我輩はブリートである。

The chronicles of Burrito's bizarre adventure into Japanese.

Archive for the ‘tadoku’ Category

A Brief, Cremated Tadoku Postmortem

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So yeah, I ended up with something like 130 pages. January was a month of much busy, stress and stupid, which tends not to fare well for my study motivation.

Oh well.

Back on my feet now, so I’m sure next time won’t be as lame.

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Written by ritobito

February 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Posted in tadoku

January 多読: Wingin’ it

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Typically, I have a long list of stuff to read several days before the start of 多読 – not so, this time. I figure I have enough half-read visual novels to at least carry me well into February, not to mention a handful of books and manga I’ve barely scratched, so I don’t really feel the need to compile a big ol’ list. We’ll see what my whims gravitate toward.

I do know that this 多読 will be much lighter than usual, however. I’d like to spread my focus (something I’m absolutely terrible at and vow to fix), keep up grammar SRSing and translating and, most importantly, not burn myself out for the next some months. ( ´∀`) So I’m aiming for more like 2,000 pages rather than my “usual” 3,000.

So yeah, here’s to a fun and successful 多読 and 2012!

Written by ritobito

December 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Posted in tadoku

Tadoku 4 Report

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So, Tadoku 4 went off without a hitch… that is, for the first 17 days or so. After which, the hyperactive monkey pulling the switches in my head would collapse face-first into a mountain of beer cans, empty porkrind bags and debauchery – a coma he’d wake from only long enough to periodically stagger a few steps and collapse upon a different set of switches. Even now, the hyperactive monkey in my head still hasn’t recovered completely.

But you know what? That little fucker earned his keep all the same. Let’s go over my reading list and see what I got around to. I’m gonna color code it a little something like this:

  • Green: Read to completion!
  • Yellow green: Read partially, but a satisfactory enough chunk
  • Orange: Barely chipped
  • Red: Didn’t touch at all
  • Blue: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS APPEARED

Books

  • サクラダリセット
  • 1Q84
  • ダンガンロンパ/ゼロ

Manga

  • PLUTO
  • Berserk (think I read three volumes, the last of which was WORDS WORDS WORDS)
  • 賭博黙示録カイジ
  • ΠΛΑΝΗΤΕΣ
  • 聖☆おにいさん
  • Vinland Saga (roughly a volume worth)
  • ヒストリエ (most of volume 1, but kinda lost interest)
  • スレイヤーズ

Visual Novel

  • Ever17 (finished – oh, was it ever finished.)
  • 428 〜封鎖された渋谷で〜 (scratched the surface, but got tired of counting screens ♪~(´ε` ))
  • Chaos;Head
  • 彼岸花の咲く夜に
  • うみねこのなく頃に (episode 4 completed!)
  • Remember11 (left off exactly 25% of the way through)
  • うみねこのなく頃に散 (barely scratched the surface, and will likely wait for the PSP remake)
  • ひぐらしのなく頃に (PS2 version – again, counting screens was getting tiring)

And there you have it. A small portion also came from various web pages and articles, J-subbed stuff and a few misc games.

So as I mentioned, all went well from the start of Tadoku, up to around the 17th or 18th… when I blazed my way through the latter half of Umineko 4 (which was excellent), and then picking up where I left off in Ever17 (about a third of the way through) and eventually coming to the final arc, which had me in a stunned stupor for three straight days (where I must have logged 700 pages or more).

I feel like it’s necessary for me to talk a little about this visual novel here, since it so dominated my brain matter in ways few things ever have.

Simply put, Ever17 was: the best visual novel I’ve ever read; the best science fiction I’ve ever read; and quite frankly, some of the best fiction, period, I’ve ever read. This visual novel manages to make use of plot twists I’d normally hate to mind boggling effect, and plot mechanics I never would have even dreamed of. Holy shit.

I was instantly drawn to this game thanks to its precipitous situation involving a small group becoming trapped inside an underwater amusement park with only a limited amount of time before the whole thing implodes under massive water pressure. I tend to enjoy survival situations such as this either way, but the deep sea setting somehow does wondrous things with my imagination.

