The Beauty of Hello Happy World and Kokoro Tsurumaki

Ayappi here! (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

So a friend of mine recently got me back into playing this mobile game called Bang Dream! Girl’s Band Party. As I played this game again, other than finding out I have lost some of my rhythm game ability,  and that the once failing franchise has really gotten a lot of positive traction lately, I have found some really interesting insights about one of the characters in this franchise.

Hello,_Happy_World!_New_Costumes

One hell of an energetic band I’d say, in a good way

You see when I used to play Bang Dream prior to this, I only focused on my favorite characters: Rimi and Kasumi from PoppinParty. I did a bit of Pastel*Palletes as well, but only because they did the cover for one of my favorite songs, which was Sekai wa Koi ni Ochiteiru. This meant I would leave out or not even bother to interact with the other characters in the game. But this time it’s different, and by going out of my way to explore  and give the other bands a chance, I have found something very interesting that has made me appreciate Hello Happy World better.

I’m talking about Kokoro Tsurumaki, the blonde haired leader of Hello Happy World!, one of the five bands that comprise the Bang Dream franchise as we know it today. As I interacted with her, “interesting” character in the game, I have come to the conclusion that Kokoro Tsurumaki’s character really does encapsulate the spirit of the band Hello Happy World. Allow me to explain why down below!

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Kokoro as we know it, for those who played the game or have her as their best girl/waifu at the least, has a very quirky personality. She’s a rich girl, but her character goes against the typical spoiled, snobbish nature of the blonde rich girl character we often see in shows and other video games, such as Sendoin Kaede from Battle Girl High School or, while not really blonde or anime, Trixie Tang from the Fairly Odd Parents. Instead, we get a more “innocent and happy rich” type of character out of her, hinting the possibility of being sheltered by her parents. If I were to compare her personality with another franchise related to Bushiroad, it would have to be Ohara Mari from LoveLive Sunshine.

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They’re both blonde, rich and energetic. Mari however has lots of mixed blood

She always goes out with a smile, and is really full of energy – enough to rival even some of the most energetic girls that fit in with the “genki girl” stereotype. Remember that happiness is contagious, and that they do often say that the best way to get people to smile is to smile yourself. This is coupled with the fact that she has made Hello Happy World for the purpose of making people happy with the band’s music. Not only that, but whenever I see her interacting with the characters in the Bang Dream game, she always acts younger and definitely quirkier than what is expected of her age, at energy levels usually not found at her age. Her energy, and personality are in my opinion, best described as childlike.

Childlike in a sense, that, I’m pretty sure at some point in most of us, we just want to make the world happy. We just want to innocently spread happiness, love and friendship to all of the people we meet in the world, while at the same time being super energetic that it might serve as an annoyance to some people. And I think this ties in really well with the whole concept that makes Hello Happy World what it is – to spread happiness through their music.

Further extending the subject of her childlike disposition and how it embodies Hello Happy World as we know it, elements in her band’s story and even the band’s title really compliment this whole childlike Kokoro. Kaoru Seta, the guitarist of Hello Happy World for example, I remember her story debut in the band’s story where she played the role of a prince in a school play. Shortly afterwards, we get a special cutscene where Kaoru, is in a position that makes her appear like she’s the prince Kokoro (the princess) was looking for this entire time, much like a typical princess fairytale. Again, it compliments being childlike as we normally associate fairy tales with youth and bedtime stories when we were 7 or 8 years old.

Another more obvious childlike element would be the bear costume of Michelle. It reminds us of these huge plush toys that give us joy when we were kids, and I think it ties in very well with the whole concept of making others happy though our music, and the childlike Kokoro.

Hello,_Happy_World!_(PICO)

Let’s also look at the title, Hello Happy World. If you ever did a bit of programming, the usual first program we create in class is a simple “Hello World” program, showing some sort of greeting to the “world” that we have arrived and are ready to mingle with you. However, the addition of “happy” changes everything. It’s now a greeting addressed to a “happy world.” What is this happy world you might ask? No idea, but judging from Kokoro’s vision of making people happy with their music, it ties in really well again with the whole childlike Kokoro thing I just discussed.

