Sailor Moon & Hiragana – Japanese Week 2

I feel so accomplished. This week, all of my hours spent on Memrise and DuoLingo paid off. Now that I can recognize a good portion of hiragana, I can sound out words by myself and guess how they should be pronounced. It might seem like a very small milestone, but I am now able to spell kon’nichiwa, arigato, sayonara, and a few other real Japanese words in hiragana. When I realized that, I went back to DuoLingo for comparison’s sake and was able to look at the hiragana for a few basic words (numbers, colors, etc.) and sound them out and guess how they should be said. Granted, I still haven’t memorized the meaning of those particular words, but I still felt incredibly satisfied.

After saying a few basic phrases to my hubby, we were also able to deduce that the main problem that I am going to have learning the language is mastering my pronunciation. The major issue you will have from learning any language from an application or beginner program is that all of the words are overemphasized so that you can hear the appropriate sounds. If you try to learn to speak from that, you’re going to sound really weird. You have to listen to native speakers and match their pronunciation.

In light of my success with hiragana, I felt spurred on to assign myself a fun project for the week. I have loved Sailor Moon since I was in 4th grade, and I especially adore the theme song. Therefore, to help iron out my fundamentals, I am working on learning to sing the theme song. I also went to memorize what exactly each word means because I know I will remember the meanings if I can place them in the song.

Since I play piano and I already happen to have sheet music for the song, it will be relatively easy to practice, too.

The rest of the week I am devoting to this project, and also to nailing down all the hiragana. In addition to the apps, I have found that these two videos have been the most helpful.

I love this video because it goes through each section of the hiragana chart logically and gives you clever ways to remember what each character looks like. It also shows you what the characters look like in a variety of fonts, which is super helpful.

While this video is much more amateur than the other one in terms of audio quality, I still find it really insightful. This video tackles the hiragana in a different order. Instead of going by their position in the hiragana chart,it goes by how visually similar the characters are. I think this helps differentiate between characters that look really similar. I also like that she writes out everything multiple times so you can see the stroke order.

Overall, I’m really pleased with my progress. I actually feel like I’m making a lot more headway than I would if I were studying in a classroom setting.

I would eventually like to be able to blog in Japanese, but I’m not sure I will ever be able to deal with the frustration that comes with typing in Japanese. We’ll see.

Matane!

Image credit: Exceel on zerochan.net.

Japanese – Week 1

I grossly underestimated how hard it’s going to be to learn Japanese. Every time I thought I knew why people said Japanese was difficult and was ready to persevere regardless, I found yet another reason why Japanese is going to be insane. However, I will stay determined. I really want to learn Japanese. I’m not learning it because it’s a requirement for graduation or to look good on college applications, and it’s not necessarily a skill I will ever put on job applications; learning Japanese is something that I want to do for myself.

So, how did I study this week?

On Friday and Saturday, hubby and I “studied” by listening to as much Japanese as possible. We watched Hellsing Ultimate for a while and called it studyingbut we also listened to a beginning Japanese podcast. I also watched a lot of YouTube videos of people talking about what tools worked best for them. Although we had purchased books to help us learn kanji, looking at them was overwhelming, so those got put to the side. I figured it would be easier to learn hiragana and katakana first, then start tackling kanji once I had some basics down.

Throughout the week, I listened to the Japanese podcast more and also started using some of the apps I downloaded, with mixed success. Some of the apps I don’t think I will be able to get anything out of for several weeks or even months. I had been warned against relying on Duolingo by a friend who actually studied Japanese in school, but I felt like that app was one of the few that actually started from the ground up. Memrise has been pretty similar to Duolingo so far, so I’ve been trying to use that one more than Duolingo (though I really have no idea if one is better than the other).

Write It! Japanese has been the most beginner friendly of the writing apps I’ve tried. Someone recommended KanjiSenpai on YouTube, but even I know that the app should be called kanji sensei instead of kanji senpai, so that makes me doubt its credibility a little bit. Kanji Study was a bit over my head, so I’m hoping in a few weeks to give that one another try.

