Adorned by Chi Manga Review – Finally, a Nigerian Manga!
Yes, this is my first video review, and it’s for a Nigerian manga called Adorned by Chi.
I love coming across cool manga with black main characters, and this one, Adorned by Chi, is set in Nigeria. When shy Adaeze and her friends are attacked by apocalyptic monsters called Mmanwu at their college, they soon learn that they have god-like powers. They must use their new powers to keep the Mmanwu at bay while living their regular school lives.
Yes, it’s cutesy and Japanese-ish, but what it has is a lot of Nigerian spunk. The art style and story-telling are like manga. The characters are toned by computer, the panels are different on each page, and the personalities are definitely part of manga tropes. If there was a black version of Sailor Moon, this would be it–minus the age gap with Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon.
If you’d like to get a copy of Adorned by Chi, use the discount code, JADESCHI, for 10% off your order!
The Black Nerds Expo on Thursday, February 28 from 10:00AM to 2:00PM at MiraCosta College (1 Barnard Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056) is a space for attendees to explore and celebrate black comics, books, art, video games, and pop culture. This event is open to everyone! Register at http://blacknerdsexpo.eventbrite.com for free!
Here is what the expo will offer:
-Meet people in the art, video game, and comic book industries
-Make new, local friends who like black pop culture
-Participate in opportunity drawings for active attendees
-Take Instagram-worthy photos at the photo booth
-Day-of point card to collect comics-related stickers and prizes
-Learn about upcoming projects and releases information in anime, manga, video games, media, and pop culture
How much is it to attend the Black Nerds Expo?
It’s free! Just make sure to either pre-register or register on-site for entry.
Why is there a need for a black nerds event?
Could you name at least three black superheroes outside of Black Panther, Storm from the X-men, or Luke Cage? Could you name at least three black authors without searching on Google? Could you name at least one black artist outside of comics? Events such as the Black Nerds Expo is to make aware the existence of black pop culture that isn’t usually shown or celebrated in mainstream media.
If I’m a vendor, artist, or would like to table for the Black Nerds Expo, how can I make that happen?
It’s free! We don’t want tabling or exhibiting fees to be a barrier for exhibiting. Please contact Jd Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible since space is limited.
If I can’t be there personally but I or my business would like to contribute, how do I do that?
Send any promotional materials (i.e. flyers, postcards, business cards, posters) to the following address by Thursday, February 14, 2019 to give them time to arrive:
ATTN: Jd Banks, Student Equity (MC: #10C)
1 Barnard Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
Is it possible to sponsor something for this event?
Sure! We would like to do an opportunity drawing for attendees, so any swag items such as T-shirts, hats, buttons, wrist bands, DVDs, posters, cups, or figurines relating to black pop culture would be appreciated. In return, the Black Nerds Expo will cross-promote your brand on social media and other marketing materials. Please email Jd Banks at email@example.com for information.
Are you providing any stipends or paying any fees for vendors, artists, or representatives to participate in the Black Nerds Expo?
No. Participants will only be provided a table, refreshments, and day-of logistical support.
What sort of things would be great to bring as a vendor, artist, or representative to the Black Nerds Expo?
If you are a comics vendor, comics and graphic novels concentrating on black superheroes such as Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Green Lantern, March, Miles Morales Spider-Man, Ironheart, Batwing, Cyborg, Mister Terrific, Vixen, Nubia, Rocket, XS, Tattooed Man, Afro Samurai, and more would be great. Find a list of black superheroes at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_black_superheroes. Books from Toni Morrison, Ben Okri, Karyn Parsons, John Lewis, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Obama and other black authors would also be great. Artwork can be fan-created artwork of current black superheroes and/or original artwork with black and African-American attendees in mind.
My story began with a search inside the famous Google, its grey strip begging me to ask my question, to give it a task. I did so with two words: “Frankenstein manga.” What was to follow only betrayed my expectations. I found fewer than 10 titles–only 6 titles–that involved the moody fictional character, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and the monster he created now called Frankenstein. From these 6 measly titles, I thought half of them would be in English being that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was in English, and so, many Western readers would also enjoy them in their origins’ native language. To my dismay, all 6 Frankenstein titles were unlicensed manga. “How could I ever wish to write about these without guiding readers to scanlations and pirated websites?” Of course, I found no answer waiting at my fingertips.
