145: Konnichi wa, Nihon!

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Konnichi wa, Nihon!

"These guys wanted to learn Japanese in order to become a part of the otaku elite. They would probably leave class, put on costumes and head to an anime convention. They would walk around quoting lines from their favorite cartoons in Japanese, saying, 'I watched the original without subtitles' as they looked down their nose at those of us who watched the dubbed version. I wanted no part of this nerd caste system."

Read Full Article

Any media in its original language > subtitles > dubbing.

Dubbing things well is incredibly difficult, and on average, isn't done very well. At least with subtitles, you still get the emotional cues in the voices of the original players, which is often lost in a dub. And if you're lucky enough to speak the language, then fantastic.

As per the people looking down on you for not knowing the language? Definitely jerks. There are a lot of languages, and few people have the time to learn a few.

I have a friend who acts as a translator for a clothing firm over in Japan. Whenever I ask her about anime she says that being able to follow those cartoons is incredibly difficult even for someone fluent. Apparently, even by Japanese standards those cartoons are talking at Mach 10. Something about the budgets I guess.

Just that much more impressive to someone who wants to go that far in learning the language.

It's all well and good until you major in it. Then you have to deal with the otaku constantly disrupting class sessions with discussions about their favorite animu and telling exchange students about how Sasuke is totemo kawaii, making the rest of the class all look like nerds who just got in..because they wanted to watch anime. Luckily, most of them realize it's not as easy as they thought it would be and drop out in the first years.

L.B. Jeffries:
I have a friend who acts as a translator for a clothing firm over in Japan. Whenever I ask her about anime she says that being able to follow those cartoons is incredibly difficult even for someone fluent. Apparently, even by Japanese standards those cartoons are talking at Mach 10. Something about the budgets I guess.

Really, I find it quite the opposite. Quite a lot of anime is fairly clearly enunciated. They're talking in ScriptSpeak, like everyone on telly, no hesitation, no umming and ahhing and then falling over yourself to get what you wanted to say out. I only learned Japanese for a year, and I find that I can understand far more ScriptSpeak Japanese than I can, say, understand someone being interviewed in Japanese.

I have meet my share of Otaku's and fled in terror. I doubt i ever will be able to understand Japanese culture or why so many western people are obsessed by it. Isent modern Japanese culture sort of about copying western society?

Besides, German and Russian are possibly the coolest languages out there. *throws Dovstoevsky book at your head*

Anyway, good article.

doubt i ever will be able to understand Japanese culture or why so many western people are obsessed by it.

Anime has little to nothing to do with Japanese culture. That's as silly as saying American culture is summed up in Ducktales.

Carbon016:

Anime has little to nothing to do with Japanese culture. That's as silly as saying American culture is summed up in Ducktales.

HA! That's funny. Anyway, that was a great article, but it reminded me why I can't learn Japanese (I'm horrible with language. My dad has been trying to teach me Greeksince I was 3. Im 19 now. I know about 3 words)... Arrogant nerds... I wish we had those at my school.

Mstrswrd:

Carbon016:

Anime has little to nothing to do with Japanese culture. That's as silly as saying American culture is summed up in Ducktales.

HA! That's funny. Anyway, that was a great article, but it reminded me why I can't learn Japanese (I'm horrible with language. My dad has been trying to teach me Greeksince I was 3. Im 19 now. I know about 3 words)... Arrogant nerds... I wish we had those at my school.

Alpha, Omega, Beta...

Damn

why do we want to go to Japan, why??? I mean, their women get ugly from ageing faster than ours, their men are work-a-holics, a trait that is legal only when you're a pornstar or game developer/reviewer/somtehing, they have this thing for schoolgirls, flashing colours, inserting english words, having pointy haired characters. It scares the living poop outa me. Or creeps the said poop. Anyway, i agree to russian and german being the coolest languages, because they're both impressive when shouting at people and German is good for making up military equipment names. Judenkampfwagen mit der Kartoffeln Kannone.

"It was hard to believe that a repressed society could produce such imaginative work."
But that's exactly the reason why it gets produced.

ayoama:
"It was hard to believe that a repressed society could produce such imaginative work."
But that's exactly the reason why it gets produced.

