Friday, June 10, 2016

Japanese Netflix

I have a weird guilt thing going on lately: I’ve been in Japan for over a year and a half and somehow I am not 100% fluent in Japanese.

That sentence is about half joking.  I have seen native Japanese speakers take out their pocket dictionaries to look up words or kanji that THEY don’t know in their own language, so I am comfortable in the knowledge that the is no such thing as 100% fluent. I do sometimes feel like I should just be… BETTER at this than where I am.

I can manage the life basics: I am conversationally proficient in getting groceries, navigating to places, ordering at restaurants, and talking to people on the street about the giant dog at the end of my leash.  But because that covers about 90% of my life here, I haven’t pushed beyond that.  I’ve been sort of stagnating at that level for longer than I’m comfortable with.  

I study at least an hour a day, but recently my anxiety has been rearing it’s ugly little head every second I’m not parked in front of my notebooks with a highlighter, sneering in an ugly little voice; 
“why aren’t you studying right now?

I mean, I needed to do laundry so we have clean clothes to we-“but you could be studying.”
Yeah, I just needed to get dinner toget-“it’s your fault you’re not fluent”
Sure, except if I don’t walk Mac he’ll go craz-this is why we can’t have nice things!”

right except then I put up vocab flashcards in front of the toilet so there is no escape.

This feeling is worse when I’m doing things which aren’t vital chores.  Like say, doodling silly comics about my anxiety, or painting my finger nails.  

My current solution to curb the anxious little monster on my back is to make a point of turning Japanese subtitles on while watching Netflix for "reading practice” (which I admittedly mostly ignore). 

OR, better actual solution, watching Japanese television shows, to practice my listening skills.  If’n you have access to Netflix and want to also pretend you’re being productive in learning Japanese as you indulge some silly media… allow me to share my current faves.

  • Yokai Watch

Easily the most popular kid’s show in Japan right now, Yokai watch is like… pokemon, but with ghosts.  Watch out, America, my understanding is that it’s coming to the US soon, and it’s gonna be big.  There are no English subtitles on the Japanese netflix seasons of Yokai Watch, but the plots are easy enough to follow along without needing to read.  
Basically this kid, Keta, has a watch which allows him to communicate with ghosts, and once he’s befriended a ghost, the watch allows him to call upon them for help in his every day life.  

It’s interesting because many of the ghosts have back stories about how they came to BE ghosts, which alternate between weirdly hilarious - like the business man who was fired, got drunk and on his walk home was crushed by falling construction equipment… along with a small stray dog who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time… so his ghost is basically a toy poodle with a creepy adult man’s face.  It can also be “oh wow that actually made me cry” emotional - like the grandfather ghost who waits outside a convenience store every day to see his granddaughter, who he misses and was very close with in life… until he realizes that she still carries a trinket around that he gave her and comes to be at peace knowing she misses him too.  Some of the episodes get understandably real childish, like the one where the big problem was a ghost that made everyone he affected have to fart, but I’ve also learned a few fun phrases, so I’ve stuck with it.

This ghost's name is "MuRi" which I learned means "no way."  Yes, he is a wall.

  • Terrace House

My cousin actually turned me onto this show when she found it on her American Netflix!  I… am weirdly addicted to hating this show?  
Terrace House is a long running show that recently partnered with Netflix.  The premise is a little bit Real World, with six strangers, all picked to live in together, and a little bit traditional Japanese panel commentary style, aka an actual panel of (sometimes funny) commentators who watch the show along with you and pop in every few minutes to share their thoughts on how things are going.  And the rest of it is a REAL interesting look into Japanese relationships and courtship.  By which I mean these people are in this house with the express purpose of finding love, and it takes 10 (TEN!) full episodes into the series before of them even kiss.
I’m in a love-hate thing with terrace house because the pacing is (as described above) painfully slow for my American sensibilities.  But I love it for when the one random guy in the house who happens to have grown up in the US (Arman, if you’re also a TH fan), holds his dates' hand, and then I laugh for YEARS at how shocked and offended the entire commentary panel is with how brazen he is and how quickly he moves.  
the hand holding.
the reaction.
  • Silver Spoon

Silver spoon follows an upperclass rich kid who -for some reason that’s not yet explained- decides to go to an agricultural high school instead of a yuppy preparatory school. The show follows his trials and tribulations as he makes friends by melding his city-slicker sensibilities with his growing farm skills.  There’s not much more to say about that.  I heart when he’s introduced to the piglets and his classmates immediately tell him “these are food, do not name them.” and he takes approximately three seconds to pause before proclaiming his piglet’s name:  Porkbowl.  


I also love the stray puppy they find and name class vice president.  I watch this for the cute anime critters is what I’m saying.

  • The Devil is a Part-Timer

By FAR my favorite Japanese show I’ve found, The Devil is a Part-Timer is exactly what it sounds like and I need you to go watch it right now because it is absurd and amazing.  The Devil gets kicked out of the immortal realm and decides that his best path to power in current corporate Japan is to work his way up the McDonalds management chain.  Meanwhile there is an Angel sent to destroy him who gets a part time job as a cell phone sales rep to make ends meet while they hunt each other.  It’s just hilarious.  



And now, quite frankly, I’ve taken a long enough break from the books to write this up - back to studying!

Do you watch any fun Japanese shows 
I should check out (on Netflix preferably)?  
Tell me in the comments!

today’s little language lesson
七月の休日の第四のためにアメリカの食品を買いましたか?
nanagatsu no kyuujitsu no daishi no tame ni Amerika no shokuhin o kaimashita ka?
Did you buy American foods for the 4th of July holiday?

please note the clam chowder pringles in packaging 
featuring a pringle chip dressed like lady liberty.  ‘Murica.

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