half of me: Because Japan is a prosperous country and has the most diverse economy in Asia, so a study of Japanese can open your perspective on the values that other Asian nations share with Japan, including religious beliefs, ethics, and aesthetics…. etc
Before actually drawing anything specific with new characters I always do some sort of sketch/doodle page with them. Usually just getting basic details down that I find necessary for the character then whatever else.
This is the page I did for Hanzo and McCree ( > ಥ wಥ)>
(I’m going to start with a random side note: If I ever get a book deal to write Japanese primer, I’m going to call it I Eat Cake Everyday: A Complete Guide to Japanese with Stupid Sentences.)
It’s been a while since we’ve just talked, so I wanted to just take a moment to do that.
I think every Japanese platform at one point write an article about “the deep truth” of learning Japanese, claiming to give you the golden key that you need to become fluent in only 6 months or 1 year or whatever.
The argument for those kinds of posts isn’t hard to understand: People are fundamentally similar. If people are fundamentally similar, it is very likely that works for me will will work for you. Thus, if this works for me, it will work for you. This does work for me. Therefore, it will work for you (most likely.)
This is why all articles start with something like, “I guarantee you that I’m no genius. [Insert daily task that the writer struggles with on a daily basis.] I’m just a regular person that tried out a few things until I found a winning formula.”
I, personally, want to do my own take on this kind of article. I won’t offer a golden key, but I’ll talk about learning Japanese.
1. Japanese is Coded in the Most Inefficient Writing System in the World
Kanji, the logographs that are the bane of all Japanese-learner’s existence, comes from China. Kanji itself, 漢字, means “Chinese characters.” Kanji were invented to suit the needs of the Chinese language (from way back when, before Mandarin/Standard Chinese was a thing.) Japanese, on the other hand, is a language isolate, and it is not related to Chinese. So the use of these Chinese characters has over time been used in different ways for different words and with different readings- for Kanji tend to have multiple readings, sometimes being just 2 and at other times 8.
In Eastern Asia, the use of Chinese characters was widespread. It was used in Korea, in Vietnam, in Japan, to some varying extent in Malaysia, and the territories these nations conquered.
Korea developed an ingenious writing system called Hangeul, which now has all but totally substituted Chinese characters. Vietnam adopted the Roman alphabet with many diacritics. Japanese, well, Japanese developed two writing systems based on morae. These two writing systems could be used to write out the entirety of Japanese. Kanji is not really necessary. Further, there is no evidence to suggest that there are so many homophones such that even with context one could not make head or tails out of what was being said.
So, Japanese does have a potential unique writing system that is easy to learn (it’s easier than Hangeul in my opinion), but it does not use it exclusively because of cultural reasons. Kanji is just hardwired into the culture.
But here’s where my personal opinion and advice come in: If you have to choose between loving Kanji and hating it, hate it. Don’t romanticize it. Don’t go “above and beyond” what you have to know because of your love for Kanji. Just learn what you have to learn, and leave it at that.
“How many Kanji must someone learn?” The official common use Kanji list (the Jōyō Kanji) lists 2,136 Kanji. How many readings are among these Kanji? Somewhere around 3,869. There are also some variations on Kanji that one should keep in mind and some Kanji that one sees only in names, so add around 400 Kanji to the official list and about 400 new readings.
“How many Kanji must I learn for my first year of Japanese?” All of them. That’s my honest advice. Don’t aim to learn only a few Kanji. If you’re going to learn Kanji, learn them all. Think in that mindset. As soon as you decide you want to learn Japanese, work on Kanji. Before you enter a classroom and learn your first few greetings and whatnot, make sure you know all the common use Kanji, or at least that you’re well on your way to knowing all the Kanji.
2. Language Learning is an Intensive Process
Learning a language is a process that scientists haven’t quite been able to describe accurately. We do know, nevertheless, that it’s a heck of a lot different from learning chemistry or carpentry or bicycling.
In the Western world, there is this idea that one can learn a language in a classroom, normally as a subject period, with periods lasting somewhere from 50 to 70 minutes. Here’s the truth: it doesn’t work very well. (There are historic reasons for this way of learning a language, but we can talk about that some other time.) The success rates of language acquisition in classrooms is ridiculously low. This does not mean that language classes are bad: but it means that it just isn’t enough.