Wow I never thought about it that way. Great article all the way

Carbon016:

doubt i ever will be able to understand Japanese culture or why so many western people are obsessed by it.

Anime has little to nothing to do with Japanese culture. That's as silly as saying American culture is summed up in Ducktales.

Speaking as one of those former Japanophiles, it's a simple case of "the grass is greener on the other side of the bridge." When you're a teen and your more popular peers reject you, you will turn to something else. These guys chose anime and Japan by extension. It's new and different and makes them feel like part of a group. It's the same reason why people may go punk, goth, or emo.

It's weird how people can become obsessed with Japan, While historically, japan is one of the most xenophobic of the first world countries

Apart from the anime, I think Japan is interesting because of some bonds it has with the culture of the country I live in (holland); they haave been trade partners for a very long time. While people here are totally going manga, the japanese have built a village with windmills and wooden shoes.
So I guess the grass is greener on the other side goes both ways.

I do think about learning Japanese some days, but not just for the manga bit. I just love the sound of that language, it's quite expressive. I like Russian and French for the same reason (though I can't understand either of them)

as for the fanboys who say that they love Japan; I have known a couple of them. It just meant they liked the Japanese pop culture. When it comes to things such as everyday culture, history, etc, they knew incredibly...little.

I like anime for the culture and the stories, but generally watch it dubbed if the voice actors are good or subbed if not. But then, I loved Okami for the stories and culture, so it's all about what I can learn, not the entertainment.

Zera:

ayoama:
"It was hard to believe that a repressed society could produce such imaginative work."
But that's exactly the reason why it gets produced.

Wow I never thought about it that way. Great article all the way

People have desires, dreams, fantasies: if they can't have any outlet in real life, the only way to express and realize them is in fictional form, I guess.

Japan rules, and anime is a huge part of the Japanese history, but not thair culture. I'm a fullblown hotukus and I feel no shame or drive in hiding it.

CWheezy:
It's weird how people can become obsessed with Japan, While historically, japan is one of the most xenophobic of the first world countries

That's part of its allure. It makes it look mysterious.

Personally, I can't stand American and European "otaku" for three reasons.

1. They act like retards.

2. A lot of them claim to love anime and Japan, but then ignore most of the other stuff coming out of Japan and aren't even knowledgeable on anything that came out before 1996 (a good way to tell these people apart from the ones who know what they're talking about, if they think Naruto or Bleach are really good then they haven't seen anything older).

3. If I see any of that modern generic "moe" look one more time I am going to kill someone (this holds true for anime in general, not just the fans).

Japanese is worth learning for the literature alone. Wicked video games and the occasional decent anime series (let's be honest - most of it is awful) are just nice bonuses.

Anime has little to nothing to do with Japanese culture. That's as silly as saying American culture is summed up in Ducktales.

Umm, I think Ducktales has a lot to do with American culture. As anime relates strongly to Japanese culture. How exactly do you separate art from culture? What do you know about Japanese culture to make such a statement to begin with? Have you ever even watched anime? Or any American cartoons? Maybe they don't seem like it on the surface (um, they kinda do, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here), but how else would art turn out the way it does without any cultural references? What do they eat in American cartoons? How do they act? It's a reflection of American culture. How about what they eat in anime? How they act? It's all extraordinarily Japanese. So, saying cartoons/anime have nothing to do with the cultures that create them is not just silly but flat out wrong.

Akatsuki_slave:

Anime has little to nothing to do with Japanese culture. That's as silly as saying American culture is summed up in Ducktales.

Umm, I think Ducktales has a lot to do with American culture. As anime relates strongly to Japanese culture. How exactly do you separate art from culture? What do you know about Japanese culture to make such a statement to begin with? Have you ever even watched anime? Or any American cartoons? Maybe they don't seem like it on the surface (um, they kinda do, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here), but how else would art turn out the way it does without any cultural references? What do they eat in American cartoons? How do they act? It's a reflection of American culture. How about what they eat in anime? How they act? It's all extraordinarily Japanese. So, saying cartoons/anime have nothing to do with the cultures that create them is not just silly but flat out wrong.

All forms of art and entertainment may give you no more than a brief glance into their culture. Others may try to delve deeper. You have to analyze it all if you want to get a picture of the culture it came from.