I’m not sure how to explain the brilliance of this VN without giving away elements key to its mindblowing-factor, so I’ll try to keep it short. It’s a visual novel that makes use of its platform to the fullest, taking advantage of the perspectives of the game’s two characters, the choices of the player and subtle details sprinkled throughout practically every scene which constantly hint at something juuust beyond reach and comprehension… Elements which all come together by the (very, very long) end to blow the reader’s mind into the stratosphere. It really is that good, and worth every minute spent reading through its various routes (yes, even Sora’s somewhat lame route!).

So yeah, do yourself a favor and read this mutha. Required reading for every fan of science fiction and visual novels as a platform, absolutely.

Now, the problem came after finishing Ever17, for you see, I’ve come to realize that there exists such a thing as Post-Mindblown Disorder (let’s abbreviate that as PMBD). PMBD is a phenomenon I’d experienced multiple times in the past, most notably with having finished Danganronpa and Steins;Gate; two incredibly mindblowing experiences, to be sure. It’s best described as a euphoria, a powerful high where I’m unable to do much but rave about how fucking awesome that just was, and everything else just seems bland by comparison. Perhaps there’s a mental fatigue element to take into account, as well, since invariably said mindblowing experiences will have me hooked for hours upon hours until completion, leading to a period of time where I’m simply unable to focus on heavy reading again for some time.

At any rate, I finished Ever17 on the 18th, and I never fully recovered. Such was my PMBD that I jumped straight into the game’s “sequel” (completely unrelated world, but same ‘Infinity’ series and author), Remember11, ignoring my existing stack of planned reading material. Whereas I had several days straight of 200-page days with Ever17, I’d only have a small handful of 100-page days with Remember11, ending up just under 2,900 pages – far less than I’d hoped, but pretty damn decent all the same.

It was good times. I still feel a little burned out from reading, so I’ll likely focus on Actual Studying Stuff for a while, including my foray into MCDs, something I’d been stubbornly resisting beginning for a very long while. Early impressions is that this is really enjoyable and effective, and super comfortable now that I’m getting good at reading. I’d also like to get back to the grammar deck, because that’s something I could always improve.

But for today, I plan to kick back and chill out. Good game, y’all.

Written by ritobito

November 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Tadoku: The Next One (The Sequel): The Stuff [updated]

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Time flies, suckas!

You know the drill. Materials subject to change, as usual:

Books

Manga

Visual Novel

Though this list was originally a little on the light side, I’ve decided to go a little more nuts and flesh it out proper. Obviously, it’s not very likely I’ll get around to all of them, but I’m feeling especially enthusiastic on the manga side of things lately; better to have a nice stack of material ready to rock. In fact, it was just about one year ago that I began my very own extensive reading spree with Berserk, so perhaps this sudden surge of enthusiasm isn’t coincidental after all.

Looking back now, it’s mind boggling to me how far a year’s worth of extensive reading (albeit, in a rather on-again-off-again fashion) has taken me. Where once I struggled, now is largely natural and fluid. Material I’d thought permanently outside of my grasp is now accessible, comprehensible and enjoyable. Traditional study methods are mostly obsolete to me now; Japan is my overworld, native materials are my dungeons, words are my monsters and I am the adventurer. It’s sorta like 世界樹の迷宮 on scale 100, 1,000 times larger, and with less F.O.E waiting around every corner to crush my spirits (though those could be viewed metaphorically as rare kanji; R07 fricking loves tormenting me with those).

But enough about that – are you ready for the SPACE JAM? (´・ω・`) うぷぷぷ・・・

Written by ritobito

September 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm

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Tadoku 3.0: The Aftermath

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And I am beat.

Anyhow, my list of reading material by the end looked a little something like this:

  • NHKにようこそ!(novel)  — Complete
  • Steins;Gate (visual novel) — Complete
  • 人間失格 (novel) — Stalled
  • うみねこのなく頃に4 (visual novel) — In Progress (still)
  • Ever17 (visual novel) — In Progress

Not exactly the most diverse of lists, surely, but the experience was every bit as rich as any of the previous Tadoku (or perhaps, Tadoki?!).

