From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Gen-ichi NISHIO)
Subject: [SR] Review: Tokyo Sourcebook (in Japanese)
Sender: email@example.com (Gen-ichi NISHIO)
Organization: GodNet -- A Virtual Reality Environment of the Cyberpapacy
Date: Sun, 1 Dec 1996 10:01:14 GMT
Last week, Fujimi-shobo, a licensee of Shadowrun in Japan, released
a Shadowrun sourcebook in Japan, which is titled "Tokyo Sourcebook."
This is the first supplement for Shadowrun published in Japan. Its cover
says "Everything about Tokyo in 2054," "From the detailed descriptions
of each districts, to the Japanese magic and critters." Sounds exciting?
It seems to be the Japanese equivalent to London Sourcebook or
Germany Sourcebook. Yeah, this is the sourcebook of Tokyo and Japan
Imperial State in 2054, written by Japanese people. London and Germany
Sourcebook were so nicely written and useful that FASA published them
by themselves. So it can be a good idea for FASA to translate this
Japanese book into English and publish it, if its contents are excellent...
So I wrote a short review of this book as a Japanese gamer.
Title: Tokyo Sourcebook
Pubisher: Fujimi-shobo, (Tokyo,Japan)
Author: Akira Egawa and Group SNE
Pages: 88 pages, including 8 color pages
Price: 3800yen, or about $35
$35 for only 88 pages? Yeah, I think it too expensive.
In a word: Miserable
A bit longer: A failed attempt to imitate London Sourcebook in Japan
Suggestion: I'd recommend http://www.sainet.or.jp/~fatcat/index-e.html
rather than this poor-qualitied supplement.
A young man (perhaps a teenager) standing in front of buildings.
One of the buildings is Tokyo Municipal Tower in Shinjuku.
The picture is painted in anime style. The painter is Junichi
Fujikawa, a not-so-famous illustrator in Japan. The coloring is ok,
but his dessin is aweful. He should study sketching human bodies.
Japan in 2054:
A major problem. This supplement denies the concept of "Japan Imperial
State." According to the book, the Japanese government has no power, and
the country is divided into numerous megacorps. One city is controled by
a megacorp. Armed force has been dissolved.
Though this is one of interesting possibilities, it contradicts many
supplements published from FASA. Fujimi-shobo doesn't seem to have any
plan to publish such supplements in Japan.
I prefer a totalitarian government with a massive bureaucracy
controlling every facets of people's life. Only a few become SINless
to escape from the system. That's more "Japanese," I think.
Tokyo in 2054:
In the balkanized nation, Tokyo is assumed to be a neutral zone of
megacorps, or the city deserted by them. The book says Tokyo was
devastated by a corporate war, battled by Fuchi and Asakura Electronics
in 2035, and the capital of Japan moved to Kyoto next year. Today the
city is under redevelopment, and forms a huge market with 10 million
It is irrational that Fuchi broke such a major physical confrontation
in the very capital of the nation. The market scale of Tokyo is also
unbelievable. Why do people deserted by megacorps have purchasing power?
How do they earn cred? What are thy producing?
To say the truth, such anarchic settings are very popular among
Japanese teenagers (read munchkin). They just want to carry assault
cannons with them without being stopped by Lone Star...
Areas of Tokyo:
So-so. The 23 pages of descriptions are not so genius works, though
with few major flaws. Overview is as follow,
West Shinjuku -- Office town [AAA]
East Shinjuku -- Downtown [D]
Shibuya -- The Town of teenagers and gangs [B/E]
Akibahara -- High-tech shops [C]
Ueno -- Awakened forest, many metahumans and magicians [B]
Chiyoda -- Preserved old buildings [AAA]
Shinagawa -- Luxery residents and port warehouses [A/D]
Shibaura -- Small office buildings [A]
Roppongi -- Another downtown, filled with VIP [A]
Ikebukuro -- Redevelopment zone [D/E]
Haneda -- The ruin of Haneda airport and urban brawl parks [C]
Only three pages are divided to description about other areas in
Japan. Chiba city, the stronghold of Renraku, has only 27 lines.
