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Artbook Review: The Legend of Zelda – Hyrule Historia

21 Aug

When it was announced that a 25th anniversary art book for The Legend of Zelda was being released, I was dead set on getting it. From the start, this book was highly sought after and it was sold out on Amazon.co.jp very quickly. I had a certain price limit in mind and I managed to acquire a copy from an eBay seller for a great price and free shipping.

I was on the fence about whether or not to review this because the book is incredibly text heavy. However, it was just recently announced that Dark Horse Comics would be translating this rare gem into English. I consequently decided that reviewing the Japanese version right now would be a great idea. Now you can all see what you have to look forward to!

Hyrule Historia dust jacket and obi strip.

ハイラル・ヒストリア ゼルダの伝説 大全: 任天堂公式ガイドブック or um, Hyrule Historia for short, is a hardcover 240 page Legend of Zelda guidebook released in December of 2011.

The book sans dust jacket.

The dust jacket itself is quite lovely, but the book itself is even more gorgeous underneath!

Continue reading

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A Handy Dandy Guide to Doujin Goods! 「同人グッズについて」

7 Aug
Doujin Goods

A pile of things I wish were mine. (Source)

C82 is coming up, so I decided to make a quick post that will hopefully be of use to some of you who want to buy doujinshi but need a little bit of help with the process of finding out what you want. If you’re looking at doujinshi or doujin goods, but you don’t know a whole lot of Japanese, there’s some terms you’ll want to know to make buying easier!

All Full Color オールフルカラー – Or simply Full Color フルカラー Means the book is printed entirely in color. Unless stated otherwise in this manner, doujinshi usually contain primarily black and white pages and a full color cover.

Clear Poster

A couple of Di Gi Charat clear posters. (Source)

Clear Poster クリアポスター – It’s a poster, but it’s clear! These are sturdy posters printed on translucent plastic. They look really great when you put them in front of a window and let the light shine through! It’s also really common to find クリア下敷き “Clear Shitajiki” which are pencil boards, but they’re essentially miniature clear posters!

Copy Books

A stack of copy hon by Studio UNILABO. (Source)

Copy Hon コーピー本 – “Copy Book”. This refers to a book that is photocopied and usually stapled or folded together. These are low-cost doujinshi (usually about 100 yen) that often contain comics or sketches. It can also be an orihon.

Dakimakura 抱き枕 – Means “hugging pillow”. This is what we call a “body pillow” in the United States.

A dakimakura cover of Holo from Spice and Wolf. (Source)

Dakimakura Cover 抱き枕カバー – This is the pillow case that goes over a dakimakura. They’re very popular items which are usually printed with an anime girl in a provocative “please be gentle with me” sort of pose. Generally, dakimakura covers are sold on their own and you are expected to purchase the cushion inside separately.

Doujinshi 同人誌 – If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know what a doujinshi is!

Kamibukuro

A typical kamibukuro with artwork by Tinkle. (Source: Rakuten)

Kamibukuro 紙袋 – “Paper Bag”. When you buy a set of doujin goods from an artist, it’ll usually come in a kamibukuro covered in bright illustrations. Some artists go all-out and provide bags made out of PVC with their sets rather than paper!

Muffler Towel

Muffler Towel (Source)

Muffler Towel マフラータオル- In Japan, “muffler” is a loan word for “scarf”. A muffler towel is a towel that is shaped like a scarf. You can wear it around your neck, or tie up your hair with it, or dry your back with it… I guess. I’ve never seen anything quite like it in the U.S. I think they look like really long bar mats!

Orihon 折本 – Literally, it means “folding book”. This is a handmade book, traditionally made from pieces of paper that have been put together and then folded accordian-style. These are often included as omake (bonus items) when you buy an artist’s special doujin goods set, and can contain things like extra sketches or comics. An orihon can by a copy book, and vice-versa.

Poster ポスター – You know what a poster is, right? ^^

Shinkan 新刊 – “New Publication” refers to doujinshi that are… well… newly published.  Artists usually feature a new book at each comiket if they can, as well as selling any extras of older books that they still have copies of.

Shiori しおり – Can also be written as 栞. It means “bookmark”. Sets of bookmarks are a common doujinshi item as they are useful and easy to make!

