Archive for December, 2006

Ainori #341

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Ainori is a popular reality show in Japan, aired on Fuji TV on Monday nights at 23:00.

In August 2005, I discovered that Ainori was not only popular in Japan, but also all over the world thanks to Bit Torrent technology. I decided to write a summary of each episode, and do a translation of the weekly photo captions from the official site. What do I get out of this? I get to improve my Japanese, I get more traffic to my blog, but above all, I get the satisfaction of knowing many non-Japanese speakers all over the world can appreciate a truly unique reality show. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions you may have.

Ainori’s official homepage (Japanese only).

Current participants

Ainori’s BT downloads available @ D-Addicts

Good News, people! It seems streaming videos of Ainori are still available on youtube.com.


Ainori #341

WARNING! THIS IS A SPOILER!

This week, the group moved from Sweden to Norway, Ainori’s 72nd country, where two new participants joined them. Yankumi also revealed the reasons that lead her to become a gang leader in Hiroshima, and as the producers I promised last week, a crappy suspense for something that turned out to be nothing. As usual, allow me to introduce the new participants first.

GurasanYuuya “Gurasan” Yoshida, 26, from Ibaraki Prefecture. Working in a yakiniku restaurant, he is also an ex-gang member. Now this might confirm what many of the people who leave comments on my Ainori summaries suspected, i.e. that the producers, rather than choosing new paticipants randomly, seem to pick some of them to fit the profile of participants on the show. I mean, they never had ex-gang members since they started the show 6 years ago, and all of a sudden, they have two of them on the show? Can’t be just a coincidence. No doubt they’re trying to match him with Yankumi, if you ask me. Anyway, the way they met him was quite unusual, as they usually pick up new participants on the side of the road, and they met him in a restaurant. He wrote on his profile that “Love is the law of the jungle”, and when he said to the group that there’s no way he’s let a girl he likes go with another man, Sanchan swallowed as usual, which was pretty funny. So I guess he won’t leave any room for competition, which might prove interesting…

BambiYumi “Bambi” Banba, 21, from Kyoto. She works as a helper in an abacus calculation cram school. She wrote on her profile that she wanted to find a very exciting romance. She is concerned with her weight, which I didn’t think was an issue since she looks ok to me, but then again here in Japan women are excessively concerned with there appearance, and the medias don’t give them a shadow of a chance, either. For a moment, everybody thought Sanchan had a crush on her when he rushed to pick up her bag, but when asked he replied that he simply wanted to get back on the Love Bus because he was cold. I don’t know if it’s the experience of joining Ainori that gave her a boost, but she was extremely excited, jumping up and down, and singing on the bus like it was a karaoke box, without the music. She was so fired up that the others actually started to find her annoying, and so did I, to be honest. I hope that she calms down on her own, or I’ll be seriously thinking of writing a letter to Ainori so that they start to consider putting her on prozac. Lose a battery or two, “Energizer Bambi”.

Well, it seems that around the time Sanchan was being teased by the other male participants a few episodes ago, Yankumi sat down with him and revealed that she used to be bullied too, back in elementary school. When she was in the 5th and 6th grade, they would take her in the back and tell her unpleasant things, or wouldn’t include her with the rest of the group, and she even thought about refusing to go to school (a widespread problem in Japan). Nevertheless, she decided to attend junior high school, eventhough the kids who’d tease her also went to the same school. So she started hanging out with bad kids to give herself a bad image at first, and one thing leading to another, she eventually found herself at the head of a girls gang. Yankumi, who was in fact a timid and cowardly girl, had decided never to show how weak she was by becoming the worst possible person she could be. I guess we finally got an answer as to why she is so level-headed for an ex-gang leader. She’s just a normal girl who refused to let herself being bullied, a girl who made a much better choice than all those elementary school students who commited suicide lately because of bullying.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Apparently the big surprising thing that was supposed to happen this week was a hint towards the fact that Sanchan might fall for the new girl in the following episodes. Zzzzz, zzzzz, mh? Oh, sorry, did I just doze off at the keyboard? My bad – not!


It was the beginning of love!

Next week we’ll have one of those Ainori classes (about whales in Norway), which will waste precious airtime to tell us about something that is probably common knowledge instead of showing us the participants’ interactions, Nagisa will apparently tell Bambi to shut up (although if you watch it frame by frame they’re both laughing – more false suspense, anyone?), and Sanchan will try to get closer to Bambi? I gotta see it to believe it!

NEXT ON AINORI


This Year’s Kanji: “Life”

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Every year in december the Japanese choose a kanji to reflect upon the year which is coming to an end. This year’s kanji is “life” (inochi), and has been chosen to remind people how important life is. It was chosen in view of the recent wave of suicide among young Japanese elementary and junior high school students who took their lives because they were bullied by their classmates, and sometimes even by their teachers.

Cool Care Makes You Hot!

Friday, December 8th, 2006

Well, this is the first time ever someone sends me a funny English pic, and I just thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea if people started sending them to me.

