Lost in Translation: YOI characters’ handwriting!

Well, turns out that another of those “Lost in Translation” pieces found its way into my head this week, courtesy of Twitter and tumblr. But hopefully, this one’s just going to amuse you as much as it did me.

Early on Wednesday morning, Yuri!!! on ICE animator Itou Noriko posted the following image on twitter:

It reads: “It is said that your handwriting can reveal your personality and traits,” with the tweet noting that this was “Yuuri’s writing.” I think we’ve heard about this before, but Itou-san is the person responsible for all of his writing, not only on the famous “love” placard at the the TV Asahi Grand Prix series opening press conference, but also on all the chalk board explanations throughout the series.

Of course, this tweet has gone viral. In fact, it hit the English-speaking fandom within a few hours, on Twitter and on Tumblr, with both translators pointing out one of Itou-san’s subsequent comments about Yuuri’s writing looking like a/his mother’s (お母さんみたい).

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That’s what she said?! Kubo Mitsurou on ⚤ romance

Pardon me for putting this post off—I was, shall we say, more than a little distracted by certain figure skating competitions over the last month and a half. But now that Worlds and the World Team Trophy have come and gone, I’ve finally been able to get back to the third of three major misinterpretations that arguably led Yuri!!! on ICE fans to criticise Kubo for leaving mixed messages about what she stood for.

Credit: Jason Brown, aka the inspiration for Leo de la Iglesia ^^;

The issue I address here was actually the first one that I personally witnessed, right from the time it started. The comments in question were tweeted by Kubo towards the end of August 2016, though they were only picked up and translated—often separately—for the Western fandom around November 20.

The August tweets

Since context is especially important in this case, let me first present all four of the relevant tweets. Read more of this post

That’s what she said?! Kubo Mitsurou and the kiss(?)

Today, I’m going to look at what Kubo Mitsurou has said about the scene at the end of episode 7, where Victor had a surprise greeting for Yuuri as he came off the ice after his Cup of China free skate. Well, I’m stepping right into a minefield here, so I might as well just take the plunge:


Personally, I believe it was a kiss, for reasons I’ll go into below. That being said, I fully support anyone who believes otherwise, which brings me to my next point.

What I’m really concerned about is the view that “Kubo implied that it was obvious”—especially when this is used to bash fans whose interpretation of Yuuri and Victor’s relationship is not the same as the dominant one. Read more of this post

That’s what she said?! Kubo Mitsurou and Yuri!!! on ICE

If you’re a member of the hard-core Yuri!!! on ICE fandom, what has happened over the past few weeks can hardly have escaped your attention. On February 7, the March issue of CREA saw Kubo Mitsurou—who’s credited for the original story and the scripts—indicate that Victor and Yuuri can be thought of as “soulmates,” inciting cheers and celebrations in various places around the web. Then on February 10, her comments in Pash! about the rings being akin to items worn by “members of the same circle” created a fair amount of consternation amongst fans who believe Yuuri and Victor to be engaged.

(Thank you to @3A3T_ for passing me this scan from CREA!)

The fallout was immediate. Some fans started criticising Kubo for again leaving mixed messages over what she really stood for. In response, others pointed out that what she said did not negate “just how much Yuuri and Victor truly love each other,” an interpretation that the show itself amply supports. But the order of the day seems to have been confusion—one person even asked a major YOI translator not to translate what Kubo said about the rings so as “to keep everyone in YOI fandom happy.”

toraonice responded as I would have, Read more of this post

The Five Moments that made Joker Game work for me

Joker Game is a show that drew some mixed reactions over its run. Early on, the dark and stylish atmosphere of the promotional videos drew attention, presumably because that’s an aesthetic that Western viewers want to see more of. Given the setting, a number of voices also expressed hopes that we’d finally have a series that seriously tackles the question of what Japan did in the first half of last century.


As the season wore on, however, most people started to complain about a range of things they didn’t like. From the explanatory monologues to the unexplained reasoning that some of the spies used to solve their cases1—I was quite bemused by these contrasting views—and the episodic nature that prevented us from even recognising which of the spies we were watching, much less form some kind of emotional attachment with any of them. Some soon rationalised the latter, in particular, as being reflective of the nature of these men: we’re not meant to get to know any of them because they’re meant to blend in and take on any role required of them. Whilst this worked for viewers interested in learning about techniques and tools of espionage, others found the lack of handles for engagement problematic.

Personally, I found Joker Game to be one of the more compelling shows I followed in the Spring season. Part of it undoubtedly has to do with the veteran voice actors, all of whom have distinctive voices. I picked out five of the eight spies from the PV itself, as well as Seki Tomokazu, and I’m sure fans of each of the other three would have recognised them immediately, too. In any case, that’s how I knew who was whom, especially after I sat down one evening to match each voice to a name and appearance. What can I say? I’m first and foremost a seiyuu fan, after all.

