Friday, May 30, 2014

Learning Japanese Using Anime! Words of Advice

Learning Japanese isn't really an easy feat. The language has a lot of vocab, there's three forms of writing, and not to mention grammar. So while being an otaku, it's easy to turn to anime as a form of education. Since we watch it all the time, why not pick up a few things from it? However, there's a few things you need to watch out for.

Watch Out for "Personalized" Forms of Speaking

In the Japanese language, there are many ways to address yourself and others. The common word for talking about ourselves is Watashi. However, there are different ways to do this. Another word commonly heard in anime is Boku. We can use this word when we are male speakers. If we are female speakers, we would use the word atashi. While this isn't limited to these set gender roles, saying boku as a female would give a tomboyish image; atashi as a male would seem feminine.

We've also experienced other types of this speech. If you're familiar with Naruto he constantly adds "dattebayo~" at the end of his sentences. Realistically this isn't very common, but if you want to do it go for it. I don't believe there's one "right" way to speak a language. Like everyone has different forms of English, there's also different forms of Japanese. Just try to speak proper.

Casual Form Vs. Formal Form

 In my Japanese class, we were taught formal form first. Since we're being taught at a formal level, and expected to use Japanese in our careers/Japan, we're expected to communicate at a professional level. The only problem is, when it comes to anime, video games, and other forms of media, formal speech isn't seen nearly as much.

Sadly, it would take forever to explain all the differences between the two types of speech. Basically, you can figure out if they're being formal based on who the characters are talking to. With conversations between friends or family members, formality isn't required. However, when addressing someone who is your elder, business person, or other forms of prestige; they're most likely using formal speech.

A good example of this with Japanese is thank you: arigatou. In casual speech, one would basically say Arigatou. Formally the phrase is Arigatou Gozaimasu. See the difference? The same applies to words such as good morning: ohayou. The same thing goes here. Ohayou for everyday language, Ohayou Gozaimasu for professional language. While not all words follow this pattern, try noticing these things when you watch anime. 

Despite This, I Still Recommend Learning from Anime


Yes, many people will tell you not to touch anime at all. They say that trying to learn anything from it will make you speak Japanese like a child and you won't improve. I don't think this is true. Before I had any sort of class or teacher, anime was my guide. I learned from singing anime openings and endings. I sat and listened to each character and their multiple speaking styles, enough to become familiar with different tones and ways of talking.

 Even though Japanese is a different language than English, I believe with every language you can form a connection. Anime is that connection for me. I learn better when there's cute characters connected to every aspect. To learn a language and make it easy, all you need to do is find that connection.

While this guide could go a bit more depth, I hope it was helpful to all of you out there!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Konata Izumi!

So today is May 28th, and we're reaching the end of May. Why not finish things out with a bang? Today, I'd like to give my birthday wishes to Konata Izumi from the anime Lucky Star. If you don't know Konata, she's basically the main character and leader of the group.

While I've never seen Lucky Star, Konata just seems like a likeable character. Maybe someday I'll get around to it, and work through my watch list of doom. Until then, I'm going to stick with newer anime.

If you're interested in watching her anime you can find it officially at this link. There is also a dub version for people who prefer an English take on anime. Again, I haven't seen the anime yet so I can't give any thoughts or opinions on it, but from what I've heard it's pretty good!

Well that's all for now! If there's any anime characters that you want to give a birthday shout out, let me know and I'll feature them here.

Until next time guys~

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cardfight!! Vanguard's Lessons on True Strength

During my time as a sick person, I started re-watching the first season of Cardfight!! Vanguard. While the anime focuses on card games, there's a good amount of life lessons that are hidden amongst the card-filled action.

A few Vanguard spoilers may be ahead, tread carefully.

If you've ever played anything that's competitive, you'll surely know that losing hurts. When we try our best and hope to win, it's very disappointing to taste defeat. So what do we do to correct this? We try again. However, if that doesn't work then what would we do? Perhaps, try to become better/stronger/more skilled at what we're doing. Yet, by doing this excessively we tend to lose sight of the real reason we started in the first place.

