Friday, April 20, 2012

Gaijin CEOs of Japanese Companies

I happened to see a news article that said the president of Nippon Sheet Glass, an American, was leaving the company due to fundamental disagreements with the Japanese board of directors, and this was being compared to the exits of other foreign CEOs including Michael Woodford of Olympus and Howard Stringer of Sony. I wondered for a moment what it'd be like to be the president of a Japanese company, before sheepishly remembering that I am one. While I happily don't have to deal with a sprawling organization that resists me at every step, I sometimes wonder what it's like for Japanese employees who come to work at J-List and suddenly find themselves with a "foreign barbarian" for a boss. There are, of course, potential communication issues, since all foreigners are bound to be a little KY, Japanese for kuuki yomenai or "cannot read the air," e.g. someone who's on a different wavelength or who isn't good at understanding social nuances. One challenge for our Japanese employees is learning to see Japan through the eyes of foreigners so they can buy the products our customers will be interested in, so I work with each employee to help them see Japan as I see it. I remember my staff being surprised that anyone would be interested in buying such boring products as an Evangelion-style Japanese eye patch or traditional dagashi candy that's been around since the Showa Period, since they take these products for granted. Eventually they come to appreciate what aspects of Japan we foreigners find kakko ii (cool) and are able to find cool products for the site. (Image credit.)

I'm much happier being the president of J-List than of Sony.

Nudity in Anime

One of the more unique aspects of Japanese animation has always been the tendency for certain series to feature nudity, whether it's an occasional bit of skin visible in a "hot springs" episode, the silhouetted transformation scene in most any "magical girl" series or a deeper level of fan service in shows that exist for that purpose. Back in the early 80s, when anime wasn't part of our national cultural awareness as it is now, it was big surprise to see the "Zero-G Love" shower scene in Macross: Do You Remember Love, though of course such scenes exist in anime for the same reason they do in Hollywood films: for entertainment and to tell a certain kind of story. Fans of my era responded to Japanese animation in part because it was a "free" medium in which any story could be told by the animators, including ones involving dramatic death and love, violence and planetary destruction, and yes, maybe a tasteful scene of females talking in the bath, if it improves the story. In a way, the presence of nudity in anime series signaled to fans of the day that the stories and characters wouldn't be dumbed-down like most other forms of popular culture, which immediately made it seem more authentic -- trust me when I say that young people in the West have really benefited from the fresh ideas they've been exposed to thanks to the popularity of anime. Of course nudity and fan service can easily be carried too far, but I for one am glad animators are free to include it if they want. So, what's your opinion on nudity in anime?

What do you think of nudity in anime?

J-List Makes Great T-Shirts

Ever since our first "Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend" kanji T-shirt, J-List has loved making fun and interesting T-shirts for anime fans as well as people who love the aesthetic beauty of kanji characters. We've been on a roll lately, bringing you awesome designs from our Pikachu x Evangelion crossover, our popular Touhou shirts, a very special tribute to Shimapan, as well as our new line of licensed HOTD shirts. The anime convention season is right around the corner, do you need any shirts today? See the top J-List T-shirts here.

Japanese Noren Curtains

It's funny, the things about Japan that delight foreigners who come here. The unique sound of a Japanese train crossing, sitting on tatami mats, zooming along in a Shinkansen train and receiving excellent service in shops 99% of the time. I've also been a fan of the unique Japanese door curtains called noren which hang above most businesses, and which are also commonly used to create privacy in doorways in Japanese homes. Since the Edo Period, noren curtains have been used to advertise that businesses are open to receive customers, and you know a yakitori shop is closed when the Master (the proprietor of a small restaurant or bar is always called this for some reason) takes his noren curtain down for the night. We've been posting some excellent anime-themed noren curtains to the site lately, if you want to make your home more Japanese and awesome.

Like tatami mats, noren curtains are a fun part of Japan.

