Thursday, December 22, 2022

TV Tropes!

Recently, I had the pleasure of discovering that someone (not me, honest!) took the time and effort to create a page on the TV Tropes website for the Joel Suzuki series.

In case you're not familiar with it, the TV Tropes site is, in their words, "a wiki, sort of like Wikipedia but using different software and with a different purpose. (They) describe and collect examples of tropes in media. (They) also host reviews, liveblogs, and have forums where you can talk with other tropers."

Oh, and a trope is (again, in their words,) "a narrative device or convention used in storytelling or production of a creative work." For example, one of the tropes listed on the Joel Suzuki page is "Alien Sky," with the description "Spectraland has two moons, which are closer to the horizon than Earth's." This is considered a trope because the concept of the "alien sky" - especially one with two moons - can be found in many different works of fiction.

I have to say, I'm honored and flattered that someone (I don't know who, seriously!) found Joel Suzuki worthy of inclusion in the TV Tropes website alongside other heavy hitters of pop culture. The page, which includes tropes from Volumes One through Six, is also very insightful and well-written - whoever did it appears to have a firm understanding of everything that has happened so far in the series, and in some cases their paraphrasing of events is worded in such a way that it made me think, "huh...that actually sounds better than the the way I put it."

So, whoever you are, arigatou (thank you) and otsukaresama deshita (good job)! I'm happy and grateful that you seem to have enjoyed reading the series so far (at least enough to feel inspired to create the page) and I really loved reading each of the spot-on tropes in the list. Rest assured, I am hard at work on Volume Seven and should be able to have it out sometime in 2023.

And for everyone else, you can check out the Joel Suzuki TV Tropes page at this link!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

My Japanese Language-Learning Experience, Part Five

In the last edition of My Japanese Language-Learning Experience, I said that it was going to be part of "an ongoing series of posts detailing my Japanese-language-learning journey."

And then I proceeded to not write another one (this one) for almost THREE YEARS.
What have I been doing in the meantime, you ask? Well, aside from dealing with a worldwide plague, writing and publishing books, and recording music, I've... oh, you meant what have I been doing with regards to my Japanese language-learning.

The answer is...not much, sadly. I mean, I've still been watching anime (as you know from last week's post), doing a daily dose of an app called Drops (does one "do" an app? I have no idea), and watching an occasional YouTube video here and there, but I have to admit, I've been slacking. Badly.

Granted, I (and my band, Second Player Score) did sign on with a Japan-based entertainment agency and released an EP sung in Japanese, but other than that, I haven't been doing much serious studying (benkyou shite inai, I believe is the way to say that) at all.

The aforementioned worldwide plague was a factor, as I had discovered a Japanese Meetup group in Portland (the "alternative" I had hinted at in Part Four) and attended one session but then everything shut down. They continued online after that, but I had Zoom fatigue and just didn't feel into it.

But mostly, my own laziness was to blame.

So recently, I've decided to get back on track. I've started re-reading Speak Japanese in 90 days, and have been watching the YouTube channels Japanese Ammo with Misa and Learn Japanese with Tanaka-San. I even tried sample questions for the JLPT N5 (Japanese-Language Proficiency Test, easiest level) and got a 10/14...not bad, I guess (the picture above is my results).

Hopefully, I'll remain diligent about it and actually start to make some tangible progress. And maybe even write Part Six of this so-called "ongoing series of posts" before three more years go by...

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Anime Roundup

Yes, despite the fact that I haven't done an Anime Roundup post since May, I have still been watching anime. Besides the new, ongoing episodes of Spy x Family and My Hero Academia (so good) and catching up with Demon Slayer (the Mugen Train and Entertainment District Arcs suddenly showed up on Hulu while I wasn't looking), I've checked out the following (beware mild spoilers):

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
A loser in his early 30s gets hit by a truck and wakes up as a baby in an alternate, magical fantasy world while retaining his prior memories. He grows up to become a highly proficient wizard and goes on a bunch of adventures that were crammed into 23 episodes (plus an OVA) - not nearly enough, in my opinion (fortunately I've heard there's more on the way). Terrific coming-of-age story that checks all the boxes on my list: magic, isekai (portal fantasy), action, drama, comedy, romance.

Uncle from Another World
While we're on the subject of isekai, this one is about a thirty-something-year-old man - who looks much older, if you ask me - who had been hit by a truck as a teenager (what's with all the truck-hitting?) and was in a coma for 17 years... or so everyone thought. In show-reality, he was transported to a magical fantasy world where he became a proficient wizard (sound familiar?). Now, back in our world, he still has his magical powers but is a fish out of water when it comes to present-day technology. So far, the story is mostly him telling/showing his experiences in the other world to his nephew via a magic TV screen of sorts while his nephew (and his nephew's female friend) help him adjust to life back on Earth. It's supposed to be an ongoing series, so we'll see how it develops.

Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist
Warning: not for kids! But, I mean, there's lots of adult animation out there, right? South Park, Rick & Morty, etc., etc., etc. Anyway, this is a...what's a good word...raunchy (there you go) comedy about a dystopian future where the government aggressively represses any form of, uh...risque content or action or even thoughts (if this show itself were in this future, it would be in serious trouble). So then, of course, a rebellious organization forms and fights back by, just have to watch it for yourself.

My Love Story!!
Now for something much more wholesome! I'm a sucker for light-hearted rom-coms, and this show fit the bill perfectly. The main characters are a tall, muscular, super-athletic dude with a kind heart who apparently scares girls off with his appearance (frankly, I find this hard to believe, but maybe it's a Japanese thing), his ikemen (good-looking, dashing) best friend, and a girl that our loveable giant saves from a groper. The first few episodes see them in a typical sitcom situation where the girl falls for the big guy but due to misunderstandings, he thinks she likes his friend instead. Fortunately, they do away with this premise pretty quickly and proceed to spend the rest of the series mostly just documenting their lovey-dovey relationship. Sure, there are some things that happen (including the introduction of your usual romantic interlopers), but mostly everything is happy and upbeat in a way that you wish real life could be (I lost count of how many times I said to my TV, "this show is just SO CUTE"). Apparently, there is a live-action adaptation, which I need to hunt down.

Romantic Killer
While we're on the subject of romance, this is a rom-com where a girl who is totally uninterested in dating (she's an otaku who loves video games, cats, and chocolate) finds herself the subject of a cupid-like wizard's mission to, well, hook her up, basically. The wizard, who can assume both male and female forms, turns our heroine's life into the equivalent of a dating sim game, guiding her into situations with various archetypal ikemen (there's that word again): the transfer student, the childhood friend, the rich boy, etc. It's a lot of goofy fun (with a fresh take on your usual anime-isms) for most of the season until (spoiler alert!) it takes a rather abrupt turn in tone near the end, which was slightly jarring but cool at the same time and totally in sync with the overall story. After it was done at only 12 episodes, I found myself wanting more.

Next week: while we're on the subject of things Japanese, we'll be doing Part Five of My Japanese Language-Learning Experience!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Baseball Review With April and Lydia: Hot Stove Edition

Back on October 6th, we had a special playoffs edition of our usual Major League Baseball recap since the Mariners actually made the playoffs for the first time in a gajillion years. At the end of that post, I asked our resident baseball/Seattle Mariners fans April Hayashi and Lydia Sanchez to come back for a postseason wrap-up later in the month. And so, we're doing that today, Tuesday, November 29th, even though this post will be published on Thursday, December 1st. As such, moves may have been made in the meantime. [UPDATE: the Mariners signed a relief pitcher and filled their assistant general manager position, but that's about it]
Lydia: They'd better have! I'm getting impatient. And bored.
April: I don't think anything's going to happen until the Winter Meetings next week, at the earliest.
Lydia: But the Astros just signed Jose Abreu! Come on, Jerry and Justin, do something cool.
April: The Teoscar Hernandez trade was pretty cool.
Lydia: Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?
Brian: All right, I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. Shouldn't we talk about the postseason first?
Lydia: Meh. Beating the Blue Jays was great, but that Astros series sucked.
April: At least the M's lost to the eventual champs.
Lydia: Small consolation. I hate those guys.
April: It was kind of cool to see the Phillies make it, at least.
Lydia: Whatever. Enough postseason talk. Hot stove time!
Brian: Okay, well, what kinds of moves would you folks like to see the Mariners make? Considering they're probably in the market for an outfielder, a middle infielder, and maybe a pitcher or two.
Lydia: I would like to see them sign Aaron Judge, but I know that's not going to happen. Instead, I want Brandon Nimmo, Trea Turner, and Kodai Senga.
Brian: Going big as usual, huh?
Lydia: Heck yeah.
Brian: What about you, April?
April: I'd say try to sign Andrew Benintendi or maybe Michael Conforto for the outfield, then trade for either Kolten Wong or Gleyber Torres for the second base spot. Oh, and yeah, Senga would be great for the rotation, but I've heard he wants to go to a big-market team.
Lydia: So conservative.
April: Hey, like I said last year, I'm wary of expensive, long-term free agent contracts.
Lydia: So is the team, apparently.
Brian: April, do you think those options would help the Mariners close the gap with the Astros?
April: I think so. And it would allow them to maintain more flexibility financially and roster-wise.
Brian: I assume you're counting on internal improvements, as well.
April: Well, yeah, I mean, Luis Castillo will be there from the start, as will the improved version of Cal Raleigh. Hopefully.
Lydia: And Julio won't spend a month getting jobbed by the umps.
April: Right.
Lydia: Still, though, I want them to make a big splash. Win now, baby!
Brian: Okay, well, I guess we'll see what happens. In the meantime, have a great rest of the holiday season, and we'll see you folks back in the spring.
April: Sounds good.
Lydia: Go M's! Sign Trea Turner!