Gaijin Gunpla

The last week of June was a busy one. With the fiscal year winding up on June 30th it was go go go time at work trying to dispatch as much product as possible in order to make it count against the books for 2010 – 2011. I even worked the last saturday of the month and participated in the inventory count on July 1st. So when ASM contacted me and said he would be Tokyo on the 3rd of July I was determined to get in to Tokyo to meet him, relax, and perhaps even spend some money on something other than happy-hour drinks.

That day there was a special event being held by in Akihabara by Olympus to preview their newest camera.  As ASM is a camera guy we met there and I also stood in line to get some promotional material and play with the Pen 3.

Now, I can assure you I am not a camera guy (most readers of this site, looking at my pictures, already are aware of that fact) but I gotta say the Pen 3 is amazing! It even features a touch screen. By touching the screen the camera focuses on that part of the image.

I’ll stop there about the Pen 3 otherwise my ignorance will show through. If I had the extra money I would probably pick up this camera. Until then I’ll just watch ASM play with his.

After leaving the Olympus event we went to the Yellow Submarine and found the Hobby Base hands that the Gunpla world is so excited about.

They were all out of the 1/144 scale hands but they did have both 1/100 scale in both gray and black. I chose gray as it would probably take paint better.

I plan to open these up and play with them a bit and I’ll post about them here. Don’t be surprised if they end up on my Epyon (I now have a second Epyon, btw).

When we finished at the Yellow Submarine it was time to head to our favourite watering hole, The Hub, and get ourselves a table. Despite it being only a few minutes before happy hour the place was not that full so we were able to get a table next to the TV and ordered our food and when the lights dimmed at 5 PM we started on our Rum & Cokes.

(two hours later)

With full bellies (and bladders) we left The Hub and then walked the 3 minutes to Yodabashi camera.

I actually bought a gundam kit there.


The MG Wing Custom Zero. I have not paid particular attention to this kit in the past but there are two reasons I became interested in it very recently. The first is that I built the MG Eypon and it was fantastic and sparked an interest in that anime.

The second reason is that I saw Naoki Kimura’s Wing Zero Custom in the latest issue of Hobby Japan magazine.

I (heart) Naoki Kimura. Or, more specifically, I (heart) the kits that Naoki Kimura builds. I actually picked up the magazine because it was full of Epyon.

I dig this picture in a big way.

The last thing we bought in the Hobby section was a limited edition paint. Yes, they even have 限定 paint in this country.

You can tell it’s limited edition because it hasn’t even been given a designated number.

Normally Tamiya spray are labeled TS- and then a number but this one is just TS. Oooh. Exclusivity.

And that’s not all. One floor above the Gundam is the Tower Records. We make it a point to stop in there when we are in Akiba and check out any new music. And I found some!

The first one that caught my eye is the new CD from Oda Kazumasa (小田和正).

To provide a little background on my appreciation for Mr. Oda, let me tell you how I first discovered him.

When I first moved to Japan it would be accurate to state that I was very ignorant of the Japanese music scene. Other than Shonen Knife which I heard on alternative radio back in Canada I didn’t really know much, or anything, about it. While watching TV during my first few weeks here I heard a song in a commercial that I thought was beautiful. The guitar was pretty and the man’s voice was incredible. Even though I didn’t understand the lyrics at that time I still wanted to find that music. I eventually found out it was Oda Kazumasa and then I started on the journey of listening to as many of his CDs as I could trying to find that one song. I eventually found it on one of his Best of albums. The song is tashikana koto (たしかなこと)which I would translate as The Certain Things and the premise of the song is to not lose sight of those things in your life that you may take for granted. Here’s the CM I saw that started everything Oda Kazumasa (and there’s a lot!) for me.

For such a prolific singer/songwriter he hasn’t released a new album the entire time I have been in Japan. Well that has changed. Although he had released a few singles in the past couple of years I didn’t realize a new album was on the way but when I saw it sitting there at Tower Records I grabbed it immediately.

I also was pleasantly surprised to learn that progressive metal gods Symphony X had released a new album.

