Things I Wonder About

An article wherein I muse about random things and buffalo wings.

Student Councils: Are these elected, appointed, or can a core group invite other members? The only series or show I can think of where there is reference to an election is FMP:TSR. Every other animé just seems to have the council “there” or sometimes one or more memebers of the cast are invited to join (Code Geass, Mamoru-kun ni Megami no Shukufuku wo!).

Class priority: Do the low numbered classes have any “prestige” or other significance to them? I notice that the main characters almost always belong to class one or two of their year. FMP is an exception; Kanamé and Souské are in class 4, and there is a class 7 visible in some hallway shots during the ED

de arimasu: There’s a character in Shana (whom I’m not naming, because it’s a spoiler; the character hasn’t appeared in the commercial DVD release yet). that ends virtually every sentence with the phrase “de arimasu” or a varient thereof. It doesn’t matter whether the sentence is a question or statement. What the hell does it mean?

Japanese blondes: Is that just another unnatural hair color like green or blue in animé, or are there actually any blondes in Japan? I know there’s a caucasian minority in some of the northern reaches. Do they have blondes? For that matter, what about redheads?

Buffalo wings: How the hell did they get their name, anyway? (Insert any lame joke about tiny buffalo here.)

Blind Senses Ok, it’s well known that a person who loses their sight gains a greater sensitivity with their other senses. In an over-the-top scene we won’t see on American TV anytime soon, Nina, junior student council member in Code Geass, spends “quality time” with the corner of a table, while staring at a picture of Princess Euphie. I imagine that has to be kind of hard on her panties, considering that she was not exactly doing a slow grind. Natalie rolls into the room, but of course can’t see what she’s doing. It seems to me that she ought to be able to get a clue from her senses of hearing and smell. (I don’t suppose this is the time to mention once having read about the rather unique methods of masturbation invented by the students at a Catholic school for blind girls, to avoid being caught by the nuns?)

Shotacon. What’s the origin of that term? I know it’s a play on “lolicon” and what it means, but I would have expected “shounencon” if it were some kind of Japanese-English kitbash.

40 years. How the hell did the Saints take that long to get to the NFC Championship game? And I’ve been waiting every one of them too. Hell, I still remember what they used to call the “glory days” in the 70′s with Yepremian and Manning. Archie Manning, Peyton’s father. The best they ever did was 8-8. Coach Mora brought the team up from the laughingstock of the league, but not even he could defeat the fundamental problem: the Saints play in New Orleans. There is no town better for distracting players from the business of playing and winning games than the Big Easy. As soon as the team started looking good, the party atmosphere would turn their heads. The problem was solved by the simple expedient of sacking and replacing almost the entire team and staff in a single year. So I give them one good year, maybe two, before things go back to normal. Wait, obviously I’m not wondering about that question, I just answered it.

And finally, where is my Shogun: Total War disk? If I can’t pilot a giant robot or have fantastic powers, I can at least conquer Japan.

Speaking of giant robots, one postscript. The Stainless Steel Brat has passed her tests to be considered for admission to a prestigious science-oriented academy here in Houston. Yay! Next is an interview for entry and maybe a scholarship for it. (Everybody cheer for her!) So give her about four more years for high school, another four for undergraduate college and two for graduate, two more for a little seasoning with a defense contractor. (Maybe 4 if she works in a doctorate) . In about a dozen years I ought to be able to pay the SSB to build me my very own giant robot. Just in time for retirement from the city of Houston, so I can take up a second career of world conquest!

Muahahahahaha! (Practicing my evil laugh.)

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18 Responses to Things I Wonder About

  1. Nick says:

    Buffalo Wings. These supposedly originated from Buffalo, New York. Though, I think discussions about tiny buffalo or how the heck these tiny wings do anything for buffalo are much more entertaining. Buffalo wings on Wikipedia!

  2. I think that “de arimasu” means “I’m being extremely polite and deferential”.

  3. Wikipedia on shotacon: “The term “shotacon” is a Japanese portmanteau of Shotarō complex, a reference to the young male character Shotarō from Tetsujin 28-go.”

