Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaching Japanese and Culture with Manga!

Hello everyone! I've recently purchased a very fun manga-maker known as Comipo. The software is designed for people who may not be able to draw or those who don't have the time to make manga. For me, it's opened a whole bunch of opportunities. One, I can create a character exactly how I want them without any gimmicks or catches. Two, I can teach you guys Japanese and Culture.

So here's the quick rundown. Every so often, I intend to post a new manga page regarding something to do with Japanese language or culture. While the manga is created by me, I will not be the focus. Instead, Ayaka-sensei will be giving you the information and the teaching you are looking for.

Today there won't be any form of lesson, but just an intro. I would also like to give you all the opportunity to offer any suggestions or parts of Japanese that you want to learn about. I haven't learned a vast amount of Japanese yet, but I would love to share what I do know with you all. So if there's any errors, please message me and I'll do my best to correct them. I want this to be a learning experience for me and you. No one-sided relationships here!

Here's the manga! Starting with Part 0 ~ Explanations!

While you're here, please check out the very first part I created. I would also like to thank my friend, Jae, for giving me a nice name for my character.  Ayaka fits her very well! If you have any comments, suggestions, thoughts, please leave them here. I try to read every comment I receive and any feedback is appreciated.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Great Beginnings, Mediocre Middle, Okay Endings

Apologies my readers for the lack of posts recently. I've been running a very hectic schedule so it's been hard for me to write a solid article. I could post literally everyday, but there's no guarantee it'd be a nice one, so hopefully you all will understand.

The topic for today is beginnings. Beginnings of what you ask? Well, basically anything. Be it the first episodes of anime, the starting chapters of manga, or the few words in a novels prologue, the writers do what they can to catch you in the beginning. Some people are hooked while others aren't.

When it comes to things like this, I've started to notice a pattern. Even though I'm hooked in the beginning of the story, the quality seems to decrease as the series goes on. This isn't true for a few older anime, such as Naruto or even a few newer ones like Cardfight Vanguard. I've watched them since the beginning and still love them just as much. However, there's a negative pattern I've been noticing lately.

The story starts with a wonderful beginning. The characters are interesting and the plot is great. The graphics are amazing and things just seem grand. When we finish watching the first episode, we feel energetic and say "onto the next!" Yet...when we get to the next episode it doesn't feel all that great anymore. This doesn't happen with every anime but take a newer anime like Hanayamata, and you can definitely see a clear example.

Now this is just based on my opinion, so some may not agree and others will. I'm not saying Hanayamata is bad in any way, (read my post on it and you'll see how much I enjoyed it) but I can say I was disappointed as I watched on. In the beginning, the anime focused basically on the two characters, Naru and Hana. Although they had just met on the first episode and barely knew each other, their relationship was interesting from the beginning.

The anime was set up perfectly to emphasize their relationship and the buildup between the two. Different things were used such as showing the two on different levels; for example Hana may be above Naru in some scenes, as she's shown on a different level compared to Naru. Hana's appearance in the beginning is bright and flashy, as she is similar to the heroines Naru dreams about. The whole first episode was amazing from what I saw. 

However, the next episode seemed to go down in quality. We were met with characters who embodied certain stereotypes such as the no-flaws girl tsundere, bossy student council member, and perfect Japanese woman. While it's okay to use stereotypes in writing, I think you have to be careful or else it'll lessen the quality. These characters weren't as interesting to me and somewhat turned me off from the story. 

So it makes me wonder, do writers do this to appeal to viewers? Are they not writing what they actually want and instead writing to please? I feel if this is the case, that explains the lack of quality in recent anime and media in general. The ending could be great, but it does not matter if the road that leads to that ending is not good. Same with the beginning.

Of course, I don't want to view things from my opinion only. If you have a similar view, or a different explanation please let your voice be heard. If you don't agree again, let's discuss. What do you all think? Are writers too busy trying to please fans to make good quality stories? 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blogging with a Schedule

Despite the type of blogger you are, there comes a time when you ask the question if a schedule is necessary. If you look at many successful blogs and websites, they tend to provide articles and posts for their viewers consistently. Readers know when to visit and can expect something on a daily or weekly basis. While this is something that seems simple, it's a great way to build a loyal viewership.

