dorchadas: (Toon Link)
2017-06-12 06:02 pm

Game Review: ゼルダの伝説:ふしぎの木の実 (大地の章)

I'm not sure I had even heard of Oracle of Seasons--in Japanese, fushigi no kinomi -daichi no shō-, "The Mysterious Seed -Land Chapter-"--before I set out on my Zelda chronogaming quest. It was twinned together with Oracle of Ages and released in 2001, the height of my anti-console snobbery. My loss. But the march of time and technological progress means I can go back to those games that I missed and play them now, when I'll appreciate them. Truly, we live in the the golden age of gaming.

Oracle of Seasons is another weird portable entry, starting a trend that began with Link's Awakening and continuing to this day. The mainline console entries, with the exception of Majora's Mask, are the traditional Zelda games where Link fights Ganon and rescues the Princess, and the handheld games are the ones where he talks to a psychedelic winged whale, rides trains, and plumbs the depths of the same dungeon a dozen times. Or here, uses the progression of the seasons to save a land where the seasons have been thrown into disorder.


Link's dancing was already disordered.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Blue Rose)
2017-06-08 09:12 am

提出してみようかな?

Yesterday on Twitter, the Japanese Consulate in Chicago retweeted this link to a translation contest run by the Japanese Literature Publishing Project, and now I am troubled. It took me a long time to figure out, but translation is really what I want to do. Conveying knowledge between one language and another is like solving a puzzle where the reward is understanding. Some of my favorite times in Japan were when friends would visit and I'd interpret for them, and yeah, my Japanese is passable at best, but it's good enough that I can convey meaning. Just recently I was reading 電撃ピカチュウ to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd as she lay on the couch with her head on my lap and realized that this is my best life.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif

But I don't know if entering the contest is a good idea right now. The deadline is July 31, with 36 pages to translate. That's not an insurmountable barrier--right now I'm reading 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ and I could easily do 36 pages of that in eight weeks--but reading that also gives me a good example of where my translation abilities are right now, which is "good but not great." I don't often make a mistake that inverts the meaning of what I'm reading, but it does happen. Entering this contest would take a lot of effort I think would best be saved for other things, like studying for the JLPT. That, I think I have a better chance with.

I'll remember this for next year, though. This is the third contest, and though the first was in 2012, the second was last year. Maybe they're on track.

My sister has a job interview in Chicago today so we put her up last night. She's an incredibly considerate houseguest--worked around my usual morning schedule and accepted the food we had on hand--and I don't get to see her very often, so it was pretty nice. She's looking for a job in academy after veterinary private practice turned out not to her liking. I advised her to take the job in Iowa and use it to save a ton of money, but she pointed out that it would require living in Iowa. Fair.  photo _s_by_stevanov.gif

My parents are coming into town tonight, but not until late, so after work [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, my sister, and I will probably play Mario Kart. Couch gaming isn't something I get to do much lately, especially not with more people. It'll be great.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
2017-05-28 10:39 am

Game Review: MOMODORA:月下のレクイエム

I heard about Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Bonfireside Chat, as a game that was similar to some aspects of the Souls games that they really liked. Then I heard it was a metroidvania game. Well, that's all I need to hear. Sign me up.

I bought it, loaded it up, and took in the beautiful pixel art and moody music. And then I moved forward and was brutally murdered by a chibi with a shield.


A deadly ambush.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Slime)
2017-05-27 06:06 pm

Back then, we were heroes

Checking twitter this morning and I found out that there was a commercial for a new Dragon Quest game in Japan, and it's fantastic.



I don't really have any nostalgic attachment to Dragon Quest. I haven't even played any of them other than the original Dragon Warrior and, recently, Dragon Quest IV. But I got a little misty-eyed when the music started, and I know what it's like to huddle under a blanket in the night, to tell your family that you'll be done soon, just a little bit more.

My favorite moments:
  • 0:50: The girl saying 時には我慢も必要です。 ("Sometimes patience is required") and then the taped-up paper that says, "Until I get into college, Dragon Quest is prohibited!"
  • 0:55: The kid drawing a slime and saying 授業中も冒険してた "Even during class, we had adventures."
  • 01:10: The man and woman saying 勇者は挫けない "Heroes do not get discouraged" and then でも、余り[?]には勇者だって泣いていいでしょう "But it's okay for even heroes to cry sometimes."
  • 01:35: The bit at the end 僕らは、夢中で勇者だった。そして今、ふたたび「勇者の時」が動き出す。 "In our dreams, we were heroes. And now once again, the time of heroes has come."
This is how you make a commercial that banks on nostalgia.  photo 58-2nsylaw.gif
dorchadas: (Yui Studying)
2017-05-23 09:03 am

Shut up, kid

Annoying male protagonists are the scourge of fiction.

