Extensive listening challenge 👂 (2021)

Likewise, but hearing about what you think of whichever of the others you pick! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I watched the anime first (with English subs), and did feel a little bit of “I’ve seen this before…” dullness from the first part of the manga, since it’s generally a very faithful adaptation, but they’ve both got enough individual charm to be worthwhile!
In the anime, the voice actors do a really great job (I could still hear them reading the manga…) and they put a lot more emphasis on the actual anime the club makes since… it’s an anime.
In the manga, you actually have the time and space to read all their cool diagrams! And the story goes in some weird and fun places after where the anime (somewhat abruptly) ends.
So whichever you go with I think it’s a pretty fun time!

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Emboldened by this thread and doing OK on the mock JLPT listening portions, I decided to turn off English subtitles for Tetsuo: the Iron Man the other night. This turned out to be the right call, as it turns out that movie has almost zero important dialogue, so I just got to feel a little closer to it with little effort. (and 鉄男 is a less redundant title anyway…)

鉄男 thoughts

I loved the effects, the vibe, the soundtrack, and the beginning and end… didn’t love as much the drill penis. A weirdo underground body horror cult movie isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s definitely an experience, and the human body mashed together with globs of oozing machinery in a blast of black-and-white effects is something to behold all right. Curious to see other 塚本晋也 now that I’ve seen the most famous one.

There was so little dialogue (but still just enough for me to ocasionally rewind and turn on subtitles and try and fail to figure out exactly what he said - I should have just rolled with it) that I was still hungry to try to gauge my comprehension in that setting, so I tried a movie I’ve seen recently: リング and watched maybe the first third of that with subtitles turned off, figuring that the opening scene and slow investigation would be especially good for listening practice.
It was fun, but it turns out it’s pretty hard to tell if I’m keeping up with the movie because I can tell what people are saying, or because I’ve seen it before! And they certainly do talk fast at times…

So anyway, since watching movies is my most established “I’m going to do nothing but sit and pay attention to this” time, I might try to make an effort to avoid English subtitles with them, and see how that goes.

P.S.
I put スウィートホーム in the recommendation column of the wiki page, since I saw it recently and enjoyed it a lot. It was co-produced with a tie-in Famicom RPG that went on to directly inspire the Resident Evil games, which is a weird enough history that I had to watch it, plus it’s directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who directed Cure and Pulse which I’ve seen before and enjoyed. Turns out it’s a fun haunted house movie that isn’t really anything like either of those movies or Resident Evil!

I’m not as much of a horror person as talking about this might make me sound, but I like weird special effects and concepts in movies, and horror is a reliable source of that. If a movie can show me either a person turning into a skeleton turning into goo, or goo turning into a skeleton turning into a person, then I’m pretty much on board, and well – スウィートホーム has some effects I wish I could watch in more fidelity (as far as I can tell there was never a DVD or blu-ray release but you can find it in VHS quality)

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Woohoo, way to go challenging yourself! It’s hard letting things you don’t understand go (or it seems like some people are good at it but I definitely am not), but I feel like half the point of when I turned off subtitles for most things was to get used to not understanding everything. After that, every uptick in comprehension becomes a victory! I still find not understanding everything frustrating, but I can also tell that my listening comprehension has improved at least a little bit (though it’s so slow). Based only on what I’ve seen you talk about, variety shows probably aren’t much of your thing, but I find them very helpful in bridging the gap between “I keep missing important things and it’s frustrating” and “I miss lots of things but I’m getting the most important bits” because they tend to put important bits of speech and other information on the screen. :grin: Very helpful for learners! And then I go watch a drama and am back to jumping back a few seconds over and over and over trying to get the most important line in the most important scene that just will not be understood argh.

I’m too much of a horror weenie to try any of the movies you’re mentioning, but they sound cool! :black_heart:

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Each bit of understanding becoming a victory is a good point!
I should maybe give turning off subtitles on my main show, Ultraseven, another shot… I tried when I started it, but had difficulty adjusting to that lack of full understanding - if they explained why he’s actually called “Ultraseven” in the first episode, for example… it did not get through to me because I have no idea (it’s the third show in the series and I don’t feel like there’s anything especially 7ish about him).
Tetsuo though was a good one to realize like “oh yeah I might not understand what that line meant but that 100% doesn’t take away from the experience” - and I found the Japanese Wikipedia plot synopsis better written than the English one anyway… So maybe what I should do is turn off Ultraseven subtitles but track down an episode guide in Japanese and use that to fill in any glaring blanks.

