Part 8: New Year's 1996, Not THE God, just A God.New Year's 1996, Not THE God... just A god.
First order of business: We've ripped off the band-aid and met Mad Bomber Megumi. Because we scored so high on midterms, it was inevitable - if we hadn't met her at the Christmas party, Shiori would've introduced her to us on Valentine's Day. So in the long run, it's probably better to rip off the band-aid this way. Exposition Fairy, we need you!
12/25-12/30: Concert Band
12/31 (Sunday): Call Yoshio
Girl's voice: Yes, this is the Saotome residence.
Goon: Is Yoshio-kun home?
Girl's voice: Oh, you want to talk to my brother?
(the sound of running)
Girl's voice: Onii-chaaaan! Phone call!
Our first sign of Yumi, Mad Bomber #2. Please stay away for another 4 months, Yumi. Thank you.
Yoshio: Yes, this is Saotome.
Goon: Hello? It's Fudou.
Yoshio: Oh. It's you.
Goon: What's with tone of voice? Are you sad that I called you?
Yoshio: Don't ask stupid questions.
Yoshio: So what'd you call for?
The same old choices are here - Yoshio can be used to unlock date spots for you if you forget to check Memorial Spot every 3 months, but we're not interested in that.
Goon: I'd like to know what the girls think of me.
Yoshio: What they think of you, eh? Gimme a second.
Yoshio: What the girls think of you is...
This is... both good and bad. It's good that we have Shiori's affection climbing. It's bad that Yuina and Megumi are right there with her.
Yoshio: Something like this.
Goon: (Should I ask him about any one girl?)
Goon: I'd like to know more about Mikihara-san, if you can tell me anything.
Yoshio: Yeah, sure. Gimme a second.
Yoshio: Mikihara, Mikihara...
Yoshio: There she is. Okay, listen up and take notes.
Birthday: September 5th
Blood Type: A
Measurements: 78-57-79 (31-22-31)
Notes: Quiet girl who loves animals.
Gets easily flustered around boys, so has very few male friends.
Goon: Thanks! Sorry for bothering you with this stuff.
Yoshio: Bah, it's no problem at all. Ask me any time you want to know about a girl.
1/1 (holiday): New Year's Day!
While Japan converted its New Year celebration to the solar calendar back in the Meiji Restoration, it still holds much of the same meaning to the Japanese that it does to the rest of Asia. So on New Year's Day, most Japanese people visit their local shrine (some people go to Buddhist temples, but this is less common) to wash away the bad luck of the last year, pray for good fortune in the upcoming year, and buy good luck charms in a tradition known as Hatsumoude (初詣) - which means the first shrine visit of the year.
New Year's is more of a family holiday than Christmas is in Japan, and many people in the big cities "go home" to the countryside during this time. It's the biggest travel season of the year.
Goon: Who could that be?
Deliveryman: Here're your New Year's cards!
Goon: (Sweet! Himoo-san sent a New Year's card. How lucky!)
New Year's cards in Japan are a very formal and artistic thing - you'll see more of those in TokiMemo 2, so I won't cover them here.
Goon: So what should I do now?
Option 1: Alright! Let's invite a girl to go to Hatsumoude.
Option 2: Alright! Let's go to Hatsumoude alone!
There is only one choice that matters.
Goon: Who should I invite?
Again, there is only one real choice.
Goon: Let's try calling Shiori.
Shiori: Hello, this is the Fujisaki residence.
Goon: Happy New Year! This is Fudou.
Shiori: Happy New Year, Gunpei-kun.
Goon: Shiori, are you free right now?
Shiori: Yes, I'm free, did you have something in mind?
Goon: Do you want to go to Hatsumoude?
Shiori: Sure, let's go.
Goon: Cool, I'll wait outside.
Shiori: I think it'll be a while before I'm ready, so I'll come to your house.
Goon: Got it. I'll wait here.
Shiori: See you in a bit.
Goon: (Is that Shiori?)
Goon: You're wearing a haregi...
Shiori: Does it look weird on me?
A haregi is a very specific kind of formal kimono. It's only worn by women and only on special occasions. In this game, only Yukari and Shiori wear one on New Year's.
Option 1: It really suits you.
Option 2: That looks awful on you.
Some day, I'll choose option 2 just to see what happens. This is not that day.
Shiori: You really mean it? Thanks!
Shiori: Let's go!
Shiori: It's less crowded than I expected.
Goon: Let's go pay our respects.
Shiori: Lead the way.
Goon: what should I pray for?
Option 1: Success in academics
Option 2: Health
Option 3: Luck in love
A quick note on what's going on here - a typical Hatsumoude starts with ceremonially washing your hands to wash away the bad luck and impurities of the last year. Then everyone lines up to pray at the front of the temple. The general method of prayer is to toss a coin or two into that grill-looking thing (which is a collection box), ring the shrine bell if there is one, then clap your hands, close your eyes, and pray for something good to happen.
While most everyone does this at Hatsumoude, this style of prayer isn't limited to Hatsumoude. You can see Japanese people doing it all year long when they want to make something good happen. Prayers for healthy children, traffic safety, good grades, and, if you go to the shrines I do, baseball championships are very common.
In terms of actual game effect, all three of these wishes do exactly what they say on the box. Praying for success at school makes it easier to raise academic stats. Praying for Health provides about 25-30 Stamina, or the equivalent of 2 Sundays of sleeping. Praying for luck in love is just asking for bombs to rain from the sky. For every TokiMemo but 4, the right answer is always to pray for good grades.