In conclusion, Kokoro’s childlike personality really compliments the whole concept of Hello Happy World. This childlike personality of her has really contributed into her making Hello Happy World, and it does really show. I would say, learning more about her has really did make me appreciate her character more, to the point that I would make her my second favorite character in the entire Bang Dream franchise. No one beats Rimi however, protect that chocolate fountain at all costs.

What do you guys think? Are you a fan of Hello Happy World or at the very least Kokoro? Please do let me know down below and have a great day ahead ❤

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The Magic of Hiragana in Titles

Ayappi here (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ
Let’s start off with some facts. Japanese has 3 main writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Katakana and Kanji should be the most familiar to most the way I see it, as these two are arguably the most prevalent in media overseas. For example, the characters シ、ツ、ン、and ソ are often joked about as the characters for happy, reflecting its popularity. Kanji, well this is the bane of existence for most Japanese learners. However, we often leave hiragana out as this sort of, normal Japanese characters or the curvy characters we often see at that one Japanese restaurant in the neighborhood. As if the purpose of hiragana, mostly, is for when you don’t know the kanji for this and that.

However today I would like to talk about a certain side of hiragana that may seem unimportant for the normal anime or manga viewer, or even a Japanese learner/person who knows Japanese but could actually make for a good way to appreciate the story even further. Specifically, I’m going to discuss the titles of certain works almost exclusively written in Hiragana. With this, I would like to use a certain manga’s title (which I will be posting a review of soon), called “Onii-chan is done for.” In Japanese, the title is written as お兄ちゃんはおしまい, onii-chan wa osimai.

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Slice of Life goodness right here

To be honest, I didn’t read even realize this until the translator of the series pointed it out. Honestly I wouldn’t have thought of this had I read the raws instead. Osimai (or oshimai) is a Japanese word pertaining to something being over. You might have encountered this word being uttered at Himouto Umaru-chan’s opening, with the hai! Osimai! 「はい!おしまい」in the ending. True enough, the “official” translation、at least according to the translator, is “Oniichan is done for,” literally over. However, the translator noted at one of the chapters that osimai could also be referring to an extra polite form of using the word sisters, or shimai (姉妹).

Note that in Japanese, one way to convert nouns and some words into super polite or humble form, is to add お (o) to the start of the noun. If we do this to the word shimai, then we can get お姉妹 osimai. Neat huh? Good job translator!

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Here is the page in question

What can we get from this aside from a free Japanese lesson then? We can see that in even something as boring as a series title, there could be hidden meanings scattered all around. This flexible ambiguity that a Japanese word written in hiragana offers the reader gives us many opportunities for many possible interpretations of the story. To illustrate its ambiguity’s beauty and flexibility, allow me to give an example.

I mentioned earlier that hiragana is one way for people who do not know the kanji, or forgot the kanji, to write out their thoughts in Japanese. Now, even in Japanese schools, kanji is formally taught by grade or year level, and there are some kanji that a 30 year old salaryman would know, that a grade schooler wouldn’t know. I never attended primary and secondary education in Japan, but I can assure you I know this much. Moving on, the main character of this manga (and I’m not even spoiling major bits of it, trust me) is already a grown man, but has been turned into someone younger other than to the opposite sex. Now at the body he’s been given, he has certainly turned younger.

Yes we could argue that the body he has been given could be the body of someone who already knows how to write osimai in kanji, both forms of it. Yes we could also argue that this is one of those words that are usually written in hiragana. But, this choice of the author to use hiragana instead of the kanji versions gives it a more young feel. It helps reflect and enhance the notion that the main character has been given a younger body. Please note that Japanese children do not dive in to kanji right away but rather start with hiragana and katakana like the rest of us who studied Japanese.