I’d be potentially open to variety shows! There’s an NJPW-produced wrestling-themed talk/varietyish show that’s pretty fun – that characteristic post-production touch of adding subtitle pop-ups is definitely appreciated. :slight_smile: But I don’t know anything about variety shows or where to find them. Are there good ones you’d recommend / a mentionable place to watch them?

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If you already have the subtitles, if you miss something important, you could look at them, no? I don’t know what your watching system is, but turning them back on for a line or looking at the subtitle file. Though maybe having that as an option would be more tempting than it was worth. The episode guide seems like a great idea!

I was curious about the Ultraseven 7ish-ness

According to a wiki: “A mysterious but friendly and helpful young man, Dan joins the Ultra Guard as its sixth member, but unbeknownst to them (or anyone else for that matter), he saves the day from alien invasions in his true guise as Agent 340, christened by the Garrison as its “honorary 7th member,” Ultraseven.”

I am not a good resource for variety shows, as I almost entirely watch Arashi ones (with a smattering of quiz shows once in a while). It seems like there are places where people give recommendations and help others find sources, though, from a quick google! I’d be interesting to hear if you found anything fun.

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That’s true it’s not that hard to look at the subtitles. The catch with Ultraseven is my main show-watching time is on an exercise bike, so stopping and backtracking with subtitles on is more disruptive since I’d probably stop exercising and get lost in thought along the way.
But it’s true I oughtta be able to at least console myself with “I can totally watch these again with subtitles on to review what I missed, just keep going for now!” even if I subsequently don’t.

Considering how many times they say Seven it really is a flimsy excuse…

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I’ve already started in on my challenge with Double Bind! I’m planning on doing reviews of stuff (no not those kinds of reviews, but the normal type of reviews :rofl:). At least for anything I haven’t mentioned yet in the Listening Practice thread, so here’s a link to that post! ^>^

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Yesterday I finished my 9th drama out of my goal of 20: リコカツ!

I ended up with these ratings for it:

リコカツ
Quality: ★★★
Enjoyment: ★★★½
Ease of understanding: ★★★½

(Ease of understanding expansion, since this is the extensive listening post: everyone’s mostly talking about everyday subjects, but a couple of the characters can have difficult to understand speech at times. People discuss the same topics more than once, usually, which helps.)

Subjective thoughts-
Pros: good characters, excellent actors (just really, really good), often satisfying
Cons: prolonged foolishness in life choices, melodramatic moments when such melodrama isn’t needed
?: deals with a lot of stuff about attitudes toward gender and relationships and careers (in a way I mostly liked), despite being very serious sometimes also has a fair amount of humor that verges into slapstick (which I also liked because it was consistent with the charactor and the actor was wonderful, but the switch could be sudden)

A few-ish screencaps with no more than premise-related spoilers








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I finished ウルトラセブン (I was already near the end)!

I did switch to turning off the subtitles for the last few episodes, and it wasn’t too bad. The finale had some scenes I wish I got 100% of the nuance for, but I understood everything where it counted. The main consistent problem is that whenever the upper brass show up and talk alien-fighting strategy, I don’t follow at all what they’re saying, but I guess it’s not that important anyway!

What I thought of ウルトラセブン

Ultraseven’s great! It stands plenty tall with Ultraman and Ultra Q.

I haven’t actually watched very many other tokusatsu shows at all (yet), but what makes the Ultra series shows so great to me, is that they very frequently offer something unexpected, or unusually thoughtful, or interesting visually in any particular episode. I’ll talk about Kikaider later, but that’s a great example in contrast - pretty much every episode of Kikaider hits basically the exact same beats as any other, and it’s fine, but not great.
With these shows, Ultraseven included, you do reliably get the hero fighting a giant monster in the last ten minutes, but everything up to that point is free to do whatever, whether it’s an allegorical riff questioning the tragedy of all these monsters dying, a spy thriller, a Fantastic Voyage style shrink-down-and-go-inside-a-human-body story, a mad scientist, Ultraseven getting crucified, Moses turning out to have been an alien, or just a giant snail or something, you never quite know what you’re going to get.

