ENCYCLOPEDIA OBSCURA: READER MAIL
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IF YOU ENTERED THIS PAGE FROM A SEARCH ENGINE, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO EXIT PRINTER FRIENDLY MODE.

In addition to saving me a lot of work, the last reader mail update actually became a pretty popular piece. And what's better than doing very little work and getting away with it? That's right, Jim Jarmush's Dead Man starring Johnny Depp. But what's better than Dead Man? Nothing. So reader mail pieces really are really high up there. Which is why I'm doing another one.

I will of course not display any e-mail addresses or even full names here, but if you still for some reason find your e-mail here and want it removed, let me know. All right, here we go! Wooooooooo! Wooooooohooooooo!

From: Trainer
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: Chou Aniki... TWO!? O___o;;;

http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/action/chouaniki/news_6072179.html

Chou Aniki... sequel... PS2... must... shoot... self...

Yes, it's true, except that this isn't Cho Aniki 2, but the fourth or maybe even fifth game in the series. The first (Ai Cho Aniki) was released for the PC Engine and was a Gradius-like shooter. The second (Cho Aniki - Bakaretsu Rantou Hen) was a one-on-one fighter for the SNES, and the third was the Zelda-esque adventure game Cho Aniki - Otoko no Tamafuda, released for Bandai's hand-held console Wonderswan. Since the latter has no western translation, I haven't gotten very far into it yet, and I suspect ROM translators have other priorities than hacking away at a bizarre quasi-RPG for a system nobody bought outside Japan. Still, any help is appreciated. If anybody actually has the opportunity to translate it, I'll make it worth your time if you know what I mean. Wait, I don't know what I mean. Since I can't imagine any girls out there are translating ROMs, sexual favors are out of the question, that's for sure.

The newest Cho Aniki game is the one Trainer linked to in his mail. It's called Legend of the Holy Protein or something. I don't know much about it, except it's for the PS2 and has butt-ugly graphics as well as graphics of ugly butts.

If you want to check stuff out for yourself, keep in mind that the name 'Cho Aniki' is a phonetical latinification of the original name, and the spelling may vary. Try searching for 'Chou Aniki' if you don't find what you're looking for. Otoko no Tamafuda seems to travel under the names 'Otoko no Tamashii' and 'Otoko no Tamshii' as well.

From: Adrian
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: WW2 Cartoons

I read your second article about the U.S. WW2 cartoons. In it you wrote, "Still, why were the Orientals portrayed so crassly when the big bad in the war was Germany?". My history teacher says that during WW2, Americans thought of JAPAN as the big bad guys. This was because they didn't learn about the concentration camps until late in the war,and it was Japan who had attacked them, not Germany or Italy. Throughout the war, The U.S. was generally more concerned with the Pacific than Europe. Just thought I'd tell you.

I like your site. Keep it up.

This makes a lot of sense. It has been debated how much the governments involved in WW2 knew about the concentration camps, and it seems like while British intelligence may have suspected something was fishy in the state of Germany, they never passed any information on to the US. And Japanese forces were far more likely to attack the American continent than the Germans were, as they had the whole English marine to worry about as well as conquering new ground and keeping resistance groups in already conquered areas at bay.

If you want to learn more about the treatment animation studios gave the German soldiers, I recommend the short Education for Death by Disney. I'll probably include some info on that one when I get cracking on the next wartoon piece.

From: Nikolic
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: Your "Wait and see" game review

Hi there! I've just dicovered your site and I must say I really like it. I live in Serbia, a small country in eastern Europe, and, to make long story short, my slavic origin made it possible for me to understand the "Nu, pogodi!" (that would be the latin transcription) blurb on one of the imeges included in the review... It's Russian for a name of a (childrens') game that would most adequatly (?) be translated as: "Guess, I dare you!"

Hope this means one mistery less in your life!

Now I'm off to explore your great site some more.

Take care,

Nenad AKA Taz

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From: Nikolic
To: webmaster@www.encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: Re: Your "Wait and see" game review

Hi! I just did some searching online and I figured that I must be braindead or something :). The reason I'm saying this is the fact I must have mixed my memories... The info you'll read in this email is the truth and nothing but the truth :), so read on.

