Friday, February 25, 2011

All in the family

Partial continuation of the previous lesson! These aren't strictly honorifics per se but there are certain ways to address family members that you should know.
  • "onii-" or "nii-" = older brother
  • "onee-" or "nee-" = older sister
  • "otou-" = dad
  • "okaa-" = mom

For example "Onii-chan" to address an older brother or "Otou-san" to address your dad. Incidentally, it should be noted that it is not uncommon for husbands/wives to refer to each other as "Otou-san" or "Okaa-san" if they have kids. 

See you next time!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jackie Chan and Jackie-chan

Lesson 4! Whew, finally moved on.
Some of you may be wondering about the title of today's post. After all, Jackie Chan doesn't really have much to do with anime (he does have a cartoon that has anime influences though, but that's not really an anime in the strictest sense). Well,I find his name to be a great example for today's lesson; you'll understand soon enough.

Today's lesson is on Japanese honorifics. Many translators leave Japanese honorifics intact since the English equivalents lose something in the translation. The following are common suffixes:
  • "-san": This is sort of the "generic" honorific, used to address people without adding any particular implication about your relationship.
  • "-sama": This honorific denotes respect, whether it is a personal respect or due to a higher social status 
  • "-sensei": This honorific is usually used to address or refer to persons of authority (teachers, politicians, doctors) or persons who have achieved a high level of achievement in a skill or art (painters, manga artists, novelists). Can be used as a stand-alone word.
  • "-kun": This honorific denotes familiarity and is usually attached to boys names.
  • "-chan":This honorific denotes a sense of "endearment" and is usually attached to girls names. 
  • "-sempai": This honorific denotes "seniority" in an organization. For example, all students in higher grade levels would be sempai. Can be used as a stand-alone word.
    • "Kohai": The opposite of sempai, a junior, but is typically not used as an honorific
  • " ": Addressing somebody outside one's immediate family without the use of an honorific implies the utmost intimacy and is otherwise extremely rude/insulting if such intimacy does not exist.
 So as you can see, there's a big difference between Jackie Chan and Jackie-chan. See you next time!

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Valentines Day Supplementary Lesson!

    Today we'll be having a special supplementary lesson since its Valentines Day. Valentine's Day is celebrated differently in Japan and this is bound to come up in any romantic manga/anime.

    Valentine's Day:
    In Japan, it is the custom for girls to give chocolates to boys. This is not necessarily only for romantic purposes (though of course this is the main idea); it can be out of courtesy, to friends or colleagues for example. "Courtesy chocolate" is known as giri chocolate.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    White Day:
    Conversely, on March 14, males are supposed to give reciprocating gifts to anybody who gave them a gift on Valentines Day. In theory, the gifts are supposed to be more expensive than what was received (two or three times more in fact)

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Class(ification) is in session (part 3)

    Lesson 3, Part 3!

    This time we'll be dealing with genres that tend to be more unique to manga/anime.
    • Mecha: When there's walking vehicles piloted by somebody. Who doesn't love giant robots? 
    • Psychological: Where the character's mindset is an important element of the story; emotional instability, guilt, and fears all help to advance the plot. Can be disturbing at times; insanity usually has a reason after all.
    • Harem: Typically associated with romance-comedies, this involves several female characters who attracted to a male character. Often, the male character will be completely oblivious to the affections of those around him. If its multiple males attracted to a single female, its known as a "reverse harem"
    • Ecchi: Literally the translation would be something akin to "lewd" or "dirty". Expect borderline nudity and skimpy outfits. The censorship ability of giant clouds of steam is astounding
    • Shonen Ai/Yaoi: "Boys love". Focuses on romantic relationships between men. Seems to be quite popular amongst Japanese women
    • Shojo Ai/Yuri: "Girls love". Basically the female equivalent of Shonen Ai/Yaoi, focusing on romantic relationships between women.
    • Gender Bender: When switching genders is a major element in the story; can be about cross-dressing or switching bodies.
    That's all for now!  Next time, we'll finally move onto Lesson 4!