I can say that I've run into this problem a lot before. I started playing fighting games about three or four years ago. When I picked up BlazBlue as a beginner the game felt really fresh and new, and it was fun despite the fact that I didn't know what I was doing. I learned as much as I could, hopped online and began to play. To my despair, I lost practically every battle.

Later, after much practice I began to improve. Suddenly opponents weren't so hard anymore, and I was actually winning. Then I encountered what everyone knows as the "professionals." They completely crushed me, despite my best efforts. I was only left yearning to become a strong player; strong enough to defeat anyone and everyone, but this way of thinking led to my doom.

After this experience I continued to play. Yes, I did in fact become stronger, but it wasn't the strength I really wanted. The game became more frustrating; and if I didn't win or see any improvement it made me want to rage. In an effort to become the very best and beat the ones who beat me, I lost the joy and happiness the game brought.  I remembered BlazBlue was a game to be played for fun.

Unfortunately, Aichi Sendou from Cardfight!! Vanguard, fell prey to this same way of thinking. Except to him, he didn't only lose the fun; his actions started to affect his very health and well-being. He began to pass out after every match, and treated his opponent in a negative fashion. The power he used to practically cheat and beat every opponent, Psyqualia, gave him an unfair edge over every fighter. While he gained immense strength, presence, and ultimately a high win record, he lost himself in the process.

This continued until he was matched with someone who had true strength. This person was Kai Toshiki, a friend of Aichi and one of the reasons he wanted to become stronger. Kai being an expert duelist had witnessed the same happen to another friend of his. He was too weak to stop his friend at that point in time. However, this time he had the strength he needed to bring his friend back.

Long story short, he was able to stop his friend before he fell too far. Aichi returned back to his normal self and started relying on his true strength within instead of external sources of power. Kai accomplished this by showing Aichi the meaning of true power, and teaching him to enjoy the game again.

While Vanguard might just be a card game and an anime, I feel there's a lot we can learn from this. In life we take a large amount of shortcuts. We search far and wide to find the power to make things happen. The truth is...that we can make things happen as we are now. We don't need a lot of money, the best equipment, or superfluous amounts of followers. The power to make changes and succeed is in everyone, it's just deep within. It's just a matter of finding that power and harnessing it. We also can't forget to have fun along the way. This is what I believe Vanguard is trying to teach us.

What are your thoughts on true strength and the power within? Are there any other anime that portray a similar message?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nintendo Wi-Fi Shutdown: Good Memories

Salutations and greetings my readers! Again, apologies for the altered posting schedule these past two weeks, I'm currently recovering from a sickness. Sadly, I wasn't able to spend the last days of Nintendo Wi-Fi playing, but I was able to reminisce of games I greatly enjoyed.

For those who don't know; as of May 20th, Wi-Fi support for the old handhelds and consoles is being shutdown. This includes the DS, Wii, and DSi games. While it is easy to be angry at this, it is somewhat understandable. With the launch of the 3DS and the Wii U, Nintendo can only move forward from this point on. Managing the online servers of the old systems would be a waste of resources.

Despite my predicament, I was able to enjoy a few races online with Mario Kart. I feel a great sense of sadness knowing that I'll no longer be able to pick up any of my old games and play with the stray few online. As a huge Nintendo junkie, it's easy to understand the effect this has on me and other fans.

Still, I don't like to end things off on a sad note. So I thought it'd be a nice idea to share my thoughts and showcase a few games I loved to play. Even though there's no more online, they're still great games and can be played offline in enjoyment.