"Nu, pogodi" (or "Wait, I'll get you!" is a cartoon series from Russia. You can find more details about it at
http://www.russianword.com/shopping/B00005A8YK.htm

Here's what the "Big Cartoon database" has to say about it: "Originally started as a "Tom and Jerry" wannabe, the series evolved into a completely different phenomenon. The chases, spills and cartoon character mangling are still there- but the series are also a poignant social satire. The Wolf is a chain-smoking motorcycle-riding beer-guzzling proletarian. The Rabbit has all the childish innocence and enthusiasm of properly raised Soviet youth - and yet displays odd homoerotic tendencies that were obviously missed by the government censors.

The soundtrack is a medley of pop tunes, each providing a commentary on the action and (to a person knowledgeable in '70s Soviet pop-music) is often funnier then the action. The few original pieces written for the show were performed by (at the time) the only Electronic Instruments Orchestra in Russia (featuring weird analog synthesizers, theremins and other interesting devices)."

(from http://www.bcdb.com/bcdb/detailed.cgi?film=51216&p=s )

So, there you have it. The toon started airing in Russia in 1969, and here it was shown in early 1980's so it's no wonder my memories of it are a bit fuzzy... In short, I guess the bootlegers wanted to cash in on BOTH popularity of Bugs Bunny and the Rabbit featured in this toon... I have attached a pic from this show. If you want, feel free to use this info.

Whew, this was a long mail! Keep up the good work!

Nenad AKA Taz

Taz is quite right, Wait and See! is obviously a double knock-off, trying to plagiarize both Warner Brothers and Soviet sub-radar political cartoonists at the same time. The concept of the rabbit running away from the wolf is from Nu Pogodi, while the character clearly is modeled after Bugs Bunny.

I actually tracked down a DVD with all the Nu Pogodi cartoons on it, and while I can read the Cyrillic alphabet, I don't understand any of it unless the written words themselves are non-Slavic in origin or 'glasnost' or 'beer'. As for spoken Russian, I don't understand any of it unless anyone says 'glasnost' or 'beer'. Luckily, there isn't much talking at all in these cartoons. I haven't seen everything yet, but Nu Pogodi is actually pretty fun. The American and European cartoons produced today are either extremely polically correct or by mission statement politically incorrect, and it's cool to find animation that's politically risque and still can work as innocent fun.

From what I've seen, the above description is pretty accurate. There is a definitive, yet indefinable, pseudo-romantic connection between the wolf and the kinda androgynous (but still clearly male) rabbit. And while I'm no expert on the social situation in the Soviet sixties, what I do know is clearly expressed. Hmmm... I could go on for a long time, it looks like I'd better do a piece on Eastern European animation sometime. I swear, it's more interesting than it sounds like.

Oh, and I just found out that there's this band called Nu Pagadi, and when I checked them out I realised I'd seen one of their videos. I wish I could recommend their music, but from what I remember they're really German in a post-Kraftwerk/666 kind of way, and while I love Das Model as much as the next kitch-loving person, I really can't see myself listening to pierced Krauts pretending they're magical computer prostitutes from the middle ages.

The next e-mail is really really damned long, so I'll cut a lot of stuff out and comment inbetween.

From: Robert
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: Fan Mail & Other General Crap

Dear Webmaster,

I read about your "Encyclopedia Obscura" in a recent copy of EGM. Since EGM is a magazine that possesses a wicked sense of humor, I automatically assumed that your site would defeinitely be equally hilarious. I was right.

A few of your articles sparked my interest (although all of them were hilarious), and I think I may be of help with some of them. I have a lot to say (having effectively read about 20% of your entire website and all), so make sure you don't have to pee.

