Hello from Japan

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Hello from Japan

Postby draktar » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:18 am


New user here, I live in Japan working at a US Navy base. Been here 2 and half hears now and love it. My wife and I are committed to staying long term in Japan as tent-making missionaries. We are Christians of the reformed baptist flavor, no denominational affiliation at the moment, working with a PCA affiliated group to start a new reformed church for the base while we live here.

I've been into anime for many years, since college or a little before if you count Voltus 5 cartoons in elementary school. You might be surprised, but it's still uncommon to find other folks who appreciate anime/manga even here. So I'm looking forward to meeting others (Christians even!) who share my interest. My wife's been a real sport about it, and has enjoyed many shows I've introduced her to (primarily Ghibli movies), but even she gets tired eventually.

We've been learning Japanese and have made some progress (we can understand enough to know when the subtitles are wrong!), but are not conversational yet.

Looking forward to seeing When Marnie Was There (Omoide no Marnie) in theaters soon! No subtitles, but oh well. Helps with that language learning stuff. Maybe I'll write a review here with my impressions.

Nice to meet everyone!
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Re: Hello from Japan

Postby Thunderscream872 » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:27 am

Hey what's up, man! Welcome to CAA!

Just out of curiosity, since you know some Japanese, how do you normally prefer to watch anime English dubbed, English subbed, or with he original Japanese audio with no subs?

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Re: Hello from Japan

Postby PLCDreamcatcher14 » Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:42 am

Hello and Hajimemashite! Welcome to CAA! Do you or your wife have any manga you like? :)
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Re: Hello from Japan

Postby draktar » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:50 pm

Oh good, we can get this out of the way immediately:


Regarding subs/dubs/nothing - I prefer subtitles. My Japanese isn't good enough to be able to just watch without subs yet, but hopefully someday. When I watch in Japanese theaters (we don't do TV), of course there are no subtitles, but it is fun to force the brain into that "desperation" mode which I think helps with increasing listening comprehension. And context is still King.

My opinion on dubs is that, for the most part, dubbing invariably fails to capture the original voice actor's performance, loses lots in translation, and inevitably results in a skewed experience of the anime. But the worst problem, in my opinion, is that there are simply things that are said in Japanese that make sense in that language/cultural medium, that no English speaker would ever say or possibly even think, at least not naturally. So it is jarring to me to hear English saying the things being said, while it does not jar me to hear it in Japanese and read it simultaneously. Add to this that, generally, dubbing performances in English (even the best Ghibli titles) are not very good or anywhere near the quality of the original voice actors, and that is why I prefer subtitles. Having worked a little on dubbing for live action movies in the past, I am familiar with the script translation difficulties involved, and the desire to match the english to the lip movements given the assumption that English-speakers will not watch something that isn't lip-synced. Personally, the more familiar I become with Japanese and the culture, the less I appreciate these attempts to do dynamic-equivalence translations (i.e. Neil Gaiman's script for Mononoke Hime). And when a character strings together a ridiculous English sentence with bizarre pauses just to match the mouth movements, I find it very distracting knowing how it changes the interpretation of the story as a result. And sometimes the overall choices made have a huge impact on how you view a character, such as Jiji the cat in Kiki's Delivery Service, whose performance in English is drastically different from the character in Japanese.

I am not completely convinced good dubbing is impossible, just exceedingly rare. There are so many factors that need to come together to make an excellent dub, and it seems like no one is capable of doing it right. In an ideal world, with unlimited funds, I would love to assemble a group of talented people to do some dubbing experiments and try to craft a reproducible process that would virtually guarantee excellent dubs. Of course, in my fantasy, I would get to call all the shots and not do any of the actual work, so this isn't likely to ever happen. :)

Until then, life is short, and I'd rather watch subs any day of the week.


Ok, regarding Manga, I'm still relatively new to the medium. I cannot read Japanese well enough to read manga in the original, so I'm left depending on what I can find online. The only manga I own is Nausicaa, because it is awesome. I have it in English and Japanese as I hope to make it my first manga I read in the original language some day. I also have it in the smaller individual volumes to lend out to people, along with the larger hard bound versions.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed Cross Game on Viz Media's app. It's the only thing there that I ever bought, because I am averse to spending money on things like manga/anime as stand alone purchases, as I'll usually only read/watch something once. The exceptions are the Nausicaa manga mentioned above, and for anime I am a Ghibli movie collector, because I do watch those again and like to use them to introduce people to the best anime has to offer.

