This Week: Trese (THAT Pilipino Anime)

This Week: Trese (THAT Pilipino Anime)

Jade’s Escape covers Trese, THAT Pilipino anime! Image credit:

This Week: Trese (THAT Pilipino Anime)

Ever wondered what Pilipino anime exists on Netflix? Unless you’re a Pilipino looking, probably not. But for those who are looking for an anime or anime-esque type of series similar to Netflix’s Castlevania, Yasuke, and Blood+, Trese has everything that these have: gore, magic, whodunit, fights, and demons.

Trese focuses on Alexandra Trese, a woman investigates supernatural crimes that the police don’t understand, each crime leading to a piece of a bigger plot against humanity. When souls aren’t delivered to the underworld, Alexandra is called on to find the souls and discover who or what is keeping the souls from going to the underworld. Though Alexandra is a human with magical abilities, she has two demigods and several demon clans at her beck and call. As Alexandra solves more crimes and a sinister plot becomes unraveled, the other humans in Alexandra’s life try to improve their own lives while protecting others.

Alexandra’s father. Image Credit:

While Trese feels similar to the DC animated movies, Trese leans heavily into its theme of family. Alexandra lost her mother at a young age and was raised with two demigod children. Her father, the appointed lakkan and head of The Council, established the Accords to keep humanity and the supernatural world in balance. Throughout the series, the senior Trese appears in flashbacks, constantly reminding Alexandra about their family. The flashbacks also serve for the viewers to see all of the present characters evolve and place a thumb on what split the supernatural clans between the Accords and their own demonic vices.

Shay Mitchell as Alexandra Trese. Image credit:

Watching Trese has made me realize how much Pilipino folklore and mythology I actually know. Oh, I’m Pilipina and Black, though, looking at me, you wouldn’t guess that. I didn’t grow up speaking Tagalog and when I took Tagalog in college, I mixed up my mother’s dialect with Tagalog (how embarrassing for me and confusing for my ginoong). I took three Tagalog classes and learned more about my mother and her culture by translating Pilipino stories about aswang, sigbin, and mungkukulam. That’s why Trese has a special place in my heart. Aswang, sigbin, and other Pilipino mythical creatures are cornerstones of this anime, and even the English dub of this anime uses Tagalog. I’m really happy to find that Pilipina-American Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars), the English voice behind Alexandra, has a good grasp of Tagalog to pull off those scenes.

If you’re like me and like the so-called good-versus-evil scenarios, Americanized animations, and a good, twisted story, Trese is the Pilipino anime series for you.

Get Trese #1 on Amazon!

Kinda Obscure Casual Anime

Kinda Obscure Anime

While I watch the newer anime with all the hits like Jujutsu Kaisen, Demon Slayer, Burn the Witch, Black Clover, Yashahime, Noblesse, and Haikyuu!, I’ve had a lot of time during the pandemic to watch shorter, kinda obscure casual anime in between the new episodes. Some of these anime are hidden gems on Netflix, Prime, FUNimation, and Crunchyroll, but they’re definitely worth watching while running off the last holiday ham.

Slice of Life
Tanaka-kun is Always Listless (Genre: Comedy, School Life, Slice of Life) Crunchyroll
Teasing Master Takagi (Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy) Netflix/Crunchyroll/FUNimation
The Way of the Househusband (Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy)

Romance Slice of Life
Toradora (Genre: Romance, Drama, School Life, Slice of Life) Netflix/Crunchyroll/FUNimation
Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun (Genre: Comedy, Romance, School Life, Slice of Life) Netflix/Crunchyroll
ReLife (Genre: Drama, School Life, Work Life) Crunchyroll/FUNimation
Wotakoi (Genre: Drama, Slice of Life, Work Life, Comedy, Romance) Amazon Prime

Slightly Salty Slice of Life
Sweetness and Lighting (Genre: Food, Slice of Life, Drama) Crunchyroll
Gakuen Babysisters (Genre: Drama, Slice of Life) Crunchyroll
My Roommate is a Cat (Genre: Drama, Slice of Life) Crunchyroll/FUNimation

Boys’ Love-ish Slice of Life
The High School Life of a Fudanshi (Genre: Comedy, School Life, Boys Love) Crunchyroll
Don’t Kiss Me! Kiss Him! (Genre: Comedy, School Life, Boys Love) Crunchyroll/FUNimation