This time around, as planned, I used the dictionary less than I ever have. My reasoning behind this decision is beyond the scope of this post, but suffice to say that it worked out spectacularly well. I don’t recall having looked up a single word for NHK, even. I did hit the dictionary a few dozen times for Steins;Gate (a manly man’s visual novel of sizable girth, mind you), but with few exceptions, these look-ups were out of sheer curiosity of a particularly interesting word (most likely containing an unknown kanji, which I eat for breakfast) rather than a compulsion to know every single unknown thing I come across. Pretty sure I only looked up two words in Ever17, despite its surprisingly technical vocabulary, though I’ve really only skimmed the surface of that badboy yet.

I’d wanted to read 人間失格 as well, but just couldn’t really get into it – or rather, I was really craving another visual novel to fill the Steins;Gate-sized void in my heart and 人間失格 wasn’t up to that task. I was encouraged to discover just how readable this book was for me, though! I once thought classic Japanese literature would forever be beyond my grasp, but it just goes to show how far I’ve actually come.

And oh, what’s this? Umineko somehow worked its way into the list! I’ve certainly not giving up on this “little” fellow, and decided to flip through to see how manageable it would be without the ridiculous quantity of dictionary look-ups I’d given it in the past. Again, I’ve come a long way and it actually seems a lot closer to my level now. However, エンジェ is still a very uninteresting character to me and I was unable to keep my interest. Perhaps one day when you’re voiced, Umineko… perhaps then.

This Tadoku also marked the first time I largely ignored competing with my kuh-raaazy peers, and simply looked to beat my last record. Turns out that 3,000 pages (roughly 100 a day) is just about optimum for me, and will probably be my target for each Tadoku from here on out. Thinking about it, 100 pages of Japanese a day is still a little mindblowing to me – I’m the kind of reader who chips away at one chapter a night before bed in my native language (at one point or another, anyway), so unearthing my innate ability to plow through 100 pages of Japanese a day for 31 days is… really something I can’t describe. Was amazing to me when that number was 50, and even 30. Not to pat myself on the back, though – one of the coolest parts of being involved with Tadoku every 3 months is seeing just how much everyone has improved. It’s incredible seeing those numbers of pages logged doubling, tripling since the last competition. Seriously shows the effectiveness not only of the extensive reading tadoku principle, but also the effectiveness of the competition aspect (personal or otherwise) of Tadoku. Color me impressed.

Oh hey, let’s touch on some of the stuff I read, for the heck of it.

NHKにようこそ!

NHK is somewhat special because it marks the first true novel (light or otherwise) I’ve read from cover to cover in Japanese. Somehow, the accomplishment feels a little less impressive after having completed three Umineko visual novels of greater length (and far greater difficulty), but hey, it’s something! More importantly, I loved the heck out of this book and it surprised me on multiple levels.

NHKにようこそ!is a dark comedy about the miserable life of a young man and his misadventures in attempting to escape from it. At first glance, the story sounded downright depressing (and not all that far from home at times), so I’d ignored it despite the anime adaptation being recommended to me numerous times. Indeed, the story is depressing – the cast of characters each has his or her massive collection of skeletons in the closet, from the crippling depression, paranoia and isolation of its main character, to the themes of suicidal tendencies, mental instability, sexual deviance and drug use of his peers.

In fact, this novel contains more illicit drug use and detailed description of said drugs than I’ve encountered in any (perhaps, every) Japanese medium so far. I suppose the world of novels can afford to be more open than the fiction of manga and television about the reality of drugs, but I felt these scenes (which are apparently cut from the anime entirely – bah!) were important in further establishing the human elements that make the characters of this book so damn enjoyable and easy to identify with.

Bleak subject matter aside, the ridiculousness that occurs between the many, many downers of this book as well as the witty, humorous dialogue of its characters almost always keeps the mood hovering well within the realm of comic. It takes a talented writer to turn the screwed up situations of Satou and company into something we can laugh at – perhaps laugh with would be more accurate, as they always seem aware of just how ridiculous things are – but author Tatsuhiko Takimoto pulls it off beautifully.

Highly recommended, and a moderately easy read to boot.

Steins;Gate

Perhaps fueled by an insatiable hunger for more eccentric protagonists, I dived into this puppy shortly after finishing NHK. I’d actually completed the first chapter some weeks prior, so I knew exactly what I was getting myself (back) into.