Cool Products Friday, April 20, 2012

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.
Dengeki G's Festival! vol. 26 June 2012
A new issue of Dengeki G's Festival is here, and it's devoted to the upcoming visual novel Da Capo III. Expect tons of beautiful art and exclusive info that will sate your appetite for moe as you await the game's release. Da Capo fans won't want to miss the great omake, like a huge dakimakura cover of one of the game's cutest girls. These issues sell fast, so don't wait!
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Animage May 2012
Animage May 2012 Animage magazine has been bringing you latest anime news for over 30 years. Grab a new issue for more art and posters of your favorite anime characters.
Moekana **Preorder**
Moekana ~ Learn Hiragana with Mirai-chan Learn Japanese the moe way with this new study tool starring Danny Choo's popular mascot character Mirai-chan. Now in stock!
Noren / Wall Scroll -- A Certain Scientific Railgun  Mikoto  Kuroko
Last time, we posted some beautiful noren Japanese curtains with art of your favorite anime girls. We've added some great new noren cortains to the site today, including A Certain Magical Index and Railgun, Heaven's Memo Pad, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko and Hanasaku Iroha. They are easy to hang over any door and add a cool Japanese element to any room!
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Erio Towa 1/8 Figure by Kotobukiya  Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
Erio Towa, Blue Exorcist Figures Cute new figures in stock. Check out moe "alien" Erio Towa from Denpa Onna, or a set of 5 chibi figures from Ao no Exorcist. Plus lots more!
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Witch Collection Set of 8 **Preorder**
Madoka Magica Witch Figures Set of 8 Enjoy these miniature figures of the most memorable witches from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Is it just us, or does Charlotte have her mouth full?
Azathoth D
Azathoth D ~ Demonbane Parody Game The girls of Demonbane take to the streets in this fun Mario Kart-style racing game. Choose from 8 cute characters and 16 otherworldly stages.
Kanji DS Dictionary
Study Japanese with your Nintendo DS It's never been easier to study Japanese than with our comprehensive lineup of software for your Nintendo DS. Highly recommended!
KURETAKE ZIG Real Brush Art Fude Pen Black
Super Awesome Stationery from Japan "Fude" brush pens for calligraphy in all sizes and widths, plus awesome PenType Scissors and other awesome Japanese pens. Very nice!
AIN Triangle Knock Style Eraser  Purple
AIN Triangle Knock Style Eraser ~ Purple Get rid of those nasty mistakes quickly, before anyone notices, with this super fast, super reliable Japanese eraser.
Dream Shimabikini  Mint Green M (Vocaloid Bikini Swimsuit)
We love striped panties (shimapan) at J-List, which is why we provide a large selection of shimapan products for cosplay and entertainment. Try these new striped bikini swimsuits, recommended for fans of shimapan-wearing characters like Vocaloid idol Hatsune Miku. Available in standard size (M) as well as a larger size (5L) for larger female customers as well as "trap" fans.
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Skull Long Sleeve Tops -- Black
Skull Long Sleeve Tops Restocked Our popular Harajuku fashion items, like our skull tops, are now back in stock and ready for you. Click to see the restocked items now.
Diablock Colors Shoes  Blue/Yellow -- size 17cm
Amazing Diablock 'LEGO' Shoes for Kids Let your kids take the joy of LEGO everywhere they go with these colorful Velcro sneakers from Diablock, Japan's premier building block manufacturer.
GATSBY Large Container  Pink Men's Hair Wax / Spiky Edge
Popular Hair Products from Japan See a nice restocking of Japanese hair was, plus ICHIKAMI Hair Treatment Essence with Sakura Scent (wow), and SALA Hair Styling Wax for girls.
Non Woven Cloth Health Mask  20pcs
Non Woven Cloth Health Mask ~ 20pcs Protect your face from the harmful environment, keep your friends from catching your cold, or go cosplaying as a Japanese gang member.
Meiji Wata Pachi -- Melon Soda (Set of 3)
Excellent Japanese Snacks Today Mmm, delicious Wata Pachi, the fluffy gum. Plus awesome Cratz Chicken Mustard and DIY Pizza Gummies.
Green Tea Gumballs
Green Tea Gumballs Savor the luxurious taste of ancient Japanese tea, in easy to carry gumball form! Now if only they made a sushi version...
Kracie Happy Kitchen Humberger
Kracie Happy Kitchen Hamburger Set, More We love Kracie's products, like the Happy Kitchen Hamburger Set that lets you make your own tiny burgers and the Neru Neru Nerune gummies. Restocked today.
