Tag Archives: japan


Before I met my husband, my entire experience with anime was a vague awareness that Sailor Moon existed. He was a longtime fan, starting with Battle of the Planets when he was a kid. When we first started dating he tried to get me to watch Love Hina, a fairly typical anime romantic comedy. I couldn’t get into it. I didn’t find the insane overreaction to embarrassing mishaps amusing, and that appeared to be the bulk of the humor. I wasn’t interested in Please Teacher either, for the same reasons, and when he tried to get me to watch Trigun I fell asleep.

I usually have no issue with subtitles, but in this case I think that was part of the turn-off. Many of the female Japanese voice actors have high-pitched, whiny voices. And unlike the languages of Europe and the Americas, the cadence of Japanese bears no similarity whatsoever to that of English. For example, questions don’t go up at the end, and the sentence structure is completely different. So I didn’t feel like I was really gaining anything by being a purist.

However, many English dubs are simply dreadful. Homestar Runner’s Stinkoman 20X6 was spot on. You can’t line English words up with an animated mouth speaking Japanese. Well, you can, but it’s just awkward. Luckily, dubbing has improved dramatically over the years, so most of the more recent series are perfectly bearable in English. (Not all of them, of course; Naruto’s “believe it!” just doesn’t translate.) Disney’s handling of Miyazaki’s films is an excellent example of just how good a dub can be.

One of the thing most anime outsiders don’t realize is that anime is not a genre: anime series span all genres, from romance to science fiction to drama to comedy to just plain old weird. It’s a style – and not even a specific style, really. Compare, if you will, characters from One Piece, Tokyo Mew Mew, and Ghost in the Shell:

One Piece

Tokyo Mew Mew

Ghost in the Shell

There’s hardly any comparison, though all three are very common artistic styles in anime. It could also be argued that anime doesn’t necessarily need to be Japanese. I would consider Teen Titans to be American anime, for instance, and there are plenty of anime-style comics from Korea.

Though my husband is quite enamored of this style of art, I’ve come across only a few series here and there that have piqued my interest:

  • Outlaw Star: I need to rewatch this one. Basically, it’s a science fiction story about a group of otherwise unrelated characters thrown together to search for the Galactic Leyline, a mythical place said to hold lots of treasure. They have lots of adventures along the way, many pretty hilarious.
  • Death Note: My favorite series so far. Bored college student Yagami Light finds a notebook that gives him an immense amount of power: whoever’s name he writes in the notebook will die. He decides to become the personification of justice, killing criminals left and right under the pseudonym “Kira” as uber-detective L attempts to discover his identity. Things get even more interesting when Light teams up with L to “help find Kira.” Throw in additional Death Notes and a jealous death god or two, and you have a fascinating game of cat and mouse. The live-action movies are almost better, actually, because they concentrate solely on the Light vs. L story of the first half of the anime series, rather than introducing later characters such as Near and Mello.
  • Kino’s Journey: Kino and her talking motorcycle explore vastly different countries in a strange land, sort of a fantastic interpretation of Gulliver’s Travels meets couch surfing. It’s been a long time since I watched this, so I don’t have much to say about it anymore, except that it was very interesting.
  • Naruto: I get a kick out of this series about kids going to ninja school. There’s a whole pile of characters, so you’re bound to find one you like. I’m not sure who I’d count as my favorite, though I’ve always been fond of Kakashi and Gaara. The English dub is decent but often unintentionally amusing, as everything Sasuke says sounds like a double entendre. It’s a long series (220 episodes, plus a continuation in the currently airing Naruto: Shippuden which will almost definitely surpass its predecessor by a large number of episodes) but not one you have to concentrate on, or even necessarily watch all of. After all, a battle sequence can last several episodes without actually moving the plot forward.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobobo: Distilled insanity on a cracker, man. It could be argued that a lot of the jokes are Japanese cultural references that fly over my head, but that doesn’t explain a guy whose primary weapon is his nose hair, or the dude made out of gelatin (that everyone wants to eat), or — well, pretty much the entire rest of the series.

Would I call myself an anime fan? Not really. I’ve been to several conventions (usually to peddle wares in the artists alley), but the programming doesn’t really interest me. What about you? How do you feel about anime?

Hat tip to Wikipedia, PSP themes and Marilinunio for the images.

The Japan Journal

In March of this year, my husband and I went on vacation in Japan. I brought a special journal just for the trip, made special from CafePress with art from the first issue of BS/OD on the front. I’m not a huge fan of CP, but this was the only place I could find with decently-priced, customizable, unlined, spiral journals. (But it could be that I’m just too picky.)

Note: I have since discovered the joys of Vistaprint, which often runs free+shipping deals on their custom journals.

Partly it was because I’d never taken a trip like this before and I thought it might be nice to try out travel journaling. Partly it was because I’d heard that many JR and Tokyo Metro stations have unique rubber stamps (like these). Since my regular diary is lined (by necessity – my handwriting is out of control), I decided to get something special just to drag around Japan to record the many experiences we were bound to have.

Train stamps from Osaka

It turns out it came in handy when putting together both my own recap but also my husband’s own blog posts. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you forget unless you write it down that moment.

One of the Sanrio Puroland spreads

But of course a week’s worth of vacation isn’t enough to fill an entire journal, so I glued in a print-out of my recap, then used the rest as a gluebook for the various flyers, brochures, ticket stubs, and other paper matter I collected during the trip. It took a long time. I started by separating everything into categories: Akihabara, Parasite Museum, Sanrio Puroland, capsule machines, Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, capsule hotel, Ghibli Museum, transportation, food, and miscellaneous. I went through and cut out all the pictures/words I wanted to include in my pages, then arranged them on the page, then glued them down. I did it one page at a time, keeping the categories together and generally working in chronological order. Whenever I finished a category I would take any leftover clippings and put them in their own container. (Clear plastic sheet protectors work remarkably well for this.) At the end, I did a few miscellaneous pages using the leftovers. I still have quite a few pages left, but I think I’ll leave it alone for now. I’m just so pleased to have finished this somewhat major project – and it only took three months! :)

For more on our trip to Japan, check out my husband’s series of videos: people, Sanrio Puroland, animals, and trains.


Brief Hiatus

I’m off to Japan for vacation. I’ll probably have at least intermittent email access, but I won’t be doing any blogging while I’m there.

And before you ask: no, I’m not concerned about robbers seeing this because (1) you don’t know where I live, (2) I’ve duped my friends into house-sitting, and (3) I don’t own anything worth stealing. Well, unless you count all the tons of books I give away for free. :P

In honor of my trip, here are some terribly trippy (and somewhat nauseating) animated stereograms of old Japan. Enjoy.

Japanese ads

It’s no secret that American celebrities often make ads in Japan for some quick cash. Since the ads are never aired in the United States, they need not fear backlash to their reputation. Until now: Japander.com lets you see them in all their cheesy glory.

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