First, I've noticed a lot of seemingly strange enemies in games. The easiest explanation is this: many cultures either demonize or absorb the gods/myths of other cultures and then later change them. For instance, the Romans took many Greek gods (Zeus=Jupiter, Aphrodite=Venus, etc.). Even the King James Bible (and other relevant Christian versions) does this. The "Wicked Serpent" image was used because there were some cultures that worshipped serpents or serpent like creatures (perhaps the Chinese depiction of a dragon; I'm not sure.), so they inverted it to make it evil. Cultures demonizing/changing imagery from other cultures would explain the Ninja totem poles in Black Manta, for instance.

This is a pretty insteresting subject. The reason why the present version of Satan carries a trident and has a hoof and horns is that these objects and attributes were incorporated and used by Christianity to 'evilize' other gods worshipped in the same areas (in this example Poseidon/Neptun and Satyr/Pan). Many demons in Judeo-Christian mythology are actually Canaanite gods that were undermined after Moses, Aaron and Joshua conquered large areas in the Middle East. Baal/Belial was for example a pretty benevolent Sun/fertility god back in the day, and not five years ago I killed him with my level 24 sorceress after he had corrupted a bunch of pygmys in the swamp or something. It's been a while since I played Diably II, my memory fails me. Even more integrated into western culture is his lover, Astarte. Not only is 'Easter' a permutation of her name, but the whole rabbit and eggs deal was a big thing when she was worshipped. She may also have turned somewhat evil in later years, as she lent her name to the dreadful Warren Beatty movie Ishtar. I am however not completely convinced ninja totempoles are an attempt at demonizine Native American culture.

Next, I'd like to explain Japanese culture a bit. I plan to live in Japan for two months or so in early 2006, so I've been studying the language and history. The Japanese have their own cultural quirks, just like anywhere else in the world. One of said quirks is that they almost always change something to their liking. For instance, the three predominant religions in Japan are Shinto, Confuciansim, and Buddhism. Although these are three seperate religions, the Japanese have taken the bits they liked from all three and fused them into one uber religion. This is why they love nature (Shinto), respect elders (Confucianism), and enjoy 4 hour long cermonial tea parties (Buddhism). This is also why their games seem "weird" to the rest of the world. You see, the Japanese people as a whole have respect for human nature at its best and worst. In America, for instance, one of the worst things you could possibly do (short of murder) is have sex outside of a marriage. Some cultures permit multiple wives, or, in the darker cultures, abuse of said wife/wives. In Japan, sex is pretty much permitted outside of the marriage (for both partners), so long as it is to satisfy physical needs and not for love.

There is also very little censored in television. For instance, America and many other cultures of the world think cartoons are only for children. If you've ever seen any uncensored anime in Japan, it can be very violent. I'm not talking stuff that's on at 2300 hrs.; some very bloody and violent animes (such as "Naruto") are shown between 1700 and 2000 hrs. Even the U.S. precious "Pokemon" is actually very dark. When the furry little critters are injured in the U.S., there is black crosshatching on their bodies. (I suppose this is to be interpreted as scrapes.) In Japan, however, they bleed like the Kool Aid man with a crack in his pitcher-shaped head. If this still doesn't convince you of how drastically different the cultures are, Misty loses her virginity to Ash. I'm certain Ash is around 10, and Misty looks 12 or 13.

My rhetorical question on this particular topic is this: from the Japanese point of view, is sexual/homosexual imagery really that strange?

No, it's not. Yeah, I answered a rhetorical question, what are you gonna do about it? I hope nobody thinks I actually get provoked by the sexual stuff in Japanese games, I just think the contrasts between the games we got to play in the eighties and nineties and the ones that never got through the cultural barrier are fun to explore. Well, I did stumble across some semi-pedophilic stuff in a platformer the other day, and that I have a bit of trouble with. Homosexuality is one thing. The heart wants what the heart wants, and if your heart wants cock, your heart wants cock, regardless of whether you have one yourself or not. Ain't no cure for that, and I don't see a reason why there should be. Zoophilia... Well, personally I find it pretty stomach-turning, but I guess it doesn't really hurt anyone except if your partner is really really small, like a hamster or something. But pedophilia is kick-in-the-eye-socket-provocative, and I'm currently trying to make it sound funny for an I-Mockery project. Stay tuned, folks.

