Brand New World

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Hello! It’s April already, huh? These past few months have been one heck of a ride!

Crazy Sunshine was rebooted back into action a lot sooner than I expected, but the positive feedback from old and new fans has been incredibly overwhelming! Thanks a ton!

As some of you know, I started a new job in January, meaning updates will unfortunately be few and far between. Patreon will also be paused until I can find the time to update regularly.

Thanks again for all your support, and I hope you enjoy whatever little artwork I am able to pump out!

Stay fresh!

Living in the city!

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I’ve finally taken my first, gigantic step into the heart of Japan!

 

It’s been an incredibly busy month, with work starting mere days after I moved in, and the apartment, beautiful as it is, is nowhere near furnished!

All set up and ready to draw!

The first thing I noticed after setting up my PC is that for some reason my apartment’s internet is…free?

It’s some sort of weird package deal that comes with the place.

Lightning speeds, though, so no complaints.

This morning I was clocking in at around 110 Mbs over Wifi and 200 Mbs through cable.

…Damn.

 

Oh, I also somehow succumbed to the poisonous grips of to Final Fantasy XI yet again! Not even a new job is enough to separate me from my beloved MMOs.

I managed to finish my first and only Mythic Weapon, a rare item that took over 300 hours to complete, working on-and-off since it was released.

Obtaining this item is a monument to my love for the game, and gives me a feeling of closure at last.

 

I’ve also been playing a ton of games with my other artist buddies over Steam.

They’ve been great at keeping the loneliness and homesickness at bay!

 

That’s all there is to it, really! Once the apartment is looking a bit better I’ll upload some more pictures to Twitter.

Until then, pray that I don’t melt in this unusual summer heat, and wish me luck making it in the big city!

 

Thanks for reading!

So long, and thanks for all the snow!

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Apologies for the radio silence!

It’s been one heck of a month, but I finally have some free time to blog!

 

It’s been five years since I came to Japan and joined the JET program.

Back then, I only knew three words in Japanese, was incredibly homesick, and had no idea how to drive a car, let alone know how to use Japanese money to buy one.

Over these five years, I have gained so many friends and acquaintances, taught over a thousand different classes, and noticed so much personal growth that I can’t possibly include it all in a single blog entry, so I’ll try to keep it short.

 

While it can be a new and exciting experience for some, teaching in Japan was quite stressful at my local school, as it is one of the lowest achieving public high schools in the prefecture.

In Japan, you don’t only teach kids English. You teach them English in order to pass tests, and in a country where the only thing that stands between children and their future is a long series of tests, this can be quite a challenge.

Especially if you take into consideration the reputation and quality of students at my school.

Helping five years worth of students through graduation was a lot of hard work!

However, I never once felt like I was alone.

Over five years, I met hundreds of different teachers, parents, and friends from outside of work.

Living in such a small town meant I was a regular everywhere I went.

My barber, my mechanic, even the entire staff of my local LAWSON convenience store knew who I was, and when I would pay them a visit.

My barber even “closed” at 4pm every Wednesday just in case I decided to show up for a shave and a massage after work, which I often did!

 

Then there’s the little bundle of joy that I met a few months after coming here.

Who would have thought a girl I met on a Japanese social media site would end up being my fiancee?

It’s been four short years and she still can’t speak English.

Maybe I should have been teaching her instead of my students.

 

In my fourth year of JET I had to make a choice.

Go back and home, or finally realise my childhood dream of living in Japan.

Taking everything into consideration, I picked the latter, and applied to many places before being accepted at a brand new international school south of Tokyo.

Now, a few months later, I finally found an apartment.

It’s conveniently five minutes away from a station by foot, with direct trains to and from the heart of Tokyo running all the way up to midnight.

15 year old me couldn’t be more happier at being this close to Akihabara.

 

I’ve spent the last two weeks packing five years worth of stuff, and yesterday the movers picked it all up.

Speaking of which, moving in Japan is expensive.

While not as expensive as moving into an apartment or house with all those unneeded, nonrefundable fees, you have to make sure you only take what you need.

The smaller, the better.

