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Detroit: Become Human

Detroit: Become Human is a very polarizing game. People either really like it or really dislike it. The game is written and directed by David Cage – himself a polarizing figure in the video game industry and published by Quantic Dreams exclusively for the PlayStation 4. I am in the camp that likes Detroit: Become Human. I have followed its development over the years and preordered the game. Personally, the sci-fi and story elements appealed to me and it was one of my most anticipated games of 2018.

About Detroit: Become Human

Detroit: Become Human is a third-person adventure game where you play as three different androids which may or may not have overlapping stories depending on how you play. There is Markus; who starts the game as the caretaker android for a rich artist. Then there is Kara a housekeeper android with an abusive owner tasked with taking care of a young girl. Finally, you have my favourite of the three Conner – A police android thrust upon a wonky lieutenant and together they aim to figure out why some androids have started to become “deviant”.

Real actors and choices

Part of the appeal of Detroit: Become Human is the use of real actors in many of the roles. Characters can also die mid story and the game adjusts and continues with the characters you have remaining. The outcome of many missions and scenes really matter and your choices can have a drastic effect on how the story unfolds in a more meaningful way than other developers like Bioware promised in their games.

Markus, Kara and Conner

At many points during the story I was really drawn in felt connected to the characters but there are also some jarring moments of poor writing or just cliché interactions that left me equally frustrated. In my first play through, I played Marcus as violent and ruthless, Conner as an obedient robot sticking to his tasks but I, unfortunately, lost Kara in a shady mansion when she inadvertently ate a shotgun blast. In my second play through, I played Markus as peaceful and charismatic, Conner as the perfect police partner and managed to Keep Kara alive to the end. It resulted in two very different experiences and endings.

Detroit: Become Human isn’t for everyone but check it out if the narrative interests you especially sci-fi stories about potentially rising up to overthrow humans is something that interests you – We have to be as prepared as possible for when Skynet eventually comes online.

Learn Kanji over time to level-up your Japanese

Kanji are characters adopted from Chinese for writing Japanese. Together with Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana make up the Japanese writing system. In the beginning its really difficult to wrap your head around such a system especially coming from the western alphabet, however in time it will start to make sense. Kanji range from simple characters that are just one or a few strokes to complicated monstrosities that even native Japanese have trouble writing and remembering. Again I am no guru of the Japanese language but it makes sense to start with the easier characters and work yourself up doesn’t it?

Kanji Breakthrough

Kanji is a hurdle that seems insurmountable to many learners of Japanese – including myself. The breakthrough for me was understanding that even native Japanese speakers learn the basic 2000 or so characters over a decade from elementary school onwards so why try to cram them in my head quickly and then get discouraged when I don’t remember? Take heart in knowing that many Japanese people have trouble remembering Kanji and learning them is a lifelong process – there are literally tens of thousands of them. There are a few hundred that are frequently used and when you start being exposed to reading and writing kanji naturally it will be easy to start recognizing those characters so prioritize learning them.

On’yomi vs Kun’yomi

The aspect of Kanji that I am currently battling with is the multiple readings for each character. Most characters have two or more readings divided into On’yomi and Kun’yomi. If a Kanji has another Kanji attached to it you almost always use the On’yomi reading. If Kanji is standing on its own or has hiragana attached to it then usually its the Kun’yomi reading. Again in my experience its the Kun’yomi or Japanese readings that are troublesome. However, in time and with practice you start to see a method to the kanji madness. Check out this link to Tofugu that explains On’yomi and Kun’yomi is more detail that I could ever hope to so check it out!

volcano kanji

Fire + Mountain = Volcano

For example two easier kanji are 火 and 山. On their own, I remember them as fire and mountain with the pronunciations “Hi” and “Yama”. Put them together though and you get the world for Volcano but the pronunciations are completely different with “Hi” becoming “Ka” and “Yama” becoming “Zan” or “Kazan” – the Japanese word for Volcano. Learning Kanji and thus Japanese is about understanding these relationships and making that mental connection for yourself or with help from an app, books a teacher, instead of just strictly remembering readings or pronunciations for characters as we do with the English Alphabet. So for example, if you take the “Fire” character and you see it, in other words, it starts to make sense such as Mars (火星) Fire Star, Tuesday (火曜日) Fire Day and Fireworks (花火) Flower Fire and when you see it in other kanji such as Autumn (秋).