Shitajiki 下敷き – Also known as a “pencil board”, a shitajiki is a sheet of plastic that you put under a piece of paper while writing. Shitajiki are popular collector’s items among otaku!

Stick Posterスティックポスター – These character posters are tall and vertical like a stick, which is where they get their name. These are often sold in sets. Contrary to the sound of their description, they are not very large. (Average size is about 182 x 515 mm)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica cell phone straps. (Source)

Strap ストラップ – Also known as a “cell phone strap”, it refers to a strap that you attach to your phone or other handheld item with a loop attachment. It is usually made of rubber or PVC and has a charm of some kind of character mascot dangling from it.

Tapestry

A tapestry design by Tatekawa Mako for C82. (Source)

Tapestry タペストリー – This term is borrowed from English and refers to what we often refer to as a “Wall Scroll”, a large cloth wall hanging with an image printed on it.

uchiwa

Various uchiwa by Kimarin. (Source)

Uchiwa うちわ – A hand fan which is often given away as a promotional item. Doujin goods sets often come with these. They can be made of plastic or simply be a  shaped  piece of cardboard with a hole for your finger to go through.

These are just a few of the most commonly sold doujin items. Really, doujin goods can be anything that an artist has self-published. Things like mugs, CDs, PSP (Playstation Portable) skins, can badges and many other small items are sold among doujinshi goods. The more well-known the artist, the more likely they will invest in a really interesting doujin item to sell at comiket. Some even sell custom computer keyboards!

If there’s an item you see frequently that you’d like to see me add to this list, or something I got wrong, let me know in the comments or send me a tweet @ladyriven and I’ll edit this post accordingly. Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: None of the photographs in this post belong to me. They were all hunted down using google images, to use for educational purposes only. I’ve provided the source for each one in the caption. No copyright infringement is intended!

Pixiv Becoming Alarmingly English-Friendly

2 Jun

For quite awhile I’ve wondered how the folks at pixiv feel about English users on their site. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a bit a bit nervous when attempting to blend in to a largely Japanese community. The good news is that we can now safely say English speakers are being welcomed to pixiv.

It started a few months back when pixiv gradually began to introduce an English-language interface for the website. As time goes on, there are more and more translations implemented which will make it much easier for an English speaker to use pixiv. There’s still quite a bit left untranslated, but the important things like the bookmark button and interface for submitting artwork are now available in English. Understandably, I think the top priority has been to make it easier for foreign artists to submit their works with ease. Pixiv has submissions from artists all around the world, but in the past the submissions have been limited by those who can utilize it’s Japanese-only interface.

The artwork submission section has the most complete translation thus far.

In addition to the implementation of a translated UI, many were happy to discover that Pixiv started up another Twitter account in English, which is located at pixiv_en. In addition to the usual ranking updates, it’s also the perfect place to get in touch with a pixiv staff member.

pixiv encyclopedia

Quite possibly the most interesting and fun of the new English pixiv community is the encyclopedia, which is essentially a wiki that aims to explain every possible term, meme and pop culture reference that influences the artwork which the denizens of pixiv upload. This can include anything from anime titles to bizarre phrases to infamous otaku terms like 絶対領域 (zettai ryouki). It’s a really outstanding way to figure out the meaning of seemingly nonsensical or obscure image tags and the fact that it aids you in your ability to understand the community lingo will make you feel a little more like you’re part of the “in” crowd.

I’ve gotta say I’m pleased as punch at these additions, especially the new Twitter account and the dictionary (I try to stick with a Japanese pixiv interface to aid me in immersion-based language learning) and I hope that they continue to add more. I don’t particularly want to see pixiv turn into another deviantART, but I’m not sure that is even possible because of the sheer amount of convoluted bloat that dA has accumulated. Pixiv is far more simplistic and streamlined and I have a feeling that, by design, it is going to stay that way regardless of any influence the English-speaking art world may have on it.

Thank you, pixiv, for welcoming us English speakers to your website. We promise to behave.

[Artist’s Special] Kanzaki Hiro

31 Jan

かんざき ひろ (Kanzaki Hiro) is an artist you may safely consider a Jack of All Trades. In addition to being a professional animator & illustrator, he is also a doujin artist, Vocaloid music composer and professional trance music artist. Being a huge fan of all these fields, I felt he was an individual worth recognition.

