J Drama

Live Like Great Teacher Onizuka

I just finished watching the live action drama version of “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka”, and I was so moved that I think I can actually say Onizuka changed my life. Like a lot of anime fans, I also really liked the “Great Teacher Onizuka” manga and animated series as well, but there was something about the live action version that touched me in a way that the anime couldn’t. I was on the brink of tears at the climax of almost every episode. I found myself thinking about Onizuka while I wasn’t watching the series, contemplating ways that I can improve myself in his light, or wondering what he would say about my problems and situations.

Who is Onizuka Eikichi?

Onizuka is a biker gang delinquent turned high school teacher. He graduated from a 3rd rate college, he’s not particularly smart or good at studying, but he loves kids and he wants to change the world. What more could you want in a teacher?

What makes Onizuka Eikichi so great?

For starters, how many characters exist in American literature (television, movies or print) who are as inspiring, caring, fun-loving and tough all at the same time as Onizuka? As a character alone, Onizuka is incredibly loveable. He plays video games, he ditches school for “open air lessons”, he shoots fireworks off the roof of the school and he beats the crap out of adults who disrespect his students. He has a condom with the message “CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST TIME” written on the wrapper, and he’s saving it for his one and only love. He has real a real sense of morality. He’s a fighter when he needs to protect those who are weaker than him, he’s gentle when his people need him to comfort them, and he knows how to practice tough love when his people don’t know what’s best for themselves.

He cries too. Not when he’s sad or upset though, only when he’s happy or he’s going to miss someone who’s gone off chasing their dreams. A real Onizuka-Man doesn’t cry when he can’t get what he wants, he just fights harder until he does. He’ll cry when his student’s accomplish their dreams though, and he’ll cry when they express their studently love for him. And when he cries, he cries with the biggest smile on his face.

What does Onizuka do when someone challenges him? If the challenge is stupid he’ll take it seriously (who can stand still in front of an on-coming truck the longest perhaps?). But if the challenge is serious, he’ll take it like a joke.

“Onizuka-Sensei, if you don’t pass this test, you’ll be fired! What do you have to say about this?!”

“MY HORSE WON! THAT’S $100 IN MY POCKET! YES! I’m sorry, were you talking?”

Or,

“Onizuka-Sensei, if you can’t beat me at Street Fighter, I’ll never acknowledge you as my homeroom teacher!”

“Bring it on! I’m a 5th degree black belt!”

When one of his female students is about to be raped by a bunch of boys, Onizuka ruthlessly pummels them into the ground, and then searches for her lost necklace with her until morning despite a very important appointment first thing in the morning. When one of the boys in his class is being bullied, he hangs the bully over the roof of the school by her feet to teach her what fear feels like. When these kids are in tears and or bloody after his “extra-curricular lessons”, what does Onizuka do? He pats them on the head with a big smile and says “well, there you go, you won’t be doing that again will you?” and walks away.

Most important of all, though; is that Onizuka seriously believes in everyone. He knows that everyone around him has an inherent goodness, even if they’re behaving badly. It’s all temporary to him, he treats them like they’re really just good people who’ve lost their way a little bit and just need a good lesson to open their eyes. Onizuka looks at his students with tears in his eyes and a grin on his face and yells “You guys are all… GREAT!”

If he has a dream, he follows it relentlessly. If his students have dreams, he smacks them around (mentally or physically, whichever works better for the student in question) until they understand how to follow their dreams and DO IT. Life is about dreams to Onizuka. What’s the point of living if you can’t follow you dreams?

What’s Onizuka’s one and only motto in life:

“Whatever you do, be GREAT!”

Those are words we can all live by.

CONCLUSION: I know this drama is old school, but just watch it. It’s pretty much the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I don’t care that Onizuka is fictional, he’s a life changer. I give this series 10/10.

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NIHONJIN NO SHIRANAI NIHONGO: WATCH THIS SHOW IF YOU’RE LEARNING JAPANESE

I was just killing some time last night, checking out a few of the new Japanese Dramas that are airing this season, and I found one that was extremely entertaining, especially from the perspective of a “gaikokujin” (foreigner from the Japanese perspective) who is learning Japanese and one day hopes to spend an extended period of time there. This drama is called “Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo” (日本人の知らない日本語), or “Japanese that Japanese Don’t Know.”

The star is Naka Riisa (some of you might remember her as the co-star of last season’s “Yankee Kun to Megane Chan” (which to be quite honest I didn’t really watch in its entirety). Naka Riisa plays a fashion celebrity who wants to become a high school teacher, but before doing so she must undergo training as a teacher of Japanese Language to foreign students.

Now, this drama is unique for one major reason that I’d like to point out: nine of the 12 main characters are foreigners — who speak incredible Japanese.

If you’re learning Japanese or trying to learn, I highly recommend this drama. The language is frequently spoken slowly because many of the main characters are not fluent in Japanese, so it’s a perfect series to get started listening to Japanese without subtitles. Also, whenever they’re in class (learning Japanese) there are frequently fascinating explanations (augmented by the addition of diagrams and on-screen kanji / kana) of grammar points, vocabulary and even historical background to give context to subjects such as Kanji. Let’s put it this way, I just spent five minutes reviewing how to count people, fish, animals and sushi without even picking up a book. Who would have thought that the word used to count tuna would change when the fish is in the water vs out of the water, dead but not skinned, skinned but not sliced, and sliced but not served? Well, now I know how that works, and I’ve never been happier.