Anyone familiar with progressive metal has heard of bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X. Dream Theater would be he unarguable top dog in the genre but I actually prefer Symphony X. I think the music has more edge and I prefer Symphony X’s singer of Dream Theater’s. That’s right. I just wrote that. Russell Allen over James Labrie.

And as I was on a bit of CD buying binge, which is rare for me ever since I moved to Japan and CDs can cost 3000 yen instead of the $11 I was paying in Canada, I rolled the dice and picked up the debut CD by a new band that seemed promising judging by the sample I heard at the listening station; Amaranthe.

This is my kind of music! Melodic heavy guitars fronted by a female singer and some snarly male vocals as well.

It’s as if Scar Symmetry and Within Temptation had a baby but put it up for adoption. (I am not implying Scar and Within were bad parents, just that they were young and uncertain and they did what they thought was best for young Amaranthe). Amaranthe was taken in by Evergrey and Kamelot and raised to rock out full force. (I am also not implying that Evergrey and Kamelot are a gay couple looking to raise a child. I just want to use all these bands in my analogy. It’s my analogy, dammit!)

How how much of behaviour is genetic and how much is learned? Psychologists are still debating that. In the end Amaranthe is a mix of Scar Symmetry, Within Temptation, Everygrey, and Kamelot. And I love it!

14 Responses so far.

  1. Busterbeam says:

    argh you got the hands! and that paint! i want that paint!!! damn it why did i leave japan!

  2. Project.X3R0 says:

    First off: I love your blog! My top three visited sites on Chrome are GundamGuy, Gaijin Gunpla, and Z’s blog 🙂

    I’m gonna be in Tokyo in January, are there any stores you would recommend for getting Gunpla? I have a wish list a mile long but I’ll probably only end up getting two 😛

  3. jiminboo says:

    Damn I love this blog ^_^ Gunpla with a little Metal thrown in, great job gaigun!

  4. fury-s12 says:

    Amaranthe – epicly good bunch right there

  5. Kjasi says:

    Not a fan of the Death-Metal singer in Amaranthe, but the rest is amazingly good.

    Oooh… Those hands look pretty…

  6. I’ve seen those hands before, but what exactly makes them a must get?

  7. usually i lurk. and im not a fan of screamo…but there are exceptions =D
    Amaranthe is awsome, and for some reason the remind me of Jam Project lol.
    coincidently, i found me an awsome screamo just before dropping by. i’m guessing you will like it too =)

    • syd says:

      Too screamy for me. I don’t much like the growlies but there are a few exceptions such as those in Scar Symmetry and Amaranthe that are there to compliment the straight singing. I do like Children of Bodom very much, though.

  8. shiro11 says:

    Would love to see a review of those hands, really curious if they are better than all the past after market hands.

  9. Dennis says:

    I have those hands on order in both scales. HLJ’s backordered so I may not see them for awhile. They look great and I cannot wait for mine to come. Nice Gunpla kit choose. Now that I built Epyon, I want all the Wing EW kits. My wallet is losing more weight then I am. lol….

  10. Wow, you were there 3 days after I went, it would have been cool if I had bumped into you then haha.

    Looking forward to that WZC build~

  11. kenchan says:

    hi syd, i just wanted to ask how hard it was for you to move to japan, at the moment i am a student in the UK studying games programming and hopefully one day move to japan. Huge fan of Anime and this how i got interested in japanesse culture. Just want to ask you got any advice for someone wanting to move.

    • syd says:

      I can’t say it was difficult to move to Japan. I was at the right age to get a working/holiday visa which allowed me 6 months to live and work here. To get that I needed to prove that I had quite a bit of money available to me as the government wants to be sure you aren’t going to be broke over here. The culture shock at first was quite large but there’s enough interest in English here that I survived without any terrible difficulty. That said, I can’t say the first year or so was very enjoyable. There are a lot of differences between japan and western cultures and it some things are just incomprehensible to a westerner like me. Once you realize that things are often ass-backwards here things get easier. I should say that if I wasn’t interested in Japanese martial arts I wouldn’t be living here.

  12. Lec Viloria says:

    ah yes symphony x is really good! i prefer the older albums though but it is their being innovative that keeps them at the top of the progressive rock scene. and yes, Russel Allen over James LaBrie

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