My voice on this blog is different from those of my colleagues here at Beneath The Tangles, though then again we are all of us very different from one another. I discovered anime as an adult well into my 30s, only because my students kept talking about this anime thing and I wondered what it was all about. Back in those days it was commonplace to get one’s anime by mail-ordering physical DVDs from Netflix, which occasionally arrived crushed, but that’s another story.
Most of what I watched in my early days of anime viewing was utter trash, to no one’s surprise. But every so often I found a real gem — something that made me think, something that captured my imagination, something that caused the emergence of stronger feelings than I had ever felt before. And I wondered how this could be.
Not long into my new habit, I began to understand that there was something about all this that was uniquely Japanese, that was somehow interwoven with the Japanese language, history, and culture. I also realized that these were things I knew almost nothing about. It was then that I made the fateful decision to switch from dubs to subs.
Now I have been a language nerd from childhood. The foreign language I learned in school was German, and I loved its blocky logic. I’ve often said that I didn’t learn how to speak English correctly until I learned German. I also learned little bits about several other languages, the stranger the alphabet the better. But nothing could have prepared me for Japanese, with its two alphabets (or really we should call them syllabaries), its kanji or Chinese characters (mostly borrowed but with the occasional character that was fully made-in-Japan), and its alluringly straightforward pronunciation. I was doomed from the start. Having studied Japanese off-and-on for about ten years, I can now confidently declare that my Japanese is roughly 15-20% as fluent as my German, in which I last received formal instruction in 1987. One day I might be able to speak Japanese as well as a native third-grader, and that will make me very happy.
I have popped up from time to time on this blog for several years now to express why certain anime series, often obscure ones that I figured no one else would appreciate, nevertheless had a huge impact on my life. I would hate to miss a chance to participate in our end-of-season reviews, which are coming up soon. And certainly I don’t spare Twitter any of my snippy comments on what I happen to be watching lately. But now I will also invite your questions, preferably by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or even on Twitter @ryuusei86 (you can also use the #asksensei tag) or in the comment section of this post. If there is interest in “Ask Sensei,” then my plan is to compile approximately once a month those questions to which I feel I can give the best answers.
Students with other questions will, as always, be referred to the syllabus.