Suspenseful Slice of Life
The Case Files of Jeweler Richard (Genre: Drama, Romance, Work Life, Suspense) Crunchyroll
Holmes of Kyoto (Genre: Drama, Romance, Suspense, Slice of Life) Crunchyroll

Supernatural or Fantasy Slice of Life
Orenchi no Furo Jijo: Merman in My Tub (Genre: Comedy, Fantasy) Crunchyroll
Jingai-san no Yome: Non-Human Creature’s Wife (Genre: Comedy, Romance?, Fantasy) Crunchyroll
Poco’s Udon Shop (Genre: Slice of Life, Drama, Supernatural) Crunchyroll/FUNimation
How to Raise a Mummy (Genre: Slice of Life, Supernatural, Drama) Crunchyroll
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. (Genre: Comedy, School Life, Supernatural) Netflix/FUNimation

Have you watched any of these anime? If so, who are your favorite characters and what kept you watching the show(s) until the end?


Black Nerds Expo 2019

Black Nerds Expo 2019



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 for free!

Here is what the expo will offer:

-Play games

-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?

Please email or complete an exhibitor application at to register a representative to participate in the Black Nerds Expo. There is limited space, so please contact Jd Banks as soon as possible.


How much is it to reserve a table?

It’s free! We don’t want tabling or exhibiting fees to be a barrier for exhibiting. Please contact Jd Banks at 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)

MiraCosta College

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 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 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.

Black Nerds Expo Supporters

IDW Publishing

Right Stuf

Evoluzione Publishing

Black Sci-Fi

MiraCosta College

Gurren Lagann to Debut on Toonami

gurrenlagannSANTA MONICA, CA (July 19, 2014) –Aniplex of America, Inc. has announced today that the legendary TV anime series GURREN LAGANN, will debut on Adult Swim’s TOONAMI™ Saturday line-up this August. The first episode will premiere on August 16th at 2:00am EST.

From the SAME team that brought us KILL la KILL, GURREN LAGANN comes from the genius minds of Director Hiroyuki Imaishi and Script Writer/Series Composition Kazuki Nakashima. In response to its global popularity, the series was also adapted into two full-length films, Childhood’s End and The Lights in the Sky Are Stars. Aniplex of America re-released the GURREN LAGANN TV Series on home video last year featuring both the original Japanese and English dub which features many popular voice actors such as Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon), Kyle Hebert (as Kamina) and Michelle Ruff (as Yoko). This past July, Aniplex of America also released the GURREN LAGANN Movies in a Double Feature Blu-ray Set (Japanese Language only with English subtitles).

This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him….
In the distant future, mankind has lived quietly and restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are 2 young men: one named Simon who is shy and naïve, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!

For more details, please visit:

50 Questions: My Answers to an Anime Q&A

Found this on Ephemeral Dreams‘s blog and thought it would be fun to do. Updated 5/27/2020. 

1. Who is your favorite male anime character?

Toss up between Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach and Ulquiorra Schifer from Bleach. I love Izuku Midoriya, aka Deku, from My Hero Academia for his positivity and not being a mindless punching or smiling machine 

2. Who is your favorite female character?

I have so many female favorites! Clare from Claymore and Momo Yaoyorozu from My Hero Academia and Ryo Miyakozuka from Otomen and Sakura from Naruto Shippuuden. I love strong and smart women.

3. What is your favorite anime soundtrack?

Love all of Bleach and NANA‘s music. I’m also liking lots of the music from Carole and Tuesday.

4. What is your favorite anime opening + animation?

“D-tecnolife” by UVERworld on Bleach.

5. What is your favorite anime ending song + animation?

“Gravity” by Maaya Sakamoto from Wolf’s Rain.

6. What is your favorite anime scene?

Absolutely love the final fight between Ichigo and Ulquiorra in Bleach…Can you tell that I’m a Bleach fan?

Here’s another scene: A piano begins to play as a girl on a motorcycle swings her bike through giant robots. She delivers deadly blow as she makes her machine dance to the music. This scene was the last action scene in RideBack.