“How could these manga creators do this to me, to other faithful followers?” I complained, but a thought struck me as devastatingly as lightning. Manga creators simply make the stories, not publish and translate them into other languages. Editors, letterers, and translators only followed their duties. So who, if anyone, could be to blame for allowing these 6 titles to remain on the lab table, only to be viewed by 125 million Japanese speakers when there are 360 million English speakers? Surely readers can’t be to blame. Complaints aside, I felt that manga lovers were done a great injustice when titles that have been poked, prodded, and even robbed by many go unnoticed by manga publishers.
I am certain many people have looked for Franken Fran, Embalming: Another Tale of Frankenstein, Noblesse, Frankenstein, Mondlicht: Tsuki no Tsubasa, and Wagatomo Frankenstein in the darker realms of the internet. Even I, an advocate of licensed manga and a resident within the Japanese language, have ventured there for such reasons. But I must say, when sub-par titles about vampires, werewolves, demons, and zombies are tramping through English bookshelves while these little bolts of genius float in obscurity, it makes me ponder, “Can I not go forward and talk about these unlicensed manga?”
“‘Live, and be happy, and make others so,'” Justine Mortiz in a dying whisper.
The first of the Frankenstein children to stay in Japan’s lab is Wagatomo Frankenstein. Born in 1972 in Shueisha, Wagatomo Frankenstein is an elusive child. Even in the smokiest alleys of the cyber world, its real story is hidden from English speakers, thus we move to its siblings.
Wagatomo Frankenstein‘s sisters, Franken Fran (fathered by Kigitsu Katsuhisa) and Mondlicht: Tsuki no Tsubasa (fathered by Juichi Iogi), are still housed under Akita Shoten’s label, but they have gained a cult outside their imprisonments. Franken Fran uses a female version of Frankenstein to grant the wishes of hapless humans in rather unwishful, Pet Shop of Horrors ways. The junior of the sisters, Mondlicht: Tsuki no Tsubasa, bears little resemblance to Mark Shelley’s Frankenstein–it’s simply a battle waged between lonesome vampires and Dr. Frankenstein’s monsters who take the form of pretty schoolgirls.
*As of 4/29/2015, Franken Fran has been licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment and is slated for release in February 2016 in omnibus editions. Thank you, Leslie!
Along with Franken Fran and Mondlicht, three brothers have joined the Frankenstein manga family. Similar to most human families, the eldest brother takes its name from the father: Frankenstein. Despite being younger than Wagatomo Frankenstein, Junji Ito’s creation is the closest to their mother’s children, Dr. Victor Frankenstein and his monster’s awakening. The second brother, Embalming: Another Tale of Frankenstein, comes from the 2007 Jump SQ generation, born from Rurouni Kenshin creator, Nobuhiro Watsuki. If Dr. Frankenstein truly lived and he assembled his grotesque monsters, Embalming shows how these undead beings run amuck in Europe 150 years after Dr. Frankenstein’s original creation.
I must say, though the baby of the brothers is a Korean webcomic, it mimics its elder siblings, right down to the typical high school premise. Noblesse from Son Jae-Ho has Frankenstein, a devoted scientist who follows a vampire lord, operating a prestigious academy. Though this Frankenstein offspring has his scientist father’s brain, its history is completely warped. He has made himself into a monster and granted himself immortality in completely following his master’s wishes.
However much I seem to know about these 6 titles, I have yet to read their copies within legitimate terms. I had hoped that several publishers would need these titles in English to appease the cults who follow them. With my confession now in front of the whole world, I can find solace. I and these manga creators have re-told Mary Shelley’s story. I hope English manga publishers would like to hear them.
Unused talent: Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston do not work together. It’s not even a Bryan Cranston movie.
One-dimensional actor takes the boring lead: Aaron Taylor-Johnson keeps looking at the camera, adding to his unconvincing role as Bryan Cranston’s military son.
Too many kids: This is not a family movie! When did throwing kids into the mix equal “human element”? True Lies, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, and Back to the Future had kids in them, but they actually served some role other than “Let’s make this a family movie.”
Gun/nuclear-happy Americans: I would have to say that this pro-military movie portrays Americans’ top specialty–using their guns first and coming up with sound answers later.
