Extensive listening challenge 👂 (2021)

I guess I’ll have to look around then. I don’t have the same problem with Stardom so much because of those pre-match promos they slot in during a lot of the (non PPV) shows. They always come across as a little rushed and innocuous, but even just a little “hey here I am and here’s what my deal is” can go a long way.
And it’d be a bummer if I were missing out on the King’s Road equivalent of like, New Japan wrestlers complaining about Zima or asking for title shots via love confessions and birthday sashes :slight_smile:

I didn’t catch EVIL saying it in the moment (I’m not sure when it happened - I assume not in the video package? and I have a time zone and sleep schedule where I can basically never watch Japanese wrestling live so it might have been edited out already anyway), but I knew the word and heard about it after the fact. Not being native it’s hard to tell exactly what level of offense to take, and I’ve maybe unfortunately read too much 80s manga to be too shocked by it on a personal level in that kind of a situation (and it’s not like I thought a dude who just says “EVERYTHING is EVIL” so often and gave his finisher his own name would have much of a way with words… whereas I’d be devastated and heartbroken if someone like Tanahashi said it) but it’s definitely a bummer! And editing it out is the right move I think.

(Cut for length)

You actually are missing out on that sort of thing if you don’t watch the Stardom pressers and post-match comments! One of my friends started translating the press conferences and some post-match comments recently so the rest of us can enjoy it, too, and it’s pretty amazing how much gets completely left out of the subtitled shows. There was some hilarious stuff with Maika and Himeka’s feud with Giulia and Syuri, where Giulia was trying to argue that Maika and Himeka are too close, because they spend time watching Tom and Jerry together and that sort of thing (what a romantic activity!), while Giulia and Syuri just go out to family restaurants together sometimes.

Syuri and Konami’s whole feud was pretty much entirely missing from the pre-match promos, too, because Oedo Tai stopped doing them… :pensive:. So the press conference stuff was absolutely essential, because Konami read out this really touching letter she’d written about how much Syuri meant to her (they have a lot of history, pre-Stardom), and it moved Syuri to tears.

I guess at least I’ve personally found the officially translated/uploaded stuff to not be enough to really enjoy Stardom’s stories. I haven’t had to really seek out the other stuff myself due to having an extremely dedicated friend who does all the work for the rest of us, haha, but there’s a whole lot out there to watch if you have the time/ability/energy to track it down and translate it.

With TJPW/DDT, most of my knowledge comes from following DDT/TJPW English Update, who retweets most relevant/funny stuff for both promotions. It saves me from having to follow all of the wrestlers and keep track of everything myself, and ironically I actually get more TJPW/DDT content this way, through unofficial means, compared to what I’d be getting if I was following Stardom on my own and just watching what they officially subtitle and upload to their video library. But of course, keeping up with stuff that way can be kind of demanding, because there’s a lot of content, and the nature of twitter makes it hard to go back and catch up if you fall behind. But Mr. Haku is really good at summing up important things about feuds and characters, and even pointing out some Japanese culture details during shows, so it’s pretty easy to start watching and pick up on things quickly with a little aid from his account.

I haven’t gone back to check, but I’m assuming it was either in the ring, or in his backstage comments afterward, which played at the end of the show. They did cut rather abruptly during his post-match comments. It might still be in the upload of the full show, but you probably won’t find it anywhere else.

Yeah, that’s why it was so striking to me how upset the native Japanese speaking fanbase was over it. If the Japanese fanbase thought it wasn’t okay, to the point where the company edited it out, that says a lot to me about how acceptable the word was in that circumstance. I personally have a pretty low tolerance for wrestlers saying slurs, unless it happened in the past and they demonstrate clear growth since then.

It doesn’t help that we know that some NJPW wrestlers are homophobic thanks to Shibata’s leaked text conversations with his mistress. (In case you didn’t hear about this, Shibata himself wasn’t homophobic, but apparently he mentioned that Zack had, uh, gotten drunk and used a translator to say that he was gay, and a few wrestlers (unnamed) didn’t react well to it. Zack played it off as a joke afterward). There are just enough little bits and pieces of evidence here and there that suggest that the NJPW environment isn’t the most LGBTQ positive, despite some of the very gay stories that some of the wrestlers have chosen to tell. And when someone uses a slur, generally it’s because that person either thought the word was acceptable to use, or it “slipped out” because the person was thinking it even while knowing that it was an unacceptable word.