With that said, please remember that manga is a form of literature, just like a novel, drama or even a poem. Much like poems, I remember how even looking at the title could lead to more valid interpretations of a piece of literature, we could do the same process of close reading and looking at the title to manga. It’s not necessarily something that you’re required to do to enjoy yourself, and really you could still enjoy a manga without going through the mentally taxing process of close reading, but honestly it could help you appreciate the work even more.

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Sometimes people take the titles of manga, or really any other form of literature and dismiss them as something merely there to sound cool or catchy. But this manga, Oniichan wa Osimai, could easily show us that there’s more to a title than just being there to sound and look cool. Well you have to admit, that might have been clever on the author’s part, but still.

How about you? What do you think of this entire hiragana title magic? Did you ever tear apart a series and looked at the title? Please do let me know your opinions down below!

With that, please do have a great day ahead ❤

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Is Gojikanme no Sensou Worth Reading?

Ayappi here (๑╹ω╹๑ )

When aliens invade the world, what’s the first thing you plan to do? In this manga’s Japan, the plan is to deploy teenagers to fight the alien invaders. It’s every man for Japan in this manga, in an attempt to repel the unknown threat, which only (spoiler) gets revealed at the end who they exactly are. In this review I’ll go over my thoughts I had with Gojikanme no Sensou.

Girls and Guns, and Alien Invaders

The story is set in a world where the Japanese mainland is invaded by an unknown force of aliens. In an attempt to get as much forces needed to repel the threat, the Japanese government issues an order where select high school students will get deployed in the mainland to assist the SDF in fighting. This in my opinion, while some could argue that this is just an attempt at including girls with guns, this would actually make sense given the issues Japan is facing right now such as the rapidly aging population. While old people could fight, there’s only so much an aging body could do. Therefore the decision to use young people to fight may have been the only option at the time.

One common theme in this story, is loss. As the manga progresses, we get to witness ourselves the deaths of the class. These losses however, are not limited to physical losses or deaths of the characters and Japan but extend over to strained relationships and misunderstandings between the characters.  Despite these losses and deaths (towards the end the classroom was near empty), sufficient pages were given to developing the characters and their backstories, so it wasn’t at the cost of character development. One such example of this is the entire chapter dedicated to Miyoshi, the painter boy. If anything, should the characters end up being relatable to the reader, it only boosts the drama and the immersion factor of the manga for the reader. With this whole loss thing however, there’s one thing that boggles my mind: “Why and how did Saku suddenly disappear in the end, without a trace?”

UPDATE: Saku ran off to the mainland to meet with his current girlfriend, which isn’t Miyako. However, it’s safe to assume Saku died as this is the last we’ll ever see from him.

However towards the end, we get to see Miyako bearing 2 children, a boy and a girl, in a new world without the aliens. We get to see life blooming both from her, as well as the formerly resource scarce, now crop filled island. It should be noted that prior to the last chapter, Miyako had to buy food from a merchant boat that brought supplies from the mainland. That, and vegetables were handled by a small farm near the school grounds tended by Saku. The last chapter in particular (which is really long), gave many emphasis on nature, as well as the children of Miyako. The aliens are gone, and a new life starts for Miyako, her children and Japan. This is a nice contrast in my opinion to the first theme which is loss. As old life is lost, new lives begin to grow. It reflects the natural cycle of life and death, and is a smart and beautiful way of conveying that message in my opinion. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

What’s interesting to note of is the names of the two main characters. It’s foreshadowed from the beginning by the act of declaring Miyako and Saku to be unfit for combat, that one or both of them will be the only ones to survive. Now the kanji for Miyako’s name, 都, means “metropolis” or “city.” Being a mother of two children in a newly deserted island in Japan, it’s obvious that her children will be responsible for repopulating the entire island. In other words, make lots and lots of babies, people. Saku’s name, means north or first day of the month. However if we change the characters to a verb, 咲く which means to “bloom (as in life),” then we could possibly see a connection between their “plot armor” foreshadowed survival and the cycle of life and death I just discussed. Although Saku disappears in the end, you could say Saku and Miyako’s fruits “bloomed” in the form of their children.