Study Kanji in related batches

So in concluding my last piece of advice is to start with the simple kanji and learn them in related batches such as Days of the week, 1 to 10, cardinal points, seasons, weather, body parts etc Afterwords start understanding how and why readings change as Kanji are placed beside each other or smashed together to become radicals and make more complicated characters. Good luck! unlike Hiragana and Katakana – Kanji learning is a never-ending process.

easy kanji

Before starting on Kanji I recommend starting with Hiragana and Katakana.

Japan Scene 6: Air Traffic Controller

A few weeks ago I attended a yard sale-style event put on by the boarders at the High School on my island. The aim was to sell-off stuff and raise funds. There were books, clothes, crafts and chocolate. One booth even had currency from counties all over the world. I took the opportunity to pick up a 50 Thai baht note and support my milk chocolate addiction. The real memorable encounter though was with an elderly Japanese man who I continuously noted was staring at me and my friend I came with. I’m used to the staring when I go to the mainland but being stared at on my tiny island was not normal as everyone should be aware of my presence by now. Maybe it was my super tall African-American pal? I soon found out why he was staring when he walked over to nervously say hi to us.

Retired ATC: Hehehello, my name is ____. Where are you from?
Me: I am from Jamaica. How are you?
Retired ATC: I am fine. JAMAICA?!?!? Wow. Why Did you come to this island?
Me: Yes, I Teach English at the Junior High School.
Retired ATC: Thank you for coming to our rural island. I am a retired Air Traffic Controller…

50 baht

Picked up a 50 Baht note featuring the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Japan Explorer

He proceeded to speak to us more relaxed and excitedly about his time working all over Japan at various airports from Tokyo to Osaka and many smaller obscure airports. I went from feeling uncomfortable as I was being stared at to having an enlightening conversation with an elderly man who was so excited to speak English to foreigners.

Aggretsuko – Aggressive Retsuko is helping me learn Japanese

I haven’t watched regular TV at home in months. Most of my TV time is split between video games and Netflix. I am a huge sci-fi buff and I have been inhaling everything from Star Trek Discovery to Annihilation to the Lost in Space remake. However, there is a new non-Scifi love it town – her name is Retsuko and she is bae.

Frustrated with her thankless office job, Retsuko the Red Panda copes with her daily struggles by belting out death metal karaoke after work.

Aggressive Retsuko

Japan has a big problem balancing work, family and leisure time. It’s not unheard of for office workers, teachers etc to spend 80+ hours a week at work – hardly taking time off – even national holidays. Aggretsuko or aggressive Retsuko delves into this, albeit not directly but also mixes in various characters you would usually find in the workplace such as the rumour spreading office worker, the terrible boss and the ass kissing new recruit just to name a few. The writing is so good and the humour hits home most of the time often in unpredictable ways.

Studying Japanese

I started to watch Aggretsuko mainly to study Japanese – it has everyday relate-able dialogue that I can follow at my level in short episodes. I still use the subtitles but it feels good to understand more than half the words spoken even though my understanding and translation is a little different from the subtitles at times the gist is usually the same.

Check out Aggretsuko if you like cute characters and real-life situations with a comedic twist. I have a few episodes left to devour and I am already anticipating future seasons and injuring my wallet when more merchandises become available.

Hiroshima x Miyajima x Pokemon Center

I spent Golden Week 2018 doing some travelling within Japan. At long last, I have finally visited Hiroshima. I also visited the famous Miyajima Island and spent some time with Pikachu and friends at the Pokemon Center in Hiroshima as a tried to snatch a rare Japan-only item for a friend in Jamaica.