Morinaga Milk Caramel Japanese Snack Candy Treats
Restocked Snacks & Gum, Too Enjoy the "official" milk caramels of the Totoro universe, plus Wata Gum cotton candy gum, Choco Ball, Kompeito, Tyrant Habanero, various Pocky and more!
Kiki's Delivery Service 2-tier Slim Bento Box w/ Refrigerant  Rose
Kawaii Jiji 2-tier Slim Bento Jiji from the Ghibli film Kiki's Delivery Service is now on a very cute and portable bento box. So cool!
METAL MODE Blue Men's 2 tier Bento Box set   1000 ml Tight Box  Chopsticks  Thermal Bag
Awesome Modern Bento Restocked If you'd rather have a more awesome look to your lunch, check out the sleek and stylish modern and traditional Japanese boxes, back in stock.
Evangelion  Logos Stainless Nerv Officer's Meal Tray
Evangelion Bento, Logos Metal Cups & More From the great series Evangelion comes this collection of dishware and accessories we're very happy to be carrying. Designed for NERV officers.
Deco Animal Cookie Cutter  Face Stamp
Fun 3D Cookie Cutters, Other Cute Kitchen Items Great for preparing cute snacks for lunches, parties and picnics, these Japanese cooking accessories will increase the cuteness of your cooking.
Ramen Microwave Bowl
Ramen Microwave Bowl, Miso Soup Bowls Make ramen fast with our popular Ramen Microwave Bowl, so excellent for university students. Also, Seaweed Punch for bento, miso soup bowls and more.
White  Black Lucky Cat Display
White & Black Lucky Cat Display  These adorable kitties are the perfect way to invite some luck into your home. Enjoy this traditional Japanese decoration.
Hariko Daruma -- Small *12cm*  Classic Type
Restocked Traditional Items from Japan You can rely on J-List to bring you excellent traditional products from Japan, like the Daruma dolls and split-toe tabi socks, aka "ninja socks," restocked today.
Nyarko-san SAN=0 T-shirt Gray XL Size **Preorder**
Haiyore! Nyarko-san SAN=0 T-shirt *Preorder* The stars are right, the Crawling Chaos comes! Wear your madness proudly with this fantastic Nyarko-san T-shirt. Lovecraftian horrors have never been cuter.
Revoltech No.119 Gurren Lagann Gurren Wing ver. *Preorder*
Gurren Lagann Revoltech, Tekkaman Figma *Preorder* Revoltech is coming out with another awesome action figure of Gurren Lagann, with all the parts you need to reenact any scene from the series. Tekkaman too!
Fate/Zero Car Sunshade -SD Character-  **Preorder**
Fate/Zero Car Sunshades *Preorder* Keep your car protected with awesomeness, with these super OTACOOL Fate/Zero sunshades. Available in two great designs.
Moe Sleeve Mirai Suenaga by Hagure Yuuki **Preorder**
Mirai Suenaga Card Sleeves *Preorder* Your valuable cards need protection too, and that's just what these moe sleeves provide! Great for fans of Culture Japan's mascot Mirai Suenaga.
Astraea 1/4 Figure Bunny ver.  Sora no Otoshmono the Movie: The Angeloid of Clockwork **Preorder**
Strike Witches Rations, Astraea Figure *Preorder* Who knew wartime could be so delicious? Try some real Strike Witches military rations, then check out a figure of sexy battle gynoid Astraea from SoraOto.
Alisa Amiella 1/7 Figure  GOD EATER BURST *Preorder*
Alisa Amiella, Maid Aegis *Preorder* We also have these great bishoujo figures of God Eater's Alisa and Aegis from Persona 3, each in a cute and sexy costume.
Meiko Honma 1/7 Figure  AnoHana **Preorder**
Menma, Madoka Beach Figures *Preorder* Two cute swimsuit figures to spice up your summer. First is the cute and innocent Menma from AnoHana, and then we have Lagrange's super-energetic Madoka.
Ero-Cheki!? -- Misaki
Ero-Cheki!? Onahole series Restocked Our customers sure love the new Mayo Chiki themed parody stress toys, which are great for taking the edge off after at hard day at work.
Shin Meiki Musou Onahole
Koihime Musou, Cat Girl Onahole Toys Plus a restocking of our newest parody onahole for male stress relief, based on the popular Koihime Musou series of eroge. That makes this a parody of a parody!
OTOKONOKO?  Futanari Stress Toy
OTOKONOKO? ~ Futanari Stress Toy This body-shaped stress relief toy is one of a kind, being the first futanari onahole toy we've ever seen. Why not?
Phantom INTEGRATION It all started here, with the very first game by Urobuchi Gen and Nitro+. Buy the ultimate 18+ version of this dark and gritty thriller today.
My Girlfriend is the President **Preorder**
My Girlfriend is the President is In Stock! Wouldn't it be great if the world ran on cuteness? In President, it does! Pick up a copy of this hilarious H-game today. Translated and uncensored.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Language Wars