Kanzaki may perhaps be best known most recently for his character design work on this past season’s anime series Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii wake ga Nai! (aka – Oreimo).

Kousaka Kirino Character Designs

He also did the original illustrations for the OreImo light novels which the anime is based upon; this particular image being the most famous. It has now become a famous meme across the Japanese internet to re-draw this particular image with various characters from different series. (My personal favorite being this Harry Potter one.)

The Birth of a Meme...

Kanzaki’s doujin circle is called tabgraphics. His doujin work these days largely features Hatsune Miku with some other fanart thrown in. This comes as no surprise considering how much Miku he has to draw in order to animate his own Vocaloid videos! Of course, he also has a Pixiv account. You can check out scans of some of his doujinshi works at oreno.imouto.org, I recommend tabgraphics works summer100815 & tabgraphics works winter091231.

Plug Out

As producer of Vocaloid music, Kanzaki Hiro goes by 鼻そうめんP (HanaSoumenP) or HSP for short. He specializes in Miku Trance, which is my personal favorite genre of Vocaloid music. You can find his music videos on Nico Nico Douga and YouTube, and even purchase his “Incarnation” EP from the U.S. Amazon.com. His videos are highly worth a watch as they have really lovely animation done by the artist himself.

"Unfragment" Miku Designs

Kanzaki’s birthname, and the name he goes by as a trance music producer is 織田広之 (Oda Hiroyuki). His music has been recognized and published under trance legend Armin Van Buuren’s prestigious Armada music label and played on his A State of Trance radio show. Thanks to this recognition, there is a wealth of Oda’s trance MP3s available internationally on Amazon.

It’s worth mentioning that fellow blogger Polymetrica also has a fantastic and informative post on this artist that you can and should read here! Perhaps my post proves redundant, but I’ve been meaning to start featuring artists for awhile and I really wanted to give the multi-talented Kanzaki Hiro a mention.

All images used in this post are from oreno.imouto.org.

Doujinshi Review: BENIGYOKUZUI Remix by Carnelian

2 Mar

Carnelian has released a couple of “remix” doujinshi so far, and this particular one is the first, released in the summer of 2008. BENIGYOKUZUI 再録集 (Sairokushuu, which means “remix”) contains various illustrations and comics from previous Benigyokuzui releases, but unlike the more recent BENIGYOKUZUI Remix 20-21-22, it isn’t a very thick book. It is about average doujin size at 36 pages. As far as I can tell, it contains images from Benigyokuzui volumes 17 through 19.

Cover

The Cover image is a sexy bunny girl.

You dropped your pen.

Page 1: Sexy office lady!

Pages 2 & 3

The image on the right I recognized as the cover of Benigyokuzui 17.

Pages 4 & 5

The Devil May Cry art on the right has previously appeared in Ura-Benigyokuzui vol. 2 Full Color, which I reviewed earlier…

Some lovely maidens...

The Aquarian Age image on the left (as well as just about any elf drawing by her) is one of my personal favorite Carnelian illustrations!

Pages 8 & 9

Touka and Seika of Fairy Factory make their cameo on the right; a lovely girl with cherries and blonde ringlets on the left.

Miku!

I was most excited for the Hatsune Miku illustration, which I believe was used for a pillow cover. Previously, I’d only been able to see a small resolution of said image on Carnelian’s blog.

Pages 12 & 13

The pointy-eared gal is from Carnelian’s full-color “Gin-iro no Shiina” comic published in “Comic RUSH!”. The miko on the left was used on her homepage for awhile.

2-Page Spread

The only 2-page spread in the book is this gothic lolita-styled illustration of a girl falling amidst black feathers.

The last color page.

The last colored page features a boy/girl(?!) with a sword and then the monochrome section begins, which is primarily a hentai comic which I didn’t photograph (sorry!).

It’s pretty excited to be able to own books that are a collection of Carnelian’s doujinshi. While this first remix book isn’t quite the must-have that Benigyokuzui Remix 20-21-22 is (make sure you check out Nattoli’s review of that one), it’s still pretty darn nice to have in my collection. (Especially since nobody seems to scan Carnelian’s Benigyokuzui doujins anymore!)

