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Image result for my hero academia

My Hero Academia is a series I struggle with. There is plenty in there to like, and there are just as many imperfections. The positives, everyone knows: the likeable and colourful characters, the mix of more Western tropes with anime aesthetics, and classic shounen action with high production values. The negatives? Me and MHA had several misunderstanding throughout the initial episodes. One of them concerned Izuku’s famous line where he describes the series as “a story about how he becomes the greatest hero”.

Do not get me wrong, the line mostly functions well in context. It a clearly articulated promise of a zero to hero story from a series which, as a long-running shounen, will require some time until the main character can start kicking ass. It is a refreshing step away from Izuku’s usually timid nature, and possibly foreshadowing that one of the areas in which he will have to improve is his lack of self confidence. It sounds cool. It has impact.

It does not exactly fit, though. Izuku’s circumstance of having inherited his powers from another means that whatever he achieves is the culmination of the efforts of several people. It seems off that Izuku would claim it is all about him at the end of the day. But that is just my approach to pride and modesty – I could accept the character reaching different conclusions. More importantly, the mechanics of Izuku’s power actually make it impossible for him to become the greatest hero ever. This is because looking far into the future, Izuku’s final act as a hero will be to find a worthy successor and give birth to an even greater hero. If he succeeds, he is no longer the greatest, and if he does not, that in itself is a significant failure as the holder of One For All.

But you know what? If there is one good thing I can say about this show, it is that it is constantly improving. Bakugou’s one-dimensional psychotic nature recently got some nice development, while individual arcs started building on each other. And somewhere between the second and fourth cours, Izuku’s introductory line also changed.

そう、これは僕が最高のヒーローになるまでの物語だ。

Yes, this is the story of how I became the greatest hero.

夢に向かって走り続ける。どんな困難に立ち向かい、笑顔で人々を救う、そんな最高のヒーローになるために!

I continue to run toward my dream, standing up to any difficulties and saving people with a smile… in order to become the greatest hero!

I borrow the subs from you-can-guess-where, and first I will address the part of the change they actually reflect. That would be the transition in focus from the final goal to the journey. As mentioned above, the declaration that “the story ends with me becoming the greatest hero” works fine as a one-liner meant to capture the viewer’s attention. However, it is not entirely honest to what the series is about. The greatness Izuku seeks is a distant goal, not a foregone conclusion. The third season makes this very clear: while the great power of One For All is Izuku’s promised future, it neither removes the need to make the right choices, nor does it guarantee a happy end, as Izuku learns in his confrontations with the villains. My Hero Academia is about the growth of its characters, and the show itself has grown past its attention-grab stage and can now freely admit to that focus.

Another change in the line is one the subs try to cover up the best they can in order to preserve the “greatest hero” wording. I will not hold that against the translation – consistency has a value of its own in that world. But there are obvious issues that show up with that take even if you only look at the English text. If you have seen more than half the show, you might wonder when exactly Izuku manages to “stand up to any difficulties and save people with a smile”. He saves one boy – a significant event – and assists All Might and Bakugou. Other than that, Izuku spends the third season howling in pain and crying in anguish in an endless confrontation with his doubts and regrets.

Things make more sense when we realise that the “any difficulties/smile” part of the quote is not a description of Izuku’s present, as the subs would have it, but part of the description of Izuku’s goal – the greatest hero. Again, the avoidance in the translation is understandable. A too-honest approach might give us “…in order to become the greatest hero, who stands up to any difficulties and saves people with a smile”. This sounds awkward and weak as it is a classic case of less is more. If you leave things at “the greatest hero”, the audience is free to imagine all kinds of conditions the perfect hero will meet. If you add two of your own conditions, people will start to wonder: “wait, is that enough to become the greatest hero?”. It almost seems better to avoid this phrasing, except the transition is more than an awkward artistic choice.

Now, note that Japanese has no comparative and superlative. That is just not part of the grammar. If you want to compare things or point to something being “the most”, you add words that have that meaning. And yes, “saikou” is one of those words that can point to a superlative meaning: saikou ni utsukushii “supremely beautiful”. The thing is, the range of meaning is wider than that of the superlative. When we say saikou ni tanoshikatta, it is just a way of stressing that we had great fun. “The most fun I’ve ever had” would be a forced translation which tries to retain the superlative.

