On Becoming “Japanese” based on Anime Delusions

Hello hello, Ayappi here! ( ´ ▽ ` )

“Japan is an island by the sea, filled with volcanoes and is beautiful” according to Bill Wurtz. It is also the birthplace of anime, the thing that we are huge fans of. If we look at it from a social constructivist standpoint (I’m sorry I’ve been learning this stuff in university), these anime give way to informal learning and implant in anime fans an image of Japan based on the anime they watch. These people however usually end up getting branded as weeaboos.

Got this from somewhere

Though, the definition of “weeaboo” has gotten so warped over the last couple of years. It has gotten so warped, that I think the Urban Dictionary entry or Filthy Frank’s WEEABOOS video account for just one of the many other definitions weeaboo has gained over time. For the purposes of this entry, we’re going to lock what a weeaboo is to the Urban Dictionary entry which you could check out HERE. But why am I making this intro with that title? Today I would like to talk about becoming “Japanese.”

Now if you have talked with me in real life, at any point in time, you would know that I actually have plans to naturalize to Japan. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it basically means I will willingly renounce my current citizenship and become legally Japanese. Through that, I could enjoy all the rights and privileges that come with being LEGALLY Japanese. I emphasize legal because that’s about as far as you could go, especially if you have zero traces of Japanese blood in you. You will be required by law to take in a Japanese name (with no bad connotations), but the law cannot change your blood and genes.

Now people usually think that my image of Japan is largely based on anime and manga. In other words, the stereotypical definition of anime and pop culture Japan being a wacky, wild, schoolgirl infested place. People always try to talk me out of it by telling me about the negatives, but in reality I am well aware of the issues and “negative aspects” that are present in Japan. I have researched, talked about with natives, and have even experienced firsthand the negative aspects of Japan.

With that said my decision to become Japanese was by no means a rash decision impulsively made from watching my favorite animes the whole day. I am well aware of the ridiculously many requirements needed to become Japanese such as the 10 years minimum for permanent residency and 5 years for naturalization if I don’t end up marrying one of my Japanese friends. I am well aware of the homogeneity, the more reserved and exclusive nature of Japan compared to my country, the discrimination faced by mixed race children and Chinese/Koreans (it doesn’t help that I’m a bit Chinese by blood), how otaku actually is, the horrible work ethic according to most, the declining birth rate and so on. I have methods to combat them such has having friends and relatives who are Japanese and are living in Japan already, knowing Japanese, being passive (yep, it actually works), having prior experiences living in a collectivist society compared to an individualistic one and so on. I have thought of all of these and reflected upon them, and in the end I still keep on choosing Japan.

So what am I trying to say from all of these? I have read many times the horror stories of weeaboos who want to try and become Japanese, blinded by their delusions of anime Japan. I want to try and impart in you, a word of warning and possibly a wake up call if you have ever considered becoming Japanese because of these tendencies. Anime gets some parts of real Japan right and hides the rest of it (I will go in depth on this on a future article). The bad things that people say about Japan, just because it wasn’t shown in anime, are probably real and you don’t know it but they actually manifest in anime in scenes you don’t expect. It doesn’t hurt to Google it first instead of becoming immediately extremely butthurt at the fact that “people are ‘badmouthing’ Japan.” Please, for your own sake, do not consider being Japanese if you cannot accept the reality of Japan not being the “otaku paradise” you dreamt it to be. I promise you, you will really regret it.

I’m not saying a weeaboo cannot become legally Japanese and live in Japan. You could, but unless you stop it with the delusions and consider every single small flaw found in Japan, you would probably have a bad time. A very bad time.

Please also do not consider it if you have absolutely zero knowledge on Japanese grammar outside of the basics. You will not survive with English in Japan, trust me my father learned the hard way until I “saved” him the trouble of talking to natives in Osaka. You cannot learn Japanese through anime alone, mind you, but it can certainly help.

Have you ever considered becoming Japanese because of anime? What do you think of people who say they know everything about Japan but in reality it’s just from anime? Please do let me know in the comments and have a great day ❤

DISCLAIMER: I love Japan and by no means is this article meant to shame or put Japan in a bad light.

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The Busy Anime Fan’s Guide to Studying Japanese

Nowadays everything is faster. From things such as your phone being probably faster than your old laptop (well based on the Geekbench scores at least), to the way we communicate with people from any corner of the globe, to how fast we could access that new episode of Uma Musume. But with this new fast paced and busy lifestyle comes a cost; less time. Less time means less time to study Japanese which could mean, it’ll be easier and FASTER to forget everything you’ve learned in Japanese, or really any second language, especially if you don’t live in Japan.

