Weabs Speaking Japanese

Learning another language is always fun. One of the benefits is that it helps bridge cultural gaps, and is a window to understanding another culture. Don’t listen to what Tumblr tells you, anyone can and should learn another language. It’s not unusual in the anime community to see that people get inspired to learn Japanese. Sure it’s not as useful of a language as say, Spanish, German, or Arabic, which are spoken in many countries, as Japanese is really relegated to just Japan, but hey, it’s still expanding your mind.

What’s pretty infamous in the anime culture when it comes to people learning Japanese, is that they don’t really learn Japanese. Instead, they just learn random words, sprinkle them into their regular sentences, and start talking/writing like that. What might surprise people, is that this isn’t relegated to the anime fandom. Anyone who’s taken a foreign language course in high school or university has probably experienced it. Hell, I remember taking Spanish in high school, and hearing people say “hey guys, I’m having a mui bueno day”. No, just no.

Using foreign words in a language itself isn’t actually unusual, many languages have loan words. Hell American English is an amalgamation of many languages smushed together. Even Japanese has a ton of English loan words thrown in, a ton of anime have it mashed in, especially in the science fiction genre. Most of the time, foreign words/phrases are used in situations where the native language doesn’t have an equivalent of the same word, just look at a phrase like coup d’état. Sure you can say: “overthrowing the government”, but coup d’état just hits the nail on the head much better. Even some terms from anime don’t really have an English equivalent, like tsundere.

The difference between this, and what anime fans are doing, is that they’re using words that do have a standard English equivalent. It comes off as really pointless, and feels more like the person is using the Japanese word for the pure novelty of using a Japanese word. When they talk like that, it’s really disjointed, and it’s also really confusing to people who don’t understand Japanese. You bring a friend over, and they see your dog, and you go “oh yeah, this is my inu, his name is momo”. Then they ask “what does inu mean?” “Oh it just means dog”.

It’s pretty similar to when someone using a “big word” unnecessarily in a sentence. It’s kind of unnatural, and can come off as snobby or condescending. The meaning of the sentence hasn’t changed, just the words used. In the case of anime fans, it’s just really nerdy, and can increase the cringe factor. You can take a passage like “I was having a great day until my little sister came in and was acting stupid”, then you weab it up by going “I was having a sugoi day until my imouto came in and was acting all baka”. It’s not like those words have meanings that don’t work in English, they’re just replacing an English term, with a Japanese one.

Why are they talking like this? Nobody talks like this. Not even Japanese Americans who do speak Japanese talk like this. It’s only in the anime community where people talk like this. The reason why this comes off like they’re using Japanese for novelty purposes, is that they’re not learning Japanese, and they’re just practicing it. They just discover random words, and sprinkle it into their sentences, and just end it at that. Their vocabulary is incredibly limited, and doesn’t extend more than a dozen words at most. Actually learning a foreign language is hard guys, so why not just memorize about 5 words, and throw it in your sentence to show off to your friends?

Weabs, if you don’t want to look like a joke, how about you go and actually learn some useful Japanese. Learning words like baka, sugoi, or imouto isn’t learning a language. You don’t have to go out and spend years studying and be fluent, but try learning maybe some simple basics, like actual phrases, or maybe some useful vocabulary. Knowing that imouto means little sister because you watched Oreimo isn’t exactly useful knowledge, but learning how to introduce yourself, or maybe asking for directions because you’re lost is significantly more useful.

You’re Watching Anime Wrong

Any hobby you’re interested in, chances are, you’re doing it wrong. Playing a PC game and not using a mechanical keyboard? Go fuck yourself. Not listening to your favorite album on vinyl on a $10,000 turntable, and a 24k gold needle through $30,000 speakers? Go eat a dick. How dare you sully a hobby with your noobish ways.

When it comes to watching anime, there’s many ways you’re watching anime wrong, hell just go on pretty much any anime forum, and learn how wrong you are. There’s going to be a multitude of ways that you’re wrong, and be prepared to see pages and pages of debates over the “right” way to do things.

