Sep 20, 2007

In Which I Watch Anime

I'd sort of forgotten that anime existed.

This is somewhat ironic, given that I'm in Japan and all. I mean, this is where anime comes from, and it's sort of a big deal here. Yet, this weekend I had a grand old time watching cartoons and eating Thai noodles while hungover. Carbs and cartoons (along with hydration) are probably my favorite anti-hangover recipe. The next day was even worse- having no plans until the evening, I stayed in intermittently practicing Kanji and watching Full Metal Alchemist. I could even tell myself that watching anime constitutes some sort of Japanese language practice.

Which is true to an extent. I can recognize a small percentage of what the characters are saying, but, like American TV, anime characters don't talk like real people. Imagine someone who learned English from a combination of Spongebob Squarepants, Star Trek, and The Simpsons. They'd sound entirely strange and socially inappropriate, but would probably be fairly entertaining in the right context.

But anyway, I'm addicted to the stuff. This will probably pass, but for the time being, I can't get enough of it. This is probably because I'm just thrilled that I can understand maybe 10% of what the characters are saying. When studying Japanese, I find it rewarding even to be able to go outside and read signs. If I can read and understand everything on a sign or placard, or understand everything in an audio announcement, or even pick up on people's conversations, I'm thrilled.

Having a supply of sugary, addictive, geeky, hyperactive media-crack all in precisely the language that I'm studying makes the process all the more rewarding. Not only is it a forum in which I can listen to Japanese, it's a forum in which I can listen to Japanese that has explosions and robots. And nothing quite spices up an academic pursuit like explosions and robots.

Anyway, here's what I've been watching:

Full Metal Alchemist
I've seen a bit of this, but it was dubbed in English, and it's what I spent most of yesterday watching. I'm convinced that the people who made this show are actual alchemist who know how to transmute pure awesome into cartoon form. I like the fantasy style that they've gone for here- it has a sort of 18th century, vaguely steampunk-esque look. Prussian style military uniforms, mechanical arms, giant guns, and mandala-like alchemy circles all combine in a way that just works, visually. The show also balances the super-cute and super-dark aspects of anime pretty well- I'll probably finish the series soonish.

One Piece
This what I was watching during a hangover. The main character is a Reed-Richards style stretchy-man, and another guy fights with three swords simultaneously- two in his hands, one in his teeth. It's a completely brain-free pirate show, so I imagine that it could also be good after a few shots of rum.

Last Exile
I haven't seen much of this one, but damn it's pretty.

Read Or Die
The characters in this one have a rather cool superpower- they're telekinetic, but only with paper. So, they basically use origami to fight bad guys. Tres nifty.

I'm a little worried because there seems to be an endless supply of this stuff. Stupid shiny, beguiling pop culture and its addictive ways...

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