This is a long-winded response, sorry! Basically, with all of that factored in, at this point, I don’t think I’m personally willing to give Evil the benefit of the doubt here. It could be that he just made a very unwise decision in an attempt at heeling, but it’s really hard for me to get invested in a wrestler who thinks it’s acceptable to employ homophobia/transphobia as a heel tactic. Thankfully, there are plenty of other NJPW wrestlers to root for instead. I do hope Evil learns from this, but if he never issues an apology, it’ll be hard to know if he did.

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Today I finished 私の夫は冷凍庫に眠っている (12/20 raw dramas). It was not my usual sort of thing, but I enjoyed it. It’s really … really messed up. After the first episode, I made sure never to watch it at night, lol.

私の夫は冷凍庫に眠っている
Quality: ★★★½
Enjoyment: ★★★
Ease of understanding: ★★½

I couldn’t identify any particular reason, but I found it pretty hard to understand, listening comprehension-wise. Maybe everyone’s mumbling a little bit? Or just speaking vaguely for ~reasons~? Maybe I was too disturbed by the plot to be at full listening capacity? :grin:

eta:

I finished another short drama today: 女の戦争~バチェラー殺人事件~! It marked 13 of 20 for my goal. It was not very good! I had very low expectations, and even then I’m not sure it quite met them. It was like the dark-ish side of the supremely silly 御曹司ボーイズ. 御曹司ボーイズ was fluffy and sometimes genuinely funny and not very good but ended up being warm-hearted… I knew 女の戦争 wouldn’t be like that, with 殺人事件 right in the title, but even so, while watching it, I found myself wishing I was watching 御曹司ボーイズ instead, lol. However, I did like all the pretty dresses the backstabbing ladies were wrapped up in, and I like a couple of the actresses, and I didn’t hate the ending, and it was short, so short, so I don’t regret watching it.

女の戦争~バチェラー殺人事件~
Quality: ★★
Enjoyment: ★★½
Ease of understanding: ★★★½

In terms of listening comprehension, I think it was on the easier side! Not a lot of subtlety, frequent repetition, easy to understand speech styles.

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Just passed my goal for the summer!


160 hours of hololive streams (mostly archived) in a little over a month. This was my first substantial listening experience, before that I could watch only subtitled shows.

At first, I was able to understand only the general meaning, having to constantly rewind/pause/look things up. But over time my comprehension significantly improved, watching things in real-time isn’t a problem anymore. I learned a lot of slang and kana words, and surprisingly a number of new kanji readings.

It was a really fun experience and doing wanikani and anki reviews felt like too much of a chore, so now I have a pile of 1500+ items between the two of them. I will slowly tackle them in the following weeks but really since I reached 60 lvl two months ago SRS feels more and more like a waste of time.
In the first week or two of this challenge I made a lot of anki cards that turned out to be useless, I already know most of these words now.

Overall I really enjoyed this. I’m gonna shift my immersion focus a little bit to include more reading but I will still watch at least two hours of streams every day.

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That is so much, wow! Way to go on achieving your goal! :tada:

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My listening focus was disrupted for the same reason I’ve mentioned elsewhere, but here’s some catch-up on odds and ends:

At the time I decided to focus on lighter shows with JP subtitles, so I watched the first “case” of Great Pretender. It was pretty fun! Some heists, some style, but I didn’t feel especially motivated to carry on with the second case directly - maybe if I’m ever in the mood.

Then I followed that up with the drama version of Kakegurui - the original manga of this was one of my reliable “not especially demanding but pretty fun” manga when I was checking out English manga from the library before. It’s pretty much just a parade of over-the-top weird gambling situations and not very much more than that, so I felt like it would be good for frazzled times.
And I think it was! It follows the beats of the manga, which is good because otherwise it would have been a lot harder for me to understand the convoluted rules of the various gambling games, and having real actors means there’s the added benefit of watching people extremely chew the scenery in over-the-top performances (if you want to see someone say “フォールド” as dramatically as possible, it’s a good show to watch). Although sometimes it can be exhausting (the protagonist’s straight man routine of being a shocked audience to all the weirdos is bland in the comic but here I found it grating since it’s so dialed-up), and it’s still pretty much the same parade of weird gambling situations without anything more.

