January 8th, 2010

books seuss grinch happyface

A surge of joy

For a while now I've been thinking about learning Japanese. I've been sort of ambivalent about the idea for years now. There are many reasons to give it a try including the fact that I have barrels of time which I seldom to put to good use as well as the fact that it would dovetail nicely with my reignited interest in anime and Japanese culture in general.

The downside is the fact that I'm pretty god awful with languages. Part of this is because, like most of my scholastic pursuits, I have a difficult time convincing myself to put in consistent effort. Learning a language is sort of like building a vocabulary or playing a musical instrument. It's something that slowly builds over a lot of time and at least somewhat consistent effort. With most of my academic subjects, I was always able to bull through on general intelligence. What's the point of actually studying or reading the textbook during the semester when you know you can simply read the entire text the night before the exam, glance at some notes (for which you attended around half the classes) and still pull out a good grade in most cases? Some of it may also have to do with having a 'knack' for the subject and I've never felt I meshed very well with the language classes I've taken.

Another downside is how to go about learning a language. I thought about perhaps enrolling in a course or two, but I just can't see spending the money on something so essentially frivolous, not to mention I wouldn't even be able to guarentee I would actually make full use of the opportunity. The other option was to find a do-it-yourself sort of language study program like Rosetta Stone. With the latter I could go at my own pace but I've never been able to escape the suspicion that as with most do-it-yourself projects, the vast majority of people never reach any real level of competence. One way to make Rosetta Stone more palatable is if I could find a pirated copy somewhere online. Then it would be like a risk-free investment. The problem there is I really really don't like to download pirated applications. Sadly, I no longer have the computer know-how to really keep up with all the viruses and trojans and spyware and other malicious programs people stick into some files. In the past, I've had to reformat two computers due to tempting fate and getting burned.

That being the case, I thought about being a good consumer and actually....paying retail. Just the idea burns like holy water. I went to the Rosetta Stone site, figuring the Japanese package might set me back a hundred dollars or so but it would be worth the peace of mind. I about swallowed my tongue when I found that they wanted over $500 for it. Fuck that. Even just the most basic level by itself cost over $200. Talk about pricing yourself out of the market. There was no way in hell I was going to pay a price anywhere near that and so it was back to my old risky standby, bittorrent.

I'm happy to report that after some days of effort, I actually managed to install a cracked version and it's working perfectly. I haven't felt such a surge of happiness in...hell, I don't even know how long. Probably Maine or even back to gencon. I haven't had my first lesson yet but I'm really looking forward to it. I'm going to see if I can break some bad habits and actually stick with the program, hoping for the best. On another positive, Connie is also interested in picking up a couple of language packs so now that I've worked through the process, I can install it for her too. She wants to learn French (God knows why) and she wants her husband Jeff to get the Chinese lessons. Not a bad idea all around considering how precocious Maddie has been lately in spouting Chinese. Maybe it'll help him learn a bit and stop asking which word means candy and which word means bugs.
stargate whacko

The choice of a new generation

Some shows simply don't condense well. If you're asked to explain what the basic plot is, it can't help but sound like something insane. Then again, there are other shows where you simply can't believe the plot summary isn't someone's idea of a joke. I was just browsing Wikipedia, looking up some shows that one of my favorite seiyu, Yui Horie, has been in in the past few years and stumbled over the following plot description for a show called Akikan:

Akikan (”Empty Can”) is the unlikely story of high school boy Kakeru Daichi, whose can of melon juice soda magically transforms into a human girl. More "akikan" girls begin appearing, each of them needing to be infused with carbon dioxide from their respective drink types to survive. The akikans were created as part of the 'Akikan Elect' to determine whether steel cans or aluminium cans are superior. The akikans must battle each other until only the strongest can type is left standing.


This sounds like the ultimate product-placement show for Coke or Pepsi, but I still can't believe it exists. Everything about it is insane from the basic premise to the fact that it apparently turns into a fighting series.

The best part is, if like me you thought the story description was crazy insane, it gets even better. The wikipage talks a bit about what the cans are actually like and, my god, you just can't make this crap up:

They are juice cans who turn into girls when drunk. Their life is the juice that is contained within them, and when they become empty, they turn back to an empty can. They can be replenished by pouring the same juice into the original can. Turning into human form consumes juice so they have to keep drinking the same juice in order to maintain their human form, although they can also eat fruits relevant to their juice. Using cool drink sorcery also consumes juice. They can also turn back into an empty can when their pull tab in their ear is pulled. Steel cans have their pull tab in their left ear while aluminum cans have theirs in the right ear. Depending on the kind of juice contained inside that can, an Akikan can be sensitive to temperature. This meaning that their health is affected by the temperature of the environment they live in. For example, if Melon is in a warm cupboard, once in human form, Melon would have fainted due to loss of carbon dioxide within her body (all because of the warm temperature). On the other hand, if Shiruko was placed in a fridge, due to her "juice" being red bean soup (a hot condiment) she would lose her natural heat and therefore weaken and faint, etc.

This might be the funniest thing I've ever run across and I haven't even watched the series. It's like some cynical bastard has decided to try to make a show about a CCG that uses empty cans as cards.

Go Mountain Dew Girl! Caffeine attack!

They have PULL TABS on their EARS for christ's sake.

I told myself that I wasn't going to download any more anime series since I have a ridiculous backlog to work through but this just made it to the top of the list. I can't even tell right now if I'm actually hoping it turns out to be a good series or if it would be more entertaining if it were heinously bad. All I really know is I have got to watch this shit.