Making anime ain’t cheap!

As far back as I can remember, one of the things that anime has always been highly praised for is the high production values in its animation and the amazing quality of the voice actors and actresses who bring the characters to life. Though the trends have been (slowly) changing in the west — particularly in production values and the increase in status of voice acting as a profession — Japanese anime still stands out for being an art form in and of itself. That raises the question, then, of just how much it actually costs to produce an anime…

Just don’t trip…

While I’m certainly not an expert at running, nor am I even all that good at it myself, I do feel relatively comfortable saying that I can’t imagine that throwing your arms out to your sides is the most practical way to run.

Despite the fact that we have been running for sport for centuries and pretty much nailed down the “ideal running form,” anime and manga seems to like to buck the trend and often shows characters in this rather unique running pose, with their arms thrown out to the side, like airplane wings.

Today we’re going to take…


Growth is a process, not a goal

This could* be you** (terms and conditions may apply)

Are you ready? You may want to sit down for this one.

The reality is that most people, in most creative endeavors, will never actually become “famous.” I don’t mean this in a negative or discouraging way, either. This is just how these things work.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The nice thing about “fame” is that it’s entirely subjective and we all set our own bars of success. So by properly tempering your expectations and some hard work, I’m sure you can get there.

So today, from one non-famous blogger to another, let’s talk shop about what…

Every new beginning comes from other beginning’s end

While I’m usually not one to dwell on the past, there are some things that we experience in life that will have long-lasting ramifications on us well into the future, no matter how many years may pass in between. Some are because the tragedy is just too strong to be forgotten, while others are because you’re confronted with constant reminders.

Father’s Day falls into the latter category for me.

The Day of Infamy

I won’t go into the grisly details, but suffice to say that I lost my father on September 6, 2013, at the way-too-young age of 48. …

Dissecting a frog and explaining a joke have a lot in common — they both end up dead

First off, I should explain the title: many years ago, back when I was in college, my math teacher used to make a lot of non sequitur jokes. I usually got them, but not everyone did. Without fail, someone would raise their hand and ask “I’m sorry, I don’t get it.”

He would smile wryly and respond:

“Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog — you learn a lot from it, but they’re both dead in the end.”

And that pretty much summarizes my feelings about translating from Japanese to English. It’s entirely possible for me to write a…

Yeah, you probably already know these words

Whether you’re going out on the town for some exotic sushi followed by a round of karaoke, or maybe training up on your karate skills before meeting your date for a round of sake, it’s probably safe to say that the majority of us are at least somewhat aware of some of the many Japanese cultural borrowings that have made themselves a mainstay in the west.

But today I’d like to talk about some of the common words we encounter in our day-to-day lives that many people don’t realize come from a Japanese source, and maybe don’t even associate with…

Don’t -chan me, bro.

As I’m sure even the most casual fan of Japanese culture must know, honorifics are a pretty big deal in Japan. So big, in fact, that there are literally dozens of choices for what you can toss at the end of someone’s name, depending on your status status in society, their status in society, your mutual relationship, or some mixture of the three.

Just to list a few:

  • Simple attachment to a name
    -chan, -san, -kun, -shi, -sama, -dono (ちゃん, さん, 君, 氏, 様, 殿)
  • Relational
    -fujin, -kika, -sempai (夫人, 貴下, 先輩)
  • Occupation / Organizational position -senshu, -bucho, -souri…

This is how you will feel much of the time. But don’t worry: that’s normal.

So you’ve hit the books, studied hard, “mastered” your target language (more on that later), and finally got a job in your dream profession as a translator. Now it’s time for you to go out there, make waves, and help bring these foreign masterpieces to all new audiences.

… or, at least that’s how the translation profession is seen from the outside looking in.

Today I’d like to share a few things about the art of translation that no one really discusses. For those of you out there who aren’t pursuing a career in translation but still partake in translated…

Writing out that keikaku

While I was talking with a friend about how Western movies get dubbed over into Japanese, we eventually ended up on the topic of just how dramatic the differences are across the many Japanese-language versions of Star Wars: A New Hope. (A whopping five in total)

Not only are the voices different across each version, but the dialogue also changes, giving each character a slightly different nuance.

This got me thinking: just how much impact does a translator have on the overall tone of a given work? And, by extension, on how its fans perceive their favorite characters?

Today, we’re…

Ah, the joys of ASCII art

Though I’m definitely not at a level where I can talk about any of these things professionally, statistics, big data, and machine learning have always been a sort of “love affair” hobby of mine.

While I was riding the train into work one day, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some way I could combine my love for hardcore, number-crunching data analysis with my other passion: Japanese anime.

Even though these two disciplines, art and math, have traditionally been seen as two completely separate entities, that line is beginning to blur more and more as computers get increasingly…

Jason Muell

Jason is a translator, blogger, and author. When he’s not serving as a human jungle gym for his young daughter, he can be found researching Japanese culture.

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