Now that I’m all settled in though, and don’t need a fan blasting at me while I exercise anymore, I’m getting back into Return of Ultraman! I watched the first episode again with subtitles, and was surprised to find that I retained exactly 0 more information than I did when I watched it without a while back, and so that bolstered my decision to try the show without subtitles, and I think it’s going fine.
I’ve been doing crosswords recently, and I’d compare my listening comprehension right now to a hard but manageable crossword, where like, you aren’t getting the clues imediately, but you’re filling in the gaps with crosses and figuring the whole thing out, just a little slowly.
Like it’s just a rapid-fire parade of moments like “ゆうたい? Wait, no he’s saying he’s glad about something to his commanding officer in an emotional moment, that must have been 入隊” my brain cycling through possibilities just slightly behind where the show is. Looking forward to listening hopefully catching up to the point where I can be comfortable and confident about it and not just barely managing.

Wrestling

(contractually obligated @fallynleaf tag)

I watched the first day of Wrestle Grand Slam in Metlife Dome attentively listening practice style and enjoyed it quite a bit - my new comfy chair made it especially nice. I wouldn’t call it an especially memorable show, but the main event really made it shine because I’m definitely always ready to get emotional about Tanahashi winning, and him and Ibushi both crying a lot made the emotions of the match clear even though at the time I didn’t have very much context.
It still feels pretty cool that I get what commentators are saying more often than not. The one tidbit I remember is that I was trying to figure out what they were saying whenever wrestlers punched each other in a particular area, so I tried googling ローブロー and figured out it was, of course, 急所.

The second day I didn’t feel strongly about, and it got pre-empted by All Out, which I wanted to see because AEW is so absurdly hot right now. There wasn’t any Japanese listening practice on that of course, except for one notable exception. The promise of Suzuki was actually enough to get me to sign up for a way to watch TNT to try Dynamite, and that was pretty fun, but I still don’t necessarily like the format of an American wrestling TV show all that much, and most egregiously they cut 風になれ!, so I’m not sure how long I’ll keep that up.

I was very behind on the 5 Star GP, but I’ve had it on in the background while working so I’m very quickly catching up. That means I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to it, but it’s been very good! I’m really stunned by what the shift to Oedotai has done for Starlight Kid momentum-wise. I feel like she transformed instantly from an endearing sidekick to like, the most elegant and put together person on the roster. I noticed they put up a whole day of the show on youtube - the one in Shiodome (confusingly not a dome, but 汐留) with the highspeed championship match. So might as well link that.
Since there’s no commentary, it’s not really listening practice though.
One thing I do remember from what feels like ages ago is the first show had commentary from Miki Motoi - that was cool to hear since I enjoyed this interview column with her about wrestling when it was still a stretch for me to read (this part is just an excuse to link and recommend that).

Oh, also I watched the movie Black River (黒い河) - it was added to the criterion channel with a group of Japanese noir, and I didn’t know much of anything about it but I really enjoyed it a lot. It’s a super interesting portrait of the townsfolk surrounding an American air base in the 1950s (which is especially interesting to me since I grew up around an American overseas air base, and have intensely mixed feelings about that fact), and Tatsuya Nakadai is great in it as a terrible person.
The plot goes into some rough territory (the main thread involves Nakadai’s character assaulting and manipulating a woman until his eventual comeuppance) but I really loved the attention paid to a web of surrounding castmembers, all hard on their luck tenants of a crumbling 長屋, and surrounding social issues like renters’ rights vs. property development and the weight of imperial American presence completely disregarding the people around their base vs. eking a living out of catering to the American airmen.
The director is someone whose name I should have known before this - Masaki Kobayashi, who directed the movie Kwaidan (怪談), which I LOVE. It’s a long and slow but eerie and gorgeous collection of ghost stories and I’d definitely recommend it. Truly beautiful sets and imagery, and a lot of attention paid to Nakadai reacting to things. What more could you really ask for?
Definitely interested in seeking out the director’s other work now…
Not really listening practice though! I watched with English subtitles…

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I agree about not really liking the format of American TV wrestling that much, though I have seen every single episode of AEW (and some Impact while Kenny was champ…). AEW has improved their production a lot, though they do still make occasional mistakes, and generally I’m pretty forgiving of production mishaps, but cutting off 風になれ got me heated. If it helps any, though, they realized their mistake right away, and it looks like we’re probably going to get Mox & Eddie vs Lance & Suzuki at an upcoming show, where they will almost certainly not make the same mistake.