This is one of those situations where you’ll only see this type of ridiculous bitching online. Normally when you’re out and about in society, and you meet fellow fans of your hobby, you’ll meet people who don’t have time for this kind of frivolous shit. They’re just happy to enjoy watching anime, or whatever it is you’re into. The internet? That’s where you’ll run into those diehard fans whose entire life and persona revolve around this. Thanks to this, they have all the free time in the world to debate endlessly about shit nobody else cares about.

The most famous, is the whole dub vs sub argument. This is one of the most tired out arguments that’ll never die. Dub watching is considered the realm of casual trash, or people “too stupid to read subtitles”. It’s silly to think that this is an argument that’s still going on. With the advent of technology, you usually have the choice to watch it however you want. Think the English voices are shit? The Japanese version is still there to watch. Hell, when you buy the DVD or Bluray, unless it’s Japanese only, they’re always dual audio. This isn’t like the VHS days where that’s the only version you’re stuck with.

What makes this argument more ridiculous, is not the endless forum debates. What’s ridiculous is when people start bitchfits on Youtube videos. Go on any Funimation trailer, and see the countless posts of people bitching. It’s really crazy when you see people analyzing every single line in a 90 second trailer, and writing a critique on how every actor is garbage, and the lines aren’t being delivered correctly. Basically people are really just bitching that everyone doesn’t sound exactly the same or whatever. It’s also great when there’s some cases where people bitch that the English actor sounds too much like the Japanese actor. You’ll never please these people.

The best part is when they start crying about the voices not sounding appropriate for the age of that character, despite that there’s also times when the Japanese version is just as guilty, or even worse. Nothing is better than the Japanese voice sounding much older than the English voice, but the English one is too old for the character, and the Japanese is perfect. Go figure.

Then you have some situations where you wonder if the person complaining even watched the show. This comes into question when you have a situation where there’s an annoying character, and people are crying that the dub made the character annoying, did you watch the original? Better yet, is when there’s a monotone and emotionless character, and people piss and moan about how the character sounds “soooo lifeless”. Why does Yuki Nagato sound so robotic in English? She sounded so much more energetic in Japanese!

Dub vs sub is the more famous of the “you’re doing it wrong” debates. Once you start getting into lesser known shows, you get into the “fun stuff” when it comes to debates. One such debate is the professional sub vs fansub debate. You’d think this debate would really be about translation accuracy, but you’d be wrong. A good chunk of the debate, is people writing a drawn out explaination that it’s not an exact copy and paste of the specific fansub they saw first. You’ll see people trying to cloak it under the “I want accuracy” point, but at the same time will argue that the incorrectly translated line made a “bigger impact” or whatever bullshit reason they’ve concocted. You need to choose between wanting accuracy, or making a point. You can’t say one thing, and whine about another.

Once you leave the prosub vs fansub debate, you’ll get into the hilarous fansub wars between the different fansubbing groups. This is top notch stupidity. Part of these flamewars involve people who openly admit to not knowing Japanese, arguing over which is more accurate. Wrap your head around that shit. The best part of those, is that the worst people, are the ones who will boast that they took one semester of Japanese in college/high school, so that makes them the leading authority. You almost never see anyone who actually knows the language giving a shit about this stuff.

You’d think that was the end of the debates in the great fansub wars, but you’d be wrong. One of the best parts is when you see people crying about how X fansub group is shit, because they’re not using their preferred font. This isn’t an argument that a fansub group used a font color that makes it illegible, like how some weird indie foreign films have yellow font when the movie has a yellow/orange lens filters. No, they’re crying that the anime is subbed in Arial font instead of whatever fucking other font they think is superior.  These same dickheads will also cry a fucking river over how much they refuse to buy the DVD’s to an anime because of font. Fucking wow, we’ve gotten to this point in society.

Just when you thought that you’ve wrapped your head around being wrong with how you watched anime, you’re not even done yet. If you’re downloading episodes, you better make fucking sure you’re using the correct program. A lot of shows are released in MKV format, mostly due to it allowing multiple language/sub tracks, and hard-subbing apparently takes a tad bit more effort, or whatever other reasons why people release in MKV, who knows or cares. Anywho, default programs on Windows and Mac don’t support MKV, so most people use VLC because of how well known it is, and being free. Well god forbid you’re using VLC, because that’s chump shit. You better use MPC, or whatever program your anime forum is dick-riding for the week. Why? Because only the cool kids use that program. Other programs are better for better color hues because you’re too lazy to make correct screen adjustments on your monitor or TV, and that’s one less thing for you to feel superior over you’re doing it wrong, fuck you.

