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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rescue Fire!

Normally on my way home from chuugakkou (JHS), I stop by Ponta's for some fried chicken. Today, however, Ponta's was closed for renovations, and since I had to go to the Board of Education to pick up some things, I decided I'd stop by Wakkou instead. Wakkou is a pizza place owned by one of my student's parents.

At Wakkou, I ordered a Salami pizza, and almost as soon as it came, a kids show came on. I could tell from the poses the actors struck in the opening credits, it was going to be corny. Very corny.
Team Captain- Fire 1-Tatstuya
Fire 2-Yuuma
Fire 3- Ritsuka
Fire 4- Tsubasa

Fire 5- Jun

Captain of Rescue Fire

(Notice how Jun's hand is in a different position. That's how they salute. They bring their hand into that position, before they go up to the salute the others are holding. It's the cheesiest salute ever!)

If you've ever watched Centurions, G Force, Captain Planet, etc, you know the type of story- team of super heroes. If you've ever seen Power Rangers movie, you know how bad this can be live action. However bad you think it was multiply it by a million. Have you ever seen something that was so horrible you couldn't look away?

The twist with this story is that the team is not only a team of superheroes. They are also a team of real life heroes. They are firefighters!

In the episode I watched, a girl called Asuka comes to visit them. Turns out that she is the niece of Riku, and her father, his brother is also inthis episode. Her father, Naoshi, makes tools for the rescue fire team and that's why they're in this episode. He's bringing some new weapon.

Fire 1 has difficulty piloting the new weapon because his "rescue soul" is damaged. So he has to go through a lot of training. After that, Fire 1 and 4, as well as Naoshi and Asuka and 2 regular firemen head out to a forest on a lakeside. One of the bad guys sees them and reports it to their superiors. (Maybe they wouldn't be so obvious if they didn't drive around in marked cars.) The cars are called the Rescue Dashes. There are 6 of them, one for each of the Rescue Fire team and Rescue Dash 6 is driven by the Captain.

The bad guys might just be the most hilarious part of the show. The pawns are called "Jackast" and are men wearing chicken looking fire suits! It's cry is "ja-ka" which also sounds kinda like a chicken.

The leader of the bad guys is called Don Kane (donkaen) and he is a ball of fire. Since he has no arms and legs, he doesn't seem to ever actually do much but lurk in the lair.

Don Kane and his followers are trying to unleash Super Fire on the world. The Super Fire was sealed a long time ago, using the freezing powers of 5 blue pearls, but they've been released by global warming so the Rescue Fire team was created to fight them. Don Kane is the last of the Fire tribe. Originally he was a dragon, but he divides his power into Jokane and the three commanders so he becomes just a ball of fire.

The 3 commanders: Sakane, Ukane, Chuukane.

Jokane, learning the location of the Fire 1 and 4, sets out to destroy them. As he arrives with the 3 commanders and a few Jackasts, Asuka and her father run away with the two firemen, while Fire 1 and 2 stay to fight. They use their megaphones ("Fire up!") to transform. A "spirit dragon" is shot out of the megaphone and turns them into their super alteregoes.

They fight the Jakast. Then the 2 remaining commanders, Sakane and Chuukane create a Fire Majin, who sets fire to a large area of forest. Fire 4 uses his Tri Basher in fire extinguisher mode to fight hte forest fire, while Fire 1 continues to fight.
Tri Basher

Meanwhile, Asuka has an idea to use her Blue Pearl pendant to ask for assistance from a dragon, and he gives her a little blue ball. Then Ukane finds her. He throws the two fire men out of the way, but her father wraps a string around Ukane's arm, and he falls into the river.

Back at the scene of the fight, Fire 1 has to transform into his second form ("Suit up") and this gives him his personal sword the X basher.

Hearing what's going on, Rick transforms headquarters ("Scramble"), and brings it to the scene.
The Phoenix- Rescue Fire headquarters which can transform into a plane and move!

He is about to be defeated when the rest of the Fire Rescue team arrive. Jokane combines 2 of the commanders into a Fire Majin (demon- which by the way, is always a gigantic bird or food covvered in fire, which can shoot fire). When Jokane does this, his face turns upside down! The team combine their vehicles to form "The Great Wyvern" (formed from the Super Dragon and the Super Jet Falcon), which gets shot down in a matter of seconds.
The Great Wyvern.