      Thursday, February 10, 2011

      Class(ification) is in session (part 2)

      Lesson 3, part 2!

      This is a continuation of the last lesson, but now about manga/anime genres. Keep in mind that many stories tend to be a combination of these. Today though, we'll start off with the "general" genres.
      • Action: Fighting, violence, just aggression in general. Typically associated with shonen manga.
      • Adventure: Typically the character(s) will be heading off on a journey of some sort
      • Comedy: Stories intended to amuse. There are also sub-genres that depend upon "key locations" (such as "school comedy")
      • Drama: Intended to invoke some sort of emotion in the reader
      • Fantasy: Magic, superpowers, and just stuff that doesn't have a scientific explanation
      • Horror: Intended to strike fear into the reader. The artwork in these can get rather gory sometimes.
      • Mystery: Unexplainable events? Mysterious cases? Keep guessing til the end, when all will (hopefully) be revealed
      • Romance: When love is a key theme. Typically associated with shojo manga
      • Sci-Fi: When the power of science has its limits lifted. Aliens, portrayals of the future, etc
      • Sports:  The story centers around sports of course. Usually focuses on the journey of a group from being nobodies to being champions
      Not that bad huh? Its basically just like how you'd categorize a movie or something. But keep in mind that this is just the beginning. Next time, we'll be moving on to some categories that are more "unique" to manga/anime.

      Tuesday, February 8, 2011

      Class(ification) is in session

      Lesson 3
      First off, sorry about the pun-title, won't do it again (probably).
      Anyways... let's start with some more practical information regarding manga/anime. This time around I'll be explaining the different categories of manga/anime. Since many stories incorporate multiple genres (and due to the "genre shift" I mentioned before), manga/anime are typically classified by what the target audience is rather by theme. They are as follows:

      Shonen: Targeted towards younger males (pre-teens to teens). Typically focused on action, humor, or both.

      Shoujo: Targeted towards younger females. Typically focused on romance and drama. I personally find shojo stories tend to be darker than shonen stories

      Seinen: Targeted towards older males (older teens/in their twenties). Stories of this nature tend to have more serious themes than shonen and in many cases have more "intense" art.

      Josei: Targeted towards older females. I personally haven't read much josei so I apologize for my lack of information in this regard. Research, however, would seem to indicate that this category tends to focus on the everyday lives of women living in Japan.

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      What big eyes you have

      Lesson 2!

      What's the difference between anime and a western cartoon? Aside from the obvious disparities in artistic style (anime tends to have a greater emphasis on facial expression for example), anime and cartoons tend to differ in terms of story.

      Um... you can see the differences in art styles right?

      Whereas western cartoons are generally intended to be humorous and hence have an episodic-nature, anime generally has an underlying story that remains for the entirety of the series. Furthermore, in anime, the "good guys" don't always win, which can be a little hard to swallow for people accustomed to happy endings. Also notice that "good guys" was in quotes there; it is not unusual for the protagonist to be an anti-hero.

      Another difference is what I call "genre-shift". Comedic moments can occur quite often in stories that are serious overall and it is not unheard of for tragedy to strike in what is otherwise a comedic story. For some people, these brief "out of place" moments take a little time to get used to.

      Saturday, February 5, 2011

      It begins, it begins

      Hi, welcome to Otaku Novice! This blog is intended to be a novice's guide to manga and anime (written by a novice). Basically, I'll be going over basic terminology and gradually move into reviews of some what I consider to be "beginner-friendly" series.

      Lesson 1!
      Anime: Basically just animation made by the Japanese. In Japan, the term actually refers to all animation regardless or origin though.

      Manga: Basically just comics made by the Japanese. Comics influenced by manga and produced in other countries also exist, such as Manhwa (made by the Koreans).

      Otaku: A Japanese term that refers to somebody who's "passionate" about anime and manga. Strictly speaking, the term can be used for *anything* really (music otaku, sports otaku, etc) but its strongly associated with manga and anime now. Its got a somewhat negative connotation; think "fanboy", "geek", or "nerd" as western equivalents.

      That's all for now, see you next time!