Sensei’s Corner, Dec. 9, 2011

Nothing Bad

It’s been a while since I’ve been writing in this blog, but it’s not really because of anything bad. Actually, a number of minor and major problems have been fixed so I feel like I have the luxury of blogging a little more. Part of it is health related, and I’ll keep details private, but it is good to be on the right path when it comes to health. So, I’m more 元気 (genki) in the physical health sense.

Yesterday a power outage zapped my Windows XP profile’s user settings. I was a bit worried, but after taking a large chunk of the day doing long-overdue defragging and optimizing of my boot drive (my C: drive), it’s in far better shape now. Then, a reboot successfully brought back the old settings. I guess Windows realized it needed to take a step back. In the meantime, I fixed a huge ton of registry errors with the help of a free trial of an AVG-related program. I really can’t complain about the results so far.

Actually, most of what’s been killing my blogging time is practicing writing fiction. I wanted to get back to the level I was at before I began learning Japanese some fifteen years ago (!). Or maybe it’s 16, it’s hard to recall the exact date. Anyway, I had no prospect of finding a book agent. Frankly, I still don’t. But that’s not the point here: I’m older, wiser, and have a lot more experience to draw on.

The most challenging thing right now has nothing to do with skill. Due to a rather… embarrassingly extreme amount of experience with running role-playing games for close friends, I am accustomed to a lot of character creation and development, and I have always had a knack for dialogue and writing action. It’s setting up the scenarios in a way that satisfies my amateur anthropologist mind and having a plot worth pushing that holds a lot back… and well, time. Writing sucks up a lot of time, you see.

Having said that, I’m at the point where, if I had a clear plot to work with, I could crank out mini-novels in no time at all. My typing speed is ridiculously fast compared to a lot of people, and mostly, it’s about having ideas and flow. But since plot matters, it’s not as if I want to be a fast food writer, either.

In terms of anime, I’ve caught up on some things a little, but I’ve been enjoying things other than anime where I can for quite some time. Mainly, I’ve been getting really impressed at the fundamental beauty and meticulous story crafting for Guilty Crown, one of this season’s greats that looks every bit as good as a feature film should. Animation has come a long way, though my understanding is, right around where I watched the last episode, there is a switch from computer graphics animation to more cel-based animation for the mecha.

I will say this: today’s anime can come up with some truly spectacular background shots. This has CG assistance too, apparently, but it’s not really the same; when things aren’t in motion like a giant robot, you get to appreciate all the subtleties of the extremely detailed and high resolution art involved. The vibrancy is just incredible. People in centuries past had famous painters; I have my high-res backgrounds of vast flower gardens and bodies of water. My human experience has been enriched.

Now, I will say this: I don’t necessarily want to talk just about Japan stuff here. It’s just that I can’t really walk ten feet without bumping into something related to it. While waiting for my father’s business to finish setting up for manufacturing (and for me to play secretary/ customer support/ online marketing demon), I’ve been toying with the Japanese version of the RPG Tales of the Abyss, which has some of the most incredible character development for a main character ever seen or even heard of. Of course explaining it would spoil, but the bottom line is this: I am so glad I play these games in Japanese. The voice actor casting is often what you might call, well… absolutely perfect for a given character’s personality, and this game emphasizes the characters, the personalities, and it always comes back to clinging to hope for a better future.

Another anime I caught up on is “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukinai“. The hiragana shortened version comes off as “はがない” , which is confusing because that’s not “ha”, it’s “wa” as pronounced. Anyway, “I have few friends” is one translation suggested to me. It’s based on novels, where some of the best stuff comes from (largely due to the extremely intricate plotting and dialogue; hey, if you don’t have artists cranking out every cell, your dialogue had better be good). It’s also notable for an “anime blonde” girl who is, well… let’s just say she is popular with the masses.

But really, I’ve been distracted by the writing and other issues. I don’t want to idly rant too much about the writing stuff (and the background research I’ve been doing) to any great degree, but I just wanted to let people know the broad outline. – J

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for Technorati.com and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: jeremiahbourque@gmail.com
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