Category Archives: Sweet Miscellany

Japanese Pokemon – All you ever wanted to know!

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You think Bunnelby is a rabbit? In Japanese it’s a wallaby. Learn more surprising facts at the new Japanese Pokemon site

Announcement:

Have you ever been fascinated by the original Japanese names of Pokemon but wondered what they could possibly mean?

A new sister site Administered by our own Cure Dolly is bringing a daily feast of fun facts and in-depth analysis of Japanese Pokemon names to the Web for the first time in English.

You’ll learn, among many other things, about mediaeval armor, ancient schools of ninjutsu and their surprising relations to Japanese Pokemon.

Pop along to Japanese Pokemon and complete your education!

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New Precure All-Stars Trailer

After my wonderful experience with Precure All Stars New Stage 2, it is  wonderful to be able to announce that 3 is on its way and show you all this exciting trailer.

From the trailer we can see that the two fairies who featured so prominently in New Stage 2 are present in this one, as is Cure Ace who was absent from the earlier movie (only the original four Doki Dokis were in it).

You can see Aguri-chan at 0:41 and Cure Ace (making her A-sign) at 0:50  (extreme right, second row from the bottom).

Please look forward to it!

I Feel Pretty: Clothing and Manners

I have been rather fascinated by Lolita.  I do not have the money or the figure to buy the wonderful clothing out there.  My figure is not such that I would look good in a Lolita silhouette either.  I guess the style that I have been working towards is as close to otome as I can put together with clothing from the plus size resale store by my house.

Still, I just love to look at pictures of girls dressed in Lolita, and I do dream of someday having the money and figure for such a style.

Anyways, I recently read discussions regarding whether one needed to or even should adopt ladylike manners when dressing in Lolita.  One of the ideas was along the lines of whether it was phony when people acted differently when wearing Lolita.

Of course, I have never been a part of any Lolita community, so I do not really know much.  On the other hand, I am thinking of myself.  One of the things I realized is that I feel differently when I dress nicely.  When I am wearing pretty dresses, I feel pretty.  When I feel pretty, I naturally start behaving in a more ladylike fashion.

Now, I think I have rather good manners to begin with, although, I am far from perfect.  When I dress nicely, with a pretty dress and gloves, I find myself being more polite and gracious than I would ordinarily be.  I do not think it is putting on an act.  I think that the clothing we wear does transform us, if we let it.

I know that it works the other way too.  When I used to dress sloppily on occasion, I would feel rather sloppy, and my manners would often become sloppy to match.  It was not a conscious thing.  It just happened naturally.

I do not know if this happens just with clothing.  Once I had some family and friends over for breakfast.  I did not have a fancy meal, but I put out a pretty tablecloth and served breakfast on nice china.  The strangest thing happened.  Everyone naturally started being on their best behavior, and their manners improved a hundredfold.  Even my cat behaved better.  I have been working with my cat on not begging at the table (with limited success).  Yet, when we were all at the table, she sat nicely and waited for us all to be finished.  Of course, I gave her a nice treat and praised her for that.

Anyways, I do not know that I am saying anything profound or wise, but it was something I thought of that may be of interest.

The Curse Monster

I started watching the very first Pretty Cure series, or more accurately, I started watching it again.  See, I watched the first two episodes a few months back, and then I was curious about the name of the monsters.  I remembered that in Smile Precure, the name for the monsters, Akanbe, meant a rude face that is sometimes made by children.

I was quite shocked and surprised that the name for the monster in the first Pretty Cure series was a bad word in Japanese, a REALLY BAD WORD!  I will not repeat it, because it is a bad word.  I stopped watching the series because of it, and I went back to watching the later series, Heartcatch, Suite, Smile, and DokiDoki.

Last week, though, there was no DokiDoki Precure, and instead, the lastest All Stars Precure movie was aired.  Even though it was first aired a year ago, I had not seen that movie, so I decided to watch it.  It was really good, but really scary.  I found Fu-chan a bit creepy, but I am glad that it all worked out in the end.

