Kubo Mitsurou on “love and figure skating”


Given what’s been happening to a fellow Yuri!!! on ICE fan, translator and friend on tumblr in the wake of the stage event on April 29, I’ve decided to publish a transcript and translation of something that Kubo Mitsurou said about “love in the figure skating world” on live radio last December.

On December 14, 2016,1 Kubo appeared on All Night Nippon’s Myu~Komi Plus radio, where she regaled hosts Yoshida Hisanori and Ogino Karin with tales from behind-the-scenes of the show and her growing love for the world of figure skating.2 Towards the end of the discussion, she started talking talking about the love ( “ai”「愛」) that permeates that world. Here is the entire two-minute segment of that discussion, along with the transcript and translation that I made.

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Hidden Meanings: Language and Culture in Rakugo Shinju


Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū is a show-don’t-tell masterpiece. In fact, I’m inclined to cut out the qualifying ‘show-don’t-tell’. Whether I write about it in more detail at the end of this year, or after the second half of the story has graced our screens, I have no doubt that the way I feel about this show will not change—I might just be far more effusive in my praise. There are so many things running through my head that I barely know where to start, but perhaps this one statement fits:

Rakugo Shinjū is the most Japanese anime series I’ve ever seen.

There are so many nuances in this show that I can make sense of only through what I know of Japanese language and culture. Some I did not notice until I started rewatching various episodes partway through the show. Others I only came to understand after some lengthy discussions with two different Japanese people, one a fellow Rakugo fan I met online, and one that I personally know. And still others I would never have noticed if the former had not pointed them out. So here, I bring you three language-related ‘show-don’t-tell’s that you might have missed in Rakugo Shinjū, even if you understand Japanese. Read more of this post

Translation: Two Japanese critics on the politics of GATE


Last week, Frog-kun combed a range of Japanese sites to bring you some Japanese reactions to the GATE anime. However, the most loudly-expressed opinions even amongst domestic fans just barely skim the surface of the political maelstrom that lies beneath. That intense domestic debate over Japan’s security policy was alluded to in the key linked article, just beyond the part translated. In order to provide a bit more insight into that debate, I decided to translate the remainder of the article, so that English-speaking anime fans might have a better idea of what the fuss is all about.

Many, many thanks are due to Frog-kun, who generously let me use the part originally translated and checked my translation of the rest. Any mistakes or misinterpretations that remain are my own.


Is the JSDF anime GATE right-wing?

They smite their enemies with weapons and get the good-looking girls

Is GATE: Thus the JSDF Fought There!, a web novel that has been turned into an anime, a right-leaning piece of entertainment that tickles one’s patriotism? Writer and editor Iida Ichishi and sci-fi literary critic Fujita Naoya shrewdly tackle this question.

(This article/conversation was published online on August 20, 2015, after 7 episodes of the first series had aired.)

The original story began online 9 years ago. Read more of this post

Moments of 2015: The Sounds of Youth, Dreams and Expectations

As if it weren’t already obvious from the post title, right?

Truth be told, this was probably the most difficult choice I’ve had to make for this list. Going by what I’ve blogged about over the last twelve months, I’m sure that some of you will be surprised that my AOTY isn’t Aldnoah.Zero. I considered it, but only briefly, for even I have issues with the show that I simply cannot overlook. The other contenders have featured far less in my writings this past year, but only because I have been unable to muse about them until now. WORKING!!!, after all, only just ended, and SHIROBAKO has unfortunately taken a backseat because I simply did not have the time to read through all the interviews and 2ch threads that I want to tackle. If any of these three series had been completed in 2014, it would definitely have taken last year’s AOTY crown with ease. In particular, I was very close to choosing SHIROBAKO, which was a delightful—if slightly exaggerated—representation of what it takes to get an anime made.

These two materials books together weigh about 5 kilos…
I haven’t even had time to flip through either of them…

But in the end, after contemplating what I got from my favourite series over the past year, I kept coming back to Sound! Euphonium. The main reason for this Read more of this post

Another anniversary, another round of talking past each other

I am no longer watching GATE, but since related issues have cropped up in the discussions for a number of shows I’ve seen over the past year, it seemed fitting to interrupt my regular postings to write about something else that I’m invested in: Japan’s international relations.

The reactions to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement commemorating the end of the Pacific War have surely surprised no one. The White House welcomed “his expression of deep remorse for the suffering Japan caused,” but Beijing and Seoul criticised it for diluting the language of earlier apologies, particularly the Murayama and Kono statements that more directly referred to what Japan did to the peoples of East Asia. The early signs are that the history problems that have plagued the region are nowhere closer to being solved. And once again, most commentators are laying the blame primarily on Japan, arguing that it needs to sincerely acknowledge the past and offer genuine apologies and reparations.