Doujinshi Review: “Yumeiro Mangekyou” by Riv/SOLOIST

20 Feb

Riv, a Taiwanese artist who goes by the circle name of SOLOIST, is one of my more current favorite artists. I couldn’t pass up the chance to get a book of colored illustrations, so I picked up Yumeiro Mangekyou (夢色万華鏡) or “Dream-colored Kaleidoscope”, which is a full color book of gorgeous Touhou art. I know very little about Touhou (despite being constantly exposed to artwork inspired by it) but that doesn’t make me like this publication any less!

Cover

Shiny! The title of the book is printed in metallic silver. The book actually opens at the “top” instead of the side. The images inside are presented in both horizontal and vertical formats.

Page #1

The first page has some opening text (not pictured here) in Chinese along with Japanese. This illustration is on the page to the left of it.

夢色万華鏡

The first two-page spread of many features the same gorgeous artwork used on the cover. You can peek at a CG version of it here on Riv’s Pixiv.

Making Music

The next couple of pages feature some really lovely music-themed illustrations. The image on the right is just stunning!

Vertical Spread #1

This is where the book switches over to some glorious vertical 2 page spreads!

Vertical Spread #2

This one’s a bit too loli for my taste, but it’s cute, nonetheless!

Vertical Spread #3

Nemuiiii ~3~

東風谷早苗

There was some funky scan-line action happening in this photograph, but the print is fine, I assure you. You can also see this one here on Riv’s Pixiv.

お嬢様と犬耳咲夜

Here’s where the book returns to horizontal spreads. (View on Pixiv.)

Happy Fun-Time!

A cheerful page-and-a-half spread along with some very cute chibi versions of the Touhou characters.

東方ポケット戦爭

We’re back to the single-page illustrations. I love Riv’s coloring style in this image especially. (View on Pixiv.)

東方ペロペロ

The second of the two “ecchi” images in this book. Take a look at the face on the lolipop! (View on Pixiv.)

天子と衣玖

Love the blue hair and red eyes; it’s very striking. (View on Pixiv.)

霊夢と桜

Everyone loves a good “miko in the water” illustration, right? (View on Pixiv.)

Index

There’s an index of all the colored images to sum it all up… and then a few pages of really nice monochrome art.

Monochrome #1

Monochrome #2

The "Endning"!

This book turned out to be a really pleasant surprise for me, since I only had a couple of pages as a reference for purchase and I hadn’t seen any scans anywhere yet. (I still haven’t, thus my choice to review it.) I’m very glad I chose to purchase it and I’ll definitely be getting more works by Riv in the future as they are released.

Fun with Pixiv Image Response Materials

3 Feb

Pixiv has a really neat feature that is somewhat akin to YouTube’s video response feature, except on Pixiv, you respond with artwork rather than video. This is a feature that Deviant Art lacks, although Deviant Art does have those “art memes” that float around. On Pixiv, the images that are made to be “responded” to are tagged as イメージレスポンス (Image Response), イメージレスポンス素材 (Image Response Souzai) or イメレス (abbreviation of “image response”).

On dA, these sorts of memes are oftentimes a chart where you draw a character of yours in different situations or portraying different moods. Pixiv image responses have the same thing, but they aren’t limited to “fill in the blank” type charts. Pixiv image response materials refer to a vast array of things like lineart that you can color in, templates for items that you can design, mood charts and a whole lot of other things. Browsing through this category can be a lot of fun and it is the perfect way to get your creative juices flowing if you just can’t think of a new idea from scratch.

When you view images on Pixiv, they sometimes have a red link under them that says a number followed by “res”. (Ex: 3 res) This is an indicator of how many image responses it has. Most of the time these responses are to art memes; occasionally they are not. Most images on Pixiv do not have any image responses, which is normal, as it does not refer to “comments” on the image; only replies to the artwork in the form of other artwork contributions.

Nendoroid Template

Nendoroid Template by lynx

One of my favorite image responses on Pixiv is this Nendoroid template by lynx. It’s great if you’ve always wanted to design your own Nendoroid; perhaps one of your favorite character that has never been made into a figure! Check out all of the responses it has. There’s over 10 pages of them!

Touhou Line Art

Touhou Line Art by 桐原夏樹

Here’s a nice example of one that features line art that you can color in; a beautiful piece of Touhou line art! Line art that is posted for this purpose is sometimes tagged as ぬりえ (nurie) which means “picture for coloring” or むしろ塗ってください (mushiro nurutte kudasai) which means something along the lines of “please give this picture better coloring”.

