Monday, December 21, 2009


It's winter here, and there too, but it's probably not as cold here as it is over there. I'm rather glad for that. Things seem slow lately; perhaps the weather is a factor. Things are always slow on this blog, though, so offering a status update feels a bit needlessly narcissistic.

I had been planning to make use of the few days between the End Of Finals and Flying Home to edit a few things. First of all, a revision of the Railgun ch2 release, with fixes and whatnot. Second of all, I thought I'd throw out that old chapter of Sing 'Yesterday' For Me that I'd been working on, since that seems to be the popular thing to do these days (cough). Finally, at the very least I was going to do this really short one-shot, a whole five pages, before going home. But no, I ended up spending my time cleaning my room and hanging out with friends. Terrible, I know. So all that will have to wait until next year.

In the meantime I am reading things and translating things, and thinking about how to streamline my process. For one, is making up a script beforehand more efficient than translating just-in-time while editing? I tend to obsess over flow and phrasing when doing it just-in-time; doing it the other way might help.

I also want to make some long-overdue posts: 'Buying Japanese-language Manga in the USA', and 'Results of Book Off Grand Tour 2009'. Perhaps 'A Year in Manga' or 'A Year in Alcohol', we'll see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New project: Kabu no Isaki

This has been in the works for a while now. I won't have time until the weekend to write the blurb I've got planned, but for now, have some links.

Two weekends later, and here we are. I know I promised a blurb, but now I realize it might not be a particularly cohesive one. I'm no Herb Caen, but hell, let's give the Herb Caen format a shot.

KABU NO ISAKI: Hitoshi Ashinano's latest work, serialized in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine. It seems to run every other month, and currently there are two collected volumes out. It's about a young man, Isaki, who flies his neighbor's plane around.

TEN TIMES LARGER: For unclear reasons, the earth has become ten times larger. That's what the back cover of the manga says. So everything is ten times farther away than it used to be, and mountains are ten times taller. The Tokyo Tower is ten times taller, but it's unclear (to me at least) why and how the human habitations are still normally sized.

Shichirigahama from Inamuragasaki. By WP Commons user Urashimataro. Public Domain.
SHICHIRIGAHAMA: A beach that actually has an article on Wikipedia: Shichirigahama. Evidently it's a decent surfing spot. What's interesting, though, is that the place is literally named "Seven Ri Beach," where a ri is an archaic unit of measurement equal to 3.9 kilometers. Thus you would expect the beach to be 27 kilometers long, but as Wikipedia notes, it's only one-tenth of that length. Blow up the world by ten, though, and the name becomes accurate.

MOUNTAIN FLYING: In chapter six, Isaki catches some major air. From reading around, mountain flying is not for the faint of heart; and it probably killed Steve Fossett. A phenomenon that's particularly interesting (and particularly relevant to this chapter) is the so-called lee wave. Also known as mountain waves, these are wind currents that form downwind from a mountain range. Gliders catching such waves can attain amazing heights, reaching altitudes of tens of thousands of feet. Reading about these waves has been quite fascinating. First there's the Sierra Rotors Project, a NSF-funded study to determine the characteristics of the waves that form over the Owens Valley; as Shiro-san notes, they're not always there. Then we have writer Nate Ferguson's article on Soar Minden, an outfit closer to Lake Tahoe that puts you in a glider. (Naturally there are Youtube videos of everything these days.)

PIPER SUPER CUB: I don't know a whole lot about these planes, but the internet sure does. There's a Wikipedia article, as well as a surprisingly active enthusiast website. A few data points: introduced 1949, cruise speed 185 km/h / 115 mph, range 735 km / 460 mi.

GEOGRAPHY: Japanese geography is also something that I don't know a whole lot about. We have a few data points to work from. In the first chapter, Isaki flies to the Tokyo Tower, having just returned from Jogashima in the first pages. And in chapter six, Isaki and Shiro-san go to Shichirigahama.

That's a static map with locations pointed out. I haven't figured out how to get a dynamic map with multiple locations, but here's a dynamic one anyway.