Steins;Gate is a time travel-themed science-fiction visual novel, but the time travel elements are executed in ways I’ve never even imagined, and consistently blew my mind into the stratosphere. Most fascinating to me is the fact that S;G not only uses heaps of real scientific theory (quite liberally) to explain the phenomenon of time travel, but also real-life conspiracy theories such as the exploits and predictions of John Titor. It’s a super intelligent, brilliantly written visual novel that, while certainly taking more than a few liberties, successfully suspends disbelief often enough to almost make the events of the story seem plausible. Almost.

I’d rather not go into great detail about this VN, as I believe it’s best left up to the reader to experience how the story unfolds, and how manipulation of time – even the seemingly limited act of sending text messages to phones back in time – ultimately impacts the story. Simply put, this is a story of cause of effect – for every action, there’s a reaction; the butterfly effect; karma, even (in fact, one can probably draw some fairly convincing philosophical parallels, but I’ll leave that to sharper minds and/or bored English majors).

Steins;Gate was actually the first visual novel I’ve read with fully voiced characters, and quite honestly, it’s difficult to imagine trudging through another non-voiced VN any time soon (Umineko being a lucky exception), because the voiced element helped my comprehension tremendously. I really can’t overstate just how beneficial a voice acted visual novel can be to a learner of Japanese. I hadn’t intended on beefing up my listening comprehension during this Tadoku, but by the end of S;G, I could seriously feel a massive difference. It doesn’t hurt that the voice acting in this game is utterly incredible, most notably that of the main character, whose over-the-top eccentricism took me a while to warm up to, but ultimately became one of my all-time favorite protagonists.

As for language difficulty, Steins;Gate can get a little brutal, especially during the scenes involving SCIENCE!, of which there are many. Some rudimentary knowledge of the theory they go into certainly helped me, but I’d be lying if I said that a few of the science-y scenes weren’t a little hazy to me. Scientific terminology aside, though, S;G didn’t pose much trouble to me. Unlike, say, Umineko which goes into incredible detail with abstract concepts very frequently, S;G is much more straight-forward and dialogue-based in comparison.

Though I can’t claim to have read all that many visual novels yet (Tsukihime in English several years back and three and a half Uminekoes and currently making my way through Ever17), Steins;Gate easily reigns as my most memorable one yet. It’s not without its flaws – pacing feels awfully trudging at times, and I wasn’t a big fan of two of the characters (take a guess which ones!). Some may find it difficult to stick with the (nearly) first half of the visual novel that is dedicated to establishing characters and building up for the (ultra-exciting) latter half of the story, which tears it all down mercilessly with hardly a pause. By the end, though, trust me when I say that these are all trivial complaints, and holy crap you need to read this. I plan to marathon the anime shortly, which is superb from the two episodes I’ve seen so far.

Ever17

This is a visual novel I’ve heard many speak highly of for some years now, yet one I knew little about until recently. Turns out the story is right up my alley – like Steins;Gate, Ever17 uses plenty of gen-you-wine science to establish an almost-believable situation. In this case, a group of people become stranded in an underwater amusement park of sorts known as LeMU, with only a matter of roughly 6 days to escape. All the while, various sections of the park are falling apart around them to ever-increasing water pressure and mechanical failures. Of course, all the while, mysteries abound… which I’ve only scraped the surface of.

I can’t really give a more thorough review of the VN yet, as I still have quite a bit to go. I can say that it immediately clicked with me and I’m really enjoying it, however. It begins almost deceptively whimsical – this is an amusement park, after all – but unlike, say, Steins;gate, Ever17 gets into the thick of things very quickly. Compared to every other VN I’ve read so far, E17 is relatively fast paced and seems almost a little jarring in its transition between scenes at times. Even so, this is an incredibly meaty VN with about as much text as Steins;Gate, so there’s room for a massive amount of substance in this sucker.

Ever17’s language level seems to begin on the easier side of things, but quickly becomes quite difficult when it goes into the technical side of LeMU, or during one of the several medical-related scenes and explanations. I was honestly expecting an easier, more relaxing read as Steins;Gate, but Ever17’s language might quite possibly be the more difficult of the two!

At any rate, as of right now, I’m working my way toward one of the endings and have tons more to see, so I’ll have to leave it at that for now. Excellent, highly recommended visual novel (with voice acting, I might add) all the same.