7. If you could meet an anime character who would it be?


8. What anime character is most similar to you in terms of personality?

Even though he’s a guy, I relate the most to Kazuhiko Fay Ryu from CLAMP’s Clover.

9. What is your favorite thing about anime?

The transformation of characters (Level up! Level up!), the fun factor, the storytelling, the animation…so many things… 

10. What is your least favorite thing about anime?

The over-done themes with high school students, ranks, and main characters being sucked into a parallel magical world. There are other people and storylines in the world!

11. Who are your favorite anime couple?

Nana (Hachiko) and Nobuo from NANA.

12. Who is your favorite anime animal?

Kilala from Inuyasha.

13. What anime would make a good game?

Redline and Onepunch-man (not as Jump Force). 

14. What game would make a good anime?

Soul Calibur.

15. What was the first anime you ever watched?

Old school Sailor Moon!

16. Do you think you’ll ever stop watching anime?

Well, in the long run, no, but I’ve watched less and less anime and started to read more and more manga as I’ve matured, so…

17. What is your favorite genre of anime?


18. What is your least favorite genre of anime?


19. Are you open about watching anime with people you know?

I used to be, but now, I’m not. It’s mine, mine!

20. Have you ever been to Japan?

Um, I lived in Japan for 5 years and not having to do with the military…

21. What anime was the biggest let down for you?

SkyCrawlers. Slowest. Anime. Ever.

22. What anime was better then expected?

Law of Ueki.

23. What is the best anime fight scene?

Ichigo Kurosaki versus transformed Ulquiorra Schifer in Hueco Mundo from Bleach. I think I noted this already…just love it way too much.

24. Who is your anime waifu?

Um, I have a husband, so… Major from Ghost in the Shell?

25. What was your favorite video game as a child?

Tetris (the only game I could beat my brothers at because I’m a spatial learner), DDR (the only game I could beat my brothers at on the controllers), Soul Calibur (the only game I could beat my brothers at without them having a handicap), Mortal Kombat (the only game that motivated me to win against my brothers so I could do the most awesomest kill scenes), Killer Instinct (the only game I could beat my brothers at as a female character), and Street Fighter II Turbo (the only game I could never beat my brothers at). My brothers really beat the crap out of me with video games…

Questions about me

26. Most Embarrassing moment?

One day from my first year in college, I was sitting in my drawing class, and everyone was quietly working on their projects. I remember the class being completely silent when I farted.

27a. Can you drive?

In the U.S. and Japan!

27b. Do you own a car?

Yes! A Scion! (It was free. If I could choose a car, I’d like a Skyline.)

28. Are you mature?


29. What year were you born?


30. Do you prefer cats or dogs?

Cats. They’re smart and take no shit.

31. Describe yourself physically.

Short, brown skin, black hair, brown eyes, curvy, athletic build, and round face.

32. What would you name your first child?

None. Don’t plan on having kids. I’d like to keep my money, individuality, and sanity.

33. What is the worst injury you have ever had?

Tore my ACL in both knees.

34. What is your worse habit?

I procrastinate when I get too much work. I usually read manga or watch anime (in three days, I watched over 100 episodes of Bleach during Finals Week). Why? Because I know I can do whatever work in, like, 30 minutes. 

35. Do you drink or smoke?

Nope! I like to keep my money in wallet and my health, well, healthy.

36. Do you have a tattoo?


37. Are you a morning person or a night person?

Both! I can wake up with the alarm and I can stay up and work.

38. Have you ever slept past midday?

Yep! It’s called going to sleep late.

39. Do you regret anything?

Yes! What person doesn’t? But if you can move past it, even use your regrets to fuel your future, things should turn out OK.

40. Can you count the number of friends you have on one hand?

How about a closed one? 

41. Do you wear glasses?

Yup! And contacts, too.

42. Are you a picky eater?

No, but I definitely don’t like corn beef hash. Gross.

43. Would you die for someone?

My husband…after he stops annoying me.

44. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Unbreakable body.

45. Do you believe in the supernatural?


46. Would you rather be rich or famous?

Rich, not famous. Too much baggage with fame.

47. Have you ever committed a crime.

Yup, stealing a pack of gum when I was seven. Forgot I had it in my hand before we walked out the store.