So I'm reading the latest chapter of 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ for today's tutoring session and get to a Romeo and Juliet-esque part where Sakutarō and Aki talk about how they want to get married. Aki points out that she's only 16, and that people think that they might change their minds. Sakutarō talks about how marriage is about being able to support themselves in society and does that mean that sick people who can't support themselves shouldn't be allowed to get married (だったら病気なんかで自立できない人たちは結婚しちゃいいけないのかってことになる), referencing something that happened to his grandfather. Aki sighs at Sakutarō's tendency to jump to the extremes of any argument, and then the annoyance starts:
「社会的に自立するってどういうことだと思う?」
彼女は少し考えて、「働いて自分でお金を稼ぐってことかな」
「お金を稼ぐってどういうこと?」
「さあ」

"What do you think it means to support yourself in society?
She thought for a little, "To work and earn money, I think."
"And what does 'to earn money' mean?"
"Well."
Everyone knows the Socratic method is the best way to endear your girlfriend to you.  photo _s_by_stevanov.gif

He then goes on to say that money is the reward for various skills, which, okay, and then goes off into left field:
「それなら人を好きになる能力に恵まれている人間は、その能力を生かして人を好きになることで、お金をもらってなぜ悪い?」
「やっぱりみんなの役に立つことじゃないと、だめなんじゃないの」
「人を好きになること以上に、みんなの役に立つことがあるとは思えないけどな」
「こういう現実離れしたことを平気で言う人を、わたしは未来の夫にしようとしているんだわ」

"If that's the case, for humans who are blessed with the ability to love other people, why is it bad to earn money by making use of that ability?"
"If it's not useful to everyone, it's no good."
"I don't think there's anything more useful than the ability to love."
"And I'm trying to make someone who calmly says such off-the-wall things my future husband."
Thus demonstrating that Aki has a reasonable grasp of economics, because the ability to love has a high supply and the demand for any particular person's ability to love is low. But that's not enough for Sakutarō, since this kicks off a page-long rant about what love means and how it's better for humanity to be wiped out by a meteor if it doesn't value the ability to love.

To Aki's credit, she doesn't feed his ranting. But I can see why the English title--and apparently, the proposed Japanese title before the publisher convinced him to change it--for this book was Socrates in Love. Sakutarō's response to anything is engage in grand works of adolescent philosophy, but unlike Socrates he's lucky if his musings have any connection to anything in the real world. And Aki tolerates it, maybe even finds it endearing, but that doesn't make it fun for me to read.

Can I read a version of 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ from Aki's perspective?  photo emot-colbert.gif
dorchadas: (Majora A Terrible Fate)
2017-05-13 10:46 am

Game Review: ゼルダの伝説:ムジュラの仮面

Majora's Mask almost completely passed me by. I think the first time I even saw any of it was at the first Symphony of the Goddesses concert I went to, where the gameplay footage of a moon with an evil face, Link turning into some kind of plant monster and flying around using flower umbrellas, and mysterious giants assembling to defend the city completely confused me. What was this? What was even happening here? And what is it about Majora's Mask that leads Zelda Dungeon to have a huge philosophical exegesis on the game?

(The answer to that is "When there's only one Zelda game every 3-5 years, they've got to publish something")

When my sister bought a Nintendo 64, I played Super Mario 64 and I played Ocarina of Time, and sometimes I played Blast Corps, and then I played Quest 64 and that was basically it for me. The N64 was not the system for an RPG-lover like myself, so I went back to my PC games and that's why I didn't know anything about this game until I played it.

I feel like I'm still missing a lot, honestly.


"You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?"

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
2017-04-25 08:55 am

In lieu of a game writeup, some ramblings

This is normally a day when I'd be writing up a summary of our Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom game last night, but it was called off at the last minute when one of the players came home to find their apartment had been broken into! The thiev(es) didn't take much, fortunately--they even left the WiiU behind, which seems like a joke itself--but that's not that much compensation. And they are moving in a month...  photo emot-ohdear.png

So instead, I spent most of last night playing Majora's Mask doing the Woodfall Temple. I'm not sure how I feel about Majora's Mask's yet--I've already lost about an hour of time due to freezing and the save system only allowing saving by restarting the three-day cycle, but I love the focus on a small city and the people who live there. I can definitely see a continuation of Link's Awakening, with its weird characters doing strange things and Link stumbling into the middle of it all and trying to sort everything out. I just wish I had a better sense of what's going on.

It's the problem with trying to learn a language. I don't want to read children's books or play games with little dialogue, because then I'm not actually getting any practice in. Studying requires pushing into areas I don't know. But that means that I'm never quite sure I understand the plot. I've got a walkthrough open in the background because of these issues, and I've already made a couple major errors that confused me until I went to check, like thinking that the monkeys in the swamp had captured someone instead of being captured by someone (Xに捕まえられています). The broad strokes I understand just fine, but in a game where it's very important that I'm in particular places at specific time, I need to understand the nuances to be able to play.

I redid the background image on my Dreamwidth page so it's locally hosted and shows up in 1080p. I tried a couple images of Tokyo in the rain, but they didn't display up well--with everything else on the page, it was just a blur of neon barely visible in the background. Which I suppose is accurate to some nights I've spent in Tokyo, but it doesn't make for a good aesthetic.  photo emot-fuckyou.gif

Looking forward to a low-key weekend and hopefully being able to finish Majora's Mask!
dorchadas: (Jealous)
2017-04-15 08:49 am

The sound that races through the End of the World

Last night [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture and I were watching Revolutionary Girl Utena and I finally actually listened to what everyone is saying that gets translated as "End of the World."