Pokémon Series


I remember the good old days of rushing home from school and typing up I would move my mouse instantly to "Wi-Fi Chat" and begin looking for battle or trade partners. It was amazing how easy it was to find rare Pokémon or a battler that'd give you a challenge.
Even now, I can remember the old Smogon movesets and EV spreads. While this is no longer possible for the old DS Pokémon games, X/Y and the recently announced R/S remakes still give the Wi-Fi Chat it's purpose. It was through these interactions, that Pokémon became more than a simple game.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Almost everyone who has picked up a GameCube controller knows this game. Super Smash Bros Brawl was one of my favorite Wii games. I was barely able to make it out of the store with a copy on release day, but the struggle was worth it.
With a lack of tournaments here, online tournaments were the only way to go. I ended up becoming pretty decent at the game and took second place in a tourney. The game fit perfectly as I had just discovered Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and the obsession went hand in hand. I was definitely a monster with Ike.

Naruto Shippuden Clash of Ninja Revolution 3

Don't let the mouthful of a title overwhelm you. This game was another of my favorites. I started playing the Clash of Ninja series with the second edition on the GameCube. Without this series, I wouldn't have discovered Naruto; at least not as early as I did.
When it comes to the online play, it wasn't all that good. The game was subject to a lot of lag spikes and spammers, but this is the norm nowadays. It's too bad we won't see anymore of this series, as it was a great fighter.
I could go on naming all the games I enjoyed over the years, but that'd be boring and take too long. So I'll stop the list here. All in all, while it's sad to see Wi-Fi go, I hope Nintendo continues to move onto bigger and better things. I can't wait for E3 this year, and I'm definitely excited for the new Mario Kart.
Are there any Wii or DS games you loved to play online? What games are you waiting for in the near future and why?

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (My Thoughts)

Hello again! First, I'd like to apologize for missing a post on Wednesday. My laptop encountered severe troubles and I was unable to write for you all. It took me around two days, but I was able to work through it and I'm back!

Before my laptop unexpectedly went down, I was able to watch another anime film. The selection this time was The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I heard a lot about this movie and saw a few clips from it, but I never got the chance to sit down and watch it. With it's outstanding time of one hour and forty minutes, it was hard to plan an interrupted sitting.

Obviously I managed to find the time to watch. The plot features a high school girl by the name of Makoto Konno. She can be described as somewhat tomboyish, in appearance and personality. Makoto spends most of her time with her two male friends, Chiaki and Kousuke. Her life is pretty normal, until she discovers a device that allows her to warp through time.

When she first discovered this ability, I tried to imagine how things would play out. I expected her to maybe leap into the future or past, and relieve or experience certain events. Or maybe use her power to help other people. Instead, Makoto uses this power with a childish curiosity at first. Once she got a taste of the time leap, she started to use it to satisfy her own needs. Of course this turned out really bad.

To sum the movie up without getting deep into spoilers; Makoto ends up abusing the time leap and it ends up hurting her and the people around her. Then on, she searches for some sort of solution. Somehow the story later turns towards romance, however the latter half didn't seem as well done as the first. There were a few things that didn't really make sense to me as well.

I guess I'll start off with the things that I really enjoyed about the movie. The way of time travel was certainly unique, and the plot was hard for me to predict. I wasn't quite sure what was going to happen at some points, and was on the edge of my seat. The characters were really nice, and the comedy was quite enjoyable for me. (Especially Makoto's constant rolling and crashing due to her leaps.)

However, I feel some things could've been done a bit better. The romance portion of the film seemed somewhat incomplete, and left me hanging. Makoto's actions were somewhat bothersome at times, but not enough to make the anime bad. Also the time leap confused me somewhat. For example, Makoto discovered the time leap ability on day X of class. She then proceeded to warp back to the beginning of day X, before she discovered the object, and somehow retained the ability. Shouldn't the ability be gone if she went back to a time before she discovered it? When finishing the movie, I was left with questions like these in my mind.

Disregarding a few mishaps, the movie was really good, but like Garden of Words it could be improved. I enjoyed Garden of Words a bit more than this one, if you haven't seen my other post, but The Girl Who Leap Through Time is still great. I recommend watching!