The only thing is, every blogger is different, and every blog is different. The blog itself is an extension of the blogger, a representation of their thoughts and feelings in the form of text. So like people, one method may not work well for everyone. It depends on the person and the blog.

So when it comes to this blog, Shooting Star Dreamer, I don't think a schedule works. Yes, I made a post before about creating a schedule and limiting myself to those posting times and dates, but the longer I tried to pull this off the worst it became. I started rushing my writing and felt pressured to bring posts on time. I felt that I was failing my readers by missing deadlines. 

If nothing else, the schedule did nothing but decrease the quality of my blog and writing. It also caused a lot of unneeded stress. So while a schedule may be a smart thing to do when managing a blog, it's something that doesn't work for me. I'm the type of person who needs flexibility with my schedule. I want to post when I want and write about what I want. I don't want anything to control that.
Remember your qualities and build your blog from there. When it comes to advice, make sure you're not just following the words of others just because you think it's right. It needs to come from inside you as well!
So while this post is something that is mostly aimed at other bloggers and writers, I think any reader can take something away from this. Just because someone gives you advice, be careful how you take it and use it. Their advice could not be right for you, so I think it's sometimes best to find people who support you, but also have a similar way of thinking. For example, I took the advice about scheduling and it went horrible. That advice is good, but it's definitely not for me. Anyone who knows me understands that I'm pretty free-spirited, and limiting me with a schedule is a horrible idea.

For you bloggers, even if you're not only anime writers or you only focus on a completely different topic, you can still take something from this. Find what works for you, and stick with it. Apply this concept anywhere, and it'll make your life easier.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Working Smart and Working Hard

There are many different ways a person can work. Some people tend to not do their best when it comes to working, but others do. Some people work a lot, and others barely work at all. Despite this, no matter how much or how little someone works, there's different ways to approaching the act of working. 

If you haven't been keeping of with me, I've been having a little trouble with Japanese lately. I started Japanese III this semester, and while it hasn't been crazy hard, I don't feel like I'm really progressing in terms of fluency. So while Japanese I and II seemed like a great learning experience for me, everything has turned stagnant. 

I began to examine my study habits and my work with Japanese. I was doing everything great in class, passing with flying colors, and enjoying my learning. Still, it didn't seem satisfactory in a way. 

During the Summer semester, our school did not offer part three of Japanese. For that time being I had to do self study and review to make sure I didn't lose a lot of my knowledge. Since I had already purchased the new textbooks and had the old one in my possession, I studied using these. I was working hard on keeping my Japanese fresh, but was I really learning and progressing? No, not at all.

While I cannot say I haven't learned anything, I haven't learned enough to show noticeable results. I realized that while I was working hard, I wasn't working smart. I needed to get help. No, not necessarily the use of a tutor or other speakers, but I need to find boosts to help me learn faster and more efficiently.

If you browse Youtube, I'm sure many of you have seen the different videos stating that you can be fluent in languages in a short amount of time, but  many of them feel like a hoax. I started to ignore anything like this that seemed like a "shortcut" because it didn't feel like a real way to learn a language. However, I've come to a realization that there is no real way to learn a language, or anything for that matter.

Yes, school is necessary, but many of the things I learned were outside of school. My blogging, computer skills, mathematics, speed reading, writing; all of these I learned on my own or with a private helper or tutor. So I realized I can't rely only on the formal learning we get in school. Yes it's a good foundation, but I need to take it further. There's nothing wrong with using shortcuts or assists along the way to make things easier. That's called working smart.

So the lesson to take away from this post is, it's okay to take a few shortcuts and get the help of others along the way. Everything doesn't need to be learned formally or strictly, but that doesn't mean you should completely skip out on these things either. 

With that, I hope to progress greatly in Japanese, and educate you all along the way. So please, stick with me!

Example of a Japanese Speech (Part Two)

Hello everyone! I understand it's been a while since I posted, but I've been very busy with college. Still, I don't want to abandon you guys, so here's a new post! If you missed my first example of a Japanese Speech, please check out my old post which can be found here. You can find all the important information there as well.