So, until this point I'd always assumed that one aspect of Utena was the idea of "the world" as adolescence, and how when you're a teenager you fixate on a lot of things that seem like life and death at the time but aren't of any particular importance as you grow older. The duels are, in a way, their attempt to force some kind of structure on their lives--to create a framework where things make sense and the outcomes are known, while also being an example of the former. I mean, as of last night we got to episode 33 and no one has actually explained what the power to revolutionize the world even is or why everyone wants it so much. Question block photo emot-question.gif

The student council speech is incredibly melodramatic, as fits teenagers instilling meaning into their lives, but it does reveal something about what the power is:
卵の殻を破らねば、雛鳥は生まれずに死んでいく。我らが雛で、卵は世界だ。世界の殻を破らねば、我らは生まれずに死んでいく。世界の殻を破壊せよ。世界を革命するために
Translated as:
"If it cannot break out of its shell, the chick will die without ever being born. We are the chick. The world is our egg. If we don't crack the world's shell, we will die without ever truly being born. Smash the world's shell. FOR THE REVOLUTION OF THE WORLD!"
Basically, the power to revolutionize the world is the power to grow up into the kind of person they want to be, without being smashed into conformity and becoming a salaryman or OL endlessly riding trains and drinking with their bosses into the late hours. The End of the World is thus a source of wisdom for them because it represents the end of their constrained world and a rebirth into freedom.

But! As I said, last night I was listening and they don't say 世界の終わり (sekai no owari, "The End of the World") as I've just been assuming. They say 世界の果て (sekai no hate, "The Ends of the Earth"), meaning a physical distance rather than a temporal finality. This fits really well with the Utena movie, where the ultimate goal is to escape the academy where everyone is Jesus in Purgatory, and I suppose it still fits the above interpretation if adolescence is recast as a journey to complete rather than a prison to escape from. But I'm surprised I never realized this before now.  photo 3327b7f6b45a33781e80dce4e4461510-d4ipx9c.gif
dorchadas: (Nyarlathotep)
2017-04-12 02:16 pm

Rumblings of Korean War II

So the American government decided to send a carrier group to the Korean peninsula as a show of force against Korean nuclear ambitions, which prompted the representatives of the Eternal Lich President to issue its own response.

And then an hour ago, I saw that [twitter.com profile] nhk_kokusai had tweeted this out:



Here's my translation:
Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga [Yoshihide] highlighted that, in relation to President Trump's deployment of the military toward North Korea and refusal to lift sanctions, while America and South Korea maintain their cooperation, [Japan] must be prepared in case an evacuation of Japanese citizens living on the Korean Peninsula becomes necessary.
So, they're at least admitting the possibility of another war. Remember when people assumed that our Dear Leader would be an isolationist who wouldn't go around starting wars, unlike that hawk Clinton? Those takes, as they say, did not age well.

At least Twitter will keep us entertained in the 20 minutes after the missiles launch.  photo onfire.gif
dorchadas: (Equal time for Slime)
2017-04-08 12:46 pm

The Mammon Machine: When Localization is Better

This post is partially inspired by the eternal complaining about "censorship" and localization, and partially by this article about Vagrant Story's localization.

One of my favorite games of all time is Chrono Trigger, and my favorite part of Chrono Trigger is the Kingdom of Zeal, where dreams come true. It's the lynchpin of the game, the only part that isn't inspired by a historical era, and the most overtly fantastical. The Enlightened live on a floating continent above the clouds and away from the ice age below, using their magic to create a post-scarcity society and leaving their Earthbound cousins without magic to fend for themselves on the ground below. With the goal of surpassing even those limits and ensuring the eternal glory of the Kingdom of Zeal, they build a great machine.

In Japanese, this is just the 魔神器 (majinki, "Demonic vessel"), which is awful. For one, it gives the game away immediately and lets the player know that the Kingdom of Zeal is corrupted. For another, it's silly. No one thinks that they're evil, and the people in Zeal who mention the majinki talk about it as a means to attain greater power for helping Zeal, but with a name like that, how believable is that? Why would anyone name the machine designed to power their society the "demonic vessel"?

It's possible to read it slightly differently, as 魔・神器 instead of 魔神・器, but that just means "evil sacred treasure," which isn't any better.

In English, the majinki was localized as the "Mammon Machine," which is a fantastic name. It's alliterative and slightly ominous, but doesn't immediately make you wonder why all these people are okay with a demonic vessel powering their society. The people in Kajar and Enhasa spend their time in magical research or idle dreaming in their utopia, fed by cornucopia machines and with magic to do all the work, and talk idly about how the Mammon Machine will make their kingdom even greater, and it sounds a bit strange. And then you get to the Zeal Palace, and this music starts playing, and you know something is very wrong with the Kingdom of Zeal.


Of course, the name "Mammon" already gives it away, but subtly. Mammon, the pursuit of wealth which is the root of all evil. The people of Zeal already had a utopia, where no one needed to work and everyone could spend their days in the manner of their choosing. It was a bit like Omelas, it's true. There's a quote about how the Queen conscripted a bunch of Earthbound to work on the Ocean Palace, though the man phrases it in an obvious euphemism for slavery:
"The Earthbound Ones are being allowed to work on the construction of the Palace. So they do have a purpose after all."
But it's not directly build on the suffering of others, just on social exclusion, which is at least marginally better than active oppression. The Kingdom of Zeal had everything they could want, but in their pride and greed they wanted more. So pushed on by their Queen, they reached out to the power slumbering beneath the ocean, and they built a machine to tap into that power to push them beyond their already lofty place. And because of it, they lost everything.