Horrible villain monsters: In the Godzilla franchise, there are tons of interesting and badass monsters to choose from. I would’ve gone with King Shisa (I’m impartial to the Okinawan shisa) or King Gydra (the Hydra).
Picture from the best Godzilla books ever in Japan, ゴジラ人間 series, printed in 1984 by Shogakukan Publishing.
Friendly Godzilla: When was Godzilla on our side? OK, so he crushed a few buildings, but he’s nothing like the Godzilla from the past franchise.
Movie should’ve ended in the beginning: If you’re a foreign who gets arrested in Japan, unless you’re married to a Japanese person, you’ll get deported, not sent back to your apartment. Godzilla would’ve easily ended in the first 20 minutes of the movie.
Japanese people don’t speak English: Sorry, English teachers, but I know this as an English teacher here in Japan. Few Japanese people speak English, especially fluent English, and most freak out when they see a foreigner, even if it’s in a convenience store.
Japanese people don’t take orders from Americans: How many foreign executives have you seen in Japan?
I started watching the 1998 Godzilla: The Series TV show just to wash the taste out of my mouth.
Big Hero 6 Manga
This is a first: before Disney’s Big Hero 6 release, Disney is releasing the manga for free through Amazon.co.jp, Boollive!, and Yahoo! Bookstores etc. from August 20th (limited time only). You can read the manga in Japanese here.
Imagine getting an invitation to your welcome party and a co-worker hands you a map to the location. You don’t think to ask about the place or what do all the squiggly lines mean–not like you can if you don’t know Japanese–so when the time comes to go to the welcome party, you realize that you don’t know the way. But that’s only one worry from living in Japan. Japanese language resources, English books, organic products, and even emoticons are different in the Land of the Rising Sun. Thanks to the internet, you can simplify your needs while living in Japan.
Google Maps: In Japan, you can easily get lost. There are no street names, and multiple routes with the same number make finding a certain business nearly impossible. Good thing all businesses must print their ads with a map to their shop…right? If everyone relied on those 5-centimeter sized maps, no one in Japan would use Google Maps. My advice: stick to landmarks!
Japanese Emoticons: Western emoticons are great, but Japanese ones are easier to read and have more pizzazz. Plus, each emoticon conveys the exact emotion I’m looking for in a tweet or email. ＼（＾▽＾）／
Japanese Fonts: If you’re learning Japanese or you make anything with text in Japan, this website is the best! You can download and install the fonts that actually write Japanese, not the gibberish you find on Fontspace. Just be on the look out for the fine print. Some fonts are licensed for non-commercial uses, which means you can only use them for unpaid projects.
Book Depository: Japan has a severe lack of English books that aren’t condensed readers for English exam takers. Some Japanese English-reading residents are fine with the scant choices of English literature at Toda Books and Book Off (they mostly have YA and best sellers). For those who want books without the expensive shipping fee from Ebay, Amazon, Abebooks, Book Depository is the best. They ship books worldwide for free. Are the books cheaper than Ebay or Amazon? No, they’re full price, but they’re brand new books.
iHerb: If you’re missing your beloved African soap bars or certain organic cookie mixes and you can’t get them from home, iHerb is the next best option. They have a flat $4 shipping rate to Japan and they sell organic and vegan household products.
Weblio: Japanese is hard. Even Google Translate has a hard time making Japanese understandable. Weblio is another translation website that offers a literal translation of the English and example sentences using the main verb.
Wunderground: Between June and October, Japan is plagued with typhoons and stormy weather. Reliable English-language weather forecast sites like Wunderground are few in total, considering that many are in Japanese. Still, Wunderground is a good place to watch any severe weather changes in the Western-Pacific region.
When I was 13, I wanted to be a manga creator. Between college and Japan, I forgot that dream. After reading Jamie Lynn Lano’s The Princess of Tennis, that 15-year-old dream cried out and I realized why: Lano never forgot her dream and became a manga assistant for Takeshi Konomi’s The Prince of Tennis, or TeniPuri by some fans.
Lano’s journey starts with already living in Japan for 4 years as an English teacher before applying to Konomi’s call for manga assistants. Throughout the book, Lano not only talks about how manga is made (it’s less technical than I thought) but also the ups and downs of being a 6-foot-1 foreign woman in Japan.
