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Looking back, I find it hard to believe that it has already been a year since I started contributing to The Smog. It was almost a year ago that I first proposed (to fat Jimbo!?) to write an article about the Japanese language, and on October 25th, in the 12th issue of The Smog, "ようこそ！ポケモン世界へ！ (Welcome to the World of Pokemon!)" was published as the first of a series of articles I would continue to write with each installment of the Smog for the better part of a year. It's sad to say, but this will be the last installment of this series, as I am quickly running out of things to teach you all—such wonderful students!
As I said in the last article, I couldn't stop on the 4th installment (as 4 is a Japanese bad luck number), but this fifth article will be a summation, and a look back at the time we've spent playing and studying with Japanese at The Smog.
This was the first article of the series, and was a full instructional article about basic Japanese. We discussed all three forms of the Japanese writing system, Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. The article's ultimate goal was to familiarize the reader with the Japanese alphabet and sounds. Notable points were the 1 consonant + 1 vowel distinct pattern of Japanese sounds, and learning to pronounce the various Japanese sounds, notably clearly defining the vowel sounds. The article went through the writing and pronunciation of every Hiragana character. The article also discussed the use of Katakana and its relationship to Hiragana. It was my hope that those players who read the article would learn to pick out English words out of the Japanese texts of the BW games. Ultimately, it was a crash course in beginner Japanese writing and pronunciation.
This was a fun look at some terrible naming sense by Game Freak, because some Japanese Pokemon names are just awful. Especially RBY (or should I say RGP for Red-Green-Pikachu?) had some really uninspired names. Lizard (Charmeleon)? Rat (Raticate)? How about Still-a-bud (Bellsprout), or... "Stinky Flower" (Gloom)? Fantastic. Of course there are some real gems in there like "Mystery Weed" (Oddish). I need to get me some. I did note that BW doesn't have as much stupid naming, outside of stuff like Tabunne (it's likely). One thing I do have to set straight, and that's my utter ignorance of the name Desumasu—lol that's awful! Desumasu is Yamask's Japanese name, which comes from "Death Mask." What's bizarre is that "Desu-Masu" also refers to the polite form of Japanese speech where every sentence ends with "desu" or "masu."
可笑しいですね。そうだと思います。(That is so weird-DESU. That's what I think-MASU).
I don't get it...
ほんまにおもろかってんで！ Okay, this article is probably the crowning jewel of all the articles I have written for The Smog—it had everything, awesome Pokemon references, art and photos, Japanese... This article is basically a tour through the awesome Kansai region of Japan, tying it to the cities, characters, and story of the Johto region of Pokemon Gold / Silver (which is based on Kansai). This article went through everything, from the Gold and Silver temples of Kyoto, a look at Japanese religion, behind-the-scenes of the "Maiko" apprentice Geisha (called Kimono girls in the English version) and an in-depth of the Kansai Dialect. We took an in-depth look comparing Kansai words and grammar to standard Japanese, and it's wrapped up with a skit with some intrusive references. I had a good time writing it, and I hope everyone had a good time reading it.
The 4th installation surrounded the involvement of Japanese (and Asian) mythology in Pokemon, with the goal of explaining the "behind references" involved with many Pokemon that are mysterious and alien to the western Pokemon player. We went through Darmanitan's doll cousins, Lombre's cucumber fetish, and Ninetales's ninjutsu really really old age. There's certainly a lot more left to be uncovered, like Magikarp's journey up the waterfall and Froslass's snowy-mountain-demon origins, so I implore the readers—have some time and can sit around on Bulbapedia? Go dig up more of these mysteries for yourself!
Ultimately, the articles for The Smog and my involvement in writing about Japanese on Smogon, led to something much more significant—the Smogon Japanese Project. Originally, it was started in a similar vein as the Spanish Project, though with very different goals in mind. Where the Spanish project was intended to support Spanish speakers in playing competitive Pokemon, the Japanese Project was established specifically to acquaint Smogon with Japanese players. In other words, it was made to introduce Japanese viewers to Smogon and explain what Smogon is, and offer up help for getting involved. There are articles on using Pokemon Online, Smogon's Simulator Rules, and most importantly, an introduction to interpreting data in the Smogon Strategydex. The project is all but completed, and proudly stands as a "Japanese Face" for our great site, in hopes that the future will hold closer and greater relations between the Smogon community and Japanese Pokemon players.
ポケモン競争界のために、一緒に協力し合って、がんばろう皆！ (For the sake of competitive Pokemon, let's all work together everyone!)
While this is the last article in the Japanese series that I will write for The Smog, I hope you have all enjoyed this series as much as I have, and that it may help you in your future studies and Pokemon playing. I am still the head of the Japanese Project even though the project's goals have essentially been fulfilled, so I invite members interested to contact me about the project or about Japanese in general. Japanese is just one of the world's many great languages, but as a fellow student of it, I have enjoyed learning it and sharing it with all of you. お世話になりました。たっしゃでな！
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