This cycle of life and death also extends over to the strained interpersonal relationships of the characters. In particular, this one scene with Miyako and Saku towards the end of the manga. The two have sex in order to have babies, possibly because they think they’re the only humans left, but really prior to this scene Saku just answered Miyako’s confession. Now, sex is one of those things that may possibly reflect the closeness of two individuals. This could have indicated a revival of their past relationship as in the story their relationship has been kind of rocky, mostly due to the unrequited love. Again, it reflects the theme of life and death possessed by the manga.

The art for this manga, is really nothing special. However it does set the moods really well in certain scenes. Probably one of the best instances of the art setting the mood is with the drawing of the stuffed rabbit. It is heavily implied that the talking rabbit is the alien threat, and spoiler, it is. However, we don’t know its true nature just yet, but I personally leaned towards the “messenger/traitor from the enemy out to help the main characters.” It was only until the depiction of a rabbit in an eerie devil costume (drawn well enough to give anyone nightmares) was the true loyalties of the “rabbit” foreshadowed.

The pacing of the story is okay. Scenes didn’t feel rushed at all, and I personally think skipping some months to kill off some side characters helped a lot in the pacing. Besides, the majority of the manga are scenes set in the island, so adding more chapters just for the sake of showing how the rest died probably wouldn’t have helped at all. It just would hurt the pacing and would look out of place in my opinion.

Overall I’m pretty happy I read this manga. I only have a few gripes with the story, but regardless I enjoyed the ride. Now, would I recommend, the, that you read this manga? Are you a fan of alien invasions, high school students going to war, and apocalyptic stories? If you cannot read Japanese and are alright with waiting for the translations, then I might be able to recommend this manga to you, because that’s the one thing keeping it out of reach for English only readers. But if you’re a brave soul, I would strongly suggest that you have a dictionary nearby if you choose to read the Japanese because majority of the dialogue is in a dialect. However it is by no means a poorly written story and I think it deserves a chance to be read.

Have you read Gojikanme no Sensou? Please do let me know down below! Thank you for reading, and have a great day ❤

Also, I would like to give a little heads up regarding my current situation. I will be starting my third year at university tomorrow, and I wouldn’t have time to post as much as before. Given that, I will only be posting at minimum, one post per week. Maybe even more if I have the time for it, but certainly there will be one post per week unless something like a blackout happens.

Also, thank you for taking the time to subscribe and read my articles! It really means a lot to me!

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.

Songs About Food and Futons? – Uchikubigokumondoukoukai

Hello hello!

To the blog’s newest followers from First Friday, hello and thank you for following the blog ❤

The last time Japanese music made me laugh so hard was with the anime Tesagure! Bukatsumono’s opening song “Stand Up!!!!” The song was very deep and well constructed, and was magnificently, obvious. If I had to pick an anime opening that takes the title for most meta, it would be that one. But this time I won’t be looking in to Tesagure’s hilarious opening, but I will be putting the video down below in case you’re curious.

Now if you are a fan of Japanese music I assume you already know that there is such a thing as J-Rock, aside from J-Pop. The differences are obvious, with Babymetal probably being somewhere in between the two. Now if you’re not, let me ask you a simple question.

At any point in time, if you use Facebook, have you heard a song about “I don’t want to get out of the futon?” I don’t know if it will help, but it features a cute little penguin sleeping inside its little futon (Japanese style bed). If that still doesn’t ring a bell, here’s the video.

If you remember, good job! If you don’t, well still read on because you might probably become a fan of theirs.

Uchikubigokumondoukoukai, aside from having a really long and distinctive name (Japanese: 打首獄門同好会) is a Japanese hard rock band. I recently started to listen to their songs because of that exact video I just referenced.

