September 22, 2009

All-female theater company?

Peter writes about Takarazuka, a theater company in Japan consisting only of women which dates back to 1914. It's sort of the mirror image of Kabuki, in which all parts, nominally male or female, are played by men. In Takarazuka, all parts are played by women.

As I was reading about it, what it reminded me of was the Imperial Opera Troupe in Sakura Wars. And about the way that Kana and Maria tended to play male characters in it.

I wonder if the real-life Takarazuka was one of the inspirations for the game, and the anime derived from it?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 09:54 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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September 20, 2009

Exchange Students

Pete seems peripherally involved in an exchange program with Japanese students coming to visit UNM. He says:

Just as I was afraid they would, Japanese and American students completely segregated themselves and do not talk at all, with one notable exception of American boys who chase Japanese girls.

Which is not exactly unexpected. What I think is interesting is that the converse doesn't seem to be true (or at least not noteworthy): where are the Japanese boys chasing American girls?

It kind of shows some of the deep cultural differences between the countries, doesn't it?

UPDATE: I misunderstood Pete's post. He tells me this is in Japan, not in New Mexico. The visitors are Americans. I think that makes things a lot more clear, and a lot more understandable. The Japanese guys are not chasing American girls because there are lots of Japanese girls around.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 10:38 AM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
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September 03, 2009

Men are from Mars, women visit Venus

Japan's new first lady is a loon. (Via) She says:

While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus. It was a very beautiful place and it was really green

It is like hell green. We have seen pictures of the surface sent back by the Venera landers, and the surface of Venus gives Hell a run for its money as a terrible place to visit. (None of the landers survived 12 hours after they were down.) It's hot enough to melt lead on the surface of Venus. The atmospheric pressure is 90 times that of Earth.

There's nothing alive on Venus and there never will be.

The party leader met his wife - a former musical actress who was born to Japanese parents in Shanghai - while he studying at Stanford in the United States.

Oh. That explains it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 11:04 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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August 19, 2009


I received a rather odd unsolicited email this morning.

I found your webpage very interesting. can you please tell me about the original english word for these borrowed japanese words?

The email address was hotmail and the user name was strange, sounded middle eastern or something. It has the flavor of one of the weird comment spams going around. But it seemed to be genuine, and so I answered it.

What it mostly consisted of was japanized versions of English. Here's the list, plus what I said about each:

Ooba [kooto] -- no idea
kakuteirudoresu -- cocktail dress
hitto -- hit
geemo setto -- "game" and "set"
naisu iin -- "naisu" is "nice"
shiidii -- no idea
jazuusesshun -- jazz session
uetto na kanji -- I don't think that's borrowed from English
dorai -- probably "dry"
goo sutoppu -- that would be "go" and "stop"
kaa -- no idea
wanman-kaa -- no idea
takushi -- no idea

So that's what I mailed back. For a lot of these, what you have to do is to read them out loud a few times and then use your imagination. That's how I got "cocktail dress".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 01:02 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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July 11, 2009

Japanese -- dictionaries

Two of my favorite web resources for doing Japanese language lookups have gone offline. One has been gone for two weeks; the other for a couple of days. And between them it's left me crippled.

The second, in particular, since it was how I tended to look up kanji I didn't know (which is to say, nearly all of them). So I'm thinking I need to buy something.

The requirement here is that it permit me to cut-and-paste to this web site. Which means it can't be one of those nifty stand-alone electronic dictionaries. And it can't be paper. It's got to run under Vista.

I just started doing some googling. Anyone know anything about this Declan package? I think I'd feel more confident about it if the screen caps of the program showed that it spelled the word "radical" correctly.

It's only $16; maybe I should just go for it anyway.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 10:44 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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June 20, 2009

Word of the day -- dadakko

Today's word is 駄々っ子 dadakko. It means "spoiled brat".

I first noticed it in Negima Ala Alba. Ayaka has a tantrum at a summer festival, screaming and crying, and Konoka and Setsuna both say that word. (After which Ayaka glares at them.)

But it was also the answer to a question I've had for a long time. In the last few episodes of Nanoha A's, when Nanoha is fighting against she is talking to Lindy and says something nasty about her enemy. They translated it as "a whiner" and I was curious what word was used in Japanese. Today when I listened to it I picked out dadakko.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 05:20 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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June 19, 2009

Japanese counter words

I suddenly had the urge to watch Nanoha A's again. In the third episode when Vita and Fate are fighting, Vita thinks, "I only have two cartridges left." And what she says is nihatsu.

I got curious; just what does the hatsu counter word mean? Off to Wikipedia, where we learn:

hatsu, patsu (発) Gunshots, bullets, aerial fireworks; orgasms, sex acts

Holy shit!

UPDATE: You know, I am tempted to download a fansub of this series. For one thing, there's a chance there's one in higher resolution. For another, I am thoroughly tired of the way that Geneon's DVD mastering guy crippled the encode by leaving out the timing track. What a pain in the ass.

Probably a waste of time, though; I just looked at the only one I found is almost certain a rip of the Geneon DVDs. I could do that for myself; I don't need their help.

Maybe I will. That's what I bought CloneDVDmobile for, after all. The sound for the first three eps would still be mono, but my player controls would work with the rips.

UPDATE: You know what? I'm going to do it. Another thing is that my DVD drive has a hard time loading the second DVD. I usually have to pop it and reinsert it several times before it successfully registers.