There are many reasons why learning a language in and of itself may be hard. It’d take forever to talk about all of them.
But let’s talk a bit about lexicons. A lexicon, here, refers to the dictionary in your brain where you store the words you know. If you’re monolingual- you have a standard dictionary in your brain with a word and definitions. If you were raised bilingual, then you have one lexicon with two words and definitions. That is to say, if you’re an English-Spanish speaker, then you have “cat” and “gato” in the same space in your brain and you know that what applies to one applies to the other. Then, depending on your fluency and use, you may have two supplementary dictionaries where you store all the information about words that don’t exist in the other language and idioms and expressions and things like that.
Now, if you’re an English speaker and, say, you want to learn German, part of what you’ll learn to do is to process your English lexicon entries into German. What that means is that you learn to engineer English words into German. “Father” turns into “Vater,” “to drink” turns into “trinken,” “Love” turns into “Liebe,” etc. So the words that have no relation with English (the non-cognates), turn into a supplementary lexicon and everything else is put through a mental processor.
Because the brain can do this is the reason why many people in Europe can speak many languages. The fact that someone can speak Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian, and French is not terribly impressive. The overlap in words (and in grammar) is so immense that what you’re doing is processing one language into another and you’re guaranteed an astonishing success rate.
Japanese, however, is different because it’s a language isolate. You can’t process one language into another. You have to learn words one by one. That takes time. It takes repetition. Memorization is as much an active process as it is a subconscious process. When people talk about the benefits of “immersion,” what they’re talking about most of the time is putting your brain into survival mode, i.e. either you learn all these words (and grammar stuff) or else you will not be able to survive and thus you will die. That is one way of doing it, and if you do not choose this path you have to commit some serious time to this. I believe that if one knows around 5,000 of the most frequently used words in any given language, one is guaranteed to know at least 95% of all the words one will hear/read in a day (given that one doesn’t go read a super technical manual on how to calibrate a nuclear reactor or something like that.) So, the question becomes how will you memorize 5,000 words? How long will that take? If one learns 10 a day, then it’s 500 days, and if one learns 50 a day, it’s 100 days.
The tradeoff when it comes to speed is that the faster you learn something, the faster you forget. (When you relearn something, it should be faster nevertheless.) So how much time will you commit to learning a language? How will you follow that up? These are important questions.
3. Japanese Media is Considerably Insular
Japan isn’t like the United States. The United States wants every nation to know what music it likes, what fashion it wears, what it believes ideologically and socially, etc. The U.S. is everywhere.
South Korea, recently, is everywhere. K-Pop, K-Dramas, K-SNL, K-Beauty. If you want to know what Korea is up to, it’s pretty easy to find out. They want you know!
Japan… eh. Japan is pretty good at making anime available globally. People know about Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon and the Mighty Atom and all that. When it comes to dramas and movies and tv shows, they’re not quite interested in that. Ages ago I wrote a post on the misconception of “Whacky Japanese Game Shows,” where I basically explained that most of those shows aren’t game shows but segments on variety shows, the only person in my mind having totally insane game shows being Beat Takeshi.
Okay, fine, what does this mean? This means two important things. First, one’s expose to the language outside of going to Japan or talking to Japanese people will be based highly on anime, which is fine but there are other styles of expressing oneself. One needs a bit of variety. If one goes the information/news route, then one is exposing oneself to something very formal and literary, but dull. Second, it means that when people teach Japanese, they’re going to assume that one wants to speak Japanese for business purposes. This sounds strange to say, but let me put it like this: Japanese is an important part of the world economy and STEM and anime, on the other hand, is not a sufficiently large part of Japanese culture so that the Japanese can figure you want to learn Japanese for that sole purpose. If you want to speak Japanese, then it must be for business purposes (and we’ll consider academics to be within business.) So you learn Japanese through the perspective of honorific and respectful language. This isn’t a bad thing either, but the desire to make you sound nice will often lead to lies about how Japanese actually works at a grammatical level.
(On the other hand, in South Korea the K-Pop/K-Drama boom is such a big deal that people around the world start learning Korean in hopes of auditioning for the big production companies in hopes of becoming actors, singers, dancers, and hosts.)
