Greetings from Japan! I’m off to Kyoto and Osaka on a business trip, but while I’m gone the hardworking J-List staff will make sure all orders go out smoothly. What awesome Japan-related products can we send you today?
Getting into anime means exposing yourself to a lot of new ideas, for example the way Japanese relationships tend to be “vertical,” with the older members (senpai) acting very differently from junior members (kohai). It also means getting used to stories about characters whose genders might not be what they seem at first glance. There’s a long list of anime that feature 女装 joso (males dressed as females), like Mariya from Maria Holic, or 男装 danso (females dressed as men) characters, my favorite being Charlotte Dunois from Infinite Stratos. Every few anime seasons it seems there’s a new variation on how genders are played with, such as Hideyoshi from Baka Test or Izana from Knights of Sidonia, whose official genders are “none of the above,” or Yukimura from I Have Few Friends, a boy who thinks he’s a girl…though we learn later that it’s a bit more complex than that. Stories of characters in non-standard gender roles have deep roots in Japan, from Kabuki plays in which all the actors are male to the famous Takarazuka Revue, with all roles filled by incredibly talented females. Incidentally, if you’re interested in “trap” or otokonoko themes, J-List has some products you might like.
When our kids were born, both my Japanese wife and I wanted to make sure they’d be raised bilingually, since we both knew firsthand how much work is involved with learning a language from scratch. To ensure our success I came up with various strategies. First, we imported all our DVDs from the U.S. rather than buying them in Japan, so that if my kids wanted to watch Harry Potter, they had to do it in English rather than with a Japanese dubbed track. Once my daughter found my Magical Knights Rayearth DVDs and asked to watch it, and I pretended there was no Japanese track on the disc, watching the English dub with her even though I’d rather have watched it in Japanese. My son and I had fun comparing the English and Japanese versions of things, for example watching an episode of Power Rangers in Japanese, then the same episode in English, to compare what had been changed, or comparing Yu-Gi-Oh! cards from Japan and the U.S. For the longest time I pretended not to speak Japanese, asking my kids to say what they wanted to tell me in English, but eventually they figured out I was faking it. A big part of learning a language is knowing the associated culture, so I made sure my kids were quite familiar with “American” things like Scooby Doo and Pop Tarts.
Great news! The 2015 anime posters from Japan are finally posted for preorder, and the start of 2015 Calendar Season can officially get started. Every year J-List sells hundreds of large-format calendars from Japan, with huge, glossy sheets filled with beautiful art from your favorite anime or manga series. This year’s lineup of anime calendars looks great, including Cardcaptor Sakura, No Game No Life, Knights of Sidonia, One Week Friends and a ton of others. These calendars will start coming in stock in October, so get your orders in right now!