Something that I found really cool, though, is that after All Out, 風になれ made it to number one in the j-pop section in American iTunes, which is far higher than it has ever been ranked here. It was pretty amazing to see the Chicago crowd belt out the chorus to a Japanese song like that. It really goes to show how much NJPW and Suzuki matter to wrestling fans in the US.

Actually, another fun AEW thing for listening practice is Emi Sakura and Lulu Pencil’s short twitter vlogs documenting their experiences getting Emi moved into her new place in the US, and the two of them experiencing various American things for the first time. Here’s a (frankly terrifying) video of them cooking crescent rolls haha while still not quite understanding how oven cooking in America works. There are loads more videos like this on Emi’s twitter, and they are an absolute delight!

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We’ve got a finite number of Suzuki entrances left in this world and especially with Japanese crowds still not able to cheer or chant the rest must be preserved at all costs :triumph: - but yes, the the promise of more does definitely help ameliorate it!

I’ll check those videos out! I was wondering who that was next to Sakura at All Out…

One thing I forgot to mention is for the 5 Star GP I haven’t been making my own 星取表 like last year and I regret that.
… that’s not a remarkable point or anything, I’m just adding it here instead of editing the previous post to insert it!

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Lulu Pencil is a joy! All the respect in the world for PWI’s #500 ranked wrestler who has still yet to win a match :triumph:. She has mostly wrestled in ChocoPro, where she is the underdog fan favorite who is the heart and soul of the promotion. I’ve been trying to collect some links to essays about her for the wrestling thread I keep promising I’m going to start. Here’s a basic run-down of her story thus far. Here’s one of my favorite essays about her, and a follow-up essay that I also love.

It still remains to be seen if she will actually wrestle in AEW, or if she will just be Emi’s valet. A lot of people in AEW are big fans of her (Excalibur mentioned her on commentary as early as 2019, haha, and he also owns Pencil Army merch. Kenny also gave Lulu the first Japanese interview about the AEW video game), but her wrestling style is even more divisive than Orange Cassidy’s. If she was telling the truth in ChocoPro, Emi didn’t even know that Lulu was going to be coming to America with her to help her move. But Lulu seems to be making the most out of her trip, haha.

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Finished raw drama #14! Definitely a little behind on pace, but I’m making a push.

  1. 彼女はキレイだった
    Quality: ★★★½
    Enjoyment: ★★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★★

This one was sweet, with likable characters and relationships. I enjoyed watching it (both despite and because of how silly it was sometimes). :+1: There were no major issues when it came to listening comprehension.

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I finished dramas 15 and 16! In the home stretch now.

  1. #リモラブ
    Quality: ★★★
    Enjoyment: ★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★★½

  2. ハコヅメ ~交番女子の逆襲~
    Quality: ★★★★½
    Enjoyment: ★★★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★

#リモラブ was an okay drama (a good lead who I enjoyed for not always being likeable, and the romance was kind of interesting, but one of the side characters was super irritating with his constant breaking of the fourth wall). It’s all timely and everything with the masking and social distancing and the main character being a doctor in a company and trying to keep everyone safe. Also, in terms of reading comprehension, a big chunk of it plays out in a chat window, so there’s a ton of on-screen text, which really helped me follow along. (Though, thinking about it, I’m not sure how much listening comprehension it required during those parts…)

ハコヅメ is my favorite drama I’ve watched this year. Looking back, I’ve watched several really good things, but ハコヅメ (despite being about police…) feels like it was (otherwise) made for me. Funny and moving with good characters and relationships plus interesting policework stuff. The actors are all wonderful. Please give us a season two!! (The reviews and ratings were good, so I can dream.) It’s not a perfect show or anything, but I’m not sure I could have enjoyed it any more, thus my five stars. :+1: Oh right, listening comprehension-wise it was non-terrible but not particularly easy, either. No big sticking points for the main characters (accent, speed, etc).