So here’s my advice: Once you have your feet wet with Japanese, once you know your Kanji and you know how to analyze a sentence (even if the lexicon isn’t all there yet), look at something that isn’t anime. I recommend movies, a lot of which are quite nice. Okuribito (Departures) was a great movie. An (Red Bean Paste) is a more recent film that was wonderful. Look up some movies. Sit down, and watch them. Watch it with subtitles, so you know what the movie’s about. But watch it a second time and a third time without subtitles. Try to see if you can make out a few sentences, read a few signs that appear in the background, take note of expressions or words you keep hearing. No, you won’t be able to understand the whole film all of a sudden, but it’s something new and something good and the more Japanese you learn, the more you will be able to return to the film and make out. Eventually, you will be able to listen to a sentence, pause the film, and look up the words you don’t know.
4. Learning Japanese Doesn’t Happen with One Method Alone
This is rather obvious, but it’s worth finishing this off with. There is an abundance of book series, CDs, cassettes, and even online resources (our own included.)
A language is greater than any method, than any curriculum, than any teacher. No one source has all the answers. One has to be encouraged from day one to look at many resources.
A library is a language learner’s best friend. Why? Because books can be expensive, and you will probably not need all the resources you dabble into for a long time. So, when you begin learning Japanese, look at the entire Japanese section, order a few famous books through InterLibrary Loan, if you have access to that, and sit down and just read the books, as if they were novels. Don’t memorize a thing. Don’t do the exercises. Just figure out their style, their aims, their perspective. Do read the footnotes! The more footnotes a book has, the more useful it tends to be in the long run. Information that isn’t relevant in Lesson 1 may be absolutely vital in Lesson 10.
Check out some old books if you can. The way people learn a language today is not the same way they learned it 50 or 100 years ago. The most useful Italian grammar book I ever read was written in the 1800′s. Japanese books published before World War II may have some slightly outdated things, such as the /we/ and /wi/ morae, but they will be good for most of everything else. I’m personally dying to get library privileges again somewhere to be able to look into these, so if I find some good book titles I’ll let you know.
Because a lot of language instruction was, until recently, modeled after the way Greek and Latin was taught, reading some of our own material gets you familiar with the lingo, should you heed my advice. So people like to talk about cases and declensions and conjugations and moods and all that. The works of William George Aston are some of the most important books on Japanese historically. So, if you can find originals of those, please do read them.
Tokyo Ghoul vs Literature: Red Dragon - A Metaphor for Hide and Kaneki’s Relationship
Sorry about the delay in this one, I actually lost the book Red Dragon fro awhile and I had to go find it. Anyway this time around we’re gong to look at a character I don’t talk about as often, Hide. During one of the flashes to Hide’s room we’re presented with a brief collection of his interests as mostly a background element. While the various manga volumes do show how his tastes clash with Kaneki, the one that stands out the most in a Red Dragon poster.
Let’s explore the connection between the two underneath the cut.
Yes I have. For those who aren’t familiar with it, New Game! is a cute-girl anime about a team of female game developers (specifically character artists) working at a Japanese game studio developing console RPGs. In the first season, the protagonist starts work during the production phase of the development cycle, and the story follows her up to the game’s ship date. The second season follows the protagonist working with the team to develop a new IP and take that game from concept approval to ship.
At first I was somewhat put off by the cute little anime girl thing, but I was surprised to discover that it is probably the most accurate depiction of game development in popular culture I’ve ever seen. The few odd factors for the sake of a cute-girl anime dramedy notwithstanding, it did a good job of depicting the actual development process, including things like individual roles in game development, working within a team with a lead, the sort of questions developers has to ask themselves when working, and even how crunch time affects us. The show is shown through the lens of a distinctly Japanese cultural perspective, however, and they have generally different views on things like crunch.
The thing about it that cemented it as the most accurate depiction of game development I’ve ever seen is just how it treats the entire process respectfully. They don’t take any shortcuts or oversimplify things like so many other shows have. The characters deal with real game development challenges, rather than handwave it away for reasons. New Game! doesn’t cheat like other shows or movies that incorporate video games as a central part of the narrative do. Sword Art Online is a terrible game design. Grandma’s Boy is a terrible depiction of game development. There were a couple of reality shows that attempted to make game development more exciting, and they were all awful. New Game! actively respects the source material which I grew to appreciate as I watched more of it.