Much more evocative than the "demonic vessel." A localization isn't a literally translation, and it shouldn't be, because sometimes it adds something that the original was missing.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
2017-03-11 04:51 pm

3/11 大震災の記念日

Has it already been six years?

I wasn't affected at all by the Tōhoku earthquake, and neither really was anyone I knew personally. The worst that happened was an acquaintance in Tokyo at the time had to walk the twenty kilometers home in heels after the trains stopped running. In the western part of Japan, we weren't even affected by the power disruptions, because the different halves of Japan use different power standards due to buying equipment from different countries during the modernization of the Meiji Era.

I remember how others were affected, though. I still remember the Japanese word for "buried alive."

On Twitter earlier, I saw this photo of an advertisement of the Sony Building in Ginza.


It's all over Japanese news now, which gave me a clearer transcription of the Japanese, so now I can translate what it says:
3/11, every time that day comes, we think back on the things of that time. From the Great Tōhoku Earthquake, six years have quickly passed. Another such disaster will not happen again. We may think that way every year, but at some point, another disaster will certainly occur.

On that day, in Iwate Prefecture, Ōfunato City, the tsunami was observed at 16.7 meters (55.3 feet). If it came to the center of Ginza, it would be as high as this. Rather than imagine it, you can experience the height. But, rather than only knowing this height, action must change.

We, now, can prepare. We will retain the power of imagining for the victims of the disaster, and we can store up [their] wisdom. We will not forget that day. That is the greatest disaster prevention.
The last line is because it's a Yahoo advertisement, but it works best without that, I think.

頑張れ、日本。
dorchadas: (Link and Zelda together)
2017-02-04 08:13 pm

Game Review: ゼルダの伝説:時のオカリナGC裏

This is the game in the lineup I was most worried about replaying.

I mean, even a cursory search on the internet will find an enormous crowd of people who think that Ocarina of Time is the best game ever made, or at least in the top five. I still remember the first time I played it--I have my original gold cartridge sitting by our television--and how amazing it seemed coming from the first Zelda game, since I had only played Zelda II on a brief rental and never owned an SNES or Game Boy. Going from 8-bit self-contained screens to a giant expansive world? Running across Hyrule Prairie that first time, seeing Death Mountain in the distance and getting that "you can go there" feeling that Todd Howard mentioned in an interview about Skyrim? Combat trading sword blows, dodging and circling? It was amazing!

It was amazing, I won't deny that. At the time I first played it, I thought Ocarina of Time was the greatest game I had ever played. But I figured that it was mostly nostalgia and that since much of the amazement was based on technical innovation that had long since been obsolete, I'd have to force myself to play through this to get to Majora's Mask and then other Zelda games I haven't played.

I'm glad to say that's not the case. It's not the greatest game ever made, but I had a lot of fun with Ocarina of Time.


Read more... )
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
2017-01-01 10:34 pm

New Year's Retrospective 2016

I would have had this up earlier today, but first there was a power outage that took up forty minutes of our time and then I went out to a three-hour-long dinner. Add in some other things I was doing, and there was a short delay. But it's still the first, so it's still a retrospective on the New Year!

I don't bother with New Year's resolutions. But I did find this tweet that I like:

The biggest change I made this year is that I got serious about Japanese. Technically I've been taking lessons since August of last year, but this is the year where Aya-sensei suggested that we read 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ and where I've worked my way through a fifth of a Japanese novel. I also played multiple games in Japanese and read a manga volume in Japanese as well! I never really sought out opportunities to use and practice my Japanese other than through flash cards and listening to podcasts occasionally, and that's why I was stagnant for so long. Now I'm getting better because I'm making a space for myself to do so and moving into that space.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif

This is also the year that we went back to Japan! And with friends! It was a whirlwind tour, and there were several places I wish we could have spent more time at, but it was a fantastic experience. And I wrote something about it every day for a total of over 50,000 words under the Japan (日本) tag, so I'll say no more about that.

I was not more social than last year, and if anything, I was even more of a hermit. A regular game night on Mondays, Japanese lessons on Tuesdays, and book group on Wednesdays along with softlykarou having a standing commitment on Wednesdays meant that time for the two of us was in shorter supply than previous, so I valued it more highly and make extra time for it, pushing other things to the side. This isn't actually something I mean to change either way. It's not something that bothers me. But I would like to play more board games in 2017, like Kingdom Death and Android and Chaos in the Old World and our old copy of HeroQuest with the cannibalized DragonStrike parts, and that means I need to reach out and not just retreat into single-player video games. We'll see.

Also, maybe I should have a minis assembling session for Kingdom Death. Still in the box.  photo chryssalid.gif

I managed to keep saving money even with going to Japan and the bulk of replacing my wardrobe! Discovering Orimono and Guylook and similar sites, to say nothing of the designers I already knew of, gave me a pretty wife selection of clothes I loved, but fortunately my closet is only so big and is basically full now. There's a few more pieces I want to acquire, but my wardrobe is basically complete for now. And I put a good chunk of our salary into savings every month, aided by our lack of student loans. It'll be worthless after the Last War when the only currencies will be bullets and the heaped skulls of the dead, but maybe I'll be able to trade with some feral hedge fund managers for toilet paper and beef jerky.

