February and March Anime!

I missed my post for February because I was lazy/ busy/ whatever, so I’m just gonna throw in what I watched from then in this post as well.

So let’s see… I watched the rest of Fate/Zero, Fantasia Doll, started Cowboy Bebop, and watched the available Nyanbo episodes. I’ve let Trickster episodes pile up so I can watch them all at once, I’ll get around to that once I finish Cowboy Bebop.

Fate/Zero was pretty amazing. I watched it kind of a while ago now so I can’t recall all of the details, but the animation was gorgeous, the magic was really cool, the characters were great, and the story was pretty good. It’s basically about some preset magical war that begins between a couple magical houses. They get to summon these cool “avatars” based off of historical figures that fight on their behalf. It ended a lot differently than I expected, but looking back on it, I think that may have been because I was so caught up in the story that I didn’t see the hints.

Fantasia Doll was alright, but it was a little too cutesy and cliche for my tastes. It reminded me of Cardcaptor Sakura (in a good way) and though they kind of used the card aspect a little differently than most card game animes, it still feels weird to watch an anime about people playing a card game.

Cowboy Bebop is great so far, but I’m only a couple episodes in so I’ll talk about that once I’m done or at least further through.

I’ve saved talking about Nyanbo for last because I love, love, love this show. It is most definitely a kids cartoon and the episodes are only five minutes long, but it’s just so loveable. From what I can tell, the actual plot is very minimal. The characters are these box-looking “alien” not-cats that act like cats and have strange powers. They don’t know why or how they came to Earth, but one of the main characters is set on them rebuilding their UFO so they can get back into space. And they actually do find UFO pieces throughout the show. I don’t know, it’s just adorable and funny and super easy to get into, so I guess that’s why I like it. 🙂

Well, that’s all I’ve watched for now!

~Erynn

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A Japanese Journal

I’ve been considering for a while getting a journal for me to write exclusively in Japanese since I want to get into using the language regularly and improving upon my use of grammar, kanji, etc. When I first had this idea, I was pretty sure I had an extra notebook laying around and went to go look for it, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find it. So, for the last couple weeks, I’ve been thinking about buying a nice cute one that’s actually Japanese and uses Japanese inside the notebook.

What I ended up getting was a Hobonichi Techo, a planner, not a notebook, but one that has note pages. Since I was considering getting a handwritten planner anyway, I figured this would be a really good in-between and guarantee that I’ll actually use it. I’ll post pictures of the one I got on Instagram once it arrives– it should be here in the next couple of days. 🙂

~Erynn

My Progress in Japanese so Far

I’ve been studying Japanese for about five months now so I thought I’d give a little update on my progress. The first few months were really easy, as everything I learned was very basic and pretty much just an introduction to the language. However, things have started getting a little difficult, and unfortunately, my dyslexia has not been helpful with trying to remember all the little grammar rules and such.

I know about 150 kanji now, and while I don’t think I’ve really mastered any of those just yet, I know most of them well enough to write them, read them, and know what they mean all from memory. I’m pretty pleased with that achievement even when 150 is hardly a fraction of the 2200~ or so kanji that need to be mastered in order to be fluent in Japanese (at least for reading and writing). I think my reading and writing is still really strong, even if I’m struggling with some aspects of the grammar because my kanji vocab is currently a little larger than it needs to be for my current progress through my Japanese university courses.

While I’m struggling a little bit with the speaking and listening aspects still, this is mostly because of my issues with mastering the grammar rules that we’ve been learning in class. I’m not sure that there’s really an equivalent to it in English, but in Japanese, generally speaking, the longer the tenses and conjugations of the words your speaking or writing, the politer you are being. Polite (long form) Japanese is what we’ve been learning first because if you use anything else, you run the risk of offending someone, which you don’t really want to do. Some words in this form end up being a bit of a mouthful… such as “yoroshikuonegaishimasu” which is more or less said in one breath. But despite the tenses being long, they’re pretty easy to remember and use, so it generally ended up not being a problem.

The issue, for me, has come with the casual form, which we’ve started learning over the last three or so weeks. This new form ends up cutting a lot from words and phrases that I’ve previously learned, which ends up making them shorter and therefore less polite. You’d think that would make it easier to remember– and I thought so too at first– but it’s ended up being really tricky because you need to combine a bunch of things together to get different forms of the casual tense (such as negative and past, etc).

This can be really tricky because 90% of the verbs we’ve learned conjugate different from one another, so that’s another eight forms of each verb that we need to know, or at least remember the rules for, in order to talk or write in this new form. That’s without mentioning that in Japanese, adjectives are also conjugated, so eight different forms for the two different adjective types need to be remembered as well.