Oh dear, I am going off on a tangent.  In Precure All Stars, you get to see all the Precures from all seasons, even though it seems that it is the most recent two sets of girls that are featured.  Most of the series involved the girls from Smile Precure and Suite Precure, which was fun.  Still, we did get to see all of the girls, all the way back to Cure Black, Cure White, and Cure Luminous from the first Pretty Cure.  So, I got curious.

vacuum-cleaner-monsterI started watching it again, and I think I can manage it if I think of the monsters as Curse Monsters, rather than their names.  I really do not know Japanese well at all, only a few words here and there, so it does not bother me as much as it would if it was an English curse word.  If you can get past the fact that the word is used, though, it really makes for an interesting moral and metaphysical statement.

In the world today, people seem to use curse words like they are just normal words.  It is strange.  Even nice people swear; even grandmothers swear nowadays.  People just seem to think it means nothing at all.  In Pretty Cure though, the Curse Monsters are really nasty, and they do a lot of damage.  I just finished watching episode 2, and the villain made a Curse Monster out of a vacuum cleaner.  The Curse Monster just sucked up all of the energy in the city to feed the side of Evil.  That seemed symbolic to me, and it is often how I feel when people are swearing around me.  It feels like all of the energy is being sucked up in the Aethyr to feed the side of Evil!

I did like something else though.  When the Pretty Cures purify the Curse Monsters, they stop saying the bad word, and instead say, “Gomenna,” which I think is an apology!  I like that the Curse Monsters apologize as they are being purified.  That seems very right too.

So, I guess I am going to keep watching the first Pretty Cure.  It is the only series that seems to be available on Hulu Plus, which I can get on my regular television.  That is rather convenient.  It is too bad that none of the others are available that way though.  Maybe someday!

See also:

Magic Girls are For Real

Pleasant Speech

The Image Sphere

________________________

Cure Dolly commented on my post, and I guess that I misunderstood.  I am a bit embarrassed that I had my information wrong, but maybe this is something good to have cleared up on the Internet somewhere.  Here is Cure Dolly’s response:

I think we need to clarify this, because there is a huge amount of disinformation on this subject on the Web. It is as if West Tellurians have a visceral need for everyone to have taboo words just like theirs. The idea that they don’t seems to worry them almost as deeply as questioning their Darwinist Creation Myth. No doubt this is a psychological reflection on the importance of verbal pollution to a decayed culture (and how it isn’t actually as casual as it sounds, but is a sort of inverted need), but it would take us too far afield to go into that right now.

So to get to the point:

The name of the monster in Futari wa Precure is ざっけなよ zakkenayo. It does not mean or remotely imply any bodily act or function, despite what a lot of people on the Internet confidently and stridently declare. Their declarations say more about them and the state of their culture than about the word.

Zakkenayo is actually a slangy contraction of ふざけるなよ fuzakeru na yo. Fuzakeru means to clown around, josh, fool about etc. Using the plain dictionary form with “na” is a rather rough, masculine way of saying “don’t” and yo is an emphasizer. So essentially a very abrupt way of telling someone to stop playing the fool, perhaps equivalent to “You! Quit clowning!”

Now this is very offensive and does break a taboo, because the Japanese are civilized people and this is not the way you should ever talk to anyone. If you do it will cause deep offense. In that sense only it could be compared to West Tellurian body-language (to coin a phrase). But the comparison is much more confusing than helpful, and the bald and confident (why are West Tellurians at their most confident when they have no idea what they are talking about?) statement that it refers to a bodily function or is a “taboo word” in the West Tellurian curse sense is just false.

It is clearly a word intended to show the fuwa or athamë (rejection of proper Harmony or Order) of the monster. This in itself is untranslatable, because in the West Tellurian mind the very concept of wa or thamë (proper harmony) no longer exists.

Quick check-in

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Today was fireworks and a lot more. A real Japanese home-festival and a beautiful shrine. It ended very late (by our early-bird Japanese standards) and tomorrow is extra-early, (Okaasan impressed on me really strongly to be ready early. I am kind of scared she will hear me typing) – so no time to say much more and none in morning either. I’ll be with you when I can.

