Why did I do this, oh god why. Anyway, here’s my take on some things. Occasionally they will be useful for people who don’t care about Japanese since they are my own coinings, but not often.
When it comes to Japanese lingo, Fuwanovel will eventually have one of these up somewhere on the main page, but I’ve looked at some of the definitions and they are sometimes bad and things. As such, I’ll do ones that don’t suck. When I remember and can be arsed to.
If you think I’m wrong somewhere, do tell. Stuff in the parentheses is in Fapanese. If you know the language to a decent degree you should know this already, but it looks cool.
Jargon term in eroge circles. Essentially, anything that doesn’t have porn is all-ages, which leads to minor absurdities like titles that would essentially be M-rated in the states being “all-ages”. Has to do with the enforcement of age limits, requirements for age tiers etc being different in Japan.
Japanese term, short for “animation”. In the West, it usually means Japanese-inspired animated things. Oh yeah, and if it’s not done in Japan, or isn’t “Japanese” enough, or… you get the picture, people will get angry if you call it anime. Use the term Japanimation if you really want to troll people (it was apparently a legit term like 20 years ago?).
I have a MAL profile. If you don’t know what that is, you probably won’t have much use of it.
Kinda self explanatory, but I guess it deserves mention because it’s a meme. Occasionally used as a snowclone (so something like “$character a moe”).
n. humorous name for anime.
Chinese porn powerpoints
n. humorous name for visual novels, see below for what that is.
Short for English-Only Peasant. Used most often on 4chan; basically, someone who cannot read Japanese. Could technically apply to some other language, of course.
Todaymorrow and Yestoday
These are basically takes on the difference between dates and actual wakefulness patterns. With chrononormativity being what it is, I find them necessary to accurately describe when I’m actually doing things. Todaymorrow is the time after midnight when I will still be awake, from the perspective of not yet being past midnight. Yestoday Is the opposite: it refers to the period I was awake yesterday if I have been continuously awake past midnight.
Visual Novel (VN)
A predominantly Japanese medium / kind of game depending on your religious convictions.
I’m personally on the “separate medium” side. By way of exception, I’ll just copy vndb’s definition here:
A visual novel can be seen as a combination of a novel and a computer game: they’re computer games with a large text based storyline and only little interaction of the player. A typical visual novel consists of text over an anime-style background image and is accompanied by background music. Throughout the game, the player usually has to answer a few questions which will have an effect on the story, thus playing a visual novel a second time while giving other answers may result in an entirely different plot.
Note that VN-gameplay hybrids are a thing, and that the line between the two and just plain games is sometimes hard to define.
This is pretty much what my revolves revolves around as of 1/11/2014. Mostly the community, not reading them. Oh yeah, and the reading versus playing of them is a contentious issue.
Short for geemu (ゲーム), (usually given as ゲームー in writing, but nobody fucking says it like that from what I can tell…) which is the Japanese pronounciation of game since they suck. Slap on -ge, and you’ve got a word for a game genre! For ease, and since the Fapanese do it anyway, I’ll be straying from my usual doctrine of VNs not being games here.
Bishoujo (美少女, びしょうじょ)
Lit. “Beautiful Girl”. I’m not sure if there’s all that much more to say on the subject, have a picture instead:
Bishoujo-ge (美少女ゲ, びしょうじょゲ)
Inconsistent hyphenation, I know. It just looks wrong without it to me. Anyway, a game with pretty girls and stuff. Essentially a boy pursues girl game, may or may not have erotic content. I’m not entirely sure of the accuracy here in this entry but it should do. Anyway, since the game focuses on them bishoujos, the story content will prolly focus on romancing arcs.
Charage (probably キャラゲ)
VN focused on character-centered plotlines, usually romantic at some point. Moege and charage can kinda blend together. Arguably a decent lot of nakige could be considered charage, but anyway… Hoshizora no Memoria is one of the debateable moe/chara titles but sits squarely in charage territory in my opinion. Symphonic Rain is a fantastic (non-porn!) charage which has some lovely deep characterization. There are other pluses, and you really should read it.