I hope to continue to focus on things like this so my readers can learn Japanese. I feel that by being attached to anime, manga, and Japan itself, we should attempt to learn the language. It shocks me when I hear that people have lived in Japan or are living in Japan when they don't even understand Japanese.

So I'll share my learning here as I progress in Japanese. Hopefully you all enjoy and please continue to follow my explorations of the Japanese language. On to the speech!

私の好きな音楽はボーカロイドです。ボーカロイドの音楽は日本語やえいごです。たくさん歌手がいます。歌手は歌って, おどります。しかし、歌手はあにめです。私は初音三クがいちばん好きです。

また、ボーカロイドのコンサートに行きたいです。でもあのコンサートで日本や ニューヨークやカリフォルニアがあります。みなさん、YouTube で ボーカロイドをみてください。

Watashi no suki na ongaku wa bokaroido desu. Bokaroido no ongaku wa nihongo ya eigo desu. Takusan kashu ga imasu. Kashu wa utatte, odorimasu. Shikashi, kashu wa anime desu. Watashi wa Hatsune Miku ga ichiban suki desu.

Mata, bokaroido no konsato ni ikitai desu. Demo, ano konsato de Nihon ya New York ya California ga arimasu. Mina-san, Youtube de bokaroido o mitekudasai.

My favorite type of music is Vocaloid. Vocaloid music is in Japanese, English, and other languages. There are many singers. The singers sing and also dance. Also, the singers are anime characters. My favorite is Hatsune Miku.

In addition, I would like to go to a Vocaloid concert, but they are only in Japan, New York, and California, and other places aside from Florida. Everyone, please look at Vocaloid on Youtube!

This is just a simple speech and not meant to be anything fancy, but hopefully you can take some sort of knowledge or understanding away from this my readers!

That's all for now!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Different Games, Different Cultures

Have you ever wondered how different forms of media draw in different kind of people? I've always noticed that people who like similar things act in a similar fashion, and the same goes for people from similar regions. With regions, maybe its the fact that we are mostly separate from others for so long, which helps create this specific divide in terms of behavior and culture.

However, can the same be said for gamers? Even though we are divided into numerous groups and cliches, there comes a time when everyone has to interact with each other; we're not separated from other types of gamers on a daily basis. What causes that specific distinction of one gaming community have certain traits and another having different traits?

I'm not sure of the answer, but these questions came to me when visiting a special spot on campus. At my university, we have a section specifically built for gamers. It's a room with many television sets, the proper connections needed, and futuristic styled chairs.

Students from different places and environments approach the area in order to hook up their consoles and play, or just to find someone who is interested in the same things. Others bring their card games and handhelds. The remaining few merely like the atmosphere as a place to study or a relaxing spot to watch anime. Whatever the reason, it attracts many students on campus.

So focusing less on the other forms of media, but specifically on the gaming aspect, I've always found it very interesting. Certain groups of gamers are known for not getting along or "clicking" well with each other. They tend to make quick judgments of a group, and don't take the time to understand the other.

A prime example of this would be the differences between casual gamers and hardcore gamers. One group enjoys playing mainly for the excitement and fun, while the other wants to become the best and beat the highest records and scores. The casuals can't understand the hardcore gamers list of tiers for fighting games, and countless methods and tactics. The hardcore gamers may see the casuals as not-true-gamers due to their playing habits. Then there are people like me, who have traits from both categories. They tend to be stuck between both sides.

So while we have these two groups that assemble together in this gamer's haven on campus, they somehow all blend and mix together well. We rarely have arguments about which game is better and no one puts down someone based on how they play or what they play. This happens all in the same room, even though when going from screen to screen you experience completely different worlds. All these different gamers from different cultures and different backgrounds, merge together to cooperate and exist together.

Maybe this is just me over thinking, but I wonder if gaming could be used as some sort of linking factor between cultures. Instead of fighting and waging war over our differences, why not settle feuds with a games?

Even in games, we see vastly difference characters working together as one.
People may look down on gamers and give them negative labels and stereotypes, but gamers may understand more than anyone else that differences shouldn't matter when it comes to coexisting with others. They known end result should always be a peaceful compromise.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let's Share: No Logic

Hello everyone! I have a question for you all today, it's pretty simple and straightforward. How do you function in your daily lives? Does your mind and intellect rule your decisions, or do you listen to your heart? Maybe a little bit of both?