PSP 2000 Template

PSP 2000 Template by 浅見屋

You never know what you’ll find when browsing souzai; maybe even something useful. Senkenya has submitted this marvelous PSP 2000 template. You can use it to make your own PSP skin. Sa-weet! There’s also a PSP 3000 template and a PSP screen template that you can use to draw devious things upon, such as your own ero game. ;O

ものすごいエロオーラが!by よるむん

If humor is what you seek,  this image response material, hilariously titled ものすごいエロオーラ (which can be roughly translated as “An Earth-shattering Sex Aura!”) encourages you to design and color a girl’s (or a guy if you please) reaction to a guy who is supposed to be mind-blowingly sexy. (He looks creepily like the kind of dude Shinjo Mayu would draw…) Make sure you view the responses to this meme! They’re quite amusing.

Those are just a few great examples of what you’ll find when looking through Pixiv’s image response tags. If you’re wondering how to properly submit a response to such materials, there’s a special field when you contribute a piece artwork to Pixiv where you can insert the ID number of the image you are responding to. The artist may have to “approve” your response for it to show up in the response box, or they may have the automated acception of responses enabled. I would probably avoid submitting responses to Pixiv works on other sites such as Deviant Art unless you can contact the artist and receive permission. It’s important for an artist to receive proper credit when you’re doing derivative works, and on Pixiv all you need to do is submit the image as a response. (That way you don’t have to go to the trouble of emailing or messaging someone in Japanese.)

Doujinshi Review: “Recipe” by Carnelian

15 Jan

Carnelian’s original doujinshi “Recipe” is a colorful collection of dessert-themed fairies or sprites. Each sprite is presented in the form of a colored sketch and a fully CG’ed super-deformed version of them swimming among the culinary treat of her choice. The cover is printed on sturdy textured paper and the pages on the inside are thick and glossy.

"recipe" cover

The cover girl herself is nameless, as far as I know, although you may have seen her before on the front of Carnelian’s 2008 calendar. You can view Carnelian’s CG of this image on Pixiv, too.

Inside the front cover.

The first page of the doujinshi introduces each of the characters in chibi form on a light purple checkered pattern.

Anne

The first food fairy is Anne. In her chibi portrait, she is sitting among dumplings and traditional Japanese wagashi. (和菓子) (View on Pixiv.)

Sugar

The second girl is named “Sugar”, and she is most appropriately the fairy of sugary sweet doughnuts! Notice that she has cute little glazed doughnuts in her hair. XD (View on Pixiv.)

Ginger

Ginger is knocking on the door of a rather delicious looking gingerbread house, complete with gingerbread cookies and… almond pocky! She looks rather like Kogami Akira from Lucky Star. She even has the ahoge. o_O (View on Pixiv.)

Limone

Limone is the mascot for Jelly desserts. Bill Cosby would be proud. She must be sitting in a glass of mint jelly because her chibi form appears to be holding mint leaves. (View on Pixiv.)

Chocolat

No list of desserts would be complete without Chocolate! Miss “Chocolat” presents to you here a luxurious box of truffles and chocolate-dipped fruits. (View on Pixiv.)

Cream

Cream

Our final dessert girl is “Cream”. Standing with a candle atop a cake with chocolate snowflakes and cream puff snowmen, this illustration is somewhat Christmas-themed. (View on Pixiv.)

 Recipe

Recipe Girl

Once again our pastry chef is showcased, without the sprites shown on the cover. Just in case you missed anything, there’s a handy ZOOM LAYER version of the picture as well. It’s kind of a filler, but I’m not complaining!

Chibi backs!

Chibi backs!

The last of the colored pages shows the back of the chibi image you saw inside the front cover. Cute! It’s followed by the introduction to the monochrome section, which is printed in chocolate brown.

Monochrome Intro

Monochrome Section

The monochrome section starts off with the sketch of the cover girl and an introduction that I can’t read (sorry. :p)

Monochrome Pages

Sketches of the Girls

For the sake of not becoming too redundant, I compiled the photos of the sketch section into one image.

The back!

The end!