Hiroshima

Hiroshima (広島) is a city in Japan with an unfortunate history. It was largely destroyed in 1945 at the end of World War II when America dropped an Atomic bomb on the city killing tens of thousands of people instantly and more in the coming days, months and years. As a teenager, I read about WWII and it’s different players. I found it surprising that a country devastated by War recovered so well to become the 2nd largest economy in the world at the time. It many ways WWII and Hiroshima ignited my interest in Japan and I have wanted to visit ever since. I am glad I finally did and visited the A-Bomb Dome, Peace Park and the exact epicentre of the bomb. It was a life-changing experience.

Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park

Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park

Miyajima

Miyajima (宮島) is an island close to Hiroshima. I got there via a boat ride from the city centre but returned using the JR ferry and train. The main attraction is a giant torii gate, which at high tide seems to float on the water. The accompanying shrine and a few other attractions such as a museum and aquarium make this a great day trip. I spent half a day but could have easily spent a few hours more exploring.

Miyajima Island Torii

Miyajima Island Torii

Pokemon Center Hiroshima

I am an old school pokemon player. Pokemon burst onto the scene when I was a kid. The original pokemon games up to maybe Pokemon Silver and Pokemon Gold were handheld games I pumped hundreds of hours into and had tonnes of fun with my friends and classmates – battling and trading. I haven’t been able to keep up with the now hundreds of pocket monsters but the original 151 are still dear to me.

Pokemon Center Hiroshima

Pokemon Center Hiroshima with Pikachu

Hiroshima Miyajima Pokemon Center

Pirate’s Choice #414

Tribute To Studio1

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Where do you start when learning Japanese?

In a recent vlog, I spoke about having a Japanese focused video series. Over the past few weeks, I have struggled with getting it recorded as my perfectionist mentally has taken over and I have recorded and recorded it more times than I would like to admit. So what am I going to do? Continue doing what I have been enjoying! making video logs of vlogs of my experiences living in Japan. This includes things I have vlogged already such as travelling, video games, food etc but now from time to time it will include commentary on my own journey learning Japanese as well and I am keeping the name Nihongo to Kakutou suru (日本語と格闘する) – or fighting with Japanese!

Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana

It goes without saying that Japanese is very different from English. Its different from all Indo-European languages. Japanese is written using 3 alphabets – Kanji – borrowed from Chinese, Hiragana which are simplified kanji characters and Katakana which is used to primarily for foreign words but also has other uses you don’t have to worry about at the beginning of your Japanese language journey.

Hello, my name is Jamaipanese – こんにちは 私の なまえは ジャマイパネズです。
Today’s weather is good – 今日の天気は良いです

Not a Japanese Language Guru

Before I continue I must say that I am no qualified guru of the Japanese language, I am just learning the language like anyone else but have spent a lot of time trying different methods of learning with varying success over the years. Now that I live in Japan – learning Japanese is now about surviving here so I have been more serious about it in recent months. If you are just starting out learning Japanese then without a doubt, you first want to learn Hiragana and Katakana. Learning to write and read Kana as they are called together to me is the first pillar towards building your Japanese ability.

Start with Kana

So how do you learn Kana? You practice! For some people it takes a few hours, for others, it can take months. My advice? – study ’em five at a time. You can use apps, flashcards or the good old fashioned pen and paper. Write them, enunciate their sounds and in time you will know them.

Some apps I recommend are:

  • Get Kana – a simple no fluff app that’s just focused on helping users recognize hiragana and katakana. It allows you to select the characters you want to study, revise or skip altogether
  • Katakana/Hiragana Pro – Individual apps with paid options that offered a more gamified approach to learning Kana. I am a happy paid customer and these are my favourite kana apps
  • Kana Dojo – from the same developers of Katakana and Hiragana pro another gamified app with “eye Spy” agility test and “Matchmaker” memory test that mixes things up a bit and allows for studying in short sessions.
  • Japanese Word Dungeon – This is straight up a game where the aim is to defeat monsters with your knowledge of kana – Personally I don’t like how it is monetized but the level 1 dungeon is free and gives you just enough to know if its something you will want to pay for going forward.

