Sunday, May 10, 2015

POM Samurai

I just saw one of POM's latest commercials on TV and was pleasantly surprised to hear some Japanese!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A hollow victory!

Barring a sudden society-ending solar flare or other such cataclysm, I wager that my offspring will one day know the torments of Mario's parties, and the worth of their associated victories.

I've probably said it before, but one of the things I love about studying Japanese (though this probably applies more broadly to language study in general) is the discovery of similarities. Some English expressions are exactly or nearly the same as Japanese expressions, in literal construction.

Here's such a one:

むなしい勝利(しょうり), which means "hollow victory." むなしい has some interesting applications:

むなしい夢 - the futile dream of relying on your skill to achieve Mario Party victory.

Friday, April 10, 2015

DC Sakura Matsuri

I just wanted to write a few words on my recent, protracted silence. For a couple of years now I've been the volunteer chairman for  JETAADC. It's been a good experience; I've had fun and made friends, but now I need to recapture a little of my time and energy to redirect to other spheres of my life.

There have been a few loose ends for me to tie down (I have been expending all my writing juices on emails and other materials, thus no blog posts!), and my current role will be nearly finished after tomorrow, with the annual Sakura Matsuri Street Festival in DC. You see, this year the JET Program will finally have a formal presence. There are always a ton of JET alumni volunteering throughout the event, but now we'll have our own table, of which I've been one of the primary organizers. We're going to be disseminating promotional materials, and awarding prizes (while supplies last) in exchange for the answering of Japan-related trivia questions.

We're also going to have pins available for JET alumn, although I wish we had some way to "announce" their availability to all who qualify.

So if you're in the DC area, stop on by the Festival. And be sure to visit us for a JET sticker and some candy.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My first (book) translation credit

Forest Sprite David the Gnome

I'll admit, I tend to be a bit critical of TV programming these days. Sure, there are some great shows, but there's also a lot of crap. Thanks, reality TV. I also don't think very highly of kids' shows, and that's an opinion I've heard echoed by my peers. "They just don't make shows like they used to."

People my age reminisce about cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joe, He-Man, Doug, and Rugrats, to name a few. Just between us, I've done back and rewatched parts of some of those shows...and a big part of our feeling have to do with nostalgia. And when we were younger, we watched those shows through our children-eyes. If I were a kid growing up today, maybe I'd love SpongeBob.

Anyway, regardless of objective quality, one of the shows I remember most fondly from my early childhood is David the Gnome. From what I recall, it was a cartoon about this gnome who lived in the forest and would ride around on his pet fox, helping out gnomes, animals, and other creatures. There were trolls, talking beasts, and magic; pretty cool for a show aimed at little kids. A quick YouTube search shows that all of the episodes are actually available to watch there. If that's still the case when I have a family, my brood will without a doubt be getting a taste of my childhood.

Apparently the show was adapted from a book, and was originally created in Spain. The English version starred Tom Bosley, who some of you might remember as the dad from Happy Days.

According to Wikipedia, there was also a Japanese dub that ran on NHK briefly in 1991 and then on Sun Television in 2003. Unfortunately I can't find any clips of the Japanese version online, but that's still pretty cool.

FYI, the Japanese title is 「森の妖精ノーム」, which means something like "The Gnome-Sprite of the Forest."

Image Source

Thursday, March 19, 2015


This is a discussion we've had before, though long ago. Portlandia nailed a similar issue.

Please. Watch:

Don't call yourself an otaku.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

All this Candy

As you may well know, I like me a good mobile game. That said, I never got into Candy Crush Saga. Maybe I'm too much of a game snob? Perhaps that's it. Candy Crush is for casual gamers. "Cassies." Or maybe I just have very specific tastes when it comes to match-3's. If there are no swords or goblins, I'm probably out.

So it should come as no surprise that I haven't played the latest chapter, Candy Crush Soda. Well, that's not entirely true. I played it on Mint's phone for about two minutes on some nefarious mode with ever-expanding, evil chocolate. Needless to say the chocolate was no match for my wiles.

Anyway, I was watching some recent Japanese commercials on YouTube and discovered that Candy Crush seems to be a hit over in J-Land, too. At least enough so to warrant ads on TV, which I've never seen in the US.

Here are two from the series. I'm not sure if they've all been aired around the same time or have been staggered.

In the first one, the sitting dude asks the fairy dude what the difference is between Candy Crush and Candy Soda. He is met with silence.

In the second one, the sitting dude is like "You're the Candy Soda fairy, right?" The fairy dude confirms that to be the case. Dude 1 then follows up, "So then how come you can't tell me how to clear stage 40?" The fairy dude then apologizes.