  4. astro says:

    Here’s my take on the Saints. The distractions and party atmosphere are gone from N.O. – who knows if they’ll ever come back. They’ve always had a few star players, but they found a key combination of solid QB (Brees), punishing RB (a healthy Deuce), and explosive WRs (Colston and Bush). Their D isn’t as strong as it was back in the Mora days, but that offense will give them a chance against anybody. Of all that, Brees was the key pick-up this year. I don’t think they’ll beat the Seahawks, so hopefully they’ll get to play the Bears and end up in the Superbowl. Of course, back when I lived in N.O. we thought we could do anything with Walsh and Mora…

    Sorry, I’m no help on your other questions…

  5. Wonderduck says:

    “How the hell did the Saints take that long to get to the NFC Championship game?”
    Um… they sucked. That usually makes it difficult to get into the Championship round.

    “And finally, where is my Shogun: Total War disk?”
    Bookcase, third shelf, look behind ‘Care & Feeding For Your Volvo.”

  6. Mob says:

    “de arimasu” is the formal conjugation of “de aru.” The character will use “de arimasen” for negatives. From what I understand this is a very formal and old fashioned expression meaning (roughly) “to exist.” From what I’ve read this shows up a lot in samurai movies. The basic meaning is equivalent to “desu.”

    “aru” is the base verb meaning “to exist.” Adding the “de” context particle slightly changes the meaning to “to exist as.” In both languages this makes a somewhat awkward sentence, thus the old fashioned tinge to the phrase.

  7. jgreely says:

    “de aru” is the formal version of “desu”, commonly used in formal writing (editorials, professional journals, literature, etc). “de arimasu” is the polite form of “de aru”, used in formal speech (public speaking, although probably not modern politicians).

    [Reference: A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar, Makino and Tsutsui; despite the fact that this book is in English, written by professors at Princeton and UW, it's only available as an import. The Basic volume is full of good stuff, too.]

    In anime, it would definitely come across as stiff and old-fashioned (but probably not deferential), and I’m not sure how you’d convey that in subtitles. Given the usual quality of dubbing, I doubt they’d even try to preserve the nuance there.

    There are plenty of blondes in Japan now, but Ma Nature didn’t make them. Reportedly there are some Japanese whose natural hair color has some red in it, but it’s generally dyed to conform. I’ve seen a number of lightly freckled Japanese women, so it’s possible that somewhere you could find the Holy Grail of women: the freckle-faced redheaded yamato nadeshiko. With glasses. :-)

    -j

  8. jgreely says:

    [apologies if this duplicates; I suspect the amazon.co.jp URL broke the form submission (they embed unescaped kanji into their URLs, which is darn rude), so I'm trying again without it]

    “de aru” is the formal version of “desu”, commonly used in formal writing (editorials, professional journals, literature, etc). “de arimasu” is the polite form of “de aru”, used in formal speech (public speaking, although probably not modern politicians).

    [Reference:A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar, Makino and Tsutsui; despite the fact that this book is in English, written by professors at Princeton and UW, it's only available as an import. The Basic volume is full of good stuff, too.]

    In anime, it would definitely come across as stiff and old-fashioned (but probably not deferential), and I’m not sure how you’d convey that in subtitles. Given the usual quality of dubbing, I doubt they’d even try to preserve the nuance there.

    There are plenty of blondes in Japan now, but Ma Nature didn’t make them. Reportedly there are some Japanese whose natural hair color has some red in it, but it’s generally dyed to conform. I’ve seen a number of lightly freckled Japanese women, so it’s possible that somewhere you could find the Holy Grail of women: the freckle-faced redheaded yamato nadeshiko. With glasses. :-)

    -j

  9. Ubu Roi says:

    Wonderduck scores 50% :-) I don’t own a Volvo. Turned out the disk was where it was supposed to be.

    Ah, the old-fashioned tinge to de arimasu makes sense as we see the character in flashback, and it was obviously several hundred years ago. Knowing that though, I’m still going to have to watch the episodes again for context. (Not sure what “desu” means.) If I understand this right, it seems to be a very formal way of saying “isn’t that so?” There was a third version that I think involved a “k”, something like “de arimasku” I need to look for and confirm.

    Oh, and tangental to the cities of New Orleans and Houston, to handle their growing crime problem (apparently all the criminals didnt’ stay in Houston), New Orleans has hired as a consultant former Houston Mayor and Police Chief Lee Brown. I’d say why I think that’s a bad idea for New Orleans, but I don’t do politics here. Much. Let’s just say it’s so bad it’s laughably appropriate.

  10. “desu” is the copula, the Japanese equivalent of are/is/am/be.

  11. There are certain patterns of speech which manifest as omnipresent suffixes. For instance, some women end nearly every sentence with “wa”; it’s a way of softening any statements they make and being deferential. (Kanna in Happy Lesson talks that way.)