Here is my one complaint about this show: some of the comedy (at least in the first episode) is borderline racist, but it’s not so bad that offense needs to be taken. We all just need to take it with a grain of salt, and realize that Japan is a largely homogeneous society that doesn’t have much access to (or experience with for that matter) foreigners living and working in Japan; even speaking Japanese. The fact that this drama even exists at all is, in my opinion, a great step forward in Japanese society’s movement toward some kind of multiculturalism.


WHAT TO TRANSLATE? “Joker: Yurusarezu Sousakan” OR “Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku”

I received word from my translation manager at DramaCrazy that I’m to start translating one of two new late summer season Japanese dramas! In case you didn’t see when I said earlier, I recently finished translating the series “Tumbling” from late spring / early summer, and now we’ll be moving into the late summer / early fall season of dramas.  She asked me if I wanted to do Joker: Yurusarezu Sousakan or Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku.

To make a long story short, Joker is about a detective who’s calm and collected by day, but a violent punisher of criminals by night.  It looks like it’ll be pretty interesting, and a nice change of pace from Tumbling’s themes of friendship and determination. I just watched the first episode Raw (meaning no subtitles… of course, I’ll probably be making them so they don’t exist yet), and I can say that it’ll also be really good for my Japanese listening skills. The vocabulary is advanced and the themes are mature, so it’ll really teach me how to listen to a much different aspect of Japanese than Tumbling did (not that there was anything wrong with Tumbling, it’s just that Yankee Japanese has its limits as far as where it takes you in life).

The other drama is Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku:

This seems to me like a pretty typical love story, but I’m not totally sure what it’s about to be perfectly honest. I know the main actor is Matsumoto Jun, so it should have a pretty big following.  I’m not sure who the girl is yet, I’ll have to watch an episode to find out. It’s a little difficult for me to want to watch another romance right after Tsuki No Koibito (Kimutaku), so we’ll see if I end up doing this one.

As of right now, I think I’d rather translate Joker, that one seems like a lot of fun to me, but to be fair I’ll have to watch both before I decide.

What would you guys rather see me translate? Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion!


Tumbling 11!

My fan-translation of the final episode of Tumbling (episode 11) is finally up on DramaCrazy! If you haven’t been watching, I seriously recommend you give it a shot!

It’s about a group of delinquent boys who decide that they’re through living pointless lives of violence and they’re ready to chase after their dreams! What is that dream though…? Rhythmic Gymnastics of course! I don’t want to give too much away, but it was a lot like the 2007 drama called Rookies (baseball delinquents anyone?).

Tumbling was my favorite drama of the 2010 spring J Drama season, and that says a lot because Kimura Takuya had a romance drama going this season too (Tsuki no Koibito — Moon Lovers), and anyone who knows me at all knows that I’m a serious Kimutaku fan.

I wonder what drama I’ll be working on next season… in the meantime I’ll be filling in to help finish up Yankee Kun to Megane Chan, we’ll see how that goes — It’s a little harder to translate because Hiroki Narimiya’s Japanese is way slurred and he mumbles a lot.

Check all these dramas out at http://www.DramaCrazy.Net!


久しぶりやな

Hi all, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here! Nearly six months (maybe even longer).  Sorry for the negligence, but I’ve been really busy these days.

Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Earlier this spring I started making fan subtitles for currently airing Japanese TV dramas at DramaCrazy.net, which has been a lot of fun (and also a lot of work).  I translated a couple episodes of the TV show “Yankee Kun to Megane Chan” and most of “Tumbling”.  Tumbling was probably my favorite drama of the season, it was about a group of juvenile delinquents who decide to become rhythmic gymnastics stars.  It’s inspiring, funny, suspenseful, well… you get it. Go watch it if you have time! I’ll be starting a new drama as soon as the late summer season get’s going.

I’ve been tutoring Japanese on and off this whole year as well.  So far I’ve had two incredibly smart students who I’ve had a lot of fun teaching (if you’re both reading this blog, thank you for your time and effort!) Teaching Japanese has really been good for me I think.  It forces me to go back to the basics and strengthen my fundamentals.  When you’re at an advanced level of anything, it’s easy to start breaking the rules because you know how to do so within the confines of acceptability, but when you get too comfortable you start to get sloppy and mistake it for advanced rule breaking.  When you teach however, you remind yourself how it’s all supposed to go, and you realize that there might be rules you’re breaking that you shouldn’t be breaking.  This goes for more than just Japanese or language practice in general — anyone who likes to consider himself an expert at something should always remember to periodically hit his beginner books for a while, just to make sure he’s still doing everything “by the books”.

I also finally started taking classes again! I’m taking an accounting class at a community college two nights a week, and so far it’s not too bad. I’m considering taking up business to augment my Japanese studies.  We’ll see how that goes by the end of this class.

What else… I’m still working part time at the GAP on weekends and one night a week (it keeps me fed and I like the people I work with).

Here’s what’s coming up:

I just volunteered to work two days at the Ginza Summer Festival in Old Town Chicago in August! I went last year and it was a lot of fun, so I figured it might be a cool way to meet some new friends and have some new experiences.  I’ll post again when to let you know what it’s like! Here’s a link to the homepage so you can see what it’s all about:

http://www.ginzachicago.com/

I hope to post a little more often now, I’ve been lazy the past year but maybe I can make myself change that. Keep checking back and don’t forget to subscribe! You never know when I might accidentally spurt out some information that could change your life.

またね!