One of the things I don’t understand is why most teaching resources still list sayonara as goodbye and rarely talk about the context of when you would use that particular goodbye. They also teach kon’nichiwa as hello when it means good afternoon. This is why I have been relying fairly heavily on YouTube videos of native Japanese speakers explaining Japanese to English speakers instead of using a textbook or app to learn the words. However, sometimes I wonder about their credibility as well. For instance, I watched a video where a guy really struggled to say “no” in Japanese. I understand that people there are much more polite, but to not have a word for it seems really odd. I’m not sure what the character(s) would be for it, but the apps have told me that iie means no.

Probably the most helpful resource I found about Japanese in general was the introduction to one of the books on kanji. Learning about the roots of Japanese and how kanji are structured was very helpful and made the rest of the book look less overwhelming.

Before I go too crazy with learning kanji, or even practicing the different types of brush strokes at all, I would like to invest in a set of brush pens or even a Buddha board. (Okay, maybe I have just wanted a Buddha board for a long time and could never justify it. I know it really wouldn’t be that helpful for learning Japanese.)

My goal for next week is to make my studies less disjointed. Instead of trying a new thing every day and getting stuck, I just want to find something that works and stick with it. I also want to take more notes than I did this week.

Matane!

Ups and Downs

Picnic Point Park

Where to begin…

Sunday morning, hubby woke me up early to go see his parents. However, since it felt like I had randomly decided to do 5,000 crunches every time I moved, I stayed in bed, not moving an inch until my muscles loosened up at around 4 in the afternoon. I thought I was all better on Monday, aside from a headache. Then at around 3:30 AM I felt nauseous. I asked hubby to clean up the puke bucket while I went in the bathroom and proceeded to puke all over myself. After that, I was actually all better.

Wednesday was a super fun adventure in the land of student loans. I was working on submitting my yearly income driven repayment certification paperwork and had to help hubby figure out his federal loan situation (because now that we are married his income counts toward my ability to repay my loans). He just graduated so he had yet to even figure out who services his federal loans… It was not a fun time. We ended up going to the park to blow off some steam after that.

Yesterday, hubby’s work truck got broken into. But wait, didn’t that just happen to me like three weeks ago? Yes, yes it did. (Total car break-in count: 4.) So, hubby got to entertain the police yesterday morning. Lovely.

While he was on the phone with what seemed like nearly every person that works with him, hubby discovered a hidden benefit and I will be going to a real, in-person therapist next week. I have three free visits, so I’m going to try to make the most of them because I don’t think we will be able to afford additional ones for a while off yet.

In the evening, I finally took my test to be a search engine evaluator and I am pleased to say I passed and will be starting in a couple weeks! Taking the test was fun, though I didn’t expect the test to be as in-depth as it was. I read the first 30 pages of the manual and was like, “I know all this stuff already!” and never got to the other… 120 pages. Most of it was fairly intuitive when you read it, but the questions were still pretty tricky. Anyway, I am very excited to have another work-from-home job that is actually paid at an hourly rate and not per task.

Today, hubby and I took a few things down to the pawn shop and made $200. (We also took a few things to Half Price Books on Wednesday and got $30.) Not bad.

We also had to go to the post office so I could have a notary electronically sign that I am who I say I am for the job. The notary was amazed at how simple it was and didn’t even charge us when the fee is usually at least $10. Thank you, kind stranger.

Another thing that happened today was nearly all of the images broke on the site. That was just grand. Apparently Photobucket does not do third party image hosting anymore (I used Photobucket for years when I was still blogging on LiveJournal), so I got this email saying parts of my account were disabled and it was all around not good. So, after a wonderful morning, I got to come home and upload all of my images on Flickr and fix all the broken parts of the site. Yay.

Once all that excitement was over, I started working on my Japanese studies, but you will hear about how that is going tomorrow. For now, I need a break!