General Ma Chao:

That's part of its allure. It makes it look mysterious.

That's even stranger. I mean, you're saying that they like it more because the japanese don't like them very much, or are prejudiced against them.

CWheezy:

General Ma Chao:

That's part of its allure. It makes it look mysterious.

That's even stranger. I mean, you're saying that they like it more because the japanese don't like them very much, or are prejudiced against them.

Yep, that's pretty much it. It's human nature to want what you can't have; to lust after the unattainable. Even if the destination sucks, it's all about the journey, so to speak.

Anyhoo, I like some things that come out of Japan; they've got some good anime/manga, and some very interesting games. But, that's where it ends. Those guys who obsess 'bout Japan, kinda freak me out.

One last thing: What does 'nihon' mean? I've heard it, but I really can't remember.

- A procrastinator

(Blinks Again)

Okay I'm a fan of all forms of nerd-media including Anime and Video Games. I am however not a Japanaphille. I simply am too well grounded in reality for that. Simply put Japan falls under the catagory of a nation crawling out of "Neo-Barbarism". The Neo bit coming from science fiction and having to do with the fact that civilization is determined in degrees by the most enlightened and progressive nation on the planet. When you fall far enough below that level in so many ways your a Barbarian. However it's important to distinguish because many people tend to always assume that Barbarism means little or no civilization or technology. One of the things that makes the modern world such a pain to deal with, especially morally, is that the modern equivilents of the Huns and Mongels and such might have guns, schools, electricity, planes, boars, and all the other trappings that represents "civilization" until you start looking at it in degrees.

Despite that lead in, I'm not entirely going to hate on Japan here. For all the problems with the USA, though consider that this is still a nation grounded in racism (ethnic/national purity), and which less than 100 years ago were trying to conquer the world, loading their brainwashed children into flying bombs, and launching them into ships. They were only deconditioned enough to survive by using weapons of mass destruction to demonstrate that there would be no heroic last stand if they didn't surrender in a losing war, there would just be ignoble death.

Given that people can live 75-80 years understand that this didn't even occur 2 full societal generations ago. For a society to really change it takes at least 4-10 societal generations. Usually everyone has to be dead who even knew someone that was part of the original culture, and for those teachings to die out.

I point this out because for every cool thing you see coming from Japan, there is something really twisted and messed up it seems. Not to mention a large degree of militant nationalism, racism, resistance to progress, and other factors. All of which can apply to a lesser extent to other nations like the US, but in a differant situation.

It should be noted that a lot of their science fiction and fantasy (through anime, video games, etc...) basically came from the USA. It's just produced initially with less watchdog groups and hoops to jump through (at the moment) than American productions. This is one of the big reasons why there is a cross-cultural appeal to a lot of this. It's our own stuff.

It should also be noted that both Samurai and Ninjas as the exist in Japanese pop culture are pretty much American creations through RPGs and such. Ninjas for example were kind of disliked in Japan for historical reasons, however Americans got a hold of the idea of these Shadow Warriors, changed it around beyond recognition, and developed this sort of anti-hero motif. Japan for example then took the idea and figured "oh it's kind of cool like that" so instead of being an unpopular idea, you have all these Ninja-girls and everything jumping all over the place. Again it appeals to Americans because we sort of created the pop culture version, and then they took it and used it. The same can be applied to say Samurai to a lesser extent. The Samurai aristocricy was overthrown, but then we sort of re-envisioned it along the lines of European Knights from times past, and they kind of retroactively ran with it.

Now some people are probably freaking out here because what I'm saying doesn't go with the vibe a lot of Japanaphilles. The bottom line I'm making here is don't confuse the pop culture with the people themselves, and also don't misunderstand where a lot of it comes from. Anime, JRPGs, etc... and their Western counterparts are heavily inbred.

Also understand that for every decent sci-fi story, you've got one that can't resist putting in some dude who took a Katana to his own eyes because he couldn't stand to see
post-war Japan or something, with an overall message of resisting change and bashing American and such. Not the kind of statement, or method of expression, one expects from a fully civilized country in Japan's position (and yes, I'm talking about Gasaraki).