 

The company I used doesn’t determine cost by weight, but by the total dimensions of a variety of cages, and charge you depending on how many of these cages you fill up to the brim with boxes you have to obtain yourself.

Add a flat rate cost of transport between the two prefectures, a mandatory insurance fee, and you are looking at upwards of $800-$1,000, plus a 2-3 day transport period.

Oh, and as always, a ton of paperwork.

 

Cost aside, the psychology of moving out of this frozen wasteland is really messing with my emotions.

I’ve always been a country bumpkin, living in a tiny hamlet for most of my life.

This tiny town and all of the people here remind me so much of my past, it feels like I am leaving home for the second time.

 

The most devastating thing is that the ancient, wooden house that has looked after me over these last five years is being torn down after I move.

Unlike my last two apartments which I fell completely in love with, I have mixed feelings about this.

 

In a prefecture where winter lasts 6 out of 12 months a year with an incredible amount of snowfall, this tiny, wooden shack has put me within inches of death numerous times.

In summer, bugs dominate the floors, walls, ceilings and take over the inside of my desktop PC.

In spring and autumn, the obnoxious fumes of nearby rice field pesticides and burning crop smoke fill every room.

It really has been an adventure living here, and while it’s been a roof over my head, I am a little glad that by tearing it down means whoever was going to move in just avoided a very gruesome fate.

But the house isn’t the only thing that is breaking down after I move. My heart is, too.

 

Five years ago I bought a little, red, Subaru Pleo in order to survive living far away from, well, everything.

I passed my driving test when I was 17, and hadn’t driven once since I came to Japan at 25.

My mentors helped me pick out the car, re-taught me the basics, and luckily, since the UK and Japan have almost identical driving rules and regulations, I could drive again.

This little rustbucket quickly became part of my family.

I nicknamed it after the Touhou character Chen.

Without Chen, I would have never met my fiancee, or the hundreds of other friends I made over these last five years.

Without Chen, I would have never been able to survive all those winters, safely travel to other schools, or even make it to interviews for new jobs.

Chen is the reason I am still here now, and will still be here in the future.

Sadly, in order to keep that future alive, I had to let her go.

 

Chen was old.

Super old.

Almost 20 years old and had broken down more times than I can remember.

Last year I had an awful accident where one of her front wheels came clean off by simply turning a corner!

 

She would never survive the trip down south, let alone driving around there without a huge amount of repairs.

So, one last time, I cleaned her up, got her fully repaired, and sold her to my mechanic, who is going to remodel her into a simple, light car that local customers can use when their car goes in for repairs.

 

Saying goodbye to your first car is almost like saying goodbye to a dying family member.

My friends tried to help me get over it by telling me that Chen was never the car itself, only the spirit of the car we all believed in.

 

Nah, that’s bullshit.

 

Chen was my friend.

My little, rusty, broken, dilapidated friend, and I’m going to miss her like hell.

 

Oh, shit.

I said I would try to keep this entry short, but I also said I would try to make a webcomic and, well, here I am a year into hiatus!

 

I move my butt down south on Monday.

After I unpack and buy a bunch of furniture, everything should be back to normal.

Art, streams, gaming, you name it!

Here’s to a new chapter of my life in Japan!

JLPT N2: Passed!

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Source: buna.yorku.ca

Seven months since this blog entry, I have been studying every day in order to pass a gargantuan Japanese exam.

Today, I got the results!

After what felt like the hardest test I have ever taken, I somehow managed to scrape a pass at a measly 97/180.

Listening was my strongest area with reading being my second strongest, thanks to making the shift from manga to light novels and anime to Japanese dramas.

In the end, the passing grade is all that matters for employment, and N2 is undoubtedly preferred over N3 and N4 in Japan.

 

However, I still feel my Japanese is extremely lacking, especially with grammar, keigo, and handwritten kanji.

In short, a pass is a pass, but I still want to get better.

 

Kanji is still a dick.

 

Thanks to everyone who cheered me on and has kept checking Crazy Sunshine throughout its hiatus so far.

There’s still a fairly long path ahead of me as I try to find a job and a place to stay, but once all of that is done and dusted, I can finally get back to making some content.

For now, the hardest part is most definitely over!

