So I wasn't really originally gonna do a blog post this week but the weekend turned out way more epic that I ever could have imagined. Lots of surprises came my way so here it is.
Earlier in the week on like Tuesday or something, I got an email from Kyle (Stunedge) who informed me that the GG Johnny-o cup would be beginning next weekend! I didnt even know about it. This year it will be even more epic than ever. There will be a 2 on 2 tournament with qualifiers. There will be, I think, a total of 12 qualifying tournaments held over 8 days, every other weekend. 2 stores will have tournaments at the same time on the Saturdays and one on each of the Sundays, and from each tournament, top 2 advances to the final tournament. So I think there will be a total of 24 teams if I am not mistaken. So every 2 weeks, with 2 days of tournaments (Sat and Sun) meaning 3 tournaments per weekend, there will be 6 teams that qualify total in a weekend. This weekend is the first set of tournaments, the following will be in another 2 weeks and so on until the final week.
Then, starting in January the singles tournament quals will begin and these will work like that have in the past with a points system that determines who makes it in. The grand finals and main events will take place over a 3 day weekend in March. There will be the final 2 on 2 tournament, the singles tournament, special team tournaments, and other events! It should be truley epic, and it totally revived my will to play more again since my motivation has been a little low since SBO ended. The great thing is, right around the time this all ends, it will be about time again for the next year of Tougeki quals, so its year round GG tournaments for me starting now!
Skipping ahead to Wednesday, it was a national holiday so there was no work. Emmet and Ryoko came over to my place and we drank and watched The Social Network (the Facebook movie which actually ended up being pretty decent), and the Tom Green goes to Japan special. They both crashed at my place.
The next day our plans were to go to Nikko, a place in Tochigi prefecture (which is right next to Gunma), that is considered one of the best places in the world to view autumn leaves. It was quite a drive out there and lots of people were expected to go, so we got up early and headed out.
I drove on the way up. Dont remember how long it took but it was at least over 2 hours. We saw this really big waterfall that was like 100 meters high. Emmet and I brought a 700 ml bottle of whiskey along to split while we were sightseeing since Ryoko promised to drive home so I could drink.
From there we saw some temples and stuff and it was pretty cool. I took a bunch of pictures on Ryoko's iPhone cuz my camera battery was dead. The leaves were also pretty epic on the drive there and around the temple area. This temple is actually where the see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil monkeys originally came from and they can be seen on one of the temples. Unfortunately we got there pretty late and we didnt know that the stuff closed at like 4:30 so we only had like an hour to see stuff so we missed a lot, but it was still a good trip.
Going back was a nightmare because everyone left at the same time so we were stuck in traffic for hours. Good thing Emmet and I were drunk, but I felt bad for Ryoko but she had a good time so it was alright. On the way back in the car, I emailed Kunihiro and asked if he wanted to team with me for Johnny-o cup. He said he couldnt do it but then I mailed Gaku (the awsome Robo-ky player I teamed with before) and he said he was happy to team up. I already had made plans to play poker again this Sunday so I would just enter the Saturday tournament but I will try to enter all the rest of them after this weekend.
Moving on to Friday. I had to work on Saturday morning from about 8 to 12. It would be the day of the annual PTA ping pong/volleyball tournament at my school where I work, so I just stayed home on Friday night. Ryoko was busy out drinking with some friends for a birthday party but I couldnt really go cuz I had to get up early. I just stayed home. They have this new limited time only Pepsi in Japan right now called Monte Blanc. It has like a sorta sweet nutty chestnut hint of taste and mixed with whiskey fucking really good! So I was enjoying those all night. I ended up watching for the first time, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and some really bad British horror/comedy called Lesbian Vampire Killers. Lets just say I am glad I was drunk while watching both of them lol!
The next day at work, we had the tournaments. I entered the ping pong one, as I have done every year. I was on the adult team (with teachers and parents). I wont bore you with details but we ended up winning the whole thing. yay. It ended at around 11:45 and the next train wasnt for another hour. Unfortunately, the only way I was going to be able to make it to Mikado on time for the tournament (which would start at 3 pm) would be to take the shinkansen, so I did. This was only my 3rd time riding the shinkansen since its expensive and I try to avoid it.
After a smooth ride, I made it to Mikado at about 2pm. Signups just started and I was the first to sign up but the place was already packed with people playing casuals. I got some good practice matches in. Woody (Udei, however you wanna spell it) the TE player was there and asked me if I wanted to team up cuz he had no partner but I told him I already was teaming with Gaku.
The tournament started at 3. I checked the bracket and luckily, my team got a bye first round! Unfortunately our first match after that was going to be against En (SL) and Maruken (BA). A beastly team indeed.
