Intro to Otome Games

What are otome games?

Otome games are video games (mostly from Japan) that are directed towards a female audience. “Otome gemu” translates to “girl game”. Otome is pretty much the shoujo of video games.

What kind of games are usually otome?

The most popular kind of otome game genre would have to be the dating sim. The player plays as a girl and goes through the game vying for the love of her favorite guy, since there’s usually several.

The style and art are similar to shoujo manga/anime, but the plot is different. It has less substance and is more like a harem.

Throughout the game you can go through different “routes” for different characters or different story lines. There are even different endings too. You can get a “good end” or “bad end”.

Some otome games are plot based though, like visual novels. Starry Sky ~in Spring~.jpgYou can still take different routes on these games but they are focused on telling a story, instead of the focus being on getting the hottie patottie anime guy.

What are some popular otome games?

Some popular otome games include:

Alice in the Country of Hearts, Amnesia, Angelique, Brothers Conflict, Diabolik Lovers, Fatal Hearts, Hakuoki, Hiiro no Kakera, Kiniro no Corda, Princess Debut, Shall We Date?, Starry Sky, and Uta no Prince-sama.

Hey, I recognize some of those titles from anime/manga! What’s up with that?

Nana-gameWell you’re a sharp one. Yes, when otome games are popular it’s not uncommon for them to be made into manga/anime! It works vice-versa as well. When an anime/manga is popular sometimes they’ll make a game out of it.

For example, they made a video game for NANA. In the game you live next to the two Nana’s apartment. You get to meet some of the characters and date some of they guys. You can also get a job, shop, decorate, etc.

On the flip side, Amnesia, started out as a PSP game. Amnesia visual novel cover.jpgIt was popular and they came out with two games before they aired the anime in 2013.

In Amnesia, you play as a girl who has lost her memories. You go through different routes based on which character you want to end up with. The boys in this are represented by suit symbols from card decks and it’s really cool.

What platforms are otome games on?

You can pretty much get otome games on any device. The easiest ones that are most readily available though would be through PC and PlayStation products.

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Intro to Anime Food

Happy Thanksgiving to people from the US! I hope your day was wonderful! In honor of this food-filled holiday, I thought I would do a special on food in anime (so basically Japanese foods).

What are some staple foods of Japan?

Rice

Well one staple of Japan would have to be rice. Rice production in Japan is a vital part of their economy and it’s not uncommon to have rice at every meal (this includes breakfast). Sometimes they will add soy sauce, katsuobushi (dried fish flakes), raw egg, natto, or other various things to their rice, but often times they will eat it plain.

Cute panda onigiri!

They also make onigiri (rice balls) that are really cute and seen in a plethora of anime. The onigiri may also have fillings. Some popular ones include: salmon, salted/seasoned cod roe, tuna, dried kelp, dried plum, and katsuobushi. Often times the onigiri will have nori (dried seaweed) wrapped around it.

Seafood

Being an island nation, Japan has an abundance of seafood in their exquisite cuisine.

Grilled Mackerel Pike

One type of seafood is sashimi. Sashimi is raw fish, which has to be carefully prepared, but is decadent. A lot of fish are great as sashimi, but some of the popular ones include: maguro (tuna), sake (salmon), tai (sea bream), saba (mackerel), katsuo (bonito or skipjack tuna), and kanpachi (yellowtail/amberjack). Sashimi is often served with wasabi, pickled ginger, and/or soy sauce.

Another way of serving fish in Japan is known as yakizakana. Yakizakana is grilled fish. Fish often used for grilling are saba, sake, tai, and ayu.

Noodles

There are three popular noodle types in Japan.

Udon Noodles

First we’ll talk about soba. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and are thin. Soba can be prepared hot or cold, depending on the season (or your personal preference). Buckwheat is largely produced in Hokkaido, so there will be many places to buy specialty soba noodles.

Another type of noodle is udon. Udon is a thick noodle made from wheat. It is usually served hot as kake udon. Udon is usually served with toppings. Common toppings include: scallions, tempura, aburaage, and kamaboko. Regions of Japan have different specialties, so if you plan to take a visit, maybe try some different types!

Traditional Ramen House

Lastly, there’s a noodle with a bad rep in the US, but don’t get your panties in a twist it’s not all that you think… ramen! Ramen noodles are a type of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in broth. In western society we often see ramen noodles in packages, boil some water, add the seasoning packet, and go! That’s instant ramen though. Not all ramen is pre-packaged like that. Of course even in Japan they have instant ramen, but they also have a variety of ramen houses, specializing in appetizing ramen dishes, that aren’t nearly as bad for your health as its instant cousin.

 

What’s with those vending machines?

Long line of vending machines in Japan

In the US we generally see vending machines for two items, snacks like chips and candy, and drinks like soda, water, iced tea, and lemonade.

In Japan, their vending machines aren’t as limited. They seem futuristic almost. You name it, they probably have it available in a vending machine. These things can range from cold and hot drinks to ready made meals to fortunes. If you are out for a walk in winter and shivering from the cold, do not fret! There’s most likely a vending machine nearby with hot tea and coffee calling your name.