Then Asuka arrives with the blue ball and throws it to Fire 1. He charges up the X-basher, his personal sword with it. They combine again. This time they become the Super Fire Dragon.
Super Fire Dragon.

They extinguish the fire, then freeze the enemy using the Super Ice Tornado and Super Dragon Attack (in which the spirits of the first 5 Rescue dashes drive through the enemy and destroy it).

Jokaen screams that he'll remember this and disappears. Fire 1 collapses exhausted, but then stands up and they all pose.

The show airs on Aichi tv and is proof that truth is way stranger than fiction!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shougakkou bunkasai

- or Elementary school culture festival, to English speakers.

I work at two elementary schools. There is really only one word to describe elementary schools in Japan. That word is: crazy!

The first of my elementaries held their bunkasai, on Sunday,Ostober 25, a day after the Middle school. As usual there were a couple of hilarious performances.

Sixth grade is the final grade in Japanese elemntary schools. Every year the 6th graders'play has something to do with the dreams for their future. This year, the kids spoke of their dreams in front of their "teacher" in a classroom. Now any good Japanese student production needs a twist. So, right after the children told their dreams, aliens landed! (These things happen more often in Japanese plays, than you would imagine!) The aliens said they had seen the future and the children would all become fishermen and rice farmers.

At that point, I got a little bit depressed, because that's quite possibly true. It's no secret that the emphasis is on "fitting in" in Japanese society. My town in semi-rural: farmers and fishemen fight right in.

But then the play took an unexpected twist- having lived in Japan for a year, the aliens were almost predictable- the kids refused to take the destiny the aliens gave them. They decided that they would be what they wanted to be. And the aliens? They had no choice but to leave.

One giant step for 6th grade. One small step for the town of Ichinohe. Maybe...

Another memorable play was the 3rd grade production. It was abotu Doraemon, probably one of the best known early anime characters. Those of you who grew up in Barbados, like I did, might know that cartoon as Albert and Sidney, because for some reason, that's what it was marketed as there. Anyhow. Back to the play. So these guys decided to kidnap Doraemon. Of all the places in the world to take him, he ends up in Ichinohe, where a group of schoolchildren find him. Then Nobito and company (including 4 girls who simultaneously play Shizuka) use the magic door to find him. But the kidnappers won't return him, unless they can answer some questions. Each time they get a question right they get a clue- a letter (or rather a syllable, because the Japanese alphabet is syllabic), but they miss the last question and so they have to do the town dance around the gym to get Doraemon back!

And by the way, the word they had to get was "to-mo-da-chi", the Japanese for friend.

I seem not to have any pictures o the second grade play. I found it hilarious, and I think it summarizes the Japanese take on Western religion and secular holidays.

There were 4 angels. They were happy in heaven until the Head Angel came along and blew them- yes, with wind- out of heaven. Why? Because they hadn't brushed their teeth! So they got blown to Ichinohe, and they saw the children decorating a Christmas tree and hoping to see Santa Claus. So they decided to call Santa and get him to come to Ichinohe, but they got his answering machine.

Being good little angels, they really wanted to give the kids their wish, so they decided to dress up as Santa and 3 reindeer! Then they summoned the children to the school in the middle of the night to meet Santa. When they did magic, they all had to shout, "Cupid Power!" I was absolutely dying!

When the children get to school, they start to freak out, because Santa Claus is there. They speak to him, and he answers in English. They think Santa is smart for being bilingual! Then someone asks where the presents are. The angels faces fall. They'd forgotten all about presents.

Then God arrives and he's hopping mad! (God, by the way, was played by the principal- who'd also already played an angel in May at Sports Festival!) God tells the children that Santa Claus is inside of all of them, and he makes the angels wish the children back home. "Cupid Power!"

The festival at my other school was relatively normal. It's a small school. Only 31 kids in 6 grades. For me, the highlights were first grader, Nanami's impression of an old lady and the fact that 26 of the kids were in the taiko (Japanese drum) band.

After the bunkasai, there was a mandolin player who sang and played, and had her songs interpreted by a deaf-mute. It was totally random, but there is nowhere in the world more random than that school some days.

That's all for now folks. Here's hoping you have a happy day, and if you don't, just scream, "CUPID POWER!"
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