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It’s been a long time since I last posted and I’m sure a lot of people have probably moved on since then, but, after a lot of personal issues and health problems, Kirby no Nihongo has returned.  Just not to WordPress.  You can find the new site at www.kirbynonihongo.com.

Currently, I’ve simply migrated all the posts over to the new site, added a new design and layout, which I’m still finishing up on, and haven’t begun updating again, officially.  However, I intend to finish the design up on the weekend and be up and running again by early next week, maybe Monday or Tuesday, with new transcripts and vocabulary posts.

The current plan is to have a minimum of two posts a week – one for transcripts and one for vocabulary or other grammar related topics.  If I can squeeze in something else during that time, that’s just gravy.

Again, sorry for the long lay off, but there was very little I could do about it and I have no real excuse for it outside of that.  Check out the new site at www.kirbynonihongo.com and feel free to let me know how you’re Japanese has progressed since I last updated!  I know I’ve kept at it, despite everything, and am preparing for my first proficiency test.

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It’s been a while since I lasted updated the blog. I just want to let everyone know that I’m still here and fully intend to continue the transcripts and other related posts. I’ve run into some personal problems of late, which have been compounded by a recent death in the family, which are the main reasons for the lack of updates. I have finished writing out several transcripts, but just haven’t had the time to sit down and type them up and format for the web. I apologize for falling so far behind without updating anyone on the situation, but hope you’ll understand. I should start getting some updates going sometime next week, so please bare with me for the time being and thanks for your support.

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Absolute Pimsleur’s Japanese I is an excellent resource for learning Japanese, but it is not the only one and should not be treated as the be all and end all of your learning experience. I know this site focuses heavily on it, but don’t let that fool you.

Remember, you should be pursuing other avenues for learning Japanese besides Pimsleur’s. It’s a solid oral and audio comprehension (learning to understand the Japanese you hear), but it’s more a suppliment than an all-in-one tool for learning the language. You should be focusing on the reading and writing aspects of the language and learning some basic grammar and vocabulary as you go along as well. Yes, the tapes introduce new vocabulary and build on it each lesson, but I don’t think it’s enough on its own.

If you have no other means of learning the language outside Pimsleur’s, I recommend checking out the various Vocabulary posts I’ve been making for simple, progressive vocabulary lessons. Also, you would benefit from doing regular writing and reading. Re-reading the various Pimsleur’s Japanese I Transcripts I’ve been doing would be a free and easy option, as it has no romanji to mess up your learning to read the kana. While repetitive reading and writing of the same kana, word, words or sentences may seem tedious, it actually works and you will begin recognizing regular words, particles and sentence structures this way that simply listening to tapes won’t allow.

Depending on how things go, I may start adding grammar, particles, conjugations and other topics to my posts. For now, the focus remains on the Pimsleur transcripts and simple vocabulary. You can check out my Japanese Resources post if you are interested in some first hand opinion on the various Japanese books I’ve used and recommend.

Finally, I just want to reiterate that you cannot rely on a single resource when attempting to learn a language as complex as Japanese.  Aids, like Pimsleur’s, are just that, aids.  They help flesh out more in-depth courses or other aspects of the language not covered by them.  Don’t get me wrong, Pimsleur’s is damn good, but it can only take you so far and that’s all I’m trying to stress to you in this post.

Remember, keep at it and don’t get discouraged.  Progress, especially early on, takes time, but with a little effort, you’ll start to see the benefits of your hard work.

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Welcome back to another edition of the Weekly Crisis Comic Book Reviews! Before we get into the actual reviews, I just want to point out some of the cosmetic changes I’ve been working on the last few days.

First, I’d like to direct your attention to the new navbar at the top of the page. I’m still working out the kinks in the CSS. Blogger’s templates are annoying to work with as well. Never know when the defaults will override something on you.

Next, I’d like to point out I’ve also fixed the banner. A few weeks back I increased the width of the blog and never got around to fixing the banner, which remained the old dimensions. So that’s much bigger and actually fits the new width now. I’m going to be working on the navbar a bit more over the next few days, so if there’s any missing banners or odd bugs, know that they’re only temporary.