One great memorable example of a stylistic flourish: in the finale of this show, Dan finally confesses to Anne that he’s an alien, and WHAM these glistening lights show up behind the actors and fill the whole frame like those emotion-glittering backgrounds in a shojo manga. Just a great little touch of added style that a show phoning it in wouldn’t provide.

In my book, a series where AT MINIMUM you get a guy fist-fighting a new giant monster every week, and on top of that some of the episodes are genuinely great? That’s a winner!
It very much reminds me of my love for silver-age Superman stories, which have a similar rate of “cheesy fun” : “genuine brilliance that catches you off guard because of all the cheesy fun.”

Also, I love all the special effects in these shows. They hit a great mark where of course you can tell how they’re done, but they’re effective enough that they work anyway? Like I’ve genuinely caught myself before thinking “wow! How’d they get Ultraman that small?” for a moment when seeing like, a picture of the costume next to humans… They truly make great use of miniature cars and rockets and things.

As for Ultraseven in particular, it felt like it pushed things just a little bit further, but was mostly similar. They dropped the most contrived part of Ultraman’s character, the timer that goes off when he’s running out of power (although in a weird twist they briefly brought it back one episode?). The Ultra Guard is more like directly space-defense-based than the Science Patrol in the last show, so a typical Ultraseven episode is say, they have to go into space to stop another alien invasion, compared to the typical Ultraman episode of “a giant monster showed somewhere I guess we should stop it.” I don’t love the more militarized aspect (there’s definitely compassion for the monsters, but Ultraseven still decapitates a ton of them, and you get the impression space is largely made up of various civilizations who all want to take over Earth), but I absolutely love whenever this show goes into space and has space sets, so I’m glad the premise allows for that more.
I don’t quite love the transformation sequence as much as Ultraman’s, and the crew seems underutilized (except to some extent Anne), and there’s one really mild thing that kinda bugged me: Ultraseven can be human-sized! I kinda like the idea of like, Ultraman’s just this giant dude and that’s just who he is. But Ultraseven can be any size, and the costume lost some aura for me when he’s just a regular-sized person running around with other people. Still, it lead to that Fantastic Voyage episode which I loved, so I can’t complain that much.

I always hope to see these series expand a bit more both on the characters (you never see them off-duty) and the lore (I’ve got the foggiest picture in the world of what planet Ultra is like or what the hell the universe is like with all these random aliens in it), but on the other hand maybe there’s some fun in not really answering any questions like that.


A few memorable episodes and monsters

I love sets like this other dimension in 怪しい隣人:
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This guy from 魔の山へ飛べ is genuinely really creepy - the actor gesticulates very broadly, like an alien mimicking human gestures and failing. Also, this episode features a flying saucer that is ALSO A DRAGON.
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I LOVE THIS CAR-EATING ROBOT in 勇気ある戦い.

This robot from 第四惑星の悪夢 is pretty great too!
image

Also, 700キロを突っ走れ! just straight up has a dinosaur that is also a tank:
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Oh yeah, also, I’ve heard 円谷英二 (try guessing the reading of THAT family name…) was Catholic, and that may explain this from セブン暗殺計画:
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The “stuff to watch while exercising” slot was originally a match made in heaven for subtitled anime, since I rarely sat down and watched that without getting distracted (and couldn’t watch it while reviewing since I’d have to constantly glance at the screen), and I never exercised without something to do at the same time, so it killed two birds with one stone.
So there’s a ton of anime lined up I could move on to now… buuuut right now I’m also trying to rebuild a routine at least resembling what I had before quarantine, and Ultra series shows have been a reliable draw for me, so I think I’m just going to move directly into the next, 帰ってきたウルトラマン, rather than switch to something else right now.

I also watched a movie: 哀しみのベラドンナ, because it was on Criterion Channel at the moment and I’d been meaning to watch it for a while. The English subtitles seemed to be baked into the video, which is too bad, as I would have liked to watch it without, but I guess there are worse problems to have. That led to an odd sort of half glancing at the subtitles, half trying to ignore them that I think counted for some listening practice since I was actively trying to pick out what was being said. It’s not too bad for that, as there’s a lot of relatively clear narration and some enka songs.

What did I think of 哀しみのベラドンナ

It’s VERY from the 1970s.