But the main reason that this show will make it onto my 12 Days of Anime list this year is actually due to the writing. Yeah, I know: what the heck is ‘writing’, right? But after months of reading interviews and listening to podcasts about screenwriting, I do have an answer for that, at least for the purposes of this post. Here, I’ll be talking about five character moments that got me completely invested in Joker Game. In fact, these five moments suggest that the show’s writers had a very clear idea of what the show was about: Yuuki, the spymaster holding the strings. Read more of this post

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

The truth about Urobuchi Gen’s involvement in Aldnoah.Zero

Disclaimer: This overview of how AZ came into being is based mostly on interviews I have collected and read over the last eight months, so any translation errors or misinterpretations―though I hope there are none―are entirely my own. Corrections and clarifications are always appreciated. You’re also welcome to link to this or quote parts of it, but please don’t copy and paste substantial amounts elsewhere. And without further ado, let me begin…

Last major edit on September 24, 2015

I am well aware that my love for Aldnoah.Zero makes me an outlier in the Western anime fandom. A lot of my posts and arguments probably make me seem like an apologist, or maybe just someone completely out-of-touch with everyone else. But believe me, although I take pains to justify why I appreciate this show despite its flaws, I’m not trying to convince anyone else that they should like it. Some of its flaws are, indeed, issues that would drive me up the wall if I did not consciously overlook them. But what frustrates me is that people will channel their hatred of the show into ‘talking crap’ about its creators, based on little more than speculation over the deal with Urobuchi Gen. Personally, as someone who enjoys finding out about the creative process, I just want to set the record straight.

The project was revealed on February 16, 2014,
with Urobuchi credited for coming up with the “story.”

This post presents a summary of how Aldnoah.Zero was created, focusing in particular on the pre-production period. One of the triggers behind my decision to torture myself was that some of the things people kept saying about Aoki Ei and co. reminded me of the fandom of another series, where misinformation someone had deliberately spread led to some wild fan speculation and myths that were then used to criticise its creators. In this case, fans just took the ‘fact’ that “Urobuchi was replaced by Takayama Katsuhiko” and ran with it, resulting in a number of theories that are contradicted by what Aoki, Urobuchi and all of the other creators have said. But I’ll leave the verdict up to the reader. You can either believe what they said in all the interviews I reference here, or you can speculate about how they’ve all conspired to cover up what really happened—prizes are available for the most believable and the most outrageous theories!


  • Urobuchi wrote the plot and the history of Earth and Vers; Aoki created the characters and their storylines. This is what they agreed on right from the start (Spring, 2011).
  • Takayama was brought on board towards the end of 2012 because they knew that Urobuchi wouldn’t be able to write all of the screenplays himself.
  • Urobuchi left in early 2013 because of scheduling conflicts (with Kamen Rider Gaim).
  • Despite the switch, Urobuchi’s plot outline has largely been maintained.

As for the non-TL;DR, let me begin with an annotated timeline. Read more of this post

Chihayafuru: an update on the “teki” debate

What do I see you as?

Since I asked one of my Japanese teachers in Tokyo about the term late last year, I’ve been meaning to follow up on this post about what Taichi meant when he referred to Arata as a “teki.” I’ve just been putting it off because I had a whole lot of other things I wanted to write about more—I’ve even fallen really far behind on my reviews of the manga. Well, hopefully, this post will galvanise me to get back into it, though I make no guarantees whatsoever…

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The main problem with Aldnoah.Zero…

“The princess of the Vers Empire has turn
“The princess of the Vers Empire has turned her people against her.”

I bet you didn’t expect me, of all people, to begin my final reviews of Aldnoah.Zero with this subject line, right? And there are so many possibilities for what my choice might be—not Inaho, obviously, but there’s Slaine, or Asseylum, forced plot twists, characters that appear out of nowhere, bad medical science, too much technical jargon…what else have I missed?

I can assure you, however, that my choice is a little unusual: the shot I’ve chosen as the picture header reflects it, though I’ve never actually written about the issue with regards to that specific scene before. But if you’ve read most of my musing and reflections on Aldnoah.Zero, then at the very least, you won’t be particularly surprised… So without further ado, the very worst thing about Aldnoah.Zero throughout its run, was…

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Memories of 2013 part 9: Enemies, opponents and rivals

One thing I really enjoy about following a show closely is the language that it can teach me. The first series I remember fondly for this is Bakemonogatari, which taught me what in the world an “amateur virgin” was. Translating a certain drama CD back in the day also taught me a lot about how love is expressed differently in English and Japanese. Now, as I’m watching more Korean dramas, I’ve also finding the nuances of this particular aspect of human interaction fascinating. But to return to what I found to be the most contentious term this year, Taichi’s “teki” in episode 19 of Chihayafuru 2; whilst the debate over what is the correct interpretation has been really frustrating for me, I’m really glad that all the research I had to do has given me a much better grasp of how ‘enemy’, ‘opponent’ and ‘rival’ are expressed in Japanese. Care to have a gander?



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