You’d think that in the world of choices, people would be happy that choices are available for everything. Though having more choices, also causes people to start being an asshole about why their preference is the true fucking way. Just know, that if someone has a chance to act like a dick over something, they sure as hell will do it.

Shounen and Shoujo Aren’t Genres

Common knowledge is interesting sometimes. You hear or see something stated so much, it’s easy to assume it must be true.Especially when its something that’s become ingrained into a fandom or culture. Betsy Ross made the American flag, elephants are afraid of mice, why make these things up?

Anime has its fair share of it. One of the problems that cause it compared to some other urban legends, is due to the nature of the terms coming from another language. On one hand, you have advertisers not looking up what things mean, and then you have that one guy who pretends to know Japanese. Thanks to that, it can cause more confusion when those who don’t know any better just accept it as fact.

This notion is where the confusion of terms like shounen and shoujo get lapped up as being genres. Partially due to confusion when these terms first crossed the pond, and also due to people not knowing the difference between genres, and what I like to call, arbitrary labels.

People are very fickle when it comes to genres and labels, especially when it comes to distinguishing them. It’s quite common seeing people flipping the two around, such as trying to tell you a certain genre is just an arbitrary label, and an arbitrary label is a genre. Genres are something people create to lump things within the same media format that share very similar styles and tropes. While an overall genre might make things seem very arbitrary, once you start looking into subgenres, that’s when things start getting more clear. Comedy movies may sound vague, but say you look into buddy comedies, you’ll start running into more similarities to why they’re lumped together.

Regarding arbitrary labels, they’re just as it sounds, they’re labels created with seemingly arbitrary criteria.While genres are used to lump very similar things together, these labels can have things of various genres lumped together for the sole reason that they share a certain criteria, regardless of style or genre.  Usually these labels fall under such things as: method of distribution, target demographic, or country of origin. That’s why these labels can at times feel almost random, or the existence of the label almost feel pointless.

One of the reasons why these can feel pointless, is due to how the same product will change whatever meets that label’s criteria, without changing content, and then lose the label. You can have a comic start off as a webcomic series, but then it moves to solely being published in a printed format, it loses its only reason for being called a webcomic. Changing something’s genre takes more effort, like changing a cyberpunk crime series, and then change it to a medieval fantasy series is a more drastic change, than say, having an indie band signing to a major label.

So where does the title of the blog fit in? Well terms like shounen and shoujo are themselves arbitrary labels created by manga industries. Therefore meaning that these terms can be used to categorize a group of unrelated series to a certain label, all because they fit a specific criteria, regardless of content. Because of that, you have a large group of confused fans, and misleading information.

These two labels fall into what the manga industry has created, as target demographics. The four most heard outside of Japan are: shounen, shoujo, seinen, and josei. There’s actually a fifth one basically called kodomo. When looking up the definitions of these individual terms actually start making more sense:

Shounen – young boy
Shoujo – young girl
Seinen – young adult male
Josei – young adult female
Kodomo – little kid

So it all starts making sense when you start looking at a phrase like shounen manga, as just meaning: manga for boys. The criteria for what demographic is what makes these labels feel very arbitrary, is the factor for what demographic a series is, is really from what magazine the manga originally was printed in. Some magazines like Weekly Shounen Jump, or Shounen Gangan make it really obvious in the names. Others like Ribon or Nakayoshi look pretty girly, and can look a bit childish, so that makes them shoujo magazines. Though some seinen magazines can look a bit more obvious, with gravure models on their covers, so probably not intended for little boys. Then you have the seinen magazine Manga Time Kirara, with its cover of cutesy anime girls, looks like it’ll be targeted at your kid sister, but jokes on her, it’s a seinen magazine.