I suppose that just about wraps things up. I have a heck of a lot more to post in the coming days, especially regarding a certain anniversary, and current/future plans, among other things. For now, I think it’s high time to veg the heck out with some of the many animu episodes I’m behind on.

And how was yooour Tadoku?

Written by ritobito

August 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Tadoku 3.0 Report: Day 17

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Taking a cue from resident reading maniac BlackDragonHunt, I’m taking a few minutes out of my reading time to post a little status update of sorts. We’re a little over the halfway mark and things are still as crazy as they were in the first few days of the competition – consider that the combined total amount of pages in this Tadoku has already shattered the combined total of the last Tadoku, and I’m pretty sure you can imagine how intense things have gotten. Usually, I notice a pretty sharp drop in momentum from a lot of competitors by this point in the game, but with few exceptions, that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around.

As for myself, like always, I’m trying to stick to a steady pace – in this case, roughly 100 pages per day. For the most part, it’s been going great, and honestly, it’s a bit difficult for me to believe that only a handful of months ago, I was struggling to keep a pace of 30, 40, 50 pages a day (bit of deja vu here). Of course, reading NOT-UMINEKO seems to help a bit.

I’m currently a bit ahead of pace for my previously stated goal of 3,000 pages. Making the top 5 looks to be all but impossible at this point unless I crank that goal up by a few thousand more pages, which doesn’t seem all that likely (or healthy) at this point. We’ll see – I predict I’ll probably end up between 3,500 and 4,000 by the end, momentum (and awesome reads) willing.

As for my reading material, it’s looking a little something like this:

  • NHKにようこそ! — completed on day 4 (or somewhere around there)
  • STEINS;GATE — in progress, maybe 3/4 of the way through? I expect to be finished in a week or so (the vast majority of my pages have come from this badboy)
  • 人間失格 — in progress, surprised to discover how readable it is, though I most likely won’t get back to it until after I finish S;G

Throw in a few J-subbed episodes of Jin season 2 and that puts me just under 1,700 pages currently. Not bad!

Many more thoughts to come, but I’ll probably share those in early August. For now, I have some reading to do! (ノ`Д´)ノ彡┻━┻

Written by ritobito

July 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

Posted in status report, tadoku

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Tadoku 3: 発進準備!!

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It’s almost difficult to believe that it’s already been nearly three months since the start of the last Tadoku competition, but again, here we are. Time flies when you’re playing Monster Hunter— er, cramming huge amounts of vocabulary and perusing the near-infinite amount of text and video available at your fingertips.

I knew I’d have a pretty hefty amount of material to read (and play) through this time around, and indeed, such seems to be the case. Heck, I could probably name half a dozen different games alone. Add to that stack a number of light novels and short stories I’ve been dipping into, one or two visual novels (though nothing nearly as difficult as Umineko or most VNs by nitro+, mind) and maybe even a manga, and I should be quite busy this coming month of July.

A sampling of things in Tha Stack, tentative as always:

(Light) Novel:

  • NHKにようこそ (a few chapters in already)
  • 精霊の守り人
  • スレイヤーズ!
  • キノの旅
  • 政治少年死す
  • 人間資格 (a stretch, but short enough that I may manage it)

Game:

  • Xenogears (currently about 6 hours in)
  • 水滸伝1&2
  • Shining Force III

Visual Novel:

  • Steins;Gate (a few chapters in)
  • Ever17

Manga:

  • Berserk (but of course)
  • about two dozen others in my stack I know I’ll probably never read

I suppose I’m going for more of a kitchen sink approach this time around, though I’ll probably settle on a select few – my money’s on NHKにようこそ and Steins;Gate primarily, perhaps with some Xenogears here and there (super wordy RPGs are always welcome). We’ll see!

As for my goals, I’d certainly like to top my last page count, and making the top 10 again would be nice (though being July, I expect the competition to be much more fierce). For the moment I’m thinking 3,000 pages and making the top 5 would be my goal this time around, though as we all know, the actual reading is the true goal in Tadoku. If I’m able to complete even a few of the above listed novels or games, I’ll be quite content, no matter my page count or ranking.

That being said, I’ma totally crush some skulls.

What will yooou be reading? And if you’re not registered for this Tadoku, why not? (ノ`Д´)ノ彡┻━┻

Written by ritobito

June 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Posted in tadoku

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