Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Turning Japanese

Welcome one and all to the somewhat new and somewhat different blog known as Barking Alien!
I felt that after 4 years and 645 posts (Wow. Really? Huh.), the place could use a refit. Now largely it's just a new coat of paint and few details but I'm looking toward a couple more possible visual tweaks in the near future.
Perhaps the most significant change to the blog is that I am going to be blogging again.
For some time now I've not been keeping up with my posting because of one reason or another and while all the reasons were valid (illness and a lack of free time being the primary ones), I have done quite a bit more in the face of less obstacles in previous years.
My lack of posting was partially about my need to take a break from it so I could think about what to say but my refusal to do so. I tend to chastise myself for procrastinating and being lazy when I am not doing certain things, when in fact I fail to realize I am gunning the engine and yelling "Come on you silly machine!" when I haven't put gas in the car or allowed the batteries to charge.
Now however, another RECESS has come and gone and I feel a bit recharged. My health is basically back to normal and have some things to say.
A little rest can do you good.
Now, let's talk Japanese...
 "Anime ja nai, Anime ja nai 
   Suteki na sekai 
   Anime ja nai Anime ja nai 
   Genjitsu na no sa 
   Anime ja nai Anime ja nai 
   Fushigi na kimochi 
   Anime ja nai Anime ja nai 
   Hontou no koto sa"*


Barkley Gone Mecha
Sometimes I look at the Labels section of  this blog and I wonder who the heck it belongs to. I mean seriously. How is it there are 102 posts about Dungeons & Dragons and only 12 on DC Adventures? Barkley says he hardly knows me anymore!
Take for instance the entries on Anime/Manga. Only 12 posts. Appalling.
I have been a fan of Japanese Animation and Comics, more appropriately referred to by the terms Anime and Manga, since long before I knew what they were. Well, before I knew where they were from and what they were like uncensored.
I was obsessed with 'Starblazers' and 'Battle of the Planets' quite some time before I learned that they were really 'Space Battleship Yamato' and 'Science Ninja Team Gatchaman', respectively. My father bought me a number of inexpensive robot model kits at a small store in New York's 'Chinatown' that I loved to build and paint, having no idea the figures represented the mecha of 'Mobile Suit Gundam'.
In Junior High School, I made friends with a boy who was of Burmese and Chinese descent by the name of Aldrin Aw. You may know him as the independent comic book artist who goes by the name of 'Buzz'. As I helped him a little with his English, he filled me in on the truth behind my favorite TV shows and models, revealing them to originate in a far off land (at least to my 11 year old American perspective) called Japan.
At 11 years old I had already been playing Dungeons and Dragons for 3 years. Anime concepts were already creeping into my games and the frequency of such inspirations would only increase as the years went on.
For a time, it was not uncommon for me to buy magazines I couldn't read, video tapes I didn't understand and models I could barely build, just to have more of the imagery and visual stimulus that most of my friends and fellow gamers had, quite literally no clue about.
These were the days before English dubbed Anime was in every Best Buy, Toonami and even Robo...the 'R' word*...weren't yet on television and no Manga sections existed in your local Barnes & Noble. I'm not even certain there were Barnes & Nobles.
Time changes things and time may change me but honey I can't change time.**
Eventually, the secret knowledge of Otaku fandom known only to a select few of us would be noticed by the masses and adopted like wildfire by screaming fangirls and fanguys everywhere. Alas for me, I remember those halcyon days when all we had to go on awesome images and a few cryptic English words in a Japanese magazine.
So...what is this post really all about? Is it merely a nostalgic look down a Sakura covered memory lane?
No, it's more than that.
Japanese entertainment such as Anime, Manga, live action series such as Sentai shows and films featuring Kaiju have been a major influence on my gaming content and style for over 30 years. This month, July of 2013, in celebration of Pacific Rim, the first American film to truly capture of the look and feel of Japanese giant robots and huge monsters, I am dedicating the focus of this blog on elements I have adapted from the Land of the Rising Sun.
I will be discussing American RPGs with an Anime feel like Mekton and Teenagers from Outer Space, the idea of using Anime elements in traditional games and some RPG games actually made in Japan.
Join me won't you? Watashi ni kōun o inorimasu!***
Eirian hoeru
* Not an anime, not an anime,
A lovely world.
Not an anime, not an anime,
It is a reality.
Not an anime, not an anime,
A feeling of wonder.
Not an anime, not an anime,
It is true.

Translation of the chorus from the song 'Anime Ja Nai',
opening theme to the series ZZ Gundam.
*The 'R Word' is the only way I can refer to that terrible travesty that was the merging of three completely separate Anime shows in a single stupidly named, dumbed down mish mash that was probably most Americans' introduction to Anime.

I knew the shows by their original names: Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeda.

**Any day I can reference Anime and David Bowie in the same post is a good day. Also, it gives me an excuse for more footnotes and I. Love. Footnotes! Don't you?

***This translates to "Wish me luck!"


  1. I'm not sure if it's just a really weird joke or if you just don't know much about the song "Turning Japanese".

    I'll get to the point. The song is about masturbation and the faces people make at the end. I know some Japanese people that are really offended by the reference.

  2. Obviously I have intention of offending anyone but was merely making a pun of sorts as I tend to do with my blog post titles. I often make titles that can take on different meanings depending on how you view the reference in context to the post.

    Congrats on not getting the humor and misinterpreting it on a least one or two levels.

    I know a couple of Japanese and mixed Japanese ethnicity friends who thought the title was cute and funny.

  3. That said, I apologize if I offended any of my viewers. As noted, such was not my intention.

  4. I, for one, welcome the return of our barking overlords.

  5. Good Arnold, good. Your obedience will be rewarded. How about a milk bone?