UPDATE: Well, that sucks. CloneDVDmobile will rip it if I choose the English soundtrack, but it barfs on the Japanese soundtrack. "ffmpeg" doesn't like it.

I just recently installed the new version of that program; maybe I need to retreat to the older version.

UPDATE: Ripping to a new VOB file didn't crash, and the file plays, but the subtitles didn't come through. Sheesh.

UPDATE: All of that was using version of CloneDVDmobile, a recently-released upgrade. I just uninstalled it and reinstalled the previous version I have, And it handles it fine. I've sent an email to SlySoft reporting the problem.

It still isn't a marvelous solution, though. With the settings I was using, it hardsubbed it. I'm going to experiment with it a bit more and see if I can figure out any way to get a reasonable softsub. My guess: "no". Unfortunately, H.264 MKV doesn't appear to be a format it knows how to generate.

I guess that's because they didn't want to include an OCR package. The subtitles on a DVD aren't stored as a text stream, they're effectively a 2-bit GIF file with one color reserved for transparency. Looks like what the program did was to merge the subtitle graphics with the base video:

That's a framegrab from DVD playback

And that's what it looked like on the resulting AVI file.

I found a program one time which would convert the subtitles on a DVD into a text file. The way it worked was that it knew how to parse character divisions, and it relied on the fact that the subtitle overlay is computer generated and uses a single font of a consistent size. Which means that every time a particular character appears, it'll always look the same. Every time it found a character it hadn't previously seen, it displayed it on the screen and waiting for the user to type in what it was. It wasn't as inconvenient as it sounds. But that was three computers ago.

UPDATE: I'll be darned; I still have it. It's called "SubRip" and my version is 1.17.1. There's got to be a newer version out there somewhere!

UPDATE: Yup, 1.50 beta 4. But the author's home page is gone, so that's the last we'll get.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 06:17 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 602 words, total size 4 kb.

May 28, 2009


First they ban panty vending machines, and now...

John sez:

The TBS television network reports that Japan’s independent PC game review committee will prohibit the production and sale of all adult computer games prominently featuring depictions of rape. The revised review criteria to certify games for production and release will take effect on June 2. Rape themed games are estimated to presently constitute up to 20% of Japan’s adult PC games. The ban will apply to approximately 200 commercial game development studios.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 06:22 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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April 17, 2009

DBZ -- kienzan!

With help from HC (thanks!), I finally figured out how to write the name of Krillin's signature attack, which is romanized as "kienzan". Turns out it's 気円斬.

ki is the energy they use for their attacks.
en means "circle".
斬 can be read a number of ways, one of which is zan. It means "beheading, kill, murder".

It is indeed a killing attack, which is why Krillin only uses it when he's really serious. He used it against Nappa but missed; Nappa dodged it. He used it against Frieza and took Frieza's tail off with it. He used it against Cell, but Cell was too strong; it bounced. And later he used it against Kid Buu, and cut him in half. Problem is, that doesn't matter to Kid Buu; he just rejoined the pieces.

Anyway, it's one of the coolest attacks in the series, and I've long wanted to know what the Japanese name meant.

("Kienzan" is a lot cooler than "Destructo Disk". Generally the English names for most of the attacks are very boring. "Makankosappo" is cooler than "Special Beam Cannon", too. Hmmm... wonder how you write that one? Betcha it starts 魔)

UPDATE: When I googled for the first two kanji in sequence, I found some places that had a different name for it: 気円烈斬

The third kanji 烈 is read as retsu and it means "violent , severe , extreme ", which I rather like. Maybe that's from the manga. It shows up in the game. But it's never used in the anime.

UPDATE: It just occurred to me that Krillin only uses kienzan against enemies who are themselves killers. When he used it against Nappa, Tenshinhan, Chaozu, and Yamucha had already been killed. Frieza? Was already drenched in blood. He used it against Cell only after cell absorbed Android 18. And Buu had already blown up the earth and killed everyone when Krillin shot it at him.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 08:47 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 326 words, total size 2 kb.

April 15, 2009

Kamichu -- Soda is available

Ep 9 of Kamichu is pretty much the only part of it I ever rewatch, but I revisit it several times per year. There's just something about that episode that resonates with me, and not just because it features IJN Yamato. (It's also what I wanted most from the series: lots of magic, and no middle-school angst. Shame most of the episodes weren't like this one.)

Over at the Duck's I left a joke comment about how the guy who built the 1/40 scale Yamato replica out of Legos forgot the "Soda is available" sign. That's a reference to this episode. Yurie researches the ship and learns that there was a room in it where they made soda. She thinks maybe there was a sign like that on the ship. The sign to which she refers is one that shows up in corner grocery stores:

/images/02495.jpg /images/02496.jpg

And next to that is the one she draws herself:

I got curious about what it really says. It's written old style, in columns which are read right-to-left. The first column says ラムネ ramune which turns out to be the Japanese word for soda pop. The other one, though...

First two characters are hiragana あり ari and I've got it worked out that the word must be a version of ariawase which means "on hand, available, ready", but I cannot figure out what that last kanji is. It looks as if it's 4 strokes, especially the way Yurie writes it (though she's being sloppy about leaving out a corner in her first stroke). None of my standard tools are helping me here, either. There doesn't seem to be any 4-stroke kanji based on either 口 or 囗, according to the Multradix lookup. And I can't find anything that looks like that in the Jouyou Kanji.

It's driving me nuts. Anyone care to help me out here?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 08:56 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 316 words, total size 2 kb.

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