Please allow me to get out a few of my feelings re: ハコヅメ


Toda Erika, good always.


Who knew Nagano Mei could be so funny. She’s all-around delightful.




Kawai’s t-shirt collection (and how her changing to go out involves switching one for another, lol) is perfection. #relatable


Best foursome.




I didn’t know Miura Shohei could be so funny either!


I will definitely rewatch someday. <3

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Looked this up and turns out I recognized the cover of the manga since a volume or two have been free on bookwalker off and on for a while - have you read that version, and is it as good as the show sounds? (otherwise I’m just happy to have more context about a manga I’ve got lying around and a show to maybe track down some time! :slight_smile: )

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I haven’t read it, but I’m going to! It sounds like the drama isn’t a totally faithful adaptation, but I’m still looking forward to trying the manga.

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Over the last few weeks or so I watched 4 movies in the Ring series, all without subtitles: リング, らせん,リング2, and リング0 バースデイ

Ring is great! A classic! It’s restrained and slow-paced in a way that deeply confused me when I first saw it in like, middle school, but now I appreciate a whole lot. It sets up the simple premise - there’s a VHS tape and if you watch it, you’ll die in exactly 1 week - and then just lets the atmosphere breathe and slowly build up in a really effective way, with most of the “action” being like, research and investigative journalism.

In a very weird situation, apparently the sequel, Spiral, was produced and released at exactly the same time as Ring, led by a different director, apparently to capitalize off of the original book versions of both already being successful. So Spiral just does its own thing not knowing yet that the other movie is going to be famous and influential - and comes out looking terrible for the comparison.
Spiral doesn’t have Ring’s restraint and simplicity at all. I honestly get the impression that this is a much more direct adaptation of the novel and suspect in retrospect Ring the book is probably similar to Spiral tonally, because the movie’s full of the kinds of things a successful male horror novelist might over-indulge in in a novel - there’s a ton of time spent on an older man’s sexual relationship with a female student, the ghost Sadako is portrayed as a seductress somehow, instead of a straightforward curse the video tape is presented as a harbinger of some kind of techno virus inexorably taking over the world, there’s a mystical pregnancy and reincarnation angle, previous characters come back as ghosts with mysterious motives, etc.
It’s just kind of a mess. At first I was willing to go along with it as a weird thing but by the end I was very much over it.

Ring 2 ignores Spiral and has the same director and screenwriter as Ring, and maybe it’s the juxtaposition with Spiral, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. With horror sequels, I figure the most you can really expect is like, a relatively consistent aesthetic and level of quality and a plot that makes up for the lack of novelty by just going a bit weirder. And this is pretty much that.
It takes similar developments from Spiral (developing the student from the first movie into a protagonist, characters trying to investigate the video tape’s curse scientifically) but adapts them with the same level of restraint as the first movie (and thankfully avoids all but entirely the creepy romance angle), and generally I thought does a good job matching the tone of the original while doing its own weird thing. The scene where the ghost reenacts the video tape scenes, including the camera cuts in an eerie way, and the climactic pool scene I thought were both very cool.

And finally Ring 0 is an unremarkable prequel - it’s fine, and it’s sort of nice to fill in Sadako the plot device with an actual character… but really, I think the less you know in detail about a spooky video tape the more spooky it is, you know? It’s not really something that needs a full-on backstory.

Comprehension-wise, I think I did okay! Not great, but okay. I didn’t follow all of Spiral’s plot contrivances without looking up a synopsis, and there was a reveal in Ring 2 that I think would have been less shocking to me if I’d followed prior dialogue correctly and not been mistaken about who was alive and who wasn’t at that point, but for the most part I feel like I got the gists at least. Having seen the first movie before (technically twice) certainly helped with that one…

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Last night I finished my drama-watching goal for the year! Once I got to 16, I chose the last four based on how close I was to the end and only watched those so I was able to finish early. Now to focus on my variety show and audiobook goals!

