Montague Island Mysteries and Other Logic Puzzles Review

Montague Island Mysteries is a collection of logic puzzles thematically presented as a series of visits to a remote island. Your hosts, as well as the fellow guests, are fellow puzzle enthusiasts who gather at the island for twelve weekend visits, during each of which a mystery puzzle is presented along with several ancillary ones. The theme is used nicely as the reader will be determining things like the guests’ backgrounds, what room everyone’s in, further details about the island, etc.

Of course with a book like this the quality of the puzzles is paramount, and in this respect MIM is spot on. Classic grid based logic puzzles are mixed in with a nice variety of spacial reasoning, unique visualizations, etc. The mystery puzzles feature a mechanic I particularly adore that involves the “culprit” secretly being among the guests and giving statements that might or might not be true. It provides a nice twist and was used with just the right frequency.

There are a couple of minor missteps. A few puzzles are based on every attendee, including the player, being given two cards or something similar with the instructions “don’t show them to anyone else” and the solution based on determining who has what. But the reader’s own cards are not revealed, their persona just presents statements that may or may not be true like everyone else. This does not affect solving the puzzle, but is thematically awkward given the presentation and a bit of a missed opportunity as well.

Some of the puzzles were too long and/or required too much brute force for me, although given the scope and variation of what’s presented a few puzzles not being to my particular tastes is no big deal. One pushed mathematical logic versus linguistic logic a bit far for my liking, but again that’s personal preference.

Overall Montague Island Mysteries is a wonderful collection of puzzles with a solid connecting theme. I enjoyed this book quite a bit and look forward to checking out the sequel.

Sendai Girls 5/18/19 Live Thoughts

May 18, 2019 in Sendai, Japan

DASH Chisako opened with an apology that she would miss her first Sendai show in her career due to injury. She had a mild concussion, and has thankfully since recovered and returned.

1) Mikoto Shindo vs Manami 

Mikoto is from Marvelous and one of a trio of rookies there that have been making a strong impression as they wrestle for a variety of different companies gaining experience. Manami’s been honing her own skills here in Sendai Girls, and the two proved nicely complimentary foils for each other. Solid match between two rookies that should both have bright futures ahead.

2) Hiroyo Matsumoto vs Hikaru Shida vs KAORU

This was a fun triple threat, with good action and underlying issues playing up having Dash’s two regular partners against each other (she teams with Karou in Marvelous as Riot Crown and Hiroyo elsewhere as Reiwa Utima Powers). Dash was ringside and involved in some of the antics as much as she was able, which was nice to see.

The match ended with a really cool double pin on Karou (Hiroyo in sunset flip position on Karou while Shida small packaged her). The ref awarded match to Shida, over Hiroyo’s protests.

3)  Sakura Hirota vs Alex Lee

Hirota, in honor of Dash, tried to be hardcore here. That worked about as well as one might expect. Alex picked up the eventual win in a fine for what it was encounter.

4) MeikoMei (Meiko Satormua & Mei Suruga) vs Sareee & Yuu 

I was excited about just about every aspect of this encounter: my first time seeing MeikoMei team, wrestling’s biggest rising star against one of its greatest established veterans AND one of its brightest rookies, another chance to see how Yuu is evolving her craft since going freelance, etc. This is exactly the type of unusual mix of wrestlers and styles I hope to see with all the cross promotion that has been happening lately.

And for a full twenty minutes they delivered. Everyone was one point, every matchup was different and interesting, and this was a thoroughly enjoyable, hard hitting affair right up until the time limit expired and the match was declared a draw. Would love to get to see any pairing of these four as a singles contest sometime.

5) Beauty Bear (Chihiro Hashimoto & Mika Iwata) vs Medusa Complex (Millie McKenzie & Charli Evans) 

I was previously familiar with and a fan of both Millie (from Sendai’s 1/6/19 show) and Charli (from Shimmer), but this was my first time seeing them as a team. Side note: I adore their team name.

Big match for them in the main event against Sendai mainstays and reigning tag team champions Mika & Chihiro (who was also Sendai’s reiging world champion). Solid tag team wrestling all around and a good main event. Medusa Complex’s (upset) victory in this non-title encounter and a resulting challenge set up Beauty Bear’s first title defense at a future date (despite holding the belts for over a year).

I always enjoy Sendai Girls, and this was certainly no exception. While I did miss seeing Dash in the ring I’m glad she took the time she needed to recover and am happy it wasn’t serious in the end. Really good show overall.