Things like "Lodoss Wars" were heavily influanced by DND, and games like the original "Wizardry" and such heavily influanced the direction Japanese gaming took.

Also, understand that it appears a lot of the stuff Japan makes doesn't make it to the US because of US Bashing. For example it seemed to be a big deal that us "round eyes" didn't get "Final Fantasy X: Final Mission" and thus the story of that game was not completed. Keeping a lot of stuff as "Japan Only" is a big deal down there, and I've run accross a few referances to fans down there feeling that an American release cheapens a product.

I guess I'm rambling borderline incoherantly about Japan, because the point of this article seems to be "At first I wasn't a Japanaphille, but now I am one and it rocks".

The bottom line is Japan is a nation that hates you for a bunch of reasons, including racial ones. While they produce some good Sci-Fi and Fantasy products, they tend to be jerks about it, and it isn't half as innovative or even as "Japanese" as they pretend.

So basically while I like a lot of Japanese Video games and Anime, at the same time I've been poisoned somewhat against their culture. Anyone who wants to move there is insane (even though this paticular article didn't go there specifically, other similar ones have). It's not some great, and magical wonderland for nerds. It's a defeated island nation that needs to grow up... a lot.

>>>----Therumancer--->

Well written story. I would love to learn Japanese, but I think I'll stick with Chinese. Just a hunch I'll be needing it someday.

Therumancer:
(Blinks Again)

Okay I'm a fan of all forms of nerd-media including Anime and Video Games...
>>>----Therumancer--->

Yes, I read it all, and I have to say, you raise a good point that's pretty much ignorable.

Japan, by and large, is still pretty xenophobic and racist, which is something you can only really get if you actually talk to them.

But that's really something you can't call everyone in an entire country.

And it doesn't really matter that much, anyway.

As much as Japan tries to stop us from getting the newest everything (take a good look at how long it takes from an anime getting it's TV premeir there vs here), we still get it anyway, cause we want it, and when we want stuff, we usually find a way to get it.

>> Therumancer

You've just summed up the first half of my feelings on Japan.

>> SatansBestBuddy

And *you've* summed up the rest.

I can't help but laugh at the poor Banned-fellow's post. Well, Japan. It's there. Wave to Japan. It's still there.

Umm, I think Ducktales has a lot to do with American culture. As anime relates strongly to Japanese culture.

It may be a reflection of it but it is not it. The sum of Japanese culture is not anime. In fact, while manga is relatively common, anime is very confined to the otaku population in Japan.

How exactly do you separate art from culture?

Irrelevant to the point I was making.

What do you know about Japanese culture to make such a statement to begin with?

Four years and a bachelor's degree.

Have you ever even watched anime? Or any American cartoons? Maybe they don't seem like it on the surface (um, they kinda do, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here), but how else would art turn out the way it does without any cultural references? What do they eat in American cartoons? How do they act? It's a reflection of American culture. How about what they eat in anime? How they act? It's all extraordinarily Japanese. So, saying cartoons/anime have nothing to do with the cultures that create them is not just silly but flat out wrong.

That's a straw-man. What I said was that people who say they like "Japanese culture" when all they do is watch anime all day are both minimizing the breadth of culture (which is a shame) and misrepresenting anime as some sort of reflection of all of Japanese society. It's not. Something set in Japan is going to reflect cultural norms, but that's a given.

Therumancer, you make some good points but I don't agree with the final premise. Japan is xenophobic to a degree. That sort of thing happens when you've shut out the world for hundreds of years. What happens though is that people like Debito Arudou subsist on the JAPAN IS RACIST OH MY GOD myth and perpetuate it so much that it tends to be overblown. I think on the whole you'll find Japan's attitude toward foreigners quite neutral, just like most other countries. You might get some weird stares in the countryside, but in general I don't think claiming it's one extreme or the other is accurate. We should also note that in places like the U.S., gay people and atheists are still pretty OK to be discriminated against, and you can smear a presidential candidate by calling him a Muslim. It's not all that different in Europe and putting the rest of the world on a pedestal does not lend itself to fair comparisons..

As much as Japan tries to stop us from getting the newest everything (take a good look at how long it takes from an anime getting it's TV premeir there vs here), we still get it anyway, cause we want it, and when we want stuff, we usually find a way to get it.