The Princess of Tennis is an easy and fun read. Lano keeps the tone light and friendly, and when she turns to darker themes–the invisible red tape for foreigners, real Japanese customs, and women’s 1950’s role in Japanese culture–Lano always remembers that this true story is a happy one, minus the tinted glasses.
While Lano makes her book accessible for all readers, The Princess of Tennis best fits otaku and aspiring manga creators and editors. She uses Japanese words and emoticons that anyone can find in a manga. For readers outside of the manga-reading audience, this book comes off as a borderline Young Adult novel or fanfiction, especially when the grammatical errors are considered. Because Lano’s voice and amiable nature is consistent, readers can forgive the missing words, incorrect punctuation marks, and passive sentences.
As with many books about Japan, The Princess of Tennis uses many Japanese words. Some might find it charming, but I believe that if a book is for the English-reading community, it should stay in English. I wouldn’t say, “Konomi Teacher”. Even “Mr. Konomi” is passable. Still, I’d just omit the word. In the West, using someone’s last name is also a sign of respect. Untranslated Japanese words with simple English meanings–“ohayo” (“Good morning”), “hajimemashite” (“Nice to meet you”), and “ganbare” (“Good luck” or “Do your best”)–are still in the book. I think I removed every romanized word with corrector ink just to polish the text.
Aside from the mistakes, The Princess of Tennis was entertaining and inspirational for me. Remember my dream of becoming a manga creator? Maybe my TeniPuri call is waiting for me to answer.
I’m at Super Saiyin status! Yup, I’ve reached 4 complete years of living and blogging in Japan!
I know, I know. Some Americans have reached city-stomping, moon-transforming monkey status in their tenth, twentieth, or even thirtieth years in Japan. Good for them! For me, it’s an awesome thing: I’m still living my dream! And I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Anime and manga does and doesn’t equal culture.
Just as any media doesn’t fully capture a single culture, it also says a lot about that culture. The Japanese population is mostly Japanese. From the time Japanese people are born until they die, there are certain things that’re taught to them. Did you know that Japanese students take Ethics and Morals in junior high school? And did you know Japanese students are punished more for not following the rules than their grades? No, maybe not. In reality, Japanese people aren’t allowed to stand out. Japan is a collective society, and in a country the size of California housing millions, the population can’t afford to be individualistic. But in anime and manga, you’ll see students who are totally different because of their natural talents or super abilities. In a way, these media are reflections of a country where the hammer strikes down the standing nail.
Design and marketing is on a whole different level in Japan.
Wherever you walk in Japan, you’re bound to find billboards upon billboards, posters behind posters, signs above signs of ads, ads, ads. Even if you can’t read them, these ads are successful at embedding colorful and creative images into your brain. Everything has a mascot (ever hear of Hello Kitty, Kumamon, Pikachu, or Luffy?). When I think of American ads, they don’t compare. Then again, the States has it good with creating recognizable brands. Hmm, maybe I’m wrong… Still, Japanese advertising makes me laugh!
Quality of (Insert a Noun) is cities above the American sense of quality
I’m absolutely in love with Japan’s sense of quality. It shows in mundane things: merchandise at thrift stores are clean and cared for; lunches are freshly prepared by mothers and lunchbox pros same day; fast food actually matches the pictures. So, yeah, quality of life is awesome in Japan. There’s the national healthcare that every working person can receive (OMG, Japan is Socialistic ::gasp::), and the older you are, the cheaper your optional car insurance becomes. Don’t get me wrong, I do miss the States, but some things–the crappy secondhand buys, the fat-salt-sugar-saturated processed food, and the bombardment of unhealthy lifestyles–aren’t living up to my quality of life anymore.
I miss the straightforwardness of the West
Japan is the land of beating around the bush. You can’t say anything directly because it’s seen as unfriendly. Instead of saying, “Why aren’t you wearing an undershirt?” you have to opt for a round-about way of saying things. “Aren’t you cold?” The real meaning: you’re not dressed properly for work! Then again, no one will tell you at the very beginning how to dress for work in Japan like in the States. “Do I have to wear suits? What color? How long?” You have to become a really great observer in Japan and answer the questions yourself. In a way, I find it refreshing. As Haruki Murakami wrote in 1Q84, “If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.”
