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.
(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…