Well despite your answer, I had the urge to share a Vocaloid song since I haven't done anything dealing with Let's Share in a while. So I picked another one of my favorites No Logic. For a little bit of information on the song, it's composed by JimmyThumb-P, and sung by Megurine Luka. For more information on the composer, click here.

This song stands out to me for many reasons. One, because it's a way of thinking that I constantly base my actions on. For example, this phrase from the song reminds me a lot of myself... 

"Itsudatte shizen tai de itai'n desu..."
"Ima wa mada konna kimochi de ki mama ni aruiteitatte, ii yo ne"
"Always living for the moment, that's what I want to do...
With these feelings I have now, I want to walk on my own path."

I believe that if you follow your heart and instincts you won't be lead astray. In society, we're taught to use our heads and logic for everything we do. When we do something, people always ask us why we do it. Isn't it fine to not have a reason behind everything, but to just do what feels right? By listening to our thoughts and minds only, we're walking the path of others. We don't truly walk our own path until we do what is right for us.

This is basically the reason why this song resonates with me so much, it's a solid representation of my way of thinking.

Enough of my talking, here's the song for you all! Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is Ash Ketchum Really a Failure?

All of us who grew up and lived in the era of Pokémon know his name. That's right, Ash Ketchum. The main character, the young ten year old boy with Pikachu by his side. We've followed his adventures for many years now, despite Ash remaining young.

As a young boy, I never thought of Ash in a negative way, but as I grew older, Ash's character changed the longer the series went on, and I felt like he wasn't Ash anymore. He wasn't focused on beating others and only winning battles, but he became interested in friendship and helping his Pokémon out. He kept this mentality even if it meant letting go of some of his strongest Pokémon.

So some people might think that Ash has softened up, but does this really mean he's become a failure? Is he just a mere protagonist that follows in Red's shadow? No, I don't mean Red from the manga. I'm talking about the Red we know from the many Pokémon games, the silent protagonist that became a Pokémon master.

Well, I wanted to see what other people thought on the matter instead of going from one point of view. So I decided to do a few searches on this topic and was somewhat displeased at what I found.

So many people look at Ash Ketchum as a failure of a Pokémon Trainer. To be honest, the more I read, the more I agreed with that opinion. However, I had to realize that it wasn't my opinion, but their opinion. It's easy to go with everyone else and think what they think, but it's harder to stand out and be different. Sometimes I have to take a look at the things I say, and make sure I'm talking from me, not from someone else.

Anyways, this led me to realize that I actually like Ash as a character and Pokémon Trainer. Ever since I was young, I never disliked Ash until I was around others who couldn't stand him. With this in mind, let me give you all a couple of reasons why Ash Ketchum ISN'T a failure.

Ash has slowly matured over time. Even though everyone isn't happy with his changes, we can say that Ash has developed a higher level of maturity than when he first started his journey. We can recall all the arguments he got into with Misty, destroying her bike, and causing other sorts of mayhem.

He was tasked with facing defeat, dealing with Pokémon that wouldn't cooperate easily, and constant obstacles that stood in his way. The way he reacted to some of these things could be considered childish. He was incredibly stubborn, did not always listen to advice, was rash, and took hasty actions. Now, he is more open-minded, and takes into account the thoughts and feelings of others. Even though he hasn't aged, he's definitely matured.

Ash cares for ALL of his Pokémon despite their differences. Pikachu and Ash didn't get along at first, and now he's his most trusted companion. Charizard didn't want to take orders, and ruined one of Ash's most important battles. However, Ash didn't toss Charizard out because of this, he instead worked with him and again, made a powerful ally. Which brings us to another point...

Believe it or not, he's become a better trainer. Charizard didn't take orders from Ash, basically because Ash didn't train him the right way. If Ash had been a better trainer, things would've been different. Even though he releases his Pokémon, that's a sign of the bond he shares between them. He's close enough to his Pokémon to let them free, instead of forcing them against their will.

The fact that he has such great selflessness when it comes to Pokémon is something that sets him apart from the rest. While we may count more losses than wins, it doesn't matter. Just as you cannot define the intelligence of a person by a grade, you cannot judge the strength of a trainer by their wins.

