Extensive listening challenge 👂 (2021)

I just finished my eighth audiobook of the year, the second in the 魔女の宅急便 series! I’ve found that I liked listening to the second book more than I liked reading or listening to the first book, but I’m not sure how I would have felt if I’d read book 2 in print first. I liked the first one, but it’s not something I’d reread, while I could see myself listening to the second one again someday if the urge strikes.

Comprehension-wise, I think these are just right for me. The reader speaks clearly and not quickly, and the content is generally uncomplicated in a way that makes it easier for me to follow along even without having read it in print before.

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Joining this out of a recommendation!

No sure goals for now, but I should definitely do more listening practice because my listening ability is even worse than my grammar (and that one is proper bad, I tell you).

Planning to search for some YouTube with JP subtitles videos and maybe some podcasts (though those I imagine will be hard since they won’t have subtitles).

If anyone has any recommendations for an absolute beginner like me, that can only catch the odd word here and there, spam me as much as you’d like!

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Some do! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: For example here’s a beginner one.

Not a podcast but this youtube channel has a bunch of videos explaining random things with illustrations. There’s a bunch of different beginner levels to choose from.

For podcasts, Nihongo con Teppei is probably the classic recommendation. No subtitles though as far as I know.

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Welcome! :black_heart:

I don’t know about podcasts with Japanese subtitles, but it’s possible you could find ones with transcripts? Either way, good luck finding stuff that matches your current aims!

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Today I reached the halfway point on my drama-finishing goal! My 10th drama raw finished this year ended up being 天国と地獄 ~サイコな2人~. I had no expectations of liking this at all (more because it looked like I’d have too much trouble understanding it with all the plot, but also because it looked depressing), but I ended up really liking it a lot.

天国と地獄 ~サイコな2人~
Quality: ★★★★
Enjoyment: ★★★★½
Ease of understanding: ★★★½

It was definitely hard for me to understand at times. The cop dude with the rumbling growl was a particular struggle. However, I got enough to enjoy it, and enjoyed it enough that it pulled me right along even when I missed things. It made me cry more than once, but I never ended an episode feeling miserable or sick about the state of humanity. (It’s one where people get brutally murdered sometimes, so that was a real possibility.)

I’m glad I watched this one. A good time! :+1:

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I finished some stuff:

アグレッシブ烈子 (the three seasons out so far)

Thoughts

Aggretsuko was my first serious attempt at watching a show with Japanese subtitles a long time ago (a year? two years?), and in the time sense it’s gone from the ambitious option to the safe one, which is cool! Now I’ve got no problems with Japanese subtitles (thanks mainly to video games), but the problem with no subtitles at all is it’s a lot easier to stop exercising when I can say “boy I could sure 澄ます my 耳 better if I weren’t on this exercise bike,” and it helps to have the subtitles to focus on visually. So I focused on polishing off the rest of this for a while.

It’s pretty fun! I don’t have that much to say about it, it’s just a pretty good, mostly grounded (although increasingly less so as the series goes on) about a regular OL who lets off steam via karaoke. My favorite part was it tends to give characters redeeming qualities, my least favorite was it’s maybe a little too mundane to be excited about sitting down and watching, and I’m still not sure how I feel about the romance arcs or where I want the story to go in the end.

a few more movies:

幽霊屋敷の恐怖 血を吸う人形 (The Vampire Doll)

Thoughts

This one’s a gothic horror movie, very much in the style of Hammer productions like The Horror of Dracula. I’m never been the biggest Hammer fan (from my limited experience with them), and generally feel like I like some of the aesthetics and performances a lot but find the movies kind of dull and a bit too straightforward and… that’s how I feel about this too!
But there’s some novelty in seeing those same kind of tropes in Japanese, and I was mostly able to get away just fine without subtitles, which was fun. In the latter half of the movie it turns into an investigation and from then on I had more trouble though, especially with one disinterested bureaucrat who provides some crucial backstory - I had to rewind and turn on subtitles for him.

One translation point I was amused by: there’s a part where a character whispers in the protagonist’s ear, and the protagonist says, shocked, どそう?!
I turned on subtitles to make sure I understood that correctly as “土葬?!” and found that the subtitles translated that as “not cremated?!”
I guess “X was buried” would be a bit less of a surprise from an English perspective, after all!

