Friday, June 8, 2012

Anime and Manga

Dragonball Z Kuririn Birthday Cake
Don't really have many photos of anime-ish stuff in Japan, but here's an amazing birthday
cake with a Dragon Ball character on it that Emily got me for my birthday in 2009. Fantastic.

When I first started taking Japanese classes, I'll admit that it was interest in anime that got me there, and not the other way around. From junior high school on, I was a devout fan of the Japanese animated shows that were on television here in Canada, starting with Astro Boy and progressing to Sailor Moon, Samurai Pizza Cats, The Wizard of Oz, Dragon Ball and others. It was after I started going to the local anime society in 10th grade that I got really interested in watching shows in their native Japanese, with English subtitles.

I did a fair amount of growing up between then and when I left for Japan; I had begun to move on to other things by the time I graduated, as I had so many hobbies that I rarely had time watch anime. (I still read manga, when I can afford it.) Fans, I'm sure, would probably consider it an incredible waste that I went to Japan after this had happened!

I clearly remember a conversation I had with my vice-principal and my go-between in the car as we left Osaka Orientation, and they asked if I liked manga. This was the first time I had met either of them and I wanted to make a good impression; didn't want to look like what some JETs referred to as an "akiba-boy/akiba-girl," someone who only came to Japan for the chance to go to Akihabara and buy toys. At the same time, I couldn't exactly lie, so I replied "sometimes," and they asked what series I liked.

Scrambling for one that wasn't too associated with 12-year-olds, I replied that I liked Hikaru no Go (a series I hadn't read in many years), and then had to field questions for the next five minutes on the plot of Hikaru no Go and whether I could play Go and so on. Oops.

Tezuka Osamu Mittsume ga Tooru
Mittsume ga Tooru figure.
Tezuka Osamu, creator of this series as well as classics
like Astro Boy, is said to be "the father of manga."

Still, when I was there, the mere exposure to so much animated goodness had me back into it on a smaller scale. This is mostly thanks to the SkyPerfect satellite service - on my first month in Osaka, all the JETs did a weekend of seminars at a local language institute to help speed us along on our journey to Daily Life In Japan. We had a fair amount of down-time and I hadn't made any close friends yet, so I spent a lot of it in my room watching TV. There were two channels that showed a ton of nostalgic shows that I hadn't seen in years - Pocket Monsters (the original version of Pokemon), Ranma 1/2, Dragon Ball Z and the like. The channels were Animax and Kids' Station, and they showed anime both new and old, 24/7. I decided then and there that I was buying a satellite dish. Soon, SkyPerfect TV was streaming gems to me like Maison Ikkoku, Cat's Eye, Minky Momo, KochiKame, Touch, Nodame Cantobile, Sailor Moon, Kaiketsu Zorori, Dokonjō Gaeru, Detective Conan and Lupin III.

For a long time, I was so relieved to hear "easy" Japanese that I understood, I left the television on 24/7, hoping it would sink into me by osmosis.

This phase passed, and soon I was probably paying way more for my satellite service than was worth it for the amount of TV watching I was doing. The honeymoon phase of struggling through manga in Japanese was also over, but it was nice having the option. On a lazy rainy day, it was good to just be able to turn on the television and know that there was probably something on worth watching - even if that something was marketed at 12-year-olds.