Bradcat’s Japanese Word of the Week… Tomodachi

Bradcat’s Japanese phrase/word of the week is “Tomodachi” (ともだち) “Toh-mo-dah-chi” which means “Friend”

So let’s say you’re in the middle of a zombie appocalypse in Japan, and someone asks: “dōshite son’nani ōku no buki o motte imasu ka?” (What’s with all the weapons?)

You can reply with; “korera wa tomodachi desu!” (They are my friends!)

Picture source

Bradcat’s J-Music Focus… SCANDAL

I’ve been holding fire on this blog post for a while, as I knew it would be a lengthy one. I have mentioned SCANDAL a handful of times on this blog, and countless times on my personal Facebook and Twitter feed (much to the pleasure/distain of my friends and followers). I first discovered SCANDAL accidentally back in 2009 while searching for videos of Korean girl group “Girl’s Generation” via a YouTube suggestion, but didn’t really take notice. It was only when my friend Bob showed me one of their live performances in 2011, that my interest was really captured.
First of all, check out this short video (made in 2011) as it’s a good introduction to the band (although a little tongue in cheek to actual events…

SCANDAL – Scandal’s Theme
SCANDAL formed in late 2006 when four girls from an Osaka dance and performance school decided to put together a rock band. They would practice in downtown Osaka in a high rise building which was next to an adult entertainment store. It was from this store which the band took their name from as the neon sign read “Scandal” (スキャンダル/Sukyandaru). The girls would go on to play live street performances in park areas in Osaka and Kyoto to random passers by, at weekends the girls would also play in small clubs.
They were soon snapped up by an indie record label “Kitty Records” and went on to be a part of a “Japan Nite” tour of America in 2008. While the girls played to a combined total of approximately 10,000 people that year, it was still regarded as a failed tour, much to the upset of the girls who felt incredibly disheartened. This would explain as to why since then, the girls have not ventured outside of Asia (except for one performance at the AM2 anime convention in America in 2011).
SCANDAL were really brought into the limelight when their tracks were used on various popular Japanese anime shows, including Bleach (Shoujo S, 2009), and Full Metal Alchemist (Shunkan Sentimental, 2010)

SCANDAL – Shunkan Sentimental
From there, SCANDAL have gone from strength to strength, with a chain of 17 singles, and 5 studio albums (to date) spanning 2008-2013. Not to mention the intense touring schedule around Japan, as well as the band visiting neighbouring Asian countries, such as China and Singapore. 
There have been countless backstage videos which show how hard the girls have worked over the past seven years, including a very emotional video from the drummer, Rina, in which she explains how hard it was at one point that she considered leaving the band. With such a hard working schedule, and not seeing family or friends for a long time, the pressure was obviously heavy. However in true SCANDAL fashion, Rina tells us in the video below that the girls clubbed together and said “Without Rina, there is no SCANDAL”, which empowered her to continue to try her hardest…

Check out the two videos below. It shows one of the debut performances in 2007 of “Space Ranger” (one of their first singles to be released) in comparison with their performance at Osaka Jo Hall this year. After originally playing down the road from the huge stadium with their live street performances, this performance at Osaka Jo Hall was a monumental accomplishment. If you get your hands on a copy of the performance, you’ll notice the bass player Tomomi become overwhelmed with emotion during the opening track and starts to cry with happiness.
The largest difference between these videos is obviously the crowd participation. Being in a band myself, I know how awkward it can be when writing material which involves crowd participation, especially when you perform and the crowd don’t join in (as the girls discover in the video below). However, compare the part at 0:05, with the point around the 0:49. I can’t imagine how they felt at that moment when over 14,000 people in Osaka Jo Hall shouted “HEY!”. So this video truly shows how far the band have progressed…

This is why I love SCANDAL, not just for their amazing music, but for their drive (not to mention all of the girls are easy on the eyes, heh). You can hear the progress in the music from the simple riffs in tracks like “Doll” up to their latest single “Kagen no Tsuki” which has a much more mature sound to it. Not just musically, but also lyrically. While my Japanese is not up to conversational level (yet) I am still able to pick out key words, and themes from each song. It also helps my learning process by translating parts of the songs or even interviews on YouTube.
I wish SCANDAL all the best in their future career and look forward to watching how the band progress from the heights they’ve already attained. I will wrap this blog post up with the latest music video for their single “Kagen no Tsuki” in anticipation of their next single “OVERDRIVE” which is released later this month.