48. Pirates or ninjas?

Totally ninjas! Why? Because I have a black cat named Ninja! Plus, they’re so quiet, you don’t even know they’re there (unlike my cat).

49. Does someone have a crush on you?

Any guy or gal with lots of muscles…

50. Are you in a relationship?

My marriage license says I am.

Becoming Illiterate: The Real Adventure in Japan

It’s funny to hear anime and manga fans say earnestly, “I want to go to Japan!” Images of giant mecha and tiny Japanese maids follows along with rows and rows of kawaii and strangely adorable fashion. But honestly, that’s tourist stuff.

When anyone who hasn’t learned Japanese enters Japan to live for a long time, the reality sets in: “I’m illiterate!” It’s not like going to Mexico and seeing things remarkably close to English–Ingles is English–but more like dropping into a realm of complicated characters and incoherent yet noble English phrases.

The language barrier is a big obstacle for expats in Japan, especially the ones who have never studied Japanese. Besides romaji, the Romanized Japanese alphabet, non-Japanese-speakers won’t be able to read anything. Foreigners become virtually illiterate. The newspapers, the restaurant menus, even the manga become sources of frustration. “I can’t read!!”

For book worms like myself, it’s been challenging trying to overcome my Japanese illiteracy. In some ways, I’ve had to sacrifice my English literacy to close the gap. Instead of reading books in English, I’ve opted to study Japanese. It took me a month to memorize all of the characters in hiragana followed by another month of remembering all of the characters in katakana. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The fourth writing system in Japan is kanji, characters originating from China, and it’s the writing system that adorns stores, food packages, billboards, and signs. No one, even tourists, can’t escape kanji in Japan. It’s everywhere.

And kanji is where the illiteracy begins to take an ugly turn. Kanji has two readings, on-reading and kun-reading. On-reading, or on-yomi, is the Chinese way of reading kanji. Kun-reading, or kun-yomi, uses the pronunciation of the existing native Japanese word. As one of my co-workers explained to me, the way that most people know which reading is which, is by seeing the sequence of the characters. Most of the time, two kanji together gives the words the on-reading, but by themselves, they’re pronounced using the kun-reading. An example is using the kanji for “mother”,  母, pronounced haha in kun-reading. However, if “mother” is coupled with another kanji, 国, or “country”, the pronunciation changes to the on-reading, bokoku (母国), or “mother country”. To be frank, learning kanji is really difficult. Even some Japanese people tell me, “Even some Japanese people don’t know kanji.”

But there’s something endearing about kanji. Maybe it’s because of the difficulty that I’ve grown to accept it not as a hulking obstacle in my life in Japan, but as a part of the culture. I decided to try and learn as much kanji as I possibly can before I return to the United States. Some ways I’ve been slowly acquiring the meanings and readings of kanji is simply by asking my co-workers. “What does this mean? How do you say this?” (And this is where I get the same statement–“Even some Japanese people don’t know kanji.”)

So far, the best way I’ve been learning kanji besides by shameless questions is by reading manga. Some manga use furigana. It’s a small set of kana (hiragana and katakana) that shows the reading of kanji. Furigana is useful for elementary students and Japanese learners. The difference between learning kanji from a kanji practice book and a manga is pretty big. With kanji practice books, there’s little fun in them. Just memorize the stroke order, or how it’s written, and write it over and over again until it becomes second nature. However, manga has a more gratifying result. A story unfolds within each learned kanji, and the practical way that characters are used can easily become imprinted in one’s head. I’m learning Japanese idioms and new words with every manga I read in its original, untranslated form–something that would take years to learn in a Japanese class.

But I’m still a long way from being literate in Japanese, and so is every other foreigner who’s never studied Japanese in Japan. The rows and rows of kawaii can easily turn into rows of kowaii, so tourists and anime fans, beware. Study Japanese before you come to Japan.

Anime and Manga is Funnier When You Get It

Since I was twelve years old, I enjoyed watching anime and reading manga. Fourteen years later, I still watch  anime and read manga, but now, I enjoy them in Japan–and they’ve taken a whole new dimension in my eyes. Anime and manga are actually funnier than I realized!