When I came to Japan in 1991, I was extremely motivated to learn Japanese, which was a good thing since the idea that you can learn a language through osmosis just by living in the country is flat wrong. I took advantage of every opportunity to advance my studies, transcribing the lyrics to JPOP songs so I could sing them at karaoke to watching Japanese dramas, which helped me get lots of vocabulary input. When I encountered a Japanese person, I'd engage in a brief "language battle" with them to determine which of us had the higher language skills, and thus which language I'd speak with that person -- and I hated to lose. Then one day I was in Tokyo, looking for a coin locker to put my bags in, and a middle-aged salaryman who was clearing his out said "Please use this one" to me in English. I thanked him in fluent Japanese, but after that I realized that I'd done him a real disservice. This man would probably have only a few chances to use his English each year, and yet I had stubbornly refused to oblige him. Since that day, I've resolved to speak English to Japanese people more, which usually causes their face to brighten just a little. Lately there's a cute man who comes over to say hello when I'm working out at the gym, and instead of speaking Japanese with him, I'm happy to converse with him in English, which makes him very happy.

To erase the mental image of me at the gym, I present...Hinako-chan.

Yu Darvish, Following his Dream in the USA

One thing I've learned about the Japanese is, they love it when one of their number attains international fame. From directors like Akira Kurosawa to writers like Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murakami to manga and anime greats like Shirow Masamune and Katsuhiro Otomo, becoming popular on the International stage creates adoring fans at home, too. The Japanese love to see their sports stars make it big overseas, too, and fawn over them on sports news programs every night when they do. The latest Japanese baseball player to make the move to the U.S. major leagues is Yu Darvish, former star pitcher of the Nippon Ham Fighters, now playing for the Texas Rangers. Darvish is interesting for several reasons, including that he's not a pure Japanese, but is half Iranian, an interesting representative of a new, less homogenized Japan for the 21st century. We hope Darvish-kun does well.

Yu Darvish has made the jump to the Big Leagues.

Random J-List Reminder: Anime Snacks Edition

J-List carries a lot of fun producs from Japan, including snacks you can see in your favorite anime. From the famous Akihabara bread-in-a-can to Sakuma Drops from Grave of the Fireflies to the official caramels of Totoro, we've got great foods for hungry otakus. Click here to browse the most popular anime-related snacks and drinks.