よろしくお願いします!

Thanks to Irene for the contribution :-)

Ainori #340

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Ainori is a popular reality show in Japan, aired on Fuji TV on Monday nights at 23:00.

In August 2005, I discovered that Ainori was not only popular in Japan, but also all over the world thanks to Bit Torrent technology. I decided to write a summary of each episode, and do a translation of the weekly photo captions from the official site. What do I get out of this? I get to improve my Japanese, I get more traffic to my blog, but above all, I get the satisfaction of knowing many non-Japanese speakers all over the world can appreciate a truly unique reality show. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions you may have.

Ainori’s official homepage (Japanese only).

Current participants

Ainori’s BT downloads available @ D-Addicts

Good News, people! It seems streaming videos of Ainori are still available on youtube.com.


Ainori #340

WARNING! THIS IS A SPOILER!

Holy Molly, he did it! Uekki asked Chaki to marry him! This is a first on Ainori, and it was soooo sweet, kinda like that caramel ice cream I was eating while watching the show. But enough about my eating habits, let’s get on with it.


Uekki Chaki

After getting the plane tickets from the Love Bus, Uekki was conveniently waiting for Chaki under a 700 year old pine tree. He was dressed in his green worker uniform, which are very common in Japan, (I still can’t believe he brought it with him!) and when Chaki arrived, that’s actually the first thing she noticed. Anyway, as soon as she sat down, he tricked her into turning around by telling her he had to take a piss, and while she wasn’t looking went to get the prized antlers. When she saw them, she was really surprised, and looked really happy, as she obviously realized what was going on. But when he told her he had walked for 5 hours one way to find them, she made the sweetest face, and apologized as any Japanese would.



“It took me 5 hours one way”

Then he proceeded in telling her how he was happy when she told him about her past romance, and how he had joined Ainori with the intention of finding himself a wife who would help him with his job as a Japanese gardener specialized in pine trees made to look like huge bonsai, as it is the tradition for that line of work in Japan. Next he told her how he wasn’t interested in a long-distance relationship, that he wanted her to marry him, and work with him taking care of Japanese pine trees. He told her he’d love her forever, and then gave her an accessory he had made from the antlers, with the letters “TOWA” (永遠 or 永久- meaning “forever” in Japanese) engraved on it.


Forever

I have to say, Uekki’s love declaration was really simple, touching, straight from the heart, and true to him. The both of them were so cute, I couldn’t believe it. I must admit that from that point on, I did have misty eyes, and yes – my wife made fun of me, again.

When the rest of the group was told that Uekki had given the fateful tickets to Chaki, one Yokomi had mixed feelings about the situation, being at the same time attracted to Chaki and considering Uekki as his best friend on Ainori. Nonetheless, as he wrote in his diary, he accepted the fact in good sport, making him my favorite male participant. I sure hope Yankumi wins his heart, as they both have great personalities.



That night the staff visited Chaki in her room, and they asked her how she felt about Uekki proposing to her. She replied that she was happy he did pop the question. When she thought about how her trip went, she recalled how after the Tagamikun fiasco she was too devastated and had stopped concentrating on finding a suitable mate for a while. But looking back, she realized Uekki was the one who had been by her side all along and that she loved him. However, she felt she wasn’t ready to become his wife.



“I can’t say that easily that I’ll become Uekki’s wife”

The next morning, Uekki was waiting for Chakki, and she appeared carrying the huge antlers, so big they surprised the rest of the group, who had no idea Uekki had walked 5 hours to find them. The suspense was unbelievable, as Chaki explained how she would be happy to be with him, but couldn’t make a commitment such as becoming his wife. The situation looked bleak, as I was expecting her to give him back the tickets and say “I’m sorry”, but she kept going, telling him how she intended to quit the show on that day, and asked him if she could go back to Japan and be with him without them getting married. I guess Uekki was confused as he probably was expecting to hear a refusal but got “kokuhaku-ed” back by Chaki, as he took a few seconds (which really felt like minutes) before answering.



“Is it ok (to go back to Japan together)?”
(Literally: “Is it wrong?”)

At this point, I was standing up screaming: “Say it, c’mon, say it!”, while my wife was screaming: “Watch out for your glass, you’re gonna spill milk all over!”. He finally replied: “Wanna go home?”, and by then my eyes were so watery a tear came out the corner of my eye. Wow, two couples in a row – it’s been like years! Are we on a roll, or what!?


UekkiChaki
Congratulations!

Well, well, next week, two new participants will join the show, Yankumi will reveal some of the events that lead to her becoming a gang leader in the past, and apparently something surprising will happen (read: insecure producers are trying to create yet another false, crappy suspense in the hope that it will encourage an already faithful audience not to switch to one of NHK’s even crappier, random foreign language lesson). Please…

NEXT ON AINORI


My Birthday

Monday, December 4th, 2006

Last Saturday was my 41st birthday, which we celebrated with a bunch of friends as usual. Thanks guys, I really appreciate it!