If you had the power to time warp, would you use it? What would you do with it? Would you follow Makoto and use it to improve your life, or selflessly help others?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Let's Share: Chikayo Fukuda

Hello everyone! Today I'm going to share with you possibly my favorite composer ever. Her name is Chikayo Fukuda, and she is a Japanese female composer. If you've ever played any of the Naruto Storm series, you'll recognize her work immediately. Not only does she do all the music for the Naruto games, she has also delved into the .Hack series, and retro Saga games.

Her style is very unique to me, especially relating to the story of the series. In Storm, the music makes appropriate changes and flows with the battles and events taking place. Each song is beautifully fitting with the atmosphere. When thinking back on the many songs present in the series, I get chills or goosebumps from listening to them.

If you're interested please check out her music below!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Kotonoha no Niwa (Garden of Words) Thoughts

Konbanwa, Minna-san! Since we're nearing the end of the week, my time writing on video games is coming to a close. (For now anyways.) I had fun discussing gaming relationships, RPGs and our lives, as well as Grand Chase. To top it all off, the announcement of Ruby and Sapphire remakes was the icing on the cake.

Moving onto new things, I was lucky enough to view the animated short film, Garden of Words by Shinkai Makoto. Unlike many anime, the film depicts the relationship between two central characters, providing little focus on the others. The two main characters come from very different worlds, and have a great gap in age.

Akizuki Takao, 15 years old, is a first year student who wishes to become a shoemaker. Yukino Yukari, 27 years old, is a woman who consumes beer and chocolate in the mornings. The two meet for the first time on a rainy morning, and form a friendship. They then continue to meet on rainy days, in the same spot. The story focuses the trials these two characters face and the lives they live.

First off, I can say that graphical work of the film is amazing. Watching the movie 1080p, 720p, or even 480p, the film feels real. The characters feel like they can reach out and touch you, and I think this is perfect for the work.

Unfortunately, it fell a bit short for me. Perhaps it was due to the length of the movie being somewhat small, which lessened the amount of time with the characters. For me, connecting with the characters is something that's necessary to draw the audience into the story. While the creators did a great job at this for their time provided, it could have been done better.

Another bother was the cliffhanger ending. To avoid spoilers, I can say that I expected something to wrap up the story after the credits. However, I was somewhat disappointed and the film left me wanting more. I wanted to find out what would become of the two characters after, or at least some direction of what was happening. While I understand this is a technique using in writing, it felt somewhat awkward this time around.

Despite these two mishaps, the story was amazing. I loved the fact that it broke the general stereotype of age gaps and relationships. Kotonoha no Niwa also shows that age isn't really a factor when it comes to having romantic feelings for a person. I think more animated films should follow this example.

Have any of you seen Kotonoha no Niwa? What about any other works from Makoto Shinkai?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Finally, Ruby and Sapphire Remakes

Pokémon fans have been waiting for this day. We've seen FireRed and LeafGreen. We were hype about HeartGold and SoulSilver. Now it's time for Omega Ruby and Sapphire. If you haven't already been flooded by news updates, you can check out the information on the game from here. A picture of the box art can be seen below.
While I wasn't necessarily waiting on these games, I can say that I'm pretty excited. I've been an avid Pokémon player since Yellow, and Ruby/Sapphire hold a special place in my heart. I'm curious to see what other news will follow about the game. Will it be similar to X and Y? Will it offer a more fulfilling post game? Hopefully we will find out soon.

Another speculation deals with the aspects of the game. The most unique feature associated with Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire was the Battle Frontier. The Frontier was present in later games with a different cast and facilities, but the area started in these games. With a remake, the creators have a lot of potential to completely redo the Battle Frontier; making it bigger and better than ever. 

Fans can only wait in anticipation; I just hope we get more news soon!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fire Emblem: Awakening's Relationships

Staying on the subject of video games and RPGs, many wish to invoke a feeling of virtual reality. In order to give the game the deep feeling of the role your playing; forming lasting friendships and partnerships with characters is common. While the way we interact with others in real life isn't the same as games, they have their similarities. They may not be identical, but we can learn quite a bit from looking at Fire Emblem: Awakening's marriage system.