There you have it. I hope you’ll forgive the quality of my photographs. I use a point and shoot with bad lighting, but the important thing is that now you know what this doujinshi contains! After waiting a couple of years to find scans of this book with no luck whatsoever, I finally gave in and bought it, and I’m certainly glad that I did so.

Japanese Ink Stamps: Not Just For Craft Nerds!

7 Jan

One of the more unusual items that I have a passion for collecting are anime-themed rubber stamps. Unlike stickers, ink stamps last “forever” and can be used again and again on letters, cards and other documents. My obsession originated from swapping letters with my penpal, Vanima. She has quite a talent for papercraft and her letters are always exquisitely (yet tastefully) decorated with glitter, stickers and of course, anime stamps. Inspired by her creativity, I started to build up my own collection of anime character stamps as well in order to make my letters more visually stimulating!


Drawer #1 contains some roller stamps (Kare Kano and Cardcaptor Sakura), plastic-mounted stamps (Inu Yasha gashapon, Prince of Tennis), foam rubber-mounted stamps (Fruits Basket) and wood-mounted stamps (Sentimental Graffiti, Seraphim Call, Naruto, Saiyuuki, Tokimeki Memorial, Wolf’s Rain). There’s also 4 hand-carved stamps which were made by luvmegabyte on deviantArt.


Drawer #2 contains many of my miniature stamps. The little square ones scattered about are San-X Nyan Nyan Nyanko stamps. The cylindrical ones all along the bottom are self-inking Fullmetal Alchemist stamps. There’s also wood-mounted miniature stamps from Gundam Wing, Fushigi Yuugi and Tonari no Totoro. The larger, self-inking Magic Knight Rayearth stamps are very cheaply made and I imagine they were sold as gashapon or at convenience stores. I love them nonetheless. There’s a little group of 3 Marmalade Boy character stamps mounted on cardboard that Vanima gifted to me. I adore them! I imagine they were given as a furoku in a phonebook manga to be mounted on cardboard.


Drawer #3 mostly contains Di Gi Charat stamps, if you can’t tell. There are even more Di Gi Charat stamps that were produced that I really want and cannot find anywhere. (Help me find them?!) I got 8 of them from Anime Gamers’ U.S. store website when it was functional. The top 3 Ah Megami-sama stamps came with a limited edition video game in Japan. I bought them off of my friend Dave since he never used them. Then there’s that creepy Dokodemo Issho cat thing.


Drawer #4 contains a few stamps I feel really lucky to have gotten. I got a good deal on all of the culinary Slayers stamps from someone on LiveJournal who was selling their anime collection. Unfortunately, the set was missing Lina Inverse, so she’s on my list of stamps to find someday. The Tamahome and Miaka roller stamp (which is mounted on top of a mechanical pencil) was acquired on eBay and Totoro was a gift from my boyfriend. The Summon Nights stamps are actually 2 different sets (I should have opened them to photograph!) that I purchased from Animaxis along with the Howl’s Moving Castle set. The Jiji and his GF stamp says “Taihenyoku dekimashita!”, and it is one of many Ghibli stamps I’ve acquired from J-List. (The only anime shop that seems to sell stamps anymore… orz)


Drawer #5 has a Korean Doremi set, a really gorgeous Tonari no Totoro set in a wooden box, Fullmetal Alchemist, Kyou Kara Maoh!, Tsubasa and more Saiyuuki. The Doremi stamps often meld themselves into the bottom of their little box and are very difficult to remove. -_-;


Drawer #6 contains Pokemon and Hello Kitty Rollers, a set of Candidate for Goddess and a number of hand-carved stamps. While these stamps are difficult to show you because of how they are made, they are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and treasured that I own. I discovered them on eBay one day and I ended up purchasing almost every stamp listed by the seller at the time because I was so impressed with them. I have since made friends with the stamp artist, Yoshito, and I plan to commission him to create some stamps of my favorite characters in the future as well. They are so exquisitely and professionally carved, you would not believe it. The stamps I have here by him are of Belldandy (Ah Megami-sama!), Horo (Spice and Wolf), Konata and Kagami (Lucky Star), Cloud (FFVII) and Sephiroth (FFVII). They are amazing! If you ever wish to have a handmade stamp, I will refer you to Yoshito. He is very happy to have new customers and is a remarkably friendly fellow!