So the opening line might refer to great heroes rather than the greatest hero, an interpretation which is cemented by the appearance of an additional word in the new opening line, that being sonna そんな. The word (as well as its full form sono you na) means something along the lines of “like that/of that kind”. It points to the existence of a group or type of the “greatest”. In short, the new opening line goes like this: “I continue to run toward my dream: to become somebody who stands up to any difficulties and saves people with a smile, a true hero”.

This new line is much more in tune with what the third season presents us with. Of special note is the scene in which Endeavor unwittingly becomes the “greatest hero”. A victim of circumstance more than anything else, Endeavor is deeply frustrated with being given the number one without achieving what he really strived for. This reveals how meaningless a singular “greatest hero” is in the context of this series. Further yet, this interpretation empowers the numerous side stories of the other hero candidates highlighted in the series. An universal, if universally difficult, call to greatness means that both Izuku and his colleagues are challenged to move forward and grow stronger until they all embody their ideals.

Somewhere between the lines, My Hero Academia continues to shift and evolve, and so I have hope we can one day be reconciled.

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Sometimes anime characters start talking… a lot. The main selling point of animation is supposed to be things happening and people moving, so building a scene around just talking is a different kind of art and a test for both the staff and the seiyuu supposed to carry the scene. Here are some favourites for that kind of scene. I would call those monologues, but most of these are technically dialogues in which whatever response one side of the conversation can offer ends up not mattering against the verbal onslaught the other carries out.

hatoko

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace – Hatoko’s outburst (ep.7)

Inou Battle is studio Trigger’s mostly forgettable second series. However, it does have this scene, which is sure to keep it relevant at least as long as Hayami Saori remains active as a voice actress. Type “inou battle hatoko” into youtube and you can quickly get this scene as the top result.

Hatoko’s three-minute-long tirade is a result of years and years of pent-up frustration finally exploding. The initial stage is that of (plenty justified) anger at being brushed off once too often by a dear friend. But as further layers peel off, we see the sadness and finally desperation come to the surface. Were Hatoko just angry, an opportunity to let off some steam might have been enough. But here, the deeper issue is Hatoko’s fear and powerless frustration at seeing someone dear moving further and further away from her, beautifully expressed by the voice acting.

Hayami Saori pulled the scene off with no retakes during recording. Which just makes me imagine her verbally abusing her room mirror in preparation.

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Tokyo Ravens – Kon chastises Harutora (ep.22)

As most people already know, Asian languages tend to put a lot of weight on politeness, sometimes to a fault. It can be difficult to talk frankly and firmly with your superiors, even when the situation absolutely requires it.

Kon is a living example of this, as her nature as a familiar and complete and utter devotion to her master make her unwilling to even consider the possibility that Harutora is in the wrong, much less bring up such doubts out loud. But when the situation gets dire and her desperate master is about to get manipulated by the resident pair of villains, Kon is ready to grasp the nettle.

What follows is the most polite trashing session of Harutora’s life. Expertly using both the carrot and the stick, Kon first makes her master realise that he is an idiot and traitor to the memory of his beloved, and then uses his own words to lead him towards an ambitious, but more productive course of action. Listen as her tone shifts from trepidation to a no-nonsense bark, then to honeyed cajoling, and ultimately to a firm declaration of what should be done.

And then tail-wiggling ensues.

kaiki

Monogatari series – Kaiki Deishuu talks Nadeko out of being a god (S2, ep.26)

Well, the Monogatari series is all about characters endlessly talking to each other (or having internal monologues) and is thus ripe with examples. But while the main Araragi-centric narrative tends to get a bit preachy with its take on character flaws, letting two side characters duke it out during the conclusion of Nadeko Medusa/Hitagi End brings something fresh and enticing to the series.

Part of it is the obviously high stakes involved – Kaiki’s words are the only thing standing between him and death. Another thing is that, to quote the show: “Araragi is a bad influence on Nadeko”. During Nadeko’s introductory arc, she is close to being a non-character. Here, in Araragi’s absence, she gets a chance to shine with her own flaws and quirks. Finally, as the show also admits, Kaiki is the right person for the circumstances. As the sly conman somehow manages to steer the potential bloodbath towards a surprisingly wholesome resolution, the viewers are left with full freedom of interpretation regarding the feelings and true intentions of the characters involved.

