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September 2007

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silverwolf_chan in societyofsoap

Stars and afros. What a combination.

Since I requested to join SOAP shortly before the retiring of the articles section, I never found out if I earned membership or not. Well, either way, I have a pair of essays to offer. One is research, the other is an editorial.

Title: The "Stars" of Baten Kaitos
Subject: Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
Category: Research
Summary: Apparently, the folks at Monolith Soft and Tri-Crescendo like astronomy. Why else would they name most of their game's locations after stars?
Warnings: If you don't like science, particularly astronomy, I don't reccomend reading this.

A while back, when Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean first came out, I was playing around with some software that came with my telescope. I noticed that a star in the constellation Cetus was named "Baten Kaitos," but at the time, since I had only heard of the game and never played it, I shrugged it off. I just recently picked up a copy of the game, because I'd been thinking about playing it for some time now, and it was going used for under 20 dollars, so I thought, "why not?" and bought it. After playing it all the way through, I've realized something: apparently, the folks at Monolith Soft and Tri-Crescendo like astronomy, because nearly all of the locations in Baten Kaitos are named after stars.

So, I thought I'd write a little explanation of the stars of Baten Kaitos. After all, you never know when random knowledge will come in handy, right? And, astronomy is fun.

First, for the non-scientists out there, a quick rundown of star terms that I'll be using.
Red giant: an incredibly massive star that is getting ready to become a Supernova. In other words, it's going to explode.
White dwarf: a small star that is slowly fading and will eventually burn out.
Light-year: the distance light travels in a year. Just how big is a light-year? It's about 9,460,528,404,879 kilometers, or 5,878,482,164,161 miles.

Now, let's get to the fun part.

Baten Kaitos (game title): "The belly of the whale." No, the game's title is not Japanese. Actually, it's Arabic. This star is located at the bottom of the constellation Cetus the whale (sometimes called Cetus the Sea Monster). It is located where Cetus's stomach would be. Baten Kaitos, or Zeta Ceti, is a yellowish star that is about 260 light-years from earth.

Sadal Suud (frontier island): "Luck of lucks." The star Sadal Suud, or Beta Aquarii, is located in the constellation Aquarius the water-bearer. It's about 610 light-years from earth.

Diadem (land of the clouds): A nickname-less star of the constellation Coma Berenices, Berenice's hair. Coma Berenices was originally considered the constellation Leo's tail, until the two were split. Alpha Comae Berenices, or Diadem, is a binary star (two stars considered to be a single star). We don't see it as eclipsing, as we do with most binary stars, because from Earth, we see Diadem edge-on, so the two stars appear to be moving back and forth rather than eclipsing. Diadem is about 65 light-years from Earth.

Mira (island of illusion): "Wonderful." Omicron Ceti, or Mira, is located in the constellation Cetus the whale. It is the largest and most noteable star in Cetus. Mira is a binary star, with the larger of the two being a red giant and the smaller being a white dwarf. Mira is a weird star, as it was the first non-supernova variable star to be discovered. Being a variable star means that sometimes it's visable and sometimes it's not. As far as variable stars go, Mira is a little weird. Both individual stars alter their brightness rather than eclipsing eachother, and for a while it seems to have a regular pattern of visability, then it sways from the pattern. Makes sense that the island of Mira in Baten Kaitos is constantly drifting between dimensions.

Alfard (the empire): The actual star, Alpha Hydrae, is called "Alphard," not "Alfard." "The solitary" or "Heart of the Hydra." This star can be found in the constellation Hydra the dragon. Also known as Alpha Hydrae, it is the brightest star in Hydra.

Wazn (ice nation):"Weight." This star is found in the constellation Columba the dove. Also known as Beta Columbae or Wezn, it's about 86 light-years from Earth.

Duhr (land beneath the clouds): "Enzonement" or "loincloth." Delta Leonis, most frequently known by the common name Zosma, occasionally known by its other common name Duhr, is located in the constellation Leo the lion. It's about 58 light-years from Earth. In about 600 million years, it'll become a red giant, but will then decay to a white dwarf.

Cor Hydrae (castle fortress of the gods): There is no star called Cor Hydrae, it is an alternate name of Alphard. "Cor Hydrae" literally means "Hydra center" or "Center of the Hydra," where the heart would be.

Cebalrai (farming village): "Dog of the shepard." This star is found in the constellation Ophiuchus, the man supporting a serpent. Beta Ophiuchi, or Cebalrai, is about 84 light-years from Earth.

Nunki (valley): "Of Enki." This star was named for the Sumerian god of waters. Sigma Sagittarii, or Nunki, is the second largest star in the constellation Sagittarius, the archer. Nunki gives out about 3300 times more light than the sun, although since it's about 224 light-years from earth, it doesn't appear much brighter than the rest of the stars in the sky.

Pherkad (capital of Sadal Suud): "Calf." The star Gamma Ursae Minoris, common name Pherkad, is a variable star in the constellation Ursa Minor, the little bear. It's part of the end of the little dipper's pan. Pherkad is about 480 light-years from Earth.

Nashira (fishing village): "Bearer of good news." Nashira, or Gamma Capricorni, is about 139 light-years from Earth and is found in the constellation Capricornus, the sea goat.