Finally, while not related to the cosmetic changes I’m implementing, feel free to check out the return of Comic Book Crisis of Faith, which features a full review and summary of Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts first six issue arc, “Faith in Monsters“.

Speaking of Blogger, I’m having issues with uploading images. Keeps spitting back errors, so for the time being, I’ll be using the preview artwork for the covers of this week’s reviews.

With all that said, here’s the initial wave of reviews. I’ll be adding some more later tonight, so be sure to check back regularly.

UPDATE – If you missed it, I added my Justice League review last night and this morning I churned out my Marvel Comics Presents #2 and Death of the New Gods #1 reviews to round out most of my reviews for this week.


Comic Book of the Week

CAPTAIN AMERICA # 31
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Steve Epting

Riding on the news of the new Captain America coming this January, Brubaker and Epting open the next act in their Captain America opus and they’re still firing on all cylinders. Aside from the cop out on the cliffhanger from last issue, everything was perfect again this week.

Regarding that cop out, apparently it was just a SHIELD stun gun Sharon Carter used and both Black Widow and Falcon were left alive and relatively unharmed, as revealed this issue. It felt a little cheap and uncharacteristic of everything Brubaker has done in his tenure on Captain America.

Ignoring that though, I have very little else to complain about. Even that little faux pas was a minor gripe. Brubaker does such a great job every issue I’m left sort of grasping at straws looking for any possible flaws with this book.

My favourite part of this issue has to be the scenes with Dr Faustus and Bucky. The altered flashbacks he is trying to use to bring Bucky under his control are some of the best scenes and the Cap yelling “Heil Hitler!” was both hilarious, taken on its own with no back story applied to it, and chilling, in the context of the scene Faustus was trying to use to break Bucky. All of these flashbacks are excellent in this regard and my guess for the ending of this issue is that it is another Faustus controlled mental trap and next issue we will see Bucky trying to shoot Faustus instead of Sharon. Once he does that, Faustus will spring the trap showing he was in control all along. If Brubaker doesn’t do this, the entire scene won’t make much sense. Obviously, no one would trust Bucky enough after those few sessions with Faustus to give him a gun and release him from his bonds.

Verdict – Must Buy. This was easily the best issue this week for me and this makes three months straight I have given this book my Comic Book of the Week award.



JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #14
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Ed Benes & Sandra Hope

McDuffie’s JLA is a curious thing. On one hand, my comic nerd rage wants to bash it for its overly simplistic Silver Age plots and characterizations – things like Superman and Black Lightning charging into the villains’ base by themselves so haphazardly and without any apparent plan. On the other hand, I’m just plain having fun with this book for those exact same reasons.

This makes it hard for me to review this book as well. Do I fault it or praise it? Do I love it or hate it? In the end, if you can just ignore these Silver Age motivations and characterizations, you’ll be presented with a fun and highly entertaining book that just about anyone could enjoy. While it relies on its Silver Age roots, it also manages to infuse just enough modern storytelling techniques to make this stand on its own.

As for the contents of this issue, Lex Luthor manages to successfully taunt Superman and Black Lightning, showcasing their fellow Leaguers being tortured, and, thus, leads the duo to the villains base where they are taken down after a short fight by the combined might of the villains. All very Silver Agey and in any other book I’d probably crucify it for such a simplistic plot, but, again, McDuffie makes it work.

One thing I’m curious to see the fallout of, or lack thereof, is from the beating Geoforce receives this issue. After the huge backlash on message boards around the net over Tigra’s treatment last week in New Avengers, it should be interesting to see if Geoforces victimization even registers on their radars this week. I bet if it had been Wonder Woman or any other female character the entire community would be up in arms about another woman being treated this way. Poor Geoforce. Nobody loves you, apparently.

Verdict – Definitely check this book out. A highly entertaining throw back to the Silver Age with just enough of a modern day twist to keep you interested.

MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 # 1
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Sean Phillips

Let’s get this out of the way right now. I loved the first Marvel Zombies and their first tale in Ultimate Fantastic Four. Their use in Black Panther’s title even made that book tolerable for me. By the time the Army of Darkness tie-in / pseudo sequel came, the concept was beginning to get old for me. This first issue of Zombies 2 confirms my, and most of the internet’s, general consensus that Marvel has beat this concept into the ground.

The first issue can be summed up in about two or three lines. The Zombies are coming back to Earth with a few new cosmic heroes in tow. The human survivors on Earth have managed to rebuild a small society in the ruins of New York and the mutants have decided to overthrow Black Panther as the leader of the group and try to assassinate him while he sleeps. Wasp, a zombie head in a robot body now, bites Panther before he dies and turns him into a zombie to keep him from dying. The end.

If you were picking this book up expecting some hero eating hero action or the zombies to do something, anything even, you will be sadly disappointed. For the first of five issues, Kirkman spends way too much time doing nothing. For instance, several pages are dedicated to some random kid picking up a decapitated Hawkeye head and bringing it back to Black Panther.

The majority of the issue was spent with pin-ups of the zombies flying through space. Why Wolverine needs to be striking poses with his claws popped out in big splash pages as they fly through space is a mystery to me, but I guess Phillips can sell the original pages for more money this way. I understand this book isn’t supposed to be serious, but at least give us something to work with. If I wanted a pin-up book, I’d just buy the Marvel Zombies: The Covers HC and be done with it.

Verdict – Check it out if you absolutely must have everything zombie related. Otherwise feel free to skip it – while still a fun read, Marvel has clearly run this concept into the ground.

MIGHTY AVENGERS # 5
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Frank Cho


We waited through all these delays for this? For the fifth time in a row for this new Avengers title, Bendis throws more fluff and filler at us. Remember those awesome previews of Sentry losing it and Void-ing out on Ultron? Those couple pages are about all that happens in this disappointing issue.

While there are several funny or cool little moments throughout the issue, like the Commodore 64 line by Pym or the Sentry / Ultron “fight”, the entire issue is basically filler. Ultron is still taking over the world’s computers and trying to launch missiles. Iron Man is still “dead” and his body / armour taken over by Ultron. The team is still fighting the army of Iron Man armours. I didn’t have to read the issue to see this though, it happened in issue 1, 2, 3 and 4. The. Same. Damn. Thing. Every. Issue. If I had the thought bubbles ever present in this book, it would be filled with words unfit for public consumption.

Oh ya, the one thing worth noting this issue? Bendis has apparently chosen to use the boring, cliched sci-fi deus ex machina of shrinking down Ares using Pym Particles and having him deliver a computer virus directly into Ultron. I kid you not. I’ve seen better fan fiction than this.

Verdict – Avoid it like the plague unless you are just looking for more Cho ass shots, in which case, you’ll get a great Ms Marvel straddling a missile scene and more Ultron faux nudity.

PENANCE: RELENTLESS # 2
Written by Paul Jenkins
Art by Paul Gulacy

Well, last issue was a curious oddity. There were so many random new character traits for Penance, and most of the Thunderbolts, and even more continuity errors – too many to count in fact – that I was both intrigued and completely puzzled with this new mini-series. I was tentative to continue with it based on what Jenkins offered in the first book, but came back this month against my better judgment.

This issue throws away all the good will I heaped upon the first issue. Iron Man is depicted as some random government strawman harassing Norman Osborn. He’s probably the smartest man on the planet and, using his Extremist powers, could easily “see” all the information on those computers himself and analyze it quicker than the time he spends arguing with Osborn.

Apparently, Penance became some kind of super hacker somewhere along the way and managed to hack into the highest security clearance mainframes in the country. Yet another new characteristic added to this character by Jenkins from out of the blue to go along with his numbers fixation, which was barely touched upon this issue. All the intrigue that went with the constant numbers OCD Baldwin was displaying in regards to the numbers was pretty much ignored this issue aside from the general questions by Iron Man while arguing with Osborn.