Vending machines are very popular in Japan and some of them can be pretty strange (here’s a list of vending machines).

What’s omurice?

Omurice is a cute staple of Japanese pop culture. Omurice is an omelette filled with fried rice and usually topped with ketchup. 

Omurice is typically seen in maid cafes. Maid cafes are a type of cosplay restaurant. Typically seen in Akihabara, Tokyo, these cafes cater to the tastes of otakus. Inside a maid cafe you will see young women dressed as maids. No, not real maids, these are costumes. Typically they will act on different personas that the customer will pick.

In maid cafes when you order omurice, they will ask you what you would like drawn/written on your omurice in ketchup. Typically they’ll draw cute designs.

I hope you liked this little Thanksgiving inspired post! 🙂

 

Intro to Subbed Anime

What is subbed anime?

Subbed (subtitled) anime is anime with the original voice acting in Japanese with a different language translating what they’re saying with subtitles. Anime is subbed in many different languages. Being a native English speaker, I can’t say about other languages, but finding anime subtitled in English is very, very easy. (Note: Throughout this article I will be referring to my experiences with English subbing)

What are the types of subbed anime?

There are a couple types of subbed anime.

One: Fansubs

Fansubs are anime translated and subtitled by non-professionals, in most cases, fans. There’s a wide range in quality for fansubs. Some can be pretty good, while others can be horrendous. There’s also a worry about if the translation is correct. If you can’t speak Japanese then you probably don’t have a way in knowing if the subtitles are correct.

Fansubs were most popular in the 90’s to the early 2000’s when there wasn’t ready access to professional companies streaming anime online.

Two: Professional, Licensed Subs

These subs are what you’ll typically find nowadays. The quality is more often than not, outstanding, there’s no worries about translation issues, and there’s no worries of piracy. Now that it’s so common to stream videos online, licensed distributors have taken a step up and have begun readily streaming subbed anime to the masses.

What are some anime distributors?

The anime distributors in North America include:

Out of those, Aniplex, Crunchyroll, Hulu, FUNimation, Netflix, Right Stuf, and Viz Media, all have streaming videos online. You can find these on their websites or some of them, like Aniplex, FUNimation, Right Stuf (Nozomi Entertainment), and Viz, you can find on YouTube.

Where can I buy subbed anime DVDs/Blu-Rays?

Almost all anime DVDs/Blu-Ray disks sold in the US have a subbed option on the language settings. You should be able to switch the language between English-Japanese, Japanese-English, and have subtitles or no subtitles.

Anime Castle in Flushing, NY

In-store options for buying anime can be limited. Places like Walmart and other stores with films should have a few anime options, most likely things such as Naruto and Bleach, the really popular anime. There likely won’t be a big selection. F.Y.E. has an anime section in its stores, with a larger collection of around 50+ series, which is nice and is where I go to look for anime DVDs in-store. You can also search for independent anime stores in your area.

Online is definitely the best bet though. You can buy them directly from the distributors sites (FUNimation, Right Stuf, Viz Media) or you can buy them from large online stores like Amazon. Aniplex has a list of sites on their website that they sell their content on. There are also online anime stores like Anime Corner Store and Anime Castle (Anime Castle also has a store in New York), that sell videos and other anime merchandise.

Intro to Shoujo

What is Shoujo?

Some of you guys that are new to anime, may not know what shoujo is so, simply, it is a demographic.

A demographic is, in short terms, material intended for a specific audience. In the terms of shoujo, when referring to anime and manga, is marketed to girls within the age category of 10 and 18. Shoujo (Shōjo and shojo are also proper ways to romanize the word) literally translates from Japanese into English as “little girl”.

Other popular demographics for manga/anime are shounen (for teen boys), seinen (for adult men), and josei (for adult women).

What are some common themes in shoujo anime?

Usui and Misaki (Kaichou wa Maid-sama!)

Genre wise, it can be anything, but more than likely when you stumble upon a shoujo it will be romance. Romance is by far the most popular genre within the demographic. Daydreaming teenage girls and romance go together, don’t you think? It’s also highly likely that the protagonist (main character) is a girl.

Art-wise, they eyes will probably be bigger and more shiny than the other demographics (for innocence). There may also be flowers surrounding close-ups of the characters, bubbles, or sparkles. The character’s are usually very pretty also, even the boys. The ones that are exceptionally pretty are called bishoujo (for girls) and bishounen (for boys).

What are some popular shoujo anime?

Poster for Ouran

Some popular shoujo anime are: Fruits Basket, Vampire Knight, Ouran High School Host Club, Kaichou wa Maid-sama!, Skip Beat, Sailor Moon, Kimi ni Todoke, and Kamisama Kiss.

What are some good shoujo to watch if you are just getting into anime?

I’d personally recommend something like Fruits Basket or Ouran High School Host Club. If you want something with more of a fantasy element, go for Vampire Knight or Kamisama Kiss. If you want something less comedic possibly Kimi ni Todoke, Say, “I Love You”, or Nana.

Where can I watch anime?

The main online streaming sites for anime include, Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix. A select number of North American anime distributors have streaming videos available on their sites, such as Funimation and Viz Media.