Girl’s Last Tour Manga Review

” Even if it’s meaningless… sometimes, nice things happen.”

Tales of two girls and a small tank climbing what’s left of civilization, and there isn’t much…

I’ll be sharing thoughts on the entire series (volumes 1-6) as a whole here, but it will be kept as spoiler free as possible.

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Girls’ Last Tour is a dystopian slice of life story, following a gradual journey through the remains of a futuristic world gone to ruin. I found it atmospheric and engaging, being drawn in bit by bit as our protagonists make their way.

It could have been something very different, and while I enjoyed this for what it was I certainly understand if some readers wanted something different. This is rather light for a post-apocalyptic tale in many respects, and more about Chito and Yuuri’s wandering and the occasional philosophical question than their survival in a harsh landscape or other natural directions the story easily could have veered into.

There are a lot of questions left unanswered, particularly about the world before it collapsed and the particulars of the collapse itself. To be honest not much of anything is explained, and I’m not sure the sparse tantalizing clues presented add up to much of a whole. But while they would have been nice to have those details are in some sense beyond the point of the story, and I found the slowly unfolding themes, ruminations, and details that were present interesting enough.

Girl’s Last Tour admittedly had more potential lurking beneath it than what was realized, but for me it was a compelling, great little read overall regardless.

The Mind Game Review (First Impressions)

Note: The rules treat the main aspect of how the game is played as a spoiler, which is beyond ridiculous but consider this a “warning” that going by the rulebook my discussion starting below the box image includes “spoilers.”

Welcome to “waiting: the game.” In The Mind players try to play cards of increasingly large hands drawn from a deck numbered 1 to 100 in order without sharing any information or signals about what cards they have.

So the communication becomes “teasing” playing cards and how long you wait to play. They dress this up with a “vitally important” phase where all players put a hand on the table and concentrate on the level they’re about to play (no, I’m not joking) and other mumbo jumbo about being in tune with the flow of time.

Some will get into the window dressing. Personally I wish that effort went into adding something to the actual game instead. It was a curious experience for a couple of rounds, but seems way overrated to me.

I’m a mathematician, and this largely bored me. This game is simply subconsciously playing the deck odds (which is a pure crapshoot with few cards in hand) and guessing how long a pause is appropriate (which is close to a pure crapshoot with many cards in hand). I felt no real engagement or investment in whether or not I can guess with no contextual info whether my fellow player was holding a card between the one I just played and the ones left in mind hand nor felt much of anything but annoyance when we lost a life because he happened to be holding say a 71 instead of 73 when I played a 72. There’s no “better move” to have been made there, nothing to be learned or refined.

Put another way, I could simply count to myself and play my cards as I reach it’s number (without telling the others players that what I was doing, because it would be cheating otherwise) and achieve roughly the same level of success. The only way to get better at this game is subconsciously learning how long my friends mentally wait to signal a jump in numeric value of 25 vs a jump of 10, etc and that just holds no interest for me whatsoever.

So as the meaningful experience the instruction book (jokingly?) implies this falls flat. As a filler game it’s just feel so slow (the main mechanic is *waiting* after all) not matter how short the rounds are and I have a closetful that are more interesting and fun. For games that do no talking / contextual info only better I have things like Magic Maze, Ravens of Thri Sahashri, etc. Kudos for trying something different and to each their own, but this was a big miss for me.

Gatoh Move 2.0: The Future

In the aftermath of Riho, Gatoh Move’s ace since their inception, going freelance the company is refocusing a bit. The “Japan Tour” numbering has now finished and the August 28th show will relaunch things simply as Gatoh Move #1 (subtitled Gatoh Move Juice 100%).

In addition, things have evolved to the point where it is even more of a new beginning for the company. The core roster size will be DOUBLED, with six trainees debuting to join Gatoh’s remaining five wrestlers. Gatoh Move #1 will be a show made up entirely of debut matches:

  1. Emi Sakura vs Rin Rin
  2. Mitsuru Konno vs Sayuri
  3. Mei Suruga vs Tokiko Kirihara
  4. Yuna Mizumori vs Lulu Pencil
  5. Sayaka Obihiro vs Chie Koishikawa
  6. Emi Sakura, Yuna Mizumori, & Mei Suruga vs Sayaka Obihiro, Mitsuru Konno, & Sayaka

(Edit 9/3/2019: Gatoh Move has shared all six debut matches from the show discussed above on their YouTube channel! So I have updated the listed card above with links to the matches)

In anticipation for this event, profiles of all eleven wrestlers have recently been shared on the company’s Twitter account. Presented here (and in Gatoh Move 2.0: The Present) is an attempted translation of those profiles. I am not fluent in Japanese and these translations were done with heavy reliance on translation software and a LOT of help and clarification from my friend Kaori (who I can’t thank enough).