There is no shortage of apps out there to help with Studying Japanese but don’t be like me not long ago and get buried in the options walking around with 20 plus Japanese learning apps on your phone but barely using any. Stick to one or two and start learning Japanese!

Struggling creatively and sick recently

Spring is finally here in Japan! the cherry blossoms are blooming, it’s getting warmer (except today! right now its raining and 7 degrees) and terrible winter is behind me! Then why am I struggling a little recently?

First Spring in Japan

The 1st part of my troubles is I’ve been sick recently. I have been anticipating the arrival of spring for months and now it’s here and my body is spazzing out. Its what are these smells?!?!? Why have the last few days been hot, then cold then hot then cold?I’ve been to the doctor but even he isn’t too sure whats going on. It feels like Hay fever, allergies, a cold and migraines came together to attack me. The result is me being tired and groggy. Thankfully I have started to feel better in the last day or so and just in time too as the kids return to school next week. Its the beginning of the school year in Japan and I have an increased workload due to changes in the English education system here in Japan.

Creative Struggles

The second part of my struggles is I’ve been struggling creatively recently – I have some ideas for my blog I can’t seem to get off the ground and remember that Japanese vlog series I mentioned in my last vlog? I have recorded and re-recorded so much of it in the last week. I am making the same mistake again – its like I know the problem, do my best to avoid the problem but end up having the problem again! That problem is overthinking a task and trying to make it too perfect – Its so nerve-racking to put yourself out there especially in this era internet trolls and negativity. I had the same problem when writing my book (The Jamaipanese Story) and instead of finishing it in 5 months as planned it took me almost 5 years!

So here’s hoping blogging this helps me refocus and gets me re-energized for the coming days , weeks and months. I need to get back to studying Japanese and I want to share my progress with you!

Chibi RX-78-2 Gundam

It was my birthday recently! So like your typical adult male I got myself a gift! Like your not so typical adult male I got myself a cute miniaturized robot figure from my favourite anime series…

I got the chibi version of the iconic RX-78-2 Gundam. If you havent seen my video from my pilgramage to the Life-sized Unicorn Gundam in Tokyo earlier this year or my visit to the Gundam Cafe in Tokyo almost 7 years ago now during my 1st trip to Japan you should check them out and SURPRISE! I’m really fond of giant robots.

RX-78-2 Gundam Sword

I chose a chibi Gundam because they are easy to build, cheap and most importantly sturdy. I’ve owned a few chibi Gundam models over the years and I havent been disappointed yet. As much as I love Gundam models I’ve been known to grow bored and stop mid build in the past ( Sorry Zaku, I”ll finish building you one day I promise). The plan in to pimp out out my home in Japan with stuff from my favourite anime, games, movies etc.- a process that is still ongoing.

RX-78-2 Gundam rifle

Building Rex (Yes I’ve named him) took me a few hours while I binged a new Netflix series called “On My Block” check it out its awesome – Jasmin is bae – nobody else is allowed to love her! I saw her first. Back to Rex, I”m happy with the finished product – I think I will assign him guard duty in my Genkan.

RX-78-2 Gundam x Star Wars AT-M6 Walker

I usually take part in reddit gift exchanges – for those who don’t know it is a blind gift exchange facilitated by Reddit.com where you exchange gifts with random people anythere in the world on a particular topic or for a particular occasion from Christmas to plushies to anime and manga. As faith would have it the last reddit gift exchange I participated in was under the anime and manga theme – and guess what my randomly chosen reddit person sent me? Wing Zero from friken Gundam Wing Endless Waltz movie – I feel like I am 14-year-old again and rushing home after table tennis practice to watch Toonami on cartoon network.

RX-78-2 Gundam back

But anyway! leave a comment below sharing your favourite anime or video game. Also do you have any figures, posters or other memorabilia from any of your favourite pop culture thingies. Let me know below!

RX-78-2 Gundam vs Monster Hunter Deviljho

RX-78-2 Gundam chibi

RX-78-2 Gundam shield

RX-78-2 Gundam box

[anime]