Citing fatigue, pop star Hikaru Utada is taking 2011 off. She's not touring and not releasing any new albums. Instead, she's doing what many do when they want to relax: she's playing video games.
In particular, she's all about recently released dungeon crawler Mysterious Dungeon Shiren the Wanderer 5: Fortune Tower and the Dice of Fate. In the game, Shiren wanders through dungeons with a girl in a panda suit. "I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day," Utada tweeted (via Livedoor) on February 15. "I spent the whole day playing Furai No Shiren 5 on my Nintendo DSi." Furai no Shiren 5 is the Japanese title for Shiren the Wanderer 5, and Utada is playing the crap out of it.
"I've been playing Shiren the Wanderer 5 too much," Utada added, "and I was even going through dungeons in a dream. All my items, like the Herb of Revival, that were in a very important jar transformed into rice balls, and I woke up just as I said, 'Gah, my weapons!'"
The American-born Utada is one of Japan's biggest pop stars. She exploded onto the Japanese popscene in her early teens with a string of hits. Utada is no stranger to gaming. She not only contributed the theme songs for Kingdom Hearts, but also Kingdom Hearts II as well as appearing in the launch campaign for the original Nintendo DS way back in 2004. The ads featured Utada in a red dress as she approached a DS and asked if it was alright to "touch" the handheld. The campaign's theme song was "Easy Breezy", a track off her English-language debut, Exodus.
That track, "Easy Breezy", caused a mild amount of controversy in Japan at the time due to the lines "You're easy breezy, and I'm Japan-ezy," the last part of which which was construed as meaning "あたしは手軽にヤレる日本人" or roughly, "I'm a Japanese girl you can easily screw" by unhappy and irate Japanese fans. Critics say the English language album and her harder-edged, heavily made-up face played into Western stereotypes about Japanese women. Utada's Exodus album was a flop, but the Nintendo DS was not.
Utada continued gaming on her DS, later trading up to a DS Lite (which she bit) and in 2006, even taking part in a Tetris DS event in which she challenged other players. "I first played when I was five years-old and every day since then," she said at the time. On Tetris DS, she even racked up a mind-blogging score of 99,999,999, adding, "You need perseverance or obstinance to make it this far." That, and a lot of free time.