I’ve gotten a little bit behind on chronicling my time here in Japan due to a combination of getting engrossed in research (I forgot about how much time I throw into it), spending a lot of time trying to learn more Japanese (I’m focusing much more on reading and speaking than writing, but on the whole I’m improving!), traveling (I was gone almost all last week), and my laptop screen breaking. However, I’m now back in Kashiwa and ready to start posting all about the stuff I’ve done in the last two weeks.
I can’t believe it’s already almost been three weeks!
So last time I talked about arriving in Japan, some of my first impressions, a bit of the stuff I’ll probably be focusing on during my time here, school uniforms, my visit to an anime-focused arcade, and a little bit about visiting Ginza. This time, I’m going to talk about some of the other stuff I did during my first week or so (6/11 – 6/15) here, again focused more on the anime stuff.
Also, let’s play a game! I’m going to be posting a bunch of a pictures with anime-related stuff. For every show or manga you recognize (other than Eva, which I discuss later), give yourself a point and note it down. List them all in a comment, along with anything else you want to say, The person with the most points gets not only the prestige of gloating over his/her fellow otaku, but possibly a prize!
So first off, I ended up dropping by a bookstore in the shopping mall nearby the Kashiwanoha-campus subway stop along with my adviser. He’s been here for about two years, and was looking for easy-ish books to read in order to practice his Japanese. I, on the other hand, was on the lookout for another type of book. And I’m guessing you know which one.
After looking around for a bit (the English section had some nice bilingual novels, and I picked up a copy of The Great Gatsby), I went up to one of the employees and got a chance to practice my Japanese. as I asked around for the section:
Romaji: Sumimasen, raito noberu wa doko desu ka.
Or, translated: Excuse me, where are the light novels?
Soon I was greeted to a fantastic sight:
You have no idea how excited I was when I saw this for the first time. Or how many weird looks I got when I pulled out my phone and started taking a crap-ton of pictures. First, let’s get to the image dump (I apologize for the pictures that are oriented weirdly – blame WordPress):
Still keeping track? ;)
Obviously I was pretty excited (enough to spend like 2300 yen on the LN jacket collection book) and actually a bit surprised at the amount of light novels in a more-or-less standard bookstore. Although in retrospect I probably should’ve realized it sooner. Given the sheer quantity that is now being adapted into anime, and assuming the base that the studios are drawing from are significantly larger than what we see (similar to manga), I should’ve imagined that the genre itself is quite large. It’s always cool to experience the revelation first-hand though.
Speaking of LN, one of the things that I’m interested in is how much LN adaptations compare to the real thing. Many viewers can point out a whole slew of trends that these shows seem to exhibit and conform to, and I’m curious as to whether those are present in the books too or modified to fit the show. This would definitely be fun to attempt if my Japanese gets to a decent enough reading level by the end of the summer (and who knows – maybe I’ll find time to do some more back in school), but right now I’m just starting at them from a distance– reveling in awe at their physical proximity as I embrace my inner otaku. And of course, reading the stories themselves, since in most cases I’ve enjoyed the shows and also don’t mind young adult targeted fiction – easy reads are fun if you don’t try and analyze the shit out of them and mostly just enjoy the story. As are most books. And mostly everything actually. In my opinion, analysis should be something done for enjoyment, not a requirement for enjoying something. Makes things a lot more fun and broadens your selection.
There’s also another interesting thing I discovered while at the bookstore and have only been continually amazed at since – how absolutely huge Eva is in Japan, especially after the release of the third movie (reviews/discussions I liked here, here, and here). In the bookstore I encountered my first real “anime” poster (I’d gone here before I’d gone to Akihabara you see), and — of course — it was about Eva.
I’ve also been floored by just how commercialized it is! I’ve seen Eva x [insert everything here] all over the place. There’s coffee that comes with Eva figures.
There’s Eva figures with razors.
And Eva candy and snacks.
Supposedly there is an Eva store in Harujuku, which I might try dropping by at some point later in the summer so I can blow even more cash on the franchise. I’ve also encountered more posters throughout my travels, and I’ll post them when I get around to it.
Anyways, I’ll finish off this half-post half-ramble with a nice picture of one of the weirder things I’ve encountered so far: the “mascot” for Mister Donut.
On a side note, at this point I’m more than happy to answer any questions about how well you can survive in Japan as a tourist/visitor since I’ve traveled around both Tokyo and a couple other areas now and have been here for a couple weeks, so feel free to ask anything if you’re curious!