Cool Products Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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.
Himo Noren -- Kirino Kousaka from Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
Stylize your room with cute anime art thanks to these cool noren curtains, adding a splash of otaku color to any room. Each curtain comes with anime girls in adorable summer outfits like bikinis and kimono. K-On, OreImo, and Denpa Onna versions available!
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4Koma nano A (Ace) vol. 12 May 2012
4Koma nano A (Ace) vol. 12 May 2012 Manga fans know that Nano Ace is the place to go for the funniest comedy strips around. Get your fix of Nichijo, Lucky Star, Uppote, and more today.
Animedia May 2012
Animedia May 2012 It's time for a new issue of Animedia, the magazine that features all the hottest shows in Japan. Special treats in this issue for Fate/Zero and Guilty Crown fans.
Queen's Gate -- Kanu (Shin Koihime Muso)
Queen's Gate ~ Kanu (Shin Koihime Muso) Another great entry in the Queen's Gate series of game/artbook hybrids. This time you get the super-sexy Kanu from Koihime Musou. Clothes damage!
Men's Shimapan  Shimabra Dream  Blue 5L
Shimapan, School Swimsuits Next we've restocked some interesting shimapan and sukumizu (school swimsuits) in all sizes, including 5L for "trap" fans because, why not?
Retro Gothic Style Otome Youkai Kimono  size 5L
Retro Gothic Style Otome Youkai Kimono ~ size 5L Enjoy the upcoming seasons of summer festivals and anime conventions dressed in a beautiful and easy to wear kimono.
GAKURAN School Uniform for Cosplay  size M
Fun Cosplay Products Restocked We've got a huge selection of school cosplay items, like school uniforms, bags and even hairstyle products.
Ane Ageha vol. 8
Ane Ageha vol. 8 Become like the girls of Tokyo with Ane Ageha magazine. Tons of tips on how to do your hair and make-up just like the girls of Shibuya.
Fashionable Black Glasses for Show
Fashionable Black Glasses for Show Cool items abound! Join the trend of fun hipster-style glasses for girls that frame your face to give you that kawaii look.
SUMIGAKI   Black Tooth Paste with Charcoal Essence
Charcoal, Green Tea Toothpaste & More Get your teeth sparkling clean with the power of natural charcoal (it works!), plus other restocked health items from Japan.
Sumi Relaxing Bath Salt  Ink Skin Care Bath Salt
Fun Bath Products Restocked Enjoy fun bath products like the fizzing tablet that has a toy dinosaur inside, which kids love, plus sumi (black) bath salt and Kyoto products.
Anime T-Shirt -- H.O.T.D.
New High School of the Dead Licensed Anime T-Shirts! J-List has a line of fully licensed anime T-shirts called AniShirts, and we think you'll love our initial designs, High School of the Dead!
iTunes Japan Music Card
New Anime Songs on iTunes Japan A new anime season has begun, and you can find all the best Spring 2012 anime OP and ED songs. Also, Hatsune Miku Orchestra??
Jewelry Sticker Making Pen Set w/ Heart Shaped Plate
Jewelry Sticker Making Pen Set w/ Heart Shaped Plate  Style-up your common objects, like your simple phone case, and make them awesome with these glittery accessories.
Cocoa Biscuit Style Book Jacket
Cocoa Biscuit Style Book Jacket Yummy! Your books will be protected and look delicious when they are housed in this delightful chocolate biscuit cover.
Kutsuwa Study Flashcards w/Check Sheet
Japanese Flashcards, Other Study Products Spring is a great time to start a program of Japanese study. See some great products restocked today, like flashcards in various styles and sizes!
Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan
Restocked Japan-Related Books Restocked books, including the popular handbook for living in Japan someday, plus Hello Kitty Bilingual Japan Guide, nice desu!
Compact PenType Scissor
Restocked Japanese 'Scissor Pens' and More Bring your office into the 21st century with cool Japanese-built items like pen-style scissors, fun pens, and cute cases for all your writing utensils.
Electric Takoyaki Maker
Fun Takoyaki Makers from Japan We love delicious takoyaki octopus balls, the favorite snack of Osakans. Make your own takoyaki with these easy-to-use tools.
Morinaga Hi-Chew Premium -- White Grape (Set of 3)
Japan makes the juiciest and sweetest fruit candies in the world. Try a delicious new flavor of Hi-Chew, made of premium grape juice, a new creation for you from Hi-Chew and Morinaga. Then we have a new flavor of Glico's popular Pretz pretzel sticks, buttered potato. I wish I were eating it right now.