Any game with erotic content. Covers simulation games and such (Rapelay goes there, as does Artificial Academy, and so on…) but is also used as a general term for VNs in the more Japanese-facing part of the fandom.
Short for “Girl Game”. Pretty much like Bishoujo-ge, but implies there’s no ero involved. Or at least it did back when they made the TWGOK anime or whatever I picked up that tidbit from.
Hard to tell from chara-ge at times. The appeal is the usually romanceable cute girls. The Da Capo games seem to be referenced quite often for this?
Lit. “Crying Game”. Apparently they don’t actually make them any more in Japan… anyway, the key objective of these games is to make you cry. To be a “pure” example, you’re looking for a light-hearted (usually high school comedy) start, followed by a character arc with initial affection leading into drama, which eventually reaches a cathartic resolution. Given their character focus, could be considered to overlap with charage.
You’ll find these accused of being formulaically emotionally manipulative and/or using “forced drama”. The former is kinda the point, the latter is a sliding scale but admittedly a thing.
Some key examples (get it…?) are Kanon, CLANNAD, and yes, Katawa Shoujo.
As a sidenote, Ryukishi07 has said he created the horror/mystery VN Higurashi no Naku Koro ni by substituting the drama section with creepy stuff. Which has been done for ages in the book world already, of course.
Game where whatever plot there is serves to transition between the (many) h-scenes. This is a sliding scale; the Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke o (その花びらにくちづけを) is considered comparatively story-heavy, for example. It’s also yuri. Fuck yeah. Though I actually stopped playing them because there’s too much sex, but I digress…
Short for “otome game”. Otome is something like “maiden”. Anyway, basically a game/VN where a girl pursues boys. Often mistakenly written as otoge (音ゲ, which is rhythm game – with that said, historically 乙ゲ was a thing so it’s not as wrong as I previously thought) by the OELVN fandom. Probably not worth trying to correct, especially with the historical background, but it does annoy me a bit when I see it.
End of -ge section
The H would stand for ecchi (yay pronunciation!), which doesn’t mean “technically broadcastable porn” in Japanese usage. Anywaysies, a sex scene.
RtK, Remembering the Kanji
A full explanation of the subject is beyond the scope of this ent– oh fuck it, I should try.
Remembering the Kanji is a book by Heisig Lastnayme, which introduces a special approach to memorizing kanji (Japanese adaptation of Chinese ideograms, crucial for reading Japanese.) The set he aims for (the jouyou kanji, the kanji taught to all Japanese students from elementary to the end of high school) is 2,136 or something characters long, which is kind of a lot. He also adds some more characters because they are useful or w/e, so you actually get to memorize 2,200 kanji in total…
…but wait, it’s not quite that delicious. The goal is to associate one keyword with each kanji shape listed; you’ll also learn the writing of each kanji along the way if you write them down while reviewing your work (usually done using an SRS program like Anki).
There’s lots of other useful info you really should know about each kanji – its different pronunciations, the meanings of compounds with other kanji, etc etc. Heisig’s method intentionally covers only a subset of this info to facilitate easier memorization of the meaning of each shape. The basic idea is that once you know this info, you’ll have a much easier time memorizing the rest later. Does this hold? Well, I’m currently finding out as I go into Tae Kim’s guide. 試験 (しけん, exam) is sticking quite nicely in my mind, at least, and I encountered it the first time yesterday. I also read kanji just as fast as I read hiragana / katakana, which is a godsend.
The Heisig method, apart from the limited information memorized, also uses two other interrelated concepts: kanji fragments, and imaginative memory. Kanji fragments, called primitives by Heisig, are frequently occurring parts of kanji (kanji themselves can act as fragments as well, by extension) which can be melded together to create a more new, more complex kanji shape with another meaning.
Heisig does not stick to any list of which kanji are immediately useful – say, the kanji learnt in grade 1, then 2 of elementary school and so on. Instead, kanji using the same primitives are grouped together (Heisig considers this is the book’s real raison d’être, as the method is “simplicity itself”.) This means that you get to learn really elementary kanji like 気 far, far into the book. The all-or-nothing approach used by Heisig is a common complaint for people criticizing the the method (for example: “I saw the kanji 凸, which is like never used, is the 34th kanji learnt. This method is bullshit.”) I wonder if these people ever read the introduction… I mean, you can definitely disagree with this approach, but you should try to do so in an informed manner. Ah well.