You can also check out some apps that give you free or cheap access to licensed and new manga.
Manga Box App – This English and Japanese app provides popular manga like Nisekoi and Kindaichi Case Files along with lesser known titles such as Spoof on Titan, Chubby Cinderella, and Shinjuku DxD. This app is a free download for Android and iPhone.
1. Lose weight. I managed to lose 15 pounds from July to November by exercising 3 to 4 times a week. Injuries got in the way. I injured my left knee twice in June and July and strained my neck in December. Even though I’m starting from zero again for 2014 (at 154 pounds, only 1 pound lighter than last year), I’ve figured out the exercise program that works for me.
2. Learn Japanese. I had planned to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), but I missed the deadline. Still, this year, I finished one full journal in Japanese, applied for a Japanese speech contest for foreigners, and re-started organized Japanese studies with an advanced course.
3. Save more money. I didn’t save more money this year. I spent more money (yikes!). I did, however, started seriously paying off my student loans and my husband saved the majority of money.
4. Travel more. Because of our savings, my husband and I decided not to travel.
5. Get to reading and writing! 2013 was a good year for me in regards to writing and reading. I won a science fiction writing contest and one of my stories was selected for a science fiction anthology. I also read 32 books out of my Goodreads’s goal of 30 books in a year. Along with my writing and reading progress, I took two very insightful Coursera classes: Comic Books and Graphic Novels (University of Boulder) and Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (University of Michigan). They helped me improved my writing style and approach to fiction.
Now that I’m staring my 2013 resolutions in the face, I understand why most of these goals failed. They’re so broad! I need concrete, realistic goals, not general ones that can be transposed from me to another person.
So here’s another shot at my resolutions:
1. Lose 25 pounds in 2014 and keep it off. If I exercise 30 minutes 3 times a week every week for a year, that’ll make 144 workouts in a year. This is possible if I look at it as in half a pound a week is lost in 48 weeks (a year). Luckily, I’ve found some great workouts online for free (save money!) and I can put my birthday gift to use (Nike Plus Fitness on Kinect). And, since my husband and I have decided to only eat meat in one meal a day, we’ll be helping each other stave off the pounds.
Ultimate goal: Weigh 130 pounds.
2. Take the lowest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). I missed the deadline last year, but I have another chance in July. I have a tutor to help me with this resolution now, and I can concentrate on kanji (Chinese writing system) and grammar through old textbooks.
Ultimate goal: Pass N1 of the JLPT, finish 2 Japanese journals, and pass my Japanese advance course.
3. Pay off 100% of my last credit card, pay off 95% of my student loans, and save at least $1,000 a month. This is totally possible if I ignore the horrid yen-to-dollar exchange rate. From October, I already implemented my student loan pay off. This year, I have to take the reigns of my budgeting plans by creating monthly bill deadlines and alerts.
Ultimate goal: Have $0 on all credit cards, have $700 left on student loans, and have $10,000 in savings.
4. Read 50 books this year and win 2 writing contests. I’ll have to pace myself and read more e-books while I’m at school. I need to develop a writing schedule and stick with it for the year.
5. Create 8 manga podcasts on Anime 3000. I’m a manga podcaster for Anime 3000’s Manga Corner. I was able to release only 4 manga podcasts last year. I’d like to re-vamp the show a little and interview 8 different guest stars. If you’re an anime, manga, or Japanophile podcaster, you can contact me (mangacorner [ at ] anime3000 [ dot ] com) about being a guest star.
In January and February, while my husband did a cleanse, I opted for only eating meat once a day. I don’t know if I dropped weight, but my clothes did fit differently–good for not exercising (my husband did, though). Just when we were going at a good pace, my husband hurt his back and the exercising (for him) and the non-meat meals stopped. It goes to show how much being in a relationship can affect your body.
Three weeks ago, I started doing Tae Bo again. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered (I did it last year for two months), but I decided to do cardio three times a week and strength training once a week. A week ago, I hurt my knee, so I’ll have to stick with strength training and minimum cardio. Injuries are the worst!
Plan: Do 30-45 minutes of exercise every other day. Two times a week include a strength training regiment (12 reps, 3 sets with weights), and work on abs every exercise day.