It reminded me of like… Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards, or Witzend, where it’s like “let’s take a thin fantasy story, riff on it visually for a while and put in a lot a lot of adult sexually charged stuff” with an emphasis on the sexual part. Like it’s the kind of movie where Satan shows up and he overtly looks just like a penis. It’s the kind of “woman becomes a witch story” that’s less interested in her interiority and more just having her suffer and be tempted and get power and suffer again in a cycle.

It’s really not my thing! I didn’t enjoy the story very much at all, and the visuals weren’t as spectacular throughout as I’d have hoped, because animation is expensive so a lot of scenes outside the main sequences are really just still images.
But it is interesting, and the sequences that do go all-out are definitely impressive! I especially liked the black death sequence, which I was hoping to find and link but it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of clips of this movie out there… oh well.

I also listened to a couple more episodes of the プロレス聴こうぜ!podcast while on a walk (I’d already listened to the first four previously).

プロレス聴こうぜ!

I heard about this from @fallynleaf a while back, and it’s pretty fun! It’s nice to hear from wrestlers in their own voices, and the main host バロン山崎 is NJPW’s narrator for like, show announcement’s and stuff, so he’s got a clear voice and a good forceful laugh (although I rarely catch what he’s laughing about).
Chris Charlton may have exaggerated its appropriateness for learners though, because the tinniness of the guests’ audio makes it very tough. I usually feel like I can tell the topic of what they’re talking about, but I can’t really follow exactly what they’re saying. The format seems to be a brief recap of NJPW current events and up-coming shows, a section of a pre-recorded interview with a wrestler guest that cycles each month, a discussion about a past NJPW they recommend you go watch, and sometimes a quiz.
This pair’s quiz had a format that I wish was on the JLPT (although it would be much much harder than the mock N1 listening questions I took…): “what finishing move is this non-fan describing?” basically.
Just from the description, I thought maybe it was a Destino, because the hint involved “people wearing suits” and she said something about 巻いて’ing at the end.
Then that wasn’t in the multiple choices but Sling Blade was, so I thought for sure it had to be that! (the suit-wearing person must be Dick Togo, it makes perfect sense!). Plus an additional hint was I think that it was a Tanahashi match, and he’s had plenty with Jay White.
Well, the answer turned out to be Goto’s 牛殺し, but the narrator said that didn’t make any sense and he thought for sure it was the Sling Blade so I feel like I won a moral victory I guess?

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Today I twice thought, oh, I should try this anime at some point, and later the back of my brain offered the memory that I had two more first episodes to watch in order to meet my 2021 goal of watching 10 first episodes of anime with no subtitles. Rather than bookmarking them for later, I watched them! This is the first 2021 goal I have completed, hooray.

My list of first episodes ended up like this:

  1. 乙女ゲームの破滅フラグしかない悪役令嬢に転生してしまった (watched all)
  2. 会長はメイド様 (watched all)
  3. ダイヤのA (wasn’t feeling the first episode)
  4. はたらく細胞 (wasn’t feeling the first episode)
  5. ワンダーエッグ・プライオリティ (maybe will watch more later)
  6. 赤髪の白雪姫 (maybe will watch more later)
  7. 映像研には手を出すな (will watch more later)
  8. かぐや様は告らせたい (wasn’t feeling the first episode)
  9. Dr.STONE (maybe will watch more later)
  10. 蜘蛛ですが、なにか? (will watch more now :grin:)

With はめふら and 蜘蛛 I’ve read the books (all but the latest for the former, through v5 for the latter), so that helped and will help me understand. I still anticipate losing some important stuff from 蜘蛛 because some of the terms in the book were things I got the gist of from the kanji. Looking at the list, the easiest ones (to me) in terms of listening comprehension were #1, #2, #6, and #9.

Short-term goals for this challenge: finish a drama and finish an audiobook. :triumph:

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Success! Today I finished listening to 硝子のハンマー, a locked-room mystery novel that is the first of the Aoto/Enomoto series. At 604 pages with a perspective switch partway through that made it difficult for me for reasons, I both enjoyed and struggled with reading this in print. Listening to the audiobook a few years after that reading was fun! The length didn’t matter (it took a while to listen to all of it, but there’s not the same sense of fatigue) and the switch in perspective and its attendant issues didn’t bother me because I knew what was happening (and it didn’t take as long to listen to it as to read it). I did of course miss lots of stuff, but that is (as yet) to be expected. I enjoyed listening to this. :+1:

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I’m usually the “only post thoughts at the end” type, but here’s a couple first episode impressions:

live-action drama Eizouken

Watching this first episode after seeing how faithful the anime is was pretty jarring! As it definitely changes a lot more. After the initial shock though, I think it’s all well-intentioned changes to fit the story into something that works as a live-action drama, and it seems endearing!