In many games, relationships usually happen towards the end and don't have much of an impact on the story. When it comes to visual novels,we may not even see relationships at all. The main character (ourselves) usually meets a male or female character. We spend the majority of the game spending time with said character, and then at the climax of the story we end up becoming said character's boyfriend or girlfriend. There's a few events after the story, but game practically ends this way. This leaves us with many questions.

When it comes to Awakening, we can marry a character of our choice at almost any point of the story. Marriage provides benefits for the two characters when teaming up, and allows a child to be playable later in the story, which I won't mention to avoid spoilers. Depending on the parents, the children have varying stats, certain skill sets, and the ability to use certain classes. While the parents have a heavy influence over the child, what becomes of them is mainly up to the player. On terms of appearance and personality, the children carry the personality of their mother in most occasions, and the appearance of their father. (An exception is Chrom and the Male Playable character.)

The game is already being unique by allowing marriage instead of a simple relationship, factoring children into play is a different story. Fire Emblem: Awakening also offers interactions between the characters and differing dialogue. It's quite realistic seeing the ways the characters change in their actions towards each other with marriage, yet they continue to maintain their individual personalities. There's no "it's the end, cut to the credits." You have to stick with your decision or restart your game. Did I mention unlike certain games like Persona, you can only have a romantic relationship with one character?

All this talk about statistics and factors is great, but can we relate this to the real world? The answer is yes, definitely. Although other cultures may differ, in the west, it is only acceptable to maintain a romantic relationship with one person.

Let's look at a different game. In Persona 3 and 4, the protagonists can maintain a relationship with about five or six girls at the school. The characters would get in trouble if caught, but there were little to no consequences. This would not be the case in real life.

Awakening on the other hand, locks you into a single relationship once it's settled. In life there are such things as divorce, but we can pretend that doesn't exist for the moment. I feel that by limiting the players, we are forced to be more careful with our decisions. It also makes us question our values when it comes to finding a partner. Do we want a partner with good genes to pass down to our children? Maybe we want one with intelligence? Or maybe certain physical aspects? Perhaps, we should go with the one that feels most "natural."

Despite all this, I'm not sure if the designers had this in mind when creating the game, or if it's by pure coincidence. Yet the game stresses the importance of the choices we make when it comes to interacting with other people. For me, I just went with what felt natural. What are you looking for in a relationship?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Let's Share: Grand Chase

Hello everyone! If you haven't checked out my recent blog update or if you aren't following my twitter, then you probably don't know about my new posting schedule. Before, I would post at completely random times. While this was pretty convenient for me, I can understand the troubles it might cause for my readers. Therefore, creating a consistent schedule is best for you guys! Hopefully you'll tune in the following Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays! (Weekends Vary) Anyways, on to the sharing!

With college being done for now, I'm involved in gaming again. Currently I'm into MMOs again.(Massively Multiplayer Online Games) As a middle school student I would spend many days playing different games and going on wide adventures. Picking up a laptop was like entering a new world. In a way, you could say this started my interest of anime. I've decided to write this post today, because I wanted to share with you one of my favorites, Grand Chase.

While many know it's successor, Elsword, Grand Chase is a bit different. Grand Chase is a Korean MMO. I would describe the game as being 2.5D instead of 2D or 3D. Instead of featuring a wide world to walk around or an anime-like flat plain; the game uses 3D characters in side-scrolling dungeons. Controls consist of the arrow keys to either jump, move down, or walk left and right. The Z and X buttons are used to attack. ASDFG are used for specials. Dungeons are filled with floating platforms like you'd see in a Mario game. There's a wide cast of characters, each using unique weapons.

The old Grand Chase servers had originally closed down, but the game has reopened again. It's free to play always with a few premium features, such as armor and weapons.

I remember loving Grand Chase because of it's unique feel. I had played many MMOs, some feeling like copies of others, and most being a grind fest. However, Grand Chase never felt that way to me. While grinding was a necessity at certain points, it never became boring. The game wasn't at all balanced, but something about it was fun.