How to write “learn” in kanji
#2: Learn Japanese: Become a more fluent speaker.
I entered an international speech contest in Japanese, but I wasn’t picked. Maybe next year… Every day, I learn a new Japanese word (today’s word is 野良猫, noraneko, or “stray cat”) to build my vocabulary. I also write in a journal in Japanese, and some of my posts on this blog have a Japanese translation. So far, my reading comprehension has gotten easier as well as my kanji.
Plan for the rest of the year: Sign up for the JET Programme’s free advanced Japanese course and get ready for another speech contest (to get picked this time!).
#3: Save more money
I haven’t saved any money (according to my Mint account), but I have managed to slim our daily expenses. Instead of buying many snacks and going out to eat, we cook at home and avoid sugary products like cookies and fruit juices.
Plan: Send a set amount of money to my American bank account and not touch it except for emergencies and bills.
#4: Travel more.
Because of Item Number 3, traveling is out of the question. Sadness!
Once upon a time, there was a writer…
#5: Get to reading and writing!
I became a part of a creative writing circle. We get a prompt and two weeks to write something, then we post in on Google Plus. It’s very convenient because I never know how people will react to it. Also, it keeps me on my toes in keeping with deadlines!
Plan: Continue with the writing circle. Win at least one writing contest!
I was humming in the copy room, and Reading Rainbow popped into my head. I couldn’t help but smile. I love Reading Rainbow! From the theme song (below) to LeVar Burton (Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation) to each book, I fell in love with the show. Reading Rainbow taught me many useful things, some things that I still carry into my adulthood.
The theme song was inspirational. “I can go anywhere” and “I can be anything” inspired me to believe in myself, especially as someone who liked to read. When I was in fourth grade, I realized that most of my classmates hated reading, and if you read, you had a big “Pick on me” sign on your forehead. The first time I heard Reading Rainbow‘s theme song, I realized that it was OK to read. It was a catchy, cool theme song (up there with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Family Matters). I believed in it. I could go anywhere and I could be anything–as long as I was reading. Reading gave me the friends I didn’t have, took me places my family couldn’t go, taught me lessons that my parents couldn’t teach. To me, Reading Rainbow said, “It’s not only OK to read. It’s great to read!” As an English teacher, I encourage my students and colleagues to read books.
I’ve been using folded paper cups for over ten years. I learned how to fold paper cups when I was in fifth grade. My English teacher put on an episode of Reading Rainbow, LeVar folded a paper cup and put water in it, and we followed suit. When I got home that day, I showed my mom how to make a paper cup, and she commented, “Oh, this can hold more than water.” Eighteen years later in Japan, I use folded paper cups to hold game pieces, stickers, and laminated papers.
My mom is really a Chinese descendant or she knows the value of woks. My Filipino mom always used a big wok for making pancit (Filipino noodles), and I always wondered, “Why does Mom use that gigantic pot? Is she the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel?” When I watched an episode with LeVar in the Mandarin Inn Pell (above), I remembered my mother saying, “Oh, we’re Chinese descent,” before going on about her roots and Buddha. Now as an adult, I plan to use a wok because it heats the food evenly–and I get to say, “It woks!”
Mummies taught me to love mythology. Episodes about Egypt, like “Mummies Made in Egypt” (above), was a gateway into Egyptian mythology. By the time I hit seventh grade, I loved Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology, and my knowledge of them was vast for an eleven year old. When I was a sophomore in high school, I joined a quiz league (not Decathlon) as the mythology expert. Now that I’m a high school teacher, I don’t study mythology anymore, but it does influence the stories I write.
Cultures are awesome! Growing up in a homogeneous area (either black or white people), “culture” was a word that made people uncomfortable. My brothers and I were the only half-black, half-Filipino kids in our side of town, and for some reason, I always felt that my parents were trying to down-play our differences. We weren’t sure what to do about ourselves. It was important for me and my brothers to see LeVar–a black man–appreciating different cultures–Chinese, Japanese, Native American, you name it. I learned that it was OK to respect other cultures no matter what your skin color said.
Reading Rainbow isn’t on TV anymore, but it’s still around for the old and new generations of kids to love. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
Coming to Japan, I thought English education would be more advanced. What I found was a little disappointing: people who have studied English for ten years couldn’t form an English sentence. Even as more English speakers in Japan come forward as English teachers or translation experts, it’s easy to hear some really strange (and straightforward) English phrases in Japan.