So I apologize for any awkwardness or inaccuracies but hope I’ve captured the essence and that this is somewhat useful as an English intro to the wrestlers of Gatoh Move.

This time we’ll be looking at the six debuting trainees (all of which started through Gatoh Move’s informal training program DareJyo) :

Tokiko Kirihara

  • Birthplace: Ibaraki Prefecture, who loves natto
  • Birthday: November 4
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’5″
  • Weight: 128 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Cobra twist
  • Favorite Food: Red bean paste (Koshian person)
  • Most Charming Feature: Making myself up to look younger
  • Self Introduction: 44 years old and still evolving!
  • Hobby: Going for walks
  • Special Skill: Quick change of clothes
  • Common Saying: Okay, okay
  • Personality: Don’t think deeply
  • Motto: Reflection, but without regret.
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    44 years old seems to be the oldest debut in joshi prowrestling history. Please watch a mature lady’s aggressive fight!

Twitter: KiraRi_1104

Sayaka

  • Birthplace: Kanagawa
  • Birthday: November 8
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’3″
  • Weight: 117 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Drop kick
  • Favorite Food: Pickled plum
  • Most Charming Feature: Dimples
  • Self Introduction: I will do my best. Thank you for your support and devotion!
  • Hobby: Cosplay, gaming
  • Special Skill: Working without a day off
  • Common Saying: ~っすね! [This is the casual way of saying honorific language.]
  • Personality: Sloppy [doesn’t pay attention to detail]
  • Motto: Fortune is unpredictable and changeable.
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Please watch my dropkick!

Twitter: kukku118

Sayuri

  • Birthplace: Chiba Prefecture
  • Birthday: August 3
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’0″
  • Weight: 95 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Sayuri Gatame
  • Favorite Food: Meat
  • Most Charming Feature: Dignified eyebrows
  • Self Introduction: Usually bearish, during matches bullish
  • Hobby: Solo karaoke
  • Special Skill: System development (previous job)
  • Common Saying: Oh no!
  • Personality: Negative but competitive (I don’t like losing)
  • Motto: One chance in a lifetime.
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Desperately struggling towards the professional world.

Twitter: sayuri83sayuri

Rin Rin

  • Birthplace: Kanagawa Prefecture that looks like an animal
  • Birthday: November 21
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Professional Skill: sickle firming, cross arm-lock hold
  • Favorite Food: sebon star, Twinkies, educational confectionery, pigeon sable (I will use a container as a weapon someday), oblate (Anpan man gumi), avocado, soy-milk skin, MacDonald’s French fries, all fruit
  • Most Charming Feature: Useless long eyelashes
  • Self Introduction: Forget as soon as you sleep
  • Hobby: Communicating with the Universe, helping insects
  • Special Skill: Guitar, making dried fish, sing a song of Takasu Clinic and Shiromoto Clinic
  • Common Saying: Half price sale yet?
  • Personality: Insects and weeds
  • Motto: Even a worm will turn.
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Rampage

Twitter: minyo_yutori

Chie Koishikawa

  • Birthplace: Shizuoka, a country of tea and oranges
  • Birthday: July 29
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 104 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Nothing so far
  • Favorite Food: Simmered squid and radish, all sweets
  • Most Charming Feature: Bangs
  • Self Introduction: I’m doing well today!
  • Hobby: Reading comic books, making sweets
  • Special Skill: Fencing
  • Common Saying: I see
  • Personality: Duality
  • Motto: Eating is living
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    All the matches are debut matches. I also have a debut match.

Twitter: chie_gtmv

Lulu Pencil

  • Birthplace: West of Tokyo
  • Birthday: July 30
  • Debut: August 28, 2019
  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 101 lbs
  • Special Skill: Body press
  • Favorite Food: Gummy bear!
  • Most Charming Feature: Thick eyelids!!
  • Self Introduction: Read “#プロレス始めました” on Twitter!
  • Hobby: Movies and games!
  • Special Skill: Favorable interpretation
  • Common Saying: I see!
  • Personality: Positive!
  • Motto: Bet on vain effort
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Even if someone kicks the crap out of me or my joints are locked, I will rise again and again. So please watch over me.

