Square Enix and Humble Bundle offering “Pay What You Want” Games for Charity

Like PC games? Into recent hits Deus Ex, Hitman, Silent Assassin, or Lara Croft? For the next 13 days, Square Enix is teaming up with digital bundle master Humble Bundle, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and GamesAid to offer popular games for any amount you want to pay for them.

“Pay $1 or more for Thief GoldMini NinjasDaikatanaHitman: Codename 47Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and Anachronox,” the Humble Bundle website says. “If you pay more than the average price, you’ll also get Deus Ex: Invisible WarDeus Ex: The FallHitman: Absolution,Battlestations Midway and the Nosgoth Veteran Pack. Those who pay $14.99 or more will receive all of the above, plus Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut,Just Cause 2Lara Croft and the Guardian of LightDeus Ex: Game of the Year Edition and Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.”

Your contribution can go to Humble Bundle, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, or GamesAid, a UK video games charity for disabled people.

For more information go to Humble Bundle’s website here.

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Manga Assistant’s Dream Realized: The Princess of Tennis Review

When I was 13, I wanted to be a manga creator. Between college and Japan, I forgot that dream. After reading Jamie Lynn Lano’s The Princess of Tennis, that 15-year-old dream re-appeared and I realized why: Lano never forgot her dream and became a manga assistant for Takeshi Konomi’s The Prince of Tennis, or TeniPuri by some fans.

Lano’s journey starts with already living in Japan for 4 years as an English teacher before applying to Konomi’s call for manga assistants. Throughout the book, Lano not only talks about how manga is made (it’s less technical than I thought) but also the ups and downs of being a 6-foot-1 foreign woman in Japan.

The Princess of Tennis is an easy and fun read. Lano keeps the tone light and friendly, and when she turns to darker themes–the invisible red tape for foreigners, real Japanese customs, and women’s 1950′s role in Japanese culture–Lano always remembers that this true story is a happy one, minus the tinted glasses.

While Lano makes her book accessible for all readers, The Princess of Tennis best fits otaku and aspiring manga creators and editors. She uses Japanese words and emoticons that anyone can find in a manga. For readers outside of the manga-reading audience, this book comes off as a borderline Young Adult novel or fanfiction, especially when the grammatical errors are considered. Because Lano’s voice and amiable nature is consistent, readers can forgive the missing words, incorrect punctuation marks, and passive sentences.

As with many books about Japan, The Princess of Tennis uses many Japanese words. Some might find it charming, but I believe that if a book is for the English-reading community, it should stay in English. I wouldn’t say, “Konomi Teacher”. Even “Mr. Konomi” is passable. Still, I’d just omit the word. In the West, using someone’s last name is also a sign of respect. Untranslated Japanese words with simple English meanings–”ohayo” (“Good morning”), “hajimemashite” (“Nice to meet you”), and “ganbare” (“Good luck” or “Do your best”)–are still in the book. I think I removed every romanized word with corrector ink just to polish the text.

Aside from the mistakes, The Princess of Tennis was entertaining and inspirational for me. Remember my dream of becoming a manga creator? Maybe my TeniPuri call is waiting for me to answer.

Gurren Lagann to Debut on Toonami

gurrenlagannSANTA MONICA, CA (July 19, 2014) –Aniplex of America, Inc. has announced today that the legendary TV anime series GURREN LAGANN, will debut on Adult Swim’s TOONAMI™ Saturday line-up this August. The first episode will premiere on August 16th at 2:00am EST.

From the SAME team that brought us KILL la KILL, GURREN LAGANN comes from the genius minds of Director Hiroyuki Imaishi and Script Writer/Series Composition Kazuki Nakashima. In response to its global popularity, the series was also adapted into two full-length films, Childhood’s End and The Lights in the Sky Are Stars. Aniplex of America re-released the GURREN LAGANN TV Series on home video last year featuring both the original Japanese and English dub which features many popular voice actors such as Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon), Kyle Hebert (as Kamina) and Michelle Ruff (as Yoko). This past July, Aniplex of America also released the GURREN LAGANN Movies in a Double Feature Blu-ray Set (Japanese Language only with English subtitles).

Story of GURREN LAGANN
This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him….
In the distant future, mankind has lived quietly and restlessly underground for hundreds of years, subject to earthquakes and cave-ins. Living in one such village are 2 young men: one named Simon who is shy and naïve, and the other named Kamina who believes in the existence of a “surface” world above their heads. The destiny of these two starts moving drastically when the ceiling of their village falls in, and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko, wielding a superconductive rifle, come from the surface. Together, Kamina, Simon and Yoko ride the mecha “Lagann” that Simon digs out of the ground, and fly up to the surface!

For more details, please visit: www.AniplexUSA.com/gurrenlagann

Japanese Candy and Snacks Haul


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I’m doing an international candy swap, so I bought a ton of candy and snacks that’re very “Japanese”.

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Because Attack on Titan is so popular in Japan and abroad, I couldn’t pass up these chewy candies with chibi Attack on Titan characters.CIMG2857

Similar to Attack on Titan, One Piece has a strong fan following. It’s no surprise to see Trafalgar Law representing this pack of chews.
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This box of Kidorikko cookies were too cute to pass up! Plus, in Japan, cute characters are on all products targeted for kids. Think of this as animal crackers for Japanese children.

Stop Saying Japanese Students are Obedient!