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A Certain Scientific Railgun – Uiharu’s pretend-conversation with Kihara (S1, ep.24)

The finale of each Railgun season makes sure to give each character their time in the spot light, the catch being that half of the characters can blow up buildings with reality warping powers, while the other half could not handle a rabid dog if necessary. Still, the conclusion to the first season proves there is many a way to be badass as Uiharu figures out the location of the villain’s trump card and passes the information on to her hidden comrade all while keeping the villain in question occupied and unaware of what is going on. The heart of this faux-conversation is revealed in the very first line:

Capacity Down desu ne!? / That’s Capacity Down, isn’t it!?

This should be as basic a Japanese sentence as it gets, except for the single emphatic particle at the end. And when asked what emphatic particles like the above “ne” (or others like “yo”, “zo”, “ze” and the like) actually mean, the usual explanation is that they do not mean anything by themselves, rather adding colour to a sentence. “Ne” can be used to soften a statement while also seeking confirmation or approval from the listener – thus some of the sub groups render it as “isn’t it” in the translation. But the key point in this case is that the particle singularly controls the theme/rheme distinction for the sentence. In other words, it signalizes that the information contained in the sentence is common knowledge and old news (the theme) for both the speaker and the listener, rather than something new the speaker wants the listener to understand (the rheme).

In this scene, Uiharu has to succinctly and clearly explain what Capacity Down is and how to deal with it to Saten, who is listening in on the conversation from her hiding place but has little knowledge of and is unable to experience Capacity Down the way espers do. At the same, she has to use various tricks like the above to keep up the charade that she is talking to Kihara to prevent her friend from being detected. All that while her head is being torn apart by the Capacity Down signal and with a deadly mech closing in on her. Sweet stuff.

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People always complain that this or that line of their favourite show should have been translated differently, but you know what? These days, with professional translation almost always done based on a reliable script and the ability to research things on the internet, the really crazy translation errors no longer happen. Let me take you twenty years into the past, to a time when TV stations in this weird country called Poland translated based on translations of translations, and did it by ear.

Image result for goku songo

This guy? You might know him as Son Goku. Well, they told us he was called Songo, and who were we to doubt that? And tough guys don’t need a last name anyway.

The green alien guy? I hear people call him Piccolo, but it’s obviously Satan Tiny-heart. Laugh and he’ll hit you with his evil heart beam.

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I have previously mentioned the poor Demon Lord Death Fog ending up as a Dead Frog in the Polish version of the Slayers, or rather Magical Warriors, as we know them. But there is more to the story.

The scene where this comes up is when Xellos gives Lina an explanation regarding the Demon Blood Talismans. In the original, he explains that the talismans hold the power of/have a connection to the four Demon Lords: Ruby Eye Shabranigdu, Dark Star Dugradigdu, Chaotic Blue and Death Fog. In the Polish version, the poor chaps end up as mere ingredients of the talismans: a ruby eye, a dark star, some chaotic blue and a dead frog.

Another memorable part of the translation concerned the Elmekia Lance spell (among others). Sometimes it would show up as-is. But a week would pass and the spell would return as Thunder Sickle, or Thunder Hammer, or Sicklehammer. There was some serious multiple personality disorder thing going on with the spells…

Image result for shun saint seiyaThis Saint Seiya (aka Knights of the Zodiac) character had many viewers confused regarding his or her gender… and apparently, that applied to the translation staff, too. Rumour has it that Shun would switch genders between episodes depending on who was doing the translation at the time.

Image result for sailor venus crescent beam

Saving the best for last, a true legend in the history of Polish TV translation. This Sailor Scout calls upon her magic powers to unleash a powerful Crescent Beam.

Beam, beam… it kind of sounds like “bean”, right? Can’t blame the translator for mishearing that one. But wait, why would a bean be crescent? That does not make any sense, better adjust the attack name to something more cohesive. Beans, beans… what goes with beans? Oh, yeah! Now behold the power of Venus:

“Peas and Beans!”

No, really.

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Hai-Furi

As you would expect from Girls und Panzer on water, Hai-furi has more than its fair share of characters taking care of all the tasks aboard their ships. While we will probably end up calling most of them by their post (torpedo-girl, navigation-girl and so on), the show is also kind enough to highlight the main players by giving them special nicknames, and it seems cats are the name of the game.

Misaki Akeno’s "Mike", China Moeka’s "Moka" and Munetani Mashiro’s "Shiro" are all popular cat names, along the lines of “Spot”, “Mocha” and “Snowy” respectively. While some other members of the crew also get catlike nicknames, the above three also have a color theme going on (tricolor, brown and white). Akeno’s nickname in particular is the classic name for calico cats, and if Suzumiya Haruhi taught us anything, it is that the tricolored fellows are natural main characters of the Japanese feline world.