Jenkins has all but sealed this books fate with this issue. The mysterious person he was going to see ended up being the D-lister, the Robot Master, whom most probably have no clue, or inclination, to care about. Supposedly, with the cliffhanger in this issue, we’re supposed to believe Robbie wants to nuke Latveria because he heard they were harbouring Nitro, who was responsible for Robbie’s Bleedball transformation through his blowing up Stamford in Civil War. Not even a direct confirmation. Just heresay and happenstance. It’s either just poorly written or a terribly contrived cliffhanger / plot device and was just one of many reasons for me to drop this book.

Verdict – Another dud. If you were waiting to hear how this series turned out before deciding to pick it up, you just saved yourself some cash.

COUNTDOWN 28
Story by Paul Dini
Breakdowns by Keith Giffen
Script by Tony Bedard
Art by Al Barrionuevo


Countdown continues to impress this week with another strong outing. I’m going to come out and say it right now. Countdown to Final Crisis will be the book everyone expected to come out of 52 based on the last month of Countdown. All the stories are finally in motion and even the most annoying characters or storylines are becoming tolerable at this stage of the game.

This issue actually delivered on the cover image. Last issues Karate Kid cover had me convinced Forager wouldn’t even show up this issue, let alone be featured for several pages.

Apparently the New Gods want Jimmy Olsen to help figure out who is behind the string of deaths of the New Gods. Forager reveals, to me at least, that even Barda was recently killed. I haven’t read this week’s Death of the New Gods issue, but it would suck if she was killed off panel when there was plenty of space in just about any issue of Countdown to feature it.

Only complaint I have with this storyline was the Newsboy Legion. They randomly find Jimmy in the sewers, know all about his condition, the New Gods and Mary Marvel and it is never explained how they came upon this knowledge or why they were randomly searching the sewers when Jimmy fled Cadmus. I can only guess they were a contrived plot device to move the story along and explain the situation to new readers.

The Rogues storyline started moving again with the Suicide Squad attacking the diner and capturing Double Down. Trickster and Piper fled during the chaos using one of Tricksters convient light bending camoflauge tricks. Even Piper shares my confusion as to why Trickster was a Rogue in the first place and not selling these ‘tricks’ and making millions.

The Challengers continue to be my favourite storyline since Kyle joined up with them. I don’t mean to say Kyle has anything to do with it, however, he just happened to show up in time for the universe jumping to commence. Monarch outs the Challengers, who were hiding in the balcony above the Extremists from last issue. The ensuing fight saw the surprising return of the Crime Society to help Monarch subdue the Challengers and combat Lord Havok’s team. This was another great melee that even saw Forerunner get in on the action for a change. I wonder if this will be reflected in the Extremists mini-series coming out or even the Forerunner back ups in Countdown to Adventure. Surprisingly, Monarch claims he is far more powerful than the 52 Monitors, which seems evident since Bob was crying for help when he was attacked by the Dr Octopus-like Gorgon Extremist member.

On the Mary Marvel side of things, Shadowpact is set to try and take her down and share my concerns that it might not have been Black Adam who gave her her new powers in the first place based on her application of said powers. Adam never used them in the ways Mary currently does and I’ve always hoped they weren’t Adam’s in the first place, as he is one of my favourite characters in the DCU ever since his role in 52. Nice to see there’s a slight chance of this being true, however slight, in Shadowpact’s assessment of her.

Finally, the Karate Kid stuff finally moved forward this issue. Apparently all Hal-2000, er, I mean Brother Eye wanted was a friend and little Kamandi decided to exchange e-mail links with him and everyone became friends. Eye sent Kid off to Bludhaven to find more answers in Bunker Command-D. Never followed Bludhaven’s destruction, but isn’t that place radioactive now or something?

All-in-all, another good issue of Countdown, a disturbing, but welcome, trend. Aside from the Newsboy Legion thing, I can’t really think of any major complaint with this week’s issue. This is probably a great time to jump on as things are shifting into high gear and should get even better with the name change and improved art coming with it.

Verdict – Check it out, it took a while, but you might just enjoy this book now.

DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #1
Written by Jim Starlin
Art by Starlin & Matt Banning

I’ve made it clear I’m not a big fan of the New Gods. The characters, with the exception of Darkseid, just do not appeal to me. However, I’ve been curious about their deaths throughout the DC Universe and how it will relate to Final Crisis. With the strength of most of the Countdown tie-ins, I tentatively picked this issue up. While not a bad issue, per se, it, much like any New Gods story I read, did not appeal to me.

I expected this issue to be a primer of sorts for people like me that do not regularly read New Gods related books and, thus, we are treated to a book that basically spends too much time throwing backstory and mounds of history that is severly lacking and just plain too dense to comprehend. The comic just keeps throwing more and more history and character introductions at me that I neither care about nor desire. I’m sure New Gods fans will enjoy the appearances by all their favourite characters, but for me, it was just far too overwhelming and made it a chore to read.

I did, however, enjoy the few scenes that actually dealt with the mystery of who is killing the New Gods. We see that the villain has killed the host of the Black Racer. I got the impression this would kill the Black Racer, but I also felt a subtle hint that it might have been the Black Racer, himself, killing off his host. There’s been far too few clues given so far and I might just be grasping at straws here. It’s curious to note that he is the only New God that was “killed” in this manner though.

The Barda and Scott Free stuff was nice as well and made the ending that much better, or worse I suppose if you are a Barda fan. I have no idea what was up with Free at the end. Does he have the entire Anti-Life Equation or something? For how much time they spent with history lessons, they refrained from explaining this. Also, when did Darkseid obtain part of the Anti-Life Equation? I had always assumed he was constantly looking for it. Countdown appearances didn’t have him with the cape or glowing equation ring – at least I don’t recall it, but I’ll probably end up going back and checking it out.

Verdict – Check it out for the New Gods mystery. It has some solid scenes, but spends a bit too much time overwhelming you with New Gods backstory, but I expect future issues to be much better if they continue with the deaths. If you are a huge New Gods fan, this is a probably a Must Buy for you.

MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS # 2
Written by Various
Art by Various

This was a much better outing than the first issue of MCP. The Vanguard story is really impressing me and it was probably the best part of the first issue. I think I’d buy a mini-series based solely on that story if Marvel had put it out. The problem with the first issue was most likely the fact there were so many storylines just starting that there was little to no action or actual story to pull me in. Combined with the small page count each storyline received, it was hard to justify picking this up again. I’m glad I did though, as this was a very solid second issue.

As I said, the Vanguard story is great. I love the art and the murder mystery is really sucking me in. I enjoyed the Mr Fantastic dialogue with the detective about Uato The Watcher and I’m curious as to where this story will end up going.

The Hellcat section is just a fun little tale. I have no idea what’s going on with the multiple versions and, to be honest, no real clue as to who Hellcat is outside of being able to recognize her by name and costume. I’ve never actually read anything with her in it that I can recall. However, this is a fun “back-up” type story that complements the more serious Vanguard quite well. Great humour and a fun little tale that I’m interesting in seeing the conclusion of.

While the Spider-Man story from last issue was a fun done-in-one tale, the Taskmaster one-shot that takes its place is a great follow-up. Taskmaster is a character I enjoy and I’m ecstatic he’s going to be featured in Avengers: Initiative in the near future. However, I thought this story would reflect that future role. It was kind of odd that his interaction with SHIELD this issue was completely unrelated to his recruitment into the Initiative, but it did not detract from this short story. Great story that follows Taskmaster’s “testing” of the SHIELD helicarrier security. I liked the Maria Hill stuff at the end. I think she gets a lot of gruff from readers for no good reason I can think of.

Finally, the only weak spot in my opinion, is the Omega Flight stuff. I’m just not enjoying it. The Omega Flight mini-series met with a lot of problems, what with it being shifted from ongoing to mini and other creator issues, and I just did not come away from that series with any good feelings. Seeing the amount of face time it will be getting in this book is probably the biggest thing that made me leary of picking up this second issue.

Verdict – Check it. There’s a lot of variety, from comedy to action to everything in between, and I’m sure there’s something here you might enjoy. The stories were 3 out of 4 for me and that ain’t too bad a batting average.

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