  1. チャンネルはそのまま
    Quality: ★★★½
    Enjoyment: ★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★

  2. きのう何食べた?
    Quality: ★★★★
    Enjoyment: ★★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★

  3. 私の家政夫ナギサさん
    Quality: ★★★★
    Enjoyment: ★★★½
    Ease of understanding: ★★½

  4. アイムホーム
    Quality: ★★★½
    Enjoyment: ★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★

チャンネルはそのまま had some good and funny moments but was never as good as I wanted it to be. I really like the lead actress, though the lead actor was just okay. (This actress, Yoshine Kyoko, was also excellent in a drama that was unexpectedly lovely: コタキ兄弟と四苦八苦.) It gets low stars for ease of understanding because there is a lot of fast talking and industry terms (TV).

きのう何食べた was a delight. I can’t wait to come back to it for the SP and eventually the movie. I would say it was generally not difficult to understand, but with the frequent talk about cooking I only had to miss an ingredient or two to get lost in the flow.

私の家政夫ナギサさん was pretty good, if confusing. I thought it was going someplace very different from where it ended up, but I was mostly won over by the end. (It was a struggle going from seeing the main actor as a particularly terrifying serial killer in another drama to, big spoilers for the end, a friendly housekeeper, to a cuddly mother figure, and then all the way to love interest…) I liked a lot of the characters, I love Tabe Mikako a ton and also love Shuri, who played her sister and was wonderful. It depicted some interesting stuff, like unconventional happinesses and unexpected types of relationships, and I found a lot to enjoy in it. It gets low stars for listening comprehension because there is a fair amount of focus on Mei’s work life, which involves pharmaceuticals, doctors, and diseases.

アイムホーム was also pretty good and also confusing. Maybe more confusing! All I knew was Kimura Takuya and Ueto Aya are in it, both of whom I like a lot, and that the main guy sees his wife’s and child’s faces as masks. As it turned out, there was also one of my favorite actresses in it, Mizuno Miki, and some enjoyable human drama stuff. I liked it fairly well from beginning to end, including the last episode, which was kind of bonkers. In terms of listening comprehension, I found the family side of stuff easier to understand, but the stuff in the big company I often lost track of. There were also just a lot of characters, which made it more difficult.

I’ve been lazy about linking to more information, so here is a list of all the dramas I’ve watched this year, in case any of them made someone want to know more. Making the list brought it home to me that I watched a real grab bag of dramas this year (so far)! I like that there is so much to choose from. :black_heart: Now that I’ve finished my 20 dramas, maybe I’ll try a first episode or two from the new season. :grin:

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I’ve been watching 帰ってきたウルトラマン for a while while exercising and I finished over the weekend - with 51 episodes covering maybe around 200 miles on an exercise bike across a couple of months.
I love the first three “Ultra” shows - Ultra Q, Ultraman, and Ultraseven, each in slightly different ways and would have some difficulty picking which of the three was my favorite since they’re each consistently fun despite different strengths.

This show, Return of Ultraman… while I still enjoyed it and there’s plenty of interesting stuff going on, it does feel a bit of a step down. At first it was interesting because they actually show the main character’s life outside of work, which was noticeably never done in the previous shows, and it seemed like they focused more on relatively realistic monster destruction and human strife (there’s a lot of “the rest of the team doesn’t believe Go about something” episodes in the beginning), but especially after Ultraseven, which was practically wall-to-wall invading aliens, it felt a bit mundane.
And I guess contemporary audiences or someone backstage must have agreed with me, because late in the series, Go’s non-work-related supporting cast, his love interest and his best friend, are both killed off. It happens at the start of a two-parter and I was absolutely 1000% convinced they would be revived somehow at the end of the second episode and they just… aren’t, with the love interest unceremoniously replaced with a different woman who has less screentime, and I was completely flabbergasted. After that there’s a noticeably larger amount of invading aliens.
That’s… not the outcome I would have wanted at all! And ultimately I think that hard pivot just prevents the show from ever really forming its own identity. Like with the title, in the end it just feels like… more Ultraman.

My most positive takeaway though, is that when I started watching I had mixed feelings about turning subtitles off, and now I’m happy keeping them that way. Comprehension does definitely vary - depending on mood or episode sometimes I do feel like I’m missing details, but other times I feel like I’m tracking perfectly. I was grateful to an episode involving a kid who’s actually a telepathic alien since the whole point of the episode was about Go receiving information impossible to detect visually, so since I knew the information too… I must really have been listening!