Four pages are assigned to megacorp section, though most are direct
translation from Corporate Shadowfiles. There are no mentions to Zurich
This section says Renraku used chemical weapons against Sinmyoin
Chemical in 2040 Battle of Chiba, though, I cannot believe the Corporate
Court connive such a outrageous activity.
We all know JIS is arguably the worst rasist nation in the awakened
world. However, to our surprise, the book has very few descriptions
about racism subject in the country. There is an explanation of Tokyo
Olympic in 2056, but no mention to the fact Japanese government
announced they would keep metahuman players from the games as written
Why no racism? Because most of Japanese readers, who are teenagers,
don't like their country described such a manner. Yeah, all the Japanese
know racism no good. Their only flaw is that they don't know what to
do to prevent racism. They are so insensible to racial issues, and tend
to cause racial problem unawares. Nonetheless, they can't believe
themselves racists. They aren't taught what their grandfathers did to
Koreans, Chinese, Ainu and Okinawa people past days on account of the
"patriotic" education system forced by the current conservative government.
I cannot excuse the deception and hypocricy...
Stop! Sorry, this is a game review, not a political protest...
The book introduces a new branch of magic, Onmyo-do. It is a mix
of Chinese mysticism, esoteric Buddhisum and Japanese animism. Many
Japanese legends contains Onmy-do magicians fighting supernatural
A practitioner of Omnyo-do are considered as a magical adept, so
must allocate priority B to magic when the character is generated.
Then he buys various "powers" just like a physical adept does. The
concept itself is a bit interesting. But "spellcasting" power costs
only 0.5 magic. Yes, he can buy the ability equal to a sorcery adept
and yet has 5.5 for purchasing other powers, such as astral projection,
conjuring watchers, banishing spirits, etc.. On the other hand, the magic
rating is not lowered for spellcasting purpose as a phyisical magician
(Awakenings). Too powerful.
According to the supplement, a Onmyo-do adept can conjure "shikigami,"
a small spirit. The rule for shikigami is essensially identical to
watchers in Grimoire. The book says only Omnyo-do character conjure
shikigami... Wait? Normal magician cannot call upon watchers in Japan?
I must say the most of Onmyo-do rules are incompatible with Grimoire
and Awakenings. Fujimi-shobo doesn't seem to have a plan to publish
Grimoire or Awakenings in Japan. Very disappointed.
Nine critters are described. Japanese eyekiller, Japanese vampire
(Oni), Japanese wendigo, giant ape, "Nue" or awakened bat, Japanese
Leshy (Tengu), Ogre spider (Tsuchigumo), Kappa, and Japanese ghost.
Not so bad, but it's regrettable they are lacking in "Japanese feel."
The book contains the translation of legality and credstick rules
from Neo Anarchist's Guide to Real Life. It is useful for Japanese
gamers, because NAGtRL in Japanese is not planned.
No martial arts or ninja rules here.
This book hardly can be used as a sourcebook by non-Japanese gamers.
It has too many flaws and inconsistency with products made by FASA.
Or it contains very little about Japanese culture, because it is written
for Japanese readers. There are no description of Yakuza or organized
crime. If FASA people should decide to publish English version of this
book, they must add a considerable amount of new materials as well as
patch the holes. I'll suggest them to assign other persons and produce
a whole new, FASA edition of Japan Sourcebook.
If you'd like to play Shadowrun in 2057 Tokyo, I'd rather recommend
"JIS Project." Some of (relatively) talented fans in Japan are now
creating setting Tokyo and Japan Imperial State. You can see their output
at JIS Project WWW Page (http://www.sainet.or.jp/~fatcat/index-e.html).
However the page is incomplete and has many misspells and grammatical
mistakes (yeah, we Japanese aren't so good at English), it's far better
than this terrible sourcebook.
Gen-ichi NISHIO : The Administrator of GodNet Japan
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1) The cover art painter is not Junichi Fujikawa, but Satosi Siki. He is
also a not-so-famous illustrator in Japan.
2) The translation of legality and credstick rules are perhaps not from Neo
Anarchists' Guide to Real Life, but from Sprawl Site.
3) The time at "TOKYO" is not 2054, but 2050. It's absolutely past.