    That’s parodied in anime in various ways. The catgirls in Di Gi Charat end their sentences with “nyu” and “nyo”, the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound that a cat makes. (I’d bet money that comes from Doraemon.) The robot in Vandread ends a lot of his sentences with the nonsense word “pyoro”, which is why he’s called that. There are some ogres in DragonBall Z who end all their sentences with “oni” (which means “ogre”).

    It’s not clear that these things can be literally translated. They’re more like particles. And it’s not clear that “de arimasu” can really be literally be translated.

  12. Ubu Roi says:

    Ah, it figures. I wonder what the dub will do with it when the series progresses that far. The closest equivilent in English is to throw in 17th century pronouns and talk like you just swallowed the King James Bible.

    It’s looking like we’re going to get mildly iced in tomorrow (it’s 70 degrees out there right now). Maybe I should go find this book to enjoy while I’m able to go nowhere. Going back and playing Shogun last night, I started recognizing some of the phrases that were yelled in battle. Understand, no, recognize, yes.

    Sigh, next thing, I’ll start wearing a kimono and taking off my shoes at the front door. But I draw the line at chopsticks, dammit!

    So no one has any idea about the blondes or classroom precedence? For the blondes, the minority I was speaking of are the Ainu, and the only picture I’ve found suggests they tend towards brown/black hair.

    Classwise, I’ve heard/read/seen (some animé I can’t bring to mind now, perhaps Toki Memorial?) that some schools name them, “Plum,” “Bamboo,” and “Pine” instead of give them numbers, which does suggest some sort of prestige for the higher classes. Wikipedia is inconclusive, hinting that it isn’t so in the lower grades, but leaves open the possibility that it might have been introduced with the education reforms of the 1980′s. If so, that could by why animé is unclear on the subject: it’s obviously politically charged.

    And the Saints get to go to Chicago. I don’t think they’re going to the Super Bowl this year…

  13. Ubu Roi says:

    Sorry J: it’s not the kanji, is the 2 links. I might as well take that limiter off; Akismet is doing the job that needs done. I wish I could do without the protection, but Houblog v 1.0 was getting hammered badly and 2.0 was getting 500 a week for a while. Not that bad here, but I don’t want it to be either.

  14. Mob says:

    Steven is right. Even though there is a meaning to the words, for the most part it is not translatable. In fact what is being conveyed is not a word or meaning per se, but rather certain personality traits (old-fashioned, formal) of the character. Other examples include the cat girls Steven mentioned (another is Pao from G-On Riders) with “Nya” or “Nyo” that demonstrates their cat-like nature and Naruto’s “dattebayo” which demonstrates him being a disrespectful punk. Some may not demonstrate a specific trait but they do serve to differentiate the characters. Unfortunately, almost all of this is completely lost in the translation.

    The third version you are thinking of is probably “de arimasu ka.” “ka” is a particle that indicates a question.

  15. I know nothing about any of the topics here, but I do have to say, kudos on the evil laugh! Very, very good form and nice accent on the “ha ha ha” bit. (You wouldn’t believe how many evil people give it all on the Muha bit and falter afterwards.) Remember, there’s more to an evil laugh than just a strong beginning! You MUST follow through or people will think you’re a minion, and minions don’t get any respect (plus the union dues are ridiculous).

  16. Ubu Roi says:

    I ordered some minons from Ebay once, but they were bootleg, and poor quality to boot. But at least they weren’t union!

    (And apologies for all the comments caught in moderation!)

  17. David Johnston says:

    Personally were I given the job of dubbing Shakugan no Shana, I’d go with “if it pleases you” as the approximation of de arimasu. The absurdly powerful student councils are generally appointed for all intents and purposes by whoever the boss is, but more realistic student councils are elected. There are no natural blondes to speak of in Japan…apart of course from a few people of foreign ancestry. However, there are people who die their hair blond. This is regarded as the mark of a juvenile delinquent. In Japanese TV shows, groups of juvenile delinquents will always have one actor in a blond wig. Peach Girl, who accidentally bleached her hair with swimming pool chlorine (quite impossibly) found herself having to fend off men who assumed that she was a prostitute because of her heavy tan and light hair. Dying your hair brown, on the other hand is within acceptable degrees of standing out from the crowd but still indicates that you are a bit of a showoff. The Ainu are not caucasians. They’re kind of…pastyfaced Tibetans. There aren’t all that many pureblooded Ainu left anyway.

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