Most recently, I have been enjoying Crunchyroll's manga subscription service. There aren't any truly great titles yet, but I am enjoying "A Silent Voice", Arslan, Arpeggio, Japan Sinks, and Silver Nina. There's a lot of manga that is extremely puerile in nature, so it's tough to wade through the junk and find stuff I like. I wish Crunchyroll had some parental controls so I could allow my son to read selected titles without him being able to get to all the other stuff too. I'm pretty sure he'd love Japan Sinks (he's a geology nut), and "A Silent Voice" could give him a much needed lesson in empathy. Ah well, it's still a new service, maybe they'll get around to it.

Well, sorry but the rant, but hopefully that answers your questions!
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Re: Hello from Japan

Postby black & white angel » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:17 pm

Welcome to CAA!
I make it a policy not to second-guess my instincts. Life's more fun that way. ~Train Heartnet
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Re: Hello from Japan

Postby ClaecElric4God » Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:04 pm

Welcome, welcome. It's always awesome to meet other Christians with the same ambition to work in Japan as missionaries. I hope God uses you greatly to bring Japanese souls to Christ!

Oh, hey, Reformed Baptist! I've recently been studying some of those beliefs/doctrines, and may pick your brain one of these days.

Are you studying Japanese through a program/course, or just self study? I personally have nothing in the way of a Japanese community in the area, and Japanese classes seem to be non-existent, so I'm limited to self study for the time being. I know what you mean about forcing your brain to try to translate. That's one of the reasons I've leaned toward sub more than dub recently.

Anyways, welcome, I hope you enjoy the place and the crazies don't scare you off. Hope to see you around!
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? -Micah 6:8 KJV
They have shewed thee, O teen, what is good; and what doth the world require of thee, but to fit in, be wealthy, have good looks, and be rebellious? -Peer Pressure 1:1
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Re: Hello from Japan

Postby TheAlbinoMoose » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:06 pm

Hey! Welcome :)
Do you see this gorgeous creature?
That graceful profile. Those striking eyes. Behold the albino moose.
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Re: Hello from Japan

Postby shooraijin » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:34 am

Welcome. Good to see folks from the land of. We have a few others around.
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Re: Hello from Japan

Postby draktar » Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:24 pm

We've had several phases of studying Japanese:

1) Rosetta Stone - when we decided on a homeschool language of Japanese, we did not know we'd end up living in Japan. I was seduced by the "effortless" learning that Rosetta Stone touts. That should have been a red flag. I quickly found myself confused and frustrated by the lack of any actual teaching on grammar or script. Ended up buying myself some basic hiragana/katakana workbooks the first time I learned to write. Of course, I had to relearn later on as I wasn't doing much writing with Rosetta Stone. I can't recommend it.
2) Remember the Kanji - When I first got to Japan I thought I would get a headstart on Kanji by using Remember the Kanji in combination with Anki to master all the Kanji. The mistake here is that without context, pure memorization is not useful. In addition, merely knowing what kanji mean in english is helpful for deciphering somethings, but of course vocabulary is made of more than single kanji and meanings can shift. I eventually realized the futility of this approach in isolation.
2) Japanese Tutor - A 70 year old lady who taught herself to speak English was our neighbor and she tutored my wife and I for a year or so. We didn't use a textbook at first and eventually I felt the need for more structure, so we went through the first level Genki textbook. I still didn't feel like we were being disciplined enough to make any progress so eventually we moved on to phase 3.
3) Kumon - Our son had been enrolled in Kumon on the base and I was jealous of his workbooks. Seemed very structured and simple, and you have to do pages every single day, so I thought that built-in discipline would be good. It was very good for re-training me on writing hiragana/katakana and basic kanji. Best of all is that they force you to write a lot, so it really helped on that end. However, the speaking practice is practically nil. All we got was a bi-weekly reading session where I read back to them some of the lines from the worksheets. I really need more than that. Also, it's expensive ($85 each month) for 3 people to go.
4) We are in a hiatus at the moment as we've had guests, moved house, and had a couple of work trips. But soon we plan on starting up with a local community run english class at the town hall. I'm going to try to concentrate on speaking primarily. For kanji and vocab, I've been using the KanjiBox app, which is pretty great. Recently bought a fine point touch sensitive pen device for the iPad to help with writing practice. I might actually set a goal of passing the N4 language test for sometime next year. We'll see how it goes!

The main thing I've learned is there is no silver bullet, no quick and easy, effortless way of learning Japanese. It's going to take a long time, and I may never feel I am really "fluent" (whatever that means), and I need to be ok with that. My goal is to be able to have friendships with Japanese speakers and share the gospel with them. I doubt I'll ever be able to discuss complex theology or philosophy.

Good luck with your efforts, it is definitely more difficult with out the environmental stimulus, but even if you are in Japan it is possible to get by with English and not really learn Japanese. You might look up online tutors such as http://www.j-os.com/ (a friend recommends them). They aren't cheap, but at least you are getting a native speaker's input.
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