Anne With An “E” – Season 1 Review

As a general rule of thumb, I believe book lovers anticipate literary adaptations will fall short of their expectations. A beloved scene gets cut, a relationship is developed oddly, the mood of the story is altered, and before you know it, there is a strange disconnect from the story you loved so well in its literary form and what you’re seeing on-screen. Book lovers tend to want the adaptation to be 100% true to the source material. After all, shouldn’t they be? The developers are taking advantage of the existing fandom.

Anne With An “E,” in some respects, is faithful to L.M. Montgomery’s original work. However, the overall tone is much darker and the adaptation is more political than I remember the book being. In fact, the edition I purchased when I about 10 was part of the Charming Classics collection and came with a necklace.

Every adaptation of Anne of Green Gables that I have seen features a beautiful actress with red hair. While the actress for Anne in the Netflix series, Amybeth McNulty, is gorgeous, she still looks like an awkward little girl in the series. Her hair is thin, her teeth are crooked, and her clothes aren’t flattering. In every other adaptation, Anne feeling plain or hating her hair has always been a bit mystifying because the actresses were always stunning. When Mrs. Lynde calls Anne ugly in the Netflix series, it actually makes sense why she would say that.

The superficial difference of Anne’s appearance I think demonstrates the main difference between this adaptation and every other adaptation I’ve seen. While most adaptations focus on how bright and sunny Anne’s view of the world is and paint the outside world as well-meaning but a bit snooty, Anne with an E takes a very different approach.

The thing is, Anne’s past is not wildly different in the Netflix series than it is in the book. How she copes with it, on the other hand, is radically different. Instead of Anne having an annoyingly overactive imagination that earns her some extra knocks, we see that Anne has been traumatized by her past and has frequent anxiety attacks. Rather, her imagination is truly a coping mechanism. Her discussions with Katie were particularly poignant.

I really enjoyed that interpretation of the work. It adds to Anne’s character and gives her more room for character growth, and seems very realistic. In the various homes she grew up in, Anne was treated as free labor. If she wasn’t seen as useful enough, she was sent back to the orphanage.

There were a few changes I did not like nearly as much, though. For instance, everything surrounding the supposedly stolen brooch was handled very badly. For one, if Marilla and Matthew did decide to send Anne back, they had previously decided that she would go to the Blewitt family. Instead, we see Anne back at the orphanage, which was quite confusing. Additionally, no matter how angry Marilla was, I don’t think she or Matthew would let Anne go alone. There was no reason to put her in that much danger, and it reflected badly on Marilla’s character. These changes to the plot I don’t think were justifiable. They only served to add unnecessary drama.

I also don’t think Marilla would have had such a hard time apologizing to Anne. Coming right after Anne’s apology to Mrs. Lynde, seeing Marilla reflect on that would have also been nice. Anne said that Mrs. Lynde should apologize to her since Mrs. Lynde gave the first offense, and Marilla could have reflected on that moment and found the strength to apologize sooner.

On a completely different note, I’m not sure how I feel about the frequent references to Jane Eyre. While I can definitely see why Anne would cling to Jane as a good role model and identify very strongly with her, it feels really odd to mix fictional universes. Every mention takes me a bit out of the story. I also don’t know when Anne would have been able to read it. Where has she been that would have that book?

Although I was a bit dubious of the fire scene, my main criticism of the series comes in the final episode of this season. Matthew deciding to mortgage the farm, attempting suicide for the life insurance, and the suspense surrounding the renters really rubbed me the wrong way. I have no idea where they are going with this, but I really don’t like it. Again, this seems like unnecessary drama that changes who the characters are. While some of the other changes felt like they were adding to the story, making it more realistic, or making the work more overtly relevant for modern feminists, these changes aren’t subtle or meaningful. They just add suspense for the sake of adding suspense.

Overall, I liked the series… until the last episode. To me, it signals a major departure from the canon that I really don’t care for. I will probably watch the first episode of the next season, just to see where they’re taking the story, but I doubt I will make it through season 2.