Sheliak (capital of Diadem): "Harp." Sheliak, or Beta Lyrae, is a binary star of the constellation Lyra the harp. The two stars that make up Sheliak are constantly eclipsing eachother. Also, the two stars are so closte together, that the material in each star's photosphere, the last visible layer of a star, is pulled towards eachother, giving both the stars of Sheliak an oval shape. Sheliak also has a third star to it, but the two oval-shaped stars are so close together that most telescopes can't resolve them as 2 seperate objects. Sheliak, which is about 882 light-years from Earth, has also often been used in science fiction- Star Trek, Frontier: Elite 2, Frontier: First Encounters, and Larry Niven's short story The Soft Weapon have all used Beta Lyrae somehow.

Elnath (Diadem castle): "The butting." This star actually has 4 possible names: scientific names Beta Tauri and Gamma Aurigae, and common names Elnath and Alnath. The star Elnath is the border between the constellations Taurus the bull and Auriga the charioteer, although it's more often regarded as a part of Taurus than Auriga. It's about 131 light-years from Earth, and it has grown in an odd way compared to other stars. Elnath is an orange giant, which, as far as stars go, is rare.

Mintaka (capital of Alfard): "Belt." Delta Orionis, better known by its common name Mintaka, is 916 light-years from Earth and is located in the constellation Orion the hunter. It's a multiple star, with 2 main stars. The 2 main stars of Mintaka give off about 70,000 times more light than the sun, but due to Mintaka's distance from Earth, it's hard to tell. In 1904, Johannes Hartmann used Mintaka as a background source when he discovered that interstellar space contains a thin gas. Like Sheliak, Mintaka has also been used in science fiction, in Star Trek and Alan Garner's novel Red Shift.

Azha (impoverished city in Alfard): "Hatching place." Azha, or Eta Eridani, is about 121 light-years from Earth and is located in the constellation Eridanus the river.

Nihal (desert): "The camels." Beta Leporis, or Nihal, is about 159 light-years from Earth and gives off about 150 times more light than the sun. It's found in the constellation Lepus the hare.

Gomeisa (ice cliffs): "The bleary eyed." Beta Canis Minoris, common name Gomeisa, is about 170 light-years from Earth. Gomeisa is a very hot star (ironic, since in the game it's the name of the ice cliffs), mostly due to the fact that it rotates very quickly and is surrounded by a lot of material that's causing friction. It's part of the constellation Canis Minor, the little dog.

Cursa (capital of Wazn): "Chair/footstool of Orion." Beta Eridani, also known by the common names of Cursa or Dhalim, is about 90 light-years from Earth and is located in the constellation Eridanus the river.

Kaffaljidhma (Wazn castle): "Cut-short hand leading from Pleiades." Kaffaljidhma, or Gamma Ceti, is about 82 light-years from Earth. Gamma Ceti is located near the star cluster M45, common name Pleiades, the 7 sisters.

Gemma (large village in Duhr): "Jewel." Alpha Coronae Borealis, of the constellation Corona Borealis, the northern crown, is most often known by its Arabic common name of Alphecca, but it can also go by the latin common name Gemma. Gemma is surrounded by a cloud of matter that has lead astronomers to believe that Gemma may have a planetary system. Gemma is about 75 light-years from Earth.

Capella (garden of death): "Little she-goat." Capella, scientific name Alpha Aurigae, is the brightest star in the constellation Auriga the charioteer and the sixth brightest star in the night sky. It's about 42 light-years from Earth. Capella has a large place in ancient astronomy, being the first-magnitude star closest to the celestial north pole (Polaris is a second-magnitude star). It's actually a binary star, the two stars making it up giving off 50 and 80 times more light than the sun. In a few million years, the two stars of Capella will become red giants. It has many cultural references, being one of the brightest stars in the sky.

Algorab (small village in Duhr): "Raven." Algorab, scientific name Delta Corvi, is located in the constellation Corvus the crow and is about 87 light-years from Earth.

Zosma (tower of stones): "Enzonement" or "Loincloth." Delta Leonis has two common names, Zosma and Duhr, Zosma being the more commonly-used of the two.

And, the oddball location names...

Moonguile (forest): "Moonguile" is still related to astronomy, but it's not a star name. Most likely, "Moonguile" is referring to "lunar madness," or the theory that the full moon causes personality changes, due to the word "guile" meaning deciet, craftiness, or trickery.

Nekton (shrine of spirits): Nekton is not related to astronomy at all. It's actually a biological term. It's the grouping of organisms that live in the water column (all of the sea not near the coast or the sea floor) of oceans and freshwater lakes that can propel themselves independent of the currents. Some examples are fish, octopus, and whales.

Coccolith (mirror labyrinth): Coccoliths are plates of calcium carbonate formed by single-celled algea.

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean is a "stellar" game. If you don't get the joke, look up the word "stellar." This is also probably why one of the main sidequests is the Star Map.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I hope you learned something!

Research sources:

Subject: The Battle for Bo-bobo
Category: Editorial
Summary: The anime Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is sparking a lot of controversy after being released in the United States. But does it deserve all the harsh criticism?
Warnings: Please note that this is an opinion and you don't have to agree with it.