Abe at the memorial ceremony in Hiroshima on August 6. (Image from Reuters)

However, the picture that many of these critics are presenting is incomplete. Although it in no way lessens Japan’s guilt, the US, China and South Korea are not free of ‘wrongdoing’ in this confrontation over historical representations of the war. Overcoming this issue will require that all four parties acknowledge their own contributions to the problems, and also that they work together to overcome it. Unfortunately, this does not look likely in the near or even mid-term future.

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Sound! Euphonium: media consumption and the ‘romance lens’


I was debating whether I should address the elephant in the room…especially since I’d already written about it. But this is more than a follow-up to my first post — it’s something I’ve wanted to write about ever since I tired of the shipping in Macross Frontier. In fact, what frustrates me about the discussion that surrounded that issue is actually another example of the broader themes that I see Sound! Euphonium touching upon: the expectations that people have. The expectations in this case are what is born of the framework that most viewers have used to interpret what they see in the media they consume, which I shall call a ‘romance lens’. Whilst this lens can be used effectively in character analysis, for the most part, I’ve found that it tends to get in the way of fruitful discussion because most people are not aware of the biases that they bring to this framework. Let me explain. Read more of this post

Sound! Euphonium and the pros and cons of collectivism

The first step to the Nationals!

Spring is usually a strong season for anime…but this one fell rather flat for me, especially after how much I enjoyed the previous season. Nevertheless, there is one series that captured all of my attention: Sound! Euphonium. It’s difficult to describe how it caught my attention, because it was something I could not express clearly even around the tenth episode, as the people I was discussing it with in private messages found out. It was something I sensed when Aoi and Kumiko were talking about their issues with the public vote about the club’s motto in episode 2, which left me slightly disappointed when it was resolved so quickly as Taki worked his magic on his students’ motivation and self-belief. But then it crept up again when Aoi decided to quit the club to focus on her studies, and again when the characters fluttered around trying to figure out who to go to the festival with. And when the conflict between Reina and Yuuko over the solo part came to a head around episodes 9 and 10, I finally realised that everything had actually been connect to the main theme of this series: the many facets of social expectations.

My previous post outlined some of these expectations in detail, and presented what might be perceived as a scathing critique of Japanese society. I will not take that critique back, for those norms and structures remain one of the biggest barriers to Japan being able to get out of the economic stagnation that has plagued it for a quarter of a century now. However, I did want to present a slightly more balanced picture of ‘collectivism’, which I felt that a lot of English-speaking viewers missed because of a greater emphasis on individualism in their own societies.

Hibike_00007 Hibike_00008
Isn’t there anything we can do about this mood?
Are you saying she should give up her solo part?
I think that it might be necessary…
Why? Kousaka-san didn’t do anything wrong.
I know that too, but it isn’t worth letting things get so tense.

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On Sound! Euphonium and the ‘shipping’ debacle

Yes, it was romantic. But can we please move on?

Despite it being the series I am probably most engaged with at present, I dropped out of the Sound! Euphonium discussion on AS this week. My disillusionment with the focus over there has been building for a couple of weeks, ever since the infamous episode 8 ‘date’, and I finally decided on Monday that I would indeed leave for good. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not dismissing how ‘romantic’ the scene itself was, nor the fact that the characters in question connect on a level that even they find difficult to put into words. In fact, given what was revealed in that date, I wouldn’t be surprised if these two did find themselves falling in love with each other one day, if their hearts took them down that path. What I’m disgruntled about isn’t the content of the scene itself, or even the changes I hear KyoAni has made, but rather the consequences of the way it turned into a debate about shipping and yuri-baiting. Let me explain.

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What manga can teach you about life

I know that this one's for girls in their tweens...but I unabashedly love CCS to pieces!!
I know that this one’s for girls in their tweens…
but I unabashedly love CCS to pieces!!
And I’m completely willing to admit it!

Was flipping through one of my favourite manga again the other day, when I came across something that really made me reflect on the role that manga (and anime) writers often play in society, especially if their protagonists are school aged children. Of course, I’m only writing this up now because it has great relevance for Chihaya too.

** WARNING ** SPOILERS for CCS and Chihayafuru AHEAD **

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Chihayafuru Manga: Poem 139

Am I ready?

Poem 48 (Kaze wo itami):


風をいたみ 岩うつ波の おのれのみ くだけて物を 思ふころかな

Kaze wo itami iwa utsu nami no onore nomi kudakete mono wo omou koro kana

Like a driven wave,
Dashed by fierce winds on a rock,
So am I: alone
And crushed upon the shore,
Remembering what has been.


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