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That’s unfortunate

So what can we do then? I want to study Japanese but, priorities and the newest episode just came out of Gun Gale Online so now what? Do we just accept our fate as it is and let everything we learned go to waste, or have no time to study at all? Well, no. Please keep reading as I will give you some tips on how you, the anime / manga fan, could still learn and retain their Japanese despite the lack of time.

Now as an anime fan, I will be assuming that you are getting around 5-8 hours of sleep, a total of 3 hours for the appropriate mealtimes and daily routines, 8 hours of work and/or school, an hour for transportation, 2 hours for studying and 2 hours for watching anime (6 episodes). I will not be including social media time because, this can happen any time really.

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Busy life is normal for our day and age

This guide is assuming you already know Hiragana and Katakana. If you don’t, please make yourself some flashcards or a table, and memorize the two alphabets before even proceeding with anything else. Try memorizing 5 a day per alphabet, preferrably in this order:

Day 1: あ い う え お ア イ ウ エ オ

Day 2: か き く け こ カ キ ク ケ コ

Continue the sequence, starting syllables are さ、た、な、は、ま、や、ら、わ

Memorize only these first, because the rest of the sounds are only modified by adding two lines or a circle to the character, with the exception of な、や、ま 、わand ら characters. To illustrate

か becomes が

た becomes だ

Starting and continuing to study with romaji is the one of the worst things any Japanese learner could ever do to themselves. The reason why is for another article.

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Let’s not get to this point shall we?

Okay, so let’s say you only have an hour per day to learn and practice Japanese on your desk. Let’s go to grammar first, because that’s what’s most important in my opinion. What I suggest is that for every two days, learn only one grammar point and stick to mastering that one point. You could extend this to three days, but really just go with your pace. For me, two days is my self-imposed deadline for learning a grammar point. For every day after this time interval, try to recall and review the past grammar you have studied.

As for vocabulary, try not to push yourself by memorizing entire vocabulary lists. In my opinion, especially given the possibility of you being mentally tired and stressed after a busy day, this is counter-productive. Instead, what I would recommend is just learn the words when you need to know them. What do I mean by this? Until you want to say something, do not learn the word. When the time comes that you want to say, let’s say: “I want to eat vegetables,” then you only look up and learn the word for vegetables when that time comes. The same principle applies for kanji, and I actually learned kanji this way for the past two years.

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Time to put that Japanese podcast/Jpop collection to good use too!

Okay so far we have grammar and vocabulary/kanji covered, but how about listening, reading, speaking, and writing? For one thing, writing would have to be done alongside the grammar and vocabulary sections during note taking, so that’s alright. As for speaking, unless you have a partner, or are willing to speak to yourself, then you’re in trouble.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Listening and Reading could actually be done while you’re watching anime and/or reading manga. While the accents in anime are questionable, the one thing that is accurate is the speed and vocabulary. Your skills at listening and vocabulary recognition will be practiced as you watch anime. As for reading, you guessed it, manga will help. Sure, the vocabulary you might pick up might be a bit questionable (especially if all you watch is shounen or obscure and deep titles) but listening and reading will be practiced. This is actually the method I personally use if I can’t talk to my Japanese friends, friends who can speak Japanese, or relatives in Japan.

The trick here is maximizing exposure time. The mere fact that you are watching anime (preferably without subtitles), counts as exposure time. So long as you could use the Japanese that you learned, or you place yourself in situations where you have no choice to learn, then you could retain or possibly improve on your Japanese. You could also try putting your entire phone in Japanese, whatever works! Just make sure you get to see even just one hiragana each day! It sounds hard,  but trust me it isn’t.

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マイペースでやりなさい!

To be clear, you don’t have to follow this guide exactly as I say. We all learn differently and I simply wrote what I have proven, to be an effective way of learning Japanese in a busy lifestyle. You could even multitask and study Japanese while, let’s say as your driver drives you to school, or as you eat dinner. Just please, however, do not forget to do your responsibilities. Once you get in “the zone” I know it’s really really hard to stop studying, but please remember that there is no point in studying Japanese if you will just starve yourself to death, or die of lack of sleep in the end.

So I think that pretty much covers it! Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great Japanese language journey! ❤

P.S. Please don’t die. Seriously.