David Sein’s 日本人のヘンな英語 illustrates in manga form the differences between Japanese people’s English and native English.
I think one reason why it’s hard for Japanese people to speak English is that it’s so direct. For instance, if someone says, “本を見ました,” the meaning could be, “I looked at the book” or “I saw the movie” (or if there are legs coming out of the book, “I watched the book”). 見る, or miru, has several meanings: look, see, or watch. Just picking which meaning to use is hard for Japanese speakers.
Sometimes, English idioms are taken quite literally. In English, “I cut the cheese,” isn’t used literally—someone cuts a piece of cheese with a knife—but it’s usually the image in Japanese people’s heads when this phrase is said. English speakers, however, see it as someone busting a stinky, dark cloud from their butts. In the Lang-8 blog, the blogger also noted how Japanese people are taught some strange English from Japanese words. Several words in Japanese aren’t translated very easily into English because its particular to Japanese culture. いただきます, or itadakimasu (literally “I humbly receive”), is a word said before anyone eats a meal in Japan. The meaning of it is lost in translation, especially in English when a person usually says, “Thanks for the food,” or “Let’s eat!”
David Sein’s 日本人のヘンな英語 is available for 1,050 yen on Amazon.co.jp.
One thing I like about living in Japan: I can read Japanese manga technique books for free. The book I picked up from the school library was Tokyo Institute of Animators’s 思いいどおりのキャラが描けるテクニックBOOK, or Character Technique Book (literally “techniques so that one can draw the expected character”).
Character Technique Book is a 単行本, or tankoubon, meaning “special volume” usually from a series of lectures.
This book’s best aspect: showing how to draw people, weapons, animals, and places from the preliminary sketches to the finished product. Even how to color pictures (digitally and traditionally) is outlined. For all emerging comic artists (and those who can read Japanese), I would recommend this book.
There are also other technique books like this such as Cool Male Characters Technique Book (loose translation of カッコいい男のキャラの描けるテクニックBOOK) and Cute Girl Characters Technique Book (loose translation of かわいい女のキャラの描けるBOOK).
Character Technique Book is available for 1050 yen on Japan’s Amazon website. You can also find this book as How to Draw Manga Character Background Technique Book on Amazon.com for $33.18.
Per New Year’s and weight gain, I made several resolutions to better my life. For 2013, I have a few, but I’m not just going to say what they are. Many people make that mistake. I want to avoid the talk and just get down to the core of the problem and how to realistically solve them.
Gotta get that fat outta here!!
#1: Lose weight.
Last year, I made this a goal, and in July, I could wear clothes that I hadn’t worn in two years because of my weight. By December, I regained most of the weight I lost five months ago. The most realistic approach to losing weight for me is not stressing out, getting enough sleep, eating more vegetables and fruits, and exercising.
My goal in losing weight this year is 25 pounds. Right now, I weigh 155 pounds–30 pounds over my high school weight–and I want to shed it. This fat represents the stress I’ve gone through since getting married, living in a foreign country without being fluent in the language, and becoming inactive in my local community. The fat needs to go.
My plan is to start with moderate cardiovascular exercises that I enjoy (basketball practice, dance, and jogs) and moderate strength-training regiments at home. I just have to watch my knees (two torn ACL injuries from ten years ago). Right now, my eating habits are OK, but they can be better. I’ll add more dairy products, fruits, and vegetables to my diet from now on.
How to write “learn” in kanji
#2: Learn Japanese.
I’ve come a long way since last year when I could vaguely understand what someone said in Japanese. Now, I’m on my way to becoming a more fluent listener. My goal this year is to become a more fluent speaker. It’s harder than it sounds because I have trouble with what I call the linkers, wa, ga, wo, and ni. I want to master them.
My plan is to study with a native speaker weekly and later take the lowest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Right now, I have a book for passing the JLPT and I have several workbooks for learning the most basic kanji . In the meantime, I’m working on remembering my Japanese speech for a contest.
Bank on the Pig.
#3: Save more money.