To memorize a kanji, you use your imaginative memory by creating a story which features the primitive elements the kanji is composed of. For example, 明 is composed of 日 (sun, day) and 月 (moon, flesh, body part). Heisig gives the meaning for 明 as “bright” (wait, was it brilliant? It doesn’t matter that much either way.) A potential story could be something like “one day, you notice that it’s unbearably bright. You soon realize that this is because both the sun and the moon, two bright things, are in the sky at the same time.” That probably wasn’t that good of a story, but you get what I mean, right?”.
Creating these stories greatly aids memorization, allowing you to memorize kanji much more efficiently than by using traditional methods. Incidentally, the imaginative memory method is used by a lot of memory game champions – the kind of guys that can quickly memorize a hundred objects, long strings of numbers and so on.
All in all, the method has its drawbacks. You will basically learn no Japanese during the approximate three-month period you will spend on it (assuming you’re keeping a good regimen studying each day which is hardly guaranteed. It took me personally 588 days, half of which I did my Anki reviews, before I had memorized all the 2200 kanji.) In fact, it is discouraged for you to attend traditional Japanese classes, as their way of learning kanji will interfere with the Heisig method. All in all, this actually makes for a pretty hardcore experience, despite the promised ease of memorizing the kanji. You can easily lose heart.
I finished RtK on the 12th of December, 2014. It’s time for Tae Kim’s guide to Japanese, specifically its grammar section, which is another much-espoused resource for learning Japanese. Let’s see how much RtK will help, eh?
If you’ve got this far, I might as well mention that there are currently two relevant editions in circulation. The latter (6th) edition covers more kanji that the one before it, as 196 more kanji were introduced into the kanji that the Japanese learn during their schooling in 2010. However, there doesn’t seem to be a scan of it anywhere, so if you don’t want to get the physical book, you’re probably stuck with the 5th edition (which has a decent lot of torrents.) There’s a supplement to the older edition covering the new kanji, but it’s not a great substitute for having it actually integrated into the book. I personally got a physical copy, and I haven’t regretted it. It’s not that expensive; I recommend you do the same.
Spaced Repetition Software (SRS)
A method for reviewing material that exploits how the brain memorizes information for maximum efficiency. It does this through the spacing effect, which makes learning by reviewing at increasing intervals more effective than studying it several times over a short time period (note: for more long-term usage. Cramming is still most effective when you have a test tomorrow or something). The info you want to remember is usually stored as flashcards, where you must try to answer the question yourself (also something aiding memorization). Anki is a program that handles SRS learning for you, and is commonly used for reviewing kanji initially memorized using Remembering the Kanji. In general, you should learn the/some context for the piece of info to start with before actually creating a digital flashcard for it.
You can download pre-made decks; there’s quite a few out there, and some commonly used ones on the weeb community are for Remembering the Kanji and various Japanese vocab lists. Notably, Anki itself is named after a Japanese word for “memorization”, 暗記.
As an aside, the RtK deck for the 6th edition has a few (like, ten) meanings wrong. You might have to correct them manually to match up with the actual book.
Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese
Mostly used for its grammar section; there are technically others, but who cares? The grammar section attempts to teach Japanese grammar from a Japanese point of view. This is a helpful method to understand Japanese better, as the way the language is structured is quite differently from English. For more advanced grammar, after you already know a fair bit of Japanese, you generally turn to Imabi.
Learning Japanese grammar is what will make you able to (slowly) start reading Japanese on your own. Usually after having memorized enough of the concepts, people fire up text hookers that automatically parse the text in a VN / text and mark different parts allowing for you to learn vocab through its integrated dictionaries. This is probably the main point where Remembering the Kanji comes in: remembering meanings and pronunciations of kanji will be significantly easier if you have the shape ingrained into your system.