Drawer #7 is the last drawer (for now) and it contains a very old set of Hello Kitty stamps as well as a set of katakana (I love this!) and a kawaii girl themed Western Zodiac set. I’d like to get my mitts on a hiragana set (I know there is one!) but I have yet to find it for sale.

In case you are wondering about the “drawer” thing, my stamps are kept in a very sturdy wooden set of drawers that I purchased a number of years ago at The Container Store for around $40. They are long and deep, and could not be more perfect for storing my collection!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into my rubber stamp world. You can actually find much more detailed descriptions of each stamp, along with translations of the Japanese ones, in my Japanese Stamp Collection gallery on Flickr. Unfortunately, my collecting of anime stamps has slowed to a near halt because of the sheer fact that anime stamps are rarely produced anymore, save for those by Studio Ghibli. While the Ghibli stamps are of remarkable quality, they are also very expensive and continuing to order every set of them would likely take away from the variety in my collection. It seems that from now on, my stamp collecting will end up being limited to searching for rare out of production stamps from the ’90s on eBay and Yahoo Japan auctions.

Browsing Japanese Websites Made Easy

4 Dec

My Japanese is far from fluent, but I vastly enjoying surfing Japanese websites. Perhaps your Japanese isn’t so good or you want to know how to surf Japanese websites without having any knowledge of the language at all. No problem! There’s a lot of tools and tips that will help you to do this. In addition to being really fun, surfing these sites will actually help to improve what lingual knowledge you do have if only because of your constant exposure to foreign writing. Regardless of whether or not that’s your goal, browsing a website in a foreign language is not as daunting as it seems when you have some basic knowledge and some fun web widgets to help you out!

Google JP IME

If you can read or write any Japanese whatsoever, you should have a Japanese IME (Input Method Editor) installed which will allow you to type in Japanese. Basic home editions of your operating system come with a Japanese IME, but it is not installed by default. Please refer to Declan’s Guide to Installing the Japanese IME. Alternatively, you can try out Google’s  Japanese IME Beta, which I am personally coming to enjoy using more than the default one for Windows. I do not intend to write a guide on using the IME in this post, but there are many places on the web which can teach you how to do so. It’s easier than you may think!

Rikaichan in Action

In addition to keeping Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC in my bookmarks bar, I use a really fantastic Firefox plugin called Rikaichan. This addon is essentially a dictionary that, when activated, translates words (in glorious detail) when you mouse over them. I much prefer to use Rikaichan to translate individual words or kanji over putting an entire webpage or paragraph into Babelfish and letting it generate rubbish. Ever since I discovered this addon, I cannot live without it. It is amazing. Download it now. Seriously. (You may also be pleased to know that it comes in other languages!)

Even if you don’t know Japanese, you will begin to learn some simply through clicking through websites over and over again. Artist websites in particular tend to have the same basic bare bones structure in that almost all of them have an “About” page, a “Gallery” page, a blog and a page that references their professional work or doujinshi. I can assure you that after you click on 日記 (read as “nikki”) 100 times on varying websites and are always sent to a blog of some sort, you will eventually forever recognize those kanji as being exactly that – a blog or diary link. Isn’t symbology great? For what it’s worth, here’s a little handful of common words you’ll come across and what they mean. Even if I didn’t tell you what they are, I’m sure you’d eventually come to recognize them due to their heavy, repeated usage across the Japanese web:

プロフィール – Profile

イラスト – Illust. (Short for “Illustration”.)

ギャラリー – Gallery

オリジナル – Original

版権 – Copyright (Often refers to Fan Art.)

ゲーム – Game (Usually video games.)

その他 – Other (Refers to other subjects.)

18歳 – 18 years (of age. If you found this, it means that page probably has porn on it. Good find, bro! ^_^b)

Trust me; you’ll recognize these and many other words in no time. Even so, a great deal of Japanese sites have their navigation in English, so browsing them really should be simple. The reason I strongly suggest you also use a Japanese IME is for search purposes. When you’re at places like Pixiv or Yahoo and you want to search for sites or images of a specific series, subject or character, it’ll make life so much easier to write it in Japanese. Romaji isn’t going to get you very far, and your other option for Japanese input is  to copy and paste (yuck!). ;)

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