# Asia: Weeaboo side

So I was in Asia for a month over the summer.

## Singapore

I talked about Jubeat in my real travel blogging, but I was pretty surprised by the song choice. There’s a good number of anison that I’m kind of surprised aren’t already in jubeat plus packs. The one that I don’t understand why they’re not already selling is the Railgun stuff, that’s a money printer right there. There’s also some Mizuki Nana stuff that I really liked and I’d love to see the Mouretsu Pirates OP hit a DLC pack (probably in a Momoclo pack (why doesn’t this exist yet too)). The Utapri OPs get a shoutout for having a hilarious chart.

I also hit up the Kinokuniya while I was wandering around Orchard St. and gat dang, I wish we had a Kinokuniya in Canada. I mean, it’s essentially a Japanese bookstore with Japanese bookstore selection. Obviously, there’s a wide selection of manga, but there’s also a very large selection of light novels and regular novels and artbooks. I didn’t buy anything because I expected to pick up weeaboo goods in Japan.

## Kuala Lumpur

I met up with local twitter deviants pals @riajuunibyou, @ncem, and @kimmouto. We had a cool time in their city doing cool things like not getting murdered by vehicular traffic eating. Obviously, we had to watch an anime so we went to see Pacific Rim. This was pretty cool, since I don’t really watch movies in theatres anymore. But it turned out the Malaysian (?) version had some slight changes which made a scene or two incredibly confusing.

## Hong Kong

The first time I went to Times Square, much to my surprise, there was an RX-78 set up faced towards Char’s Zaku II. For some reason, there was some kind of Gundam exhibit there. There were a bunch of smaller scale Zakus set up around so people could take pictures and there was a booth set up with a ton of gunpla in display cases. When I went back a few days later, there was also a model White Base hanging from the ceiling.

I also got to meet up with @cokematic (and @fnzna, who happened to be in HK too, but we know each other irl). It was fun since it was my first time in Central and we went to a really nice pub with a really good selection of beers and ciders. After meeting up, we (minus coke, because he has a real job) decided to check out the last day of the local anime convention, Ani-Com. It turned out that Shokotan was there a few days earlier and there was even a live, but I wouldn’t have been able to make it anyway, so it couldn’t be helped. I was surprised to see so many Inu x Boku cosplayers and it was also my first time seeing actual Kurobas fangirl swarms.

## Tokyo

Nope, no anime here.

The first place I went was actually the Shinjuku Animate, which I’d stumbled upon by being lost after dropping my stuff off at my hotel and wandering around. I would come back here a few more times for some very good buys: the Fire Sisters Yokoku-hen Quiz mug that I’d totally forgotten about and came across completely by chance and the Free! TV Animation Guidebook which I thought was only sold at the KyoAni store, but there were a bunch here.

### Akiba

The first real stop was Akihabara and I had the pleasure of having @aliveinthewired show me around. This resulted in me snapping up an Akemi Homura nendoroid at Sofmap. I was really tempted to get the Chibimoth plush at Cospa, but I managed to control myself.

Later, we met up with @landroverattack and his friend and went off to check out a maid cafe. Schatzkiste is a place that I would never have discovered or thought of going on my own. It’s a really nice and classy place with a fantastic concept. I think it’s really the best that they have their own cute doujin about the daily lives of the maids.

After getting real food, we went to Nakano Broadway, which was a really cool place. It’s not an Akiba-like place where it’s just blatant nerd crap everywhere. Instead, it felt more like a bunch of otaku shops had been slowly taking over the mall over the decades. I picked up the Penguindrum Triple H CD at one of the Mandarakes here.

### Comiket

And so we get to the main event, Comiket. Comiket is an amazing experience but everyone was not kidding when they said that it’s incredibly physically challenging. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated as much as I did standing in those lines. I’d planned on going all three days, but the first day almost destroyed me and I’d gotten everything I wanted on the first day, so I didn’t return.

I was actually pretty well prepared. I didn’t die of dehydration because I brought a litre of water from 7-11 with me before getting on the train. It turned out there’s a train from Shinjuku that goes directly to the Big Sight (the Shonan-Shinjuku line turns into the Rinkai line). When I got on at Shinjuku, it was already pretty full. No one got off until the Big Sight.

