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Alethea & Athena
Inside the Dome 
25th-Sep-2017 06:04 pm
twins
Today has been an odd day, scheduling-wise. We had it all worked out--we were going to finish our first draft of Say I Love You, then either start editing it or start on one of the other two books we have due by the end of the month, and it would go so super fast that we could easily get them in on time. Except for maybe the third book, but that one's not technically due until the beginning of next month and we're reasonably sure the publisher doesn't need it by then. But anyway, we checked our email and there was a new chapter of Farewell, My Dear Cramer (of course there was), so those plans all went out the window. Instead, we finished our first draft of Say I Love You, and then succumbed to the Sleepies, and then we translated that chapter of Cramer. The Sleepies and accidentally having our Kingdom Hearts Orchestra CD on shuffle resulted in everything feeling like we were in a dream and we don't even know what's what anymore.

And basically, all of that is a long way of saying I'm not sure how well I can focus today. But focus I must! Because we want to tell everybody about our Japan trip, and then we probably should get back to work. So let's get to it!

When we last left our heroines, they were in the waiting room to see Sunshine City's special Attack on Titan-themed planetarium show. We really weren't quite sure what to expect, but while we were waiting for things, we saw some screens that were advertising it, so we knew to expect, like, PS2 quality CGI. Before the show started, one of the planetarium employees explained that once we went through the doors (into the planetarium), we would be in a world where humans are hunted and eaten by titans, but don't worry; there's a big, sturdy wall surrounding us, so we'll be perfectly safe. And that's all I can remember as far as the introduction. I should probably point out that there are spoilers for the series here, so if you plan on watching Attack on Titan and don't want to be spoiled, you might want to skip this part of the report.

Inside the planetarium, the screen (which, being a planetarium screen, was basically a recreation of a view upward from the ground, along with anything that might stand above the horizon) showed some housetops on one side, and a ginormous wall on the other. It was like we were inside...um...I don't remember what they call the place where everybody lives in Attack on Titan. We didn't remember any of the names at all until we watched Attack on Titan: Junior High. But anyway, that's where we were.

If I remember correctly, when the show started (they took the town away to show us some commercials), there was a brief narration (courtesy of Armin) about the whole plight of humanity and stuff, and then, BAM! Colossal Titan appears. He breaks through the wall with the help of his Armored Titan friend, and then there's a bunch of titans running around. So much for being safe. Thanks a lot, Planetarium Lady. At first I was like, "Whoa! This is so cool! It's kind of like we're there!" and then the screams went on for a little while too long and just as I started to think it was getting a liiiittle bit silly, the camera seemed to be oddly focused on the titan that ate Eren's mom. The titan looked at the camera, reached out, picked it up, and ate it! That's right; the titan swallowed the whole audience.

Of course, the natural outcome of being eaten by a titan is that you find yourself looking up at the stars and pondering the meaning of life. I admit, we both had a hard time focusing on this part of the show, because we were both kind of shocked in many different ways about what had just happened. It was kind of, "Did they really just do that? Well, of course they just did that! But why? What does it mean? Is it cool, or ridiculous?" There was also a bit of trying to hard to remember what all was going on so we could report about it later. But anyway, we do remember that Armin talked about how humans would look up at the stars and contemplate their place in the universe, and start to think that the universe was made for them...and there might have been something about how the wall affected that perception. It feels so long ago... The narration transitioned to Greek mythology, specifically the titan Atlas, who was tasked with holding up the globe. Atlas looked remarkably like Eren in titan form, and soon the night sky changed back to a scene from the town again. Titan Eren was carrying a big boulder to close up the hole in the wall. And Armin and Mikawa fought alongside him to keep the other titans away. So that was kind of cool, and then he plugged up the wall and we went back to looking at the stars and contemplating our place in the universe. There was discussion of having a purpose to accomplish, like Eren plugging up the wall, too.

I don't remember how, but it then transitioned to Eren's fight against the Armored Titan outside the wall. Athena turned to me and whispered, "Didn't Eren lose this battle?" And boy did he ever. And so did we! After some intense fighting, including some titanic blood splatters and unpleasant cracking sounds, Colossal Titan's head came plunging down! And swallowed us. And I was like, "Oh yeah, that is how that fight ended." and also, "Seriously, they ate us twice?" and also, "You know, I think I really am just immune to feeling like projections on screens are real..." It looked cool, sure, but it didn't really feel like anything was happening to me personally. Anyway, as you all know, titanic esophagi lead to the night sky, so the next thing we did was ponder the meaning of life. I think the overall theme was trying to find our place in the universe, and then they did a really cool thing where some of the stars got brighter until they looked like the sparks that are floating up behind the Attack on Titan logo, and the logo came onto the screen, and they played the music and I must say the Attack on Titan music is quite stirring. So we left the theater motivated (for what? I don't know), and thinking, "Wow, that show was simultaneously sillier and deeper than I expected."