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During orientation for a trip to an American high school, I told the students, “If you fall asleep in class, you’ll get kicked out. If you talk during class, you’ll get kicked out. If you misbehave, you’ll get punished.” My Japanese students were shocked. Their eyebrows lifted and their mouths opened after they processed my words.

“Huh?”

I’ve worked at seven junior high schools and two senior high schools in Japan, and 95% of the classes are the same. Kids fall asleep, chat, and read books during class. They destroy the stereotype that Japanese students are obedient students.

When I told my high school students that they couldn’t do those things, they couldn’t imagine what class was like, especially when an immediate punishment followed their behavior. Disruptive and sleeping students don’t get punished right away, that is, if they get punished at all. Teachers wait until the end of the day to lecture students or send them to the discipline committee for punishment (writing an apology essay, cleaning early in the morning or after school, parent-student conference). So far, the best schools I’ve taught at had swift punishments for troublesome students. I’ve seen one junior high school student sit on his knees in traditional Japanese style for thirty minutes listening to three teachers yell at him about his disruptive behavior. In the end, he cried, and I never saw him near the teachers’ office again.

Where does this “obedient Japanese student” come from? My guess is what silence means to a Westerner versus a Japanese person. In the West, silence means that you’re listening and being well behaved. In Japan, silence can mean anything. My students will sit and stare at the clock without feeling bothered. When the test rolls around, students leave nearly half of their tests blank, including multiple choice questions. It’s my students’ way of protesting school.

The culprits of such a bad system? Japanese culture. Learning is not designed to be from Person A to Person B and that’s it. Learning is about taking the new information, reshaping it in certain situations, and applying it. In Japan, the direct approach does not exist except in English class (on a varying level). Ask, “What’s ‘cat’ in Japanese?” and 40 pairs of eyes blink at you as if they don’t know what a cat had two pointy ears and said, “Meow”. English is hard to learn–and so is Japanese–but when administrators just want students to parrot words and sentences, how much of that is learning?

Aside from the classroom setting, Japanese culture has one thing that hovers on the shoulders of all Japanese people: wa (和), meaning peace, or “Don’t rock the boat”. There are over 157 million people in Japan, which is the size of California. That’s a lot of people, and that’s not a lot of space. With so many people breathing down your throat, wa is a way for Japanese people to stay sane. Instead of giving your opinion (from Point A to Point B), you say your opinion in a round-about way (from Point A to Point D to Point C to Point B). What you really feel is hidden beneath a guise called honne (本音) while what you say is seen as tatemae (建前). English has an opposite design–I’m going to give it to you straight. Westerners want to be understood regardless of things such as feelings. We don’t have physical space to worry about. But Japan has a space crisis and overpopulation, and this system of wa permeates all of Japanese life, including school.

Even if my students pretended to be obedient Japanese students in the American school they visited, I know it’s just a front.

#6 of 33 Art Projects: Sketches for Writing

I write different stories for contests, and every day, I get stuck. Sometimes, I can’t imagine a character’s clothing or a certain scene. I draw to brainstorm ideas until I get a clear image in my head.CIMG2850

Costume ideas for a story.

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Scene for a science fiction story.

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First scene from a story…and, no, it’s not a manga.

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Studying glass of water for a T-shirt design.

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As William Zinsser says, “[...] look for your material everywhere, not just by reading the obvious sources and interviewing the obvious people” (On Writing Well, p. 58). I usually draw people I see because they provide material for stories. The picture above are two people I saw at the bookstore. Oh, and I do write in Japanese sometimes. Saves space.

#5 of 33 Art Projects: My Personal Website

My personal website needed some cleaning up, so I made a new entrance way.

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1. Sketched the images.

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2. Cleaned up the pencils. 

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3. Scanned and made into a black and white vector in Illustrator.
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4. Used Live Paint in Illustrator, changed the stroke to dark brown, and colored the images.frontpage

5. Dropped the images into Muse, put colored blocks behind each one, and published the webpage to JeridelBanks.com.

The Princess of Tennis: The True Story of an American Manga Assistant

I finally got my copy of The Princess of Tennis from Jamie Lynn Lano!

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There aren’t many stories (if any) about Western manga assistants working in Japan. Jamie Lynn Lano tells all in this book and on her blog, Jamieism.com. You can buy  The Princess of Tennis: The true story of working as a mangaka’s assistant in Japanon Amazon.

Also, you can help Jamie get to San Diego Comic Con through http://www.gofundme.com/9v7x64.

Short Story Contest Finalist

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I got my “2014 Short Story Contest Finalist” certificate for entering the 1st Annual Little Tokyo Historical Society Short Story Contest. It came with a $10.00 gift certificate to Mr. Ramen’s, a ramen restaurant in Los Angeles. Although I didn’t win the top 3 spots, I placed top 16 out of 60 entries. I’m proud of myself! Writing the story, “Smile’s Sonata”, taught me that there’s another layer to myself that can be drawn out through writing.

And, yes, my name on this certificate is misspelled. 28 years later, and my name is still being misspelled. Lovely!

私は1回リトル東京歴史協会の短編小説から「平成26の短編小説決勝戦出場者」の証明書とロサンゼルスでのラーメンレストランの「Mr.Ramen」商品券をもらった。トッポ3番を勝ってないのに、ストリーは16番でした。うれしいです!「笑顔のソナタ」を書いたら、多く自分の層があることを学んだ。