Learning Japanese

As of last night, hubby and I are working as a team to learn Japanese. So far, we have excelled at the gathering resources stage. We have books, apps, videos, websites, etc. Lack of tools will not be our downfall.

Learning Japanese will hopefully go better than my French studies. After 3 years of French in high school, my teacher retired and was not replaced, so I had the option of either starting a new language or using Rosetta Stone. I didn’t think it would make much sense to study any other language for a year and I didn’t want to be in a class with a bunch of freshmen, so I did Rosetta Stone, and it was painful. I think if you are going to use Rosetta Stone you need to be starting from nothing. Otherwise, it really isn’t going to do anything for you because as long as you know the nouns, it is easy to get the right answer.

Since high school, I have not used French at all. I don’t listen to French music, didn’t go to France while I was abroad, and don’t read anything in French. I don’t think I will have that issue once I learn Japanese because there are already a million things in Japanese that I want to read.

I think it will be fun to document our progress on the blog. Writing as a “waifu,” it only makes sense to learn Japanese and learn more about Japanese culture and history. So, I think maybe once a week I will make a summary post showing what progress we have made with our Japanese.

Of course, last night we went to a Japanese restaurant to kick off our studies. I had never been to one before. I grew up in a small town and there was just nothing like that. It was only when I moved in with my hubby that we could have tried new things like this. However, I really don’t like much seafood (though I am branching out more and more), so I didn’t think it would end well if we went to a Japanese restaurant.

I am very glad to say I was wrong. Every single food that I tried I loved. Watching the chef make everything was great, too. It made me feel like I was behind the scenes on a Food Network program. Also, I have no idea what was in the sauce they gave us for our rice, but it was addictive.

That’s all for now. Since it’s day two of our studies, there’s not much to say about what we have covered so far.

また来週

(See you next week!)

Cinderella Phenomenon Review

I downloaded “Cinderella Phenomenon” on a whim—I was actually waiting for “Fausts Alptraum” to finish downloading and browsing the other free games on Steam when I came across it, and I was absolutely blown away.

In the game, you play as Princess Lucette, the “ice princess” who shows more affection for her dolls than for anyone in her actual life. In an effort to thaw her frozen heart, a witch places the fairy tale curse upon her. Her curse is a twist on the Cinderella story. Instead of going from rags to riches, the princess finds herself in an alley with nothing but rags to her name. No one in the kingdom seems to remember who she is. In order to break the curse, the princess must perform three good deeds.

Eventually, the princess arrives at a tavern for the cursed. The player is then given the option of choosing who to ask for help. There are 5 different people to choose from, and each story can either have a happy ending or a bad ending, depending on what you do.

The Good Stuff (No Spoilers)

This game has beautiful artwork, and the in-game music is incredible. (Oddly enough, the only music I don’t like is the song they used in the promo trailer.) While the plot may seem simple, the longer you play the game, the more nuanced it becomes. Each character gives you entirely different pieces of the puzzle, and each arc becomes more complex. Plus, if you forgot to save the game and need to retry for a happy ending, you can fast forward through everything you’ve seen before.

The Bad Stuff (No Spoilers)

My main complaint with the game is that your choices really don’t make that much of a difference. The main plot of the game is predetermined, so your “choices” are more preferences on how you would like to phrase what you say. Even if there appears to be a major choice in front of you, you will likely end up actually performing the same actions eventually, though your character will feel differently about what happened later on. In short, though there are a lot of “choices,” remember that each route only has two possible endings. You will unlock a bit of different dialogue depending on your choice, but it isn’t going to make much of a difference.

Additionally, in intense moments where the characters comes closer to the camera, the models don’t always look so good. It’s not something that particularly bothered me until I got to the last character. The game has so many gorgeous backgrounds and artwork, but there are those few moments that stick out like a sore thumb.