Why A Japanese Learner Should NEVER Use Google Translate, Ever.

Hello again!

Today I’m going to talk about a topic that, I honestly, as a learner of Japanese, really wish to get across to those considering learning or are currently learning Japanese.
I am pretty sure anyone who has spent a considerable time on the internet knows about translation websites and services. These websites operate in such a way that a user enters a string in a certain language, and the software outputs a translation based on how it is coded, regardless of its accuracy. With that said, I think we can all agree that translation technology has a long way to go before it even gets close to natural, or at least accurate translation 100% of the time. I also think we can all agree that the most (in)famous of all these online translators is Google Translate.

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At least it knows it’s an expression. But still, oh my goodness…

Note, the above’s correct translation is “nonexistent.” あらへん is Kansai for ない.

Now to be fair, it’s already been established that Google Translate Japanese, is noticeably horrific, as evidenced by the many Japanese YouTubers who made videos on the subject. The way I see it, it’s really because of how English is structured that when it is run in Google Translate’s code, it tends to jack things up a lot. Japanese’s grammar is very different from English; so much different that I personally recommend studying Japanese brute force – no comparisons to English. Also, the fact that Japanese has different levels of politeness tends to mess with the AI so much, that sentences being translated by the translator could end up being overly polite, or overly rude, or a mix of both. Either way, it’s a pain to read. This issue of being jacked up in translation is also caused by the fact that Japanese has many dialects, although this one is more evident when translating Japanese to English (see my example above).

But just in case you don’t believe me:

Original English: My name is Ayappi. I’m 18 years old and love anime. I also love technology, especially my custom PC and my iPad Pro that I recently bought. I built the computer with parts I bought with my own money that I saved. 

Japanese (My Own): あやっぴです。18歳でアニメ大好きです。テクも大好きです。特に自分の自作PCと最近買ったiPad Pro。あの自作PC、貯めたお金でパーツを買って作りました。

Japanese (Google Translate): 私の名前はAyappiです。 私は18歳で、アニメを愛しています。 私はテクノロジー、特に私が最近買った私のカスタムPCとiPad Proも好きです。 私は私が自分のお金で買った部品でコンピュータを作りました。

While the first sentence is correct on the Google Translate one, it’s probably the only correct part. Notice the unnatural language, as well as the lack of Japanization of my name in the Google Translate version. あやっぴ is how you write my name in Japanese. Also notice how there is a noticeable overuse of 私, a dead giveaway that this is Google Translate, simply because a normal Japanese person would have just omitted the word altogether due to it being obvious.

Fun Tip: If you suspect someone is using Google Translate, please use a dialect or net slang. Chances are it will confuse them.

Okay, so we established that Google Translate is bad for translating sentences, but how about individual words? Surely it must be accurate in that department yeah? Well, based on my testing at least, it’s fairly accurate. It’s probably the one thing Google Translate is good at. However, I would like to point out one important thing, and that is the fact that alternatives to Google Translate for this purpose exist. Oftentimes, these alternatives are even better, and more powerful than Google Translate.

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Don’t you agree that this is more powerful?

I’m referring especially towards online dictionaries that offer English to Japanese capability. In particular, I love Jisho for its support for English to Japanese, and even support for romaji input if you’re still learning Hiragana and Katakana. I personally don’t see the point of using translation services which have been notorious for unreliable translations, when these more powerful and easy to use alternatives exist. When I’m communicating to actual people, I would much rather go through the trouble of using these dictionaries for more accurate translations instead of the arguably more convenient Google Translate.

And if a web browser based solution isn’t up to your preference, there are many free dictionary applications on both Android and iOS (if you’re on iOS I recommend Shirabe Jisho), that are equally as powerful as Jisho. Don’t worry about space too, because based on my testing, they’re small. Oftentimes it’ll just be as big as Facebook Messenger depending on how much you use the application.

I’m sorry if I came off as too rude or arrogant here, but honestly I wanted to get this out of the way. As a learner of Japanese I, too will admit that in the first few months of me learning, I used Google Translate until I realized how flawed the system is. If you have access to any form of dictionary, please for your own sake do not use Google Translate. If you don’t, look for one. I promise you, this is better than accidentally saying something else compared to what you actually wanted to say (and trust me, I learned the hard way).

Are you a learner of Japanese or do you know anyone who likes to use Google Translate a lot? Please let me know your thoughts! If you use a dictionary, what do you use and why did you choose that?

Until the next entry, please have a nice day! ❤