DISTANCE: Where do Isaki and company live? The most pertinent datapoint comes from chapter one, where Isaki says that he went 120 km roundtrip to Jogashima. That makes for 60 km one-way, which we then divide by ten to get the "unstretched" world distance. Looking at the map, the folks in KnI live somewhat north of Miura City, south of Mount Ōgusu. Café Alpha is somewhere around there too, as we can tell from chapter one of YKK:

PROJECT PLANS: Volume two is out, and I have it in hand. The plan is to read and translate the entire volume over winter break, and then start the editing process. I also would like to produce a HQ version of volume one, but naturally that's a lower priority.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beaten again

I was beaten again. It's a bit scary; I get a chapter to 75% and bam, someone else makes a release. Last time it was Sing 'Yesterday' For Me, this time it's Kabu no Isaki. Anyway, chapter 5 of KnI will hopefully be done and released this weekend. [Edit: 5 is done, but I think I'll release it together with 6.]

Monday, August 17, 2009


Just registered for the JLPT, level 3. I hope I won't be taking N3 next year, as that would be kinda sad. I better study now ;_;

Saturday, August 15, 2009


"Universal Century" is literally "Universe Century" in the original Japanese. I laughed and I cried.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lost in Suburbia

Suburbia desu.
Insanity desu.
Cool ED sequence, bro.

Also, loldrama and lolfail.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Ugh, some words are just not meant to be verbified. I was searching bk1 for the Bakemonogatari novels, and was surprised when DVDs and Blu-rays popped up. Now, I know this is old news, but I'm still a little shocked when I see R2 DVD prices: ¥5250 for frickin' two episodes, not to mention 6300 for the special edition, and 7350 for the Blu-ray. There's a little less rage involved for the Mayoi Maimai discs, where you get three — count 'em, three — episodes for a price bump of only 1050 yen!

Anyway, episode three of Bakemonogatari was brilliant, and got me interested in the original novels. As you may expect, there just isn't much discussion in English to be found on the internet about Nishio Ishin... I take that back, since the first Zaregoto novel has come out in English, there's a lot of stuff about that. Aside from that small slice of Zaregoto, though, the only impression I've got is that "Large chunks of Bakemonogatari consisted of dirty jokes run through a nerd filter" and "Katanagatari, shit till the bitter end" (thanks, Andrew Cunningham).

I'm heading off to make a pilgrimage to Kinokuniya today, and wondering whether I should buy the first Zaregoto book. I could buy it in English, or in Japanese, or both, assuming that Kinokuniya's online stock check is giving me accurate information. (As an aside, I don't really understand how Kinokuniya chooses to stock certain series in certain stores, and why they seem to be hopelessly behind when it comes to featuring products associated with currently-airing anime. Also, when I pick up a book and its price tag is dated something like 5/2006, I feel like I'm the only person who buys things at Kinokuniya. But that's a separate matter.) Some of the reviews have given me pause, but I'm still interested to read the author's breakout work, resplendent in its youthful exuberance.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jimi, da ne

I don't recall how I got there, but some time ago I ended up reading an article titled "Japanese Women's Diaspora: An Interview". It's about the phenomenon of Japanese women leaving Japan (for a period of time, like for study abroad) and seeking romance or marriage with Western men. The author identifies the cause of this longing (憧れ akogare) as the romanticization of the West and "internationalism" coupled to dissatisfaction with female roles in Japanese society. As academics are wont to do, the author labels the former as the "pull" factor, and the latter as the "push". She also makes the interesting point that while women with akogare are seeking to escape patriarchal societal norms in Japan, they are still willing to accept them elsewhere to a lesser extent; they are looking for a kinder, gentler patriarchy.

What really got my attention, though, were the interviewee's closing words:

There is romance in Japan; it's not that Japanese men can't be romantic. But it's plain (jimi). Right now Japanese men are so frightened. Women are much more progressive. Men are lagging behind.