Then we returned to the aquarium, where we saw another penguin demonstration! This time, it was the one they do on land, because the penguin habitat has a land part and a sea part. The land part was designed to look like the penguins' natural habitat, so part of the demonstration asks the visitors what they think of when they think of penguins. I think they were looking for the answer "cold, ice, snow, etc.", because this was supposed to segue into explaining why the habitat looked nothing like that. These particular penguins come from South Africa, where they have lovely green cliff beaches, and that's what the habitat looks like. And for some reason it never occurred to me that, "Hey, how come that habitat doesn't look cold?" until they pointed it out. Other than that, we were in a bad spot to hear the microphoned speaker, so I'm not sure what all else was said. I'm sure it was similar to the penguin demonstration from the first time we went.

We also saw them feed the jumping fish! They're called arowana in Japanese, but I don't know what they are in English. But it was cool, because they would hold some bait over the water, and the fish would jump out and eat it! I may have missed most of it because I was trying so hard to take a picture of a fish jumping that I wasn't watching it for myself. I think I might have gotten a couple of good pictures, though! (Also, I know the concept. It's a fish, and it jumps. Sometimes higher than other times.)

And we watched the otter greeting! Oh my goodness, it was so cute. The otter didn't do tricks like the sea lion, but that doesn't matter because it was so stinking adorable. This particular otter did not like being on stage, though. They had a little tiny tank set up in the center of the stage, and it spent most of the greeting swimming around in the tank, or trying to get back in the tank. There was one part of the show where the trainer...okay, so the stage is kind of a three-pronged pinwheel shape, and the trainer would walk the otter along each prong of the pinwheel so the audience could get a better look at it, but the otter was very reluctant, poor guy. It especially tried to dig its feet in when the trainer tried to take it along the prong where the audience was closest. On the one hand, I felt sorry for it, but on the other hand, it was so cute! It's good for people to go outside of their comfort zones, though, so maybe it's good for otters, too? As long as the trainers are keeping an eye on it to make sure it's not too stressful.

Oh, I forgot! At some point we went to the cafe and had sea salt ice cream! And mini otter pancakes! They seemed to be pancakes that were cooked in a takoyaki mold, and one of the pancakes was stamped with an otter face. It was adorable. And in the gift shop, we found a plush jellyfish that first we were like, "Oh, it's so cool, it's a jellyfish!" and then we saw the cute little button eyes on it and thought, "Oh my goodness, that's teh adorable!" and then we discovered that it's a puppet! So we had to buy it, and now it's ours! Tadah!

When we were done at the aquarium, we went shopped around the mall for a little bit. Mom's been learning Japanese, and she wanted something she could read, because learning vocabulary is one thing, but it's nice to put it in context. So we went to our favorite Sunshine City bookstore and found a cute children's book called Ringo kamo Shirenai, which we like to translate to, "It Might Be an Apple." I'm not going to say what it's about though, because if she reads this blog post here, that will give it away. We also went to the Pokemon Center and once again were faced with the dilemma of wanting to buy every single thing in the store. In those cases, we tend to be like, "Well, if I can't get it all, I'd rather not have any of it," so we didn't buy anything. We would have gotten the Rowlet, but we weren't sure if we could fit it into our luggage. We found out later that we could have, but the way we found out is that something else made it so we wouldn't have been able to. That's a story for another day.

Naturally we went to the Disney Store, where we had the exact same problem. But oh my goodness, those Disney Store cast members are so good at tempting you. They can always tell when you're admiring something, so they know just what to say to make it worse! Japan's Disney Stores have a line of teddy bears called the UniBEARsity Bears...or something like that. But they're Japan exclusives, and the cast members know that, so they'll make sure you know that, too (especially if they can tell you won't be in Japan forever, like, because you're obviously a foreign tourist). And of course, only the Mickey & Friends bears last forever; the rest of them are limited editions. And this time! oh my goodness, this time! They had an entire set! of Beauty and the Beast bears! They had Belle, the Beast, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, and Cogsworth. The Cogsworth bear (they all have their own names, but we don't know how to find them out, so we only know that the Belle one (who is yellow) is named Rouge Rose *shrug*) was a really nice orange color, and the Lumiere bear had an extra pointy nose! And tufts of orange fur on the top of his head and on his hands to represent fire! And the cutest little smirk! Aaaaahhh! But of course, if we got Lumiere and Cogsworth, wouldn't it be nice to have Mrs. Potts and Chip, too? And then! the cast member came along and said, "And look, we sell costumes for them, too, so you can dress the Lumiere bear up as Lumiere! And here's the cute little tail on Chip and Mrs. Potts (they're little handles like on a teacup and teapot)!" What nearly killed me was when she turned the Beast bear around and showed us the ponytail he had. Oh my goodness, we wanted the whole set. They were 2500 yen each! That's about $25, so just one would be okay, and two might be fine, but six? That's a little much. We considered starting a GoFundMe.

(Okay, here's the official website so you can see them. And now we know their names! Beast is Fauve, Lumiere is Lucien, Cogsworth is Hors...something, Mrs. Potts is La Mere, and Chip is Ma...something.)