As for the samurai at the end of "Legend of Kage", there is an easy explanation for this. Samurai follow a code called "Bushido". Bushido is a martial art as well as a way of life. It has its odd rules concerning manners and decorum, as well as some violent bits. For instance, only about 50% of Bushido students became samurai. Why? To officially master Bushido, you must face another student in fully armed combat to the death. Hence, only half of the students pass. (The other half die.) Bushido also forbids attacking from behind or entering a home without permission, two tactics used often by ninja. Because ninja used such advanced tactics, they were thought to have been using magic. Hence the mythical "super ninjas" who could breathe fire and jump at 30 degree angles were born. Few games today accurately depict ninjas in their heyday.

For future reference in this area, I can tell you about a few of the myths. The first is "fire-breathing". Most likely real ninjas used an accelerant in conjunction with a torch or other flame. Next is a technique called "Kawarimi no jutsu", or "Art of the Replacement". Mythologically, the ninja would die, but a puff of smoke would appear and a log would be in the ninjas place. Then the real ninja would strike from elsewhere. This was likely a Ninja using a smoke bomb to conceal themselves and dissapear. When another ninja used shurikens or a samurai fired arrows and hit a tree in place of the ninja, this legend was born. The final technique I will go over is one that is featured in "Ninja Gaiden", (the original for NES. It is called "Konohakagure", which roughly translates to "Shadow of Leaves". In Legend, a ninja would use a spell that would make leaves swirl in a cyclone and conceal him. The ninja would then appear behind his opponent(s) and kill him/them. In actuality, this was likely just someone hiding under leaves or up in a tree (early camoflauge; interesting, isn't it?) and attacking from above or... well, below (ouch).

I hope that you now understand how all of the legends about Ninjas were born and why they fly at 30 degree angles.

Well, there you have it, folks. Ninjas in a nutshell. Now let's see if we can convince them now is a good time to start kidnapping the president again.

As for your war propaganda Disney movies, I don't think that they were quite as funny as Warner Brothers racially questionable movies. I recall a printed article in some magazine years ago about how 13 or so shorts from the 50s were banned from current television because of racial content. I actually recall seeing one: a black man (a VERY dark one at that) with trousers and a tweed hat (no shirt or shoes) was walking in the woods singing "Gonna catch me a ra-ah-ah-beet" (rabbit). (I suppose he was hungry since he couldn't eat in a restaurtant, having neither shirt nor shoes.) I think it is worse to have a negative depiction of an ethniicity in a cartoon than a little good ol' war propaganda, so I think it would be good for you to check them out and perhaps add them to your site. Of course, I acknoweldge the fact that you pointed out the stereotyped Japanese in the WW2 propaganda cartoons, and I commend and applaud you for that.

The short described here is Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, and it's a barrelfull of politically incorrect laughs. It should be available on file share if anyone is interested.

Since one of your articles is about product placement in games, I have a couple things to mention. I have the NES version of the "Cool Spot" game called "Spot: The Videogame!". It's some crappy board game, and it SO doesn't deserve the"!". I also have a game called "Yo! Noid" (It doesn't really earn it's "!" either; It's more of a "?" game), based entirely on the Domino's Pizza mascot of the early 90s and his quest to steal pizza. Finally, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game (BTW, Donatello is my favorite, too) has Pizza Hut plastered all over it. (In fact, at one point, ninjas pop out from behind Pizza Hut signs which crush you if you don't move. The message? Pizza hut ninjas are out to kill you with billboards.)

Actually, Pizza Hut ninjas are a bit more sneaky and usually try to kill you with cholesterol. But you know, in a cartoon show you've got to keep things a bit more flashy and awesome rad. The TMNT II plug was actually supposed to be included in the product placement piece (as were the Noid games), but then I got so caught up in mayonnaise art I completely forgot about it. And honestly, who can blame me? Let he who is without sin...

From: Greg
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: news you've no doubt heard a hundred times already

Just to provide the same heads-up I'm sure you've received many times over by now, the "Swamp Thing" game for the NES was actually released. How do I know this? My cousin owned it and, yes, it sucked out loud.