Ugh.

Overall I think I’m doing alright, but I’ve been a little stressed about it and I don’t remember things as well when I’m stressed, so that’s made it a little harder. But I’m slowly figuring it out, and I’m working on it every day, so I’m sure it’ll work out. 🙂

~Erynn

January Animes!

I’ve been trying to make time to watch a lot of anime lately because I think it’s pretty useful for learning mannerisms, and it’s good listening practice. I’m starting to recognize a decent amount of words (even if it sometimes takes me a little while to figure out what they are, once I’ve recognized them) which feels pretty good.

Anyway, since January is just about done, I figured I’d just quickly mentioned what anime I made it through this month.

I finished Yuri on Ice, Izetta the Last Witch, Mob Psycho 100, and made it through all the available Trickster episodes.

Yuri on Ice was pretty cute. It’s a short anime focused on figure skating and stuff, but I thought the characters were pretty great, even though they don’t do much more than skate and hang out sometimes.

Izetta the Last Witch is probably one of my current favourites. It’s a fantastical, alternate history that takes place during WW2. I loved the characters in this as well, and I thought the magic was pretty sweet.

Mob Psycho 100 was super confusing and funny. Like I mean it wasn’t confusing in a bad way, things made sense most of the time, but sometimes things just happened and they seemed completely random at first but they eventually mostly make sense. It was strange, but I liked the premise a lot.

Trickster was alright. I thought this was especially helpful for helping with my listening since it was a lot closer to slice-of-life than any of the others I watched (even though this is technically sci-fi) as it followed the lives of some students and their detective shenanigans. I honestly thought it was done at 13 episodes but it seems to be continuing on, so I guess I’ll see where that goes.

I also started Fate/Zero and made it through the first two episodes, but I was doing homework and not really watching so I think I need to go back and start again. It looked cool, though. I just need to pay more attention because there seems to be a lot going on, haha. 🙂

Gonna keep trying to get through as much anime as possible. Not only for the practice but because there’s a lot of stuff that I need to catch up on since I haven’t been watching all that much over the last couple of years.

~Erynn

Learning Japanese

I never wanted to learn a second language.

Nothing against other languages or cultures or anything. I suppose it just stems from the terrible, mandatory French classes from middle/high school. More often than not the teachers were awful, and there was a new one each year. Never knew what to expect.

It’s more than that, though. I’m pretty dyslexic and one of the things I really, really suck at because of it is grammar. I’m mostly okay with English because it’s what I use every day and grammar check is a thing, but I still struggle with some of the basics, and that definitely carries over into learning a new language. It was the main reason French was hell for me, and it’s no different with Japanese.

So– why, Erynn, do you put yourself through such hell if you don’t even want to learn a second language?

The answer is simple: Because to get an Arts degree of any type, a second language is mandatory. Pretty shitty. I mean, for most people it’s probably not a big deal… They could just take French, and it’s no big deal because they probably learned something in high school and can bullshit their way through half the course, anyway.

I have a friend, who is probably an exception to anything regarding languages. She knows French, Spanish, English, and is currently taking Japanese with me. Oh and she’s a science student, which I’m pretty sure does not have a second language requirement. I kinda wish I could learn languages so frivolously, I think it would be fun to learn a dozen languages and travel the world and actually be able to communicate with people who don’t know a word of English.

Japanese ended up being my second language choice, surprisingly enough. See, because I’m going to school specifically for creative writing, I’m trying to make sure every moment I spend there benefits my writing in some way. Learning a second language has a LOT of potential to help my writing simply because the diversity of language I could use in the text. I actually really really wanted to learn Greek and Latin so I could pull some shenanigans with writing magical spells and such, but unfortunately it was not offered at UBCO, at least this year.

So Japanese it was. A good second choice, I feel, because Japanese is a beautiful, visual language with a relatively simple pronunciation system. That was one thing I really hated about French, too. Everything sounded fucking different, and I could never remember how to associate the various sounds with whatever combinations there were.

I started learning Japanese in the summer before classes started. Because of my previous interest in anime and manga and the like, I already had the pronunciation down, and even a few words under my belt. I started with learning hiragana and katakana, which are two of the three writing systems in Japanese, but they are more like a phonetic alphabet than anything else.

So those are stuff like…. ねこ (neko = cat) and ともだち (tomodachi = friend) for hiragana, and stuff like… サラダ (sarada = salad) and エリン (erin = Erynn) for katakana. Hiragana is used to spell words that are native to the Japanese, whereas katakana is used for foreign words, hence my example being my name.