And so, since we couldn't have it all, we chose to get nothing. And we moved on to...I don't remember if we went to Animate or Tokyu Hands first. But we did have time to go to Nekobukuro, so maybe it was the latter. Nekobukuro is a little cat play-land where you can just sit and watch or play with cats. They're not the friendliest cats, but they are oh so very pretty. Especially Cafe... Basically, it made us think of pretty much what any cat lover wants to make for their cats at home--cat trees, walkways, little holes in the wall... And it was all done up for Halloween! Two of the cats had little Halloween capes on, too. So cute.

Finally, we went to Animate, where we were hoping to get the DVD of the second Noragami play. But it turns out they didn't have it, so we were kind of like, "Wow, what's the point in anything anymore?" and were just pretty depressed for the rest of our shopping trip. But we did pick up the first volume of Fruits Basket Another, and we found a Princess Principal character song CD, so of course we bought that, too. Then we went to KFC because we hadn't eaten nearly enough and were starving, and then we went back to the hotel.


And that concludes our first full day in Japan (this trip). Now it is time to get dinner, and then probably back to work.

Today I'm thankful for making a fair amount of progress on work despite the Sleepies, getting to see the Attack on Titan planetarium show, Princess Principal character songs (we haven't listened to the CD yet, but I think the songs are all by the same composer as the opening and ending themes, so I'm confident they'll be good), finally getting to check out Nekobukuro, and getting to say hi to the otters.
Comments 
26th-Sep-2017 04:10 am (UTC)
The getting-swallowed-by-Titans aspect of that planetarium show sounds mind-boggling. The whole concept doesn't really make sense. I mean, being fake-swallowed by a Titan might be a more or less logical intro to something like "Fantastic Voyage," where you supposedly got to see the human body from the inside. But since Titan bodies don't really work like human bodies, and Titans apparently eat people not for nutrition, but purely out of some instinctive (or deliberate, in the case of the ones who appear to have conscious minds) drive to destroy humans, I suppose that wouldn't really make sense either. Although it would be more logical than what you described as the planetarium show's assumption that Titan gullets lead to the night sky.

Did the planetarium employees suggest that certain aspects of this presentation might be too much for people who didn't have strong stomachs, or that it might be inappropriate for small children? Admittedly, the whole "get swallowed/wind up staring at the night sky" aspect probably made it a lot less scary than it logically should have been. But it still seems as if the basic concept could have been pretty frightening for little kids. Maybe the planetarium staff figured that anyone who came to an Attack on Titan-themed presentation must be pretty inured to that sort of thing to begin with, or they'd have been turned off by the idea instead of attracted. But it still seems as if there would be considerable risk of little kids who got dragged along by adult family members, or even non-Titan fans who came along with friends, freaking out or even fainting or bursting into tears or something if the "getting swallowed" simulations were too convincing.

27th-Sep-2017 05:00 am (UTC)
Not really; the camera goes into the titan's mouth and everything goes dark. I think the same thing happened in the episode where Eren got swallowed by the Colossal Titan. I think it was mostly just meant for a scene change, like a fade-out but way more dramatic.

And no worries; there were warnings. In fact, I think they wouldn't even sell tickets to elementary school kids. They only had two Attack on Titan shows for the day and the rest of the shows were more family-friendly. Y'know, if your kids like gazing at the stars and contemplating their place in the universe.
26th-Sep-2017 05:01 am (UTC)
I was so amused by your starting off the retelling by designating yourselves as the heroines (but of course) and in third person :) Nice touch!

Something about getting eaten by a Titan and then gazing up at the stars, repeatedly, reminds me of something... I dunno. Maybe it was a sequence in Excel Saga or somewhere, with things falling apart into destruction and then suddenly being put back to normal again?? It sounds surreal. I agree that screen projections have a hard time seeming real.

I believe there were arowana in Animal Crossing when I played it? So maybe that's the non-Japanese name too? I had no idea they jumped, though!! They're like one of the super big fish in Animal Crossing! (not that large things can't jump out of water, given dolphins and whales, but I just always thought of little fishies.)

The jellyfish puppet(!!) sounds so cute!! "It Might Be an Apple" is a delightful title, and the cover is intriguing! Ah, and the bears are super-cute! I do like Lumiere/Lucien-bear especially :D A happy memory, at least~ (also, for completeness, since you didn't finish a couple of the names I had to figure them out for myself (which wasn't hard, I'm sure it was just you had better things to do with your time :) ). my quick googling suggests Cogsworth is Horloge ("clock") and Chip is Ma Puce ("my pet"). they're very creative names...)

Good luck with all your work!

27th-Sep-2017 05:05 am (UTC)
It's the logical thing to do in a narrative. XD

It does seem kind of familiar...

Could be! Just too lazy to check Wikipedia. (Okay, we did check Wikipedia, and it is!) And I can testify that they do indeed jump, because I saw it! (In my peripheral vision as I tried to get a picture. (I kid. I made sure to watch one.)) They're not super super big, though. Only about two to three feet.

It's adorable! I'll have to take a picture sometime! There are some other souvenirs that have yet to be photographed, too. But man, if there was ever a week when we had no free time, it is this week. I figured Cogsworth's name had something to do with clocks... The names are all so adorable! Even if Rouge Rose doesn't quite make sense. Maybe Jaune Rose just wasn't as poetic. (The princess bears seem to all be roses. The Cinderella one is Blue Rose.)
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