If I were to describe their songs, I would say, they have a way with words. The lyrics are so deep, and well constructed, and they’re so artistic. In fact, my most favorite one is when the— OH WHO AM I KIDDING, THE LYRICS ARE THE BEST. In fact  They’re really not as deep as you think. In fact, it’s more on the comedic side of things, even some songs will make you scream “what the hell did I just listen to,” in a good way. At first glance, you might think to yourself, gee, these are some catchy songs! I wonder what they are about? And we will get to that later!

Though really, even though it might give the impression to some that these people simply ran out of ideas and decided to write about super mundane everyday things, and seriously I don’t blame them for thinking that way, I personally think this is a charm in itself. Let’s face it, it’s not everyday do you hear a hard rock song about something bad happening to a smartphone. It gives off this light and playful aura that gives a nice contrast to the very strong and powerful sounds given off by their hard rock style of music. It’s a good change of pace, and is good for a quick laugh or two.

Other than this, their music is highly relatable to an extent. Let’s go to the futon song for example. I’m pretty sure most if not all of us have experienced not wanting to get out of bed because it is so cold outside. There’s a reason, why when I first stumbled across this band, the Facebook page that shared it put a caption saying “this is your winter anthem,” or something similar. It’s relatable content like this that come close to rivaling those cheesy love songs that get annoying once 5 radio stations and the nearby store overplays it when it comes to relatability.

Let’s go through some of my personal favorites from this very creative band! May I highly suggest giving the song a listen before reading anything if you don’t understand Japanese, but you’re welcome to just read on, that’s fine.

#1 Nihon no Kome wa Sekai Ichi | 日本の米は世界一

The bowl of rice at the start is the subject of this song. Yes, the title of this very, taste bud provoking, hunger inducing song translates to: “Japanese rice is the best.” But Ayappi, isn’t “gohan” the word for rice? Yes, while normally we use ご飯(gohan) for the rice that we eat on our table, 米 (kome) can also be used to refer to rice, although it may be unnatural to use.

The song lyrics are 75% Japanese food names, 10% 食!食!(Shoku shoku) which just means food. And the remaining to be justifications and expressions on how Japanese rice is, the world’s number one rice.

 

#2 Shimaguni DNA (島国DNA)

The title card of the music video translates to: “Japan’s fish.” And this is exactly what the song is about, Japan’s (edible) fish. The song proceeds to list down, much like the first song in this roundup, Japanese food based off of fish such as Shiokara (imagine Natto but fishier), Sashimi and others.

Out of all the lyrics though, one line stands out in the chorus: “We Japanese people love fish.” This song in my opinion, wanted to express the identity of the Japanese people being from an island nation. The fact that there are so many fish based dishes in Japan, as well as the abundance of fish itself thanks to the country being surrounded by water, their claims might as well be true. Regardless, I think they did their job well. If we take a look at the title too, “Island nation DNA.”

Just remember that the Japanese are humans too and not all love fish.

Fun fact: When they scream “Whoa whoa!”, that’s actually not whoa whoa. It’s “uo, uo!” In Japanese, it’s 「魚、魚!」which translates to “FISH FISH!”

#3 Nikutabeikou (ニクタベイコウ!)

 

I’ll admit I only included this song because I kept laughing at 29, which is a number pun for “meat” in Japanese. However, I think I can try to make sense out of the video.

It shows a video of children playing, and repeatedly slams meat names and dishes at your eyes. Now I remember the times when me and my family or friends would grill food, either at a restaurant or at the beach. Two things are certain:

  1. Meat, meat, and lots of meat!
  2. It brings people together, mostly

I don’t really have that much memories of playing outside because of my parent’s looking out for my security, but I know for a fact that children playing outside is a way of connecting with others, with the world. I think what the song is trying to say, other than the fact that there are so many delicious meat dishes out there, is that we are a community!

In the end, I highly recommend you give their music a chance to be in your own music collections. All their videos and music, mostly, are available on YouTube and on Apple Music or Spotify. If you’re a fan of Uchikubigokumondoukoukai, which song is your favorite?

Alright, thank you for taking the time to read my little article! I hope you have a great day and rock on ❤

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! ❤