Kisses from your dolly.

Dame Desu. Language and Ineptitude.

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Japanese notes

Japanese dame gesture body language
Dame. The stop-sign.

Dame (da-me): Before entering the preschool shower it was pretty clear I would be the target of a lot of mud-slinging (well, sandy-water-slinging) and was asked anxiously if it was daijoubu. I said it was and was told that if it starts to get un-daijoubu I should just cross my hands and say dame. That should stop anything.

Dame is very effective. I should know as I have been damed effectively by several people. Now when I say “several people” I mean several small children. Adults will only tell you what would be dame if someone were unfortunate enough to do it, but small children take great pleasure in telling you what is dame while you are doing it, or are just about to. Since this is information you want, small children are useful people to know.

Language and ditziness: Being hopelessly impractical, unaware of one’s surroundings and unable to process things like times and directions makes an odd combination with speaking the language you love most but speak poorly. In general it tends to make you look less ditzy (at least at first) but makes your language skills look (even) poorer than they are. Today for example, helping Okaasan to take down a big shade structure after my little sister’s tanjoubikai (birthday party) it looked as if I couldn’t follow simple instructions like “pull it out”. Actually I did know what she was saying. I just couldn’t work out the obvious-to-anyone-in-any-language part of what to pull out.

The same thing happens in most practical discussions about where one it going, what one will do, where one should put something or anything really that relates directly to the physical elements of one’s manifestation.

It also arises when one is out alone and lost. A tautology really since if one is out alone one is lost (I exaggerate but not by much). One tends to look linguistically hopeless when one is actually practically hopeless. In one way it is quite good as it provides a certain cover for one’s complete ineptitude, at least at first. The bus-information hito on my recent trip to Ichinomiya, for example, worked out pretty quickly that it wasn’t just (or even primarily) the language.

I am sure some people reading my adventures think if I would just be less stubborn and admit to knowing English I would have an easier time. They are absolutely wrong. The language is a small problem but nowhere near the main one, and actually makes things easier by giving me an initial “excuse” for being so improbably incapable.

There is another point too. I am an extreme extrovert from a South Novaryan culture. This means my social instinct will always override my instinct for survival. I recall a discussion elsewhere about the fact that you should never ask anyone from an non-Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic culture “Does this bus go to X”, because in almost every other kind of culture the hearer will divine from this that you want the bus to go to X and be too polite to say no. So you will be informed that it does and go happily off to Y, Z and W by way of あ, assuming that the information was factual rather than social. I suspect the Japanese being very “modernized” as well as very helpful, could be an exception to this – but I wouldn’t put it to the test, especially in a rural area.

Well there is a reciprocal corollary to this. If I ask directions (always avoiding closed-ended questions like the above of course) and am asked “Do you understand?” well of course I can’t say no, even though I haven’t understood the first word. This is what happens to me in English. In Japanese I can at least look a bit blank as if the language was the problem.

And it isn’t just a straight question like “Do you understand”, it goes deeper than that. When someone is talking to you the polite thing to do is smile and look intelligently engaged and nod in the right places (as indicated by tone and body-language) – in other words, give all the signs of understanding out of courtesy to the speaker, when in fact, even though they are speaking English, they might as well be speaking Martian (I don’t – I am not that kind of alien).

When you are speaking the language brokenly it changes the social compact a little. An understood incapacity on your part is an aspect of the understood relations between you, so expressing your lack of understanding is a little less – dame.

That does help a lot, even if it makes your language skills look hopeless.

Tatoos are dame: You go to a bath to relax, not to see people looking grotesque (if you wanted that you would go to a freak show instead). Consequently tatoos are very properly banned in onsen and other Japanese public bathing places. I saw a sign that, I felt covered all bases neatly. “No tattoos or stickers”.

“But this isn’t really a tattoo – it comes off.”

