Ever since the rise of “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” 14 years ago, people have been used to the idea of memes spreading randomly through our popular culture. While many of these memes have no problem crossing
national or linguistic boundaries, such as the Haruhi Hare Hare Yukai dance back in the mid 2000s, others seem limited to a certain language zone. For example, Japanese fans have no awareness of the “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” meme from The Legend of Zelda, while jokes that reference the classic “You hit me! Even my father never hit me!” scene from Mobile Suit Gundam might sail over the heads of Western fans. Memes are an important part of anime, serving as building blocks for creating characters that will be instantly familiar to viewers even though the characters themselves are new. A character designer might add a pinch of absolute zone socks here and a dash of shimapan there, or perhaps choose the “twintails chara” route, as in the new anime Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu, about a guy who loves girls with twintail hair so much he ends up becoming one himself. Recently a new anime meme called #PregnancyAnnouncement exploded onto the Internet thanks to a Japanese Twitter user who created a generic image of hands holding a pregnancy kit, which fans combine with their favorite anime characters, creating much mirth and entertainment.
When Japanese couples get ready to have a baby, they naturally start making lists of possible baby names, searching for one that captures the dream they have for their new child. Just as there are dozens of ways to write names like Ashley in English, some of them quite ridiculous, Japanese parents have a wide range of kanji characters to choose from when thinking up names, or they can choose to keep it simple and go with no kanji at all. While a person usually only needs to be able to read 500-1000 characters to read Japanese (far fewer than are needed for Chinese), there’s a lot of nuance that goes into names for people, and it’s not uncommon at all for names to be quite difficult to read, something the staff of J-List is all too familiar with, as the pen-names of manga-ka seem can be especially esoteric. Choosing names seems to be something the Japanese take quite seriously. Before our kids were born, my wife went to visit our local Buddhist temple to get advice from the priest on what to name each child, and she was advised to choose a name for our daughter that had the same number of strokes (lines needed write each kanji) as her own name, so she could pass her own “strong luck” on to her daughter.
The Japanese have a fun tradition called fuku-bukuro or “Lucky Bags” in which you get a bag filled with random stuff from Japanese department stores and other stops. Our customers love our annual Lucky Bag tradition, so this year we decided to start sales of the ecchi grab bags — huge collections of awesome products which are sent to you in a secure box from either Japan or San Diego — a few weeks early. Each is filled with awesome English eroge titles and DVDs, personal stress toys, personal lotion, manga and shrinkwrapped JAV DVDs, and we really went out of our way to make sure
this year’s lineup of products was great. Browse them all now! (Non-adult grab bags will be posted to the site in November.)