Comiket really is the final boss of lines. The line kind of begins once you get off at Kokusai-Tenjijou and you climb the stairs that are lined with anime ads. It was a few minutes’ walk to get from the station to the Big Sight. The line really begins once you hit the part where you have to wait for people in front of you, which was about when I could get a pretty nice shot of the Big Sight and the massive line in front of it. At the top of the stairs, there was a giant screen playing various PVs and CMs and this was where I saw the Kyoukai no Kanata PV for the first time.

It only took about an hour of being in line to get down to the West Hall. Luckily, I overestimated what’s considered popular and all the booths I were after were fairly well stocked. Rito didn’t have any of her Houtarou/Eru stuff, so I just bought a calendar from her. The other Hyouka thing I picked up was this. I also made sure to get something from Yadokugaeru which ended up being this Senjougahara doujin and this Monogatari doujin they did with 10-Colors. While wandering around, I noticed As109′s booth and picked up their Monogatari stuff too. The last C84 thing I bought was this Tokikake doujin.

After I was done, I decided to check out the industry booths, which were also supposedly at the West Hall. It turned out that you had to go outside and make a huge round around the cosplay area and go up to the upper levels. It was ascending the stairs out in the sun that started to take its toll on me, but I figured it’d be okay once I got inside again. When I got to the top, though, what I had before me was a bunch of snaking lines for the booths. At this point I internally screamed oh hell no and walked right past the lines and went down to the East Hall.

So on my way to the East Hall, I started to feel like I’d faint, which was BAD NEWS since I still had a while to get to the hall. I’d already seen four or five people having to get carried away from collapsing so I was extra conscious of not becoming one of those. I pushed on until I ran across the Family Mart right by the escalators down to the hall. I have to say that I’m super impressed that it was fairly well stocked and running smoothly. I bought a bunch of food and rested before heading down, where I managed not to buy anything.

I met up with @aliveinthewired and we joined up with the reverse linecon to the monorail, which was stuffed, as you’d expect. The ride had a really nice view of Odaiba. When we pulled into Shimbashi station, I noticed there was a huge crowd of people and felt dread. Luckily, the crowd was for the riajuu linecon to Odaiba (there were fireworks there that night), so we were spared more lines.

### Ikebukuro

The next day, instead of going back to Comiket, I decided to take a trip to Ikebukuro to check out Otome Road. It turns out the Ikebukuro Animate had actually moved relatively recently. This made it a bit harder to find the actual “Otome Road” since all the directions on the internet in English basically said to go to the Animate and you’re there.

I really liked the Ikebukuro Animate because it’s easier to move around than the Akiba Animate. Of course, there was also the giant Free! banner hanging from it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much in the way of Free! merch at that point in time; everything was getting released in September and October. Also, the women to men ratio was the opposite of the typical nerd ratio. This was the case for pretty much all the otaku shops on Otome Road.

Going to both of the Ikebukuro Toranoanas was really amusing. Both are in otherwise nondescript buildings a few floors up. When I was going to Tora A, I got in an elevator with these dudes in suits. Everyone got off at the Toranoana floor. When I went to Tora B, in a different building, I got in an elevator with a bunch of girls. Again, everyone got off at the Toranoana floor.

I’d actually stumbled onto actual Otome Road by wandering around looking for Mandarake. I took a quick look around, but I didn’t really feel like poring through shelves of BL doujin and I didn’t have anything I was looking for. I also took a look around the K-Books and Lashinbang and ended up buying the Free! ED single.

### And the rest

At this point, I had a few days of doing non-weeb stuff, which may be surprising. I got to meet up with @Ayu, who took us to this future sushi place where very little human interaction is required. The ordering touchscreens apparently randomly challenge you to minigames and I used my Cure Peace janken skills to win 10% off my bill and a tako nigiri phone charm. I also got introduced to the wonderful concept of nomihoudai.

