Friday, May 30, 2008
Manga is the name given to Japanese comic books, although most people over the age of 35 or so will use the word to describe animation on TV as well. The word literally means "whimsical pictures" and was coined by Edo Period ukiyo-e artist Hokusai (the dude who painted the famous Red Fuji and Great Wave Off Kanagawa pictures you may have seen) to describe a book of woodblock art he'd done. Although manga can be associated with obsessive otaku culture, there really isn't a single Japanese person who didn't grow up with a favorite manga that they still feel nostalgia for, whether they're an active fan now or not. On Sundays our rural liquor shop gets the new issues of the popular weekly manga magazines, a day earlier than the large chains and convenience stores, one of the few bones thrown to small retailers in Japan. I always marvel at the customers who stop by to pick up the new issue: elementary school and junior high kids, of course, but plenty of adults, including a businessman in a really nice BMW who makes small talk with me and, since we live next door to our city's mayor by some strange coincidence, the deputy mayor of our city. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Shonen Jump, the popular manga weekly, and Japanese canned coffee maker Roots is putting on a major advertising campaign for its new coffee called "Innocent Blend" (I am not kidding), showing panels from the great Jump comics of the past, from YuYu Hakusho to Dragonball Z to Saint Seiya all the way up to Death Note. So everyone celebrate manga by, er, drinking some canned coffee, or something!
Gokuh: "After he shook hands with me, he wiped his hand off when he thought I wasn't looking!"
L: "I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock twice this morning, and ended up being late."
Here are some more. This is from Kimagure Orange Road, the novels for which I translated back in the day. This is from the last volume when the love trianble between Hikaru, Madoka and Kyosuke (who is a secret esper) is resolved. The ad says, "I went to make a purchasae with my 'point card' but it had expired..."
Another favorite of mine, Video Girl Ai, which is 1000% times better than the short anime they made, although the anime had Noriko Sakai to make up for it. This is Ai saying, "This guy only makes jokes that make himself look bad." Which is very funny when read in Japanese, very funny.
For the Bleach fans. This says, "S- So she was really trying to break up with me!?"
MZ23 the first was one of the great Haruhiko Mikimoto creations. He could snare fans with any illustration on a record album, a model box, you name it...Part II has radically altered designs, although I didn't dislike it as much as I used to. This was the best anime sex scene of its era, though, You know you're an old-school anime nerd when you can say honestly that a girl has broken up with you over differing opinions on Megazone 23 character designs.
Part III is a new generation, several hundred years into the future. A lot of the Hacker Neo stuff comes from this one.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
When learning Japanese, I found myself fascinated by words or phrases that were completely unlike what existed in English. For example, there's a class of single-word phrases which, for some reason, have many possible translation paths in English, making them challenging (but fun) to use. First there's yahari (alternately, yappari), which you use to express your own expectations about something, roughly equivalent to "I knew it" or "just as I expected." When someone tells you something that you didn't know, you can use naruhodo (nah-roo-ho-doh), which means "I see" or "that's news to me." If you watch an hour of anime in Japanese, you'll likely hear the phrase masaka (mah-sah-kah) at least once, usually said by a shocked character -- it just means "it can't be!" or "you've got to be joking!" Finally there's a great word to pull out when you want to praise someone: sasuga (SAH-soo-gah), which roughly means "I always knew you were incredible!" So if you have a friend or coworker named Yamada-san who does something good, hit him with "Sasuga, Yamada-san!" and know that you've made his day.