What probably caused the confusion, is probably when these terms first trickled across the pond. They brought in a lot of similar series from these magazines, so people just assumed they were genres. That’s why you’ll see people call pretty much any super powered battle manga, as shounen, and really melodramatic and girly romances as shoujo. While they’re usually not necessarily wrong, especially when specific magazines specialize in certain genres, that also doesn’t mean it’s always right.

Like many labels, you see certain styles and genres kind of relegated to those labels.  This is where you start seeing certain genre tropes, and labels start to intermingle, causing the confusion of those labels being seen as genres. Think of indie music, you probably have an image of what an indie band sounds like. What also doesn’t help, is the hoards of anime/manga websites also listing these demographics as genres, further feeding into the confusion.

Though like how certain indie labels specialize in certain genres, specific manga magazines also specialize in certain genres. Shounen Jump is basically the trendsetter for battle manga, though many people also don’t realize that other genres are also in the magazine. It’s actually not unusual to see a romantices in Shounen Jump, that’s how you have series like I’s and Strawberry 100% in it. Situations like that really throw the preconceived notion of shounen as an action genre thrown down the drain. It also doesn’t help when other magazines within the same demographic have differing styles from Shounen Jump, even within the same genres. Yotsuba! and Naruto are both shounen?

Things really started getting confusing in the 2010’s when anime based on seinen magazines started gaining in popularity. Thanks to many of them being slice of life comedies, you started seeing anime forums that have subforums separating genres started lumping seinen together with slice of life. You can’t really classify Ghost in the Shell and K-on!, despite both being seinen, as the same genre, they’re not even close.

Due to the arbitrary nature of the magazine being the determining factor for the demographic, you start running into cases where you’ll have two very similar series, that are two different demographics. Schoolgirl comedies are mostly known for being published in seinen magazines, but there’s also a fair share being published in shounen magazines, and you can’t even tell them apart.

In the more fun situations, is when you have two very similar series, but one is labeled with the demographic, and one that doesn’t have it at all. This is because these labels are from manga, so if an anime is based on a webcomic, light novel, or is just anime original, these labels don’t apply to it. That’s why you have a situation where A Certain Magical Index doesn’t have the demographic, but the spinoff series, A Certain Scientific Railgun, does. One is originally a light novel series, and the other is based on a manga.

When you start looking at the meanings of these labels, it really shows how arbitrary they are. That’s why it’s fun in any situation, where someone is trying to come up with their own distinct definition of a label to classify it as a genre, it’s just silly.

Using the “Correct” Name.

Nothing screams obnoxious more than meeting the “true fan” of any hobby or franchise. Even more so when you identify as a fan yourself. Regardless of any fandom you’ll run into, these assholes will shove their way in, and either dictate their perceived notion of what being a fan is all about. Or they’ll create an arbitrary list of so called accomplishments that makes them a true fan, and they’ll use this as a way to fan-check people, thus showing who a filthy casual is from the “real” fans. Every fandom has these people, and nobody likes them.

Like any fandom, anime has its share of topics that people use to fan-check people. Maybe someone is showing off that they’ve read the source material, and that makes them better than those who have only seen the anime. Or maybe you’re a dirty dub watcher, how dare you. Though one of the most obnoxious situations that this topic is going to touch upon, is using what people call the “correct name”.

People getting annoyed at what preferred title of a series, is probably one of the most useless things to get upset over. “While the infamous dub vs sub debate”, or “fan translation vs professional translation”, or even the “which fansub group did it better” flame wars can come off as ridiculous at times, “you’re not using the right name” is the more obnoxious out of the group.

Unlike the previously mentioned, the title of the show affects about fuck all when it comes to end product of a show. While we can name situations of a dub like Ghost Stories, which is basically a professionally released gag dub, or <insert obscure manga>, that has a hideous fan translation, you can at least find an argument that these situations actually change the overall experience of the plot of a movie or series. Getting upset whether or not someone calls Mononoke Hime as Princess Mononoke, is just plain silly.

The logic behind those being upset against people using the English name of a show, is usually convoluted and filled with holes. Some situations where the Japanese name being more common, can be understandable. Maybe its a series that got localized years after it aired in Japan and was fansubbed, so people are just used to the Japanese name. Or hell, maybe it’s just a really low key show, so nobody knew it even got localized at all. Can you blame someone that a lot of people don’t know a blow-the-radar series like Acchi Kocchi got localized as Place to Place?