My favorite monster was プリズマ, the giant crystal:


It’s fun to watch Ultraman fight a giant crystal.

In other news, t’s been a bit since I watched 妖怪百物語 - I remember it being a good vehicle for a lot of fun yokai special effects, both zany and eerie.
It’s the first in the “Yokai Monsters” trilogy that recently got a really nice English-language set from Arrow Video… but I confess that before that was announced I jumped the gun and got an even nicer Japanese-language set, that comes with a very cool fascimile script and storyboard for 妖怪百物語, and weirdly, three seemingly-unrelated bonus movies for some reason… but no subtitles as far as I can tell. So the script might be useful for filling in some blanks in my comprehension… I know in general the story’s about a villainous landlord-type guy in the Edo period hassling some folks, before eventually getting a Yokai-based come-uppance, but I don’t really know the exact reason he was hassling them in the first place…
I remember finding the 百物語 candlelit storytelling scenes super captivating, the ones about the “simple” comic relief character interacting with the からかさ小僧 puppet a bit less so…
Across the board these movies make great using of shadowy groups of yokai dancing into the mist, and of ろくろ首 - it’s always great whenever she shows up.

The day before Halloween I celebrated with candy corn, Hawaiian barbecue, and a double feature that I hoped would be 1 spooky fun movie + 1 spooky scary movie… and it was!
妖怪大戦争 is extremely spooky and extremely fun, and ノロイ is extremely spooky and extremely scary, so this was pretty much exactly what I was going for and I enjoyed both thoroughly.

妖怪大戦争 is the second “Yokai Monsters” movie and definitely the simplest: an ancient Babylonian god comes to Japan to cause trouble and who’s going to stop him? The hometown heroes, Japan’s Yokai of course!
I love the execution of that simple premise - it manages to be a fun adventure without sacrificing a pervading eeriness, so it still feels like watching a ghost story instead of a theme park ride, and the yokai make endearing heroes, with their protagonist status meaning the movie’s just nonstop with the yokai effects you came to see.

And ノロイ’s just scary. The version I watched had baked-in subtitles but I just sort of tried not to look at them since the “I can comprehend enough that the sound has much more flavor than the text” effect was in full effect. And since the movie takes the form of an unreleased documentary, complete with lots of clips from variety shows and the like, explanatory captions abound, so I think I could have managed without English subtitles even through the kind of convoluted plot, as you’re essentially given a parade of weird things that slowly braid into one very scary thing. So while it’s slow-paced in a way, I never felt bored since you never quite knew what was going to happen next and you want to know how it fits together.
I’m not ever like, terrified, of horror media (I think I just have too much distance built up to it), and sometimes religious supernatural horror doesn’t interest me at all, but I thought ノロイ did a great job blending supernatural, religious, and lovecraftian horror, and thoroughly unsettling me in my new non-first-floor apartment with the “hey upstairs neighbor, could you stop rhythmically thumping all of the time? What’s that, you haven’t been doing that? You haven’t heard anything like that? … Okay” scene. And the final scene is a hell of a thing.

I tried to replicate that success on Halloween proper by swapping in the related movies 東海道お化け道中 and オカルト, but while I still enjoyed them both, despite the similarities both are really very tonally different from the movies I watched the day before. So it was fun, but lacked that perfect Halloweenness…

東海道お化け道中 is the last and least Yokai-centric of the three Yokai Monsters movies. It’s kind of more of a drama where ghosts happen to show up. And while I like enjoyed the drama (about a young girl looking for her dad after gangmembers slaughter the priest she was living with), I definitely missed my friends からかさ小僧, 油すまし, ろくろ首, 二面女, 河童 etc… At least のっぺらぼう shows up…

And オカルト is a very strange slow burn, about a documentarian following a survivor of a mass stabbing who reports seeing UFOs and miracles in the years since. It’s captivating to watch, since it’s interesting to see this unassuming guy and wonder what it’s all leading toward, and without subtitles it was a lot of good mumble-listening practice (with more thanks to explanatory documentary-style intertitles). There was one part where they went to an Indian restaurant and then started talking about Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but it was bleeped like Indi******* (as though the documentarian wanted to avoid stepping on trademarks or something) and I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about until I went back and reviewed with subtitles on. But otherwise I think I did okay! This is one movie where if I didn’t understand any Japanese, it would surely be tremendously boring, and it wasn’t for me, so it’s not all context clues after all now is it!
The ultimate payoff is well… a bit of an anticlimactic punchline. The concept is fine, but the last shot would be more at-home special effects-wise in House than after two hours of extremely mundane and restrained slow-burn - just a ludicrous and silly-looking collage. I’m kind of endeared to it but it’s definitely a different vibe than the last scene of Noroi, that’s for sure.

