As I wrote in Friday’s J-List post, the first anime that really called me into the welcome folds of Japanese pop culture was Space Battleship Yamato, a melodramatic space opera in which a WWII battleship-turned-spaceship had to travel to the distant planet Iscandar and return within one year, or all life on Earth would die out. (My TV broke for a two week period soon after I started watching, and I remember rushing to my local J.C. Penny and watching each day’s episode on the TVs there.) More than images of space combat and transforming robots, it was the depth of the stories which drew me to the anime genre, stories in which characters could die or fall in love as worlds hung in the balance. Some great series I’ve enjoyed over the years have included the well-structured suspense of Death Note, the realistic story of love and tsundere in Toradora!, and AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day, about a girl who dies then comes back as a ghost to hang out with her childhood friends. Great stories aren’t only found in anime of course: the visual novels we publishing in English are often extremely well-written, like the just-released Kana Okaeri ~ Welcome Home Kana, a game that has an amazing reputation with fans because of the intense quality of the its story. Another important series is the currently-running 四月の君は嘘 shigatsu no kimi wa uso, or Your Lie in April in English. It’s the story of a 14 year-old boy who’s a genius pianist, who is inspired to play again by a young female violinist he encounters, and it’s really outstanding. So, what are your favorite stories from anime and visual novels?
Like all languages, there are many regional dialects in addition to standard Japanese, which is what they speak in Tokyo. While famous dialects like Osaka and Kyoto are well-represented in anime, a lot of the more subtle local language variations are not generally found in pop culture as a rule. The reason (I’ve heard) is that people from places like Tochigi Prefecture – located 150 km north of Tokyo, a place where people really talk funny, unlike J-List’s home prefecture of Gunma – aren’t used to having their accents represented on TV, and might feel like they were being mocked. You don’t have to be Japanese to have an accent, of course: we foreigners have them too. In a recent episode of Kantai Collection we meet Kongo, a Japanese battleship “who was born in England” (since the historical ship was built in 1911 in that country). Being a kikoku shijo or “returned-to-Japan child” who came to Japan after growing up abroad, Kongo naturally speaks Japanese like a Westerner, injecting too much emotion into her sentences and using random English phrases like “no problem” while speaking. Like any foreigner, she’s able to nullify social rules, too, embracing the more humble Japanese ships and imposing her personality on them at will…which is actually a pretty accurate description of what foreigners often do in Japan.
Speaking of high-quality stories, we’re happy to announce that the total remake of one of the best visual novels ever released is in stock and shipping. The game is Kana Okari ~ Welcome Home Kana, a total remake of one of the most beloved Japanese visual novels ever made, written by the creator of Yume Miru Kusuri. This new version adds full character voices, a modern game engine, a re-edited translation plus animated “H” scenes. It’s a journey that every fan of visual novels will wan to make, the seminal edition of this epic visual novel.