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More importantly, the naming pattern is unmistakably meant to foreshadow the catfight that the love triangle will eventually lead to. Moeka seems easily in the lead right now, but the road ahead is uncertain. Typical anime tropes would have Akeno’s kindness and cheer break though the tsun-tsun wall of her deputy-captain just in time for the two to face, and ultimately overcome, Moeka’s behemoth of a ship. But a twist or two could not possibly hurt, right?

Looking forward to where the choices those kittens make will lead them.

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ゆゆゆ2

Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero is a story notable for several reasons, one of them being its portrayal of a semi-theocratic society. We are shown hints of the setting’s god-tree religion affecting the education system and government, and obviously religious undertones would make into the everyday lives of ordinary households and leave a mark on the naming patterns of children. In fact, every character in the show bears some mark of this religious influence.

Starting from the Washio generation:

Tougou Mimori’s name means simply "beautiful forest".

Minowa Gin’s name means "silver", which is formed with the "metal" and "root" radicals. The "root" reference probably doubles as an indication of Gin’s role in the group as the one keeping the other two safe.

Nogi Sonoko’s name refers to a "garden", which is most understandable if you imagine Japan’s extensive shrine and temple gardens. As a sacred space, the gardens create a small world to house the Japanese gods. On the one hand, this represents the inner sanctum that the Nogi family, as one of the most influential Taisha families, is responsible for. On the other hand, the Shikoku barrier can be seen as a miniature garden – a place of purity cut away from the impurity (death and destruction) of the world outside. In this sense, Sonoko’s name represents all the beauty left in the world as well as humanity’s hope.

During her time spent with the Washio family Mimori’s name was changed to Sumi. It is a special name insofar as it makes sense for it to be given with a clear cut purpose in mind. If you ignore the kanji and just look at the reading, the name refers to "purity", hinting at Mimori’s role as a miko/shrine maiden to the god-tree. As regards the kanji, the "su" part once more refers to Mimori’s "duty", while the "mi" part signifying beauty is borrowed from her original name.

For the younger generation.

Inubouzaki Itsuki’s name is the "great tree" straight out of the god-tree compound.

Miyoshi Karin has the "two-branch tree" radical slipped into the second kanji of her name, "rin", meaning "elegant, of stern or highly composed demeanor". Interestingly, that is the older variant of the kanji, with the newer one having a "shrine" radical in place of the "two-branch tree".

Yuuki Yuuna’s name seems to have no trees in it at first glance, but that is because the upper part of the "na" kanji was simplified along the way. With the kanji originally composed of a "tree" over a "shrine", the original meaning was that of a "fruit offered to the gods". The fruit in question was offered when seeking guidance from the heavens, so the kanji also meant *what should be done?". With the two "yuu" kanji in her name referring to "bringing people together" and "friendship" respectively, Yuuna seems to ask the question and provide the answer all in one.

Inubouzaki Fuu is a mystery to me. If you dig far enough back, the kanji for "fuu" seems to have originated from the same inscription as the 鳳 kanji referring to the divine bird (phoenix), which was considered a messenger from the gods. The contemporary form of the kanji replaces the "bird" radical inside for what is now most often known as the "bug" radical, which in this case represents reptiles; as beliefs changed, people came to believe it were dragons, rather than birds, that lived in the skies and controlled the winds.

But a "fuu" name could have contained a god or tree reference much more easily just by sticking a "tree" radical to the "wind" kanji discussed above to get the "maple" kanji 楓 – the reading can stay as-is. Whether this was intentionally avoided (to point to Fuu as the one least loyal to Taisha, especially towards the end of the story?), or whether there was some other reasoning for this particular name/writing, I cannot be sure.