God: (Your wish shall be granted.)
Goon: (Hmm? It feels like my thoughts are acquiring speed.)
The lips acquire stains, the stains become a warn... wait, wrong universe. Anyway, God in this case isn't The Big Guy; it's just one of the local gods that the shrine has been erected to. No, it's not Bill Murray. Though that would be awesome.
Shiori: Hey, what did you pray for?
Goon: It's, um, it's a secret. What about you?
Shiori: If you won't tell me, then I'll keep mine a secret too.
Shiori: Want to go pull our fortunes?
When the Japanese say "pull a fortune", they mean it literally. At most shrines, they have dozens of fortunes written out and arranged on numbered shelves. In order to find out which fortune is yours, you shake around a little cylindrical box with a small opening on one end. Once you're confident you're going to pull the best fortune, you pull out a stick with a number etched on it. The people at the shrine will then take that numbered fortune and hand it to you, where it sums up your upcoming year with various levels of luckiness before going into more detail about various aspects of your life, from finance to romance.
If you don't like the fortune you pulled, tradition says to tie the fortune around the shrine's tree or a special rack, either of which will leech away the bad luck.
In gameplay terms, you know what this means? Yes, it's time for mini-games!
Goon: (Let's see, this year, my luck is going to be...)
There's no explanation for this mini-game, but it's super simple. Press Circle and you'll pull a fortune for the year. Good fortunes lower Stress, and bad fortunes raise Stress. You can get the best fortune by pressing Circle right when the box is in the center, but this mini-game works on the pachinko/skeeball principle. If you go for the highest score and miss by a little bit, you'll get nothing. Meanwhile, if you aim for the outsides, you can get good luck without stressing about it.
I don't know why, but Goon really puts his back into shaking that box.
Goon: This... this is...!
Goon: Ooh, Good Luck Ahead.
Goon: (Eh, could've been worse.)
Shiori: Hey, how's it look?
Goon: Go ahead and see for yourself.
Shiori: Ooh, not bad. This might be the best result anyway.
Goon: What about yours, Shiori? Let me see!
Shiori: Well... okay, I don't mind.
Goon: Wow, you pulled Great Luck! No fair hogging all the luck.
Shiori: But, um, you know what they say, "moderation in all things".
Goon: You don't have to console me, I don't really care.
Goon: (I. Am. So. Jealous.)
Shiori, of course, always draws 大吉, or Great Luck. Goon's reactions to his various fortunes are pretty funny, so we'll take a look at some of those later.
Shiori: Let's both work to make this year as good a year as possible, okay?
Goon: You got it. Should we head home?
Shiori: Yes, let's.
1/2-1/6: Concert Band
1/7: Call Shiori
Goon: Want to go to the zoo on February 4th?
Shiori: Let me check... oh, sorry. I'm busy that day.
Goon: It's, it's fine, I don't mind.
Shiori: I'll try to make it next time!
Goon: I will.
Goon: (Dammit. Next time!)
RELOAD COUNT: 21
Two reasons to reload here: One, I forgot it was winter break - using that time on club activities is a waste of precious stat-building time. Two, let's see more of those fortune scenes. They're funny.
12/31 (Sunday): Study lit
1/1: New Year's, Part 2
Everything's the same, up until...
Goon: Bad luck...
Goon: (It's bad news right from the start this year...)
Shiori: Hey, how's it look?
Goon: Go ahead and see for yourself.
Shiori: Oh. But maybe this means you've used up all your bad luck for the year!
Goon: What about yours, Shiori?
Shiori: M, Mine? Mine was, um... Good Luck Ahead. Yeah.
Goon: Are you telling me the truth? Let me see.
Shiori: Sure, you can read it - oops! I dropped it. Oh no, now it's unreadable.
Goon: (She definitely pulled Great Luck, didn't she...)
RELOAD COUNT: 22
12/31 (Sunday): Study lit
1/1 (New Year's Day): New Year's #3!
Everything's the same, until...
Goon: Oh hey, Good Luck.
Goon: (Not bad, not bad)
The rest of the conversation is the same as the 末吉/Good Luck Ahead conversation above.
1/7 (Sunday): Sleep
That's it for now - it's 3 months until Finals week and spring break of year 1. Our stat growth is pretty much amazing, thanks to keeping focused. But with more girls entering the picture, we're going to start losing weekends and vacation time. Building and balancing stats is going to be tricky in the years ahead!
Fudou Gunpei's stats as of January 7th, 1996:
Stamina 52 | Lit 114 | Science 110
Art 116 | Sports 85 | General Knowledge 77
Looks 72 | Guts 43 | Stress 2
Here's a reminder of what the stat goals are for Shiori. Remember, if we miss these by even one point, it's the Bad Ending:
Stamina 50+ | Lit 130+ | Science 130+
Art 130+ | Sports 110+ | General Knowledge 120+
Looks 100+ | Guts 100+ | Stress 50-
Guts is going to be the hardest stat to build, since it doesn't grow quickly. Thankfully, Concert Band is also one of the ideal Shiori-route clubs because it raises Guts while not straining Stamina too much.
Come to think of it, I just realized that even though we're past Saki's Guts threshold, we didn't manage to meet her in all of that Christmas loading and reloading. In fact, technically the only characters we haven't met yet are Yukari and Saki. How the hell did that happen?
Next time: Spring 1996, The Chainsaw Juggling Begins. Plus, the next poll. It should be up on Tuesday night. Ask me any questions you want in the meantime!