The last two Female Prisoner Scorpion Movies (Beast Stable and Grudge Song)

Thoughts

All the Female Prisoner Scorpion/女囚さそり movies are ones I can’t really recommend without reservation, since they’re very much exploitation movies with the nudity, assault, violence and misery that often entails, but they’ve all got at least just enough interesting things going on to be potentially worthwhile, and the series is elevated by Meiko Kaji being extremely cool and good at theme songs.
I probably wouldn’t say these two final ones are the best of the series, but they fit in.
I watched Beast Stable without subtitles, supplemented with a Japanese synopsis (which clarified some important things, like how what I thought was maybe a contraction of あなた was actually あんちゃん which certainly changes the context of a pregnancy!), and I remember it as being quieter and seedier than the previous movies.
I watched Grudge Song with English subtitles so I could exercise with the fan on. It’s by a different director than the other three movies and feels diluted in some ways (part of it is more about “guy who is into Scorpion” than Scorpion herself, for example). The general pattern of a Scorpion movie to me is like, an hour + of female suffering making me question why I’m watching it, followed by like 10 minutes of cool revenge that gives me an about-face, and this one’s very much that. The capping revenge is indeed very cool (even if they try valiantly and completely fail to use slo-mo to make a critical reversal look plausible)

The best part of both of these movies was the very beginning of Beast Stable when she’s escaping from a cop who handcuffs her to his arm, so she cuts off his arm and then runs away with the arm still dangling from the handcuff.

Also, for fun I changed my recommended movie on the thread’s wiki to カメラを止めるな! (One Cut of the Dead).
I saw this a while back because people on twitter mentioned it was very good and fun and one to watch without knowing anything about it beforehand and… I agree! It would be a total crowd-pleaser in pretty much any venue I think (even for folks skittish about horror), and that seems born out by its stupendous success vs. a tiny budget.

wrestling:

as promised, CyberFight Festival 2021

Thoughts

I enjoyed it!
It’s very long, and watching it in bits a couple months late while knowing the most important results already and while kindof anxious to finish it because I don’t want to fall behind on the 5 Star GP that’s starting up isn’t the best environment to see it in, but the wrestling’s really good and it was fun to see the three promotions together like that!

I don’t have that many specific thoughts, but Yuka Sakazaki and Miyu Yamashita are of course great, Kongo vs. DDT was fun, and Endo seems unfairly sculpted and talented.
The match where I paid the most attention to the commentary for was the junior tag, which helped put names to faces I remember from N-1 Victory prelims.
I’m not as familiar with the big names in the non-Tokyo Joshi triple main matches, but it was really fun to hear the crowd erupt when Mutoh hit the moonsault, and nice to hear Kenta Kobashi on commentary.

@fallynleaf , do they post backstage comments anywhere? I think the only thing I’m really missing at this point from the Cyber Fight umbrella promotions is a way to hear promos, but I’m not sure where to look.

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(WaniKani failed to post this the first time I tried, so I hope it doesn’t accidentally double post!)

Unfortunately I don’t have a great answer for this because I don’t normally seek out the videos, but for VOD shows, the comments get added to the video uploads, and I believe a lot of the backstage comments get posted on twitter. There’s a text transcription of all of the comments on the results page on the DDT/TJPW website, I think (and NOAH’s are on their own website). Normally I just read Mr. Haku’s (for DDT/TJPW) or Hisame’s (for NOAH) translations, so I haven’t tried too hard to find the originals myself. Some content also gets posted to youtube, but most backstage comments don’t make it on there. Press conferences are also on youtube.

I don’t follow Stardom as closely, but it seems a bit similar, because I believe they also upload post-match promos to twitter and post transcriptions on the website, but don’t add the post-match promos to the actual video uploads (only the pre-match ones). So if you have practice with that, I don’t think the process for finding the CyberFight ones is much different!

Oh, also, I forgot to mention this a few days ago, but did you catch the word during Wrestle Grand Slam that caused a bunch of controversy? (Under a cut because this discusses a slur).

I didn’t catch this when I was watching the show live because I was too tired to really focus, but Evil called Shingo an オカマ. If anyone is unfamiliar with this word, here’s an article about it.

A lot of Japanese fans were (understandably) really upset about this. As a result of the controversy, NJPW cut this part from the translation video they uploaded. Chris Charlton, who was doing live translation in English, translated it on the spot as “sissy,” but he didn’t clarify any more than that, so a lot of English-speaking fans only found out about it from reading posts from Japanese fans on twitter.

I’m really disappointed in Evil for using this word, though I am glad that NJPW at least bothered to cut it. The peril of improving your comprehension is that sometimes you hear things that you wish you didn’t :pensive:

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I unexpectedly finished my 11th drama raw last night as well, あなたの番です! I only had an episode and a half left, but I’ve been inching my way through the second half of this one for over a year now, so actually pushing through so much at once was surprising.

あなたの番です
Quality: ★★½
Enjoyment: ★★½
Ease of understanding: ★★

I liked the first 10 episodes fairly well way back when, and then the second 10 episodes I liked less well. It got harder and harder to understand because there are so many characters and they’re always talking about each other… I had very few people’s names firmly in my head, and there was so much plot going on… but luckily (?) I didn’t like it that much by the end, so I didn’t care as much about missing a lot. By the end all I could think was, this is a certainly a show that makes choices all right!! At the same time, I did feel a strong need for answers to stuff that was going on, so it did something right, at least.

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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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