そのこ

The last names in Yuyuyu also matter, especially with the Washio generation. Other than the Nogi last name meaning “of the tree”, making them the obvious big-shots in this world, there are many significant real-world references packed in there:

  • Mimori likes being called by her last name, Tougou, because it tickles her history-otaku and nationalist fancy. She happens to share her last name with the famous Japanese admiral Tougou Heihachirou.
  • Sonoko shares her last name with Nogi Maresuke, a famous Japanese general
  • The above two lived in the same times, known as the “Nogi of the land and Tougou of the sea”, and were acquainted with each other… whether the two got along is a different matter
  • When general Nogi died, he was deified as a god of war (and education and marital affairs) and a shrine was built for him… partly for the purposes of the Japanese army’s propaganda
  • The above happened when Tougou was still alive, and Tougou was appalled to hear that the navy planned to do the same to him to regain the balance of power between the land forces and the navy. He strongly expressed his objection to the idea… but was deified anyway after his death (there are three shrines bearing his name)

Readers can probably see how the above parallels the story of Yuyuyu with Mimori learning that Sonoko was turned into a god for the Taisha’s benefit, only to be set on the same track against her will. Yuyuyu questions whether in creating heroes, we are not taking advantage of people for our own benefit.

Additional Notes:

Minowa Gin’s short, one kanji name gives off a somewhat boyish image.

I particularly like the usage of the “ko” ending in Sonoko’s name. In contemporary usage, the “ko” ending for female names ended up being so popular that around 1960, almost all women had names ending that way. That in itself became so clichéd that now parents often actively avoid adding “ko” to names. For this reason, the “ko” ending in anime is perfect to create “average Jane” background characters.

However, historically, the “ko” ending was reserved only for females of the highest social class, holding offices at court and in administration. The later popularity of the name came exactly because the “commoners” envied the image of sophistication and prosperity the ending carried.

With Yuyuyu bringing back social elements of Japan’s past, Sonoko’s name carries with it the elegance and dignity of the well-bred part of society. 

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aoi

Shirobako mostly lacks “anime names”. Instead for meaningful names full of foreshadowing, the show opts for a more down-to-earth and realistic take on the issue. Ema does get the kanji for “drawing” in her name, and plenty of the side characters are humorous takes on real-life people, down to their names, but otherwise Shirobako does not try too stand out too much.

Which is not to say there are no tasty parts at all. Our protagonist’s name, Aoi, is currently a very popular girl’s name, duking it out for first place against Yui throughout the last few years.

Miyamori has her name written all in the meaning-neutral hiragana (a popular choice for girl names in general, as the round shapes of hiragana characters are considered very feminine). That need not stop us from guessing, though. People who know a bit of Japanese will point out that one common meaning of aoi is the color blue. But the word actually covers various shades of blue and green, as the two were not considered separate colors in Japanese tradition.

There is a metaphorical meaning to the English green shared by the Japanese aoi. As unripe fruit tends to be green in color, so the young and inexperienced in any field can also be called green. And this is exactly Aoi’s function throughout the first cour of Shirobako – to make mistakes and ask questions, so that we can learn about the studio and what is necessary to make it work. Aoi works as our perspective character exactly because she is inexperienced in the field.

Of course, every novice eventually gains experience and becomes better at their job, like Aoi does. But as we get deeper into the second cour of Shirobako, we learns that the people in the industry can be broadly divided into two categories: those who wake up from their dreams about the industry, and those that never do. If the stories of the veterans presented in the show are any indication, many of the greatest works are crafted by those in the latter category. As we see in the later episodes, Aoi herself is still far from waking up from her own dream. And that enduring innocence is another meaning contained in her name.

tarou  

Another interesting, and much more light-hearted name choice is Takanashi Tarou. As  Anime Diet’s Gendomike puts it, “it’s a shame that we all know a Tarou in every office”. Which is exactly the intention behind this character’s name – Tarou is the stereotypical male name, the Japanese John Smith.

Of course, to complete the cliché, you would normally use a very common last name – preferably Yamada. What we get instead is Takanashi. Maserbeam complains about the overabundance of Takanashi characters in anime when discussing Tarou, and he does have a point. Chuu2koi, Working!, PapaKiki, Black Rock Shooter and other anime titles seem to be in love with this surname, not without reason.

The 小鳥遊 variant of the surname is famous because while it actually exists and is in use in contemporary Japan, it is one of the country’s most unreadable last names. Taka-nashi can be taken to mean “no hawks”, and the surname is written with kanji for “small birds playing around” (completely ignoring traditional readings of the kanji), the logic apparently being that small birds only play around in places with no hawks. This is most likely an odd remnant of the times when the Japanese language was not so much a tool of universal communication as a toy for the noble-born to play around with and use as a barrier between them and the uneducated. At one point, everything could be written in the word puzzle style described above, for art and beauty. (And then nobody could read a text 10 years after it was written, as nobody remembered the author’s witty jokes and puzzles.)