One series that has Japanese culture bombarding every page in big and small ways is Great Teacher Onizuka, or G.T.O. for short. Blow-up dolls, booty grabbers, and bad boys of Japan spring up in a rather simple premise. Among them are the comical antics of the main character, teacher-in-training Eikichi Onizuka. Somehow, the stupid yet charming things he manages to pull off in a rigid society like Japan makes me laugh.

What a bad Japanese application looks like.

What a bad Japanese application looks like.

In one part of the second volume, Onizuka submits his application for a teaching position at an academy. One look at it, and you’d think, “OK, here’s an honest applicant with zero experience.” It’s truthful, but what makes it funny is how some poor applicant in Japan will take this at face value and submit an application identical to this one. As tempting as it is to copy the anime or manga lifestyle, the sad reality is it’s not reality.

If you’re like me, and you’re inside the Japanese educational system, you’d probably change that line to, “This guy is a dumb-ass.” Everything is wrong with the application! You don’t write what you honestly think. Just write what the interview panel wants to read. You don’t put “my physical body” as a personal attribute. What does that have to do with teaching? And you definitely, under no circumstances, use a cute perikura picture for the required picture–it’s obviously not to size.

Aside from G.T.O., many series have cultural points laid out for foreign readers like the hierarchical system in addressing people (i.e. Tanaka-san, Tanaka-kun, Tanaka-chan) and references to Japanese history or pop culture. Some cultural points can’t be explained, but rather, seen firsthand. For example, seeing characters fall over suddenly when someone says something stupid or ridiculous seems to belong in anime and manga. The keel-over reaction is something I’ve seen at work in Japan again and again. Another piece of Japanese culture that most fans readily identify with is the panty vending machines. I’ve only seen one in a ladies’ changing room at a hot springs resort, but other than that, they don’t exist on every corner of Japan. Cigarette and soft drink vending machines can be seen every kilometer you go in Japan.

I started reading a manga called ARISA about a junior high school student by the same name with an outgoing personality. In the first read, I grasped the story and the characters, but in the second read, I noticed some mundane parts of the manga that are hilarious—that is, if you know the cultural significance of it. Arisa clobbers some boys for throwing a carton onto the ground, something that is illegal in many parts of Japan. I found myself encouraging the boys’ clobbering. “Get ‘em, Arisa! They didn’t recycle!” But only if you’ve lived in Japan could you find that funny while claiming a moral responsibility towards the situation.

Although there are some things that are pretty dead-on between Japanese animation and Japanese culture, the funniest part about it all relies on the cultural points—and how much you get them. Once I was able to understand the real situations from living in Japan, anime and manga took on a different significance.

The Katsudon of my (Anime) Dreams

One of the teachers took me to a family restaurant that sold katsudon (かつどん), a dish that’s common in anime and manga.
What is it besides a common anime and manga dish? It’s deep-fried chicken over eggs, rice and onions. It can be made in different ways, but it’s delicious anyways.
This katsudon was huge! It was as big as my face, and it came with miso soup and a small dish of pickled radish. For all of that food, I only paid 500 円 (around $5). What a deal! I only finished half, and I felt so guilty for not finishing it. Normally someone would say, “Mottainai”, which is a way of saying, “What a waste”, but thankfully no one did. (^_^)v

Buying Anime Gifts on a Budget

‘Tis the season to be jolly–or to be more exact, to be mall-y. It’s the holiday season, and that means, buying gifts for friends and family. Unfortunately, if you’re still new to shopping for your anime-lover friend or brother or sister, the mall is the last place I would go to shop. Why? Because it’s expensive! Imagine paying $10–whole price–for a manga volume! Well, if you’re on a budget and paying that much for manga, anime, or Japan-related gifts isn’t something that’s on your Christmas list, I would heed a few points that I’ve learned from buying some great gifts.

Before you head out there, actually make a list of who you’re buying what for. If you make a list, you’re likely to stick with that list instead of buying impulsively and spending all of your money. Also, you should set a price limit as to what you want to buy for each person.

Now that you know more about what to do before shopping, on with the tips!