Did you seriously just try to explain localization delays as some sort of institutionalized game developer racism? Mind blown.

Many of these guys are looking at Japan through rose-tinted glasses. Most of them are teens and young 20 somethings. It was my own research into Japan that made me stop being a Japanophile. I realized that they have their own sets of problems just like us Americans. I still like stuff that comes from there, but it's tempered with the knowledge that they're just people too.

stompy:

One last thing: What does 'nihon' mean? I've heard it, but I really can't remember.

Japan. In Japanese.

Also, understand that it appears a lot of the stuff Japan makes doesn't make it to the US because of US Bashing. For example it seemed to be a big deal that us "round eyes" didn't get "Final Fantasy X: Final Mission" and thus the story of that game was not completed. Keeping a lot of stuff as "Japan Only" is a big deal down there, and I've run accross a few referances to fans down there feeling that an American release cheapens a product.

A happy little theory, but almost complete bullshit. Most Japanese products aren't released in the west because they simply wouldn't sell very well. Things like Final Mission and KH: Final Mix would appeal to an even more niche audience in the west than they do in Japan, and it simply wouldn't be profitable to localise and release them, with all the new advertising, publishing costs, and everything that entails.

(take a good look at how long it takes from an anime getting it's TV premeir there vs here)

TV premiere maybe, but Gonzo are making subtitled versions of Tower of Druaga and Blassreiter available on Youtube, BOST, and Crunchyroll smultaneous with their Japanese TV airing. It's a trend that may continue, if it's popular and cuts into the fansub market.

GloatingSwine:

stompy:

One last thing: What does 'nihon' mean? I've heard it, but I really can't remember.

Japan. In Japanese.

It always amazed me how Portuguese ears made the switch from "Nippon" (Nippon and Nihon are synonymous, it's a trick you can do with Japanese letter pronunciation) to Japan and now it's so ingrained in our minds that I, as an ES English teacher in Japan, have to tell my students "Yes, I know the real name of your country is Nihon, but the rest of the world calls it Japan so you're just going to have to get used to it."

But yeah, Japan has its own problems (just like every other country in the world) but there are aspects of their culture that I wish I could incorporate back to my home country (and vice versa)

oh, and Anime is great for picking up natural intonation and new vocabulary. Although admittedly it depends on what kind of genre you watch. For example, alot of shonen anime doesn't give you as many words to use in polite conversation...

It's hard for me to discuss a foreign movie/tv show with someone who is watching the dubbed version of it. Simply because it's often like they're watching a different show, since you're watching something with a changed script and different actors (totally different if we're talking about something animated).

I understand french rather well, and it's funny to turn on the English dubtitles on a french film. So much is changed. Turning on the regular subtitles produces a much closer translation, which even then isn't perfect. But at least I'm getting the original actor's performance to go along with it.

I know this is different then the type of elitist nerds talked about in your article, but thought I'd expand on it a bit. It's interesting that you found some common ground with them. I like some anime (have a few full series in my DVD library even), but I just don't understand those who live and breath the stuff. I guess I don't care for the majority of it that I see. A lot of the time, I think these crazy funs just like certain series just because they are anime. Which is fine, I guess... I guess I just like the series I like for reasons beyond only the medium.

Therumancer, you make some good points but I don't agree with the final premise. Japan is xenophobic to a degree. That sort of thing happens when you've shut out the world for hundreds of years. What happens though is that people like Debito Arudou subsist on the JAPAN IS RACIST OH MY GOD myth and perpetuate it so much that it tends to be overblown. I think on the whole you'll find Japan's attitude toward foreigners quite neutral, just like most other countries. You might get some weird stares in the countryside, but in general I don't think claiming it's one extreme or the other is accurate. We should also note that in places like the U.S., gay people and atheists are still pretty OK to be discriminated against, and you can smear a presidential candidate by calling him a Muslim. It's not all that different in Europe and putting the rest of the world on a pedestal does not lend itself to fair comparisons..

Well, according to this UN report, found here: http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G06/103/96/PDF/G0610396.pdf?OpenElement

Japan seems to still be fairly racist. Although, too be fair, that report is from 2005, so unless sweeping changes have occurred in the past 3 years, it still applies.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here