Finally, there are more than a few grammatical errors and some of the descriptions are a bit redundant. One more pair of eyes on the finished product could have easily eliminated those issues.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed “Cinderella Phenomenon.” If you like re-imaginings of classic fairy tales, you should definitely download it. It’s currently free on steam.

Spoiler-Filled Plot Critique

Continue reading “Cinderella Phenomenon Review”

Everything I’ve Learned About Blogging (Without Actually Blogging)

I’ve made blogs. A lot of blogs. So many blogs that I feel like I should be an expert on the subject, but I still have a lot to learn. That’s why I’ve spent the last few days reading a lot of articles, “Pinning” a lot of infographs, reading a bunch of helpful blog posts, and designing (and immediately deleting) a lot of logos. I even attended a Webinar. Super fancy, huh?

If the people of the internet are to be believed, then here is what you need to do to be a successful blogger. Continue reading “Everything I’ve Learned About Blogging (Without Actually Blogging)”

Death Note

A name and a face – imagine if that were all you needed to kill someone.

When I watched Death Note for the first time, I didn’t think I would be like Light if I found a death note. I didn’t think I would ever be able to bring myself to kill someone, even if I could control exactly how it happened. No, I would never bring death upon an enemy (not that I have one), even if I could specify that they would die peacefully in their sleep after having a fulfilling evening with loved ones and a chance for all of them to have closure.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Justice is meant to be impartial – you do the crime, you do the time. And how does having more than one person decide your fate make the process more impartial? And even if the law is carried out as directed, that doesn’t mean the punishment is necessarily just. If a father murders a man that abused and killed his daughter, most juries would let him off easy, but the father would still go to prison and would still be a felon for the rest of his life. The reasoning is that it wasn’t for the father to decide that man’s fate. Instead of the father killing him, the court should have decided to either sentence the man to life in prison, rehabilitate the man so he can become a productive member of society upon release, or assign the death penalty. How is that more fair than the father getting revenge on his own?

Let’s change the example. Let’s say the man was a serial rapist and killer. Is it more just for a victim’s father to kill the man then?

Or let’s say the man was a terrorist and would kill many, many people if no one stopped him.

At what point do you switch from “playing God” to being a hero for taking out a public enemy? At what point does it become morally reprehensible to not kill the murderer when you can do it easily and painlessly?

Maybe your answer is different from mine. But I think Light may have had the right idea from the start.

 

 

The Struggle

Sports, seasons, semesters – everything we experience as children is finite. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end to everything we do, and it is usually strictly scheduled.

Adulthood throws that notion on its head. Setting goals like being married at 25, getting a house within 2 years, and being debt-free by 35, are overly simplistic and laughable. They are goals that are achievable for some people, but once you are out of school (be it high school or college, with or without a degree) you can’t simply advance to the next stage of life by doing everything on the syllabus.

Thus, after you strike out on your own, it is harder to set benchmarks. There is no grading system, no end of the season, and no real criteria for success. You enter the struggle of “adulting,” and when things work out, it’s just one sigh of relief that a part of the puzzle came together. After you finish your education, you are expected to work and actually live the life you’ve prepared for until you retire, and it can feel like you’ll be bushwhacking all the way to retirement, never knowing if you’re on the right path or if there is any path at all.

I always thought that I would feel this great sense of accomplishment when I got my first job that was writing-related in any form. But it was underwhelming – I knew it wouldn’t pay much and I would need an additional full-time job to survive, and then when I started, I had no sense of spiritual fulfillment of finally being somewhere I wanted to be. It was just a way to get my foot in the door to something better somewhere down the road.

I was taken aback when my brother asked me how it felt now that I had “made it.” I didn’t feel like I had achieved much of anything because it was such a small step. That’s partially why I started blogging again. I realized that I’m not going to feel any lasting sense of accomplishment from a regular 9-5 job, and I wanted to do something more while I am waiting for that opportunity to come along. Sharing my thoughts every day, connecting with others, and reminding myself of why I love to write is a new triumph that I celebrate every day.

via Daily Prompt: Triumph