There's that word, jimi, which should be familiar to anyone who's watched Kannagi. In the context of the OP, it's kind of cutesy and coquettish, but more importantly, it's accomodating. To the target demographic, it's a reassurance: yes, I, goddess, will accept plain, boring romance. But to the outside female observer, it just reinforces otaku stereotypes and may well be a death knell for romantic possibility: it's going to be so plain.

I should note that the article dates to 2000, and the interview within it is with a 30-year-old woman in 1993, so things have probably changed a great deal. It's peculiar that a country so saturated with romantic film and literature can be so stuffy when it comes to real-life relationships. There's got to be a generational shift somewhere.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Blasphemous thoughts

This is a mortal sin, but it must be said: this episode was boring. The use of montages was troubling, especially the smooth-jazz backed cicada one, where I was trying hard not to strangle myself. And whoever told Aya Hirano to sing with vibrato needs a swift kick in the pants. Er, manpris.

OK, time to watch episode 3.

The vanguard advances

The area around my piano is now reclaimed. It's seriously like a battle. The forces of cleanliness have advanced, but the ranks of disarray are waiting for me to lower my guard, so they can claw back that space.

I have a ridiculous amount of manga, I've realized. At least most of it was cheap. Thanks again, Book Off!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai

I've had this stuff two times before now, but this is the first time I really enjoyed it. The first time I think my mouth chemistry was screwy, and the second time was at a sushi restaurant that inexplicably smelled of turpentine. This time, though, everything went right.

Sake is pretty amazing stuff. I say amazing because there's an amazing range of flavors and textures that come out of fermented rice. You can go from a near-flavorless Daiginjo, with most of the rice polished away, to a Ginjo that's like a dessert wine. (I'm thinking of the Yuki Honoka, which has an amazing sweetness yet fades cleanly away.)

But anyway, the Ohyama Tokubetsu Junmai is a somewhat acidic sake, with a bit of fruity sweetness. I'm not good with identifying flavors, but I might say there's a bit of apple in there. It hits the mouth cleanly, with some acid astringency (is that redundant?), with the finish drawing out the flavors. Like some other sake, it tends to leave a rice-y consistency in my mouth, but I try not to think about that. At $10-12 for a 300mL, it's a decent value.

Hear the SF Chronicle's wine reporter say gushing things about it here.

State of the dude

I was on vacation all last week, but I still feel pretty burned out. Part of the reason is that over half my room is still a mess. Lots of papers and stuff, though by and large the most clutter is due to manga. There's like 40 volumes from the Book Off in NYC, and 70 from the ones in SoCal, though the latter are sitting outside my room. Then there's a small stack from my most recent bk1 order, and a few from the bk1 order that must've been many months ago. Gosh.

There's a bunch of mail covering the piano that probably consists of "action items". Cardboard boxes. Paper bags. Plastic bags. Paperbacks that I might take to Half Price Books. Books that I should take back to the library.

Well, it's slowly getting better.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Off Grand Tour 2009

I'm going backpacking this weekend, which takes me about halfway down the lower part of California. So I might as well drive the rest of the way down and visit a few friends while I'm at it.

More importantly, I'm planning to hit every Book Off in SoCal and raid their dollar manga sections. Hopefully I'll have good luck; I've been to the one in NYC a lot recently, thanks to my job, and the selection varies. Sometimes there's not a lot of stuff that catches my interest, and after being spoiled by a few 50-cent sales, $1 per volume is sometimes a bit too much to pay. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Discommunication Seireihen chapter 1

Too tired at the moment to write anything meaningful. Will try again tomorrow.

It took forever, but it's finally here: the first chapter of Discommunication Seireihen. I've been curious about Riichi Ueshiba's works ever since reading the mind-blowingness of Yume Tsukai, and where better to start than the preceding series? I was originally going to say more here, but writing the notes depleted my word supply, so I'll just opine that Seireihen is plenty crazy, but not quite as disturbing as the first arc of Yume Tsukai.