The most notable change is that, as I suspected they might have to, the lead actors play their characters in a bit of a different way. The most noticeable is definitely Asakusa.
I think book/anime Asakusa does a really great job of balancing silly/comic-relief type roles with a totally human-feeling shyness and excitability and special interests. Like in a worse show her character design would just read “goofball” or “gremlin” and that would be the end of it, but as-is her drive and enthusiasm really anchor the story.
live-action Asakusa… I think is just forced to play up the “shy” elements way more broadly, because in TV visual language a girl just doesn’t read as shy unless she’s waifish and has glasses, I guess. So instead of just being sort of shy, she’ll like, literally short-circuit like a robot with little sound effects when having to deal with people.
It’s very corny! But the performance remains endearing enough that I think they do manage to sell the spirit of the original in a different medium with different conventions, so if that keeps up for the (surprisingly few) 5 remaining episodes, it should be a pretty fun show!

(other changes include the chase sequence ending in more of a visual setpiece, establishing the zaniness of their school setting and the student council characters more upfront, and this whole aside with the baseball team that I didn’t really understand and kind of just felt to me like a reason to put some male actors in to a show that would have basically none of them otherwise)

Comprehension-wise… they talk fast!!!
But it’s not like I don’t know the story already!


帰ってきたウルトラマン

I saw a familiar name in the credits! This first episode is directed by 本多猪四郎, director of Godzilla!
And I think it shows: there’s much more of a focus on like, the pedestrians and destruction and effects of giant monster attacks here than I’ve seen in Ultraman before. It’s usually been more of a “drop kick the kaiju” show than a “run away from the kaiju as it destroys downtown” kind of show, so it was a little shocking to see rubble and death (albeit temporary) shown here.

Also: suddenly it’s the 70s! This cast all have just a little bit longer hair than their counterparts in past shows…

The other thing I noticed is… boy yeah, the Catholic influence is coming in strong! Ultraman manifests as beams of heavenly sunlight a lot, a character overtly wears a cross necklace, and the very premise of the show involves the main character sacrificing his life to save others, and then coming back to life thanks to the grace of god Ultraman.
Like… the “Return” in “Return of Ultraman” kind of seems like it’s symbolically the resurrection of Christ at this point.
Something about the context of it being from 1970s Japan makes it just interesting to me, whereas I’d probably roll my eyes out of my head if an American show pulled the same thing. It’s certainly leagues less infuriating pulling that with Ultraman who seems kind of designed for it to start with, than with Superman, but anyway

Comprehension-wise, I think I did more or less fine without subtitles! I’m not sure if the improvement in perception vs. Ultraseven episode 1 is because of comprehension improvement, confidence improvement, or a more straightforward premise, but I don’t mind it!

:eyes:

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Tell me more, eye emoji. Does this mean you’ve read it, or seen the drama, or think you might like it?

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This one!
That was me putting it in a list somewhere with a degree more urgency than I do when someone mentions practically anything for any reason
I’d read the book first, but locked room mystery + first in a series are pluses for me, and the experience of reading through it then listening to the audiobook later on sounds fun!

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Nice! :blush: If you do read it and like it, the drama is also one of my favorites, so there is the potential for lots of locked-room enjoyment.

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I watched the movie adaptation of 本陣殺人事件, which I read recently and talked about here.
Happy to report that I did indeed picture the situation correctly! So I guess I can read some Japanese after all…

What I thought of the 1970s Honjin Murders movie

I always had mixed feelings with how English Lit classes would use watching the adaptation as a go-to chill day after finishing discussion on a book, but I gotta admit - it’s got a hell of a lot of charm with the language factor added in. It was super interesting to see both how everything happened exactly how I imagined it, since the description was so meticulous and vivid, and more visually infused with detail than of course I could ever have managed. Stuff like “what does a Japanese bride wear” or “what does a koto sound like” are things I’m not going to be able to picture as well as a full film production can for me, no matter how good the description is, after all.