That’s all. Just save more money. This past year, I was able to pay off just about all of my credit cards. Now I want to pay off one of two big debts and continue my savings plan for when I return to the U.S. One thing that has kept me in check is a financial planning website called Mint.com, which gives me a pie chart of all of my expenditures and keeps track of my financial goals.
Let’s get to packin’!
#4: Travel more.
My husband and I decided that in 2014, we’ll return the U.S. Before then, I’d like to visit some other nearby countries on holiday breaks. Of course, this could dig into Resolution #3, but we can definitely make it work without having to spend an arm and a leg. Flying between China and Japan starts around $150 dollars. For a new experience in a different land, I’m willing to pay for it.
Once upon a time, there was a writer…
#5: Get to reading and writing!
In August last year, I self-published The Ends Don’t Tie with Bunny Rabbits. Ever since then, I’ve gone on to do a free book-reviewing website by the same name and started to read indie authors’ books. I still have several books on my list, but I’d like to read up to 50 books in 2013. I only read 26 books in 2012 and 24 books in 2011.
With writing, I’d like to start this year with a great Korean comic review for the Manga Bookshelf column. I also want to finish writing another book and get it published this year. It’s possible to do all this if I use my time wisely. No more Youtube time wasters.
When I first became interested in Japan, I was only interested in Japanese animation and manga. It wasn’t until college that I decided to read Japanese authors to get a better perspective of Japan. Although I think that anime and manga are great ways to learn more about a culture, books have a unique way of presenting cultural information in a gentle manner; the reader gets to walk in the footsteps of a Japanese person, not just look at drawings of Japanese people. The thoughts and mannerisms of a Japanese are ingrained in the writing–if readers can read between the lines.
Murakami is one of my favorite writers in general, let alone, Japanese writers. His works are very famous around the world, and almost every book I’ve read by him has amazed me. His most popular books include 1Q84, Norwegian Wood, and Kafka on the Shore. Each of his stories deal with the surreal, whether they encounter dreams, ghosts, or the character’s own tormented psyche.
Though I would say that Yoshimoto is a female version of Murakami, her works stand well on their own. She also writes surrealistic stories, such as n.p., Goodbye, Tsugumi, and Kitchen, but she focuses on a situation that leads the main character towards different relationships with people. What I like about Yoshimoto is that her work is really honest and straightforward, something that’s difficult to find in writers nowadays. Her work is easy to digest, but don’t be fooled. There’s always a deeper concept playing beneath the surface of her words.
Nobel Prize winner, Kenzaburo Oe, is a well-known Japanese writer with many of his works translated around the world. A prolific writer with heavy themes, Oe captures the depth of human psychology while infusing existentialism into his stories. His works include A Quiet Life, The Changeling, and A Personal Matter. Although his works are more difficult to read–his audience seems to be for people above a tenth-grade reading level–Oe’s works are worth reading, especially for readers looking to find the gritty side of the human soul.
Though this writer, actor, poet, and film director was born in the early years of the 20th century, Mishima’s works still breathe of lives that face the same issues of loss, death, and reality. Similar to Oe’s dark-themed works, Mishima faces his readers with brutal honesty that isn’t easy to absorb sometimes. Still, his books like Death in Midsummer and The Sea of Fertility tetralogy are worthwhile reads.
Although Amy Yamada isn’t so popular like Murakami or Yoshimoto, Yamada’s books are engaging and interesting. Her books, like Trash and Bedtime Eyes,appeal to older women–many of her titles embraces life as a Japanese woman in the U.S. and the relationships she engages in. What I like about Yamada is her confidence in writing about gritty subjects, like sexuality, racism, alcoholism, and interracial coupling. She’s not shy about the reality of relationships, good or bad.
Author of popular stories that spawned multiple anime and movie titles, Tsutsui’s books are more suited for the complicated teenage mind. It’s not the plot lines that I would suggest books like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time for the teen-book section. Simply, the English versions I’ve read are written at a fifth or sixth grade reading level with the same level substance. Like Murakami and Yoshimoto, many of Tsutsui’s books have a surreal quality, but more fantasy or science fiction is weaved into the stories. Unlike Murakami and Yoshimoto, who use simplistic vocabulary, Tsutsui hasn’t mastered how to create depth in the stories. As I mentioned before, I would only suggest Tsutsui’s books for complicated teenagers.