I urge you all to try out Grand Chase if you have the time. While the game isn't really great for someone who wants a balanced system, it's relaxing and lots of fun. The voice acting isn't top-notch, the graphics may look a bit old compared to others, and it might feel closed and clunky. Despite all of this, if you can learn to look past the surface, you'll definitely enjoy it!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

RPG: A Game of Life

RPGs, also called Role-Playing Games, allow us to escape our lives. We take on the role of a separate character or entity, and face numerous challenges.While many characters live and learn in RPGs, we do the exact same thing in our lives. We gain experience, we face challenges and obstacles, we make friends and form bonds. We can go as far to say that our life is an RPG.

Let's think about it a bit more in-depth. When playing one of these games, the characters start off very weak. Usually weak and alone, or sometimes joined by a single party member.When we start our lives, we begin this way. Things progess slowly, and it takes a while for us to learn all the ropes. While this is a common case, for others they are thrown into a fast paced life. Think about the different games you've played and the ways they begin. Some drop you right into the action, others teach you the ropes before you begin.
Tales of Graces
Fortunately we don't have to take up a sword and battle monsters, but we engage in our own personal battles on a daily basis. Examples of such are the conflicts we encounter with other people, the trials we face to become better people, and the pitfalls we have. These are our own battles and monsters; the experience is the knowledge we gain. Since fictional worlds are created by real people, there's no doubt that they'd be similar.

As I've progressed through life, I began to draw many similarities between games and the real world. I'm an avid gamer, and I have to say looking at things with a lighthearted, gaming point of view makes life easier. If you're aware of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series, real life should be easy.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
In the games, you venture through the life of a Japanese high school student. While managing studies and relationships, you spend your other time going through dungeons and fighting. Like real life you have to balance your schedule. Too much of one thing, and you start failing in the other. While the game simplifies life, the portrayal can be considered accurate.

For many, it is easy to lead a near perfect life on the game. We become the heroes of the game, gaining great courage and superior intelligence. Forming relationships and bonding with others is a simple task. Working part time and getting good grades in school is a piece of cake. While in our daily lives we face more obstacles and have a distinct lack of multiple choice answers for questions...what's stopping us from accomplishing these feats in real life? It's not impossible, nothing is impossible, and it's been done before.

When playing games, there's actions we take that we forget to do in real life.

Final Fantasy 7
When the experience gain is too low, we move on to a better place.
I think that we become too accustomed to our old ways of life. We'd rather stay in our comfort zones than branch out and learn more. By doing this we aren't doing anything except limiting ourselves. Yet when it comes to games, it's crazy not to progress. If we're able to easily dump hours into a game to level ourselves up and become better, we should do the same in real life. Hanging around in our same old bad habits, boring environment, and unsatisfying relationships does nothing but hinder us. Let's level up!

We (usually) have fun playing video games.
While there are many other reasons to play video games, the main reason is because we enjoy them and fun. Sometimes we forget to "stop and smell the roses." This is probably generic advice, but it affects a lot of people. Life isn't all about working, we need to take some time to enjoy being alive. Even working can be made fun with some innovation. With video games, we play what we like and ditch what we don't like. The same philosophy should be followed in life; if we don't like something then why are we doing it?
Fire Emblem: Awakening
No matter how tough the challenge, we find a way to prevail.
Sure, everyone doesn't play on the hardest difficulty, but even the easiest difficulties have challenges. As I observe many people in real life, when things get tough they tend to give up. When something bad happens, they let it affect them. Instead of facing the challenges  head on and coming out the winner, they give in. While this happens in games, it seems many gamers have the will to tough through those challenges. We can apply the same concept in real life.

So while video games may be labeled and marked as the "bad seed," there's still a lot we can learn from them. If more people were to  look at life the same way they see an RPG, there's a chance they'd be more successful. Let's play the RPG called "Life."