I'm not going to go into too much detail, but these are the main reasons why I believe Ash is NOT a failure. He may not be a silent protagonist that always wins no matter what, but I think people don't give him as much credit as he deserves, and he's a fitting main character for the Pokémon series. After all, Pokémon isn't all about winning battles and being the strongest, but about the friendships we make, the bonds with our Pokémon, and the fun times we have.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Upcoming Video Games That Are Must Buys

It's been a while, but I'm here with a new post! This time a different topic, video games. We may all be anime fans, but we love video games too right? It may not be true for you all, but it's definitely true for me. So aside from the hype that's running behind Smash Brothers, how about we look at a few new games for a couple of systems?

Just a quick disclaimer, most of these suggestions are based on my own interests and opinions, but I try to provide a variety of games instead of ones from a single company. The format will be similar to what I've posted below. To prevent excessive text and to make this post easier on the eyes, I'll limit myself to one key game per company.

(Game Name Here)

Release Date
(Date Here)

Thoughts and Why Buy It?
(My Thoughts)
(Reasons Here)


Hyrule Warriors ~ Wii U

Release Dates

JPN (August 14, 2014) EU (September 19, 2014) AUS (September 20, 2014)

NA (September 26, 2014)

So we have Hyrule Warriors, basically the combination of Dynasty Warriors and Legend of Zelda. The game is currently out in Japan, and soon in the other parts of the world. While I do not own a Japanese Wii U, I had the opportunity to witness the gameplay firsthand. 

Even though the game is very much like Dynasty Warriors, it stays true to it's Zelda elements. From what I've seen there isn't much hidden that we haven't witnessed already via trailers, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it. 

For those who are unfamiliar with Dynasty Warriors, the gameplay revolves around commanding a single character on a battlefield. While you lead your own troops, you basically roam as a one man army, defeating any other generals or boss characters that appear. Hyrule Warriors is the same, but with Zelda characters and bosses, the cinematic treasure openings, and rupees or hearts replacing the respective currency or health.

Even if you've never played either games, I suggest at least giving Hyrule Warriors a chance. The free-roam like gameplay is something that's taken for granted by most. I'm a type of person who loves exploring a world with few restrictions, but I usually see this format present in genres like first person shooters. From what I've observed, the gameplay is fast and fluid, even with bulky characters like Gannondorf. The co-op mode is pretty fun looking too. This game is a must buy for anyone who owns a Wii U system.


Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution ~ PS3/Windows/XBox

Release Dates

Japanese (September 11, 2014) English (September 16, 2014)

I've been a long time fan of Naruto, as any reader would know. I started playing Naruto games in the age of GameCube, my first being Naruto Clash of the Ninja 2. Unfortunately the series stopped, and I eventually moved on to the Ultimate Ninja games that released on the PlayStation. 

So if you're used to the somewhat 2D fighting style in the old Naruto games, the Storm series is a lot different. These games are probably the closest to the actual anime in graphics, movesets, jutsu, and more. While they aren't really meant to be a serious fighting game, they're a lot of fun. 

You don't need to learn any over complicated combos, as you can mash a button to pull off intense moves. That doesn't mean you should overlook this game for this reason alone, it's a blast to play and great for any Naruto fan. Even if you're new to the whole anime scene and Naruto, I still recommend picking the game up for it's amazing take on the story.


Minecraft ~ Xbox One/PS4

Release Dates

XBox (September 5, 2014) PS4 (October 7, 2014)

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Minecraft. I haven't played it often, and the times I did play, I didn't enjoy all too much. It's just not my type of game, as I'm more of an innovator than a builder. Still, I have to admit that Minecraft is a great game. 

For those who have never seen or heard of Minecraft, the game centers around a vast environment made out of blocks. The player mines these blocks to collect various materials, that are used to build new things or create weapons and gear. The game can be played by both young and old. Players who are more into the creative side can play the game peacefully, while others can try to survive.

So far Minecraft was available only on older consoles, but the newer ones were left out. However, since the release of Minecraft on XBox One and nearby release date on PS4, Minecraft is moving onto the next generation of gaming.