So the last name is weird and cool, and just perfect for your fictional character. Except that in Tarou’s case, while the last name might be pronounced exactly like the “cool” Takanashi, it is instead a variant written with perfectly ordinary and boring characters. This Takanashi is written with the kanji for “tall pear tree” (高梨), and read in a standard way.

I am not sure which joke the writers were aiming for here: “we wish all the Tarous of this world were just fictional characters… but they’re not”, or maybe “this guy wishes he were special… but he’s not”.

Or maybe just both.   

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liebster2

Thanks to medivalotaku for nominating me for the Liebster Award. It’s always a now-or-never thing for me with such community projects. If I put it off once, I’ll never get to it at all. Forgive me, then, for the simplicity of my answers/questions.

Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Answers

1. Do you watch the Olympics?

I tend only to watch the Olympics/other sports events together with my family. Most of the time, however, I live elsewhere and do not have access to a TV at all. In terms of sports I sometimes watch for personal pleasure, what comes to mind is volleyball and snooker.   

2. Who is your favorite historical figure?

Gautama Buddha. Thomas Aquinas.

3. Vikings vs. Samurai. Who wins on a level playing ground?

I’m no history buff, but my vision of the Vikings is that of an army wielding axes and the like, plundering some poor British village, while my vision of the Samurai is Nobunaga’s armies with firearms and stuff.

Samurai? Easily???  

4. Do you like Jane Austen’s books?

They are lovely. I remember reading about the frolicking of “young, gay soldiers” and wondering how the main character could be certain the soldiers were indeed gay.  

5. If you were marooned on a desert island with little possibility of rescue, which five books would you want to have with you?

Give me whatever survival tutorials of practical value that you have. Other than that admission of being a geek with no idea how to survive getting stranded?

The Dune, The Little Prince, Umineko (text-only printout is fine), some unfinished light novel to keep me hoping for more, one empty book for my own writing.    

6. Also, a lifetime supply of what drink would you want to have with you on that island?

Water.

Provided that water is abundant, tea. Or apple or orange juice. 

7. Have you ever thought about joining the military or joined it?  Which branch?

I have thought about how not to join the military. Thankfully, they didn’t really want me, either.

I still remember the questionnaire lady asking us questions after our meeting with the military commission. She got to “What is your stance towards military service?”, and my expression must have been telling enough, because after a moment’s pause, she continued with: “Yes, you can say ‘negative’.” 

8. If for one night you could dine with anyone–living or dead, who would it be?

Albert Einstein. 

9. If for a fortnight you could be transported into a fantasy world before returning to the real world, which one would it be?

Damn, I hate you xD. My practical side tells me to pick any fantasy world with magic-medicine developed and reliable enough for me to reap lasting benefits from those two weeks.

Even I can’t deny the temptation for a little bit of adventure here, though. A ticket to the Touhou-verse sounds most alluring. Even if I would likely end up serving as a hungry loli’s dinner before the fortnight is up. 

10. (For men) If you could grow a beard like JEB Stuart’s, would you?  (For women) If you could be any height you wished, what would it be?

I could, who would stop me? I see no point, though. The longest I’ve gone without shaving is less than a week, I think. 

11. What’s your favorite sea creature?

enguarde_02Teh Swordfish, ‘nuff said.

Fun facts

1. My grandmothers from my father’s and my mother’s side are sisters. There is some anime-esque not-related-by-blood stuff going on that makes the resulting diamond-shaped family tree legal and morally sound (???).

2. I can swim, ski and all that, but I first rode a bicycle a couple years ago, aged 22. I can now kind of keep the devilish invention going straight, but I’m not nearing any traffic with my current level of skill!

3. I was brought up in a “somewhat Catholic” household, like most Poles. By the time I was a teen, I was pretty no-no about the faith, but me and my mother agreed I would take part in the confirmation rite before doing whatever I wanted with my faith and ideology from then on.

The fun part of confirmation is that you get a third name (or second, if you never had that), which you get to choose from a list of saints. The choice is free, but you have to explain it to a priest first. My third name ended up being Boniface, for the patron of converts. I was able to tell the priest that my faith is not all that, and the support from Boniface might be necessary to help me.