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Ramune Soda Mango
Japanese Snacks & Drinks in San Diego J-List carries Japanese snacks and drinks from San Diego now, and we've restocked Ramune just in time for summer, plus Morinaga Matcha Caramels, yum!
Nestle Green Tea Kit Kat Bag
Restocked Japanese Snacks Too Enjoy some of our most beloved J-snacks, incl. Green Tea Kit Kat, Bread in a Cat, Ukon hangover-curing drink, Furikake and more.
Pink LEGO Block Style 2 tier Bento Box w/ Chopsticks, Elastic Band  Refrigerant Pack
Pink LEGO Block Style Bento Set These are just awesome. Kids (or kid-like adults) will love these wacky bento boxes and bento related goods. The nerdiest bento boxes ever.
Blue Rabbit x Moon Bento Box Set  Square 2 tier Bento Box  Chopsticks  Bento Bag
Great Traditional Bento Boxes Restocked Also, some of our most elegant traditional bento boxes are restocked, including the Rabbit x Moon bento (both colors) and the Temari 2-tier Sakura bento.
FOROMAKI Shaper  Easy Roll SUSHI Making Mold
Fun Sushi Related Products Restocked We stock many sushi-related products, including authentic bamboo rollers for making your own hand rolls, now restocked.
Good Shape Onigiri Maker  Circle -- Gutto Sand
Good Shape Onigiri Makers in New Shapes Enjoy three fun "onigiri sandwich" makers that you can use to make a rice burger or any other rice ball creation.
KAIUN Triple Lucky Cat Strap
Japanese Keychains, More Enjoy our restocked "Three Lucky Cats" phone strap, such a fun way to bring more luck into your life. Click to see the new items.
HANA YUZEN Mini Jewel  Box  Blue
Traditional Boxes, Other Items Restocked Some amazing Japanese products that feature an air of traditional flavor, like bento boxes, jewelry boxes, interior design plus other cool items.
TATAMI Colorful Coaster
TATAMI Colorful Coaster, More Restocked Bring a dash of Japan to your home with these stylish bamboo and tatami grass drink coasters. Great for sushi parties.
Kuroneko 1/8 Figure  Ore Imo **Preorder**
Gorgeous Preorder Figures  J-List carries hundreds of gorgeous anime figures that you can preorder right now, from moe to ecchi and nani!? Click to see.
Sun Shower -- Riho Hasegawa 1st photobook
Sun Shower ~ Riho Hasegawa 1st photobook A deliciously beautiful artbook featuring the silky smooth body of Riho Hasegawa. Be one of the first to see her fully nude!
Magical Girl's Natural Hole 1  Puella Magi Madoka Magica Parody Toy
Here's an awesome parody onahole line made in Japan by Tamatoys. It's based on the Madoka series, made with super smooth and soft materials and comes with its own bottle of natural lotion. There are three different versions, featuring Madoka, Homura and Mami, all ready help you reach Tiro Finale!
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Azumi Nyan! Pero Pero Hole  K-On! Azusa Parody Toy
Restocked Onaholes for Hardened Otaku We love to stock fun stress toys featuring your favorite anime characters, and we've gotten some choice K-On! and OreImo onahole toys in stock.
Sweat Scent of School Girl  Fashionable Girl
Sweat Scent, Interesting Personal Lotions Restocked And speaking of moe undergarments, try these fun, innovative adult products that make relaxation even smoother.
Puru Puru Oppai Finale
Our Most Popular 'Oppai' Toys Restocked The Oppai onahole is back, one of the most amazing inventions for self-pleasure ever. Also see our popular Puru Puru Oppai Finale for fans of "Mami" (heh).
Full Metal Daemon MURAMASA
Full Metal Daemon MURAMASA + Fandisc One of the most popular visual novels in recent years is now available on J-List. Expect a dark, gripping plot and epic battles. Oh, and spider girls.
''  Sora no Mukou de Sakimasu you ni
'&' ~ Sora no Mukou de Sakimasu you ni Enjoy a brand-new visual novel from the team that brought you RuiTomo, Comyu, and other wonderful games. Full of humor, romance, and adventure.
Love, Election  Chocolate.  Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate Memorial Package
Popular Eroge Restocked Too Enjoy top games like Love, Election and Chocolate, Material Brave, Natsu no Ame by Kantoku, MajiKoi and the epic new Mahou Tsukai no Yoru by Type-Moon.
Do You Like Bunnies? 1  2 set
Great English Eroge, Too Remember, we've got the "Do You Like Horny Bunnies?" set of bunny-themed H-games on sale this month. Take $10 off the set of both titles.