Twitter: lulupencil_gtmv

For a sneak peek, check out Gatoh Move’s YouTube channel for some of their trainee exhibition matches. Best of luck to all six in their official. debuts! Can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them.

Gatoh Move 2.0: The Present

In the aftermath of Riho, Gatoh Move’s ace since their inception, going freelance the company is refocusing a bit. The “Japan Tour” numbering has now finished and the August 28th show will relaunch things simply as Gatoh Move #1 (subtitled Gatoh Move Juice 100%).

In addition, things have evolved to the point where it is even more of a new beginning for the company. The core roster size will be DOUBLED, with six trainees debuting to join Gatoh’s remaining five wrestlers. Gatoh Move #1 will be a show made up entirely of debut matches:

  1. Emi Sakura vs Rin Rin
  2. Mitsuru Konno vs Sayuri
  3. Mei Suruga vs Tokiko Kirihara
  4. Yuna Mizumori vs Lulu Pencil
  5. Sayaka Obihiro vs Chie Koishikawa
  6. Emi Sakura, Yuna Mizumori, & Mei Suruga vs Sayaka Obihiro, Mitsuru Konno, & Sayaka

(Edit 9/3/2019: Gatoh Move has shared all six debut matches from the show discussed above on their YouTube channel! So I have updated the listed card above with links to the matches)

In anticipation for this event, profiles of all eleven wrestlers have recently been shared on the company’s Twitter account. Presented here is an attempted translation of those profiles. I am not fluent in Japanese and these translations were done with heavy reliance on translation software and a LOT of help and clarification from my friend Kaori (who I can’t thank enough).

So I apologize for any awkwardness or inaccuracies but hope I’ve captured the essence and that this is somewhat useful as an English intro to the wrestlers of Gatoh Move.

First up is the current Gatoh Move roster, itself already a deep and impressive mix of styles, personalities, and experience levels:

Emi Sakura

  • Birthplace: Chiba Prefecture, Mother Farm
  • Birthday: October 4
  • Debut: August 17, 1995 (25th year)
  • Height: 5’1″
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • Professional Skill: 70kg Emi Sakura!
  • Favorite Food: Shokupan Bread
  • Most Charming Feature: Mouth mole
  • Self Introduction: Trying to survive.
  • Hobby: QUEEN
  • Special Skill: Making decisions in 2 seconds
  • Common Saying: Get along
  • Personality: Forgetful
  • Motto: As soon as you think of something, do it.
  • Thoughts on 8/28: The show may not go an hour…

Twitter: sakuraemi

Sayaka Obihiro

  • Birthplace: Your own humanity is tested in Hokkaido
  • Birthday: September 2
  • Debut: April 29, 2010 (10th year)
  • Height: 5’2″
  • Weight: 132 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Throat Thrust
  • Favorite Food: Sushi
  • Most Charming Feature: Husky voice (not from alcohol burn)
  • Self Introduction: Recently, wrestling for me has been a racewalk, not a sprint, but still full power. I will do my best!
  • Hobby: Menu planning by looking at supermarket flyers
  • Special Skill: Making a decent meal
  • Common Saying: What does that mean?
  • Personality: Ignition, extinguishing
  • Motto: Always rise after a fall.
  • Thoughts on 8/28: Show my back. [Obi wishes to lead/teach by example.]

Twitter: obi_gtmv

Mitsuru Konno

  • Birthplace: Tokyo, where there is nothing that doesn’t exist
  • Birthday: May 10
  • Debut: October 4, 2016 (3rd year)
  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 128 lbs
  • Professional Skill: World Volleyball, Foreign Thunder, Brain Buster Hold
  • Favorite Food: Draft beer! Draft beer!
  • Most Charming Feature: Munchy mouth
  • Self Introduction: Entrust chores, miscellaneous duties, and backstage to Mitsuru !!
  • Hobby: Drinking
  • Special Skill: Cooking, handicraft
  • Common Saying: Damn it!
  • Personality: Diligent bad girl
  • Motto: Try to take every opportunity
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Is this an important debut?
    Noisy! Listen!
    I will kick everyone together!