And it’s a very faithful adaptation too. The Japanese wikipedia page actually enumerates every small difference and I felt pretty smug for having noticed most of them. The biggest change is that it’s not treated as a period piece, so Kindaichi, for example, is wearing extremely 1970s clothes. It also, in an effort to eke more substantial characters out of the story, lingers a lot more on a particular important side character.

In general I’d kind of describe it like – the original novel has a kind-of silly mystery at its core, and Yokomizo grounds it extensively in a specific time and place, rooting it firmly and making it come across more plausible and meaningful than it would be otherwise.
And this movie version takes the same kind-of silly mystery and builds a visually compelling movie around it. Without that same time and pace the novel has, I think it masks the core silliness of the mystery a lot less well, and in general feels a lot less substantial as something meaningful, but it does a good job replicating the same beats in a different way in a completely different medium, and it looks really cool in places.

Very fun with the novel so fresh in my mind, but wouldn’t ever recommend it in the novel’s place!

The copy I have lacks any subtitles at all, but I remember almost everything that happens in the novel still, so it turned out to not really be a problem at all. Remembering all the important unusual nouns that people might talk about helped a TON, and if I missed nuance of what people said… well, I didn’t notice because I’d just unconsciously remember the novel instead.

One embarrassing misunderstanding the movie did shed light on:
Early on, a character is described as wearing an 大きなマスク and I remember not being sure what to picture and being very confused that this big mask covering half his face somehow wasn’t more of a big deal to the people around him.
The movie showed me the obvious mistake - it’s the “mask up” kind of mask, not a 仮面, and I’m a fool.

One detail I’m still a bit confused by is a hollow bamboo shoot - I wasn’t 100% sure how to picture it in the book, and in the movie it was like, tied aloft in a tree as possibly a landscaping / bonsai-adjacent style of thing… but I’m not sure.
In any case again, the central contrivance I pictured exactly correctly and I’m still stoked about that.

Anyway, the only other comment that comes to mind is a complaint that Kindaichi himself came across as kind of boring here! It seems like he does quite a bit less actual detective work, and I didn’t catch his stuttering and cheekiness about it either.
P.S. to add also – the flow of description and order events are shown is completely changed - necessarily since it’s a different medium, but still for the worse. And it makes some sections a lot less vivid, like the scene where the bodies are discovered is long and tense and exciting in the book, but here loses a lot. The snow extremely fake, for one. And it’s hard for the visuals of something like that scene to live up to your imagination running wild.


Other than that, recently my tokusatsu tide has ebbed and my wrestling moon has waxed, so @fallynleaf can probably expect to get tagged in stuff here and in the other extensive thread soonish.

I wanted to watch a wrestling show (with a 耳 済ます’d for the commentary), so I picked the big Cyber Fight Festival show from a month or so ago since it’s on vod now… before realizing that it’s coincidentally a pretty big wrestling weekend for NJPW right now - so I ended up watching Summer Struggle in Nagoya today, and plan to watch Wrestle Gland Slam tomorrow and then Cyber Fight Festival after/during the week (since the latter is less time sensitive since I think I already know who wins the big matches from magazine covers).

Summer Struggle in Nagoya thoughts

While it’s not the most remarkable show (still lead-up to the Grand Slam, we’ll see how that goes), it was good to just sit and watch an Ishii match (and a Tanahashi match) again. I love both of those wrestlers, and among the bevy of reasons to be a bit ambivalent about NJPW these days, I think a major one for me is just that stalwart card highlights like Ishii and Suzuki are naturally shifting slowly more into the background as time moves on.

It was good to hear Milano Connection A.T.'s voice again, too! It’s interesting to hear Japanese commentary slowly start to like… do what commentary is meant to do for me as I pick out more. Now they really do help me key into what moves to expect. Their unison E- whenever EVIL almost hits his finishing move (that is also called EVIL) is wonderful, for example. And I can even pick out some details I didn’t know, like this being Ishii’s first singles match with Bullet Club EVIL. Or I heard them say 地元 talking about Okada, and sure enough - He’s from Aichi.

Along similar lines, but visual (still 100% related to my studies and SRS and stuff though), I saw Takagi’s entrance:

and thought (while suppressing the lingering suspicion he’d look even cooler with the old belt) “wait why is he wearing the Takeda clan’s mon?”