1. If you have time, go online. There are a lot of websites out there that offer deals just for buying merchandise from them. Websites like and offer savings on anime, manga, apparel, and Japan-related items. And before you decide to roam their pages, sign up for an account with them. You can get additional deals just for making a new account. Re-sell sites, like and, offer new manga and anime for cheaper prices outside of regular retailer websites. For instance, you could buy a Bakuman Volume 1 manga for less than $3 on, versus getting it at $7.49 ( or $9.99 (retailer). The only thing about shopping online is making sure the shipping fee is reasonable, if any, and that the package will arrive on time.

If you’re worried about receiving the gift by Christmas, I would suggest getting a gift certificate. If the gift certificates are still shipped, the shipping fees are really low and it’s more likely to arrive on time because it’s not a box. On some websites, gift certificates aren’t sent out, like on They are sent to the purchaser via email, and all you have to do is print it out (on nice paper, I hope!) and wrap it like a Christmas gift. It takes the hassle out of buying a specific gift for your anime friend and they’ll appreciate not having to return an item they don’t like.

If you live outside of the United States, offers free shipping to all countries.

2. If you have time and got a dime, get in line. If you already booked yourself to go to a convention, make sure to remember your anime friends and family. For a list of your local anime convention, check out If you’re one of those people who don’t go to anime conventions, there’s always the option of going to your local comic book retailer (not a mall one, hopefully), and having them order the manga or anime, if it’s not available in the store. Normally, there isn’t an extra charge for ordering, but sometimes, a deposit of the item’s price will be asked, so come with some cash. In some towns and cities, there are also manga and anime stores. Although they don’t have as many deals as online websites, if you’ve signed up for a point card, you can earn some much-needed points on your Christmas purchases.

3. No dime, no time, draw a line. If you don’t have money but you have some artistic skills, like drawing, painting, or even using Adobe Illustrator, make them a gift. You can personalize it to your choice, and it’s something original for your friend or family to keep. If it’s drawing or computer-generated images, just make sure to frame the piece or put it in a plastic sleeve like the ones used for American comic books (any comic book retailer can sell it to you for less than $1 each).  If you have left over clay or plaster, sculpt a figurine of their favorite anime character, use acrylic paint to color it, and let it dry. Presto! You have a gift that didn’t take hours to construct and zero dollars to make.

Using Anime Influences in the Classroom

I’m a big anime and manga fan. I try to put anime into anything I can: art projects, interior decorum, notebook doodles, anything really. Now that I’m an English teacher, I get to expand all things anime into a new area–the Japanese classroom.
You might be wondering, “How does Japanese animation work in a Japanese classroom with Japanese students?” Speaking English is the first step. Although most students don’t speak and understand English, they know their anime. Using words from the anime puts them on track to understanding something, anything.
For example, I did a Halloween lesson about Venetian masks. I did a Venetian mask of Bleach’s Vizard mask. “The Vizards in Bleach have masks.” Maybe students will recognize the words “Vizards”, “Bleach”, and “masks”, and with the visuals, they can put two and two together. Plus, anime has become a medium for teaching, and students can relate to something within their generation. Already, most things in Japan have illustrative instructions, and you can see some recognizable mangaka’s work on something as mundane as hair dye. Bringing a little bit of their world into a class setting with English makes it all more relatable.
Even grammar lessons, like “Are you…” and “What is … doing this Saturday?” works wonders in getting the students to pay attention. I know for anime fans/English teachers like myself, I have fun with it every class lessons.

10 Things to Learn from Living in Japan

Being an English teacher in Japan, I’ve learned a few things from living in the Land of the Rising Sun that you can’t learn from Japanese anime, manga, or video games.

1. The students and people aren’t like the characters from anime, manga, and video games. You won’t see anyone carrying a samurai sword or wearing ninja costumes randomly on the streets. It’s more likely you’ll see a non-Japanese person wear these things than a Japanese person.

Tiny White Fish

Tiny White Fish (from "A box of kitchen" blog)

2. Watch out what you eat! If you are allergic to anything or you specifically can’t eat anything, you’ll have to state it before they give it to you, or come prepared. My husband hates these tiny white fishes that have black eyes. They don’t have tails when you eat them, so they look like worms. He absolutely can’t eat them, and when he finds that his rice and soup is mixed with them, he can’t eat it. My thing, like many non-Japanese people, is natto, which is a type of sticky bean produced opposite of miso. Either way, just be prepared to eat some unusual meals!