In addition to taking the Japanese classes, I’ve been using two online self-teaching websites called TextFugu and WaniKani. Their focuses are much different from what I learn in class, but I find that they are excellent for reinforcing what I learn outside of those lessons. TextFugu seems to be more focused on grammar and vocabulary, so it’s somewhat similar to what I learn in class, which is a more generalized approach that gets all the basics down. WaniKani, though, focuses exclusively on kanji radicals, kanji, and kanji vocabulary, because it’s kanji that makes learning Japanese a bitch.

Kanji are Chinese characters that have more or less been assimilated into the Japanese language. So that makes kanji complicated because not only do they have Japanese readings, they have Chinese readings, both of which are used when speaking, writing, and reading Japanese. That means that a single kanji can have more than two readings, depending on the context, and considering there’s over 1000 basic kanji that need to be memorized for you to “know” the language, that’s a lot of shit you’ve gotta memorize.

I haven’t had too much trouble with kanji so far, but I know I’ve barely touched the subject. I’m careful about what kanji I learn outside of what I need to know for my classes because I don’t want to get in over my head with learning stuff I don’t need to know just yet. That runs a significant risk of me getting overwhelmed, which is a big no-no that I’d very much like to avoid– and have thus far.

I think my writing and reading are superb. Except for grammar, which I sometimes need to think about, but I’ve learned a couple tricks that help with memorizing what is used where. So there’s that.

My listening and speaking, however, need some work. I was doing well enough until November where the transit strike here in Kelowna stopped me from attending class as much as I would have liked, and that was where I was getting the much-needed speaking and listening practice. My listening is absolute trash.  I get so caught up on listening to one part of the sentence that I forget the rest of what was said. That ends up with a confused Erynn since it’s usually the beginning of the sentence that I remember, and in Japanese, it’s the ending of a sentence that determines what a statement or question actually means.

Speaking isn’t so bad, I’ve got a large enough vocabulary to make basic sentences and ask questions and the like. Sometimes it takes me some time to think about what I want to say and what order all the words go in, but my pronunciation is generally top-notch. When I don’t know how to say something, though, all my Japanese gets thrown out the window and I think in English mode. This really sucks because I have a unique way of speaking and it doesn’t translate so well into Japanese while I have a very limited vocabulary. I’m working on it, though, so hopefully by the end of the school year, I’ll be able to work around what I want to say in English and find a way to say it in Japanese without resorting to using English instead.

So that’s that, I suppose. I’m really enjoying the learning curve that comes with Japanese, and I hope to stick it through to the end and eventually become fluent. I’ve got a couple reasons for that, but I’ll talk about that another day. 🙂

Oh yeah, happy holidays everyone. Hope you have a pleasant break with your family and friends, or have had a good time on your lonesome if that’s your thing.

~Erynn

 

Sword Art Online — Aincrad

I read the Sword Art Online light novels after watching the anime series, but I didn’t know until I picked up the first book that the novels were actually written before a manga or anime adaption was made. I found that pretty interesting.

The novels, like the anime, are about a group of hardcore gamers who are unable to log out of the very first Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (VRMMORPG for short). It’s announced, as soon as people begin to panic, that being unable to log out from the game is a “feature” and not a bug. It’s also stated that anyone who dies inside the game dies in real life.

Virtual reality is something that fascinates me, so naturally, I found the story very interesting. All of the main characters struggled with adapting to the virtual world in their own way, but in the first Aincrad novel we follow the efforts of Kirito, a solo player who avoids grouping with other players at all costs. I found Kirito’s personality to be a bit cliche– he came off as your typical hero who has to save everyone– but I’ve come to accept that stories sometimes need to use cliches and so I ignored it.

Being a gamer myself, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of world building that was involved in the novels. Supposedly there are 100 floors in Aincrad for the players to beat, but the real story begins around chapter 2 where we jump straight to floor 70-something. I was eager to read about the different boss battles they encountered and the initial panic of the playerbase when they’re locked in the game (some of which is addressed in the anime instead of the light novels). I wanted to read more about Kirito and his adventures, but the story was often driven toward the good deeds he did for other people than the selfish things he did for himself.

I think the story could have been written better. I felt like, even though the author did very well on some accounts, not everything I was expecting/ wanting out of the story was accomplished. I still intend to read all of the other light novels in hopes of instances being more detailed further on in the story, but there is a decent wait time on the English translations.

I’d like to tackle my own virtual reality story sometime, though with the current list of stories I’ve got to write, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.

Have any of you read the Sword Art Online books or watched the anime? What are your thoughts?

~Erynn