It's kinda ridiculous, but it's been nearly a year to the day I started this effort. Several things got in the way. The biggest obstacle: learning enough Japanese. Smaller things: distractions. Somehow I ended up deciding to scanlate a chapter of Railgun, which was a rather painful adventure with WWWJDIC. (WWWJDIC > sliced bread.) And then I spent a lot of time on a chapter of Sing Yesterday For Me -- got it to around 75% done at the beginning of February, but then I had to go on a business trip. When I got back, NCIS had beaten me to the punch. Sigh. But they're a good group and they'll release faster than I ever could. Anyway, real life has been kicking my ass since February, and it's only recently that I've been able to use my free time effectively.

Chapter 2 will be along in a few weeks, unless I decide to work on another distraction.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Out of all of the events in the Haruhi novels, "Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody" is the one I remember most clearly. This is partially due to the relative simplicity of the plot; compared to some of the contortions in later arcs, nothing much happens, but it's all rather straightforward. What I like about this particular story is how casually epic it is. Time travel stories tend to involve dramatic means of making the leap, whether it be via a machine or portal or device. Here, Kyon travels through time in the most mundane way possible. Yet at the same time he's given glimpses of the mind-boggling power that his associates wield. Finally, if I may lapse into sentimentality, there's the sense of destiny. Kyon's actions while time-traveling are integral to the present, a plot device that carries echoes of one of the most satisfying story arcs in Kimagure Orange Road. (And for that reason I think Kyon's real name is Kyousuke.) 


I'm actually kind of glad it's taken this long to S2 to start: it's given me enough time to forget the details of the novels. Now I can enjoy the anime instead of getting bogged down in the details.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

this is an anime blog, amirite?

So they happen to have a Marshall amp sitting around, but no guitar? And what's the deal with the markup on sunburst patterns (in real life, not just anime)?

I haven't had time to watch any of this until now. It's OK, but I just realized that she's got a Mesousa face all the time. Add the chibi rendition, and, well... Perhaps Shinbo ran out of ideas for this one.

Rather well done, but is anyone going to finish subbing this?

Not really what I was expecting. With a title like Denpateki na Kanojo, I was thinking more along the lines of that girl from Fruits Basket. But no, this is a Serious Business serial murder mystery. High production values, as expected for an OVA. Overall impression: a little original, a little vague, a little cliché, with a nice twist. As consolation, I will accept violent imouto with spats.

Wow... I glad I decided to give this one a shot. Absolutely gorgeous, Madhouse. Pictures at an exhibition.  On the other hand, I'm not sure I want a future that involves self-aware Segways with arms. 

Hahaha, man, this stuff is funny.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The future is now

Things are changing apace in the world of licensed manga. I was kind of shocked to find that Rumiko Takahashi's latest series, Kyoukai no Rinne, is already available to read in English, direct from Viz. For free. Online. This is insane.

Of course, anything by Rumiko Takahashi is going to get the blockbuster treatment. What remains to be seen is what other stuff will follow in its footsteps. Just popular shounen works? Shoujo? Seinen? There are also lingering questions about online reading. Will they eventually put it behind a pay wall? Ultimately, some sort of online, subscription-based service seems likely. That sounds reasonable to me; however, kids who aren't getting a paycheck may not be so enthusiastic about the prospect.

Similar things have been happening with digital distribution on the anime side of the fence. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is probably the biggest thing to be streamed so far, and a surprising number of shows from the current season are also streaming from Funimation. Crunchyroll is expanding its roster of legal titles, and some of them don't suck, for once. 

As this trend continues, will fansubbing and scanlation face an existential crisis? To some extent the lines have already been drawn: there are the "drop when licensed" groups, and then the others. The latter will continue unless they receive legal threats, and the truly hardcore may even go underground. But for what? In this era, where licensors are sensitive to fan concerns about source fidelity and censorship, there are fewer and fewer reasons to go it alone. On the other hand, traditional (by that I mean those who drop when licensed) will face slimmer pickings as time goes on.

So, is a golden age coming to a close? In a sense, yes. But it's come about because fan-translation has fulfilled its promise of bringing anime and manga to the mainstream. 

Friday, April 10, 2009


daisuki nante arigatou
watashi mo zutto suki dayo
motto kyou wo
motto ashita
jiyuu na iro de hirogetai