Boat Girls

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January is finally over and February rears its ugly, freezing head!

I’ve been curled up in bed playing popular Japanese browser games like Kantai Collection (艦これ) and Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞).

Both of which are on the DMM.com site and are the perfect time wasters between classes and study lessons.

Both games play similarly.

Send characters out on adventures, bring back materials, repair and/or build more characters, then rinse and repeat.

Kancolle is based on girls that harness the spirits of old warships, and Touken Ranbu focuses on Japanese katanas which have taken the form of incredibly handsome men.

 

Boat girls.

Boat girls.

Boat girls you can marry.

What a time to be alive.

 

The stronger your boat girl, the longer they can last without breaking or needing repairs.

Sometimes you’ll discover rare characters on your adventures, or you can even try forging them yourself!

Kantai Collection has become so popular that there is a huge waiting list to even sign up now.

It’s even got its own anime series!

The game is in Japanese only, but there is an English Wiki to help you get into it.

Touken Ranbu on the other hand is still quite new, but it’s rising in popularity among Japanese girls.

I mean, who could resist a game where every character has incredible abs.

Onwards to 2015!

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Source: Doctor Who / giphy.com

It’s a brand new year and I am totally psyched to get back into drawing more often!

Naturally, my studies and work will have to come first, but the good news is come summer time, they shouldn’t be a problem any longer!

 

I will be leaving JET in August and hopefully starting a new job teaching down south!

This means no more dealing with snow for half of the year, and no more eight hour bus rides to Akihabara.

If all goes well and I manage to find a job and a new place to stay, I should have more than enough time to start working on Crazy Sunshine again.

 

Currently, I am pumping out these last two chapters of ORIGINS.

I can’t wait to show you them!

 

I should be getting my JLPT test results back at the end of January so stay turned for another update around then!

Thanks for reading!

It can’t get much worse, right?

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The JLPT is this weekend, and I’ve been studying for it since summer.

It’s part of the reason I put Crazy Sunshine on hold!

The other half was because I almost died.

No, really!

My poor car’s rusted front axle snapped in half in the middle of a busy intersection!

It took hours for the Japanese Automobile Federation to arrive at the scene and, naturally, the police also came to avert traffic away from the crash site.

Well, I say crash, but I was told by the cops it was the neatest and most compact accident they had ever seen.

Thanks for the compliment!

Since no other drivers or objects were damaged in the process, I wasn’t charged with anything, but the towing and repair bill made my wallet weep.

Therefore, I had to take some time off and work on commissions to raise enough money for the repairs.

 

In other news, Winter is here!

You know what that means!

Snowstorms, hailstorms, and mountains of white, fluffy bullshit.

I have turned into such a sloth that even getting up and going to work makes me want to just curl up in a ball and hibernate the moment I step outside.

Despite my car being fixed and outfitted with special winter tyres, it’s still making an awfully scary rattling noise near the front wheels.

My gas stove is also on the brink, despite it just being fixed.

Oh, and who could forget the time I had to call into work with the phrase

Sorry, I’m going to be late. My shower is covered in ice.

Despite all of this frozen hell, I put up my Christmas tree over the weekend for my third Christmas in Japan, and last Christmas up in the north.

It wasn’t all tinsel and glitter though, as some sort of bug bite, dust allergy, or maybe even a Yuletide poison swept through the room and I wound up with giant lumps all over my face for the next few days.

It turns out that after five years of living in this run-down shack I have finally caught a rare skin infection that only affects people living in, well, run-down shacks.

 

So there’s that.

 

I am on antibiotics and currently spring cleaning the entire house in the middle of winter.

My butt is literally frozen as I type this.

Despite it all, I’m holding my head high for the JLPT on Sunday!

Wish me luck and thanks for reading!

Poisonga

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Source: jp.square-enix.com/

Final Fantasy XIV celebrated its one year anniversary last week!

I’ve been playing the game since the alpha test and loved every second of it.

Now that I think about it, I’ve been playing Massive Multiplayer Online games for a long time.

Almost eleven years!

 

My first memory of adventuring online with random strangers was Ragnarok Online.

Source: mmosite.com

Damn, life was so simple back then!