After some more practicing, eventually they called our match. We played RPS and I won. Unlike the 3 on 3 tournaments where you only get to choose your side if you win, this time they let you find out who will go first on the opponents team, so I opted for that. They decided to put En first. I hate Baiken more than Slayer and Gaku is the other way around, so I went first. I lost the first round after getting hit by like one single counter hit into super which lead into a corner combo that did like 80 life lol... I played well the 2nd round and managed to take him down with a clutch comeback. The 3rd round actually ended up being really really close and I got him down to about 10% health but in the end I got hit in the corner and died. It was one of those rounds where I sorta felt like it slipped through my fingers but at least it was a good showing. Up next, Gaku went. He lost won the first round. Then he won the next round too, with a good comeback! Fucking epic! Against Maruken, however, he didnt quite fare so well and lost both rounds. Maruken was just fucking on point. You can see the match on niconico here.
So we lost our first match, but to a team like that I dont feel to ashamed. Especially since that very team went on to win the entire tournament. 29 teams entered and pretty much all of them were pretty beastly. I took pictures of the whole brackets so I will put them up on my pictures page. Feel free to check it out if you want to know how people did. The 2nd place team was Shyo (FA) and Sho (MA) (LOL at the names), so I guess they qualified too if I am not mistaken.
I stuck around after we lost and played casuals for quite a bit. I was doing well for the most part, but I couldnt beat Hayashi (footsies Ky). He was beasting and got a huge win streak and every time I played him I lost. Oh well. Other than that I did pretty well.
Later on Kyle (Stunedge) showed up and he wanted to grab food after he played BB for a bit. I wanted to get kebabs but he wanted to go to a beef bowl place so we played RPS for it and I lost, so we went to his place. The funny part was, it was the place right next to the kebab place but I had never gone there before. They portions ended up being fucking huge and the food was really good, but I over ate and my stomach hurt after eating there cuz I finished it all. Also, while we were there, Woody showed up and sat next to me at the counter. He was with this one MI player whos name I dont remember/know. I asked him if he ever found a partner but he didnt unfortunately. Kyle was telling me stuff about his job working at Sony. I cant really say much about it. He did tell me he works pretty long hours though. I dont really look forward to becoming a salary man in the future and would rather avoid it if possible but we will see how things turn out.
From the restaurant, Kyle left cuz he had plans and then I headed back to Mikado to play a bit more. I played for a few more hours. I felt like drinking a bit so I was sipping on a hit flask of whiskey a bit but I didnt really get drunk or anything, just a little buzz, so I was able to play just fine. I talked with Gaku before I left and he said he pretty much is down to team with me the entire rest of the time so I may just stay teamed with him. Hes a great player and a nice guy so I see no reason not to.
I mailed Pachi and he said he was down to drink tonight. Tonight at Current was a metal event! I left Mikado a little after 9:30 and got to Current at about 10. It was already fairly packed when I got there. Lots of good regulars showed up and also all the usual metal event heads. Pachi rolled in later on and was already drunk from drinking somewhere else and fell asleep on the benches in the back.
I was talking with my friends Sachiko and Johan, and Sachiko was telling us that her mother plays violin in a symphony orchestra and that tomorrow, she would be playing in the Final Fantasy live concert called Distant Worlds: music from FINAL FANTASY Returning home. I didnt even know this show was going on, but she had 2 extra free tickets that she got cuz her mom is playing there and she invited Johan and I to come along! In case you didnt know, I have been a pretty hardcore Final Fantasy fan ever since I was 5 years old and played FF1 on the NES, so for me, this was a big treat! I even saw the show when it was called Dear Friends: Music from Final Fantasy back when they came to Chicago in 2005 at the Rosemont Theater. That show was amazing so I knew I was in store for a treat! Johan and I decided we would leave Current at around 3 am since we had to meet Sachiko in Yurakucho (near Tokyo station) at 11:45 to get the tickets and go in. I didnt wanna miss out over a couple extra hours of drinking. I drank a good amount before that anyway due to lots of whiskey, strong drinks, and Terry buying a round of tequila shots cuz hes the man.
So I headed to the manga kissa at around 3. The one I like was full so I went to the old cheap one and just dealt with the less comfortable seats. I was drunk enough so I passed out just fine.
I woke up and grabbed some quick McDonalds for the road as I headed for the station. While I was on the train, it seemed like I would probably arrive like 10 minutes late. Luckily Sachiko was running even more late and wouldnt get there till 12:05 so it worked out ok. Unfortunately for Johan, he mailed me saying he was too hungover and decided not to go, so it was just gonna be me and Sachiko.
I waited in front of Yurakucho station for a few mins and then she showed up. The place the show was at was right next to the station. It was at the Tokyo International Forum Hall A. The show already started at 12, so we were just a few minutes late. When we got inside they had already started playing. We werent able to go to our seats yet because we had to wait for the song to end, so we stood by the door for the first song. They had a big screen above the stage that was showing footage from FF games and artwork and stuff. It was really classy.
Here's the setlist as best as I can remember.
Final Fantasy Crystal theme
FFI FFII FFIII medly
Final Fantasy series Main Theme
FFVIII - Love Grows
FFXI - Ronfaure
FFVII - JENOVA
FFV - Dear Friends
FFIX - Vamo' Alla Flamenco
FFVII - Aeris theme
FFVII - Bombing mission opening
FFVII - regular battle theme (piano solo)
FFX - Zanarkand
FFVI - DANCING MAD!!!!!!