Turns out, Takagi’s from Yamanashi, and the domain that’s now Yamanashi Prefecture is 甲斐国 (Kai), which is where the Takeda clan was based, including the famous Sengoku general (and subject of the Kurosawa movie Kagemusha) Takeda Shingen, who’s the reason I put that mon in my anki deck.
So as a dude who clearly is into the place he’s from, it makes sense as a symbol to use, and in fact - here’s a tweet of him visiting a shrine dedicated to Takeda Shingen.
(Come to think of it, 鷹木信悟 and 武田信玄 are awfully similar names with a shared kanji as well)
Anyway, pretty cool unexpected connection for me to come across!

A last tidbit is I caught a phrase from commentary that must come in handy a lot during Bullet Club matches (blurred since it does kind of spoil the ending of a match):

最悪なタイミングでレフェリーが復活


I’ve also taken to listening to a couple episodes of the NJPW podcast on my weekly grocery/shupro run.

A bit more thoughts about the wrestling podcast

It’s got 1 guest per month, with an interview split up over the weekly episodes, and the guests so far have been Tanahashi, Nagata, and Makabe, which unfortunately for me, means the guests have each been hoarser than the last, with worse audio quality to boot. So my listening comprehension during the interview sections is very much questionable!
I assume at this rate the next month will be Tomoaki Honma calling in from a ガラケー on speakerphone.

My favorite running bit is that, to further apologize for the completely impossible quiz from a few episodes ago, they replayed audio of the person’s confused commentary, and also read out a professional commentary version to try to show exactly how it ended up so incredibly misleading.

The recommended match to watch for one of these episodes was this 2013 one between Shinsuke Nakamura and Kota Ibushi (I really really wish there was a free link I could share), which I’m pretty sure was my first full wrestling match ever!! So obviously I second the recommendation! (Plus it won Best Bout, so there’s that)
There was a time in ~2015, when I was aware that wrestling was deeper and weirder than I thought, and I was intrigued by it, but all I knew to do or was willing to commit to at the time was search for Shinsuke Nakamura on dailymotion or whatever and watch matches that way, with no other context. So I’ve got a vague memory of my first one being Nakamura vs. some goober (lol), and the other possibilities (mainly the big Wrestlemania match with the crown), while certainly ones I saw at the time too, never quite gelled 100% with my memory… and this does! So I’m 90% sure this was my first full match.
I’ve had it playing on the side why they type this… man… remember when Nakamura was the coolest person in the world? Remember what wrestling crowds sound like??
Anyway – no joke, those scattered pirated matches got me through some tough nights, Nakamura signing with WWE made me try out the network, and the rest is history. So anyway, it was a really cool and strange feeling to hear about this match on the podcast!

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I’m excited to hear what you think of CyberFight Festival! I wrote a little bit about the Kongoh vs DDT match, if you want more context for that one, but it does spoil the entire thing, so I recommend reading after you watch, haha! But you might already have some idea of at least Kenoh’s throughts going into it, if you were reading his shupro column. Super Sasadango Machine from DDT also busts out one of his trademark powerpoint presentations during his match, so you should get some reading practice there as well!

Regarding NJPW, I’m glad you had fun watching Summer Struggle! You picked a great one for commentary, honestly, because you got to hear what Shibata had to say while his ex-soulmate fought Tana. Chris Charlton was tweeting occasional translations, but I’m sure that Shibata said plenty more that was also worth hearing!

If you want another NJPW recommendation for Japanese commentary listening practice, Dangerous Tekkers vs Naito & Sanada for the tag belts on July 11 might be worth watching. It’s a very fun match (albeit a little self-indulgent, but in a way I personally enjoyed), but one of the highlights is that Hiromu and El Desperado are on commentary together for it. I watched Despy walk out to sit at the commentary desk with Hiromu, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a powerful longing to be fluent than I did in that moment. If you do listen, please let me know if they spend the entire time flirting, haha!

I think that Nakamura vs Ibushi match was one of the first matches I watched, too! I also started watching stuff on dailymotion, except I was looking up major matches for the Golden Lovers and sort of working my way through the timeline. It was a pretty steep learning curve, because when I started off, I didn’t understand really anything anything about wrestling, including basic things like, uh, how pins worked. I really should rewatch some of those matches now that I understand more!