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I finished 人造人間キカイダー!
All of the episodes are on this free official youtube channel.

What happened with me and Kikaider, is I got really hungry to watch more tokusatsu maybe a year (or two) ago? Before or along with watching Ultra Q, and when I looked around, this guy was the weirdest costume that particularly grabbed my curiosity:

And then before I gave in and ordered a bunch of English DVDs, that youtube channel started up, extremely conveniently for me.

The shows on that channel don’t have English subtitles though, and youtube scrapped community subtitles, so it ended up being unintentional listening practice as well, as I ended up watching the whole show off and on over a very long period of time - at the start of which I didn’t really have any business watching without subtitles, at the end of which it’s totally fine for me. Funny how that works!

Not that it was really thanks to Kikaider though… this show ended up in the “while doing something else” block for me, so the vast majority of the episodes I only half (or less) paid attention to while working or doing Anki.

Something that’s really great about Ultraman, is that other than “Ultraman’s probably gonna fight a giant monster at the end,” a particular episode could really be about anything. There’s always room for surprises.
In contrast, Kikaider feels intensely formulaic:

(I picked a random episode and was able to get screenshots of each thing)

It’s a fun formula though! A villainous robot getting thrown off a cliff and exploding every week? We should be so lucky! And the uninvested way I was watching them (and language problem) probably exacerbated the problem… but I still wouldn’t really recommend going out and watching every episode.
That said, there is a constant stream of charming special effects, like this one I remember liking so much I had to show a friend (at 5m49s):

They make great use of “someone off screen throws a jumble of electronic parts” across the board.

Once Hakaider shows up:



It builds to a suitable enough climax (and I watched the last three episodes undistracted yesterday to send it off), although they can’t hold back from one last animal themed villain - the last obstacle is called, of all things, 白骨ムササビ.

The show’s based off of a manga by Shotaro Ishinomori, an extremely influential and prolific mangaka of this kind of story, so I’d be interested to read that sometime.
And while I think the right way to use that youtube channel is to watch the first episode of a lot of different shows… it’s hard to stop myself from wanting to treat them as a block, and I’m curious about, say, Inazuman…

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I’ve finally started in for real on my listening challenge. I’ve only done bits and bobs until now. I listened daily to something, just not what I had planned! :joy:

In any case, I’m now doing Sanzen sekai no karasu o koroshi and I’m doing fine so far. There’s plenty of nuances I’m missing and I’m sure there are details of the plot that are also lost to me. The science fiction scenario, hacking, terrorism, mental powers etc. is quite a handful at times. However, it’s a really well-produced audio drama so it’s mostly a case of me sometimes getting lost due to there being too many unknown words in a row sometimes. ^^; If I just keep on listening I tend to land on my feet thankfully.

This drama CD-series also has a stellar cast of voice actors. Lots of great female talent and male seiyuus, some rather surprising names making an appearance (like Norio Wakamoto and Fumihiko Tachiki being two big-name actors that both seem to have a lot of fun taking part in this drama! :grin:).

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Reading your comment you’ve made me intrigued. I’m defo saving this show for later! ^>^

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I was quite happy to realize the 6th Drama CD release for Sanzen Sekai also had a freetalk track with the cast! :grin: I love these things. If was fun hearing Fumihiko Tachiki talking about how he enjoyed the comical side of acting in this series. ^>^

Suwabe Junichi sounded exhausted, and said as much, and I’m not surprised. Having the leading role, and a quite complex one at that, he’s constantly giving it his all in every scene. :triumph: And gotta love how Miki Shinichiro and him play off each other. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Meanwhile, Nobotoshi Kanna is truly adorable as Dr Nisari, and I can’t quite wrap my head around that he’s the same person as Midou Ban in Getbackers. XD

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