So for all the wonderful Minecraft fans out there, you can now play on your newer consoles. PS4 owners will have to wait a bit, but I'm sure the wait is definitely worth it.

So that's pretty much my top recommendations for newer games. There are a lot more than these, so please check the link below for a complete list. If there are any games you want to recommend to others, please leave a comment. If you just want to discuss, feel free to do so as well. Until next time, that's all for now!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog Update September 2014

Hello everyone! I have a lot to say this time around. If you've been following me on my social networks, then you're probably already informed of the things I'm announcing. If not, keep reading, there's a lot to say.

First of all, I've started college again. No, I'm not sad or depressed that I'm in school, but instead I'm pretty happy. I get to continue with my college studies. More importantly, I get to learn more Japanese. So I might try to work some Japanese into my posts, and even teach my readers a bit.

Aside from that, I get the chance to interact with tons of people who have similar interests, which is pretty great for sparking new post ideas. For bloggers who are having trouble finding ideas; watch people and how they act, get out and be active in the world!

Another new thing is that I've created a Google Plus for myself and my blog. I know Google Plus isn't popular around certain parts of the web, but I'm loving it so far. If you have the opportunity please follow either my profile or blog page. You can find the links below. I haven't found a great way to work my audience into my blog and writing yet, but the idea of doing some sort of event or Google Hangout interests me. So please stay tuned.

Last but not least, I've created a portfolio for all my work. I know I have a page that describes this blog and everything, but there's limited space for myself. So if you want to know more about me and the things I do on the side, please check out my portfolio website. 

Be warned, the website isn't finished and I'll be constantly improving it as time goes on. I just wanted to get the news out to my readers!

That's all for now my readers. Thank you for staying with me for this long! I'm very grateful. Until next time, see you!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Don't Just Be a Consumer (Take Hold of Anime)

The otaku, the anime fans, and avid followers of any obsession, are the ones who continuously indulge in new media. We spend many hours watching, playing, and reading. We spend mass amounts of money on the products. However, why do we just settle to buying or collecting things that have been made by others? Why not take things into our hands and create our own?

The problem is, many people don't think this way. In fact, very few people think about the things they do on a daily basis. We're conditioned to act mindlessly without thinking about whats going on. So how about today, we take a small amount of time and think?

In my country, America, many of the products we use on a daily basis aren't even produced here. Flip over any old appliance indoors, and you'll see a "Made in (Insert Country Here)" label. Out of all the things you own, how many things are made in your country? If you live here, not many.

So first of all, the things that we love aren't even coming from the places we live. So we constantly consume things we don't make. Does this mean we should make every little thing ourselves? No, that would be crazy, but we should definitely look into getting into the industry of the things we love.

This goes along the lines of following your passion and dreams. Many people tend to settle for less than they deserve. I have friends who love a certain type of music or video game. They constantly just buy the product, and come up with such great ideas and ways the item could be improved. However, their suggestions will never have any action if they're not the ones creating the object.

The same goes with anime. We watch anime, legally or illegally, and review it. We share it with our friends, and fall in love with the characters and plot. Out of all of these efforts, many never try to get into the anime industry. Many never create their own characters and stories, and many ideas go to waste.
Check out Shirobako, this upcoming anime is all about the anime industry.
So instead of being a simple consumer, try producing something of your own. It may be hard at first, but keep trying. Every person out there has great ideas, if they have the courage to share them with the world. Grasp that courage, and create something amazing. Don't be second best, be THE best.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Example of a Japanese Speech (Part One)

Hello everyone! In Japanese class, things have started getting serious. We're now doing speeches in front of the class, every Monday. So this gave me an idea, why not post my speeches here to show my continuing progress in Japanese?

However, if you remember, blogging isn't only for me. I know we hear casual speech in anime all the time, but how about something like a speech? I think this will be a great learning experience for novice Japanese speakers and fans who just want some insight.

So here's my speech! (No worries, I'll post an English version as well!)



しかし、日本のらーめんを食べたことがありません。でも、日本のが食べたいです。 みなさん、ベジタリアンのらーめんを食べてみてください!

The Food I Like is Ramen!

The food I like the most is ramen. I eat ramen with no meat, because I am vegetarian. I go to the supermarket in order to buy ramen. The ramen is vegetarian, and it only costs two dollars. It is very delicious.