SCANDAL – Kagen no Tsuki
You can purchase music and DVDs by SCANDAL here, or from any Asian import specialist.

Bradcat’s Japanese Culture Focus… Olympics 2020

It was announced over the weekend that Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympics. But what does this mean for Japan exactly? 

Firstly, it’s the perfect way for Japan to show the world that it’s bouncing back from the 2011 tsunami and it’s on going economic crisis. The games will no doubt have the same effect as London 2012 and give the nation a great sense of confidence and an “all eyes are on us” attitude.

Secondly, this announcement will see the Japanese government spending over ¥1 trillion (roughly £6.4bn) on new buildings and facilities to aid the 2020 Olympics, including transport and obviously the stadium. Not to mention the huge influx of tourists to the country which will only further it’s economy.

On a slightly different note, those anime fans amongst my followers may be aware of an anime called AKIRA which was made in 1988. The cyberpunk film is set in “Neo-Tokyo” in 2019 as Japan prepares for… The 2020 Olympics!

That’s right, this manga (originally penned in 1982) and anime correctly predicted that Japan would be the host of the 2020 Olympics. Scary stuff eh? The movie also outlines the events which lead to World War 3, so let’s hope that part of the prediction also doesn’t follow.

You can check out the trailer for AKIRA below. It’s regarded as one of the greatest animes of all time in terms of animation and cult following.

What are your thoughts on Japan hosting the 2020 Olympics? How about AKIRA’s prediction? Coincidence or something more? Leave me a comment below!

Bradcat’s Anime Focus… Anohana

“Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day” is an eleven part anime originally aired in 2011. It follows a group of six childhood friends in their teenage years, after they drifted apart over ten years ago. The group separated after losing their friend Menma in an accident by local river. The story begins when a few members of the group decide to tease the main character (and self proclaimed leader of the group) Jintan, in their hand-built den in the woods, by insisting he is in love with Menma. He outright denies this claim regardless of it being true and storms out of the den, little does he realise this begins a chain of events which leads to Menma’s death. (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler, it’s revealed in the first episode)

We rejoin the group ten years later, and Jintan is now a recluse living at home and refusing to go to school. He often blames himself for Menma’s death, as do the other members of the group. The story is an incredible insight into how people cope with the death of a loved one at a young age in their own way. It explores the group’s friendship ties, and their true feelings towards each other and their feelings ultimately, towards Menma.

Jintan is haunted by the ghost of Menma, whom only he can see. She explains that she can’t pass over to the other side until her wish has been granted. Though the story begins when Menma can’t recall her wish, so it becomes Jintan’s responsibility to discover and fulfil it. Will Jintan be able to convince the others that he can see Menma? Will he be able to fulfil her wish and help her pass over? Will the rest of the group forgive Jintan?

While the anime is incredible, it is only enhanced further by it’s soundtrack. The opening title is “Aoi Shiori” (青い栞 Blue Bookmark) by Galileo Galilei, while the closing track (above) is one I’ve featured on my blog in the past (Which can be found here) called Secret Base (~君がくれたもの~) by Zone. My favourite Japanese rock band SCANDAL have also covered this track which you can listen to below.

Now for those that know me, you will know I’m about as emotionless as Chandler Bing from Friends, when it comes to things that should upset me. Apparently the last thing I cried at was when Bambi’s mother was shot, however I was 4 years old at the time, so this doesn’t count. However this anime, my word, upsetting doesn’t cover it. I’ll tell you now, I was a blubbering mess by the final episode, and I challenge anyone to watch it and hold back the tears. Check out the preview below to give you a rough idea of what to expect. 

Please give this anime a try, after all it is only eleven episodes long. Let me know in the comments what you thought too!