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Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

I have a new book (and film) review of Makoto Shinkai’s your name. on Contemporary Japanese Literature. your-name

your name. is a novelization of director Makoto Shinkai’s your name., an animated film that tells the story of Mitsuha, a high school girl from rural Gifu prefecture who wishes she could be a boy in Tokyo in her next life. After an incredibly vivid dream in which she wakes up as “Taki,” a high school boy living in downtown Tokyo, she discovers it’s not a dream at all – and Taki is also switching bodies with her. As the two teenagers try to navigate each other’s lives and relationships, only able to communicate with each other only by writing notes in each other’s cell phones when they switch, they begin to unravel a mystery involving Mitsuha’s town.

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Best of ALC, Part 3

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but ALC is the translation gift that keeps on giving.

Friendly reminder that none of these entries are incorrect translations and that I’m glad that ALC covers so much English-language slang; the humor lies in the unexpectedly enthusiastic, oddly phrased, or out of date translations.

Part 1 | Part 2

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As with many of the stories contained within Yoshiya’s Hana monogatari, “Yellow Roses” ends in tears. The story’s focus is not on plot, however, but rather the beauty of the two young women and the depth of their feelings for one another. Entire paragraphs are spent on detailed descriptions of mournful eyes and chiseled cheekbones, and the poetry of Sappho is quoted at length. As in the above passages, Yoshiya’s writing is characterized by fragments and ellipses, which heighten the emotional impact of certain scenes while leaving the reader free to fill in the suggestive gaps in the text with her imagination.

Contemporary Japanese Literature

Yellow Rose

Title: Yellow Rose
Japanese Title: 黄薔薇 (Kibara)
Author: Yoshiya Nobuko (吉屋 信子)
Translator: Sarah Frederick
Publication Year: 2014 (America); 1923 (Japan)
Publisher: Expanded Editions

I’m absolutely thrilled to write that one of Yoshiya Nobuko’s stories has finally appeared in a readily available English translation. “Yellow Rose” is drawn from Yoshiya’s acclaimed collection Hana monogatari (Flower Stories), which first appeared in print in the 1920s and has been a major guiding influence in shōjo manga, literature, and aesthetics. Thankfully, Yoshiya’s fiction is not just important from the perspective of literary history but also a true delight to read.

The short story “Yellow Rose” is about Katsuragi Misao, a twenty-two-year-old college graduate who accepts a teaching post at an all-girls prefectural academy “a thousand miles distant from Tokyo” to avoid getting married. On the train departing from Tokyo she meets Urakami Reiko, who happens to be a student entering her…

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Utagawa Kunimasa, “Young Woman and a Cat at a Kotatsu” Tokyo National Museum. Ukiyo-e, Nihon bijutsu zenshū, Tokugawa, (Comprehensive Collection of Japanese Art) vol. 20 (Kōdansha, 1991), p. 34. Via Japan Focus.

Utagawa Kunimasa, “Young Woman and a Cat at a Kotatsu”
Tokyo National Museum. Ukiyo-e, Nihon bijutsu zenshū, Tokugawa, (Comprehensive Collection of Japanese Art) vol. 20 (Kōdansha, 1991), p. 34. Via Japan Focus.

I ended up skipping the May reader since I was busy with the edits for the cross-dressing in anime and manga series. However, the gender issue rightfully on everyone’s mind in May was Elliot Rodger and #YesAllWomen. I don’t have much to contribute that conversation other than a link to a list of well written articles below, but I do have some more articles to share about gender in Japan.

In this gender reader: the history of beauty in Japan and China, gendered pronouns in Japanese and English, a survey of LGBT students in Japan, a collection of essential articles about Isla Vista, and more.

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Today I’m pleased to bring you an essay version of the panel I gave with Dr. Kathryn Hemmann of Contemporary Japanese Literature on cross-dressing in anime and manga at Sakura-Con in Seattle on April 19, 2014. Because we’re no longer limited to 70 minutes and a projector, we’re able to include more notes, resources, and a proper discussion of Ôoku, which we unfortunately had to cut short at the panel. Enjoy!

Oscar Françoise de Jarjeyes: cross-dressing BAMF. Ikeda Riyoko, The Rose of Versailles, vol. 3, p. 296.

Oscar Françoise de Jarjeyes: hero, soldier, noble, woman of the people. Ikeda Riyoko, The Rose of Versailles, vol. 3, p. 296.

Introduction

Gender bending is often cited as one of the defining themes of contemporary anime and manga, which are filled with examples of handsome women and beautiful men, not to mention cross-dressing characters who never fail to steal the spotlight. What is cross-dressing? How does it challenge and reinforce gender roles? What role has cross-dressing historically played in popular entertainment in Japan? Does a female character cross-dressing as a man mean something different than a male character cross-dressing as a woman? In this essay, we’re going to discuss ideas about gender, provide some terminology, and examine a few examples of how cross-dressing is used by characters in anime and manga as a means of exploring gender issues in contemporary Japanese society.

This essay is divided into seven parts in four themes. In the first part, we’re going to outline several terms and issues related to gender fluidity. In the second part, we’ll discuss Japanese theatrical traditions, specifically those of kabuki and Takarazuka, which continue to inform contemporary popular culture in Japan. In the third part, we’ll talk about cross-dressing as it appears in comedies, romantic or otherwise, to demonstrate how laughter can both undermine and bolster personal agency in choices relating to gender identity. In the final part, we’ll move on to cross-dressing in anime and manga that are more serious in tone and content in order to explore the more transgressive and more potentially transformative aspects of gender fluidity.

Content note: This essay contains minor spoilers for the anime and manga series we discuss. Although we’ll be focusing on stories and characters we love, our discussion will include issues relating to transphobia, misogyny, sexism, and bullying.

The Superpositionality of Gender

We’d like to start off our discussion with a serious topic: cats. And by “cats,” I obviously mean “quantum physics” by way of the famous thought experiment often referred to as Schrödinger’s cat. (more…)

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Yes, JET alum Tim Martin interviewed Jim Breen, creator of WWWJDIC, one of the most popular online Japanese dictionaries, which revolutionized Japanese-language learning technology. This was the first dictionary I used, and while I tend to use Space ALC for helping localize phrases (often to hilarious effect), WWWDIC’s multi-radical kanji and text glossing have been key tools for many of the English-speaking JSL learners of my generation.

Photo courtesy of Jim Breen. Via JETWit.

Photo courtesy of Jim Breen. Via JETWit.

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I first noticed my spell-check was biased when Microsoft tried to tell me “heteronormative” wasn’t a word back in undergrad. (It’s underlined on this draft in WordPress now, “no replacements found.”) My phone doesn’t know “genderqueer,” “intersectionality,” or “biphobia.” Neither does the media, who continue to put gender identities and queer narratives in scare quotes, even when they’re supposedly “on our side” (see what I did there?).

Via homoarigato.

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