4 different songs from FFXIV (I am not at all familiar with FFXIV)
FFVIII - Man with the Machine Gun
FFVI - Terra's theme
FFV - Clash on the Big Bridge (Gilgamesh battle music) (this was the encore and the first time the song was ever played in concert!)
hopefully I didnt forget anything but I might have forgotten a song.
The show was done by the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra, the KEIO University Choir, and various special guest musicians. Nobuo Uematsu (main composer/writer of Final Fantasy series music) was also in attendance in the crowd in the special seating area. We had really good seats front and center and Nobuo Uematsu was only about 10 seats away from us to my right. They had a special pianist come in for the FFVII battle theme and a special acoustic guitar player for Dear Friends and Vamo Alla Flamenco. They also had a really talented (and beautiful) singer named Susan Calloway who sang on one of the FFXIV songs.
The highlights of the show for me were easily Dancing Mad and Clash on the Big Bridge. I literally shed a few manly tears because Dancing Mad was just that fucking epic. I never could have imagined how awsome that song would sound with a full orchestra, choir, and beastly organ. FFVI is my favorite Final Fantasy game (and probably my favorite game of all time actually, except for maybe Guilty Gear, but they are totally different and theres room for both :P), and that being one of my favorite songs from the game was just an awsome surprise. I didnt even know about the Distant Worlds music CDs that were already out, so this was the first time I heard this version of it and it just blew me away. And Clash on the Big Bridge is another all time favorite and being among the first people ever to hear this new orchestral version of it live was just amazing!
If I had to have one complaint about the setlist, its that they didnt play anything from FFIV, which is another one of my all time favorites and has a great soundtrack, but its ok, they played tons of other great stuff. They also didnt play anything from FFXII or FFXIII but I dont really care so much about either of those games... they were both so-so and the soundtracks were not so memorable IMO.
Anyway, you can see some more information about the show here.
And now... for the biggest surprise of all! After the show was over, I of course had plans to go play poker. The game was scheduled to start at 5 and the show ended at 3, which would give me about just enough time to make it there on time. Then.... Sachiko asked if I could stay just a bit longer. I said sure... but why? She said... because because of her mom being part of the orchestra, we were now able to go back stage and meet the legend himself, Mr. Nobou Uematsu! One of the greatest (if not THE) greatest game music composer of all fucking time! I felt like it was a fucking dream honestly. Her bother was there also with some friends, so all of us got escorted back stage into Nobuo Uematsu's dressing room and we got to talk with him a little bit and we all got to take pictures with him! You can see the pictures on my pictures page. He was a totally nice guy. At first, someone asked him if we could take pictures together and he was like "Zettai dame!" which means like "absolutely not!" but then he was just like "just kidding!" lol! When I told him I was from Chicago he told me how Arnie Roth, the conductor is also from there and stuff. He was a totally nice guy and I was so honored to have a chance to meet him. I also met Sachiko's mother and thanked her many times cuz I was honestly so grateful to have this random chance just come out of nowhere for me!
On our way out we also passed by the singer, Susan Calloway. I talked to her a little and she was nice enough to also take photos with us. She's from Detroit so she's been to Chicago several times.
After that, we all headed outside. I had to get going so I said bye and thank you again to Sachiko and left.
So I got on the Yamanote line and it was packed as hell so I was standing really close to the door. When we got to Tokyo station, some woman was getting off the train. I was listening to my iPod and when she got out, the cable for my headphones got snagged on the button of her coat and she ended up pulling my ipod out of my pocket, and it fell out and land on the tracks beneath the train and the platform.... As soon as I realized what happend I said "FUCK!" really loud a few times and the finally someone tried to help me saying that I could get a station attendant to get it back. Once I realized it was in a place where the train wouldnt actually run it over, I felt fine. I went to get staff and some dude said go wait for like 10 mins. So I am waiting for this guy to show up and suddenly another train pulls off and strangely enough, Sachiko and her mom get out lol! They asked me wtf I was doing standing around there and I explained the situation and showed them my ipod down there on the tracks. They waited with me and chatted a bit until the station staff came with this long claw arm thing and got my ipod back. Luckily it still works fine.
So that situation was a little annoying and it delayed my trip a bit, so I ended up getting to the poker game at 6 pm. They were already playing. We had a new guy this time and one of the guys from last time wasnt there. Andy wasnt there yet but he showed up later. I won my very first hand (and it was a pretty big hand) and got off to a good start. When Andy showed up I beat him on a big hand on the river and he was a little dissapointed about it but I understand his frustration. I was up a lot for a while but made a few bad decisions and lost a few semi large hands within like 15 minutes of eachother. Later on I got a sorta big hand off Emmet. At the end of the night, I was up 2600 yen which is better than last week but I could have won much more if I didnt get sloppy at that one point. Emmet was the big winner of the night again making a profit of 11,000 yen. It was good times once again and I wanted to play longer but unfortunately we had to get home on the last train. We will play again in a few weeks.
So yea, thats the end of the weekend. It certainly was full of surprises and was an amazing weekend I will never forget!