“Excellent. When it comes off, welcome to the bath.”

Read Cure Dolly’s full Japanese Diary here

Japanese Vending Machines

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First in a series of brief notes on Japan.

You have probably heard there are a lot of vending machines in Japan. There are. It is like South Germany where I lived at one time only much more so. There is even one on the corner of the country road where I am currently living.

What is strange is that there is almost no public seating at least where I am now. And canned drinks come with no straw. Where and how are you supposed to drink them?

Standing up in the street? Do you tip them into your mouth from the can like some barbarian. It is true I have encountered this problem in other countries, so why single out Japan? Japan, I am singling you out because you are grown up. You are supposed to know better.

My first vending machine (I got a soda).
My first vending machine (I got a soda).

Read Cure Dolly’s full Japanese Diary here

 

The Peoples who Bring us Nice Things

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Grr – they’re giving us something nice!
What are they trying to pull?

My eye was recently attracted by an article about Japanese television advertisements and their “deeper meaning” – well I should have guessed that it would be anything but deep, but it was interesting.

The writer said that while “celebrities” no longer appear in CMs on television in the West they still do in Japan. It wondered why that was and made some rather banal suggestions. However it also made one comment that then seemed to be  forgotten. But I think it is quite clearly the key to the whole question.

It said that in the West, celebrities would now (unlike a few decades ago when celebrity advertising was common apparently) be seen as “selling out” if they advertised goods.

That seemed to me like a very strange idea and I think it would seem to most Japanese people like a very strange idea too. But it is very typical of the increasing cynicism of the West and the way people think there.

I have noticed it on Western game sites. There is a constant climate of complaint and anger that people are not getting exactly what they want when they want it. And an underlying assumption that the people who make them nice games are somehow in existence to do them down.

I think the attitude is general. That the people who make all the wonderful things we see in the shops (I never fail to be filled with wonder when I see how many lovely things are in shops), who carry them often across the world so we can have them and make them easily available in shops very near where we live – that these people are somehow our enemies of whom we should be constantly suspicious.

Now I am not here trying to defend “captialism”. That isn’t really the point. Neither am I wanting “celebrity CMs” in the West. I never watch Western television anyway and the only CMs I have seen in the wild are those that come in the interstices of Precure (they have little girls with Precure toys, not celebrities). In any case, I wouldn’t know a Western celebrity from a hole in the ground (and I’d probably like the hole better).

But the point is a great and growing cynicism and lack of gratitude in the West. In Japan I think people are still fundamentally grateful for food and the availability of good things. They don’t see those who make them possible as their enemies. The entire concept of “selling out” comes from a very mean spirit.

The answer to the question of why there are still celebrity CMs in Japan but not in the West boils down, I believe to one word: “cynicism and mean-spiritedness”.

Oh dear. That was four words wasn’t it?

Follow the discussion on this post on the Senshi Forums

The Hour of the Mystery Puffin

Mystery PuffinMusume Senshi’s Astrologer in Residence has calulated the Auspicious Hour for the launch of what we affectionately term Project X, or the Arrival of the Mystery Puffin.

So if you were thinking of getting up with the first rays of dawn to see what is coming – well it won’t be there yet. And that isn’t because we are all lazy nebou (Japanese for the more familiar Shakespearean term slug-a-bed) but because of this. We already knew that the Auspicious Day was Monday, but this is what our Resident Astrologer says about the hour:

I think I like around 10 Pacific time the best
Even though there will be a Void of Course Moon….
Which can also mean that things go smoothly
And she is in Cancer…which is a really good place for her
And axiomatically, the Moon does still function in Cancer, even when she is Void of Course but, it puts things in a good house and by then the Moon is freeing herself from being Combust. She has moved around 5 degress from the Sun.
And her last aspect is a conjunction with Mati (Mercuria) which is good for us.

We know you understood all that (so could you drop us a quick note to explain it to us?)

Anyoldhow! The upshot is: call in at 10pm Pacific Time to find out what the Mystery Puffin has to reveal!