When things start to get silly, is when people try creating justifications, that’s when the idiocy starts to come loose. You start finding holes within their logic, and many of those people, also love cherry picking when its acceptable and not acceptable, despite it not making sense to absolutely nobody else.

One of the most common arguments people will place, is the notion of “it’s what the creator called it”. At initial glance, it makes sense, and one could even find arguments where it could be justified. The film/franchise Ghost in the Shell is actually called Koukaku Kidoutai, which translates as “Mobile Armored Riot Police”. A sensible person could look at an example like that and think “oh wow, that’s really different, I see where you’re coming from”.

Where it can get annoying for others, is when people get upset over an English name when it’s a direct translation of the Japanese title. Is it really a crime against humanity when someone calls To Aru Majutsu no Index as A Certain Magical Index when it’s just a translation of the Japanese name? God forbid such a thing happens.

When people get called out on an obnoxious act like that, they retaliate with stupidity. “I can’t stand white washing”, lol fuck you, I didn’t know that not using a translated title is really making a social stance. I bet the creator cries himself to sleep over that. Or even better “it just sounds better in Japanese”. Sorry, but having a romance anime called Say I Love You isn’t going to make it less cheesy, regardless of what language it’s translated in.

One of the best situations that these guys will cherry pick, will be situations where some anime are almost never referred to in their Japanese name. Go on any anime forum, and count how many times people call Full Metal Alchemist as Hagene no Renkinjutsushi, chances are, these same people will call you a pretentious fuck. It’s reassuring to know that you’re pretentious for calling a particular anime by its Japanese name, but god forbid you pick a different series and call it by its English name.

What makes this situation in particular quite fun, is that when you do that for a different medium, say a Japanese video game franchise, you’ll get chastised for being a pretentious fuck. Zeruda no Densetsu instead of Legend of Zelda, wow what a fucking tool, but don’t you dare call Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. You see how obnoxious this is getting?

Another silly situation is when you take a series that has a somewhat long name (or in some cases, a ridiculously long name), and the English name is a shortened version of it. What you’ll come across with, is that there are people out there that proudly use the long name. Sorry, but you’re not impressing anyone when you’re calling someone out for not calling Gurren Lagann as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. That just comes out as really douchy.

It’s also really fucking weird seeing message board posts, or even blogs when the poster is flip flopping between which titles he wants to use. While they’re not going super silly with flipping between two different names for the same series, but they’ll cherry pick X anime to mention its English name, and Y anime gets name dropped in Japanese. It can be understandable when they name-drop a series currently airing in Japan, or just an obscure series where hardly anyone mentions it by the English name, but they’ll straight up name drop one well known English titled anime by its Japanese name, and then whip out another one by its English name. What the fuck are you doing?

One way that comes off as a bit silly for outsiders, is when someone goes out and buys the DVD’s and/or manga to an anime, and then calls it by a different name. It’s really fucking weird, and can be a tad bit douchy when you do that. Unless you flash a DVD case to a friend and go “this is my favorite series X also known in Japan as Y”, (like people do when making a video on the Sega Genesis, and mention it’s also known as the Mega Drive). People are going to wonder what the fuck you’re talking about when you automatically call it by another name, when they see a different name plastered on there.

That’s not to say those who are adamantly against using the Japanese name aren’t also annoying, they’re just less vocal about it. Going to a topic about say, Mirai Nikki/Future Diary, and everyone in the thread is calling it Mirai Nikki, and your ass comes in and demands that it be called Future Diary also makes you a douche, just in the opposite situation.

What this whole entire situation boils around, is don’t be a douche. Nobody wants a whiny fuckwad trying to dictate that everyone should refer to a series by the name you prefer, and for the mother of God, don’t come up with an obnoxious explanation. Especially when most people love cherry picking when it is and isn’t okay. Context and attitude is key. If you see a topic on Attack on Titan, and everyone is calling it Shingeki no Kyoujin, maybe try not to look douchy and go against the grain. Or if you’re just really used to calling it Attack on Titan, just don’t bitch at people for not calling it as such. Your attitude affects everything.