We were supposed to switch to the new data management system at work, but the project is behind schedule, so no news on that front. Question block photo emot-question.gif

I usually post pretty hopeful quotes at the end of the year, but I'm not feeling that hopeful now. The quote I think is the most apt is a bit more pessimistic:
"There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."
-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Hopefully 2017 will not be as bad as we fear, for me, or for any of you.


明けましておめでとう。皆様のご健康をお祈り申し上げます!
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
2016-12-24 10:36 pm

Lyrics of the Fayth

So yesterday I was looking up the lyrics of the Hymn of the Fayth from Final Fantasy X, and after a bit of searching, I found a page that listed them as:
Ieyui (pray)
Nobomeno (savior)
Renmiri (dream)
Yojuyogo (child of prayer)
Hasatekanae (forever and ever)
Kutamae. (Grant us peace)
And I thought that can't be right, unless it's an invented language. Do I decided to look up 祈りの歌 (Inori no Uta, "The Song of Prayer"), the Hymn of the Fayth's Japanese title, and see if I could find more information on it that way.

The first page I looked at, I found this picture and looking at it, without reading any of the other text, suddenly everything made sense:

 photo AB95ECF9-E762-40B9-A30E-FA9FFE2C2FA8.jpg

Red and green added by me.

I always thought the words of the Hymn of the Fayth were nonsense, but apparently they're based on a syllable scramble! The song is sung from top to bottom, left to right, red part, then green part. That gives the lyrics above. But if you read it left to right, top to bottom, then it's actually Japanese and reads
Inore yo
Ebon-ju
Yume miyo
Inorigo
Hatenaku
Sakaetamae
Which translates to:
Pray to
Yu-Yevon
Dream of
The Fayth
Without ceasing
Make us prosper.
That's where the lyrics above came from from. Though the second two lines might also be addressed to the Fayth, telling them to dream.

Of course, all this is in the wiki article about the song, so I could have just looked there. But I didn't, and I'm happy I figured this out.
dorchadas: (Angst)
2016-12-21 02:07 pm

So it turns out I'm getting better after all

Studying isn't useless! Who would have thought!  photo doomguy.gif

One thing that paying for Japanese lessons has done is that it's encouraged me to pick up my studies in other parts of my life. Playing video games in Japanese, finally trying to read those manga we bought in Japan but that I've never really opened before, and writing more Japanese as well, like the notes we wrote back to our students in Japan after we visited last summer. But the lessons are also paying off in and of themselves, and I'm noticing that my ability to speak Japanese is getting better. I'm still heavily limited by my vocabulary, but that's because memorizing a giant list of words and their meanings is probably the most difficult task of language-learning, in term of effort that must be expended.

For example, at the last class I was at, we read an essay by Hideo Levy about the difficulty of translating the Japanese word 文学者 (bungakusha, the dictionary gives "scholar of literature"). Levy writes that there are connotations of bungakusha being the guardians of the essential Yamato spirit by means of literature, and mentions how as a younger man he was very annoyed about being an eminent writer but not being considered a bungakusha because he wasn't born in Japan, so people thought he lacked a certain...something.

So we started talking about the difficulty of translation, and I brought up playing Pokemon Fire Red and how I had posted a screenshot that was pretty difficult to translate into English in an elegant way. Here it is:


"Kono ore-sama ga! Sekai de ichiban!

Literally, it's just "I am the best in the world," but that doesn't really capture the way that someone saing kono ore-sama is elevating themselves above the person they're talking to, and translating that sense into English is nearly impossible without being really clumsy. The royal "we" kind of works, but that has its own connotations in English that this doesn't. Translating is hard, is what I'm saying. And I'm just a guy with a dictionary and some study, so I don't have to worry about my audience's knowledge, technical limitations (like in a game), meddling executives, and so on. But on the other hand, we were able to talk for forty in minutes, 85% of the time in Japanese, about difficult translating, pronoun selection in Japanese, and the time that [livejournal.com profile] libby_may's husband and [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b wandered around a park in Hiroshima offering people absinthe and two Japanese men chatted with us for about an hour.

All that money and time I'm putting in is working! Just need to keep 頑張るing. まだまだだけど、できるよな。
dorchadas: (Zelda Dark Princess)
2016-11-07 08:58 pm

Game Review: ゼルダの伝説 夢をみる島 DX

The Game Boy was kind of a weird time. There were a ton of puzzle games, exhaustively (and exhaustingly) covered in Jeremy Parish's Game Boy World series. There were the games that were brought over and then jammed into an existing series, like how 魔界塔士 SaGa (Makai Tōsho SaGa, “Spirit World Tower Warrior SaGa”) became Final Fantasy Legend. There were the ever-popular licensed platformers with almost nothing to do with their source material, like the Batman game where Batman ran around shooting all his enemies in the face. And there were the spinoffs from popular Nintendo franchises. Sometimes this turned out badly, like the first Castlevania Game Boy game where the developers had to add a ton of invincibility powerups as compensation for the incredibly cheap enemy attack patterns and level design. And sometimes it turned out well, like Link’s Awakening.

A couple of years ago, I went to a concert called Symphony of the Goddesses that features orchestral arrangements of Legend of Zelda songs--I first wrote about it here when I went to an earlier arrangement--and they had a focus on Link’s Awakening. In addition to gameplay sequences from the DX version of the game, they had anime sequences they inserted cutscene style, made specifically for the concert. It was listening to that, to the music from a game I had never played and watching Link work his way through the dungeons, that first got me interested in playing through Link’s Awakening. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and [livejournal.com profile] slarnos’s advocating for it also helped, and that’s why I started this game so quickly after I finished the previous Zelda game.

