To commemorate the new School Days game, here's a link to our favorite yandere (violent anime girls) item. USO DA!
S Cawaii Mar 2011
S Cawaii Mar 2011 This month's cover of trendy fashion mag S Cawaii is great, and it even comes with free fashion stuff for your collection.
Girlie Border Knee High Socks
Awesome Knee High Socks, Gothic Cosplay I don't know a lot, but I do know that girls wearing over-knee socks with skirts, creating the "sweet 3 cm" known as the "absolute zone," is awesome.
Red Electric Takoyaki Maker 18 Balls
Now you too can create the authentic taste of one of Japan's most signature dishes, the famed takoyaki (octopus balls)! Using simple recipes you can replace the octopus with anything you like, for a tasty snack, meal, or treat.
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Hello Kitty Pure Camellia Hair Treatment Cream  Apple Scent
Hello Kitty Pure Camellia Hair Treatment Cream A proven emollient hair treatment that will make your hair soft and silky-smooth, now in a fun Hello Kitty brand bottle that fits your accessory kit!
Re-ment Hello Kitty Kaiten Sushi Full Set of 6 **Preorder**
Re-ment Hello Kitty Miniature Sushi *Preorder* A Kitty-themed set of adorable "conveyor belt" sushi miniatures? Japan, you know the way to our hearts. We love this to death!
iTunes Japan Music Card
Great items found on the iTMS Japan store: a vocal collection of the Da Capo games, plus the new Memories Last ED. If you want to find more cool anime songs, here are the top 100 songs right now.
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Touhou Project  Guignol Quest
Huge Restocking of Touhou Games The action packed Touhou Project shooting games that formed a doujin empire and took the net by storm are back in stock for you today!
Queen's Blade  Airi
Queen's Blade ~ Airi The reincarnated maid in the style of a shinigami (god of death) is today's awesome Queen's Blade artbook restock. Check Airi out!
Totoro Stamp -- Date *Month  Day*
If you love Totoro like we do, you'll be happy to see the great items we have in stock today - wood-backed rubber carved stamps featuring everyone's favorite neighbor, along with Studio Ghibli approved bento boxes with adorable Totoro designs.
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MAMESHIBA / Edamame Animal Aluminum Pencil Case
Big Restocking of Mameshiba Pens & More Ne, shitteru? Do you know? J-List has restocked pens, pen and pencil cases featuring Mameshiba.
Kutsushita Nyanko Pen Pouch
Kawaii Japanese Pens, Notebooks & More New and restocked Japanese pens, a really cool notebook, plus a cute plush cat pencil case -- kawaii!
Enjoy a deluxe large bag of Hi-Chew soft candies in many flavors, plus new Japanese Frisk Mints, heavenly Tiramisu sweets from Fujiya, plus the new Habanero spicy potato snacks!
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Monster Hunter One Zenny Chocolate
Monster Hunter One Zenny Chocolate Delicious foil-coated chocolate 'coins' featuring the currency of the Monster Hunter universe, the Zenny. Great snack for gamers!
Morinaga Milk Caramel Japanese Snack Candy Treats
Restocked Snacks, Too Enjoy the "official" milk caramels of the Totoro universe, plus Lotte "No Time" gum, Grape Mochi candy, plus a big restocking of popular instant ramen.
METAL MODE Silver Men's 2 tier Bento Box set   1000 ml Tight Box  Chopsticks  Thermal Bag
Restocked Traditional and Modern Bento Boxes Fresh stock of the cool modern bento boxes that are popular with men. Large size, non-cute design and high functionality.
Red  Black ECO Reusable Silicon Bento Cup  2pcs
Red & Black ECO Reusable Silicon Bento Cup ~ 2pcs  Lend a touch of class and 'design sense' to your bento with these bold red and black silicon reusable bento cups, great for keeping fresh flavors.
SAIBASHI  Bamboo Long Cooking Chopsticks Set
Cool Items for your Kitchen Whether you need industrial-strength cooking chopsticks with the wrapped handles, or those broad ramen soup-broth spoons, we have them for you!
Bear Silicon Reusable BARAN for Bento
Bear Silicon Reusable BARAN for Bento Baran is the decorative separators that keep your rice from getting mixed up with the other parts of your bento lunch. See some great varieties restocked!
Hello Kitty Nori Punch
Fun 'Nori Punch' for Deco Bento Cut your pressed dried seaweed sheets (nori) into awesome shapes to decorate the surface of your bento lunch rice! Sweet bento gear today.
KYOTO 5 of Beauty Bath Salt set  Green Tea, Sakura, Yuzu, Ume, Bamboo
KYOTO Beauty Bath Salt set ~ Green Tea, Sakura This traditional set of bath salts is so awesome, it's actually made in Kyoto. Green tea, Sakura, yuzu, bamboo and more.
Riela Nendoroid Figure  Valkyrie Chronicle **Preorder**
Riela Nendoroid, Gamera Revoltech *Preorder* Whether you're looking for a cute bishoujo action figure or a GAR version of the epic Gamera, our preorders today have you covered!
Evangelion Car Sunshade -- Asuka Langrey Type **Preorder**
Evangelion Car Sunshade ~ Asuka, Rei *Preorder* The new Eva movies have inspired tons of awesome Evangelion swag, and these new car sunshades featuring Rei and Asuka are just sweet.
Pet's Eye
Restocked Photobooks Restocked awesome photobooks too, incl. Pet's Eye (girls seen from the POV of small pets, heh), Tsubasa Amami, and Kanoh Momoka's Lucky Girl book.
The Collection of Hagane Tsuruki - Exhibition at Walhalla
Fans of the gorgeous girls of eroge will love this new artbook collection from Hagane Tsuruki, creator of artworks from SkyFish as well as Queen's Blade Rebellion. Packed full of drippingly ecchi full color goodness!
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Sexy Twins Perfect Body  Yukkina
Amazing Stress Toys for Guys Can a male stress toy quality as "art"? Find out with this array of novelty items that strive for comfort, pleasure and high aesthetics too.
Yen Ju Lee Hole
Amazing Stress Toys, Lotion We've got some of the best stress toy accessories for you too, including name brand personal lotion, "Dignity" onahole, and more.
Melona 1/5 Figure Omega Style Cold Cast Figure  Queen's Blade **Preorder**
New Cast-Off Queen's Blade Figures *Preorder* Check out this epic and truly massive Melona cold cast figure from Omega Style, and a 2P color version of Queen's Blade Nanael!
Pastel Chime Continue
Pastel Chime Continue Pick up the famous Alice Soft RPG eroge in the original Japanese, complete with fan disc - hours of great ecchi gameplay!
Yin-Yang! X-Change Alternative
Awesome Eroge in English While you wait for our new games, why not try this great title, Yin-Yang! A game of sex change and comedy, it's also our best futanari title!