Twitter: Mitsuru_gtmv

Yuna Mizumori

  • Birthplace: Tropical star (Kumamoto)
  • Birthday: August 2
  • Debut: February 2, 2018 (2nd year)
  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Tropical ☆ Yahoo
  • Favorite Food: Pineapple
  • Most Charming Feature: Dimples
  • Self Introduction: Tropical ~ Yahoo!
    If I say papaya mango, yell coconut!
  • Hobby: Karaoke
  • Special Skill: Shiatsu
  • Common Saying: I ’m getting excited! [Dragon Ball / Son Goku’s dialogue]
  • Personality: Everybody’s friend
  • Motto: There is not a bit of regret in my entire life!
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    フレッシュな新人たちを、差し引いて一番ジューシーな汗をかいている ? !
    [I’m leaving this one alone lol]

Twitter: Mizum0ri

Mei Suruga

  • Birthplace: Quietly beautiful Kyoto
  • Birthday: May 30
  • Debut: May 27, 2018 (2nd year)
  • Height: 4’10”
  • Weight: 110 lbs
  • Professional Skill: Propeller clutch, Hōkiboshi [comet]
  • Favorite Food: Any kind of apple
  • Most Charming Feature: Narrow eyes like Heian beauty
  • Self Introduction: I want to increase my followers!
  • Hobby: Imagination
  • Special Skill: Realize imagination with 72% success rate
  • Common Saying: Wahahaha (I’ll keep it in my heart. “Why is it!”)
  • Personality: Live at my own pace
  • Motto: You can’t fight if you’re hungry
  • Thoughts on 8/28:
    Who shall I hit with the dropkick !!
    Mei has become a senior!
    I will do my best like a senior!

Twitter: Mei_gtmv

Still to come (hopefully), the rookies!

Japan Cuts 2019: Night Cruising

Japan Society’s annual Japan Cuts Film Festival for 2019 ran from July 19th to July 28th. This year I previously saw Samurai ShiftersDance With Me, and Killing.

Also see my thoughts on films from prior years’ festivals (list and links at the end of this article).

My final film for this year’s festival was a fascinating documentary following the journey of blind musician Hideyuki Kato’s efforts to direct a short film (a science fiction story told using several disparate techniques called Ghost Vision).

At 2 hours and 25 minutes, Night Cruising admittedly feels its length in parts. It presents a bit of a conundrum: while I feel like it could have and perhaps should have been a touch shorter I can’t really point to anything to be left out. The short film in question is “shown” twice (once at the beginning and again towards the end) for important reasons and the creation of each section of the film is highlighted in between. Rounding out the documentary is personal perspective on Kato’s journey, which is of course is most important of all. So everything’s appropriate and in some sense needed, but none the less it does feel a bit of an endurance effort at times.

That said, this is a engrossing film overall. Among all the many points of interest along Kato’s captivating journey, the most fascinating section is where he learns about color via an ingenious method of explanation of the color wheel and gradation through a physical model he can feel and color patches containing braille-like identifiers. It’s these numerous insights into the process of a blind director creating art in a visual medium that make Night Cruising something special.

As alluded to above, one of most intriguing things about the “movie within the movie” Ghost Vision is the variety of techniques used. Each of the six sections is done in a different way, from models to live action to anime, etc. To be honest I’m not sure it 100% comes together, but it’s mostly there, it’s really creative and interesting both as a project and in the story and themes of Kato’s vision, and is definitely an impressive achievement.

An curious byproduct of the unique nature of the documentary and its subject is that in at least one section watching it as an international viewer alters the intended experience. The documentary opens with a presentation of Kato’s film as he himself would experience it – sound only with the audience looking at a blank screen. It’s a bold and meaningful choice and even more striking in retrospect when the full short is shared later. But for an audience that does not understand Japanese, translation is of course needed and provided. I found myself wishing I could understand what was said though, so that the stark subtitles against the black screen weren’t there. For me, even as someone who watches subtitled movies all the time without distraction, it was distracting here. It’s a small and unavoidable thing but particularly when discussing a documentary which is largely about sensory perception I thought this consequence of presentation worth discussing.

Ghost Vision was a wonderfully ambitious project of personal growth and determination for Kato, and following along via the efforts of Night Cruising’s director Makoto Sasaki was certainly worthwhile.

My prior years’ Japan Cuts thoughts:

2015: Make Up Room, Strayer’s Chronicle, & 100 Yen Love, The Voice of Water, The Light Shine Only There, & Sanchu Uprising: Voices at Dawn, and the experimental spotlight.

2016: Bitter Honey & Lowlife Love, Nagasaki: Memories of My Son & Bakuman, The Shell Collector & Being Good, and Flying Colors, Kako: My Sullen Past, & Emi-Abi

2017: Mumon: The Land of Stealth, Tokyo Idols & The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue, Over the Fence, and In This Corner of the World

2018: Ramen Shop & Night is Short, Walk On Girl, and Mori: The Artist’s Habitat & Hanagatami.