And I like the name a bit better in Japanese, I admit. ゼルダの伝説 夢をみる島, “Legend of Zelda: The Isle that Dreams.”


I, too, write my name on the back of all my possessions.

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dorchadas: (Yui Studying)
2016-09-07 11:23 am

Japanese verb confusion

My last Japanese tutoring session was all about the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs. In English, these tend to be the same verb--"The box moved," "I moved the box"--and when they're not people get confused, like with lay (transitive) and lie (intransitive).

In Japanese, they're almost always separate verbs. That first sentence up there would be 箱が動いた and the second would be 俺が箱を動かした, with the verbs 動く as the intransitive version and 動かす as the transitive one. A huge number of English verbs that are just one word with two senses are two words in Japanese, like "to burn" (燃える and 燃やす), "to begin" (始まる and 始める), or "to finish" (終わる and 終える). And often the intransitive version is the same as the passive in English, even though the passive is an entirely separate verb form. Both りんごが売れた and りんごが売られた can translate as "the apples were sold," though the first sentence could also read "the apples sold" and thus can be modified by adverbs, like りんごがよく売れた, "The apples sold well."

There's a whole giant list of them here if you're curious. It's part of what I used to make my flashcard set.

And that, of course, doesn't get into nuances of use that dictionaries don't always explain. During the lesson I tried to say 戦ってる子供を壊した, but it's wrong. I wanted to say that I broke up the fighting children, but 壊す means to smash a machine. The word I was looking for is 別ける. Similarly, 見つかる is intransitive and 見つける is transitive, but if you want to say that you couldn't find something, you'd use 見つかる. 見つける has connotations of volition, so that would be more like, "I didn't find it (because I gave up looking)."

And the expression for asking for someone else on the phone is Aさんに代わってください, which literally means, "Please changes places with A-san."

Languages are hard.
dorchadas: (In America)
2016-09-01 11:55 am

I finally saw Perfume!

I say finally because we missed them by twenty minutes at the last Flower Festival we attended in Hiroshima.

I have a bad habit of springing for concert tickets when I haven't actually listened to any of that band's recent albums. My record is probably the last time I went to see VNV Nation, 15 years after they released the most recent album I had actually listened to ("Empires"), and similarly the most recent Perfume album I've listened to is "Game," from eight years ago. As such, I knew basically none of the songs that they played.

Fortunately, they haven't changed their style. Perfume is technopop, or, as I think of it in my head, "What if Daft Punk was an all-female J-Pop band?" They just put out a new album, "Cosmic Explorer," and that's why they're on tour. And I didn't listen to any of it before coming, but I got to hear it live, so.

We arrived slightly late and came in to find that A-chan, Kashiyuka, and...the other one....were already on stage.


"The other one" is Nocchi, but I never remember that without looking it up.

Sadly, the drones flying in formation were only out for a single song, though they did later have an instrumental laser and patterns-on-metal-screens section that I liked a lot. There was a fairly long period after the first song where they talked about how this was their first time in Chicago and how much they liked Chicago pizza and how excited they were to bring their music to Chicago. Mostly in Japanese, with a volunteer member of the audience translating for them, and with the kind of super-genki enthusiasm that comes off as being mocking or disingenuous in America when adults do it but which is perfectly acceptable in Japan.

They also mentioned they hadn't been able to catch a Taurus in America yet, accompanied by a just-changed-enough-to-avoid-Japanese-copyright-law image on the screen of throwing a pokeball at a mangafied statue of the three of them.

Perfume is worth seeing live because, like a lot of similar groups, they have dance routines as part of their performance. And the dances are complicated enough that they take skill to perform, but not so obviously complicated that they're clearly lip-synching the whole time.  photo emot-qfg.gif Unfortunately, I don't know the names of most of the songs they did, so I can't really point out anything specific other than Next Stage with You. That link is actually to a car commercial we saw while we were in Japan in July and doesn't have the full song, but it has the chorus and everyone knows that's the important part of the song, right?

They ended with Chocolate Disco, the first Perfume song I ever heard and the only one in this performance where I knew all the words and could sing along. And then after the encore, which I don't even remember, we left and went home. It was great.  photo WOOT__Emoticon_by_CaptianAwesome.gif
dorchadas: (Eight Million Gods)
2016-07-27 12:56 am

Kyoto: Tuesday

Late night, late morning, and the rain that had been predicted nearly every day in the weather report finally arrived. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went out with [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture to fetch breakfast, and then came back, ate, and we left just under the buzzer to allow the hotel staff to clean our room.

Everyone else wanted to go over to Arashiyama on the west side of Kyoto, their various original plans having been scuppered by the rain. They decided this when we were already on the bus toward Ginkakuji, though, so we stayed on and alighted in northeastern Kyoto in a light rain. We walked hand-in-hand for about five minutes through houses and small shops and, next to a children's park made of dirt with a single swing and slide, we found the entrance to Hōnen-in.


Shadows and light.

I read about Hōnen-in this morning, and while the website I read said the central building was only open for two weeks a year, in April and November, that the grounds had a lovely moss covering and were little-visited. Both of those sounded like huge bonuses, so I asked [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd about it and she was all in favor. And it was exactly as advertised. I did have to wait for a couple other tourists to move out of the way to take that picture, but with the rain and Hōnen-in not really being famous for anything specific, we had it mostly to ourselves.