I went back to Akiba and Nakano Broadway one last time to look for Hyouka merch and acceptable Hitagi figures. This time around, I checked out the Gamers first. This was a very good choice because it turns out they had a summer of Key event going on and had an entire floor dedicated to Key goods. You obviously had your Little Busters since it actually got an anime recently and there’s the Angel Beats and Rewrite and Clannad, but there was some Air and Kanon too. But the most important thing was they had a pile of Clannad 10th Anniversary artbooks that I had given up on because I skipped the C84 pixiv booth.

Other than that, I ran across a really cute C84 Kurobas doujin at Toranoana. I also found the Araragi pen at Robot x Robot, but it was really expensive and I couldn’t figure out if it was refillable with standard inks. Instead, I picked up a small plush Penguin #2. The only Hyouka merch that I found was the Kamiyama tracksuit and Chitanda eyecover thing at Cospa.

There was one last surprise when I got to the airport. There’s a temporary Cospa store at Narita that’s there until some time next year (I think it’s March or May). Unlike the main Cospa store, they had smaller Wooser plushes in stock, so I picked up one along with a large Ume-sensei phone charm.

# World End Economica episode 1: Quantitative Analysis 101

A long time ago, I was searching for news about the newest Kishida Kyodan and the Akeboshi Rockets album, POPSENSE. POPSENSE came with a bunch of these funny little blue-haired faces, one of which was the album cover. One of these faces was noticeably different, having black hair and red eyes. It turns out that was supposed to be Hagana, one of the main characters from World End Economica and it turned out that the OP track was on this album.

That’s how I found out about World End Economica, which was a weird-sounding title and surely couldn’t have had anything to do with economics. But I was wrong, because it so happened that it was written by a certain Isuna Hasekura, who was responsible for everyone’s favourite wolf goddess medieval mercantile adventure. This was exciting to learn about until I realized that it was never going to be translated because it was a doujin visual novel. I shouted into the wind on twitter and magically received a response:

So now it’s been almost a year later and finally available for purchase with my hard earned yencoins so I can actually read it. Is there anything to it beyond economics on the moon? Why, yes, in fact, there is.

World End Economica is about quantitative analysis.

Our story begins in the grand moon city with a young vagrant, Yoshiharu, who’s pretty good at trading and has an intuition for it. At this point I’m wondering how the hell human civilization managed to build a financial centre on the moon but it’s still possible for someone to succeed at trading manually. And the story answered with Hagana, an incredibly socially awkward girl whose only skill is being amazing at math and is distraught because math is actually totally useless in the real world.

You might be able to see where this is going. Quantitative analysis is what we call the application of mathematics to finance. The idea is to take into account all of the data on the market and somehow model it so that you can predict and optimize when you buy and sell various stocks, how much of each stock, and at what rate. And of course, when you’re dealing with this much data and this many calculations, you’ll need to get a computer to do all of this for you and you can get computers to automate trading for you. This automation is what’s called algorithmic trading, where you essentially rely on computers and algorithms to figure out and do stuff automatically.

Because of how well it’s able to optimize profits and how quickly it gets data and processes it, it’s how a significant amount of trading goes on today. As a result, the market becomes a giant feedback loop of inputs going into these algorithms. The algorithms process this stuff and make decisions and take actions and generates a whole new set of data to be fed back into the algorithms again.

Now, this is great for all the mathematicians and computer scientists out there because all of a sudden, there’s another career track that’s opened up that’s willing lure us away from academia with large bags of money. But then the question is that once algorithms are doing all the trading, what do the traders do? This is something that I don’t have an answer to because I don’t really know that much about finance.

This also turns out to be a question that our MC asks himself too. He’s managed to help this girl discover that her talents aren’t a waste and that she can use them to help people. But in the course of using and developing her skills, she’s basically making bank and obsoleted him out of nowhere. So, is there a role for people in trading and finance if computers can do it all?

And that could be a pretty frightening question if you think about it. We’re used to robots replacing people for menial labour because they’re stronger or more efficient and better at doing rote tasks. But now, we’re able to replace traders with computers. And if you think about that for a bit, you realize that these algorithms fighting it out on the market are responsible for a huge chunk of wealth in the world right now.