New Game! is available for streaming at Crunchyroll and Funimation.com
I think you're correct in saying that from a Japanese perspective it's left open for people to interpret it. It's just, the hetero couples in Yoi are treated with that explicit romantic language. "kissy photos" "will you marry me?" Why aren't Yuuri and Victor? I think the frustration people are having is that (from a western perspective) Kubo's consistent vagueness seems like a giant "no homo" to us. I don't think on purpose. I just wish I could write her a letter on lgbt rep in media. haha.
I don’t think it’s a problem with Kubo as much as it’s a problem with Japanese society in general. Unfortunately, there are still many homophobic people here who are ready to be grossed out by an anime if it clearly shows homosexual relationships without being labeled as “BL” (therefore already targeting a certain kind of audience).
To make an example, YOI is currently having an important collaboration with the city of Karatsu (on which Hasetsu was based on) and the whole Saga prefecture. A photo and a greeting by the prefectural governor are even featured on the main page. Would this have happened if the series had featured an explicit romance between Yuuri and Victor? I’m not sure. If it had, well it would have been fabulous because it would be a huge step forward in the acceptance of LGBT as something normal, but it feels to me very utopian considering the current state of the matter in Japan.
Since an anime is entertainment but it’s also business, it would be counterproductive to insert a delicate element that might open 2 doors but close other 10 for the future of the series, and possibly affect the proceeds. I understand the point of view of Western people because I’m Western myself and totally support equality, but I also understand the reason creators might not want to risk when they have in their hands something like YOI, that is trying to attract all kinds of viewers and not only girls and/or people who are ok with LGBT themes. It’s a complex matter…
I still think they did something revolutionary though, because even though it’s never stated out loud you can clearly see that there’s something between Yuuri and Victor, and (as the creators also said) they have chosen some very strong depictions to portray their bond, which is why it doesn’t look like “your usual queerbaiting”. Homophobes can still hide behind the statement “it was never explicitly confirmed”, but the creators aren’t denying anything, so shippers have all the rights in the world to see them however they like.
From her twenties until the end of her life, O’Keeffe studied and admired various aspects of Asian culture. Many of her abstracted landscapes, such as this bird’s eye view of a river, show her interest in the calligraphic line and flattened perspective of Japanese and Chinese painting. // Posing for the photographer Bruce Weber in 1984, O’Keeffe fused Eastern and Western influences by pairing a kimono with a vaquero hat. The swirl of her “GOK” brooch, designed by her friend Alexander Calder, echoes the larger form of her own sculpture behind her. // This kimono, a padded men’s garment in striped gray silk with a black collar, suited her lifelong taste for clothing that was practical, androgynous, and monochromatic, while also reflecting her fascination with Asian culture.
Why is everyone debating over if what Kubo did to Orihime in the end is misogynistic? (school and job-wise)
The issue of Orihime ending up as a house-wife is a culturally deep-set controversy. It’s not a piss-baby topic. It’s not ‘look at the IR fans being blatant misogynists.’
Women are often the mark of progress in society. The study of demography observes a linear trend with women, education, and ‘baby-making.’
(For those who don’t know demography is the statistical study of populations (especially on
human-beings) as they change over time or space).
It’s especially an issue because of the Japanese perspective to it (I am not Japanese.This is not a first person source, this is me speaking from the education I have received regarding this topic and from the research and studies of experts).
2011 study by Yang and Yen explains that a leading reason of the decline in Japanese marriages is because “Japanese men do not want to marry a woman who demands equal sharing of the housework. Women who work outside of the house are not seen as contributing to the household.”
(Note that like the U.S., Japan is also in a state of population decline, which as of now just means the rate of population growth is slowing down, not that the numbers have started to drop).
If you know anything at all about demography and population studies, you know that when women have the opportunity to a greater education, they take it. When those women become more educated they become more career-driven.
(This is what I mean with ‘women being the mark of a progressive society.’ Historically and statistically, educated women are a sign of progress towards equal rights and that is one of the signs of a developed country).
So the higher the education goes, the more women are going to shoot for higher-ranking/more specialized career paths. And with the focus shifting from ‘home-maker’ to more on career and masterful education, the less children women are prompted to have.