3. Don’t be a vegan and come to Japan. Many teachers I’ve met who are vegan have it hard in Japan. In general, Japanese food is loaded with veggies, but they also coat things in some type of animal-derived sauce or soup. Miso soup, for instance, is from a bean paste, but it uses a type of pork stock. In Okinawa, it’s especially hard to be a vegan because the diet has influences from China, Korea, and the United States, so instead of the conventional boiled egg, the egg will have a ball of meat in the middle and coated to be fried.

4. English classics are easy to find. If you’re looking for some English literature, like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, How to Kill a Mockingbird, and books of those caliber, you can find them at the local bookstores. Most likely, they’ll be a bilingual edition or have complicated English words translated into Japanese. A lot of the time, these bilingual editions are for students wanting to study for their eiken exams or college entrance exams, but you can utilize them just for some leisurely reading.

5. Make friends with people in military places. There are things that you’ll miss from your home country, and the best place to get them without paying an arm and a leg through Amazon or eBay is at the military base. Some military folks are just so happy to see another non-Japanese person, they’ll befriend you rather easily and allow you to go onto base with them. Of course, this mostly applies to people in Okinawa where military bases are as common as sushi restaurants, but if you happen to come across someone in mainland Japan, utilize that resource!

6. If you’re going to stay in Japan for a while, learn some Japanese before you get to Japan. If you’re in your home country and you can learn Japanese, take advantage of it. Getting a Japanese tutor or taking JSL, or Japanese as a Second Language, courses can get expensive and time-consuming. Plus, in your home country, learning Japanese can be more comfortable in your usual atmosphere than in a foreign one. This is one of my pet peeves, since many teachers from the JET Programme are sent Japanese books to self-study before arriving in Japan. However useful these books are, most JET teachers don’t even study them, yet, they complain about not being able to understand anything. Even knowing things like “My name is…” and “Please wait” are extremely helpful to both you and the Japanese folks you’re communicating with. Let’s avoid the frustration and crack open the books!

7. Presentation, plastic, and packaging will be everywhere. In Japan, a lot of things are based off of presentation. For example, burgers at McDonald’s actually look like the pictures that are advertised. Part of looking good is the packaging. And within the packaging is the plastic. You’ll find that even cookies will be individually wrapped. Sometimes, things like onigiri, or a rice ball, will have arrows showing how to unwrap it. It’s amazing at first–everything is because you’re in Japan!–but after a while, it’s like, “Oh, it’s individually wrapped…again.” Shrink wrap should just be for CDs.

8. Though there are anime and manga advocating giant robots and mecha, Japan isn’t as technologically-advanced as everyone thinks. Sure, there are hyper-fast bullet trains, and yes, the cell phones are practically hand-held computers now. But just because there are more gadgets doesn’t mean that there are cars or cell phones ready to transform into some type of freedom fighter.

9. Respect for the environment beats out any green movement. For the 1964 Summer Olympics, Japan built a stadium in Tokyo. For every tree that was displaced by the building, a tree was planted somewhere else. Even things like trash day is a way to preserve the environment. Cans, bottles, and newspapers are separated. Even milk cartons are unfolded and recycled. Schools reuse copier paper packages for re-packaging leftover school milks. Tissue boxes are converted into sanitary napkin holders. Everything has the ability to be reused or recycled in Japan, so be weary of just throwing things out. They still have life!

Pedestrian Light10. Everyone follows the rules. When the pedestrian light turns red, people don’t cross–even if there are no cars and the distance to the other side is merely a few steps away. Of course, there are a few stranglers who influence the others, but mostly, everyone follows the rules and stays put.

Experiment Bleach

Experimenting with using watered down black acrylic paint for a simple Bleach sketch. I gave it to a 3年生, or third year student (9th grader), at the school I work at, and he freaked out! When I handed it to him, a whole bunch of his classmates surrounded him to look at it. When English class started, the folder got circulated around silently before he placed it on his desk and admired it for most of English class. When class ended, he held up the folder with both hands, went around class trying to figure out if he should post it somewhere, then returned to me and said “Thank you” in Japanese. He went back outside, showed some more students, then came back to me and repeated “Thank you” before showing some more kids. I was really surprised by his reaction, but I was also glad that he liked it so much!