We couldn't go into the main hall, but it didn't matter. The advertised moss was there, as was a lovely fish pond, a few outbuildings, a stone stupa, and a statue tucked into a corner:


Watching over the moss.

After a few minutes' wandering around, we went back down toward the park and further north, where we realized we were on the 哲学の道 (Tetsugaku no Michi, "Philosopher's Walk"), which we've walked before the last time we were in Kyoto when my parents came to visit. After a brief diversion over to Anraku-ji only to find it was closed, we walked about five minutes north to the end of the road and Ginkakuji.

Ginkakuji is my favorite temple in Kyoto, but I think a lot of that has to do with my introduction to it. The first time we went, it was the end of December close to the new year, and almost no one was there other than us. The grounds were deserted other than one man raking the sand and us.

That was not the case here. The road from the Philosopher's Walk was absolutely packed full of people and the shrine was the same. It was still beautiful, but it fell victim to the typical problem with tourism--you want places to be easily accessible but no one to be there except you. Still, when I could ignore the people around, it was lovely.


One of many small ponds on the grounds.

The name means "Silver Pavilion" to match with Kinkakuji's "Golden Pavilion," but there's no actual silver on the buildings. The story is that they planned to cover it with silver but never got around to it, but no one really knows. I don't really care much for the buildings anyway. It's the gardens that I love.

I also got this picture of the grounds and the city.


Doesn't look that modern from this viewpoint.

On the way down, we popped into the gift shop. While we were tempted by the Kitty-chan tea mugs, we eventually decided not to get them, but did go for matcha and a sweet, the real reason we had entered in the first place. The sweets were soybean flour cakes formed in the shape of the mon of Ashikaga Yoshimasa, who ordered its construction. It was good--better than the matcha I can make, but not so much better than I feel like making matcha is a waste of time for me. I just need more practice, and I can do it.

After that, we took the bus back toward Kyoto Station but got off at Gion for lunch. Unfortunately, it was already 2:30 p.m. when we arrived and most places were closed or closing, and the places that weren't were serving noodles that I didn't want. We found one compromise place that had duck udon, but when we got inside, the duck udon was scratched out, so we left. We were running out of patience when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd found a restaurant called Izumoya, where we got a seat upstairs overlooking the Kamogawa. ¥2000 set with dashimaki, miso soup, pickles, rice, sashimi, tofu, tempura, seaweed salad, salt mackerel...it was delicious. That link had some bad reviews, but I'm really happy we went.


The dashimaki wasn't as good as [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's, though.

Next was the kanji museum, which I had seen a few days ago and wanted to go to for a while. Right after entering we saw a video about the origin of kanji in China from ideographic representation to the more stylized images in use currently, which made the point that emoji are very similar to the origin of kanji. And just outside was a display that demonstrated it the progression of kanji from ancient to modern:


Touch interactive--press a modern kanji and it would transform into the older turtle-shell-carved form in the center.

After that was a display where you could write the syllables of your name and see what kanji were used to derive the hiragana and katakana to pronounce it. While doing the katakana, two women noticed our writing and we got into a brief chat with them about how we used to teach English in Hiroshima and were from Chicago, and it turned out that one of them was an exchange student in Detroit! She said she had a lot of fun, but it was extremely cold, which, well, can't argue with that.

We couldn't read a lot of the information there and the kanji library was definitely beyond our ability, so we took a quick look into the gift shop and then left to get some anmitsu and, after that, to look at kanzashi for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's hair. After a bit of browsing, she found a black and green one and then we took the bus back to Kyoto Station, browsed around the shops there, and then headed back to the room to rest a bit before dinner.

Due to a miscommunication, we ended up not meeting up for dinner, so four people went to Chojiro again and, due to long lines, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, another friend, and I took the bus to Gion and found a hole-in-the-walk yakitori place called Torin (鳥ん). No pictures of the inside because they requested no photos, but I did take this picture of the outside:


The inside decor was rubber-chicken-themed.

There was a ¥300 table,charge and one-drink minimum order, so initially I was set to hate the place. But they won me over with the food. I ordered the set meal and got a hamburg (ハンバーグ, more like Salisbury steak than hamburger) with egg, salad, chicken skin appetizer, ice cream, and three yakitori skewers. The yakitori was excellent. Crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside, flavorful without being overwhelming, just fantastic. The table charge was actually worth it. And with only twelve seats in the place, I can kind of see why they charge it.

We left and met up with the others, bought some conbini sake and umeshu, and headed back to [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek's Air BnB to chat. That lasted about an hour before [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and said friend were falling asleep, so the rest of us said our goodbyes and conducted a Pokéwalk back to our respective places of rest.

I evolved an イーブイ into シャワーズ, and I learned that Showers is called "Vaporeon" in English.

Steps taken: 18226
dorchadas: (Chiyoda)
2016-07-22 11:29 pm

Chiyoda!: Friday

One benefit of staying in a ryokan is that you get both dinner and breakfast, so after sleeping in almost until the last minute, I was awakened by [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd with exactly enough time to make it to breakfast after a quick shower. And such a breakfast:


Get in my mouth.

