MSX communities in Japan

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By Algorythms

Champion (285)

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23-04-2017, 20:21

Don't know if it has been reported here before, but inspired by this thread I found this stream while browsing for Japanese MSX activity:
Interview with former MSX-FAN editor-in-chief

Also this twitter account

By Manuel

Ascended (15686)

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24-04-2017, 23:06

Is there something really interesting to see in it? There's lots of talk, but I can't follow it because of not understanding Japanese...

By keith56

Master (152)

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25-04-2017, 12:45

Just watched it all, I don*t think you're missing much!
The most interesting bit I saw was they said the "Type ins" in the magazine were released on an actual cartridge (I didn't know that!)
They also said the release of the A1 brought the hardware price down, that the MSX was popular until the release of Windows 95 - oh and foreign fans of the magazine would phone up or arrive on the door uninvited!
Of course they said plenty more, but it was pretty unremarkable, or I didn't understand it!

By ghost_jp

Master (133)

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25-04-2017, 14:43

The video says almost what you already know, for example what wiki in MRC shows. I would like to summarize and tell only three points as follows.

At first, Ms. Kitane said one of the most impressive episode was visitors from Europe in her editor's life. She didn't talk about when it had happened but she remembers visitors from the Netherlands and France. Especially she recognized that MSX was the most popular in the Netherlands. MSX FAN magazine was closed down in July 1995, so the episode must be before that. She also said her editorial office sometimes had caught a direct phone call from Europe in those days.

Second, the interviewer asked to her: didn't you feel any disadvantage against MSX Magazine? MSX Magazine was published by ASCII, the actual headquarter of MSX, as you know. Her MSX FAN was published by Tokuma Publishing, a rival of ASCII. She answered some staff in ASCII had been on her side, so didn't feel that. As the reason, she imagined the boss of ASCII (she didn't show his actual name in the video, but I'm sure everyone knows whom she talked about...) had been hated by not a few employees of ASCII in those days.

Third, another impressive experience for her was chance to collaborate with a lot of field staff of Japanese home electronics companies. In those days, most of major home electronics companies joined in MSX market in Japan. And the actual staff related to MSX were generally young, including Ms. Kitane. She analyzes those situation generated unusual passion of MSX, crossover companies.

Excuse me, my rude summary.

By hamlet

Scribe (2462)

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25-04-2017, 14:35

Thank you very much for the summary!

By Guillian

Prophet (3230)

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25-04-2017, 15:46

Thanks for the summary!

I met her at Den Yu Land '99. Perhaps she still have a photo of us. (^_^)

By Manuel

Ascended (15686)

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25-04-2017, 16:38

ghost_jp: thanks, very interesting! I do know that the guys from MSX-ENGINE called and visited MSX-FAN. You can read it (with a translation tool?) in their MSX-ENGINE Magazine. They started the Internationalization initiative and I think MSX-FAN joined them. Details in the MEM.

By Grauw

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26-04-2017, 00:29

I think there’s quite a number of Korean MSX users, there’s some very nice hardware coming from that way like the DalSoRi by JunSoft and the Zemmix Neo, and from what I understood they also sell quite a bit to the local MSX communities. Also nice Korean MSX videos posted on Youtube by people like sharksym and ToughkidCST.

And I see quite a bit of Japanese MSX talk on Twitter, also Tiny Yarou’s got a nice Youtube channel, and I’ve also been in touch with some people about VGMPlay, one who had another Japanese MSX user build a OPN and OPNA sound cartridge for him. And of course lately I’m glad to see ghost_jp, madscient and N.I. frequent msx.org! Big smile

I suppose for many there is a language barrier though. Just like there are larger Russian, French, etc. communities.

By AxelStone

Prophet (2674)

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26-04-2017, 08:15

Grauw wrote:

I think there’s quite a number of Korean MSX users, there’s some very nice hardware coming from that way like the DalSoRi by JunSoft and the Zemmix Neo, and from what I understood they also sell quite a bit to the local MSX communities. Also nice Korean MSX videos posted on Youtube by people like sharksym and ToughkidCST.

And I see quite a bit of Japanese MSX talk on Twitter, also Tiny Yarou’s got a nice Youtube channel, and I’ve also been in touch with some people about VGMPlay, one who had another Japanese MSX user build a OPN and OPNA sound cartridge for him. And of course lately I’m glad to see ghost_jp, madscient and N.I. frequent msx.org! Big smile

I suppose for many there is a language barrier though. Just like there are larger Russian, French, etc. communities.

You are right, language barrier. French people are perfectly organized in msxvillage, I'm registered but translator doesn't provides good translations from/to French :-(

By Akebono

Supporter (3)

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26-04-2017, 10:20

Let me chime in with a very rare comment from my side. As you all know, I've left MSX behind me years ago, though my old Toshiba HX-1 is still proudly displayed in the attic of my house.

ghost_jp is right. Don't ask what Japan can do for you. It's true that while software and hardware was getting harder and harder to come by in Europe, production was still continuing in Japan, but this made us idealize and fabricate a country that never existed in the first place. The very reason why MSX-Engine stopped after issue 11 is that realization after my first visit to Japan, during which I spoke with Noriko Kitane, editor-in-chief of MSX-Fan. I was shocked when she told me that Japan was not heaven on earth, that there was no MSX on every corner of the street and that the user base in Japan was relatively small. In fact, she told me MSX was a dying system. When a stakeholder like her says that, you'd better believe it.