Because Ragnarok was my first MMO, I had no idea what I was doing.

Yet somehow, the poisonous grind managed to find me.

I would stay up for hours hunting down a single type of monster hoping they would drop a single type of card in order to make a single piece of my Assassin’s gear a single digit stronger.

It was a borderline addiction.

The next one will be my last!

The next one will drop for sure!

Little did I know, eleven years later I would still have the same mindset, only recently I’ve started to treat MMOs like games again instead of jobs.

 

I learned this the hard way, as my addition continued all throughout university with Final Fantasy XI.

I clocked over 600 days—almost 2 whole years of play time—over the course of eleven years, which is not something I am proud of.

Still, I managed to successfully graduate university with flying colours and land a job in Japan, so it didn’t eat away at my brain too much.

 

I left FFXI last year to focus on Crazy Sunshine full time, but sometimes log back in when there is a free trial campaign going on.

I’m just surprised it took me eleven years to realise how much of my time could be spent not chasing item levels and being creatively productive instead.

 

Now, enter Final Fantasy XIV.

You’re probably thinking,

Heh, this Jkun dude just never learns, does he?

Fortunately, I am a lot smarter than I was eleven years ago.

 

Wait, no, I’m not.

FFXIV’s charming, nostalgic theme park of an MMO has sunk its teeth deep into my shins and is never letter go any time soon.

I play on the Japanese data center, and for those who are interested, you can follow my adventures on my blog or Twitter!

The next fantasy!

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Source: jp.square-enix.com/

Being a long time Final Fantasy XI player, I have been anticipating the re-release of Final Fantasy XIV since the alpha test.

 

Now, a mere 24 hours away, I can finally start my adventure in this new world.

I am making a separate blog for my Eorzean adventures, similar to my FFXI blog, which I sadly won’t be updating anymore!

 

Speaking of videogames, Rayman Legends comes out on the 30th, with the new Bioshock DLC and Sonic Lost World following shortly after.

 

So many games, so little time!

 

Summer should be beginning now, not ending, damnit!

Achieve this!

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Recently my internet has been down, so instead of streaming, I’ve been quietly chipping away on some comics and playing my 360.

Check this shit out!

The hardest of these achievements were the challenges and collecting all the online titles.

Luckily, with SFV on the horizon hardly anyone plays this anymore, so a lot of hardcore players had left, leaving me to clean up the mess as Sakura.

I already knew where all the secrets were from playing the Dreamcast version non-stop, but only in Japanese.

I had never played the English version until now, so my timing was really off with all the different speech cues and singing patterns.

Fuckin’ Purge’s Left and Right sound the same in English, it was really annoying.

After some literal grinding, I finally got full JET ratings across all the stages!

Funny thing, that wasn’t even the hardest achievement to get.

I actually had trouble trying to get some of the Graffiti Souls because I had no idea how many I actually had already.

JSR’s replayability really stands the test of time.

Okay, now we’ve reached the big leagues.

All the emblems were fairly easy to obtain on Dreamcast, but much more difficult to get in the Gamecube version due to stricter scoring on the hard stages.

Since each version is technically sold separately on XBLA with the Gamecube’s “Battle” adjustments being DLC, I tried to get as many as I could before buying the expansion, which is eventually needed to get all the achievements.

What a stupid system.

Still, raising Chao was the best part as always!

Lastly, the most difficult and obnoxiously tedious game I have ever played, Sonic ’06.

While there are people who love this game, I am not one of them.

If you are one of them and are upset that I hurt your little feelie weelies or think I never gave this game a chance, just look at the score above.

I gave Sonic ’06 more chances than it deserves.

You have to throw everything you know about playing 3D platformers out of the window and get used to Sonic ’06’s shitty controls if you even want to start playing this game.

Once you have that down and you are fully attuned to how the game barely works, you have to play it, instead of letting it play you.

Getting medals is easy with a guide and by muting the in-game music, as you can hear where some of them are hidden.

But good luck getting S ranks on the hard missions with all those ridiculous loading screens.

If there are two things that Sonic ’06 has taught me, it’s that patience is a virtue,

and Mach Speed sections can eat a dick.