We had to eat a bit quickly in order to make the ferry, and originally I thought we were going to miss the shuttle from the ryokan to the port and would have to walk. What was I thinking? This is Glorious Nippon, after all. They held the bus for us, loaded our luggage into it while we paid for the room, and then drove us down in time to catch the 8:25 ferry and the street car that was just leaving after that.

We didn't try to make the 9:40 bus after arriving at 9:35, so we popped into a 7-11 to withdraw cash and get snacks--I got a melon pan, om nom nom--and then up to the bus center, where we bought tickets and asked for the proper platform to board the bus. I thought it was eight, but I was misremembering. It was nine, like it's always been.

Also, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd accidentally bought us children's tickets instead of adult tickets and we were worried for a moment, but we were being silly. This is Japan, and the ticket counter exchanged them for free. They were actually the same price, so I'm not sure why the 北部 line even offers separate tickets.

On the bus, we learned that Pokemon Go had finally gone live in Japan, causing a frantic burst of activity as [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega captured every unclaimed gym in sight.

And then, we arrived in Chiyoda.


From the highway. That building with wings is the community center.

Kaminaka-san, Hattori-san, and Sunada-san were all waiting to meet us at the bus center, and after a round of hugs (hugs! In Japan!) we started on our short tour. First we went to the Geihoku Cultural Center, new since we lived here, that had exhibits about local folk crafts like weaving and rice growing, about kagura performance, and about the festival of Mibu no Hanadaue. Then we went to Mibu itself, walking down the shōtengai where the festival takes place and ending at Mibu Jinja, where we went for hatsumōde our last year in Japan.


Not as impressive now, without the snow and lanterns and crowds of people. I wish I had a picture of that night...

After that, we drove up to a viewpoint on top of a hill, and after a short walking path, we found our way to 壬生城跡 (Mibu shiroato, "the ruins of Mibu Castle"). I didn't see anything that looked remotely like a castle had ever been there, but there was a spectacular view:


Facing toward Ōsaka.

After that, we went to look at our old house, still pretty nice looking and still sitting next to the abandoned twin house next to it, and and then off to Chiyoda High School! Unfortunately, due to the Japanese policy of transferring teachers after only a few years, very few of the people that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd taught with were still there. There were a couple, though. Umeki-sensei, who teaches math, and Nishihara-sensei, who teaches science, and the school nurse were all there. We also ran into Koyama-san, mother of Kazu, who I wrote about in this post and who is now a high school student. We didn't talk for very long because Kaminaka-san had set us a schedule, but we looked around for a bit in the school and then continued on to the Yae-sogo Communtiy Center for lunch, where we were met by Nakamura-san, the other Hattori-san, and Bōno-san.

Lunch was amazing. They had remembered I liked sake a lot and brought two small bottles for me, one of local sake from Chiyoda and one from Saijō, where the sake festival is held every year in late August. We had conbini bentō and okonomiyaki, as well as dessert jello from somewhere. I got a grape and aloe jelly that tasted exactly like the drinks I used to get from vending machines. We chatted, and I did a lot of translating to and from Japanese, and there were only a couple times where I just brought the conversation to a halt because I couldn't think of how to express an idea. It was amazing. Why did we leave?

Oh yes. So [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd could go to school and fulfill her dreams. It's a good reason! And yet, when I'm here, walking around Chiyoda, speaking in Japanese in a way that I was very uncomfortable doing when I lived here the first time...

If I had moved here before knowing as much Japanese as I know now, I'd be conversationally fluent. But, well, there's nothing to do about that now. I just have to keep trying and keep studying.


また今度, I said as we left. "Until next time..."

And we will be back, someday. Sooner than five years.

After a three-hour meal, we had to catch the bus back to Hiroshima, so we took the taxi Kaminaka-San had chartered and packed away the hand-made pottery pieces he had made for each member of our group, including [facebook.com profile] aaron.hosek, who wasn't there due to having not been in Hiroshima with us, and we got on the highway bus and started the trip back. After the trip, we walked to our hotel--not Hotel Active, sadly, because there was a weekend price spike that made it not worth staying in--but in Toyoko Inn on Heiwa-Ōdōri, which was further but not significantly so. We were scheduled to meet some old friends from our Japan days, who happened to all be here at the same time in a weird serendipity, and after we checked in that's what we set out to do, though [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega and [livejournal.com profile] tastee_wheat stayed behind because they were still incredibly full from lunch.

The tabe・nomihōdai was at Sōgo, not Mitsukoshi like we originally expected it would be, so it took a bit longer to get there than we thought it would. Not too long, though, and once we made our way through Sōgo to the special beer garden elevator and went up, we had a couple hours of drinks and food with friends. The food wasn't that great, but I got some nice use out of the bottle of sake that it didn't seem like anyone else was drinking from, and a lovely time talking to people I hadn't seen in years. And some Japanese practice with an acquaintance, though I think because of the beer, she forgot that I'm not that great and just launched into full native speed and I followed along as best as I could.

At ten they threw everyone out. Some people were going on to a bar called Koba and originally I was planning on joining them, but on the walk there I started getting more and more twitchy in a way that told me that it was time to go back to the hotel. So I said my goodbyes, walked back to the hotel with a friend, and read until [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd came back and then went to bed.

Steps taken: 14050.

Note: If you're interested in more about Chiyoda, I did a whole blog series about it here.