I did not mention the other reason for the choice: that Boniface happened to be the name of a certain lazy cat…

bonifacy4. The number four is my favorite/lucky number, which often gets me awkward glances from my Asian acquaintances, many of whom link the number to death. (The words “four” and “death” share the same/similar pronunciation in both Japanese and Chinese). Then again, I always felt some kind of affinity for the necromantic side of force in fantasy/rpg settings.

5. I cried at a work of fiction thrice in my life:

  • Dracula: Dead and Loving It, when the titular character dies
  • Dragonheart, see above
  • Pokemon, near the end of the first season, when Ash loses to his friend in the league 

All those were in my childhood, and apparently at some point I’ve lost the ability to cry at fiction. Doesn’t mean I don’t get the feels from watching/reading stuff – I can be a real softie.

6. There is a Japanese textbook out there for Polish learners of the language with the entire grammar part of the book written by yours truly. The request for that came on a “by the way” basis, since my main job on the book was in proofreading, editing and romanization. “By the way,” my boss said at the end of the project, “could you also write a few pages explaining Japanese grammar? ASAP, please.”

The book apparently sold well enough, and it’s one of the rare cases where I’m happy not to be credited for my work. (Hint: try explaining the grammar of any language within the limit of about five pages and a two days’ deadline).

7. Through the years of writing anime-related stuff, I’ve had the pleasure of getting my work plagiarized, translated into foreign languages and adapted into animation.

A fellow fanfiction.net writer plagiarized large portions of Piko Piko Trouble. I don’t think he had any idea what he was doing, as he copied a surreal description of wind gradually breaking out of a time-frozen space straight into his own scene of an everyday conversation, but it was still funny.

Many of the character profiles for ISML2011 are available in Chinese. As far as I can tell with my basic grasp of the language, some of those translations are quite loose, but I hope to be able to read them properly one of those days. (I should probably put more effort into my Chinese.)

Finally, one of my readers came to me asking whether they could animate Twisted Equilibrium. I was like “Huh…? Um, go ahead?” The result was a Microsoft Paint slide show summarizing the story in a surrealistic manner. I regret not downloading the video from youtube at the time, as it is no longer available.

8. During my first year of high school, a piece of paper started circulating the classroom during a physics class, with the single question of: “Have you ever studied German?” and two columns of names underneath. Little did we know that the piece of paper would be used to decide who would qualify where… for the English beginner and advanced classes. Cue in people starting the language from scratch getting sorted to the same group as people with nine years of language study under their belt.

High school is an amazing place.

9. My mother isn’t sure whether she knows what anime is all about, but the few series me and my sister exposed her to “taught [her] that no one is ever fully good or fully evil”. Yay.

10. I was class representative (or vice-representative, or class something) for six years straight, starting from 4th grade until the end of junior high. Other than my close friends, classmates probably saw me as something akin to a half-teacher, and so I either learned about something first, or dead last. Towards the end of junior high, I accidentally discovered that half my class were smokers, and I had no idea until then. Something similar went down in high school – I know there were people doing drugs there, but nobody even bothered trying to invite me to join the club.

Should I feel left out, or just glad for the trouble it saved me?

11. One of my Japanese friends comes from Nishinomiya, and graduated from North High – the same high school Kyon & co. attended in the Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. He was kind enough to give me and a couple friends a tour of the city, and our last stop was the high school itself. The idea was to ask the guard for permission to enter for a few minutes, but since it was summer vacation, no guard was present and the gate wasn’t locked, we, uh, slipped in for a bit xD?

The photos from that are my treasure, right next to K-On high school photos – but those were taken without breaking any laws.

Nominees

The Huge Anime Fan

Kyarakuta

A Thousand Years From Now

Anime Soup

Marusera no Sekai

Questions

1. The world will blow up in an hour. What do you do with your final hour?

2. Aliens come and want to know whether Earth is worth saving – they ask you to show them three works/things/places/facts to convince them. What do you choose?

3. The same aliens offer you a deal: they will save Earth if you can beat them at a (fair) game. What game/sport/challenge do you choose?

4. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten/drunk in your life?

5. Name one thing somebody did for you that you are most grateful for.

6. Has your opinion on a subject ever changed 180 degrees after years passed/something happened/you learned something new? If so, what was it?

7. You happen to reincarnate as an animal of your choice, what animal do you pick?

8. Choose one anime character for president of your country.

9. Pick one book school forced you to read, and now you’re glad about it.

10. What is the ultimate form and kind of cheese?

11. Cat person? Dog Person?

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