And that brings us to the other question, which is can we trust the computer? Obviously, someone has to know how to transform the processes and data so that it can be shoved into a computer, but once we have something complex enough, it kind of morphs into a magical box. There’s no way to verify that this thing you’re feeding a ton of data is doing the right thing. So when your gut and the box are in conflict, which do you trust when you have tons of peoples’ money on the line?

Unfortunately, this is only episode 1 so I have to wait an unspecified amount of time before Spicy Tails decides to translate and release the next installment to find out where this is going. So far, it’s been intriguing enough for me to stick around, even though the art and music are fairly sparse and the editing could use some work. I guess the answer to getting my attention is to write a story about math.

# The 3rd annual π day anime and mathematics post: A symmetric group of friends of degree 5

「ふいにコネクト」/「ものくろあくたー。」

It’s that day of the year again.

Kokoro Connect’s premise made a lot of people raise their eyebrows, because really, what good can come from body-switching shenanigans? Well, let’s think about this for a second. We have a group of five kids and every once in a while, at random, they switch into the others’ bodies at random. What does that sound like? That’s right, a permutation!

Interestingly enough, the idea of connecting body-switching with permutations isn’t new. The Futurama writers did it and apparently got a new theorem out of it. What differs in the case of Kokoro Connect and Futurama is that in Futurama, the body-switching could only happen in twos. These are called transpositions. Obviously, this isn’t the case for Kokoro Connect. This doesn’t make too much of a difference since it turns out we can write out any permutation we want as a series of transpositions, but that wouldn’t be very fun for Heartseed.

We write permutations in the following way. If we let Taichi = 1, Iori = 2, Inaban = 3, Aoki = 4, and Yui = 5, we’ll have $(1 2 3 4 5)$ representing the identity permutation, when everyone’s in their own body. If Heartseed wanted to make Aoki and Yui switch places, he’d apply the following permutation
$$\left( \begin{array}{ccccc} 1&2&3&4&5 \\ 1&2&3&5&4 \end{array} \right)$$
While it’s helpful for seeing exactly what goes where, especially when we start dealing with multiple permutations, this notation is a bit cumbersome, so we’ll only write the second line ($(12354)$) to specify a permutation.

For the purposes of this little exercise, we’ll consider applying a permutation as taking whoever’s currently in a given body. That is, say we permute Aoki and Taichi to get $(4 2 3 1 5)$. In order to get everyone back into their own bodies, we have to apply $(4 2 3 1 5)$ again, which takes Aoki, who’s in Taichi’s body, back into Aoki’s body.

So let’s begin with something simple. How many different ways are there for the characters to body switch? Both who is switched and who they switch with is entirely random. Again, since the switches aren’t necessarily transpositions, this means that we can end up with cycles like in episode 2, when Yui, Inaban, and Aoki all get switched at the same time. This can be written as $(1 2 4 5 3)$.

But this is just the number of permutations that can happen on a set of five elements, which is just 5! = 120. Of course, that includes the identity permutation, which just takes all elements to themselves, so the actual number of different ways the characters can be swapped is actually 119.

Anyhow, we can gather up all of these different permutations into a set and give it the function composition operation and it becomes a group. A group $(G,\cdot)$ is an algebraic structure that consists of a set $G$ and an operation $\cdot$ which satisfy the group axioms:

• Closure: for every $a$ and $b$ in $G$, $a\cdot b$ is also in $G$
• Associativity: for every $a$, $b$, and $c$ in $G$, $(a\cdot b)\cdot c = a\cdot (b\cdot c)$
• Identity: there exists $e$ in $G$ such that for every $a$ in $G$, $e\cdot a = a \cdot e = a$
• Inverse: for every $a$ in $G$, there exists $b$ in $G$ such that $a\cdot b = b\cdot a = e$

In this case, we can think of the permutations themselves as elements of a group and we take permutation composition as the group operation. Let’s go through these axioms.

Closure says that if have two different configurations of body swamps, say Taichi and Iori ($(2 1 3 4 5)$) and Iori and Yui ($(1 5 3 4 2)$), then we can apply them one after the other and we’d still have a body swap configuration: $(2 5 3 4 1)$. That is, we won’t end up with something that’s not a body swap. This seems like a weird distinction to make, but it’s possible to define a set that doesn’t qualify as a group. Say I want to take the integers under division as a group ($(\mathbb Z, \div)$). Well, it breaks closure because 1 is an integer and 2 is an integer but $1 \div 2$ is not an integer.