On October 1st, 2005, the anime Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo was released to American audiences. The anime doesn't make sense, and is about as far from serious as you can get. Some people love it. Some hate it. Here's a common stand on it.

It doesn't make sense; it's not supposed to. The characters are insane. The settings are strange. The fighting styles are just as weird. A lot of people don't like the show for those reasons. Bo-bobo fights with his nose hair. Half of his afro can come off. His name is really long. Yes, all that is true, but is it all really so bad?

Much of the negative feedback I've heard comes from people who didn't watch the show or read the preview in Shonen Jump magazine, but rather watched the commercials. Don't get me wrong, there were people who actually watched the anime and/or read the manga preview and didn't like it. I'm not arguing with those people. You're free to have your opinions. I'm arguing with the people who reviewed it based on the commercials, the ones who didn't give Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo a chance.

Bo-bobo has a fan following. There are a great many people who enjoy its strange, random sense of humor. Some like the fact that Bo-bobo is often disturbing and never makes sense. A lot of people don't like that, but that doesn't give them the right to flame people who do like it. I've been flamed more times than I can count, and mostly it's by people who reviewed the show based on the commercials. Actually, adding on to this, many fans I've met admitted that when they saw the commercials, they thought Bo-bobo would be stupid, pointless, a waste of air time, and vowed to themselves that they'd never watch it. Well, they went back on their vows, and now they proudly support the protector of hair.

Yes, the plot is weird. It's the year 3001.5, and the world is ruled by the bald empire. The ruler has ordered that all people must be bald in order to flaunt his power. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is fighting against the bald empire, using his nose hair as a weapon; in order to earn back everybody's right to have hair on their heads. Yes, it's strange. It's supposed to be.

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is in a class of its own. It's disturbing, random, and makes absolutely no sense. It makes fun of other anime. There's no vulgar or dirty humor at all. It's unique. Please, give it a try. I'm not telling you to like it, just watch it before reviewing it. It's different, but that's nothing to flame about.


Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo has been on the air for almost a year now, lingering between Toonami's 2 latest time-slots, showing no real signs of slowing down. While it hasn't achieved nearly the popularity of Naruto, it sure doesn't seem to be doing poorly. Very rarely has it been taken off the air for a special event. Actually, the only times I can remember that it was taken off were Naruto marathons.

If Bo-bobo has remained on the air for this long, then it obviously can't be as bad as so many critics say it is. Clearly, there are enough people who watch it for Cartoon Network to keep it on the air week after week. This surprises me, given the number of critics. This small phenomenon has led me to believe that maybe some of the critics are just trying to fit in by saying that they hate Bo-bobo, while they eagerly await the sound of "Wild Challenger" on Saturday nights.

To anyone out there who fits that, I have this to say. Don't be afraid to stand up for what you like! If you keep criticizing it in the open to save face, someday that criticism may be used against you to take Bo-bobo off the air.

Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo has taught us a lesson that we should have learned long ago, not different from a common lesson taught about books. Don't judge a show by its commercials.

To those of you who are Bo-bobo fans, stand strong against the adversity. To those of you who gave Bo-bobo a fair chance and didn't like it, that's okay too, you have a fair opinion. To those of you who judged it on commercials, watch it some time- you might like it.

Thanks for reading!


Since I'm not really familiar with either Baten Kaitos or Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, my response is going to be somewhat superficial. But I'll drop a few brief thoughts.

The first piece is really quite impressive in terms of the amount of data you've pulled together - I don't know how much time you spent doing research, but in any case it's an achievement. My criticism would be that this doesn't seem like an article so much as an assembly of information. Granted, there's no hard definition of what an "article" is, but as great as the research you've done is the result just reads like a list of terms with an intro and closer tacked on to the beginning and end. For what it is, though, it's still quite good. If I can suggest a question for a possible follow-up: it's interesting that BK has made use of stars in this way, yes, but is it only a quirk or are the names used in some way, i.e. do they actually mean anything to the game?

To the second article I would start off by saying: people who insist that everything they watch make "sense" (and by that meaning it must have a logical and immediately comprehensible structure where everything that is, is there "for a reason") should probably not be bothering with anime. My main criticism is that almost the entire article argues negatively - "negative" here not meaning "bad" or "mean" or "pessimistic," but the strict sense that almost everything here is a negation, a "don't judge the show this way" or a "the show doesn't work like this" rather than a "DO watch the show like this" (or whatever). All you argue FOR is that we give the show a try, and the only thing that looks like a positive reason for us to do this is that it's "unique" and "different" and "strange" but that "it's supposed to be" that way. Well, great, but is strangeness alone a reason to watch it?

Finally, while I think there are a couple of slips and jagged edges and structural issues in here that I won't bring up (they'd all come out with a little editing and consideration), I can't keep myself honest without pointing out that a show "remaining on the air for this long" is never an argument for the show's quality, nor is the number of fans it has. But you should know this, and you should also know plenty of good reasons why Bo-bobo is worth watching without appealing to how much the crowds dig it or not. Otherwise, keep at it...