And she was right. I found a few MSX computers in a dusty corner somewhere in Akihabara and that was it. Of course, Japan is a big country, so it was only natural that certain stuff was easier to get by, but relatively, the market there was very small.

We were never told by other people visiting Japan, as there was too much at stake for the small associations in Holland that desperately tried to make some money by importing software and hardware. And the remaining user base just believed because they wanted to believe, as the very survival of their favorite computer system and their whole belief system depended on it.

I'm still very grateful for what MSX did for me though, as it has shaped the rest of my life: I started studying Japanese, I've become the owner of a Japanese translation agency and language school, I'm married to a Japanese wife and I have two beautiful children. Without MSX this would never have been possible and you all have my eternal gratitude for that.

Anyway, Japan now is not Japan twenty years ago. Because of course, before the demise of MSX, there was an active community in Japan (though I believe it was never as big as we envisioned). ghost_jp is right when he says that people are chasing ghosts. I started loving Japan for what she was, not because of MSX. I suggest others do the same, or do what for example Ivo Wubbels and Ruud van de Moosdijk did: forget about Japan and start building things in Holland. Indeed, it was mainly them behind that last interview with Anma Soft in the last issue of MSX Engine. They didn't want the MSX community in Holland to depend on a country far far away, contrary to me. Instead they asked themselves: what can WE do for this system? Unfortunately, I wasn't interested in that (I found out that my true love was not MSX, but the country that made it). Anyway, we all know how that story ended. MSX couldn't be saved anymore, but Ivo and Ruud sure started building things for other systems like Nintendo, and succeeded.

I think MSX was never about MSX. I think MSX was about the people behind them. It's a pity that some of us needed a computer system to realize that. Some of these people have moved on; others haven't. But they're still the same people, doing other things or related stuff. Take Kojima for example. Once a tiny programmer at Konami responsible for Metal Gear, now working on Death Stranding. Death Stranding has nothing to do with MSX. But it's being made by the very same Kojima.

As for the Japanese being hard to contact: I have seldom met Japanese people who speak and write English as well as ghost_jp. Even though the English of Dutch people is far from perfect, we automatically assume that everybody can speak English as we can speak it too (we're far less proficient than we think though), but we tend to forget that Dutch is about the closest language to English on earth (Frisian excepted) and that Japanese people have an enormous handicap when it comes to this. Anyone who has tried his hands on learning Japanese knows: Dutch/English and Japanese are miles apart and take much, much more effort to master. I'm not ashamed to admit that even after having studied and worked in Japanese for 23 years, I still encounter new phenomenons every day. If you then imagine that most Japanese don't have the luxury to put as much time in English as I put in Japanese, you will understand how incredibly large the gap is that needs to be crossed.

Japan also has a shame culture: from the old days of bushido, failure was about the worst thing that could happen to you. This explains the group culture (shared responsibility), and this explains the fact that contrary to the Chinese, Japanese find it harder to practise their language skills. The only way to learn a language is to fail, fail and fail, over and over again (七転八起, nanakorobi yaoki: fall down seven times, get up eight times). And even though there's a Japanese saying 失敗は成功のもと (shippai wa seikō no moto: failure is the base of success), Japanese find this very hard to apply to themselves. Therefore my utmost respect for ghost_jp, because I know, also from my own experience, the incredible pain and effort he went through to become as good as this. I could also mention a failed education system, the fact that English practise "targets" are hard to come by due to the country being a very homogeneous society and other factors to explain why the Japanese find it hard to communicate in English, but let's not deviate from the topic too much. I know I'm oversymplifying, but this post is getting long enough as it is.

Anyway, you will find out that if you actually speak the language, it is much easier to contact Japanese people. They'll also really open up to you and behave in an entirely different way. The very proof of this is the fact that Manuel directed me to the interview with Noriko Kitane on OBL Live mentioned by Algorythms in this thread, which triggered me to contact OBL Live, who then brought me into contact with Noriko. We're now friends on Facebook. This all happened in a time span of less than eight hours. God, sometimes I wish I knew twenty years ago what I know now: it would have made things so much easier.

No matter what, I hope that after a gap of 23 years (we completely lost sight of eachother and I was surprised Noriko actually remembered my visit to her office) this will be the beginning of a fruitful new relationship. Not one that is based only on MSX, but one that is based on mutual respect for who we are and what we stand for.

So, if you want to speak with the Japanese, learn Japanese. That will keep you busy the rest of your live. If you want to do something for MSX, do something for MSX. But don't ask what Japan can do for you. Ask what you can do for Japan. Or better said: for this world in general.

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