Associativity says that it doesn’t matter what order we choose to apply our operations in. If we have three swaps, say Taichi and Inaban ($(3 2 1 4 5)$), Aoki and Yui ($(1 2 3 5 4)$), and Iori and Yui $(1 5 3 4 2)$ and we want to apply them in that order. Then as long as they still happen in that order, it doesn’t matter which one we apply first. We’d have
$$((32145)(12354))(15342) = (32154)(15342) = (34152)$$
and
$$(32145)((12354)(15342)) = (32145)(14352) = (34152)$$

The identity means that there’s a configuration that we can apply and nothing will change. That’d be $(12345)$. And inverse means that there’s always a single body swap that we can make to get everyone back in their own bodies.

As it turns out, the group of all permutations on $n$ objects is a pretty fundamental group. These groups are called the symmetric groups and are denoted by $S_n$. So the particular group we’re working with is $S_5$.

So what’s so special about $S_5$? Well, as it turns out it’s the first symmetric group that’s not solvable, a result that’s from Galois theory and has a surprising consequence.

Évariste Galois was a cool dude, proving a bunch of neat stuff up until he was 20, when he got killed in a duel because of some drama which is speculated to be of the relationship kind, maybe not unlike Kokoro Connect (it probably wasn’t anything like Kokoro Connect at all). Among the things that he developed was the field that’s now known as Galois theory, which is named after him. What’s cool about Galois theory is that it connects two previously unrelated concepts in algebra: groups and fields.

One of the most interesting things that came out of Galois theory is related to the idea of solving polynomials. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the quadratic formula. Well, in case you aren’t, here it is:

$$x = \frac{-b \pm \sqrt{b^2 – 4ac}}{2a}$$

This neat little formula gives us an easy way to find the complex roots of any second degree polynomial. It’s not too difficult to derive. And we can do that for cubic polynomials too, which takes a bit more work to derive. And if we want to really get our hands dirty, we could try deriving the general form of roots for polynomials of degree four. And wait until you try to do it for degree five polynomials.

That’s because, eventually, you’ll give up. Why? Well, it’s not just hard, but it’s impossible. There is no general formula using radicals and standard arithmetic operations for the roots for any fifth degree (or higher!) polynomial. The reason behind this is because $S_5$ is the Galois group for the general polynomial of degree 5. Unfortunately, proving that fact is a bit of a challenge to do here since it took about 11 weeks of Galois theory and group theory to get all the machinery in place, so we’ll have to leave it at that.

# Low energy 2012 reflection

「「私、気になります！」」/「Mirunai」

You can see my 12 Days posts as sort of the most interesting things I’ve seen or read over the year. And so you can probably infer the following.

The best anime of 2012 was Hyouka.

Why? There’s a lot of reasons, but basically, it was the show I was most sad to see end. Oh and I guess there’s this too:

More generally, I think the highlights of my 2012 have been meeting up with people, something that I’ve begun to look forward to after being exiled in London. Of course, there’s the good old meetups with old university friends, some of which involved riichi mahjong. But this was the year that I got to meet some of the Toronto-area cartoon heads that I’ve been talking to on twitter for a while and it was great. And even the non-cartoon head Toronto council watchers were cool too, which is unsurprising, since Toronto City Council is the secret best anime.

Hopefully 2013 gives me some more chances to ruin your impressions of me IRL.

# 12 Days XII: He’s lazy. She’s curious. They solve mysteries.

「氷菓」/「ぱち」

Hyouka is just lovely. I was pretty skeptical when the whole thing was announced and it started. Really, a slow mystery light novel with pretty animation, is that going to hold up? As it turns out, it’s not really a mystery, as things involving a bunch of bored high school students rarely are. Instead, it’s about a guy who, despite his best efforts, has the misfortune of being captivated by a starry-eyed girl and is dragged out of his shell. Like most of other shows in this vein, the enjoyment comes from watching how our protagonist slowly changes and see, by the end of it all, how far they’ve come.