If it's somehow rare, though, that would be really ironic since they were in no real hurry to hold onto that piece of crap.

Well, I guess Swamp Thing was supposed to be like that, Bart Simpson sound effects and all. The game was a hyper-quick cash-in to tie in with the movie release, which itself was a hyper-quick cash-in to tie in with the Alan Moore comic. Neither the game nor the movie managed to do to their mediums what the comic did, and I guess they never were meant to.

If anyone wants to know more about the wacky world of video game licensing, I just submitted an article on the subject to the magazine Retro Gamer, and the issue should be out late this February or in early March. Lotsa info on games like Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves and Journey to Silius. Plugplugplug

From: Jack
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: Monster Party Screenshot Credits

I don't know if this is the same guy, but he has the same screenshots, including the picture of the original flytrap boss.

(Really long URL)

I'm probably the 500th reader to send you this link, but if not, I hope it makes you feel better.

What Jack is refering to here is a part in the last reader mail piece where I confessed to not giving due credit to whoever had uploaded some screenshots from the Japanese version of Monster Party. Now I can finally rectify that. Make sure you look around that page a bit, there's a lot of interesting info there.

From: David
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: more information on NARC

hey first i wanted to say great site..got a buncha laughs out of it. i was lookin thru it and i saw your little article on N.A.R.C you were wondering what version that screen shot was from well i can tell you its the arcade version. my dad is in the amusements buisness and i remember we had that game back in the day and i put quite a bit of time into it. also if you watch the first ninja turtles movie when they are in the foot clans layer and they show all those kids playing video games and one kids playing a game with like some sort of skull swinging around by a spine or somethin like that..thats narc. thats the final boss who i dont think i ever beat. that game was really fun. i wish we still had it so i could play it again. i think their even coming out with a new version. BTW- the arcade blew away the nintendo version

hope i helped ya a little,
dave

Next to Les Mondes Engloutis requests, this is probably the thing I get e-mailed the most about. I appreciate all the help, but I really know this now. Seriously, I sometimes forget what my best friends are called while looking them right in the face, but I'm never going to forget which version of N.A.R.C. that screenshot is from. I better buy the Ninja Turtles DVD and check that thing out, I'm actually pretty sure one of the guys who are playing that game is none other than a young Sam Rockwell, or at least I think he's in that scene. And come on, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Matchstick Men and Galaxy Quest were all good movies, and judging from the published stills from the Hitchhiker's Guide movie, his Zaphod may give old Lando Calrissian a run for his money in the Funky Space Pimp Olympics, but if I was Sam Rockwell, the one thing I'd put in bold type on my CV would be "Held master Splinter captive in 1989".

From: Justin
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: Little Red Hood

Believe it or not, I actually own the game on cartridge. Though sadly, HES used EPROMs for their games, so I may be doing some data backup and repair/replacement in a few years if I wish to keep the thing.

HES did what Wisdom Tree did for Noah's Ark- you have to attach a licensed game to the top of the thing just to play it on an NES. Though with my new Neo Fami pirate Famicom, screw the lockout chip. I don't need ot mess with it.

I was so bold as to ask Justin if he could take a picture of the cart, and just before this page went to the presses, I received another email from him.

From: Justin
To: webmaster@encyclopedia-obscura.com
Subject: Little Red Hood

Attached is a photo of Little Rd Hood with an NES game plugged into the top. Beside it is the new Neo Fami bootleg Famicom, for size comparison. The black thing is the controller, the green gun I swiped from one of those Super Joy III sets(the multi-game NES bootleg in an N64 controller) just so I could play Duck Hunt. Thing uses the Genesis/Atari 9-pin connector.

That certainly is a pretty rad colelction of bootleg stuff. Thanks to Justin for the help, and if you want help punishing yourself real good, load up the ROM and check out this GameFAQs walkthrough that recently appeared.

Well, I'll see you when I get the stack of work I need to get done out of the way, I promise I'll have a real update for you all then.

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