It was common for a woman during the baby-boomer generation to have as many as 6 children, it is incredibly rare now. Do I need to explain that this generation has more women entrepreneurs, more women going to college, more women in positions of authority, etc.?
Let’s take all this and apply it to the outrage surrounding Orihime.
She’s quick as a whip, sharp as a tack, and to top it all off she has the required work ethic down to a science (remember Tatsuki said 'She doesn’t really seem smart does she? You wouldn’t expect this of Orihime, but since middle school this girl could really study.’).
Not only has Orihime been shown to be incredibly book-smart (number 3 in her class), but she’s among the most situationally perceptive characters of the series. People like to forget this because of all the goofiness and daydreams, but it’s true! She notices patterns in people pretty quickly.
So for Matsubara to just go 'fuck it, she had to drop out for 'financial reasons’’ is cheap and complacent. (There are a shit-ton of practical and superior options available to allow yourself to go to college. Money is often only a temporary halt for men and women as knowledgeable and determined as Ms. Inoue. By the by, never have I ever witnessed a payment, in full or in majority bill, paid outright).
Payment should have never been the excuse of Orihime’s promise.
Fuck all other opinions, Orihime wanted a career and an education! I give no shits to an opinion on Orihime’s future that isn’t Orihime’s.
It’s not Orihime’s fault,
it is not her character, it’s the fault in the minds drawing and portraying her not caring to show two shits of self-realization or worth in their literature prowess.
It’s such a controversy because in thefucking manga Orihime wanted a career. Forthright, outright, verbatim.
And here’s the kick-you-in-the-crotch-spit-on-your-neck appeal of it all: Orihime didn’t give just one loosely translated career, she gave three concrete careers. T-H-R-E-E!
Teacher, astronaut, cake-shop owner…
Gave us three and said she wanted five.
She is the only character that has been shown to have aspirations of the future.
You can pretend she was joking about the careers, but try and bitch to me that she didn’t dream of one.
Quite frankly,having a favorite does not mean you need to blindly support and defend the creators intentions for that character. To not be able to criticize is to be passive, is to misinformed, to be complacent.
Do you think Orihime was thrilled about needing to drop out? Do you think she was complacent about that? You think Ichigo is a fine enough substitute for all her dreams? He wasn’t the only fucking one.
Now had there been any mention of Orihime saving up to get back to school , this post would’ve been completely different, probably irrelevant.
And,just an added point: Kazui plays into that old-fashioned mindset of ‘baby-maker.’
Orihime wanted to leave Karakura. She wanted to live in five different places and stuff her face from foods from all over the world.
Of course she loves her son and is thankful for him, but she was young and sacrificed the peace and goals of herself. Selflessness was used against her.
And that’s all the issue is. It’s a trend we all know, it’s a deep subconscious reaction whether you love Orihime like I do or whether you hate her like others.
It’s not wrong or less of her to be a house-wife…it’s just not what she wanted.
It was not one single fucking person’s goal to stay in mundane, drab,puny, little Karakura Town.
here's a question ive had since the localization came out; did the localization do anything to enforce more of an athiestic bent and put angie and shinguji in a more negative light wrt religion and spirituality (particularly angie)? or has that always been there? the whole "brainwashing" angle felt p harsh, not to mention saying angie's god outright is Atua instead of the general "my god" that the translations seemed to have. plus akamatsu seemed very internally harsh about her god in their FTEs
The localization definitely did change some things about the
portrayal of Angie’s religion, but I would hesitate to say that they changed
the overall feel or messages of Chapter 3. The original was already pretty…
well, I don’t know if “atheistic” is the best term for it, but the point of
Chapter 3 in the original was definitely to have a kind of clash between
western and eastern religion that reached a boiling point. I don’t think any of
the general negativity associated with Angie and her cult, or Korekiyo and his séances,
was impacted by NISA so much as it was already there in Kodaka’s writing.
What would you say for writers from the western fandom on how to write the matsu's more realistically and accurate?
Honestly, that’s highly dependent on the fic in question and what themes/subjects it deals with. I want to emphasize that this advice is just for those people who do want to push their writing/characterization just that one step further and that I understand not everyone has the time or energy to invest in dense cultural learning just for the sake of some fun fanfiction.