I’m actually considering making a thread here for recommending wrestling for listening/reading practice. There actually is a fair amount of great stuff available for free legally, but it can be hard to navigate it for folks who don’t know how to start. The thing that I think wrestling really has going for it as listening practice is the fact that you don’t need to understand the commentary in order to follow the story and enjoy the match, but everything you do understand makes the experience even better. That makes it listening practice you can attempt at any level of Japanese skill because it doesn’t punish you for not understanding something.

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Truth be told, Chris Charlton surely gathered plenty more than me! Both because my listening comprehension still isn’t really up to snuff when it comes to nuance, and because Shibata strikes me as a man of few words. He’s (very sadly) a career I juuuuuuuuust missed out on since 2017 was the year I started watching NJPW seriously with the G1, just a few months after that match. So amid the hubbub of a wrestling match (and kind of bad audio mixing), I only picked up the rough vibe of stuff he said.

I say go for it! There was a wrestling thread here a while back, but regrettably it closed. I bet you could eke more longevity out of it with the (legitimate) listening practice excuse as a reason to have it in the more active parts of the forum! And it seems like you’ve got a receptive audience if your study log etc. is anything to go by!

More than shows in the last few months I might have missed, I’d kind of like to try to wrangle some kind of deep dive into プロレス history. The most enjoyment I ever got out of WWE was just the Network’s backlog, and now I might have the tools now to work out some interesting stuff to watch for the Japan side of things to start put matches to names… Probably outside the realm of general recommendations though!

Wrestle Gland Slam - WATCH OUT SPOILERS

I enjoyed the whole show (and Dangerous Tekkers continues to be the best possible out-of-nowhere heartwarming love story which is great), but I LOVED the main event!

The entire High Fly Flow → Takagi hanging on stopping him like Daredevil stopped Namor → Kamigoye to shake him off in honor of Ibushi → second high fly flow → kickout sequence was A+++ and engaged me 100% in what was happening.

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I hope Ibushi is 100% recovered soon, but I can’t help but love and root for Tanahashi and have a deepened respect for Takagi after the match.

I sure hope someday Japanese crowds can (safely) vocalize again though because boy a mute Kaze Ni Nare is a bummer and not being able to boo EVIL at the end just felt weird.

Anyway, since I split time between being my mind wandering from so much wrestling and being too enraptured in the wrestling to pay attention… it probably wasn’t very good listening practice, but hey! It’s still a really big plus to mostly be able to understand “I’m incredibly exhausted and talking to a giant crowd so I’m pausing a lot and enunciating” post-match wrestler promo register!

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I just found out Shonen Jump does some pretty great voice acted manga reading of their shorts on their youtube channel. Here’s a fun romcom one of a demon having to seduce a hero as a mission from their superiors in hell. These are so well done. Wish I could read a whole series like this :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:.

Second part in comments.

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I’m a bit too busy for a full update, but I just watched 竜とそばかすの姫 and dang dude.

No spoiler review

This movie was gorgeous! It’s about a shy girl with social anxiety about singing who becomes a famous virtual reality singer and her connections with the people around her + the online “beast” she becomes interested in.

So I missed a ton of information in this movie because the animation and music were absolutely incredible. My attention during any scene in the virtual world was just non-existent because I was swept up in the spectacle of it.

I think the plot itself also got swept up in the spectacle of it all lmao, with some weird moments and parts that just felt like they were in the movie to make things more complicated. I had a really hard time following the deeper moments of this movie!! I hate narrated information without matching visuals (the new evangelion did this to me as well) or subtitles and this movie Had That.

The real world parts of this movie were great and easy to follow! And probably the most coherent.

I also have absolutely no idea how any of the virtual reality worked, but it sure was breathtaking.

Spoilers

For most of the movie, I thought her love interest was going to be the Dragon beast and I thought all the moments with the abused kids was the love interest with his younger brother hfhfuijfwjifojw it literally took me seeing him watching the other kid on the screen to realize it wasn’t him. I hate this because I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t Suzu getting to secretly know her love interest’s sad and difficult secret past LOL. I sure did invent a whole romance novel in my head I guess.

Also about the abused kids: that subplot was definitely implied but it still felt like a sudden swerve. I loved the resolution of it though.

The scene where Suzu sings as herself in the virtual world was super powerful and worth the weird plotting it took to get there.

Ok if anyone else has seen it I’m dying to know what the heck happened to those abused kids at the end??? LIKE did Suzu call the police? Did she get them to safety? Did she just show up and stand threateningly and then their dad never beat them again??? What the heck

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