However, I have never eaten Japanese ramen, but I would like to try it. Everyone, please try vegetarian ramen.

So as you can see, Japanese looks really intimidating, but it's not as hard as it's made out to be. Many people might get overwhelmed looking at the top speech, then surprised as they examine the bottom one. The speech is pretty short, and doesn't convey a lot. So you can think of Japanese as a facade, that tricks you into thinking it's complicated, when it's actually pretty simple.

I'm going to keep posting every one of these, so please follow my journey of Japanese learning with me!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Japanese Music Spotlight: Never Change

So I haven't done one of these in a long time. That's right, it's time for a good old music spotlight. I'll be sharing music with you guys which I think is interesting to say the least. This time, the spotlight is a song called Never Change by SHUN. For those Naruto fans out there, yes, it's the most recent ending. Like the usual, I've attached song to this post. So please check it out!

As a little side note, I wanted to say how inspirational the songs are when it comes to Naruto openings and endings. When I was younger, I can say that I didn't understand even a bit of Japanese. Now being older and more educated, I can understand quite a bit and pick up the English lyrics online if I'm ever having trouble.

It just came to my realization that sometimes we don't pay much attention to the media we intake. We're listening to music from a country we may have never been to, in a language we may or may not know. Yet, sometimes we never take the opportunity to find out what the song means. Whats the meaning behind these words that I cannot understand, why does the song itself call out to me so much?

So to my readers, if you get the chance, think about the media that you constantly view. What does it mean to you, what does it mean to others, and why do you like it? I noticed myself being drawn to songs with lyrics I loved even though I couldn't understand them. This leads me to believe that music itself is universal, something that we can enjoy without the need to understand.

So I'm giving this to you as food for thought. if you have anything to say relating to this, please leave a comment. Even if you don't, still comment. I'd love to hear from you all!

Lyrics (English and Japanese)


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Little Things We Do Differently (When We Like Anime)

There's so many wonderful series out there for us to watch and enjoy. We have multiple genres, ranging from romance and comedy to action packed adventures. Even though there's so many things out there for us and we can try them all, there's only a few that we'll truly like.

I mentioned in my last post that Hanayamata just jumped out at me. Literally, if any of you know Crunchyroll, it's like a total galore of anime. So to have one stand out among many, is really something special. I'm still watching it right now and it's not finished yet, but I've already enjoyed it much more than most series. (On Episode 4 right now!)

Hana has quickly become a favorite of mine!
Also, I wanted to bring up Hanayamata because of a saying I related to immensely. Hana states that people should be allowed to do what they want. She says that we only have a short time on earth, so she only does the things she likes to do. Why waste her time doing things that don't make her happy?

This is probably a way of thinking that I've always held onto, but still it's easy to forget when interacting with other people. Watching anime for example is something I love doing, but watching anime that other people like and I don't, is something that was never appealing to me. I understand that you like it, but can't you understand that I don't?

So following Hana's way of thinking, let's think about anime that we enjoy the most. Yes, our favorites, stories we hold dear, and series we cannot live without. What do you do differently when you watch these anime? What about the characters? How about the plot? You may not notice it at first, but when it comes to our favorites, we have a clear divider between them and any other series. 

For me, I've noticed that I do these things differently:

  • I tend to view the opening of anime I love, no matter how many times I've seen it.
  • I love most or all of the characters in some shape of form, and even if I don't like a character I'll put up with them so I can keep watching.
  • I relate heavily to the main character(s).
  • The anime usually follows my way of thinking, instead of going against it. 
  • The anime makes me emotional in a positive way. (For example, goosebumps, laughter, and happiness.)
  • The anime inspires me in some way, shape, or form. 
  • I tend to learn many things about the anime and characters!
  • I somehow acquire a lot of merchandise related to the anime. (My Naruto Merchandise)
While this doesn't apply for everything, I think everyone has some sort of list of actions they take with their favorite anime. It may not be obvious or out there, but if there were no divider, how would we have favorites? We don't have to like everything, but we have to like something. 

What behaviors have you noticed about yourself?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hanayamata Thoughts!

It's another slice of life anime! This time, we're delving into the world of dancing. Not just any style, but yosakoi dancing. What's yosakoi you say? Well keep reading and you'll find out more!

Hanayamata or HaNaYaMaTa, features an all-female cast with the focus of yosakoi dancing. While it's slice of life, the anime doesn't center mainly on school days, but mostly the interactions of the protagonist, Naru and a foreign student by the name of Hana, who has a love for yosakoi. The two come together and participate in their love of dancing. Shortly after, other characters are worked into the story.

So What is Yosakoi?

If you have no clue what yosakoi means, then here's a quick explanation. Basically, yosakoi dancing originated in Japan towards the mid 1900s. The focus of the dance is energetic and graceful movements. Also, the dancers tend to dress in colorful costumes that help accent their moves. Its basically a perfect mix of traditional and modern Japanese culture. Even though Hanayamata is focused on girls, yosakoi dancing is for both genders.

We can't have yosakoi without naruko! No, I'm not talking about a female version of Naruto. Instead, naruko are the small clappers that are used when dancing. Naru and naruko are pretty similar words, so if you remember the protagonist's name you can always remember naruko!

If you still have trouble remembering, then think about the following example. Have you ever attended a big sports event or some sort of rally? They sometimes hand out these objects that look like two hands clasped together. You shake them back and forth and they make a clapping noise. While they're not exactly the same, they are similar to naruko.

Here are some pictures!


From left to right, the main characters are named and described below.
Hana N. Fontainestand - She's a transfer student from America. Upon their first meeting, Naru mistakes her for fairy. After much hard work, she's able to get Naru into yosakoi. Born May 2. 

Yaya Sasame - They describe her as being perfect at everything. Despite this, she is Naru's friend and has been helping her since they were little. She has a few tsundere traits. Born June 1. 

Sekiya Naru - Considered average at pretty much everything. She's very timid, but has a deep appreciation for the heroines in fantasy. Develops a love for yosakoi. Born April 2,

Machi Tokiwa - Tami's best friend and classmate. Some what tough and serious acting, but softens up around her friend. Born August 5.

Tami Nishimikado - Vice president of the student council. Really mild-mannered, and gives off a princess-like impression. Born October 12.


So far, I really like the anime. I have to admit, I haven't gotten through much of it yet and it's not even finished, but I'm enjoying it. I didn't even expect to watch this anime. The title just jumped out at me, similar to Ano Natsu de Matteru. 

When it comes to graphics, the environment and colorful landscape is beautiful. With characters, I really like the art style. This anime has a unique drawing shape of the eyes. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it, but if you study the eyes, you'll see what I mean. When it comes to the plot, so far the story is working a bit different than I expected, but it's still pretty straightforward.

Aside from the self-explanatory plot, the relationship between Hana and Naru is interesting.

Usually the protagonists have fated meetings that ultimately lead to their interaction, but this came about a bit differently. Naru struggled to get Hana to leave her alone, and instead of a quick glance or stare, the two actually spoke and interacted during their first scene together. However, it still followed the pattern of one character changing another's life.

Another thing that is pretty interesting is the use of the environment to convey feelings and emotions. The characters are constantly projected on different heights and poses. Naru first sees Hana standing above her in the first episode, and she is accompanied by a beautiful background and colorful clothing. I think that in a way, Hana was a representation of the heroines that Naru adores, and the first impression of Hana was that of a beautiful figure of fantasy. (Thus she refers to her as a fairy.)

Later, even at school, Hana still remains to be above Naru in different settings. The theme of Hana looking down towards Naru, while Naru is looking upwards is common. Its not only until they look each other in the eyes on the same footing that they become friends. Being equals and not above or below each other, allows Naru to change and their friendship begins to blossom. 

While in a way both characters are seemingly opposites, they are very similar and actually support each other. Hana, while being optimistic and jolly, is sometimes lonely. Naru, being somewhat timid and shy, is given the opportunity to gain confidence and passion through her friend. All Hana really wanted aside from pursuing her passion is a close friend. They balance each other out.

Despite everything else, I'm really enjoying the anime and I think I will continue to watch! I definitely recommend checking it out if you have the time.

Are you watching Hanayamata? What are YOUR thoughts?